VoiceOver focus may spontaneously jump to another UI element, most typically soon after opening a screen, menu or modal

Category
Miscellaneous
Severity
Serious

Description

You will find on occasions that VoiceOver focus will spontaneously jump to another UI element.

This appears to most typically happen shortly (within a couple seconds) after navigating to a new screen in an app, or opening a contextual menu or modal. On these occasions the user may already have moved VoiceOver focus from its initial position to the desired UI element.

However, it is not specific to the above scenario. It can also occur after you have been on a screen for some time. In these cases, it seems that it most commonly occurs after you have interacted with an actionable UI element on the screen - such as making a selection from a dropdown list or increasing the quantity in a selector. However, it can also occur when simply flicking through UI elements - suddenly VoiceOver focus will jump back to an earlier position.

There appears to be no clear pattern as to where focus will jump to, but most commonly it will be to a UI element earlier on the screen, menu or modal. Often this will be the the first UI element. However, again, this is not consistently the case.

This behaviour can often result in the wrong UI element being activated, as there are times when focus jumps as you are in the process of performing a double tap.

Examples of where this has reported to have caused issues include:

  • On the recents tab of the Phone app it can result in calls being made to the wrong number.
  • In shopping apps it can cause the wrong product or quantity to be added to the shopping basket.
  • It can cause the wrong music to be played.
  • It can cause the wrong setting to be changed or an option to be set wrongly.

These are just examples. There are many more situations where the spontaneous movement of VoiceOver focus can cause problems or simply provide a poor user experience.

Steps to reproduce

There appears to be no means of reproducing this behaviour for demonstration purposes - it can occur in native and third-party apps and seemingly at any time.

Bug First Encountered

iOS 13.0

Device(s) bug has been encountered on

iPhone

How often the bug occurs

Sometimes

Apple feedback #

FB9975885

Status

Active

Options

Comments

By Blind I Am

7 months 3 weeks ago

I can't believe how long this issue has been around.

It's incredibly frustrating, particularly when it occurs that split second before you double tap the screen, so has you do something different to what you wanted.

My bank's app and the app I use for my weekly grocery shop are examples of this behaviour at its worst.

This is definitely in my list of top 5 worst VoiceOver issues or behaviours.

It will definitely be a red letter day if this ever gets fixed, but I won't be holding my breath.

By chris R

7 months 3 weeks ago

I find it happens when the keyboard is auto hidden. If you type in to a text field or choose from a picker item then navigate away until the text field/picker item is off the screen the keyboard/picker is automatically hidden. This seems to be what causes VO focus to jump, often back to the text field/picker item in question.
A work around I have found is to always double tap on the done button on the top right of the keyboard/picker item after you have finished with it.
This behaviour seems to be pretty consistent for me.
Been that way since iOS 13 and for a while at one point before that. Apple didn't used to have the keyboard auto hide so this didn't use to happen. Auto hiding can be useful because it gets rid of the keyboard when you don't need it but if it is going to cause this focus jumping then i'd rather go back to the old behaviour even if the keyboard can be in the way sometimes.
Chris

By Blind I Am

7 months 3 weeks ago

Unfortunately, this behaviour most typically occurs for me when I'm not using the onscreen keyboard. It's pretty much as described in the above post - it can happen anywhere and at any time.

What makes it particularly frustrating is that I typically know where on the screen the element is that I want to activate, so can generally locate it by touch very soon after navigating to a page, only for focus to immediately jump somewhere else.

As it is right now, this behaviour is a serious hit on my user experience of my iPhone.

By Scott Davert

7 months 3 weeks ago

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

I did not noticed this behavior until iOS 15, but it seems like when I go back to the Home screen, VO focus first is at the top and then it jumps, consistently, to another app on my Home screen. I thought perhaps this would be something to do with the app's placement on the Home Screen, but even removing the app from that position causes VO focus to again jump to another app. I'm not sure what happens with speech, but this is what seems to happen often when using braille.

By Jo Billard

7 months 3 weeks ago

I ended up purchasing something I did not want and I doubt I'll get my money back. Fortunately it wasn't a large amount.

By Uday

4 months ago

Thanks for reporting the bug. Can you please share Apple link for defect FB9975885 ?

By wiljames

4 months ago

This site is a good one to reproduce this bug.

1. Go to http://heardle.app
2. Hit play
3. Go to the combo box to type in the artist or title you think is correct.
4. After typing in a few characters, more often than not, you will notice that the keyboard disappears and you have no choices on the screen.

By peter

4 months ago

I most notice a behavior like this when reading an article in the Apple News app that has an embedded video, usually within a Tweet. If I swipe down with two fingers to read the entire article from the top, VO will read the article until it hits the video embedded within a Tweet. Then Vo seems to get lost and starts reading from the top of the article again. This loop continues until I stop VO from reading and flick past the video to continue reading the article. This behavior started occuring in the last release or two of iOS 15.
--Pete