Apple To Roll Out New Accessibility Features

Starting later this year, Apple will offer eye tracking and other new accessibility options on iPhone and iPad. (Laurenz Heymann/Unsplash)

Apple is set to launch a range of new capabilities aimed at making life easier for people with disabilities, including an option to control a phone or tablet using just a person’s eyes.

The tech giant said this week that it will introduce an eye-tracking option built into its iPad and iPhone later this year.

Using the front camera, users will be able to set up and calibrate their device in seconds to navigate apps, swipe, make gestures and more, just by focusing with their eyes. The functionality, which is based on artificial intelligence, does not require any additional hardware or accessories. Apple said all data will be stored on the device and will not be shared with the company.

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In addition to eye tracking, the iPhone and iPad will also include more options for those with speech problems. With vocal shortcuts, users will be able to tell Siri to launch shortcuts or complete various tasks using custom sounds. Meanwhile, a feature called Listen to Atypical Speech uses machine learning to understand a broader range of speech patterns resulting from conditions such as cerebral palsy or stroke.

Apple is also adding the live captioning option to Facetime and other apps, offering those who are deaf or hard of hearing the chance to experience music through refined touches, textures and vibrations, among other accessibility improvements.

“We believe deeply in the transformative power of innovation to enrich lives,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “That’s why for nearly 40 years, Apple has championed inclusive design by building accessibility into the core of our hardware and software. “We are continually pushing the boundaries of technology and these new features reflect our long-standing commitment to providing the best possible experience to all our users.”

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