While many have their own strong opinions on Apple and their products, few have complaints about the way they embrace accessibility. Apple typically finds ways to make products functional to all customers, regardless of their situation. This philosophy can be seen in Apple's partnership with Cochlear, as the two develop a new cochlear implant sound processor for iPhone.
The Nucleus 7 — Apple and Cochlear's implant sound processor — allows users to beam the sounds from an iOS device to their cochlear implants (not to be confused with the company, Cochlear). Now that Apple has stepped in, the relationship between the sound processor and the iOS device of the user is deeper than usual.
Users can stream sound to the sound processor directly from their iPhones. More possibilities open with the Nucleus Smart app, where users can control and customize that stream. In a press release, Chris Smith, chief executive officer and president of Cochlear, describes the depth of possibilities for Nucleus users:
The approval of the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor is a turning point for people with hearing loss, opening the door for them to make phone calls, listen to music in high-quality stereo sound, watch videos and have FaceTime calls streamed directly to their cochlear implant. This new sound processor builds on our long-standing commitment to help more people with hearing loss connect with others and live a full life.
The sound processor can be controlled through the iPhone's Accessibility settings, where, according to TechCrunch, pairing is as simple as any Bluetooth device. Sarah Herrlinger, the senior manager for global accessibility policy and initiatives for Apple, spoke to TechCrunch about the company's motivations behind the project:
We want everybody to use our technology and to say 'wow my iPhone is the best piece of technology I've ever used before'…with every iteration of our operating system our goal is to add in new accessibility features in order to expand the support that we can give to people all over the world.
While intriguing, this news is not necessarily surprising. Apple has had a long-standing interest in developing products and solutions for customers with disabilities. Recently, the company started a campaign featuring some of these customers and how they have been able to excel and succeed in part due to Apple products.
Apple has been famously, yet secretly, developing a way for diabetes patients to test their blood sugar non-invasively. For watchOS 3, Apple added a wheelchair mode for users and even invited these customers into stores to test the new software.
I guess Apple realized it was a bit insensitive to have the smartwatch remind users in wheelchairs to stand up once an hour.