The iPhone is not only Apple’s main money-making machine, it’s also the world’s most popular smartphone. Maybe not in terms of numbers, because global sales of the iPhone are only about 20% as of 2016. But Apple does lead the market in terms of customer satisfaction, often earning above 95%.
First introduced in 2007, the iPhone has defined the mobile market. Apple didn’t invent the cellphone, but you could argue it did invent the smartphone. After the iPhone, other mobile handset manufacturers quickly emulated its design. Screens got bigger, apps became popular, and truly personal computing was born.
In 2016, Apple introduced the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, as well as iOS 10. With these new models, Apple gave us two new color options for the iPhone: Black and Jet Black. The matte black color is really just an improvement on the Space Grey of previous models. The Jet Black color option is entirely new, and gives off a polished, refined look.
iOS 10 is a major upgrade to the mobile operating system. It offers new features as well as improved design. Since the new iPhone models have an updated Taptic Engine, iOS 10 has more options for 3D Touch. Siri is also more powerful than ever, and iPhone photographers are sure to be pleased by the cameras.
Whether you’re an iPhone veteran or new to the platform, iPhones have plenty of features, some that you may or may not know about. In this article, we’ll explore iPhone tips and tricks designed to enhance your experience.
15. Setting An Alphanumeric Passcode
Many security experts say that iPhones are pretty secure. While iOS has bugs and vulnerabilities just like most platforms, it’s locked down due to Apple’s close ecosystem approach.
A passcode is essential to any smartphone owner. In the beginning, iOS limited users to 4-digit passcodes comprised of numbers. But now iPhone users can set a 6-digit passcode, as well as using an alphanumeric passcode. Alphanumeric just means that it’s a combination of letters (alpha) and numbers (numeric).
To enable this, go into Settings > Touch ID & Passcode. Tap Change Passcode at the bottom, then select Custom Alphanumeric Code. You can make it as long or short as you want, but a good length is around 6-12 characters long. Just make sure you pick something that you can remember! Although these codes are generally longer to type in, they are also more secure.
Remember: Unlocking your phone using Touch ID is faster, but police can legally force you to unlock it. They can’t force you to give up a password though. You store that in your mind, and that counts towards self-incrimination.
14. Using Custom iMessage Replies For Calls
Have you ever been in a meeting, or somewhere else important, and received a phone call? In a situation like that, you most likely won’t be able to answer it right away. You can either let it go straight to voicemail, or you can take advantage of an iOS feature: iMessage Replies.
Depending on which version of iOS you’re using, you either swipe up on the phone icon and choose Respond With Text, or tap the Message button next to the Slide to Answer icon. By default, iOS gives you three canned responses:
-Sorry, I can’t talk right now
-I’m on my way.
-Can I call you later?
You can also set a custom response and craft your own message. Maybe you want to tell your friend: “Phone call? Ain’t nobody got time fo dat!” Or even: “This is Smithers. Master can’t take your call right now.” You can’t have more than three, so if you want to add a new one you’ll have to sacrifice one.
13. Set a Reminder To Call Someone Back
In addition to using iMessage replies, you can also set a quick reminder to call someone back. Again, it depends on which version of iOS you’re using. On iOS 9 and iOS 10, just tap the Remind Me button above the Slide to Answer slide. On earlier versions of iOS you’ll have to swipe up to select Remind Me Later.
Unlike iMessage Replies, you can’t set any custom options. You only have two options for Remind Me:
-When I Leave – alternatively When I Get Home
-In 1 Hour
Just make sure that your address is up to date in Contacts. This lets your iPhone know where “Home” is if you happen to be gone. The times are based on your GPS movements, so don’t be surprised if you’re far away from home and you see a “In 2 Hours” option. As long as your GPS works, your iPhone is smart enough to know where you are and how far away from home you are.
12. Custom Ringtones For Contacts
Wouldn’t it be great if you knew who was calling you without looking at your phone? You can do this by setting up custom text tones and ringtones for contacts.
All you have to do is go into the Contacts app. Select a contact then tap the Edit button in the top right corner. Scroll down until you see the ringtone field, and below that is the text tone field.
Tap Ringtone to choose whichever ringtone you want for that contact. You can choose from the default tones, or buy one from the iTunes store. Tap Text Tone to do the same for each contact. In both ringtone and text tone customization, you can even choose which vibration you want, or create your own.
11. Take Photos While Shooting Videos
Picture it: you’re recording a great moment with your iPhone, but then you realize you’d like some photos as well. But what do you do? Do you have to stop recording in order to take a couple of shots? The answer is NO.
You don’t have to stop recording that magical moment just to take photos. While you’re recording, just tap on the camera button. This appears on the screen in addition to the video recording button.
Keep in mind that the photos will be of a lower quality than what you would get from the regular camera. This is because you’re using the video sensors instead of the actual camera sensor. But, in a quick pinch this works wonders for capturing fleeting moments. The new iPhone 7 Plus has a dual-camera, with a better sensor, so you should still be able to take decent photos while recording videos.
10. Using Headphones For Photos
Speaking of taking photos, here’s a trick. If your iPhone doesn’t have optical image stabilization (or even if it does) you can use your EarPods as a camera shutter.
With your headphones plugged in, open the camera app on your iPhone. Once you’re ready to take your shot, just click one of the volume buttons on the EarPods. This reduces the camera shake as you move your finger to tap the onscreen button.
You can use this feature to take selfies too. The benefit of using headphones is that you can take a more natural-looking shot, since you can move the phone further away from your body. If you have a tripod handy, you can combine the two so you won’t have to ask someone else to hold the camera for you. Plus, using this method to take a selfie looks much better than trying to wrangle a selfie stick!
9. Adding Symbols With The Keyboard
Did you know that you can add special characters and other symbols on your iPhone’s keyboard? No more copying and pasting between multiple apps, it’s easier than you think.
The next time you’re typing out a text or an email, just long-press on one of the keys to look at that particular key’s symbols. It takes a little while to get used to, because different keys have different symbols, and not every key has symbols.
-Tap and hold the $ to insert other money symbols, like ₽, ¥, €, ¢, £, ₩.
-Tap and hold on different vowels to add accent marks: ä, ê, ī, œ, ù.
-Tap and hold on the ! to add a ¡.
-Tap and hold on the ? to add a ¿.
On earlier versions of iOS, you can also hold down the 123 button and swipe to select symbols without lifting your finger. I tested this on my iPhone 7 Plus running iOS 10 but I couldn’t get it to work, so Apple must have removed this feature.
8. Shake To Undo
The next time you’re furiously pounding away on your iPhone keyboard, it’s inevitable that you’ll make a mistake on that small screen. But fret not, that’s why I’m here! The next time you make an error, whether it’s accidentally deleting an entire sentence, or just a typo, just shake to undo.
A dialog box will pop up that gives you the option to undo what you just did. Make sure that you hold your iPhone tightly before shaking! In newer versions of iOS, Apple has added an Undo button on the keyboard, but this only appears in landscape mode.
You can use it even if you’re not typing anything. For example, today I was reading through my email in Apple’s Mail app. I accidentally trashed an email, but I used shake to undo and quickly restored the email to my inbox. Go forth and explore all the ways in which you can use this handy feature.
7. Return To Position
Arguably, all of these tips and tricks are handy, but here’s another trick that is especially handy. The next time you find yourself scrolling through a long email, article or note, tap the top of the screen to jump back to the beginning.
Tap to top works in most iPhone apps that don’t already have a similar feature. So if you find yourself madly tapping the top middle of the notification bar, maybe the app already has a return-to-position function.
Some apps also let you undo this in case you accidentally tapped it. I haven’t tested to see if shake to undo will undo tap to top, so maybe you can see if it works. For example, if you use Instapaper the app gives you a Return to Position button that will—you guessed it—return you to your previous reading spot. This works on all iOS versions as far as I could gather.
6. Find On Page
Okay, screw Return to Position, THIS is the feature you have to use. The next time you’re browsing on Safari, use the Find On Page feature if you need to look for a specific word.
MacBooks already have this feature by pressing CMD + F. As far as I could tell this only works in Safari when you’re on the iPhone. Press the Share button on the bottom-middle of Safari and look for a magnifying glass that says Find on Page.
Then, type in any word or phrase and it will begin searching the article for that specific word/phrase. If the article has multiple instances of the word, then you can navigate with arrow keys to scroll through all of the instances. They’re easy to spot too; each word will be highlighted in yellow.
5. Saving PDFs To iBooks
This feature is handy for saving article to read later (although you could use Safari’s Reading List). But another way is to turn a web page into a PDF, then saving it in iBooks.
When you’re browsing in Safari, go to the Share button in the bottom-middle of the screen. Scroll sideways until you see the iBooks icon that says Save PDF to iBooks. This works for any web page, and especially HTML books that you may come across.
The page will be immediately converted and saved to iBooks, where you can continue reading. The only negative thing I find about reading PDFs in iBooks is the formatting. The PDF is displayed as-is, and you’ll have to zoom in with your fingers if you want to read the tiny letters. Each PDF is also uploaded to iCloud, so when you pull up iBooks on your Mac, you’ll find the PDFs waiting for you in a separate section from books.
4. Siri Can Identify Songs
The next time you hear a song on the radio, or a song that your friend plays, consider using Siri to find out what the song is. You can still use apps like Shazam of course, but with Siri there’s one less app to download. This is especially handy if you have a 16GB iPhone and running out of storage.
The easiest part? All you have to do is ask. Just ask Siri: “What’s this song?” and she’ll do her best to identify it. If she comes up with a song, you’ll be presented with a link to view it in iTunes or Apple Music, where you can easily download it.
I’ve only used this feature for a couple of songs. It’s possible that Siri can only recognize songs that are in Apple Music/iTunes, but this is just speculation. You’d have to ask about some really obscure songs to fully test Siri’s capabilities. As with some questions, if Siri can’t find an answer she’ll probably perform a web search for you.
3. Searching With Spotlight
Odds are, you probably have a search engine app on your iPhone. Whether it’s Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo, search is the bread-and-butter of the web. But did you know you can search with Spotlight?
And not only the web, you can search through your iPhone with Spotlight. iOS 9 and 10 greatly improved app indexing, so you can often search for content within apps from Spotlight. Not all apps have app indexing so you’ll want to dive into the settings of that app, or ask the customer support of the app if they have indexing.
You’ll get Siri Suggestions in Spotlight, as well as suggestions in Search and Look Up. Spotlight searches across the web, iTunes, App Store, nearby locations and more all at the same time. This is a super handy feature that I use all the time, instead of searching in Safari or using a search engine app.
2. Sharing The Clipboard
This feature is really only useful if you have a Mac and/or multiple iOS devices. With iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, Apple users have a Universal Clipboard that works between devices. As long as you have the latest operating system, you can copy and paste text and images on one device, and paste it on another device.
The clipboard is shared for two minutes, then it will be reset to the device’s clipboard. Note that if you’re running a VPN on your iPhone or MacBook, then Universal Clipboard won’t work (or at least I can’t get it to work). Devices have to be on the same network and like AirDrop, both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have to be on for Universal Clipboard to work.
When you copy and paste images, I don’t know if there’s a size limit. But if you’re trying to use Universal Clipboard to transfer massive DNGs or PSDs, you’ll be better off using AIrDrop or another service.
1. Using Emergency SOS
Hopefully you’ll never have to use this feature, but it’s there if you need it. This works on iPhones and Apple Watches. Emergency SOS lets you quickly call emergency services in your area by quickly pressing the Sleep/Wake button on your device five times.
Once activated, your iPhone will sound an alarm and give you a three-second countdown. This way you can cancel it in case you or your child accidentally activated it. After three seconds, your iPhone will automatically make the call.
You can turn it off by going into Settings > General > Emergency SOS. Keep in mind that you won’t get this feature until iOS 10.2; right now the current release is at 10.1.1. Apple will release 10.2 sometime in December 2016, so you shouldn’t have to wait long. You’ll find further customization options, like turning off the countdown sound. No matter what country you’re in, Emergency SOS will connect to the right emergency service for you, like 911 in the United States.