Software

How to improve readability on iOS devices

Learn how to make it easier to read text on your iOS device by tweaking accessibility settings.

Apple is known for its accessibility tools on iOS and macOS devices. The company's attention to detail and options for fine-tuning settings makes iOS one of the most accessible operating systems available.

True Tone and Night Shift, which are designed to eliminate eye strain and eye tiredness, are two of the features that improve readability on your iOS devices. Learn how to configure device and iOS settings for optimal readability.

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How to enable the True Tone display in iOS

True Tone is one of the features first introduced on the iPad Pro 10.5" in 2016 and then on the iPhone X and iPhone 8. It's a combination of software and hardware features utilizing sensors to detect the color tone of the lighting in the room where your device is located, and then making adjustments to the white balance to compensate for the lighting.

This adjustment to the white balance ensures the screen always looks just right for reading and performing other tasks; this is especially helpful when you're reading in a darker environment.

You can easily enable the True Tone display setting by performing these steps.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to Display & Brightness.
  3. Enable the toggle for True Tone.

(Note: Only a select number of devices currently support True Tone; if the True Tone option is not listed, then your device is not capable of using this feature.)

Once it's enabled, you'll see the screen shift slightly to adjust the white balance to match the lighting in the room. If you disable True Tone, you'll notice considerably harsher screen lighting than when the feature is enabled.

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How to enable Night Shift on iOS

If you catch up on work at night (let's face it, we're all guilty of this from time to time), your eyes might get tired the longer you use your device. And yet, you may find it hard to fall asleep.

Doctors have discovered this is a side effect of blue light, which is the light that TV and computer screens emit. This blue light exposure can have different effects on different people, but longer exposure before bedtime can lead to a decreased ability to sleep.

Fortunately, Apple has a feature that can alleviate this problem for most people—it's called Night Shift.

The Night Shift feature changes the color temperature of the screen to favor yellowish parts of the color spectrum. By filtering out the blue waves emitted from the screen, it can limit your exposure to blue light dramatically. This feature is available on 64-bit iOS devices running iOS 9.3 and above.

Follow these steps to set Night Shift to start and end at specific times during the day.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to Display & Brightness | Night Shift.
  3. Enable the option for Scheduled and then select the start time and the end time for the Night Shift feature to enable itself (Figure A).

Figure A

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It's easy to enable Night Shift to automatically come on and go off during nighttime.

Once it is set up, Night Shift will automatically enable and disable itself—without any interaction from you—at the specified times by using the default color temperature settings.

If you wish to change the color temperature from the default values to something more yellowish in tone, go to Settings | Display & Brightness | Night Shift and move the color temperature toggle from Less Warm to More Warm.

How to change the text size in iOS

The ability to adjust the text size on iOS devices is so important that it led Apple to completely revamp its text layout system on iOS a few years back, and allow developers to gain access to the system setting for text sizing.

This feature is called Dynamic Type. By now with iOS 11, most developers have fully embraced this new type of system that allows users to change the text size in the Settings app.

Follow these steps to easily change the text size in iOS.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to Display & Brightness | Text Size.
  3. Move the slider on the screen to adjust the text size (Figure B).

Figure B

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Dynamic Type lets users easily adjust the size of the text that apps supporting this feature will display.

As you move the slider, the example text below the slider will increase to demonstrate how text will look in Apple's apps and in third-party apps that support Dynamic Type.

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How to enable screen zoom in iOS

There might be times when you need the entire screen magnified—the good news is iOS can accommodate. The screen magnifier in iOS can be used in windowed mode, in which a small window appears that can be dragged around on the screen to magnify text, images, and other content under the magnifier; or, it can be used in full screen mode where the entire screen is magnified, and you will need to scroll the entire screen.

Follow these steps to enable magnification on your iOS device.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Select General | Accessibility | Zoom.
  3. Enable the toggle for Zoom.

Under the Zoom Region option, you can select between Windowed Zoom and Full Screen Zoom. You can easily move the Windowed Zoom screen by using a single finger to pick up the drag handle and move it. In full screen mode, you'll use a single finger to scroll the screen left, right, up, and down.

Also see

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Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

About Cory Bohon

Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...

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