- iPhone hacks offer capabilities that, while not exactly secret, can get lost among the phone's features.
- Some features like the ability to change the default browser and hide unwanted apps are relatively new.
- Here are 11 of the most useful iPhone features you need to know.
Now running the 15th major release of iOS, the iPhone is packed with so many features that mastering them all is no less complicated than learning all the nuances in Windows or MacOS. If you want to get the most out of your iPhone and learn the best tips and tricks for using your phone, here are 11 of the best lesser-known features in Apple's mobile pocket-sized computer.
Hide apps you don't use without deleting them
It doesn't take long to accumulate so many apps that they become hard to manage and organize. If you have apps you rarely use but don't want to delete them entirely, you can hide them from the Home screen. They'll still show up in Siri search and you can find them in the App Library (that last page on your iPhone when you keep swiping left). This also comes in handy for hiding built-in apps that Apple doesn't let you delete.
Just tap and hold the app icon until the pop-up menu appears, then tap Remove App. Instead of tapping Delete App, tap Remove from Home Screen.
Automatically close old Safari tabs
If you're like most people, you may have countless Safari tabs open. But it's surprisingly easy to tame Safari. Start the Settings app and then tap Safari. In the Tabs section, tap Close Tabs. Here you can specify when your iPhone should automatically clean house by closing old tabs — you can choose After One Day, After One Week, After One Month, or Manually, which leaves them open until you close them yourself.
Change the iPhone's default browser
Not a fan of Safari? Perhaps you are a dedicated Chrome or Firefox fan on your desktop computer, and would rather use one of those browsers on your iPhone as well. Starting with iOS 14, changing your iPhone's default browser is easily done. Start the Settings app and then tap Safari. Tap Default Browser App and choose whichever installed browser app you prefer.
Lock your camera's focus and exposure
Digital SLR and mirrorless camera photographers know how easy it is to lock the focus and exposure settings — usually just by pressing a button near the shutter release — so they can reframe and recompose the photo. You can do the same thing on your iPhone. Start the Camera app and then tap and hold the screen where you want to lock the focus and exposure. After a moment, you'll see the AE/AF Lock message at the top of the screen; as you recompose the shot, the focus point and exposure setting will stay fixed until you take the picture. You can drag your finger up or down to manually adjust the exposure. To cancel the lock, tap anywhere on the screen.
Set a sleep timer for any media
Want to play music or a show at bedtime so the phone shuts off after a set time? You can easily enable a sleep timer. Start the Clock app and tap Timer at the bottom. Set the amount of time you want the music to play and then tap When Timer Ends. In the pop-up menu, choose Stop Playing, then Set. Now you can start your timer and the Music app will stop playing automatically.
Reply to a specific message in Messages
Did someone send you a long string of messages, and you want to respond to something from a particular message way up in the conversation? In the Message app, tap and hold the message you want to respond to, then tap Reply. Now you can write a message and it'll appear in the Message app attached to the original message so it's clear what you are referring to.
Tag contacts in group messages
If you've been in a group chat you probably know that it's sometimes hard to get a specific person's attention, especially if not everyone is closely following the conversation. If you are group chatting in the Messages app, you can tag a specific contact so they get a notification when you send the message. In the Messages app, open a group message and type the @ symbol followed by someone in the chat's name, like @dave. When you press Space or add punctuation, the @ symbol will disappear and you'll see a subtle animation effect on the name. When you send the message, that person will get a notification.
Customize notifications for your favorite contacts
Want to know who is calling or texting you without looking at your phone? You can set up unique sounds for your favorite contacts. Start the Contacts app and tap the entry for the person whom you want to get a custom notification for. Tap Edit at the top right of the contact's details page. Tap Ringtone and choose the sound you want to hear when they call you. Tap Done. Now tap Text Tone and repeat the process for the sound you want to hear when they send you a message.
Use the Space bar as a mouse
It can be infuriatingly difficult to position the cursor at a specific place on the screen when correcting a typo or moving the cursor somewhere else in a document. Thankfully, Apple has given you a sort-of-secret way to easily move the cursor as if your phone had a built-in mouse or touchpad. Simply tap and hold the keyboard's Space bar. After a moment, the keyboard will turn blank. Now the entire keyboard area is a large touchpad — just move your finger around to reposition the cursor.
Compress the keyboard for one-handed typing
The keyboard has more secrets hiding in plain sight. If you frequently type one-handed, you can compress the keyboard and slide it to the left or right, depending upon which hand you prefer to type with. To do this, tap and hold the Globe or emoji icon at the bottom left until the pop-up menu appears. In the menu, tap the right- or left-justified keyboard icon. To cancel the compressed keyboard and go back to the ordinary one, tap the arrow to the left or right of the keyboard.
Charge faster in Airplane mode
In a hurry to charge your iPhone? One of the easiest ways to "hack" your phone's charging speed, among several best practices, is to put it in Airplane mode. Swipe down from the top right to see the Control Center and then tap the Airplane mode icon. By disabling your various wireless radios, your phone will charge a lot faster. Of course, also stop using the phone and shut the screen off.