Apparently, Apple has been listening. I have blogged much over the past six months on the iPhone’s missing accessibility features; more zoom, more color contrast and more voice. Today, Apply announced the next iteration of the iPhone, the 3G S, and it has taken a giant step in the right direction.
Apple introduces these features on its iPhone 3G S Accessibility page.
iPhone 3G S offers accessibility features to assist users who are visually or hearing impaired. These features include the VoiceOver screen reader, a Zoom feature, White on Black display options, Mono Audio, and more.
Learn more about accessibility
The main new accessibility feature is the implementation of Apple’s signature screen reader, Voiceover, to the iPhone. Without having tested it myself, this seems like a pretty good implementation.
In addition to Voice Control, iPhone 3G S features VoiceOver, the world’s first gesture-based screen reader. Instead of memorizing keyboard commands or pressing tiny arrow keys, you simply touch the screen to hear a description of the item under your finger, then double-tap, drag, or flick to control iPhone. VoiceOver speaks 21 languages and works with all of the applications built into iPhone 3G S.
Just as importantly for me are two of the other new features. The new iPhone offers a more extensive zoom feature. “Zoom on iPhone lets you magnify the entire screen of any application. Zoom up to 5 times normal size and move left, right, up, and down to view any portion of the screen close up. Zoom works everywhere, including the Home, Unlock, and Spotlight screens, and with every application.”
For high contrast needs, there is a new black-on-white display option. “If you need or prefer higher contrast, iPhone 3G S lets you change the display to white on black. Use the White on Black feature in any application, as well as the Home, Unlock, and Spotlight screens, and with Zoom and VoiceOver.” It looks nicely implemented, unlike the default options in Microsoft Windows.
Apple is also touting a voice control feature, though as general feature rather than as an accessibility option. I don’t know the extent, usefulness or many details yet.
The iPhone is due out on the 19th, so I will be heading over to the Apple Store to check it out. I do not know if these features are available to older models through the new OS 3.0 upgrade. That upgrade is available on the 17th, so expect an answer on that day.If you find this post useful or interesting, please consider buying me a cup of coffee.