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Technology, UX & Technology, UX Design

Sneak-peak into IOS 16: Accessible Apple

“Accessibility is a fundamental right, and we’re always pushing the boundaries of innovation so that everyone can learn, create and connect in new ways.”- Tim Cook, Chief executive officer at Apple

Ahead of Apple’s 2022 Worldwide Developers Conference and in time for Global Accessibility Day, Apple have previewed a range of powerful updates designed for people with physical disabilities.  The new set of accessibility design features will be released later this year to iOS, watchOS and iPadOS.

Software updates include options for Assistive Touch, VoiceOver and hearing aid support, building on Apple’s long-standing commitment to designing products that consider absolutely everyone. Let’s explore these features to inspire conversation around the matter of accessibility and inclusion in the world of tech.

  • Door detection for the visually impaired. 

Apple is soon to introduce Door Detection, which helps visually impaired users by providing context on their surroundings, specifically helping them to navigate their way to a door when arriving at a new destination. This new feature will inform the user how far away they are from the door, detect whether it is open or closed and describe useful attributes- such as whether the door can be opened by turning, pushing or perhaps pulling a handle. 

Using a combination of on-device machine learning, camera, and the LiDAR scanner, door detection also reads symbols, helping guide an individual to a particular room or door number.  Apple’s Door Detection will be available in a new Detection Mode within their existing in-built app, Magnifier.

  • Live captions for hard hearing users

To support the hard of hearing community, Apple is introducing Live Captions: a feature that enables users to follow along with audio content of all kinds. With Live Captions, users can receive a live written transcript so they can stay up to date with conversations happening around them- whether they are on a Facetime call, streaming online videos or having an in-person conversation with a friend. 

This new update has been made possible utilizing machine learning technologies and will be made available on the iPhone 11 and later, iPads and Mac. Importantly, Apple have ensured users information stays private and secure, as Live Captions is operated entirely on the user’s device. 

Photo Credits: Omid Armin on Unsplash

 

  • Siri Pause Time for Speech Impairments

Apple have developed Siri, by introducing Siri Pause Time, whereby users with speech disabilities can adjust the time that Siri waits before responding to a request. This new development makes Siri more accessible to those with speech disabilities, such as those who stutter or pause, allowing them enough time to respond without being interrupted while they are still speaking. 

Siri Pause Time emerged from Apple’s research into speech impairments, whereby they have since taught the voice assistant to recognise when stuttering and to compensate for this.

  • Gesture Control for Physical Disabilities 

People with motor disabilities will be able to use Assistive Touch on watchOS, by enabling them to use the Apple Watch without touching the screen. Apple has introduced a new set of Quick Actions such as a double-pinch gesture to carry-out a number of actions such as answering or declining a phone call, taking a photo or dismissing a notification. These new assistive features will create a far more inclusive experience for individuals with physical and motor disabilities, that may be struggling to navigate their watch currently through touching the watch interface.

Plus, using Apple Watch mirroring users can now control their Apple Watch remotely through their paired iPhone. For users with physical impairments this means taking advantage of the iPhone’s vast range of assistive features, such as voice control, switch control and using inputs such as head tracking. 

These new features will be released alongside the new iOS 16 system update, around September 2022. 

 

Is there something else you believe Apple should be doing to become more accessible? Comment down below!

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