iOS 5 VoiceOver Unofficial Change Log
By: Kevin Chao, Twitter: @KevinChao89
Special thanks to:
- Apple for making this possible by making iOS 5, specifically improving VoiceOver accessibility. Most importantly, thanks for truly valuing feedback during development cycle, such as taking feature request, enhancements, and many bug reports; I appreciate and respect that Apple delivered with solid action.
- Reviewers of this unofficial change log, especially those who provided constructive feedback, such as: ensuring everything is correct, suggesting various modifications (both VoiceOver changes and language/detail per item), and providing additional changed items.
- Triple-click HOME defaults to VoiceOver, making out-of-the-box iOS 5 post-PC iTunes free setup wizard accessible and all iOS 5 devices universally accessible.
- iOS 5 setup wizard works fully and very nicely with VoiceOver.
- Will back-up and restore all VoiceOver settings and entire iOS device just like iTunes, but no need for iTunes on Mac/Windows.
- Notification Center (touch status bar, three-finger swipe-down to expand it down or three-finger swipe-up to close): active widgets and all unread notifications are here, no more intrusive popups or losing notifications.
- Once notification center drops down, Voiceover will auto-focus on first item.
- when a notification is received, if it’s set to present a banner (default) in the status bar, VoiceOver will automatically read it.
- Settings>Notifications: can rearrange, disable, and customize and all works great with VoiceOver.
- speak notifications in lock screen (on/off toggle in VoiceOver settings): on = time, x notification(s), and app+content; off = time and x notification(s). For example, if set to default of do not speak notifications in lock screen, VoiceOver will speak: “10:00 AM, 1 new notification”; if, VoiceOver is set to read notifications in lock screen, it will speak “10:00 AM, 1 new notification, Messages, Kevin Chao, iOS 5 has been released!!!”.
- Lots and lots of new voices (Irish and South African English), including multi-lingual (Arabic).
- Default “premium” voice: is said to be, should be, and in theory is higher quality and more realistic (does not come installed with iOS 5, but will silently download/install when connected to AC power and WiFi). Premium TTS is only available for default voice, which is based on region/language setting.
Bluetooth keyboard commands
- Can use number keys to dial a phone number in Phone or enter numbers in Calculator.
- single-letter HTML navigation within Safari, Mail, and other web views: h for headings, b for buttons, l link for links, w for ARIA-landmark, among many others. Add SHIFT key to go to previous HTML element.
- VoiceOver text string find (VO-f for find dialog, VO-g to find next, VO-SHIFT-g to find previous): will find a specified text string on the screen and VoiceOver focus will move to it.
- Item chooser (VO-i): list of items (listing of most Voiceover focusable items) with a search box
- Label element (VO-SLASH): ability to label currently focused control, such as an unlabeled or poorly labeled button.
- Item chooser (two-finger triple-tap): list of items (listing of most Voiceover focusable items) with a search box
- Label element (Two-finger double-tap and hold): ability to label currently focused control, such as an unlabeled or poorly labeled button.
- Define word: navigate to word, select word with open pinch gesture (ensure rotor is set to word), rotor to edit, select define, and VoiceOver will be able to read definition.
- Within any app (TweetList, Mail, eBay, etc.) that uses "PULL DOWN to Refresh", THREE-FINGER SWIPE-DOWN will work and VoiceOver will speak “content pulled down”.
- Calendar: VoiceOver will report current day and date.
- Folders: VoiceOver will report how many apps are within a given folder.
- Page x of y in bottom-right is adjustable, allowing one to SWIPE UP to go to next page or down to go to PREVIOUS page (another way to switch app pages, compliments three-finger swipe left/right).
- Reminder: each and every aspect of it works very well with VoiceOver.
- Calendar: iPad and iPhone versions; various views (year, month, week, day, event), interaction methods (swiping to change to next/previous, adding, modifying, etc.) are all fully VoiceOver accessible.
- Twitter integration: tweet box control/contents, location status/toggle, and cancel/send buttons are fully VoiceOver accessible.
- When VoiceOver is focused on text edit field, it will report if message will use iMessage or old traditional text message.
- When reviewing a conversation, Voiceover will speak if it’s an iMessage or a traditional text message.
- When focused on typing indicator, VoiceOver will speak that other party is typing.
- When focused on delivered or read receipt status, VoiceOver will read status.
- Rearranging recipients in and among to, cc, and bcc fields work flawlessly with VoiceOver (touch recipient, double-tap/hold to drag, VoiceOver will provide feedback as it’s being moved, and lift to drop).
- When opening a message, VoiceOver auto-focuses message body.
- When returning to message list (thread or mailbox), VoiceOver focus will return to just read message in list.
- Rich text formatting (indentation and bold/italic/underline) works very well with VoiceOver (rotor>edit).
- New Mailbox: within list of accounts or folders, select edit (top-right), New Mailbox button (above HOME button), specify mailbox location and name, and tap Save button (top-right).
- deleting of individual phone calls in recents tab via edit>delete, navigate to entry, double-tap delete, and confirm deletion of entry or on entry double-tap+hold+swipe to delete and double-tap to confirm.
- location notifications for calls not in contacts, which is spoken by VoiceOver when call is received and is spoken in recents call log.
- Use up volume button on iOS device or earbud/remote to snap a picture, which will help with capturing very stable, clear, and solid photos for OCR, barcode scanning, QR code reading, and various other object identification.
- face recognition works fully with VoiceOver, where it will provide feedback, such as: “1 face, large, centered”.
- Various new items can be added to rotor, such as: volume, hints, all items, vertical navigation, etc.
- Navigate images (always, with description, or never): determes how VoiceOver will navigate images.
- Font attribute changes are spoken when edit box first gains focus and when navigating (line, words, and characters), such as type (bold, italic, and underline), size (14, 16, 24), and face (times new roman, arial, etc.).
- Safari: if a page contains an article that can be put into Reader mode, VoiceOver will announce this once page has finished loading (reader button is between address bar and Google search box)
- Safari/web views: if a text box is a multiline text field, VoiceOver will report it as such.
- Voiceover focus: three-finger tap, iPhone/iPad (three positions: top, center, and bottom) and iPad (9 positions: top-left, top-right, center, bottom-right, etc.). After swiping left/right or touching on screen, three-finger tap, and VoiceOver will speak row x of y or page x of y as usual and VoiceOver focus position. For example, page 1 of 7, top-left.
- Artificial intelligence for symbols and emotocons: "*" is spoken as "white medium star", ":)" is spoken as "smiley", etc.
- Split/merge virtual keyboard: touch anywhere on keyboard and two-finger scrub (quick side-to-side or up-and-down gesture) and Voiceover will say “keyboard split” or “keyboard merge”
- Reordering tabs in Safari: touch on a tab, double-tap and hold, drag, and move left or right, and Voiceover will provide feedback during the entire process of where it is exactly in the order of tabs.
- Multi-tasking gestures are very smooth, solid, and when switching among apps with FOUR/FIVE-FINGER SWIPE LEFT/RIGHT, VoiceOver will say “Switching to x app. For example, If in Mail, next app in app switcher is Safari, FOUR-FINGER SWIPE LEFT will say, “Switching to Safari”.
- three-finger tap will provide approximate size of element that has focus, "thumbnail width".
- can now turn contracted Braille on and off. This affects both input and output. And makes the reading of BRF files from Web Braille and Bookshare possible.
- 8-dot braille available in VoiceOver>braille settings
- Ability to navigate in any place via heading is a significant useability improvement.
- Improved WAI-ARIA support greatly.
Voices and Sounds
- Improved quality of compact voices for increased clarity and responsiveness.
- Changed from Serena to Daniel for the UK voice making it more intelligible, especially at higher speech rates.
- Voiceover sounds volume have been decreased, making them less intrusive, and more pleasant to listen to.
- HOME screen: when in edit mode, moving apps, VoiceOver will provide a lot more feedback when moving around on page and onto other pages (pause to change pages).
- Safari, Mail, and web views: when cycling through items in rotor, VoiceOver will now announce the item count for each item. For example, “headings 3”, “links 15”, etc. On websites that have a lot of elements of a specified type, VoiceOver will only announce "Many headings."
- VoiceOver now announces tab controls correctly in apps instead of just referring to them as button controls.
- Tab index/count is also announced. For example, “Home, tab, 1 of 5”.
- iPad: sound that's made when moving in and out of containers will now work within HTML content. These significant areas include: tables, navigation bars, frames, etc.
- Optimized and streamlined VoiceOver settings
- Web rotor renamed to rotor (VoiceOver settings).
Truncated and Clipped
- eliminated clipping/truncading of phrases, words, and characters with all voiceS (US, Aus, UK, and Spanish), especially at higher rate (65% or above), you can now crank the speech rate to 100% without any loss in intelligibility.
Accessibility Setting State
- iOS no longer randomly kills all Accessibility/VoiceOver settings, including triple-click HOME for VoiceOver. iOS Voiceover users will no longer be in the situation where they have an iBrick until they can get sighted help or iTunes.
- Screen curtain state is remembered across all restarts
- After HTML content in Safari or Mail has loaded, VoiceOver will not speak “website loaded”
- When a page is loading, with Voiceover focused on address bar, only percentage is read out. It’s not overly verbose, such as speaking address bar loading, URL, percentage.
- Close out tabs, even if below 2 pages, VoiceOver will correctly report number of tabs.
- VoiceOver text selection gestures work very well, allowing text selection, copying, and copied text to be pasted elsewhere.
- Using web rotor or single-letter HTML navigation to go to next/previous HTML element is very stable, consistent, and great.
- Navigating within multiline text fields is solid, consistent, and a great experience.
- Bluetooth keyboard, TAB and SHIFT-TAB among differnet fields within all built-in iOS apps will read field labels and navigate to them properly.
- Support is much more stable. Had a lot of trouble in 4.x with VO refusing to find/connect/reconnect to display. Now it generally always reconnects when unlocking and can also force immediate reconnect from VO Braille settings.
- Bluetooth connectivity with CDMA iPhone 4 is solid.
- Location services: purple and grey icons that convey if an app is currently using location services or has requested it within 24 hours works with VoiceOver.
- Two finger scrub now works to cancel “select a wireless network” dialog.
- Power off screen: only iOS 4.3 VoiceOver feature has been removed, with Voiceover sounds on, touching slide to power off bar will not produce drilling sound anymore.
- Was possible to get multiple unlock sounds by repeated rapid split taps on slide to unlock.