Photo: Tyler Lastovich

By: Nick Gambino

Accessibility is a watchword in the tech world. After centuries of the industry doing little to create access for those with disabilities, these new forward-thinking companies have been tasked with creating not only hardware with accessibility in mind but software features that allow those products to be better used.

Just in time for Global Accessibility Awareness Day (May 19th), Apple has announced new accessibility features for the iPhone, iMac, and Apple Watch. Most notable of the features is live captions, which will allow real-time captioning of FaceTime calls and other video platforms.

It’s a great feature for those who are hard of hearing or anyone who might want or have to watch a video with the volume all the way down. Users will see text blocks appear at the bottom they can read along with. It will include the names of who’s speaking, which is helpful.

In addition to captioning the videos on your screen, the new feature will also allow users to transcribe in-person conversations around them.

This is a very similar feature available through third-party apps like Ava. With Apple releasing a native live caption feature it begs the question as to what will become of those apps. They’ve been cleaning up and now they’ve become unnecessary. That is, of course, if Apple’s live caption feature works as well as tools like Ava.

Live captioning wasn’t the only new accessibility feature announced by Apple. They’ve also announced a Door Detection feature that’s designed to help low-vision or blind users locate doors in whatever room they’re in. This is especially useful if they’re unfamiliar with the room.

The Door Detection feature will do more than just tell you where the door is. It will also describe important things like whether it is open or not and if you need to push, turn a doorknob or pull a handle.

For the Apple Watch, they’re adding the ability to mirror assistive features on a nearby iPhone. That way users can control their Watch from their phone which is often easier.

You can read all about Apple’s new accessibility features here. They are all expected later this year.