Apple has today released iOS 10.2 to the public.
For blind and low vision users, our limited testing suggests that Apple has made continued progress towards addressing the accessibility bugs present in iOS 10. However, despite this progress, our testing also suggests that a number of accessibility bugs have been introduced in this release—one of which we believe to be potentially critical for those who use the Focus line of braille displays. Thus, if you have not already updated your device to iOS 10.2, we strongly recommend that you read this post and any comments below before doing so.
As we always stress in these posts, it is impossible for us to test all devices, apps, and use cases. With this and the fact that the first version of iOS 10 introduced a number of bugs which were not common to all users and use cases, it is very likely that there are changes, regressions or improvements that we are not aware of at the time of posting. With this in mind, we would greatly appreciate your help in ensuring that the information on this page is as complete and accurate as possible. If you spot any accessibility-related changes in iOS 10.2, please do let us know in the comments.
Accessibility Bugs Introduced in iOS 10.2
- Users of the Freedom Scientific Focus line of braille displays may experience issues pairing their display with devices running iOS 10.2. The information we have available to us suggests that this issue primarily affects users who attempt to re-pair a Focus display which has previously been un-paired from the same iOS device, although in our testing it was also impossible to pair a Focus display for the first time when running iOS 10.2. It is our understanding that Focus displays paired before updating to iOS 10.2 should continue to work correctly. This issue was apparently discovered very late in the beta cycle, and Apple has assured us that a fix is in the works and will be released in the near future. In the meantime, we recommend that you do not upgrade to iOS 10.2 if you use a Focus braille display and have a use case which may require you to un-pair and re-pair the display, or if you may need to pair a Focus display for the first time before Apple releases a fix. At the time of posting, we believe that the Focus line of displays are the only displays affected by this issue; in addition to the Focus 14 Blue and Focus 40 Blue, the models we were able to test under iOS 10.2 include the Braille Edge, Braille Sense, Refreshabraille, VarioUltra, and Brailliant.
- When opening a message in the Mail app, VoiceOver focus is no longer automatically placed in the body of the message. To find the body of the message, the user must either swipe or explore by touch. It is our understanding that this change is not by design, and that we should expect to see this revert back to the previous behavior in a future iOS release.
- The VoiceOver rotor no longer consistently switches to the 'Actions' rotor item when VoiceOver focus lands on an element which has actions available.
- In certain situations, VoiceOver will randomly speak the contents of previous notifications which do not appear onscreen visually. This issue does not occur consistently, and the notifications are no longer spoken once speech is stopped or focus is moved to another element.
Accessibility Bugs Fixed in iOS 10.2
- It is once again possible to navigate by character when in a text field on a web page.
- Enhanced Quality voices no longer occasionally revert to their compact variants.
- The Enhanced Quality Siri voices are once again available for use with VoiceOver in all use cases.
- It is now possible to manage shared access in the Home app using VoiceOver.
- VoiceOver now correctly announces the status of the Love and Dislike buttons in the Music app.
- VoiceOver now correctly provides feedback on the current selection status when editing the list of mailboxes / folders in the Mail app.
- There is no longer a duplicated heading at the top of the 'For You' tab of the native News app.
- VoiceOver now behaves as expected when using 3D Touch and the scrub gesture inside Home Screen folders.
- VoiceOver rotor actions now work as expected in the 'Up Next' section of the Music app.
- VoiceOver now behaves as expected in the Weather app when you have multiple locations set.
- When new widgets are available while browsing the list of all widgets, VoiceOver correctly reads their names.
- It is once again possible to rearrange the order of favorites in the Phone app when VoiceOver is enabled.
New Features and Changes
In regard to general changes and new features, here are some that you may wish to explore in iOS 10.2:
- The new TV app introduced by Apple in its most recent keynote is coming to iOS with iOS 10.2. This new app is intended to be a central location for TV content and video subscriptions; and will suggest new shows based on your preferences. This app will replace the native Videos app. It is believed that the app will only be available in the US at launch, with other regional roll-outs expected to follow in coming months.
- iOS 10.2 introduces 72 new emojis. These include some new smiley and sick faces, new professions that include both men and women, more food essentials and a selfie arm.
- A new option enables you to preserve camera settings for the next time that you open the Camera app. So, instead of defaulting to the original camera settings every time you launch the app, you can choose what mode or filter to open on. This option is available under Photos and Camera in the Settings app.
How to Update to iOS 10.2
iOS 10.2 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings>General>Software Update) or via iTunes on your Mac or Windows PC. As always, we recommend making a backup of your device before performing any software update.