Two New Accessibility Features for iOS 14

Illustration of two people using iPhones

The recently released iOS 14 brings some very exciting new accessibility features to iPhone.  It also provides updates and added functionality to existing features such as VoiceOver and Magnifier. Let’s take a look at two of the standouts.

Back Tap 

Though it’s listed under the Accessibility menu, Back Tap is a feature that anyone with an iPhone could likely find a use for. Back Tap allows users to bind certain functions to the action of double tapping or triple tapping the back of the phone. This makes the iPhone more accessible to users with physical disabilities. 

It’s also a useful feature for anyone looking to add shortcuts to their iPhone.  Users can program the feature to bring up accessibility tools.  Or they can use it to access menus like their home screen or notification center.  Users can also use Back Tap for screenshots, volume control, and gestures such as scroll up, scroll down.  Hopefully we can expect to see even more features like this, that let users personalize the way they interact with their devices, in subsequent updates.

Sound Recognition 

Sound Recognition uses AI to identify sounds and notify the user of them.  It can identify things like sirens, door bells, smoke alarms, and more.  Users can choose which sounds they want notifications for. This is a very cool and very useful feature for users with hearing impairment.  And like other accessibility features, it can be useful for just about anyone. You could use it to ensure you don’t miss anything while using noise cancelling headphones for example. Developers could even integrate the tech used for this feature into other software. For example, if your phone detected a knock at the door, Ring could offer you a prompt to access your doorbell camera.

This recent update goes to show that hardware manufacturers are putting a lot of effort into creating more accessible experiences for their users.  And it also shows that these features can really be used by anybody. Users, even ones who don’t think they have a use for these kinds of features, should really take a look at these options. And as these options become more robust, it might also be time for developers to think about presenting them in a different way. Maybe in the future, certain accessibility features will become integrated and essential to the way we interact with software.

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