The new Twitter app and VoiceOver, It’s a Bit Confusing..

I don’t use the official Twitter app as I find it extremely confusing and unintuitive, however, I generally try to give it a quick look after every update as I know it may be the first Twitter app people are likely to encounter. The latest version comes with a number of changes, not all good in terms of accessibility. To be fair, I’m still exploring the new app, but I thought I’d jot down my observations thus far in the hopes they help others get started.

The new welcome screen.

When you launch the new Twitter app, you are now presented with this very strange welcome overlay. I say that it’s strange because if you use VoiceOver, you’ll still be able to read one or two tweets behind this overlay (this likely matches what’s visually happening on the screen). What you won’t be able to do is activate any of the application tabs along the bottom of the app, nor will you be able to scroll through the tweets. All is not lost, however, as it’s possible to dismiss this overlay; here’s how I managed to get it working:

  1. Touch until you find the what’s new text.
  2. Double tap then swipe either right or left.
  3. Find the new block of “what’s new” text.
  4. Again double tap and swipe.
  5. Eventually, after doing this about five times, a button will appear. The button says “start Twitter,.”
    Double tap this button.
  6. Get a drink, eat some cake, or celebrate in whatever manner you choose; you made it!

Note: I am told that a three finger swipe left while focused on the “what’s new” text will advance to the next block, however, this didn’t work for me. Might be worth a try though as that’d certainly be easier than the process just described.

Life after the welcome screen.

Twitter is just as unintuitive as it’s been for a while, however, here’s what I’ve discovered with the new design. First, there is now a row of tabs across the bottom of the application: “Timelines,” “Notifications,” “Messages,” and “Me.” At the top of the application is a button that says “people” then a title which changes depending on which tab you’re in (the title text does not match the name of the tab of course) “search” and “new tweet.” Just a quick note: I still don’t really understand what the “people” button does, but fortunately, if you’re as confused by it as me, there’s a back button that will actually, well, take you back. Below this top row is your timeline/messages/”me” info, again depending on which tab you’re in.


The “notifications” tab seems to show Twitter Mentions and I suspect it probably shows something else as otherwise, why not just call it the “mentions” tab? I should note that this tab also has a “people” button as described above and just as described above, I still don’t really understand it.


The “messages” tab shows you any direct messages you’ve received. Double tapping on any message will show expand the thread showing any on-going discussion you might be having with that particular Twitter user. on the definitely very cool side, there’s an edit box within the conversation view making it super easy to reply.


The “Me” tab shows your own profile and activity. One thing worth noting is that if you want to change any of the application’s settings, the settings option is found within this tab.

Hey! Stop pushing me!

I don’t know if this is a product of the upgrade or if I’ve just not used Twitter for a while, however, the client decided that I should start receiving push notifications for every mention and direct message received. It took me forever to figure out how to shut this off, but approximately 45 obnoxious push notifications later, I eventually did. If you find yourself in this situation, here’s how to fix it:

  1. Go to the “me” tab.
  2. Double tap settings.
  3. Double tap your @username, yes, this is actionable even though VoiceOver doesn’t identify it as such.
  4. Double tap notifications.
  5. Uncheck the boxes for whatever notifications you don’t want pushed, i.e. mentions, direct messages, etc… Note, some options appear to have two check boxes. IF you’re unable to uncheck one of them, try the other.

It ain’t all bad.

I realize I’m being pretty hard on the new Twitter here, however, there are some neat aspects I want to call out. First, if you double tap and hold on a tweet in timelines, you get a context menu, “Mail Tweet, Copy Link to Tweet, Report Tweet, and Cancel.” If you triple tap a tweet in timelines, you get a similar context menu containing, “Reply, Retweet, Favorite, and Cancel.” The VoiceOver hint advises that you can “triple tap for quick tweet actions,” which is a very nice touch. I really do like this triple tap menu as it provides fast access to the features I use most.

Final thoughts.

There’s still a lot about the new Twitter Client I have yet to figure out. On the plus side, there does seem to be some additional accessibility support in the form of the triple tap context menus and VoiceOver help tags. If you decide to try it, however, just be prepared to deal with the initial welcome process and an interface that to me, seems less than intuitive. Are you using the upgraded client and if so, what are your thoughts? Please comment below.

By Steve Sawczyn

Blind from birth, I do what I can to help make the web an accessible destination for all.

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