M1 Macs and VoiceOver - My Findings So Far

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Hardware & Accessories

Hi,

in this post i want to share my findings with a new Macbook Air with the new M1 Chip. I have bought it about 21 hours ago so my usage is limited.

First impressions

First of all I love that it is totally silent. Coming from a 2015 Macbook Air finally having a Device that is no warmer than my hands no matter what I do is pretty awesome. The speakers honestly blew me away. Didn't expect that even the Macbook air was sounding that much better now. I don't know however when that changed. It is not like listening to proper speakers in your home but good enough for casually listening to music or a Podcast.

Keyboard

The Keyboard is nice to type on as well. It has nice travel and is not the most silent on the market. If you like it or not depends on personal preference.

Using it

After signing in I found that the performance is awesome however I did find some problems which are rather annoying and honestly I am thinking of returning the Macbook even with all the positives I just mentioned.

The problems

Volume at startup

When you turn on the Macbook there seems to be no way to change the volume of the chime. That thing is loud. Not a problem when you are living alone but using it while traveling if that is a good idea again, I wouldn't want my Macbook to scream through the train or plane. That screaming continues all through the login-screen. However you can, using VO plus the minus and equals keys change at least that. But you have to do that every single time you restart your Mac. So you better never do that at night.

Siri Voices

Another problem that I've encountered is that the Siri-voices are not adjustable in VoiceOver preferences. You can set them to 1 or to 100 percent speech rate. That will not change a single thing. Using other Voices is possible but as I said that is really annoying.

New recovery mode

Using the new recovery options actually seems to work fine. However that ends when you attempt to format your drive. Entering that Option to do anything with your drive will crash VoiceOver which you only will get back once you closed that dialogue. A complete reinstallation of your Mac which purges everything on the drive is for that reason not independently possible.

Workaround to format your Mac

A Workaround is to use "find my" on another device to delete the Mac. That way you can re-install the Mac OS but you shouldn't have to do such limbo to get that basic functionality.

Time zone during login is wrong

Another small thing is that the time in the login-window that is displayed is not the time that corresponds to my time zone.

Final thoughts

So that basically is it. There is light and darkness and I am honestly wondering if no one really tried that stuff with VoiceOver over at apples. I am sure all of those problems can be fixed

One last note: I love to use Overcast on my macbook. That is really awesome and accessible. Basically you have the iPad App on your Mac which seems to work the same with VoiceOver. But I hope that the problems I found out about the last couple of hours will get fixed very soon!

Options

Comments

Submitted by nohansa nuh on Friday, November 20, 2020

what volume whent startup chime is to loute?
sorry for my language, its not my prymerry language.

Submitted by Dennis Westphal on Friday, November 20, 2020

In reply to by nohansa nuh

When you boot up your Mac, it will play a sound. That one is pretty loud. And also when logging in the same volume is used. Hope that helps.

Submitted by Eileen on Friday, November 20, 2020

In case you didn't already know, it is possible to disable the boot chime in System Preferences.

I too was pleasantly surprised by the experience with Overcast. The Actions menu really came in to its own here. However, that was until I discovered that there are some screens in the app where it appears that you cannot back out of them; and if you close and re-open the app it will open to these same screens.

The two that I've found so far are the Effects and Podcasts Notes screens which can be accessed from the Now Playing area of the app.

In both cases I couldn't find a button or keyboard shortcut that would dismiss these screens and return me to the main screen of the app. And, as I said, closing and re-opening didn't resolve things.

Have you found a solution to this? Or am I simply having a screwy Friday🙉

Submitted by Dennis Westphal on Friday, November 20, 2020

In reply to by Eileen

I know that there is a way to turn off the chime. But the volume issue in the login screen would still be an issue.

Regarding Overcast: Well I shouldn't have tried to go into the effects window. It appears that there is no way to get out of that. Perhaps removing the app and reinstalling it might work but that is the worst solution.

Thanks for the tip regarding the chime and if I'll find a way to get out of the effects dialogue in Overcast I'll let you know.

Submitted by nohansa nuh on Friday, November 20, 2020

In reply to by Dennis Westphal

wow, crazy, mayby only A bug.
I hope will fix sooner.

Submitted by Ekaj on Friday, November 20, 2020

I just read through your post, and the new Macs sound pretty good. The battery on my current MacBook Air is pretty much not holding a charge at all now, so I have to keep the thing plugged in all the time when I use it. Also there seems to be something screwy with my SSD, or external drive or something. I'm a bit confused on this. I tried to play some tunes from my library a couple nights ago, and the music kept buffering or something. It doesn't usually do this. But other than the afore-mentioned issues, my MBA is still chugging along. It's a mid-2013 MBA though, so I'm wondering if it needs replacing soon. A sister of mine and her tutor actually spoke with a support technician from Apple on Monday, regarding her mid-2013 MacBook Air. One thing he told her and her tutor is that both our Macs probably do need to be replaced soon. He said that Big Sur is probably the last major update we can install. She's had hers since 2015, and I got mine at the end of 2013. Thoughts anybody?

Submitted by Nickus on Friday, November 20, 2020

Hi
It sounds like the things you are unhappy with is related to the software, Mac OS Big Sur rather than related to the Macbook Air with M1.
Everything can be fixed in software, rather report those bugs to Apple so they can fix it, if I were you I'd keep the machine, from what I've seen so far, the new M1 machines are awesome.

Personally if I was in the market for a new Mac now, I wouldn't buy a Intel Mac again, I'd go with the M1.

Submitted by Dennis Westphal on Friday, November 20, 2020

In reply to by Ekaj

If you have the money I'd go for it. coming from a 2015 Macbook Air the jump in performance is amazing.

Maybe check out what others are saying as well.

Submitted by Dennis Westphal on Friday, November 20, 2020

In reply to by Nickus

I already did wrote to apple about the bugs.

Having a dead silent machine which stays cool is something I kind of don't want to have changed again. Seems like I'll keep it and hope for the best.

Submitted by Jason White on Friday, November 20, 2020

In reply to by Ekaj

I've read several reviews of the M1-based devices now, and all of the reviewers have been impressed by their performance and power efficiency. My late 2013-model MacBook Pro is noticeably slow these days. Big Sur is probably its last major upgrade. So I'll probably enter the market at some point in the next year or so for an M1-based MacBook Pro. I could either buy one of the current models (with 16GB of RAM), or buy whatever is released next year.

The main limitations at the moment are: a maximum of 16GB of RAM, and only two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports. The RAM might not be a major issue in my use case, unless I decide to run virtualized operating systems on it (e.g., Linux for ARM64). My other laptop has 32GB of RAM, and dual-boots Linux and Windows 10, so I don't really need to run other operating systems on the Mac, except perhaps for portability reasons while traveling. Note that virtualization software for M1 hasn't yet been released; Linux virtualization has been demonstrated publicly, and Microsoft hasn't released Windows for ARM to the general public, so that isn't an option currently. The ports are more of an inconvenience: with a braille display and USB headphones (or another audio device), there's no port left to charge the machine. However, there are Thunderbolt3 docks (see appleinsider.com for recent reviews), which could solve that problem.

My conclusion seems to be that one of the new machines would probably be fine, and what's coming next year could well be better.

Submitted by Arfy on Saturday, November 21, 2020

Hi, you talk about the recovery mode on the new machines, is this from the initial screen? In other words, can you just hold the power button for an amount of time, then turn on vo with cmd-f5... Talking boot manager! I think this is a first.

Yes the boot menu is accessible. However you'd hold down the command key and press the on/off button three times quickly to activate VoiceOver.

Hope that helps

Submitted by Adam Samec on Saturday, November 21, 2020

Hello,

I wonder how iOS and iPadOS apps run on the new Macs with M1 chip, I asked this in another post but got no reply. Can you confirm the accessibility on Mac is really comparable to that of running these apps on an iPhone or iPad? It would be great to have Facebook Messenger or Voice Dream Reader accessible on Mac, for instance.

Thanks in advance.

I only tried Overcast so far. Facebook Messenger seems not to be available for the Mac. As are many Apps like Kindle, Netflix etc.

Overcast however runs pretty great with two acceptions. Opening the effects Window will trap you there and the same goes for the show notes (I believe it were the Show notes). Other than that I so far have no first hand knowledge so far.

But if iOS Apps are the most important factor I think I'd go for the cheapest iPad or just use the iPhone for that just to be safe.

Submitted by Adam Samec on Saturday, November 21, 2020

In reply to by Dennis Westphal

Thanks Denis. I thought there is no action needed from the developers part to make iOS and iPadOS apps be available on Mac App Store.

I've just found an article explaining that developers can opt out from listing heir apps on Mac App Store. That's a shame since many apps, Facebook Messenger including, are more accessible on iOS or iPadOs than on macOS.

Submitted by Pyro2790 on Saturday, November 21, 2020

So if I am understanding correctly it is only possible to run IOS apps like Overcast on the new mac with the m1 chip? With the upgrade to Big sur this is still not possible? The only way to access Overcast is through the web interface?

Submitted by Herbie Allen on Sunday, November 22, 2020

I have a MacBook Pro 2019 and VO booms out the volume control on the login screen on it as well. I'm trying the chime option for now with Big Sur but was happy to discover you can turn it off in sounds if desired. I'd love to play with these new Macs and see how they stack up, but mine is doing vary well and I do need Window's for some things. The Siri voice issue sounds annoying and that must be related to yourr Mac as I use American Siri Female with no issues. I would say keep your Mac as you do have many positives and the bugs will hopefully get sorted out for all of us.

Submitted by Oriol Gomez on Sunday, November 22, 2020

Hi. No, of course you can't run iOS apps on Intel macs. The reason you can run iOS apps on the new m1 macs is because they now use the same chip architecture and thus they share processor and hardware type. If iOS apps were to run on the mac they would need to go through a conversion process from ARM to Intel which is just not worth the effort.

Hth.

Actually, converting iOS apps from ARM to an Intel-compatible binary is worth the effort, because there's a whole project by Apple dedicated to that. It's called Catalyst (formerly Marzipan) and it's been around for a few years now. Developers of iOS apps (namely iPad apps) have the ability to bring their apps to Intel Macs by utilizing Catalyst. In fact, many built-in macOS apps, including Voice Memos, the Home app, Find My, Maps, and others, are now Catalyst versions of their iOS counterparts.