In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Apple is preparing several new accessibility features to arrive on the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac later this year. The company says these new features will provide disabled users with additional ways to “navigate, connect and use Apple products.”
One of the new features is called Door Detection, which Apple says will help users find doors when they arrive at a new destination. Detection helps users understand how far they are from the door and describe features, including whether they are open or closed. With the door closed, the function can inform the user whether the door can be opened by pressing, turning the knob, or pulling the handle.
Door detection can also read signs and symbols around the door, such as room numbers or the “presence” of an accessible entry symbol. The Door Detection function works in conjunction with LiDAR, the camera of your iPhone or iPad, and machine learning.
Apple Watch Mirroring and Fast Action
For Apple Watch users, Apple has announced a new Apple Watch Mirroring feature. It was described as a way to make Apple Watch “more accessible than ever for people with physical and motor disabilities.”
Apple explained that Apple Watch Mirroring users can control Apple Watch using handy iPhone features such as voice and switch control, and use inputs including voice commands, sound actions, head tracking, or external switches Made for iPhone as an alternative to tapping the Apple Watch screen.
Apple Watch Mirroring uses a combination of hardware and software features, including “AirPlay enhancements.” The key is that users who rely on these mobility features have access to things like blood oxygen, heart rate, mindfulness, and more from their Apple Watch.
Quick Actions is another new feature that comes to Apple Watch:
With the new Apple Watch’s quick actions, you can double-tap to answer or end a phone call, delete notifications, take a photo, play media, or pause Now Playing and start, stop, or stop a workout. It builds on the new technology used by AssistiveTouch on Apple Watch and gives users with height variations the ability to control Apple Watch gestures such as pinch or pinch.
For the deaf and hard of hearing community, Apple has announced live headlines for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. This feature works by capturing real-time audio content, including FaceTime calls, any social network or video application, streaming media content, or even “talking to someone next to them.”
FaceTime Live Captions includes an automatically rewritten dialog for call participants, making group video calls easier for hearing-impaired users. When live captions are used for Mac calls, users have the ability to write an answer and speak it out in real time for the rest of the conversation. And because live transcription is done on the device, user information remains private and secure. In addition
Other new accessibility features include:
- VoiceOver, Apple’s leading screen reader for blind and partially sighted users, has added support for more than 20 additional locations and languages, including Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.
- With Buddy Controller, users can ask a caregiver or friend to help them play; Buddy Controller combines any two game controllers into one, allowing multiple controllers to plug in single player input.
- With Siri Pause Time, voice-restricted users can adjust how long Siri waits before responding to a request.
- Voice Control Spelling Mode gives users the ability to dictate their own spelling by entering letters letter by letter
- Sound Recognition can be customized to identify sounds that are specific to a person’s environment, such as a unique alarm, doorbell, or home appliances.
- Apple Books offers new topics and introduces customization options, such as bold text and line, character, and word space customization for a more accessible reading experience.
According to Apple, these features will come in software updates later this year. Find out more in the company’s press release.