Recently, we’ve seen Microsoft and Apple release major updates to their operating systems, including Windows 11 and iOS 16, and one of the big underpinning features for both is, finally, accessibility.
The topic is not limited to just one aspect – from web accessibility to visual accessibility, there are features on your PC or iPhone that have been around for years, but you may never be aware of them.
The Windows 11 2022 Update expands this category, however, with live subtitles across the operating system, along with more natural voices for narration and text-to-speech.
At the other end of the spectrum, Apple is using AR in certain accessibility features in iOS 16 to better know how far away a door is in a house, for example. All of this builds on a promise for the next generation of hearing and visually impaired users and what might come next.
For a more accessible age
Both Litter (opens in new tab) and Microsoft (opens in new tab) include a dedicated accessibility page that focuses on how each feature can benefit a user, while trying to get rid of the ‘hidden features’ label that has almost become a stereotype for accessibility in software recently.
Apple has been working with companies like Guide Dogs UK to bring more than 5,000 iPads to their kids, while Microsoft is launching a range of accessibility accessories.
But on a software level, you can already experience features like better voiceover in Windows 11 or the ability to control Apple devices in close proximity to your iPhone in iOS 16.
There is more to be done, as when we spoke to Hector Minto, Microsoft’s Accessibility Lead, he told us that the category is never complete; there’s always a user out there needing a different way to meet their needs to use a laptop as well as anyone else.
With AR and AI becoming more prevalent, it’s exciting to see where this can lead to affordability – and coupled with rumors of an Apple headset and Microsoft’s efforts in the area so far, the foundation for the category is finally solid. and in the years to come, accessibility may be something we’ll see more of in talks from both companies, not just as a blog post.