Bedtime reading on iPhones

This is how I look when engrossed in a book except I am a man, the plant is fake, and it is 2am in the morningThis is how I look when engrossed in a book except I am a man, the plant is fake, and it is 2am in the morning

At night, I prefer to read on my Kindle. While I could read on a smartphone or tablet, I prefer an ebook reader for two reasons:

  1. Dedicated device - Kindles are designed for reading digital books. They do one thing, and just that one thing well. If you grab a Kindle, you can only use it for reading. My iPhone has about ten gazillion features. Every time I pick up my phone, I have to make a decision. This requires willpower, and introduces friction. Smartphones are also attention hogs, with notifications from twenty apps competing for your attention. Again, willpower. This is not the case with my Kindle. It does have a web browser, but it’s decidedly dogshit. If you’re on your Kindle, you are there because you want to read books. Here’s the magic - the causality isn’t strictly one way. Because the Kindle makes it enjoyable to read, using the Kindle makes you want to read more.
  2. Black and white - Smartphones don’t just display pixels, they glare at you. They’re colourful. They make it hard to sleep. Bluelight filter apps go some of the way, but phones are still excessively bright.

However, despite these problems, I often find myself reading on my phone at night.

Smartphones offer an unquestionably superior reading experience, and many of the long-form essays I want to read are on blogs and Substacks. There are extensions such as kindle4rss but I haven’t tried those because friction (to be fair Ben Kuhn does endorse the tool, and I think Ben usually has reasonable ideas, so it’s probably worth checking out).

I recently discovered a way to solve my gripes with reading on the smartphone. Essentially, it’s mimicking the Kindle.

Step 1: Make your screen dim

  • Swiping from the top of the screen to bring up Search, search white point”, then click on Reduce White Point.
    • If that doesn’t work for you, go to Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Reduce White Point
  • Now, set the white point to 40%. It’s 80% by default.

Step 2: Make your screen black and white

  • Again with Search, search color filters”, then click on Color Filters
    • Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Color Filters
  • Click on the setting (it’s Off by default), then choose Grayscale

BONUS - Step 3: Turn it into a shortcut

  • Go to General > Accessibility
  • Find Accessibility Shortcut
  • Set it to Color Filters
  • Now, you can toggle black-and-white mode by triple clicking the power button

Reference: How to Make Your iPhone Black and White (And Why You Should) | by Sam Holstein | Better Humans
Image credits

April 24, 2023