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Apple to roll out new accessibility features to its devices this year

Apple is working on rolling out software updates aimed to help those with cognitive, vision, mobility. 
Apple is working on rolling out software updates aimed to help those with cognitive, vision, mobility.  (REUTERS)

The new features, coming later this year, span across all of its operating systems, including iOS, iPadOS, and WatchOS.

Apple will roll out software updates aimed to help those with cognitive, vision, mobility, and hearing disabilities. According to Mashable, the new features, coming later this year, span across all of its operating systems, including iOS, iPadOS, and WatchOS.

For iOS, Apple is launching a new service called 'SignTime' - allowing customers to communicate with AppleCare and Apple Store associates through 'Sign Language' via a web browser. If a user plans to visit an Apple Store, they can also use SignTime to access a sign language interpreter remotely.

The service launches May 20 and will be available in the US, UK, and France. But Apple plans to expand the feature to additional countries over time.

Another feature coming to iOS is 'VoiceOver' for those who are blind or have low vision. The novel feature can describe a person's position, objects, and other details in a photo. Using the Markup tool, users can also add their own image descriptions.

For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, Apple devices will now support bi-directional hearing aids. Per Mashable, Apple also expanded its catalogue of Memoji customisation to include cochlear implants, oxygen tubes, and a soft helmet.

For iPadOS, Apple is adding support for third-party eye-tracking devices. With the introduction of these devices, users can control the iPad using only their eyes. Compatible devices will be able to track where someone is looking on the screen and move the pointer to follow their gaze. The feature of extended eye contact can also trigger an action such as a tap on the screen.

Apple will also roll out 'AssistiveTouch' to 'WatchOS' which "allows users with upper body limb differences to enjoy the benefits of Apple Watch without ever having to touch the display or controls."

By leveraging sensors such as the gyroscope, accelerometer, and the heart-rate monitor, users can control their Apple Watch through gestures -- such as pinching or clenching -- to answer calls, navigate menus, stop timers, and more. 

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