Apple to Launch New Accessibility Feature Allowing People to Control iPhone and iPad With Their Eyes

Tim Cook and company are rolling out several new accessibility features, including Eye Tracking and Music Haptics.

Apple logo on a store facade with artistic line patterns in the background
Image via Getty/Costfoto/NurPhoto
Apple logo on a store facade with artistic line patterns in the background

Apple is launching a new feature that will allow people to use iPhone and iPad with just their eyes.

This week, the Tim Cook-led tech giant announced multiple new accessibility features set to be rolled out deeper into 2024, including Music Haptics for deaf or hard-of-hearing users and similarly inclusive tweaks to the Vision Pro experience. Eye Tracking, however, has received the bulk of the ensuing media attention, and understandably so.

Per Apple, the imminent feature, powered by artificial intelligence tech, was designed with those with physical disabilities in mind, thus giving such users a reliable way of navigating their devices. To utilize the potentially game-changing feature, a simple setup process is required by way of the device’s front-facing camera. Press notes state that this process takes mere "seconds" to complete, with built-in machine learning improving the experience from there. No add-on hardware is needed, with any data involved in use of the feature being securely retained on the device itself.

Just in:@Apple just unveiled their new Eye Tracking Feature in iOS 18 for iPhone and iPad 👀 #ios18 #apple

— Andrew Lee (@AndrewLeeReal) May 15, 2024

Here's a more succinct explanation of Eye Tracking, straight from Cook and company:

With Eye Tracking, users can navigate through the elements of an app and use Dwell Control to activate each element, accessing additional functions such as physical buttons, swipes, and other gestures solely with their eyes.

In a statement shared alongside news of Eye Tracking and other accessibility features, Cook, who recently spoke with Vanity Fair for an excellent piece on the aforementioned Vision Pro’s potential impact on the world at large, pointed to the "transformative power of innovation" when it comes to improving the human experience.

"That’s why for nearly 40 years, Apple has championed inclusive design by embedding accessibility at the core of our hardware and software," Cook, Apple's CEO for 13 years now, said on Wednesday. "We’re continuously pushing the boundaries of technology, and these new features reflect our long-standing commitment to delivering the best possible experience to all of our users."

Notably, Apple’s announcement was timed to coincide with Global Accessibility Awareness Day, a campaign co-founded by Joe Devon and Jennison Asuncion.

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