October, 2019: IOS 13

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Ian opened the meeting. We usually start the meeting with a round table of questions and tips.

Ian said that he’s having trouble deleting a contact from his contact list. A member said that you have to have the contact open. Tap on the edit button, and then you’ll find the delete button at the bottom. A 4-finger single tap near the bottom of the screen will take your focus directly to the bottom of the content. A 4-finger single tap near the top will do the reverse. Accidentally doing a 4-finger double tap will bring up a help menu.

Albert with GTT in BC, said that they’ve been recording and editing their meetings, then posting them as podcasts. You can search for the Canadian Council of the Blind podcast in your favourite podcast ap.

Ian then introduced Dug, who is with Balance for Blind Adults. He’s been teaching assistive tech for, a long time. He’ll run us through IOS13.

IOS13 was rushed out, and many, not only assistive tech users, had trouble at first. Now it’s relatively stable. Apple doesn’t necessarily mention the differences you’ll find as a Voiceover user. You often have to learn by using it. Ian raised the point that we should talk about trouble shooting, so we know what to do when something goes wrong or doesn’t work the way we expect.

One change in the mail ap is regarding threads. You can flick down to expand. It’s fairly intuitive to use.

One big change, that’s very welcome, is taking accessibility settings out of the general category, and putting it in its own category under settings There are a lot of tools in here.

There are some new Voiceover settings and haptics, which you have to enable. You can use haptics for system settings as well. You’ll find that under settings, accessibility, Voiceover, audio settings, sounds. You can choose sounds, haptics, or both. It makes the interface feel very new. It seems to offer faster feedback and functionality.

There are new rotor settings. Show context menu, replaces the old 3D touch menu. The 3D touch menu was an option to tap then tap and hold, which brought up other functions. 3D touch didn’t take off with ap developers, so was morphed into the context menu.

The vertical scroll bar appears when you’re in lists, for example a list of books. It’s down the right side. Every flick down moves down by 10%. It’s an excellent tool. It’s the same as the table index that’s found in the contacts list.

Any phone below a 6S won’t support IOS13, and you won’t be prompted to update.

You can now customize touch gestures. You can add or change what gestures do. Keyboard shortcuts, hand writing, and braille screen input can all be customized now. You can access it under Voiceover settings, then commands. It sounds more complicated than it is.

There’s a new slide-to-type feature. It seems daunting, but can actually work well if you spend time with it. It does take some getting used to. You can add a rotor setting to toggle it on or off. It’s a form of predictive typing. You start by placing your finger on the first letter of the word you want, and holding it there till you hear a sound. Then, slide your finger to the subsequent letters of the word. Using your finger position and predictive algorithm’s, the word will be filled in. If it comes up with the word you want part way through, lifting your finger will insert that word into your text. A member contributed that in auto complete settings, you can define two or 3 character shortcuts that will, if followed by the space bar, insert what ever text you’ve defined. For example, you could set up a two letter shortcut for your email address.

The, add punctuation group is another nice new feature. You can access it through, Voiceover, verbosity. It allows you to define which punctuation is spoken, which can be very helpful if you’re editing. You can create your own punctuation group setting.

Under Voiceover settings, is something new called, activities. This allows you to set parameters for specific aps, that is, how the phone functions or speaks to you depending on what ap you’re in. A member pointed out that the Applevis podcast has some really good examples of this.

A lot of stuff in the email ap has been changed with regard to Voiceover. Most of it is good. The delete button is more prominently placed, and in order to reply or do other things, you have to find the, more, button. You can now delete multiple emails and email folders all at once.

If you open a message with a lot of emails within it, as in, there’s been a lot of replies back and forth, you can open it, then flick left or right to move through individual messages within the thread, and delete particular ones if you want. Remember to close the message though, otherwise you could get confused about what view you’re in.

The best resource for learning is Applevis; Their site has great blogs and podcasts. There’s a cast called Double Tap, on AMI audio. Apple.com/accessibility can be helpful. Jeff Thomson at BlindAbilities has good content. A member said she’s part of a Facebook group called iPhone and iPad Aps for the Visually Impaired, that’s quite good.

Change can be tiring, but the best way to adjust is to make yourself use the new thing. Also remember that updates are about security as well, so refusing them can be risky. Apple is especially energetic at cutting off support to previous versions.

A member said she’s having trouble with dictating texts. If she uses Siri, and tries to add to what she’s already dictated, only the addition is shown in the body of the text. It’s intermittent. Others agreed they’ve seen this too. A member suggested a work-around where you create the message in the notes ap, then paste it into your text message.

A visual user said that she sometimes has a problem of her screen rotating 90 degrees if she moves while using her phone. Dug recommended locking this feature. You can do this from control centre. Locate the status bar, then swipe up with 3 fingers to open control centre. In there is an option to lock orientation.

A member asked how to find out what version of IOS they’re on. Dug said go to settings, general, then software updates.. If you tap on, about, it will show you what you’re running currently. Once you’ve upgraded, you can’t go back. If you haven’t upgraded from the initial version of 13, you should. 13.1.3 is the current version. Apple generally releases an update every month or so.

A member pointed out that resistance to change, is also a desire to cling to productivity. The truth is that an upgrade like this can cost you a week of optimal productivity.

A member raised the topic of Voice Controller. Dug said that it’s a huge feature worthy of its own session. It’s a way to make the phone activate gestures by voice, swipe left, swipe right ext. It’s meant particularly for people with limited hand mobility. It takes a lot of work up front.

A member raised the question of whether IOS13 drains your battery more quickly. Dug said he hasn’t noticed any difference. He commented that batteries do naturally run down, and that it’s recommended to fully drain your battery once a month or so in order to maximize its life. A new battery is around $90 installed. You need to take it somewhere to have it changed. There are cheaper solutions than going to an Apple store, but they come with risks of losing functionality.

Ian closed the meeting by thanking Dug, and by saying that if you have ideas for future meetings, or knowledge on something you’d like to present on, please get in touch.