Features arriving later this year offer users with disabilities new tools for navigation, health, communication, and more.

On the occasion of the Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Apple previewed a number of new accessibility features arriving on the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac later this year, namely that they will be included in iOS 16. It is the first official look at the next operating system!

The company says these new features will offer users with disabilities additional ways to “browse, connect and get the most out of Apple products.”

Door Detection

One of the new features is called Door Detection, which Apple says can help users locate a door when they arrive at a new destination. The feature can help users understand how far they are from a door and describe its attributes, including whether it is open or closed. If the door is closed, the function can inform the user if the door can be opened by pushing it, turning a knob or pulling a handle.

Door Detection can also read signs and symbols around the door, such as room numbers or the presence of an accessible entrance symbol. The door detection function works with a combination of the LiDAR scanner, our iPhone or iPad camera and Machine Learning.

Apple Watch mirroring and Quick Actions

Apple has announced a new Apple Watch mirroring feature. The feature is described as a way to make the Apple Watch “more accessible than ever for people with physical and motor disabilities.”

Apple explains that Apple Watch Mirroring allows users to control Apple Watch using iPhone accessibility features such as Voice Control and Switch Control, and use inputs including voice commands or Made for iPhone head detection as an alternative to tapping the Apple Watch display.

Apple Watch Mirroring uses a combination of hardware and software features, including “AirPlay-based advancements”. The key here is that users who rely on these mobility features can access things like blood oxygen, heart rate, and more from their iPhones.

Quick Actions is another new feature coming to Apple Watch. Thanks to the new quick actions on Apple Watch with a double gesture, users will be able to answer or end a call, dismiss a notification, take a photo, play or pause media in the Now Playing app and start, pause or resume a workout.

The feature is based on the innovative technology used in AssistiveTouch on Apple Watch, which gives users with upper-limb disabilities the ability to control Apple Watch without having to touch the display.

Live Captions

For the deaf and hard of hearing community, Apple will introduce real-time subtitles on iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Users can more easily follow any audio content, whether they are making a phone or FaceTime call, using a video conferencing or social media app, streaming media, or having a conversation with someone next to them. We will also be able to adjust the font size to facilitate reading.

Live captions are generated on the device, so user information remains private and secure.

New languages ​​for VoiceOver and more

VoiceOver, Apple’s industry-leading screen reader for blind and visually impaired users, adds support for over 20 additional languages ​​and languages, including Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

Users can also choose from dozens of new voices optimized for accessibility features in all languages. These new languages ​​and voices will also be available for the Speak Selection and Speak Screen accessibility features.

Additionally, VoiceOver users on Mac can use the new Text Inspection tool to discover common formatting issues such as duplicate spaces or misplaced capital letters, making it even easier to correct documents or emails.

Additional features

  • With Buddy Controller, users can ask for help to play; Buddy Controller combines any two-game controllers into one so that multiple controllers can drive input for a single player.
  • With Siri Pause Time, users with speech impairments can adjust how long Siri waits before responding to a request.
  • Voice Control mode gives users the ability to dictate custom words using spelling.
  • Sound Recognition can be customized to recognize specific sounds in a person’s environment, such as a house alarm, doorbell or household appliances.
  • The Apple Books app will offer new themes and introduce customization options such as bold text and line, character and word spacing adjustments for an even more accessible reading experience.

All of these features will arrive on iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 13 and watchOS 9  later this year.

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