Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Deeper AI Integration Coming to Apple Devices

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Contributor:

At the 2024 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), held from June 10 to 14, 2024, Apple discussed many new features to expect in upcoming releases of its various platforms, which will begin to roll out this September. Much of the news revolved around the company’s increased use of AI to make both its digital personal assistant Siri and devices themselves more customizable and automated. For example, Siri will become more conversational, remembering past requests and commands so users can ask for information in a natural way. Siri also keeps track of correspondence, so it can remind you of appointments, find media shared in text conversations and more. This is due to Apple Intelligence, a local AI that will run on newer iPhones, iPads and Macs. Apple’s AI can also summarize and categorize emails and text threads, generate images from text, convert scanned PDFs to text with optical character recognition (OCR), and transcribe recordings. There is built-in functionality to ask questions of CHAtGPT 4O. While not developed specifically for users with vision loss, Apple Intelligence has the potential to greatly increase accessibility, usability, and productivity. The ability to scan PDFs without a dedicated app will be helpful, and automatic categorization of emails and auto-generated replies will save time that users may otherwise spend searching for messages and typing. Non-AI-related accessibility improvements are coming as well, including new VoiceOver voices and the ability to record your own voice to use for the screen reader. Developers will be able to create custom app widgets to go in the Control Center and lock screen, enabling users to reduce time needed for routine tasks such as ordering a ride home. You can format messages in Apple’s iMessage app, and standard SMS messages now come with read receipts and typing indicators. You can even lock whatever apps you choose behind authentication, such as Face ID. Find more information on the WWDC website linked above, in this preview of iOS from Apple, and this one from AppleVis, which also discusses these improvements from a vision loss perspective.