The Top 10 Things I’d like in iOS 10

Introduction

I’m looking forward to our usual pre-WWDC discussion here on the blog. This post continues a tradition I started when I founded Mosen Consulting in 2013, where just ahead of the big iOS reveal at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, I write down my wish list for the latest iOS and open up the discussion to read what you’re hoping for.

Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, WWDC, kicks off with the keynote at 10 AM US Pacific time on Monday 13 June. That’s 1 PM eastern, 6 PM in the UK, and bright and early on 14 June in New Zealand at 5 AM. If Apple follows its usual tradition, the first beta of iOS 10 will be in the hands of developers immediately after the keynote. It is likely to be available to those in the wider Apple beta program sometime later.

This post is written from my perspective as a blind person who uses VoiceOver, the screen reader that has made the iPhone a powerful productivity tool even when you can’t see the screen. Some of the features are blindness-specific, while some are not.

Here are 10 changes I’d like to see in iOS10 that, for me, would make a great user experience even better.

1. Braille

As a frequent Braille user and a staunch proponent, this one makes my list for the fourth year in a row. Braille is a critical tool for independence, productivity, study and employment. Of the mainstream mobile devices with accessibility options, Apple’s Braille support is the best, but when you compare what’s currently available on Android, that really isn’t saying much. Input for those who prefer to use contracted Braille is still unorthodox. With iPads often being used in the classroom, it’s important that those of us who feel passionately about Braille don’t let up on this until it’s fixed. Many tech-savvy adults can learn to work around the idiosyncrasies if we must. But we should not be teaching kids bad Braille habits as they are learning.

It should be possible to route the cursor to somewhere in the middle of a word, insert a correction, and immediately read the result without any convoluted work-arounds.

With an operating system and screen reader as mature as iOS and VoiceOver now are , it’s time to separate Braille from speech, so that Braille is more than just a tactile mirror of what the speech says, or would say if it weren’t muted. Imagine the productivity benefits of being able to separate the Braille cursor from the VoiceOver speech. This could be a phenomenal feature in iPad with its split screen capability. You could be referring to something on your Braille display on one side of the screen, while working with speech in another app on the other side of the screen.

Although Braille support in OS X, the operating system powering Macs, is also fairly rudimentary, one Braille feature it has that iOS does not is the ability to change the function of the special keys on your Braille display. In my dream of a significant Braille overhaul, this would also be in iOS 10, so I can reverse the panning buttons as is my preference.

Apple has made some improvements to Braille over the years, my favourite of which arrived in iOS 8 with the ability to turn pages automatically when reading eBooks. I use this feature a lot, and it’s a joy. But serious deficits remain, and I hope they’ll be addressed this year. The abundance of new Braille note taking devices at CSUN this year shows that Apple has failed to kill off the note taker. They have their own poor Braille implementation to blame for that.

2. Siri

This year marks the fifth birthday of Siri on iOS. Where I live in New Zealand at least, your fifth birthday is usually when you start school. That’s appropriate, because Siri has much to learn.

I bought an iPhone 4S in 2011 when my original intension was to wait for an iPhone 5, specifically because I was excited about Siri. Those of us who go back that far in the iOS world may remember that before Apple bought Siri, Siri was a third-party app, available like any other from the App Store. Apple then bought it, and turned it into what one of Siri’s original creators described as a “glorified chat bot”.

When Siri was unveiled in 2011, Apple gave it a beta designation. And for a beta, it was pretty good. We were wowed not so much by what it was doing then, but the promise of what it might do in future. In my view it has yet to deliver. Clearly, software developers had taken the time to program in some quirky responses that gave it some personality. Even five years later, new responses are being added. They’re ultimately discovered, and go viral on social media. The “what is 0 divided by 0” question is probably the biggest in recent times.

That’s all fun, and we all need fun in our lives, but it’s kind of getting old when Google’s assistant continues to increase the intelligence gap, and Amazon Echo is showing us what’s possible when a personal assistant is truly smart.

Siri is lagging behind in many critical areas. Studies have shown that speech recognition is quite high with both assistants but generally better with Google. And if you’ve asked questions of both personal assistants, you’ll be familiar with how often Siri responds with, “I’ve found something on the web, take a look”. Google, on the other hand, is far more likely to give you a precise answer to a question using its text-to-speech engine. Not only is this convenient for VoiceOver users who don’t have to flick around the screen looking for the answer from the web, but it’s also of benefit to drivers who want information and don’t want to take their eyes off the road.

I use Siri frequently to open apps and dictate messages, because I have no choice under Apple’s locked down model, where you can’t at present change default applications. But I’ve become so disappointed with the lackluster response Siri gives to questions that I find myself always using Google for such things now.

My view is that just as touch has dominated the last nine years, voice will dominate the next decade as it becomes a more viable method for a truly efficient, intelligent means of accessing information and asking complex questions. Technologies like Amazon Echo are demonstrating what’s possible. Forget 0 divided by 0. Being able to order a specific item of food for delivery, or asking for another box of those protein bars I bought last month, saves time and is truly useful.

Siri’s creators have left Apple, disenchanted with the narrow implementation of their technology, and are developing their own personal assistant, Viv. It sounds like everything Siri should have been by now, as this Washington Post article explains.

There are a couple of measures critical to making Siri competitive again.

First, Siri has to be liberated from Apple’s exclusive control through an application programming interface (API). Android already has an API for its voice search. That’s one of the things that makes it more useful, and seem more intelligent, to the end user. I want to be able to tell Siri to play a specific radio station on TuneIn, to open a particular book I have in Voice Dream, to play a piece of music from my Synology Nas. If I have an app for my local taxi company installed, I want to be able to tell Siri to book a taxi to pick me up at home at 8 AM tomorrow. With a good API, the possibilities are huge.

But the API is now only part of what’s required to make Siri competitive. I want to be truly stunned by Siri with a kind of wow factor that Viv is promising to deliver. I want to be able to say to Siri, “show me the cheapest flights from Boston to Los Angeles between noon and 5 PM on 16 August. I want to be read the list, and to be able to say, “book that one with my business credit card”. I want to be able to have my intelligent assistant do things that it’s hard for me to do on the web, like “show me Indian restaurants within 5 KM of my office that aren’t too noisy and offer a kids’ menu”.

This is a complex subject. Apple has some of the best minds in technology working for it, and I think some of the questions that may be holding Siri back are ethical ones. I take comfort from the great care Apple appears to take with my personal data. I feel I have a clear understanding of how my data is used, and who has access to it. Google is doing some pretty slick stuff, as will Viv in future, but at what cost to privacy? No doubt Apple is thinking about how it can extend Siri’s capabilities to third-parties, while at least giving consumers a clear choice, and a clear understanding of the implications of doing so.

Apple has been hiring, and acquiring technologies, in this area. Perhaps iOS 10 is where we’ll see Apple once again leap ahead of the pack, or at least get back up to speed with it.

3. Good Vibrations

There’s an old song called “Little Things Mean a Lot”. This one is a little thing that, in my experience as a trainer, would make a big difference. iDevices give no non-visual indication at all that they are starting up. I’d like to see iDevices that are capable of vibrating emit a vibration the moment the device starts to power up.

I have seen many people have immense difficulty learning how long to hold down the power button on their iDevice to get it to start up.

If you have the iPhone connected to a power source, you’ll get a vibration when the phone has finished booting into iOS, but that timing issue with the power button is a big deal for a lot of people.

Vibrating at power up would be handy when you’re troubleshooting and you can’t see the screen, since it can sometimes be hard to know whether your device is completely dead or just not fully booting into the operating system.

4. Notification Interrupt Toggle

I don’t own any specialized blindness reading device. I do now own a Kindle, but I just find the ability to have all my content on the device that’s always in my pocket too compelling to use anything else on an ongoing basis. The only downside I have found is the lack of control I have of notifications. It makes for a distracting, disjointed experience to be reading a book, only to be interrupted on a regular basis with notifications. When a notification comes in, VoiceOver stops what it’s reading, speaks at least part of the notification, and then if you’re lucky, resumes reading. You can get around this to some extent by using the Speak Screen feature. This is an option separate from VoiceOver, which will read continuously in iBooks and Kindle. It’s not a perfect solution though, because while notifications no longer interrupt speech, they will speak at the same time as the book you’re reading unless you toggle VoiceOver’s speech off. Speak Screen may also not always work well for longer articles in some third-party apps.

You can of course put your device in Do Not disturb mode, but then you may not be alerted to notifications you need to know about.

I’d like a setting, available on the rotor and in VoiceOver settings, to be able to specify whether notifications interrupt what’s being read. This would be particularly useful to those of us who make extensive use of custom tones. All the important people in my life have unique ring tones and text alerts. I have a special sound assigned to VIP email. So all this means that when a notification comes in that I know I may want to look at right away, the tone will tell me I should stop reading my book and check my notification. When I hear other alert sounds, I know that they can keep until I want to take a break from my book. It sure would beat being interrupted all the time.

5. Do Not Disturb Improvements

Speaking of notifications, I’d like Do Not Disturb to offer me more flexibility. Currently, I can choose to have Do Not Disturb enabled, but to allow phone calls from my favourites. I’d like also to allow texts and email from my favourites, as well as to be notified of VIP mail. All these features would be toggles.

I’d also like to be able to set up Do Not Disturb profiles that could be enabled at different times. For example, at night when I sleep, do not disturb allows calls from family members in the case of an emergency, thanks to them being in my favourites. But there are other occasions, such as when I’m in a meeting, doing a radio show or recording audio, where I don’t want to be interrupted by anyone. I’d like to be able to tell Siri, “I’m in a meeting”, and have the appropriate profile loaded.

6. Keyboard Access for Everyone

In its attempt to convince us that iPad really can be a viable PC replacement, many more keyboard shortcuts were added to iOS 9. Unfortunately, some of these keys are only available when using an iPad. This seems like an arbitrary and punitive decision on Apple’s part. Many blind people own iPhones, and don’t see a need to own an iPad since they don’t perceive a benefit from the larger screen. However, they’d benefit immensely from more keyboard shortcuts. At least when VoiceOver is running, all keyboard shortcuts should be available on all devices. And I’d like to see Apple pack their apps with useful keyboard shortcuts, clearly documenting what they are. When you look at the absolute joy Twitterific now is to use, it shows you what’s possible with thoughtful and methodical keyboard support.

While talking about the keyboard, how cool it would be if you could assign the activation of a specific button on a screen to keyboard commands.

7. File Management.

Last year, I bought Bonnie a new iPhone 6 Plus, because it supported more bands and would work better when she visited her family in the US. This left her old iPhone 5s free, which I offered to my Android-using son. He agreed to give it a shot, since he’s the only one in our family who doesn’t use an iThing.

He’d given it back to me in an hour in disgust. The deal breaker for him right off was his inability to just work with files. He wanted to be able to create a folder, copy music into it, and play that music with the app of his choice. I explained to him the benefits of sandboxing and working through iTunes. He laughed at me and said he just wanted to copy his data and use his phone the way he wanted to.

A few months later, Tim Cook told us that the iPad Pro was a PC replacement. To me, it will never be, unless it has a proper file manager so I can create folders in the structure I want, copy files to those folders without iTunes, browse those folders and open files from the file manager.

We’re some of the way there with Apple’s nifty iCloud Drive app, which has created the user interface for browsing files and folders independent of apps.

8. Text-to-Speech API.

Speech is a subjective thing, so the more choice of text-to-speech engine people have, the better. Android allows you to install system-wide voices that can be used by any application. It would be good to see Apple offer this feature as well. Imagine being able to use all those cool voices you bought for Voice Dream Reader with VoiceOver itself.

Not only would such an API increase the range of voices available to VoiceOver, but it could also save precious storage space. Many blind people are on a tight budget, can’t afford high-capacity devices, and need every bit of storage they can get. Yet people find themselves in the crazy position of having multiple copies of several voices because each app must use its own copy of the voice. Some of those voices can take up a lot of space.

9. Continuous Reading Improvements

There are a number of enhancements to the iOS continuous reading function, the two-finger flick-down, that would further improve it.

I like to read my Twitter timeline in proper chronological order. Reading from the most recent tweet backwards doesn’t give you the sense of a story unfolding. When I read my Twitter timeline this way, I need to do it manually, flicking through each tweet, because there’s no way of reading continuously up the screen. This feature would make a real difference in a number of apps that put the most recent item at the top of the screen.

The most significant source of energy consumption on the iPhone is the screen. We can improve battery life by turning down the brightness, mine is usually set at 0. Contrary to popular belief, having screen curtain on has no positive impact on battery life. Since we don’t need the screen when continuously reading, it would be wonderful if technology could be developed allowing us to lock the screen while continuously reading. This would also eliminate the hassle of accidentally tapping the screen when reading continuously, causing the reading to stop and our place to be lost.

Finally, I’d like to be able to flick up, down, left and right to navigate by elements such as sentence and paragraph, without interrupting reading. You could still use a two-finger tap, or even perhaps the magic tap, to stop reading.

10. Pronunciation Dictionary

This is another one that makes the list for the fourth year running, and it’s such a fundamental screen reading feature that I really don’t know why it isn’t there already. It would be nice to have control over the way my speech pronounces New Zealand place names, and the names of friends that the TTS nicely mangles. Ideally, you could choose to apply the rule to all voices, or just the currently active one.

Your Turn

That’s my list, and no matter what Apple has in store, I’ll be covering it in detail in my next book, “iOS 10 Without the Eye”. I’m sure that there will be some features not in this list that will make a big difference. Would you also like to see any of these features, and what’s important to you personally that I haven’t included?

I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts in the comments.

25 Comments

  1. Michael Marshall

    I have only been using iOS since May 21 of this year but i agree with you 100%. Pronunciation dictionary for me is the most aggravating missing feature. File management for me is also very important.

  2. Jay Pellis

    Agree with file manager. Most of my music is in artist/album folders with barely any tags in the files because I started my music collection back in the 90’s when tags weren’t really a thing. Hoping any drives connected to my router or the use of a NAS could play these properly. Also agree with do not disturb. Have been wanting text messages to come through since it was introduced.

  3. Simon

    This is possibly radical, but I want calls to stop being so front and center to the entire iOS experience; particularly on iPads and iPods. I want a call to come in the way any other notification comes in, rather than ruthlessly killing my app of choice. Obviously this should be configurable, since many people use their phones as phones more than anything else. More than that, I’d like to see the audio system become capable of running more than one app simultaneously. What if I want to listen to music as well as a book? What if I want to listen to music while I navigate with blindsquare–an app which entirely takes over the audio system when launched?
    I agree with a lot of these. In 2014, I’m pretty sure I commented on the ridiculousness of not including a pronunciation dictionary. Now I’m commenting on it again. How could such a fundamental feature be missing? VoiceOver doesn’t even obey phonetic name fields.
    This is a minor irritation, and more of a bug than a feature, but you mentioned the Braille issues here so I think this is where it belongs: Since iOS 5 and the introduction of the punctuation setting, VoiceOver has *never* handled sentences properly when punctuation is set to none. It literally skips over sentence endings and possibly commas as well. I’ve e-mailed accessibility several times and discussed this at length, with no result. To let such a simple bug stay for four years is simply unacceptable. I’m fairly certain VoiceOver still announces quotation marks at the very end of sentences when punctuation is set to most, thanks to a bad regular expression. Both things need to be fixed immediately.

    How long do you think it will take Code Factory to put Eloquence on iOS if the speech API becomes a reality?

    • Jonathan Mosen

      Thanks Simon, yes, if Eloquence were available, I’d be firing up that App Store right away. It would make such a difference.

  4. Dave

    Nice list, I especially appreciate that Braille tops the list!

    Siri definiotely needs to be smarter. Yes, it does some conversions, but only the ones it thinks you mean. Forget about 0 divided by 0. Suppose you want to convert 29.94 Inches to millibars, which you do if you’re concerned about weather. Well, Siri will always think you mean millimetres. Google, on the other hand, does what you want every time, despite additional steps needed to invoke it.

    Totally with you on the voices. I’m still looking for a reading voice for VO that will equal James in VDR, but Eloquence would actually be my first choice, if only…..

  5. David

    I have long thought about obtaining an iPhone and was waiting to see what the 7 model is going to be like. I’d then decide to either buy that or get the model one level down. I like that Mr. Mosen has advocated for more Braille options. I would hope one day to be able to feel some sort of tactile impression on the screen, possibly created with new technology that could let one have a sense by feel of the screen, the audio is decent, but does take me time to work with. Off course, the CUI, or Conversational User Interface, would be better, bring it on. Yes!

    I thought I read something about technology that would let a blind person feel changes in the screen by means of some sort of signal, not an actual change in the screen’s chemical make-up.

    And yes, to Siri, that needs major work! I don’t care to ask Siri the price of gould per ounce and be taken to a website. I can do that with Google myself.

    I look forward to hearing Mr. Mosen’s report of the conference. Best

    • Vivien

      Being able to feel what’s happening on the screen would be precisely one of the wow factors that would make me finally seriously consider these devices – be they iOS, Android or whatever else! Braille and/or other tactile/haptic feedback should be *built *into the device, and no, I don’t feel it’s acceptable to have to carry or bolt on some additional device or overlay, be it a Braille display and/or those tactile overlays one can purchase from Speeddots. Indeed, why can’t Apple just bite the bullet and at least give us a proper physical keypad, at least for dialling?

  6. Michael Marshall

    Another thing I would like to see in the latest update and i suppose this is more a bug now but the phone randomly playing music from my library is a strange and very annoying thing that must be fixed. now i am using an old iPhone 4S that was given to me by a friend but i have spoken to people on the 6 who say this is a little annoying. also, where is even a simple word processor? i could be wrong but i have not found anything like even text edit on the phone and i do not have to use notes all the time to jot something down. one more thing, can’t they put settings for each app well… in the app instead of you having to go to settings all the time? Siri also needs a lot of work, i have lost count of the number of times i have asked for something only to get this responce, “i don’t understand but i can check the web for the frase that i said”

    • Ed Green

      Hi Michael. Double tapping with two fingers can start and stop music from the library, so it’s easy to inadvertently turn it on when doing things like hanging up a call if there is a delay in the call disconnecting and you repeat the gesture.

  7. Afik Sofir

    Jonathan,
    i’m agree with the list 100%
    about the Braille, in Israel we have just the 6-dots table, as all Braillist know the 8-dots is much easier.

  8. Clare Page

    I agree with several things in this wish list, namely wanting Siri to be more intelligent, being able to read in Kindle and iBooks without interruption and possibly even without having to switch on Speak Screen, wanting to have all voices usable everywhere in IOS regardless of what app they were downloaded with, and the need for a speech dictionary. Although my use of braille on IOS is minimal, as I have no compatible display and just use Braille Screen Input, I totally understand the wish of more frequent braille users that Apple’s implementation of braille should improve. Better file management could also be useful, as well as the possibility of being able to listen to more audio formats without needing an extra app to do so.

  9. Sebby

    Good list, as usual. As always, I especially agree with braille support, but also +1 to a proper TTS API, non-discriminatory screen locking (videos, continuous reading while locked), “good vibrations”, across-the-board keyboard shortcuts and a proper file system. To be sure, reconciling an uncomplicated UI and a file system is a difficult problem, but it’s one Apple must solve if they seriously want to contend that the iPad Pro is a bona fide post-PC device. And the figures prove that: in the UK, it’s Microsoft’s Surface that’s winning the race in business. Well, duh. Nobody’s got time for inadequate workarounds. I’d add to that that the document-provider API is an excellent starting point, and if nothing else SD cards and USB devices can and should now be accessible using that API. I also hear a lot from the “Apple are evil overlords because they make me use iTunes” crowd: add in a “files” view, so tags don’t have to be important.

    Siri? Nah, turned it off, and now my life is better. Post-Snowden, I feel good about Apple, but not *that* good; I’d prefer to have offline dictation in my region (the UK) where it appears to be absent, presumed missing. In general, I don’t feel that Apple are blameless of data collection, it’s just that they do it for Apple rather than for the advertiser, because they make their money on the hardware. But iOS, just like Android, is a silo that Apple would rather keep you locked in to, and so their cloud strategy and services play into that.

    Although non-accessibility related, I personally wish Apple would support background processes, and give users a choice about them. Right now there are very limited circumstances where processes can be backgrounded, like VoIP, music, geolocation and file downloaders where the download is done via Apple’s framework. But I’d like to see instant messaging clients and email clients that are allowed to stay connected. Email, in particular, is only “push” if it’s Exchange or iCloud; as always, the rules don’t apply if it’s Apple, or for businesspeople. Ditto for messaging: I hate that one cannot do IM without going through an intermediary who is outside the firewall and entrusted with your private credentials.

    Anyway, I look forward to your book, as always, Jonathan. Thanks for your informed and comprehensive writings.

  10. Ed Green

    I’d like to see braille improvements, though I’d prioritise different ones. It should be possible to pair ann iDevice with a braille display without needing to enter a code through a different implementation of simple pairing. Having helped someone elderly do this by phone, there just isn’t enough time to enter it for users with dexterity issues, particularly if entry needs to be done on the touch screen. Also, it should be possible to lock the screen and operate the phone with the braille display, which would avoid bluetooth connections dropping and make it possible to keep your phone in your bag/pocket without the screen getting knocked accidentally.

  11. Vaughan Dodd

    Agree with those who have supported improvements to Braile. My wishes on this topic are for separatre continuous scrolling, as part of general separation from VoiceOver, and the ability to configure individual displays so that buttons not identified by VoiceOver currently can be user assigned to take advantage of unique characteristics of individual displays.

  12. Chris Wright

    Hello,

    I agree with all of these points on the list. If I may, I’d like to add to the braille comment by suggesting that an autoscroll feature be added to both iOS and OS X. Having the ability to set how quickly the display scrolls would make reading braille a much more convenient process as I wouldn’t have to constantly press the pan button. THe audio system in iOS needs to be drastically improved. I can’t tell you how annoying it is when I can’t play multiple audio streams at the same time. I’ve also found that only one program at a time can use the microphone at a time. These silly restrictions need to be removed if Apple ever wants people to believe that iOS is a computer replacement. For these reasons, I use my Mac far more than my iPhone. iOS is nice, but I can’t consider it for serious work right now. It seems almost like a toy at this stage. When I jump over into the Android camp, I realize that Android could be a viable computer replacement since it is so open. We’ll have to see what happens at WWDC.

  13. Piotr Machacz

    I agree with a lot of things that have been said here. From Jonathan’s list I’d especially like to see more voices, I would even be happy getting the Vocaliser voices Apple opted not to include in iOS as I find their selection questionable. While I can use Alex in English, for Polish I’m stuck with a voice that sounds slightly like a foreigner speaking the language, even though Nuance has a few other superior voices they could have went with.
    For Braille, I want an option which would present the screen how it’s done on OS X, which more or less equates to a “line mode” in Windows screen readers. For all the shortcomings of Android braille back, that’s one thing that it IMO did right. So suppose I put my VO focus on one of the icons of the home screen dock. Now, iOS only displays that one element which is a terrible way of using the real-estate of a 40-sell display. On the mac or Android, you see all items on that line with dots 7-8 indicating which one is actually focused and you can press a cursor router on any of them to activate it.
    I’d love to see better background processes so I can have a good IRC client that can stay connected even without a 3rd party server, and better file management would also make me happy. On the topic of which, 3rd party apps should have access to your ringtones and vibration patterns. Let me have my own notification sound for whatsapp or Facebook Messenger. Finally, I would love to see better use of the device’s microphones. At least there is not as much bass reduction on newer iPhones, but anything older than a 6S is still stuck with this terrible low frequency cutoff. The phone also has 3 microphones, give us an option to select which one to record with or better yet, allow stereo recording from 2 of them without lugging around an external mic.

  14. Graham Page

    I would like to see more haptic feedback when using the keyboard, so that it worked like the google keyboard on android. Of course I’d allow the user to turn this on and off.

  15. Rebecca Skipper

    I appreciate this comprehensive list and prioritize better Braile support! If Apple wants to replace the Braille notetaker, give me a more reliable way to keep the display connected and eliminate the pairing codes! I can’t type on the screen fast enough! I would like to have the ability to quickly jump to a “notetaker” mode that saves my data automatically without having to launch an app. Sometimes, you need to take notes on the fly. I still find it difficult to use the keypad on the iPhone so I’d like to dial phone numbers using a Braille display! I’ve used IOS for more than a year but still struggle with the touch screen.

  16. Stacey Robinson

    Jonathan, I agree with you about having a vibration sound when the iPhone comes on. I never can remember how long to hold in the power button.

  17. Governor

    Please improve Syri posthaste! I’m a fan of Apple, but, see this as a big issue. Your list is good, Jonathan. Sometimes, I’ve had the situation where I wrie Al as a name, and it takes it as Alabama. Dictionaries would really help with that, and other things too.

  18. Cheryl Homiak

    I really like this whole list. I especially agree with separating braille from voiceover; I think that tie-in is one of several reasons I really cannot manage to use braille without having to fall back on the voice and what the display shows and how it is formatted is so obviously hindered by being filtered by what is spoken by voiceover. Also, while I am pretty sure I am not going to get this, I chafe at not being able to use a usb drive or at least and sd card on my iPhone or iPad. Yes, I do use the Cloud but I don’t like being totally dependent on it. I also always buy the iPhone with the largest capacity but an sd card would allow me more flexibility especially if paired with real ability to manage files. I am not ready to completely abandon physical storage and probably never will be. I certainly could be tempted by a device with 256gb but that still would not satisfy me without file storage. Also, it seems unreasonable that we can’t have any feedback when turning on our phones and I also think we ought to be able to get some kind of indication during updates; sighted people do get a progress bar. Siri’s “I found something on the web” really irritates me; I can go find something on the web too! Don’t get me wrong; I started with a 3GS and have owned the 4S on through the 6+ (nothing last year made me even want to upgrade) and I also am aware of the disadvantages of Android (privacy being one of them though of course Apple isn’t ironclad in this area). But I am tempted to try an Android primarily because of braille and storage issues; my Kindle Fire allows a 128gb sd card and while management is somewhat limited I can also download other apps to manage files. (Of course my Kindle Fire also has a lot less storage space onboard than my Apple devices.) The new approach was novel when the first iPhones came out and especially when accessibility for people who are blind was added, but the basic ideas no longer are enough to make the iOS devices and system stand out and indeed in many areas the competition is advancing where Apple is not.

  19. Missy Hoppe

    The stand-out on this list for me would definitely be number eight, and to a slightly lesser extent number ten. All of these are great things to wish for, but the only thing I’d truly like is more choice when it comes to speech. Don’t get me wrong, I love Alex, but sometimes, I wish he had a female equivalent with the same quality; think that would be easier for me to hear.

    Now that I’m thinking on it, I am totally with you on the file system thing too. It would be great to plug my IPhone into the computer like an external hard drive to add music, ringtones I’ve made myself, etc. Maybe they could keep all the important stuff sandboxed, but somehow provide access only to music, photos, and things like that? There’s got to be some kind of middle ground that would let us add stuff without iTunes without jeopardizing the safety of our devices. Anyway, this is a very nice wish list.

    Honestly, however, the only thing I’m hoping for is that Apple fixes some of the bugs that have been lurking ever since IOS 8, most noteably in the way the notification center is handled and VO’s inability to tell how many radio buttons are in a group.

  20. Chris Wright

    I don’t believei t would be possible to use voices with other apps with the general speech API. I think the sandboxing means that the voice is tied to the specific application. Still, APple could very easily get around this by allowing people to publish speech engines in the app store for download. If I were designing it, I’d set it up the same way as custom keyboards. When you install a keyboard, you have to enable it from the keyboards menu. WHy can’t Apple put a custom TTS engines item in the speech settings with checkboxes to enable and disable third party engines? I think iOS needs to be seriously opened and improved if Apple’s goal is to make it the next generation of computers. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s true.

  21. Claus Thøgersen

    Agree the most usefull thing to add to braille support is the ability to customize what the buttons do. At least the buttons that are not assigned by Apple.
    I would also like to be able to set the screen lock time individually for braille since I find the unparing when the phone is locked annoying.

    I would like to be able to customize VO behavior for each application, something that has been normal for Windows and dos screen readers for decades.

    Siri may be bad in the English speaking world, but it is much worse in the
    nonEnglish part of the world, and more and more features are simply not available.

    Finally one thing that really is annoying is when you are using an app in English on an Iphone using another language. IfIf the language is not specified correctly Vo will often fallback to the standard language, the English text is probably something else, and this is really anoying until we get the possibility to use Eloquence.
    This happens even in very accessible apps like Twitterific and I should of course complain to the developpers but I have not done that yet.
    .

  22. brandon armstrong

    sense Jonathan seems to think their are benifits to sandboxing, please, write us a post and explain what some of them are, I in my many years of using iOS have not even to this day found any benifits to sandboxing, other then to make app developers angry and want to revolt.

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