iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iOS and iTunes Tips & Tricks | iLounge

Tips & Tricks

Plugging your iPhone in silently

If you’ve ever tried to tiptoe into your bedroom late at night without waking up your spouse, you’ve probably cringed when you’ve had to plug in your iPhone, only to hear it chirp or buzz as it vibrates to acknowledge the charging connection. Fortunately, it turns out there’s a handy, albeit it less than obvious way to prevent this: For whatever reason it turns out that if you simply swipe to the camera from your lock screen before plugging your iPhone in, it will not emit any sound or vibration at all. The Camera app will stay open, of course, but you can easily return to the normal lock screen once your iPhone is plugged in by pressing the home button. [via iPhone in Canada / Business Insider]

Filtering Explicit Language in Siri

If you’ve got kids at home with their own iPad or iPod touch, it won’t be long before they figure out that they can have a chat with Siri, and unfortunately while Siri’s voice recognition is pretty good, it can’t always keep up with the developing language skills of a young child. So it’s not surprising that sometimes Siri won’t quite be able to accurately transcribe what they’re trying to say, but sometimes Siri can get it embarrassingly wrong, throwing up words that you might not be ready to explain the meaning of to your kids.

Fortunately, there’s an option tucked away inside the Restrictions settings found on every iOS device (and even the Apple TV) that can tell Siri to filter out any explicit language it hears. You can find it in the iOS Settings app, under General, Restrictions. By default, this option is switched on, meaning Siri allows for explicit language in queries (although she will still scold you for using it sometimes). Turning this option off won’t prevent Siri from responding to explicit language queries, but it will censor any inappropriate words that it transcribes. A second option in this screen also allows you to prevent Siri from going out and searching the web — probably also a good idea if you want to prevent Siri from inadvertently bringing up inappropriate websites when it misunderstands a search request.

Quickly marking your current location in Apple Maps

The new Maps app in iOS 10 will automatically keep track of where you parked your car (provided you have a Bluetooth or CarPlay connection to it), but there are also times when it’s handy to just quickly mark your current location so that you can easily find your way back to it later. If you have a newer iPhone model with 3D Touch capabilities, there’s actually a really quick way to do this hidden right behind the Maps app icon on your home screen.

Just push firmly on the Maps icon, and you’ll get the upcoming destinations widget along with an option to “Mark My Location.” Tap on this and Maps opens right up with a pin dropped onto the map wherever you happen be standing. The marker will stay in place — so you can find it or get directions back to — it until you specifically clear it by using a swipe-to-delete action in the locations list or 3D Touching on it and choosing “Remove Marker” from the pop up menu.

Finding Flagged or Unread Messages in all Mailboxes

While iOS 7’s smart mailboxes and the new message filters in the iOS 10 Mail app are great for finding flagged and unread items in a single folder such as your inbox, they’re less useful for those situations where you’ve archived a flagged message or filed it away in another folder. Fortunately, the iOS Mail app has a pretty robust search feature borrowed from its bigger brother on macOS, including the ability to search for message status in addition to message content.

Scrolling up to the top of your message list in any mailbox reveals the search field, and if you tap on this you’ll immediately see predefined “Suggested Searches” for unread messages, flagged messages, messages from VIPs, and messages with attachments. Tapping on any one of these immediately initiates a search for messages matching that specific criterion, and if “All Mailboxes” is selected at the top of the screen, the search will go through not only the currently selected folder, but every folder in that particular account to ferret out those messages. You can even combine these searches by typing in the other terms you want to use — for example, tap on “Flagged Messages” to start a search for all flagged messages, and then type in “Attachments” and tap on “Messages with Attachments” at the bottom of the “Suggested Searches” list and your results will be filtered to include only those messages that are flagged and have one or more attachments.

Using 3D Touch to view notifications in folders

If you’ve got an iPhone 6s or later model, there are actually a lot of neat little tricks hidden behind 3D Touch gestures. While you probably already know that 3D Touching on a normal app icon will show a menu of actions for many apps, sometimes along with a widget in iOS 10, there’s actually a useful 3D Touch feature for folders as well.

Although in most cases, 3D Touching on a folder will just give you a “Rename” option, if you have one or more apps in a folder that are showing a notification, you’ll also see a list of those apps, providing you with quick shortcuts to go right into them to deal with the notifications. This can be especially useful if you have a folder with a lot of apps, as it’s much faster than swiping across multiple pages to try and figure out which icons are showing notification badges.

Checking HomeKit accessory battery levels with Siri

If you’ve got a HomeKit setup, you probably already know you can ask Siri to report information such as whether your lights are on, whether your doors are locked, and what the temperature is in your house. However, if you’ve got battery-powered accessories, such as Elgato’s Eve sensors, it looks like Apple also snuck in the ability to query battery levels into a recent iOS update.

Simply ask Siri “What is the battery level of…” followed by your accessory name, and it will report it back as a percentage. You can also ask using a room name, provided you’ve only got one battery-powered accessory assigned to that particular room.

Using Theatre Mode in watchOS 3.2

The biggest change in watchOS 3.2, released earlier this week, is the addition of a new “Theater Mode” feature that should allow you to be more discrete when wearing your Apple Watch in darker places. As the name implies, the main idea behind Theater Mode is to ensure that your watch face doesn’t accidentally light up when fidgeting around in your seat at the theater, but of course realistically it can be used in any environment where you want to keep your watch face dark unless you’re very specifically looking at it; let’s face it, as convenient as the “raise to wake” feature is, we’ve all had those moments.

Activating Theater Mode is pretty straightforward: Swipe up on your watch face to access the Control Center, and tap the button that looks like two theater masks. Under the hood, enabling Theater Mode really just combines two features that have been on the Apple Watch since its inception: Silent Mode and Wake Screen on Wrist Raise. While Silent Mode can be toggled on and off from Control Center just as easily as Theater Mode, the “Wake Screen” option requires digging into the watchOS Settings app, so Theatre Mode is definitely a much easier way to deal with this. Note that you can also turn Silent Mode OFF again (e.g. un-mute your watch) from Control Center without disabling Theater Mode, which can be useful if you’re in a situation where you don’t want your Apple Watch screen waking up automatically, but still want to be able to hear alerts (and listen to Mickey and Minnie speak the time).

Renaming Albums in the iOS 10 Photos app

Creating Photo Albums and Shared Albums in the iOS 10 Photos app is relatively straight forward, but you may not have realized that you can also rename these albums directly on your iPhone or iPad, without having to take a trip over to the macOS Photos app or the iCloud.com web site.

It’s not obvious that you can do this as it’s hidden away behind a tap gesture that’s not entirely intuitive — while you probably already know that you can rearrange and delete albums from the main Albums and iCloud Photo Sharing views by tapping the “Edit” button in the top-right corner, once you’ve engaged editing mode, tapping on any of your album names will bring up the keyboard to allow you to edit the name of that album as well. The cursor will automatically be placed at the end of the name, and you can make any changes and simply tap the “Done” button on the keyboard to save them and return to the standard editing view.

Adjusting 3D Touch Sensitivity

Apple’s 3D Touch gestures which debuted with the iPhone 6s can be pretty useful for quickly cross-referencing information, calling up shortcut menus, and accessing rich notifications. However, since 3D Touch is a distinct gesture from merely touching and holding your finger on the screen, sometimes it can get a bit tricky to differentiate between the two, such as when trying to rearrange icons on the home screen as opposed to triggering shortcut menus.

Fortunately, Apple has provided a way to adjust 3D Touch sensitivity, hidden away the Accessibility section of your iPhone Settings app. Selecting 3D Touch from here provides three sensitivity levels that you can choose from based on how hard you want to press on the screen to trigger a 3D Touch action, and there’s even a helpful test area so you can try out the different settings. Also, if you find that 3D Touch just gets in the way and you’d rather not use it at all, a switch at the top allows you to turn the feature off entirely.

Changing iPhone volume using Siri

Apple designed its new AirPods to be pretty easy to set up and use, but one thing that’s clearly missing is the ability to change the volume using hardware controls without reaching for your iPhone. Fortunately, if you regularly use AirPods without an iPhone or Apple Watch within reach, you might find it handy to know that you can actually change your iPhone’s volume using Siri voice commands.

Simply tap on the AirPods to activate Siri, and then issue an appropriate command like Increase the volume or Turn the sound down and Siri will respond appropriately, although Siri seems to increase and decrease the volume in larger increments than using the hardware buttons on the iPhone. You can also ask Siri what the current volume level is, which will be expressed as a percentage. You can also ask Siri to set the volume to a specific percentage, which might be more useful once you’ve experimented a bit and become familiar with your preferred listening levels.

Using your Apple Watch without your iPhone

If you’ve got an Apple Watch, you’ve probably become accustomed to using it “fully online” with your paired iPhone within Bluetooth range, or by itself where you’re only tracking workouts and aren’t concerned about too much else. It’s easy for most of us to forget that the Apple Watch actually has its own Wi-Fi radio, and can actually connect directly to just about any Wi-Fi network — provided your iPhone has joined it before — and allow you to do quite a few things without your iPhone nearby. You can check if your Apple Watch is connected directly to a Wi-Fi network, rather than your iPhone, by swiping upward from the watch face and looking at the icon in the top right corner; you’ll see a green cloud here when you’re on a direct Wi-Fi connection.

While directly connected to a Wi-Fi network, you’ll still be able to send and receive iMessages and even make phone calls using FaceTime Audio, or even the cellular network if you’re on a carrier like AT&T or T-Mobile that supports Wi-Fi calling over iCloud connected devices. You can also control your HomeKit accessories, check weather and stocks, set and respond to reminders, and use Siri for anything that doesn’t require access to an app on your iPhone. The catch here is that your Apple Watch will only connect to networks that your iPhone has previously joined, and there’s no way to join captive networks from the Apple Watch, meaning this feature probably won’t be too useful when you’re stopping into a Starbucks on your run — although of course you’ll still be able to pay for your coffee using Apple Pay or a card in your Wallet app.

Using your iPhone as a Game Controller for your Apple TV

While the fourth-generation Apple TV supports a variety of MFi Game Controllers, most games can also still technically be played using the Siri Remote as well. However, in a lot of games you’ll probably find the Siri Remote too small and awkward to use as a game controller — especially in those cases where you’re expected to turn it sideways and use the accelerometer. While you can of course just go out and buy a game controller like the SteelSeries Nimbus, that’s not always an easy expense to justify if you’re just a casual gamer.

Fortunately, there’s another possible option, courtesy of Apple’s Apple TV Remote app. In addition to replacing your Siri Remote for normal Apple TV control and navigation functions, it can also double as a basic game controller. Load up the Remote app on your iPhone, and once you’re in a game, a game controller icon will appear at the top of the screen — tap on this and you’ll be taken into a landscape view with a touchscreen surface on the left and two game controller buttons on the right. While you still won’t get the full button support of a standalone game controller (and it’s not going to cut if for any games that now require game controllers), the larger iPhone still has a much better feel for gaming than the dainty Siri Remote.

Sorting your Friends’ Apple Watch Activity

If you’ve got friends and colleagues who are also Apple Watch users, you can help motivate each other by sharing your Activity rings with up to 25 of your friends. Once you’ve invited a friend and they’ve accepted your invitation, you can see their Activity data either by swiping to left from your rings in the watchOS Activity app, or by going to the Sharing tab in the Activity app on your iPhone.

By default, this list sorts you and your friends alphabetically by name, showing your progress toward each of your move goals. You can actually change this sort order, however, to rank yourself among your friends by how far you’ve each progressed toward your daily Move, Exercise, or Steps goals, or how many workouts you’ve completed — giving yourself even more motivation to get to the top of the leaderboard each day. In the iPhone Activity app, this is done from the Sort button in the top-right corner, while on the Apple Watch Activity app you can force touch (press hard) while viewing your friend list to access the option sorting options. On the Apple Watch, you’ll also see the current sort order displayed at the top of the list.

Using your iPad as a Home Hub for HomeKit

When HomeKit was first introduced in iOS 8, Apple chose to position the Apple TV at the centre of the system, to act as a hub or gateway for controlling access to HomeKit devices remotely. Without an Apple TV, you could control your HomeKit accessories directly from an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch that’s in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth range, but when away from home, you’d have no ability to control or even monitor the status of your HomeKit devices — for that you’ll need a HomeKit hub, which was originally a role limited to the Apple TV. While the third-generation Apple TV originally filled this role — and still can in a limited capacity — the stakes went up with iOS 10 and tvOS 10 last year, leaving the older third-gen model out of the HomeKit party for features like streaming video from HomeKit cameras, running automation routines, and accessing more advanced permissions for your secondary HomeKit users.

Quickly toggling Apple TV Closed Captioning on and off

Thanks to Siri, the fourth-generation Apple TV has a couple of ways to easily bring up closed captioning while you’re watching a show, ranging from simply asking Siri to “turn on closed captioning” or “subtitles” to the very useful “What did he say?” query, which will automatically skip back a few seconds and temporarily turn subtitles on. While these are handy enough for many, if you find that you don’t always want to talk to Siri in the middle of a movie, you’ll be happy to know that you can also assign closed captioning to an accessibility shortcut on your Siri Remote, allowing you to toggle closed captioning on and off by simply triple-clicking the menu button.

You can find this feature in the General, Accessibility section of your Settings app — look for the Accessibility Shortcut option down at the very bottom. In here, you’ll find a number of accessibility options that can be activated (or deactivated) whenever you triple-click the menu button, including Closed Captions. Select this option (a checkmark will appear to confirm it’s activated), and triple-clicking the menu button while watching a program will toggle the closed captions on and off without interrupting whatever you’re watching. Note that you can assign more than one accessibility feature to the shortcut — each selected option will be indicated with a checkmark beside it; if multiple options are assigned, triple-clicking the menu button will bring up a full-screen menu asking you to select which feature you want to enable.

Muting Activity Sharing Notifications from friends on Apple Watch

Apple expanded the Activity app in watchOS 3 with a new feature that allows you to share the progress of your activity rings with up to 25 of your friends, family, co-workers, and other workout buddies. It’s relatively straightforward to set up — just go to the Activity app on your iPhone, select the Sharing button at the bottom, and follow the instructions — once you’ve added friends and they’ve accepted your sharing requests, you’ll both be able to see each other’s activity and you’ll start getting notifications on your Apple Watch whenever one of them closes their rings or completes an achievement or workout.

However, if you find that being constantly reminded of how far your friends are progressing ahead of you is more of a de-motivator, or simply want to be able to see your friends’ activity without being bothered by notifications during the day, you can mute the notifications from any of the users with whom you’re sharing your activity without having to “unfriend” them. To do this, go to the Sharing tab in the Activity app on your iPhone, select the user whose notifications you’d like to mute, and tap the “Mute Notifications” button. Your friend won’t know that you’ve muted their notifications, and you’ll still be able to see how they’re doing toward their goals if you care to go in and check, but you’ll no longer get notifications as they progress throughout the day.

Showing a Smart Folder in the iOS 10 Mail Widget

The addition of 3D Touch to the iPhone 6s has been a productivity boon for a lot of users, with information now more quickly accessible from the home screen and within key apps, and iOS 10 improved upon this by putting widgets directly behind key icons on the home screen, and expanding the menus. While most of these popup menus remain static, there are some minor things that can be customized in certain apps.

In the iOS 10 Mail app, for example, if you have a Smart Mailbox set up to appear in your mailbox list, this will automatically be displayed below the “Inbox” entry on the popup menu that appears when you 3D Touch on the Mail icon. While only one Smart Mailbox will appear on this menu, any one of them can be set to appear simply by placing it at the top of your mailbox list in the Mail app — iOS simply chooses the first enabled Smart Mailbox on the list and displays it on the popup menu.

Sadly, only the predefined Smart Mailboxes are supported here — even though you can add individual mailbox folders to the main list, they can’t be made to appear on the 3D Touch menu. Still, if you find yourself regularly looking at just flagged messages, messages from your VIP contacts, or messages with attachments in your inbox, it’s a useful shortcut.

Filtering your Message List in the iOS 10 Mail app

If you use the built in Mail app on your iPhone or iPad and deal with sifting through a lot of email messages, you’ll likely appreciate a small feature that Apple added in iOS 10, which gives you the ability to quickly and easily filter your message listing. A button in the bottom-left corner of the Mail app will toggle on a filtered view that provides quick filtering of messages in the current mailbox. By default, the filter will show you only flagged messages. However, if you tap on the “Filtered by” link that appears in the bottom status bar when the filter is enabled, you can refine the filter with other criteria, including unread messages, messages addressed To or CC’ed directly to your email address (as opposed to those from mailing lists), or only messages with attachments or messages from contacts on your VIP list. Multiple criteria can be combined here as well, so you could include both unread and flagged messages, but only those which include attachments.

Selecting the best network connection for your Apple TV

With its support for a wide range of apps, along with its new role as a HomeKit hub, the fourth-generation Apple TV has become a more central device for many users than ever before. Since the device supports both wired (Ethernet) and Wi-Fi networking options, you may be led to believe that you’ll get the best network performance from your Apple TV by going with the wired option — after all, wired connections have traditionally always been faster and more reliable than wireless connections. Oddly, however, this isn’t necessarily the case with the fourth-generation Apple TV.

Apple included 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO in the fourth-generation Apple TV — a networking protocol that is capable of performing at speeds of up to around 400-500 mbps in practical applications. Somewhat ironically, however, the wired networking port on the fourth-generation Apple TV is only 10/100BASE-T Ethernet, limited to maximum throughput of 100 mbps. This makes the Apple TV one of the relatively rare devices that can actually – in theory at least — perform better over a Wi-Fi connection than a wired Ethernet connection.

Managing iMessage Apps in iOS 10

The ability to use iMessage Apps was one of the cooler new features added to iOS 10, but with so many developers adding their own little iMessage apps to their main apps, you may find your Messages app drawer quickly becoming inundated with new icons. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to remove or reorganize your iMessage Apps, or prevent new ones from automatically showing up when one of your existing iOS apps gains iMessage App support in an update.

Removing and reorganizing iMessage Apps is done in much the same way as normal apps on your home screen — just bring up the app drawer in iMessage by tapping on the app symbol to the left of the text entry field, and then tap-and-hold on any one of the apps until they all start jiggling. From there, you can drag them around to reorganize them, even between pages, or tap the “X” in the top right corner to remove the app entirely. Removing a dedicated iMessage App like a sticker pack from here will remove it entirely from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch; removing the iMessage App version of a standalone app, on the other hand, will only hide the iMessage App extension, leaving the main app untouched.

Recent News

Recent Reviews

Recent Articles

Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter

iLounge is an independent resource for all things iPod, iPhone, iPad, and beyond.
iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV, Mac, and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.
iLounge is © 2001 - 2017 iLounge, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy