The new features are enabled by a combination of hardware, software, and machine learning advances, and will assist those with visual or physical disabilities. Improving movement around the home, offering enhanced device voice control, or helping the hard-of-hearing make out what’s going on are a few of the changes Apple’s new accessibility features will roll in.
Making accessibility accessible
Door Detection is one of these new features. This one is aimed at those with vision issues and works via the iPhone and iPad. It helps the visually impaired by locating and describing doors in the vicinity. Descriptions and distances are shared with the user. The feature also informs users what any signs around the door might say.
The feature will turn up in Apple’s Magnifier app. It makes use of the LiDAR scanner found in some of its physical devices. It goes hand-in-hand with People Detection and Image Descriptions, in the same app. You can probably guess what those do. Apple Maps is getting an accessibility tweak too.
Apple Watch users with disabilities are being given the chance to actually use their devices, easily and without issue. That’s thanks to something called Apple Watch Mirroring. An Apple Watch display is shown on an iPhone’s screen. Voice Control and Switch Control (found on the iPhone) can then be used to navigate the Watch. Head tracking, voice commands, and the like can be used in lieu of tapping a dinky display. Quick Actions make interacting with that screen simpler, too. A pinch of the display can operate various context-sensitive functions.
Then there’s Live Captions. Also self-explanatory feature, Live Captions automagically transcribes dialogue when users are on a voice or FaceTime call. The hearing impaired can follow conversations they may have struggled with beforehand. These captions are done on the device itself, which is handy.
Finally, VoiceOver is getting more languages. The screen-reading app’s update doesn’t include any new South African languages, unfortunately. Ah well, can’t have everything. These features will be available later this year, across all of Apple platforms.