iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 have been released to the public. This post contains details of the VoiceOver, low vision, and braille bugs which we believe have been introduced in these releases; as well as details of the pre-existing bugs which we believe to be resolved.
As is our routine practice, each new bug has been given a severity rating; these ratings are based upon what we believe to be the implications for accessing and using features and functionality and the level of impact on the overall user experience, as well as whether or not there is an effective workaround for the issue. However, as these ratings are subjective, it is very possible that they may not reflect your own opinion or use case. Accordingly, we strongly recommend that you read through this post and any replies before updating—as this will allow you to make an informed decision on whether to install iOS 14 and iPadOS 14.
As we always stress, we can make no claims on the completeness or accuracy of our testing. We have only a small team of testers, and it is simply impossible for us to test all devices, configurations, applications, and use cases. Some of the bugs listed below will be specific to a certain device, configuration or use case. Consequently, it is entirely likely that you will not encounter all of what we list; and it is also probable that you will encounter bugs or regressions that we did not identify during our testing.
To help us ensure that the information on this page is as complete and accurate as possible, we would appreciate feedback from those who have installed iOS 14 or iPadOS 14 —both to confirm whether they are encountering the same problems (or have found workarounds), as well as to let us know of any additional issues that are not on this list. Of course, it’s even more important that you let Apple know of any additional bugs that you find (they already know about the ones currently listed here and are actively working on resolving them). This post explains why you should report bugs directly to Apple, as well as the best ways to do so.
With all of the preamble out of the way, here are the new bugs for blind and low vision users which we believe to be present in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14:
The following issue was initially rated by us as a moderate bug. However, since the public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, it has become evident that the scope of this behavior is broader than our testing had suggested, and there are situations where it can cause certain web pages or areas of an app to effectively be unusable with VoiceOver. Consequently, we have revised our rating.
- On some web pages in Safari; web views in apps; and pages in apps, you may find that VoiceOver focus will spontaneously ‘jump’ to another UI element. This behaviour does not appear to be widespread, but can make navigation difficult and confusing when it does occur. One example of this behaviour can typically be seen with Google search results when using the VoiceOver rotor to navigate by heading. Similar behaviour has also been noticed inside some apps. Our suspicion is that this is when an app uses HTML in the code that generates the page. One example of this behaviour in an app is the App Store app. In this app, if you go to the Today tab; double tap on “My Account”; and then double-tap on your name, the contents of the ‘Account’ page and many that it link to are extremely difficult to navigate due to VoiceOver focus constantly ‘jumping’.
- On occasions, there may be a ‘lag’ in VoiceOver speech; or your device might feel generally less responsive than it was on iOS 13. It should be noted that not all of our testers experienced this issue, and we believe the severity of the issue is likely somewhat subjective. One workaround is to switch to a VoiceOver voice that does not exhibit this behaviour, though this may take some trial and error to find a voice that works for you. A slightly more involved workaround is to add a second voice to VoiceOver's language rotor; set the voice in that secondary language to your preferred voice; then use the rotor to switch to your preferred voice in the secondary language. Our experience indicates that the latter workaround can make VoiceOver and your device more responsive, even though you are still using the same voice - just not as the "default" language. It has also been suggested that deleting and re-downloading your preferred VoiceOver voice can resolve this behavior. Another solution reported by some is to remove all activities from Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Activities.
- When editing a typed note using a braille display, information about the text field will randomly display and cause VoiceOver to wrongly show the cursor at the top of the document.
- The ‘Radio’ tab in the native Music app contains some graphical UI elements which are not recognized by VoiceOver and can interfere with the movement of VoiceOver focus when swiping through the contents of this tab. This behaviour may understandably have you assume that there is nothing more on this screen, when in fact there is. To fully discover everything which is accessible on this screen, we recommend that you make use of the 3 finger swipe up or down to scroll the screen contents and explore using a combination of touch, the scroll bar, and swiping. Additionally, you are likely to encounter a number of “Play” and “Schedule” buttons on this tab, where the UI element they are associated with is not recognized or spoken by VoiceOver.
- There are a number of issues with the new widgets introduced with iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. In some cases, this results in VoiceOver focus getting ‘stuck’ when swiping through widgets on the Today view or the Today view not scrolling to make all widgets accessible to VoiceOver. Also, on occasions, the VoiceOver rotor's Action menu may not be present or work as expected on stacked widgets.
- The performance of Apple's new VoiceOver recognition features is inconsistent and unreliable, particularly that of Screen Recognition. It should be noted that these features are a work-in-progress, and your mileage may vary. As things are now, you should expect to find that there will be situations where having one or more of these features enabled will provide a worse experience than having them disabled.
- The Detected Text feature that's part of the VoiceOver Recognition features does not work with braille displays.
- There are situations system-wide where you will find that some VoiceOver voices will announce punctuation such as apostrophes and quotation marks when they should not be spoken. One workaround is to switch to a voice that does not exhibit this behaviour. A slightly more involved workaround is to add a second voice to VoiceOver's language rotor; set the voice in that secondary language to your preferred voice; then use the rotor to switch to your preferred voice in the secondary language. Note that it may take some trial and error to find a voice that will behave as expected for your specific region and language needs.
- After assigning a braille display command to VoiceOver Recognition, pressing the command will not toggle the feature.
- When using a braille display, after modifying the layout of the Home screen (such as adding or deleting an app), pressing space with dots 4-5-6 no longer functions.
- On occasions, when editing the Today view, it is not possible to swipe to the ‘Done’ and ‘Add Widget' buttons located at the top of the screen (note that they can be located by touch).
- On occasions, when editing the App Library screen available on iOS 14, it is not possible to swipe to the ‘Done’ button located at the top of the screen (note that it can be located by touch).
- Using the VoiceOver Rotor to rearrange widgets can be inconsistent and unreliable. For example, when rearranging widgets on the Today View, you may find that the option to place a widget before or after another widget is not available from the rotor. This behavior appears to be present when you have lots of active widgets - more than can be visually present on screen at the same time.(
- On occasions, the audible tone used by Safari to indicate that a webpage is loading may continue to play after the page has completed loading. This behavior appears most likely to occur if you navigate away from Safari whilst the page is loading. Even though you are no longer in Safari and the page has loaded, the tone may continue to play.
- On occasions, VoiceOver will not announce “Control Center” when the Control Center is activated.
- In the Translate app that's new in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, , the ‘drag’ options available from the VoiceOver rotor when on translated items do not work.
- VoiceOver speaks “New line” when announcing the languages in the new Translate app. For example, “Spanish Spain” is spoken as “Spanish. New line. Spain.”
- In the Translate app, there is an unlabelled UI element on the Listen screen. If you activate the ‘Listen’ button and swipe to explore the screen, you will notice a dimmed text field, a 'Close’ button, as well as an element that is not identified by VoiceOver and which does not appear to do anything when activated.
- On iPhone or iPod touch and in the last page of a Home screen folder, performing a three-finger swipe to the left will wrongly load the App Library.
- When navigating the App Library on iPhone or iPod touch using the Containers option from VoiceOver's rotor, the page does not scroll beyond what is currently visually on screen.
- When running a Shortcut that prompts the user to select from a menu, VoiceOver users are unable to dismiss the menu with a gesture (something which can be done when VoiceOver is not enabled).
If you encounter any additional accessibility bugs in iOS 14 or iPadOS 14, please let others know by posting a reply below. When doing so, please provide as much information as possible so that others know exactly what to expect; when and where the problem occurs; and any possible workarounds you have found.
Accessibility Improvements in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14
Our testing suggests that the following pre-existing accessibility bugs have been resolved or partially addressed in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14:
- Apple has continued to make improvements in regard to the consistency and reliability of behavior when both Dark Mode and Smart Invert are enabled. There are still situations system-wide where the colors used may not be optimal or consistent in behavior, but our experience suggests that these are fewer in number. The color inversion of websites in Safari also appears to be improved; and our suspicion is that in some cases where this does not work as desired, it is actually due to the website rather than iOS and iPadOS.
- When deleting text from a text field, the audio and haptic feedback that follows each deletion is no longer that which should indicate that you have reached the start of the text field (unless you actually have).
- When answering a phone call using the 2-finger Double-Tap ('Magic Tap') gesture, the vibrations which accompany the ringer now stop as soon as the gesture is performed.
- When listening to an audio file in the Files app, flicking up or down on the playback scrubber control will now move the playback position.
- You can now navigate by line when composing a message in the Mail app, although there is no audible feedback as you would expect (and is what you hear when navigating by character or word).
- Apple has made some improvements in regard to the frequency and number of situations in which VoiceOver focus will spontaneously 'jump' to another UI element. There are still some occasions when this does happen (most notably the behavior in Safari and some apps mentioned in our list of new moderate bugs), but this issue appears to be much improved.
- The Edit menu in VoiceOver's rotor is now more consistently and reliably present when VoiceOver focus is in a text field.
- The Two-Finger Double-Tap ('Magic Tap') gesture once again reliably works to pause and resume audio playback in Safari.
If you encounter any additional fixes or improvements during your own use of iOS 14 or iPadOS 14, please let us know by posting a reply below.
Changes in Behavior
As is common with major operating system updates, Apple has made some changes in functionality or behaviour in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. As sometimes changes in behavior can reasonably be mistaken as bugs, below are a list of the changes we are currently aware of:
- When editing the Home screen, it is no longer possible to drag multiple folders at the same time or to drag an app and a folder.
- When on the Today View, you may find that VoiceOver indicates that the Actions menu is available for some widgets when it in fact is not. This is because some third party widgets built before iOS 14 do not have any actions for VoiceOver to execute, including the Edit action.
If you know of other changes which you believe should be included here, please let us know by posting a comment below.
We have been compiling these lists of new bugs for every major iOS release since iOS 7. In our opinion, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 are an improvement over iOS 13 and introduce no new serious issues for blind and low vision users. However, there are certain to be more issues discovered and shared after we post this; so, if you haven't already upgraded, we would strongly recommend that you take a few moments to read through any replies to this post before doing so.
When posting in the comments, we ask that you please keep discussion on-topic and related specifically to accessibility bugs introduced or resolved in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. In the past, our announcement posts about yearly major iOS updates usually receive well over 100 replies; making it all the more important that readers be able to quickly navigate through the comments to find the information they need. Additionally, when posting, please remember that the decision about whether or not to install a software update is an individual one; and that everyone's situation is different and there is no right or wrong answer.
Finally, we want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Apple's Accessibility Team for their timely response to most of the bug reports filed by our team during the beta cycle. As always, it's been clear from our experience that the Accessibility Team has strived to ensure that iOS and iPadOS offer the best possible experience to blind and low vision users.