Over the years, iPhone’s camera has gotten so much better that it now in many ways exceeds human vision. This is most noticeable when it comes to the level of detail the camera can see.
Instead of putting on your reading glasses or squinting your eyes as you try to decipher nutritional information when shopping for groceries, you can just snap a quick picture with your iPhone and zoom in to see everything large and clear.
In this article, we go over some of the most popular magnifier apps currently available as well as one the magnifier feature that has been introduced with the release of iOS 10.
Magnifier in iOS 10
Designed for vision impaired users, with the release of iOS 10, Apple has added a mostly unknown feature called Magnifier. When activated, this feature changes the user interface of the default camera app, adding several new elements for easier reading.
The main one is a handy zoom slider, but there’s also the option to change the brightness of the picture and its contrast. Even poorly printed labels can be made readable with a few simple adjustments.
To activate the hidden Magnifier feature in iOS 10 and up, follow the steps below:
- First open the Settings app.
- Go to General -> Accessibility.
- You should see a toggle labeled Magnifier—tap on it to enable it.
If you were to open the camera app now, you would still see the standard user interface. You access the Magnifier by triple-clicking on the home button from anywhere, including the lock screen.
If you’re running an iPhone X or higher — i.e. a device without the Home button — triple-click the power button to activate the Magnifier feature.
Optionally, you can also activate the Auto-Brightness feature of the Magnifier, which will attempt to adjust the brightness and contrast of the image for you based on ambient light settings.
Of course, if Magnifier isn’t enough for you in iOS 10, there are a variety of third-party applications that you can download from the App Store for magnification.
The Magnifying Glass With Light app by Falcon In Motion is compatible with iPhone and iPad and, unlike Apple’s Magnifier feature, requires only iOS 7.0 or higher. The free version can do just about anything you might want from a digital magnifier, including light level control, auto-focus lock, and support for pinch to zoom in and out.
Only the ads can be quite annoying, which is the developer’s way of reminding you that there’s also a paid version with image stabilizer, high-contrast mode, and a special mode called Crystal Clear for automatic picture enhancement.
For just $0.99, the Magnifier Flash app by Tekton Technologies provides you with up to 6x zoom. With its clean and simple user interface, you can easily turn on and off flash to read text even in dim light or in the dark.
You can save zoomed pictures with a press of a button and look at them later or share them with other via email or social media. The app requires iOS 8.0 or later and works with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Developed by a single person, Dave Cheng, the BigMagnify app has a few surprises in store for you.
It allows you to magnify any image at 1x, 2x, 4x and 8x zoom levels, you pinch gestures to zoom in and out, activate image stabilization, manually change focus, enable your iPhone’s flash for viewing in low-light situations, and there are even advanced image filters that can improve visibility and readability by inverting colors and sharpening the picture.
What we like the most is the ability to use the front-facing camera as a magnified mirror. Even though it doesn’t have the same high resolution as the rear-facing camera, it’s good enough to help you judge whether your face is ready for public display.
Lumin is not your regular magnifier app. This super-magnifier can enlarge images up to 10 times and use the camera flash on your device to illuminate the scene or object. You can quickly capture images for later use or to share them with other via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others. All familiar gestures are fully supported, and the app costs just $0.99—a real bargain for 10x zoom and compatibility with iOS 7.0 and up.
As you can see, there are a lot of excellent applications for setting up magnification features in iOS. The best method to setup this type of accessibility is with the built-in feature in iOS 10. It’s easy because you don’t have to open up an app to magnify an image or web page — it all happens at the device-level.