Apple has today released iOS 13.1 and iPadOS 13.1 to the public. In addition to bringing many new features originally slated for the initial iOS 13 release, these releases bring fixes for a large number of the bugs that iOS 13.0 introduced for blind and low vision users.
Bug Fixes for Blind and Low Vision Users
Our testing suggests that the following pre-existing accessibility bugs have been resolved in iOS 13.1 and iPadOS 13.1:
- The performance of Smart Invert and Classic Invert is now much more consistent and reliable. In particular, our testing suggests that users are unlikely to find their device's display spontaneously and randomly switching between light on dark and dark on light. There are occasions when some UI elements - in particular the onscreen keyboard - do not use the expected and desired color combination, but this appears to be no worse than it has been in previous versions of iOS.
- Braille input once again works correctly when composing an email or note.
- When composing an email with a braille display, the VoiceOver cursor now behaves consistently.
- System sounds (such as notifications) now much more reliably follow the volume of VoiceOver, even when "Change with Buttons" is disabled in Settings> Sounds and Haptics.
- VoiceOver volume no longer fluctuates when using AirPods.
- Expanding grouped notifications in Notification center now works correctly.
- VoiceOver speech now works reliably when navigating Notification Center.
- VoiceOver no longer becomes unresponsive when opening apps.
- VoiceOver now correctly announces the number of messages in a mailbox in the Mail app.
- The Status Bar is now somewhat easier to locate by touch, although the target area when on the Home screen still feels smaller than it has been in the past.
- Apple has resolved the behavior which saw some VoiceOver labels for Today View Widget elements prepended with the extraneous text “Today”.
- When an iOS or iPadOS update is available through the Settings app, VoiceOver once again speaks the size of the download and the download progress.
- When swiping through the Lock Screen, VoiceOver focus no longer enters the Status Bar.
- It is now possible to reliably navigate by heading the history tab in Safari.
- When opening the App Switcher, VoiceOver now correctly places focus on the most recently-opened app.
- When using the Alex voice, there are no longer unnaturally long pauses after punctuation.
- When in the Status Bar, performing a two-finger scrub or pressing space with B on a braille display now works correctly and takes the user back to the main area of the screen.
- When encountering an emoji in braille, VoiceOver now displays the emoji correctly.
- On the Map Settings screen in the Find My app, the Close button is now announced by VoiceOver as being a button.
If you encounter any additional fixes during your own use of iOS 13.1 or iPadOS, please let us know by posting a comment below.
New Bugs for VoiceOver and Braille Users in iOS 13.1 and iPadOS 13.1
Disappointingly, our testing suggests that iOS 13.1 and iPadOS 13.1 also introduce some new bugs for VoiceOver and braille users:
- On occasion, VoiceOver becomes unresponsive after ending a call in both the Phone and FaceTime apps; this issue sometimes necessitates that the user must perform a force restart to restart the device. The presentation of this behavior is inconsistent; some members of our team report experiencing this issue several times per day, while others have not experienced it at all.
- When running a shortcut that prompts you to make a selection from a menu, VoiceOver does not read the menu options. * Note that this problem is not present if the menu has only a few options.
- When using a braille display and editing text in a text field (such as in an email message or note), the blinking cursor represented by dots 7 and 8 will often not be indicated on the display, even after pressing a cursor routing button.
- VoiceOver focus is ‘jumpy’ on the People and Devices tab of the Find My app. Our assumption is that this is triggered by the location data updating; hence the more people and devices you are tracking, the ‘jumpier’ VoiceOver focus will be.
- On occasion, the Edit item is missing from the VoiceOver rotor's Actions menu when in empty text fields; even though you have text on the clipboard. On these occasions, a double-tap and long press on the text field will typically reveal the Paste button. At this point, Edit also becomes available from the Actions menu.
- The VoiceOver keyboard shortcut to move focus to the Status Bar does not work when on the Home screen. It works when in an app, but you are unable to then use the keyboard to move focus through all items on the Status Bar.
- On iOS, double-tapping on a shortcut in the Shortcuts app will open its edit page rather than run the shortcut (which the VoiceOver hint indicates should be the expected behaviour).
- On occasion, you may find that VoiceOver focus will jump to the first UI element on the screen soon after you go to that screen, but after you have placed VoiceOver focus on another UI element. For example, after using View from the Actions menu on a notification and then placing focus on to the Delete button, focus will jump to the Dismiss button. If the timing is right, this may happen just as you double-tap on what you expect to be Deleted. Similar behavior can routinely be reproduced after selecting to ‘react’ to a message in the Messages app, where VoiceOver focus will initially be on the ‘Heart’ tapback, but then jump to the Back button. These are just two examples. Similar behavior is present system-wide.
- The ‘New Window’ UI element on the App Expose (‘Show All Windows’) screen in iPadOS is not spoken by VoiceOver as being a button.
- On occasion, VoiceOver does not speak the time when using the Side Button to wake the device's screen.
As we always stress, we can make no claims on the completeness or accuracy of our testing. We are only a small team, and it is simply impossible for us to test all devices, configurations, applications, and use cases. Accordingly, to help us ensure that the information on this page is as complete and accurate as possible, please let us know in the comments of any fixes; enhancements; or regressions that you find in your own use of iOS 13.1 and iPadOS.
How to update
iOS 13.1 and iPadOS 13.1 are available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings > General > Software Update) or via iTunes on a Mac or PC.
Before updating, we strongly recommend making a full and complete backup of your device (either in iTunes or iCloud, depending on personal preference). This will ensure that, in the unlikely event that something goes wrong during the update process, you will have a current backup on hand in case a device restore becomes necessary. Also, if using OTA update, we recommend plugging your device into a power source for the duration of the download/installation process, so as to prevent the unlikely event of your battery going dead during the update.
More information on how to update the software on your device is available on this Apple Support page.
As always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts on these updates. Questions? Comments?? Let us know by adding a comment below.