iPhone/iPod Touch OS 3.1 Comes with Big Accessibility Enhancements

iPhone OS 3.1 has arrived with some tremendous accessibility features. One is, of course, the accessibility of the third-generation 32GB and 64GB iPod Touch devices, but there are plenty of new features for iPhone users to sink their teeth into as well. Let’s take a look.

  • Triple-click Home

    Now you can quickly toggle Universal Access features by triple-clicking the home button. Choices are to turn VoiceOver on or off, turn Zoom on or off, turn White on Black on or off, or to ask which setting you prefer.

    To set the Triple-click Home function: In Settings, choose General->Accessibility->Triple-click Home and choose the function you want.

  • Gesture Practice

    You can now learn and practice VoiceOver gestures. In Settings, choose General->Accessibility->VoiceOver->Practice Gestures.

  • Select / Cut / Copy text

    You can use VO to copy, cut and paste text. Use the rotor to choose Edit. Flick up or down to choose between the Select and Select All functions, then double tap. If you chose Select, the word closest to the insertion point is selected when you double-tap. If you chose Select All, the entire text is selected. When text is selected, Cut, Copy, and Paste options appear on the screen. (Paste appears only if you’ve previously copied text.)

    Use open and close pinch gestures to fine-tune the selection.

    To Cut, Copy, or Paste: With text selected, flick up or down to choose Cut, Copy, or Paste, then double-tap. Double-tap again to dismiss the editing options and place the insertion point at the end of the text area.

    To Undo: Shake iPhone, flick left or right to choose the action to undo, then double-tap.

  • Additional rotor settings

    On web pages, you can now select and hear static text as well as zoom in or out.

  • Pasting a phone number into the keypad

    You can paste phone numbers into the keypad instead of dialing them manually. If the phone number you copied contains letters, iPhone automatically converts them into the appropriate digits to dial.

  • Setting Insertion Point in edit text fields

    To begin editing, you double tap to display the insertion point and bring up the onscreen keyboard. If the field already contains text, the insertion point is placed at the beginning or at the end of the text automatically.

  • Navigating a List Index

    Some lists have an alphabetical index along the right side. The index cannot be selected by flicking between elements; you must touch the list index directly to select it. With the index selected, flick up or down to move through the index. Or, select the list index, then double-tap and slide your finger up or down to move through the index quickly.

  • Opening Links in Mail Messages

    In mail, double-tap and hold down on a link. The address is displayed and you can choose to open the link in Safari or copy the link address to the clipboard.

  • Editing Videos and Voice Memos

    You can use VoiceOver gestures to trim videos and Voice Memo recordings.

    To trim a video: While viewing a video, double-tap the screen to display the video controls. Select the beginning or end of the trim tool. Then flick up to drag to the right, flick down to drag to the left. VoiceOver announces the amount of time that will be trimmed from the recording. Select the Trim button and double tap to execute the trim.

    To trim a voice memo: In Voice Memos, select the button to the right of a recorded memo you want to trim, then double-tap. Select the Trim Memo button and double- tap. Select the beginning or end of the trim tool. Flick up to drag to the right and flick down to drag to the left. VoiceOver announces the amount of time that will be trimmed from the recording. Select the Trim Voice Memo button and double-tap to execute the trim.

  • PDF file support

    VO can read PDF files attached to Mail messages.

  • Voice Control using a Bluetooth headset

    You can enter spoken Voice Control commands through a bluetooth headset in addition to the earbuds and built-in microphone.

  • Using Maps

    With VoiceOver, you can select pins that mark locations, and get information about locations.

    To select a pin: Touch a pin, or flick left and right to select a pin. To get information about a location, select a pin, then double-tap to display the information flag. Flick left or right to select the flag, then double-tap to display the information page.

  • Saving a photo or video attachment to a Camera Roll album

    Touch and hold the image or video, then tap Save Image or Video.

  • Creating a Genius Playlist

    To browse Genius Mixes: Tap Genius. The number of dots above the Dock shows the number of mixes you have synced from iTunes, and indicates which mix you’re viewing. Flick left or right to view additional mixes. You can sync up to twelve Genius Mixes from your iTunes library on your computer.

  • Compass

    VoiceOver automatically announces the compass heading when there is a change in direction of 5-degrees or more.

  • Rearranging the Home screen

    VoiceOver speaks the row and column position as you drag the icon. Release the icon when it’s in the location you want. You can drag additional icons. Drag an item to the left or right edge of the screen to move it to another page of the Home screen. When you’re finished rearranging the icons, press the Home button.

    When iPhone is connected to your computer, you can also rearrange the Home screen icons using iTunes 9. Select iPhone in the sidebar, then click the Applications tab.