Brighter and Bigger

Last night on my way home from work, I stopped at a drug store to buy a battery for a digital micrometer. Because of the poor design of the packaging, I used my iPhone in two different ways to make sure I was buying the right kind of battery.

The micrometer uses a button battery to power its digital display. The compartment is on the back, as is a label that tells you the type of battery to buy.

Micrometer back

Unfortunately, knowing that I needed an SR44 wasn’t immediately helpful in Walgreens, which carries only Energizer button batteries that use a different naming scheme.1 Based on the size I needed, I had it narrowed down to a few possibilities, but the hostile packaging made it nearly impossible to figure out which one was equivalent to an SR44.

For most of the batteries, the list of equivalents was in tiny type under curved portion of the plastic blister. The combination of tiny type and distortion from the plastic meant I couldn’t read the list.

Google was the obvious solution. I pulled out my phone and had an answer in short order: the Energizer 357 should work. But because I have a healthy distrust of information from the internet, I wanted confirmation.

Luckily, the 357 packaging had the list of equivalents on the back of the cardboard, undistorted by any plastic. But the text was still smaller than I could read.

Tiny text on back of battery package

That’s a little over 0.04″ high, which is about 3 points. If I hadn’t had my contact lenses in, I could have held the package close and read it. But with my contacts in and only normal reading glasses in my pocket, I had no chance. All was not lost, though.

Some time ago, I installed an app called Brighter and Bigger, which does exactly what you’d expect. It shows live output from the camera, and allows you to zoom in and fiddle with the exposure and contrast. Brighter and Bigger let me confirm that the 357 was an SR44 equivalent.

Brighter and Bigger screenshot

With the zoom at 3.0, the text on the screen was about 0.10″ (over 7 points) high, which was easy to read. I didn’t need to change the exposure or contrast because the Walgreens was well-lit.

In addition to the three controls at the bottom, Brighter and Bigger has a pause button at the upper right, that I’ve found helpful when I’ve had to zoom in so much I couldn’t keep a steady image.

You can, of course, take a photo and zoom in, but I find Brighter and Bigger more convenient because it’s a special purpose app that has all the controls you want immediately available. And it’s free.

Update Jan 4, 2018 9:16 AM
Ashley Bischoff reminds me that Brighter and Bigger’s features (with a different control UI) has been built in since iOS 10 and can be accessed in three ways:

  1. Triple-clicking the Home button.
  2. Triple-clicking the Side button (for those of you without a Home button).
  3. From the Control Center.

Personally, I hate triple-clicking , but the Control Center is pretty easy to get at. Still, Apple puts the brightness and contrast controls on a different panel from the magnifier, which makes it a little more clumsy to use (albeit better looking) than Brighter and Bigger.

Out of habit, I find it easier to remember to use Brighter and Bigger and will probably continue to do so. but it’s good to have another option if it disappears.

  1. If you’re wondering why I didn’t just pop the old battery out to see what kind it was, it’s because there was no old battery in the compartment. My guess is that either I or one of my coworkers had taken the battery from this micrometer to use in another one.