The following is a list of features and apps that I currently use on my iPhone 13 running iOS 15, and some other apps I’ve used in the past, with links to any posts I’ve made about them. Also check out my blog post giving my first impressions of the iPhone 13, and do let me know if you have any recommendations for features and apps I should check out.
I’m really pleased that the Accessibility option is now a main menu item in its own right, instead of being tucked away under the General heading like it used to be.
Here are some of the options that I’m using, which are just scratching the surface of what you can find here.
- Zoom – This allows me to use a 3-finger double-tap gesture to zoom in on the screen.
- Display & Text Size > Smart Invert – This flips the screen colours, so that I have black backgrounds with white text, which reduces glare and greatly improves contrast. But it won’t invert photos and videos, as you obviously need to see those properly. It also won’t invert apps that have their own Dark/Night modes enabled (and the iPhone now has its own Dark mode too, as noted below)
- Display & Text Size > Bold Text, Larger Text, Reduce Transparency & Increase Contrast – These all help to make things bigger and more prominent, so they’re even easier to read.
- Spoken Content – While I don’t use the VoiceOver screen reader, I do have options enabled here, so that I can use specific gestures to make the phone speak selected text or the entire screen, as it is easier to have things read to me in that way sometimes.
- Audio Descriptions – If I were to download any films or shows from Apple TV, this will enable audio description to be played automatically, when it’s available.
- Touch > Back Tap – This allows you to double-tap or triple-tap the back of the phone to perform system tasks, accessibility actions or trigger shortcuts. So I’ve enabled that as well, but I’ve found it rather hit-and-miss, as it often doesn’t react to the taps.
- Accessibility Shortcut – This allows me to activate the accessibility features of my choice by triple-clicking the side button. If just one item is selected, the triple-click will switch it on or off straightaway, but if multiple options are selected, then they’ll appear in a menu instead. As well as Smart Invert and Zoom, I also have Magnifier enabled here, as that’s a really useful app that lets me use the camera to read and look at things close-up (and it lets you change the brightness, contrast, colour filters, etc). I also have it as an option in the Control Centre as well.
- Per-App Settings – This allows you to customise which accessibility features are active when using certain apps. That’s a really useful addition, because some apps don’t work well with things like Smart Invert or larger text sizes. So I’ve already used it to turn off Smart Invert for a few apps that don’t look right when it’s switched on.
Meanwhile, under Display & Brightness on the main Settings menu, there are also a couple of other options that I’ve enabled:
- Dark Appearance – This inverts the menus, toolbars and skins of apps so that they have a dark background and light text. But it won’t always invert the pieces of content they display, depending on how the app has been set up. And some apps have their own Dark/Night modes that I’ve enabled too. This is different to Smart Invert, which changes everything apart from images or videos, and it also won’t invert anything that Dark Mode has already done. So it’s safe to have both options on together. Safari illustrates this best – Dark Mode will invert just the app toolbars and menus, but websites will still have white backgrounds, whereas Smart Invert will flip the web sites as well. You can also set a schedule to switch between the Light and Dark modes if you want, such as sunset to sunrise or customised times.
- Display Zoom – This is a new feature that enlarges the controls on the phone. This is different to the Zoom accessibility feature above, which lets you manually zoom in and out on the screen.
- The options for bold and enlarged text can also be found in this area of the Settings app.
I won’t bother listing the standard pre-installed apps that come with the iPhone, and indeed I’ve deleted a few that I don’t need. But here are a list of apps that I’ve downloaded from the App Store, with :
- Communication & Social Media:
- News & Weather:
- Clips – Allows you to make fun little videos for friends or social media.
- 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.
- Travel Planning & Navigation (see blog post):
- Google Maps & Street View
- National Rail Enquiries
- Trainline – Booking train tickets
- Station Master – 3D maps and information about London’s Tube stations.
- 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 Strava’s own Heatmaps, Multiple Ride Mapper, Stats Hunter & Wandrer.
- NHS Covid-19 App is England’s official contact-tracing app for the virus, so it’s an important one to have.
- Covid Symptom Study App – Also highly recommended. This is used by millions of people, who answer a few quick and easy questions about their health each day, to help researchers track the spread of the virus. See my August 2020 Favourites for more information.
- Apple Health – It’s worth mentioning that this pre-installed app allows you to set up a Medical ID with important information. That way, if you have an emergency, health workers and others can access that information from the lock screen, without having to unlock your phone. So it’s worth filling it in.
Previously Installed Apps
Here are a selection of apps I’ve used or experimented with in the past. Some are no longer available or have different features since I used them.
- Audio Eyes – Audio description app for a few of the Science Museum’s galleries. See my review of the Information Age gallery.
- Any Tour (formerly Cities Talking) – Walking tour app I’ve used a few times.
- Clipomatic – Uses voice recognition to generate subtitles in real-time when you record videos. You can then edit to fix errors. It’s great for captioning videos for social media, and I used it when promoting my charity abseil.
- Frieze Art Fairs – I used this to explore the Frieze Sculpture Park in Regent’s Park in August 2019.
- Issuu – Magazine app that I used for reading the show guide when I attended the Naidex event in May 2018.
- MoviePro – The main Camera app on the phone is perfectly fine for my needs, but I’ve used this more powerful app for Aniridia Network conference recordings in the past, as it supports the use of external microphones.
- Pocket Guide London – I enjoyed doing a few tours with this app, as it was interesting to listen to and directed you clearly using GPS-triggered audio.
- Soundscape – Free Microsoft app giving 3D audio information about your surroundings. I demonstrated it in my documentary What Is Normal?.
- Sennheiser Mobile Connect – I used this to get audio description when I saw Wicked at the theatre, which worked very well.
- Super Tile Smash – Tile-matching game, which I mentioned in my February 2019 Favourites.
- Tate – App for browsing the Tate Modern, with a couple of audio tours that I tried.
- Thinking Bob – Social group I met up with several times 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.