Accessibility In Ios 7, 5 First Impressions In 50 Minutes

There’s a lot of information on the web already about Voice Over accessibility in IOS 7. As a blind user, and an Assistive Technology Specialist by trade, I was anxious to experience all IOS 7 had to offer. So tonight after work, I popped dinner in the oven, dropped the IPhone on the dock, and started the upgrade. Fast forward an hour or so, that way I don’t have to divulge my unhealthy dinner choices, and it was time for my first look at IOS 7. Its major shiny bits are well documented, but the beauty is often in the details, so here are 5 small things I love so far:

 

  1. Siri can have a male or female voice. This matters to me as a technology trainer, because new IPhone users have sometimes been confused about when they should talk to the phone, and when they should touch the screen. Two separate voices will help to clarify that question, even if it leaves me in a quandary over what gender pronoun to use for my beloved virtual assistant.
  2. Using Voice Over, you can use a 2 finger double tap to activate dictation when in an edit field. No more hunting for that tiny dictation button when I decide I want to dictate a message, I simply use the same gesture to start and stop dictation. When sending texts, I can easily access dictation, then swipe to the send button. My process for texting just got faster and more fluid.
  3. Siri automatically starts listening after asking you a question. Previously, I had to hold down the home button each time I wanted to speak to Siri, even as part of a multistep process, like composing and confirming a text. Doing this reminded me of playing with walkie talkies as a kid. “Send it, over and out, Siri!” But now, if Siri requires a response, it plays the 2 tone beep indicating that it is listening, without any button pushing from me. Texting while multitasking just got easier.
  4. Control center! Ok, everyone else is talking about it too, but from an accessibility standpoint, I love not having to swipe through a lot of settings to quickly activate Do Not Disturb before heading in to a meeting, or turn Bluetooth off and on if pairing my Braille display is proving problematic.
  5. Siri can read emails: Speaking of multi-tasking, and at the risk of this turning in to an ode to Siri, I was pleased to find Siri can now be asked to read email. So far, I am finding this less efficient thanworking with Voiceover, but I think it will have real potential for beginning users who are still mastering Voice Over gestures.

Stay tuned for additional thoughts on IOS 7, as I put it through its paces in the coming days.

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