Apple Confirms Peek and Pop Features of New iPhone 6S Will Be Accessible to VoiceOver Users

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Apple this week launched the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. One of the headline features introduced on these is 3D Touch, a slight variation on the Force Touch seen on the Apple Watch and newest MacBooks and heralded by Apple as “the next generation of multi‑touch”.

Wired offers a good explanation of 3D Touch which we will share here so as to avoid the need to reinvent the wheel:

3D Touch basically enables the phone to measure not just when you move your finger up and down, left and right, but now also through. When you press a little harder, you get what’s called “Peek”—a pop-up of the contents of an email, or the status of a flight, or a quick way to call the business you’re tapping on in Maps. Press more, and you “Pop.” That’s when you jump to a new place in the operating system. You can press on icons on the homescreen, too, and jump straight to the selfie cam or call your mom without ever actually opening the Phone app.

It was perhaps not surprising that the introduction of a completely new form of interaction sparked some discussion and concern amongst VoiceOver users. As with accessibility support on the new Apple TV, VoiceOver users need not have worried; we are pleased to report that Apple has confirmed to us that the 3D Touch features on the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will be accessible to blind and low vision users.

With VoiceOver enabled, one can use the Peek and Pop features to access the aditional menu items or quick actions and flick through them using traditional flick gestures.

This is great, albeit not surprising, news. Yet again, it demonstrates how accessibility sits at the core of Apple's DNA.

It will be interesting to see if Apple has not simply made this 3D Touch accessible to those of us who rely on VoiceOver, but whether they have found ways in which it can be used to further enhance the iOS experience for blind and low vision users. If you have ideas of how this might be possible, we would love to hear them in the comments.

The new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are available for preorder now and will ship from September 25.

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Submitted by Devin Prater on Saturday, September 12, 2015

Club AppleVis Member

I wish Apple Accessibility would focus more on braille, like giving us the ability to know about formatting via the braille formatting symbols for bold, italics and such. I read a lot, and not having that while I read just makes me feel like Apple just crammed braille into the OS and just has left it like that for years. If Apple would slow down and look at stuff, they might "have the most stable version of iOS yet." But for now, no. Not yet.

Submitted by falcon wings on Sunday, September 13, 2015

This is good to know, and not surprising really. I hope I don't sound like a apple fanboy when I say this but what I've always seen at least when it comes to apple and accessibility is Apple is highly committed to accessibility. Not to just comply with rules and regs that exist but to actually go ahead and make stuff eazyer to use and improve
Most people using VoiceOver had trouble or were a bit slow when it came to typing on a ios device. So what does apple do? introduce a braille keyboard to make typing faster for the people who know braille. I for one was really surprised when this feature was added Because I wouldn't have expected a company to go so far and beyond what was needed. or at least what they could've gotten away with.

People complained about voices available on ios, enhance only available for the default languages,and were thinking if alex could be added in, so they whent ahead and made so you could manage the voices not just by the default language or region set but any voice that you had the space for and wanted,added alex to the list of available voices, and I here another voice feature that people wanted is coming up in ios9,too.
There are many more examples I could give as to how committed Apple is to accessibility , hell one of them is right here :d But I think this gets my point across.
So what I'm trying to say is Apple actually listens to what all of its users have to say,and although it may take time sometimes as it usually does with these things, in the end If a feature is viable it gets added in.

Great work Apple and the Apple accessibility team and the people who work on these accessibility features! keep it up. (that is if anyone of you happens to be reading this :d )
Falcon wings

Submitted by Greg on Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I'm trying to figure out whether to upgrade to an iPhone 6 or 6S. Main difference for me as a blind iPhone user seems to be 3D touch. Would like some feedback on how useful 3D touch actualy is for blind iPhone users. Thanks

Submitted by Joseph Westhouse on Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I hate to say it, but "how useful" 3D touch is is purely subjective. I'll admit I enjoy the convenience of pressing my phone icon and swiping right up to one of my favorites to make a phone call - totally accessible, but how "useful" is it? Well, it saves me probably one button press...maybe two seconds, or so. Sure, it adds up...but it all depends on your personal use habits. Another example - I use the stopwatch a lot at work, so being able to start the stopwatch directly from the Clock icon with 3D Touch saves me a second here or there. But you may not use these features. It all depends.

Honestly, my personal decision to get a 6S was made for reasons other than peek and pop. I enjoy having the opportunity to use it - but I wasn't buying a 6S just because I thought 3D touch would change my life. I heard that the processor was dramatically faster, and that the TouchID sensor was faster as well. Not sure how noticeable the difference is between the 6 and the 6S in these regards, but reviewers are talking a lot about how fast the 6S is. Also, I just wanted to stop being 1+ years behind. The farther up the product ladder you get, assuming you're on a traditional upgrade cycle, the longer it'll take for your phone to feel like it's getting left behind in terms of how well it functions with new OS releases, which gives you more flexibility to decide how long to wait before your next upgrade. That's how I see it, anyway. I can say I'm ludicrously happy with my 6S...but I also upgraded from a 4S, and I'm sure I'd be saying the same about a 6 - but I haven't used a 6, so I can't comment on any comparison between the two. Ultimately, the price difference was minimal enough (my carrier does a lease-style payment plan, so it was like a $4/month difference) that I didn't have a good reason NOT to get a 6S.

So maybe that's what my final advice is: instead of thinking, "Do I have a good enough reason to get a 6S?" Ask, "What reasons do I have NOT to get a 6S?" If they're compelling reasons, then get a 6, and I'm sure you'll be thrilled with it. If they're not compelling reasons, then get a 6S.

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