Apple introducing new accessibility features
Apple is introducing new software accessibility features designed to help users with disabilities to navigate and use Apple products.
Currently in preview, the new accessibility features utilise advancements across hardware, software and machine learning to help users who are blind or low vision, those with physical and motor disabilities and the deaf and hearing impaired.
These include Door Detection, a new feature for the iPhone and iPad designed to help the visually impaired navigate the last metre to their destination. The feature will inform users if the door is open or closed, and whether it can be opened by pushing, turning a knob or pulling a handle.
Door Detection can also read signs and symbols around the door, such as the room number at an office or the presence of an accessible entrance symbol. It will be available on iPhone and iPad models with the LiDAR Scanner, which includes the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Apple is meanwhile introducing advanced physical and motor accessibility functionalities for Apple Watch, including the ability to use inputs such as voice commands, sound actions, head tracking or external Made for iPhone switches as alternatives to tapping the Apple Watch display.
For the deaf and hard of hearing, Apple is introducing Live Captions on iPhone, iPad and Mac, initially for users in the US and Canada.
The captions will be available on phones, FaceTime calls, videoconferencing and social media apps, while streaming media content or merely when having a conversation with somebody close by.
Additional features include Buddy Controller, which will allow any two game controllers to be combined into one so disabled users can ask a care provider or friend to help them play a game; Siri Pause Time to allow users with speech disabilities to adjust how long Siri waits before responding to a request; and Sound Recognition, which can be trained to recognise sounds such as alarms or doorbells that are specific to a user’s environment.
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