– Mark E. Smith

(UPDATED TWICE) How many hot-hot-hot! new iOS apps have impressed legions of fans while demonstrating their developers are too irresponsible or incompetent to make them accessible under VoiceOver?

Shall we start a list?

  • Nº 1 with a bullet: Readability. You can’t actually read with Readability, since most icons are unlabelled, you can’t switch fonts, and none of the navigation gestures, all nonstandard, actually work. Plus each article page secretly holds a plethora of hidden buttons that VoiceOver errantly reads out. (Skill-testing question: Who was the developer on this one?)

  • Clear. Taps, swipes, and drags unusable. You can edit a to-do item, often as a result of trying to delete it or pick it up. Will not work even in pass-through mode (double-tap and hold), itself a last-ditch option

  • Flipboard.Not usable in any real sense, since you cannot flip; everything’s just a “button.” (First item spoken? “Banner ribbon [button].” Another gem: “Action icon black opaque [button]”) As of Version 1.8.2 (2012.03.16), Flipboard is almost completely usable under VoiceOver. (Three-finger-swipe to flip)

  • Path.Custom controls unlabelled. Buttons mislabelled. Unusable reading order. Status items unreadable under any circumstances. Cannot select user avatars or slide to reveal UI. Unusable As of Version 2.1.1 (2012.04.03), Path is almost completely usable, with a clever hack for the quarter-circle starburst of buttons (the Path header at top actuates them)

(Some greatest hits that also don’t work right: Instagram, Facebook, Globe News, Digits. And Kindle, obviously.)

iPhones and iPads are the easiest systems to make accessible in the history of computing. iOS, moreover, is the funnest accessible development environment there ever was. You’ll have a whale of a time testing this shit out. VoiceOver, like an Oscar Pistorius prosthesis, is actually cool.

But if you can’t make it happen in the first place, you suck as a developer.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2012.03.01 15:32. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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