I am a voracious reader as well as a strong advocate for literacy. Reading opens our students’ imaginations to a million new worlds and possibilities. That’s why the National Library Service in general and BARD mobile in particular are such wonderful tools to use both personally and in the classroom. They provides access to thousands of books for all ages and reading levels.
For those unfamiliar with BARD Mobile, here are a few great places to get started:
- The Blind Life did a great YouTube video overviewthat is mainly useful for individuals who are partially sighted or are teachers who can see.
- AccessWorld did a very good piece on BARD Mobileabout four years back. For the most part, it still contains pretty relevant information, though there have been a few updates and changes since then.
- AppleVis has a couple of good resources. A Guide to BARD Mobileis a written overview and, though it is a bit older, there is also a podcast that walks you through the app entitled We Read you Loud and Clear
Now that you’ve had a chance to review the previous iOS version of BARD, let’s move on to what’s new in version 1.2.
Better Dynamic Text Support
Sure, the old versions of BARD did have a “larger text” setting that could be enabled in the settings of the app, but for some of us, that text wasn’t quite big enough or, at times, if our dynamic text was set to be larger in our iPhone settings, it didn’t always carry over to BARD as well as we’d like. And at times, the text would simply cut off or run over and disappear. Check out this comparison between the standard print and when the dynamic text is enabled.
Quite a difference right?
Silence Key Beeps
Something that was rather annoying (at least to some of us) was the fact that every time you pressed start/stop, rewind, or any other button on the player interface, it would beep. This new option, found under settings, allows you to silence that option. This is particularly helpful when using VoiceOver because you really do not need a beep to announce that you’ve double-tapped an item in addition to voice telling you the same thing.
Additions to the Get Books Tab
We’ve always been able to retrieve books from the wish list or browse BARD in the Get Books tab, but now there are a couple of new download options.
Firstly, you have access to “previous downloads”, which is a great way to re-download a book you may have deleted or find the name or author of something you’ve read recently but have removed from your bookshelf.
Secondly, you have access to the “most popular” books. This is a list of the most popular downloads in the previous 30 days. Listed in this area are the top twenty audio titles and twenty braille titles.
VoiceOver Actions Added to Bookshelf Items
I remember when one of the new iOS updates created “VoiceOver Actions”, which allowed someone using VoiceOver to swipe up or down to change what would happen when an item was double-tapped. It was very helpful since it reduced the amount of time you spent trying to locate the item you wanted by swiping and/or finger dragging all over the screen.
Now in BARD, instead of having to activate the “edit” button to enable actions and then trying to find the book you want to delete, you can simply swipe up or down when focused on that book title and when you hear VoiceOver announce “delete”, simply double-tap.
And for the low vision folks, this means that you can swipe left on a book to delete it instead of going up to the edit button at the top. Again, much less scrolling and searching!
Other Noteworthy Changes
Of course, there have been many other changes to the app as well. Below are the specific updates as listed in the App Store:
- Browse magazines by title
- Braille autoreflow (lines of braille break to match your display length)
- Dynamic sleep timer matches the “jump level" (for example, you can set your sleep timer to cause the book to stop playback at the end of current jump level, whether it is by chapter, book, bookmark, etc)
- When in your lists in the “get books” tab, the app will automatically reload the next 50 items without the need to tap “get more”
- Total reading time or number of braille pages has been added to the books’ summary listings
BARD Mobile has been one of my favorite iOS apps for a long time and it’s great to see it receive an upgrade! Please feel free to share in the comments what your favorite changes are in this latest version and maybe some ideas for future versions.