Amazon this morning updated its Kindle iOS app with support for Apple’s “VoiceOver” reading and navigation feature for blind and visually impaired users of the iPhone and iPad. Amazon says more than 1.8 million e-books will support the technology, which automatically reads aloud the words on the page.
The decision to use Apple’s VoiceOver is notable in part because Amazon recently acquired a company, IVONA Software, that provides Kindle “text to speech” and other features — potentially helping Amazon rival Apple’s Siri feature. Amazon says in a news release that it’s launching new accessibility support first on iOS and will be adding similar features to other Kindle apps later.
Amazon has faced past criticism and lawsuits from advocates for blind and visually impaired readers, seeking to block efforts to bring Kindles into schools and universities because they weren’t fully accessible.
The company says the new accessibility support for the Kindle iOS app gives broader access to features including text search, notes, bookmarks, X-Ray, and social media sharing. The app is available here for download or updating, and the VoiceOver feature can be enabled in iOS under Settings > General > Accessibility.