For low vision specialists and those who consult them
iBooks on the iPhone – quick review
August 6, 2010Posted by on
I have previously written on the use of the Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle as low vision aids. Of course the new ‘must-have’ gadget is the iPad. I have had several patients who have mentioned how useful their iPad is and how easily they can read with it, but have not yet had chance to systematically play with one.
Apple have also rolled out the iBook software to the iPhone. Again, I have not had chance to look at this with a photometer yet, but here is a ‘quick review’ of what iBooks are like for the visually impaired user.
On the iPhone, there is a choice of 9 magnification levels and six fonts (Baskerville, Cochin, Georgia, Palatino, Times New Roman, and Verdana). There is also a Sepia mode which reduces the screen contrast but may also reduce glare.
The largest font size on my iPhone 3GS is equivalent to N25 (3.2M): three times the size of newsprint. As a very rough guide, if you can read newsprint at a struggle you will be able to read this size text fluently. At this size you get about 12 words per page, and the screen refresh is fairly quick. It is possible to display text in reversed contrast, although this has to be set in the iPhone settings rather than in the app itself.
Unfortunately, none of the fonts available are proportionally spaced, and the maximum text size of N25 still isn’t great for people with poor vision. However, the backlit screen and increased font size compared to other eReaders means that iBooks on the iPhone appears to be a better choice for people with reduced contrast sensitivity or visual acuity. Of course, every person with low vision is different and I would certainly suggest trying each device before committing to buying one.
A full report on iBooks on the iPhone and iPad will follow in time….