Just ordered an iPhone, or already got yours in your pocket? Whatever the case, let Lifehacker UK's editor James Laird turn you into an iOS expert...
Just picked up a new iPhone, or excited about a new one arriving? Whatever the case, with every smartphone comes a ream of essential tips and tricks you absolutely have to know when it comes to making the most of your handset – and Apple’s finest is no different. That’s why we’ve enlisted Lifehacker UK’s editor James Laird to uncover the secrets you need to maximise the powerhouse in your pocket. Over to you, James…
“Apple’s iPhone’s are a great device, and they all work really well right out of the box. That said, there are plenty of clever ways you can improve your iOS experience even further – and with a new-generation of iPhones just unleashed, now’s the time to learn how to master your Apple device.
“Whether it’s saving battery life, using your phone to keep yourself safe, or saving time typing, these are our 10 favourite iPhone tips, tricks and hidden features to help you get even more from your smartphone, from the simple, to the complex.”
1) See which apps are draining your battery
A common problem with smartphones is that their battery life isn’t always robust enough to carry you through the day on a single charge – especially if you’re a heavy user. But some programs are bigger culprits than others, and it’s useful to know which bits of software sap all your device’s power. Fortunately, your iPhone has a built-in Battery Usage monitor. Just go to Settings > General > Usage and then hit Battery Usage. Your phone will magically serve up a list of all the apps you’re running and how much juice they’re guzzling. Where you go from there is up to you, but you can reduce the amount of battery a specific app uses by turning off things like Push Notifications (Settings > Notifications) and Location Services (Settings > Privacy > Location Services).
2) Turn on Airplane Mode to save battery life
As we mentioned above, power-hungry apps are the most likely reason your iPhone’s battery drains when you’re not using it. But there’s a really easy way to conserve your device’s juice no matter how many apps you have installed – and it only takes two clicks on the iPhone. You’re probably familiar with Airplane Mode already, but as well as being good at keeping flight attendants happy, it’s also a battery life-saver. Why? Airplane Mode (which can be found in ‘Settings’, or on the swipe up action centre menu at the bottom of the screen) is the quickest way to turn off your iPhone’s connectivity features which – combined with the apps they help to run – are the biggest drain on your handset’s cell. You’ll still be able to play games, take photos and listen to music, you just won’t have to worry about 300 WhatsApp notifications landing and killing off that last bit of juice you needed to Uber a lift home.
3) Input your essential medical info in case of emergency
Who’s your ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact? You may know, but if you ever get into a bit of a scrape, the person helping you might not. To rectify that, head into Apple’s preinstalled Health app, go to the Medical ID tab, and click Edit. Here you can enter your name, D.O.B, your emergency contact details, height, weight, and a host of potentially life-saving information like your blood type, allergies, and notes on any existing conditions. The best bit? Even if you lock your iPhone with a passcode, people can still access this info (along with the ability to call 999) right from the home screen.
4) Save time typing by double pressing the spacebar for a full stop
Phone calls? They’re so iPhone 1. These days, text, IM and email are how most of us communicate, most of the time. If you regularly thumb out digital messages on your phone, you can save a bit of time by mastering this handy keyboard shortcut. When typing on your iPhone, a simple double-tap on the space bar will automatically insert a full stop into your message, saving you from having to go back and forth between various keyboard views. A simple’un but a good‘un – force yourself to do this for a couple of days and you won’t look back.
5) Access your Apple Wallet straight from the lock screen (…or not)
One of the biggest announcements at WWDC 2015 (Apple’s annual developer showcase) in June was the arrival of Apple Pay in the UK. Apple Pay is the company’s mobile payments and digital wallet service, letting you use your iPhone or Apple Watch to quickly and easily pay for stuff all over the country. Your Apple Wallet is where you manage the payment cards that you use for these transactions, but instead of gluing it your Home screen, why not just access it right from the lock screen? This feature is enabled by default in iOS 9 – just double click the Home button when on the lock screen to jump straight to your wallet. Alternatively, you can turn this feature off by going to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode > Wallet.
6) Activate Home Button Triple Click shortcuts
Speaking of the Home button, while a double click will launch the multitasking app-switching window, you can also configure it so that a triple click also triggers some useful functionality. This feature is hidden deep in your device’s Accessibility settings, which can be accessed via Settings > General > Accessibility. From there, scroll to the bottom and tap ‘Accessibility Shortcut’. You’ll then see a menu of the different options that can be accessed via a Home button triple click. Our favourites are ‘Zoom’, which gives you a close up view of tricky-to-read text, and ‘Invert Colours’, which gives your iPhone a new colour scheme that improves low-light visibility.
7) Charge your iPhone faster by turning on ‘Low Power Mode’
Another new feature in iOS 9 is ‘Low Power Mode’. At first glance, this might seem like an alternative to turning on Airplane Mode to save battery, but Low Power Mode is actually designed to help you charge your phone faster when you’re short on juice, temporarily disabling a bunch of background processes like Push notifications, mail fetching and more. The option to switch it on will automatically pop up when you’re below 20 percent, but you can turn it on manually by going to Settings > Battery and tapping the Low Power Mode toggle.
8) Put the iCloud Drive app on your home screen
Launching with iOS 9, the iCloud Drive app is the simplest way yet to get to all of the stuff you’ve backed up from your various Apple devices. Streamline things even further by slapping the iCloud Drive app right on your home screen for easy access. It’s odd that this isn’t enabled by default, but to make things right, navigate to Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive and then tap the ‘Show on Home Screen’ button. Head back to your Home screen and you’ll see the iCloud Drive sitting there, right where it should have been all along. Think of it like a traditional PC file explorer for all your iStuff.
9) The faster way to turn predictive text on and off
Predictive text is a blessing and a curse. Used right, it’s a faster way to type out messages but, on the other hand, predictive text and its close relative autocorrect are responsible for countless SMS fails, ranging from the amusing to the potentially offensive. Take back control the easy way with this shortcut. When you’re in a texting window, you probably already know that the little smiley face takes you to the emoji keyboard. Hold it down, though, and you’ll see the option to quickly toggle predictive text on and off, saving you the hassle of having to navigate through your phone’s Settings all the time.
10) Quickly search the App Store with Spotlight
For our last iPhone tip, we’ve saved one more reason to get hyped for iOS 9. Apple’s new operating system makes it easier than ever to find must-have downloads in the App Store, now letting you search right from Spotlight. Just swipe downwards anywhere on your home screen, key in the app you want to search for, and hit the shiny ‘Search App Store’ button to jump straight there. You can now hide the App Store icon in a folder, freeing up space on your bustling home screens!
Like the look of the iPhone 6s? You can find out what the web’s tech press have to say about it here, and you can preorder yours from Vodafone UK right here.