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Apple reveals 14 new iOS 18 features ahead of WWDC 2024

Published May 15th, 2024 10:18AM EDT
iOS 18 accessibility features
Image: Apple Inc.

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Apple has just announced several iOS 18 accessibility features via a press release. Although the company only says these functions are coming “later this year,” this means they’ll be part of the iOS 18 update.

This is not the first time Apple has announced big accessibility features ahead of the WWDC keynote, and it’s a trend the company has followed for at least a couple of years. With today’s announcements, Apple says iOS 18 is bringing Eye Tracking, music Haptics, Taptic Engine, Vocal Shortcuts, Vehicle Motion Cues, and more features to the next iPhone software.

“We believe deeply in the transformative power of innovation to enrich lives,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “That’s why for nearly 40 years, Apple has championed inclusive design by embedding accessibility at the core of our hardware and software. We’re continuously pushing the boundaries of technology, and these new features reflect our long-standing commitment to delivering the best possible experience to all of our users.”

Here’s what you need to know about iOS 18 upcoming features:

Eye Tracking: Powered by artificial intelligence, Eye Tracking gives users a built-in option for navigating iPad and iPhone with just their eyes. Designed for users with physical disabilities, Eye Tracking uses the front-facing camera to set up and calibrate in seconds, and with on-device machine learning, all data used to set up and control this feature is kept securely on the device and isn’t shared with Apple.

iOS 18 accessibility features iPadOS

Music Haptics: Music Haptics is a new way for users who are deaf or hard of hearing to experience music on the iPhone. With this accessibility feature turned on, the iPhone’s Taptic Engine plays taps, textures, and refined vibrations to the music’s audio. Music Haptics works across 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.

Wide Range of Speech: With Vocal Shortcuts, iPhone and iPad users can assign custom utterances that Siri can understand to launch shortcuts and complete complex tasks. Listen for Atypical Speech, another new feature, gives users an option for enhancing speech recognition for a wider range of speech.

Vehicle Motion Cues: Vehicle Motion Cues is a new experience for iPhone and iPad that can help reduce motion sickness for passengers in moving vehicles. With Vehicle Motion Cues, animated dots on the edges of the screen represent changes in vehicle motion to help reduce sensory conflict without interfering with the main content.

Carplay gets Voice Control: Accessibility features coming to CarPlay include Voice Control, Color Filters, and Sound Recognition. With Voice Control, users can navigate CarPlay and control apps with just their voice. With Sound Recognition, drivers or passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing can turn on alerts to be notified of car horns and sirens. For users who are colorblind, Color Filters make the CarPlay interface visually easier to use, with additional visual accessibility features including Bold Text and Large Text.

There are even more accessibility features coming with iOS 18

  • For users who are blind or have low vision, VoiceOver will include new voices, a flexible Voice Rotor, custom volume control, and the ability to customize VoiceOver keyboard shortcuts on Mac.
  • Magnifier will offer a new Reader Mode and the option to easily launch Detection Mode with the Action button.
  • Braille users will get a new way to start and stay in Braille Screen Input for faster control and text editing; Japanese language availability for Braille Screen Input; support for multi-line braille with Dot Pad; and the option to choose different input and output tables.
  • For users with low vision, Hover Typing shows larger text when typing in a text field, and in a 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 will be able to create a Personal Voice using shortened phrases.
  • For users who are nonspeaking, Live Speech will include 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 region of the screen as a resizable trackpad.
  • Switch Control will include the option to use the cameras in iPhone and iPad to recognize finger-tap gestures as switches.
  • Voice Control will offer support for custom vocabularies and complex words.

Apple will have more iOS 18 features to be announced next month during WWDC 2024 keynote. BGR gathers everything we know about this upcoming software update below.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.