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Apple’s Music Haptics feature helps the hard of hearing feel the music

Apple's Music Haptics accessibility feature on an iPhone.
Screengrab / Apple

Apple today announced a slew of forthcoming accessibility features, including one that could be a game-changer for the deaf and hard of hearing. Music Haptics, the company, says will help users feel and experience music on their iPhones.

Apple says that Music Haptics, which is set to be available later this year, is an accessibility feature that uses the iPhone’s Taptic Engine (Apple’s tech that has long provided tactile sensations and feedback to its range of devices) to play “taps, textures, and refined vibrations to the audio of the music,” according to a press release.

The feature will allow users to play along with their music and will work across “millions of songs” in the Apple Music library. It will also be made available as an API to developers who wish to integrate it into their apps.

No more details were made available about Music Haptics, but Apple’s announcement (timed with tomorrow’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day) also includes several other forthcoming accessibility features, some of which we ran down in our preview of iOS 18.

Eye Tracking is an AI-powered tool for iPad and iPhone that uses the front-facing camera to let those with physical disabilities better navigate the device using their eyes; Vocal Shortcuts allows iPad and iPhone users to teach their device to recognize “custom utterances” and phrases to allow Siri to launch shortcuts and complete tasks; and Listen for Atypical Speech is a feature designed to help Siri better recognize a wider range of speech for those with speech difficulties.

Apple's upcoming Vocal Shortcut accessibility feature.

The upcoming accessibility features also include some automotive-related tools, including Vehicle Motion Cues for iPhone and iPad to hep reduce motion sickness, CarPlay voice control, and a Sound Recognition feature for CarPlay that throws notifications up on the screen to alert the deaf and hard of hearing to sounds such as horns and sirens.

CarPlay's upcoming Sound Recognition accessibility feature.

“Each year, we break new ground when it comes to accessibility,” said Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s senior director of Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives. “These new features will make an impact in the lives of a wide range of users, providing new ways to communicate, control their devices, and move through the world.”

A full rundown of Apple’s announced accessibility features coming later this year can be found in its press release.

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Derek Malcolm
Derek Malcolm is a Toronto-based technology journalist, editor, and content specialist whose work has appeared in…
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