Kevin Warnock

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Assistive Touch for iOS5 Apple operating system for mobile devices

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Apple assistive touch feature demonstrated in iOS5

Apple assistive touch feature demonstrated in iOS5

David Pogue, the Walt Mossberg of The New York Times newspaper taught me something today. Apple’s iOS 5 mobile operating system incorporates extensive usability features for the disabled.

Pogue writes:

“One new feature, called AssistiveTouch, is Apple’s accessibility team at its most creative. When you turn on this feature in Settings->General->Accessibility, a new, white circle appears at the bottom of the screen. It stays there all the time.

When you tap it, you get a floating on-screen palette. Its buttons trigger motions and gestures on the iPhone screen without requiring hand or multiple-finger movement. All you have to be able to do is tap with a single finger — even a stylus you’re holding in your teeth or fist.

For example, you can tap the Home on-screen button instead of pressing the physical Home button.

If you tap Device, you get a sub-palette of six functions that would otherwise require you to grasp the phone or push its tiny physical buttons. There’s Rotate Screen (tap this instead of turning the phone 90 degrees), Lock Screen (tap instead of pressing the Sleep switch), Volume Up and Volume Down (tap instead of pressing the volume keys), Shake (does the same as shaking the phone to undo typing), and Mute/Unmute (tap instead of flipping the small Mute switch on the side).”

I think Apple deserves a round of applause for anticipating the needs of its users with disabilities.

I think David Pogue also deserves a round of applause, for bringing these features to the attention of a wide audience. These features have been written about earlier, but I didn’t learn about them until today.

Thankfully, I am not disabled, but I have considered the plight of those who are disabled, since Purple Communications, the company I sold my last startup to, caters exclusively to the disabled market. I still follow Purple, and I hope Apple doesn’t eventually drive them out of business by including features helpful to the disabled at no extra cost. Purple employs upwards of 1,000 people to help the deaf and hearing communicate by both wired and wireless devices.

Here’s a video that shows the feature in action. I found this on YouTube.

As a side note, I am a fan of David Pogue because he wrote in his first iPhone Missing Manual book about the very simple word processor my company used to offer for iPhone, launched 7/7/07. Thank you David!

Written by Kevin Warnock

November 19th, 2011 at 10:39 pm