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Monday, 11 June 2012
IOS6's hidden gem
One news item that may get lost in the avalanche of product launches and OS updates announced by Apple today is its ongoing commitment to accessibility. As the father of a daughter with special educational needs I know what a difference the iPad has already made to her life. But I also know the frustrations and issues that have also arisen.
Apple announced the Guided Access feature in IOS6. This is a major advance for IOS. It shows two things. One that Apple see the incredible difference the iPad has made in terms of opening up communication and learning to those with special needs and communication difficulties. they are presenting this as one of the 10 headline features of IOS6. Apple has always promoted accessibility and have built it in as a core element of the Mac and now iPhone / iPad operating systems. So maybe I should not be surprised, maybe I am more delighted and impressed.
Secondly, they have identified some of the key issues that come up when using an IOS device with someone with special needs. Namely the wealth of other things that you can do with the device. So you may have learning apps or communication apps, but why bother with them when you have games and YouTube and music etc. Within an educational environment the need to try and focus children on a single or specific task of app can be difficult. At least one case maker has produced a hardware fix, with a sliding panel which covers the home button, but this is inelegant and can be easily circumvented. The ability to limit which areas of the screen will respond to touch input is also a great feature. Apple has listened, observed and seem to understand the needs of this diverse and challenged group of users.
As I said this is just one of the ten headline features, the complete set of which makes this a great upgrade. Fantastic package well done Apple.