Apple tv becomes unusable and inaccessible after updating

tvOS and Apple TV Apps

I have an Apple Tv 4, which have worked very well until Apple TV OS 13. Since TV OS 13, Voiceover starts to loose focus when swiping on the remote. More and more apps become inaccessible and I was forced to stop using my Apple tv.
I have just updated to the latest version of TV OS, and Voiceover now become even worse. Now, I can't turn off my Apple tv. I hold down the Home button on the remote, and the popup appears. 1 out of 10 times I hold down the home button, Voiceover announces the time. But when I start swiping, Voiceover loose focus and goes back to the apps screen. But, the cursor focus is on the icons, so when clicking on the touchpad, I'll either choose the Go to sleep, or Restart option, which is not being read by Voiceover because it looses focus.
An other weird issue is that I have to click twice to activate an icon or write a letter in an input field. That also happened after an update of the TV OS.

I have tried to reset my Apple tv twice, which didn't helped at all. Have anyone else experienced the same issues that their Apple tv becomes unusable like this and apps becomes more and more inaccessible due to Voiceover loose focus?
I'm about to give up on my Apple tv, and I cannot recommend it to anyone at all.
If someone have any ideas on what to do, then I would love to hear from you. If not, then I'll call Apple.
I fear that something has been broken while updating, but then it's weird that it won't get fixed when resetting the Apple tv, or by updating.



Submitted by mendi on Monday, June 7, 2021

Okay, so it's not exactly convenient, but the TV is actually not unusable. I've found that if you treat the touch pad like a directional pad, meaning touch left, right, up, or down, depending on what direction you want to go instead of swiping, I can navigate item by item. I too wish it would go back to the old way of swipes, but given the release of the new Siri remote, I don't foresee that happening any time soon.

That's what Apple calls "navigation style." You can turn that on and off by tripple tabbing with three fingers on the touchpad where you'll switch between "navigation" and "exploration," or you can change that in the Voiceover settings. I have turned that feature off because I don't like it.
It's right after this feature got introduced Voiceover on my Apple tv became extremely bad, even with the feature turned off. Apps which previously were fully accessible became inaccessible, Voiceover started to lose focus etc.

I will be turning explore mode right back on. I have no idea how it got changed. I didn't even know about this triple tap with three fingers, let alone do it. I have since gotten used to the new style, but I'm thinking I'll be glad to get back to how it used to be.

Submitted by Troy on Tuesday, June 8, 2021

I 100 percent agree with you, and I personally do not have the time nor the pacients for the work arounds, let's switch between this mode, that mode, everywhere a mode mode. Double tap this, tripple tap that, everywhere a tap tap. If you have the pacients for all that to make this device usable, then cootos to you because I sure don't. My apple tv is just collecting dust and I'm thinking about selling it to someone sighted, because I sure won't even think about selling it to a blind person.

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Hello Everyone. I just wanted to add my comments here, with regards to Apple TV 4th generation accessibility. After one of the last updates, I also found my Apple TV decided to misbehave. I discovered that the Follow Focus had gotten switched back to Direct Touch. After I went into Settings, Accessibility, Voiceover, and turn this back to Follow Focus, the TV now performs beautifully.

I would just like to encourage those who are frustrated with this device to give it another go. I have been using mine now for several years and virtually have no issues. Sure, sometimes things mess up, but a little adjusting here and there and I'm back in business, enjoying great TV. And yes, some apps available on the Apple TV could certainly perform better, but this is on the shoulders of the devs of the apps, not Apple. Don't think that the electronic problems we face are unique to us as a blind community. Sighted people also have problems with their toys, as well, although they may be different issues. It's just apart of owning tec toys. So if you haven't thrown your Apple TV out the window, I encourage you to try it out again. I am old enough that the TVs I had as a kid didn't talk, only got one or two channels, and had to have tin foil placed on the antenna to hoefully get said channels. The access that I have today far outweighs the accessibility issues I come up against once in a while. In my opinion the trade offs for those minor frustrations is so worth it to me.

Happy watching.

Submitted by LaBoheme on Wednesday, June 9, 2021

In reply to by mendi

quote: but I'm thinking I'll be glad to get back to how it used to be. unquote

well, good luck with that. unfortunately, you can't get back to what it used to be, once you switch back to explore mode and play some more, you'll know what i mean.
why constantly changing interface and make things harder and less enjoyable without users asking for it, that's the apple mystery i have not managed to solve. maybe there is some psychological theory for that?

Thanks for your reply, and all other great replies as well.
1. I have set the navigation style to follow focus in the Voiceover settings.
2. The tripple tab with three fingers feature is set to explore mode.
Regarding apps being inaccessible: It is indeed Apples fult. Voiceover got messed up after an update long time ago, which trickers the focus in a lot of apps. I'm in contact with a few developers behind those apps, and I'm currently testing one of those apps to give the developer feedback regarding to accessibility. He says that he haven't changed anything which should make Voiceover loose focus like this. I don't know if Apple have changed something like how Voiceover navigates in apps, which developers actively have to care about.
Now the apps I'm having issues with are in Danish, so it wouldn't make much sense to make a recording. But here are some examples of the issues:
1. You know the standard list of tabs in the Netflix app, right? As soon as I get focus on a simuler list of tabs in other apps than Netflix, I can mention more than 5 apps, Voiceover jumps randomly out of the list of tabs, and jumps to a totally random section on the screen.
2. I can only gain focus on the list of tabs by pure luck.
3. When swiping through a list of series to watch, Voiceover randomly jumps one line above, one line below or to an other random section of the screen. It even does that when reading, without swiping to tricker this.
4. The player: You know the player in Netflix, where you can go fast forward, choose subtitles, enable audio description etc? The same player worked in the other apps I'm having issues with, before Voiceover got messed up. In some of those apps, I can move the slider to go fast forward or rewind, but I can not access the subtitles at all.
The weird thing though is that it has never been an issue with Netflix. I don't know what they are doing to keep their app accessible. The developers I'm in contact with have not actively done something regarding to the navigation. It's interesting that suddenly after an update, that many apps got that bad when using Voiceover.
If someone knows anything about this or are in touch with any developers who might know what's going on, then I would love to hear about it.

same goes for the cbs all access now paramount plus app, before apple did whatever the heck they did to voiceover on the apple tv I had no issues with it, now nothing is labeled, oh well like I said my apple tv is now on a shelf and collecting dust and I have switched to firestick and chromecast.

Submitted by Jim D on Wednesday, June 9, 2021

I am using both a Fourth Gen Apple TV as well as an Apple TV 4K 2021 with the Siri Remote. Both work well with Voiceover. For those having problems with the Fourth Gen, I would highly recommend going into settings, selecting remotes and turn touch surface tracking to slow. This makes it much easier to use the trackpad on the remote. I agree that not all apps work great, but the few that I use, Netflix, Pandora and the native Apple apps all work quite well.
Also, for those who are frustrated with the trackpad and the gestures on the remote, you may want to consider purchasing one of the new Siri remotes. These work with the Apple 4th gen as well as both AppleTV 4K models.
I have several other streaming devices, including the Amazon Fire TV and find myself coming back to the AppleTV because it is so easy to use.
Hope this info helps.

Submitted by mendi on Thursday, June 10, 2021

I wondered if the new Siri remote would make my Apple TV 4th gen easier to use. One should be here today. Glad to know it might be helpful.