Zoom magnification factor in iOS 9

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team
Low Vision Accessibility on Apple Products

The zoom magnification factor in iOS 9 has changed dramatically enough that I have to wonder if the new behavior is a bug that should be reported? Or is it intentional?

Zoom has an enabled / disabled state that is controlled in Settings, General, Accessibility. Once enabled, zoom can be turned on or off with a 3-finger double tap, and when on, the magnification factor can be adjusted with a 3-finger tap and hold, then drag up or down.

Prior to iOS 9, the magnification factor was stored in your iOS device, so that, when turning zoom on with a 3-finger double tap, the screen (or window) would zoom to the previously set magnification factor. Even after cycling power on your iOS device, turning zoom on would zoom in to your previously set magnification factor.

In iOS 9, this changed slightly. After cycling power on your iOS device, during boot, a small window appears on the screen with the words "zoom on" (not sure of exact words; a sighted person had to read it to me because it disappears before VoiceOver starts). More importantly, the magnification factor has been set to 1x, so it's not obvious that zoom is on at all. A low vision user used to the iOS 8 behavior will repeatedly perform a 3-finger double tap in an attempt to turn zoom on. All the while, it's already on, but with a magnification factor of 1x, there is no way to visually detect whether it's on or not, except for the afore-mentioned boot time text, which is in such a small font size that no low vision user can actually read it.

In iOS 9, the first thing you must do after boot is 3-finger tap and hold, then drag up to the desired magnification level. This is new and very different behavior from previous releases.

Was there some rationale behind this change, or is this a bug that should be reported? It is very problematic for low-vision users. Many have complained to me that "this is a bug".




Submitted by fordy45 on Monday, September 28, 2015

I have a severe visual impairment and have relied on the use of the Zoom option to use my iPad air2. The recent ios9.1 update has rendered this facility erratic to the point of being unusable.

The two finger tap to manage the zoom level does not work, also I am unable to access news articles etc in my preferred print size. I also find the new keyboard faint with far less density. This upgrade has virtually disabled me from using my iPad. I can only hope that Apple fix these bugs in the very near future.

If you are a Zoom user and have not upgraded to iOS 9.1 I would advise you to wait.

Submitted by Betsy on Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Club AppleVis Member

Just wanted to comment so that I will be notified if this subject generates more discussion. I too am low vision and rely heavily on Zoom. Its very frustrating that a feature that works so well in ios 7 can't work in ios 9 too. What on earth has happened that prohibits Zoom from functioning?

Submitted by PaulMartz on Thursday, October 1, 2015

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

It still behaves the same, which makes me think this is a feature. But I'm baffled as to why someone at Apple might think that resetting the magnification factor to 1x after the device restarts would be a good idea. What would the benefit be?