In a world where the size of popular Android and Windows phones resemble phablets more than they resemble phones, Apple’s iPhone was the last hope for people with small pockets and stubby thumbs. With the reveal of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple will be following the trend of ever-growing smartphones. The standard iPhone 6 will grow from four inches to 4.7, while the iPhone 6 Plus will expand to 5.5 inches. If your thumb has trouble reaching every part of the iPhone 5 or 5S, the larger sizes of the new phones may sound like a chore. Apple, however, has introduced a new feature to make sure you can still use your shiny new phones with one hand: Reachability.
Like most Android fans will quickly tweet, shout, or otherwise relentlessly shove down your throat, one-handed mode — either officially or through rooting — has been available on their platform of choice for some time. Generally, it smooshes part of the screen closer to your thumb, such as moving the keyboard to the bottom-right. Apple’s version of Reachability more or less acts the same — the top part of the screen moves down toward the bottom, making it easier for your thumb to tap hard-to-reach places.
Reachability is activated by double tapping on the Touch ID sensor. That’s double tapping, not double pressing – the same tap-to-click feature you probably have enabled on your trackpad.
Apple has also discussed adding new gestures into iOS 8 to help with the larger phones’ usability. With Safari or Mail, for instance, you can swipe left or right on the phone’s screen in order to move back or forward. Along with the new gestures, the iPhone 6′s sleep and wake button is now located on the right side of the device closer to the thumb, rather than on the top where it has been for years.
Though Reachability will likely make it easier to perform everyday tasks on the larger iPhones, it won’t necessarily work swimmingly with every app you use. Reachability is, however, baked right into iOS 8, so third-party developers should be able to coherently incorporate it with ease.
With the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus releasing on September 19 — and iOS 8 releasing two days prior — Apple users won’t have to wait very long to see if they’re ready to brave a larger phone and less pocket space.