10 things you didn’t know you can do with your iPhone

The iPhone’s design is inspired by simplicity – the interface is so intuitive that small children can use it – but there are still plenty of tricks and features that the majority of us don’t know about. I thought I’d delve into some of these obscure but very cool features as I think you'll find many of them really useful. So, here we go... This article is part of a series, and you can check out the second post here. 1. Text expansion and other keyboard tricks This is one of Apple’s best kept secrets, but something that can save you a lot of time. Set up shortcuts for those long words and phrases you frequently use. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Add New Shortcut to set it up. You will first need to add the phrase you want to shorten, then the shortcut you want to use for it. Some useful shortcuts might be for your email address or for your phone number. For example, you could use EML for myname@lovefone.co.uk.


Extra tips Do you want to spell the word frère correctly but don’t have a French keyboard? Touch and hold the E key and you’ll get a set of additional keys to choose from.

Another couple of useful keyboard tips: in order to keep the capslock on, double tap the shift button. Also, if you want a bigger keyboard for texting, simply turn the phone sideways! 2. Make a call from phone number on a website Are you copying and pasting phone numbers you find in Safari? Or are you even writing them down using one of those writing stick thingummyjigs? Throw that pen in the rubbish bin as now you're able to make a phone call straight from Safari! Numbers that Safari recognises as a phone number will be shown in blue, so next time you see a number like that, simply tap on it to make a call. You’ll be asked if you want to call the number, and then be taken to the phone app where the number will dial automatically.

3. Add vibrations to your contacts and set your camera flash for alerts If you're in a meeting or a place where your lovely ringtones are not welcome, but you still want to know who calling you, you can customise the vibration patterns for each of your contacts. Go to General Settings then into Accessibility, scroll down to Hearing and turn on Custom Vibrations. Head over to Settings > Sounds, scroll down to Vibration Patterns and tap Vibration. There, you’ll find a number of standard options (one of them is turning the camera flash on when someone calls) and a final option to Create New Vibration. Go back to your Contacts, scroll down to vibrations and choose one from the list, or even create a vibration pattern of your own – such as the beat of your favourite song.

4. Save images from your Safari browser or Mail Touch and hold on any picture in Safari. Straight away, a menu will come up allowing you to save the chosen image. You'll find the image as the last record on your camera roll and from there you will be able to send it by email, assign it to a contact as well as do many other things. Another great thing you can do is copy the image from Safari or from your Mail and paste it into a text message to send it to your friends in order to show them something you like or something you've just discovered.

5. Reply to incoming calls with a message Having iOS 6 on your iPhone brings some great new options to your phone. One of them is being able to simply reply to a call with a text or a message – a great feature for when you're busy or not able to answer . It's very simple: when the phone is ringing, there is a telephone icon to the right of the “slide to answer” bar. Simply swipe this upwards, and you'll see "Reply With Message". You’ll see some ready made options such as "I'm on my way", "What's up?" and "I'll call you later" or you can create your own custom message by choosing Custom. Extra tip You can send a call straight into voicemail by tapping the power button twice. 6. Snap a photo – quickly! This one is probably not a secret for many of you anymore, but is still worth mentioning. If you see something you really want to immortalise in a photo and you don't have time to lose (by unlocking your phone and looking for the camera app), you can take a snap much faster. Simply hit the home button on your iPhone and do an upwards swipe on the little camera icon next to the "slide to unlock" bar. Now your camera is ready to go! And if you want to take a picture by holding the phone with one hand you can also do that by pushing the upper volume button (+).

7. Locate your lost iPhone If you misplaced your iPhone or lost it (we hope it will never happen to you, especially if you’ve just paid an awful lot of cash for a new one), iCloud and the iPhone's built-in GPS are here to help. Take the proper precautions and set up iCloud then go to the iCloud settings and enable Find my Phone (check out our post iPhone theft or loss: Four ways to protect your iPhone and personal data for more info). If this is enabled when you lose your phone, you can log on to any device with your iCloud details and there are a number of options that help you find your phone – or you can even wipe all of the data if you’re not able to find the phone anymore. Alternatively, you can simply use the Find my Phone app.

8. Enable restrictions for kids Are you one of those parents who get a little bit tense when letting your kids play with your phone, out of fear they'll see something on the internet that they shouldn't? What you need is Guided Access. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access and set a passcode. Then, you will have the option to deactivate those apps that you don’t want your kids to have access to (such as Safari and Youtube) and you can also disable Installing apps. To remove the restrictions, simply tap the Disable Restrictions button at the top of the screen and enter your passcode again.

9. The proximity sensors Sometimes it seems that our iPhone knows more about what we want it to do than we do ourselves. One of the reasons why are the in-built proximity sensors that allow the iPhone to perform some very cool interface tricks. The proximity sensors are those sensors that can determine the distance between the iPhone and your face or your body. Once you've started a phone conversation, the sensors come into use, to sense when the iPhone is near your face and then turn off the display and lock the keypad. Otherwise, your iPhone would appear to go bananas as any ear or cheek contact with the display starts to do annoying things like calling other contacts, activating applications or hanging up. Trust me, this is one of the most annoying faults that can develop with the iPhone!

10. Turn an eBook into an audiobook Did you know that the iPhone has a feature that reads aloud text that appears on the screen? It was originally created for dyslexic and visually impaired people but it’s a fantastic feature for everyone. If you want to hear a book that you purchased from Apple's iBookstore (maybe to finish some studying quicker), go to Settings > General, scroll down to Accessibility and turn on VoiceOver. From here, go to the text you want to read, triple click the home button and a menu will pop up. Tap Turn VoiceOver on, then select exactly the text you want to hear. The voice that reads the text is a robotic voice, similar to Siri, and there are several settings to alter things like her tempo and pitch.

I hope you’ve learnt something new about your iPhone and that a few of them come in handy for you. There are many other things your iPhone can do and we’ll reveal more of them in our future posts but, meanwhile, why not share some of the iPhone tricks that you’ve discovered with us?

January 09, 2013