While mobile device accessibility features are usually aimed at people with poor eyesight, hearing loss or limited mobility, accessibility features in Apple’s mobile operating system can increasingly benefit all users. The launch of iOS 14 has taken several high-profile accessibility features such as sound recognition, Back Tap, headphones and other great features in the mainstream. We give you a downside on how you can benefit from them.
Sound recognition is obviously designed for users with hearing loss and works by letting your device listen for and recognize specific sounds to alert you when they are heard. A list of predefined sounds includes common home-based noise in four categories: Alarm, Animal, Household, and People. It contains objects such as doorbells, sirens, pets, crying babies or running water. You can set the function to listen only to sounds that are important to you. After installation, audio recognition notifications will appear on your lock screen.
To set this on an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings> Accessibility> Audio recognition and press to activate it. If you have a second device, you can use it as a real-time baby monitor to alert you when your baby is crying or if your dog starts howling. Note that the “Hello Siri” monitor does not work when using the Audio Recognition function.
To quickly enable and disable audio recognition, you can place it in the Control Center via Settings> Control center> More controls and press Sound recognition icon. Then drag and drop it to the position you prefer. Press and hold Sound recognition icon in the Control Center to select the sounds your iPhone should listen to. While this is a convenient feature, Apple warns users not to rely on it in emergencies.
Back Tap, as the name implies, involves physically tapping the back of the phone so that quick action is triggered with a double or triple tap. Properly configured, Back Tap can save time and effort. It lets you do everything from triggering a screenshot to activating the Reachability feature. To enable Back Tap, go to Settings> Accessibility> Tap> Back. Then select Double click and your preferred quick action from the four categories. Then repeat the same procedure for Triple pressure choice. The downside is that Back Tap only works on an iPhone 8 or later and also excludes iPhone SE (2016). See our in-depth feature for more tips on using the Back Tap feature.
If you own a pair of AirPods or Beats headphones, you can now adjust your music by going to Settings> Open Settings> Accessibility> Audio / video and look for Headphones. With these controls, you can refine the sound from your headphones to highlight various aspects, such as singing for phone calls or other types of media playback. A custom sound setting option offers to play a series of A / B tests so you can work out the best adjustment for your hearing, as the changes can be subtle. The feature also works with AirPods Pro’s transparency mode to increase silent voices. Although this feature only works for second-generation AirPods or AirPods Pro and some Beats headphones, some third-party headphones have paired apps that can make similar adjustments.
Sign language and VoiceOver
FaceTime can now detect when a conversation participant is using sign language and emphasizing that person in a group conversation. VoiceOver recognition has also been improved so that the feature recognizes certain unsupported elements on the screen. For example, the VoiceOver screen reader can now detect and articulate more elements on the screen, such as text from images or photos.