Apple introduces new features for the iPhone including door detection and live captions

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Apple announced a slew of new accessibility features for the iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac on its newsroom blog this week in honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which falls on Thursday.

Most people will probably use the Live Captions feature that will be available on the new iOS devices (iPhone, Mac, and iPad). Subtitles are shown for any audio source on the phone, whether the user is “on a phone or FaceTime call, using a video conferencing or social media app, streaming media material, or having a discussion with someone next to them,” according to the feature’s description.

It is displayed at the top of the screen and ticks along with the subject’s speech. In addition, Mac users will be able to compose responses and have them read aloud to other participants in the conversation. “iPhone 11 and later,” “iPad models with A12 Bionic and later” (and Macs with Apple silicon) are the supported devices for Live Captions beta testing this year.

There’s also a door detection feature. Sadly, it only works on iPhones and iPads with a lidar sensor (so the iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro, or latest iPad Pro models), but it may be handy for folks who are blind or have low vision. In conjunction with machine learning, it uses the iPhone camera and AR sensors to identify doors and vocally tell users where the door is, whether it is open or closed, how it may be opened, and what writing or labeling it may contain.

Also read: BofA raises iPhone estimates despite Apple falling

In iOS and iPadOS, a new “detection mode” for blind or low-vision users will include door detection, as well as people detection and image descriptions. However, no launch date was provided in Apple’s blog post.

Additionally, Apple claims that 20 additional Voice Over languages, new Apple Watch hand motions, and a feature allowing gamers to receive assistance from a “friend” using another game controller will all be available in the very near future. People with disabilities will be able to access new Siri and Apple Books modifications, as well as sound recognition customizations and Apple Watch screen mirroring on the iPhone, which provides Watch users access to numerous iPhone accessibility capabilities that were previously unavailable to them.

It’s common for tech fans to complain that cellphones (and personal technology in general) have grown stagnant, with few interesting new advances. However, for many people with impairments, this is not the case. Google, Apple, and a slew of other researchers and entrepreneurs have made substantial progress, introducing powerful new accessibility capabilities to smartphones and other mobile devices.

Also read: Training, certification, and licensing programs for iPhone, iPad, and Mac are now available from Apple

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