Skip to main content
Second Sense - Beyond Vision Loss

iOS 14 New Accessibility Features

November 18, 2020 | Leave a Comment

by Siobhan Midgley

Tags: , ,

Setting icon on the iPhone screen


For all you iPhone users out there, some exciting new accessibility features have accompanied the unveiling of iOS 14! I’ll discuss some of the new features you may find useful if you have vision loss. Some of our clients have found some iOS 14 updates to be a bit of a nuisance.  If you have found the same, I’ve also shared how you can revert some of those functions.

Note that these new accessibility features are available on iPhone models 10 and later.  Older models, like iPhone 7 and 8 do not offer these options.


A Smarter VoiceOver

  • On-device intelligence improves your iPhone’s ability to recognize apps, images and text. In the Settings app, select Accessibility and then select VoiceOver. Within VoiceOver settings, select VoiceOver Recognition. Here you can turn on Image Descriptions and VoiceOver will speak descriptions of images in apps and on the web. You can also choose how, and if, VoiceOver notifies you of sensitive content.
  • On the VoiceOver Recognition page is Screen Recognition. This will automatically improve accessibility of apps that don’t already contain accessibility information, such as identifying buttons and toggles. It also groups related items together. Within the Screen Recognition page, you can select which apps to apply this feature to.
  • The VoiceOver Recognition page also has a toggle button for Text Recognition. This allows VoiceOver to read text within an image. For example, if someone sends you an image of text that says, “Good morning!” VoiceOver will recognize the text within the image and read it.


Magnifier App

  • The magnifier app has its own icon now. To add it to your home screen or be able to search for it, you must first enable it. Select Settings, then Accessibility, then Magnifier, and use the toggle button to activate it. You’ll then be able to find the app icon in “Utilities” or “Recently Added” folder. From there you can drag it onto your home screen.
  • Within the magnifier app, if you don’t want to see all the controls, swipe down, and all controls will be hidden excluding the zoom slider. You can double tap on the screen to hide everything.
  • If you tap the Cog Button on the control panel in the bottom, left-hand corner, you can customize and organize what buttons will be on your control panel. You can also slim down what filter options there are, so there’s less to swipe through.
  • If you tap the Multiple Image Button on the control panel in the bottom, right-hand corner, you will be able to take several photos in a row. Once you’ve taken your photos, select View and you can swipe through and interact with each photo. Note that once you press End in the top left corner, these photos will not save to your Photo album.


Back Tap Gestures

  • Head to Settings, then Accessibility, then Touch. At the bottom of this page is Back Tap. Within this page, you’ll see options for Double Tap and Triple Tap. Here you have several options of what these taps can activate. For example, double tap on the back of your phone to activate the accessibility shortcut instead of triple clicking the home button. Or maybe set it to triple tap on the back of your phone to activate the magnifier app or VoiceOver. You can also set one of these gestures to enable and disable Zoom.


Incoming Calls Display Options

  • You may have noticed some other changes after updating to iOS 14. Previously, when your phone was unlocked and you had an incoming call, the call would fill the whole screen. You could press the red decline button or the green accept button. Now, incoming calls no longer take up the whole screen, and instead show up as a banner at the top of the screen. The red decline button and green accept button are on the right side of the banner and smaller than before. This may not be a welcomed change for those who prefer the larger buttons when the incoming call takes up the whole screen. To revert to the old style, select Settings, then Phone, then Incoming Calls. Here you can change it back to Full Screen.


Siri Changes

  • You may have noticed that when you call on Siri, she no longer takes up the whole screen. Instead, she now displays as a small floating orb at the bottom of the screen. Results of your query now take up as little room as possible on the screen. To expand query results, click on the information. This feature cannot be switched back.
  • Depending on your Siri settings, you may or may not hear auditory feedback when you’re activating her. In order to ensure you hear a tone after you say, “Hey Siri,” go to Settings, then Siri & Search and Select Listen for “Hey Siri.” If you have Press Side Button for Siri, or Press Home Button for Siri selected, when you perform those actions you will not hear a tone, unless you have VoiceOver on. If you feel Siri times out too quickly, you can hold the home or side button down, and she will listen to you until you release the button.
  • You’ll also want to make sure that within Siri & Search you select Siri Responses, and within this page set spoken responses to Always. This will ensure that no matter how you activate Siri, she will speak aloud all responses.

Hopefully these new features will help you more seamlessly access content on your iPhone. Apple is continuously improving their accessibility features, and we’ll be back again for the next big update!

If you are experiencing any problems with using your iPhone, or if you want to learn how to use it in new ways, please give us a call. While we can’t provide in-person lessons at this time, we are offering virtual and remote training options. Call us at 312-236-8569 or learn more about our training.



Siobhan is a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist Intern at Second Sense

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.