Saturday, March 23, 2013

NLS Mobile Applications

NLS is in the process of developing applications to enable the download and reading of its books using commercial mobile devices. Two versions are being developed independently-one for Apple iOS devices (iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad) and one for Google Android devices.  

Some features are outlined below. 

The applications will:

  • Play NLS digital talking books (ANSI/NISO Z39.96-2002)
  • Communicate with Bluetooth-connected refreshable braille displays for reading NLS braille (BRF) files 
  • Download books directly from BARD 
  • Accept books loaded from a connected computer (e.g., iTunes files)
  • Be free, but require a BARD account to be activated and to download books
  • Employ the accessibility features native to the devices, such as Talkback and Brailleback on Android and Voiceover on iOS
The iOS application is at the internal testing stage. The NLS Engineering Section is evaluating this working version without all of its final features. NLS plans to have the Beta version, with corrections and enhanced functionality, available for selected Beta testers to evaluate in several weeks. The iOS version is expected to be available to patrons in late spring.

The Android application will only be available on Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean" and later versions because of poor accessibility support on earlier versions. The application is expected to be available to patrons on the Android market in late summer. 

Richard J. Smith, Director