Apple has today released iOS 11.3 to the public. In addition to some new features and enhancements, this release also brings a number of improvements for blind and low vision users.
Accessibility Improvements in iOS 11.3
In iOS 11.3, Apple has made continued progress towards addressing the accessibility bugs in iOS 11. Based on our testing, we believe the following issues have been resolved in iOS 11.3:
- VoiceOver once again consistently and correctly announces the number of items on Home Screen badges (such as with the Messages app).
- Accessing the VoiceOver Actions menu on Lock Screen notifications is once again consistent and reliable.
- In the list of recent calls in the Phone app, VoiceOver once again announces which phone (Mobile, Home, Work, etc.) the call was to/from.
- When bluetooth is enabled, but no device connected, the bluetooth icon in the Status Bar no longer confusingly reports via VoiceOver feedback “Bluetooth Connected”. VoiceOver now says “bluetooth on.”
- On the Now Playing screen of the native Music app, VoiceOver no longer finds and speaks elements which are not visually present on this screen.
At the time of posting, we are unaware of any new bugs or regressions for blind or low vision users in iOS 11.3. However, as we always stress, it is impossible for us to test all devices; configurations; and use cases—so there may be improvements or regressions that we did not identify during the beta cycle. With this in mind, please do let us know in the comments of any fixes; enhancements; or regressions that you find in your own testing of iOS 11.3.
General Changes in iOS 11.3
In keeping with the spring updates the last couple years, Apple gave us a preview in January of some of the new features that would be coming in iOS 11.3:
This spring, iOS 11.3 will deliver exciting new ways to experience augmented reality on iPhone and iPad, new Animoji on iPhone X and the ability to view health records in the Health app.
Perhaps the most notable new feature in iOS 11.3 is one that Apple chose not to mention in its preview, and that's the introduction of more detailed information about the health of your device's battery. This includes the ability to check if the power management feature” that limits the maximum power output to prevent unexpected shutdowns is enabled, and choose to turn it off if it has been automatically activated.
iOS 11.3 also introduces a new Business Chat tool that will allow users in the US to communicate with businesses via the native Messages app.
According to AppleInsider, Apple Business Chat “will enable individuals to communicate--via Messages--with customer service teams at verified companies for help with product orders, troubleshooting and scheduling appointments--all without demanding that they give up extensive reams of personal data and social links”:
Apps in iOS 11.3 can present chat icons that enable users to initiate a new Business Chat
Finding a company and starting a Business Chat is easy: users simply click on one of the new chat icons suggested by Safari or Spotlight search, associated with a location in Maps or appearing on the web.
Individuals can also point their iPhone camera at a special QR code in a store or attached to a product. iOS will recognize the QR code and offer to initiate a chat.
Assuming that there is a good take-up of this facility by businesses, we would agree with AppleInsider's opinion that Business Chat “offers attractive advantages over both emails and telephone conversations because its conversational threads don't require actively waiting on hold for a phone response and don't involve the length and weight of emails.”
The release notes for iOS 11.3 via MacRumors highlight the following changes:
- ARKit 1.5 allows developers to place virtual objects on vertical surfaces like walls and doors in addition to horizontal surfaces
- Adds support for detecting and incorporating images like movie posters or artwork into AR experiences
- Supports a higher resolution real-world camera view when using AR experiences
iPhone Battery Health (Beta):
- Displays information on iPhone maximum battery capacity and peak performance capability
- Indicates if the performance management feature that dynamically manages maximum performance to prevent unexpected shutdowns is on and includes the option to disable it
- Recommends if a battery needs to be replaced
For more information on batteries and performance, visit this website: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208387
iPad charge management:
- Maintains battery status when the iPad is plugged in for extended periods of time, such as when used in a kiosk or point-of-sale system, or stored in a charging cart.
- Four new Animoji available on the iPhone X: lion, bear, dragon and skull.
- When an Apple feature asks to use your personal information, an icon now appears with a link to access detailed information about how your data will be used and protected.
Business Chat (Beta) — US Only:
- Communicate with companies to easily ask questions, schedule appointments, and make purchases inside the built-in Messages app on iPhone and iPad
Health Records (Beta) — US Only:
- Access health records and view lab results, immunizations, and more in a consolidated timeline in the Health app
- Provides a new experience in video clips, including a Revised Video Clips section featuring exclusive video playlists.
- Find friends with similar tastes through Apple Music's improved suggestions, which list the genres that the users and mutual friends follow.
- The main titles now always appear first in "For You."
- Watch the best videos selected by News editors.
- Four options now allow you to sort the customer reviews on the product pages: the most useful, the most favorable, the most critical or the most recent.
- The Updates tab now shows the version of the app and the size of the file.
- Promotes the protection of privacy by notifying usernames and passwords until they have been selected in a web form field.
- Presents warnings in the smart search field when the user interacts with password entry forms or credit card data on unencrypted web pages.
- Automatic filling of usernames and passwords is now available in apps' web views.
- By default, articles shared via Mail from Safari are now formatted using Reader mode, if the drive is available.
- In Favorites, folders now have icons for the bookmarks they contain.
- Adds two Shuangpin keyboard layouts.
- Supports connected physical keyboards using Turkish F layout.
- Improves Chinese and Japanese keyboards for better accessibility on devices with a 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch screen.
- Allows you to return to the keyboard with a simple touch after the dictation.
- Fixes a problem that could cause the capitalization of the first letter of some words by the automatic correction feature.
- Fixes an issue on the iPad Pro that prevented the iPad Smart Keyboard from working after connecting to a captive Wi-Fi hotspot.
- Fixes a problem that could cause undesirable activation of the digital layout on the Thai keyboard in landscape mode.
- The App Store now supports accessibility options "Bold Text" and "Large Font" for customizing the display.
- Smart Reversal now supports images on the web and in Mail messages.
- Enhances the RTT experience and supports RTT service for T-Mobile.
- Improves app selection on the iPad for VoiceOver users and selection control.
- Corrects a problem with the incorrect description of the Bluetooth status icon and the Bluetooth icon by VoiceOver.
- Fixes a problem that may prevent the end of call button from appearing in the Phone app when using VoiceOver.
- Fixes an issue preventing access to an app's built-in ranking with VoiceOver.
- Fixes a problem that may cause distorted audio playback when using real-time listening.
Other Enhancements and Fixes:
- Supports AML technology, which provides more accurate location data to emergency services during an emergency call (in countries where this technology is available).
- Supports software authentication, which provides developers with a new way to create and activate HomeKit-compatible accessories.
- Podcasts now plays episodes with a single tap, and you can tap Details to learn more about each one.
- Improves search performance for users with long notes in Contacts.
- Improves the performance of Handoff and the universal clipboard when both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
- Fixes a problem that may prevent incoming calls from activating the screen.
- Fixes a problem that may prevent or prevent voicemail playback.
- Fixes an issue that prevents opening a web link in Messages.
- Fixes a problem that may prevent users from returning to Mail after previewing an attachment to a message.
- Fixes a problem that could cause the deleted screen to reappear on the locked screen.
- Fixes a problem that can cause the time and notifications to disappear on the locked screen.
- Fixes an issue that prevents parents from using Face ID for approving purchase authorization requests.
- Fixes a problem that could prevent updating of the current weather conditions in Weather.
- Fixes a problem that could prevent the synchronization of contacts with a vehicle directory when connected via Bluetooth.
- Fixes a problem that may prevent an audio app from playing content in a vehicle while it was in the background.
iOS 11.3 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings > General > Software Update) or via iTunes on a Mac or PC.