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Apple previews new cutting-edge accessibility features

Apple has previewed some nifty, cutting-edge accessibility features that will give iPhone and Apple Watch users with disabilities more tools to navigate the world around them. As stated in its press release, the new features will aid them in navigation, communication, hearing, and more.

The newest navigation feature Apple has introduced is called Door Detection, which will help blind or low-vision users locate a door within the last few feet of their destination. Thanks to the combination of a LiDAR scanner, camera, and on-device machine learning, Door Detection will tell users the distance between them and the door they’re approaching, whether the door is open or closed, has a knob or handle, and if it can be pushed or pulled open, as well as reading the signs and symbols around it.

For those with motor and physical disabilities, there’s Apple Watch Mirroring, which allows them to control their Apple Watch remotely from their iPhone. Using Voice Control and Switch Control instead of tapping the Apple Watch display, anything that shows up on the watch will pop up on the iPhone screen thanks to AirPlay. They can also use hand gestures, like double-pinching, to answer or end a phone call, play or pause media, take pictures, or resume their workouts, which can be extremely useful for people with missing limbs or hands.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing users will get Live Captions on not just the iPhone, but also the iPad and Mac products. This feature will help users understand the context of any audio media content and conservations, whether held in person, or via phone calls, FaceTime, or video conferences. In FaceTime group chats, Live Captions will attribute auto-transcribed dialogue to call participants so that it will be easier for deaf and hard-of-hearing users to tell who’s talking. Caption size can also be adjusted to help them read captions more easily.

Apple introduced these new features in honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and they aim to make the lives of disabled users easier than ever before. They will be released via updates later this year.

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