iPhones are nifty little devices with the looks and the horsepower to feel and perform like a brilliant piece of technology. The UI is streamlined and consistent and the UX is generally good, and sometimes annoying (unbundled notifications, I’m looking at you!). Overall, though, iPhones offer some really good features (such as Live Photos) and usually implement them much better than the competition. I’m sure you know a lot of iPhone features, but you might not know this: hidden inside the Settings app is an accessibility feature that allows you to control your iPhone with head movements. Yes, you heard that right!
Once you get past the issue of what you will look like – shaking your head left and right – in public, the feature does sound like something that could be a talking point amongst your peers. Of course, the feature is meant as an accessibility feature, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to show off and look as if you would fit right inside a Star Trek movie. Interested? Here’s how you can enable this feature, set things up and start controlling iPhones with head movements:
Control Your iPhone With Head Movements
First things first: do not blame me if you look silly in public, or if your date leaves because you kept shaking your head all through dinner.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, lets focus on the task at hand. The steps to follow, in order to enable head gestures for your iPhone, are outlined below:
1. Open “Settings”, and navigate to “General”->”Accessibility”.
2. Scroll down to the “Interaction” sub-heading, tap on “Switch Control” and navigate to “Switches”.
3. Now, tap on “Add New Switch”->”Camera”.
4. Select “Left Head Movement” and choose whatever “Switch Action” you want to assign to it.
- I chose “Notification Center”, but you can choose whatever function you want to assign to it.
9. Now, select “Right Head Movement” and choose whatever “Switch Action” you want to assign to it.
- I chose “Siri”, but again, you can choose whatever you would like your iPhone to do when you move your head to the right.
10. That’s it for the setup, now navigate back to the main “Switch Control” screen. It can be found at Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Switch Control
11. On the top of the screen, enable “Switch Control”
12. Move your head left, and the phone will carry out the function you assigned to “Left Head Movement”; in my case, it opened the “Notification Center”, Move your head right, and the phone will carry out the function you assigned to “Right Head Movement”; in my case, it launched “Siri”.
Head gestures are now enabled on your iPhone.
Note: You can set the head movement gestures to actions such as “Tap” to completely use your phone with head gestures. However, this is very slow and not at all fun.
Improve Sensitivity for Easier Control
Now that you have successfully set up gesture control on your iPhone, it is time to tweak it to your preference. You might have noticed that you need to move your head (left or right) very obviously in order for your iPhone to trigger the switch action. Fortunately, the sensitivity to movements can be changed, albeit to a very low level of control. If the feature works fine for you by default; great! If not, then follow the instructions below to increase the gesture sensitivity of your iPhone.
1. Open “Settings”, and navigate to “General” -> “Accessibility”
2. Scroll down to the “Interaction” sub-heading, and tap on “Switch Control” -> “Switch Stabilization”
3. There are a couple of options here that you can edit according to your preference.
- Hold Duration
- Head Movement Sensitivity
4. Lets adjust the “Head Movement Sensitivity” first. Tap on the option that says “Head Movement Sensitivity”
- Change the sensitivity from “Low” to “High”
5. Go “Back” and tap on “Hold Duration”. Turn it on, and leave it at the default value of 0.10 seconds
Try out the “Switch Control” now, and it should work with smaller head movements to trigger the corresponding actions.
This feature might feel gimmicky, but it has a lot of potential. Even with only two head movements, being able to launch apps or control your phone with gestures such as these, can prove to be a boon in a lot of situations where you can’t physically access your screen. It can also be a talking point at a party.
There is a lot more to explore and tweak in the iPhone’s Accessibility section. Try this out, tweak the hold duration to different values in order to find the best fit, play around with the other features that are available in “Accessibility”, and let us know about your experience in the comments below.