Claro Software at BETT London and ATIA Orlando

We are exhibiting at two big trade fairs this month, so do come visit our stands, see our latest products and meet our team. We’ll have demonstrations of all our software including the latest ClaroRead for Windows and our great Apps for iPhone and iPad like ClaroPDF and Claro ScanPen.

We are at the BETT show at ExCeL London, 24-27 January 2018, on Stand A441.

Then we are at the ATIA show in Orlando, Florida, 31 January – 3 February 2018, at Booth 209.

We hope to see you there!

Claro ScanPen V1.8 iOS Released

Version 1.8 of our ScanPen apps for iOS have been released! This latest version introduces the powerful new document detection feature.

Using the new document detection feature allows you to detect and enhance only the documents in your camera feed. It will automatically search, take a photo, crop out any unwanted background space and then straighten the photo to give you the best possible scanning and text selection experience.

For example, these two screenshots compare the photos taken [1] without document detection and [2] with document detection.

[1] Without document detection

The document of interest is slightly skewed and there is a lot of background space that we are not interested in. It scans and reads OK, but it could be better.

[2] With document detection

This is a much better photo. The document is cropped to fit the entire image and it has been straightened up. This results in a much more accurate scanning and text speaking experience.

Along with the new document detection feature, V1.8 also introduces image filters to help you enhance your images. Here is an example of the greyscale filter that we have applied to the above document:

This increases the contrast between the text and the background, enhancing and improving the results of the OCR.

Another major new improvement to V1.8 is the addition of lots more iOS system voices. You can now access Siri voices, enhanced quality voices and male and female voices for many of the supported languages. These voices are all still freely available to use.

For the full release notes of V1.8 of Claro ScanPen, check here: Claro ScanPen V1.8 Release Notes.

View Claro ScanPen and Claro ScanPen Premium on the App Store now!

ClaroRead Chrome Extension 14 Released

We’re pleased to announce another update to our Google Chrome web browser extension for Windows, Mac and Chromebook.

ClaroRead Chrome Extension Premium users have a Scan from Screen feature. This lets you simply select part of the screen with the mouse and hear it read aloud to you. We’ve made it much faster, especially the first time it is used, and we’ve also added the option to copy the text into the clipboard when it is selected so you can paste it into another application. This is perfect for websites like Google Books or anywhere where you can see the text you want but selecting it is impossible.

The ClaroRead Chrome Extension is free in the Chrome Web Store, but Premium is not: but you may be able to get Premium if you have a ClaroRead for PC or Mac licence key. Just open the ClaroRead Chrome Extension settings and click “Upgrade to Premium” and paste in your licence key, and the Premium features will be unlocked permanently for you!

A couple of other little tweaks: new users get a welcome tab explaining the extension they’ve just enabled, and if you open Settings then your Google Domain is displayed at the bottom – great if you are enabling a site licence of ClaroRead Chrome extension and need to know your Google Domain to do it.

Get the ClaroRead Chrome Extension for Google Chrome now! Available free on Windows, Mac or Chromebook. Or check out the release notes for more details.

Controlling Claro VR Apps

We’ve recently developed and released some VR apps for iOS and Android which have been received well.  However, one question that keeps popping up is: How can I control the app?
There is a lack of accessible, adequate control for VR apps.  Generally, there are two forms of user control when using VR apps:
  1. Headset controls.
  2. External controller pads.

Headsets

There are not many headsets that have built in controls.  The main one is the Samsung Gear VR headset that has a directional touch pad as well as back and home buttons:
Samsung Gear VR controls
This works well with our Android apps but this particular headset is only compatible with a limited set of Samsung mobile devices: Galaxy S8 / S8+ / S7 / S7 edge / Note5 / S6 edge+ / S6 /S6 edge (as of December 2017)

 

A cheaper and more accessible alternative to the Gear VR headset is the Google Cardboard headset (or similar).  These are made of cardboard and are around £15 to buy on the Google Store:

 

Cardboard supports most Android or iOS phones with screen sizes from 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm).  Control is rather limited on these however and is restricted to a single tap on the phones screen:
Google Cardboard
 You can use this single tap feature to perform the main functions in our VR apps.  In MagVR, for example, a single tap will zoom in, until maximum zoom and then the next single tap will zoom out.

 

An example of an alternative cardboard headset would be something like this:

 

 

 

A caveat with using these type of headsets, is that you have to poke/cut a hole in the face, so the device’s camera can see out.  That is why cardboard is suitable! Other suitable headsets include ones with removable or retractable front faces, so the camera can see out.

 

Controllers

Controllers or gamepads are more generic and there are lots to choose from.  These include the more traditional types that you might normally associate with games consoles, that have the X/Y/B/A buttons.

 

XYBA controls
If these state that they are iOS and/or Android compatible then you can use them to control our apps.
An example of one that we tried and tested on iOS, is the Mad Catz Controller:

 

 

 

 

For this particular model, there is also an Android version available.

 

On Android, we used the SteelSeries Nimbus/Stratus controller

 

 

 

These controllers work well but you have to hold and control them with both hands.  If you would prefer something smaller, our VR apps also support “mini” controllers.  These are quite cheap and small, so you can hold the controller and use it with one hand.

 

Mini controller
These mini controllers often have two modes: “game” and “key” or something similar.  To control our apps, they should be toggled to game mode.

 

 

 

iOS Apple Watch

Our iOS apps can also be controlled using an Apple Watch.  When you install one of our VR apps on iOS, you’ll also get the corresponding Watch App installed on your Apple Watch.  You can open this app and control the phone app.

ClaroRead Anywhere 13 Released

We’ve updated our cross-platform Web App, ClaroRead Anywhere. This works on tablets, desktops, phones in any modern browser, so it’s great to provide speech and OCR across a wide range of users without needing to install anything.

Here’s what’s new:

  • We’ve done some design work and cleaned up how the App looks. We’ve introduced a File button that gives you access to your cloud drive and your local drive for saving and loading documents, which is cleaner and more familiar from both traditional desktop programs and modern web apps like Google Docs. We’ve put labels on the buttons so new users can find their way around more easily. And we’ve cleaned up the save and load dialogs to better tell you what you are doing and what your options are. ClaroRead Anywhere is likely to be used occasionally, not every day, so we can’t assume users know their way around it: keeping the user interface obvious and clean is important.
  • Users on Android will find that the Dictate button is now available and you can speak into ClaroRead Anywhere to see your text appear – no typing required! Android uses the Google speech recognition services, which are coming along brilliantly, so it’s great to be able to make these available to our users and let them get down the text they want without having to fight with typing and spelling.
  • We think ClaroRead Anywhere is about proofing and getting text down rather than polishing your final document, but still it’s nice to be able to open a Word document or do some editing and get out a document that keeps some of your formatting. We’ve therefore enabled saving as a cross-platform Rich Text File (.RTF) document, which will open in Word or Google Docs and keeps your bold text, italics, bullet points, underlines, font sizes and other formatting intact.
  • Finally, some improvements to word prediction: predictions stay visible so long as they match, meaning it’s easier to check out the suggestions, and we have expanded the supported languages from English, Dutch and Swedish to include Arabic, French, German, Polish and Spanish. Just switch to a voice in that language and prediction will switch too.

ClaroRead Anywhere is available to end-users of ClaroRead and as part of an annual ClaroRead site licence. Check out the ClaroRead Anywhere web page for more details!

ClaroPDF Android Released

We are happy to announce the first release of ClaroPDF Android, an easy-to-use speaking PDF reading app for Android phones and tablets. It’s a simpler version of our hugely-successful ClaroPDF for iPhone and iPad and tries to provide the same convenience and usability for anyone who needs to be able to read back accessible PDF files, for study or reference.

  • Tap to open PDF files using the Android file picker, which gives you access to PDF files saved on your phone and also integrates smoothly with Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and other cloud file stores.
  • Then just tap in the PDF to show where to start and the PDF will be read back from the point of your finger. You can stop and make it repeat itself as many times as you want, read whole documents at your leisure, and relax while ebooks and references are read aloud to you with high-quality speech.
  • Choose from dozens of voices from Google and other vendors covering many accents and languages, and set the voice speed for faster reading (so you get through things faster) or slower (to give you time to digest and understand).

Want to read PDF files on your iPhone or iPad? ClaroPDF for iOS contains all the reading functionality of ClaroPDF for Android and more, and on iPhone and iPad you can also get ClaroPDF Pro, which lets you convert images and inaccessible PDFs into readable PDFs. On a Windows or Mac? Try our reading toolbar, ClaroRead.

Get ClaroPDF Android on Google Play now! Or, for more details, check out the release notes.

Claro ScanPen Premium iOS Released

Introducing Claro ScanPen Premium – a free-to-download iOS app which allows you to have 10 free scans. You can optionally sign up for the annual subscription to get a free 14 day trial. If you don’t cancel during the free trial, you will get charged the £9.99 annual subscription (correct as of October 2017). With an active subscription you have unlimited scans and unlimited access to all of our high-quality voices (currently Nuance Expressive, Acapela and children’s voices).

Claro ScanPen Premium joins our Claro ScanPen family alongside the standard Claro ScanPen version which is still available to purchase outright for £6.99 (correct as of October 2017).

Below is a comparison chart highlighting the differences between the two versions (click to enlarge or visit the original chart):

When you first launch Claro ScanPen Premium, you will see the following launch screen, just select whether you’d like to have the 10 free scans or sign up for the 14 day free trial (with the option to cancel at any time).

More

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update support

The latest version of Microsoft Windows, “Windows 10 Fall Creators Update” (or version 1709) is now available for Windows 10 users to download and install.

We can confirm that we have tested all our current versions of Claro Software products and they work fine with the new version of Windows. If you do encounter any problems after upgrading, please contact support at support@clarosoftware.com.

ClaroPDF V2 Released

October 2017 saw the release of V2 of our ClaroPDF for iOS app, with some major changes. The most significant feature is the new tabbed structure when viewing multiple PDF documents.

Multiple Documents

In V1 of ClaroPDF, you were limited to viewing 1 document at a time.  In V2, ClaroPDF now allows you to open multiple PDF documents at the same time.  The documents are arranged in a tabbed view, across the top:

Tabbed document view in ClaroPDF V2,

Tabbed document view

This lets you switch quickly to other documents for reading and/or annotating without having to replace the current document you were viewing.  You can tap the X button on any document tab to close it.

Photo to PDF

The Photo to PDF feature has been significantly upgraded in V2.  You were previously limited to adding 1 photo at a time.  Now you can select multiple images when choosing to create a PDF.  Not only that, but you can now also choose to append your chosen photos to your current PDF; they’ll be inserted at the page after the one you are currently viewing.

Delete Pages

Deleting PDF pages is a brand new feature in V2.  From the thumbnail view mode, tapping Edit, you are able to select PDF pages you wish to delete from your current PDF:

Deleting PDF pages in V2

Delete PDF pages

This gives you even greater control over your PDF creations.

Acapela Children’s Voices

There are a new range of high-quality children voices, available as in-app purchases for 8 different language accents, including boy and girl.

Quick-look Settings

In V2, the document settings have been moved from the standard Settings menu and placed down on the main bottom toolbar, accessible by tapping the new document settings button:

Document settings menu in V2

Document settings

This change takes some of the most commonly changed settings and makes them quicker to access, as well as being able to see the changes made to your document as you go. Changing the page background colour, for example: now you can get exactly the right shade you require as the document changes colour in real-time.

New Document Setting: Scroll mode

There is also a new setting on the document settings menu called Scroll mode.  This setting controls how the document is to be scrolled.  There are 2 options to choose from:

  1. Per page – this is the traditional page scrolling, where each page has a defined page break.  Swiping left or right in this mode will scroll to the next page.
  2. Continuous – page scrolling is continuous and there are no page breaks.  Scrolling is like scrolling through one big page; there are no defined page breaks.

Other improvements and bug fixes

Check out the ClaroPDF V2 release notes for full details on other improvements and changes in V2:

http://www.clarosoftware.com/help/claropdf-v2-release-notes/