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Apple announces new accessibility features for iPhone and iPad users

Apple is bringing new accessibility features to iPad and iPhone, designed to meet a wide range of user needs. These include the ability to control your device with eye tracking technology, create personalized shortcuts using your voice, enjoy music with a haptic engine and much more. The company revealed the announcements on Thursday ahead of World Accessibility Awareness Day.

Apple already supported eye tracking in iOS and iPadOS, but this required the use of additional eye tracking devices. This is the first time Apple has introduced the ability to control an iPad and iPhone without the need for additional hardware or accessories. The new built-in eye tracking option allows users to use the front camera to navigate apps. It leverages AI to understand what the user is looking at and what gesture they want to perform, such as swiping and tapping. There’s also Dwell Control, a feature that can detect when a person’s gaze stops on an item, indicating that they want to select it.

“Vocal Shortcuts,” another useful new feature, improves Apple’s voice commands. It allows users to assign different sounds or words to launch shortcuts and perform tasks. For example, Siri will launch an app even after the user says something as simple as “Ah!” The company also developed “Listen to Atypical Speech,” which uses machine learning to recognize unique speech patterns and is designed for users with conditions that affect speech, including cerebral palsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS ) and strokes, among others.

Other voice improvements Apple has made in the past include “Personal Voice,” launched last year to give users an automated voice that sounds like them.

For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, “Music Haptics” is a new feature that lets users experience Apple Music’s millions of songs through a series of taps, textures and vibrations. It will also be available as an API, so music app developers can soon offer users a new, accessible way to experience audio.

Apple also announced a new feature to combat motion sickness in cars. Instead of watching stationary content, which can cause motion sickness, users can enable the “Vehicle Motion Cues” setting. This feature places animated dots on the edges of the screen that swing and move in the direction of movement.

CarPlay also gets an update, including a “Voice Control” feature; “Color Filters,” which gives color-blind users bold, larger text; and “Sound Recognition” to alert deaf or hard of hearing users when there are car horns and sirens.

Apple also revealed an accessibility feature coming to visionOS, which will allow live captions during FaceTime calls.

techcrunch

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