Apple has today released iOS 8.3, bringing with it a host of new features and improvements across the operating system.
For blind and low vision users, Apple has made significant progress towards addressing many of the accessibility bugs still present in iOS 8.2. In addition, Apple has introduced a few new features specific to the needs of VoiceOver users.
At this point, it is worth noting that our testing of iOS 8.3 has been somewhat limited. While a majority of our editorial team has been using iOS 8.3 since late February, it is impossible for us to test all devices, apps, and use cases. Though we are quite confident in the accuracy of the information presented below, it is possible that, as with all software testing, we have overlooked some changes. With this in mind, we would greatly appreciate your help in ensuring that the information on this page is as complete and accurate as possible. If you spot any accessibility changes in iOS 8.3 that we do not have listed on this page, please do let us know in the comments. As additional information becomes available, we will update this post accordingly.
New Features for Blind and Low Vision Users in iOS 8.3
- When using Braille Screen Input, it is now possible to delete entire words by performing a two-finger swipe to the left. Previously, it was only possible to delete by character.
- iOS now supports the Baum VarioUltra 20 and VarioUltra 40 braille displays.
- When using a Bluetooth keyboard, pressing VO-Q (Command, Option, Q) turns Quick Nav on and off. It is worth noting that toggling Quick Nav by pressing the left and right arrow keys together also appears to still work.
- The delay before alternate characters are displayed by the default onscreen keyboard appears to have been increased. The implementation of this feature also now appears to be a little slicker when using VoiceOver.
- It appears as though Apple has done some work to improve the quality of VoiceOver speech while a phone call is in progress.
Accessibility Bugs Fixed in iOS 8.3
- Using the back button (or scrub gesture) in Safari now works correctly.
- VoiceOver no longer freezes when viewing certain types of web content.
- The issues with moving apps on the home screen appear to have been resolved.
- The “Clear Section” buttons in the “All” section of the notification center are now labelled correctly and work as expected.
- Enterring and deleting text in the search field in the App Store now works as intended.
- VoiceOver now correctly navigates the Featured tab of the App Store.
- VoiceOver now indicates when a Mail folder is empty.
- The Mark Read/Unread flags in Mail, set via rotor actions, now work as intended
- It is now possible to navigate to and from the “Minimize Draft” button when creating a new email message. Note: This button appears to be at the bottom of the window when using VoiceOver.
- VoiceOver now behaves much more reliably when a draft is minimized in the Mail app.
- The “Details” button in group message conversations is now properly labeled.
- In group message conversations, VoiceOver now correctly recognizes the button to add a title to the conversation.
- When a say-all is in progress, VoiceOver is no longer interupted by incoming text message notifications.
- VoiceOver no longer crashes when attempting to navigate or change the Sounds settings.
- The space gesture (a one-finger swipe right) in Braille Screen Input now works as intended.
- It is now possible to use Braille Screen Input to enter text in Safari.
- When using a Braille display, the Find command (Space + F) now works as intended.
- When double-tapping on a contact name in App Switcher (Quick Contacts feature) to reveal the available contact options, VoiceOver now correctly announces the identifying label (home, work, cellular telephone, etc.).
- When using the Quick Contacts feature in App Switcher, VoiceOver now correctly navigates between all contacts - even when details for one contact are expanded.
- VoiceOver now correctly reads the prices and storage amounts in the iCloud subscription options (Settings> iCloud> iCloud Drive).
- VoiceOver now correctly reads all time indicators in the stock Weather app when using 24-hour time.
- Detailed descriptions have been added to the still photo wallpapers in Settings> Walpaper> Choose a New Wallpaper> Still photo wallpapers.
General New Features and Improvements in iOS 8.3
In addition to the accessibility features and improvements above, Apple's release notes, via 9to5Mac list the following new features and changes in iOS 8.3:
This release includes improved performance, bug fixes, and a redesigned Emoji keyboard. Changes include:
Improved performance for:
- App launch
- App responsiveness
- Control Center
- Safari tabs
- 3rd-party keyboards
- Keyboard shortcuts
- Simplified Chinese keyboard
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth fixes
- Fixes an issue where you could be continuously prompted for login credentials
- Addresses an issue where some devices disconnect intermittently from Wi-Fi networks
- Fixes an issue where hands-free phone calls could become disconnected
- Fixes an issue where audio playback could stop working with some bluetooth speakers
Orientation and rotation fixes
- Addresses an issue that sometimes prevented rotating back to portrait after having rotated to landscape
- Improves performance and stability issues that occurred when rotating the device between portrait and landscape
- Fixes an issue where device orientation appeared upside down after pulling the iPhone 6 Plus from your pocket
- Resolves an issue that sometimes prevented apps from rotating to correct orientation after switching apps in multitasking
- Addresses issues that caused group messages to sometimes split
- Fixes an issue that sometimes removed the ability to forward or delete individual messages
- Resolves an issue that sometimes prevented a preview from appearing when taking a photo in Messages
- Adds the ability to report junk messages directly from the Messages app
- Adds the ability to filter out iMessages that are not sent by your contacts
Family Sharing fixes
- Fixes a bug where certain apps would not launch or update on family members’ devices
- Fixes a bug that prevented family members from downloading certain free apps
- Increased reliability for Ask to Buy notifications
- Fixes an issue where Maps could come up as a black screen
- Fixes an issue where the UI could be incorrectly rotated
- Fixes an issue where the keyboard could appear on the CarPlay screen when it shouldn’t
- Improves reliability of installing and updating enterprise apps
- Corrects the time zone of Calendar events created in IBM Notes
- Fixes a problem that could cause web clip icons to become generic after restarting
- Improves reliability of saving the password for a web proxy
- Exchange out-of-office message can now be edited separately for external replies
- Improves recovery of Exchange accounts from temporary connection problems*
- Improves compatibility of VPN and web proxy solutions
- Allows use of physical keyboards to log into Safari web sheets, such as for joining a public Wi-Fi network
- Fixes an issue that caused Exchange meetings with long notes to be truncated
- Fixes an issue where using the back button in Safari causes VoiceOver gestures to not respond
- Fixes an issue where VoiceOver focus becomes unreliable in draft Mail messages
- Fixes an issue where Braille Screen Input cannot be used to type text in forms on webpages
- Fixes an issue where toggling Quick Nav on a Braille Display announces that Quick Nav is off
- Fixes an issue keeping app icons from being moveable on home screen when VoiceOver is enabled
- Fixes an issue in Speak Screen where speech will not start again after pausing
Other improvements and bug fixes
- Introduces a redesigned Emoji keyboard with over 300 new characters
- iCloud Photo Library has been optimized to work with the new Photos app on OS X 10.10.3 and is now out of beta
- Improves the pronunciation of street names during turn-by-turn navigation in Maps
- Includes support for Baum VarioUltra 20 and VarioUltra 40 braille displays
- Improves the display of Spotlight results when Reduce Transparency is turned on
- Adds Italic and Underline format options for iPhone 6 Plus landscape keyboard
- Adds the ability to remove shipping and billing addresses used with Apple Pay
- Additional language and country support for Siri: English (India, New Zealand), Danish (Denmark), Dutch (Netherlands), Portuguese (Brazil), Russian (Russia), Swedish (Sweden), Thai (Thailand), Turkish (Turkey)
- Additional dictation languages: Arabic (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates) and Hebrew (Israel)
- Improves stability for Phone, Mail, Bluetooth connectivity, Photos, Safari tabs, Settings, Weather and Genius Playlists in Music
- Addresses an issue where Slide to Unlock could fail to work on certain devices
- Addresses an issue that sometimes prevented swiping to answer a phone call on the Lock screen
- Addresses an issue that prevented opening links in Safari PDFs
- Fixes an issue where selecting Clear History and Website Data in Safari Settings did not clear all data
- Fixes an issue that prevented autocorrecting “FYI”
- Addresses an issue where contextual predictions did not appear in Quick Reply
- Fixes an issue where Maps did not enter night mode from hybrid mode
- Resolves an issue that prevented initiating FaceTime calls from a browser or 3rd-party app using FaceTime URLs
- Fixes an issue that sometimes prevented photos from properly exporting to Digital Camera Image folders on Windows
- Fixes an issue that sometimes prevented an iPad backup from completing with iTunes
- Fixes an issue that could cause Podcast downloads to stall when switching from Wi-Fi to cellular networks
- Fixes an issue where remaining time on timer would sometimes incorrectly display as 00:00 on Lock screen
- Fixes an issue that sometimes prevented adjusting call volume
iOS 8.3 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings> General> Software Update) or from iTunes.