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Apple fixes VoiceOver bugs in update to iWork suite for iOS

Apple in a rare overnight update on Tuesday issued what appears to be critical fixes to accessibility features in all three iOS iWork apps, returning full VoiceOver navigation and editing functionality to Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

With the new updates, Apple's Pages word processor, Numbers spreadsheet and Keynote presentation apps move to version 2.5.4 and resolve issues that prevented UI navigation and content editing using VoiceOver. In addition to the VoiceOver patch, Pages no longer blurs text on certain devices when the Speak Screen option is activated.

It is unclear how long the iWork accessibility problems persisted, but the launch of iOS 8.4 last week could be a contributor given its proximity to Apple's fix. Ironically, Apple recently created a special App Store section highlighting popular apps that successfully integrate VoiceOver compatibility, including the iWork apps updated tonight.

First introduced with OS X 10.4 in 2004, VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader that lets users interact with onscreen graphical interfaces relying on touch and sound, not sight. The feature subsequently migrated to iOS and is now offered in some capacity across all Apple platforms, including Apple Watch. Earlier this year, the technology garnered Apple a Helen Keller Achievement Award for improving quality of life for the vision impaired.

The latest versions of Pages, Numbers and Keynote come in at 279MB, 245MB and 463MB, respectively and are free downloads for existing users. New customers can purchase the apps from the iOS App Store for $9.99 each.