Apple's commitment to accessibility has been commendable, with the Cupertino giant releasing new accessibility features alongside every major iOS release. On the occasion of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the company has given us a preview of its upcoming accessibility features that introduce new ways for users with disabilities to navigate, connect, and get the most out of Apple products.
In Apple’s newsroom post, Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s senior director of Accessibility Policy and Initiatives said,
“Apple embeds accessibility into every aspect of our work, and we are committed to designing the best products and services for everyone,” said Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s senior director of Accessibility Policy and Initiatives. “We’re excited to introduce these new features, which combine innovation and creativity from teams across Apple to give users more options to use our products in ways that best suit their needs and lives.”
Here are the major features that we can expect Apple to release this year:
Door Detection for users who are blind or low vision
Door Detection is a cutting-edge navigation feature for users who are blind or have low vision. Using this feature users can locate a door upon reaching it and get information, including how far they are from the door, if the door is open or not, or even how a door can be opened (pushing, turning a knob, or pulling a handle) if it’s closed.
Door Detection can also read signs and symbols around the door, like the room number at an office, or the presence of an accessible entrance symbol. This new feature combines the power of LiDAR, camera, and on-device machine learning, and will be available on iPhone and iPad models with the LiDAR Scanner.
The feature will be available in a new Detection Mode within Apple’s Magnifier app. In addition to navigation tools within Magnifier, Apple Maps will offer sound and haptics feedback for VoiceOver users to identify the starting point for walking directions.
Apple Watch Mirroring and Quick Actions
Apple will also be releasing a new Apple Watch Mirroring feature that will make it more accessible than ever for people with physical and motor disabilities by allowing users to control Apple Watch remotely from their paired iPhone. Once users start mirroring their Apple Watch on iPhone, they will be able to use iPhone’s built-in assistive features, like Voice Control and Switch Control, to enter inputs via voice commands, sound actions, head tracking, and more.
Apple Watch will also be getting a new Quick Actions to feature that will allow users to control their Apple Watch with simple hand gestures. For example, users will be able to use a double-pinch gesture to answer calls, dismiss a notification, play/pause media, and more.
Apple will also be releasing a new Live Captions feature that will help deaf and hard of hearing users. The feature will show live captions for spoken audio and will work on all the apps, including FaceTime, social media apps, conference call apps, etc. Users will get the ability to adjust the font size for an easy reading experience. The feature will be available on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
- With Buddy Controller, users can ask a care provider or friend to help them play a game; Buddy Controller combines any two game controllers into one, so multiple controllers can drive the input for a single player.
- With Siri Pause Time, users with speech disabilities can adjust how long Siri waits before responding to a request.
- Voice Control Spelling Mode gives users the option to dictate custom spellings using letter-by-letter input.5
- Sound Recognition can be customized to recognize sounds that are specific to a person’s environment, like their home’s unique alarm, doorbell, or appliances.
- The Apple Books app will offer new themes, and introduce customization options such as bolding text and adjusting line, character, and word spacing for an even more accessible reading experience.
There are several additional features that will also come as part of the new accessibility suite, and you can learn more about them by visiting Apple’s official newsroom post on the same.