Apple announces new accessibility features for iPhones, iPads, Mac: Live Speech, Personal Voice, more

Apple today announced a host of new accessibility features for iPhones and iPads. These new features will be available later this year.


  • Apple today announced a host of new accessibility features for its devices.
  • Apple's new features are aimed to help people with cognitive disabilities.
  • Apple's new features will arrive on iPhones and iPads later this year.

Image: Apple

Apple already offers a host of accessibility features to iPhone and iPad users. On scrolling to the Accessibility section in an iPhone or an iPad’s Settings app, users can find over a dozen accessibility settings right from the ones aimed at helping people with vision impairment to the ones aimed at helping users with physical and motor disabilities. Now, the company has announced a host of new features that are aimed at helping people with cognitive disabilities use its devices more easily. Also Read - Microsoft rolls out Phone Link for iOS to all Windows 11 users: Check requirements here

The company today announced that later this year, “users with cognitive disabilities can use iPhone and iPad with greater ease and independence with Assistive Access; nonspeaking individuals can type to speak during calls and conversations with Live Speech; and those at risk of losing their ability to speak can use Personal Voice to create a synthesized voice that sounds like them for connecting with family and friends.” Also Read - Apple iPad most-selling tablet in March quarter, followed by Samsung Galaxy Tabs

“For users who are blind or have low vision, Detection Mode in Magnifier offers Point and Speak, which identifies text users point toward and reads it out loud to help them interact with physical objects such as household appliances,” the company added. Also Read - Apple bets emerging markets like India will lead company's growth

All the new accessibility features coming to iPhones, iPads

Assistive Access

This feature includes a customised experience for Phone and FaceTime that have been combined into a single Calls app, as well as Messages, Camera, Photos, and Music. To users it offers a distinct interface with high contrast buttons and large text labels, as well as tools to help trusted supporters customise the experience for the individual user.

For instance, Apple‘s Messages app will have an emoji-only keyboard and the option to record a video message to share with loved ones. Users and trusted supporters can also choose between a more visual, grid-based layout for their Home Screen and apps, or a row-based layout for users who prefer text.

This feature will be available on iPhones and iPads later this year.

Live Speech

This feature will arrive on iPhone, iPad and Mac later this year. Users will be able to type what they want to say and this feature will read out loud during phone calls, FaceTime calls and in-person conversations. Users can also save commonly used phrases to chime in quickly during lively conversation with family, friends, and colleagues.

Personal Voice

This feature is aimed at helping people who risk losing their ability to speak, such as the ones with conditions like ALS. As Apple explains it, Personal Voice is a simple way to create a voice that sounds like the user.

Users can create a Personal Voice by reading along with a randomised set of text prompts to record 15 minutes of audio. It will then use on-device machine learning to keep users’ information private and secure, and integrates seamlessly with Live Speech so users can speak with their Personal Voice when connecting with loved ones.

This feature will be coming to iPhones and iPads later this year.

Point and Speak in Magnifier

This feature aims to make it easier for users with vision disabilities to interact with physical objects that have several text labels.

For instance, while using a microwave, Point and Speak feature will combine input from the Camera app, the LiDAR Scanner, and on-device machine learning to announce the text on each button as users move their finger across the keypad.

Voice Control

This feature adds phonetic suggestions for text editing so that the users who type with their voice can choose the right word out of several that might sound alike. Also, with Voice Control Guide, users can learn tips and tricks about using voice commands as an alternative to touch and typing across iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

What else?

In addition to the above-mentioned features, the company has also improved a bunch of existing features a bit further. Here’s the list:

— Deaf or hard-of-hearing users can pair Made for iPhone hearing devices directly to Mac and customize them for their hearing comfort.

— Users with physical and motor disabilities who use Switch Control can turn any switch into a virtual game controller to play their favorite games on iPhone and iPad.

— Users who are sensitive to rapid animations can automatically pause images with moving elements, such as GIFs, in Messages and Safari.

— For VoiceOver users, Siri voices sound natural and expressive even at high rates of speech feedback. Users can also customise the rate at which Siri speaks to them, with options ranging from 0.8x to 2x.

  • Published Date: May 16, 2023 7:19 PM IST
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