Recent Siri Changes Eliminate Call, Email and Voicemail Features Used by Blind and Low Vision Users

With the recent launch of iOS 15, Apple seems to have made some changes to Siri Functionality that has removed features trusted by low vision and blind people. iPhone users.

Siri glow
Various ‌Siri‌ commands that provide details about phone calls, voice messages and sending emails no longer seem to work. The following commands used to be functional, but have recently been removed.

  • Do I have voice messages?
  • Play my voicemail messages
  • Check my call history
  • Check my recent calls
  • Who is my name?
  • Send an e-mail
  • Send an email to [person]

Over the past two weeks, we have received several emails from iPhone users who are missing this key Siri functionality, or their family members trying to help them navigate the changes. Deletions of the ‌Siri‌ function have also been documented on the AppleVis forums for blind and low vision users of Apple products.

One of the people I support told me that she could no longer use Siri to send emails from her iPhone 8 with iOS 14. I tested my iPhone SE with iOS 15.0 and Siri’s response was “sorry, I can’t help. Later, I got the same answer on an iOS 12 phone. If it’s a deliberate removal of a feature, it’s certainly a loss for some users with vision loss who find a convenient way to send a short email.

Before this latest iOS update, if Siri were asked to play voicemail, Siri would, now Siri just says it can’t do that. Trying to find a workaround, as my father who is completely blind relied heavily on this feature.

My sister is blind and Siri would respond to voice commands, that is, she would read my text message, call Barbara, answer questions about the weather, and most importantly tell my sister who called her. As of today, Siri’s response is “I can’t help with that.” Has the system changed? Is there something on the iPhone that needs to be enabled for Siri to help my sister know who called her in the past?

Asking ‌Siri‌ to provide details about recent phone calls or voice messages results in the following response: “I can’t help with that, but you can ask me to open the Phone app.” Asking about email gets a similar response that ‌Siri‌ can’t help.

It is worth noting that it is still possible to ask ‌Siri‌ to play the most recent voicemail message that is available, or a voice message from a specific person, but ‌Siri‌ will not read a list of all available voice messages. The ‌Siri‌ commands seem to have disappeared when ‌iOS 15‌ was released, but iOS 14 users are also unable to use them anymore, so it is not an ‌iOS 15‌ related issue.

We asked Apple to comment if this was a bug or if there are alternative commands available to users, but after several days of waiting for a response, we received no response. A user on the AppleVis forums spoke to Apple support and was told that Apple is aware of the issue, so there is a chance that this functionality will be added back at some point.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *