8 Features and Changes I'd Like to See in iOS 8

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

The June 2 WWDC keynote—and presumably, the first public showcase and beta of iOS 8—is fast approaching. Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been seeing some iOS 8 “feature lists," for lack of a better term, circulating around the internet. Jonathan Mosen from Mosen Consulting even put together a "Top 10 Accessibility Wish List" for iOS 8, which is definitely worth a read if you have not done so already. (After this article was published, I became aware of a few more accessibility wish lists. You can find links to the other round-ups at the bottom of this article, under the heading "More Accessibility Wish Lists".)

Naturally, everyone has their own unique perspective on what features and improvements they would like to see in the next big release of any software. With that in mind, I thought it’d be fun to detail my hopes and dreams for iOS 8, both in terms of accessibility and in general:

1. More VoiceOver Voices

It seems that with every major iOS update, Apple makes improvements to the text-to-speech engine used by VoiceOver. iOS 7 allows users to download more than one Enhanced Quality voice to their device—space permitting, of course—so it seems only logical that the natural progression in iOS 8 would be to allow for voice gender selection—similar to the Siri implementation. While it would be great to see the Siri voices (or better yet, NeoSpeech James) available in iOS 8, I think it is far more likely that the Nuance range of voices would be used because of the vast multilingual support. On another note, here’s hoping Apple adds Hebrew support, as I’ve read that that is another area where improvements could be made. (And for the record, I would totally use Eloquence if Apple ever added it.)

2. Better Battery Life

Starting with iOS 7.1, I began experiencing a higher-than-normal amount of battery drain on my iPhone 5S. I believe I have tried everything out there, up to and including having the device replaced by Apple and setting up the device as new (without restoring from a backup), with no luck. While iOS 7.1.1 is said to have improved battery life for some users, I am not one of them.

3. A Fix for the VoiceOver Navigation Issues in Safari

Ever since iOS 6, navigating websites using Safari has been somewhat challenging for VoiceOver users. In particular, navigating by headings is inconsistent, and focus randomly jumps to different locations on the page for no particular reason. This has no doubt been a very difficult bug for Apple to fix—or, by my logic, it would have been done already. So here’s hoping iOS 8 brings with it the Safari fixes many users have been hoping for.

4. Touch ID Refinements

When I first heard about how one could use Touch ID to make App Store and iTunes purchases, I was really, really excited. However, in order to use Touch ID for iTunes purchases, one must also have a passcode enabled on their device. I have never used a passcode on my phone, mainly because I do not store sensitive information on my devices; I have Find My iPhone enabled; and because entering a passcode each and every time I want to unlock my screen is just too time-consuming for me. Of course, my outlook would be totally different if I needed the additional security features...but I don’t. With that said, I would like to see Touch ID be usable for App Store and iTunes purchases without needing a passcode to unlock the device. Unless there is an element to this process that I am forgetting about, ones’ iTunes account would be just as secure as if the device had a passcode...because a recognized fingerprint from Touch ID would still be required to make any purchases.

5. More Control over the Alarm Clock

I use the built-in clock app on my iPhone to wake me up every morning, with the alarms set for Monday through Friday. To ensure that I do not oversleep, I set a couple alarms in the hopes that I will be awake when the first one rings and not need the others. Once I am actually out of bed, I tell Siri to turn off all of my alarms so I do not have unnecessary alarms ringing at later times during the morning. The problem is that I must remember to turn the alarms back on manually every night. It would be great to see a “Turn off my alarms for today” feature, where the alarm could be silenced for that day only but not for any days in the future.

6. True archiving of text messages

Before I got my iPhone, I used Windows Mobile with Mobile Speak. One of the great features of that device—yes, Windows Mobile actually did have some nice features—was the ability to actually archive text messages in a specific folder. Unless there is something really obvious I am missing—which, I admit, is entirely possible—there is no way to archive text messages...other than to keep the conversation thread in the message list. While this is certainly a workable solution, ones’ message list can very quickly become cluttered if they have messages from several different contacts that they wish to save.

7. A Choice of Data Sources in the Weather App

I consider myself to be somewhat of a weather enthusiast, and I have very particular needs in a weather app. In the United States, weather forecasts are provided to the public both by for-profit weather companies and by the National Weather Service (NWS). The National Weather Service has offices across the country which are tasked with forecasting the weather for a specific local area; in my experience, the NWS forecasts are the most accurate available in the U.S. As Apple’s iOS is very much a global product, it is totally understandable that Apple needs to use a source that can provide weather data around the world. With that said, though, I would love it if iOS 8 included NWS weather data—or, at the very least, a selection of weather information providers from which to choose. I know it’s a long shot, but I did say that part of this article represented my “dreams” for iOS 8...

8. A Return of the Classic iOS Notification Sounds

With the iOS 7 redesign, Apple introduced a set of new tones and sounds for notifications. Yes, I know that the legacy iOS sounds were sort of preserved in iOS 7. I say “sort of,” because they were “remixed”, for lack of a better term, and they simply do not sound the same. In particular, the Tri-tone—the three-note ascending tone that played for new text messages in iOS 6 and which still signifies new Voicemails in iOS 7—has been reworked, with a higher-frequency tone (playing the same notes) added on. If you're wondering what I'm talking about, go into Settings> Sounds> New Voicemail, listen to the default tone, and then listen to this video of the original Tri-tone on YouTube. Maybe I’m just a die-hard, but when compared to the "remastered" classic sounds, I far prefer the originals that were a part of iOS since day one.

Conclusion

Regardless of whether iOS 8 contains all 8 of the features and changes I describe in this list—or none of them at all—it will no doubt be a welcome update with many new features and improvements. Be sure to stay tuned to the AppleVis website, as well as our Twitter feed, as we’ll be covering the WWDC keynote on June 2.

So, what features and changes would you like to see in iOS 8? Sound off in the comments!

More Accessibility Wish Lists

Below are links to some more accessibility wish lists, for both iOS 8 and Mac OS X:

  1. iOS 8 changes we'd like to see: Accessibility by Steven Aquino
  2. My Top 10 Accessibility Wish List for iOS 8 by Jonathan Mosen
  3. Round-up: iOS 8 Accessibility Wishes by Ricky Buchanan
  4. My Top Ten Accessibility Wishes for OS X 10.10 by Alex Hall

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20 Comments

#1 With regards to Touch ID

Club AppleVis Member

Michael: I am sorry if I am reading this wrong, but with Touch ID you don't have to enter your pass code each and every time you unlock your device. When you restart your phone, you have to enter it in the first time, but after that, whenever you unlock your phone, you use the Touch ID to unlock it without having to enter in the pass code. Sorry if I read your post wrong.

#2 A Couple More…

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

I agree with all the points in the article. Also, Jonathan Mosen's blog post (linked in the first paragraph) is an excellent read. A few items I'd like to see in iOS8:

  1. VoiceOver needs a global pronunciation dictionary, preferably with regular expression support. This would, especially if combined with new voices, make reading in apps like Kindle or iBooks an even better experience, plus fix mangled names or other proper nouns.
  2. A way for speech to continue while the screen is locked, again mostly for book-reading apps, or apps like Blindsquare that update you constantly.
  3. I'd love to see the (currently unused) two-finger left and right swipes used for something. I'm not sure exactly what just yet, but my first thought is a dedicated rotor setting. For example, you can set your rotor to links or form fields for moving around a webpage, but leave your two-finger left/right swipes set to headings. No matter what your rotor is on, you always have heading navigation available. Or, in say-all mode, these two gestures could move back/forward by small increments, like a fast forward/rewind control, perfect for when you'r reading a long chunk of text but miss a few seconds due to some noise around you. Or, what if they were used for text selection, in place of the pinch in/pinch out gestures that most people seem to have problems using efficiently?
  4. There absolutely needs to be a way to set how long notifications stay on braille displays. Currently, the default is about three seconds. This is too quick for some notifications, like banners, but too slow for others you don't care about, like "calendar event detected" or "double tap to open". A user-defined display time would be good, but also a way to distinguish between hints and notification banners. Chances are, you want banners to show longer so you can read them, whereas hints are normally not as important. Space-n is a great command, but having more control over such a subjective thing as message display time seems an obvious feature.
  5. Open the rotor to developers. Offering an API to let apps add their own options to the rotor makes a lot of sense, to me at least. What if your Twitter app let you rotor to "reply options" and "URL options", as well as the usual "action" item. You could use the rotor for everything and not have to remember if something is a double tap, triple tap, or tap and hold. Plus, giving developers new tools usually results in really cool things no one ever thought of.

#3 Touch ID

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

If I read it right, what Michael is saying is that you need to enable passcode lock to take advantage of using Touch ID for purchases. If someone does not need to lock their device with a passcode/fingerprint, they cannot use their fingerprint for the App Store; it is all or nothing.

To add to this, Touch ID should be opened up to any app. Journals, databases, banking, and other apps should be able to request a fingerprint before proceeding, and they should all be independent of the passcode lock setting on the device.

#4 Exactly

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hi Sockhopsinger,

You make a good point about Touch ID. I'll go back in and clarify the wording, as I did mean something a little different.

My frustration with Touch ID, as Mehgcap said, is that I must either use my fingerprint or passcode to unlock my device. While unlocking the device with Touch ID is very simple, it's just another step I need to take after double-tapping on the unlock button. This comes into play not when I want to open my screen, but if I want to reply to a text message or another notification on my lock screen. I double-tap the notification, then have to swipe my fingerprint...whereas with no passcode/fingerprint all I need do is open the notification with a double-tap.

#5 Gotcha

Club AppleVis Member

Now that makes a little more sense. :)

Also, I totally agree with Mehgcap regarding app developers being able to use the roter.

#6 First and most important

First and most important thing is: try not to break the amount of things broken when IOS 7 was released.
I supose IOS8 is not a complete brand new system as IOS 7 was, so I highly expect that not that many things in terms of accessibility are broken as they were in ios 7.
For folks like me who use the iphone to do almost everything from reading tto managing e0-mails, have something broken is way too critical. This is why I am still with IOS 6, as for me the only acceptable update was the 7.1.3 which seensto habe fixed everything other IOS 7 versions broken.
Another one is the following: Let the users choose their voices. For portuguese and other languages, the nuance ios 6 voices worked great and no other voices seen to be acceptable. This is such a huge pain for folks who use their ios devices as the main reading product and we simplely can't go back and use the voices that worked for us.
We need some way of interacting with components (yes, like we do on mac os). For an example, go ahead and try to select anything that has a onChange event that submits the page whenever a selection changes in a combobox using safari. JAWS solved this ´problem by allowing folks to do a alt down arrow and selecting the wanted option in a combo, sending the onchange event only when enter / alt up arrow were pressed. On mac os, you can interact with the combo and do kit a similar thing, but not on ios, making the use of such pages almost null.
If old voices can not return, provide a pronunciation dictionary so that we can try to undo the buggy pronunciation rules introduced by Apple / Nuance.
Do allow scripting, if possible. The amount of hard to use apps that could be improved if we could script them iis big.
If it's not possible, at least do allow voiceover settings to be shared between devices.

#7 A couple of features that haven't been suggested.

Hi all. Interesting read, Michael thanks for that. While it's not a big deal the tritone changed, I can adapt, Here are a couple of things i'd like. 1. I'd really like there to be dismiss all notifications int he notifications center. right now, you have to clear each one, and with twitter, Foursquare, my local news app, audio boo, and others, that I see and forget about, I get a bit annoyed taking minutes to clear it all out. If i've missed something let me know.
2. I'd definitely like more battery life, though I'm running a five and after resetting my phone it stopped draining so quickly.
3. Another one I'd like is to have the actions value set globably on the phone. so not just deleting text messages, but deleting email or other things with a flick of the fingers. Now that I write this, this might better be suggested let the developers use that setting. I like flicking down once, to delete instead of edit,t hen delete. I think that's it for now. Hope i made a bit of sense.

#8 Ios 8 accessibility

FYI. although the code box shows up when the iPhone is lock, you only need to use your finger print if you have this feature on. The only time it ask you for the pass code, if you restart the phone. With the iTune store also you can use finger print to purchase albums or whatever. It works well. What I would like to see regarding accessibility is making safari much responsive to accessibility and map.

#9 My wish list

Club AppleVis Member

There are a few things I would like to see, though for the most part I am happy with the current iOS version.

I agree about web browsing being a bit of a pain, especially with VoiceOver, on these devices. I use my iPad to access this site, and one or two others, but I prefer using my computer for most other websites, simply because I can navigate the site more effectively, either visually or with VoiceOver.

Secondly, as a Bluetooth keyboard user, one thing I sometimes get annoyed with is VoiceOver's tendency to announce what text field I am in, and its contents, every time I stop typing. I can tap the Control key to stop it, but when it happens every time I stop, which may be numerous times while I am composing something like this post, it gets to be bothersome.

Something else I'd like to see is more keyboard shortcuts, perhaps even shortcuts that are user configurable. With my Bluetooth keyboard, I keep wanting to do things with a keyboard shortcut I am familiar with on my Mac, but there are only a handful of shortcuts available at present. I am referring to both VoiceOver commands and general shortcuts here.

That's all for now. I'll post more ideas if I think of them.

#10 clear all notifications

I, too, would love this feature to be added. The flick down actions menu should also be global where appropriate; flicking down to delete something is great, but it only works in a few places; would love to see it work everywhere possible.

Of course, the number one item on my wish list would be the ability to use different voices with IOS. I've grown to tolerate Samantha because out of the voices available, she is the easiest for me to hear and understand, but I'm never going to actually *like* her voice. If we could use acapella, neospeech or Ivona voices with VO, that would be fantastic; I'd even be willing to purchase a voice from a 3rd party developer if it would allow me to use it with VO. Of course, the ideal would be if apple just changed it so we could use the new Siri voices with VO. If I could use either the US or UK male siri voices, I'd be a very happy camper indeed.

I guess all we can do is wait and see what WWDC and IOS 8 bring; I know the voices thing has been on everyone's wishlist for a long time, though, so I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high.

#11 My Request

hi all.
if these are all your desires and also mine, I think we should send a list of all of them for
appleaccessibility.@com.
i think the team of support engineers do not know the accessibility of everyone's wishes and power beyond what supposedly can have done to add some more new features at the request of our desires for IOS8/voiceover.
instead of sharing all these desires only at the Apple forum vile among us, I think, that we should send a list of all of them for the department 's accessibility apple.
if we do not, we run the risk of not even half carried half of all these desires.
if we do, I think we still in time to make the team work some of our desires.
I believe they will not guess our wishes and just do what is on their mind and not always result when things are not heard.
so let's make ourselves heard to apple support accessibility to see if some of these desires become realized in IOS8?

I would not mind to do so with your permission, but I confess I 'm not very good with English especially in writing.
thanks all.
sorry for my bad inglish.

cheers.

#12 my request.

sorry the title of my comment for some reason was not the correct word.
correct is:
my request.
thanks.

#13 Brilliant suggestions

There are some wonderful suggestions here, I especially like the idea of 2-finger swite for a determined rota setting, would certainly make Safari easier to use when I want to switch between heading and link navigation. Also would be better than the pinch gesture for selecting text, which is tricky. Good thinking!

I am such a fan of my phone, having only had it a couple of months, I almost feel guilty complaining. But I would add a couple of things here:
1) Please fix the bug, where with Voiceover running, the volume of alerts (excluding ringtone) is tied to the general audio volume and so goes up and down with the volume buttons, irrespective of the sound volume set, or the status of the setting to adjust with buttons. It's been kicking around for years according to forum posts, and it's annoying. I contacted Apple Accessibility about it.
2) I wish Voiceover (British) read more emphatically to indicate an exclamation mark as Jaws does, and Talks used to.
3) Fix the sound settings for Facebook and Twitter: these are supposed to be integrated in to IOS, but whatever alert sound I select in settings for "tweet" and "Facebook post", I only get Tri-tone when a notification is pushed (and a quiet Tri-tone, because of point 1).

Good idea to collate and send to Apple. May be too late for IOS 8 but these new ideas can be considered in future, and the bugs can always be fixed as soon as they figure out how. I did tell them I could not commend them more for what they have done before whining about the volume bug.

#14 Accessibility reps don't even know some bugs exist

Apple accessibility reps don't even know safari focus bug exists. Every time I call in apple accessibility, I report various bugs. I ask each rep if they have heard about focus bug and they don't even know that it exists prior to speaking with me. Interestingly, it's not just Safari but any browser based application. For example, the focus bug occurs on apps such as InoTechNews or google chrome. It occurs in cnet and blastr. Any app retrieving info from their website.

Similarly, a new bug has begun to pop up where voiceover stops responding when hitting a new frame on a webpage or any of the apps I've mentioned above. For example, in some webpages when going from frame to frame, voiceover seems to stop responding and can take up to 1 to 2 minutes to begin responding again. The person presses the home button, they will get voiceover responsiveness back, but going back into the application such a Safari results in the app crashing requiring a user to go into the app switcher shut it down and restart the application. Hopefully, the accessibility team has seen this bug and made efforts to submit feedback in order for it to be repaired.

Ironically, you used to be able to reproduce the focus bug on Apple this for some reason it doesn't happen on this website anymore at least on my end. It pops up randomly depending on what pager on though.

#15 Accessibility Reps and HTML Focus

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

As I understand it, the people you talk to when you call Apple's accessibility number aren't necessarily VoiceOver experts, and aren't on the accessibility team. Instead, they are higher-level managers, trained in the use of iOS accessibility tools but not actually in charge of anything. In other words, they are more advanced tech support, they are not programmers or engineers. The reason you are finding that not everyone knows about a bug is simply because you are not talking to the team that is in charge of handling the bug; the people you talk to are passing it along just like you do when you submit feedback to Apple.

Regarding Safari's focus issues, that is a longstanding bug that drives me crazy. The reason you are seeing it in so many apps is that, at least this is my suspicion, the problem is in the HTML viewer that iOS offers to developers. When you make an app, you can basically tell iOS to download some web content and put it on the screen, and it does the rest. If there is a VoiceOver bug in the element that does all the HTML handling, it will affect any app that uses the tool. The good news is that a fix should magically cause any app using the UI control to start working normally again.

#16 Touch ID

What will be best to have a choice of using passcode and touch ID. It is a pain to see the touch ID popup when I use my finger print. What I would like to see is giving the choice of using one or the other. I do not want to have touch ID to open apps if I read this well. Maybe next time they will do so. I hear that the radio in iTunes will be an app and no longer be part of music app.

#17 (It's probably far too late now :-) but) My Wishlist :-) ...

1) Ability to control the iPhone by only using a Braille display (for example, dots 1, 2, 5, + Space).
2) What works with Bluetooth keyboards should also work with braille displays: Ability to 'wake up' the iPhone with a display.
3) No longer having to press some button on the iPhone to 'wake it up' from the standby mode when the screen is locked, because we can now use our braille display. :-)
4) The iPhone should not disconnect from braille displays when the Screen is locked, so we can use the display to 'wake up' the phone.

Sorry :-) . I know this was very annoying :-) . But really, that would be at the very top of my wishlist. There are other things too, but they're not important enough to mention them.

And I also think the suggestions here are very interesting. Of course it would be great if the VO bug was fixed, and it would no longer 'move around' like this on websites. Also, being able to set the volume only for VO would be great. And having a (greater) choice of VO voices would also be nice.
But as far as I'm concerned, being able to control the iPhone only by using a braille display (i.e. not having to press the Home button when the screen is locked) would really make a lot of diference, and make our lives easier :-) .

#18 My thoughts on anticipated features in IOS 8.

1. I'd like to confirm that an open or adjustable rotor for app developers will be superb.
Suppose that in contact you can have a deleting setting on your rotor to delete selected or delete all.
Or, you have another one on your rotor to turn on and off the text prediction capability in editable areas instantly.
2. Another feature that I like to confirm its usefulness is the use of a global dictionary on voiceover to be used in a specific language or a specific TTS and also it can be shared with others or can be restored just like what we can do on fleksy and possibly some other applications.
3. Covering more languages by opening voiceover to other TTS softwares available on appstore to cover more languages such as my mother tongue, meaning Farsi that are not covered by Nuance voices at all.
4. A transfer mode on I devices that when you connect them to a PC or Mac computer, you can choose between different methods of data transfer.
This will be useful in case you want to use your IDevice as a portable data storage like a USB hard drive.
5. A definable percentage of your I Device to be used as recycle bin.
This will be useful in case something is accidentally deleted and you need it again.
Also, it can be used for app updates in case you are not satisfied with the new version so that you can restore the version you were using before.
In this case, available applications on your I device must be moved to this reserved space as soon as you update an application using your app store available on your device.
Note: Currently on ITunes, when you upgrade an application the previous version of that application is automatically moved to recycle bin and it is not directly deleted.
At least, on my windows 7 machine this is the case and I am satisfied with it completely.

#19 Losing one's place!

Something I would very much like to see, and which I know someone has mentioned elsewhere, is a gesture that allows you to get back to the place where you were last. I like to read newspapers on my iPhone quite a lot, and often these are provided by what was formerly National Talking newspapers and magazines in a single webpage, with articles separated by headings. Great for IOS navigation that, I find. it really works. But if I am on a train and get jolted and inadvertently touch the screen, I lose my place! I then have to trawl through the Daily Telegraph, Spectator or whatever to get back to where I was. I wish there was a way I could get back there more quickly.

Some great suggestions here as well and i agree with most of them. Just a point about touch ID and passcode: I quite like the high level of security we have, and it's quite useful to have the passcode instead of the touch ID on rare occasions where the phone doesn't recognise your fingerprint e.g. when hands are damp, particularly cold and suchlike. I appreciate it can be a bit tiresome entering a passcode. That's why I didn't have a passcode on my device for ages and ages. I have to say, though, that you do get used to it. I even have mine set to erase after ten failed attempts now. What I'm getting at is that, from a security point of view, I think Apple have it about right.

#20 Now that iOS eight is out…

A post detailing what bugs and feature requests have been fixed and which ones have not been addressed would be great.