iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch Life Hacks

Siri was created to help the blind and is now part of our daily lives.

Apple has added a whole set of accessibility features to its new iPhone and iPad updates, and while they’re made with people with different abilities in mind, they can revolutionize the way you use your phone.

Here’s how to set up some awesome features.

You can set alerts if your iPhone hears a doorbell, baby crying, kettle going, and more.
The iPhone can hear babies crying, coughing, and even knocking on the door. (Nine)

Make your iPhone listen to you

I never hear my doorbell ring when I need it.

Now my iPhone listens to me and turns the smart lights in my study red when it hears my Ring chime.

You can do the same thing on an iPad, but that’s just scratching the surface of Apple’s sound recognition.

Your iPhone can detect fire alarms, sirens, cats and dogs, broken glass, a kettle, and even a baby crying or coughing, and alert you when it does.

This is obviously designed for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and it 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 the Apple Shortcuts app.

Make your iPhone read to you

Have you ever received an email so long you can’t be bothered to read it?

With Speak Selection and Speak Screen, your iPhone will read it out loud for you.

Both need to be turned on 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 the screen, and I mean everything.

A 'speak' option appears in the highlighted text once you activate the option.
A ‘speak’ option appears in the highlighted text once you activate the option. (Nine)

That includes the hidden text behind menu buttons on websites and the first text in a conversation thread that is off screen.

The easy solution is to use Speak Selection instead.

Simply highlight any text on the screen and if the setting is on, your phone will speak about what you’ve selected.

Those with older relatives take note; there are secret ways to make the text even bigger.

You can only make text so big in the general settings of an iPhone or iPad, but it’s a false ceiling you can get through.

Head to Settings > Accessibility > Display > Text Size > Larger Text.

Once you enable Larger Accessibility Sizes, your options almost double.

Text on the iPhone becomes HUGE if you want it to.
Text on iPhone becomes huge if you want it to. (Nine)

On the largest setting, the text will be comically large for the average user, but for those who need it, it’s a vital and more comfortable option.

We’ve all been on websites that bombard you with ads and images.

Turns out you can clear clutter at the touch of a button.

When using Safari, tap “AA” in the search bar and hit Show Reader.

This won’t work on every page of every website, but most will.

For example, the button is grayed out on the theage.com.au home page but works on articles you click to read.

Ads, excess images and information can be hidden in Safari using the 'Show Reader' feature
Ads, image clutter, and information can be hidden in Safari using the ‘Show Reader’ feature. (Nine)

Beyond removing 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 turn on permanently, but once you know it’s there, it kicks in quickly.

Better yet, it works wonders for the Speak Screen functionality.

Create subtitles on live video

There is an app that comes with every iPhone that will create animated subtitles on videos as you record them.

Until recently, Clips is an app you barely knew existed, let alone understood.

It is a powerful editor and allows you to create subtitles on videos that 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.

Just open the Clips app, tap the rainbow-colored star in the bottom right corner, and then the speech bubble icon.

There are over a dozen styles to work with and my personal favorite highlights words as they are spoken just like in karaoke.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on videos I’ve previously recorded outside of the app, at least not the ones I’ve tried.

However, it is a useful tool.

Control your watch without touching it

Apple Watch is great, but it’s better with Assistive Touch.

Designed for people 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 quick as using touch to navigate menus, but it sure makes answering calls easier if your hands are full.

You can answer calls with a double 'press' once the setting is activated.
You can answer calls with a double ‘squeeze’ once the Apple Watch setting is turned on. (Nine)

By default, bringing your thumb and index finger together will move you to the next item.

Two pinches go back while a single squeeze selects or taps.

A double squeeze opens a quick menu that gives you access to the physical buttons on the watch and a motion pointer that lets you navigate a cursor around the screen using motion.

You can customize the gestures yourself in Settings > Accessibility > Assistive touch > Hand gestures > Wake gesture.

It’s impossible to write a single article about Apple’s advances in accessibility.

These are my six favorites that everyone can use, but there’s so much more.

The breadth and variety of shortcut options alone is mind-boggling and there are even more options for those who would otherwise have a hard time using an iPad or iPhone.

Christopher Hills smiles after using eye tracking on his iPad for the first time.
Christopher Hills smiles after using eye tracking on his iPad for the first time. (Nine)

None of these features will be used by everyone, but we can all learn to appreciate them.

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