Today Apple has released major new software versions of its iOS, iPad OS, TVOS, and Watch OS operating systems. Over the next several days, The Tech Juggernaut will be releasing articles and other helpful resources to point out the new features and changes in the updates. Today however, we want to take a moment to highlight some of the important changes for Voiceover users, so you can hit the ground running without being hung up by these differences. Note that this post will not discuss new features in any detail, even for Voiceover users, as these discussions are coming later this week.
Home Screen Changes:
In iOS and iPad OS 14, it is now possible to pin your favorite Widgets to the Home Screen. While this was already possible on iPad, the feature has been enhanced with the addition of Smart Stacks. A Smart Stack is a group of Widgets stacked on top of each other. For example, you could choose to have Calendar and Reminders in a stack, or Music and TV Shows, and so on. Stacks make it easy for you to get quick access to the information you want. Additionally, on iPhone, it is now possible to have pinned Widgets and Smart Stacks. Later on this week, we will release information for both sighted users and Voiceover users to learn how to access and work with Widgets, but for now, we want you to know that the feature is there, and that it can be customized in Edit Mode, much like moving apps and creating folders.
Voiceover Calendar Changes:
In the Apple Calendar app, when creating a new event, you will notice that the way you select start and end dates with Voiceover has been redesigned. Instead of just one picker, which must be swiped through, potentially taking a long time for you to find the date you want, you can now use a picker to select the month, then swipe right to see and hear all the days of the selected month by date. Simply double-tap on the date you want. You can even double-tap on the month picker to reveal a year picker, which makes it possible to quickly change the year of your start and end dates.
In both the Calendar and Clock apps, when creating events or setting alarms, you can now simply enter times in the time edit field. The process is extremely simple. Simply enter the time as a three or four digit number, with the hour first, followed by a two-digit minute. Enter this with no punctuation. Don’t worry about deleting what’s there, or anything else. It could not be simpler. For example, if you want an alarm for 7:30, just enter 730 into the edit field as soon as you double-tap on it. Want 9:00? enter 900. Eleven oClock would be 1100.
After you enter the desired time, swipe right to select either AM or PM.
What Happened to Bed Time?
While on the subject of times and alarms, let’s talk about the absence of the Bedtime tab in the Clock app. It has been replaced with an entirely new Sleep category in the Health app. The Sleep category offers all the same features you’ve come to love about the BedTime feature, plus even more. For one thing, it is now possible to set separate sleep schedules for each day of the week. You can also create a Wind Down routine leading up to your bed time, such as dimming lights, playing music, or offering up apps you like to use to help you prepare for sleep. Again, we will provide a demo later this week, for you can always open the Health app to start exploring for yourself.
App Sidebars on iPad:
When you update your iPad, you will immediately notice that some apps look different. Apps like Music, Calendar, Notes, Files, and more, have been given new App Sidebars. The Sidebar, as its name suggests, is a sort of toolbar that runs the length of the left hand side of the screen and contains important options. For example, in the Music app on iPad, the Sidebar contains all the options that were previously found as tabs across the bottom of the screen, such as Radio, Library, Search, and more. Additionally, the Sidebar in Music displays your playlists, which can be expanded or collapsed. All Sidebars can be shown or hidden at any time. Again, these will be discussed and demonstrated soon.
TVOS Changes For Voiceover Users:
On AppleTV, there are now two modes for Voiceover – Navigation Mode and Exploration Mode. You can easily switch between the two modes by performing a two-finger triple-tap on the Remote Touch Surface. You will notice that the Rotor looks different, depending on which mode you are in, with few options being available in Navigation Mode, and additional options being present in Exploration Mode. Due to the design of TVOS, and its intended purpose, you will probably spend the majority of your time in Navigation Mode. In the event you ever need to reread something on the screen while in Navigation Mode, simply press and hold the Play/Pause button for a few seconds. Then, if you need a more in-depth look around with the Voiceover Cursor, such as reading by characters or words, you can switch to Exploration Mode with the aforementioned two-finger triple-tap. To change whether Navigation Mode uses Direct Touch or a different option, open Settings>Accessibility>Voiceover, and choose Navigation Style.
Note that many new features exist in all of Apple’s operating system. Please stay tuned to this blog to learn about them, as articles will be released daily. In the meantime, we suggest using the Tips app on your devices.