There’s a new accessibility feature built into Apple’s already pretty splendid suite of options for people of various abilities. Called Switch Control, it allows those with motor difficulties to connect a switch to their iOS device for better access.
The feature, originally released alongside iOS 7, allows users to connect a switch via cable or Bluetooth as well as setting up the screen itself as one big switch button.
In iOS 7.1, then, Apple added another useful option: to use the Camera itself as a head switch. Here’s how to set it up.
Tap into your Settings app, and then tap on the General button. Tap Accessibility and then swipe down to the Physical & Motor section. Tap Switch Control to get to the options page.
Before you toggle Switch Control to ON, tap on the Switches section. Tap Add New Switch, and choose Camera. Now you’ll have the option to define the movement of your head left or right. Choose Left Head Movement, and then select the action you’d like your iPhone to perform when you move your head to the left. I chose Tap so that I could select whatever the scanning function was currently highlighting.
Tap Add New Switch again and this time, add the opposite head movement. I decided to activate Siri with my right head movement, so I could access the power of Apple’s personal digital assistant with a quick look to my right.
Now, tap Switch Control ON, and you’ll see a warning that it will change the way your iPhone works. That’s the whole point, so go ahead and confirm. By default, the Auto Scanning option is set to ON, so your iPhone will star scanning through all the tap-able areas on your screen, starting in the top left. If you’ve defined one of your head movements to Tap, wait until the highlight covers the button you want to Tap, and move your head in that direction. Boom! You’re controlling your iPhone with your face.
You’ll need to be the right distance away from the iPhone camera to make this work, and you’ll get a warning if you are too close or if the Camera can’t find your face. What’s great about this system is that it doesn’t disable the touchscreen like VoiceOver does, making it ideal for someone with sight to use.
Have fun experimenting with different scanning options and actions to trigger with your two new facial movement switches – let us know in the comments how you get along with this fascinating and incredibly useful function in iOS 7.1.