VoiceOver features in iOS 6: a single tap for activating buttons and controls

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

First and foremost, I admit that I love the double-tap approach Apple has implemented in VoiceOver. However, as one becomes more and more familiar with certain apps, it would be quicker to locate a button or link and then activate it via a single tap instead of two. Imagine being able to flick around left or right to find something and then tap once to activate it.

So I suggest that a new setting called "Simple tap to activate" be added to the VoiceOver section of the Accessibility area. It should be disabled by default, but, once enabled, users should tap once rather than twice to activate the control under the focus. Also, it would be great if we could have it as a "Rotor" item -- or it can be one of the items which can be added to or removed from the Rotor -- for easier access. Such a feature would add a good deal of flexibility to VoiceOver.

Finally, it might be interesting to know that the only approach Android 4 currently offers is "single-tap" rather than "double-tap." While that might well intimidate some users who are just being introduced to touch screens, I believe the "single-tap" approach is great for those who know the basics of their screen reader and are now ready to do things faster especially in areas and apps which they've mastered. At any rate, this would excite many VoiceOver users.

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15 Comments

how would this affect explorability?

This may make it difficult to simultaneously support being able to explore the screen (touch anywhere and hear what&;s there).  Do most folks generally navigate around with left/right, and not touch/drag to find controls?

I agree. How could the system

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

I agree. How could the system know if you were touching to activate something, or touching to select an item you know is in a certain place on the screen? I use a pretty even mix of touch and swiping, and I would not want to give up either one.

A quick toggle in the router

A quick toggle in the router would negate these concerns because it could be quickly toggled. Apps like djay for example would greatly benefit from a single tap mode.

Just a guess

April fools? I agree that double tap to activate is vital to BO's usefulness.

touch typing approach

What I would like to see is something like this:
A toggle to enable a sort of drag-navigation mode like we currently have on the keyboard. Find a key, lift to type. Why cannot this be done with UI controls? Find a button, click it by lifting your finger. A gesture should be implemented to toggle it on or off, though.
Also, this mode should allow you to 'click' on the screen whereever you want, even if VO thinks there's nothing there. This would make apps that have controls always in the same place at least partly usable.

Hmmm, not sure about this.

While I think it could be useful, especially the implementing it the same way you would touch type, I'm not sure about how much I would like something like this. The issue I have with Android's way of implementing touch exploration is that you have to tap on the control specifically, rather than VoiceOver's way of doing it,, which is being able to flick to it and double-tap anywhere on the screen.

We can actually letter do

We can actually letter do this in a way. When you find what you want, just leave the finger you were flicking with on the screen and tap once with another finger. Also, if you know exactly where the button/link is you want, just touch it and leave your finger there and single tap with another finger anywhere on the screen. No need to change any settings.

I think it will not be so

I think it will not be so useable, it should be like this that we can assign a gesture to open an app. this should be a feature I think. and another one is that such as on the contact list, we should draw a letter to find quickly whatever we are seeking in a contact list. such as, we are looking for devney, then we draw on the screen "d and e) it should call names which first two letters starting with "d-e".

Comments on your comments

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

I'm glad this has sparked such a vivid discussion.
Bigham:
This may make it difficult to simultaneously support being able to explore the screen (touch anywhere and hear what's there). Do most folks generally navigate around with left/right, and not touch/drag to find controls?
//I don't think the ability to flick left and right is affected by this "single-tap" mode. After all, flicking should be detected as an attempt to find an element on the screen -- something like touching anywhere on the screen and hearing what's selected. Even now these two are similar in that if you touch a place or flick left and right to find something, you should still double-tab to select it.
:
I agree. How could the system know if you were touching to activate something, or touching to select an item you know is in a certain place on the screen?
//The single-tap mode doesn't mean you touch something and it gets activated instantly. Rather, you should touch something or flick to it and then press one single tap, rather than two taps, to activate it.
Charlton:
April fools?
//Not at all!
:
A toggle to enable a sort of drag-navigation mode like we currently have on the keyboard. Find a key, lift to type. Why cannot this be done with UI controls? Find a button, click it by lifting your finger. A gesture should be implemented to toggle it on or off, though.
Also, this mode should allow you to 'click' on the screen whereever you want, even if VO thinks there's nothing there. This would make apps that have controls always in the same place at least partly usable.
//Great ideas! The final point, clicking on the screen, would be especially useful for apps which group certain controls together and VoiceOver thinks all of them are just one single element, therefore failing to activate them.
:
The issue I have with Android's way of implementing touch exploration is that you have to tap on the control specifically, rather than VoiceOver's way of doing it,, which is being able to flick to it and double-tap anywhere on the screen.
//Yes, neither do I like Android's approach. In fact, without the ability to flick I don't even think Android has become truly accessible! Being able to find something and then tap it to select isn't bad, but it's quite inefficient when you want to interact with apps that require reading elements on the screen one after another. Android's approach runs the risk of accidentally missing or ignoring them. However, I can understand how it can be useful -- if properly implemented -- at times when one just wants to activate elements on the screen and knows where they're located.
:
When you find what you want, just leave the finger you were flicking with on the screen and tap once with another finger. Also, if you know exactly where the button/link is you want, just touch it and leave your finger there and single tap with another finger anywhere on the screen. No need to change any settings.
//Seriously, this is another way of double-tapping. I mean, keeping one finger and using a second finger to replace a double-tap is a slightly different way of performing a double-tap. What I want is the ability to locate one element on the screen and then single-tap once to activate it. This shouldn't be the default, and should be part of the rotor.

Would the split tap approach

Would the split tap approach not be similar to what you're suggesting with the single tap method? for instance I find the Twitter icon and leave my finger on it; with another finger I tap, thus Twitter opens! So wouldn't this single tap approach be the same with the split tap Isometimes use on my IPhone?

No

No. The split tap function and single tap thing suggested here seem to be totally different. I personally think that this would be really neet if you want to play an audio game but leave VO on, or in garage band to click buttons or whatever else. I really hope someone has emailed apple about this, too!

You should tell Apple

I like your idea. I think you should contact Apple and ask them if they can include it in the next iOS update.

Touch Typing

I like the idea of every button working the way Touch Typing works. I think whoever came up with that idea should contact Apple and ask them if they can include it in the next iOS update.

Yes

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Yes I'd love to have the option when I want it to use the touch-typing approach for all buttons in the UI. With the home screen and apps you are familiar with, this could be fantastic.
While the split-tap is useful, the problem is that it requires two fingers. I often hold the phone in one hand and operate it just with my thumb. This is how I touch-type and would be great throughout the UI. It'd have to be easy to turn on and off though.
I'd also like to see the L shape gestures from newer versions of Android introduced on iOS.