***Update 17 November 2014: More of these bugs have been fixed in iOS 8.1.1. See our post for more details: Apple Releases iOS 8.1.1 with Fixes for Blind and Low Vision Users***
***Update 20 October 2014: A number of these bugs have been fixed in iOS 8.1. See our post for more details: Apple Releases iOS 8.1 With a Number Of Fixes And Improvements For Blind And Low Vision Users***
Detailed in this post are possible accessibility bugs which members of the AppleVis Editorial Team have identified during their testing of iOS 8. If you have not already updated your iDevice to iOS 8, we strongly recommend that you read through this post and any comments before doing so, as we believe that there are a number of bugs in this release which might have a significant impact on the user experience for some blind and low vision users.
However, we do need to stress at the offset that our testing of iOS 8 has been somewhat limited. We are only a small team, and in most cases have only installed and used iOS 8 on a single device. Also, some of the bugs listed have not been encountered by all members of the Team. So, please bear in mind that it is possible that problems mentioned below will not be present on all iDevices or in all use cases. It is also possible that, in some instances, we are simply mistaken. Accordingly, we would really appreciate feedback from those who have installed iOS 8 - 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). This post explains why and the best ways to do it.
With all of the disclaimers out of the way, here are the problems that we have encountered to date. For this release, we have grouped them based upon what we believe to be there likely level of impact to the user experience:
In Braille options (Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Braille), changing the setting for Status Cell from "off" to either left or right will cause VoiceOver to stop working completely. The only way to get VoiceOver back is to set the cell back to "off", and to do that one will need sighted help since VoiceOver is completely inoperative. Toggling VoiceOver with the shortcut, telling Siri to turn VoiceOver off and back on, restarting the device - nothing works except changing the status cell option. Additionally, it now appears as though this bug will also present itself when upgrading from an earlier version of iOS if the status cell is set to either Left or Right-necessitating that the VoiceOver user turn the Status Cell to "off" before the upgrade.
In many applications, the screen does not automatically scroll to follow the movement of VoiceOver focus as you swipe through the page. This causes problems when focus lands on an actionable element which is not visually displayed on screen, as you cannot interact with it. For example, the screen does not scroll when flicking through an email. So, if there is an attachment at the bottom of the message, double-tapping on it may not open it as you would expect. One exception is links, where the screen will scroll to their location when focus moves to them. However, moving focus beyond the link will cause the screen to scroll back to its previous position. This behaviour has been encountered in a large number of apps. When this results in VoiceOver focus landing on actionable elements which are visually not being displayed on the screen, it is likely to be confusing and extremely frustrating to users who will not know why a gesture isn't working. The only workaround is to use the 3-finger swipe up/down to bring the desired element on to the screen, locate it by touch, and then double-tap.
Various problems have been reported when using a bluetooth keyboard, including duplicate and skipped characters; conflicts with QuickNav when accessing text fields; VoiceOver-specific controls not working; and VoiceOver occasionally crashing and restarting.
When using the Share option to send a message from outside of the stock Messages app (such as sharing a recording from Voice Memos), double-tapping on the "Send" button does nothing. To successfully send the message, one must disable VoiceOver and attempt to find the "Send" button with no spoken feedback.
Once in awhile if one uses the Keypad to dial a number, they may encounter a stuck key. For example, as you press a number you will hear the DTMF tone for that number. At times, a number will seem to get stuck in that the DTMF tone will keep playing. One must do a reset of the phone to make it stop. We have also found that pressing the same key a second time or removing the Phone app from the App Switcher is sometimes enough to fix the problem without resorting to a complete restart. Reports suggest that this problem is only present when using Touch Typing Mode.
QuickNav appears not to work with a Braille display. Enabling it is supposed to be done with space and Q, but VoiceOver always reports that it is on, thus suggesting it's never on. Pressing H for heading, F for text field, etc, yield no results. This problem has been seen on a Braille Sense Plus and Vareo Ultra.
Using the Handwriting mode crashes VoiceOver. VoiceOver will restart itself in a few seconds, but this does make handwriting unusable.
In Safari, using the Back button or Scrub gesture to return to the previous page will result in VoiceOver becoming near unusable. VoiceOver will read an item if you locate it by touch, but flicking will not move focus. The only workaround it to locate the Reload button and double-tap.
In the lock screen, when a user receives a new Notification, VoiceOver sometimes does not announce the Notification nor the content of the Notification. You will only hear the chime or the default sound for that Notification and nothing else is announced. Conversely, sometimes VoiceOver speaks the entire notification instead of announcing the time and the number of pending notifications.
VoiceOver fails to read the caller ID for incoming calls on the iPhone, whether on the lock screen or while the phone is unlocked. The information is still displayed, and you can touch the screen to find it, but it is no longer announced automatically. A temporary workaround is to enable “Always Speak Notifications” in Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver. However, note that this will have privacy implications.
When in a message thread's details screen, if the thread has attachments, VoiceOver is sluggish and may even crash when flicking right through the attachments for the first time. Flicking left, or even right past any attachments VoiceOver has already encountered, works fine. It is only attachments VoiceOver has not yet seen that cause the problem.
On the “All” tab of the Notification Center, the "Clear Section" buttons are announced as "Confirm Clear Section", even if you have not activated them. You still must double tap twice to clear a section, but you will hear "Confirm Clear Section" both times. Additionally, VoiceOver gives no audible feedback to indicate that the gesture was successful.
In the Featured Tab of the App Store, VoiceOver focus will loop continually through a carousel of highlighted items displayed near the top of the page. The only way to force focus out of this loop is to tap elsewhere on the screen.
When double-tapping on the name of a contact in App Switcher to reveal the available contact options, VoiceOver does not announce the identifying label when there are multiple options for the same contact method - for example, home, work and cellular telephone numbers will all be read as simply "phone call".
When first opening the App Switcher you can move through all of the listed contacts by flicking left/right. However, after double-tapping on a contact to reveal the available contact options, flicking will no longer move VoiceOver focus through all of the contacts. Instead, you have to use the 3-finger swipe left/right to make VoiceOver see all of the listed contacts.
In some apps the screen will auto-lock whilst VoiceOver is in the process of reading text (generally when reading a long block of text). If you have disabled the auto lock in Settings > General > Autolock, this will not affect you.
In some circumstances it is not possible to move app icons on the Home screen. This seems to be particularly problematic for those located in the row of icons directly above the Dock.
When browsing the list of subscription options available in Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive, VoiceOver announces only the price, not the amount of storage space that you get with the package. For reference, as of the time of this writing, the $0.99 per month is 20GB, $3.99 is 200GB, $9.99 is 500GB, and $19.99 is 1TB.
If you tell Siri to add a reminder or Calendar event, it will display your event along with the cancel/confirm buttons. However, Siri speech may be silent or speak a couple words at most, and the prompt for you to speak the action you'd like is never given. This is with Siri's speech feedback set to "always", which works when using Siri for other tasks.
Upon first downloading the Alex TTS Voice, VoiceOver fails to switch automatically from the voice in use while the Alex download was in progress. One must turn VoiceOver off, then reenable it.
The button to purchase an item from the iTunes Store does not always respond to a double-tap. It is reported that in some cases a double-tap and hold on the button may work, followed by another double-tap and hold to confirm the purchase.
When using a Braille display, using space with F prompts you to search for text, but this only works like the search box in the item chooser. It is also case sensitive.
On occasions, VoiceOver will not announce that an email folder is empty when you tap or swipe onto the area of the screen where any email messages would be listed. Instead, the only audible feedback is a muted clunk tone. The behavior has been seen in both smart folders and regular folders.
When writing a draft email, flicking left past the "cancel" button will not move you to the "minimize draft" button (which is visually located directly below the status bar). Similarly, touching the minimize button will focus on it, but you cannot then flick right to get to the rest of the page. This is doubly problematic as the button is small, so many users may not realize it is even there since they cannot flick to it and touch exploration can easily miss it.
The VoiceOver Keyboard echo setting is unreliable. It does not take effect in 3rd party apps and some stock asps such as Messages. As a result, keys are always echoed. The only noticeable difference is that the pitch of the echo appears to vary based upon the setting selected.
There are some issues with iBooks created using iBooks Author. Notably, the drag and drop widget does not work with VoiceOver; VoiceOver does not announce if a selected answer is correct in iBooks reviews; and the reviews widget does not show the letter buttons to VoiceOver users.
In Braille screen input, the space (one-finger flick right) does not register roughly half the time. It is not misinterpreted as a dot 4, since no dot 4 is entered, it is simply ignored. This makes Braille very frustrating to use.
In Braille screen input, when deleting or entering text, a sound sometimes plays, the same sound made if you try to flick past the end or start of a screen. The character is usually deleted/entered, as far as we can tell, but the sound precludes any speech feedback so users will have no idea what is going on. Plus, sometimes, the character is not deleted and you have to use the on-screen keyboard to delete it instead.
Occasionally, when using the 2-fingered double-tap to answer a call, audio playback will resume rather than the call being answered.
Some users have reported that the 2-fingered double-tap does not always answer or end a call (most likely related to the above bug).
When searching the App Store, the Clear button will remove any previous search from the text field, but VoiceOver will continue to read what was previously entered in the search field … even after you enter a completely new search. The same happens if you delete characters individually.
Some users have reported problems using the multitasking gestures available on the iPad.
In Safari, VoiceOver will not speak the accessible name of HTML input controls that have a programmatically associated label, whether implicit or explicit.
If you have your device set to use the 24 hour time format, when viewing hourly forecasts in the Stock Weather app, VoiceOver only reads the time for the hours between 0:00 and 11:00.
- Updating the device from iOS 7.1.x to iOS 8 will not remember the VoiceOver Typing Preference.
When automatically switching languages, VoiceOver triggers compact voices even if the premium versions are installed.
When in a Group Message, at the top right hand corner is the "Details" button. Flick once to the right and you will land on an Unlabeled button. This button seems to do the same thing as the "Details" button.
When using the Group message facility, the button to add a title to the conversation is not detected by VoiceOver.
When you have issued a say all command (a two finger flick up or down), VoiceOver ignores all incoming notifications instead of pausing to speak them. This is a feature, but notifications from the Messages app are an exception. In other words, VoiceOver will ignore all notifications except incoming texts; those usually cause VoiceOver to stop reading entirely.
In the Mail app, when you have a draft minimized, VoiceOver's focus is affected. Elements are out of order as you flick left or right, you suddenly get stuck and cannot move past an element, or you get into loops where VoiceOver keeps moving between a few elements as you flick left or right, and never moves beyond those few. Sending or canceling the draft, so the "x drafts in progress" message is gone from the bottom of the window, is enough to restore things to normal.
In the stock iOS Calendar app, you can double tap and hold on an event, then move a finger up or down to adjust its start or end time. However, VoiceOver offers no feedback as to the new time as you move your finger, so you must move, lift your finger, check the new time, then try again to make this work at all.
When VoiceOver focus is on an item in the Dock, a 3-fingered swipe to the left or right will no longer move your through Home screen pages (It is possible that this is by design).
When browsing the Still Photo Wallpapers available in Settings > Wallpaper > Choose, VoiceOver reads what appears to be the internal file name for the picture.
When using some third-party keyboards, the status bar is duplicated directly above the top row of the keyboard.