Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.4, watchOS 7.5, and tvOS 14.6; Bringing Podcast Subscriptions, Support for Upcoming New Features in Apple Music, and More

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Apple has today released macOS Big Sur 11.4, watchOS 7.5, and tvOS 14.6. These appear to be relatively minor updates for single dot releases, focusing on the groundwork for the upcoming addition of Spatial Audio and Lossless Audio to Apple Music, adding paid podcast subscription support for channels and individual shows, and some other mostly under-the-hood enhancements.

macOS Big Sur 11.4

Our testing suggests that the following issue has been addressed in macOS Big Sur 11.4:

watchOS 7.5

At the time of posting, we are unaware of any changes, fixes or regressions for blind and low vision users in watchOS 7.5. We will update this post if this changes.

tvOS 14.6

At the time of posting, we are unaware of any changes, fixes or regressions for blind and low vision users in tvOS 14.6. We will update this post if this changes.

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 these updates.

Release Notes

macOS Big Sur 11.4

macOS Big Sur 11.4 adds Apple Podcasts subscriptions and channels and includes important bug fixes.

Podcasts

  • Apple Podcasts subscriptions are available for purchase via monthly and annual subscriptions
  • Channels group together collections of shows from podcast creators

This release also fixes the following issues:

  • Bookmarks in Safari may get reordered or moved into a folder that can appear hidden
  • Certain websites may not display correctly after your Mac wakes from sleep
  • Keywords may not be included when exporting a photo from the Photos app
  • Preview may become unresponsive when searching PDF documents
  • 16-inch MacBook may become unresponsive when playing Civilization VI

For more detailed information about this update, please visit: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT211896

For detailed information about the security content of this update, please visit: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

watchOS 7.5

watchOS 7.5 includes new features, improvements, and bug fixes:

  • Access to subscription content in the Podcasts app
  • Apple Card allows members to track expenses, manage spending, and build credit together with a Family Sharing group
  • Support for the ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 or later in Malaysia and Peru
  • Support for irregular heart rhythm notifications in Malaysia and Peru

How to Update

To install macOS Big Sur 11.4, choose System Preferences from the Apple menu, click the Software Update preference pane, and click the Update Now button to begin the update process. If other updates are available, you can click "More info" to see details about them and select specific updates to install.

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

watchOS 7.5 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings > General > Software Update) or 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.

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

To install tvOS 14.6 on Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD, 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.

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

If you discover any additional fixes, regressions or changes of note during your own use of these releases, please let us know by posting a comment below.

Options

Comments

Submitted by Christopher on Tuesday, May 25, 2021

If using the US English Siri voices, any of the 4, yes, the bug where you get multiple instances speaking at the same time is there still. It's not been squashed. Why doesn't this surprise me! Come on, Apple. Really?

Submitted by PaulMartz on Thursday, May 27, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

This has been an issue since the release of Mac OS 11, but I haven't seen anyone discuss it on AppleVis.

Move focus to the menu bar with Control+F2 or VO+M, then switch apps with Command+Tab. I expect VoiceOver to announce the app name with each Command+Tab press. Instead, all I hear is "Apple, Apple, Apple".

Submitted by PaulMartz on Thursday, May 27, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

The VoiceOver issues I mentioned previously are still present during update. Namely:

1. No way to access the progress from the Setup Assistant progress bar. The previous suggestion of switching windows did not work; there is only one window active.
2. When the window opens to prompt for the AppleID password, there is no VoiceOver announcement that a new window with new contents has been displayed.
3. When you enter your password, there is no keyclick sound effect feedback.

Submitted by PaulMartz on Thursday, May 27, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

See this forum thread for a slick shell script to announce the time.
https://www.applevis.com/guides/making-voiceover-announce-time-and-dateā€¦
Per the article, I assign this to Right Option+T using the keyboard commander.

After every update, the script does not function. There is no error. If you read through the comments on that thread, you'll see my trick to get it working again. Open VO Utility, and go to the checkbox labeled Allow VoiceOver to be controlled with AppleScript. You'll see it's checked of course. Uncheck it, then check it again. Voila, the script will magically start working again.

This is a long-standing bug that has been present since way before Mac OS 11, and it's still present in Mac OS 11.4. The update somehow disables controlling VoiceOver from AppleScript but leaves the checkbox checked.

I think having the checkbox checked is correct. I think it's a bug that it's disabling this functionality with every update. I'd love to see it fixed.

Submitted by PaulMartz on Thursday, May 27, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

The two Reader View issues I noted over on the Mac OS 11.3 thread seem to be either greatly reduced or resolved.

1. When reading an article in Reader View, VoiceOver focus no longer seems to jump back to the start of the article.
2. When displaying an article in Reader View, then using the address bar to perform a search, the search results seem to always display correctly.

This is only from a few hours of testing, so if the issues recur, I'll post an update.

I tend to think completely the reverse. I think the checkbox being checked after the update is the bug, actually. I'm thinking they very intentionally disabled controlling with Apple script, as a security measure. I agree that doesn't make much sense, but, I'm pretty sure that was done intentionally. Why, I don't know though.

Submitted by PaulMartz on Thursday, May 27, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

In reply to by Christopher

You're free to disagree. But it's important to note that updates don't reset any other security settings to their default. The update only disables controlling VoiceOver from AppleScript. That's why I think it's a bug. I'd like Apple to make this security setting sticky like every other security setting.

1. I'm not denying this is a bug.

2. I'm not meaning to say I disagree with you that updates shouldn't change security settings or what not.

3. To be clear, what I was disagreeing with was the initial state of the checkbox status being where the bug lies. I think where the bug lies is like you said, that it's getting disabled. If it's even a bug at all. If it weren't a bug, and Apple did intend for it to be this way, then I agree with you, that's ridiculous, and doesn't really make sense, so know that I am not saying it's sensable. I'm only saying that there is a possible other explanation. I agree it may not be a good explanation, but for what it's worth, it's what it is. An alternative possibility. That's all I was trying to say.

Submitted by Christopher on Thursday, May 27, 2021

It's possible that in Big Sur, they kind of changed this and I'm just not aware. So, I'm not ready quite yet to necessarily call this a bug. I might be doing something wrong.

So, I open a Finder Window. I use column view just for your info. I don't interact with the browser area. Since I already land there anyway, I then use first letter navigation. Let's say I find a directory called animals. So, I've hit A N, and that lands me on the animals folder, which by the way, this isn't the oddity I'm seeing, but while I'm here thinking about it, why on earth does it say group? I mean, I kind of get that? As it's a group of files and folders, I, guess? um, maybe? ish? But in Catalina and earlier, it said folder, which made a lot more sense to me. A group, in my view at least, is more a cluster of items which you can interact with to show further content down the treebranch if you will...

Anyway, back to my discovery, So, I'm sitting on, in this example, the Animals folder. Now, say I wanted to create a folder underneath the Animals folder called Dogs. If I hit Command+Shift+N to make a new folder, it gets created under the Animals folder, yes, as expected, but here's the catch. It's now called Untitled Folder, and it doesn't appear to have the cursor sitting there ready for me to rename the folder from that over to being called dogs. So I have to now navigate and make sure the Animals folder is indeed opened by right arrowing on it if needed, BTW, right arrow, not VO+Right arrow. I do not either have quick nav turned on at this point. Then I hit U. I hear Untitled folder. I hit return to rename it, type Dogs, hit return, and boom. It's now correctly named. Man! What a lot of work just to make a folder under Animals! It used to be, I could just focus on the Animals folder, hit Command+Shift+N to make a new folder, Then the folder was created, but my cursor was already there in rename mode with the folder name selected already. So all I had to then do after hitting Command+Shift+N was to type Dogs, hit return, and boom, it was done.

In other words, what's happening now more simply put is, same thing, except the cursor isn't flashing automatically in the folder name waiting for me to rename the untitled folder to whatever I want it to be called right immediately after hitting Command+Shift+N. Hopefully that makes sense what I'm saying. If not, let me know and I'll put a recording together to demonstrate.

Whew. Going back and reading my comments on this topic makes my own head spin. No wonder we're confused. Let's just drop the word "bug". I never should have used it.

I'm just suggesting a change to address a usability issue. I'd like Apple to modify the update process so that it does not reset controlling VoiceOver from AppleScript. That way, users like me won't have to go set it back after every update.

I understand Apple might have a reason for changing this setting. In that case, they at least have to look at why their checkbox doesn't reflect the change.

I use Finder in List view. In your example, I would navigate to Animals (with either Up and Down Arrow or using first letter nav), then I'd open the Animals folder with Command+O, then I would create the new folder with Command+Shift+N. And the text cursor would be right where it needs to be and I would simply enter the folder name and press Enter.

Here's the interesting thing: I tried it slightly different and got radically different behavior. I navigated to Animals, then I skipped opening that folder with Command+O and instead created a new folder with Command+Shift+N. As you describe, this creates a new untitled folder in Animals and does not leave the text cursor ready to rename it. But it had another unexpected effect: It automatically changed my view from List to Columns.

Someone at Apple should at least take a look at it and figure out how it's supposed to work. But what we're seeing definitely seems wrong.

Finally, you mentioned Groups. Try going to the View menu and unselecting Use Groups and see if that makes a difference. I have it off, and VoiceOver announces all my folders as folders.

I agree Apple should definitely look at things. I've been meaning to report this, but can't remember how many times I've done so already. It might be worth readdressing though, I agree. As for the groups thing, I'll try that with the view menu. I am however curious what that actually does by viewing groups?

Submitted by Christopher on Friday, May 28, 2021

This actually has been happening to me since 11.3, again in 11.3.1, and now also still in 11.4.

When Mail is in the foreground as the currently focused app, if I hit Command+Q to quit Mail, it gets stuck in the command tab order for about 30 to 45 seconds before actually quitting. So, though visually and even verbally with Voiceover it appears closed, if I Command+Tab after quitting Mail, I still temporarily see it for about another 30 to 45 seconds, then finally it quits entirely and vannishes from the Command+Tab list. And yeah. It does show up for that short time in the VO+F1 running apps list as well. If I move over to it, then hit VO+F2 for the window chooser just to see what in the heck it's doing, I'm told Mail has no windows. If I try hitting Command+num row 1 to open the unified inbox, I get the little Voiceover bwonk error sound. Super weird, I tell ya! I had to be really really really really quick about this, but before quitting Mail, I opened Activity Monitor, and after quitting Mail immediately went over there to see if the process was still running for a short time. It's not. It does actually roll off instantaneously, so I am totally baffled as to what on God's green earth is going on! Can anyone else with an m1 system on 11.4 or some build of 11.3 reproduce this?

Submitted by PaulMartz on Friday, May 28, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

This isn't an accessibility issue per se, but it is definitely odd.

Use SIRI to call a number (e.g., "Call 800 555 1212". The Mac obviously uses FaceTime for this call. We know this because the FaceTime app launches, and you can hang up with Command+Q, which quits the FaceTime app.

Next, open FaceTime and VO+Right until you get to the Recent Calls button. Press it and navigate through the list of recent calls. I would expect to see the number I just dialed at the top of the list, but it's not there.

I'm not sure how long this odd behavior has been around. I just noticed it.

Obviously, I'm doing something wrong here, or missing a step. I open up Facetime on the Mac, now, say I want to call 555-1212. So, I go to the search field, type that in, then hit return to accept that as the number to call. Now, let's assume that 555-1212 is on an iOS device, and is signed into Facetime, but this device of their's is an iPhone. So, I want my iPHone to be able to make the call, then route it to my Mac. The catch is, I don't want to do a video Facetime call, but I neither want to do a Facetime audio call. I just want to make a regular voice phone call, but have it go through my mac.

I used to see that after typing the number and hitting return, if I VO+right arrow, I'd see the Facetime video button, which we know what that will do, but I'd also see just a regular call button. If I hit that, it's now forcing it to make a Facetime audio call unless the person I'm calling doesn't have Facetime, or aren't signed into it at which point, it falls back to a regular phone call not Facetime. I mean, it obviously is usihg the FT app, but technically, the call is going through my iPHone but then just funneling down to the Facetime app on the mac, if that makes sense. What I want is to get that behavior like I've seen sometimes where when you hit that call button, instead of it just immediately starting the Facetime audio call, I want it to act like I'd opened a popup button, and then let me VO+Down arrow, I'd see iPhone dimmed, then if I go down again, I'd see call 555-1212. If I hit VO+Space there, it would make a regular call, not a Facetime audio call. What are the conditions necessary to make it work that way instead of just starting the FT audio call?

Submitted by PaulMartz on Friday, May 28, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

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Submitted by PaulMartz on Saturday, May 29, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

I've seen this issue before, and I feel like it went away for the most part, but lately it seems to be creeping back in.

When down arrowing through an email message, VoiceOver reads each line followed by an announcement of the insertion point. It might sound like this:

maybe more specifically like overseeding a lawn. Insertion on word: maybe , between characters: and m

This seems wrong. I'm not in a text editor, I'm reviewing an email someone sent me. The word "insertion" seems to imply I can edit the message. I can't.

The interesting thing to note is that this issue comes and goes. I just Command+tabbed back to Mail to look at the message again, and the issue had gone away by itself. I closed and reopened the message, and the issue returned.

Submitted by PaulMartz on Sunday, May 30, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

The text fields in some built-in apps seem to require a mouse click before a user can enter text. Formerly, they required only VoiceOver focus. I've seen this sporadically in the Messages app field for entering text messages but can't reliably reproduce it. But I can consistently reproduce the issue in the Music app.

This evening, I opened the Music app, perhaps for the first time since upgrading to Mac OS 11. I wanted to change the sorting order on some CDs I ripped years ago. For each CD, I opened the Info dialog with Command+I and went to the Sorting tab. I moved VO focus into the sort text field I wanted to edit, but the field didn't take my keystrokes. I had to move the mouse to the field with VO+Command+F5 then invoke a mouse click with VO+Shift+Space. Only then could I type text into those fields. I expected VO focus to be sufficient; that's the way it used to work prior to Mac OS 11.

Lots of other strange new behavior in the Music app. For example, Command+F no longer jumps me to the search field, I must manually navigate there.

And another issue: Let's say I perform a search and navigate through the search results. With VO focus on one of the albums or songs, Command+I gives me the thunk sound and does not open the Info dialog as expected. However, if I go to the same album or song in my Library (that is, not using search), then Command+I works just fine. But Command+I doesn't work on a search result, and it used to before Mac OS 11.

Finally, there seems to have been a change to how the "artist" and "album artist" fields are used in sorting. Formerly, I could leave the "artist" field blank and the sort algorithm would take the value for "artist" from "album artist". That's no longer the case. Any album for which "artist" is blank now appears at the end of my Library.

It's strange that, about 15 years after the Music-ne-iTunes app was introduced, it's still undergoing radical changes that alter and break behavior.

Submitted by PaulMartz on Monday, May 31, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

The Music app now seems to have its own sense of focus that is separate from VoiceOver focus. You can see this in two ways.

Hit Command+F to do a search. This doesn't change VoiceOver focus. However, the Music app's internal focus is in the search field and you can enter a search term and hit enter. But because VoiceOver focus is not in the search field, you'll get no audio feedback as you type.

Another way to see this problem: Select Albums from the sidebar, press VO+J to jump to the grid, and interact with it. Use the arrow keys to move to an album, for example, Abba's Greatest Hits. Now use VO+Arrow keys to move to some other album, say, The Beatles Abbey Road. Press Command+I to open the info dialog. I would expect that to open the Info dialog for Abbey Road. Instead, it's for the Abba album.

For the same reason, if you're used to navigating the grid with VoiceOver, it's easy to delete the wrong album by mistake. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the delete confirmation dialog doesn't contain the name of the album you're about to delete.