Voice Sharing With VoiceOver

App Development and Programming

I developed a Gmail reading app, "Reader+ for Gmail" (https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=959397919&mt=8) that reads a user's Gmail messages to them. One of my customers recently had an issue with VoiceOver becoming too quiet when the voice speaking the Gmail messages started. Enabling or disabling VoiceOver's audio ducking feature did not seem to help in this case. I was wondering if there was a recommended approach to take for apps that are normally speaking text such as email messages. Should the app detect when the VoiceOver voice becomes active and pause the reading of an email message while the VoiceOver voice is speaking? And then resume reading the mail when it detects that the VoiceOver voice has finished? From what I have read I think it is now possible to do this.

Or is there some way to ensure that the VoiceOver voice is dominant over the voice reading text? i.e. the voice reading text never stops reading, but becomes lower volume so that the VoiceOver voice is heard clearly. This is how it works on my phone when VoiceOver's audio ducking is enabled. For some reason though it didn't work for my customer; their VoiceOver voice always had a lower volume compared to the voice reading email text, irrespective of the audio ducking setting.

Any ideas on the preferred way to handle this would be greatly appreciated!





Submitted by Piotr Machacz on Friday, November 18, 2016

One reason I can think of for this happening could be VoiceOver's volume setting. It's not something you can change in VoiceOver's settings with a slider like the rate, but you can add it to your rotor. By default, VO doesn't speak at full volume, and is instead set to around 75-80%. If your app starts speaking at full volume that would explain why it's drowning VoiceOver out.

To your other question, if I run an app that has its own voice separate from VoiceOvers, then I'd rather it not be interrupted by VO. A good example of this is Voice Dream Reader which keeps reading even if a notification comes in. It also has various controls to move around the text which would be frustrating to get to if it kept stopping when VoiceOver would speak.

Submitted by MurraySimpson on Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hi Piotr, thanks for the advice, I suspect you might be right about the app speaking at full volume. This would be likely for example if the user was listening to their iPhone without headphones. I also found this somewhat similar link here: http://www.applevis.com/forum/ios-ios-app-discussion/voiceover-too-quiet-when-i-make-phone-calls that recommended using audio ducking and increasing the ringer volume in order to ensure that VoiceOver was loud enough. Thanks! -Murray