Apple iOS 18 Accessibility Features Including Eye Tracking

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

The key new accessibility features for the iPhone and/or iPad will include:

  • Eye
  • Music Haptics
  • Vocal Shortcuts
  • Vehicle Motion Cues

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

Eye Tracking

iPadOS 18 Eye TrackingApple says Eye Tracking on the iPhone and iPad will allow users to navigate system interfaces and apps with just their eyes:

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 device, and isn't shared with Apple.

Eye Tracking works across iPadOS and iOS apps, and doesn't require additional hardware or accessories. With Eye Tracking, users can navigate through the elements of an app and use Dwell Control to activate each element, accessing additional functions such as physical buttons, swipes, and other gestures solely with their eyes.

Music Haptics

iOS 18 Music HapticsWhen this feature is turned on, the iPhone's Taptic Engine will play “taps, textures, and refined vibrations” that correspond with the audio of the music:

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

Vocal Shortcuts

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

iOS 18 Vocal Shortcuts

Vehicle Motion Cues

vehicle motion cuesThis feature is designed to reduce motion sickness while looking at an iPhone or iPad's screen in a moving vehicle:

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. Using sensors built into iPhone and iPad, Vehicle Motion Cues recognizes when a user is in a moving vehicle and responds accordingly. The feature can be set to show automatically on iPhone, or can be turned on and off in Control Center.

CarPlay

CarPlay Sound RecognitionCarPlay will be gaining Voice Control, Color Filters, and Sound Recognition.

Sound Recognition on CarPlay will allow drivers or passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing to turn on alerts to be notified of car horns and sirens.

Live Captions on Vision Pro

Vision Pro Live CaptionsvisionOS 2 will support Live Captions, allowing users who are deaf or hard of hearing to follow along with spoken dialogue in live conversations and in audio from apps.

More Features

iOS 18 Hover TypingHover Typing will show larger text when typing in a text field

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

Industryvision, VoiceOver will include new voices, a flexible Voice Rotor, custom volume control, and the ability to customize VoiceOver keyboard shortcuts on Mac.
Industrybutton.
Industryediting; 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.
Industryvision, Hover Typing shows larger text when typing in a text field, and in a user's preferred font and color.
Industryspeak, 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.
Industrynonspeaking, Live Speech will include categories and simultaneous compatibility with Live Captions.
Industrydisabilities, Virtual Trackpad for AssistiveTouch allows users to control their device using a small region of the screen as a resizable trackpad.
Industryfinger-tap gestures as switches.
Industrywords.

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

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