Apple has taken a big step in terms of making games more accessible, just releasing an open-source plugin for the Unity game engine that allows developers to exploit iOS’ assistive capabilities.
As presented by Eric Liang, a software engineer at Apple, in a video (opens in new tab) from the recent WWDC 2022 conference – hat tip for ‘Can I play this?’ (opens in new tab) to identify this one – Apple’s accessibility plugin comes with all sorts of cool tricks to make games much more inclusive.
For starters, there is the ability to embed VoiceOver, the screen reading tool on iOS, with games, allowing on-screen text to be read for the benefit of blind or low vision gamers and also allowing for custom gestures for game controls. .
Support is also present for switch control, so various external switches can be used for in-game controls. Then there’s Dynamic Type Support, which gives developers the ability to change the text size in the game to match the text size specified by the user in Settings so that it is larger and more easily readable if needed. (Also, in an example Liang shows of a simple card game getting the benefit of the plugin, the face values of the cards can also be increased in conjunction with the text – see the image at the top of this story).
Other features include the ability to increase the contrast for better visibility of interface elements or the power to reduce the background transparency, making it opaque so that the text stands out better.
Developers can get hold of the Apple Accessibility Plugin on Github (opens in new tab)and is free to use.
Analysis: Apple is making commendable progress with accessibility
Unity is a widely used game engine, powering the likes of Hearthstone and Rust. While accessibility plugins have been available for Unity in the past, their third-party nature doesn’t always provide the most reliable experience as you might imagine.
But with Apple bringing its own effort, we can expect a much more solid and well-supported plugin going forward, and this is obviously great news for game developers using Unity who want to ensure their products are accessible to users. a wide audience of players.
As Apple’s instructional video shows, these accessibility features are easy to implement in iOS games, and they can make a big difference in many ways.
This is all part of a broader effort by Apple to improve accessibility, because, as we’ve seen recently, iOS 16 is set to benefit from live captions, a port detection feature, and more…