Bought iPhone 11 Pro Max, came from Android -- Screen Reader Alternatives

So... I still use the screen reader VERY frequently.

I finally switched to iPhone and found out that you can't use it.

Several users posted workarounds using 3D touch.

3D touch is now removed from the new iPhones.

What the hell am I supposed to do now? This is a HUGE disappointment. Anyone have any ideas?
Hi kcramp,

I can feel your pain; I can think of three options:

1. For browsing the web, you can use the built-in Web Reader which offers Pop-up definitions.

2. For other apps, take screenshots and open them in Pleco. This thread also talks about it, among others:

3. Whatever dictionaries/features you buy in Pleco can run on both platforms simultaneously, so you could use Screen Reader on your old Android smartphone if you still have it.

Do any of these help?

Cheers, Shun


Staff member
3D Touch wouldn't do much for that anyway, I'm afraid - all of its old functions were replaced by Haptic Touch, but there's no equivalent to Screen Reader from either of those.

If it's any consolation, Google have been trying to ban functions like Screen Reader for years; they almost banned all screen reading apps last year but changed their minds at the last minute, but they have banned apps from overlaying the screen on Android Go Edition devices now, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they ban them on all Android devices in Android 11 or 12. So you might not have gotten to use it on Android for very much longer either :)

The best equivalents to Screen Reader we can offer on iOS are:

1) "OCR Last Screenshot" on startup, which you can enable in Settings / Miscellaneous. With that, you can just take a screenshot and tap on the Pleco icon to instantly bring up Pleco's OCR function on that new screenshot. Not *quite* as seamless as Screen OCR, but pretty close.

2) Search clipboard on startup, same settings screen, which will let you do that with text copied to the clipboard.

3) Configure "3D Touch shortcuts" in Settings / Miscellaneous and you can add shortcuts for both of those functions to the menu you get by long-pressing on our app's icon.

3) Web Reader, as @Shun says, gives you easy tap-lookup support on web pages. (actually nicer / more reliable than using Screen Reader on web pages on Android; if embedded web views on Android weren't so buggy / awful we'd probably offer a similar function on that)
I mainly use it in WeChat when communicating with friends and they throw a character at me that I don't know -- or browsing Taobao. I have to test if reader works in Taobao..

Endless screenshotting is extremely clunky. Bah.
I see now that the method discussed in the other post is not included in Pleco 3.2.

So, for now, we are stuck with: screenshot -> open pleco -> ocr still -> delete screenshot.

Is this correct?


Staff member
Yes, in fact we're not even sure if we're going to include that in 4.0 since we've had almost no customer interest in it and we don't know if it would offer any meaningful usability benefits over the current system.

But you don't have to go to Still OCR, just open Pleco and it'll pop up your screenshot in OCR automatically (assuming you've turned on that option to OCR the last screenshot on startup).
Well, consider this customer interest.. I am no programmer, but..

Potential flow 1:
"Send to Pleco" in the share drawer -> opens it up in OCR


Potential flow 2:
some "open pleco" button... literally anywhere (pull down, favorites, or even in that share menu) -- this would work in conjunction with the 'ocr the last screenshot' option.

Feature 2:
Ability to delete screenshots from within the OCR menu.

In any case, cheers. I didn't expect to hear back from a developer.
Actually, if there is a URL just to open the pleco app, we could throw a shortcut to open it into the shortcut bar on the left side pull out tray. This combined with ocr last screenshot can be a workable solution. I'll do some digging

Damn you can't open that widgets menu from inside an app. The shortcut to ocr works but you still have to hit home first. Hmm
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Staff member
Actually, we do have a URL already - plecoapi://. There are options you can put after it to perform searches etc but even by itself it will open the app.

And I just checked and it seems like that works fine with the 'OCR last screenshot' feature if you leave it blank, so you could add that to shortcuts and tap it after taking your screenshot. (there might even be a way to have your shortcuts workflow delete the previous screenshot when you run it, haven't investigated that)

As for opening widgets in an app: you have to swipe down from the top first to bring up the notification shade, then swipe right.
IMO, adding Pleco to the iOS dock, allows you to swipe up from the bottom, and then pull up Pleco from there. Saves a swipe from using shortcuts, but takes up a dock slot And works inside apps.

edit: I just realized this only applies to iPads....doesn’t seem to work on iPhones [or at least ones with a Home button] (I rarely read anything on my phone, so didn’t think to try it until after writing this)
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Mike -- Thanks for pointing out the swipe down / right to open widgets works.

See my attached shortcut setup. I picked a random pre-made URL from a different post. I don't think it matters. This *requires* the OCR last screenshot option enabled in settings!
WeChat Image_20190925101614.jpg

See attached quick recording in action.


Staff member
Yep - you can actually delete everything after the plecoapi:// bit and it should still work. (we should probably add an "OCR last screenshot" URL too)