Thursday, December 20, 2012

iPhone tips and tricks

The recent appearance and quick disappearance of two early prototypes of the iPhone on eBay complete with fledgling versions of the user interface give us an indication of just how much work went into the iPhone's operating system.

The result of all this work (with version 3.0 on its way too) is an OS that's so intuitive that many of us have never even felt the need to glance at the manual. The iPhone is just so easy to use that it almost feels instantly familiar the first time you pick it up. However, under that friendly exterior there are some hidden useful features that are not quite as obvious. In fact, we've managed to round up thirty of them. We'll cover the first fifteen in this instalment and bring you the final fifteen later in the week.

Tip 1 - Extra characters
Need to use foreign accents on characters in an email or note? Just tap and hold on the main letter on the keyboard and several variations will pop up above that key. Simple, but very useful.

Tip 2 - Take screenshots
We're ashamed to say it, but we originally kind of stumbled across this one by accident. One day while fumbling with the buttons on our iPhone the screen flashed and later we noticed a screenshot in our Photo Roll. A little bit of investigation later and we discovered that to take a screen grab you just press home button and standby button at the same time.

Tip 3 - Quickly scroll to the top of a page
When you're at the bottom of a long webpage or in the middle of a list of contacts it can take multiple swipes of your finger to get back to the top. However, Apple has included a handy, but little known shortcut to quickly jump to the top of any page or list. Just tap at the top of the screen and, hey presto, you'll find yourself back at the top of the page or list.

Tip 4 - Access that search icon
The Search icon in the contacts book can be maddeningly difficult to accurately hit with your thumb. Usually you either end up staring at the 'A' entries in your phone book or the Add Contact screen. A better way of accessing this icon is to simply tap and hold on the right hand column of letters and then push upwards to the Search icon. Success every time! Double-tapping at the top of the screen also works, but is a fraction slower to bring up the search box.

Tip 5 - Save images
Come across a picture on a webpage or in an email that you want to save for later? To quickly save an image just tap and hold on it and then select Save Image in the box that appears. You'll then find the image saved in your camera roll.

Tip 6 - Where's the Caps Lock key?
You've probably noticed that the iPhone soft keyboard doesn't have a Caps Lock key. However, there is a way of enabling Caps Lock. All you have to do is double-tap on the Shift key. If you've doubled-tapped fast enough it'll turn blue to show that Caps Lock is now on. For this to work, though, you have to have the Caps Lock function enabled. Go to Settings, select General and then turn on the ‘Enable Caps Lock' button.

Tip 7 - Longer Autolock
Fed up of the iPhone's autolock kicking in too soon? No problem, it's easy to change how long the iPhone waits before going into standby mode. Just go to Settings, select General and tap Autolock. You can set the autolock delay to any duration up to 5 minutes, or alternatively turn it off completely. Be careful, however, as a long autolock setting can cause you phone's battery life to suffer.

Tip 8 - Home Button double-tap
By default, double-tapping the home button just takes you to the home screen - the same function as tapping it once. However, you can set up a double-tap to act as a shortcut to either the iPod screen or your Phone Favourites. Just go to Settings, select General, choose Home button and highlight the function you want.

Tip 9 - Home Button iPod controls
The home button double-tap trick can also be used for another function. You can set it up so that if you double-tap the button while a song is playing in the background or while the phone is in standby, it will bring up a mini iPod control bar on the screen. All you have to do is Turn on the 'iPod Controls' function in the Home Button settings screen. At all other times double-tapping the home button will take you to the main iPod screen or your Phone Favourites, which ever you have set up in Tip 8.

Tip 10 - Unfreeze your phone
Contrary to what some Apple enthusiasts would have you believe, Apple's products do crash and do suffer from lock ups. The first time your phone completely locks up it's easy to think that it's dead as it will refuse to turn on. The secret is knowing how to force it into a reset, but luckily this is a pretty simple operation. Just hold down both the standby button at the top of the phone and the home button until the screen lights up and shows the Apple logo. This can take quite a while (at least 10 seconds), so don't be tempted to let go too soon thinking that the process is not working.

Tip 11 - Save battery power
The iPhone doesn't really do multitasking, so it never has a pile of apps running in the background and draining battery power. However, pressing the standby button at the top of the phone doesn't really put it into standby mode, it merely turns off the display. If you have an app running and press this button it will continue to run and drain power. This is why it's better to hit the Home button to close any open apps before pressing the standby button.

Tip 12 - Full stop
When typing out most emails or notes, there's no need to use the full stop button at all on the iPhone's soft keyboard. This is because the phone's intelligent predictive text can fill it in for you. When you get to the end of a sentence simply double tap the space bar and the predictive text engine will automatically enter a full stop followed by a space.

Tip 13 - Stop automatic syncing
Stopping your iPhone from automatically syncing with your computer is pretty straightforward. First, connect your iPhone to your computer, then in iTunes select the iPhone in the side bar and click the Summary tab. Now just deselect the 'Automatically Sync When this iPhone is Connected' option. You can also stop the iPhone from syncing just once. To do this press and hold Shift+Control on a PC or Command+Option on a Mac as you connect your iPhone to your computer and keep them held down until the iPhone appears in the side bar.

Tip 14 - Web clips
You can add icons to your home screen to give you quick access to your favourite websites - a feature that Apple calls Webclips. Just visit the site in the Safari browser, tap the bookmark button and then select Add to Home Screen. The iPhone will automatically generate an icon for the page based on the site's graphics.

Tip 15 - Moving between Homescreen pages
OK, everyone knows that you can move between pages of apps on your phone by swiping your finger left and right. However, what some might not know is that you can also quickly move between pages by tapping to the right or left of the little white dots that indicate how many screens of apps are on the phone. Plus, when you want to the return to the first screen just press the Home button.

Tip 16 - Turn off SMS preview
The iPhone is set by default to display a preview of incoming text messages when the phone is locked or you're using another app. This isn't very private if you happen to leave your phone unattended, but luckily you can turn off the preview. All you have to do is go to Settings, select Passcode Lock and then turn off the Show SMS Preview setting.

Tip 17 - Change your iPod Shortcut Buttons
The Playlists, Artists, Songs and Videos buttons at the bottom of the iPod interface on the iPhone aren't fixed. You can easily change them to different categories such as Podcasts, Genres or Compilations. All you have to do is tap on the More button to the right of these icons and then tap on Edit. You can then simply drag the new category icon that you want to use onto the bar at the bottom of the screen. You can also drag and drop the existing buttons to rearrange their order on this bar.

Tip 18 - Force quit an application
Like all computer devices the iPhone suffers from hangs and crashes. If an application stops responding you can usually kill it by simply pressing and holding the Home button for at least six seconds.

Tip 19 - Tap and slide for capitals
It takes a little bit of getting used to, but you can speed up typing on the iPhone by using the tap and slide method to enter capital letters. When you need to type a capital letter instead of first tapping the shift key and then tapping the letter you need, try taping and holding on the shift key and then sliding your finger to the letter you want to capitalise. Once you master it you'll be able to enter capitals with a single slide gesture.

Tip 20 - Microphone controls
The microphone on the iPhone's headset doubles as a button (just give it a squeeze) and as well as being used to answer calls it can also be used to control music playback. If you double press the button your iPhone will skip to the next track in a playlist, while triple clicking it will skip to a previous track or to the start of the currently playing song. Pressing it once will pause a song and pressing it once again will start a song playing again. Sometimes the resume playback feature will time out if you've left the phone paused for a long time. If this happens just double tap the home button on your iPhone (Tip 9 must be activated for this to work) and then press the microphone button again.

Tip 21 - Simpler domain entry
If you're entering a .com domain name into the web address box in Safari you don't actually have to add the http://www bit at the start or the .com at the end. Just type in the core name and hit Go - the iPhone will add the rest for you.

Tip 22 - Clearing stored search terms
The iPhone automatically keeps a list of terms you've searched for in Safari so it can suggest them again the next time you go to enter a similar term. However, there are times when you'll want to clear this. The quickest way to do this is to tap on the Bookmarks button, select History and then press the Clear button at the bottom of the screen.

Tip 23 - View hyperlinks
Not sure where a hyperlink is going to take you? You can find out the full address of the link by pressing and holding your finger on the link. A pop-up box will show you the full URL of the link that you've selected.

Tip 24 - How to scroll in frames
Thankfully, web pages built using scrollable frames are dying off. However, if you do happen to come across one on your iPhone you may be pretty stumped as to how to just scroll a frame of the site and not the whole site. The trick is to use two fingers to scroll within the frame and one finger to scroll around the whole site. This trick can also work when viewing PDF files on a website.

Tip 25 - Send a call to voicemail
If you're in a situation where you can't answer a call, just send it to voicemail. There are two ways to do this. You can simply double press the standby button on the top of the iPhone, or alternatively if you're using the headset, just press and hold in the microphone button for two seconds. Two low beeps will confirm that the call was declined.

Tip 26 - Zooming out in Maps
The Maps application lets you repeatedly zoom in by double tapping on an area of the screen. That's pretty intuitive and well known. What's not common knowledge is that you can also repeatedly zoom out but tapping once on the same area of the screen using two fingers held slightly apart.

Tip 27 - More multifunction keys
With the UK keyboard enabled, getting at the dollar sign is a two tap process: you have to tap once on the number key and then tap again on the symbol key. A faster way to access the dollar symbol is to tap once on the number key and then tap and hold on the pound symbol. Extra symbols including the dollar, euro and yen will appear above it. Also, if you tap and hold the .com button when entering web addresses, other top level domains like .net, and .org will appear above it.

Tip 28 - Avoid camera shake
The iPhone's camera isn't the best, to put it mildly. It takes relatively low res shots and it's easy to end up with blurry ones too. In fact, tapping the camera button is often enough to cause the iPhone to shake and introduce camera blur. Instead of just tapping the button once, it's better to press and hold it down before framing your shot. The iPhone won't actually take a picture until you let go of the button and this often leads to less camera shake and cleaner, more in focus shots.

Tip 29 - Teaching the iPhone bad manners
Are you fed up of the iPhone trying to Disney-fy your swear words. Some iPhones seem to have no problems adding swear words to their dictionary (just type the swear word and then tap the x next to the suggested word to get the iPhone to learn it), but others seem to refuse to learn how to cuss. A work around is to add swear words to your contacts book and suddenly your iPhone will be swearing like a sailor.

Tip 30 - Swipe to delete
The best known way of deleting messages in your inbox is to tap the edit button and then select the messages that you want to get rid of. However, a faster way is to swipe your finger left or right over a message and then tapping the delete button that appears next to it.

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//PART 2