Q. I read your recent answer to a question regarding the magnifier on iPhones. I’m visually impaired, and this helps me and many others, but I have an Android smartphone and tablet. I cannot afford Apple, so what magnifying options are available for Android?
A. Android apps and system software can vary based on the hardware and the manufacturer, so check the settings to see if your device includes any specialty apps. For example, Samsung includes a magnifier widget in some versions of Galaxy smartphones. If your current version of the Android operating system does not have an integrated magnifying-glass tool, dozens of third-party magnifiers and screen-zoom apps are available in the Google Play store.
The design and the controls may differ slightly, but many of these apps work the same way: Once you open the app, the software uses your gadget’s camera (and sometimes the light from its flash) to enlarge text or objects. You can use controls like zoom or freeze to get an even better view.
With so many to choose from, selecting a magnifying app may seem overwhelming, but Cozy Magnifier & Microscope, Smart Magnifier and Magnifier are among the more highly rated ones in the store. Expect any magnifier app to request permission to use your device’s camera, photo album and other files.
Windows Phone users can try the free Microsoft Pocket Magnifier app or one of the competing tools available to download in the Windows Store.
Some apps are free, and some cost a small amount of money — typically less than $3. Free apps are usually supported by advertisements on the screen, so a paid app may be well worth the money to avoid such distractions. In lieu of a specialized app, some people prefer to just take a photo and use the device’s pinch-and-zoom feature to enlarge the image.
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