Six ways to make your iOS or Android phone easier on the eyes

ios tip screen magnification gesture 4
Image: Ben Patterson

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Even as the displays on our iPhones and Android phones get bigger and bigger, the type on our screens remains stubbornly small—so small, indeed, that you may find yourself squinting whenever you glance at your handset.

Give your aching eyes a break. Read on for six settings that’ll make your iPhone or Android screen a bit easier to read, from boosting the size of text to zooming your display with your fingertips.

android tip supersize screen text 1 Image: Ben Patterson

You can super-size the on-screen text on your iOS or Android (pictured) device.

1. Boost the size of on-screen text (Android and iOS)

Let’s jump right to the good stuff: a setting on both iOS and Android devices that’ll nudge on-screen text fonts a bit larger—or all the way to jumbo size, if you so choose.

Unfortunately, the iOS and Android text-boosting settings won’t work in every situation. Text on webpages may still be teeny-tiny (although there’s nothing stopping you from zooming a page with a pinch gesture), and third-party apps may not respond to your text-boosting settings.

Still, if you want an easy way to super-size the text in your text messages and email, the names and numbers in your contacts app, and other core features on your iPhone or Android phone, the text-size settings is a great place to start.

For Android: Tap Settings > Display > Font Size, then choose one of the four settings—Small, Normal, Large, or Huge.

For iOS: Tap Settings > Display & Brightness > Text Size, then drag the slider to the left (for smaller text sizes) or right (to go large). Want to try a really big font size? Go back to the main Settings screen, then tap Accessibility > Larger Text. Flip on the Larger Accessibility Sizes switch, then drag the slider.

ios tip boldface text 2 Image: Ben Patterson

In combination with a larger font, switching on the "Bold Text" setting can make your iPhone or iPad screen far easier to read.

2. Bold your on-screen text (iOS)

You can add some extra punch to your on-screen text by adding a bold effect. In combination with a larger font, switching on the bold-text setting can make your iPhone or iPad screen far easier to read.

Tap Settings > Display & Brightness, then flip the switch next to the “Bold Text” setting. You’ll need to restart your iPhone/iPad for the setting to take effect.

3. Try out high-contrast text (Android “Lollipop”)

Unfortunately, there’s no “bold” option for text on standard Android phones and tablets. That said, Android devices running on the new Android Lollipop update have an “experimental” setting called “high-contrast” text, which adds a distinctive outline around some (but not all) on-screen text.

High-contrast text is clearly still a work in progress, but if you’re having trouble reading the text on your Android handset, it’s worth a try.

Tap Settings, Accessibility, then tap the box next to “high-contrast text.”

android lollipop tip high contrast text 3 Image: Ben Patterson

High-contrast text on Android "Lollipop" devices is still a work in progress, but if you're having trouble reading the text on your Android handset, it's worth a try.

4. Zoom the screen with magnification gestures (Android and iOS)

Sure, jumbo and bold text can be a big help when it comes to reading your email and text messages, and you can always pinch-to-zoom when it comes to tiny text on a webpage.

In some cases, though, the large- and bold-text settings won’t do you much good. Many third-party apps, for example, ignore those settings completely.

That’s why it’s worth sinking a little time into magnification gestures—a specific set of swipes and taps that, once enabled, will let you zoom the entire screen, no matter which app you’re using.

ios tip screen magnification gesture 4 Image: Ben Patterson

Once enabled in iOS, magnification gestures will let you zoom the entire screen, no matter which app you're using.

For Android:

● Tap Settings > Accessibility > Magnification gestures, then flip the switch.

● Now, let’s give it a try. Go to your home screen and triple-tap the display; when you do, the screen will zoom in. Pinch the display to zoom in even more, or pan around the screen by swiping with two fingertips.

● Triple-tap the screen again to go back to normal viewing.

For iOS:

● Tap Settings > Accessibility > Zoom, then flip the Zoom switch to the “on” position.

● Head for the home screen, double-tap with three fingertips and keep your fingertips on the screen after that second tap. Now, drag your fingertips up to zoom in, down to zoom out. You can also drag around with three fingertips to pan around the zoomed-in screen.

● Ready to go back to normal zoom? Double-tap with three fingertips again.

Bonus tip: If you like, you can add an always-on controller to the screen that you can double-tap to zoom the display. Just go back to the Zoom settings and flip the switch next to “Show Controller.” Double-tap the little controller that pops up, then nudge the virtual joystick to pan around the page. Double-tap the controller once more to go back to normal view.

5. Try inverted colors (Android “Lollipop” and iOS)

Do you prefer to read white text on a black background? Some reader apps like Kindle for mobile and iBooks for iOS can do the trick in their appearance settings, but it isn’t so easy when it comes to, say, a webpage or a third-party app.

That’s where “inverted” colors come in handy. By reversing the entire color scheme of your iOS or Android display, you can get the white-text-on-black-background look anytime, anywhere, using any app.

Of course, switching to inverted colors can make for some pretty funky images on your phone’s display. For starters, just wait until you see what your groovy new home screen looks like.

For Android (Lollipop users only): Tap Settings > Accessibility, then flip the switch labeled Color inversion. You can also toggle the effect on and off from the flick-down Quick Settings panel.

For iOS: Tap Settings > General > Accessibility, then flip the “Invert Colors” switch.

6. Lose the “motion” effects (iOS)

The sleeker, flatter look of iOS owes much of its pizazz to something called a “parallax” effect: a clever combination of motion-controlled visuals that gives iPhone and iPad displays the illusion of depth. And let’s not forget the home-screen icons that rapidly zoom in and out as you open folders and launch apps.

Pretty neat, but for some, iOS’s new, eye-popping screen effects are a bit too dizzying.

Luckily, you can regain your equilibrium by turning “motion effects” off.

Tap Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion, then flip the switch.

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