Apple’s looks into an ‘audio accessory assistant’ for its various devices

Apple has filed for a patent (number 20190180015) involving “audio accessory assistance” that would make Macs, iPhones, and iPads more accessible for users with disabilities.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that folks often rely on computing devices such as Macs, iPhones, and iPads to supplement aspects of modern life. For example, we may use our mobile devices to communicate with one another, entertain ourselves, access various sources of information, etc. 

However, for someone who is visually impaired, interacting with a computing device can prove to be more difficult as it may impossible to read information presented on a traditional visual display. Apple says that, as a result, various techniques have been developed to assist visually impaired users. For example, a computing device may include a refreshable braille display capable of providing tactile feedback to the user. Per the company’s plans, computing device may also provide information to the user auditorily. 

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Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Techniques are disclosed relating to providing audio prompts. In one embodiment, a computing device includes a display, an audio circuit coupled to a speaker, first and second processors, and memory. 

“The memory has first program instructions executable by the first processor to provide, via a first operating system of the computing device, a visual prompt to the display to cause the display to present the visual prompt to a user and send, to the second processor, a request to provide an audio prompt corresponding to the visual prompt via the speaker to the user. The computing device also includes memory having second program instructions executable by the second processor to, in response to the request, provide, via a second operating system, an instruction to the audio circuit to play the audio prompt via the speaker.”

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.