This week on my contribution to Kelly and Company, I talked about the Settings area of iOS. The conversation went quite well and I felt good about actually covering all of the key points I intended to. I hear a good many complaints from people who feel that iOS won't let them do what they want. Whenever I've probed deeper, I usually find that what they want is perfectly possible. They just didn't know where to find the choice they were after. Chances are that the choice they were unaware of was in the Settings area of iOS. It really pays to invest time in getting to know the many choices presented through this application. You can do things like choose which apps can interrupt you with information. All options regarding how Voiceover behaves are in the settings app. Storage management, security settings, connectivity choices and many more choices effecting how your iOS device works are also found in Settings. You'll want to drop in often as your situation changes.
There are a great many options. Rather than try to cover absolutely all of them, I'll leave that to the user guide Apple has already created for your iOS device. You can use iBOOKs to read it. Instead, I'll explain how to get around in setings and cover some key areas in detail.
Think of the Settings app as a kind of tree. There is a long trunk with major branches spaced out along it. The trunk and branches can be navigated like straight lines with left or right flicks using one finger. Three-finger swipes upward to advance or downward to scroll up towards the top can be used to skip through settings faster. Double-tapping on a setting or area of settings will cause you to either change the setting if it's a toggle or else enter the branch of related settings. Double-tapping on settings within a branch might lead to branches of more specific related settings off the preceding level of specificity. For example, the "general" branch contains settings effecting the behaviour of your iOS device. The "accessibility" branch contains an impressive array of options to make iOS devices useable by people with disabilities. The "storage and iCloud Usage" branch allows you to view and manage how much capacity you are currently using on your device and in the cloud connected to it. Having all these options spread out in what seems an endless line can be daunting. Once you understand how it's all organised, you'll appreciate the thought which went into making things intuitive and simple. Let me show you around.
The settings are organised with the first
options letting you control communication methods your device uses including WIFI, Bluetooth, phone carrier, etc. Double-tapping on the desired option takes you onto the branch related to that area. For instance, double-tapping on "Wi-Fi will take you to where you can turn Wi-Fi on or off, choose which network to connect to and whether it connects automatically to networks it finds. Similarly, the Bluetooth option takes you to where you can pair your iOS devices with a wide range of accessories like keyboards, speakers, headsets, etc. You can also choose to deactivate Bluetooth when you don't need it. This can save battery power.
Past these settings are options related to the behaviour and appearance of your device. This range begins with Notifications and ends with Photos and Camera. This is the patch which is most crutial to really know thoroughly. The "Notifications" branch lets you determine which applications can alert you to things which happen. while you're otherwise occupied. It also lets you choose which aps can place notifications in an area called the Notification Centre for later review. The "Do not disturb" option lets you schedule periods where you won't be interrupted by incoming calls, messages or alerts from various apps you may have. The "Privacy" branch is another important stop if you have concerns about what information is shared by your device. Of particular importance is the "General" branch of settings. Perhaps "limb" would be a better description as there are a multitude of branches packed into this area. The "Accessibility" ranch will be of special interest to blind users as it is where you'll find settings to control Voiceover. Options related to Braille are also found in the Voiceover branch of settings. The "General" limb also contains settings related to device storage management, region and language settings, and other important options you'll want to change every so often.
Past the "General" settings, you'll find branches related to display brightness, sound, and things like mail, calendar, and music. I often go into the "music" branch of settings to change the EQ option. The Lounge preset works great with my Earpods. Also, given my hearing loss, I appreciate the Late Night preset.
These are followed by settings related to services Apple provides or third-party companies provide which are tightly integrated into iOS. For instance, you'll find settings dealing with Facebook, Twitter, iTUNES, etc. The Vimeo service is the last of these third-party services. It provides a means of storing and sharing videos taken using your iOS device.
After that, any other settings will relate to apps you acquire. For the most part, they determine whether apps are allowed to access things like the microphone, camera, etc. Most often these days, apps will contain a "more" tab which will have nested within it a "settings" button. This lets developers spare users the need to visit the Settings app. As you acquire more apps for your device, the Settings area can grow very large indeed. However, all the really important branches wil remain close to the top.
Starting at the top left, you'll find a search field. This can be used to search for specific settings which may be deep into the tree. You just need to know a word related to what you want to do and type it in. You can also flick left and right using one finger to make your way through the options or branches in order from top left to bottom right. There are a great many options so this can be rather cumbersome when in a hurry. To move past many options at once, you can use three-finger swipes upward to go deeper or downward to go towards the top. Over time, you'll learn how many swipes will take you near a setting you're interested in. You can then flick left or right to move precisely to the setting you want. This is how I most often get around in Settings.
Siri can also get you quickly to settings of interest. For example, hold down the home button to activate Siri and say "show voiceover settings". While it can get you to settings fairly specifically, it can't always control them. You can tell Siri to turn Voiceover on or off but can't tell it to connect to a Wi-Fi network. You'd have to tell Siri "sho Wi-fi settings" and then use the touchscreen and Voiceover to attend to connecting to the network yourself. Also, you can't do things with Siri like turning Voiceover hints on or off or setting the speaking rate. Remember that Siri is meant to be a personal assistant. It was never designed to let people do absolutely everything by speaking to their iOS devices.
Once you're in a branch or subsection of settings, you'll always find a "back" button located at the top left corner of the screen below the status bar. This lets you exit that branch and move back towards or onto the main trunk. For instance, Voiceover settings are three levels deep. Level one, "general". Level 2, "accessibility". Level 3 "Voiceover". Using the "back" button while in Voiceover settings returns you to Accessibility settings.
Within branches of settings, things are often divided by headings. This speeds up navigation once you turn the rotor to "headings". Flicking up or down with one finger will move you to the next or previous heading if they are present. For instance, headings within the "Accessibility" settings include Vision, Interaction, Hearing, Media, and Learning. Once you reach a desired heading, flick right to go to options related to the heading. The first option under "Vision" is Voiceover. Double-tapping on this will bring you into Voiceover settings.
Some settings are toggles while others are branches. If a setting is a branch, it will always say "button" after the name of the setting and status information. For example, flicking right onto the Voiceover button, you'll hear "voiceover on button". Double-tapping on this brings you to Voiceover settings. The first button you come to within Voiceover settings will say "voiceover on". After a short pause, presuming hints are enabled, you'll hear "double-tap to toggle setting." If you double-tapped this button, you would shut off Voiceover. Airplane mode is the first option in the main trunk of Settings and is also a toggle. Double-tapping it instantly activates or deactivates airplane mode. This mode instantly turns off all transmitions from your iOS device such as bluetooth or Wi-fi making it safe to use on airplanes. Among the various settings, you will also find sliders. You can change the value these are set to by flicking up or down with a finger while you're on them. Brightnes and volume settings are examples of sliders.
The Accessibility Shortcut:
One thing I tell blind users of iOS devices to do right away is to set their accessibility shortcut to Voiceover. The accessibility shortcut makes it easy to turn on or off an accessibility feature that is most important to you. Once it is set, pressing the home button three times rapidly will toggle the feature on or off. Set the accessibility shortcut to Voiceover to easily be able to turn it on or off at will.
1: Go to settings, general, accessibility.
2: Go to the very last setting. Using the rotor to move to the "learning" heading will speed this up. Once there, flick right to the last setting; "accessibility shortcut"
3: Double-tap on this button and flick right. You will soon reach "voiceover". Double-tap on this to set the accessibility shortcut. Provided you've done this correctly, when you flick left or right through the options, you should hear "selected" when going onto the Voiceover option.
4: Try it out by pressing the home button three times rapidly. If you hear "voiceover off", press the "home" button three times again to turn it back on.
Now, you can easily recover from when Voiceover crashes or quickly turn it off so that a sighted person can use your iOS device.
Key Branches to Visit:
1. Explore the Voiceover settings thoroughly. You can add functions to the rotor, adjust the voice, download different voices, and much more. This is where you sculpt how Voiceover behaves so it best serves you.
2. The "Cellular", "Privacy" and "Password and Touch ID" branches are a good trio of stops to make. They let you secure your iOS device and determine what information to share or not share.
3. Become familiar with the "general" branch of settings. It includes many branches of interest in addition to accessibility. Examples, software update, storage and iCloud usage, language and region, restrictions.
4. Look in the music settings. There are pretty nifty EQ options which change how your music sounds tucked away under the Playback heading.
5. Look in the "Sounds" settings. One important thing to choose here is whether you want to be able to change the volume of alerts and phone call rings using the up and down volume buttons. I find that I prefer not to have this happen so that the ring of a phone call is always loud enough to attract my attention. You can choose a ringtone which suits your personality as well as sounds for events like receiving messages. This can make your device feel more like it belongs to you. For sighted people, there's wallpaper.
Remember that apps will often contain settings unique to them which won't be found in the Settings app we're discussing today. Those special settings will be found in a section of apps like Twitter. Often, they are found in the "more" tab. Examples include the Audible app.
Users of iPADS will find things laid out differently. Down the left-hand portion of the screen are the various branches of settings. Double-tapping on one will open it on the right-hand portion of the screen. The other branches which normally disappear for users of smaller devices remain easily accessed. and visibible on the left side. Personally, I find this somewhat more annoying as a blind user. For sighted people, I appreciate how convenient this must be. Given time, blind people will learn roughly where to touch in order to get close to a branch of setting they want to focus on. When this happens, they will be better able to take advantage of the larger screen space tablets like iPADS make available.
I hope this helps you get a good start taming your iOS device. In general, it's pretty safe to explore and try out different settings. Apple has designed iOS to be pretty good at warning you before you do anything you can't easily undo. The more familiar you become with the settings choices available to you, the better your overall experience with iOS will be. Too many people don't take the time to learn what options they have and then get all frustrated to the point of giving up altogether. Given the tremendous economic and other advantages these devices can offer blind people, this is a real shame. If I had my way, any blind person who came into possession of an iOS device would be directed to a tutorial where they would learn about how to use Voiceover, key areas in Settings, and the wide range of accessible applications available. I hope the guide I'll eventualy complete plus these show segments and blog entries will go some way to helping newcomers to iOS enjoy what I have come to treasure. There's such a drive to do away with the need for instruction manuals. In this instance, blind people are hit hard by this trend. For most of us, using a touchscreen was a notion not even worthy of a pipe dream a mere half decade ago. Now, these devices are everywhere and also very affordable even without government assistance. They can take the place of a whole lot of expensive accessibility devices provided you can comfortably use the touchscreen through Voiceover. I've advocated for Apple to include a Voiceover tutorial at a bare minimum. Blind people would then at least know how to navigate their devices and find options like Settings. They are apparently considering it.