iPhones have been a very popular choice for people who are blind or visually impaired.
However, having an accessible experience right out of the box isn’t the only reasons iPhones are so popular. It’s the availability of accessible apps and features that can really affect our lives. Features that help to make our lives easier, more accessible and therefore more independent.
The following is my list of the top 5 new features included in the new iOS 12 from Apple.
1. Performance and Bug Fixes:
Previous versions of iOS may have included great new features, but they were lacking when it came to performance updates and bug fixes. Yes, iOS 11 – I’m looking at you. Thankfully, iOS 12 has resolved many of these long-standing issues.
Apple claims that its new operating system will launch apps up to twice as fast, the camera will appear 70% faster and the keyboard will display up to 50% faster. If you are using an older iPhone model, Apple has good news there as well. iOS 12 can be installed on all iPhone models going back to the iPhone 6 S.
2. 9 1 1 Location Sharing:
Using the Emergency SOS feature or by just calling emergency services directly, you can quickly connect to an emergency operator for assistance. Now, in iOS 12, your phone will use GPS and WIFI access points to automatically and securely share your location with emergency services. Apple accomplishes this through a partnership with a service called RapidSOS.
This feature could be extremely helpful to those who are blind or visually impaired, especially if you are not familiar with your surroundings.
3. Screen Time:
If you are a parent seeking stronger parental controls or you are just a person who can’t seem to put your phone down, this feature is for you. Screen Time provides you with an overview of how much time you spend on your iOS devices with specifics about which apps you use most. You can set individual limits by app or genre and then iOS 12 will alert you when it is time to sign out. These limits can be set to specific durations or even to certain times of the day.
4. Siri Shortcuts:
The popularity and intelligence of virtual assistants has grown dramatically in recent years. Unfortunately, Apple’s Siri has fallen behind its competitors like Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant. iOS 12 promises to change that with Siri Shortcuts.
Apple now allows instant access to certain actions within an app. This greatly expands the out-of-the-box capabilities of Siri. Additionally, third-party app developers now have unprecedented access to Siri. This means that you can ask Siri to launch your favorite actions within an app like sending a tweet, playing a podcast playlist or editing documents in a notes type app. You can edit the Siri Shortcut settings within each specific app. You can also launch the Settings app and navigate to “Siri and Search” for more options.
iOS 12 also includes a Siri Shortcuts app where you can create your own shortcuts or choose from a gallery of existing ones. These can be made to be as simple or as complex as you like. The shortcuts app allows you to string multiple commands together so that you can achieve multiple tasks at once, i.e. have Siri turn on the lights, begin playing your favorite music playlist and turn on the coffee pot. All using one spoken word or phrase that you choose.
5. Grouped Notifications:
Previously, the Notification Center in iOS was more of a mess than my daughter’s bedroom. Thankfully, Apple has cleaned things up with iOS 12 by implementing grouped notifications.
Notifications are no longer shown as a long and messy chronological list. Now, each app that pushes a notification to your iPhone will be grouped together with each group being collapsed for easier reading and navigation. You can expand each group to see a chronological list of all notifications from that app or service. You can also take actions to either view, clear one or all notifications or change the way they are presented to you.
Honourable Mention – Group FaceTime:
FaceTime is a very popular iPhone feature that allows you to make high quality voice or video calls to other iPhone users. Prior to iOS 12, this was limited to one-to-one communication. Apple has dramatically upgraded this feature with iOS 12.
The new Group FaceTime will enable up to 32 people to communicate at once. During a video chat, the app will detect who is speaking and display their image prominently on the screen. This will automatically switch as different people speak. Group FaceTime can also be automatically launched from group iMessage conversations.
FaceTime has been a very popular feature among the blind and visually impaired. It has afforded blind iPhone users a quick and easy way to not only communicate with friends and family, but it is used as a tool to get help from a sighted person. Group FaceTime should only make an even stronger and better tool for people who are blind and visually impaired.
At the time of this writing, Group FaceTime is only available as part of the iOS 12.1 public beta because it was not ready for the initial launch. Apple has stated that it will be released later in the Fall of 2018.
These are just some of the many new features available within iOS 12. Which one of these is your favorite? Is your favorite not on the list? please leave a comment about your favorite new features and why.