Incorrect text reading when navigating in text fields on iOS

iOS & iPadOS

Hello all,

according to my understanding, when navigating by line in an editable text field using the down or Up arrow key on a Bluetooth keyboard, VoiceOver should read the whole line at the position where the cursor has landed. However, this is not always the case, at least in iOS 10.2 and more or less in earlier versions. Sometimes, for example, when standing on the beginning of the second line and pressing Up arrow to move to the beginning of the first line, , the first line is not read. The issue seem to happen quite randomly as you navigate back and forth within a text field.

In different apps, you might experience another different issues. For instance, sometimes in Microsoft Word, VoiceOver is not reading lines when pressing the Up or Down arrow even though the cursor is actually moving. Also, Alt + Left arrow, which should move to the beginning of the previous word and read it, does not work at all in Microsoft Word.

In Pages, there is a bug when after using the Command + right arrow to move to the end of line, first line of all paragraphs disappear for VoiceOver and last line of all paragraphs appear as if duplicated, though in real the text is not affected. This incorrect state can be repaired by pressing left or right arrow, for example. Also, sometimes, navigation by lines with up or down arrow doesn't read the whole line but only a part of it, however, if you press up arrow and then down arrow, the whole line would be read correctly.

Next, whereas Up or Down arrow should move by line and Alt + Up or Down arrow should move by paragraph, and this is how it works in Mail or Pages, this is not the case in the Notes app where Alt + Up or Down arrow reads a different paragraph than it should, seemingly at random. And Up or Down arrow reads the whole paragraph from the start to the end although the cursor is actually moving only by line within that paragraph. And one might find other or slightly different odd behavior in other cases and apps.

I think this is worth reporting to but the main reason I am sharing this observation is that I would like to ask if you could recommend me an advanced text editor app which shows this behaviour the least. Specifically, I am interested if the navigation in text fields in Ulysses is also problematic like this, or if you know another good word processor which works better regarding this odd behaviour.


Kind regards



Submitted by peter on Thursday, December 1, 2016

Yes, I have seen this behavior also when using a Bluetooth keyboard in the Notes application of my iPhone. Quite frustrating when the screen reader isn't reading information accurately and also sometimes misses text entirely. We need feedback that we can rely on!


Submitted by Adam Samec on Friday, December 2, 2016

Hello Peter,

thanks for the confirmation. However, I am still wondering if there is an advanced and handy text editor which is better in terms of properly reading the text when navigating in the document text field than the Pages app.

Looks like the proper behavior of text fields is a hard nut to crack for the Apple developers, as almost every new version of iOS or macOS, there is a new bug concerning them. Most recently, the contents of text fields is not being read at all in Safari.

Best regards.

Submitted by Morgan Watkins on Thursday, December 15, 2016

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

I have had the same significant problemswith text editing via a Bluetooth keyboard on my iPhone for quite some time. It worked well until about the time iOS 9 was introduced and has not improved with 10. I am currently running 10.1 as it sounded like 10.2 might be a bit problematic.

In the past, meaning a few months ago, text editing with Apple Notes and Apple Mail on my iPhone were a bit better, but I really need a text processor that I can depend on. I reported the bugs numerous times to the accessibility at Apple, but I have not noiticed attention paid yet on Bluetooth text editing commands on our iPhones.

I use Voice Dream Writer for most of my work. The same bugs are still evident there, but I like the rest of the features, especially the spell checker.


Submitted by Adam Samec on Friday, December 16, 2016

In reply to by Morgan Watkins


thank you for the comment. I have updated the original post to correctly reflect my current observations. So far, Pages looks like the best choice as regards to this kind of problems. Microsoft is more problematic as described in the post. Unfortunately. I cannot try Voice Dream Writer, as it is not available in my country.

Best regards

Submitted by Ken on Thursday, June 22, 2017

Glad to find this thread here as I'm having the same issues. I notice it in Notes, Mail, native Facebook and Twitter apps and even Messages. It is very frustrating. I use Notes to prompt me with scripts for public speaking engagements, it is really worrying when I get the wrong, or repeated, text while I'm in mid-flow in front of an audience. I've used both Logitech QWERTY keyboard and RIVO compact keyboard and experienced this issue. Hope Apple are on the case.

Submitted by Adam Samec on Wednesday, July 12, 2017


if you are looking for a simple and free text editor with Dropbox integration and a good support for a Bluetooth or Braille keyboard, then I would suggest AccessNote. Its Bluetooth keyboard support is the best I have seen, on the same level as the Permanote app does have, which is another great but quite expensive and more advanced text editor.

The only issue these two have is that Alt + Left arrow does not work repeatedly, only once to get to the begining of the paragraph. To get to the begining of the previous paragraph, you would need to press Left arrow and then use Alt + Left arrow again. Compared to the issues of other editors, this is a minor one.

Another great thing about AccessNote is its keyboard shortcuts, such as Command + J and Command + K for switching to the previous or next document, or Command + F for search, Command + comma for previous search result and Command + period for the next search result. You can find other commands in its user guide and more about AccessNote in this overview of four accessible note taking apps by Craig Werner.

Kind regards