Do you think Mac with VoiceOver will ever replace Jaws with Windows?

Hi! I've asked here before whether it is worth switching from Jaws with Windows to Mac with voiceover. While some people have made it work, most people have not recommended the switch, especially if I have to do a lot of formatting.

Do you think Voiceover and Mac will ever be advanced enough to replace Jaws and Windows? Any developments that give hope this will happen?

I know this is mainly speculative, but my computer is dying and I need to get a new one soon. I love my iPhone and would love to just completely transition to Apple, but it doesn't seem like it is worth doing that at this point.

Forum: 

#1 Boot Camp

You could always buy a Mac and dual-boot Windows using Boot Camp. I'm seriously considering doing that when I replace my current laptop in a year or two.

#2 Not likely

With NVDA taking the place of Jaws and 99% of computer audio games made for Windows I highly doubt it.

#3 My views

Hi
Personally, there are things I prefer to do on mac and other things I prefer doing in Windows with NVDA.
For instance, I really like doing office work with Windows, where as I prefer to do audio editing on mac. I think the optimal solution is running something like VMware fusion, where you can virtualize Windows with NVDA alongside Mac OS, or running bootcamp (or both).

Best
Malthe

#4 I don't think so.

Hello,

I don't think it will especially if you use braille. Support for braille under the mac seems to be getting worse as time goes on. I bought a mac a couple of years ago, and I regret it.

#5 Same Situation

Hi Sophie and All

I am in exactly the same situation. Since I use iOS so regularly (iPhone and Apple Watch), it scenes like using a Mac would be the best choice, but, there are certain tasks mostly around productivity, Google Apps and basic web-rousing I can't imagine being as efficient in doing on Mac.
I do have a question though, for those of you who duel-boot on MBP, do you not need the function keys once you are running windows? How do you handle the touch bar in other OSes?

Thank you so much.

#6 jaws

No. JAWS tends to come out with update several times within a year and now they have an open line podcast in which people call and report issues and jaws tend to address those problems. I use Windows 10 and jaws 2019 and I have an iPhone xx. I had an iPhone since the 4. I love apple iPhone but from what I hear mac owners, the voiceover have problem and apple does not update quickly like jaws. Again I am an iPhone user. As I stated I used iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5s, 6, 7 and xx but love windows.

#7 There are pros and cons to both

I haven't touched a Mac in years, but I do have an Ipad Pro and IPhone XR. I too would prefer to switch to Mac for audio editing since I've heard it's better. But then, I do just fine on the PC with Reaper. What the PC is hands-down better for though - at least back in the day when I DID use a Mac - is anything to do with writing. Granted you do have Scrivner on the Mac and apparently it's quite accessible, but for anything beyond the most basic text editing, I'm not sure how reliable it is. I know that's my only gripe about even my Ipad. Text editing and formatting is very unintuitive, even with a keyboard.

#8 Agreed

Whenever this comes up, I tell people that it comes down to personal preference. All 3 platforms--Windows, Mac OS and iOS--have their pros and cons. There are things I miss about Windows, and for awhile I tossed around the idea of running either Bootcamp or VMware Fusion on my Mac. But then somebody told me about the battery life and memory issues when working with a dual-booting machine. So out the window went that idea. I also have a question. That is, how is FS tech support now? They were really good back in the day, and then they seemed to go downhill pretty quickly. Having said all that, I've been recommending to a neighbor friend that he switch from an Android to an iPhone. Why? He has some disabilities--not visual--and his phone just hasn't done it for him. It doesn't seem to have near the amount of features that my iPhone has. Apple's accessibility team just seems to be really good with other disabilities too. But I don't think his remaining family members want to shell out the extra bucks for an iPhone. That's a whole other story though.

#9 Text Editing

I realize it's personal preference. I use my computer almost exclusively to browse the web, write and format large documents and spreadsheets, and read e-books and PDFs. I don't really do Braille or gaming. Unfortunately it sounds like these are the things windows is better at.

#10 Bootcamp works just fine

Having owned an 15 inch macBook Pro 2017 (i.e. with touch bar) for almost two years now (it's going to be exactly two years in September), I will attempt to sumarize my experience.

The machine is incredibly sleek, tough looking, portable, quiet and powerful, even in Windows. However, it forced me to buy an expensive Logitech mechanical keyboard. Not because of the touch bar but because I need the ability to type as quickly and accurately as possible for a long time in one go to make my living. Laptop keyboards, even without things like the touch bar, have always degraded my speed and accuracy, and my wrists always start hurting sooner or later when typing on laptop keyboards (i.e. low profile, low travel, but incredibly quiet) for a long time. The built-in keyboard on the macBook Pro requires a little more pressure to respond than most traditional laptop keyboards but it's still very low-travel and the keys are all cramped together to save physical space. So, I knew I was going to need to get a mechanical keyboard even if the laptop didn't have the touch bar.
I've never had any battery or memory issues in Bootcamp, which means that the laptop certainly doesn't last for the proclaimed 10 hours or more per charge in Windows but I can get 6 to 8 hours, depending on the work being done, which is pretty standard for most Windows laptops out there, I believe.

I like the philosophy, look and feel of macOS but after several failed attempts to give it a deep dive and a second, third, fourth and fifth chance, I've settled on never even booting into macOS for more than a year now. This means that since the last time I changed my startup disk preference in macOS's recovery, I kept it set to Windows. Thus, every time I turn the laptop on, it automatically boots into Windows immediately. Since then, I have never felt a single difference in experience to using a native Windows computer. I have the latest build of Windows 10 Pro installed, X64 of course.

Like most other posters here, I have gone from the iPhone 4S to the 7 Plus and now am entirely happy with my XS Max, yet I belong to those who prefer the combination of iOS for mobile and Windows for desktop. I haven't used Jaws or any other screen reader than NVDA for more than 10 years now, though, and by that I mean not even a demo version of a commercial screen reader for a task that I could not do with NVDA. I have experimented with Narrator out of curiosity, just to see what it's becoming capable of with every new update of Windows, but I have never used it for any serious work.

My computer activities include the common administrative work, e-mails, web browsing, lots of typing (including creative writing), translations, text formatting, coding and the occasional rudimentary audio editing with Goldwave which I purchased a couple years ago.

I would conclude that from the point of view of a screen reader user, all Apple devices including those on macOS are best for simple, intuitive and comfortable entertainment and content consumption. If you want to do serious, productive, efficient work, you need Windows, regardless of the screen reader, even if the initial learning curve might be a little steeper at first.

VoiceOver advertizes the ability to quickly navigate by changes in text formatting attributes, the sound of which I absolutely loved at first, but the current implementation seems to be so incomplete so far that it's effectively unusable in a practical everyday scenario. In every other way, VoiceOver seems slower and more cumbersome than NVDA to me in almost every imaginable situation. Part of this might be because I am used to very fast boosted rates with the built-in Espeak NG with NVDA, which the Czech voices which are currently available for VoiceOver on macOS can never achieve, but even the responsiveness of VoiceOver itself tends to be sluggish every now and then. It appears to be less stable, getting stuck for no apparent reason and sometimes even hard restarting itself, or it recovers from a hang-up in a weird state that does strange, unpredictable things to its focus handling and keyboard interception, causing me to eventually have to restart it anyway. All but the native system apps, the simplest of websites and only small text documents exhibit this behavior with no reproduceable pattern that I could discover yet. And when I had File vault on for a while, it was much worse than what I just described, which means that I actually had to disable that security feature which was one of my main reasons for trying out macOS in the first place.

VoiceOver's international support is disastrous. English users might have a better experience, I don't know. I even had to remap more than half of VoiceOver's command shortcuts just to make it ergonomic to actually use it.

In fact, I booted into macOS after more than a year just a few days ago only to update to Mojave and then to the Catalina beta. It seems not to have gotten any worse, but neither any better. So, back to Windows it is.

Let me emphasize, though, that my average typing speed is 600 keystrokes per minute, sometimes even being able to listen to the screen reader saying something while I type something entirely different. So, again, to sum it all up, as someone already said here, it all comes down to personal preference.

Lukas

#11 I'll say this. In my decade

I'll say this. In my decade of using a mac exclusively (no dual booting, no virtual machine, just plain MacOS 10) it works great for my needs. If you're doing web browsing, formatting, etc it works perfectly fine. People are happy with windows, because that's what they've used for years. I jumped into the wonderful world of MacOS in 2010 when I was a junior in college, and haven't looked back since. Here's the thing I've noticed with windows. When I used windows, it was XP, but still... if/when you lost speech, the only way to get it back was to either restart your machine, or restart screen reader. On the mac side in most cases, if speech fails, VO will automatically restart and it'll be good to go. The thing I love about apple is software/hardware are married to eachother. That is, they work in harmony with each other to achieve the best results. Personally, if you're not doibg a lot of processor intensive activities, then get either a low end 13 inch MBP, or get a MAcbook air and save a few bucks. Yeah, I know they're still expensive, but in my view... It's worth every penny. Also, I've purchased the apple magic keyboard, since on my 2016 late MBP 15 inch I've got the dreaded keyboard problems. Anyway, enough waffling on here. I'd say go to an apple store and have a play around with either a MBP or an air and see what you think. I think you'll be surprised. Just give Macos a shot, and try to learn and get used to it. Honestly, if you have patience and the time to learn about it, I think you'll love it.
Note: I have barely touched a windows machine in my decade of MacOS use, so opinions date back to old win XP.

#12 Mac

About ten years ago, I started listening to podcasts about the Mac, and I ended up switching. I have to say, I'm more comfortable with Mac OS than I ever was with Windows. I have no trouble browsing the web. And Pages works fine for all my writing needs. I can choose fonts and spacing, and italics and bold have convenient keyboard commands. I haven't played much with braille, since I use my display mostly to read Bookshare books or connect to my iPhone. My boyfriend actually installed Windows 10 in Bootcamp the other day, and we keep saying how much better we like the Mac's way of doing things. In the end, it's personal preference. Those are just my thoughts. :)

#13 JAWS will die

JAWS is on the way out. It will take some time, but with NVDA as good as it is and Narrator slowly coming into its own, why would anyone choose it? The only thing the others really need is better options for configuring special use cases such as one finds mostly in business settings. I'm stuck with JAWS at work in part because they mandate what I have to use, but also because it is the only thing on the market right now with enough flexibility to do my job efficiently. That will change. Will the Mac catch up? Only time will tell, but it will take a shift in the mainstream market toward Macs in general for that to happen, and that's not the kind of company Apple is right now. I tried the Mac for roughly two years. I enjoyed using it, but it fell short in the areas already discussed. With time and practice I won't say that I could not have used Pages as effectively as Word, but it seemed very cumbersome to me. It's one thing to do the simple formatting someone has mentioned in this thread. It's quite another to do complex formatting with tables and other more advanced features. Word on the Mac was usable, but not as good as on Windows. Numbers was workable but with issues and Excel was worthless. So I'm back to Windows. I still love my iPhone, but I don't see myself getting back into the Mac. Yet it still sits on my desk and I can't bring myself to let it go.

#14 Personal Preference

I had to use a mac full time a year or so ago when my windows machine broke down. I elected to return to windows due to familiarity audiogaming (I didn't do much of that after I switched back) as well as mudding (didn't do much of that either), however, I often find myself thinking, "I wish windows did this like mac."
I'm looking forward to seeing how catolyst apps from third-party developers play out, but I digress.

What I will say is the experiences are different, and you will find that there are certain websites (chewy.com) that work way better on windows than saphari. I did not try the affore-mentioned site on Chrome, so that may be a non-issue. For a person that doesn't use the Espeak NG speeds (I can't understand it that quick), Jaws and NVDA both feel less responsive than Mac and Voiceover, and I'm running a surface pro 6, so not the greatest and fastest, but usable.

Having said that, I was able to edit google docs and spreadsheets, work, and do it all with extremely little experience on the Mac. Don't discount the Applevis community, either; you don't get that with windows. Not in a central organized space like this. That and system-wide spellcheck is pretty nice.

My limited experience as well as the couple other pro mac users make me think that formatting is able to be done as ably as windows. I'm pretty confident I would be able to make the switch fully to Mac OS, and may consider it with the new OS, and only lose out on audiogames; most of which, to me, aren't worth playing, anyhow.

I can't speak too much in the land of Braille, as I'm still teaching myself how to use a display with all the screen readers, but I hate Braille support with Jaws, so, the Mac can surely not do worse; Jaws, at least, and the braille commands make zero sense.

#15 What VoiceOver lacks

Of course one can use VoiceOver on the Mac and it will be sufficient for the needs of many people.

But there is also no doubt that if you do much other what the "average" person would do on a computer or if you use any special programs, JAWS on a windows machine is the answer.

In my opinion here are some of the major deficiencies of VoiceOver compared to something like JAWS, or even NVDA:

1. Keeping up with changes to programs - As someone already pointed out, both JAWS and NVDA release regular updates during the year with significant improvements and bug fixes in response to user feedback. Let's face it, programs are always being updated and changes in the UI and functionality have to be continualy reflected in the screen readers and how they interact with these programs.

2. Scripting - VoiceOver will never be as powerful as either JAWS or NVDA until it has a scripting capability that is readily useable by people so that they can customize their experience when using specific programs. In addition there needs to be a community of users and a place where such scripts can be easily shared and installed so that everyone can take advantage of the communal efforts of other users and scripters.

3. productivity - finally I always make the point that just because a program is "accessible" does not necessarily mean that it can be used productiviely or efficiently by someone using a screen reader. Yes, yu might be able to navigate around the screen and find all of the information you want, but if it takes many keystrokes and searching to find what you are looking for, you'll be lost in the dust of your sighted colleagues and Also, people who use screen readers work differently than people who can see. Screen reader users rely on hotkeys and are not efficient at using a mouse. If hotkeys for performing simple functions that could easily be done with a mouse are not built into a program, then a screen reader can compensate with hotkeys designed with scripts. also, one size doesn't fit all. Some folks might work better if the experience was customized to work in a different way for them. Scripting is the answer here.

This last point about productivitty and efficiency is the most imnportant to me. Accessibility isn't the entire answer except for the most simple use cases.

Anyway, just one man's opinion.

--Pete

#16 Narrator

I use Narrator sometimes. The quality of voice is bad and with NVDA same. You have to spend money to purchase eloquence.

#17 Narrator

Narrator voice is bad and with NVDA you have to purchase eloquence.

#18 vertual machines

you could buy a mac, set up a windows vertual machine with a program like vmware fusion, parallels, and whenever you need to format word documents, startup the windows vm

#19 maybee but

Its either a $1300 purchace versus a, I believe it was $69? Cost. Not to mention with jaws you have to pay if you want to upgrade... Not worth it; for me atleast. I went for elequence for NVDA As someone else mentioned, jaws is on its way out. I would go for a mac and set up a vm, or vise versa on windows. It really depends on what you need to do. I do audio editing on the mac, as of now I mostly use windows for gaming lol, but i'll give word a shot.

#20 A question for those of you who run Windows on your Mac.

I have seen several comments here talking about how you run Windows on your Mac. How can you recommend that to someone as a viable option? This option makes your computer more expensive because if the original poster was going to go in that direction, she would have to pay for a mac and a copy of windows. I think if you are recommending a mac to someone and telling them they can run Windows to overcome the shortcomings in the Mac, then clearly the mac is not cutting it for you.

#21 not necesarily

there are vertual machines that already are made and already in some cases, come installed with a screenreaders. That is in the case of vertual machines. However on bootcamp? then yes, you would have to buy a copy of windows

#22 My thoughts

Hello all,
I came to the mac back in 2016 and I have seen voiceover fall behind the windows screen readers every year. I have a horrible time trying to navigate the web with safari and voiceover. If you are doing simple web browsing it might be okay but for more complicated things it is a nightmare. For example freecodecamp.org works well on windows but is nearly completely inaccessible in safari with voiceover. Issues with web browsing is the biggest reason I do not go to mac full time. I usually get a better web browsing experience on my iPhone or iPad. Do I think a mac could replace JAWS or NVDA on windows, not at the present moment. If they would fix browsing and add scripting to voiceover it would improve things tremendously.

#23 The great debate!

As somebody who does plenty of audio editing, word processing, and web browsing, I'll say I've used the Mac exclusively since 2015. My last holdover from Windows was audio, but once I got Logic and Pro Tools, I haven't looked back. Are there things I miss? Not really. There are a few Jaws commands I had to figure out the VO equivalent of, and the web will always be a little wanky in both operating systems, as developers are inconsistent! Voiceover is scriptable with Applescript, and many people are doing great things, especially as the audio production world has opened up to us, but with state agencies still pushing Windows and Jaws, that's what will be the norm, probably until forced to do otherwise. One word of advice though...switch cold turkey. Force yourself to learn a new way, or it'll take you years to change. Trackpad Commander will be your friend since you're used to iOS gestures. In fact, I bought an external trackpad for my iMac for that very reason. I'm not bashing Windows, Jaws, or NVDA! They're all fine choices, but unless you have a corporate job that requires JFW and Windows, you can be just fine in the Mac world if it's what you so choose.

#24 Two different ways

Hi,

Mac and Windows are two completely different systems. I use Mac since 2012. At first it was very dificult to switch, you have to learn everything from scratch. Now it is easier for me to do text formating in Mac with Pages. Mac with VO not only replaces Windows with JAWS or NVDA, it is much more officiant. By the way, MS Word works perfectly with VoiceOver. Browsing is also easier on Mac, just use Track Pad. If you are not afraid of learning something new, try Mac. There is nothing you couldn’t do on Mac, except for a few audio games. Just don’t give up immediately, if something goes wrong.

#25 I don't know

I honestly don't know. VoiceOver has been neglected for many years and is falling behind *all* the Windows screen readers. Maybe I'll be proven wrong in Catalina, but I'm doubting this based on previous releases. The focus and freezing issues in Safari, poor Braille support, and lagging text-to-speech voices are just a few of the longstanding issues that have been reported time and time again only to fall on deaf ears.

As for JAWS, why would anyone use it when NVDA and even Microsoft's own Narrator continue to improve? The only scenario I can think of is scripting applications for a workplace setting. NVDA can already be used to do this using NVDA add-ons, and Narrator might be getting scripting capabilities in the future.

Scripting should not always be the go to option either. No matter what your views are on Apple, you have to give them credit for not immediately taking the scripting option. Developers should take the time to properly code their applications so they're accessible out of the box. Scripting is a band-aid solution that may fix the problem temporarily. What happens if the application updates and all that scripting work is broken? We should be striving to make the world a more accessible place, not making band-aid workarounds that might convince developers to ignore implementing proper accessibility support into their apps.

#26 There will always be a place for scripting

Yes, developers should make their applications accessible from the start, and maybe in a perfect world where every one of them considered every possible use case for their applications, we could eliminate scripting. In the real world that is just not possible. No one is that good and there is also variation in user ability and work style to account for. I'm a mainframe programmer. I spend a lot of my time in an ancient 3270 interface with a line number based editor. Now in the days of Window-Eyes, I didn't need scripting. It was always superior in that way. but now I'm stuck with JAWS, and one of the things I need to be able to do in order to work efficiently is cut out those line numbers when I'm reading through code. This required a script that one needed basic programming knowledge to construct. Programmer though I may be, they don't pay me to code my screen reader, but I am getting off topic. The point is, though it may be reduced to niche applications, there will always be a need for screen reader scripting. As has been mentioned, VO, JAWS, and NVDA all have some means of modifying screen reader behavior through the use of scripting or add-ons, the difference being in the level of sophistication necessary to employ them. Narrator scripting, if or when it arrives, has the potential for robustness similar to what Window-Eyes had when it tied into Windows scripting for it's functions. At that point it becomes a viable Voiceover rival with the advantages afforded by the ubiquity of the Windows platform.

#27 Re: #25 - Scripting

Yes, it would be really great if scripting wasn't necessary and yes, developers should take accesibility into account out of the box.

two things though:

1. The reality is that developers don't always take accessibility into account out of the box and they don't necessarily know how a blind person might want or need to interact with a program.

2. Even if a program is "accessible" out of the box, different users might want to customize their experience according to their particular work flow and/or requirements.

I don't know about Apple scripting for VoiceOver or how well such tools are shared within the community of VoiceOver users.

--Pete

#28 Here's my view on lagginess

Here's my view on lagginess etc. It's a use case sinario. On my end, I've not really noticed major killing bugs. For me, it works just fine. Sure you'll have issues... But we need to find workarounds for said things. Find what works on mac side and keep using what works. What works for you, may not work for others. I second special K's points on the mac side. Yes the mac can be quirky, yes web browsing has issues, no the mac is not the be all and end all OS, but for my needs it blows windows out of the water for now. Yes, VO is not perfect, Yes VO is probably slightly behind NVDA, but that's okay. It works, and is built-in to the OS. Thank god. Different people have different views on wheather the mac is perfect or not. For my needs I will not be using windows in the forseeable future.

#29 as others have said...

As others have said, it comes down to personal preference. That's all I'll really say on the matter. I have no intention of being a broken record and repeating what everyone else has said.