15 things we bet you didn’t know your iPhone could do

That new iPhone you got for the holidays is Apple’s best yet. Hopefully you’ve spent some time playing around with its many features, downloaded a few apps, and used the iPhone’s terrific camera.

It’s estimated we only use only 10% of what our consumer electronics can do, so we’ve put together a list of some of the lesser-known ways to get the most out of your device.

Get reminders by location

You probably know Siri, your voice-activated personal assistant, can be used to set a time-based reminder, like saying “Siri, remind me to call my brother at 4 p.m.” But did you know you can set location-based reminders, too? You can say “Remind me to call mom when I get home,” and you won’t be notified until you step up to your door.

For this to work, you’ll need to have created a Contact Card with your info on it, including your name, address, and relationships (who your brother is), and so on.

Another idea on how to use this function?  As you are walking into the office or a mall, you can say: “Remind me to get gas when I leave here later.”  You’ll be notified when you drive away.

Tell you where you parked your car

Apple Maps’ Parked Car feature marks your car's current location automatically when your iPhone disconnects from CarPlay or Bluetooth. iPhone sends you an alert to confirm your location has been saved. You can also tap the notification to launch Maps and snap a photo of your parking spot or nearby landmarks or jot down parking details.

Go to Settings → Maps → YOUR CAR to enable and disable this feature.

Turn e-books into audio books

The iPhone has many Accessibility options. One is called Speak Screen which can read aloud any text on the screen at your command. While primarily designed for the seeing impaired, you can take advantage of this feature if you want to turn an e-book into an audiobook. Now you can listen while commuting to and from work, while closing your eyes in bed, or while on a jog.

To activate, go to Settings → General → Accessibility → Speech. Now, activate Speak Screen. Then, any app you’re in, swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen to hear the contents of the screen read to you, such as an e-book, email, article, text or notes.

You can set the voice (gender, language), speaking speed, and more to your preferences.

Use 3D Touch to find shortcuts

If you are new to iPhone, you might not know about 3D Touch (available since 2015). This feature can help you get more done in less time. Simply press down on app icons or notifications, and you’ll see a list of shortcuts you can use.

For example, press and hold on the Camera icon from your home screen and you can choose to take a selfie, record video, slow-motion video or more. Even from your locked iPhone, you can press and hold on a notification and you will see options like replying to an iMessage without having to unlock your device.

There are many more hidden that 3D Touch can help you find.

Find the hidden trackpad

Say you’re typing a message, email, or note, and you need to make a change before sending or saving. With your new iPhone, simply press and hold on the keyboard and the cursor will automatically become a mouse-like trackpad.

Now keep your finger or thumb on the screen and drag around the cursor to reach the part of text that you want to tweak – or to highlight text, just press a little harder while continuing to slide your finger — and then let go for the keyboard to return.

It’s a flatbed scanner

Many apps, such as Microsoft’s free Office Lens, turn your smartphone into a flatbed scanner.

You can snap a pic of a document, whiteboard or blackboard, receipt or business card, and it’ll be immediately digitized onto your device.

Not only can you trim each document once imported, but printed and handwritten text can be recognized using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology. You can then search for text by keyword, as well as copy, edit and share digitized text.  You can also import what you’ve scanned into Office apps (Word, PowerPoint, OneNote), save to OneDrive or other cloud storage, or convert it into a PDF.

Stop the music with a timer

If you like listen to music when getting into bed for the night but often doze off without switching the iPhone off you can use a timer to help you shut down the music. Tap on Clock → Timer → When Timer Ends. Scroll down and tap Stop Playing. then set the timer (say 30 mins) and tap Start. Now you may play any music and it will be turned off after 30 mins.

Set an alphanumeric passcode

Add an extra layer of protection to your iPhone with an alphanumeric passcode. To activate it, go to Settings → General → Passcode Lock. Turn off Simple Passcode and you will be prompted to enter your alphanumeric password.

Find a word or phrase within a web page

In Safari, type in the word in the search bar on the top right and tap Search. In the results page, scroll all the way down and you will see how many words were found on the web pages. Tap on the searched word/phrase and you will be directed back to the web page with the searched word/phrase highlighted in yellow.

Undo typing to delete typed message

If you get cramped fingers when clearing your written SMS by using the delete key, try this. Shake your iPhone and tap Undo Typing to delete your message. Changed your mind? Shake your iPhone again and tap on Redo Typing to retrieve your original message.

Type emoji with shortcuts

If you like to use Emoji in messaging, but don’t like to switch the virtual keyboards repeatedly, you can use alphabet short cuts.

Go to Settings → General → Keyboard → Keyboards → Add New Keyboard → Emoji.

Go to Settings → General → Keyboard → Add New Shortcut…

Insert a frequently used Emoji in Phrase.

Insert a text in Shortcut which will be used to convert to Emoji.

Generate random passwords with Siri

Yes, Siri can generate random passwords for you. Activate Siri and say “random password” and you’ll be provided an 8-alphanumeric-character password from Siri. You can add to the character length by saying, “random password 16 characters“ or whatever length you’d like.

And a few more…

The fastest way to take a picture when iPhone is locked is to simply swipe left to access the camera.

Adjust the feel of the circular Home button. Go to Settings → General → Home Button, then pick the option you like.

iPhone has a hidden bubble leveler for when you want to hang a picture. Launch the compass and swipe right to reveal the leveler. The iPhone’s will use its built-in gyroscope sensor to see an object is perfectly level (horizontal or vertical).

 

Adapted from an article by Marc Saltzman for usatoday.com | Photo: Pixabay