The following is a list of features and apps that I currently use on my iPhone 6 running iOS 11, and some other apps I’ve used in the past, with links to any posts I’ve made about them. I’ve made an in-depth blog post and video on many of these features and apps if you want to find out more.
If you have any app recommendations for me to try out and perhaps write reviews on, or if you want me to demonstrate any particular features in a video, do let me know.
These are the settings I’ve enabled under Settings > General > Accessibility. That menu is worth looking through even if you’re not visually impaired or disabled, because you may well find something that makes using your phone a bit easier. You can find out about many of them on the Apple accessibility site.
- Invert Colours – This flips the colours, so the traditional black text on a white background becomes white text on a black background, which is much easier for me to read because there’s no glare and the contrast is better. Apple have now upgraded this feature, calling it Smart Invert, which doesn’t invert photos and videos (in some cases at least), so you don’t always have to flick back to normal mode to see them properly.
- Zoom – I can use a 3-finger double tap to zoom in the screen whenever I want to look more closely at things.
- Magnifier – Allows me to use my phone’s camera as a magnifier, by triple-clicking the Home button. It zooms in more than the standard Camera app and has various options for changing the brightness, contrast and colours displayed. Many people don’t realise it exists as it’s buried in the accessibility settings, but it’s really useful.
- Larger Text – I have this switched on to enlarge the text, in apps that use Dynamic Text at least, so there are many it doesn’t work for.
- Bold Text – Having this turned on makes the text even clearer.
- Reduce Transparency & Darken Colours – These help to ensure clear contrast between text and background elements.
- Speak Selection – Turning this on means I get a Speak option on the menu when I select text in an app, so I can have it spoken to me if I wish.
- Speak Screen – Turning this on means I can swipe down with 2 fingers from the top of the screen, and it’ll read what’s on the screen to me. Useful for long posts and articles.
- Phone Noise Cancellation – For the benefit of callers rather than me, this uses noise cancellation to reduce background noise around me when I’m on a phonecall. It’s proven very effective when calling from train stations, for instance.
- Audio Descriptions – I don’t watch TV shows and films on my phone because of the screen size, but just in case I download any media from iTunes that does have audio description included, I’ve got this turned on ready.
- Siri – This is just under the main Settings menu, not Accessibility, and is the voice assistant that you can talk to. I don’t use it that often, as I can see the screen well enough, but it does come in handy sometimes.
Communication & Social Media
- Phone, Messages, Mail, Contacts – Standard built-in apps
- Facebook & Messenger – For keeping in touch with friends and monitoring my Facebook page.
- Twitter – For tweeting, obviously, if you want to follow me. I use the Night Mode in this app, which has white text on a dark blue background, because it’s much easier for me to read. I also make sure I add image descriptions when posting pictures.
- Instagram & Layout – For sharing photos, with Layout used for creating multi-photo collages.
- Clipomatic – Uses voice recognition as you record video to create subtitles in real-time (which you can then edit to fix errors). Very useful for captioning videos for Instagram & Twitter.
- Safari – Built-in internet browser
- Skype – For keeping in touch with friends. Didn’t like their big re-design in 2017 though.
- Facetime – Have never actually used this built-in app, as nobody I know uses it.
- Whatsapp – Have only ever used this with a couple of friends who wanted to send photos with it.
- Citymapper – The god of apps for planning my journeys in London. If I want to go somewhere or find my way home, it’ll tell me the quickest routes using the Tube, buses and walking, even taking into account line closures and things like that. And it has built in street and Tube maps, which are handy.
- Google Street View – I also find this really useful for planning my journeys, as I can walk them virtually using the app or website, noting landmarks along the way. Makes it a lot easier when I get there.
- Apple Maps & Google Maps – I tend to prefer the Google version, perhaps because I’ve always been used to using the maps on their website as well.
- Station Master – Gives 3D maps and lots of other useful information about Tube stations. Another useful app for journey planning.
- National Rail Enquiries – For checking train times.
- Trainline – For booking train tickets.
- Moovit – Public transport app, particularly useful outside London in places not covered by Citymapper.
- Apple Weather & BBC Weather – For seeing what it’s like outside
- Soundscape – Free Microsoft app giving 3D audio information about your surroundings. This was featured in my documentary What Is Normal?
- Camera – Built-in camera app
- Photos – Built-in photos app. I don’t keep my photos on my phone, I always export them to my Mac to organise them properly. I’ll only keep photos on my phone if I want to show them to people.
- iMovie – Built-in video editor. I use iMovie on my Mac to edit clips though, it’s easier on a big screen.
- MoviePro – A more powerful camera app than the built-in one, because it offers many more settings and allows the use of external microphones.
- Rotate & Flip – I film in landscape, but occasionally my phone won’t realise that I’ve turned it, and I’ll end up with a sideways portrait video instead. So I use this app to rotate the video in those cases. You can also rotate clips in Quicktime Player on the Mac, but this does it on the phone. This particular app isn’t available any more, but there are other similar ones available.
- Scanner Pro – Useful app for scanning documents, as it automatically recognises the edges of pages and takes the picture, and combines them into multi-page PDFs. Great for backing things up.
- Seeing AI – Free Microsoft app that recognises text, handwriting, products, currency, faces, etc, and speaks the details to you.
- TV – Built-in app for watching videos from iTunes.
- Youtube – For watching videos and monitoring my channel.
- BBC iPlayer – For catching up with BBC shows, though I usually watch it TV my big screen Mac.
- Music – Built-in app for listening to my music.
- iTunes Store – For buying music and other content.
- Amazon Music – For streaming music on their Unlimited service.
- BBC Sounds – For listening to BBC radio shows.
- Podcasts – For listening to various podcasts I’m subscribed to.
- Sonos – For updating and calibrating my TV sound bar.
- iBooks – Built-in app for reading or listening to books from my iTunes collection.
- Audible – For listening to audiobooks.
- Meetup – To see what social events are going on in London.
- Eventbrite – For booking tickets to events.
- AccessAble – Disability access guides for thousands of venues.
- OpenTable – Restaurant bookings
- Visit London & Time Out – Information about places to see and things to do.
- Smartify – Recognises art with your camera and gives you details about them, available for a few museums in London, as well as some in Europe and the USA. So far I’ve tried it at the Wallace Collection.
- City Toilet Finder – Just in case, it comes in handy occasionally if you need to go.
- Calendar, Reminders & Notes – Built-in apps for keeping things in order.
- Files – Built-in app for organising files on iCloud and Google Drive.
- Google – For search and other Google services.
- Google Drive – For organising files in my Google account.
- IFTTT – For automating posts on social media.
- HP Smart – For communication with my printer.
- Wallet – For Apple Pay and occasional other cards or tickets.
- Paypal – Online spending.
- Amazon – Online shopping.
- Santander – Online banking.
- Nectar – To earn extra loyalty points when shopping at Sainsbury’s.
- Wetherspoon – For ordering food and drink in their pubs.
- Premium Bonds Prize Checker – To check if ERNIE has treated me each month.
- Your DPD – For monitoring what’s coming when a company uses DPD for deliveries to us.
- App Store – For getting new apps and updating existing ones.
- Calculator – Built-in app.
- Clock – Built-in app where I use the alarm, stopwatch and timer. I don’t use the world clock and bedtime features.
- Basic Unit Converter – Useful conversion tool for measurements, weights, etc.
- Amazon Alexa – Settings for our Amazon Echo devices.
- Health – Useful for keeping track of how far I’ve walked, and stores info for emergencies if you fill out your Medical ID.
- My EE – For keeping track of my data usage and billing for my mobile contract.
- Compass, Tips & Voice Memos – Built-in apps that I never use but keep just in case.
Previously Installed Apps
I’ve experimented with lots of apps, naturally, but here are a few notable ones:
- Audioboom – Great site for listening to content by podcasters, but I’ve been able to get Audioboom streams via the main Podcast app anyway, so there’s little point in having this as well.
- Audio Eyes – Audio description app for the Information Age gallery in the Science Museum (see my review).
- Cities Talking – Walking tour app I’ve used a few times, but I’ve done all the tours I’m interested in.
- Eventbrite Organiser – For creating and administering activities on Eventbrite, used for the Aniridia Day webinars.
- Freedcamp – Task scheduling app, used for some of my voluntary work with the Aniridia Network. Don’t need it on my phone though, their website and emails are enough.
- Frieze Art Fairs – I used this to explore the Frieze Sculpture Park in Regent’s Park in August 2019.
- Google Docs & Sheets – They come in handy occasionally, but I generally don’t need to keep them.
- Issuu – App for reading magazines. I used it for reading the show guide when I went to Naidex.
- Join.me – Used for Aniridia Day webinars.
- Natural History Museum App – Useful app with lots of information about the museum. May re-download it for future visits.
- Overdrive – I’ve occasionally used this to listen to books from the RNIB’s Talking Book library, and may do so again. I tend to listen to Audible books, podcasts and music mostly though, so I’ll only download this if I need it.
- Passport & ID Photo & PassportPhoto – Useful apps with which I’ve taken passport sized photos in the past.
- Periscope – Came in useful for the Aniridia Network Conference, but otherwise I don’t use it.
- Pocket Guide London – I enjoyed doing a few tours with this app, as it’s interesting to listen to and directs you clearly using GPS-triggered audio.
- Sennheiser Mobile Connect – I used this to get audio description when I saw Wicked at the theatre, which worked very well. Will re-download it for other theatre shows whenever I need it.
- Super Tile Smash – Tile-matching game, mentioned in my February 2019 Favourites.
- Tate – App for browsing the Tate Modern, with a couple of audio tours that I tried. This app is no longer available.
- Thinking Bob – Social group I met up with during my early days in London, which really helped me to settle in to the city.
- TrailTale – Walking tour app that I wasn’t impressed with.
- Vero – Like many other people, I signed up to this social app when it briefly became a big trend for no apparent reason, then deleted it as it didn’t live up to the hype.
- Virgin Red – Competitions and prize draws for Virgin customers. There was never anything of major interest to me though, and opening it every day got boring.
- Youtube Studio – As I’m only a small Youtuber, I didn’t gain anything from this over the standard Youtube app.