Apple’s iOS has been around for almost seven years now, dating back to the very first iPhone, and while the operating system has constantly evolved over the years, we all know it inside and out, right?
Well, don’t be so sure. There are lots of little tricks and hidden menus that not everyone is aware of, and while you – yes you, learned Mobot reader – might be familiar with most of the items on this list, I dare say there are one or two surprises.
I've grouped the chosen 15 into vaguely alphabetical order, and tried to categorise them, so we're looking at alerts, the Camera app, the keyboard, Messages, Reminders, the Timer...
If you think I've missed anything particularly spectacular, by all means hit us up with a comment below. Otherwise, enjoy!
1. iOS alerts: custom vibration patterns
In addition to assigning individual ringtones for contacts, you can actually define custom vibration patterns.
To set up custom vibration patterns, go here: Settings > Sounds > choose a sound (e.g. Ringtone or Text Tone) > tap Vibration > under Custom, choose Create New Vibration
To assign a custom vibration to a contact: Phone > Contacts > choose a Contact > hit Edit > set your chosen Vibration under Ringtone or Text
2. iOS alerts: LED flash for notifications
A lot of rival phones have little flashing lights for unread notifications, and while the iPhone can’t quite match that functionality, it can certainly raise visual hell when you get a new message.
Try this: Settings > General > Accessibility > scroll down to Hearing > LED Flash for Alerts
Warning: this will melt your eyes in the dark.
3. iOS Camera: Burst Mode
Ok, this is maybe the most obvious item on our list, but I’ve encountered a few people who haven’t been aware of it.
In a nutshell, when taking pictures with your iPhone – or indeed iPad – camera, just hold your finger down on the shutter button to take a rapid burst of pictures – up to 10 per second.
4. iOS Camera: lock focus and exposure
This one will likely appeal primarily to camera aficionados, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Er, hopefully.
By default, your iPhone and iPad camera will automatically adjust its parameters as you move it around, or if the scene in front of you changes.
Sometimes, however, those changes can be distracting, so to stop the Camera app adjusting, just hold your finger on the screen for a few seconds. You’ll see a yellow box around your finger, initially; let go once it’s pulsed a couple of times and you’ll see AE/AF LOCK at the top. To re-enable AE/AF (Auto Focus/Auto Exposure), just tap on the words. Easy!
5. iOS Camera: take pictures with the Volume buttons
This one does pretty much what it says on the tin: with the iOS Camera app, you can take pictures by pressing the Volume buttons on the side of your iPhone or iPad – instead of tapping the on-screen shutter. Works with Burst Mode, too.
6. iOS keyboard: CAPS LOCK
A golden oldie here, but you can activate CAPS LOCK on the iOS keyboard by quickly double tapping the little shift arrow – the one you’d usually tap to get a single capital letter before automatically going back to lower case.
7. iOS keyboard: double tap space for a full stop
Here’s one I’ve known about for a long time, but haven’t really used for some bizarre reason.
When typing in an email or Message, I’ll generally tap the ‘123’ icon in the bottom left to bring up the ‘.’ full stop then insert a space, but alternatively you can simply double tap the space bar for the same effect. Must condition myself to start doing that.
8. iOS keyboard: emoticons
Out of the box, your iPhone and/or iPad is just one step away from sending a multitude of emoticons, including everyone’s favourite: the little smiling poo.
Point your fingers here: Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard > Emoji
9. iOS keyboard: quick numbers
If you want to insert a number into a message and immediately have the keyboard spring back to letters, just hold the virtual ‘123’ button and swipe up to your number of choice.
10. iOS keyboard: typing shortcuts
These days, abbreviations are all the rage with the kids. Why bother typing “what the fug” when you can abbreviate it to “WTF”? “LOL”.
Us old guys, however, take pride in typing out every single friggin’ letter (laughing out loud), but the iOS keyboard is on hand to help get you there quicker.
To set up iOS typing shortcuts, go to: Settings > General > Keyboard > Add New Shortcut
Here, you can define your own Phrases and their corresponding Shortcuts, such as “omw” for “On my way”, or “lms” for “let’s make sweet love tonight” (just a suggestion).
11. iOS keyboard: Undo or Redo typing
Pouring your heart out but don’t like what you’ve written so far? Give your iDevice a quick shake and you’ll see the option to Undo Typing. If you want the text in question back, just give your iDevice a few more shakes and you’ll see Redo Typing.
12. iOS Messages: timestamps
You know that annoying thing where the Messages app groups clusters of texts or iMessages into one mini-thread, and only shows the time at the top of the thread?
Well, if you want to know when an individual text or iMessage was sent, try swiping from right to left. Neat, huh?
13. iOS Reminders: location-based reminders
Sometimes when I need to do something, like put on a wash when I get home, I’ll set an alarm on my iPhone, but I’m working on the assumption that I’ll actually be home when the alarm goes off.
The iOS Reminders app offers a more practical solution, with the option to have a reminder go off when you reach a particular location.
To set up a location-based reminder on your iPhone or iPad: open Reminders, tap on a blank space, enter a name for your new reminder, tap the ‘i’ on the right hand side, tap ‘Remind me at a location’, tap Location
You can further refine your reminder by choosing ‘When I arrive…’ or ‘When I leave…’
14. iOS Timer: stop music when timer ends
Here’s another little-known feature that might come in handy. Say you’re listening to music in bed, you might want your iPhone to stop playing after, say, 30 minutes.
To do that, open the Clock app and choose Timer at the bottom right (or swipe up from any screen and choose the Timer shortcut), tap When Timer Ends, scroll down to the very bottom of the list, and choose Stop Playing. Nice.
15. iPhone spirit level
Putting up a picture and want to know if it’s sitting completely horizontally? Can’t find your spirit level? (You know you’re old when you own a spirit level).
Enter: the iPhone.
Just pop into the Compass app, swipe once from right to left, and you, sir or madam, are looking at a portable spirit level.