Yes, Voice Over Users Can Update to iOS 10

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Apple recently released iOS 10, and it is perfectly safe for Voice Over users to download and install it. This thought stems from participating on several discussion groups and running iOS 10 on my primary iOS device, an iPhone 6, since the public beta opened up. As all of these major updates go, Apple included some new features, modified existing ones, and even preformed some updates that you will not realize but improves the overall functioning of your device. This review will focus on accessibility updates, new iOS features, tips on using new features, and conclude with thoughts on taking the plunge. Before we delve into exploring iOS 10, many of you might be wondering two things, is my device supported and how much space will iOS 10 require. iOS 10 supports:

  • iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7Plus
  • iPad Pro 12.9”, iPad Pro 9.7”, iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad 4th generation, iPad mini 4, iPad mini 3, and iPad mini 2
  • iPod Touch 6th Generation

Next, some of you might be wondering how much space will iOS 10 consume. Generally, those with an 16GB device lack room, once you download some applications and take some photos, but you need not worry. iOS 10 received a significant amount of attention by Apple that not only decreased the amount of room you might need, but almost eliminated the need for this discussion. iOS 10 requires 1.7GB of free storage. If you do not need this amount, then your iPhone or iPad will temporarily upload your apps into the iCloud, install the iOS 10 update, and bring everything back. Additionally, Apple will allow you to remove those petty stock apps off your device.

Accessibility Updates

iOS 10 features some great accessibility updates like the new Magnifier (not to be confused with a screen magnifier), the new Voice Over Rotor in-app toggles, and Zoom’s new following option. Overall though, iOS 10 focused more on fine tuning all of our favorite accessibility options when compared to the number of new features introduced in iOS 9.

Voice Over

The two major update to Voice Over includes a new in-app Rotor toggle and new method to arrange apps on your home screen. Minor updates improved braille screen input, several new voices, and Voice Over’s voice routing.

Voice Over Rotor In-App Options

The best place to test out the new Rotor toggle resides in a threaded message view in Mail. After you click on the threaded message, you are brought to the most recent message. Preform the Rotor gesture until you hear Messages, and then swipe up or down. This allows you to switch between messages. Another area with this feature is within tables. When Voice Over enters a table, use the Rotor to find rows and columns and swipe up or down to quickly navigate by the selection.

Arranging Apps with Voice Over

Arranging apps has never been easier with Voice Over. No more must you guess if you finally landed on a folder to dump an app in. In iOS 10, just swipe up or down on an app or folder on your home screen until you hear arrange apps. This allows you to quickly sort your apps and folders with just swipes and double taps, and no more dragging around the screen. Do not believe me, then listen to our Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides and Tutorial podcast covering this new feature.

Voice Over Settings Menu Update

A few minor menu changes will require you to familiarize yourself with the Voice Over menu. The main one is the audio setting located above the Rotor setting. Here you will find settings for:

  • Use sound effects
  • Audio ducking
  • Apple select speaker in call (automatic speaker phone option when pulling iPhones away from your head while in a call).

Other new additions to the Voice Over setting menu is the Phonetic Feedback above Typing Feedback, and Pronunciations located in the Speech menu.


For low vision and high partials out there, the new Magnifier under Accessibility truly turns your iOS device into a digital magnifier. You can now delete all of those magnifier apps you collected over the years. When you enable this option, triple clicking the home button, aka accessibility shortcut, your iOS device will become a full fledge digital magnifier. Note for Voice Over users, if you are in Magnifier with Voice Over on, triple clicking the home button again will turn off Voice Over. Instead, just tap on the home to leave the magnifier. Nabs; The Magnifier possesses all of the features you have come to love with devices like the Amigo, but it fits into your pocket. Your magnification options start at 0x and maxes out at 15x in increments of 0.5x. Below are the different color filters available:

  • None
  • White/blue
  • Yellow/blue
  • Greyscale filter
  • Yellow/black
  • Red/black
How to Use Magnifier

When you open up the Accessibility settings, under Zoom will be the new Magnifier feature. switching this to on will insert the Magnifier option as a dimmed item in the Accessibility Shortcut. This means when you preform the triple press of the home button, if you have any other accessibility shortcut options enabled, the prompt will include Magnifier in the list. If you have no other options enabled in the Accessibility Shortcut, the triple press will turn on the Magnifier. To switch Magnifier off, just press the home button. When on the Magnifier screen, the display uses the rear or back facing camera. On the screen you have the different options to increase or decrease zoom, enable one of the previously mentioned color filters, freeze the image, and change the white point. Since Magnifier is built into iOS, you will not run into any compatibility issues when Apple updates iOS.


Photos just received an awesome photo recognition tool, very similar to Facebook’s image recognition AI. When uploading photos into iCloud, Apple emplaced a wonderful analysis system labeling each photo for Voice Over. Each picture may receive a label indicating image quality, number of faces, and descriptions of objects and backgrounds. This might be as basic as the number of people in a picture to further information about the background. It will be enjoyable to witness how this evolves as learning continues.

Related to recognition involves identification of people. When you open Photos and after processing completes, a new section for People appears in Albums. Each folder initially is labeled unknown with the number of pictures tagged. Sighted assistance maybe necessary to name each folder. These recognition features will not automatically appear, since the processing transpires within iCloud. After installing iOS 10, Photos will require you to have your device connected to power and Wi-Fi, locked, and quite some time to complete, based on photo library size. MY 24k picture library required several days.

General iOS 10 updates

Lock Screen

The Lock screen received some major updates. This includes new widgets and display options, the removal of the slide to unlock feature, and how notifications appear. For this review, we will focus on the new unlocking methods and interacting with notifications with Voice Over.

On the lock screen, the slide bar is replaced with a line of text stating, “press home to unlock.” Voice Over users can still preform a one finger double tap on this line of text to unlock the iOS device, or a new option. The first is the rest Finger on the Home Button to Unlock the device. This option only requires you place your finger on the finger print sensor, if enabled. While only available on devices with the finger print sensor, like the iPhone 5S and newer, this is the fastest method to unlock your iOS device.

You might be asking what if you receive a call while your iOS device is locked? Rest assured, the normal methods to pick up that call have not changed. You still have the ability to perform a two finger double tap with Voice Over and the “Press home to unlock” is replaced with a line of text that you can preform a one finger double tap to answer.

Another option available is the raise to wake feature. This is only available on the iPhone 6sS, iPhone 6s Plus, or newer. When activated, you just need to lift up your device to wake it up.

Notification Center, Today View and Notifications

The best method to witness how Apple increased the functionality of 3D touch, introduced on the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus and newer, is to clear away any notifications on the lock screen. Different pressure based presses on the screen will bring up different options on how to learn, acknowledge, and respond to a notification. For those of us without this feature and using Voice Over, we still have the Rotor Action option that allows us to either clear or see more options. This is rather annoying, since iOS 9 had options like accept, confirm, complete, and other options based on the notification when swiping up or down with one finger. These items are still there, but you will need to swipe and double tap on more, and then swipe left or right through the screen to find the desired response. This carries over to notifications when your device is unlocked. If you have a banner style notification, it appears at the top of the screen as before, but swiping up or down with Voice Over once again produces two options, clear and more.

The best way to handle notifications occurs through the Notifications Center, three finger swipe down when Voice Over’s focus is on the menu bar, or the Siri Spotlight view, three finger swipe right from either home and lock screens. Here you have the list of notifications based on a couple of items. It is much easier to clear out individual items here if you do not have 3D touch.

The best part of the Notification Center and Today views comes from an increase in widgets. Apple has bundled many more widgets into the today view, including Siri, Activity, a redesigned Weather view, and many more. Overall this change is very nice with more widgets coming to increase the usefulness of Notification Center.


The rather non-glamourous Notes app once again received a very nice update. The new addition allows you to collaborate with others on a Note in real-time. For example, if you have a checklist created for shopping, moving, or related to a task, you can share the note and allow others to check items off. Another example involves drafting documents. I actually used this feature to share the draft version of this update with other contributors to Blind Vet Tech. However, notes still lack advance formatting features to replace apps like Pages and Microsoft Word, but its steadily becoming a terrific writing platform.


Our favorite gender neutral digital assistant advanced itself in iOS 10. Taking a step out of the General menu under Settings, you now will find Siri on the main Setting screen. The major rationale stems from Apple opening up the Siri platform to app developers. At this point, not many apps integrated their services with Siri, but be on the lookout for future app updates highlighting Siri connectivity.


Moving away from a simple text and messaging tool, the new Messages features will change how your communicating with your friends and family. At launch, the first things you will notice involves something referring to apps, handwriting, and sketches. Like Siri, apps will be updating their products to allow you to send more than just texts and pictures to your friends and family, but also money, games, stickers, and who knows. The sketching and handwriting features resemble the Apple Watch messages. You can send a quick note or drawing instead of a traditional message. In the iPhone 7, this will expand to other types of items. Of note, Handwriting interferes with Voice Over’s Braille Screen Input in screen away mode.


Mail received two very nice updates, a new threaded message view and a filter option. The new threaded messages view removes the screen presenting each message in the thread. Now when you tap on a threaded message, you will be brought to the most recent message, and have options to advance to the next and previous messages. This is where the new in-app Voice Over Rotor comes into play. When in a threaded message, use the Rotor and find Messages. Swiping up or down allows you to quickly read the next item in the thread.

If you receive large amounts of new messages, the filter option will make sifting through them a snap. The filter presents options to see only new messages, read messages, and several other combinations.


This review barely touches upon the host of new features, updates, and changes in iOS 10. Having used the iOS Public Beta for over two months now on my primary iPhone 6, I am very comfortable recommending individuals update their iPhones and iPads to iOS 10. None of the bugs related to either Voice Over, Zoom, or the system in general pose a significant threat to functionality. The new method to rearrange apps on the home screen with Voice Over to the numerous widgets for your notifications view enhanced my overall enjoyment of my iPhone 6.

If you still do not wish to update to iOS 10 after reading this, by all means stick with iOS 9.3.6 and wait for more information. We place a lot of trust in our devices, and it’s based on this trust you should examine your beliefs about updating to iOS 10.