Accessibility updates may hint toward a bigger update for iOS 16 and watchOS 9

Accessibility on iOS
(Image credit: Apple)

Earlier this week, Apple announced a bunch of accessibility improvements for its users on the iPhone and Apple Watch. However, I got deja vu from similar news back in 2021.

Alongside live captions coming to FaceTime calls and other apps in Apple's press release, there's also a door detection feature, which uses the LiDAR camera, found in the iPad Pro, iPhone 12 Pro, and 13 Pro models, to tell where the door handle is, and how far away it is from the user.

Last year we saw other accessibility improvements, where the screenshots showed off a new layout that hadn't arrived to iPhone models at the time, which was confirmed a few weeks later at WWDC 2021, and arrived on iOS 15 in September 2021.

We may be seeing a repeat of these hints for iOS 16, as well as watchOS 9, as we head towards WWDC on June 6.

Hidden in plain sight?

Apple Accessibility Features shown on iPhone and Apple Watch

(Image credit: Apple)

Accessibility is a topic that should be at the forefront of the minds of developers and companies. It's something I always look for in new apps and upcoming updates, as software should be accessible for everyone.

However, these features, which will likely appear in iOS 16 and watchOS 9, as Apple has stated that they're arriving towards the end of the year, give the impression that the company is giving accessibility a greater focus this year.

As the pandemic meant many of us have had to adjust to the new world of remote working, there's a chance that we're going to see big updates that may have been delayed from 2020 and 2021.

A backlog of new features that are being refined for WWDC in a few short weeks could mean that iOS 16 and watchOS 9 are bigger leaps than what they were originally intended to be.

It’s encouraging to see accessibility take more of a precedent in software updates from Apple, while Microsoft has been looking into accessories in this area. Instead of the topic being a footnote in a press release, accessibility is having its own time to shine. With this in mind, WWDC looks to be a great event for users with accessibility needs.

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time, he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider'. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a newsletter called 'Springboard'. He's usually found playing games old and new on his Steam Deck and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.