iOS 12 Home Screen VoiceOver Changes

Take advantage of software updates and changes - encourage your student to explore his/her iPad and find changes. When appropriate, encourage your student to research the new mainstream features, VO features and bugs/fixes. Often, app developers will also update their apps after a new software release, so students may have opportunities to explore individual app Tool bars to see what has changed and to explore new features! If necessary, guide students to find changes in specifical areas. Example: What is different on the Home screen?

Note: iOS 12 focused on fixing bugs and stabilizing features. While there are some new features, iOS 12 does not have any major changes.

Status Bar Layout Changes

Note: Remember to ask your student to explore and discover what is different on the Home screen - you want your student to be comfortable with software updates and to independently learn about new features. Encourage him to be a 'tech detective' by exploring the Home page and discovering what is different!

The Status bar is the tool bar that is always available at the top of the iOS screen; iOS 12 has made changes to the Status bar layout. Most students - especially students who are blind - use their iPhone or iOS device to know what time it is. Since the first iPad, the time has always been at the top center of the screen. While the Status bar is still there, the time has now been moved to the top left corner. 

New VoiceOver Home Screen Gestures

When I first turned on VoiceOver after installing iOS 12, a popup message appeared with the new VoiceOver Gestures for the Home Screen. I really appreciate this popup - as it quickly brought me up to speed. Thank you Apple! 

These gestures were specifically added for devices that do not have a Home button. The gestures work on all devices. The previous gestures continue to work for devices that do have a Home button. 

New VoiceOver Gestures (listed on the popup message)

  • To go Home: Slide one finger up from the bottom edge until you hear the second sound and lift your finger.
  • To use the App Switcher: Slide up farther from the bottom edge until you hear the third sound and life your finger.
  • If you move too far to the left or right the gesture will be canceled.
  • To use the Control Center: Slide on finger down from the edge until you hear the second sound and lift your finger.
  • To use Notification Center: Slide down farther from the top until you hear the third sound and life your finger.
The sounds - also called "earcons" - provide information auditorily, just like "icons" provide information visually. The sounds and gestures mentioned above are only available when VoiceOver is running.
Personally, it took me a few tries to correctly form these gestures - and it took some practice before I consistently made these gestures. You do need to start with your finger OFF of the actual iPad screen, so if you have a case that covers the edge of the screen, it will be challenging to produce these gestures. I have my iPad in a Bluetooth keyboard case that is clam-style - and the edge of the keyboard case obstructs a small piece of the bottom of the iPad's screen. It is difficult to activate the App Switcher which requires swiping up from the bottom; personally, I found that using my thumb to swipe up was easier than using my index finger. To make swipe gesture, hold your finger just off the iPad's screen (approximately 1/4" from the top edge) until you hear the first pop. Drag your finger at a consistent but slow speed down. If you hear an app announced or thunk, thunk, thunk (indicated blank space), try again. Be sure that you drag in a straight line - if your drag is diagonal, it will not activate the pops. When you hear the desired second or third pop, lift your finger. The pops have different tones. Initially it does take multiple tries to get your timing (speed of drag)!
The video below demonstrates the new VoiceOver Home screen gestures.
It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks! In my experience, I prefer to use the old gestures (touch the status bar and three finger swipe up or down) or use the Home button over the new VoiceOver gestures.  However, I would not be surprised if a future software update eliminates these older gestures!

Old Gestures that Produce the Same Actions

  • To go Home: Press the Home button or four-finger pinch (if multitasking gestures is turned on in Settings).
  • To use the App Switcher: Press the Home button 2x quickly.
  • To use the Control Center: Touch the Status bar, then swipe up with three-fingers to reveal the Control Center. 
  • To use Notification Center: Touch the Status bar, then swipe down with three-fingers to reveal the Notification Center.

Collage of iOS home screen VoiceOver changes


Posted by Diane BraunerOct 04, 2018

Bug Fix: At one point, I could not activate the pop sounds, even after repeatedly trying to swipe down. At that point, I turned off VoiceOver and turned it back on. After that, things worked correctly.  I was not able to duplicate the issue, so it might have been a 'user issue' and not a true bug!

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