Use Darken Colors to Increase Text Color Contrast in iOS
One of the bigger complaints stemming from the iOS redesign is that the stark white interface with thin fonts can be difficult to read. Setting text to Bold makes an enormous difference, but some of the color choices in iOS still lack enough contrast to make things easy on the eyes, particularly for those with less than perfect vision, or even if you just use the iPhone / iPad in bright sunlight often. Fortunately, iOS now includes a “Darken Colors” toggle, and while it doesn’t have as wide-reaching an effect as many would hope for, it does tone down the fluorescent blue text on buttons and UI elements throughout the iOS interface. It also darkens much of the super light grey text into a darker shade of grey. The overall effect is increased contrast on text in critical places, helping visibility and legibility. The change is fairly subtle, as shown in the animated gif.
For accessibility purposes alone, this setting will likely get a lot of use, but it’s also just a nice way to make your iPhone easier to use in direct sunlight, and some users will probably just simply prefer the darker blue text and darker grey elements to the lighter baby blue text elements found everywhere in iOS.
Use “Darken Colors” to Enhance Text Contrast in iOS
The Darken Colors feature was added in iOS 7.1, therefore you’ll need that version of iOS or newer to find this feature.
- Open the “Settings” app and head to “Accessibility”
- Go to “Increase Contrast”
- Find “Darken Colors” and toggle the switch ON for immediate effect
The same Settings panel you’re at will demonstrate the difference when darken colors is on or off, though it’s surprisingly subtle. Can you see the color difference in these two pictures side-by-side?
Look at the blue text and arrow for “< Accessibility", and look at the tiny grey circles within the switches. Again, it’s quite subtle, but it does help if you’ve thought the light blue text was hard to read (and you’re not alone). This change carries throughout iOS and all iOS apps, here’s another example of the darker text shown in a Mail composition window:
If you still find things on the iPhone and iPad difficult to read, don’t forget to bold text, it improves overall readability quite a bit. We have also offered some general usability improvements to make things easier on the eyes for everyone and all devices with iOS 7+, be it an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, and realistically, some of these settings should have probably just be turned on by default.