VoiceOver custom actions, preferred or not?

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iOS & iPadOS

When browsing over something like a newsfeed, which has a title, time, byline, content, and maybe some other controls such as Like or Comment, do you prefer that VoiceOver read out each element separately? Or would you prefer the whole item to be read aloud and the possible actions be put in "Actions Available"?

I think Actions Available approach is preferred by most so it's easy to skip over articles quickly. I can take 5 or more swipes to get past an article. If I use the Custom Actions approach, all of the elements will be assembled and read as one element, which is much more convenient if you use Custom Actions.

I'm just concerned that perhaps there's some proportion of people who don't have the custom actions rotor item enabled. I don't think it's on by default.

Is this a valid concern or is it pretty much everyone who turns it on by default? I suspect there are people who don't know about the rotor. I certainly didn't when I was first getting acquainted with VoiceOver.

Facebook and Mail rely on Custom Actions so I think it would be reasonable to assume that it's probably the best practice.

Thanks for your input!

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Comments

Submitted by roxtar on Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Thanks for taking the time to ask this question. I absolutely prefer the entire article or post be combined into one element and make use of the rotor for custom actions. Twitterrific is an example of this being done well All the actions you may want to do for any given tweet is right there on the rotor, and the tweets themself are one element. This allows for very quick navigation of the timeline. Hope this helps.

Submitted by cat_lover on Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I personally love it when app developers take advantage of the custom rotor actions thing. It really does speed things up, and keeps things a lot less cluttered. I do believe it's shown by default, too. If you're creating an app and want to take advantage of this, maybe a brief blurb in the app documentation just letting users know that actions may be available. The biggest thing isn't so much that people don't have the option enabled, but rather that they turn off hints, so don't think to check what's available to them.

Submitted by Dawn on Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I had no idea about the rotor either. I'm unsure of how it is on other people's devices, but I got mine, and the actions on the rotor was alread on by default. Personally, I like when it says actions available. It just makes my life easier and I don't have to feel overwhelmed if Im in a knew app and figuring it out, and it has an actions available in it. I'll say this. Once I got the hang of the rotor, there were a lot of things that made sense andthat I could do. It was like: `O! So that's how you do that!` I was first told about this thing called the rojor, and I remember thinking: `Wait what? What's this thing called a rotor?` And I have to say, when I went looking in the rotor settings, I was amazed at the amount of options you could tuhn on/off!

Submitted by Weather Gods (Scott) on Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I'm still mulling over having custom actions for the rotor in Weather Gods.

If anyone has any ideas on the actions they might like to see then please let me know.

Currently I have a few ideas:

- list of favourites - goto a favourite
- list of recent places - goto a recent place
- list of gods - jump straight to a specific god time line

Submitted by Piotr Machacz on Wednesday, August 2, 2017

99% of the time I think actions are awesome. Twitterriffic, Mail, or WhatsApp are all examples of actions really speeding up the workflow for VoiceOver (one reason why triaging a lot of Email is soooo much faster on iOS than it is on Android). I've only really seen 1 or 2 instances where having actions just caused more confusion, specifically the YouTube app where the option to subscribe to a channel was hidden behind an action for some reason, even though other video controls IE Like/Dislike were just still there on-screen as buttons. An even more extreme example is Google Allo, which not only has actions for features hidden behind menus, but also makes use of the 2-finger double-tap gesture to interact with a message, IE to download an attachment. And just double-tapping on it does nothing so it took me a long time to figure out how to get to it.

In any case, actions are great, especially in the context you mentioned with buttons next to every item in a long list. IMO it's one of the things that makes doing a lot of things much faster on iOS.