VoiceOver features in iOS 6: Reference apps and a new reading mode for HTML content

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

As I’m gradually adding apps to my iPhone 4S and enjoying the extensive features and gestures provided by VoiceOver, I thought I’d add my desired features which might be considered by Apple for inclusion in future releases of iOS. Of course, I use the phrase “iOS 6” here and in the rest of posts dedicated to this topic because it seems the most logical release of the OS which can accommodate my features; however, there would be nothing wrong with implementing one or more of them in, say, iOS 5.2.

At any rate, currently it’s very difficult to find many truly usable applications in the “Reference” category of the App store. Sure, many of them are accessible, but as I also mentioned in my review of New Oxford American Dictionary, many apps in this category tend to display their definitions in the form of a series of hyperlinked words which can be tapped for their definition. Even conjunctions and prepositions appear as links. This isn’t bad at all; in fact, it shows how capable these apps are. But the problem with the way VoiceOver currently reads the contents of these apps is that it tends to pause for each hyperlinked word, read that word, say the word “link,” trigger its sounds which is used to indicate the end of an independent item on the screen, move on to the next hyperlinked word and do all of the above. Needless to say, this makes using a very good number of dictionary and encyclopedia apps such as WordWeb dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary and New Oxford American dictionary quite time-consuming and devoid of a sense of satisfaction derived from reading normal and non-hyperlinked words though these apps are practically accessible and contacting their developers isn’t an option.

As such, I suggest that a new item called “Reading” be added to VoiceOver’s Router. When selected, users should be allowed to switch between “Normal” and “No HTML element” modes. The latter should treat words in continuous reading as if they were not hyperlinked. This can help us listen to content without having to hear the word “link” for each word and tolerate unnecessary pauses inserted between words.