Today, May 19, is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and Apple has announced several new accessibility features to mark the occasion.
For people who are blind or have low vision, Apple has a feature called Door Detection, which is designed to help users locate a door when arriving at a new destination.
The feature works on iPad and iPhone models with the LiDAR scanner and combines the LiDAR with the device’s camera and AI capabilites. It will show up within Magnifier, which already hosts several accessibility features, including the People Detection feature launched in 2020.
Door Detection will only work on the 2nd and 3rd gen 11-inch iPad Pro, 4th and 5th gen 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, as well as iPhone 12 Pro and 13 Pro devices. The feature “should not be relied upon in circumstances where a user may be harmed or injured, or in high-risk or emergency situations,” Apple says.
Another new feature is Live Captions, which are coming to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The feature will transcribe any audio content, be it a FaceTime call, a YouTube stream, and even having a real-life conversation with someone nearby.
Live Captions will launch as beta and only in English (in U.S. and Canada) later this year. The feature will work on iPhone 11 and later, iPad models with A12 Bionic and later, and Macs with Apple silicon. Apple says that the accuracy of the feature may vary and that it “should not be relied upon in high-risk situations.”
Several new features are coming to the Apple Watch as well. Apple Watch Mirroring lets users control their Watch remotely, from a paired iPhone, meaning a user could control the watch with features such as Voice Control and Switch Control. And Quick Actions on Apple Watch allow users to perform certain actions, such as answering a phone call, taking photos, or playing and pausing media, with a double-pinch gesture.
Other notable features include improvements to Apple’s Sound Recognition tool, with the ability to customize for certain sounds in a user’s environment, like a specific alarm or doorbell; the ability to customize how long Siri waits before responding to a request; and new themes and customization options for Apple Books. Finally, the VoiceOver screen reader is getting support for 20 new locales and languages, including Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.
Check out the full list of new features here.