Apple this morning held its second event in as many months, announcing a new HomePod Mini and a range of new iPhones. The iPhone is undeniably Apple’s crown jewel product, and the new ones look as stellar as ever, while the baby HomePod feels like something Cupertino should’ve launched years ago.
Forget 5G networking. Forget the Pro Max’s LiDAR sensor and fancy camera tricks. Forget the (albeit delightful) new color finishes on both iPhones. Forget HomePod Mini doesn’t (for now?) support Spotify. If you’re someone who cares deeply about accessibility, disabled or not, the high-level take from today’s announcement was unmistakable. Everything Apple announced today has some sort of accessibility story that will define the user experience for legions of buyers with disabilities. It’s yet another lesson that accessible hardware matters just as much as accessible software.
Look no further than the reintroduction of MagSafe to the Apple lexicon for proof. Apple’s years-long love affair with magnets has been a low-key boon for people with fine-motor conditions. The new accessories unveiled today keep the theme going, which should make adding and removing a case (and charging a device, obviously) eminently more accessible than tediously fiddling with a case’s material or a Lightning cable. It’s one thing to sneer at Apple’s accessory game by deriding their peripherals as pretty but overpriced—but it’s a mistake to overlook the accessibility gains MagSafe should have on a person with physical motor impairments. The ramifications of these clever new cases and chargers is immensely important if you’re someone who struggles with an ostensibly mundane thing like plugging in your phone to charge.
As for the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, the 12 Mini is the most intriguing model insofar as accessibility goes. It wasn’t too long ago when Apple introduced an iPhone with