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Apple is listening: Voice Control widens access

Colin Hughes on how a new comprehensive voice-operated interface opens up Apple's iPhones and computers to people with physical disabilities.

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 processed on the device. Nothing is sent to, or stored by Apple. It employs on-device Siri speech recognition tech. It not only accepts your spoken commands, but also helps keep everything secure.

Voice Control wasn’t covered in detail at today’s Apple event, but you can expect to hear more as we approach the next macOS and iOS public releases this September.

In a separate announcement during the WWDC keynote Apple also announced something that has much accessibility potential, which I have also been been calling for.  Announce messages on AirPods means Siri will be able to read incoming messages aloud so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to pick up your phone. You will also be able to dictate a reply. Look out for this feature in iOS 13 public beta in July and final release in September.

Readers of Aestumanda will know I have been calling out Apple on the need for these features for the past year. It seems the tech giant has been listening.

Colin Hughes is a former BBC producer who campaigns for greater access and affordability of technology for disabled people

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