KEY POINTS

  • Apple launches a set of powerful update for people with disabilities
    Apple released SignTime, a one-on-one language interpreting service
    More accessibility features in the coming days

Barely a month short of the Worldwide Developers' Conference (WWDC 2021), Apple teased new accessibility features on iOS such as SignTime, a sign-language interpreting service.

Apple followers have been keenly awaiting the upcoming WWDC to be held from June 7 to June 11 for new offerings on iOS, watchOS and iPadOS. In a Twitter post, Apple CEO Tim Cook said “Accessibility is a fundamental right.”

The Twitter update links to Apple Newsroom’s May 19 update showcasing a preview of Apple’s software updates intended for people with disabilities.

Among the powerful software features is SignTime, a one-on-one sign language interpreting service. SignTime uses American Sign Language (ASL), British Sign Language (BSL) or French Sign Language (FSL) to provide easier access for hearing-impaired people to Apple Care and retailer customer care.

Customers in Apple store locations may remotely access a sign language interpreter by using SignTime. The feature launches Thursday in the United States, UK and France. Apple plans to expand it to other countries in the days ahead, XDA Developers reported.

The report added that the upcoming iPadOS update will provide support for third-party eye-tracking devices. Compatible MFI devices will be able to detect and follow a user’s retina movement.

The iPad pointer will move to the part of the screen where the person is gazing. The device interprets the prolonged eye contact on a certain part of the screen as a command to tap. iPad users may soon be able to control their tablet with their gaze alone, Engadget reported.

Meanwhile, the upcoming watchOS update will bring accessibility support for people with upper body limb differences. It makes taking incoming calls and access to Notification Center easier without the need to touch the controls or the Apple Watch display.

It features the Assistive Touch with built-in motion sensors like the gyroscope and accelerometer. This means an Apple Watch will be able to detect subtle muscle movement differences through its on-device machine learning.

Apple is also introducing the background sounds feature that helps users focus, relax and rest amid the noise distractions around. It plays sounds such as balanced, bright, or dark noise, ocean, rain, or stream sounds to overpower unwanted noise.

Apple customers may expect the accessibility features to launch in the days ahead following the SignTime release.

Apple_fitness-plus-iphone11-apple-watch-series-6_09152020 Apple's new health service, Fitness+. Photo: Apple