The deployment of FaceTime is especially thoughtful.
This Thursday, May 19th, is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and Apple, like many other firms, is celebrating by releasing assistive updates. The business is releasing new capabilities for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch, with system wide Live Captions being the most exciting of them all. Apple's Live Captions, like Google's on Android, will transcribe audio playing on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac in real time and show subtitles onscreen. It will also caption sound around you, allowing you to follow along with real-world conversations. You'll be able to change the caption box's size and position, as well as the font sizes for the words. The transcription is also done on the device. Unlike Android, though, Live Captions on FaceTime calls will easily distinguish between speakers, using icons and names to attribute what's being said. Additionally, Mac users will be able to enter an answer and have it read out in real time to other participants in the chat. For individuals in the United States and Canada, Live Captions will be accessible as a beta in English. Apple is also improving its existing sound recognition technology, which allows iPhones to listen for noises like as alarms, sirens, doorbells, or crying newborns on a continual basis. Users will be able to train their iPhones or iPads to listen for bespoke noises in the near future, such as your washing machine's "I'm done" tune or your pet duck quacking. Siri Pause Time is a new function that allows you to increase the assistant's wait time while answering or asking for something, so you can finish stating what you need. The company is improving its Magnifier software, which helps visually impaired people engage more effectively with people and items in their environment. Apple is introducing a new Door Detection function to its People Detection tool, which previously alerted users how far away individuals around them were. The iPhone's LiDAR and camera will be used to not only detect and identify doors, but also to read out text or symbols on the display, such as hours of operation and signs representing bathrooms or accessible entrances. It will also describe the handles, including whether they require a push, pull, or turn of a knob, as well as the color, form, and material of the door, as well as if it is closed or open. People and Door Detection will be combined in Magnifier's new Detection mode. Apple Watch will also receive updates. The business debuted Assistive Touch last year, allowing users to interact with the wearable without touching the screen. The Watch would detect if the hand on which it was worn was making a fist or if the wearer was pinching their index and thumb together. With an upcoming software update, enabling Quick Actions in assistive touch should be faster and easier, allowing you to perform gestures like double pinching to answer or end calls, take photos, begin a workout, or halt media playing. However, Assistive Touch is not a technique for everyone. The business is adding voice and switch control to its smartwatch for persons with physical or motor limitations that prevent them from utilizing hand motions. Apple Watch Mirroring is a feature that leverages hardware and software, including AirPlay, to transfer a user's voice or switch control settings from their iPhones to the wearable. This would allow them to engage with their Apple Watch via head tracking, sound actions, and Made For iPhone switches. Apple is expanding the Books app's customization features, allowing users to apply new themes and adjust line heights, word and character spacing, and more. VoiceOver, the company's screen reader, will soon be available in over 20 new languages and regions, including Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. There will also be dozens of new voices, as well as a voice control spelling option that allows you to speak bespoke spellings utilizing letter-by-letter input. Finally, the business is introducing Buddy Controller, a new feature that allows two controllers to operate a single player, which will be useful for users with impairments who wish to collaborate with their caregivers. Buddy Controller is compatible with iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV gaming controllers. More updates are coming across the Apple ecosystem, including on-demand American Sign Language interpreters expanding to Apple Store and Support in Canada, a new guide in Maps, curated playlists in Apple TV and Music, and the addition of the Accessibility Assistant to the Mac and Watch Shortcuts app. Later this year, the features shown today will be available.