iPhones will soon be much easier to use

Accessibility updates are coming to iPhone, iPad and MacBook users this year

A preview of the Apple accessibility updates coming later this year
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has just announced a whole range of updates coming to their range of iPhones, iPads and MacBooks to assist with accessibility. These updates make it easier for users with alternative needs to make use of their devices to enhance their lives.

There are four main updates. The first is Assistive Access. This is a new user interface, which strips back the unnecessary parts, leaving you with something that is much easier to use.

Icons are much larger, with bigger buttons for things like taking photos too. Users can select between a grid-based interface or a list-style one, depending on which is preferable.

Next is Live Speech. Similar to Bixby Text Call on Samsung phones, this feature allows you to type and have your words read out when on calls, Facetime videos or even in-person conversations. 

This is a brilliant feature for those who have lost the ability to speak. You can type on-the-fly, but there's also the ability to save commonly used phrases for easy access. That should make it even simpler to have conversations which flow naturally.

For those who are at risk of losing their voice, there's Personal Voice. Here, users record a series of prompt text for around 15 minutes. That trains the software, which then uses machine learning to read typed text in the users' own voice.

That allows users to continue to communicate in their own voice, even if they lose the ability to speak. That's massive, allowing users to retain their own vocal identity in conversation, and letting their friends and loved ones continue to hear their voice.

Last, but by no means least, we have Detection Mode in Magnifier. This is designed for users who are blind, or have low vision. Users can point at text in view of the camera, and the app will read the text aloud.

It's designed to assist with buttons on devices. Apple show a user pointing to the different buttons on a microwave, with the app reading out each in turn. 

All four are great upgrades. Users can enhance their experience to improve how useful their devices are. It's not just for show, either – these are genuinely useful features that will help users with different abilities to enjoy their devices, and navigate their physical environment.

The features are shown in preview at the moment, but won't be accessible just yet. They're set to roll out later this year.

Sam Cross
Staff Writer

Online news writer at T3.com, Sam has five years of experience in online and print journalism, with work featured in publications like Metro and Last Word on Sports. After years writing about music and football, Sam now turns his hand to bringing you news about new phones, smart home products, smart watches, laptops and TVs. Sam is a longtime fan and user of Apple products, including iPhones, MacBooks and Apple Watches.He’s also T3’s resident football expert, bringing you everything you need to know about the big games, including how to watch them. In his spare time, Sam is a keen guitarist, watch lover and (very) amateur golfer.