5 Important Settings Make Your Smartphone Easier to Use

We use our smartphones every day for entertainment, to stay connected with loved ones, pay our bills and so much more. 

But sometimes they can be difficult to use, especially if we face challenges with our physical abilities.

Luckily, as technology continues to advance, smartphone makers are increasingly prioritizing accessibility features to ensure that everyone, regardless of ability, can fully enjoy the benefits of these powerful devices. 

In this week’s tip, we’ll share five of the best settings in smartphones that make them easier to use.

1) Voice Control and Dictation:

Voice control and dictation are revolutionary features that enable users to navigate their smartphones using voice commands. This accessibility tool has significantly improved over the years, thanks to advancements in speech recognition technology. Apple’s iOS 16 and Google’s Android 13 have taken voice control to the next level by offering enhanced accuracy and expanded functionality. You can now effortlessly compose messages, search the web, open applications, and perform various other tasks, all through voice commands.

To enable Voice Control on iOS, follow these steps:

  • On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings.
  • Tap on Accessibility.
  • Select Voice Control.
  • Toggle the Voice Control switch to enable it.

To enable Dictation:

  • Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.
  • Turn on Enable Dictation.

To enable Voice Access on Android:

  • Open the Settings app on your Android device.
  • Tap on Accessibility.
  • Scroll down and select Voice Access.
  • Toggle the Voice Access switch to enable it.

2) Magnification and Display Customization:

For individuals with visual impairments or low vision, magnification and display customization options can be transformative. Both Apple and Android smartphones provide powerful tools to enlarge text, adjust color contrast, and modify display settings to suit your needs. You can dynamically resize text, enabling you to scale text across different applications easily. These features will make content more accessible and enhance readability for users with visual challenges.

On iOS, follow these steps to magnify the screen with Display Zoom,:

  • Go to Settings  > Display & Brightness > Display Zoom.
  • Select Larger Text to make all the text on iPhone larger.
  • Tap Done, then tap Use Zoomed.

On Android:

  • Open your device’s Settings app.
  • Tap Accessibility > Magnification.
  • Turn on Magnification shortcut.

3) Assistive Touch and Gesture Navigation

For those with limited mobility or dexterity, navigating a smartphone can be challenging. Assistive Touch, available on iOS 16, and Gesture Navigation, introduced in Android 13, offer alternative methods for interacting with smartphones. Assistive Touch allows users to perform common tasks, like taking screenshots or adjusting volume, through customizable on-screen gestures, making navigation more convenient. Gesture Navigation replaces traditional physical buttons with intuitive swipe gestures, providing a more fluid and accessible user experience.

To enable Assistive Touch on iOS:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Touch > AssistiveTouch, then turn on AssistiveTouch

To enable Gesture Navigation on Android:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Go to System > Gestures > System navigation.
  • Choose from the options Gesture navigation: No buttons 2-button navigation: Two buttons for Home and Back, or 3-button navigation: Three buttons for Home, Back, and App Overview.

4) Live Caption and Real-Time Transcription:

Captions and transcriptions can be essential accessibility features for individuals with hearing impairments. Both Apple and Android smartphones now offer live captioning and real-time transcription capabilities. You can enjoy videos, podcasts, and voice messages with automatic, on-screen captions. With real-time transcriptions, you can participate in conversations by transcribing speech into text in real-time, making communication more inclusive and empowering.

To enable Live Captions on iOS:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Live Captions (Beta).
  • Turn on Live Captions, then tap Appearance to customize the text, size, and color of the captions.
  • You can also enable Live Captions within FaceTime.

To enable Live Transcribe on Android:

  • Download Live Transcribe & Sound Notifications on Google Play.
  • Tap the Live Transcribe app and make sure that you’re connected to the internet.
  • Hold your device microphone near the person or sound that you want to capture. The microphone is usually located at the bottom of your device.

5) Sound Amplification and Adjustments

For those with hearing impairments, sometimes all you might need is a little boost in the volume or adjustments of certain frequencies in your headphones to hear better. With these settings, you can make custom tweaks to FaceTime and phone calls, music, videos and other media.

To enable Headphone Accommodations in iOS:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual > Headphone Accommodations. Turn on Headphone Accommodations.
  • Now, you can choose how to apply your settings to different apps by choosing “Phone” or “Media”
  • If you have an audiogram available in your Health App, you can use that to customize your headphone settings as well.

 To use Sound Amplifier on Android:

  • Download Sound Amplifier from Google Play, connect your headphones and open the app.
  • Open your device’s Settings app. Tap Accessibility > Sound Amplifier > Open Sound Amplifier.
  • Now, you can adjust multiple settings, including reducing unwanted sounds, boosting quiet sounds, boosting low and high frequency and adjusting ears separately