Apple News application accessibility bugs

Category
VoiceOver Announcements/Feedback
Severity
Moderate

Description

Voiceover navigation has been getting worse in the Apple News application starting at the iOS 14.1 update.
1. It is no longer possible to navigate sections such as recommended for you, top news or even New issues for News+ using the Voiceover heading rotor navigation option. Headings don't appear to be labeled as such.
2. The Voiceover rotor doesn't seem to be working on article headings in the main newsfeed tab. It was once possible to utilize the rotor to flick up or down to access options such as show less like this or show more like this, etc. There doesn't seem to be any way to access these options except for utilizing the long press action option and this isn't ideal.
3. A two finger double tap doesn't pause the Apple News Today podcast or any other audio recordings of Apple News articles. To Voiceover the play controls appear to be below the tabs. They should be the first thing above the tabs to stay consistent with other apps such ass Apple Music and Apple Podcasts.
4. Voiceover gets stuck in ads in the main newsfeed tab of the app. It would be nice to have the ads hidden to VoiceOver users. Ideally Apple News+ subscribers should get an ad free version of the newsfeed.

Steps to reproduce

1. Try navigating by headings in the app and the only heading present in the app is the Apple News+ heading at the top of the application main window.
2. Navigate down to a story in the main Newsfeed tab and try to utilize the VoiceOver rotor and try to flick up or down on the story headline. Voiceover will not give rotor options.
3. Start play back of any Apple News+ audio content. Try to pause the audio by utilizing the two finger double tap to pause the audio. Voiceover doesn't recognize the magic tap gesture.
4. Voiceover getting stuck in an ad is a little harder to reproduce. Voiceover gets stuck at random and I can't figure out a pattern to this behavior.

Bug First Encountered

iOS/iPadOS 14.1

Device(s) bug has been encountered on

iPhone
iPad

How often the bug occurs

Always

Workaround

There are no work arounds for these bugs.

Apple feedback #

FB8972323

Status

Active

Options

Comments

Submitted by Bruce Harrell on Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Hi.

I believe you can set your voiceover rotor to move forward from text to text. Since almost everything in the Apple News Plus app is a link, moving forward by text field or whatever might just move you forward to non-heading headings much faster. Try experimenting.

Next, if you open an article and go to the bottom, I believe you will find the options we used to be able to get by flicking up or down on an article link. Share is near the top of each article, though.

You can also simply remember on what page your desired section of the news app can be found. Mine, politics, is found in the vicinity of page 14, so I flick up with 3 fingers until I get to page 14, and then I start hunting with flick left and right.

Finally, don't forget the item chooser. You might find it can speed up your hunting quite a bit.

I agree Apple's changes to the news app are certainly annoying. I've reported it to Apple accessibility. You might want to do the same in an email. Squeaky wheel and all that.

Someday, Apple will wake up to the wonderful idea of changing their operating system to allow users to define a heck of a lot more, like where things are, how they are displayed (e.g., text versus heading), etc. I would love it if they did that to the menu bar, too, and to the Apple menu where you find about, system preferences, app store, etc.

Hope this helps.

Bruce

Submitted by peter on Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Yes, this app has defintely taken a major step backwards since iOS 14.

Not only can one no longer navigate to the next news topic by headings as we used to be able to do with Voiceover, but if one tries to navigate by container, one finds that after a flick or two downward one is unexpectedly at the top of the News app again on the first topic.

In fact I have always found this to be a bug when reading news articles that contain a number of headings. If one flicks down to a heading and then flicks right to read the paragraph under the heading, the next time one flicks down to try and get to the next heading, focus is placed at the first heading again and one has to navigate through all of the headings just to get back where one was.

Not good and getting worse.

In addition, I can't tell you how many times one has to flick right to get through those ads or through an inserted Twitter insert. This makes it extremely inefficient and time consuming to get through this nonsense just to read an article. If this keeps up I'll have to change to another news app, much as I have enjoyed the Apple News app in the past.

--pete

Submitted by Amir on Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Apart from not subscribing to the service because of the access issues mentioned here, I also think a $9 service should have no ads. Ads in the non-plus version of Apple News can be justified, but when you pay for the service, having to deal with them is unbearable no matter how accessible the interface might be.