As news of Android 12 accessibility features makes the rounds, Apple accessibility appears to be going backwards. For blind or low-vision iPhone users, one of the platform’s most useful tools is now unavailable: FlickType.
Reported by The Verge, developer Kosta Eleftheriou is removing FlickType's iPhone keyboard. The developer revealed that constant badgering from Apple is the reason behind the app's discontinuation.
FlickType vs Apple
Eleftheriou’s fight against Apple is nothing new. The FlickType developer alleges that Apple has been consistently hindering the success of their keyboard app. Back in March, Eleftheriou began a lawsuit against the iPhone company. In the lawsuit, the developer alleged that Apple “erected roadblocks to his FlickType keyboard... to convince him to sell the technology.... for a discount”.
Apple has repeatedly rejected the blind-friendly software on the claim that it needs full access to iPhones in order to work. Eleftheriou fought against this claim three years ago, proving to Apple that full access was not needed. However, Apple keeps rejecting the application anyway.
“They incorrectly argue again that our keyboard extension doesn't work without "full access", something they rejected us for THREE years ago. Back then we successfully appealed and overturned their decision, and this hadn't been a problem since. Until now. We tried reaching out to Apple a total of 9 times last week, with no success. At this point they seem to be ignoring our attempts to contact them directly, despite previously explicitly telling us to “feel free” to contact them if we need “further clarification”.”
No more app
After the repeated rejection from Apple, Eleftheriou has given up on the iPhone keyboard app. The developer explained that trying to get the app to stay on iOS has been “very emotionally draining”. They said:
“Our rejection history already spans more than FOURTY pages filled with repeated, unwarranted, & unreasonable rejections that serve to frustrate & delay rather than benefit end-users. And dealing with App Review isn’t just time-consuming. It’s also very emotionally draining,”
FlickType’s iPhone keyboard experience is only part of the full suite. The application is also one of the most popular Apple Watch apps. While the blind-friendly iOS app will go the way of the Dodo, the Apple Watch app is here to stay.