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Simplify and Reduce Clutter on your iPhone with Assistive Access

5th September 2023

Jacob Woolcock


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In this video, I’ll guide you through how to greatly simplify and reduce clutter on your iPhone using the powerful accessibility tool, Assistive Access. Learn how to create a simple home screen with large icons, clear labels, and colours and symbols for easy identification, all designed to reduce cognitive overload and simplify the iPhone experience. Whether you’re an accessibility enthusiast or just looking to declutter your device, this tutorial has got you covered. Join me as I explore the world of simplifying your iPhone with Assistive Access.

In this video, we’re going to have a look at the new accessibility feature on iOS 17 called Assistive Access. This feature will completely change how your device looks and works, offering real benefits for many people. We’ll start by jumping into the Settings app and then proceed to Accessibility. Near the bottom of that page, you’ll find a section for General, where Assistive Access is listed.

Upon tapping there, you’ll encounter a few initial steps, one of which is choosing how you want your phone’s layout to look. Essentially, this feature will greatly simplify your iPhone experience by removing all the clutter and narrowing it down to the essentials. You can opt for a layout where apps are listed one after the other vertically or choose a grid of large icons, which might be closer to a normal iPhone home screen.

Next, we’ll select which apps you’ll have access to in this new mode. Currently, Apple has optimised five apps to work differently in Assistive Access: Phone, Text, Photos, Music, and the Camera. By pressing the green plus button next to these, you can further customise what these apps can and cannot do—for instance, whether they can access location data or your entire photo library. Some apps also offer controls that you can enable or disable. For example, with the Camera, you can disable selfie mode or video recording, or enable one and not the other, allowing for precise customisation of what you’ll have access to when this setting is enabled.

Below these five apps are all the other apps currently on your iPhone. Any of these can be added to Assistive Access, but they won’t work in the same simplified manner as those five core apps. It’s interesting to speculate whether Apple might update more apps to be simplified in the future. For demonstration, I’ll add the Clips app to show how it functions in this mode, going through and granting various permissions quickly.

After selecting the apps, press Continue at the bottom for more information about Assistive Access. You can disable it at any time by pressing the lock button three times, then entering a PIN code for protection. Next, we’ll set up that PIN code.

Once Assistive Access is enabled, your screen will briefly go black as it reloads, and then you’ll immediately notice how different your iPhone looks—much simpler, with no wallpapers or animations. Tapping the large button unlocks the phone, presenting you with the app launcher and the six apps you’ve chosen. Entering the Phone app, for instance, you’ll find it significantly simplified compared to the standard version, allowing for quick access to key contacts and straightforward calling.

This simplified approach extends across all five optimised apps. In the Photos app, for instance, you won’t see toolbars, menus, or back buttons—just your camera roll for easy photo browsing. The Camera app, too, offers a clear choice between photo and video, with large, easily distinguishable graphics. All these changes—symbols, colours, graphics—are designed to make your device more accessible than ever.

If you enter an app like Clips, which isn’t optimised for this mode, it will look more or less normal, except for a large back button at the bottom. This ensures you can still utilise all the features of the app, albeit without the simplified interface of the optimised apps. Whether you enable other apps alongside the key five depends on the device’s intended user and what they need access to.

When you’re finished with Assistive Access, simply tap the lock button three times, type in your PIN code, and wait for the device to restart. Just like that, we’re back to the original iPhone interface with iOS 17 running as usual. Assistive Access is always just three taps away on the lock button, and you can further customise how it works after exploring it.

It’s an incredibly powerful feature that genuinely changes how your iPhone works. Full credit to Apple for creating this mode; it’s clear that a significant amount of design and coding work went into bringing it to life, making the device much more accessible to a vast number of people. Well done, Apple, for this fantastic new feature. There are many more things in iOS 17 that are new as well, so if you’re interested, check out the playlist here. And don’t forget, if you like this video, please do subscribe to my channel below so you won’t miss any future videos.

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