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’ve made an in-depth blog post and video on many of these features and apps 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.
- 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 – Make photo collages for Instagram or other purposes.
Many of these apps are great for planning my journeys in London and elsewhere.
- Google Street View
- Google Maps
- Apple Maps
- Station Master – 3D maps and other information about Tube stations.
- National Rail Enquiries
- Soundscape – Free Microsoft app giving 3D audio information about your surroundings. Featured in my documentary What Is Normal?
- 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.
- iTunes Store
- Amazon Music
- BBC Sounds
- Sonos – For updating and calibrating my TV sound bar.
- AccessAble – Disability access guides for thousands of venues.
- Visit London
- Time Out
- 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
- Wallet – For Apple Pay and other cards or tickets.
- 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.
- DPD – To monitor deliveries when companies use DPD as the courier.
- Google Drive
- IFTTT – For automating posts on social media.
- HP Smart – For communication with my printer.
- App Store
- Basic Unit Converter
- Amazon Alexa
- Health – Useful for keeping track of how far I’ve walked, and stores vital info 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.
- My EE
- Voice Memos
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.
- 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. I only really used it when promoting my charity abseil though. Otherwise I just tend to make videos on Youtube, which has its own captioning feature.
- 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.