The use of Invert Colors in combination with VoiceOver can cause the App Switcher to not work

Category
Miscellaneous
Severity
Serious

Description

If you have Invert Colors enabled system-wide and VoiceOver enabled, you are likely to find that the App Switcher cannot be activated.

If you use per-app settings to enable Invert Colors for specific apps, you will likely find that the App Switcher will stop working when you open one of these apps.

When this issue presents itself, your device will still provide the normal and expected feedback whilst performing the gesture on iPhones without a Home button to activate the App Switcher, but it will not be activated. Additionally, if you have assigned the Back Tap or a touch gesture to activate the App Switcher, these also won't work if you are effected by this issue. If triggered by an app set to use Invert Colors, the behavior will persist until you restart your iPhone. Turning VoiceOver off and then on again does not return the App Switcher to normal behavior.

We do not believe the issue to be present when VoiceOver is not enabled along with Invert Colors.

Steps to reproduce

1. Ensure that VoiceOver is enabled
2. Ensure that Invert Colors is enabled system-wide
3. Attempt to use the App Switcher

Alternatively, use the per-app settings to enable Invert Colors for a single app.

Open the selected app.

You should find that it is not possible to activate the App Switcher.

Bug First Encountered

iOS 16.0

Device(s) bug has been encountered on

iPhone

How often the bug occurs

Always

Workaround

The only workaround appears to be not to use Invert Colors and VoiceOver at the same time. Obviously, this will not be an option for those who rely on this combination to make their device accessible.

Apple feedback #

FB10906648

Status

Active

Options

Comments

By Dane

3 weeks 1 day ago

As someone who relies on the smart invert feature on a per-app basis, combined with the system dark theme, this bug is particularly serious relative to my specific use case. That said, being the naturally curious person I am, I began investigating this closely, and the below has been reported to Apple to provide them with these additional details with the hope of a quick resolution to this issue.

Not wanting or willing to adjust my per-app settings, I began searching for a work-around, even if it was only useful for myself, and believe I've found one, although it's not particularly good, as I need to toggle VoiceOver off to use it. When the bug occurs, I have been able to work around the issue by toggling VoiceOver off using the accessibility shortcut, and performing the native system gesture to open the app switcher (swipe up from the bottom center of the screen to about a third of the way up, hold for about two seconds, and release), followed by turning VoiceOver immediately back on with the accessibility shortcut.

At that point, I'm able to use the app switcher as per usual, although the VoiceOver gesture for activating it still doesn't work until my phone gets restarted, just as others have reported.

However, once I got into the app switcher, I noticed an additional detail that seemed to have been missed regarding the rogue app names reported by VoiceOver. They are not separate apps listed in the switcher. Rather, they are simply the labels which have always been visually present to provide app names to visual users. These appear above each app in the switcher.

Prior to iOS 16, these labels were appropriately hidden from VoiceOver users so they wouldn't cause confusion like this, and only used internally to allow the names of the apps to be spoken by VoiceOver, rather than being detected as additional static text in the app switcher, as in iOS 16. I haven't found a work-around for this yet though.