The Accessibility Of The iPhone 6s

With every passing yr, Apple releases a brand new iPhone. And with every passing yr, I’m confronted with the query of upgrading.

On one hand, I need to be sensible and get monetary savings. My telephone nonetheless works nice and runs the newest model of iOS with out limitation, so it’s not crucial that I improve.

However, the nerd in me needs the brand new telephone for all the brand new performance that comes with it. (To not point out the truth that, as a author who covers Apple at shut vary, my livelihood will depend on maintaining with the newest and biggest.) It’s the quintessential first-world drawback, to make certain, however the dilemma is actual.

Steven AquinoCrunch Community Contributor

Steven Aquino is a contract tech author and iOS accessibility professional.

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A lot has been written about 2015 being one other “s” yr for the iPhone. Usually talking, these telephones retain the prior mannequin’s exterior design, however are fitted internally with higher, quicker guts. In my expertise, the “s” fashions have been among the many greatest iPhones I’ve ever owned, due largely to the arrival of groundbreaking new applied sciences. The iPhone 4s in 2011 launched Siri; two years later, in 2013, the iPhone 5s introduced with it Contact ID. Not solely have been these options cool and thrilling — a lot so, actually, that I upgraded solely for them — however, accessibility-sensible, they made utilizing my telephone simpler than ever earlier than.

The brand new iPhone 6s with 3D Contact continues this development. I used a evaluate unit from Apple as my on a regular basis telephone for a number of weeks and, in my time testing it, have discovered it to be yet one more stellar ‘s’ yr replace.

My purpose with this text is to critique the iPhone 6s from the attitude of an individual with disabilities, specializing in features of the telephone which I really feel affect its accessibility.

Utilizing And Carrying The iPhone 6s

I’ve argued prior to now that though typical knowledge dictates that accessibility principally refers to software program, it applies simply as aptly to hardware. The kinesthetic worth of an iPhone — the way it feels to carry and use it — is simply as essential because the accessibility of the software program it runs. As somebody with each imaginative and prescient and bodily motor impairments, it’s equally essential that my telephone, as an object, be as snug in my hand as potential.

In comparison with my private iPhone 6, the 6s is equivalent in look and feels simply nearly as good in my hand. There are variations, nevertheless. Different reviewers have advised that the rise in weight from the 6 to the 6s, brought on by the addition of the Taptic Engine sensors, is barely noticeable. I disagree with that notion. I discover the elevated weight of the 6s to be very noticeable. It isn’t so pronounced that it negatively impacts utilization, nevertheless it’s there. In different phrases, the 6s isn’t heavy, per se, however there’s extra heft to it than the 6.

My iPhone is the “distant management” of my life.

One other distinction between the 6 and 6s is the fabric from which it’s made. Apple says the brand new telephone is made out of 7000 Collection aluminum, touting it as “the identical grade of aluminum used within the aerospace business.” Like my 6, I want to maintain the 6s in a case (a midnight blue silicone case, additionally on mortgage) for cover and added grip. (Grip is vital, because the weaker muscle tissue I’ve brought on by cerebral palsy make me susceptible to dropping issues.)

Sans case, nevertheless, the 6s is certainly “tackier” than its predecessor; the metallic has a unique texture to it. Regardless of this texture serving to me maintain the telephone extra securely, I really feel higher utilizing a case. Because the previous saying goes, higher to be protected than sorry.

The 6s Plus deserves point out right here, as nicely. During the last a number of months, I’ve seen many friends on Twitter and on podcasts extol the virtues of the iPhone 6 Plus, saying that its greater density display and longer battery life are such revelations that they traded up from the common 6. This made me query which 6s I needed to check, as I considered making an attempt the Plus once more. Then I remembered what I wrote on TidBITS:

As I used to be testing the iPhone 6 Plus and taking notes for this assessment, the phrase that stored coming to thoughts was “ok.” The common iPhone 6 is considerably bigger than any iPhone earlier than it, nevertheless it nonetheless looks like an iPhone. From an accessibility perspective, its four.7-inch display is lots huge and vibrant, however the iPhone 6 can also be extra manageable to carry and carry round. It has some points, nevertheless it’s ok.

Although I’ll revisit the Plus sooner or later, its essential drawback for me in the present day is the Faustian discount it presents. Sure, the Plus gives me the bigger display and different benefits, however I get an unwieldy telephone as a consequence. If my imaginative and prescient have been the one incapacity I wanted to accommodate, the selection can be easy. The factor is, I’ve bodily motor points to think about, too. The Plus is a beast that’s troublesome for my arms to tame. Put collectively, these elements make the query of which commerce-offs I’m prepared to simply accept extra difficult — agonizingly so, since my eyes love the Plus’s display.

Proper now, the common 6s is the higher selection throughout. Whereas I do miss the Plus’s greater, greater decision display, higher battery, and optical picture stabilization, the common 6s stays ok. It’s simpler to make use of one-handed and carry round. Most of all, it nonetheless seems like an iPhone, versus the “iPad Nano” really feel of its massive brother.

3D Contact

3D Contact is the hallmark function of the iPhone 6s, and I’m a fan. Apple payments 3D Contact as “the subsequent era of Multi-Contact,” and it really works very nicely — for probably the most half. There are two elements to 3D Contact: Fast Actions and Peek & Pop. Each options are very nicely finished, however Fast Actions has confirmed to be extra of an accessibility assist than Peek & Pop in my utilization.

Fast Actions work just about precisely how I hypothesized. They are surely shortcuts to generally used actions, which saves me from the tedium of a number of faucets. Extra critically, these shortcuts save my eyes and fingers from expelling a lot power find and urgent the button to, say, submit an image to Instagram. It looks like a trivial factor, however it makes an enormous distinction for these with particular wants who might take longer to navigate an app’s UI. I recognize the effectivity boon Fast Actions gives as a lot as anybody, however that it’s additionally a bona fide accessibility achieve is icing on the cake.

Thus far, nearly all of my Fast Actions utilization comes from a few of the iPhone’s constructed-in apps: Messages, Mail, Digital camera and Telephone. (My favourite is Messages, because it provides you entry to your three most up-to-date conversations.)

3D Contact is the hallmark function of the iPhone 6s.

As for App Retailer apps, as a heavy consumer of each Twitter and Fb, I take pleasure in utilizing Fast Actions to shortly submit a tweet or replace my standing, respectively. Moreover, I take pleasure in with the ability to shortly import a photograph to VSCO Cam for modifying, in addition to including new calendar occasions in Fantastical. Conversely,  there are apps that I hope add 3D Contact help quickly. For instance, it’d be nice if I might bounce to my favourite teams in Slack or request a experience in Uber with a easy Fast Motion.

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One third-social gathering app that makes notably good use of 3D Contact is Voice Dream Author, by indie developer Winston Chen. Voice Dream Author is a Markdown textual content editor for iOS (and Android) that lets customers write utilizing their voice, together with typing. The app additionally will learn textual content aloud, which is useful for proofreading.

Accessibility-sensible, Voice Dream Author is notable in two methods: Not solely does it help 3D Contact, nevertheless it makes writing prose simpler for blind and visually impaired writers. It’s helpful for the non-disabled too, who might like to make use of speech-to-textual content or simply tire of continually mashing on a keyboard.

The Accessibility Of The iPhone 6s

I had the prospect to talk with Chen by telephone lately about Voice Dream Author and the way it leverages 3D Contact. He informed me he feels 3D Contact is most useful to VoiceOver customers, as he believes VoiceOver and 3D Contact working collectively supplies an enriched expertise. Chen additionally defined how customers can use a pressure-press to regulate quick-forwarding, whereby a tough press on the quick-ahead button will double the velocity. In the event you lighten your contact, the velocity returns to regular, a conduct just like that of previous cassette gamers. It’s a really intelligent implementation of 3D Contact.

3D Contact is made much more accessible by its deep integration with lots of iOS’s accessibility options. Particularly, Apple has engineered 3D Contact to work with VoiceOver, Giant Dynamic Sort, Change Management, and AssistiveTouch. (Additionally of observe: It’s potential to convey up Fast Actions when utilizing Zoom.) VoiceOver customers are in a position to make use of normal VoiceOver gestures to cycle by way of an inventory of Fast Actions, in addition to “peeked” content material, reminiscent of maps and URLs.

Relating to Giant Dynamic Sort, I examined this by setting textual content measurement to smallest and largest, respectively, and the Fast Actions interface responded accordingly. Change Management customers are capable of assign numerous actions to invoke a 3D Contact motion. Lastly, AssistiveTouch customers are capable of outline a 3D Contact press within the AssistiveTouch menu.

Past the person accessibility options, Apple has added international 3D Contact settings to the Accessibility preferences (Settings > Basic > Accessibility > 3D Contact) on the brand new iPhones. Customers are capable of modify the strain sensitivity of the show in three increments: Mild, Medium, Agency. There’s additionally a pleasant image of flowers that’s used to check the sensitivity of presses. Press it, and the photograph will pop up; let go, and it goes away.

Having fiddled with these settings, I’ve settled on Mild as my most popular degree. I don’t relish the thought of jamming my finger into the display, so I like that a delicate contact does the trick. I can see Mild (and even Medium) being well-liked with those that endure from RSI or different muscle-affecting circumstances.

The nerd in me needs the brand new telephone for all the brand new performance that comes with it.

As for Peek & Pop, my opinion is much less effusive. As I wrote earlier, I feel Fast Actions is extra attuned to accessibility. Peek & Pop feels extra like a function of comfort, although I do take pleasure in peeking into albums in Apple Music and photographs in Instagram. (Additionally good: the swipe-up gesture to disclose out there actions. Examples embrace liking a photograph on Instagram and appearing on an e mail.) It jogs my memory of Fast Look on OS X. I want you would zoom in on a Mail message to learn it, as an example; then once more, you can zoom by simply “popping” into full display and utilizing pinch-to-zoom. Nonetheless, it’d be good when you might double-faucet to zoom within the preview.

General, I’m bullish on 3D Contact. Like with Markdown and Apple Pay, 3D Contact is a type of issues that isn’t  created expressly for accessibility, however is designed so nicely that everybody can use it without having particular modes or settings. My hope is that it will definitely makes its option to iPad, and I’m eager about making an attempt Drive Contact on the Mac. It’s early days but for 3D Contact — I discover myself urgent on each icon to see if extra third-celebration apps help it.

My solely gripes can be that I get annoyed by inadvertently activating “jiggle mode” (to maneuver/delete apps) once I imply to entry 3D Contact. Additionally, I feel Apple missed a chance to borrow the drive-press-to-clear-notifications gesture from Apple Watch. It’s a pure match for 3D Contact, however alas, it isn’t there. It’s a curious omission on Apple’s half.

I want it existed on iPhone as a result of, in accessibility phrases, the present technique of clearing Notification Middle is a chore. That is because of the X and Clear buttons being small to see and faucet, which leads to eye pressure and requires a degree of superb-motor precision I don’t have. (There’s additionally the comfort: Two faucets are wanted to clear notifications on the telephone, whereas you press as soon as on the watch.)


I’ve been very happy by how a lot Siri has improved, and for good purpose. Siri is far more adept at shortly and precisely parsing my instructions. This enchancment is made much more spectacular contemplating I’ve a speech obstacle. As a stutterer, Siri has traditionally been frustratingly dangerous at understanding me, so its development is refreshing.

On the iPhone 6s, Siri is best in a few methods. First, Apple has added a tutorial whereby you practice Siri to study your voice, utilizing queries similar to “Hey Siri, what’s the climate like right now?” This accomplishes two issues: It prevents different voices from by chance prompting Siri, and, extra importantly, it opens the door to palms-free communication. From a technical standpoint, Apple advised me “Hey, Siri” is made attainable by the M9 movement co-processor being constructed instantly onto the A9 chipset. (Beforehand, the co-processors have been discrete chips.)

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  • iPhone 6
    • Description iPhone 6 isn’t merely greater — it’s higher in each approach. Bigger, but dramatically thinner. Extra highly effective, however remarkably energy environment friendly. With a clean metallic floor that seamlessly meets the brand new Retina HD show. It’s one steady type the place hardware and software program perform in good unison, creating a brand new era of iPhone that’s higher by any measure
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  • iPhone 6s
    • Description The unique iPhone launched the world to Multi-Contact, eternally altering the best way individuals expertise know-how. With 3D Contact, you are able to do issues that have been by no means attainable earlier than. It senses how deeply you press the show, letting you do all types of important issues extra shortly and easily. And it provides you actual-time suggestions within the type of delicate faucets from the all-new Taptic Engine.

      The 12-megapixel …

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    • Full profile for iPhone 6s

Second, that Siri on the brand new iPhones is arms-free and ever-current has an apparent accessibility profit. For customers with bodily motor delays, the act of urgent and holding the House button for Siri could also be problematic — this can be as a result of lowered dexterity or low muscle tone. The iPhone 6s, nevertheless, alleviates these issues. It’s now attainable to work together with Siri just by voice, making it extra accessible and inclusive than ever.

At a macro degree, the addition of “Hey, Siri” marks a big step ahead for Siri’s usefulness as an accessibility software. Not solely is it enhancing technically at recognizing non-commonplace speech patterns like mine, it is also eradicating literal friction for these with motor points by permitting somebody with a 6s to summon Siri with out touching the Residence button. I’ve lengthy maintained Siri has nice potential as an assistive know-how, and its current developments transfer it nearer to completely realizing that energy.


Battery life on the iPhone 6s appears on par with that of the iPhone 6, nevertheless it must be higher. In my thoughts, if there’s one purpose for Apple to spice up battery efficiency on the iPhone, it might be display brightness.

As somebody with low imaginative and prescient, I completely want my iPhone’s (and my different units’) display to be set at max brightness, because it’s best for me to see the display. The very first thing I do with each new system I get is crank up the display brightness; to me, max brightness is a de facto accessibility function. In fact, the commerce-off is that my battery takes successful from having to maintain the display so vibrant all day lengthy.

Firming down the brightness to protect juice is an untenable compromise; I want all that mild with a view to use my telephone successfully. Nonetheless, I admit to feeling pangs of guilt as a result of I do know my telephone’s battery has to work more durable. Therefore, a much bigger battery would make me really feel higher about having my display so vibrant.

I can’t think about being the one one who wants most display brightness, and I *know* I’m not the one one wanting a greater battery. It appears battery know-how improves at glacial velocity, however I feel it might behoove Apple’s battery group to deal with this. Perhaps subsequent yr.

The Accessibility Of The iPhone 6s

Some Random Observations

As others have reported, the brand new iPhones are loopy quick. Contact ID is particularly spectacular; it’s so quick now that I’ve to remind myself to make use of the Sleep/Wake button when checking the Lock display.

“Trackpad mode” with one finger is simpler to maneuver than on the iPad, which requires two fingers. I don’t use it, although, as a result of I discover the cursor to be too small to see comfortably.

I don’t like utilizing 3D Contact to entry the multitasking UI. It’s uncomfortable, so I as an alternative double-click on the Residence button.

Talking of 3D Contact, I really like the suggestions you get when an app doesn’t have Fast Actions. It’s as if the system is telling you, “uh-uh,” in a method just like the improper password “head shake.” Each are nice examples of pleasure and playfulness in UI design.

The vibration motor, powered by the Taptic Engine, is nice. It has a extra nice, virtually soothing feeling than the previous variety did.

The digital camera is phenomenal but once more.

The advert, “The Solely Factor That’s Modified Is All the things,” is superior. It’s enjoyable, mild-hearted, and completely captures what’s new concerning the iPhone.

Backside Line

I wrote on the outset of this piece concerning the “dilemma” of upgrading my iPhone yearly. The logic towards doing so is and can all the time be legitimate, however the fact is that updates just like the iPhone 6s makes my choice a no brainer.

The rationale I need to improve my telephone so typically isn’t a lot as a result of I’m a nerd or I want it for my job. It’s as a result of my iPhone is the “distant management” of my life. My telephone is an indispensable software, and I would like the most effective device.

The iPhone 6s matches the invoice. It’s the perfect, most accessible distant management but.