Apple announces accessibility features in iOS 18, including eye tracking

Apple today previewed many new accessibility features coming later this year with software updates such as iOS 18, iPadOS 18, macOS 15 and visionOS 2. The announcement comes one day ahead of Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

iOS 18 Float typing feature
Key new accessibility features for iPhone and/or iPad include:

  • Eye tracking
  • Music haptics
  • Vocal shortcuts
  • Vehicle movement signals

Mac users get the ability to customize VoiceOver keyboard shortcuts, and Mandarin support for Personal Voice, while the Vision Pro gets system-wide Live Captions, Reduce Transparency, Smart Invert, and Dim Flashing Lights.

Eye tracking

iPadOS 18 Eye TrackingiPadOS 18 Eye Tracking
Apple says Eye Tracking on the iPhone and iPad will allow users to navigate system interfaces and apps using only their eyes:

Eye Tracking, powered by artificial intelligence, gives users a built-in option to navigate iPad and iPhone using just their eyes. Designed for users with physical disabilities, Eye Tracking uses the front camera to set up and calibrate in seconds. Thanks to on-device machine learning, all data used to set up and manage this feature is kept securely on the device and not shared with Apple.

Eye Tracking works in iPadOS and iOS apps and requires no additional hardware or accessories. Eye Tracking allows users to navigate through an app’s elements and use Dwell Control to activate each element, using only their eyes to access additional features such as physical buttons, swipes and other gestures.

Music haptics

iOS 18 Music HapticsiOS 18 Music Haptics
When this feature is enabled, the iPhone’s Taptic Engine plays “taps, textures, and refined vibrations” that match the audio of the music:

Music Haptics is a new way for deaf or hard of hearing users to experience music on iPhone. When this accessibility feature is enabled, the Taptic Engine on iPhone plays taps, textures, and refined vibrations to the sound of the music. Music Haptics works with millions of songs in the Apple Music catalog and will be available as an API for developers to make music more accessible in their apps.

Vocal shortcuts

Vocal Shortcuts lets iPhone and iPad users assign “custom utterances” that Siri can understand to “launch shortcuts and perform complex tasks.”

iOS 18 Voice ShortcutsiOS 18 Voice Shortcuts

Vehicle movement signals

signals about vehicle movementssignals about vehicle movements
This feature is designed to reduce motion sickness while looking at an iPhone or iPad screen in a moving vehicle:

With Vehicle Motion Cues, animated dots at the edges of the screen represent changes in vehicle motion to help reduce sensory conflict without disrupting the main content. Using sensors built into the iPhone and iPad, Vehicle Motion Cues recognizes when a user is in a moving vehicle and responds accordingly. The feature can be set to appear automatically on the iPhone, or turned on and off in Control Center.

Read our standalone coverage of this feature to learn more.


CarPlay sound recognitionCarPlay sound recognition
CarPlay gets voice control, color filters and sound recognition.

Sound recognition on CarPlay allows drivers or passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing to turn on alerts to be notified of horns and sirens.

Live subtitles on Vision Pro

Vision Pro Live subtitlesVision Pro Live subtitles
visionOS 2 supports Live Captions, allowing deaf or hard of hearing users to follow spoken dialogue in live conversations and in app audio.

More features

iOS 18 Hover typingiOS 18 Hover typingFloat typing displays larger text when you type in a text field

Apple outlined many more accessibility features coming to its platforms later this year:

– For users who are blind or visually impaired, VoiceOver includes new voices, a flexible Voice Rotor, custom volume controls, and the ability to customize VoiceOver keyboard shortcuts on Mac.
– Magnifier offers a new reading mode and the option to easily start detection mode with the action button.
– Braille users get a new way to start and stay in Braille Screen Input for faster checking and text editing; Availability of Japanese language for braille screen input; support for multi-line braille with Dot Pad; and the ability to choose different input and output tables.
– For visually impaired users, Floating Typing displays larger text when typing in a text field, and in the user’s preferred font and color.
– For users at risk of losing their ability to speak, Personal Voice will be available in Mandarin Chinese. Users who have difficulty pronouncing or reading full sentences can create a personalized voice using shortened sentences.
– For non-speaking users, Live Speech includes categories and simultaneous compatibility with Live Captions.
– For users with physical disabilities, Virtual Trackpad for AssistiveTouch allows users to control their device using a small portion of the screen as a customizable trackpad.
– Switch Control includes the ability to use the cameras on iPhone and iPad to recognize finger tap gestures as switches.
– Voice control supports custom vocabulary and complex words.

Apple is expected to unveil iOS 18 and more at its WWDC developer conference on June 10, and the software updates will be widely released later this year.

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