Niki Talk Apps: What’s new, several AAC apps & special needs apps

It’s been exciting to see several new apps release recently from Alessandro La Rocca. He is an independent special needs & AAC app developer who has a good history of creating and supporting/maintaining apps in the App Store since 2012. Some of his apps are also available for Android and Amazon Fire.


AAC apps:

Niki Talk 2 Pro, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/niki-talk-2-pro/id1566543803 (iPad only, iPadOS 12.0 or later. Most recent update: 12/19/21, version 2.0.4. Price: $89.99)

General info: http://www.nikitalk.com/Talk2.aspx

Additional info about the features in this fairly robust AAC app:

• Vocabulary organization: Topic & Category Based (can be Pragmatic or Motor Planning if building own boards)

• Grid sizes: Pre-made Core 12 (4×3) & Core 24 (6×4 grid) page sets in eight different languages. Size Options (when editing or creating, column x row): 1, 2×1 (2), 3×1 (3), 2×2 (4), 3×2 (6), 4×2 (8), 3×3 (9), 4×3 (12), 5×3 (15), 4×4 (16), 5×4 (20), 6×4 (24), 5×5 (25), 6×5 (30), 7×5 (35), 6×6 (36), 7×6 (42), 7×7 (49), 8×6 (48), 8×7 (56), 8×8 (64)

• Navigation to get to a word: Depends on board size (Core 24: most 2-3 hits, some fringe 4 hits)

• Grammar support: Basic verb tenses: past, present, future (no -ing, no plural or possessive word endings)

• Keyboard: Keyboard button can always be available on the Side Bar on left side of the screen. Can be toggled off in the app settings. Uses the iOS iPad keyboard which allows use of keyboard extension apps. The typical iOS keyboard word prediction doesn’t work within the app but you can have word prediction if you are using an alternative iOS keyboard extension app that has word prediction built into it (ex: Keedogo Plus, SuperKeys, SwiftKey)

• Hide/Show buttons: Advanced Editing – “select all” (then tap individual buttons to deselect any you don’t want hidden) – Edit – Visible (toggle off to hide, toggle on to unhide)

• No Search feature

• Pre-made Core 12 & Core 24 page sets for: English (some editing needed for USA English), German, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Swedish. There aren’t any pre-made page sets for larger grid sizes or in the other languages that have an iOS voice but you could build them. Keep in mind that the lack of a Search feature might make it challenging to find vocabulary that is stored too deeply within folders.

• iOS text to speech voices for the following languages: Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovakian, Spanish, and Swedish. Defaults to language being used on that iPad but can choose a specific language under Settings – User

• Can use recorded voice

• Button action to play a video. Works great to play videos saved to the iPad’s Camera Roll. Can also play linked YouTube videos (opens in a popup within the app but there is an unsecured link that will take you out to YouTube. Guided Access did NOT block this so it is very important to understand the risks of linking to YouTube videos especially for young children. The separate Niki Play app is another option for playing videos is a secure way (see info below).

• Backup & Sharing: Cloud-based (not a way to back it up other than Share to upload it, get a Share Code and then use that code before it expires to download the page set)

Free lite version: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/niki-talk-2/id1543678617. (No voice output (no text to speech voices or voice recording output), only 1 user area, the Les Pictogrammes symbols aren’t included)


Niki Talk, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/niki-talk/id556798417 (iOS Universal, iOS 10.0 or later. Most recent update: 10/6/20 (version 2.0.1). Price: Free but needs to be used with the Niki Designer website in order to do editing. Free trial. See pricing on the website: http://www.nikitalk.com/Designer.aspx). This is a much older AAC app that looks like a communication binder with Velcro strips. It’s for very basic communication. Can send a text message including the symbols. Also available on Android & Amazon Fire. More info: http://www.nikitalk.com/Talk.aspx

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Niki Scene Pro, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/niki-scene-pro/id1597894942 (iPad only, iPadOS 12.0 or later. Most recent update: 12/19/21 (version 1.0.3). Price: $6.99. This new app hasn’t been added to their website yet. See their Facebook page and this video:

Additional info about the features in this very affordable and intuitive/easy to use Visual Scene Display AAC app:

• Import picture from Camera Roll or use iPad camera to take a pic

• Full visual scene with hotspots. Draw hotspots in any shape. 5 color options. Dotted or solid line.

• Recorded speech

• Popup Text Label: This is a great Transition to Literacy (T2L) feature: https://bit.ly/3rH50yb. More in-depth research related to T2L: https://bit.ly/3e0IVm4

• Long press on an image on the Home Screen and tap Share and then it generates a sharing code that is active for 3 days. These Share Codes can be used as a way to share your creations with others who have the app. There isn’t a formal way to backup what you create in the app but you could share items, copy the Share Code, and then download those creations onto a new iPad as long as you do it before those codes expire.

• Can toggle off Editing in the Settings and secure Settings with a Passcode

See videos on their YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/YyG9aU0_rDk & https://youtu.be/H2udMzcQg6M

Free lite version: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/niki-scene/id1596964600 (limited to 2 user created scenes)


Niki Buttons, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/niki-buttons/id1572170910, iOS Universal, iOS 10.0 or later. Most recent update: 6/22/21 (version 1.1.0). Price: $3.99. A set of four single message buttons that look like a Big Mack VOCA (voice output communication aid) (blue, green, red, yellow). Tap at bottom of screen to select one. Can add a symbol to the button. Uses recorded speech. This new app hasn’t been added to their website yet. See their Facebook page and this video:


Search on ARASAAC, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/search-on-arasaac/id1599712099, iOS Universal, iOS 12.0 or later. Most recent update: 12/11/21 (version 1.0.0). Free. Allows you to search for free open source symbols of the ARASAAC website and save them to the Camera Roll on your device. Also available for Android. See this Facebook post:

If you go to the ARASAAC website you can edit symbols to change the skin tone and hair color. And then export the pic as a .png (has transparent background) and save it on the Camera Roll to import into any app. https://arasaac.org/pictograms/search.


Other special needs apps:

Speech to Symbol Pro, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/speech-to-symbol-pro/id1571118745 (iOS Universal, iOS 12.0 or later. Most recent update: 10/24/21 (version 1.0.3). Price: $6.99. Note: This is NOT an AAC app. It’s a quick way to create visual supports as you speak. I like being able to customize it to add symbols or pictures. That way everything you speak can have a symbol. You can find more free ARASAAC symbols using the free Search on ARASAAC app. Or by going out to their website. If you go to the website you can even edit symbols to change the skin tone and hair color. And then export the pic as a .png (has transparent background) and save it on the Camera Roll to import into this app. https://arasaac.org/pictograms/search. There’s also the option to tap each symbol or the entire sequence to have them spoken. This turns them into a visual support with voice output.

Free lite version: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/speech-to-symbol/id1571118842)


Niki Music, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/niki-music/id594214788, iOS Universal, iOS 10.0 or later. Most recent update: 9/9/21. Price: $0.99. Nice simple adapted access for music. Long press to add a cover image to a song. Can rearrange the songs while in edit mode. Secured with parental gate. More info: http://www.nikitalk.com/Music.aspx


Niki Play, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/niki-play/id803959942, iOS Universal, iOS 10.0 or later. Most recent update: 6/12/21. Price: $3.99. Niki Play allows kids to enjoy their favorite videos and music independently. Parents can download to import videos directly from YouTube or from the Camera Roll, play songs from the Apple Music library, save voice recordings and pictures. I love that the app is secured with a parental gate, that the app isn’t linking to YouTube (it’s downloading those videos directly for use within the app), has options for 1, 2, 4, 6 or 9 items per screen and offers a way to rearrange the items. More info: http://www.nikitalk.com/Play.aspx


Niki Diary, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/niki-diary/id852210800, iPad only, iPad iOS 12.0 or later. Most recent update: 10/30/21. Price $6.99. A multimedia calendar diary to tell people around them what they did or what they plan to do a certain day using images, videos, text and speech. Can also be used as a memory support. More info: http://www.nikitalk.com/Diary.aspx.


Niki Story, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/niki-story/id634298391, iPad only, iOS 10.0 or later. Most recent update: 9/9/21. Price: $4.99. Multimedia social stories, photo album, talking books, etc… More info: http://www.nikitalk.com/Story.aspx


Niki Agenda, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/niki-agenda/id588716014, iPad only, iOS 8.0 or later. Most recent update: 10/24/17 (it’s been over 4 years since the last update). Price: $5.99. A daily/weekly visual schedule calendar. Separate iPhone version. Also available on Android and Amazon Fire. More info: http://www.nikitalk.com/Agenda.aspx


Niki Time, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/niki-time/id603548493, iPad only, iOS 10.0 or later. Most recent update: 9/9/21. Price: $2.99. A clock/calendar learning tool. More info: http://www.nikitalk.com/Time.aspx


Niki Words, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/niki-words/id743777884, iPad only, iOS 8.0 or later. Most recent update: 9/29/17 (it’s been over 4 years since the last update). Price: $5.99. Fun and Learning with Letters. Includes Play with words (drag the letters to make up the word matching the picture), Crosswords & Magic blackboard. More info: http://www.nikitalk.com/Words.aspx


Morena the Full Belly Whale, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/morena-the-full-belly-whale/id666194664, iPad only, iOS 12.0 or later. Most recent update: 11/6/21 (version 1.1.0). Free. Interactive book app.


Website: http://www.nikitalk.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nikitalkaac/ (be sure to “like” and “follow” for the most up to date info about his apps)

Instagram: https://instagram.com/nikitalkaac (be sure to “follow” for updates about his apps)

YouTube channel: https://youtube.com/user/NikiTalkAAC (be sure to “subscribe” and toggle on “notifications” to see new videos about his apps)

See the personal story behind why he creates apps: http://www.nikitalk.com/About.aspx


Notes:

  • Prices outside of the USA will vary based on the exchange rate
  • Prices are subject to change
  • I used each of these apps on my iPad 8th gen running iOS 14.5 to test out features as I was working on this blog post. I have purposefully not updated to iOS 15 yet due to ongoing reports of problems with it in several AAC and SLP therapy apps . So I have no way to know if there are any issues with any of these apps on iOS 15.0, 15.1 or 15.2.

Have a question? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/.


Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting

Comparison of USA English Child Voices in iOS AAC Apps

After I posted about the new Almagu voices in the LAMP Words for Life and the TouchChat with WordPower AAC apps, I received a few comments that some folks felt these new voices were quieter than what they were currently using.

That wasn’t my first impression of the voices so being the tech geeky SLP that I am I decided to do my own comparison experiment.

Of course I don’t have a soundproof booth and a real decibel meter but I kept the parameters equal when comparing these voices.

Test phrase: “This is a test of loudness with the Decibel 10 app”

Devices:

* iPad 8th gen at full volume measured in a quiet room in my home

* iPhone 11 at the same distance for each test using the Decibel X app: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/decibel-x-db-sound-level-meter/id448155923

I only tested child voices in USA English since that is my native language and the age of voices that I used the most with patients.


TouchChat with WordPower

Almagu:

• Kessie: 72dB

• Lisa: 72dB

• Noah: 73dB

• Sophia: 72dB

Acapela:

• Kenny: 72dB

• Nelly: 73dB


LAMP Words for Life:

Almagu:

• Kessie: 72dB

• Lisa: 73dB

• Noah: 72dB

• Sophia: 73dB

Ivona:

• Justin: 71dB

• Ivy: 70dB


Proloquo2Go:

High Quality Acapela:

• Ella: 74dB

• Josh: 73dB


Speak for Yourself:

CereProc:

• Jordan: 74dB

• Andy: 74dB


Grid for iPad:

Nuance:

• Joelle: 74dB

• Noelle: 74dB

Grid for iPad also has the USA English child voices from Acapela & CereProc. The results were the same as seen above.


Results:

* All of the voices that I tested were very similar in loudness.

* I did note some slightly odd intonation in the Almagu voices. In particular the vowels were a little off and how smoothly an utterance was spoken wasn’t quite as good as the Josh & Ella voices, the Joelle & Noelle voices and the Jordan & Andy voices. But this could be influenced by how many years I have had experience listening to those vs. these brand new Almagu voices. What’s interesting is when I played the same phrases in the Almagu voices on the TouchChat and LAMP WFL websites the quality was better there compared to what I heard in the apps.


It’s exciting to have new diverse child, teen, adult and elder voice options!

The release notes for the 2.34 app updates for LAMP WFL & TouchChat both indicated that the Almagu Spanish voices are coming soon: https://www.prc-saltillo.com/articles/app-enhancements-including-new-inclusive-voices?mode=view


Have a question? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/.


Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting

Decorate a Christmas Tree Cookie in the FREE Draw and Tell HD App

One of my all time favorite FREE apps is Draw and Tell HD by Duck Duck Moose:

* https://apps.apple.com/us/app/draw-and-tell-hd/id504752087 (iPad only version)

* https://apps.apple.com/us/app/draw-and-tell/id504750621 (iPhone / iPod Touch version)


See how to import your own picture into the app to decorate a Christmas Tree cookie in this video:


Here’s the undecorated Christmas Tree cookie on a black background in case you’d like to use it in the app: https://bit.ly/ChristmasTreeCookieHighContrast (save it to the Camera Roll on your iPad or iPhone by doing a long press and tap “Save to Photos”)


Have a question? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/.


Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting

Updated Feature Matching Chart for the Top 11 Robust iOS Symbol-Based AAC Apps (12-4-21)

This month’s update for the Feature Matching Chart for the top 11 robust iOS symbol-based AAC apps has been uploaded on Teachers Pay Teachers: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Feature-Matching-Chart-for-the-Top-11-Robust-iOS-Symbol-Based-AAC-Apps-6867853.

Ko-Fi subscribers can access it on today’s post 12-4-21: https://ko-fi.com/post/Updated-AAC-Feature-Matching-Chart-12-4-21-P5P379G60


Have a question? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/.


Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting