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Siri was created to help the blind and is now part of our everyday lives.
Here’s how to set up a few awesome features.
Have your iPhone listen for you
I never hear my doorbell when I need to.
Now my iPhone listens for me and turns the smart lights in my study red when it hears the chime of my Ring doorbell.
You can do the same on an iPad but that’s just scratching the surface of Apple’s Sound Recognition.
Your iPhone can listen for fire alarms, sirens, cats and dogs, glass breaking, a kettle and even a baby crying or coughing, and notify you when it does.
This is obviously designed for the deaf or hard of hearing, and turns off ‘Hey Siri’ when you activate it, but it’s arguably more useful.
You can turn this on in settings > accessibility > sound recognition, and then set up personal automations in Apple’s Shortcuts app.
Have your iPhone read to you
Ever received an email so long that you can’t be bothered reading it?
With Speak Selection and Speak Screen, your iPhone will read it out loud for you.
Both need to be activated in Settings > Accessibility > Spoken content.
Once on, swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers and your iPhone will start reading everything on screen – and I mean everything.
That includes text hidden behind menu buttons on websites and the very first text in a conversation chain that’s way off-screen.
The easy solution is to use Speak Selection instead.
Simply highlight any text on screen and – if the setting is turned on – your phone will talk through what you’ve selected.
Supersize your text
Those with elderly relatives take note; there are secret ways to make text even bigger.
You can only make text so big in the general settings on an iPhone or iPad, but it’s a false ceiling you can smash right through.
Head to Settings > Accessibility > Display > Text size > Larger text.
Once you enable Larger Accessibility Sizes, your options almost double.
At the largest setting, the text will be comically large to the average user but for those who need it, it’s a vital and more comfortable option.
Hide ads with Safari
We’ve all been on websites that bombard you with ads and images.
Turns out you can clear through the clutter with a tap of a button.
When using Safari, tap on the “AA” in the search bar and hit Show Reader.
This won’t work on every page of every website, but most do.
For example, the button is greyed out on the homepage of theage.com.au but it does work on the articles you click to read.
Beyond cutting out ads and unnecessary links and images, the setting also turns the background black and text white to make it easier to read and easier on the eyes.
It’s not a setting you can permanently turn on, but once you know it’s there, it’s quick to activate.
Better still, it works wonders for the functionality of Speak Screen.
Create captions on live video
There’s an app that comes with every iPhone that will create animated subtitles on videos as you record them.
Until recently, Clips is an app I barely knew existed, let alone understood.
It’s a powerful editor and allows you to create captions on videos you record live using the app.
Those who post to TikTok and Instagram know how valuable captions are and Clips makes the process as quick as it is easy.
Simply open the Clips app, tap the rainbow-coloured star in the bottom right-hand corner and then the speech bubble icon.
There are more than a dozen styles to work with and my personal favourite highlights the words as they’re spoken like karaoke.
Frustratingly, it doesn’t work on videos I’d previously recorded outside the app – at least, not on those I tried.
Nevertheless it’s a handy tool.
Control your watch without touching it
Apple Watch is great, but it’s better with Assistive Touch.
Designed for those with upper body differences, you can navigate the watch, answer calls and more with gestures.
Clenching your fist or pinching once or twice gives you all the control you need.
It’s not as fast as using touch to navigate menus, but it sure makes answering calls easier if your hands are full.
By default, pinching your thumb and pointer finger together will move to the next item.
Two pinches goes back while a single clench selects or taps.
A double-clench brings up a quick menu that gives you access to the physical buttons on the watch itself and a motion pointer that allows you to navigate a cursor around the screen using motion.
You can customise the gestures yourself in Settings > Accessibility > Assistive touch > Hand gestures > Activation gesture.
And so much more
It’s impossible to write a single article on Apple’s leaps in accessibility.
These are my six favourites that everyone can make use of but there’s so much more.
The breadth and variety of shortcut options alone are mind-boggling and there are even more options for those who would otherwise struggle to use an iPad or iPhone.
None of these features will be used by everyone, but all of us can learn to appreciate them.