Apple unveils new accessibility features coming later this year

Apple has announced new accessibility features set to arrive later this year, likely with iOS 18. These features aim to make the iPad and iPhone more user-friendly for everyone.

New accessibility features coming in 2024

Eye Tracking for iPad and iPhone

This feature, powered by artificial intelligence, allows users to navigate their devices using just their eyes.

Specifically designed for those with physical disabilities, Eye Tracking utilizes the front-facing camera and on-device machine learning for calibration and control, without sharing data with Apple.

Users can navigate app elements and activate them using Dwell Control, accessing functions like physical buttons, swipes, and gestures solely with their eyes.

Music Haptics

Catering to users who are deaf or hard of hearing, Music Haptics adds vibrations to music using the Taptic Engine in the iPhone. It’s compatible with millions of songs on Apple Music and can be integrated into third-party apps.

Enhanced Speech Recognition

New features like Vocal Shortcuts and Listen for Atypical Speech aim to improve speech recognition for a wider range of users. These features, driven by on-device machine learning, are particularly beneficial for those with conditions affecting speech.

Vehicle Motion Cues

To alleviate motion sickness, especially during travel, animated dots on the screen indicate changes in vehicle motion. This feature, utilizing iPhone and iPad sensors, automatically activates when the device detects movement.

CarPlay Accessibility Updates

CarPlay gains Voice Control, Color Filters, and Sound Recognition. These updates enhance accessibility for users with various needs, such as voice navigation and colorblindness support.

Accessibility Features Coming to visionOS
  • Live Captions: Helps users follow spoken dialogue in live conversations and apps.
  • Apple Vision Pro Updates: Enhances caption control and adds support for more hearing devices.
  • Additional vision accessibility updates: Include new features like Reduce Transparency and Smart Invert for users with low vision.

Additional Updates

There are numerous updates across various accessibility features:

  • New voices and customization options for VoiceOver.
  • Magnifier gains a Reader Mode and improved functionality.

  • Braille Screen Input improvements, including Japanese language support.
  • Hover Typing for larger text input.

  • Personal Voice feature for users at risk of losing their ability to speak.

  • Live Speech improvements for nonspeaking users.
  • Virtual Trackpad for AssistiveTouch.
  • Switch Control enhancements, including camera-based gesture recognition.
  • Voice Control updates with support for custom vocabularies.
Global Accessibility Awareness Day with Apple

In addition to these updates, Apple is also celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day with various initiatives, including:

  • Free sessions at select Apple Store locations, spotlighting accessible apps and games, and featuring stories of empowerment through the Apple TV app and Apple Books.
  • Users can also access tutorials on customizing their devices for accessibility through Apple Support.

Speaking about the new accessibility features, Sarah Herrlinger, Senior Director of Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives at Apple, stated:

We make significant strides in accessibility each year. These innovative features will have a profound effect on a diverse group of users, offering them fresh methods to interact, manage their devices, and navigate their surroundings.