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Approximately one in seven persons cannot engage with their devices and the environment due to some form of disability. Because of this, Apple has gone to great lengths to ensure that all its users, regardless of their capabilities, can interact with their devices in ways that work for them.What is Switch Control on iPhone and iPad?
Switch Control is part of the tech giant’s Accessibility suite that lets users operate their iPhones using switches. The iPhone sequentially highlights items on the screen, and you can set up switches to tap or select these items. You can even draw on your iPhone’s screen using a switch.
These switches can be external, like an external adaptive switch that you can connect or pair with the iPhone via Bluetooth.
You can also do full-on customization and finetune the switches so that each performs a specific action, making it easier for people with limited mobility to navigate through their iPhones with one or multiple switches.How to setup Switch Control on iPhone and iPad
It’s much easier to set up Switch Control by adding a new switch and assigning some essential functions before turning on Switch Control.
Turning it on will immediately enable the scanning features, which you won’t be able to control without any switches set up.
You have the option to use the following as a switch for your iPhone:
External adaptive switch
If you’re planning to add an external adaptive switch, the first step is to connect it to your iPhone following the instructions that came with it. If the switch connects using Bluetooth, go to Settings → Bluetooth, then pair your switch.Add a new switch
To set up a new switch, go to Settings → Accessibility.
Tap Add New Switch, then select any of the following:
External: This lets you use a Made For iPhone (MFi) switch that plugs into the Lightning connector on your iPhone or an already paired Bluetooth switch.
Screen: This lets you tap anywhere on the iPhone screen.
Camera: This uses your front camera to detect Left Head Movements and Right Head Movements, which you can assign as a switch.
Back Tap: You can do a Double Tap or Triple Tap to perform a switch action.
Select an action to assign to the switch. Two of the most basic functions you need to set a switch for are Select Item, which selects a highlighted item, and Move to Next Item, which moves the selection to the next group or item.
Aside from these two, below are other actions you can assign for the scanner:
Scanner Menu: This reveals the scanner menu.
Stop Scanning: This stops Auto Scanning, which will continue indefinitely.
Move To Previous Item: This moves the selection to the previously highlighted group or item.
Resume Auto Scanning: This enables the iPhone to resume Auto Scanning items on the screen.
You may also assign switches that immediately perform System actions aside from the basic Tap function. Doing so allows a person to perform actions that would typically require certain gestures to perform. Some of these include App Switcher, Notification Center, and Control Center.
Remove a switch
To remove a switch from Switch Control, go to Switches.
Choose the switch you want to delete, and swipe left.How to enable Switch Control on iPhone or iPad
Go to Settings → Accessibility.
How to customize Switch Control on iPhone and iPad
Now that you’re done, you can now fully customize Switch Control. Here are the following aspects you can customize.
Auto Scanning: This moves the focus automatically after a specified duration.
Manual Scanning: To use this, you must have a switch that you can engage to move the focus and a second switch to activate or select focused/highlighted items.
This section lets you adjust the timing and timing-related scanning behaviors.
Auto Scanning Time: This lets you adjust the scanning speed.
Pause on First Item: Selecting the first item in the group can be challenging when the scanning speed is fast. This option makes scanning pause on the first item in the group.
Loops: Select how many times scanning will cycle through the items on the screen before hiding the cursor. You can choose from 1 to 10.
Move Repeat: Enable this to delay before moving to the previous or next item while a switch remains pressed.
Long Press: When enabled, you can enable Pause Scanning, which will pause Switch Control. Select from 1 to 8 seconds.
Tap Behavior: Define what happens when the Select action is activated. Choose Default to displace the Scanner Menu, Auto Tap to automatically tap the screen after a specified duration, or Always Tap to immediately tap the focused item instead of showing the Scanner Menu.
This contains adjustments in the keyboard behavior and includes:
Scan Same Key After Tap
Always Tap Keyboard Keys
Switch Stabilization helps ensure that switches don’t get triggered accidentally, taking into consideration errors in producing movement to activate the switch, which can occur in people with tremors or other movement disorders. You can set the duration from 1 to 10 seconds.
Hold Duration: Requires a person to hold the input device for a time before the device recognizes it.
Single: Uses one vertical and one horizontal selection, which is helpful for larger targets.
Refined: This adds a second scan in the range of your initial selection.
Precise: This adds a final low-speed scan for more accurate targeting.
Toggle Head Tracking on if you want to use the iPhone’s camera to track the person’s head movement to control a pointer on the screen and specific facial movements like raising eyebrows or opening the mouth to perform additional actions.
Toggle Sound Effects to enable sound effects, such as when selecting an item.
Create new gestures
Confirm with Switch Control
Create new recipes
Recipes are specialized actions you can use to perform frequently repeated or complex actions within apps. You can create recipes to assign special actions to switches temporarily. These may include game controls or turning the pages when reading an eBook.How to use an iPhone to control another Apple device
You may also use your iPhone to remotely control another Apple device connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
This lets you navigate your Apple TV or Mac using the same switch setup that controls your iPhone.
To begin controlling another device:
Make sure that both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network and iCloud account.
To control a Mac:
Go to the Apple menu → System Settings → Accessibility.
On the right side, select Switch Control.
Tick the box beside Allow platform switching to control your computer.
Then turn on Switch Control on your iPhone or iPad.
Then go to Devices → Other Devices.
Select the device you want to control, then choose Connect.
You should now be able to use the switch connected to your iPhone, or your iPhone itself, to control the other device.
How to stop iPhone from controlling another Apple device
Once you’re done controlling the other device, just press and hold your switch for 10 seconds. This will revert the switch’s control to your iPhone or iPad again.
If you’re controlling a Mac, you can also navigate to the Switch Control menu → select Device → Stop Using Device.
With Switch Control, you can make your iOS device easier to navigate and more accessible for yourself or a loved one with limited mobility or other disability.
While the customization process can be complicated and is more of a trial-and-error process based on what works best for your loved one, seeing them navigate their device with greater ease is worth the effort. So don’t be afraid to experiment and have patience on your journey towards making technology more accessible. Good luck!
Rachel loves anything Apple —from iPhones, to Apple Watches, to MacBooks. She is also a medical writer and a ghostwriter for various publications.
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