Switch Control is a feature in iOS 7 that allows your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to be controlled with such things like head movements seen with the front facing camera.
A switch is something that your device can perform, like pulling down the notification center. When you tie a source like moving your head to a switch, you can effectively use your head to pull down the notification center, among other switches.
This is a really cool feature in iOS 7 that can help both physically challenged individuals or those who wish to use their device with little physical input.
Create a “Switch” in the Switch Control Options
Before creating a switch, we’ll turn Switch Control on.
Open the “Settings” app and choose “General > Accessibility,” then “Switch Control” (toward the bottom of the page). Toggle the feature on.
Now open the “Switches” menu. Tap “Add New Switch” to see three different sources you can choose from.
- External: Bluetooth devices
- Screen: Tapping on the screen
- Camera: Moving your head to the left or right
We’ll look at using the camera as a switch source. We can use the front facing camera to control a system switch, like volume control.
I’ll choose “Left Head Movement” and then “Decrease Volume” so every time my head moves to the left the volume will go down a notch. I’ll do the opposite for the “Right Head Movement” by choosing “Increase Volume.”
When Switch Control is on, you’ll notice the colored sides on your device. If you move your head to the left, the color to the left will become more narrow and you’ll know the camera is seeing your face. Otherwise, you’ll get a notification like this that says your face is too close. Move back a little so your device can get a good look of your face.
I wasn’t able to get my volume to decrease by moving my head to the left – it only worked when I look to the right. It may have been the way I was holding my iPhone, but It happened twice in a row after completely restarting and following the above instructions.
As we saw above, there are other options you can configure, like simulating a press of the home button, opening notification center, or launching the app switcher. When I tried a few of these out, they seemed to work fine with both my left and right head movements.
Adjusting the Settings for Switch Control
Return to the settings of Switch Control and turn on “Auto Scanning.” This enables a blue box to appear and slowly scan over every clickable area of the device. You can then activate this with your head movement like you see below and to the right. The scanner will then proceed to scan each of these sub-menus. You can select any of them to launch without even touching your device.
Switch Control can be fun for those of us who want to pretend like we’re controlling our iOS device with our minds, or actually beneficial to those of us who are physically challenged or have injuries that make it hard to use their hands.
Switch Control seems to be a bit a of hassle in my opinion. It can be hard to get it adjusted just right so you can use your head to control switches. But if you can get it set up correctly, it can certainly be interesting to watch it work without directly touching the screen.