Ahead of the annual WWDC developer conference, Apple has announced a number of innovations designed to make it easier for people with vision, hearing, mobility, and cognitive disabilities to use the company's devices. The new accessibility features will be introduced in iOS 17 and macOS 14 in the coming months.
Some of the new features include:
- Assistive Access
This feature will allow users with cognitive disabilities to use iPhones and iPads with greater ease and independence. With Assistive Access, Phone and FaceTime experiences have been combined into a single Calls app, as well as Camera, Messages, Photos, and Music.
Assistive Access also offers a clear design with high-contrast buttons and large text labels to lighten the cognitive load, as well as tools that let trusted supporters tailor the experience for the individual they support.
- Live Speech and Personal Voice
The Live Speech feature will allow users unable to speak or who have lost their speech over time to type what they want to say and have it being spoken out loud by the system's voice engine during phone and FaceTime calls or even in-person conversations.
Users who are at risk of losing their ability to speak in the future can now create a synthesized voice duplicate that sounds like them. Users can create a Personal Voice by reading along with a set of text prompts to record 15-minute audio. The feature uses on-device machine learning to guarantee privacy and is fully integrated with Live Speech so users can use their Personal Voice during conversations with loved ones.
- Point and Speak in Magnifier
Apple is introducing a feature called Point and Speak in Magnifier that uses the device's camera and LiDAR scanner to help visually impaired people interact with physical objects that have several text labels. It will now be able to identify text users point toward and read it out loud.
Apart from that, the company also announced additional accessibility features, including phonetic suggestions for text editing, the ability to pair Made for iPhone hearing devices to Mac, pause images with moving elements, and more.