Earlier this week, Apple celebrated International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2022, which takes place annually on December 3, with a video titled “The Greatest,” which showed how some users are using accessibility features, from door detection to audible alerts.
With Spinifex Gum’s “I Am the Greatest” (featuring Marliya’s Chorus) playing in the background, several scenarios are displayed using accessibility features on iOS and macOS, such as Magnifier, Door Detection, and Image Descriptions on the iPhone, alongside alternate pointer controls on the Mac such as head tracking and facial expressions.
Granted, it’s an advertisement when it comes down to it – a few features shown that can be used on Apple devices. However, there’s no denying that there’s something special here, and it’s influencing how far software has come that almost anyone can use these devices as well as anyone else.
However, rumors of an Apple VR headset supposedly arriving in 2023 make me wonder how Apple accessibility features can go a step further when it comes to AR and VR.
The era of calling accessibility an “Easter egg” is over
When you watch this two-minute video (incl version with audio description (opens in a new tab), also), you’re impressed with how these seven users, not actors, get along in life, using their iPhone, Mac, and Apple Watch to help them with their daily tasks. For example, you see a hearing-impaired mother alerted on her Apple Watch that her newborn baby is crying, so she goes and looks after her. You can enable it by going to Settings > Accessibility > Audio recognitionthen turn on Sound Recognition to select specific alerts for certain sounds.
Meanwhile, a jazz pianist trained by Julliard Mateusz Whitaker (opens in a new tab) caught my attention how he used the detection feature in the scene where he uses his iPhone to help him read the writing on the door. I’ve been told that door detection works with any iPhone equipped with a LIDAR scanner, which is the iPhone 12 Pro and later, and can work up to 20 feet away.
Watching Magnifier’s detection mode read the word “Scene” on the door, it struck me that this could be the beginning of something bigger. Imagine a headset that can automatically read menu items wherever you look, or other distance detection notifications.
Also, if you’re walking your dog, for example, a headset can help you see better on a foggy morning to pick up a stick your dog may have dropped next to you, or it can instruct you where the stick is and how close.
It all comes back to accessibility and how it can enrich one’s lifestyle. For too long, there has been content describing accessibility features as “Easter eggs” or “hidden features” and it’s time to change that. Videos like “The Greatest” show how detection mode and voice control not only help users on a daily basis, but also develop.
Reportedly, the headset could take these features to the next level, and if it’s announced in 2023, the first question for me won’t be how much it will cost, but what accessibility features will be available from day one.
The video is one of Apple’s best in recent years – now let’s see what else this category can do to better enrich other people’s lives.