7 Tips to Make the Web More Readable on an iPhone

A woman holding an iPhone 11 Pro.Kicking Studio / Shutterstock

You probably spend more time reading on your iPhone than texting, calling, or playing games. Most of this content is probably on the web, and it’s not always easy to see or scroll through. Fortunately, there are many hidden features that can make reading on your iPhone a much more pleasant experience.

Use the Reader view of Safari

Safari is the default browser on iPhone. One of the best reasons to stay with Safari on a third-party browser is its Reader view. This mode reformats web pages to make them more digestible. It removes all distractions on the page and simply shows you the content.

Some other browsers may offer Reader View, but not Google Chrome.

When you land on a web article or similarly written content in Safari, the address bar displays “Reader View Available” for a few seconds. If you press the icon to the left of this alert, you will immediately access Reader View.

Alternatively, press and hold “AA” for one second to go directly to the Reader view. You can also press “AA” in the address bar and choose Show Reader View.

While you are in Reader mode, you can press “AA” again to see some options. Press the smallest “A” to reduce the text or the largest “A” to enlarge it. You can also press “Font”, then choose a new one from the list that appears.

Finally, press a color (white, off-white, gray or black) to change the color palette of the player mode.

When you change these settings, they change for all the websites you visit in Reader mode. To return to the original web page, press “AA” again, then choose “Hide Reader View”.

Force reader mode automatically for specific websites

If you press “AA” and then “Website settings”, you can activate “Use player automatically”. This forces Safari to enter Reader view each time you visit a page in that domain in the future.

Press and hold “AA” to return to the website in the original format. Safari will remember your choice for your next visits.

Use the Reader view to view problematic web pages

The Reader view is useful when browsing distracting websites, but it also works for content that doesn’t display properly. Although much of the web is mobile-friendly, many older websites are not. Text or images may not display correctly, or you may be unable to scroll horizontally or zoom out to view the entire page.

Reader View is a great way to capture this content and display it in a readable format. You can even save pages as highly readable PDF documents. To do this, activate the Reader view, then tap Share> Options> PDF. Select “Save to files” from the Actions list. It also works for printing via Share> Print.

Make text easier to read

If you want to make text easier to read across your entire system, rather than having to rely on Reader View, your iPhone also includes many accessibility options under Settings> Accessibility> Display and text size .

The “bold text” makes it easier to read the text without increasing its size. However, you can also tap “Larger Text” and then drag the slider to increase the size of the entire text, if you prefer. All apps that use Dynamic Type (like most content on Facebook, Twitter, and news) will respect this setting.

“Button Shapes” places the outline of a button under any text that is also a button. This can help with readability and navigation. You can also activate other options:

“Increase contrast”: Makes text easier to read by increasing the contrast between the foreground and the background.
“Smart Invert”: Inverts the color scheme (except on supports, like photos and videos).
“Reverse classic”: Same as “Smart Invert”, except that it also reverses the color scheme on the support.

Get your iPhone to read you

Why read when you can listen? Apple phones and tablets include an accessibility option that reads aloud the current screen, web page, or copied text. While primarily an accessibility feature for the visually impaired, it has broader applications for consuming written content.

Head to Settings> Accessibility> Spoken content. Here you can activate “Speak Selection”, which allows you to highlight text, then press “Speak”. If you activate “Talk screen”, your iPhone will read the entire screen aloud each time you swipe down from the top with two fingers.

You can also activate “Highlight Content”, which tells you which part of the text is currently read aloud. Tap “Voices” to customize the voices you hear. By default, “English” will reflect your current Siri settings.

There are many different voices, some of which require additional downloading. You can also select different accents depending on your region, such as “Indian English”, “Canadian French” or “Mexican Spanish”. According to our tests, Siri provides the most natural speech synthesis, with the “improved” voice packs coming in second position.

When you highlight text and choose “Speak” or slide your finger up and down with two fingers, the voice controller appears. You can drag and reposition this little box wherever you want. Tap it to see the options to cut speech, go back or advance through an article, pause speech, or increase / decrease the speed at which text is read.

Voice controller options on iOS.

The “Speak Screen” function works best when combined with Reader View. In normal mode, your iPhone will also read text from the descriptive image, menu items, advertisements, and other things you probably won’t want to hear. By launching Reader View first, you can cut content directly.

“Speak Screen” works intuitively based on everything currently on the screen. For example, if you are reading an article and you are halfway there, triggering “Speak Screen” will start reading depending on the distance you travel. The same goes for social feeds, like Facebook or Twitter.

While the text-to-speech options on the iPhone are still a bit robotic, English voices seem much more natural than they once were.

Ask Siri to provide an update

Sometimes finding news can be a chore. If you’re in a hurry and want a quick update (and trust Apple’s preservation techniques), you can just say “give me the news” to Siri anytime to see a list of titles of the News application. It works very well in the United States, but it may not be available in other regions (such as Australia).

Siri plays an ABC News audio show on iOS.

You can also launch the News app (or your favorite alternative), then have your iPhone read aloud with “Speak Screen” or “Speak Selection”. Sometimes, however, it’s nice to hear a real human voice – just ask Siri to “read the news” to listen to an audio update from a local station.

Siri will provide you with another news source you can switch to, if available, and it will be remembered the next time you request an update.

Dark mode, True Tone and Night Shift can help

Using your iPhone at night in a dark room has become much more pleasant with the arrival of dark mode on iOS 13. You can activate dark mode on your iPhone under Settings> Display and brightness. If you want the dark mode to be activated when it is dark outside, choose “Automatic”.

Under the options for “Dark Mode” is a toggle for “True Tone”. If you enable this setting, your iPhone will automatically adjust the white balance on the screen to reflect your surrounding environment. This means that the screen will be much more natural and will match all the other white objects in your environment, such as paper. “True Tone” makes reading a less shocking experience, especially under fluorescent or incandescent lighting.

Finally, “Night Shift” will not make reading easier, but it could help you fall asleep. This is particularly useful if you are reading in bed. “Night Shift” removes blue light from the screen to simulate the setting sun, which could help your body shut down naturally at the end of the day. A warm orange glow is much more pleasing to your eyes, anyway.

You can activate “Night Shift” in “Control Center” or define it automatically under Settings> Display and brightness. Simply adjust the slider until you are satisfied with the setting.

Keep in mind that “Night Shift” will also change the way your photos and videos are displayed until you deactivate them again.

Accessibility is a reason to choose the iPhone

Most of these features are available through Apple’s constantly improving accessibility options. However, these features are just the tip of the iceberg; there is many hidden accessibility options you can explore. One of the most exciting recent arrivals is the ability to use your mouse or other pointing device with your iPhone and iPad.

RELATED: Make your iPhone easier to use with these hidden accessibility features

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