iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 have been released to the public. This post contains details of the VoiceOver, low vision, and braille bugs which we believe have been introduced in these releases; as well as details of the pre-existing bugs which we believe to be resolved.
As is our routine practice, each new bug has been given a severity rating; these ratings are based upon what we believe to be the implications for accessing and using features and functionality and the level of impact on the overall user experience, as well as whether or not there is an effective workaround for the issue. However, as these ratings are subjective, it is very possible that they may not reflect your own opinion or use case.
As we always stress, we can make no claims on the completeness or accuracy of our testing. We have only a small team of testers, and it is simply impossible for us to test all devices, configurations, applications, and use cases; this is even more important to note now as Apple's ecosystem continues to expand and the number of possible device configurations increases. Some of the bugs listed below will be specific to a certain device, configuration or use case. Consequently, it is entirely likely that you will not encounter all of what we list; and it is also probable that you will encounter bugs or regressions that we did not identify during our testing.
We strongly recommend that you read through this post and any replies before updating—as this will allow you to make an informed decision on whether to install iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 at the current time or to wait for a future release.
To help us ensure that the information on this page is as complete and accurate as possible, we would appreciate feedback from those who have installed iOS 15 or iPadOS 15 —both to confirm whether they are encountering the same problems (or have found workarounds), as well as to let us know of any additional issues that are not on this list. Of course, it’s even more important that you let Apple know of any additional bugs that you find (they already know about the ones currently listed here and are actively working on resolving them). This post explains why you should report bugs directly to Apple, as well as the best ways to do so.
With all of the preamble out of the way, here are the new bugs for blind and low vision users which we believe to be present in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15:
- Apple Wallet will crash if you attempt to use any card, ticket, or pass other than the first one listed. For some people the crash will be immediate, for others it only occurs if you perform a swipe gesture after activating the other card. As a workaround for those who encounter an immediate crash, our experience suggests that whilst on this screen you should be able to use “Move up” from the VoiceOver rotor on the desired card, ticket or pass to temporarily move it to the top of the list. Unfortunately, in our own testing, this process hasn't always behaved as expected or been reliable.
- The Wallet app crashes if you use the swipe gesture to navigate through cards, tickets, and passes listed on the main window of the app. As a workaround, our experience suggests that you can still explore the screen by touch and then activate the desired card.
- The time picker used when creating or editing a scheduled Screen time downtime or app limit is not accessible with VoiceOver. Specifically, if you navigate to Settings > Screen Time > Downtime and enable “Scheduled”, the picker used to set the start and end times is not accessible, as is the picker used with setting app limits.
- The Apple One subscription screen is not accessible with VoiceOver. Specifically, if you do not currently subscribe to Apple One and go to your Subscriptions screen through the App Store or Settings app, and then select the button to view the Apple One bundle options, the text on the page is not read by VoiceOver and most of the UI elements are either unlabelled or have meaningless labels.
- if you have Safari configured so that its address bar is at the top of the screen, you cannot use a bluetooth keyboard or braille display to enter text in to the address bar.
- VoiceOver may not speak the names of apps when moving focus through the App Switcher. This issue can be resolved by disabling Reduce Motion at Settings > Accessibility > Motion.
- Listen for “Hey Siri” typically does not work as expected when voiceOver is enabled and your device locked.
- There are no braille display commands for the following, and no options for assigning these commands with a braille display keyboard: Quick Settings, moving in and out of Grouped navigation, or locking the screen.
- When composing a lengthy email with the Apple Mail app using a braille display, random words will be inserted in the incorrect place.
- It is not possible to edit existing alarms in the native Clock app when VoiceOver is enabled. For now, the simplest workaround is to use the VoiceOver rotor's Action menu to delete the alarm, and then recreate it with the desired configuration.
- When attempting to add an existing photo to a message in the Messages app, the grid of available photos cannot be located or navigated by swiping, only by touch. Specifically, after double tapping on the button for the Photos app on the message composition window, a grid of available photos is displayed on the bottom part of the screen. This cannot be located by swiping. You can, however, locate by touch each photo in the grid, but having located one by touch you cannot then swipe to the next or previous photo.
- It can be difficult to access the multi-tasking controls on iPad with VoiceOver after opening the menu. Specifically, the multitasking controls button is accessed in the status bar. However once selected, VoiceOver does not indicate that the menu is open, and you cannot simply swipe to enter the open menu. Instead you need to move off the status bar, and return to it to find the controls.
- The window which shows you the available hardware keyboard commands on iPad does not work correctly with VoiceOver. Specifically, you can press and hold the Command key or the Globe key + M to bring up a window displaying all of the currently available keyboard commands. This window is arranged into columns, with headings such as System and Multitasking. While VoiceOver does read all elements in the window, it does not follow this column or table structure and the buttons don’t have a clear affect.
- VoiceOver does not announce the selection status when adding people or apps to the allowed notifications list of a Focus mode.
- When the Safari toolbar is collapsed to the bottom of the screen, VoiceOver finds UI elements which are not visually present and consequently do not behave as expected. Specifically, when you have Safari configured so that the address bar and toolbar are located at the bottom of the screen, you can use the VoiceOver rotor to ‘collapse’ this so that only the address bar is visually displayed. However, when swiping, VoiceOver will locate the controls such as ‘Tabs’ and ‘Share’ which are located on the now visually hidden toolbar. When double tapping on one of these ‘ghost’ buttons, instead of performing the expected function, the toolbar is expanded.
- When using drag and drop to rearrange the position of a shortcut in the Shortcuts app, VoiceOver does not provide meaningful feedback whilst dragging regarding where the shortcut will be placed when dropped. Specifically, when in a folder of shortcuts and dragging a shortcut to a different position, as the shortcut is dragged VoiceOver announces feedback of its current position in the form of “Before Null” and “After Null”, where “Null’ should be the name of a shortcut.
- When viewing an interactive notification from the Mail app, the context menu items “Delete” and “Mark Read” may on occasions not function when located by swiping. In these cases, performing a 3-finger swipe up on the screen appears to ‘drag’ these items in to view, which makes them work as expected..
- After using “More” from the VoiceOver rotor's Action menu on a notification, VoiceOver users can locate when swiping UI elements which are not present visually on screen and do not behave as expected. Typically, this will be other UI elements which are on the Lock Screen or Notification Center such as notifications or playback controls. When double tapping on one of these ‘ghost’ UI elements, instead of performing the expected behavior, the interactive view of the selected notification will be dismissed.
- When selecting the second app for a split screen setup on iPad, VoiceOver does not tell you if an app you're selecting does not in fact support multi-tasking. Specifically, after selecting the split screen option in the multi-tasking menu, you are returned to your Home Screen to select the app you want to share the screen with. Some apps are not supported, and if selected will simply open in full screen, but VoiceOver gives no indication of which apps are and are not supported.
- Pressing and briefly holding the Globe key on a hardware keyboard to bring up the list of keyboard commands does not work properly when VoiceOver is enabled. Specifically, the Globe key, or FN on some keyboards, is now used as a modifier key. Pressing it while VoiceOver is disabled brings up a list of available keyboard commands. With VoiceOver enabled, it only briefly pops up and disappears again.
- When using a hardware keyboard with an iPad, pressing Globe/FN + Control + Option activates the keyboard hints window, which is conflicting with the VoiceOver command to go to the first or last item when combined with the left or right arrow key. Specifically, as well as pressing and holding Command, or Pressing Globe + M to bring up the keyboard commands window, pressing Globe + Control + option does so too. Pressing these keys combined with the left and right arrow keys should take VoiceOver to the first or last item, and so the two commands are in conflict. Making sure to press down Control + Option first appears to help.
- When selecting shortcuts in a folder in the Shortcuts app, VoiceOver does not speak the selection status of shortcuts. Specifically, when you have activated Edit mode and chosen “Select Shortcuts” from the context menu, VoiceOver will not announce when a shortcut has already been selected when you place focus on to it.
- The button used to clear the Safari address bar is labelled “Close” rather than “Clear Text”.
- When using the emoji search facility to find and insert an emoji in to a text field, when you double-tap on the desired emoji it will be inserted but rather than announcing the title of the emoji, VoiceOver will speak the last character that you typed in to the search field.
- On the Power Off / Medical ID / Emergency Call screen, VoiceOver finds and speaks erroneous elements such as the word “Call” and the phrase “location.fill.radiowaves.left.and.right iPhone Findable After Power Off Forward” if invoked when you have an open app in the foreground.
- On the Weather app's small widget, the high and low temperature information is spoken twice by VoiceOver. What's announced will be something similar to: “Check The Weather Widget LocationName, ,, 18°, , High of 19°, Low of 12°, High of 19°, Low of 12°.”
- On the Weather app's small widget, the graphic that visually indicates to sighted users the current weather conditions is not recognised or announced by VoiceOver.
- On iPod touch only, the option to show or hide Reader view is missing from the VoiceOver rotor's Action menu in Safari.
Additionally, we are aware of three issues that effect users of USB HID braille displays. The USB HID industry standard was announced in May 2018 with Apple being involved in its drafting, but Apple platforms may not yet officially support the standard.
- After connecting a supported USB HID braille display via USB and then locking the screen, braille input and output stops.
- If a HID-compatible braille display is connected over USB and has had custom commands added through Bluetooth, the custom commands do not work with USB.
- After connecting a USB HID-compatible braille display, there are no options or acknowledgements within the braille menu that this device is connected.
Other Reported Bugs
The following bugs have not been encountered by any of our team, but we are aware of them being experienced by others:
- VoiceOver may not speak the labels of all Actions available on the system-wide share sheet. We understand that when this occurs, VoiceOver will simply announce “activity” for the share sheet action rather than its title.
- viphoana reports below that there is a serious issue in the Shortcuts app: “If you want to edit shortcuts using magic variables it became impossible with voice over. You can select the button to "add magic variable" but then none can be located. Adding normal variables in some actions is also impossible.”
If you encounter any additional VoiceOver, braille, or low vision bugs in iOS 15 or iPadOS 15, please let others know by posting a reply below. When doing so, please provide as much information as possible so that others know exactly what to expect; when and where the problem occurs; and any possible workarounds you have found.
Accessibility Improvements in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15
Our testing suggests that the following pre-existing accessibility bugs have been resolved or significantly addressed in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15:
- Using Full Keyboard Access in conjunction with VoiceOver no longer causes issues with VoiceOver focus.
- When editing text that contains line breaks using a braille display, the cursor which is represented by dots 7 and 8 will no longer occasionally disappear after a cursor routing button is pressed.
- The Misspelled Words rotor option now appears to work consistently and as expected in the Notes and Mail apps.
- On the Lock Screen and Notification Center, VoiceOver once again Speaks the Total Duration Time That's Visually Present on the Playback Control Timeline Slider.
- If using VoiceOver, it is now possible from the Account settings page of the Music app to revoke access to your account for apps or services which currently have access.
- The Next-Hour Precipitation Data in the Native Weather App is Now Accessible with VoiceOver.
- On the native Weather widget, VoiceOver no longer speaks the word “degrees” twice.
- VoiceOver now appears to be consistent in announcing the time when waking your device.
- VoiceOver now appears to be consistent in announcing the number of any notifications when waking your device.
If you encounter any additional fixes or improvements during your own use of iOS 15 or iPadOS 15, please let us know by posting a reply below.
Changes in Functionality or Behavior
As is common with major operating system updates, Apple has made some changes in functionality or behaviour in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. As sometimes these types of changes may not be discovered by some or can reasonably be mistaken as bugs, below are a list of the notable changes we are currently aware of:
- One change in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 that we understand is by design rather than being a bug, is that VoiceOver will announce when a Focus mode is automatically enabled or disabled (for example at a scheduled time). This occurs even if you have speak notifications disabled and your device is asleep. If, like us, you believe that this is not the preferred or expected behavior, we would encourage you to email Apple's Accessibility Team and ask that they reconsider the current implementation.
- A new feature on iPad is Quick Notes. Regardless of what you're doing on your iPad, you can access an existing note or a new note quickly via a number of methods - using an Apple Pencil or hardware keyboard, via the Control Center, or by mimicking the move of the Apple Pencil by swiping up from the bottom right corner. Currently, the last of these does not work with VoiceOver, but VoiceOver users can assign the “Quick Note” action to any Touch Gesture they prefer from Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Commands > Touch Gestures.
- A nice addition to Safari is that VoiceOver users can now perform a 3-finger swipe down on the top part of a webpage to perform a page refresh.
If you know of other changes which you believe should be included here, please let us know by posting a comment below.
We have been compiling these lists of new bugs for every major iOS release since iOS 7. In our opinion, although iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 introduce a number of new bugs for VoiceOver and braille users, they should be stable and usable updates for most use cases. One exception would be if you frequently use Apple Wallet with a selection of cards; tickets; and passes, in which case you may wish to delay updating. Reports from others in our community also indicate that the Shortcuts app has serious accessibility issues when creating or editing some shortcuts.
However, there are certain to be more issues discovered and shared; so, if you haven't already upgraded, we would strongly recommend that you take a few moments to read through any replies to this post before doing so. You may also want to consider that in recent years Apple has typically fixed a significant number of VoiceOver and braille bugs in the first couple of updates to follow major iOS and iPadOs releases.
When posting in the comments, we ask that you please keep discussion on-topic and related specifically to accessibility bugs introduced or resolved in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. In the past, our announcement posts about yearly major iOS updates usually receive a significant number of replies; making it all the more important that readers be able to quickly navigate through the comments to find the information they need. Additionally, when posting, please remember that the decision about whether or not to install a software update is personal; and that everyone's situation is different and there is no right or wrong answer. Posts criticizing others on their upgrade decisions are not constructive and do nothing to add to the discussion.
Finally, we want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Apple's Accessibility Team for their timely response to most of the bug reports filed by our team during the beta cycle. As always, it's been clear from our experience that the Accessibility Team has strived to ensure that iOS and iPadOS offer the best possible experience to blind and low vision users.