Apple’s iOS 5’s AssistiveTouch helps the disabled use a smartphone

“Plenty has been written about the new iPhone 4S, with its voice-controlled virtual assistant Siri, and about iOS 5, its software,” David Pogue reports for The New York Times. “But in writing a book about both, I stumbled across an amazingly thoughtful feature that I haven’t seen a word about: something called AssistiveTouch.”

“Now, Apple has always gone to considerable lengths to make the iPhone usable for people with vision and hearing impairments,” Pogue reports. “If you’re blind, you can literally turn the screen off and operate everything — do your e-mail, surf the Web, adjust settings, run apps — by tapping and letting the phone speak what you’re touching.”

“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,” Pogue reports. “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.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “jmmx” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Stevie Wonder thanks Steve Jobs, praises Apple for iOS accessibility – September 15, 2011


  1. I’ve seen this in use, works pretty good.

    What I want to know though, is there any way to answer a call without touching the screen? Say when you have gloves on.. Double tap home button etc.

    And yes I know about gloves that are made for touch screens… But leather gloves don’t work.
    My dad wears gloves all day, outside in the cold. Welding, cutting, working with metal/wood etc.
    He loves his iPad, but answering/using an iPhone in the cold just doesn’t work for him. And a headset is probably last resort, odds are he wouldn’t use it either.

      1. Problem is in the cold… Wearing a stocking cap etc.

        The only thing I can think of is buying one of those physical keyboard backs for the iPhone. As long as there is a way to answer a call with a button.

        Also in the cold, my dad used my old iPhone 3G for a month, when the screen is cold along with hands.. You can slide forever and it won’t unlock to answer.
        He goes through gloves all the time, ripping etc, so constantly having to make his gloves work with a touch screen would just turn him off more.

        iPhone is the best phone out there, but there are minor issues. Just need to be able answer a call with a button and I could get my dad to get one.

        Else He’ll have to stay old school and keep buying flip phones…

        1. I have a similar issue, always working outside with gloves. I just use the standard earbuds and click the remote to answer. It’s good when your using earmuffs for ear protection with noisy machinery too. I’m always listening to music/audiobooks anyway. That way I can at least hear the incoming calll.

          Just use the right earbud with the mic on it and feed the cable inside the shirt so it doesn’t catch on anything. Put the iphone in the pants pocket. Use voice control to make calls, music. ask the time etc.

          It’s what I do anyway. Means I don’t have to stop working to answer a call, dig a phone out of my pocket and hopefully click the answer button before it rings out. Just click the mic and answer the call. Gloves no problem. If i’m doing really mucky work I just wrap some cling wrap around the mic button to protect it from mud etc.


  2. I can even see Assistive Touch being used by normal people who want a special function without having to pick up the phone of a table.

    Eventually maybe it evolves to something like Applescript for the iPhone where you can link 2, 3 or 4 actions to be done by one click.

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