Captioning inconsistency on Apple TV

Enhancement Request for Closed Captioning Consistency with Apple's Settings

Dear Development Team,

I am writing to request an enhancement in your app regarding the closed captioning feature. It has come to my attention that the captioning provided by the GetChannels app does not utilize Apple's native captioning settings. This inconsistency affects the legibility and accessibility of the captions, especially for users who rely on specific settings like bold fonts, transparency, and highlight options.

For users, particularly those who are DeafBlind or have other visual impairments, the ability to configure caption settings to their needs is essential. The current GetChannels captions, with their solid backgrounds and non-bold fonts, do not align with the customized settings of the device, such as 0% background opacity and 100% text highlight that users have set for better visibility.

I strongly urge the adoption of Apple's native captioning settings in your app to provide a consistent and accessible viewing experience. Utilizing the native system would ensure that captions are always displayed according to user preferences across all apps, including GetChannels, to accommodate their viewing experience by enhancing user experience.

While it might be easy to overlook the importance of such features, I assure you their impact on my experience is profound. I respectfully request that this enhancement be prioritized accordingly. The Deaf and DeafBlind communities would greatly benefit from the ability to see captions in a format that best suits our needs, as would anyone who prefers personalized captioning settings.

I understand that development resources are often stretched, and prioritization can be challenging. However, this is not a minor issue for users like myself—it is a crucial aspect of our daily interactions with media. I earnestly ask you to consider the profound effect that accessible captioning has on our lives and to implement these changes with the urgency they warrant.

Thank you for considering this request and for your commitment to accessibility and user experience. Looking forward to seeing this update.


Following up to see if anybody have this same issue and whether or not if anybody from Channels are willing to look into this accessibility issue? Thank you!

Yes, we care about accessibility. No, we cannot use the system player or the system closed captioning system.

If you have specific requests of changes we can make to make things more legible, we can look into how much the systems we use can be modified to accommodate.

Edit: Can you point out where we aren't respecting the background opacity? The code we currently have is looking at the system settings for background opacity, and the screenshot you provided appears to be respecting it.

The latest tvOS beta now respects the bold system setting for closed captioning font selection.

Nice! Thanks for asking @bprit and thanks @eric for adding this, We keep captions on frequenly too for our aging ears. I've noticed Channels is the only app that prints left-justified instead of centered. The text is also not centered on the screen. Not a huge deal for me, I've just gotten used to it, so I've not mentioned it previously, but I could see it being problematic for others. I think centered text would be better, results in less eye strain, and is more consistent with the rest of tvOS UI.

OTA captions contain positioning, and will frequently be underneath the person talking. In order to preserve that behavior we don't simply force center everything. But there may be improvements possible when dealing with non-CC subtitles.

Thank you for making it bold! One step to the finish line! 2 remaining issues, listed below:

  1. Under the "Accessibility" settings within Apple tvOS, the font was set to Helvetica.
    IMG_1071 Medium

On the Channels app (beta), the font is different.
IMG_1069 Medium

  1. Under the "Accessibility" settings within Apple tvOS, the text highlight is set to 75% and background is set to 0%, making it looks like true closed captioning (like it used to be in the past).
    IMG_1067 Medium
    IMG_1068 Medium

With this settings.... the other app (for example, HGTV) looks like this. This is our desired outcome.
IMG_1071 Medium
IMG_1072 Medium

Meanwhile, on the Channels app (beta), it appears differently as if it's the background and not the text highlight.
IMG_1063 Medium
IMG_1069 Medium

Hope this clarifies things up! Thank you so much for your commitment!

OTA captions require a fixed-width font for positioning.

We do our best to map over the system settings to our caption renderer, but they don't work the same way so it's not a perfect mapping.

Forgive me, please correct me if I’m mistaken. But I think we are on a different page.

I don’t mind the positioning, just that we need to be able to modify the formatting of the text itself, including font family and background/highlight colors.

When you say OTA, do you mean “over the air”? Those shows I’ve been watching is not from a TV antenna (which I already set up)… those shows from the screenshots are streamed via the internet.

Sorry if I’m not clear or if I’m not understanding you.

I understand. I'm just trying to provide some context. Channels was developed for live TV, so many decisions were made inside the player code which are specific to Over The Air television. For example, using Helvetica is not an option for OTA because the font needs to be fixed-width.

1 Like

Hmm. We haven’t adjusted any settings yet. We currently have these set:
Settings > Accessibility > Subtitles and Captioning > Style > Transparent Background
as well as
Settings > Accessibility > Display > Bold Text > OFF

...but now, with the latest TestFlight, the closed captions are displaying in bold text in Channels playback everywhere. Are there other settings we're missing? How do we make the text regular again, and not bold?

Current release:

Latest TestFlight, on same AppleTV:

I've gone through the Subtitles settings for tvOS and you're right that it doesn't appear there are any settings to adjust the bold, though we are seeing that the bold attribute is specified by the system API (which is what we started to respect).

Is this bold text really bothering you?

Where is the system setting for that API it's now respecting, so I can change ours back to regular? I've always had have "Settings > Accessibility > Display > Bold Text > OFF" so is there somewhere else I should be checking?

Considering all closed captioning text is bold now everywhere in Channels, yes, I find it jarring. My gf asked why the "font looks bigger, can you change it back?" We use many other apps with captions on, so by comparison Channels stands out as the only one in all bold, which is not easy on the eyes and feels like the speaker is shouting, or the text is intentionally emphasized. At the very least it's distracting.

I didn't expect one user's request for bold styling to affect all Channels users this way. Can there not be a toggle to suit both styles? Of course I completely appreciate all the work you do on this amazing product, I understand how difficult it must be to accommodate everyone's preferences. But this feels like a big change to those of us who've been relying on closed captions on everything we watch via this software for years.

Looking at the fact there isn't a way in the Apple settings to toggle the bold status for closed captioning, I'll look into rolling back this change.