In September Apple released the latest update of its iOS 7 software for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. This update came with a lot of press because the appearance of the iDevice changed which some people liked and others didn’t.
If you’re feeling reluctant to update your iDevice we have come up with a list of what we feel are some of the best new features in iOS 7 to support users including those with a disability.
A new accessibility feature called ‘Switch Control’ provides users with significant physical disabilities an alternative way to access their iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch using one or multiple switches. ‘Switch Control’ turns on scanning to support the user to navigate the home screen, enter and control apps and control external buttons with their switch. Switches can be an external switching device, using the screen as a switch, or left and right head movements detected by the camera.
For instructions and to watch a video about Switch Control head to the Ablenet website: http://www.ablenetinc.com/Assistive-Technology/iPad-iPhone-and-iPod-Accessories-Apps/iOS7
An updated accessibility feature is Text Size. This feature allows users to set their preferred reading text size throughout the inbuilt Apple apps and third party apps that support Dynamic Type. This enhanced feature is great for users with vision impairment and literacy difficulties.
The App Store has two main new features. The first is allowing apps to automatically updated in the background. This saves you the trouble of having to check if apps need updating which, if you are like us at the ILC, is easy to forget to do! This feature is turned on in the Settings app under iTunes and App Store Settings.
Another new feature we are excited about is Wish List which lets you save a list of paid apps that you want to buy in the App Store. This helps you keep track of apps that you have found while waiting for funding or your iTunes gift card for Christmas. This is a very handy feature for schools and organisations supporting people to use iPads.
Photos and Camera
Photos in the Photos app can be viewed and organised in a new way: by years, then collections, and finally into memories stored by date and location. This can make it easier for people with cognitive or memory difficulties to use photos to talk and reminisce about events or holidays.
In the Camera app changing between photo and video mode is made easier by allowing you to swipe up or down anywhere on the screen to switch modes. This feature is useful to those with fine motor difficulties or vision impairment.
Notification Centre will show you a summary of what you need to know for today and look at tomorrow. This is useful for those who use their iDevice for a calendar and reminders and want to quickly check their daily schedule. To access the Notification Centre, swipe down from the top of any screen, including the lock screen.
The new Control Centre feature provides quick and efficient access to iPad functions including the camera, clock app, music volume and music playback. It also makes it easy to turn and off Wifi, Bluetooth, mute and Airplane Mode. To access the Control Centre, swipe up from the bottom of any screen, including the lock screen. The Control Centre feature may be useful to users who experience fatigue, such as arthritis, or that need to multitask.
Apps have been able to be stored into folders for a while but these folders are now unlimited. This is a great feature if you have hundreds of apps and want to store them in groups. For example at ILC we have apps in folders called AAC, Literacy, Visual Support and more.
Please note: Before you update your iDevice we recommend you back up your device to a computer with iTunes. That way if something goes wrong you can restore your iDevice and not lose any work.
Have you updated to iOS 7 on your iDevice yet? Please share with us your favourite feature that makes your iDevice easier to use. We’d love to hear your tips and tricks.
By Jessica Rigden and Linda Tran (ILC Tech Occupational Therapists)