How to Get More Out of Your iPhone

Photo (cc) by matsuyuki

If you’re like many people you have an iPhone packed with awesome functions, but (and it’s a little embarrassing) you don’t know how to use most of this capacity. Apple does provide a comprehensive online manual — though they no longer provide a printed one with the product — but it nearly requires a manual itself. To help you take fuller advantage of that phone, check out these tips and shortcuts included in the iOS 9.2 operating system.

1. Lock the orientation

An iPhone feature that is usually useful is that is automatically adjusts back and forth between vertical and horizontal views depending on how you are holding it. But sometimes, particularly if you’re trying to show someone a photo, you want the orientation to stay one way while you hold it in the other way. To do this, swipe up from the bottom to open the control center. Tap the icon that looks like a padlock with an arrow circling around it. Now the display will stick in the current orientation, no matter how you hold the phone.

2. Make everything bigger

Sure, you can do the two-finger spread to zoom in on something, but you can also just make everything bigger. Go to Settings > Display & Brightness and tap on Display Zoom. There are only two size options, but there are a few sample screens so you can see what the difference would be and whether the larger version will be better for you. Using a magnified view does, of course, mean that less content fits on the screen, but that’s your choice to make.

3. Make a shortcut

If you have a phrase you frequently use in texts, you can create a shortcut of a few letters which it can auto-correct to the whole phrase. All phones come with a sample already programmed in — for example, “omw” will change to “On my way!” Add others at Settings > General > Keyboard then tap Text Replacement. Another bonus: If you have a phrase you use that the auto-correct is always trying to change, this feature allows you to prevent that irritation. Just type in the phrase and leave the shortcut field blank.

4. Correct Siri

Does Siri know how to pronounce your name correctly? If she says it wrong, tell her, “That’s not how you say _____.” Then, Siri will ask you for the correct pronunciation. Problem solved.

5. Have Siri remind you of things

If you tell Siri about yourself, you can then use it to give you helpful reminders. For example, if you tell Siri where you live (Settings > General > Siri tap My Info, choose yourself from your contacts), you can say, “Siri, remind me to do X when I get home.” If you have your location enabled, Siri will remind you once you get there. Tell Siri who your family members are, and you can tell her to “Call my wife” or husband, son, grandmother … or whoever, really.

(We’re referring to Siri as a “she” here, but in fact you can choose what Siri sounds like in that same Siri setting area. For English speakers there’s the option of using a male or female voice with American, British or Australian accents. Other languages are also available.)

6. Let first responders know about you

You can enter medical and contact information that will be visible from the lock screen, meaning EMTs who respond in an emergency have that critical information even if you’re unconscious or otherwise unable to speak. In the health app, tap “Medical ID” in the bottom right. You can fill in as much or as little information as you like, with spaces where you could list medical conditions, allergies, blood type and who to contact in an emergency. On the lock screen, tap the word “Emergency” to see what it shows. Yes, this would also be visible to someone who steals your phone, but thieves aren’t usually going to be too concerned about your peanut allergy.

7. Save it for later

If you’re browsing a Web page and want to finish reading it later, save it to your reading list. In Safari, tap the icon that looks like a square with an arrow pointing up out of it. Then tap “add to reading list,” which looks like a pair of eyeglasses. When you have the time to finish whatever you were reading, go back to Safari, and tap the icon that looks like an open book. Then once again tap the eyeglasses, and the page should be there waiting for you. This feature is designed to work even when you’re offline.

8. When did I send that?

Need to know just when you sent or received a text message? Just drag the message to the left and the time stamp will appear on the right edge.

9. Get a quick charge

Your phone is constantly sending and receiving bits of data, which uses a little bit of power each time. If you need a faster charge, put the phone into Airplane Mode and all that transmission will stop draining the juice for the battery. Just remember to turn it back off when you’re done charging.

10. Take better pictures

In the camera app, the letters HDR are at the top of the screen. Tap that to turn on the feature. The letters stand for High Dynamic Range. This means the camera will automatically take a series of versions of the same shot, at different exposures, then combine them to make the image clearer.

11. Undo with a shake

You’ve typed in a long message but then decided you don’t want to send it. You could hold down the delete button for however long that takes. A better option is to give the phone a shake. A window will pop up asking you if you want to undo typing. Then you can delete the whole thing with one go.

12. Stop the music

Say you want to hear a couple of tunes before you go to sleep, but don’t want the songs playing all night. Go to the Timer on the Clock app. Tap on the word next to ‘When Timer Ends” — the one that will usually be some kind of ringtone. Scroll to the bottom to “stop playing.” Set the timer, and the music will end when you want it to.

13. Update your status

Tell Siri to “post to Facebook” (or Twitter) and then speak the message you want to post. You’ll have a chance to confirm it before you send.

14. Play games with Siri

Siri can roll dice for you. The default is for it to roll a single six-sided die, but if you ask specifically, Siri can roll any number of dice with any number of sides. (Ok, rolling dice is not frequently essential, but you never know.)

15. Keep learning …

Your phone has a tips app in your “extras” folder. It’s updated weekly, and can even be set to notify you when a new tip arrives.

Have and tips of your own to share? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

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