Apple has announced a range of new accessibility features that will be coming to the iPhone, iPad, and more later this year in iOS 17.
In a press release, the company announced “new features for cognitive accessibility, along with Live Speech, Personal Voice, and Point and Speak in Magnifier.” All of the new features are currently only being previewed by the company and Apple says that they will be released “later this year.”
One of the most interesting features is Personal Voice, a new feature that allows users to recreate their voice by recording around 15 minutes of audio. Apple says that the feature was made to assist those who may be at risk of losing their voice.
Users can create a Personal Voice by reading along with a randomized set of text prompts to record 15 minutes of audio on iPhone or iPad. This speech accessibility feature uses on-device machine learning to keep users’ information private and secure, and integrates seamlessly with Live Speech so users can speak with their Personal Voice when connecting with loved ones.1
Personal Voice will work with Live Voice, another feature announced today. Live Voice will allow users to type what they want to say and then have that spoken for them on a phone or FaceTime call. If you use Personal Voice, the person on the other end of the call will hear your actual voice, even though you simply typed a response.
The company also revealed Assistive Access, which introduces a customized experience for the Phone FaceTime, Messages, Camera, Photos, and Music apps. Apple says that the feature offers a “distinct interface with high contrast buttons and large text labels, as well as tools to help trusted supporters tailor the experience for the individual they support. For example, for users who prefer communicating visually, Messages includes an emoji-only keyboard and the option to record a video message to share with loved ones.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement that “at Apple, we’ve always believed that the best technology is technology built for everyone.”
“Today, we’re excited to share incredible new features that build on our long history of making technology accessible, so that everyone has the opportunity to create, communicate, and do what they love.”
The features will likely be released when iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and the rest of Apple’s next generation of software roll out in the fall of 2023. It’s also possible that, while the features will be introduced with iOS 17, Apple will make them available on previous versions of its software as well. The company is expected to unveil the details of all of the upcoming software at WWDC 2023, which Apple is set to kick off on June 5th.
In addition to announcing all of the new software, the company is also expected to unveil its Reality Pro mixed reality headset.