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Which inbuilt accessibility features are better: iPhone or Android?

Today is the tenth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)! The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion. To mark it, I’ve written about my experiences of using the standard inbuilt accessibility features found with Android and IOS smartphones. Anyone can use these features, but they can be particularly useful for blind and partially sighted people. In this particular article, I will focus on magnification and Zoom accessibility features. 

I have been using Android smartphones for about 11 years, ever since the Samsung S series came out. In later years, I started using the accessibility features on the Android – prior to this I was not aware that accessibility features existed. Like most visually impaired people, I struggled with using my phones and often held them really close to my face.

Samsung accessibility features

Fast forward to now, and I started to wonder what accessibility features were available on the Samsung. I was particularly interested in magnification and zooming in/out. In settings menu of the Samsung phone I scrolled down to accessibility, then discovered vision or visibility enhancement. As I scrolled down this section I came across magnification – enabling this means that I don’t need to keep using the camera as a magnifier. 

I also discovered font size and style in settings. This was great because it enabled to make the font on my phone a lot bigger and change the style to one that’s easier to read.  I then enabled the zoom in/out feature by going into magnification and then magnification accessibility settings; then I selected triple tap option to access magnification. This makes it easier to access and use for the internet, emails and some apps.

iPhone accessibility features

I recently I decided to change from an Android phone to an iPhone. Friends had raved about the inbuilt accessibility options on the iPhone and I thought it was time that I took the plunge and find out for myself! 

I have had an iPhone for a month now, and it definitely does have some great accessibility features. For example, the settings menu itself is really easy to use and the headings are really simple to follow. The accessibility section is also well labelled, and the zoom and magnification are separated – I find this really easy to use as sometimes I don’t want both features on. In the case of Android smartphones, these features are merged. 

With the iPhone, display and text size is in one place under ‘display feature’. You can also find high contrast settings in the same place. With Android, these are found in ‘visibility’, but in my opinion the iPhone labelling of ‘display feature’ is clearer and easier to find. Also, I have to go through more screens with the Android to get to magnification. It’s quicker to get to these features on the iPhone because I have to go through fewer screens.

To come…

There are many inbuilt accessibility features I have come across both with Android and IOS operating systems. My next article will focus on a key feature used by blind and partially sighted people – Talkback vs Voiceover! 

For now, keep curious, keep confident and keep climbing.

Renu Walia, London Vision intern


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