Apple Announces New Accessibility Features Coming This Year To iPhone, Mac, And Apple Watch

Apple has today given everyone a preview of some new accessibility features that will come to the iPhone, Mac, and Apple Watch later this year.

The features were all shared in honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day and will likely form part of the raft of big new software updates that will be released around September time.

One of the new features will be door detection for people who are blind or suffer from low vision.

Door Detection will use the iPhone and iPad LiDAR Scanner to help detect doors and their handles.

Apple is introducing Door Detection, a cutting-edge navigation feature for users who are blind or low vision. Door Detection can help users locate a door upon arriving at a new destination, understand how far they are from it, and describe door attributes — including if it is open or closed, and when it’s closed, 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, 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.

Apple also announced Apple Watch Mirroring, a feature that will allow people with physical and motor disabilities see their Apple Watch’s screen on their iPhone. It’ll work using AirPlay and allow people to see a larger version of their Apple Watch, including offering larger touch targets.

Apple Watch becomes more accessible than ever for people with physical and motor disabilities with Apple Watch Mirroring, which helps users control Apple Watch remotely from their paired iPhone. With Apple Watch Mirroring, users can control Apple Watch using iPhone’s assistive features like Voice Control and Switch Control, and use inputs including voice commands, sound actions, head tracking, or external Made for iPhone switches as alternatives to tapping the Apple Watch display. Apple Watch Mirroring uses hardware and software integration, including advances built on AirPlay, to help ensure users who rely on these mobility features can benefit from unique Apple Watch apps like Blood Oxygen, Heart Rate, Mindfulness, and more.

Other announcements included the addition of Live Captions on iPhone, iPad, and Mac that will appear across any audio content — including FaceTime calls. Apple also confirmed that VoiceOver will support additional countries with more than 20 locales and languages being added.

Additional improvements and 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.

Those keen to learn more can check out the full Apple Newsroom post to get the details.

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