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Apple previews three new accessibility features, likely for iOS 16

Apple will release a Door Detection feature, Live Captions, and Apple Watch mirroring later this year.

With all Apple products, you can expect regular updates adding new features and improving your experience. A large chunk of these features are to improve accessibility on iPhone, one of the company’s long-running commitments. Today, Apple has previewed three new accessibility features, all of which are coming in a software update later this year.

The new features include Door Detection which can help visually impaired users detect doors nearby before they reach them, Live Captions to transcribe audio content in real time, and Apple Watch Mirroring to mirror the Watch display to a user’s iPhone.

Apple’s latest accessibility features explained

With Door Detection, your iPhone will be able to help guide you to a nearby door. With both on-screen and audio cues, the feature will help you navigate doorways. It’ll let you know what signs on the door say, if it’s open or closed, and how to open it. The feature will be compatible with all devices with a LiDAR sensor (iPhone 12 series, iPhone 13 series, and iPad Pros from 2020).

Live Captions do exactly what they say on the tin, provide real-time transcriptions for audio content. Your device will process audio content and generate captions for it on the fly. Apple processes everything on-device, so all information remains secure. The new feature will be baked right into FaceTime calls and group calls, with other social, video, and media apps supporting it too.

Then, we come to Apple Watch Mirroring. As the name suggests, you’ll be able to mirror your Apple Watch’s display to your iPhone screen. Using a more advanced version of AirPlay, not only will you be able to view content on the larger screen, but interact with it too. You’ll be able to use Voice Control, Switch Control, voice commands, sound actions, and head tracking to control the Watch. Apple explained it designed the feature for those who can benefit from Apple Watch’s body-monitoring apps, but anyone can use it.

In a bunch of other smaller changes, Apple is tweaking some of its existing accessibility features. VoiceOver is getting support for over 20 new languages, and Apple Books has new themes and text customisation options. There are few smaller new features, too. Buddy Controller splits one game controller into two, a new Siri Pause Timer lets you tweak how long Siri waits before responding, and Sound Recognition can be set up to recognise specific sounds unique to your home.

While Apple didn’t explain exactly when the features will be rolling out, we have a pretty good idea. Expect to see them in iOS 16 and watchOS 9, both likely to release in September. Apple will likely also talk more about these features at WWDC in June.