Apple packs iOS 14 with new accessibility features, like AirPods Pro audio tweaks
With iOS 14, Apple brings tons of new accessibility features to its devices, including some that people without disabilities could also find helpful. The list ranges from the ability to customize Transparency mode in AirPods Pro to capturing multiple frames with the iPhone Magnifier function. And the new Back Tap feature lets you tap the backside of your iPhone to do things like take a screenshot.
Many of the new enhancements will likely appeal to people who are deaf or have hearing loss, while other features will benefit users who are blind or low vision, expanding on Apple's efforts over the years to make its devices and software more accessible.
The improvements aren't just for iPhones and iPads. Apple Watch users now will have the option to configure accessibility features as they go through the process of setting up a watch, as well as turn on an extra-large watch face for bigger and bolder presentations to help people with low vision.
On Monday, Apple unveiled iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and its other updated software during its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. The company uses WWDC to show off the biggest updates to its operating systems before making them available for all Apple device users later in the year. Right now, developers and other beta testers have access to early versions of the software to make their apps and help Apple detect bugs before the improvements are rolled out broadly. That includes accessibility features.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a quarter of Americans live with some sort of disability. In the past, people with special needs had to shell out thousands of dollars for technology that magnified their computer screens, spoke navigation directions, identified their money and recognized the color of their clothes. Today, users only need smartphones, computers and a handful of apps and accessories to help them get through their physical and online worlds.
Apple has built accessibility features into its products for years. It offers technology to do things like help people with low vision navigate the iPhone's touchscreen or allow those with motor impairments to virtually tap on interface icons. It has a Made for iPhone program that certifies hearing aids that work with its devices, and two years ago, Apple gave users the ability to turn their iPhones and AirPods into remote microphones through its Live Listen feature.
iOS 14, iPadOS 14, WatchOS 7 and its other upcoming software expand those offerings.