iOS 18 brings eye tracking and Dwell Control navigation to the iPhone and iPad

iOS 18 brings eye tracking and Dwell Control navigation to the iPhone and iPad
Tucked behind all the excitement about the Apple Intelligence suite that is coming with iOS 18, the new accessibility features got only a passing mention, but they deserve more attention.

While Apple's AI functions are only coming later this year and to just two of its handsets at the moment - the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone Pro Max - the new eye tracking accessibility option will be available on every iPhone 12 and above, as well as on the budget iPhone SE 3.

Apple announced a suite of accessibility features that are arriving for the iPhone back in the spring and said that they will be arriving "later this year." Well, they are now officially coming with iOS 18, at least the Eye Tracking, Music Haptics, and Vocal Shortcuts options.

Eye Tracking in iOS 18

Apple claims that the new Eye Tracking accessibility feature in iOS 18 uses artificial intelligence to allow people whose motoring function has been affected to operate the iPhone and iPad only with the movement of their eyes. 

IT obviously isn't referring to Apple Intelligence, given that it is only supported by the iPhone 15 Pro and probably the iPhone 16 models. "Eye Tracking uses the front-facing camera to set up and calibrate in seconds, and with on-device machine learning, all data used to set up and control this feature is kept securely on the device," tips Apple.

It remains to be tested how well Eye Tracking would work to pick, launch, and command iPadOS and iOS apps, but the possibility sounds very exciting. Users can move between screen elements with their eyes and "tap" screen buttons with the so-called Dwell Control to activate them, or swipe up and down, solely with their eyes.

Dwell Control is a preset amount of time a user would stop their gaze on a screen element in order to activate it, and we tested it to be a bit buggy at the moment, but it will get better as the iOS 18 betas progress to release.

As for the other new accessibility options of iOS 18, Apple is introducing Music Haptics that "plays taps, textures, and refined vibrations to the audio" available in its Apple Music catalog, while the new Vocal Shortcuts option is an expansion to the voice commands function for people that are hard of speaking for various reasons.

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