What's New and Changed for Blind and Low Vision Users in iOS 7.1

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team
iOS 7.1 is now available for download via Over-the-Air Update and iTunes.
Since November of last year, members of the AppleVis Editorial Team have been busy testing iOS 7.1 in all stages of the beta process. Beginning with Beta 3, two of our team ran the betas on their primary devices and found it to be a very enjoyable experience that only got better as the beta cycle continued
While no software from any manufacturer is ever bug-free, we were impressed with the number of VoiceOver bug fixes in iOS 7.1 and applaud the Apple Accessibility team for a job well done.
Below is a list of the new accessibility features and accessibility improvements we are aware of in iOS 7.1. As always, it is entirely possible that we have overlooked something. So, if you notice any other changes or have a question about something we did not cover, please do post below in the comments.

New Accessibility Features in iOS 7.1:

  1. A new Accessibility option that turns on "Button Shapes". This is intended to make buttons easier to distinguish from other text on the screen (such as icon labels).
  2. The increase contrast setting found at Settings>General>Accessibility now contains three options rather than being a single Toggle. This should make it easier for low-vision users to fine-tune the settings to something that best suits their personal circumstances. The 3 options are:
    1. Reduce Transparency: when enabled, this should make some text and page elements become solid colours, thus providing a better contrast against the background.
    2. Darken Colors: when enabled, this uses slightly darker versions of the colors used in some apps (for example, the light blue used in Safari and Settings becomes a darker shade of blue)
    3. Reduce White Point: when enabled, this makes the general whiteness of iOS 7 a little duller, so should help those who suffer from glare.
  3. Enabling the Bold Text option now thickens icons as well as text on iOS labels. It also now changes the fonts used in the keyboard and the calculator.
  4. The option to Reduce Motion now also effects the native Weather app, Messages, and multitasking UI animations.
  5. There are new wallpapers which low-vision users may find make it easier for them to see text and images. These wallpapers are available in a selection of solid colors with a polka dot pattern.
  6. You can now set different speech rates for each language that you have on the language rotor. To do so, go to Settings>General>Accessibility>VoiceOver>Languages & Dialects and double-tap the ‘Info’ button that you will find next to the relevant language from the list of those enabled on the rotor.

Accessibility Improvements in iOS 7.1:

  1. The quality of the Vocalizer compact voices for United States English, British English, Australian English, and several other languages has been improved.  While not directly related to accessibility, new Siri voices (with gender options) are available for U.K. English, Australian English and some other languages.
  2. Folder badges now work as intended.
  3. The closing folder sound now works as intended.
  4. VoiceOver now reads all of the information on the Favorites tab in the Phone app.
  5. When creating a new text or iMessage, you can now swipe to the text field after entering a contact.
  6. VoiceOver focus is now more consistent when selecting multiple messages in the Mail app.
  7. VoiceOver focus is now more consistent when using the Actions rotor in the Mail app to delete messages.
  8. The Reminders app now gives feedback to VoiceOver users that lists are draggable for reordering.
  9. The Status bar on the lock screen now has hints for both the swiping up and swiping down gestures.
  10. VoiceOver no longer repeats the locked screen announcement.
  11. While adjusting the volume using the volume buttons with the screen locked, VoiceOver no longer says "screen locked" after the adjustment is made.
  12. VoiceOver volume can now be adjusted above 35% using the rotor on all devices.
  13. You can now swipe through all options under Settings>Music when iTunes Match is enabled.
  14. When you have just installed an app update, VoiceOver will now announce ‘Recently Updated’ right after the app’s name when you put VoiceOver focus on to its icon on the Home screen.
  15. VoiceOver no longer announces every time slot when swiping through the day’s calendar in the Notifications Center. Now, it will only announce any scheduled events.
  16. The random resetting of Inverted Colors no longer appears to happen.
  17. Pressing the control key on a Bluetooth keyboard now works as intended and stops VoiceOver from speaking.
  18. The editing commands in Braille, such as space with dots 2-3-5-6 to select all; space with C to copy, etc. now function as expected.
  19. The virtual keyboard can now be toggled on and off successfully with space and dots 1-4-6 in Braille.
  20. VoiceOver now correctly reads the information for Cellular Data Usage available through Settings.
  21. When Siri asks a question that requires a response, speech now usually finishes before the microphone is activated for your answer.
  22. All buttons now appear to be correctly labeled and work as expected when using the Music app to listen to an audiobook.
  23. When using the Photo app, VoiceOver now once again gives feedback on whether there are faces in the framed shot.
  24. When in the Messages app, VoiceOver now once again provides feedback when the other person in an iMessage exchange is typing.
  25. When Siri is active, a Magic Tap (two-finger double tap) once again toggles listening on and off. This was a feature in iOS 6, but broke in iOS 7.0.x.
  26. The letters which accompany the number keys on the phone keypad and passcode entry screen are once again announced by VoiceOver after the number itself is announced.
  27. You can once again have VoiceOver read a single line in iBooks by locating it with your finger.
  28. VoiceOver focus no longer jumps so easily from text edit fields if you inadvertently touch the screen outside of the field whilst entering text.

Bugs in iOS 7.1:

  1. Navigating the App Store is still unreliable and inconsistent with VoiceOver, although some minor improvements appear to have been made - such as when swiping left from the bottom menu bar on the Featured tab.
  2. Navigating by Heading in Safari remains inconsistent, and VoiceOver focus can still jump to the wrong place as you try to move through the page.
  3. Audio playback still does not consistently return to its previous level after being automatically lowered when VoiceOver is speaking, although it does appear to less evident.
  4. It can still sometimes take a second or two for VoiceOver to announce the time when the sleep/wake button is pressed. Likewise, there is still sometimes a delay for the screen to lock when pressing the lock button.
  5. VoiceOver focus can be inconsistent when navigating Settings on an iPad or iPad Mini.
  6. VoiceOver does not always give an audible alert and/or move focus when a pop-up alert/menu is displayed on screen.
  7. If you have autolock enabled there are some instances where the device will lock when you are actually using an app (MBraille and Fleksy are known examples).
  8. On the Activity page for Shared Photo Streams in the Photos App, VoiceOver does not read the text that accompanies items. For example, this text might say “Fred posted a photo. Fred’s Shared photos.” All that VoiceOver reads is the ‘Like’ button which is visually located next to this text.
  9. When using a Bluetooth keyboard or Braille display, VoiceOver does not consistently provide feedback when you have copied text using Command+c or Space+c.
  10. When using the App Switcher to close or move between apps, VoiceOver may say “App Switcher” when you return to the Home screen or switch apps. In the case of the Home screen, VoiceOver will say “App Switcher” followed by where its focus is (such as a folder name). In the case of switching apps, VoiceOver will announce the name of the app closely followed by “App Switcher”. This behavior does not appear to happen every time.
  11. When you search for a particular string in the Calendar app (such as ‘dentist’), a list of results is displayed. The date that VoiceOver announces for each of these events bears no resemblance to the dates actually displayed on the screen. And, it is the displayed dates which are the correct ones.
  12. Entering text with a Bluetooth keyboard can be problematic. In some circumstances VoiceOver will announce non-standard characters as you type. The number, navigation and function keys appear to work as expected. Some users report that turning the Bluetooth keyboard off and on again can temporarily correct this behavior.
  13. When content contains more than 1 language, VoiceOver detection of the switch between languages is unreliable.
  14. In the Game Center app, VoiceOver does not read the names listed in either the A-Z or Recents lists on the Friends tab.
We would like to express our gratitude to Amy Mason for her help in identifying the changes in iOS 7.1 for low-vision users.

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#101 Thank you so much, Mouse!!!!

Thank you so much, Mouse!!!!

#102 Try these steps

SFCheng, try to connect your device to Wi-Fi and plugging it in. You may need to wait for Siri's voice to download. If you want, you could also try going to settings, general, Siri, and then language. From there, tap on English, Australia. To the right of the language option is gender, and you can see if the voice is set to the gender of your choice. Hope this helps. Good luck.

#103 Keyboard Sluggishness Fix

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

I had an issue wherein the onscreen keyboard performance in iOS 7.1 was very sluggish. I would type a letter, and it would take maybe 5-7 seconds for the character to be entered. Resetting the keyboard dictionary in Settings> General> Reset> Reset Keyboard Dictionary solved the problem for me. Note that you will lose any custom keyboard shortcuts you may have created.

#104 RE BT keyboard issue

When my iPad had 7.0.6 installed, I was having all sorts of keyboard connectivity issues. It would not stay connected for very long and it would actually end up quitting half way through a message which got annoying really fast. so far on IOS 7.1, this seems to have been fixed though I don't want to jinx it. Has anyone else had issues with their Bt keyboard losing connectivity on IOS 7.0.6?

#105 BT keyboard

I can remember on earlier versions of iOs 7 the phone would freeze when I paired the keyboard. I would then have th reboot using sleep/wake button and home button held down. So far on 7.1 I have not seen this issue lately. HTH.

#106 7.1 reads email subject line in lock-screen

Another improvement that I noticed in 7.1: In lock screen, the email notification in previous versions did not read any subject line. It would only read the sender’s name and first few lines/words fromemail body. Now in the latest version, it reads the subject line making it more convenient to identify and respond to the right mails. so far, my experience on IOS 7.1 has been extremely pleasant. No bugs for me. I would like to thank the accessibility team of apple and the vibrant community for applevis that is enabling such an inclusive experience.

#107 Location services issues:

Hello AppleVis community, For those of you experiencing Location tracking issues. Mr. Mouse did a pod-cast way back, but one other area people can try, because I do not know if apple automatically resets these settings, is going into settings>Privacy. Once in privacy, you can double tap on the location services toggle. Once there, scroll down to the system services button. Once in this screen, turn off location tracking information you do not want on. I have a feeling the location tracking has a lot to do with this screen then with most anything else. This is of course assuming that apple re-sets these settings after an upgrade. Just my opinion though. HTH -Andrew-

#108 Location Tracking On

Thanks Andrew There are multiple alternatives to help, well is not to fixthe issue but it's temporal slutions until apple release a final solution to this bug. for who seen the location tracking On on the Status bar in many cases is working 24/7 not mutter if the device is locke or unlocked or apps are running or all of them are shut down. Unfortunally many people think that is a small bug, not is not because not only affect voiceOver user affect all iOS users. this issue drains the battery life fast. Also other notable bug where apple is worry is about bluetooth on the entire word Bluetooth when is enable bluetooth automatic show on the status bar region tracking On Unfortunally there not possible solutions to deal about this bug, it drains battery but not to fast as location service and the only way to disable is turning off bluetooth. I did some changes under settings and worked for me but I didn't go into system service. for me the location service just start tracking when launch the specific app and doesn't work on the background tracking 24/7 yes is good alternative and some tip is welcome to help also some podcast is the best option now to help others users.

#109 VO and the Bluetooth Keyboard possible reason/work around

Hi all,

In talking to some folks over the last 24 hours, the issue to do with VoiceOver with Bluetooth keyboards appears to be using the Control key by itself: i.e. to shut the voice up for example.

What is suggested is that when the bug appears, VO+right, VO+Left (repeat), and when your back on the edit field navigate with iOS commands: e.g. up or down for line, Option+left or right for word, and even Control+up or down for top or bottom of edit area.

Staying away from just pressing the Control key by itself has worked for me over the last 30 or so times that I have been using the BT keyboard.

Doesn't get rid of the problem, but it seems to be a solid work around.


#110 Hmm interesting work around,

Hmm interesting work around, I'm not updated yet. As of now I'm too scared to because of what I have been stating in the last few replies, Ok the first reply to the blog. smiles but thanks for the work around. Can someone confirm it works? Maybe I can update my blog which tracks back to this one.

Take care.

#111 Is Anyone Else Still Experiencing Screen Lock Announcement Bug?

The following supposed fixes in 7.1 are still not working for me: 10.VoiceOver no longer repeats the locked screen announcement. 11.While adjusting the volume using the volume buttons with the screen locked, VoiceOver no longer says "screen locked" after the adjustment is made. help?

#112 Until the come up with a work

Until the come up with a work around just turn off speech. I do this anywa as mostly whenI lock my screen I'm asleep. lol!

Take care.

#113 RE: Screen Lock Bug Still Present

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hi Mmarlin, I know this sounds like a really silly question, but are you 100% sure the iOS 7.1 update was successful?

#114 Tha'ts what I'm wondering, as

Tha'ts what I'm wondering, as when I was testing it about 3 or 4 months ago the y had fixed the screen lock bug.'

  1. Go to settings
  2. Tap general
  3. tap about
  4. Scrol down to iOS version and make sure it says 7.1

Take care.

#115 Game center bug

After I update iOS 7.1 yesterday I open game Center then I go to friends tab the screen is blank I cannot see the friends list do everyone have this problem?

#116 BT keyboard Workaround

Club AppleVis Member

I did a little testing with the suggested workaround for the Bluetooth Keyboard issue, and I am encouraged by what I am finding. It certainly beats the workaround I had been using to this point. Indeed, it is the Control key that is causing the issue. I was able to reproduce it reliably once the cause was posted here. Near as I can tell, pressing Control + Option is enough to fix the issue. You don't have to press anything else, just the two VO keys. The only caveat is that I may need to re-activate the text field I was trying to type into, but that won't be a problem if I remember to press the VO keys before activating the field. I suppose one way to get it working reliably is to use VO + Space instead of Up + Down Arrow to activate the field. The reason I have run into the issue as frequently as I have is that I often use Control + Arrow to move around by container or directly to the top or bottom of the screen. This is enough to trigger the issue, even if I am not trying to pause VO speech, though that tends to happen anyway. I guess their attempt to fix the Control key not working is what led to the more serious BT problems we're having now. The only thing this doesn't explain is why I had the issue on occasion under iOS 7.0 as well. It is certainly easier to trigger under 7.1, but I did encounter it under 7.0 when the Control key function was completely broken.

#117 RE Bt keyboard issue

So the BT keyboard issue that I mentioned was happening on IOS 7.0.6 has reoccurred in 7.1. My Bt keyboard iw now staying disconnected and I cannot find out how to reconnect it again. I tried restarting the keyboard, the batteries I changed last week so I know its not that, and even restarted my ipad. When it connects, it stays connected for a while but will just lose connectivity out of the blue and usually while in messages. I tried the above mentioned work around with pressing control option but that did nothing.

#118 Did you try deleting the

Did you try deleting the pairing for the keyboard and pairing it again?

#119 re: game center issue

Yes. I have this problem. I reported this to apple during the beta cycle but I was the only one apparently and could not give them the logs they needed. Can someone upload XCode logs of what happens to the apple accessibility email?

#120 changing speaking rate

Hello all, can anyone confirm the following. In 7.1 regardless of english speaking voice with the exception of Tessa and Moira. Daniel, Samantha and Karen I am unable to adjust the speaking rate above or below 30% That's to say in other words, these three voices which I have tested with Compact on and off the speaking rate doesn't change anything stubbenly remaining at 30% for some strange reason. Again though, Tessa and Moira are unaffected. One can change the speaking rate value below or above the 30% mark and these voices do indeed change there rate. I should point out here too that I used both the rotor and the adjust speaking rate slider in the Voiceover settings and all of the above voices that worked and the others that didn't changed occourdenly or not in regards to the respective voice. I hope that last sentence makes sense. If Anyone can confirm this with 7.1 in order that I don't feel like I am on my own and if indeed what I am reporting obviously sounds like a bug should be reported to Apple in order that they know about this new bug that has cropped up in the new 7.1 update. Thank you for reading and I look forward to those who are experiencing it and even those who are not.

#121 bug mentions

I'm not having the screen lock bug anymore, also someone on here mentioned the statis bar did not have the time in it, as of 7.1 my statis bar now has the time instead of a blank area.

#122 Speech Rate Bug

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hi Daniel, I tried to reproduce this bug on my iPhone 5S with compact versions of Australian English (Karen) and British English (Daniel). While I could not replicate the bug you describe, that in no way is to say it does not exist. If you are experiencing a problem, regardless of whether anyone else on the forum can reproduce it, please do report it to Accessibility@apple.com.

#123 XCode Logs

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Mary, Were you asked by Apple for XCode logs? If so, they should have provided you instructions on how to obtain the necessary information. In any event, the process is not something that the majority of end-users would just know how to do--myself included--without detailed instructions to follow.

#124 screen lock bug suddenly fixed itself!

I'm fairly 100% sure I successfully downloaded the update. And, lo and behold, the repeat screen lock suddenly stopped happening a few hours after I posted my comment. Go figure.

#125 desire

I hope There will be Vietnamese voice on apple device soon

#126 Speaking rate

I confirm the speaking rate bug, but actually I can't adjust it at all, the only way to do it is through the language and dialects panel. I reported it to the accessibility team, hope it's fixed, reading stuff is not very convenient now.

#127 White Background Still Too Bright

While the white background has been toned down, it is still too bright for me. I still don't know why we can't select our preferred background. My corneas are going opaque and I would like to see without inverting colours constantly. Even the IBook background is bright white. Why not provide us with some templates which would allow us to try different backgrounds such as a heavy cream, light orange etc...?

#128 because its apple, and in

because its apple, and in apple one size fits all.

#129 I am noticing that within

I am noticing that within pages, the keyboard does act up sometimes giving what may be random s which makes it difficult to type.

#130 I always provide xcode logs

I always provide xcode logs weather they want them or not. it's actually quite intuitive once you get the hang of it.

  1. launch xcode. it can be gotten from the mac apps tore.
  2. go through the set up process and authenticate when told to
  3. connect yoru device and go to window, then choose organizer.
  4. reproduce the issue.
  5. go to yrou iPhone's name and expand it, go to logs.
  6. save the log by hitting the button with the help tag of save.
  7. attach it to an email or upload it to their bug tracker if you have a free dev account.

I have had the misfortuain to read xcode logs. they are quite interesting if you want to explore them. lol!

Take care.

#131 The speaking rate bug resolved

Hi all, just want to say that in a previous post I incounted the newer compact voices not going above or below there given percentage in my case 30%. This applied to compact and HQ. Again to preliterate the voices that were effected were: Daniel, Samantha and Karen. Well I have some good news. On the off chance I have been hearing that some people were having trouble with battery life with 7.1 and I think I was a victim of this too. So I thought Why don't I just do a reset before I did this of course I performed a backup both through iCloud and iTunes should anything go wrong then I went into settings, general reset and reset all settings. Note: and this is very important, do not I repeat, do not select erase all content and settings as this option will wipe your phone and restore it to factory default. As if though you've just brought it from an Apple store. In fact, I wouldn't even feel comfortable touching this 2nd option unless I have done a backup before hand and even then I would think I would stay well away from this option unless it proved to be a last resort. I just wanted to make this distinction very clearr. Don't touch the 2nd option unless your very sure you really want to start over. Well after performing the reset all settings I was then able to successfully with Voiceover both with the slider and rotor to adjust speaking rate and now the speaking rate does go faster or slower as it should in 7.1 for me. You may have to adjust your settings again. To use an example, once my phone was reset I had to turn off the Voiceover sounds again put in my wi-fi password little things like that but I'd rather do this than a full factory reset. Also I will monitor my battery life too but so far it appears to not be draining so quickly as it did before and of course I've fixed the speaking rate bug. So just that alone was worth it for me and I wanted to share this with you all and for those who may be experiencing the speaking rate bug, give this a shot and hopefully it will fix it for you. Just out of interest, for anyone who knows, is this the same as holding the sleep/wake and home buttons for 10 seconds wait for the phone to reboot and start again with data intact on the phone? I am somewhat confused between the terms soft/hard reset. If anyone can shed any knowledge on this matter that would be most helpful for me and I'm sure for others too on this site. Thank you and I hope what I have shared has been helpful for someone here.

#132 No the hard reset is like

No the hard reset is like holding down the power button of your computer and waiting for it to shutdown with out shutting down properly.

Take care.

#133 providing logs

Hi Marrie, thanks for sharing this. It does sound interesting and seems like a good idea to submit logs with an attach email in the hope that they can take a look at one's device with the log provided and get to the cause of the problem quicker with this information. A couple of questions if I may. 1. If I were to download Xcode, do I need a developer account? I am not a programmer just an end user 2. On my iphone, If I were to submit logs presently I have diagnostics and usage turned off found in the location services of settings mainly because I don't know what sort of data Apple collects from my iphone and partly to conserve as much battery life as possible out of my device. I've got nothing to hide though. lol Just wondering by turning this setting off would that effect the logs in anyway? E.G. less information to go by to reproduce the issue/problem etc. Any feedback from any developers or end users are also most welcome.

#134 I am also curious is the

I am also curious is the ability to submit logs confined only to mac users? I know that xcode is what mac developers use to create apps.

#135 As i am not a winwodes user

As i am not a winwodes user anymore I cannot answer that question but no you do not need a dev account to submit logs. Just follow the steps I outlined. ou can find xcode here.

As for diag info, that probably does not need to be off. i would leave it on though on the phone as apple needs as much feedback as they can get and I trust apple and am very loyal to them. I still can't read the logs though but yeah. lol!

Take care.

#136 Personal Preference

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

I don't think Diagnostics and Usage needs to be enabled in order to send Apple a log file if it is needed. What Diagnostics and Usage does is send Apple anonymous information about how the device is used. I have mine turned off, not because I don't trust Apple but because, in general, I don't want companies having any more information about me than they absolutely need.

#137 For me I want apple to know

For me I want apple to know how my device is used so they can better taylor it to the consumer's needs. Maybe the more we use x y or z the more they can improve it. the les we use x y or z they can take it away or at best make it a setting we can then turn off or on. Just my thoughts.

#138 Sluggishness in Messages

Using an iPhone 5S running 7.1, I'm finding VO to be extremely sluggish while inside the composition container in the Messages app. More specifically, flicking through the typing area, attachments button, and send button take several seconds to complete, and typing (even with a bluetooth device) is likewise slow, drops characters, etc. Despite having reset my settings, cleared out old conversations, and the like, I have yet to resolve this one. Can anyone else running 7.1 on a 5S try this and let me know if they are successful?

#139 Changing From Phone Mode To Speaker Mode

Hello everybody, This is not really a bug, and I have posted a comment on this even earlier, but is there any plans to add an On/Off selection in VoiceOver for the automatic switching from phone to speaker mode when the iPhone is moved from your ear and back? I fully understand why this is automatized when VoiceOver is used, but I would prefer an alternate way to activate and deactivate the speaker, shaking the phone, for instance. As it is now, the mode changes too sensitively when having a phone call: I often have to pay too much attention on holding the phone exactly in the same position on my ear while talking just to prevent switching from phone mode to speaker mode. Finally, I am also glad or even more that the volume issue has been fixed at least in the latest IOS UPDATE. It was really anoying when the volume of VO could not be increased over 35%! Regards, Jyrki

#140 I don't think apple will

I don't think apple will implement that as what if you are on a bum[py road and the phone shakes while it is next to your head. Just my thoughts.