The APPlicator - switch access to MORE apps and music too!

In the beginning, there was no switch access to the iPad/iPhone/iPod touch.  Over time, however, a small range of apps have been released which offer internal switch access - but unfortunately different apps were released along with different switch interfaces and a confusing picture of switch access to the iPad began to appear. (For more information on this topic read "How do I use a switch with an iPad")

Luckily for us, the APPlicator from Pretorian changes all that!

The APPlicator is a very easy to setup interface.  I simply pulled it out of the box, charged it (rechargable via USB cable) and then turned it on by pressing any of the buttons on the front. My iPad saw it almost immediately and I simply had to select it to connect - no need to enter a string of numbers to make the connection work.  Once I was connected, I just needed to plug up to four switches into the switch ports on the interface and I was ready to go. (And as a security measure, once the APPlicator is connected to one iPad, it isn't available to any others until it has been reset).

One of the very exciting features of the APPlicator is that it can be configured to send up to 22 different commands/keystrokes to your iPad.  However - I think one of the best features is that the default settings provide access to the four most commonly used keystrokes within switch accessible iPad apps. Switch port 1 is setup to send "space" - which allows me to access any app programmed for the Blue2. Switch port 2 is setup to send "enter" which is also used as the switch 2 keystroke for Blue2 compatible apps. Switch port 3 is setup to send ~1 - which then allows me to access any app programmed for the RJ Cooper/Therapy Box switch interfaces. And switch port 4 sends ~3 which is the switch 2 keystroke for the same group of apps.  To control different apps, the easiest option therefore is just to move the switch or switches into different ports rather than changing the functions the ports are set to.

However, if I want more control of what the switch ports do, I can select any of the four switch ports and change which keystroke it sends - options include up and down arrows, left and right arrows and music controls. While these aren't needed for any of the current switch accessible apps, this may give you access to some eBook readers or music apps and certainly gives you a wider range of options for compatibility with future apps.

On top of this high level of switch app compatibility, the APPlicator also offers some great control over the music on your iPad/iPhone/iPod touch. The four switch interfaces can be set to control music functions such as play/pause, next track, previous track, volume up, volume down and mute. The interface can be setup with the most important function set for each switch port - or for a user with a single switch port 1 could just be set to play and pause music so the user can work their way through a playlist.

Another option for playing music is the timed play mode. Switch ports can be setup to play a song for either 10 seconds or 30 seconds - enabling an iPad to be used for practicing switch presses in the same way we used to do it with a PowerLink and a cassette deck.

In addition, there is a clever QuickMedia mode which allows you to quickly move between controlling apps and controlling music.  Most switch users will not be able to do this independently - but by pressing the QuickMedia button on the front of the interface, the switch ports automatically move into music control mode. Switch port 1 allows you to play/pause music, switch port 2 moves to the next track, switch port 3 moves to the previous track and switch port 4 offers 10 second timed music play. Once the user has launched some music, another press of the QuickMedia button returns the interface to the normal app control functions.  This clever feature gives support staff the option of changing a user quickly between music mode and switch app scanning mode without changing any of the switch port functions.

Overall I am very impressed with the APPlicator.  If you are making the decision of "which switch interface do I get" this is the current obvious choice as it is the only interface compatible with all the existing switch accessible apps - and on top of that offers control over the iPad/iPhone/iPod touch music functions which none of the pre-existing switch interfaces offer.  Even with the upcoming more comprehensive switch interface options, such as the Tecla Shield, I think this interface is worth considering for many developing switch and scanning users due to the ease of setup and use and the wide range of compatibility and functions on offer.

PS -  Testing this interface prompted a fairly large update to our Switch Accessible Apps list. This now has an extra column showing the keystrokes each different app require, so that those using the APPlicator can set their switch ports to the right option.  The list is available from here. (edited to add - this list has been discontinued)



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Comments (15)

  1. Pingback: Accessible iPad Apps -

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  7. Steve



    Thanks for the interesting article. The switch box sounds great. Can it control the camera on the iPad? Or is there a camera app that it can control?



    • Reply

      Hi Steve,

      The APPlicator has a mode where it can take photos as a single switch press - once the photo you want is framed you just press the switch to take it. In this mode it can't control the other features of the camera but it can take photos. However, with the new switch control in iOS7 you could control all the features of the camera app on the iPad with scanning as well with this interface.



  8. Pingback: How do I use a Switch or Joystick with an iPad? – October 2012 update! | Jane Farrall Consulting

  9. Amy


    Hi Jane,

    I'm hoping this problem is just a simple setting option that I am missing....

    I have an APPlicator switch interface that I have been trying with a child, and even when I try it with apps that I know are switch-accessible I am not able to make it function properly. Rather than being able to use the switch to select something in the app, a blue vertical bar that runs the length of the screen appears and scans back and forth across the screen from left to right (across the whole screen, not selecting available spots on the screen that would navigate the app). It think I am on the correct mode for the apps I am you know what the problem could be?

    Thanks in advance for your response!

    • jane


      HI Amy,

      I think from your second comment you figured out it's the gliding cursor - which it is 🙂



    • jane


      HI Craig - sorry for the slow response! You can use the volume up button on iDevices to take a photo - so just make sure your APPlicator is set to volume up. This means having your mode set to H if you're using switch port #1. And I'm really glad you like my articles. Jane

  10. Lynne Wilson


    I cant get my applicator box out of music play mode. It worked once for scanning then after that I've never been able to get it out of music mode. I've tried pushing the first button, the light comes on for Quick Access but still only plays my music. HELP!!!

    • jane


      HI Lynne - sorry for my slow response to your comment but I have been away. The best thing to do for technical support is to contact the company that makes the APPlicator - Pretorian Technologies. Their website is Jane

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