Apple today announced a range of new accessibility features available to iPhone and iPad, with more coming next year than the company indicated; Most likely, with iOS 17. So, this is the first act that the company unveils the next update for the iPhone. The new benefits are aimed, in particular, at improving the daily life of people with cognitive, visual, hearing or mobility problems. They also combine hardware functions and both hardware and machine learning.
One of the new accessibility features that comes with iOS 17 is Assistive Access. It is an approach that “distills” the application, keeping only the essential functions and adjusting some elements, such as button size and text, etc. With Assisted Access, for example, the Phone and FaceTime apps merge into just one with both features. The one with the camera gets a single mode and a bigger shutter, or the message only shows an emoji keyboard and the possibility to send videos.
Apple also announced Live Speech for iOS 17, a new accessibility feature for people who cannot speak or are at risk of losing the ability to speak. Among them, for example, those who have been diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). With Live Speech, in particular, users simply type on the screen and the iPhone gets to speak the text aloud. The function also includes a section in which it is possible to save frequently or commonly used phrases to activate them quickly and make conversations more fluid.
Live Speech in iOS 17 will also allow you to create a “personal voice” that the iPhone can then reproduce the user’s own voice. To do this, and for 15 minutes, the user must read and record various phrases to train the iPhone to dictate another phrase with its voice.
Other accessibility improvements coming soon to iOS 17
On the other hand, the iPhone Magnifier app in iOS 17 will be able to read aloud the buttons the user is pointing at with their finger. This is a task for people with visual problems. It also uses “input from the camera app, LiDAR scanner, and machine learning,” Apple says. The person only has to focus the camera on the button and indicate with their finger. The iPhone will then detect the text and dictate it aloud.
There are many other accessibility features coming soon to iPhone and iPad as well. They are the following.
- In iOS 17, deaf users will be able to pair hearing aids made for iPhone on a Mac.
- Voice Control in iOS 17 will add phonetic suggestions for text editing. This way, they will be able to select the correct word if it is very similar to another.
- The Switch can be used as a game controller for Switch control.
- It would be possible to stop moving images like GIFs in an app like Messages or Safari.
- VoiceOver will allow you to adjust the speed at which Siri speaks, choosing between 0.8x to 2x speed.