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Smartphones & gadgets

10 useful tips and tricks hiding in your phone’s accessibility settings

From work to entertainment to education, smartphones are a significant part of our lives. To be capable of doing so much with a device that fits in the palm of your hand is a wonder of modern technology.

Accessibility features have been built into computers, tablets and phones for quite some time. You can enable larger text and dictation in just a few steps. Google is taking things further with an app designed to make it easier for people with speech and motor impairments to use their phones. Tap or click here to check out this fascinating tech that utilizes eye movements.

Your phone has many features and settings you may not be aware of, and more are added as developers push out updates. When it comes to accessibility, you don’t need to be hard of hearing or seeing to take advantage of some of these features. Read on for ways to improve your smartphone experience.

1. Text size

The most well-known accessibility feature is probably text size. To enlarge the text on your iPhone:

  • Go to Settings Accessibility Display & Text Size > Larger Text.
  • Use the slider to adjust text size.
  • Slide the toggle next to Larger Accessibility Sizes to the right for more sizes.

To enlarge the text on your Android phone:

  • Open your device’s Settings app and tap Accessibility > Text and display > Font Size.
  • Use the slider to choose your font size.

2. Screen magnification

You can make everything on your screen appear larger beyond just the text. To magnify the screen on your iPhone:

  • Go to Settings Accessibility Zoom and toggle Zoom on.
  • Use the slider to set the zoom level.

To magnify the screen on your Android phone:

  • Apps Settings Accessibility Display size.
  • Use the slider to adjust the display size.

iOS 15 has many new features and options, including accessibility-friendly Memoji options. Tap or click here for more on Apple’s latest OS.

3. Hear what’s on the screen

Your phone can read what’s on your screen aloud. Everything from notifications, apps and battery levels can be accessed audibly. To turn on VoiceOver on your iPhone:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver, then toggle the switch next to VoiceOver to the right to enable it.

To activate TalkBack on your Android phone:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > TalkBack.
  • Turn Use TalkBack on and select Ok.

4. Select to hear items out loud

You can tap an item on the screen and hear it read or described aloud to you. You can also do this with the entire screen. To turn on Spoken Content on your iPhone:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content.
  • Toggle on Speak Selection to get a Speak button when you highlight text.
  • Toggle on Speak Screen. Swipe down with two fingers to from the top of the screen to hear the content of your screen.

Beyond hearing what’s on your screen, you can point your Android phone’s camera at text or a picture and listen to it read or described aloud. To turn on Select to Speak:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Select to Speak.
  • Turn on Select to Speak shortcut.
  • To start Select to Speak, swipe up with two fingers (three fingers if TalkBack is on). Tap one or more items, then tap Play.
  • To use your Select to Speak with your camera, open the Google Camera app and point the camera at an image or text. Swipe up with two fingers (three fingers if TalkBack is on). Drag your finger across the items you want read aloud.

5. Sound recognition

Your phone can listen for specific sounds such as a doorbell, fire alarm or siren, and let you know when it hears them. This is useful for people who are hard of hearing. To turn on Sound Recognition on your iPhone:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Sound Recognition, then turn on Sound Recognition.
  • Tap Sounds and turn on the sounds you want your phone to recognize.

To turn on Sounds Notifications on your Android phone:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Sound Notifications.
  • Tap Open Sound Notifications, then OK to accept permissions.
  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Sound Notifications > Settings and tap Sound Notifications are active. Choose the sounds you want your phone to detect.

6. Live Listen

If you have an iPhone and AirPods, you can turn them into makeshift hearing aids. The feature is called Live Listen. While this is a helpful tool for the hard of hearing, it can also be used by others to eavesdrop on conversations. Tap or click here for more information.

7. Back tap

Back tap is another excellent feature for the iPhone. Tapping the back of your phone will take a screenshot, open an app, run a shortcut, go to your home screen, open Siri and more. Tap or click here for instructions on activating the feature and more suggestions on how you can use it.

8. End calls the easy way

You can use a button to end a call rather than tapping the command on the screen. On an iPhone, press the side button to end a call. You can’t disable this feature.

On Android phones, you can enable the feature:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility and turn on Power button ends call.

9. Real time captions

Your phone can automatically caption your music, videos, podcasts, phone calls and more in real-time. To use this feature on your iPhone:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Subtitles & Captioning.
  • Toggle the switch next to Closed Captions & SDH to the on position.

To turn on Live Captions on your Android phone:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Caption preferences.
  • Tap Show captions.

10. Invert colors

You can invert colors for apps that don’t have the option if the bright white screen bothers your eyes. To use this feature on your iPhone:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size.
  • Toggle on Smart Invert to reverse the colors of the display, not including images, media and apps that already use dark color styles.
  • Toggle on Classic Invert to reverse the colors of everything on your screen.

To toggle color inversion on your Android:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Color inversion.
  • Turn on Use color inversion. Color inversion applies to everything on your device, including media.

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