Apple’s New “Voice Control” Feature Takes Digital Accessibility to the Next Level

iPhone Showing Voice Control Screen

Apple has always been a dedicated advocate for accessibility. Their products are designed to be exceptionally easy to use for users with varying degrees of abilities, and this focus on the customer experience has subsequently propelled them to almost 40% market share of the worldwide smartphone market in 2018. If you’re a devoted iPhone fan you’ll know why their share is so high!

Their latest iOS release, iOS 13, promises a plethora of new accessibility features, including “Voice Control,” which will allow users to dictate both set and context-specific commands to their phone. iOS users are already familiar with Siri, Apple’s voice activated assistant, but Voice Control is like Siri on steroids.

Ian Mackay, a quadriplegic disability advocate, features prominently in Apple’s compelling sneak peek video that shows him messaging, searching photos, and emailing with a friend, all accomplished with only voice commands. It’s a far cry from the days of yelling at Siri after she has misinterpreted “call Tom” to mean “Call Mom.”

In the video, Ian uses a combination of set voice commands (like “send message”) and contextual commands (speaking a number that is associated with an element on the screen, like a photo or an app) to perform a variety of tasks. If this technology lives up to its promise, it’s going to be a game-changing feature for people with severe motor-control impairments.

Other accessibility features promised in the next release are rich text editing, which enables users to use their voice to modify specific parts of dictated text, the ability to navigate to different apps just by speaking their names, and attention awareness, which effectively puts Voice Control in “sleep mode” when you’re not speaking specifically to your device.

Apple has yet again wowed the world with its breathtaking attention to detail and creativity. It’s Voice Control technology promises to not only improve the lives of people with disabilities, but make life a heck of a lot more convenient for able-bodied users. I know what I’ll be doing next time my hands are occupied and I need to send a text or open an app!

If you would like to make sure your website works properly with assistive technology like Apple’s new “Voice Control” and conforms to the WCAG 2.1 guidelines visit TPG’s Website and ask about an accessibility review. You can also learn more about accessibility guidelines here on Interactive Accessibility.


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