Apple Releases iOS 12.3 with Redesigned TV App and Some Accessibility Improvements for Blind and Low Vision Users

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Apple has today released iOS 12.3 to the public, bringing with it a redesigned TV app; a slightly updated design for the Apple TV Remote app; and enhancements to the Wallet app.

In iOS 12.3, Apple has removed the Accessibility Events switch introduced with iOS 12.2; saying that the feature was removed because “related aspects of the W3C AOM effort are no longer applicable.” It is unknown at this time whether the removal of this setting is permanent or temporary to allow Apple to put more in place to support this functionality.

Apple has also made continued progress towards addressing the accessibility issues in iOS 12. Based on our testing, we believe the following issues are resolved in iOS 12.3:

  • VoiceOver focus no longer spontaneously jumps to the "Back" button when reading articles in the News app; we believe that the similar focus issue in Safari may also have been resolved. We are less certain about the status of this behaviour in Safari, as it's a problem which has only effected some users. For this reason, we will be keen to hear whether those of you who have experienced this behaviour previously still encounter it on iOS 12.3.
  • VoiceOver once again provides audible feedback when re-ordering tracks in the Now Playing queue - both when initiating re-ordering and when moving tracks to different positions.
  • Deleting songs from playlists using the VoiceOver actions menu now works as intended.

While the fixes in iOS 12.3 are welcome and appreciated, we are nevertheless very disappointed that there are a number of serious issues remaining for braille users in iOS 12. With Apple's focus now likely to be on iOS 13, it is extremely disheartening and frustrating that bugs which have a significant impact on the usability and user experience for braille users may now go unfixed for at least a year since having been introduced.

At the time of writing, we are only aware of one minor regression for blind and low vision users in iOS 12.3:

  • Users of devices with no physical Home button may find that using the “Home” gesture to navigate away from the Today View is unreliable, and on occasions your device will ‘bounce’ straight back to the Today View.

As we always stress, it is impossible for us to test all devices; configurations; and use cases—so there may be improvements or regressions that we did not identify during the beta cycle. With this in mind, please do let us know in the comments of any fixes; enhancements; or regressions that you find in your own use of iOS 12.3.

Some General Changes in iOS 12.3

iOS 12.3 includes the revamped Apple TV app that Apple debuted at its services-focused event in March.

The upgraded TV app offers better integration of bundle providers including Spectrum and PlayStation Vue, and streaming apps like Hulu, and, as a result, a much improved user experience.

A new feature of the TV app is what Apple calls Channels, which are third-party video services that you can sign up for and watch content from without needing to leave the TV app. The channels available include CBS All Access, Starz, Showtime, HBO, Nickelodeon, Mubi, The History Channel Vault, and Comedy Central Now.

MacStories explains how channels differ from how integrated services worked previously in the TV app:

Channels work differently from how TV app-integrated services currently operate. Today, for example, if you find an HBO show in the TV app that you want to watch, you have to download the HBO app and sign up for HBO Now inside that app, then you can launch HBO content from the TV app and it will play inside HBO's own app – the TV app's only benefits are initiating playback and tracking your shows via the Up Next queue. When Channels launch, things will be much simpler for Channels-partnering services: when you find that HBO content you want to watch, you'll be able to sign up for HBO Now quickly and easily from inside the TV app and the video will play right from TV. There's no need to download or use a separate app at all.

The upgraded TV app uses curation and machine learning to recommend new shows and movies to you. It also includes a new tab that provides access to content appropriate for kids.

A Mac version of the TV app is coming this fall. It will also launch this year on Roku; Amazon video hardware; and selected televisions from Samsung, Sony, LG, and Vizio.

In iOS 12.3, Apple has continued with its upgrading of the Wallet app as it prepares for the release of Apple Card later this year. Changes in this update include more detailed transaction history.

The only other notable changes in iOS 12.3 currently appear to be a slight design makeover to the Apple TV Remote app and adding support for AirPlay 2-enabled TVs.

We will update this post if further notable changes surface when full release notes become available.

How to Update to iOS 12.3

iOS 12.3 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings > General > Software Update) or via iTunes on a Mac or PC.

Before updating, we strongly recommend making a full and complete backup of your device (either in iTunes or iCloud, depending on personal preference). This will ensure that, in the unlikely event that something goes wrong during the update process, you will have a current backup on hand in case a device restore becomes necessary. Also, if using OTA update, we recommend plugging your device into a power source for the duration of the download/installation process, so as to prevent the unlikely event of your battery going dead during the update.

More information on how to update the software on your iOS device is available on this Apple Support page.

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Submitted by That Blind Canuck on Tuesday, May 14, 2019

I'm not sure if anyone else may have encountered this, but I thought I would check.

I created a calendar called "TV Schedule" where I added events for each of my shows, on the day they aired on cable, so I could easily watch them on the channel's mobile app the following day.

Since updating to iOS 12.3 though, I've noticed that all of the events in this calendar have completely disappeared. Granted, most of my shows' seasons are coming to a close, but I was still surprised that an update had the side effect of deleting them.

Now the events on my personal calendar have all remained, but this is the first time something like this has happened.

Has anyone ever encounter this kind of issue in the past?

Furthermore, I've also noticed that in some apps, like the Calendar app, if you select the Calendar button to view all of the various calendars you've created, the button near the bottom that allows you to select or deselect all at once, the word "all" is in all caps. Before the update though, VoiceOver always read the word properly (e.g. all), but now, since updating, it spells out the word as "A L L".

Granted I just went into the pronouciation dictionnary and fixed it. I also noticed in other apps, like in the IMDb mobile app, when viewing a movie or television show, when you go through the list of cast, after the first 4, there is some text saying "All Cast Members" or something and the word "all" is in all caps again.

I've noticed this trend often where the word "all is written in all caps. Don't know why developpers write it this way. It's similar to sites who write the "Us"" in "Contact Us" links in all caps as well.

I know this is a minor gripe, but I just thought I would mention it.


Submitted by DPinWI on Tuesday, May 14, 2019

For me, so far, the focus issue in News, Safari, and other apps that use HTML pages has been fixed.

I hope the frustration is behind us. This bug was the longest standing, significant impairment to my use of my IOS devices I can recall. I was beginning to assume I would have to wait for iOS 13 or, beyond.


Submitted by Bingo Little on Wednesday, May 15, 2019

They haven't sorted out the issues introduced with the latest incarnation of the UK Siri female voic. So if you want to type the word 'are' or 'our' you're out of luck if you expect her to say that word except if you make her say it in a full sentence. If your name is Leanne, you're out of luck as UK Siri female will call you Lee Anne until further notice. Phone remains phoned, the Sky in Sky News is rendered in a way that defeats my ability to put such things into words, and generally she gives the impression that she's been working very hard with that therapist from the King's Speech and is doing her best under difficult wartime circumstances.

The TV app looks good but I was hoping for changes to that Siri voice. Hopefully next time.

Submitted by kool_turk on Wednesday, May 15, 2019

I can't speak for other countries, but here in Australia, the TV app doesn't have the channels tab, or whatever it's called, plus, they removed the store where you could find various services you could subscribe to, like anime lab, 7Plus, 9 now, tenplay, ABC iView, and quite a few others.

Submitted by That Blind Canuck on Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Hey @Kool_Turk... in the new TV app, Channels isn't a tab at the top or bottom. If you select the "Watch Now" tab and move down by headings, you should land on a heading called "Subscribe to Apple TV Channels".

This is where you can subscribe to channels within the app and even try out free trials.

Also keep in mind that there may be more choices in the US as here in Canada, the only options we have are Smithsonian and Acorn TV. There isn't any options for our local streaming or channel providers like Global TV or CTV.

Submitted by tunmi13 on Wednesday, May 15, 2019

I personally agree that there are braille issues that haven't been dealt with yet, and I'm rather annoyed with Apple at this point that after a year of iOS 12, nothing has been done about this. And iOS 13 is in 4 months, like seriously?
I am still having the issue with reading text boxes, radio buttons, and pop up buttons. The braille display only shows the format indicators for the radio button, text field or pop up, but not the label before it. In order to hear what you're focused on, you have to enable VO speech and make it read it out for you.
This is especially difficult, because whenI'm trying to make an AppleVis iOS App Entry, i must turn speech on in VO, then flick over to see if I'm focused on, for example, the app is fully accessible with VoiceOver, rather than The app is totally inaccessible. I could be selecting the wrong thing and wouldn't know until I enabled speech. In iOs 11 it wasn't like that, but it seems it was introduced in 11.4 and higher.
I wish they'll fix it soon, but I'm kind of ready to stop using my braille display already with my phone the way it's going now.

Submitted by Bingo Little on Wednesday, May 15, 2019

I only saw the channels feature when I took the tip about navigating by heading. anyway in the UK it seems that it's a case of either smithsonian or Starsplay. Both look rubbish to be honest so I'm not sure this feature will be of interest to me until it's beefed up.

Submitted by That Blind Canuck on Wednesday, May 15, 2019

I agree with you @Bingo Little. Like the UK, here in Canada, we just have two channels.

From what I've read online, more channels should be added over time.

As like @Kool_Turk mentioned, it's a little difficult to find the list of apps that can connect to the TV app. The closest thing I've found is, when in the "Watch Now" tab, if you tap on the "Account Settings" button at the top of the screen, under the "Sources" heading, there is a button labelled "Connected Apps" and a number of apps.

If you tap on this and view the list, each source has a toggle switch.

I've looked at mine and all the previous apps seem to be there, minus a couple. I know we use to have the BritBox in the list, as well as Crave, and they don't show up in my list of connected apps, so I am not sure why they were removed or even if this list does indeed show all supported apps.

How do I watch? I did sign for free for a week. FYI to all Suggestion. If you subscribe to a channel for free may I suggest that you go to app store update, account and manage subscribtion. There I cancel but I still have a free week and will not be charge. Just in case you forget. This way you do not need to concern about cancelling a channel.

Submitted by That Blind Canuck on Wednesday, May 15, 2019

In case some were not aware, while in the "Watch Now" tab, if you tap on "Account Settings", besides having the ability to view the connected apps, there is also a "Manage Subscription" button which also brings you to your Apple ID's subscriptions. So no need to open the App Store app and access your subscriptions from there, you can do it straight from the TV app too.

Submitted by kool_turk on Thursday, May 16, 2019

So I scrolled through my what to watch screen and there is definitely no subscribe to channels section.

When going into account settings to see what I have toggled on, there is only 6 channels, and they're all switched on.

All the good content is on Foxtel, which is the main pay tv provider here in Australia, and there is no way they're going to make a deal with Apple.

All the shows that are on the various networks in the US, like show time, HBO, and Starz, all have deals with various providers here, so it's one big fragmented mess.

I think this article can explain it better than what I'm trying to explain so I'll let it speak for itself.

Submitted by Ekaj on Thursday, May 16, 2019

Hello again. Ever since updating to iOS 12.3, and I think a little while prior, I've been unable to access my voicemail messages from my iPhone unless I tap on "Call Voicemail." I can access messages just fine when I call my voicemail from my land-line phone, but for some reason it doesn't work anymore from my iPhone. A sister of mine is experiencing the same issue, but she lives with our parents and they recently cut the cord. I had a bit of time to myself earlier this afternoon, so I called AT&T to inquire about this. The representative with whom I spoke was very helpful and courteous, and he tried resetting my voicemail. It might be a bit too early to tell whether or not that resolved the issue, but it doesn't look like it. Has anybody else had this issue? If so and it has been resolved, how did it get resolved? Or perhaps we'll have to wait for iOS 13? I realize I could just rely on the built-in talking caller ID, but I do like to check my voicemail especially for important calls. But otherwise this update seems pretty good.

Submitted by Shawn T on Thursday, May 16, 2019

In reply to by Ekaj

Apart from some notifications of voicemails being delayed, which has been happening weeks before iOS 12.3 it works fine otherwise.Aa

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Friday, May 17, 2019

I have the following issue for a while. I have my email in manual fetch yet I get unread emails several times. I delete them and within hours or in the morning I see 40 or so unread emails. Any suggestion. I did check my fetch and is on manual. Using iOS 12.3. This is happening for 9 months now. Using RCN services.

Submitted by Dawn 👩🏻‍🦯 on Friday, May 17, 2019

Hey guys.
I've had this odd issue since updating. While reading a article, Vo. will stop mid-sentence. I have 2 swipe back & then go back to the sentence. It's only happened twice so far. And the last time this happened (today), I had to swipe back & forth twice to get Vo. to get Vo. to finish the sentence. It's intermitent, I only seen it twice. In Google News & Safari.
I'm not sure if it's related to Ios. 12.3, but it didn't happen until I updated. But I'm not sure if it's just because of ads or some other animated web content. But I figured I'd mention it here & see if anyone else has noticed this.

Submitted by jcdjmac (not verified) on Friday, May 17, 2019

No issues here. all is fine.

Submitted by Ipadman on Friday, May 17, 2019

One thing I’ve noticed is that when using the actions menu in the Files app, some of the actions are duplicated and double tapping doesn’t always accomplished the desired goal.
For example, when swiping up or down with one finger, the delete option might be duplicated but clicking on the second one will not delete The file.
However, it’s only a minor issue because you can still use the selection method to delete files.

Submitted by HCSF on Thursday, May 23, 2019

Try this with VO: "It's Monday". Step through each character and you would find that the single quote is now read as either "open single quotation mark" or "close single quotation mark". Needless to say this is taking up my precious hearing bandwidth not to say annoying.

Go to Settings then Keyboard, uncheck "Smart Puntuation". Then it will go back to "apostrophe".

Submitted by themusicman08 on Thursday, May 23, 2019

I'm noticing that if I am in the face book app, and then double tap on say something like my friends tab, voice over loses focus and then jumps to the top of the entire app. This behavior happens in other apps as well such as twitter, Pandora, and Iheart radio.