Technology for All, Part II
Last week we talked about some of the ways technology is rising to meet the challenges of consumers with disabilities. We thought we’d continue that this week, and take a look at the way Apple, and the iPhone in particular, is reaching users with special needs.
The iPhone 11 Pro is, admittedly, out of reach for any but the most financially stable. But what it lacks in economy it more than makes up for in beauty, features, and, not surprisingly if you know your iPhones, accessibility.
TechCrunch is calling it the most accessible iPhone yet made, which is pretty high praise. And the main reason for those laurels is the pretty extraordinary OLED.
The OLED’s clarity, brightness, and sharpness make it extraordinary for visually impared users, while dark modes that shift with the time or ambient light reduce eye strain and fatigue.
NEAT! Why? Well, OLED displays consist of far less blue light than LCD (up to 60% less), and it’s the blue light that largely accounts for eye damage, vision loss, and even insomnia (staying up all night looking at cat videos probably doesn’t help, but we digress).
If you’re visually impared, the iPhone 11 Pro might be just the thing for you. Don’t take our word for it (well, do take our word for it, but not exclusively). The 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max are already crushing Android phones with similar OLED displays.
If you’re iPhone aficionados like we are, you’ll know that this is by no means the first time Apple las led the way in smartphone accessibility.
Apple was the first manufacturer to embrace accessibility for all, and as far back as 2009 offered VoiceOver, which reads aloud what’s on the screen. Until its inclusion, handheld devices were largely unusable for folks with vision impairments. And it’s still there.
To activate it, go into Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver.
A decade later, VoiceOver remains an incredible feature, and it does more than just read aloud. When typing, you can have your iPhone call out each letter as you type, or every word.
VoiceOver will also read you everything on the screen, or what you’re touching, including hints to replace visual cues and allows for a more friendly way of selecting buttons and such for anyone who has trouble being precise with a tap.
The best part is there’s not that much extra work we have to do as developers. If you’re building native, you get 90% of this out of the box. The last 10% is adding hints and such and just testing it. Like most things, fit and finish makes people’s lives WAY better.
It is built in, often forgotten, and absolutely indispensable to those with vision problems.
Next is a feature you may have discovered accidentally, but is a remarkably simple, powerful tool for vision enhancement: Magnifier. Squirreled away in the accessibility settings is this absolute gem.
To find it, navigate to Settings > General > Accessibility > Magnifier and switch it on. Once it’s on, simply clicking the Home button three times will turn your camera into a magnifier.
As Apple weaves these tried-and-true features in with extraordinary new tech like OLED displays, iPhones will get even friendlier for those with sight or vision problems.
All that’s left is to save up that $1,000.