XBox Smartglass

iOS and iPadOS

In case you haven't come across it, it is an iOS app from Microsoft that allows you to operate an Xbox One / 360 from your smartphone.

The app is partially screenreader accessible, which should mean it's a fairly trivial job to get it completely sceenreader accessible, meaning the general functionality of the console (not games, but TV guide, video, enhanced / supplementary content etc) would become voiceover compatible. It could be a pretty powerful tool, especially when combined with the XBox One's built in speech recognition.

Microsoft have just opened up a call for feature requests for smartglass. I've put in a feature request to improve VO compatibility, but the features are looked at depending on how many votes they get, so please vote for the idea if you think it is a good one:…



Submitted by Michael Hansen on Thursday, June 12, 2014

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hello Ian,

Microsoft has a dedicated accessibility team, called the Disability Answer Desk, and I think that is where your VoiceOver compatibility request would be best sent to. Their website is, and here is a direct link to e-mail them:…

Submitted by Ian Hamilton on Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hi Michael, the request for accessibility feature requests to be posted to that uservoice forum came directly from an accessibility contact within Microsoft. I assume because microsoft is a huge highly siloed company, especially Xbox, so this is a way to get the messages to the people who can do something about them.

Submitted by Michael Hansen on Thursday, June 12, 2014

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hi Ian,

All I can say is, "Wow."

There is something about having to vote for VoiceOver support, from a company which has a dedicated accessibility team, that really just does not resonate with me. I realize that Microsoft's main platform is *not* iOS, but it seems to me that their accessibility team should, at the minimum, be able to provide a little more help in getting through to the developers than suggesting that users vote for increased accessibility a system where only those suggestions which receive the most votes get attention.

Submitted by Ian Hamilton on Thursday, June 12, 2014

The thing you have to bear in mind is that there is not really such a thing as microsoft as a company, it is huge, and hugely siloed, essentially lots of small companies that don't interact with each other much. Xbox in particular has very little to do with the rest of the organisation. So the 'microsoft accessibility team' holds very little sway there.

However the xbox team have now opened a call for feature requests for the Xbox One, so there is now a direct route for customers to get in touch with developers about features, and the vote is a built in campaigning mechanism. It's not that only those with votes will get seen (there's a possibility that all of the various accessibility requests for all impairments will be grouped together into an accessibility category, increasing their visibility and avoiding them getting lost amongst general game/UI requests), it's more that getting a bunch of votes will help to draw attention.

I know it's not ideal, but in the grand scheme of things even fixing VO support is small fry as far as accessibility goes. Unlike, for example, windows, or windows phone, the Xbox has pretty much zero accessibility consideration for ANY type of impairment. They have very good subtitle customisation that applies to videos only (not games etc).. and of course voice commands via kinect.... and that's it. start to finish.

I'm not sure whether you'll have enough functional vision to see this image, so description, it is a set of org chart diagrams that sums up MS (and other corporations) very well - apple represented as a single central point with all management coming directly off it.. facebook as a flat mesh.. google as three ponts at the top feeding into 10 points beneath feedeing into a complex spider web benath that.. oracle as a tiny engineering team dwarfed by the size of its legal team.. and microsoft as many separate silos each pointing a gun at the other one:…