Accessibility Fixes And Improvements in iOS 8.1

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Apple Releases iOS 8.1 With a Number Of Fixes And Improvements For Blind And Low Vision Users

Following a short beta testing period, Apple today released iOS 8.1 to the public - the first major update to iOS 8 since its release last month. Along with the introduction of a number of new features, iOS 8.1 appears to include a number of accessibility-specific fixes and improvements.

Based upon what we have typically come to expect from a full point release of iOS, it is likely that some will be disappointed to see that this update does not include more fixes for the accessibility-related bugs that were introduced in iOS 8.0. However, it is worth noting that iOS 8.1 comes just a month after iOS 8.0, and that Apple appears to be working on a very different version schedule to what we have typically seen in the past. To illustrate, iOS 5.1 was released nearly five months after iOS 5.0; iOS 6.1 was released a little over four months after iOS 6.0; and iOS 7.1 was released nearly six months after iOS 7.0.

So, all that to say this: it's important to keep in mind that we are only a month into iOS 8, and isolating and fixing bugs takes time.

With Apple still needing to fit integration with the forthcoming Apple Watch into the life cycle of iOS 8, it is likely that we will see an iOS 8.2 (and possibly even an 8.3) release in the coming months. We can only hope that these - or any interim updates - will fix the outstanding bugs which are still affecting blind and low vision users.

Here are the fixes and improvements that we have found in our initial testing of iOS 8.1. Please do let us know in the comments any other changes that you find.

Accessibility-Related Fixes and Improvements in iOS 8.1

  1. Toggling the Braille Status Cell setting should no longer disable VoiceOver.

  2. Using the Handwriting Mode should no longer cause VoiceOver to crash.

  3. Typing Feedback now correctly reflects your setting (in earlier releases of iOS 8, there would be "echo" feedback, regardless of whether you had this enabled).

  4. A number of problems appear to have been resolved when using a bluetooth keyboard - for example, apps and VoiceOver should no longer crash, and VoiceOver key commands should work as expected.

  5. The Send button should now work when using the Share option to send a message from outside of the stock Messages app.

  6. The dialpad no longer appears to occasionally "stick" after entering a number.

  7. The bug which caused direct touch typing mode to prevent some third-party keyboards from working properly appears to be resolved. (Most notably, this bug prevented Fleksy from working, although there are still issues with this app. For now, we do not know if this is due to other VoiceOver issues or bugs in Fleksy itself.).

  8. The Purchase buttons in the iTunes Store, App Store and iBooks Store now appear to behave more reliably.

  9. When VoiceOver automatically switches languages, it should now use the Enhanced Quality voice if it is installed.

  10. Web form labels should now read correctly.

  11. There appear to be improvements which make it less likely that your device will auto-lock whilst VoiceOver is speaking.

  12. When using the Zoomed Display mode on an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, the touch and visual location of elements should now match.

Accessibility-Related Bugs Introduced in iOS 8.1

As is the nature of these things, a major update can introduce new bugs. If you encounter any which you believe to be new in this release, please let us know in the comments section.

For now, this is the only bug that we believe to be new:

  1. If your iPhone is muted via the side switch, VoiceOver doesn’t always provide feedback if you touch or swipe the screen when there is an incoming call. For obvious reasons, this makes handling of incoming calls somewhat of a challenge. In our early testing, this behaviour appears to be inconsistent and unpredictable. Unmuting your device does immediately bring VoiceOver back.

For a list of bugs introduced in iOS 8.0, please see our existing post: The Accessibility Bugs in iOS 8: From Serious To Minor

Blog Tags: 

139 Comments

good news

I think this is good news, hopefully more bugs will be fixed in the next update. I'm downloading the software update now.

Release Notes

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

iOS 8.1 Release NotesThis release includes new features, improvements and bug fixes, including:

  • Apple Pay support for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (U.S. only)
  • Photos includes new features, improvements and fixes
  • Adds iCloud Photo Library as a beta service
  • Adds Camera Roll album in Photos app and My Photo Stream album when iCloud Photo Library is not enabled
  • Provides alerts when running low on space before capturing Time Lapse videos
  • Messages includes new features, improvements and fixes
  • Adds the ability for iPhone users to send and receive SMS and MMS text messages from their iPad and Mac
  • Resolves an issue where search would sometimes not display results
  • Fixes a bug that caused read messages to not be marked as read
  • Fixes issues with group messaging
  • Resolves issues with Wi-Fi performance that could occur when connected to some base stations
  • Fixes an issue that could prevent connections to Bluetooth hands-free devices
  • Fixes bugs that could cause screen rotation to stop working
  • Adds an option to select between 2G, 3G or LTE networks for cellular data
  • Fixes an issue in Safari where videos would sometimes not play
  • Adds AirDrop support for Passbook passes
  • Adds an option to enable Dictation in Settings for Keyboards, separate from Siri
  • Enables HealthKit apps to access data in the background

Accessibility improvements and fixes

  • Fixes an issue that prevented Guided Access from working properly
  • Fixes a bug where VoiceOver would not work with 3rd party keyboards
  • Improves stability and audio quality when using MFi Hearing Aids with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
  • Fixes an issue with VoiceOver where tone dialing would get stuck on a tone until dialing another number
  • Improves reliability when using handwriting, Bluetooth keyboards and Braille displays with VoiceOver

Other Fixes:

  • Fixes an issue that was preventing the use of OS X Caching Server for iOS updates

Fixes!

Hey Guys,
I'm posting some fixes I've found on an iPod 5g.
1. Voice Over glitch seems to be fixed. It isn't constantly turning on and off.
2. I don't seem to be having as many focus issues. Cursor seems to be pointing where it should.
3. The OS in general isn't as sluggish. The processor doesn't seem to be overloaded.
4. The activating link bug to purchase seems to be fixed. I don't have to triple tap anymore. However, bug that doesn't allow you to stop song preview still exists.
Overall, it is a good start with accessibility fixes. I might find more, but clearly happy with this update.

iMessage issue

When I go into the messages settings and find iMessage, it keeps saying waiting for activation and is not allowing me to send any iMessages. Any fixes or is apple just slow from all the updates?

over the air might not work for some.

Hi all. Got a weird error when checking for update, an error occued while checking for update. My wifi has been a little weird this morning. I'm hoping this might fix it, but anyway if you get a weird error just try with itunes. Now to get the hell that is my library fixed. added audio books ripped in mp3 to the library, decided I didn't want them. Deleted folder in itunes media, only to 1. still see them on the library and two also now in my phone. Ugh I hate when this stuff happens. I'm thrilled the key echo has been fixed. and if it runs a bit faster on a five i'll enjo that as well.

iOS 8.1 on a 4s

Has anyone tried iOS 8.1 on a 4s? Is it any faster then iOS 8.0.x or is it still too much for the old phone to handle

So which bugs actually remain

So which bugs actually remain in 8.1? is the focus still unreliable when navigating apps? if large numbers of bugs still remain in 8.1, could the relevant ones be copied over from the original 8.0 blog entry?
regarding the bug where VoiceOver might not work if the phone is muted and a call comes in, how often can this situation happen? I mean is it like every other call, or might you go two or three then it happens?
and when it does happen, is it a case of VoiceOver simply not speaking, or could you accidentally reject a call just buy touching the screen?

This is what we get when...

The community comes together to report bugs/issues and politely lets a company know what grievances someone may have with product accessibility. This was accomplished with no lawsuits, protests or heavy handedness of that sort but rather with cooperation among the parties involved. Hopefully this standard can be upheld in the future as one that the blindness community can abide by.

Early impressions

I have only used iOS 8.1 briefly, but here are my initial impressions.

First, the OS appears to be a bit snappier on my iPad Air. For me, iOS 8.0 was never really slow, but it was definitely more sluggish than iOS 7. The iPad now seems to be more responsive, maybe not as much as it used to be under iOS 7, but better.

Some things that have not been fixed include:

1. The scrolling bug, or rather the lack of scrolling bug, appears to be still present, so you may still need to do three-finger swipes and looking for buttons by touch in some cases.

2. Although BT keyboard support is better, some things still don't work right. Most notably, I still cannot use Shift + Arrow to select text in a text field. I am not sure if this is necessarily a VoiceOver issue, since the keystroke is a global system one that normal users have access to without VoiceOver, but it is definitely an annoyance when I'm using my BT keyboard to edit text.

3. There are still issues when going back to a previous page in Safari on some sites, including AppleVis. As is the case on the Mac, reloading the page fixes the issues incurred when going back.

Still, this update is a major improvement overall. So many things were broken in iOS 8, and it's nice to see that VoiceOver issues were addressed in addition to so many other things affecting mainstream users.

Focusing Issue May Not Be fixed

I'm not entirely certain that the focus issues have been fully corrected. As an example, I opened the BARD Mobile app and chose to go to the BARD Web site so that I could perform a search. When double-tapping the search box, I was not able to go into edit mode. It only worked when I scrolled downward with a three finger swipe up and physically located the edit box. At that point, I was able to double tap and the edit box allowed me to type in a name.

moving apps bug squashed like it should have been

Hi all. just realized the moving apps bug which may or may not work on a double tap and hold, seems to be fixed now. Besides that someone said that the scrolling issue that david just submitted might not be fixed, I don't know if that would constitute a focus problem as you can still get around. One weird thing, I left came back, got this error: unable to connect to thisiphone, session id missing. ok button. Clicking on ok, watched the phone restart, and I'm unsure but this one didn't take as long to update, I am still running 8.1 so I'm not sure why itsaid what it did.

iPhone and Braille Sense U2

I just updated a little while ago. I'm finding that my Braille Sense responds better now; so far, it has only frozen once, and that was only for a few seconds. I'm hoping I'm not speaking too soon, but so far, it seems like there is indeed better Bluetooth keyboard support with 8.1. I knew Apple would get around to fixingthe issue. :)
As another user noted, the OS feels snappy and responsive again. My 5S wasn't really lagging all that much, but I did notice an improvement with my Braille display and Alex's responses. Keep it up, Apple!

Yes, It's a Scrolling/Focus Bug ...

Siobhan, you're correct. The bug is more of an issue where the swiping doesn't scroll and bring things into proper focus. I ... sit corrected ...

In complete agreement,

In complete agreement, ftealucard. I knew that it would only be a matter of time before the major accessibility issues with 8.0 would be fixed, at least for the most part. No company is perfect, but I've always loved Apple because, at the end of the day, they respond to accessibility issues. If users want issues to be resolved, they have to get everyone together who is having the issue to report it. I mean, we have to look at it this way: if only one or two people are reporting a problem, they'll take note of it, but it most likely won't be at the top of their list because (and this is just my guess) they're trying to prioritize the reported issues by the number of reports they get. If only one or two people report it, Apple will probably assume that not too many users are experiencing the issue, so they'll hold off on finding a solution. But when they notice that multiple users are having the exact same issue, such as VO's issue with the Bluetooth keyboard support, they'll make it a priority and look further into it. It's like Mac issues: if you're having a problem on the Mac, or you'd like to suggest ways to improve the screen reading experience, your best bet is to report it to Apple, and encourage users who have the same thoughts/issues to do the same.

I call it a shame ...

apple on its best ...
I call it a shame ...
half a dozen bug-fixes ...
and the rest of the list over 30bugs that were not resolved in the betas and not now in the 8.1 update?
what will now say the defenders of apple?
this is what you say that apple treats us with respect?
no, she treated them sighted with respect ... not blind ...
apple I 'm ashamed to be your customer.
not for much longer ...
I will continue without upgrading my iPhone because I can not use with satisfaction ...

cheers.

Unable to Download Item, BARD App Search, and Moving Apps

After doing a reset on my iPhone 5, I still receive the Unable to Download Item error as before.

When trying to conduct a search within the BARD app, I am unable to do a single-finger swipe to the text field and have the edit option pop open when doing a one-finger double tap; however, if I manually locate the edit field and double tap on it then the edit feature works, which is better than in 8.0 when the edit field would not work at all.

Finally, I am still unable to move apps that reside on the row above the doc. Any other row will allow them to be moved but not the row above the doc.

Re: iOS 8 on a 4S

I have a 4S and can test later. I expect it will be about the same, perhaps a bit more stable.

Response to the last commenter, and david

David, nice to be right, ;) seriously I just wanted to point it out, it wasn't a huge correction. Mario, are you joking here? I'd consider it pretty lucky we got even half the bugs we got fixed, simply because of how much theyhave to handle, watch, new macs, new iPads, plus yosemite. And thinking that you're ashamed to be their customer as if someone from apple really reads this? Come on, you have a choice to update, you are choosing not to and instead of respectfully saying, hey not enough bugs were fixed, you chose to downgrade to your comment above. If you're so dissatisfied with what's come out, feel free to blow off apple when you can, go another route, I hope your happiness improves there. Sir. We all have our views, choices, and we make them, but completely throwing a fit about what you wish had been fixed and hasn't been, really seems pointless to me. I respect you and others don't want to update, but it's the way you worded the comment that leaves a dissatisfied taste in my mouth. Ah to each their own I see. :) have a good one.

RE: Issue no. 7

Regarding the initial post, says that the issue regarding third-party keyboards seems to have been fixed, but noted there are still problems with . What might those be?

Look Tell Money Reader still doesn't work for me

After updating to IOS 8.1 the Look Tell Money Reader still doesn't work on my iPhone 5. I've checked the camera privacy settings and they are fine. The app never seems to activate the camera. The screen never clears to show any images and when in a dark room the flashlight doesn't turn on.
I guess it's time to bug the Look Tell folks.

iOS 8.1 on a 4s deviceI

Overall the 4s seems to be more perky and responsive now.

SIRI is still often being cut off from speaking complete sentences when answering questions from the locked screen (using the male SIRI voice if that makes a difference). Does the iPhone 6 also have this problem, is it processor related or just a bug?

--Pete

Hmmmmmm.....

I would have liked to have seen more bug fixes instead of new features that have the potential to introduce new bugs. But probably not that bad an update after only a month.

As much as I'm inclined to do the update now, after the disaster of 8.0, I'm going to wait a day or two before deciding to install 8.1. With 8.0, Apple has taught me to be cautious about updates.

confirmation on siri bug not speaking in lock screen

I'm confirming the bug where either voice, because someone said it was the male voice, cuts itself off from speech after asking it a question. for reference, I asked the time in Ireland, and temperature. Temp it gave fine, time, the time... Just so you're aware. Jean, if I spelled that right, I'd wait only because of the massive server overload. Acutally I was surprised I got it but then again I used the Mac to do that.

mario and Sounds2Good

mario;

Where would you go? From my experience with Android and IOS, IOS beats Android for accessability, hands down. I've never touched a Windows mobile device, so I can't comment on its accessability capabilities.

Sounds2Good;

Have you tried EyeNote? I know it would be nice to get a paid for app to work, but maybe EyeNote can be a temporary answer until LookTell is working again.

iMessage activation

Nikki, the way iMessage works is by sending a test message from your phone number back to your phone number, just to validate your phone number. It never shows you this message, but if you get billed per text, you would see it appear. The problem could be your cell carrier, like perhaps your service is being slow for some reason. I've had that problem before, and the best thing to do is turn iMessage off, then back on again, and it should fix itself.

first impressions, very nice so far

I'm liking this new iOS update. I can confirm VO cutting off Siri mid-stream, and the other ones some people have mentioned. I think we still need to keep writing to Apple and ***politely*** letting them know that these bugs still exiss. But for me, these are tiny bugs, they aren't necessarily show-stoppers. As for the focus bug in the BARD Mobile app, I'm afraid that one is still around too, but I have no earthly idea if, or when that'll receive an update any time soon. How I do it is I add books to my wishlist on the website and then download them to my phone from the app. That works pretty well. I am going to write to the BARD folks though, and let them know the issue exists, because even if it isn't their problem, it's good to let them know that it's happening, that way the proper people can be told and maybe it'll encourage them to push out an update. Overall, though, I am happy with this update, and most peopleseem to be too, at least so far. Things can only get better with iOS 8.2 and 8.3 arriving sometime soon. We're a lot further along than a month ago.

Safari

Hello guys, from iOS 8.0 I am experiencing a problem in Safari where I am unable to log in to secure pages. I am unable to hear the click of protected letters inserted, and once I let my mother see the page and she figured out that the password was not in the field though VO told me that there were the signs. Did someone else have this problem? Could it be because I Always updated via OTA? I use an iPhone 4S 16 giga, and this is most likely the latest major release which will be supported by this model. Warmest regards by a user just joined, writing from Italy.

Email issue

Since IOS 8.0, and still in 8.1, I'm having the following issue. When in email, if VoiceOver is speaking and another email comes in, this new email superimposes itself on top of the one I was reading. There are only choices for close and options. If 20 emails come in, I have to close these 20 emails individually before I can get back to my original email. It's hard to test as VO has to be speaking when another email arrives.
It may be a setting I'm not aware of. Please help if you can as it is getting rather annoying.

VoiceOver and Siri

Best solution (even under iOS 7) is to turn speech off with three-finger double-tap before asking Siri a question; then turn speech back on with the same gesture to interact with the phone again.

A bit of good news

I can tell you that with iOS 8.1 it is possible to use again. For me, this is a great thing as I trust it a heck of a lot more than Apple's braill input. Also, with , I can see what is meant by still having some issues. I can type in Fleksy without disabling Voiceover. However, getting to numbers or changing keyboards back to the iOS keyboard are things that I do not believe are possible. Oh well, good and bad, just like every update.

Mail

Still experiencing mail bugs introduced in 8. Sometimes won't get mail unless closed in app switcher. After refresh, doesn't tell if inbox is empty. Mail appears before voice over realizes it when mail app is open.

A couple of new issues

Hi. I think these are new issues. I've not noticed them before anyway. When I'm asked for my Apple password I can't type it in using the Bluetooth keyboard. I just get the thud sound and nothing is input whether I turn quick nav on or off. Also, after using Imessage shortly after updating I found the onscreen keyboard remained on screen even after I quitted the app or went in to other apps. A sighted friend could even see the keyboard onscreen after voiceover was closed fully. I turned the ipad off and haven't been able to recreate this since. Despite the problems I think the update was worth doing as overall it's all working better.

for Siobhan

Now am I telling you:
are you kidding me?
half a dozen bug fixes that actually were not fully resolved ...
the worst bugs still remain unresolved and which was supposedly solved became sloppy work ...
you really believe you will use your iPhone with complete satisfaction? ...
if you say yes,you lying
how much longer we have to wait for apple to solve the problems that are still unresolved ...
the problems of sighted people on this update were all resolved.
why did not the same with the problems of the blind?
you know why? I tell you:
because the apple does not treat us with respect and rights we have as clients and consumers ...
you like being treated this way?
I do not!
Siobhan I already know you well ...
if you want to be respected, you must respect others ...
I have not offended anyone, not talked about names of people ...
if you like being treated this way, you only get what you deserve ...
I want to be treated the same way that apple treats the rights of sighted ...
I bought my iPhone because the Apple accessibility website fooled me with your false advertising ...
Apple says you can buy her products with full accessibility and satisfaction.
apple knows that to take your website in this way can be sued in court
because they are breaking the law ...
if I had enough money to take Apple to court , I 'm sure I win the cause.
the giants Also fall... ...
and apple one day will fall by thinking that he can still do whatever he wants.
I would have much to talk about this, and more would have to answer you, but you're lucky because my English is poor ...
but I 'm learning and one day you and others like you will hear me seriously ...
cheers.
cheers.

App Store problem

Has anybody else had trouble with the search field in the app store? Typing and searching is fine, but I can't seem to delete text to do a second search and also the clear text button doesn't work. Closing and reopening the app is the only solution so far. A minor gripe compared to other issues but frustrating nonetheless

App Store Searching

I believe this issue has been around since the release of iOS 8.0. It is a pity to hear it was not resolved in 8.1. Thanks for letting us know.

Better, could still use work.

I upgraded my Ipod to Ios 8.1 from 8. The web is better, VO doesn't always crash on www.newegg.com, for example. You still can't scroll by artist name in music, probably a similar scroll problem in other places if one looks. I just don't know if I'm yet willing to upgrade my Iphone 5 or suggest my wife upgrade her Iphone 4 or Ipad. I think she might have a better case for upgrading with the ability to switch devices on the fly, and imessage being able to send regular texts even on the ipad. I just worry about that old of an iphone, so I hate to suggest it.

All things considered, I think I'll wait a few days and play with my ipod a bit longer before making any big decisions.

I have the money reader problem even on ios 7 with my Iphone 5, It is way to random to claim it is fixed in a day, unfortunately.

VO and Caller ID

One other bug which doesn't appear to have been squashed is that VoiceOver doesn't read the Caller ID of an incoming call, at least when the phone is locked.

Sockhopsinger, to change the

Sockhopsinger, to change the Fleksy keyboard to the ones in iOS or the others you have enabled, try flicking to the left of the space bar and holding your finger down until you hear a three-click sound. If you have dictation turned on in the Fleksy keyboard, you might need to flick to the left twice instead. After that, you should be okay. Hope that helps.

Lisette's email problem

Lisette;

Just a thought. Go into setting > Notifications > Mail, and check to see what kind of notification is being used when the phone is unlocked. Alerts produce a message that has to be dismissed before you can continue. Try setting it to banner or none.

sms forwarding

I'm trying to enable text message forwarding. I enable it and type in my verification code and it shows up as "On" on my iPhone. However, on my mac, it still says waiting for verification
. What am I doing wrong?

Apple pay and Fleksy improvements

Hello,
Has anyone been able to use Fleksy successfully? I tried it after updating, but it is still really buggy. I can't swipe down to receive suggestions without having VoiceOver say, "Button," and the app itself seems really buggy. It still has quite a few unlabeled buttons. Has anyone also tried out Apple Pay? I haven't tried it yet, but I heard it seems to be a very simple process, even for us VoiceOver users. I already set up my card on PassBook, now all I have to do is give it a try at some place that supports it.

braille screen input

Hello, I am writing to report a strange bug I've noticed. in deed keyboard echo has been fixed on the regular keyboard setting, but in the braille input when I compose a IMessage, I use braille input, and regardless of the keyboard echo setting only in the IMessage input field, it speake every letter I use in braille but not anywhere else. anyone else notice this?

braille pen and 8.1

My braille pen lags with the ipod 5th gen. Will this be the case with the iPhone 5s? I haven't updated as of yet to 8 on that device. I really don't like the lag, although I know there are other wonderful things in 8.1. any suggestions for fixing this problem?

ios8.1 on 4s

My 4s seems to be pretty much back to its perky self again with the ios8.1 update

Last time responding, Mario.

Let me be first, I don't care if your English is great, substandard or you and only say yes or no. The bottom line is, because You, as one consumer, feel you've had an injustice done, that is, to say you didn't get what you wanted hoped fixed, you are now angry at apple. I've told you and countless others before, I to my knowledge believeI am safe in thinking Apple has to much on their plates so to speak. To much to do at once. They have devices that need new hardware, new displays, new processor chips, no home button with touch ID integration, new configurations of the older macs they need to fix. And you as one person who is so pissed of, can't understand they have to much? Even their apple watch which has it's own slimmed down operating systemmust be configured, deisgned to work, perhaps with acccessibility perhaps not. And should it not be and god forbid you or someone you know would buy the watch, oh the hell I can only imagine is raised when oh god of gods you don't have voice over, or zoom ro even tap to speak... All this to say you would've received a dressing down no matter were you in the United States, Italy, or another non english speaking country. What language you speak is not your problem, its your decorum, how you interact with the"sighted". I'd speak on that, but I rear I'll only offend others by saying I may be blind, but I'm as sighted as anyone else is.

so ungreatful!

Obviously, there are folks here who are never, ever happy. Constantly complaining, Apple never does good enough. We have the best access we've ever gotten to all this stuff, and still it's not good enough for some of you. May I suggest you go build your own operating system to work on smart phones and tablets? Do a better job than Apple does, then we can talk. Folks, seriously...we are a small group. We are a minority, like it or not. and how do you know all the bugs that sighted folks are experiencing were fixed? Did you guys talk to a bunch of sighted folks and asked them if there still bugs? We are not the only ones who use Apple devices, people. We are not the only one who use these things, like it or not. Appl has a huge user base, and only an extremely small percentage of them are blind so we're gonna get put on the back burner at times, like it or not. Sorry this comes off as a little harsh but I'm sick of the attitudes of some folks that Apple never does good enough.

A Couple of Bugs...

Hello Everyone!!! Overall I am really enjoying the responsiveness and speed improvement on my 5s but I have noticed like many have stated that Siri still cuts off and I have also noticed that Choice of Games are still not accessible. Has anyone else noticed this? Thanks!

Pages