Smartphones aren’t designed for seniors, however these tweaks make them extra accessible


For many people, navigating round a smartphone’s menus and settings looks like second nature. However not everybody feels the identical approach. Individuals with visible impairments could have hassle seeing textual content and pictures, these with shaky fingers or decreased mobility have problem urgent on-screen buttons, and lots of seniors discover the interface complicated slightly than intuitive.

It would not should be this manner. By tweaking the settings, you may make textual content simpler to learn, simplify the controls, and work together with the display vocally as an alternative of manually. Right here’s the right way to make a smartphone rather more accessible.

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To render screens extra readable, you possibly can enhance the dimensions of the textual content. However to essentially make textual content and objects extra seen, you need to enhance the distinction as nicely, which is able to render colours extra distinct.

On iOS, head to Settings > Normal > Accessibility. Use the Bigger Textual content submenu to extend the textual content dimension throughout all apps. A toggle swap beneath helps you to make phrases daring as nicely. For distinction, go to Enhance Distinction, which makes colours sharper and extra distinct, so icons will look extra well-defined. The identical menu display has choices to cut back the transparency of overlays and reduce down on movement results, which could additionally make iOS visuals clearer.

On Android, you’ll discover a related set of choices by way of the Settings > Accessibility menu. Head to Font dimension to regulate the dimensions of on-screen textual content. This modification will apply to all your apps. Slightly below that possibility, play with Show dimension to regulate the dimensions of buttons, icons, and different objects. To regulate distinction, swap the Excessive-contrast textual content swap to On. Android will now make textual content clearer and simpler to learn with methods like including a black define to letters when white textual content seems on a colourful background. When you’re right here, you may as well flip off Android animations and invert colours inside apps and menus.

One among Android’s handiest methods is an on-screen magnifier, which you allow from the identical Accessibility menu. Simply faucet Magnification > Amplify with button. As soon as it’s on, you possibly can hit a button within the lower-right nook to get a more in-depth have a look at something on display.

As an alternative of fixing particular person settings, you possibly can utterly revamp an Android system to make it simpler to navigate. That’s as a result of this working system helps apps referred to as launchers, which primarily reskin all the interface of the telephone, together with residence screens, the app drawer, settings menus, and so forth. Some launchers purpose to serve seniors with streamlined menus and choices, giant textual content, and vibrant colours for simple readability.

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Massive Launcher ($10 for Android) serves as a great instance. It consists of chunky, clearly-labeled buttons which might be simple to faucet, supplies fast entry to favourite apps and contacts, mechanically makes the textual content giant for primary apps such because the textual content message shopper. If you wish to see what this can seem like earlier than paying, try the free demo.

Necta ($7 for Android) works alongside related traces, though it has a extra muted coloration scheme than Massive Launcher. We just like the built-in SOS message possibility, which lets the telephone’s proprietor ship an emergency message to a delegated contact with one faucet. The bundled SMS, calendar, and alarm clock apps all make use of bigger textual content and robust distinction. Like with Massive Launcher, you possibly can check out a free trial earlier than you buy the app.

In case you personal a Samsung telephone, this model of Android truly comes with a built-in “Simple Mode” that can simplify the interface and not using a separate app. On a Galaxy telephone, flip it on and off once more in Settings > Show > Simple Mode.

On iOS, Apple would not permit apps to take a lot management over the telephone’s interface. Though you will not discover any equal launchers for iPhones, lots of the different tweaks on this record will make the default interface a lot simpler to make use of.

Even with assist from magnifiers and over-size buttons, tapping away at a touchscreen can get harder as we age, notably if we lose guide dexterity. That’s why each handset in the marketplace now comes with some type of voice-controlled digital assistant. As an alternative of relying in your fingers to kind messages or lookup the climate forecast, you possibly can converse out your requests.

For iPhones and iPads, Siri comes constructed into iOS. From Settings > Siri & Search, allow each Pay attention for “Hey Siri” and Permit Siri When Locked. When you do, you possibly can name out “hey Siri” adopted by your command—whether or not or not the display occurs to be locked. As an example, you would possibly strive saying, “Hey Siri, textual content [contact name],” or “hey Siri, what is going to the climate be like tomorrow?” Apple has a full record of instructions right here.

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Google Assistant is offered for each Android (it would come built-in) and iOS. On an iPhone, it’s a must to truly open the app to make use of Google Assistant’s voice management. However on Android, you possibly can launch a voice command with “hey Google” or “okay Google” even when your telephone is locked. To allow this, go to Settings > Google > Search, Assistant & Voice > Settings > Assistant > Telephone > Entry with Voice Match. As with Siri, you possibly can strive “hey Google, ship a textual content to [contact name],” “hey Google, what is the time in Sydney?” and so forth. The complete record of instructions is right here.

If you do not get together with Siri or Google Assistant, enlist the assistance of one other digital assistant. Samsung’s Bixby comes with Galaxy units and you may as well obtain it on different Android telephones in an early preview type. Microsoft’s Cortana has variations for Android and iOS, and Amazon’s Alexa can also be obtainable on Android and iOS.

In case you’ve tried adjusting textual content dimension and distinction, however nonetheless have hassle studying issues in your telephone, you possibly can have the system converse the phrases out loud. This may be actually useful for individuals who battle to learn a display, nevertheless it’s additionally nice for individuals who wish to save their eyes from pressure.

On an Android system, return to Settings > Accessibility and allow both Choose-to-Converse (a mode the place you faucet on-screen textual content to listen to it aloud) or TalkBack (the telephone mechanically reads out all on-screen textual content and menu choices). When you’ve chosen a kind of, faucet the Textual content-to-speech output choice to set the speech fee, pitch, and language.

To allow an analogous function on iOS, go to Settings > Normal > Accessibility > VoiceOver and switch the toggle swap to On. Now your iPhone or iPad will mechanically learn out any textual content that seems on display. From the identical menu, you possibly can alter the studying velocity, in addition to different choices, like whether or not the system will learn notifications aloud.

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For each working methods, when you activate the audio, you’ll hear the textual content from all of your apps, a minimum of till you turn the setting again off. To cut back the quantity of noise, you would possibly choose to activate studying for particular person apps, as an alternative of all the system. For instance, read-it-later app Pocket (for Android and iOS) will learn a saved article if you faucet the headphones button within the toolbar.

On an iPhone or iPad, try NaturalReader Textual content To Speech (free or $10 for iOS), which is able to learn quick paperwork, PDFs, and ebooks without cost, though it costs $10 for audio longer than three minutes. In your net browing, Speech Central (free or $6 for iOS), will pull latest headlines to learn out loud, free for just a few tales per day however $6 to get extra articles.

On Android, SayIt (free for Android) will learn virtually any textual content, article, or web site. Voice Aloud Reader (free for Android) additionally covers paperwork and web sites, and it’ll additionally save audio recordings to your telephone.

Get assist with real-world studying

Now that your smartphone has turn into simpler to handle, it will probably make the remainder of the world extra accessible as nicely. Working example: Its built-in flashlight and digicam can illuminate menus in dimly-lit eating places and make clear hard-to-read textual content on different paperwork.

The flashlight is straightforward sufficient to activate: On trendy iPhones, swipe down from the highest proper. On iOS fashions that predate the iPhone X, swipe up from the underside. Then faucet the flashlight button to show it on and maintain it to alter the brightness. On Android, swipe down from the highest with two fingers, then faucet the flashlight button.

In case you want one thing a little bit extra superior, strive EyeReader ($2 for iOS). It turns the flashlight on, whereas concurrently utilizing your telephone’s digicam as a magnifier. This makes viewing books, menus, and different paperwork doubly clear. On Android, an analogous app is Magnifying Glass with Flashlight (free with adverts or $2 with out adverts for Android). Once more, it zooms in on any textual content in entrance of your telephone’s digicam, whereas illuminating the phrases. If the brightness will get annoying, each of those apps allow you to disable the flashlight.


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