Apple Releases iOS 8.3 with New Features and Bug Fixes for Blind and Low Vision Users
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.
Other then accessibility improvements, what new features can we expect to see with this latest update?
Check out the link in my previous post. HTH
We've updated the post to include a quotation of the iOS 8.3 release notes. It may be found under the heading "General New Features and Improvements in iOS 8.3."
Haven't downloaded yet, still genuinely thrilled by all of the fixes included. About time as well. It would seem that they've done a wonderful job with this one. I do hope the Mac update or a subsequent one, is similarly impressive. I'm enthused.
Very nice write-up, as always! Does anyone know if the issues when typing on a braille display have been fixed?
Installed it about 10 minuts ago on my 16 GB iPhone 6. Noticed right away that the voiceover voice sounds different, a bit weird, this the South African english voice. I don't quite know what to call it, almost a higher quality but also not really a higher quality voice. VO also seams a bit sluggish but I can be wrong. Will play a bit more and report back.
I just updated, and VoiceOver isn't sluggish for me at all. I really like that braille screen input now works correctly. I'm happy about all of the bugs that were fixed, it's a great improvement!
The South African english voice definatly changed, before I used the enhanced quality voice but now I don't like the enhanced quality, its pronunciation is all weird. I'm now on the default quality voice, it sounds quite different than before and a higher quality than the enhanced quality voice of previous versions, but guess I'll get use to it. What I previously said about VO seaming to be sluggish, turns out that this is not the case, I bumpt up the speed by 5% and now its normal to me again as it was before.
I'll keep this brief, It's splendid and a significant enhancement on previous versions.
Just installed it and it look like it is the one we were all waiting for... iOS 8.3 is definitively a great improvement! Good job Apple!
PS: but please, don't break it again in iOS 9...
I haven't downloaded it yet but I've noticed this bug for a while with vo that I've never seen mentioned, when you turn off find my IPhone voiceover seems to take a minute or so to respond with the password prompt so you can type it in.
I was wondering about the braille screen input with iOS 8.3. For me, one of the things that drove me crazy about it was that when contracted braille was on, it was extremely sluggish. Has this been fixed in 8/3? Thanks.
Overall, I am very pleased with the new improvements! However, I have noticed a small bug that actually got a little worse from IOS 8.2. When using dictation in any edit field, Voiceover repeats the text that you have entered twice. Has anyone else reproduced this? Thanks!
I have this as well. but, I just over look it for the most part.
I'm loving the update, noticed the dictation bug that hasn't been fixed, but really that's nothing to complain about really. The one thing I've noticed is that the start-up tones when rebooting with VO on have disappeared. This did throw me, particularly when updating initially.
My feelings are very positive with this update.
First, I almost forgot what Safari was supposed to be. HUGE improvement. Reliable and stable.
I am also happy to see keyboard improvement. It now keeps up with speed of typing, without it having a brain freeze.
Good Job Apple!
I haven't experienced the dictation bug on 8.3 yet. Otherwise, everything has improved significantly, speed and safari wise!
I've been experiencing home button sluggishness, much more than under 8.2, curious. Minor, but interesting. May need to recalibrate
I no longer have to turn quick nav off to enter the passcode on the lock screen on my iPad Air with a bluetooth keyboard.
I like the change to the text informing that actions are available on the rotor, instead of that hole huge message about how to choose an action and double tapping etc, the text now simply says actions available.
After updating my phone, I was checking twitter, when I noticed no latency with voiceover after doing a three finger scroll to the left or right to move through my timelines. I don't know if this is the place for that, but many of the twitter bugs that I've had have been fixed with this update so far..
I have noticed that seemingly in all third party apps not built into the iPhone that if you go to access the status bar the information about how to access the control center and the notification center is always read as an item on the status bar which is annoying, but it isn't read if you go into any of Apples built in apps, and it also isn't an issue on the home screen. In a third party app if you flick on the status bar from your phone signal strength to the right you will find it there to the left of your wifi signal.
I just installed the update, and so far, so good. I am happy that wallpapers are once again described, although I'm pretty sure a couple of the descriptions aren't exactly accurate. In any case, I was able to find and restore the wall paper I used in the days of IOS 7, so am happy about that.
Unfortunately, radio button counts are still broken. No matter which button is selected, VO always says one of one. It's not a deal breaker since the radio buttons are fully functional, but it would be nice to know how many there are and which one you're actually on.
So far as I know, that's the only bug that I've been aware of which is still hanging around. Everything else seems to be working really well.
I've noticed that the female siri voice is significantly improved, but unfortunately, I couldn't hear any such improvements in her male counterpart. So, at least for now, I've switched to female siri just because she seems less robotic. Alex is still my IOS voice of choice.
Well, for whatever they're worth, those are my observations so far.
Hello all. I still find one bug in iOS 8.3. About audio ducking. I think it still don't work correctly. For example, when audio ducking is on, while playing music, the volume of VO is smaller than the volume of the music..
Here's what I've noticed:
1. The issue where interrupting Siri speech could result in VoiceOver speech being turned right down appears to be fixed from my initial testing.
2. An issue where TV show and movie descriptions aren't read in the Videos app appears to be ongoing.
3. The issue Alex Wallis pointed out above (status bar hint text replaces cell network name) isn't absent for all Apple's built-in apps. It appears not to affect App Store, Apple Watch, FaceTime, iTunes Store, Mail, Messages, Phone, Safari, or Settings. All other Apple and 3rd party apps appear to be affected.
4. Screen orientation appears to be a bit wonky. VoiceOver can act as if a device is in portrait mode, but the screen layout is actually in portrait mode. I noticed this particular issue on my iPad 4th generation, it doesn't appear to affect my iPhone 6Plus. However, it appears to be inconsistant on my iPad.
This is one of the very few things I can find a reason to complain about. To me, this should be only spoken if Hints are on. When I started hearing it after doing the update, I checked to see if somehow my Hints setting had changed and they were now on. They are still off.
I'm sure I will get used to it soon enough.
When using a Bluetooth keyboard, I can no longer navigate by headings by pressing H, links by pressing L, etc. I made sure Quick Nav is turned on, but still no luck. I must use the rotor instead, which is much less efficient when using a Bluetooth keyboard.
I like the improvements, but this change is going to be incredibly annoying for me.
Perhaps the characters have always been there but after installing the 8.3 update, I noticed an odd character being read by voiceover for each Facebook status update immediately after the time since the update was posted it sounds like dot product and there is a silent character on either side of this one.
I'm very happy to hear about all of the fixes. I'm still running iOS 7, so I have not had to deal with all of the terrible bugs. I was wondering, how is siri for everyone? My fiancé has had a terrible experience with siri, ever since she had to get an iPhone six. Is everyone experiencing this? I'm running an iPhone five and am going to finally take the plunge to dreaded iOS eight so that I can get the watch. I use siri hundreds of times a day though, so if she does not work well in the latest update I am going to be one unhappy camper.
Hi let me start saying that apple accessibility department has made a very good job on this release.
beside of the features or bugs fixes mentions above I have 2 more things to share
First when use safari and activate the back button or make the scrove gesture voiceOver announce
previous page action
the another one corresponding to my cellular network
Sprint USA carrier now support and offer WiFi calling for some iPhone devices
iPhone 5C, 5S, 6 and 6 Plus
under settings app // Phone // WiFi calling
however all is not happyness voiceOver include one reverse talking about
First letter navigation is broken
Someone had posted about facebook status updates being read oddly by VO on version 8.3. I'm experiencing the same issue. After VO reads the time the status has been posted, VO says "dot product." I checked with rotor in words and characters and "Dot product" was no longer announced. This is kind of annoying because we have to hear "dot product" with every status, pictureds, links shared, etc. But other than that I love the update, especially that the Space Bar with braille screen input works correctly. Good job Apple!
When direct touch typing is active, you can now type in the number entry keypad when adding contacts as intended, and numbers will read out properly as you enter them instead of randomly as before. While dialing in the phone keypad or entering your passcode, however, direct touch does not work as expected and you need to do either a split tap or double tap if direct touch typing is enabled. In addition, a bug where double tapping on a notification in the status bar and then trying to type in a message field leads to Voiceover not recognizing direct touch is still present. This also occurs when an alert, such as battery low or to join a wifi network, has popped up. All in all, a good update, although I hope Apple will continue to work on accessibility bugs.
Hi, I notice that with 8.3, I use the UK voice with VO and it is quite distorted for me Even with the volume down quite a bit. The US voice is a bit distorted as well.
So far im loving this new update. I love how i can use Braille screen input to write on safari now. Im actually writing this comment using it!! I am not a huge fan of the new emoji keyboard though. i'll get used to it eventually. Lol. And im with everybody on the facebook and VO speakin a weird thing after status. Weird. Besides that love this update..
How can you comment on an update you haven't even gotten yet? I've already seen a few comments about this update, and tey have all started with "I haven't gotten this one yet, but" and then they make statements about what they haven't seen. I find comments from people who have downloaded an app or an update far more plausible than those from people who have no first hand knowledge of what they're commenting on.
For those that are having Navigational keys problem. Here is a heads up of how to use it in the iOS 8.3.
Thanks to David Woodbridge for this Tip!
"Just a tip for iOs VoiceOver users with iOS 8.3/Safari, VO+Q to turn single letter navigation on with QuickNav."
Some more good things about the update:
1. I no longer have to turn Quick Nav off to perform keyboard shortcuts like Command-T for new tab, Command-W for close tab, etc. This is probably related to the dropping of first letter navigation, though, so I'm not sure if this is really a good thing.
2. Pressing the Escape key on the Bluetooth keyboard no longer registers twice, a bug that has been around to varying degrees since I first got my iPad and Apple Wireless Keyboard over a year ago. I hope this will also mean the occasional double letter issue when trying text on a BT keyboard is also resolved, but it's too early to tell since that bug was only intermittent.
3. While entering text with a Bluetooth keyboard, VoiceOver no longer echoes the whole text field each time you stop for a couple of seconds. I was never sure if this was intentional or not, but it bugged me.
Some things that are not so good:
1. When Safari finishes loading a webpage, VoiceOver focus is now automatically placed at the beginning of the webpage. This seems like a good thing on the surface, but it is actually quite annoying in at least two situations. The first is when most of the page loads quickly, but a small piece, usually an advertisement, takes a long time to show up. I can be already navigating through the mostly loaded page, then the last little piece comes in and VoiceOver jumps back to the top of the page because it is now finished loading. The second is when a link takes you to the middle of a new page. Safari will initially display the page at the point where the link is intended to go, only to snap back to the top of the page a second later. This is a problem on message boards which offer links to go directly to the first unread post in a topic, for example. Safari on the Mac has the same problem, and now Safari for iOS has it as well.
2. The audio ducking bug is still present. This is when, for some reason, the system audio either remains permanently ducked or fails to duck at all. Turning VoiceOver off and back on remains the only way I know of to work around the issue. I already had the issue happen twice after updating, within a couple of hours of installing the update, which makes me worry that the issue may be worse in this version than it was in iOS 8.2 and 8.1.
3. When I use the arrow keys to navigate up and down within a text field, VoiceOver is not giving me any feedback as to where I am. Also, pressing Shift + Arrow is still not working to select text, at least in Safari, though I don't think that issue is related to accessibility.
Still a lot to check out with this update.
Great update. Love the more actions speech. That, swipe up and down to select an action, then dubble tap to activate was really annoying. When listtening to a book or podcast. Haven't really ran it with facebook yet. Apple, thanks a lot for the accessibility fixs.
This is interesting. I use the Fidelity app for some finances. That did not change today but suddenly the order of some text for your account summary is wrong.
I have changed the numbers to 0 here but this is a copy paste from the app.
TOTAL, DAY CHANGE, $000,000.00, 1-YEAR RETURN, +$000.00 (+0.00%), +0.00%
This all was ordered correctly before the update.
Hello all. I just found may be a bug in path App. When i open the application and i double tap on share moment, usually in iOS 8.2 i can access sleep, share music, photos, etc. But in iOS 8.3 i can't do this. What should i do? If this is a bug, where can i report it? Do you have path developer contacts? Thank you.
the new update is really amazing, however, there is only one simple issue which i hope it gets fixed in the next update. when holding a character to bring its alternative characters, it now takes longer time, may be two seconds, for those characters to appear. usually this was shorter in the previous versions.
BTW, alternative characters are characters that are not on the keyboard itself, they are prevellant in many languages like Arabic and chinese.
Hi! I downloaded the IOS 8.3 update last night, but, as I installed it quite late, I have not been able to test it a great deal yet. Having said that, though, I am mostly happy with what I've seen on my iPhone 6 since I installed this update. I have only used the UK English voice in VoiceOver so far since installing IOS 8.3, and it doesn't sound distorted to me: the male English Siri voice is working well too. I'm also relieved to be able to use the 24-hour clock for times on my iPhone again: I've got so used to that and grew to prefer it because I live in France where it's always used, but for months I had to use AM and PM time due to 24-hour clock times in hourly forecasts not being read correctly in Apple's Weather app. I have not yet used Braille Screen Input since I updated my iPhone last night, but I definitely look forward to the improvements announced above, including deleting whole words which will definitely come in useful. I generally feel positive about this update, but I have spotted two bugs mentioned above, mainly the phone signal indication on the status bar sometimes being replaced by the hint about swiping for the Notification Center and the Control Center, and text being read in a different order than before in some apps: in my case the apps I noticed the reading order bug in were Trivia Crack and DiceWorld, the former swapping round my opponent's level and the score in the current game, the latter saying "good luck, your turn" instead of "your turn, good luck". That reading order bug takes a bit of getting used to, but it's not a deal-breaker, nor is the hint in the status bar being read in the wrong place, although the status bar bug is a worse one in my opinion. Sorry this has turned into a bit of a novel, but I wanted to give my first impressions of IOS 8.3 as others have already done, and I definitely don't regret updating in spite of a few bugs I've found already.
iOS 8.3 seems to have finally fixed the bug which prevented from using the microphone input in native and third party apps when connected to an airplay device. I cannot hide it, Apple worked hard on this error, as they said they could not reproduce it any way; but finally since iOS 8.3 it has definitely been fixed.
I'd invite other Airport express and AppleTV users to confirm me the solution.
Step by step:
1. open control center
2. select Airplay button, and connect to your desired airplay device.
3. turn some music on, so that it plays through airplay speaker or tv if apple tv is the case.
4. press the Home button to turn Siri on, and talk.
Or, in alternative, use Voice dictation in some apps , or use voice messages functionalities in whatsapp or fb messenger.
Don't get confused on whatsapp, as, the dictation functionality seems to have troubles using dictation, independently from airplay or so. Whatsapp is not the best app to use to test this airplay and microphone error fix!
When checking weather hour by hour, in the native weather app, till iOS 8.2 you had the hours from 01:00 to 12:00 to be read correctly, then, 12:00 was read 00:00, such it was midnight, and from 13 to 23 hour was not read.
This problem seems definitely fixed.
To answer the question above about typing with a braille keyboard, no, the stupid full cell still appears and the text input is still a bit sluggish.
The ducking issue may not be entirely fixed, but on my iPhone 6, it is apparently reduced. I have yet to experiences it since updating, and i was getting it frustratingly frequently.
Hello again! I don't know if you all know about this feature or not but here goes! Now Siri can make speaker phone calls for you! For example, you can say call Mom on speaker and Siri will say calling Mom on Speaker and will begin to call using the speaker. This is a nice addition to an already great update!
I do like 8.3. Two small things, though, one of which is a carry over. When you type in braille, say in the messages app, and send a message, the next time you switch to the braille keyboard and type a word, when you swipe for a space, Voiceover repeats the text of the last message you sent instead of the new word you typed. This is only true of the first word. Also, in the music app, if you start a song playing then exit the app, when you double tap on the screen after that, it used to restart the same song. Now, however, it jumps to a completely random song. Just my thoughts. Still like the overall update, however.
This update increases siri responciveness ie. When you say something siri responds more quickly.