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A letter to Apple from a lone voice in the wilderness

In the year Apple has released its most significant accessibility initiative ever it may not be popular to express the idea that in some areas Apple is failing its most severely disabled consumers but it has to be said. Despite the introduction of Voice Control, the company’s new voice recognition tech, Apple has fallen short when it comes to providing comprehensive access for users with certain physical motor conditions whose only option is to control their Apple devices with their voice. I am quadriplegic, as a result of muscular dystrophy, which means I have difficulty using the iPhone screen, Apple Watch face, and MacBook keyboard for writing an email, sending a message, posting to Facebook and Twitter, or controlling my smart home. Rather than typing on to a screen or keyboard, ...

What’s up with Apple’s new Voice Control?

Full, fantastic, life-changing…this was one of the gushing headlines about Apple’s new Voice Control feature after it was announced at the tech giant’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on 7 June. Voice control offers physically disabled people, and anyone who owns a Mac computer, iPhone or iPad the ability to precisely control, dictate and navigate their devices by voice commands alone. The company’s new accessibility feature was unveiled with an inspiring short film. In it, a man in a wheelchair — Ian Mackay, a disability advocate and outdoor enthusiast — issued voice commands to a Mac computer. With little delay, the computer did as it was told. So far so good for anyone who wants to control their devices with only their voice. However, with little ov...

Apple is listening: Voice Control widens access

Accessibility doesn’t often get much coverage or attention by tech companies, or the media, but today Apple revealed what could be a big step forward for people with physical and motor disabilities: Voice Control. With macOS Catalina and iOS 13 you will soon be able to control your Apple device completely by your voice. This is a significant as it is a recognition by Apple for the first time that people with physical disabilities want alternative methods of control other than Switch Control, which is the method Apple has offered users until now. At WWDC today, Apple demonstrated that Voice Control can be used to do things like launch apps, attach photos to messages, write, edit and send email and messages, and much more. For those concerned about privacy the company says your voice is proc...

Best features from Apple WWDC that will never come

Every year Apple uses its Worldwide Developers Conference to showcase its new software and technologies for developers. The conference opening keynote is where the tech giant’s top executives preview the company’s upcoming operating systems. iOS 13, macOS 10.15, tvOS 13, watchOS 6, are expected to be unveiled. Apple usually releases developer betas of its new iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV software the same day, followed by public beta versions a few weeks later and final releases to consumers in September. With WWDC 2019 only a few days away the internet is alight with rumours and predictions of what we’ll see — or what people would like to see during the keynote. However, amongst all the increasingly fevered speculation about Dark Mode for iOS 13, Safari and Mail upgrades, ...

Waking up to Alexa

Whether it’s bolstering your home security, watering your garden, or turning your lights on and off, smart technology is starting to fill our homes. For some it seems it can be too much like hard work to get off the sofa to even adjust the thermostat. Smart home gadgets now mean smart speakers can play music when you talk to them, you can turn the heating on before you get home, and a smart camera can alert you if there’s an intruder – or even feed your pet for you. However, for others this increasingly ubiquitous smart home technology does a lot more than simply adding a bit of convenience to our increasingly slothful lives. This was brought home to me at Christmas when I lost my brother Ian, aged 51, to complications of the genetic muscle wasting disease muscular dystrophy. He had ...

Siri: Why do you keep me hanging on the telephone?

For ten years I have been an Apple addict spending thousands of pounds on MacBooks, iPhones, Airpods, Watches, and Airport Expresses. I have had brief flirtations with other devices and software like Samsung and Windows 10 but quickly dashed back to the Apple ecosystem. I have always thought their products “just work” and their seamless integration with each other is a huge pulling factor. However, something significant happened at Christmas that for the first time has me questioning my loyalty to the mighty Apple. For me, it has smashed out that phrase by Steve Jobs boasting Apple products “just work”. The truth is they don’t any more, or not as well as they could and should. Apple software has been on a long, slow decline. Full of annoying little bugs, shortcomings, missing f...