The following is a list of features and apps that I currently use on my iPhone 6 running iOS 12, and some other apps I’ve used in the past, with links to any posts I’ve made about them. I made an in-depth blog post and video in 2018 about many of the features and apps that I use, if you want to find out more. And feel free to let me know if you have any app recommendations.
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.
- Covid Symptom Study App – A vital research tool, used by over 4 million people, that is helping to monitor the health of the UK population and track the spread of the virus. If you’re a UK resident, I strongly urge you to get it and answer the quick and easy questions each day. Please see my August 2020 Favourites post for more information. That post also discusses the NHS Test & Trace App, which I unfortunately cannot run as my phone is too old, but again I urge you to install and use it when it’s available to you.
- Apple Health – While this has many uses, one particularly important feature is the storing of vital information for emergencies if you fill out your Medical ID. People can access your emergency informatioi from the lock screen without having to unlock your phone then.
Communication & Social Media
- Apple Phone / Messages / Mail / Contacts / Facetime / Safari
- Twitter – I use Dark Mode, which gives me white text on a dark background, and I add image descriptions to my tweets as well.
- Layout – Makes photo collages for Instagram or other purposes.
Many of these apps are great for planning my journeys in London and elsewhere.
- Google Maps & Street View
- Apple Maps
- Citymapper – Extremely useful for planning journeys in London.
- Station Master – Useful information and maps for London’s Tube stations.
- National Rail Enquiries
- Soundscape – Free Microsoft app giving 3D audio information about your surroundings. Featured in my documentary What Is Normal?
- Strava – I started using this in August 2020 to record my walking activity, syncing the data with the CityStrides website to produce a full LifeMap of everywhere I’ve walked. This has really motivated me to walk further than usual and take different routes every time, to explore the city and fill out the map as much as I can. Other options for combining maps include Multiple Ride Mapper, Stats Hunter & Wandrer.
News & Weather
- Apple Camera / Photos / iMovie
- 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 – If I accidentally record a sideways portrait video when I though I was filming in landscape, this app allows me to rotate the video to correct it. 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.
- Apple iTunes Store / Music / TV / iBooks / Podcasts
- Amazon Music
- BBC Sounds
- Sonos S1 – For updating and calibrating my TV sound bar.
- AccessAble – Disability access guides for thousands of venues.
- Smartify – Recognises art with your camera and gives you details about it. Available for a selection of museums in London, Europe and the USA. I first tried it at the Wallace Collection.
- City Toilet Finder
- Apple Wallet
- Nectar – To earn extra loyalty points when shopping at Sainsbury’s.
- DPD – To monitor deliveries when companies use DPD as the courier.
- My EE – My mobile network provider.
- NS&I Premium Bonds Prize Checker
- Wetherspoon – For ordering food and drink in their pubs.
- Apple Calendar / Reminders / Notes / Files
- Google & Google Drive
- IFTTT – For automating posts on social media.
- HP Smart – For communication with my printer.
- Microsoft Authenticator
Previously Installed Apps
These are some of the apps I’ve used or experimented with in the past.
- 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.
- Clipomatic – Uses voice recognition as you record video to create subtitles in real-time, which you can then edit to fix errors. Great for captioning videos for social media. But I only used it when promoting my charity abseil. Otherwise I prefer to make videos for Youtube and use its captioning feature.
- Frieze Art Fairs – I used this to explore the Frieze Sculpture Park in Regent’s Park in August 2019.
- Issuu – App for reading magazines. I used it for reading the show guide when I went to Naidex, as mentioned in my review of the 2018 event.
- Just Eat – For ordering takeaway deliveries. Had to uninstall as it’s longer compatible with iOS 12.
- Natural History Museum App – Useful app with lots of information about the museum. May re-download it for future visits.
- Overdrive – I occasionally used this to listen to books from the RNIB, but it’s now been superseded by RNIB Reading Services using their own website.
- Passport & ID Photo & PassportPhoto – Useful apps with which I’ve taken passport sized photos in the past.
- 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. I’ll 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.