Apple Releases iOS 11.1; Bringing a Number of Fixes and Enhancements for Blind and Low vision users

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Apple has today released iOS 11.1, which brings a number of fixes; enhancements; and changes for blind and low vision users.

Fixes

  • The VoiceOver Rotor once again consistently defaults to the Actions Menu when on an element that has Actions available.
  • You can once again use the Actions Menu to delete conversations from the Messages app.
  • Navigating and reading of PDF files is much improved.
  • Alternative characters on the onscreen keyboard can once again be accessed when using VoiceOver with Touch Typing mode.
  • Using the Actions Menu in the App Switcher to close the last used app should no longer cause your device to crash/respring.
  • You can once again use a 1 finger swipe up/down on the “Page x of 3” Control to move between pages on the Lock Screen and Cover Sheet.
  • The issue where some Notifications would Include "In 1 Minute" rather than "Now" When First Announced by VoiceOver has been resolved.
  • There appears to be some improvement with braille support for Grade 2 input, though letters still get missed within translation if you type quickly.
  • The braille cursor now responds more reliably when using Cursor Routing Buttons on a braille display when editing text.
  • The display of notifications on the Lock Screen and Cover Sheet appears to be more consistent and reliable (specifically in regard to the ability to access all available notifications, and instances of where notifications would previously spontaneously disappear from the lists).
  • There appears to be some improvement in VoiceOver announcing the number of notifications that are on the Lock Screen when waking your device, although this is still not completely consistent or reliable.

Changes and Enhancements

  • The VoiceOver Rotor now reverts to the default action in the Mail app after being used.
  • You can now enter Edit Mode on the Home Screen via the Actions Menu available from Home Screen icons.
  • After using an Action from the VoiceOver Rotor, VoiceOver will often provide feedback in the form of “Performed action x,” where x is the name of the action. In some cases, VoiceOver will follow this by speaking what would be the action on the element which now has VoiceOver focus. For now, this behavior is not consistent across the operating system and apps, so is presumably still a work-in-progress.
  • There is a new “Rotor Actions” section in Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver, from which you can enable or disable the “Edit apps on Home screen” Action from the VoiceOver Rotor. This is also likely to be a work-in-progress, with more options to be added over time.

New Bugs

While iOS 11.1 contains many welcome improvements, our testing suggests that this update also introduces some new bugs for VoiceOver users. However, as is often the nature of iOS bugs, our experience suggests that these issues may not be encountered by everybody.

  • The new items badge on app icons may not be spoken by VoiceOver (in our experience, the Mail and Messages apps have been most prone to this behavior, but it has also been encountered with some other apps).
  • The movement of VoiceOver focus through emails that include HTML lists can be inconsistent and unreliable; in some cases, VoiceOver may crash repeatedly while focus is in the content.
  • After opening the App Switcher, the initial position of VoiceOver focus may not always be on the last-used app.
  • After using the VoiceOver Actions menu to close an app in the App Switcher, there appears to be no consistent pattern in regard to what the Action will be set to when VoiceOver focus switches to the next app in the App Switcher.

As we always stress, we are only a small team, so it is simply impossible for us to test all devices, configurations, applications, and use cases. It is possible, therefore, that there are additional fixes, changes or regressions in iOS 11.1 that we are currently unaware of. We will update this post if we learn of anything else. In the meantime, please let us know in the comments of any fixes, enhancements or regressions that you find in your own testing of this release.

If you are already running an earlier release of iOS 11, the fixes and enhancements in 11.1 should make the decision of whether to update an easy one.

If you are not a braille user and had previously decided to delay updating to iOS 11, you might now want to revisit that decision.

If you are a braille user who has not yet updated to iOS 11, our recommendation would depend upon how fast you typically input text when using a braille display. If this is 30 words per minute or less, then the braille input performance under iOS 11.1 may be acceptable. However, if you type faster than this, you may still want to delay updating for the time being.

iOS 11.1 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings > General > Software Update) or via iTunes on a Mac or PC.

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58 Comments

Thank you

Thanks for the great work putting this together. And glad to hear the deleting in Mail has been fixed!

Braille question

Does the typing speed only refer to external displays, or does this school of thought apply to onscreen braille too, IE the typing speed factor? I would be curious to know before I decide if I am going to update.

possible new item that can be added to rotor

Hi all, I don't know if this is new to ios 11.1, or just ios 11 in general, but when I was looking for the option to stop being given the edit action on the home screen which I eventually found, I was looking at all the options for things you can add or remove from your VoiceOver rotor, and I noticed an option down the bottom called articles which I certainly don't remember seeing before.
On a related rotor question, does anyone know what the containers option is for that can be added to the rotor? in all my time of using ios I have never found I needed it, but then maybe that's just because I don't know what it is for.

containers

Unless you use an iPad, I don't see this as useful. That said, if you are an iPad user, it is helpful to move from let's say the main area of settings to the general, sounds, etc, based on what you've chosen. It also takes you from your inbox in mail to the message you've opened. Hope that makes sense. I'm sure someone else can explain it better, but much like you, while I only had an iPhone and/or iPod I didn't see a need for that and thus have taken it out of my rotor on those devices.

Notification

Message are read voiceover but also it tells you the time after reading the message. Is this a bug?

Smart invert improvement?

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Smart invert in Safari still ignores images and leaves them inverted. However, if you enable Reader View, the images are correctly not inverted. I think this is new in 11.1, as I don't recall noticing it previously.

pdf reading improvements?

Could you elaborate on what improvements there are with respect to reading pdf files? In which app or apps? It is still a disaster on the mac as far as I'm concerned, so I really want this to be better in IOS.

I've been beta testing ios11

I've been beta testing ios11.1 since it came out in beta form and I am very happy with it and like the fixes. Let me tell you with all the bugs 11.0 had it was very hard not to come on here and post about the fixed bugs when 11.1 was in beta.

volume sounds

I actually like the change of no volume sounds. Now that they are gone, I realize that I don't need them. I know the volume is going up each time I hit the button.

Consistency in the app switcher

The bug where opening the App switcher would place you on the oldest app isn't new in 11.1. It started with iOS 11. If anything, it is slightly less frequent with this update. I've been running the betas, and for a day or so I thought maybe it had been fixed. It's still around though.

About sound volume (my opinion)

Probably, most of you will not agree with me, but I personally found that volume button sound to be very annoying. I am OK without it. If there should be a sound, it should not be something so annoying as the one that they had assigned to that particular function. Once again, this is only my opinion.

iOS 11.1 volume sound

The volume sound is deactivated when the vo earcons are deactivated. I love iOS 11.1.

not impressed

all the new nice features in camera ant photos app are gon and none of the old problems fixed. apple seems to have the habit of yanking features and not fixing bugs. what's wrong with apple?

PDF

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

When viewing PDFs from Mail attachments or the Files app, from my testing, navigation by headings is more reliable, and using the two finger flick down gesture now consistently reads the document.

PDF Files

I tried a PDF file in iBooks and noticed a couple of problems. First of all, tables doesn't appear in the rotor even though the file contains a few tables. Second, I can't scroll through the entire file. I have to use the page chooser to switch pages. It appears as though VoiceOver doesn't scroll the document as you navigate.

pdfs

So let's say I find a pdf file on a website and want to read it. It has been the case that when the pdf opens in Safari, you get the option to import it to various things, depending on what's on your device, e.g. dropvox, ibooks, voice dream etc. I'd like to be able to navigate such files with a BT keyboard like has been possible for a long time now in Windows, e.g. in a table, to links, by line or character or word etc, and also continous read. How might that be done? Or not?

Holding off on updating

I'm still going to stay on IOS 10 on my iPhone and hope that either the old volume sound comes back, or they have a new one. Also I heard there was a bug with 3d touch when touching on the left side of the screan to get to the app switcher? Is this true and if so has that been fixed?

Image descriptions improved

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Hi all,

With iOS 11.1 I can reliably get VoiceOver to read image descriptions for me via a single tripple tap even with screen brightness set to 0 percent. However, Screen Curtain must be off in order for this to work.
Any observations?

Image descriptions

Hi, just tried that in the facebook app but no joy. Only read the FB interpretation. Screen curtain off.

A Few Questions About iOS 11.1

Hi, I have a few questions about iOS 11.1. I'm still on iOS 10.3.3, but am seriously considering upgrading.
My questions are:
1: Does anyone know if the bluetooth keyboard bugs some people were reporting are still present in 11.1? I have the Logitech Keys to Go bluetooth keyboard.
I was just planning on using it to type if I can't force myself to type more slowly with my braille display.
2: Is the only major braille display bug still present in 11.1 the typing bug?
I read in this post that cursor navigation is "slightly more reliable", and that was one of the main reasons I didn't update when iOS 11.0 first came out.

no volume sound needed

I'm curious as to why some people want a sound to indicate that the volume has changed. Aren't your ears a good indication? Also, I'm very pleased that the eMail deletion bug was fixed! Lastly, I am finding what may be a bug when playing Dice World. Occasionally, when I roll the dice when playing 1/4/24, the roll isn't being voiced, and the focus is on the score that can be banked. Anyone else noticing this? I'm wondering if it is a bug in 11.0 and after, or a bug in the app.

Question About Image Description

I'm still on iOS 10.3, but I'm curious about how to get results for image description. I know that to do so, you tap once with 3 fingers. Problem is, this is the same gesture that will announce where you are on your screen. Like column 4 and all that. How do I get image descriptions, when the gesture keeps telling me where I am on my screen? I know someone with iOS 11, and I see it happen to them all the time, so that image description is rendered unusable.

Volume sound

Hey, the volume sound thing I kinda get, it means you can set an appropriate volume, say in a library... Or at a funeral... Before voiceover starts blathering away.

Saying that... I've not noticed that it has gone!

Focusing on new bugs introduced in iOS 11.1

I have been going through the comments here and so far, no one has really commented on any of the new bugs that have been introduced in iOS 11.1. The one that is of the most significance to me personally, is the first one in the list, which is as follows:

"The new items badge on app icons may not be spoken by VoiceOver (in our experience, the Mail and Messages apps have been most prone to this behavior, but it has also been encountered with some other apps)."

Now, my question is what is everyone's experience with this bug thus far? Obviously this is directed towards those who have updated to 11.1. To me, this is a very significant/severe bug since not everyone has onscreen notifications and alerts turned on. So, one could be missing important notifications like messages, email,etc. I mean, it is kind of ridiculous that one would have to keep going back into those apps and checking for any new items, every few minutes, or hours or however often one checks them. If the number of any new/unread items is not spoken, one could never know if something had indeed come in. To me, that just sounds like quite a major bug which could definitely effect many people who don't have onscreen notifications turned on, or don't like them to show up on the screen.
So I am wondering what everyone's experience is with this particular bug. Has anyone encountered it? How frequently does it happen? Messages and the Mail apps are already mentioned by the Applevis team, but has anyone experienced this with other apps like Phone, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc?

Badge count bug

I'm in the habit of checking my notification center several times a day, so unless they also don't show up there, I think it would be less of a big deal. Does the phone still make the new message sound, too?

Deleting messages

Hi guys,

As far as I can tell swiping up and deleting now gets rid of the messages as it did in 10.3.3. This is a good thing me thinks.

Hi,

Hi,
I'm getting the notification, followed by the time. I actually love this new way of reading the notification, it's simpler in my book. People may disagree with me on this, but it's not a big deal. Also, none of the new bugs seem like show stoppers and aren't really that big of a mess, so I'm very happy with the update.

on the new bugs

I get the notification of new eMail sound, but what the notification is is not voiced. However, other notifications, such as Weather Gods and CNN notifications are spoken when received. I think that eMails are the only buggy ones, and it isn't a big deal to me. One feature that I wish would return is the way to do mass deletions from within the inbox. Using the edit button, the "delete all" button at the bottom of the screen could be used to empty the entire inbox at once rather than having to delete one by one by one by one by, well, you get the idea. I currently have over 6,000 eMails in the inbox. I have already read them on my PC, so don't need any of them on my phone. This feature was removed in either iOS 9 or 10, and has not been brought back as of 11.1, unfortunately.

Entry On Braille Displays

I understand how complicated it is to develop an operating system, but I am very disappointed that the bug regarding entry on the Braille display has not yet been resolved. In my job I take notes rather extensively with the Braille display, so this is a problem. I have to wonder just how seriously Apple is taking this issue.

Image descriptions improved???

no improvement at all. sure, it tells you how many faces there are i the picture, but that has been available since ios 6.

prior to ios 11.1, it is capable of describe scene and simple objects, that is gone. more significantly, prior to ios 1, there was a new roter called "facial detail". i don't know how many of your noticed its existence or take enoughpictures to care. what it does iis that it let you learn where people are in your pictures by touch, and that feature is gone. apple finally creating something exciting and they just yanked it, incomprehensible.

New items badges

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

For those concerned about the bug with new items badges, I received an email and two messages while I was updating and VO read the badges as normal. Obviously that doesn’t mean you won’t have that problem, or that I won’t encounter it at some point in the future, but it does at least show that VO isn’t completely refusing to read them all the time.

Re: The battery draining issue

Hello. The battery draining issue does not appear to be fixed. Both my husband and I ran Seeing AI this morning at 100 percent of charge on our phones and within 2-3 minutes, both our phones were down to 90 from 100.

Messag bugs

Notice that when I get message voiceover reads it without no issue. However after 2 minutes the same message, voiceover says the time only. It looks like when voiceover reader read the same message for the second time just tells the time.

Dictation freeze in message text areas

This certainly does not happen every time, but I have noticed now that maybe 1/3 of the time, when I dictate a mail message and then try to end the dictation with a 2-finger double tap, not only does dictation not stop, but VO is totally locked up. No sound. Nothing happens when I explore the screen, nothing. Pressing the home button does not appear to do anything either. Shutting down VO and starting it again with tripple click home works, and when I go back to the mail message, I find that the text I dictated is there. But the total freeze up is new. I wonder what you'd do if you had one of these new iPhone X models with no home button to easily restart VO in such cases. Has anybody else noted this new problem?

Don't forget to report braille bugs especially

Last year, when we had some weird braille display issues, I reported them with every consecutive update until they were fixed. After the third time I reported them, Apple Accessibility stopped responding, but don't let that stop you from reporting.
The more of us that report braille display bugs, especially, the better.
Report them to accessibility@apple.com

Voiceover lockup

I have had the same experience when using the dictate feature as already described where nothing at all audibally happens after the two-finger doubletap when done dictating. Next time, and there will be a "next time," I'll try the triple click home to turn voiceover off and on again.

Batch Icons

As far as I can tell, the badge icons bug is one of those hit or miss, meaning some people have it, others don't. I wonder if it's device or configuration specific?
I've not encountered it at all; after allowing a certain number of notifications to be purposely missed for different apps, the badge icons show me the number of missed items or new items.

I've tried it with The following appps, and they are working as expected for me, when it comes to showing new items on the home screen/badge:
Phone app, messages app, outlook, Skype, the weather channel app, Google Voice and the app store (shows me new updates).

I'm glad to see the messages deletion bug squashed, and the alternative characters. I don't like the way spell check won't focus me on the corections list when a word is suggested, but o well. I've reported during beta cycles and nothing

My £5 worth

Hi all,

Well, hopefully that subject line revealed a bug which is not fixed. The UK Pound sign issue is still very much present! I'm seeing groceries priced at pound sign four dot ninety-nine etc. and while it's not a showstopper it has to be one of the most annoying things I've experienced as an iPhone user. The trouble is, as it doesn't interfere with functionality I don't imagine it's that high on the priorities list.

items badges and volume

I agree that it is important to have the items badges read. I experienced this bug and a restart fixed it. As someone has already said, this seems to be a totaly random bug. I don't know what brought it on and I couldn't explain how a restart fixed it, or whether a restart would fix it each time. What I can say is that turning Voiceover off and then back on doesn't seem to work.

On the volume sounds issue, I'm quite happy without them. However, is it just me or has Voiceover's volume been reduced in IOS11? Voiceover seems a little quieter than it did in IOS10, I've noticed this since the 11.0 update and it would appear to be the same in 11.1. Siri speaks noticeably louder than Voiceover, I find, and that used not to be the case.

iOS 11.1 and Mail app

I am very pleased and relieved that Apple got around to fixing the behavior with the Actions list while in the Mail app. Now the actions items list sets itself to the default action of "activating" an item each time one interacts with a mail mesage. The previous behavior led to many erroneous deletions of mail messages and a lot of frustration.

Thanks for fixing this!

--Pete

Order of Actions when deleting notifications

In iOS 11.1 I noticed that the order of actions in the actions list is still not consistent when a Notification pops up at the top of the screen.

In most circumstances (such as in the Mail app) swiping up once brings one to the "delete" or "clear" action. However when a Notification pops up at the top of the screen, swiping up once does not bring one to the expected "clear" or "delete" action. Instead, the user must swipe down once (instead of up once) on the Notification in order to get to the "clear" action. It would be nice as well as less confusing if the order of actions in the actions list was consistent across the UI.

--Pete
nic e

Not sure why

I'm not sure why people don't care that the volume sound is gone. For me it is an uneeded extra step to swipe to see what the current volume is. The sound made things alot easier. Also there was no logical reason given for its removal. However this brings up another suggestion I had. It be nice if you could turn certain vo sounds on and off. For example I could do with out the swiping sounds but like the others.

Braille issues and containers

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

These 2 topics are usually not related, but for the purposes of this comment, they are.
It does seem to me that the cursor for braille users is much more reliable in 11.1. the braille text input bug applies to braille display users only, not those using Braille Screen Input.
As for containers, they are also used on the iPhone in some apps to help you navigate around the screen. For example, in the Weather app, it allows you to quickly jump from the hourly forecast to the daily one. It also allows you to jump between the header, message body, and bottom of the Mail app window. There are other examples, but containers are a feature worth having on the iPhone also in my opinion.
As for me, like some of you, I'm still on 10.3.3 with my primary device. I rely heavily on braille to conduct my daily life, and in work settings, often take notes during meetings. With iOS 11.1, this is still not reliable for me.

why bugs aren't fixed, and volume

As to why Apple hasn't completely fixed the bugs in braille entry, it's because it, like other bug fixes, are a work in progress. That's why we get updates such as 11.1, 11.2, and so on. Gradual improvement. As for the volume sound, why do you need a number to indicate loudness, or why do you need a tone to indicate successful volume changes? If it sounds louder to you, it was increased. If it is too loud, regardless of whether it is on volume 7, 5, 10, or whatever, turn it down until the level is comfortable, and the heck with a volume level indicator. Your ears, and nothing else, should indicate the correct volume. No beeps or numbers are needed. Just listen and adjust. What could be simpler and more accurate?

Volume

I'm going to stop commenting about this because for 1 people aren't reading my posts before replying. Also I'm the only one to seem to care. So IOS 10.3 is where I'll stay for now.

I Took the Plunge and Updated

As the subject line says, I decided earlier today to update from iOS 10.3.3 to 11.1.
I'm not having many bugs, which is surprising.
I type using eight-dot braille on my braille display, and the translator doesn't seem to miss anything I type. I don't know why, but it's a good thing.
I noticed VoiceOver lag when opening and exiting folders on the home screen and in Safari bookmarks, and going back in apps, like going from General to the main Settings screen. I wrote to Apple Accessibility about it, but I'm not sure if they'll just tell me it's because I'm using an iPhone seven...
The cover sheet takes a bit of getting used to.

I think the complaining about

I think the complaining about the lack of volume sound is pretty petty in my opinion. It's sure not going to prevent me from updating. It's the same concept on a windows screen reader, when I turn my volume up and down via the keybord or buttons on my speakers it doesn't make a sound.

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