A Thanksgiving Gift from Apple
Dear BlindAlive Follower,
Thank you all for making this happen. We have officially released the Eyes-Free Fitness® App for all iOS devices just in time for the holidays and it has taken off! Since our Thanksgiving Day launch, the app has been downloaded hundreds of times and we are getting 5-star reviews! We suggest reading on but here is the link if you want to go straight there: Itunes. We'll link it at the end of this email again.
We wanted to share a bit of the backstory on how this has been coming together and introduce you to some of the people behind the scenes. Like Austin. None of this would have happened if it had not been for Austin Seraphin who also happens to be blind. Austin had never created an app before, so we knew the learning curve would be steep. What we did not know was that there was to be a whole mountain range of steep curves. Here is his side of the story:
A Thanksgiving Gift from Apple retold by Austin Seraphin.
It has taken over three years, but my first app has gone live in the app store! Apple has given us quite a Thanksgiving present.
In June of 2014, I attended a tech event at the Associated Services for the Blind. A woman named Lynne Maleeff who works for Apple though not in this capacity battled an unruly crowd and discussed Apple technology. I remember sizing up the situation and trying to play defense, helping a few random users in the back with their problems so she wouldn’t have to. A few of us went out for lunch afterward, and Lynne introduced me to her friend Mel.
Mel Scott started BlindAlive to produce accessible audio workouts for the blind. She noticed that even if workout apps had VoiceOver accessibility, they assumed that the user could see the video. At the time I had given several speeches about RubyMotion, and planned to write an app, but hadn’t started on one yet. I agreed to write her app on the spot.
Mel and I began conversing. This happened in June of 2014. We threw ourselves headlong into the project. I met Chris Cox and Lisa Salinger. Chris writes the website and the API which the app uses to get data. Lisa does customer support. A few others worked in the background, but the four of us had weekly Skype meetings, and slowly but surely the app came into existence.
Writing an app doesn’t just mean writing code, it also means dealing with Apple’s way of doing things.
Sometimes it came down to accessibility issues, and a few times they even fixed them upon request. Other times it simply came down to Apple making things difficult for developers. I do feel I have some special cause to complain - if sighted developers find it confusing, try closing your eyes and using VoiceOver!
At times the project never seemed to end. I cleared hurdle after hurdle. Finally, we decided to submit it for review to Apple. They rejected it.
It turns out that Apple requires IPV6 compatibility for any external services. I have no control over this, Chris does. It required him moving a lot of things around. We submitted it again. They rejected it.
They said that the app had in-app purchases, but did not provide a way to restore all purchases. This confused me. I pointed out the exact steps to do just this.
- Tap the button that reads Get Workouts
- Tap the button that reads Restore All Purchases
They thanked me for the clarification. The app’s status changed to In Review. We waited…
I woke on Thanksgiving feeling a mixture of emotions. The holidays always make me feel a little cranky, but I also felt happy because of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day marathon. I have fond memories of that going back to high school. I meditated. I’ve begun writing a meditation app. The meditation helped, and my crankiness began to lift. I had some stupid notifications on my iPhone. I ended the meditation in my app, then checked my notifications. The app’s status had changed to For Sale! Apple had approved the app on Thanksgiving!
In shock, I searched the App Store and sure enough, I saw it: Eyes Free Fitness. It felt surreal after all this time. Mel and I had an excited chat amid our holiday gatherings. MST3K played in the background. Then it hit me. I did it. I had created something from nothing. I had my first app in the App Store. I felt thankful.
The full article can be found here: Austin
Read on if you want to know what this app is all about.
The app was designed to appeal and to be of service to those who like to use their smartphone or tablet. Our programs will continue to be available on our website as MP3 downloads, on a flashcard or thumb drive as they have been in the past. Nothing will change there. There are some technical limitations that are unfortunate but unavoidable at this point in time. The BlindAlive app is a different platform and technology, so purchases will not be transferable from one platform to the other. If you want to use both the BlindAlive app as well as MP3 downloads from the website, you will have to purchase your programs separately on each platform.
We designed the app so you can purchase and play our workouts, listen to our podcasts, and read our blogs all from within the app with straightforward and easy navigation wherever you go. I wanted it to be simple while offering everything we have created for you in the palm of your hand. It will also integrate with the Apple Health app on your iPhone if you allow that setting.
At this time you cannot purchase the program bundles on the app, only individual workouts. We're working on it. We do hope to add the bundles over the next weeks and offer our full range of workouts and purchasing options.
The App is not for everyone. Many prefer the mp3 versions as they can play on many different devices. The app and the website are two different systems and while the content is similar, behind the scenes they are very different and independent.
Thank you so much for your great support and feedback over the past few years. My plan is to keep creating programs for all of us for years to come. Please let me know what you think of the app if you choose to use it.
Here again is a link to the app: Itunes
Good health to you,