How to . . . get more out of your iPhone

iOS 10 has some hidden tricks to help make life easier

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock


No matter how much we know about our smartphones, there are always some hidden tips and tricks we miss. Here are a few you may not know about.

Announce calls

Your iPhone can tell you who is calling - provided that person is in your contacts - which can be handy for handsfree calls in the car or even if you are using headphones. As the phone, the phone will tell you the name of the caller or if it’s an unknown number.

To enable it, go to Settings>Phone>Announce Calls. You can choose to announce all calls, when on headphones or in the car, or headphones alone.

Hide message previews from lock screen

The lock screen previews can be handy to check if the “urgent”: notification really is that important, but it can also lead to a few embarrassing situations if your private messages are splashed across an easily viewed lock screen.

You’ll have to disable the preview for each messaging app you use. To disable the native Messages app previews, got to Settings>Notifications>Messages and scroll down to Show Previews. You can change this to Always, When Unlocked or Off. For Whatsapp, you need to open WhatsApp, got to Settings> Notifications>Show Preview and slide it to off. It’s same for Viber and Messenger - previews are controlled within the Settings>Notifications menus of the individual app.

You can also disable reply from lockscreen, which might save you from more than a few embarrassing situations should you leave your phone unattended. It’s more of a problem if you are frequently around the kind of people who think it’s funny to put up fake Facebook status messages or reply to text messages on your behalf - but it doesn’t hurt to safeguard your privacy as much as possible. Go to Settings> Touch ID and Passcode and scroll down to the Allow Access When Locked section. Slide the control beside Reply With Message to off.

Request the desktop site

Mobile websites are great. They’re optimised for smaller devices making them easier to navigate, they use less data to load, and power hungry elements are eliminated, meaning they load faster than a regular sized web page on your mobile device. But sometimes they cut out a little too much. If you need to access the desktop version of the site, you can force Safari to load it. It might not look great, but you at least have the option.

Press and hold the refresh icon on the top right corner of the address bar, and the you’ll get the option to Request Desktop Site.

Close all tabs

We’ve all been there - opened one too many Safari tabs and closing them all one by one can be a tedious waste of time. There is a way to do it quickly though. Hold down the tabs icon in the bottom right of the screen and you’ll get an option to close all open tabs.

Find a word in a webpage

Being able to find a particular word or phrase on a webpage is handy if you are scrolling through long webpages, and particularly so on mobile devices where, let’s face it, our tolerance is a lot lower. On a desktop, Ctrl+F or Apple+F will do the jobs, but what about mobile browsers? On Safari, you can type the word or phrase you are looking for into the address bar. Don’t press Go; look down through the list, which will give you the option of suggested websites, Google Search, Bookmarks and History, and right at the very bottom, On This Page. Click On This Page, and you can navigate your way through each mention on the page.

3D touch to move your cursor

If you are typing a message and need to go back to correct something, hold your finger on the keyboard and press, enabling 3D touch. Your keyboard just became a giant touch pad, allowing you to drag the cursor to wherever you need it.

See when your messages were sent

It can be hard to keep up with when text and iMessages were sent from your phone. Some phones display the exact time they were sent by default, but iOS hides it away if you’ve sent and received a few messages to the same number in one day. Instead, you can see when the last message was delivered or read.

Luckily it’s easy to enable. Open the message thread you want to check; swipe right to left on the screen and the sent times will appear beside each message.

Turn on read receipts for each conversation

Or more, importantly, turn them off. Read receipts are great if you are trying to keep track of when messages are read. But there are some people you would rather keep in the dark. Instead of an all or nothing approach to read receipts - turn them all off or turn them all on - iOS now allows you enable the function for specific conversations in iMessage.

Go to the message thread for which you want to enable read receipts. Click on the i button in the top right corner. Slide Send read Receipts to on. To disable them, slide it back to off.

The compass app you never use? It has another use

There are plenty of things that your iPhone replaces these days: GPS, point and shoot camera, scanner...the list goes on. You can also add spirit level to that group. Usually, people download a separate app for it but Apple has built it into iOS. Remember the compass app? Chances are you rarely use it. But it has hidden depths. Swipe right to left on the compass and it reveals a spirit level. No need to download anything extra.

Control flashlight brightness

The flashlight on your phone doesn’t just switch on and off. It can also be brightened or dimmed, depending on your needs. To access the controls, slide the control centre up from the bottom of your iPhone screen, and press and hold the flashlight icon. A pop up will give you the option of Low, Medium or High brightness. Choose which you prefer.

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