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Apple develops Door Detection for blind or low vision iPhone users

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Apple develops Door Detection for blind or low vision iPhone users
Door Detection can find and verbally describe a door to an iPhone or iPad user.
Screenshot: Apple

Apple’s Door Detection uses advancements in hardware, software, and machine learning to help people who are blind or low vision use their iPhone and iPad to navigate the last few feet to their destination.

This is one of several innovative software features unveiled Tuesday with new ways for users with disabilities. These include Live Captions, Apple Watch Mirroring and more.

Your iPhone can alert you to breaking glass, smoke alarms and other dangers

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Get alerts for alarms, door bells, dogs, appliances and more.
Get alerts for alarms, door bells, dogs, appliances and more.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

The other day I was walking with music blasting through my AirPods when I almost stepped in front of a speeding ambulance.

Luckily, the magical Sound Recognition feature on my iPhone was turned on and my AirPods recognized the wailing sirens. They silenced the music and piped the sirens into my ears instead, saving my bacon. It was amazing and quite magical.

Your iPhone can also listen and alert you for crying babies, running water, knocks on the door, barking dogs and more.

Here’s how to use it.

Make your iPhone read text out loud

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Spoken Content Settings (Big)
Your iPhone can read text from websites and iMessages (and even words in photos). Here's how to make it happen.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

The iPhone is renowned for its many accessibility features. Accessibility settings can make text on the screen bigger, buttons easier to identify, animations less jarring and sound easier to hear.

An accessibility feature that is useful for everyone is Spoken Content. You can have your phone read out loud anything you have on-screen. This feature was designed for people who have trouble reading small text, but you will find it handy even if you don’t — in lots of situations.

You can have recipes read to you while your hands are busy cooking, quickly hear how to pronounce a word you don’t know — that’s what I use it for most of all — and more. You can even hear what you’re typing as you write.

Here’s how to turn on Spoken Content.

How to use your iPhone and AirPods to spy on people

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How to use your iPhone and AirPods to spy on people
Here’s how to do an iPhone spying trick. Use it for fun, not evil.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

An iPhone and AirPods can be used to listen to conversations without people knowing. Such iPhone spying is really just a tricky use of the Live Listen feature built into iOS.

And, even if you’re not a budding James Bond, knowing about this trick could keep someone from eavesdropping on you. Here’s what to do if you want to use your iPhone to spy on someone. (Or what to watch out for if you don’t want to fall victim to iPhone spying.)

How to enable and use Reachability on iPhone in iOS 14

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How to enable Reachability
Reachability makes even the largest iPhone models easy to use one-handed.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

Reachability remains alive and well in iOS 14 — even if you have an iPhone without a Home button. The feature, which makes even the largest iPhone models easier to operate with one hand, is super-simple to use with just a quick flick of the thumb.

However, Reachability is disabled by default, so you’ll need to turn it on. Here’s how to enable and use Reachability in the latest iPhone firmware.

AssistiveTouch lets users control Apple Watch by clenching a fist

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AssistiveTouch lets users control Apple Watch by clenching their fists.
AssistiveTouch lets users control Apple Watch by clenching their fists.
Photo: Apple

Apple plans to release software updates this year that will make its devices far easier to use for people with mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive disabilities.

The features include AssistiveTouch for Apple Watch, which offers astonishing new ways for people with limited mobility to control the smartwatch without tapping its screen. The new feature uses Apple Watch’s array of sensors to interpret the wearer’s movement into interactions.

Cupertino showcased AssistiveTouch for Apple Watch — which lets users maneuver a cursor on the wearable’s screen simply by clenching their fist and pinching their fingers together, among other things — in a remarkable video. (We embedded the video below — definitely watch it.)

But AssistiveTouch for Apple Watch is just the beginning of Apple’s latest big push into accessibility.

Apple showcases what Accessibility features can do for you

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Accessibility webpage
Apple's updated webpage shows off all the features it offers to Accessibility easier.
Photo: Apple

Apple just overhauled its Accessibility website, emphasizing all the ways these built-in features can make using your iPhone and other gear easier to use. The updated Accessibility page is now headed up by a banner advertising “built‑in features that work the way you do. Make them yours, and make something wonderful.”

It goes on to describe the various tools — broken into Vision, Mobility, Hearing and Cognitive categories — that Apple offers users as built-in features within its software.

Apple will give iPads and scholarships to students at leading deaf university

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Gallaudet University Sign
The Gallaudet University sign in Washington, D.C.
Photo: Mr.TinDC/Flickr CC

Apple has partnered with Washington D.C.’s Gallaudet University — the world’s leading university for deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind students — to offer all students and faculty Apple devices. Learners and teachers alike will receive an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and SmartFolio for iPad Pro.

The offer is also available to students and teachers at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center, Gallaudet’s partner program for students in grades K-12.