Apple Releases iOS 13.1 and iPadOS 13.1; Bringing Many Bug Fixes and Some New Bugs for Blind and Low Vision Users

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Apple has today released iOS 13.1 and iPadOS 13.1 to the public. In addition to bringing many new features originally slated for the initial iOS 13 release, these releases bring fixes for a large number of the bugs that iOS 13.0 introduced for blind and low vision users.

Bug Fixes for Blind and Low Vision Users

Our testing suggests that the following pre-existing accessibility bugs have been resolved in iOS 13.1 and iPadOS 13.1:

  • The performance of Smart Invert and Classic Invert is now much more consistent and reliable. In particular, our testing suggests that users are unlikely to find their device's display spontaneously and randomly switching between light on dark and dark on light. There are occasions when some UI elements - in particular the onscreen keyboard - do not use the expected and desired color combination, but this appears to be no worse than it has been in previous versions of iOS.
  • Braille input once again works correctly when composing an email or note.
  • When composing an email with a braille display, the VoiceOver cursor now behaves consistently.
  • System sounds (such as notifications) now much more reliably follow the volume of VoiceOver, even when "Change with Buttons" is disabled in Settings> Sounds and Haptics.
  • VoiceOver volume no longer fluctuates when using AirPods.
  • Expanding grouped notifications in Notification center now works correctly.
  • VoiceOver speech now works reliably when navigating Notification Center.
  • VoiceOver no longer becomes unresponsive when opening apps.
  • VoiceOver now correctly announces the number of messages in a mailbox in the Mail app.
  • The Status Bar is now somewhat easier to locate by touch, although the target area when on the Home screen still feels smaller than it has been in the past.
  • Apple has resolved the behavior which saw some VoiceOver labels for Today View Widget elements prepended with the extraneous text “Today”.
  • When an iOS or iPadOS update is available through the Settings app, VoiceOver once again speaks the size of the download and the download progress.
  • When swiping through the Lock Screen, VoiceOver focus no longer enters the Status Bar.
  • It is now possible to reliably navigate by heading the history tab in Safari.
  • When opening the App Switcher, VoiceOver now correctly places focus on the most recently-opened app.
  • When using the Alex voice, there are no longer unnaturally long pauses after punctuation.
  • When in the Status Bar, performing a two-finger scrub or pressing space with B on a braille display now works correctly and takes the user back to the main area of the screen.
  • When encountering an emoji in braille, VoiceOver now displays the emoji correctly.
  • On the Map Settings screen in the Find My app, the Close button is now announced by VoiceOver as being a button.

If you encounter any additional fixes during your own use of iOS 13.1 or iPadOS, please let us know by posting a comment below.

New Bugs for VoiceOver and Braille Users in iOS 13.1 and iPadOS 13.1

Disappointingly, our testing suggests that iOS 13.1 and iPadOS 13.1 also introduce some new bugs for VoiceOver and braille users:

Serious Bugs

  • On occasion, VoiceOver becomes unresponsive after ending a call in both the Phone and FaceTime apps; this issue sometimes necessitates that the user must perform a force restart to restart the device. The presentation of this behavior is inconsistent; some members of our team report experiencing this issue several times per day, while others have not experienced it at all.
  • When running a shortcut that prompts you to make a selection from a menu, VoiceOver does not read the menu options. * Note that this problem is not present if the menu has only a few options.

Moderate Bugs

  • When using a braille display and editing text in a text field (such as in an email message or note), the blinking cursor represented by dots 7 and 8 will often not be indicated on the display, even after pressing a cursor routing button.
  • VoiceOver focus is ‘jumpy’ on the People and Devices tab of the Find My app. Our assumption is that this is triggered by the location data updating; hence the more people and devices you are tracking, the ‘jumpier’ VoiceOver focus will be.
  • On occasion, the Edit item is missing from the VoiceOver rotor's Actions menu when in empty text fields; even though you have text on the clipboard. On these occasions, a double-tap and long press on the text field will typically reveal the Paste button. At this point, Edit also becomes available from the Actions menu.
  • The VoiceOver keyboard shortcut to move focus to the Status Bar does not work when on the Home screen. It works when in an app, but you are unable to then use the keyboard to move focus through all items on the Status Bar.
  • On iOS, double-tapping on a shortcut in the Shortcuts app will open its edit page rather than run the shortcut (which the VoiceOver hint indicates should be the expected behaviour).

Minor Bugs

  • On occasion, you may find that VoiceOver focus will jump to the first UI element on the screen soon after you go to that screen, but after you have placed VoiceOver focus on another UI element. For example, after using View from the Actions menu on a notification and then placing focus on to the Delete button, focus will jump to the Dismiss button. If the timing is right, this may happen just as you double-tap on what you expect to be Deleted. Similar behavior can routinely be reproduced after selecting to ‘react’ to a message in the Messages app, where VoiceOver focus will initially be on the ‘Heart’ tapback, but then jump to the Back button. These are just two examples. Similar behavior is present system-wide.
  • The ‘New Window’ UI element on the App Expose (‘Show All Windows’) screen in iPadOS is not spoken by VoiceOver as being a button.
  • On occasion, VoiceOver does not speak the time when using the Side Button to wake the device's screen.

As we always stress, we can make no claims on the completeness or accuracy of our testing. We are only a small team, and it is simply impossible for us to test all devices, configurations, applications, and use cases. Accordingly, to help us ensure that the information on this page is as complete and accurate as possible, please let us know in the comments of any fixes; enhancements; or regressions that you find in your own use of iOS 13.1 and iPadOS.

How to update

iOS 13.1 and iPadOS 13.1 are 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 device is available on this Apple Support page.

As always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts on these updates. Questions? Comments?? Let us know by adding a comment below.

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Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Thursday, September 26, 2019

I wander if the new feature that suppose to help the battery might be the one that is affecting the battery?

Submitted by AppleBuggy on Thursday, September 26, 2019

If you’re dependent on invert (white on black) I strongly recommend NOT INSTALLING 13.1. The invert feature is so buggy I’m starting to look at devices other than my iPad. I’m hugely disappointed in Apples screw-up of this functionality. Invert worked perfectly pre13.1, but in the latest release is completely unreliable, especially on web pages. I’ve tested it in Safari, Chrome and Firefox with the same disappointing results across the board. If this isn’t fixed I’m moving back to my PC, which I had all but abandoned in favor of iPad. This is a very sad day for me when Microsoft beats Apple on accessibility. Shame on you Apple! You’ve let down the VI community.

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Thursday, September 26, 2019

I turned this feature off first thing yesterday morning and it appeared to resolve a lot of my battery drain issues from 13.1. Very strange.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Thursday, September 26, 2019

In reply to by sockhopsinger

Going to do it now. I was thinking that could be the problem. Another bug.

Submitted by Troy on Thursday, September 26, 2019

I just sent an email to apple accessibility and got a prompt response for my bug reports that apple is currently investigating these issues spacifically the no vo after hanging up a call but they did not have a turn around time for resolution.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Thursday, September 26, 2019

Has anyone reported the following. Whenever lock screen is on and you get alert news VO says the time at end of message? Also sometimes when I get a message. This happens when screen is lock. I call was told by a nice person name Matthew that no one has reported this.

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Thursday, September 26, 2019

I'm glad that's fixed for you because it sounded like a real pain in the a dollar dollar.

Submitted by Justin on Thursday, September 26, 2019

lol me too. Now I'm just getting all my stuff reorganized which is kinda a pain, but ah well... don't encrypt iTunes backups. Lesson learned. Luckily all my contacts were in iCloud, or I would've screamed and cried at the same time lol :)

that's what they always say now with any accessibility bug report and to me it's just a cop out to really say we don't really want to hurry up and fix the issue.

Submitted by Scott Duck on Thursday, September 26, 2019

I updated my 6S to 13.1 2 days ago and, so far, I really like it. I have not had the battery drain issue but I did turn off battery optimization as soon as I installed the update so that may be why. I have experienced a little focus jumpiness in some places but I have seen this in previous IOS versions as well and it isn't a big issue to me. I have not yet had the issue where VO becomes unresponsive after hanging up a call and I really hope I don't experience it because that would be a real hassle to deal with. I love all the new VO customization options. I have noticed some intermittent VO sluggishness in the mail app but it doesn't happen often enough to be a big problem. The biggest issue I have had is a problem in DownCast, where VO will not fully read button labels but I can work around that. All in all, I am very pleased with my update experience so far.

Submitted by Matt on Thursday, September 26, 2019

I noticed after updating to iOS 13.1 that, especially when my phone is muted, my ring tone comes through my headset but the announcement by voiceover about who is calling comes through the phone speaker. Is this deliberate or a bug?

Submitted by Carlos Alonso on Friday, September 27, 2019

Hello - has anyone with an XR model experienced the bug where the phone locks up when hanging-up after a phone call? thanks for any feedback.

Submitted by Bingo Little on Friday, September 27, 2019

I, too, have disabled battery optimisation. The result is that the battery drains a little slower, but I would still say it drains too quickly. My partner is also having the same issue and she is sighted, so it's not an accessibility bug.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Friday, September 27, 2019

Do not think. I was listening to music and now the music comes in the speaker and VO in the phone. Perhaps there are some bugs on how it comes. I like the music and having VO coming out from the phone. About time.

I loved the idea of the watch item feature, but it really hasn’t worked for me. I said it to watch the score in a game I constantly play called Moxie, but VO didn’t announce anything when my score changed. I’ve tried it in a couple of other places with similarly disappointing results.

Submitted by Gar on Friday, September 27, 2019

So I was on the phone with Apple and they tried to help me out. The agent I talked to wasn't able to get their phone to do the dot thing mine has been doing, and advised me to reset the phone. Tried it, restored from an iCloud backup and it didn't fix the issue. I'm trying to figure out if restoring from an iTunes backup would be worth my time or not. What do you guys think?

Submitted by J.P. on Friday, September 27, 2019

When I got my iPhone 11, it was on 13.0. Wifi calling showed on in status bar. Since updating to 13.1, it’s no longer showing in status bar. I deactivated/reactivated with no change. Along with reboot.
New 13.1.1 incremental update didn’t help. Anyone else experiencing this? I have Verizon.

Submitted by LaBoheme on Friday, September 27, 2019

that phone call bug sounds particularly nasty. imagine you were out there, busy and exhausted trying to get things done, suddenly you made or received a call, and your phone just when dead? sure reboot i know, but imagine you are in a noisy environment, withoutand visual or audible cue, just how confident you can get it back to life in time?

i used to complained in mid january that the cycle had half way through its course and we'd be soon talking about wwdc, but bugs weren't fixed, hopefully i don't feel the same sentiment next january. certainly going to stay with 12.4.1 for a while, i want to get things done, not trying to fix my phone all the time.

Submitted by Troy on Friday, September 27, 2019

While all bugs are important I would like to see the phone call bug fixed before any other bug as in my opinion it is the most serious of them all. What I do is I hold down the power button until I think the power off button has appeared on the screen and double tap, Now for me this is where having a taptic supported phone with a home button really comes in handy, I just keep pressing the home button and if I don't feel the home button press I know the phone is off, then I just power it back up.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Friday, September 27, 2019

Whenever iPhone is close and want to use siri, VO talks and affect siri. Figure out how to fix this. Go to setting, accessibility, Voiceover, Verbosity, and slide to speak detection, tap on it, slide and select sound or turn it off. Siri will no longer have problem when on the lock screen

I'm currently in verbosity settings and am not finding anything about slide to speak. Am I missing something? This is definitely something I'd love to fix if possible.

Hi Missy,
The setting is in verbosity. It’s called Speak Detection of Text and Images.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Saturday, September 28, 2019

In reply to by J.P.

Correct. I discover when that is in speak, when screen is lock and you press power button to get siri, VO will talk and affect siri. I turn it to sound. Also you can turn it off.

Submitted by bj colt on Sunday, September 29, 2019

A friend is experiencing a strange behaviour in texting a message. When he presses a key there is a slight musical noise then random letters speak. When he for example presses the letter n then words beginning with n start speaking. I think a setting has been adjusted but not sure what that setting is. He can send a message using siri no problem. This is only since the update to ios 13.1

Submitted by J.P. on Sunday, September 29, 2019

This is for BJ Colt. It sounds like your friend is activating QuickPath. If you hold down first letter for about 5 seconds, then you can slide type. You can turn QuickPath off. You can also add to rotor to turn on/off.

Submitted by Alana on Sunday, September 29, 2019

I wanted to let everybody know that I received a reply from Apple accessibility. They stated that they are investigating the bug and cannot give a definite time for a fix. I must admit, this is disappointing for such a serious bug.

Submitted by Matt on Monday, September 30, 2019

As the subject says, i have been playing with the new ios software and have had a generally favorable review. the overall speed seems to have been increased, voiceover seems generally more responsive, and I've only experienced a few minor bugs here and there. i especially like the voiceover customization and the file manager built into safari. One feature that seems to have been a bit overlooked is the amount of voiceover feedback given in the camera app when taking a picture. The user is now told how many people are in focus, as well as tactile and speech feedback is given to help position the camera and make sure it is level before taking the picture. I hope this is given more attention in the future as it may greatly help those of us who enjoy taking pictures from time to time.

Submitted by Pelle on Monday, September 30, 2019

Hi folks, I am one of those who don't dare to update to iOS 13 because of the phone call bug. I would like to know if anyone has tried to turn VoiceOver off, end the phone call, and then turn VoiceOver on again? If you don't know how to do these things:
Activate VoiceOver as the accessibility shortcut in Settings > General > Accessibility. When this is sorted, you can turn on or off VoiceOver by triple-clicking the side button or the home button, depending on which phone you use.
Well, when describing how to end a call without VoiceOver, I only can tell what works with my phone and my iOS version (iPhone 6S, iOS 12.4.1). To end a phone call, simply press the power button. When you do this, don't hold your phone too close to the ear. As far as I have found out, the call will not end if you make the call with the speakers. However, if you are making a FaceTime call, the call will end even when using the speakers, if you have left the FaceTime app when you press the power button. Unfortunately, I don't know if it is easy or not to return to the home screen without VoiceOver, for phones without tactile home buttons.
Obviously, if you use a headset with tactile buttons, you should be able to end any call by pressing the corresponding button on that headset.

Of course, these solutions are not ideal. But this workaround, or something equiwalent, would be much quicker than doing a force-restart. Moreover, I suppose that force-restarting the phone several times a day makes the device's performance degrade quicker.
If you have tried these things, or if you have other tips, please give a reply.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Monday, September 30, 2019

Who stated this iOS was great need to see a psychiatrist. I have bugs that are getting in my nerve. Crossing fingers for the next beta to fix problem but it will not happen. For those good people who are not having problems, lucky you and bless you. This is first time I had bugs like this. I seen to have bugs in notification such as trying to clear old notifications, the time reporting after a notification. Be it news, weather gods and message and vorail. VO states the time at the end. More but do not have the time.

Submitted by Troy on Monday, September 30, 2019

You can not restart voiceover if it quits while ending a call, this is why people are doing a force restart.

Submitted by Pelle on Monday, September 30, 2019

Thanks for the replies so far! Maybe I have been unclear, or my question has been a bit misunderstood. What I wonder is: does VoiceOver behave reliably if you (1) turn off VoiceOver during the call, (2) end the call, (3) turn VoiceOver on again? Or will the call-ending action mess up VoiceOver until you restart the phone, even if VoiceOver was deactivated when you hung up the call?

Submitted by Troy on Monday, September 30, 2019

Hi Pelle,
Yes, sometimes when ending a call voiceover will not activate until you restart the phone, while on a call as far as I can tell voiceover has no issues. Now here's the interesting thing, when this happens I can't even get Siri audio to work, anyone else having that issue as well?

Submitted by Unregistered User (not verified) on Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Does anyone know what caption panel in the voiceover setting is for? Also, yes, I love the file download manager in Safari, and the camera App is really getting better. I was playing around with it the other day and I took a picture of myself, and since I labeled my face in the camera roll, it was able to recognize that I was the person in the photo

Submitted by Robert Spangler on Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Hello, many times when on a call, I attempt to pull the phone from my ear to switch to speaker mode, but it does not work, remaining on earpiece mode instead. Also, navigating the screen results in hearing nothing from VoiceOver; it's almost as if the screen is frozen. Earlier, I couldn't even hang up a call with two finger double-tap. If I'm on a call long enough, however, the issue goes away. I'm on iOS 13.1.2 on an iPhone 10R, but I've seen this bug for a while in the iOS 13 builds. Is anyone else seeing this?

Submitted by faraz qureshi on Wednesday, October 9, 2019

I am using iPhone 7 Plus with iOS 13.1 update and found that customisation options are not available in voice over settings. I am not sure if it is bug or what ?