Apple has released iOS 16 to the public. This post contains details of the VoiceOver, low vision, and Braille bugs which we believe have been introduced in this release; 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.
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 16 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 16 — 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 below). 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 16:
We are currently aware of only one new issue that we would consider to be serious, and this involves the use of Invert Colors in combination with VoiceOver seemingly causing the App Switcher to not work.
If you have Invert Colors enabled system-wide, you are likely to find that the App Switcher cannot be activated.
If you use per-app settings to enable Invert Colors for specific apps, you will likely find that the App Switcher will stop working when you open one of these apps.
When this issue presents itself, your device will still provide the normal and expected feedback whilst performing the gesture on iPhones without a Home button to activate the App Switcher, but it will not be activated. Additionally, if you have assigned the Back Tap or a touch gesture to activate the App Switcher, these also won't work if you are effected by this issue. If triggered by an app set to use Invert Colors, the behavior will persist until you restart your iPhone. Turning VoiceOver off and then on again does not return the App Switcher to normal behavior.
The App Switcher is believed to work as expected if you use Invert Colors without VoiceOver also enabled.
We have not been able to test whether this issue is also present on iPhones which have a Home button. If you can confirm if this is or is not the case, please let us know in the comments below.
We do not know if they are related issues, but some people have reported problems on iOS 16 with VoiceOver focus whilst using the App Switcher and VoiceOver on occasions behaving as if there are two instances of the same app in the App Switcher.
Our thanks go to Eglė, who enabled us to determine that Invert Colors is the cause of the App Switcher issue.
- When using Live Captions, as new text arrives, a Braille display user is interrupted from where they are currently reading and placed at the start of the line.
- After pressing space with dots 1-7 on a Braille display to emulate the command key, it is no longer possible to follow this up with a letter such as command n.
- On the Now Playing screen in the native Music app, VoiceOver speaks UI elements which are not visually present on screen or actionable. Specifically, all of the Now Playing controls and UI elements are present and work as expected, but when flicking left or right with 1-finger to move VoiceOver focus, VoiceOver's navigation and feedback will wrongly behave as if the UI elements from the Music app screen that you were previously on are also still present on screen. They are not.
- After double-tapping the “Send later” button in the Mail scheduling menu, double-tapping the time does not work to expand the UI element, making the date the only thing that can be edited when scheduling an email with VoiceOver.
- In the Shortcuts app, any list of App Shortcuts provided by a 3rd party app is spoken by VoiceOver as a series of unlabelled buttons
- In Find My, after selecting the “Devices” tab and double-tapping a device, there is sometimes a delay between touching or swiping the screen and VoiceOver speaking the name of the focused element.
- The following editing commands do not work when using a Braille displays keyboard: Select All, Copy, Paste, Undo, and Cut. Based upon our testing, it appears that these commands are only issues on the iPhone SE 2 and iPhone SE 3. If you are encountering these bugs, you can work around them by using the Edit Rotor. Press space with 2-3 until arriving at the edit rotor and then press space with dot 3 or space with dot 6 to get to the option you wish to activate.
- When entering text using a Braille keyboard, pressing dot 8 invokes a menu and does not insert a line break as expected. This bug also appears to only be impacting SE 2 and SE 3 users, and can be worked around by adding space with dots 2-7 to emulate the Option key followed by dot 8, or space with dot 8 if using eight-dot input.
- When using Braille Screen Input in combination with Eloquence, the pauses between characters in contracted symbols — and when using echo in general — are too great to be useful as you need to wait too long for confirmation.
- The “More” menu item is no longer available from the VoiceOver rotor for notifications on the Lock screen or in the Notification Center. Note that the same functionality as previously available from the “More” menu item can still be accessed by performing a long press or 1 finger triple-tap on the notification. The “More” menu item is still available from the rotor on notifications when they display as a temporary banner on the Home screen.
- If you have notification grouping enabled for the Lock Screen, you may on occasions find that a group is not expanded when you double-tap on it. Our experience is that this most commonly happens when there are one or more other groups of notifications below the one that you have double-tapped on. Typically the group will expand if you double-tap it a second time.
- After clearing a single notification from the Lock screen, VoiceOver may behave as if it were still present on screen. Specifically, after using the “Clear” option from the VoiceOver rotor, the notification is visually cleared from the Lock Screen. However, when moving VoiceOver focus by flicking, you may find that VoiceOver navigation and feedback will behave as if the notification is still on screen.
- The “Adjust Value” VoiceOver rotor menu item does not work on the Lock screen audio scrubber. Specifically, when the Now Playing widget is on the Lock Screen, VoiceOver will indicate that you can swipe up or down with 1-finger on the position scrubber to adjust the position. However, this does nothing. You can perform a 1-finger tap and hold, followed by a ‘drag’ to the left or right to move position, but this does not allow for accurate or small changes to the position.
- VoiceOver does not clearly or accurately report the current status of the Focus mode toggle in the Control Center, in particular when it is enabled.
- In Focus mode settings, any existing automation for a Focus mode is announced by VoiceOver as an unlabelled button. Specifically, if you have created triggers for a Focus mode to be automatically enabled — such as at specific time or location — where these are listed in the settings for the Focus Mode, each will be an unlabelled button.
- In the Messages app, the Pin option in the VoiceOver Actions menu does not work. Note that the Unpin option doe does work as expected. As a workaround, you can perform a long press or 1 finger triple-tap on a thread to activate a contextual menu that contains an option to pin the thread.
- When VoiceOver is enabled, keyboard feedback sounds may intermittently disappear whilst typing.
- After entering customization mode on the Lock Screen, there are some UI elements which VoiceOver users can only locate by touch, not flicking. Specifically, there is a page picker and buttons for “Customize” and “Add” which are visually present below each preview of existing Lock screens. If you flick to move VoiceOver focus through the screen, these are not located. However, they can be located by touch. Note that “Customize”, is available from the VoiceOver rotor when focus is on the preview image, whilst the last UI element found by VoiceOver when flicking right is a blank preview that can be double tapped to “Add New Lock screen” and which serves the same purpose as the “Add” button.
- When customising a Lock Screen and dragging a widget to either add it to the Lock Screen or change its position, VoiceOver provides no feedback.
- When customizing a Lock Screen, VoiceOver does not announce the name of the widget that is currently placed in the top slot. However, VoiceOver does speak the names of widgets placed in the other available slots.
- When customising the Lock Screen, VoiceOver will on occasions wrongly behave as if the “Show Notifications” button is on screen and actionable. This appears to only happen if the button was present on the Lock Screen before activating customisation mode.
- When the Activity widget is placed in the top slot on the Lock Screen, VoiceOver will speak its information in the form of “Fitness MoveACCESSIBILITY_MOVE_PROGRESS_LABEL_KILOCALORIESExercise93 minutesStand5 hours out of 12 hours”. Note that the information is spoken correctly if the widget is placed in one of the other available slots.
- When focusing on a note in Notes, there is a rotor action labeled “Share” and another labeled “share button.” The “Share button” action serves the same purpose as the “share” action, making it redundant.
- When viewing a data chart in the native Weather app — for instance the wind or temperature charts for the day — the “Chart Details” VoiceOver rotor menu item does not work. Note the “Describe chart” and “Play audio graph” menu items work as expected.
- In Settings, VoiceOver does not speak the information displayed about devices linked to your Apple ID, such as the serial number and model.
Other Reported Bugs
We recommend that you read the following threads in our forum, as they mention some bugs which have not been encountered or yet reproduced by any of our team so are not included above:
- iOS 16, Should You Update as a VoiceOver User?
- iOS 16 release candidate now available
- Warning about Direct Touch before you update to iOS 16
- VoiceOver Bug in iOS 16.0 That causes Routine Voiceover crashes
- Bugs in IOs 16 that I haven't seen mentioned
- Tom's voice quality in iOS 16
- Messages in iOS 16 - The good and the bad
If you encounter any additional VoiceOver, Braille or low vision bugs in iOS 16, 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 16
Our testing suggests that the following pre-existing accessibility bugs have been resolved or significantly addressed in iOS 16:
- When listening to audio through wireless headphones, you should no longer find that on occasions the volume level drops significantly when the device goes to sleep
- After connecting a USB HID compatible Braille display, there are now acknowledgements that the device is connected
- If a HID compatible Braille display is connected over USB and has had custom commands added through Bluetooth, the custom commands now work with USB
- When a HID compatible Braille display is connected through USB, it is now possible to use contractions which contain a symbol before a letter
- On the Weather app's small widget, the graphic that visually indicates the current weather conditions is now recognized and announced by VoiceOver
- On the Weather app's small widget, the high and low temperature information is no longer spoken twice by VoiceOver
If you encounter any additional fixes or improvements during your own use of iOS 16, please let us know by posting a reply below.
We have been compiling these lists of new bugs for every major iOS release since iOS 7. In our opinion, although iOS 16 introduces a number of new bugs for VoiceOver and Braille users, it should be a stable and usable update for most use cases. 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 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 16. Our announcement posts about yearly major iOS updates usually receive a significant number of helpful 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. You should also accept that not personally experiencing a bug mentioned above or in the comments does not mean that the bug does not exist. As stated above, bugs can be specific to a device, configuration or use case. Telling somebody that the bug they are experiencing does not exist on the basis that you haven't encountered it is not helpful.
Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Apple's Accessibility Team for their timely response to a majority of the bug reports filed by our team during the beta cycle. It continues to be clear from our experience that the Accessibility Team has strived to ensure that iOS offers the best possible experience to blind and low vision users.