Apple’s iOS has come a long way from its iPhoneOS starting point, and all best iPhones have built on the initial promise of the operating system. Steve Jobs demonstrated the power of the iPhone in 2007 with a huge Starbucks stage order, and the platform has grown year after year with each update adding new features.
Multitasking, Notification and Control Center, and even the App Store were all added to the iPhone after its first iteration, and this rapid pace of innovation can make it difficult to keep up with new features.
With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of useful features you may have missed. Some are accessibility options, some need to be enabled, and some are just waiting to be used. All of them, however, will enhance your iPhone experience.
1. Use a cursor to select text
Texting is a way of life, but it’s still surprisingly cumbersome even at the best of times. If you’ve ever had a stray word added by autocorrect but didn’t spot it until you’ve written a few dozen more words, this tip is for you.
Of course, you can hold your finger on the text to jump to it, but sometimes that can lead to highlighting an entire word or phrase. For finer control, we recommend the following:
- Hold your finger or thumb at the bottom of your screen, below the keyboard.
- This will gray out the keyboard and turn it into a trackpad until you lift your finger or thumb.
Hey there, easy text selection!
2. Create text snippets
Text snippets are popular for power users of macOS, but you can achieve the same result with your iPhone. Best of all, it doesn’t require any third-party software.
Text snippets are ideal shortcuts to copy certain phrases that you have pre-recorded. If you’re dealing with a customer through iMessage, for example, you might want to send a canned response. With text replacement, you can create a block of text to post each time you type a phrase.
- Open Settings, then head to General, then Keyboard.
- Choose Text Replacement and you’ll be able to create new replacements, along with the words needed to trigger them.
In our example, you can see that typing ‘omw’ brings up ‘On my way!’, but there are a lot of places where that would be useful. You can also set the emoji to appear as you type, giving a pleasantly nostalgic feel in a way you just don’t get from the emoji picker.
3. Enable Scientific Calculator
The iPad may not have a calculator, but the iPhone does. The problem is that it might seem a little limited outside of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – at least until you find a new perspective.
Turning your iPhone sideways with the calculator app open will activate the scientific calculator. This adds parentheses, square roots, cos/sin/tan options, and the ever-handy π command, among many others.
4. Activate an additional ‘button’
Although designed as an accessibility feature, the iPhone ‘back tap’ button is handy for power users looking for an extra input for their device.
- Go to Settings, then Accessibility, then Touch.
- Select Back Tap and you will be presented with many options.
You can use it in a number of ways, such as triggering the app switcher, taking a quick screenshot, or opening Spotlight search from anywhere on your device. There are also double and triple tapping options, which means you can set multiple functions for it.
5. Use your camera’s “burst mode”
Your iPhone’s camera is powerful enough, but there’s one trick you might have missed: burst mode. Burst mode, as the name suggests, shoots a series of quick images with a single tap, which means your iPhone can capture a series of action shots.
It’s great for pets and excitable toddlers, letting you go back and look at your photos after the event and choose the best ones. It is also easy to access. Just swipe the Shutter button (the one you use to take photos) to the left when you’re in the Camera app.
You can also head to Settings, then Camera, and toggle Use volume up for burst to enable your volume rocker to trigger burst mode — just hold it down when taking an image.
6. Scan documents using the camera
Your iPhone’s camera can also double as a very respectable document scanner, and although Live Text means you can extract text from images, it’s totally possible to scan an entire document. Since it’s buried in the Notes app, you might not have figured out how to do it.
- Open Notes, then tap the camera icon, then Scan Documents.
- Highlight your document and it should automatically save. You can also scan manually with the trigger.
Once the scan is saved, you can also sign it or simply share it via any email or messaging app. It doesn’t have the same level of quality as a bespoke scanner, but it’s not far off and will certainly do in a pinch.
Not convinced? Be sure to check out our list of best document scanner apps.
7. Use your camera flash as a notification
One last camera trick, which is a bit different. As an accessibility feature, you can trigger your iPhone’s camera flash to fire when you receive a notification, providing a more visual way to know someone is calling or texting. .
- Go to Settings, then Accessibility.
- In the Audio/Visual section, there is an option for “LED flash for alerts”.
You can also set it to work only when your phone is on silent, which is great if you prefer your phone not to vibrate on a desk.
8. Main Control Center
Introduced as part of iOS 7 since 2013, Control Center has grown from the bottom of the screen to the top over the years, and it’s got a lot more use than you might think.
Although Apple doesn’t offer Force Touch these days, you can long-press Control Center icons for additional options.
With this, you can enable Spatial Audio with compatible headphones, choose a focus mode, get a better view of what’s playing on your audio app, or even go two layers deep – the quadrant with Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi -Fi, Bluetooth and mobile signal can be extended to allow you to easily select a Wi-Fi access point, for example.
9. Recognize any song with Shazam in Control Center
Do you remember Shazam? The music recognition service was bought by Apple in 2018 and is still a great way to identify the song that’s playing, whether you’re in the store, at a party, or just missed the name on the radio.
Although Shazam has an app, you can also add it to your iPhone’s Control Center for easy access.
- Open Settings, then go to Control Center and tap the More button next to Music Recognition to add it.
Now whenever you hear a great song, you can scroll down from the control center and tap the Shazam icon to find out what’s playing. If you’re on Apple Music, it’ll even give you the option to add the track to your library.