Apple reviewed a wide range of new accessibility features for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac that are due to arrive later this year. Apple said it will introduce new software features this year to improve accessibility to cognitive, speech and visual functions. It is likely that these features will be included in the upcoming operating systems, starting with the iOS 17 update, iPadOS 17, and macOS 14. It is expected that Apple will present a preview of these operating systems at the WWDC conference in early June, when it will be officially launched.

Assistive Access

It is a feature that simplifies the user experience on the iPhone and iPad by focusing on the basic features of different applications. For example, it combines calling apps and FaceTime into a single calling app. In addition, it includes other essential applications such as messages, camera, photos and music. Assistive Access provides an easy-to-use interface with distinct, easy-to-read buttons and large text labels. It also allows users to customize their experience by choosing between different layouts. They can choose a visual layout with a grid-based arrangement of apps on the home screen, or they can choose a text-based layout with apps arranged in rows. The goal is to make the user interface simpler and more accessible to individuals with different preferences and needs.

Live Speech and Personal Voice features enhance ease of use

Live Speech is a feature available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac that allows users to type their messages or type what they want to say, then these written words or messages will be converted into spoken words during phone calls, FaceTime calls, and personal conversations. This feature is especially useful for individuals who may have difficulty speaking or prefer to communicate through text. In addition, users can save commonly used phrases, making it easy for them to quickly contribute to conversations without the need for detailed typing.

For individuals at risk of losing the ability to speak, such as those diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Personal Voice offers a good solution. This feature allows users to create a digital voice that closely matches their voice. To create this custom audio, users follow a set of random text messages and record approximately 15 minutes of audio using an iPhone or iPad.

The recorded audio is then processed using on-device machine learning technology, ensuring that the user's information remains secure and maintains their privacy. The Personal Voice feature can be seamlessly integrated with Live Speech, allowing users to use their digital Personal Voice when calling. This progression provides individuals with the ability to maintain a familiar and natural way of speaking, even if they are no longer able to do so physically.

The magnifier's detection mode introduces pointing and talking to users who are blind or have low vision

The Point and Speak feature, built into the Magnifier app on iPhone and iPad, is designed to help users manipulate physical objects that contain multiple text labels. For example, when using a home device, Point and Speak combines the functionality of a camera app, lidar scanner, and on-device machine learning. As users move their finger across the device keyboard, Point and Speak identifies existing text and speaks it out loud in real time. This feature allows users to receive auditory feedback and interact with the device more effectively.

Point and Speak is compatible with VoiceOver and works seamlessly with other magnifier functions. By using Point and Speak, users can access real-time information, allowing them to interact with objects, identify people, recognize doors, and get descriptions of images. navigate their physical environment more effectively, all of which contributes to an improved and efficient mobility experience.

Additional features

◉ Hearing aids designed for the iPhone can be connected directly to a Mac with the ability to customize.

◉ Voice Control suggests voice alternatives to edit text, and help voice writers.

◉ Voice Control provides voice suggestions for typing texts, helping users who type with their voices to select the correct word among many words that may sound similar.

◉ Voice Control Guide provides hints and tips for using voice commands instead of touching or typing.

◉ Switch Control can turn any switch into a virtual video game console.

◉ Adjusting text size is easiest across Mac apps like Finder, Messages, Mail, Calendar, and Notes.

◉ Auto stop animations in Messages and Safari for users sensitive to fast animations.

◉ Siri's speaking speed can be customized from 0.8x to 2x.

◉ Shortcuts gain a “remember this” action, allowing users with cognitive disabilities to create visual memos in the Notes app.

What do you think of the new accessibility features? Would you like to see another important feature? Tell us in the comments.



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