Later this year, with software updates across all of Apple’s
operating systems, people with limb differences will be able to
navigate Apple Watch using AssistiveTouch; iPad will support
third-party eye-tracking hardware for easier control; and for
blind and low vision communities, Apple’s industry-leading
VoiceOver screen reader will get even smarter using on-device
intelligence to explore objects within images. In support of
neurodiversity, Apple is introducing new background sounds to help
minimize distractions, and for those who are deaf or hard of
hearing, Made for iPhone (MFi) will soon support new
bi-directional hearing aids.
My spidey-sense has been suggesting that next month’s WWDC is going to be a big one, jam-packed with announcements. Here’s our first evidence: a slew of very good accessibility features that apparently didn’t make the cut for the keynote. All of this stuff would have been great in a keynote.
To support users with limited mobility, Apple is introducing a
revolutionary new accessibility feature for Apple Watch.
AssistiveTouch for watchOS allows users with upper body limb
differences to enjoy the benefits of Apple Watch without ever
having to touch the display or controls. Using built-in motion
sensors like the gyroscope and accelerometer, along with the
optical heart rate sensor and on-device machine learning, Apple
Watch can detect subtle differences in muscle movement and tendon
activity, which lets users navigate a cursor on the display
through a series of hand gestures, like a pinch or a clench.
AssistiveTouch on Apple Watch enables customers who have limb
differences to more easily answer incoming calls, control an
onscreen motion pointer, and access Notification Center, Control
Center, and more.
Stop what you’re doing, follow the link to Newsroom, and watch the video demonstrating this feature. This is really hard to believe. It makes Apple Watch very accessible to, say, someone who only has one arm, or who for whatever reason can’t use their non-watch hand to touch the watch with accuracy. Wow.
★ Wednesday, 19 May 2021