How to use iOS 12’s Live Listen feature with AirPods

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Bluetooth in iOS 11
AirPods plus iOS 12 equals Live Listen.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Back in 1979, the original Sony Walkman had an odd feature. If you pressed an orange button on the end, a built-in mic would connect to the user’s headphones, letting the person hear what was going on in the outside world. This may be the first case of technology being used to mitigate the bad manners surrounding personal audio.

Now, in iOS 12, this type of feature is back — and way more useful than it was in music’s greatest-ever decade. Live Listen is a new iOS 12 feature that pipes live audio from the iPhone’s mic directly to your AirPods. Why? Well, it’s an accessibility feature, but it can be used for much more.

How to use your iPhone when the screen is broken

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broken iPhone screen
So sad, but maybe not a complete disaster.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

This week, a friend visited me, and the screen of her iPhone is cracked so badly that it barely registers a touch. I saw her struggle to even take a photo, and realized she didn’t know the volume-button trick.

Then we saw a little girl drop an iPhone onto the cobbled street outside a restaurant, while the owner (and uncle or family friend) looked on. The screen shattered, and the poor girl was distraught. That’s when I decided to write this guide to using your iPhone with a cracked screen.

Apple works with Microsoft to create new braille standard

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Braille
Accessibility is a major focus for Apple.
Photo: Stefan Malmesjö/Flickr CC

Apple is, rightfully, focused on accessibility issues with its products — and today it gave us one more reminder of that.

Working with other industry leaders, including Microsoft, Apple has helped develop a new standard for braille displays. It was announced by the non-profit USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) with the goal of making it easier for blind users to use computers.

Apple website celebrates accessibility for Global Accessibility Awareness Day

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Apple accessibility homepage
The many ways in which Apple devices improve accessibility.
Photo: Apple

The Apple website has today been updated to highlight the accessibility features of iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and more. The change is in celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, a yearly event that promotes digital access and inclusion for those with different disabilities.

How to search Google using Apple Pencil and handwriting

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google handwriting apple pencil
Only one of these can be used to search Google.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Did you ever open up Google on your iPad, and wish that, instead of just typing your query using the always-accessible keyboard, you could write it anywhere on the Google home page using a finger, or an Apple Pencil? No, me neither. But that doesn’t make the possibility any less real. Now, with a simple settings tweak, you need never type a Google query ever again.

Apple wants to bring these accessibility emoji to iOS

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Apple accessibility emoji
Apple's new emoji suggestions, designed to better represent those with a disability
Photo: Apple

Apple has proposed a bunch of new accessibility emoji that it wants to bring to iOS.

There are nine altogether — some of which are available in different genders and skin tones — including guide dogs, a heading aid, prosthetic limbs, and more.

How to customize text in Safari for Mac

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Customize text in Safari.
Customize text in Safari.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

You probably spend more time in Safari than in any other app on your Mac. Some people I know almost never use anything else, even typing their blog posts into a text field in the browser. The good news is that Safari is an excellent browser, and makes it really easy to read most sites on the web. Today, though, we’ll see how to make things even easier to read. With a few quick tweaks in Safari’s settings, we can customize text for any website.

How to set custom vibration alerts on your iPhone

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custom vibration drums
Satisfy your inner drummer by creating custom vibration alerts.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Custom ringtones and text tones are great for letting your know who’s calling, or who just sent a message. But what about when your iPhone is sett to silent, and hidden in your pocket? All your alerts use the same vibration, so you have no idea if that buzz was a message from your awesome and hot significant other, or yet another eBay alert about those paperclip auctions you’re watching.

Did you know that you can set custom vibration alerts for each of your contacts? And that you can actually record your own vibration patterns and assign them to whoever you like? You can, and you’re going to love how easy it is.

Musicians: Here’s how to lock down your iPad to prevent accidents on stage

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guided access ipad
Stage performers don't want their iPads launching Facebook mid-show.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple’s iOS accessibility features might be hidden away in the Settings app, but they are useful for everyone. For instance, Guided Access lets you lock your iPhone or iPad so it can use only one app, and you can even disable parts of the screen just by drawing on them. This is handy for giving the iPad to kids, or to people with impaired motor skills, but it is also fantastic for stage performers. A musician, for instance, might be using the iPad to produce or process their sound. The last thing you want to do in the heat of a performance is to accidentally do a four-finger swipe and end up on your Facebook page.

Today, then, we’ll see how to use Guided Access to keep your iPad safe on stage, but the same tips apply if you’re deploying an iPad as a cash register in your coffee shop, or as an information point at an exhibition.

How to use Type to Siri on your Mac

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HomePod siri
Siri -- not just good to talk to.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Type to Siri isn’t just for iOS 11. You can also turn on this super-useful feature on your Mac if it’s running macOS High Sierra. Type to Siri lets you do everything you can with normal Siri — call people, send iMessages, look stuff up on the web, do math, set reminders, and so on — only you type the command into a box instead of saying it. Type to Siri is classified as an accessibility feature, but it’s useful for anyone who works in a busy office, or just feels like a dork when they talk to their Mac.