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Apple Adds Tons of New Accessibility Features to iPhones and iPads



Screenshot: Apple

Today, Apple announced a host of new accessibility features, such as eye tracking and vocal shortcuts, that should arrive on iPhones, iPads, and Apple Vision Pros later this year.

With Eye Tracking, physically challenged users can navigate their iPhone or iPad with just their eyes. It’s all powered by AI, of course. It uses your device’s front camera to detect and track your eye movement. The good thing about this is that Apple hasn’t put it behind an app you’d have to download or a piece of hardware you’d have to purchase. It’s all built-in and works on all iOS and iPad apps.

Vocal shortcuts will allow users to assign “custom utterances that Siri can understand to launch shortcuts and complete complex tasks.” Another feature, Listen for Atypical Speech, will use machine learning to recognize user speech patterns, which is especially useful for recovering stroke victims or any other conditions that can affect speech.

If you suffer from motion sickness on the road, Vehicle Motion Cues should be a big help. It reduces motion sickness for passengers and allows them to use their phones more freely when they’re in a moving vehicle. As someone who can’t even be on Google Maps in a moving car because of how nauseous I start to feel, this is going to be a game changer if it performs well. Enabling the feature in the Control Centre makes animated dots appear on the sides of the screen to help with the sensory conflict between what a passenger sees and feel when they’re in a moving vehicle.

Illustration of Vehicle Motion Cues in action.

Screenshot: Apple

There’s also a Music Haptics feature for folks who are hard of hearing or deaf. With this one, you get haptic feedback in the form of taps, textures, and vibrations according to the audio playing on your device. The company claims Music Haptics works across millions of songs on Apple Music.

Apple Vision Pro also has dozens of accessibility updates coming to visionOS as well, with the standout being Live Captions for Facetime. However, users with low vision will also benefit from access to more vision accessibility options as well.

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