Check before you download

We talk a lot about apps and what a positive impact they can have on the lives of people with a visual impairment. We've recently written a new eBook guiding you through 24 of our favourite apps, which you can download below.

However, with the many thousands of apps in the market place we've put together a quick check list to make sure you're not downloading something that will be more trouble than help...

Close up of one white iPhone and one white iPad screens.

 1. Do you have enough data?

Downloading large apps may consume a chunk of your monthly data allowance. It’s always best to wait until you are connected to wifi before you download a new app, just to be safe. It will often download much quicker this way too!

You will also want to keep an eye on how much data an app is using. You can check this in your settings and also limit which apps use your data and which ones only run when connected to wifi. This is really useful for avoiding going over your limit and incurring additional costs on your bill.

2. Is the app official?

Check the app is an official one approved by the Google Play store or Apple App store. There are lots of copy cats out there. You should also check the developer name, for example, for the official Amazon app, it should name Amazon as the developer, not another company. If in any doubt, visit the website for the app you want and follow links from there.

3. Has it got good reviews and ratings?

There are a lot of apps out there doing the same thing, in slightly different ways. If there is more than one option available, it is always a good idea to check the rating and reviews to see what other people think of it. This will also give you an idea of how many people have downloaded and used the app. You might want to wait until a significant number of people have trialed an app before downloading it yourself, this will help ensure there aren’t any significant problems with the app. Or you might want to be an early adopter and be part of that early testing!

4. What will it need to access on your device?

Different apps will request access to different areas of your phone, for example, your camera, your location and your contacts. Depending on the purpose of this app this access may be essential (e.g. Google maps needs to be able to access your location) or it may not (e.g. why would a location app need access to your contacts). Where possible you should limit access apps have to your phone and if an app is requesting access to unnecessary areas, consider using an alternative app and uninstalling it.

 5. How much will it cost?

Many apps are free to download and use but many come with either an initial purchase price or ongoing costs once you are using the app e.g. to gain full access to all of its content. Always check the description of the app before you download it and be careful of what you click on once you are using the app. You can set your account to always ask for you password before making any purchases in the app store as an extra layer of protection.

 6. How much space will it take up on your device?

You only have a limited amount of space on your device and different apps will use up different amounts. As well as the space taken up by the app itself, it may use additional space to store any content you generate through its use, including back ups of all of the information you are creating. This can be checked on the app info in the store and also under the settings on your device.

 7. Have you got anti-virus protection?

Although this doesn’t really apply to Apple devices as they have their own systems in place, if you are using an Android device you will want to make sure you have anti-virus software installed before you download new apps to ensure your device is protected. For more information, keep an eye out for our upcoming online safety videos and blog posts!

If you need any support with technology and accessing apps through a phone or tablet them please get in touch on 0300 222 5555 or email

You could also join on of our Tech Talk groups, which meet every month to discuss all the new advancements in assistive technology, tech-related news and tips, and cover everything from apps to audio equipment.

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eBook: 24 of the best apps for people with a visual impairment

If you want to find out more about what apps are out there that may be able to support you in your day to day life with sight loss then check out this new eBook. We’ve pulled together a list of 24 of our favourite apps (most are free, some paid for) and organised them in to seven categories to help you navigate what you’re looking for.

Click on the download button below, fill in your details and we’ll send you both a PDF and Word version of the eBook.

eBook cover, with a woman using an iPad in an orange case and looking at the camera in front of a Henshaws iPad class

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Henshaws rely on voluntary donations; our work just wouldn’t be possible without people like you. Your support empowers local people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to increase their independence, achieve their dreams, and go beyond expectations.

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Carrie is Henshaws' Rehabilitation Officer, specialising in digital technology. She offers a range of digital support including one-to-one assessments and training with devices such as the OrCam, and she also runs the Manchester Tech Talk groups.
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