Apple’s New Accessibility Features; TSA Tests Facial Recognition at Airports; Free TV, 2 Screens, Big Catch; Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Hearing Boost

Apple has been a leader for years in accessibility features, and now they are previewing more of them that will be coming soon to iPhones, iPads, and Macs. reports that the suite of features is called Assistive access. First off, the Phone and FaceTime apps are merged into one. In addition, the icons are larger and Apple has increased the contrast and put in clearer labels. A totally new feature uses the camera an LiDAR scanner in iPhones to help visually impaired people with physical objects that have several text labels. For example, using Point and Speak, you can aim at the microwave, and it will tell you which buttons are ‘popcorn,’ ‘pizza,’ and ‘power level.’ Besides some increased help for visually impaired folks, a new feature called Personal Voice creates an automated voice that sounds like you, not Siri. This is intended for people who are at risk of losing their voice due to things like ALS. To make it work, the user has to read random text into the mic for about 15 minutes. The feature is apparently like what Acapela has been doing with its ‘my own voice’ service. The features are expected to be rolled out later this year. 

As if the so-called ‘rape scan’ machines you have to stand in at airport security aren’t enough…now the TSA is testing out facial recognition at some US airports. According to, you will hand over your driver’s license or passport to the TSA agent, and then your face is scanned by a camera that compares your mug to the pic on your license or passport. The airports that are testing the process are Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, and a handful of others. Once the process is complete, the TSA agent approves the screening…then you are off to said machine to stand with your arms up so it can electronically strip search you. The facial recognition is voluntary so far. Interestingly, several Senators…Jeff Merkley, Ed Markey, Cory Booker, Liz Warren, and Bernie Sanders, have written to the TSA to express their concerns. The Senators note the well known racial bias of facial recognition systems. They also are alarmed about the invasion of privacy…the TSA hasn’t said what it might do with your biometric data. Let’s hope this system isn’t put in everywhere….until and unless facial recognition gets much more accurate. 

How about a FREE 55 inch flat screen TV? It even comes with TWO screens separated by a soundbar. So what’s the catch? Glad you asked. Under the main 55 inch display is a smaller display that serves up ads, sports scores, a news ticker, and and stock prices. says ads can also pop up on the far right side of the main display, too. The set is from Pluto TV. But wait…there’s more! (Shades of Ron Popiel.) There is also a cam to watch ‘how you interact with the TV. If you are still actually thinking about one of these, what’s the matter with you? Ok…it’s

Samsung has a firmware update coming to their Galaxy Buds 2 that will amplify sound for clearer hearing. notes that this is intended for folks who are hard of hearing. The update will increase the amplification levels by two, giving users up to 5. In addition, you will be able to independently adjust each earbud’s volume using the Amplify ambient sound feature. Samsung claims the buds will deliver enhanced sound clarity by allowing “customization to tune to users’ ears through the Adapt Ambient Sound feature for more clarity in sound.” Granted, none of this will affect most users who aren’t hard of hearing, but for those who are and like to listen to music, it will be a real plus. Expect the firmware update in the coming weeks.

I’m Clark Reid and you’re ‘Technified’ for now. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s