iOS Zoom vs Android Magnification gestures

Low Vision Accessibility on Apple Products

Hello there !

I am a visually-impaired user. My sight is pretty bad, but I can manage with reasonably high magnification and I don't use screen readers or any other accessibility features.

Yesterday I switched from a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 with Android 4.4.2 to an iPhone 6 Plus with iOS 8.1. I already had an iPad Air and I knew what to expect in terms of zoom functions, and yet I wanted to come back to the Apple ecosystem. I am now starting to regret my switch to the iPhone and am thinking about returning it and buying a Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Here's why:

The Android equivalent of iOS Zoom is Magnification gestures. It has no options, only an on/off switch and a short list of instructions, but it works great. There are two ways of using it:

1. You triple-tap with one finger to zoom in, then you drag around with two fingers to pan or you pinch in or out with two fingers to increase/decrease the magnification factor. This is similar to the old Zoom functionality prior to iOS 8. It's very cumbersome when you are trying to read something and I don't use it.

2. You triple-tap with one finger and then, withoult lifting your finger, you slide it around the screen to pan. This is where the magic is. This feature makes reading text and browsing around the screen very easy. And when you lift your finger it zooms out immediately. iOS 8 has implemented something similar with a Controller button, but I find it an inferior solution. On Android, panning moves in perfect sync with your finger. Your finger sets the speed, direction and acceleration. When your finger stops, the panning stops. It's like using a mouse. The Controller button in iOS Zoom is like controlling a mouse ponter with a joystick. The speed is never exactly what you want it to be because of the acceleration/deceleration, changing direction is not as precise and a perfect stop is tricky to achieve quickly. When following lines of text, I often go too quickly or too slowly, when I'm trying to reach a certain part of the screen, I often overshoot or stop short. And I never know where I am on the screen, whereas in Android I know I am zoomed in exactly where my finger is. The iOS implementation might be fine if you use 2x magnification, but I often use 8x magnification.

There are also bugs in iOS Zoom. If you set it to fullscreen and a keyboard pops up, Zoom switches to windowed mode and doesn't switch back to fullscreen when the keyboard goes away. Also, the size of that magnified window sometimes changes randomly. When zooming out of windowed zoom, the Notification Center and the Control Center sometimes don't work. Even if you deactivate the "magnify keyboard" option, the keyboard is sometimes magnified. I find iOS Zoom to be almost Android-like (feature-rich and bug-laden), whereas Android Magnification gestures is an Apple-like feature (almost no customization, easy to use and it just works).

I wish the iOS Accessibility team could see this message. I don't know how to contact them, but I so wish they would implement this Android feature in iOS!

Thank you for reading this. I don't use any other accessibility features but I would like to hear the input of people who use Zoom in iOS. Maybe there is a better way to use it, but I've tried everything and couldn't get it to work the way I want it to work.