Apple unveils new accessibility features coming to iOS

Apple promises Live Speech, Personal Voice, and Point and Speak are coming to iOS


Apple promises Live Speech, Personal Voice, and Point and Speak are coming to iOS 17
Apple will bring Assistive Access, Live Speech and Personal Voice to iPad and iPhone.
Photo: Apple

Just can’t wait for WWDC23? Apparently, Apple can’t either because it’s already starting announcing new features that will almost certainly be in iOS 17, iPadOS 17 and macOS 14.

These are aimed at those with disabilities, and include Live Speech and Personal Voice. These will allow those with speech disabilities to participate in conversations in a synthesized voice that sounds like the user.

iOS 17 will offer Assistive Access, Live Speech and Personal Voice

“Today, we’re excited to share incredible new features that build on our long history of making technology accessible, so that everyone has the opportunity to create, communicate, and do what they love,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

The company gave a preview of upcoming features for cognitive, vision, hearing and mobility accessibility on Tuesday.

Apple created Live Speech for those unable to speak or who have lost their speech over time. It enables iPhone, iPad and Mac users to type what they want to say and have it spoken aloud. They can also save commonly used phases available at the push of a button.

Those who are losing their ability to speak can create a Personal Voice. With training, this employs machine learning to create a voice that sounds like the user.

Assistive Access simplifies the iOS and iPadOS user interface. The new UI offers high contrast buttons and large text labels in a grid-based layout. Or users who prefer text can use a row-based layout instead.

The Magnifier app in iOS and iPadOS are getting Detection Mode and Point and Speak. This uses the camera and LiDAR scanner to detect text labels the user is pointed at and read them aloud. The features are intended to allow users with vision disabilities to interact with physical objects that have several text labels.

“These groundbreaking features were designed with feedback from members of disability communities every step of the way, to support a diverse set of users and help people connect in new ways,” said Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s senior director of Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives.

Coming soon

These announcements were timed to coincide with Global Accessibility Awareness Day on Thursday, May 18, not because they are about to debut.

Apple didn’t specifically say they’re coming in iOS 17, iPadOS 17 and macOS 14, but the timing is right — these new operating system upgrades expected to be unveiled in June at WWDC23 and reach the public in early fall.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.