Apple has taken a big step in making games more accessible by just releasing an open source plug-in for the Unity game engine that allows developers to take advantage of iOS support features.
As introduced by Eric Liang, an Apple software engineer, in a video: (opens in new tab) from the recent WWDC 2022 conference – hat tip to ‘Can I Play That?’ (opens in new tab) to spot this one – the Apple Accessibility plugin comes with all sorts of neat tricks to make games much more inclusive.
For starters, there’s the ability to include VoiceOver, the screen reader tool in iOS, with games, allowing text to be read on the screen for the benefit of blind or partially sighted players, as well as enabling custom gestures for game controls.
Support is also provided for Switch Control, allowing multiple external switches to be used for in-game control. Then there’s Dynamic Type Support, which allows developers to resize the text in the game to match the user-specified text size via Settings, making it larger and easier to read when needed. (In an example Liang shows of a simple playing card game taking advantage of the plugin, the face values of the cards can also be made larger when combined with the text – see the image at the top of this story).
Other capabilities include the ability to increase the contrast for better visibility of interface elements, or the ability to reduce the transparency of the background, making it opaque for text to stand out more.
Developers can get the Apple Accessibility plugin on Github (opens in new tab)and it is free to use.
Analysis: Apple makes commendable progress with accessibility
Unity is a widely used game engine that powers Hearthstone and Rust, among others. While accessibility plugins for Unity have been available in the past, their remote nature doesn’t always make for the most reliable experience, as you might imagine.
But with Apple putting in its own efforts, we can expect a much more solid and well-supported plugin in the future, and that’s great news for game developers using Unity who want to make sure their products are accessible to a wide audience. from gamers.
As Apple’s linked how-to video shows, implementing these accessibility features into iOS games is easy, and they can make a big difference in many ways.
All of this is part of Apple’s wider drive to improve accessibility, as as we’ve seen recently, iOS 16 will benefit from Live Captions, a door detection feature, and more…