I'm curious, how do you use VoiceOver activities?

iOS & iPadOS

Hey all!

I hope you are all doing well!

So, I have a question for you all. I'm curious. How do you all use VoiceOver activities? What tasks/situations do you use them for?
I've been debating looking into/using them. But, I don't really know what I'd be able to use them for?
Is it like shortcuts where the sky is the limit so to speak?

I never really thought about using them before. Now, though, that I'm doing more productive-related things, like going to meetings/webinars, (mainly with Hadley) but also a couple others here and there, writing a lot more emails, and doing a bit of writing, I'm starting to think about looking into if and how they could become another tool in my productivity toolbox, and maybe be useful in some other areas as well.
Also, are there any caveats, catch—22s that I should be aware of?
I'd appreciate any thoughts, suggestions etc you might have.



Submitted by Jakob Rosin on Saturday, August 28, 2021

Ok, here is my list:

  • I change punctuation settings in some text processors, so it’s easier to review text. I don’t use braille.
  • I am bilingual so VO switches speech language based on the apps I need.
  • VoiceOver automatically speaks more slowly in news apps because I want to concentrate on some longreads and their contents. Same applies for public transport and navigation apps, because I use them in noisy conditions and thus, slower speech is required for better clarity.
  • VoiceOver automatically speaks faster in apps with repetitive / familiar content.
  • Whatsapp has a bug where it really wants to describe every row of messages. VO turns image descriptions automatically off in Whatsapp.
  • I disable audio ducking in some audio focused apps so I can concentrate on audio. VoiceOver also slightly lowers it’s volume and disables it’s sounds.

I use US Siri female, Nora voice 4 as default voice, but select Tessa compact voice for my 2 newspaper apps, messages, notes, mail, contacts, phone, Whatsapp and Facebook. Experiencing no issues

Submitted by Bruce Harrell on Saturday, August 28, 2021

How do you get VoiceOver to automatically switch activity when you go from one app to another?

Submitted by Jakob Rosin on Saturday, August 28, 2021

In reply to by Bruce Harrell

When you configure an activity, at the bottom of the list you can choose what triggers it. It's either switching to an ap, or to a specific context.

Wow! It sounds like you get a lot of use out of them!

I could see where you would need to switch languages for apps and websites for example.

Now that you mention it, I see your point about navigation and transport apps.

I never thought about slower speeds in news apps.

I have to ask 2 things though.

1. If I may ask, which word processors do you use punctuation changes with? I ask because I have a few different word processors. Some I've used and some not. The ones I have that I've used to some extent are: Microsoft Word, (Although I must admit, I have not used this one in a while) Voice Dream Writer, which, I use almost all the time, and, Drafts 5. The ones I have but have not used yet are: Noted, Simple Note, Google Docs, and I think there might be one that I'm forgetting, but, the name escapes me at the moment.

2. Are the audio apps you disable audio-ducking for radio, music streaming services, or, podcatchers? Because if so, I could see where that would come in handy at times. Like if I'm listening to music, while I get some writing done.

Thank you for your help and insights! It sounds like you have a lot of creative uses for activities. Especially using them as a workaround for a bug in WhatsApp!

Submitted by Dawn 👩🏻‍🦯 on Saturday, August 28, 2021

In reply to by BlackCat

Wow! That's awesome!

I'm not sure if I'd want to change my voice. But, I could see where that would be a good idea if say, Tessa pronounces some words/phraises better than others.

Yeah, I was wondering this too. I remember somewhere in the back filing cabinets in my brain hearing that you could create activities, then sarect the activities setting on the rotor, and that would be that. But, that's cool that you have options!
I'm trying to listen to Thomas's podcast on activities.

It sounds like there's some braille options there also. Which, will be great for me. Because, I hope to be getting some braille equipment at some point.

Thank you for this! :-)

Submitted by Jakob Rosin on Saturday, August 28, 2021

In reply to by Dawn 👩🏻‍🦯

I enable punctuation in drafts, as this is my text processor where I start everything. In ulysses, it gets reduced to some.
AUdio vise, I disable ducking in audio editors and the occasional audiogame, as well as some apps like MyNoise.

Wow! Thank you for this!

I think I might look into doing this for my word processors. Because I use different processors for different needs.
Drafts I use as my version of a sighted person pad of paper where they can just pick up a pen real quick and take notes. VoiceDream Writer gets used for the more heavy writing projects.

I'll have to try disabling audio-ducking in ambient noise apps. I have a few of these on my Ipad but, I haven't tried them yet. Never thought of disabling audio-ducking on them though. :-)

Submitted by Lee on Sunday, August 29, 2021

I've created one for apps such as audible where as some of you may know using external bluetooth/Airplay speakers makes VO almost impossible to use. I've set it so sounds automatically are turned off when using these apps. Works a treat as soon as you come out of the app sounds are back.

I have two activities for different languages, English and Chinese. But I never thought on having one for text revisions, seems very useful.

Submitted by Dawn 👩🏻‍🦯 on Tuesday, August 31, 2021

In reply to by WellF

I have to agree with you! These are some interesting ideas! :-) I feel like I have practically endless possibilities here! :-) almost like with short cuts! :-)

I will say, but like you, I had never thought of having an activity for a text revision and editing. But now that I think about it, and now that somebody’s put the idea in my head and in writing, I could see how that would be useful.

Submitted by WellF on Tuesday, August 31, 2021

In reply to by Dawn 👩🏻‍🦯

I wonder how is this editing / proofreading activity though. Like, I tend to have very few problems with punctuation, so an activity with speak all punctuation activated wouldn't be very useful, because I usually make proofreadings on the laptop. I may begin doing them on the phone.

Submitted by Ann Marie B on Tuesday, August 31, 2021

I thought about trying activities and using Ava for reading things like mail, safari, and FB. Also, where is this mysterious Nora voice? Is Nora a language other than English?
Thanks :)

Submitted by BlackCat on Tuesday, August 31, 2021

In reply to by Ann Marie B

Nora is the name for Voice 4, US English Siri female. When you select her under Activities under Default Voice selection, her name appears as Nora.

Submitted by Marc on Thursday, September 2, 2021

I've never used Activities before. I want to keep my default settings but have a activity I use for testing. I created the Activity profile and customized all the settings. I used VO X to select the Activity. Will it stay on that Activity setting until I change it back?

Submitted by Lielle ben simon on Friday, September 3, 2021

Club AppleVis Member

Hello, The voice Over acctivitys is an a welcome change. I use when I reading Whatsappp messages, if for example: i don't want to hear Emogi reading I select the acctivity that i have created for it.