VoiceOver May 'Lag' or Feel Less Responsive

Category
VoiceOver Speech/Voices
Severity
Moderate

Description

In iOS 14, VoiceOver may 'lag' or feel less responsive than it was in iOS 13. The presentation of this behavior is somewhat inconsistent, and we suspect that the severity of the issue is partly dependent upon the age of the device and is also somewhat subjective. Our experience is that adding a secondary language to the rotor, even if it is the same language and voice as you are using, and then switching to that secondary language improves VoiceOver's responsiveness.

Steps to reproduce

This problem only presents itself on iOS 14 and has no specific steps to reproduce.

Bug First Encountered

iOS/iPadOS 14.0

Device(s) bug has been encountered on

iPhone

How often the bug occurs

Sometimes

Workaround

In our experience, adding a secondary language to VoiceOver's rotor (even if it is the same language and voice combination as you are using) and then switching to that secondary language improves VoiceOver's performance. To do this:

  • Go to Settings> Accessibility> VoiceOver> Speech and double-tap the "Add New Language" button at the bottom of the screen.
  • Navigate to the language you want to add and double-tap to add it.
  • Now back in the Speech screen, navigate to the language you just added double-tap.
  • Navigate the screen to customize the voice and speaking rate.
  • Next, turn the Rotor to "Language" and swipe up or down to select the language and voice you just configured. Note that if you have 2 languages added to the Rotor with the exact same voice and speech rate settings, you can tell that you are on the secondary language because VoiceOver will not say "default" after speaking the language and voice name. For example, "English U.S., Tom," vs. "English U.S., Tom, Default..."

For some, removing all activities in Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Activities removes the lag.

Apple feedback #

FB8647233

Status

Active

Options

Comments

Submitted by Christopher Duffley on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

As part of my own testing in the Public Beta, I've encountered this same issue with iOS 14. For more of beginner users, I would not suggest upgrading as this can be quite a bad experience for them, especially since they may not know how to use the rotor yet and are probably still learning basic gestures on the iPhone. I've noticed this happen more on the Alex voice than any other voice, but thats only from my own testing.

Submitted by David Goldfield on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

To me this almost feels like it should be classified as a severe rather than a moderate issue although I admit that I so far have not seen this as I'm still on iOS 13. I am likely going to wait until this issue has been resolved. Having said that are there any iPhone SE users who have noticed this issue? I have an SE and I'm thinking that perhaps the faster processor could mean that this issue is not present but I'd like some feedback from other SE users who have chosen to upgrade.

Submitted by Ishkabibble on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

I just upgraded my iPad Air 2 and iPhone 8 to iOS 14. The lag is awful. The lag is especially apparent when typing in braille screen input or scrolling through menus. I tried the secondary language rotor workaround and it helped somewhat, but it's nowhere near fixing the issue. I really hope Apple fixes this soon.

Submitted by James L on Thursday, September 17, 2020

It happens to my iPhone too.
The workaround helps a little bit, but the responsiveness is not even nearly close to iOS 13.
This was the first thing I noticed after my phone came alive after the update.
I thought it was lagging because the phone was doing things in the background after the update.
I was hoping it to go away after things settle, but it never did.

Submitted by Remy on Thursday, September 17, 2020

I'm also experiencing this problem on both my iPhone XR and Ipad Pro 9.7 Inch. It's really bad trying to use braille screen input. I'd like to think enough people are experiencing it that APple will fix it soon though.

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Thursday, September 17, 2020

Thanks for those that suggested the work-around. Although VO wasn't intolerable, it was noticeable and I was very glad to find the solution here. Worked like a charm.

Submitted by Maldalain on Friday, September 18, 2020

I updated both my iPhone XS Max and my iPad Pro 9.7. Strangely enough the lag does not exist on my iPad which is some three years older than my iPhone. They both use the same American English female Siri voice

Submitted by jeph on Friday, September 18, 2020

in my own case, its a bit different, turning off the screen recognition feature in some apps like facebook solves the voice over lag for me.

Submitted by Gabriel on Friday, September 18, 2020

Hi.
Same issue here on my iPhone XS Max.
The lag is more annoying. I would suggest to categorize this bug as severe.
Changing voice doesn't fix the bug.
iOS14 it's a bad user experience due to slowness of my device. I feel like I'm using a super old machine.
I hope Apple can work on this very soon.
GB

Submitted by David Goldfield on Friday, September 18, 2020

Here are my follow-up questions.
1. Does disabling the new screen recognition totally or even partially correct the VoiceOver lag issue?
2. If there are those who are not experiencing the lag issue at all what device and generation of device do you own? What speech voice are you using?
3. Does switching to one of the lower-quality or compact voices correct the problem completely? Partially? Examples are compact Samantha or the older Fred voice.
4. If switching to another voice solves the problem does the problem return if you switch back to the voice that you were using when the problem was first noticed?
5. Finally, has this been officially reported to Apple? I would report it myself but it would be a bit silly to report an issue that I'm not experiencing since I've chosen to not update to iOS 14 until it can be verified that VoiceOver performance is identical to what it was in previous versions of iOS.
I would also ask that the Applevis team consider reprioritizing this bug as severe. While it's not necessarily what some might consider a blocker the fact is that good and consistent screen reader responsiveness is a very critical expectation for those who are using a screen reader. If responsiveness has taken a noticeable hit even for a subset of users that can be a very serious issue, especially if it interferes with Braille screen input which is a native component.

Submitted by Jadzia_Adrienne Dax on Saturday, September 19, 2020

Noticed this first time I booted up my iphone 8 and 10. Not seeming to be as bad on my ipad 6th gen, but I don't use it like I do my phone. Especially irritating with BSI. Thankfully its input compared to its responses doesn't seem to matter. If you Braille fast, it'll put the right stuff in, but it just can't seem to echo what your typing as fast as its receiving the input, in my experience. Made the mistake of updating both devices at the same time, ... woops. Oh, I notice it on my Apple watch series 3 as well, but I'm not sure if that's just VO or the age of the hardware. I'd most definitely classify this as a severe bug. Going to try the work-around, but I also found a little tiny one of my own, at least for my devices. Tap settings, accessibility, then tap display and text size. Change the option differentiate without colour to on, and see if you notice any difference.

Submitted by Jo Billard on Saturday, September 19, 2020

At first Voiceover was a bit slow, especially with BSI, but it's improved greatly since then. My phone is an 8 plus, and I use Alex.

Submitted by Brad on Sunday, September 20, 2020

I updated and have noticed the lag but it's not that bad for me.

It's slow sure, but I can stil get things done.

Perhaps as others have said, turning off the screen recognition might help.