Apple Releases macOS 10.14.1, watchOS 5.1, and tvOS 12.1

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Update: Apple has now withdrawn watchOS 5.1 after some users reported that their watches were rendered unusable by attempting to install the update.

Today has seen another round of software updates from Apple. In addition to iOS 12.1, Apple has released macOS 10.14.1, watchOS 5.1, and tvOS 12.1.

The macOS 10.14.1 update includes support for the Group FaceTime feature, which lets you chat with up to 32 people at the same time. Group FaceTime is also now available on iOS following the release of iOS 12.1; and on Apple Watch with watchOS 5.1.

Additionally, macOS 10.14.1 and watchOS 5.1 introduce more than 70 new emoji. These new emoji are also available on iOS 12.1, and include:

characters with red hair, gray hair and curly hair, a new emoji for bald people, more emotive smiley faces and additional emoji representing animals, sports and food.

According to MacRumors, watchOS 5.1 makes a few minor tweaks to Watch faces:

The watchOS 5.1 update brings a full-screen new "Color" watch face option for the Apple Watch Series 4, with users able to choose between multiple shades. There's also a filled-in circular color option for older Apple Watch models that joins the standard Color clock face.

According to the release notes via 9to5Mac, watchOS 5.1 includes the following improvements and fixes:

  • Apple Watch Series 4 automatically contacts emergency services if you are immobile for about a minute after detecting a hard fall. The watch will now also play a message that informs the responder that Apple Watch has detected a fall and shares your location coordinates when possible.
  • Fixes an issue that could cause an incomplete installation of the Walkie-Talkie app for some users
  • Resolves an issue that prevented some users from being able to send or receive invitations on Walkie-Talkie
  • Addresses an issue where some previously earned Activity awards were not showing in the Awards tab of the Activity app for some users

Apple does not traditionally provide release notes for tvOS, so it's still unknown what improvements of fixes are included with tvOS 12.1. However, it's likely to focus on under-the-hood performance improvements and bugs that have been discovered since the release of tvOS 12.

At the time of posting, we are unaware of any changes for blind and low vision users in these releases. If you do spot any fixes, regressions or enhancements, please do let us know by posting a comment below.

How to Update

macOS Mojave introduced a new method of installing software updates - you now open System Preferences and select the "Software Update" option.

To install tvOS 12.1, go to the Settings channel then look for the System section near the bottom. From here, look for Software Updates under Maintenance, then select Update Software and Download and Install.

watchOS 5.1 is available by going to the Watch app on your iPhone and navigating to General> Software Update. To install the update, your Watch must be connected to its charger and have at least 50% battery power.

As always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts on these updates.



Submitted by Chris on Wednesday, October 31, 2018

There are unlabeled buttons in Messages and FaceTime related to the new group FaceTime feature. This is absolutely unacceptable! It goes against their commitment to accessibility. This feature has been tested for who knows how many months in addition to being delayed by an additional month from when it was supposed to launch. naturally, the iOS version has no such problems. I'm not surprised anymore. That line at WWDC stating "We love the Mac" is a lie. The Mac is stagnating and VoiceOver is part of that. I'm going to write an email to Apple Accessibility although I fear it will fall on deaf ears. I encourage everyone else to do the same. I'm seriously thinking that this MacBook Air might be the last one I use. I don't like their new computers and their software isn't as stable and wonderful as it could and used to be.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Everything just feels rushed now. They seem to slam out the hardware with a promise attached to it that it will do all the things they said it will do... At some undisclosed time in the future.

Also, watching the apple event yesterday and the iPhone event before that, has anyone else noticed the continual price jack? Now, the cheapest Mac you can buy is £1200, the cheapest current iPhone you can buy is £750... That is a lot. I remember when the £1k iPhone X was released last year people commented on its ridiculous price, but now no one seems to be batting an eyelid at it.

As for accessibility, there are bugs in watch os 5 with reading certain elements on the screen, vo on Mac still has erratic behaviour from time to time... Though I would say the iPhone feels pretty solid accessibility wise, aside from the unlabelled buttons which I've noticed in a few places throughout the OS>

Submitted by Cankut Değerli on Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Apple always adds new features on Mac OS but they don't improve voiceover for the new features. I sent them three mails about pdf and iBooks issue, they always said they were investigating the issue but they didn't fix anything. And I realized this Group FaceTime issue to, do they think about to do something about it?
I'm both An İOS and Mac OS user and İOS works well, bugs resolves in every update, on the other hand Mac side is negligible for them, every update have four or five betas, some have even six. Despite these betas, nothing change about voiceover for one year. This is a huge problem and it's frustrating. They really should do about Voiceover, immediately.

Submitted by Ekaj on Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Hello. I just updated my Mac overnight. I haven't yet played around with everything, but just a bit ago when I came in here I checked and the update seems to have gone as planned. An alarm on my iPhone went off right on schedule, so I think that update went as planned also. But I'll post more about that in the appropriate thread on here.

Submitted by Bingo Little on Thursday, November 1, 2018

at time of writing, when I check for an update I am told that I am running watch OS 5.0.1 and that my software is up to date. Has it been pulled? Or has it not been released in the UK? Quite content to be patient but it strikes me as odd.

Submitted by That Blind Canuck on Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Watch OS 5.1 update was pulled as some users who updated to it on their Series 4 watches claimed that the watch froze while the Apple logo was on the screen, turning their watches into bricks and rendering them useless. I think that Apple is replacing those though.

Although I read this story after updating my Series 4 watch and encountered none of this. Not sure why some are affected and others aren't.

They will probably re-release the update once they can ensure that no one else will be affected by this.

As for the Mac issues, I can't really speak much about them as I am still just a basic Mac user, not really a heavy user. Although it is sad that, although continued feedback from VoiceOver users, the Mac isn't getting the same attention as iOS devices are.

Submitted by Greg Wocher on Thursday, November 1, 2018

I have a Macbook air that I purchased back in 2016. Since I have had it, I have seen no real improvements in Vo on the mac. Web browsing is still not good at all. If a site has a more complex element like a nav bar or others vVo often gets stuck and does not know wat to do. On sites that use a lot of javascript, I often get the dreaded Safari busy and have to shut the browser down. This combined with the pretty pathetic new Macbook air that was just released, I am contemplating getting rid of my mac and going with just an iPad pro for mobile computing and using my PC for my home computing. I think the new Macbook air is signaling the downfall of Mac OS as a consumer product. They really are wanting to push people to iOS.

Greg Wocher

Submitted by Darrell Hilliker on Thursday, November 1, 2018

Quite some time ago now, I left the Mac and returned to Windows! VoiceOver has largely been neglected on Mac OS for quite some time, and new operating system features seem to be developed without accessibility in mind. We actually have a couple of 2012-era MacBooks available for sale if anyone is interested...

Although I'm done with Mac OS, I don't yet know of a more accessible solution for smart phones and tablets. We still like and use our iPads and iPhones.

If Microsoft ever decides to make another attempt at the smart phone market, I'll give them a try.

I think that, more and more often, Apple seems less and less willing to walk its talk with regard to accessibility.

Has anyone gotten anything more than a canned response from Apple's accessibility team on anything?