In addition to the more significant changes detailed in our First Look at VoiceOver in iOS 6, there are other minor tweaks to accessibility in Apple’s sixth version of its mobile operating system. We plan to make note of these in a series of shorter posts over the coming days, as well as tips and tricks for taking advantage of them effectively.
VoiceOver has long offered a Hints feature which provides contextual information on how to interact or manipulate various elements on the screen when those elements gain VoiceOver focus. For example, touching an application icon on the Home screen prompts VoiceOver to invite you to “Double-tap to open.”
Many users, after becoming well acquainted with VoiceOver and its operation, turn off the speaking of these hints in the VoiceOver settings. Alternatively, a rotor option may be added to enable or disable hints on the fly.
Apple has expanded the Hints functionality in iOS 6 in Mail. If they are enabled, VoiceOver will read a preview of Mail messages as you touch them in the message list, immediately following the sender, subject, and date information. This gives the VoiceOver user a quick look at the contents of a message without having to open it and, on the iPhone or iPod touch, having to back out of it again to return to the in-box.