It’s unusual to learn about new features in unannounced versions of iOS directly from Apple. These reveals are usually reserved for a special event, typically WWDC. However, the Cupertino-based company has unveiled new accessibility features coming soon, likely in iOS 16. Apple’s new accessibility features include door detection and live captions for FaceTime, streaming content, and even spoken conversations.
Innovative Software Features to Help Those With Disabilities Get the Most From Their Apple Products
Cupertino has, for years, been a leading force in innovating features to assist users with disabilities. In an announcement Tuesday, Apple unveiled the next batch of accessibility features to help its products work for everyone and improve everyone’s daily living.
Door Detection to Help You Get Inside Your Destination
Folks who are blind or have vision impairments will be able to use their iPhones or iPads to navigate the last few feet to their destination with Door Detection. Integrated with a new Detection Mode in Magnifier. Combining the power of LiDAR, camera, and on-device machine learning, Door Detection will identify where doors are at a new destination.
It will even tell users if the door is open or closed and whether it can be opened by pushing, pulling, turning a knob, or pulling a handle. The feature even reads signs and symbols around the door, such as room numbers or the accessible entrance logo.
Building on Assistive Touch and Other Apple Watch Accessibility Features
Apple is also building on accessibility within Apple Watch. A new mirroring feature will allow users to control their Apple Watch from their iPhone, using its assistive features like Voice Control and Switch Control. Advances built on AirPlay will allow users to benefit from Apple Watch apps like Blood Oxygen, Heart Rate, Mindfulness and more using their iPhones.
New Quick Actions on Apple Watch will enable simple hand gestures to answer or end a phone call, dismiss a notification, pause media in Now Playing, and more. Assistive Touch has been popular on iPhone for some time, and has recently become much more useful on Apple Watch.
Helping the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community
For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, Live Captions will come to iPhone, iPad and Mac. This feature will allow users to follow along more easily with any audio content. It doesn’t matter if it’s a phone or FaceTime call, video conferencing, streaming media content, or even a conversation with someone right next to them.
Live Captions will automatically transcribe what the device hears. Mac users will also be able to type a response. Their Mac will speak it aloud in real time to others in the conversation. Live Captions are generated on the device, so nothing goes to Apple or anywhere else.
Apple Bringing Additional Accessibility Features to iOS
Cupertino is also adding new languages to VoiceOver, including Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. More than 20 new locales and languages will arrive in VoiceOver this year. Other new features include:
- 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.
Timing of the Additional Features
It’s highly unlikely that Apple will add these to iOS 15, or any of the current operating systems. Therefore, this is probably a sneak peek into what we’ll hear about in June when Cupertino unveils iOS 16.