Apple Watch may impact iOS app accessibility

Is an accessible iOS app still accessible when used with the Apple Watch? 

Many already recognise the importance of building mobile apps in an accessible way. However, it’s also become important for developers to consider whether their apps will be used with other extensions, such as the Apple Watch, as not all of the accessible characteristics may carry over. 

Apple sets a great example for accessibility of their products. In a recent interview with Mashable Australia about the Apple Watch, our own David Woodbridge, Senior Adaptive Technology Consultant and Apple Accessibility Ambassador said, “I want other developers to take on what Apple does as just a matter of course.” 

Designed to work in conjunction with the iPhone, the Apple Watch includes a broad range of accessibility features, such as VoiceOver, Zoom, Larger Dynamic Type, Bold Text, Grayscale, Reduce Motion, Reduce Transparency, On/Off Labels, and Mono Audio. Successful use of these features, however, depends on the accessibility of the apps they are used with. 

Extensive testing of the Apple Watch by Vision Australia has shown a number of instances where an iOS app is accessible, but its watch extension is not. With the Apple Watch set to attract a significant number of consumers from both mainstream and disability communities, developers not only need to be aware of accessible app design, they need to consider how those designs will integrate with this new technology as well. 

Have your app tested for accessibility 

The experts in accessibility, Vision Australia’s Digital Access team provides a comprehensive Mobile App Evaluation service. Designed to establish the level of accessibility for all content and functionality of your mobile app, we’ll identify any aspects of the build that don’t conform to applicable WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria and best practice standards for app design. Any issues found will come with clear and tailored recommendations on how to improve the accessibility on iOS and Android devices, and when used with other extensions such as the Apple Watch. 

Find out more about our Mobile App Evaluation service or contact Digital Access for more information. 

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