A feature buried deep inside Accessibility settings allows iPhone and iPad users to perform specific actions by moving their head to the left or right side. Called Switch Control, this guide will show you how to enable this option, and control your device with head movements.
About the Switch Control feature
The ability to control your iPhone or iPad with head movement is a part of Switch Control, a feature geared towards people who have motor impairments, making it difficult to interact with their iPhone or iPad touchscreen via touch.
Switch Control is an accessibility option that orderly highlights items on your iPhone or iPad screen, allowing to navigate the device, perform tasks, and control onscreen elements such as buttons, sliders, and text fields, using an adaptive accessory or switch.
When it comes to using a switch, iOS/iPadOS offer several choices like an external hardware switch. Even things like sound, Back Tap, camera, and screen can be used as a switch. For example, you can configure your left head movement to take you Home, and right head movement to perform a tap (or trigger Siri, start dictation, enter App Switcher, etc.).
After this, when Switch Control is enabled, and you move your head to the left side, it will take you to the iPhone or iPad Home Screen. And when you move your head to the right side, it will tap whatever option or item is highlighted on the screen at that moment.
Similarly, you can add a sound as a switch and configure it. After that, if you make a click sound with your mouth (or T or K sound), your iPhone will perform the configured action.
Overall, it’s a fantastic accessibility feature that people with disability can use to operate their iPhone or iPad.
As mentioned, there are several switch options, but in this tutorial, we will focus on the camera control one.
How to trigger an action with head movement on iPhone or iPad
1) Open the Settings app and go to Accessibility > Switch Control > Switches.
2) From here, tap Add New Switch and select Camera.
3) Now, pick Left Head Movement or Right Head Movement. I will select the left one first.
4) You will now see a list of switch actions. Select the one you want to perform when you move your head to the left. I have opted to go with the Home action.
5) Tap Add New Switch > Camera > Right Head Movement and select an action for right head movement. I will go with Tap.
6) Hit the back button from the top left of the screen and return to the Switch Control screen.
7) Finally, enable the toggle next to Switch Control.
Immediately, you’ll see that the tappable items on your screen are starting to highlight one by one with a blue-purple box.
- Right head movement: As mentioned above, the right movement of your head is configured to simulate a tap. So, if the blue-purple box is on the <Back button, and you move your head to the right side; now your iPhone will understand that you want to tap that highlighted option, so it will do that for you.
- Left head movement: Similarly, if you move your head to the left side, your iPhone will know that you want to go to the Home Screen and take you there.
Face too far?
If your face and iPhone or iPad are at a distance, the camera Switch Control won’t work, and you will see a banner on top of the screen saying, “Your face is too far away.” To fix this:
- Make sure the front iPhone or iPad camera is facing you in such a position that it can read your head movements
- Bring your iPhone or iPad closer to you or move closer to your device if it’s placed on a tripod, stand, or kept on a table
Change head movement controls
Go to Settings > Accessibility > Switch Control > Switches > Left/Right Head Movement > Default and choose a different action.
Delete head controls
Open the Settings app and go to Accessibility > Switch Control > Switches. Tap Edit > red minus button for Left/Right Head Movement > Delete > Done.
Turn off Switch Control
If you no longer wish to use your iPhone via any connected or configured switches, go to Settings > Accessibility > Switch Control and turn off the toggle for Switch Control.