Apple has today released iOS 11.1, which brings a number of fixes; enhancements; and changes for blind and low vision users.
- The VoiceOver Rotor once again consistently defaults to the Actions Menu when on an element that has Actions available.
- You can once again use the Actions Menu to delete conversations from the Messages app.
- Navigating and reading of PDF files is much improved.
- Alternative characters on the onscreen keyboard can once again be accessed when using VoiceOver with Touch Typing mode.
- Using the Actions Menu in the App Switcher to close the last used app should no longer cause your device to crash/respring.
- You can once again use a 1 finger swipe up/down on the “Page x of 3” Control to move between pages on the Lock Screen and Cover Sheet.
- The issue where some Notifications would Include "In 1 Minute" rather than "Now" When First Announced by VoiceOver has been resolved.
- There appears to be some improvement with braille support for Grade 2 input, though letters still get missed within translation if you type quickly.
- The braille cursor now responds more reliably when using Cursor Routing Buttons on a braille display when editing text.
- The display of notifications on the Lock Screen and Cover Sheet appears to be more consistent and reliable (specifically in regard to the ability to access all available notifications, and instances of where notifications would previously spontaneously disappear from the lists).
- There appears to be some improvement in VoiceOver announcing the number of notifications that are on the Lock Screen when waking your device, although this is still not completely consistent or reliable.
Changes and Enhancements
- The VoiceOver Rotor now reverts to the default action in the Mail app after being used.
- You can now enter Edit Mode on the Home Screen via the Actions Menu available from Home Screen icons.
- After using an Action from the VoiceOver Rotor, VoiceOver will often provide feedback in the form of “Performed action x,” where x is the name of the action. In some cases, VoiceOver will follow this by speaking what would be the action on the element which now has VoiceOver focus. For now, this behavior is not consistent across the operating system and apps, so is presumably still a work-in-progress.
- There is a new “Rotor Actions” section in Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver, from which you can enable or disable the “Edit apps on Home screen” Action from the VoiceOver Rotor. This is also likely to be a work-in-progress, with more options to be added over time.
While iOS 11.1 contains many welcome improvements, our testing suggests that this update also introduces some new bugs for VoiceOver users. However, as is often the nature of iOS bugs, our experience suggests that these issues may not be encountered by everybody.
- The new items badge on app icons may not be spoken by VoiceOver (in our experience, the Mail and Messages apps have been most prone to this behavior, but it has also been encountered with some other apps).
- The movement of VoiceOver focus through emails that include HTML lists can be inconsistent and unreliable; in some cases, VoiceOver may crash repeatedly while focus is in the content.
- After opening the App Switcher, the initial position of VoiceOver focus may not always be on the last-used app.
- After using the VoiceOver Actions menu to close an app in the App Switcher, there appears to be no consistent pattern in regard to what the Action will be set to when VoiceOver focus switches to the next app in the App Switcher.
As we always stress, we are only a small team, so it is simply impossible for us to test all devices, configurations, applications, and use cases. It is possible, therefore, that there are additional fixes, changes or regressions in iOS 11.1 that we are currently unaware of. We will update this post if we learn of anything else. In the meantime, please let us know in the comments of any fixes, enhancements or regressions that you find in your own testing of this release.
If you are already running an earlier release of iOS 11, the fixes and enhancements in 11.1 should make the decision of whether to update an easy one.
If you are not a braille user and had previously decided to delay updating to iOS 11, you might now want to revisit that decision.
If you are a braille user who has not yet updated to iOS 11, our recommendation would depend upon how fast you typically input text when using a braille display. If this is 30 words per minute or less, then the braille input performance under iOS 11.1 may be acceptable. However, if you type faster than this, you may still want to delay updating for the time being.
iOS 11.1 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings > General > Software Update) or via iTunes on a Mac or PC.