Tips & Tricks
- May 24, 2012
Siri is certainly smart, but she’s not a mind reader—if you want to be able to tell her to call your mom, you have to tell Siri who she is first. Doing so is amazingly simple. Just call up Siri, and when you hear the familiar prompt, say “Jane Doe is my mother” or “John Doe is my father”—note that you should use your actual family member’s names, unless your name happens to be James Doe—and soon enough Siri will know your spouse, parents, siblings, and other relations—possibly better than you do.
Most of the time, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for on a webpage from an iOS device—especially if you’re on a mobile-friendly site. For those times when it’s not so easy, like when you’re searching for a particular passage in a long-form article, Safari offers an easy to do so. Simply tap in the built-in search area and type in what you’re looking for. Below the recommended search suggestions you see an area marked “On This Page”, with the number of times a certain term is used. Tap on it, and you’ll be given a pair of arrows that will let you hop between each appearance of the term; once you’re finished, simply tap the Done button to start reading.
Most users of iBooks are familiar with the Define option that appears whenever you select a word — but did you know this trick works all over iOS? In any app that has selectable text, simply highlight the word you’d like defined and tap the Define button. On the iPhone or iPod touch, a definition pane will slide up from the bottom of the screen, while on the iPad, the definition will popup to the side of the word.
Tired of the built-in alert tones on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad? It’s easy to acquire new ones via the built-in iTunes Tone Store. Simply fire up Settings, and click on Sounds (if you’re on an iPhone or iPod touch) or General, then Sounds (if you’re on an iPad), then select any of the Alert options you’d like to change, such as Ringtone, Text Tone, or New Mail. Scroll up to the top of the screen, and you’ll see an option to Buy More Tones, which will launch the iTunes Store and take you to the Tones section.
Alternatively, you can launch the iTunes Store first, then tap the More button, and select Tones (on the iPhone and iPod touch) or tap the Genres button in the upper left-hand corner of the iPad app, and select Tones. At $0.99 a pop, they aren’t cheap, but there’s a ton to choose from, and it sure beats being the 20th person in the restaurant to check your phone when someone’s device starts blaring Marimba.
iOS is known for its smooth scrolling, but sometimes all that swiping can be an annoyance when all you really want to is get back to the top of the screen—to access the address bar in Safari, for instance. It appears that Apple planned for this, as iOS has had a simple shortcut built-in since the days of the first iPhone that does precisely that. In nearly any app, you can tap the status bar—where the time lives—to instantly jump back to the top of a list or page, letting you get get where you need to go—no more wasted swipes.
Find yourself frequently changing the From address when composing a new email in Mail? Perhaps it’s time to change your default Mail address. To do so, open the Settings app, tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars, scroll down, and tap on Default Account. From the screen that appears, you can select your most oft-used account from every account on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, shaving one step off your new email routine.
With iOS devices becoming ever more capable of creating and downloading content and apps, managing your device’s storage has become increasingly important. If you find yourself running out of room on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, there’s a simple way to see what apps are using the most storage. Open the Settings app, tap on General, then tap on Usage. At the top of the screen under the Storage header, you’ll see a list of your installed apps, sorted by the amount of storage used, with an option to show all apps at the bottom. Using this list, you can discover which apps are the most storage hungry, and simply tap on any app to see more details, along with a button to delete the app, letting you delete only those apps that are adversely affecting your storage and leave the rest on your device.
No matter how hard you try, sometimes you just aren’t able to make the first available train offered to you by the Maps application’s transit schedule. Luckily, there’s a simple way to adjust the times to allow for a certain departure or arrival time. Once you’ve done your route search and settled on one you’re happy with, tap the clock icon to see the available options, then tap on Depart to bring up a page that will allow you to adjust your departure or arrival time to better fit your schedule. Just note that it’s not a time machine, so setting the Arrive By time to two hours ago won’t get you there on time. [via CoM | UK Cnet]
Ever in a hurry and enter one too many numbers into the Calculator app for iOS? Instead of clearing the whole number out, use this tip to quickly get rid of the extra digit. Simply swipe your finger across the number display and the app will clear out only the rightmost digit, allowing you to continue on with your calculations without needing to reenter a thing. [via Cult of Mac]
So you didn’t get your pre-order placed in time, or just now decided to purchase the new third-gen iPad/iPhone 5/insert future Apple product here. Guess what? You’ve just sentenced yourself to hours of waiting outside a retail store for your chance to own one—but don’t despair. Using these simple tips, your time standing in line will at least be a little more tolerable, if not downright fun.
Among a handful of other new features and improvements, iOS 5.1 lets users of the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and fourth-generation iPod touch access the camera even more quickly than what was possible under its 5.0 predecessor. To do so, simply press any button to bring up the device’s lock screen, then place your finger over the camera icon and slide up—as you do so, the traditional camera interface will appear underneath, giving you near-instant access for more timely shots.
The iPhone’s lack of Emoji characters used to be a sore spot for some, with complex workarounds required to enable access on Western devices. Now, with iOS 5, accessing your iOS device’s built-in Emoji keyboard is a simple as can be. To do so, open the Settings app, tap on General, tap on Keyboard, and tap on International Keyboards. On the next screen, tap on Add New Keyboard and select Emoji from the list. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to access the full library of Emoji icons from the standard keyboard by tapping the globe icon.
The build quality of Apple’s iOS devices is generally commendable, but we’ve encountered more than a few users who’ve had their Home button stop working, in some cases long before they were due for a cheap upgrade on their subsidized device. With the new Accessibility features in iOS 5 came an on-screen workaround for this problem, less than optimal though it may be.
To enable the workaround, open the Settings app, tap on General, tap on Accessibility, scroll down, and tap on AssistiveTouch. Turning this feature on will bring up a small button with concentric circles that when tapped will bring up an on-screen menu offering the software equivalent of the home button, as well as options for quickly accessing Device controls like volume, mute, screen lock, and rotation, Gesture controls, and saved Favorite gestures.
The button is located in the lower right hand corner by default, but can be dragged around the screen’s edge to any position you choose. Like we said, it’s sub-optimal, but if you’re dealing with a wonky Home button, it sure beats dealing with the frustration of not having your device work consistently. [via AppHipMom]
- February 28, 2012
We’ll be the first to admit that we don’t normally answer calls from Blocked numbers, but there are situations in which you’d rather not have your number displayed to the person on the other end. Luckily for iPhone users, there’s a dead simple way to stop this from happening. Step 1: Open the Settings app. Step 2: Tap on Phone. Step 3: Tap on Show My Caller ID. Step 4: Toggle the slider to Off. Step 5: There is no Step 5. See, we told you it was simple.
Should you be composing an email and need to reference a different email to complete your correspondence, the process for getting back to your draft—after you hit Save Draft, of course—is inconvenient at best. Unless, of course, you use this handy tip. Once you’re ready to return to your draft, simply tap and hold the Compose button, and Mail will automatically bring up your most recent saved draft, so you can continue writing without needing to dig through multiple folders. [via Obama Pacman]
The ability to re-download apps you’ve bought in the past is great, but if you’re anything like us, you’ve downloaded plenty of apps that you don’t actually use. Luckily, Apple has built in a super-simple way to hide those purchases, so they aren’t cluttering up your Purchased list. To do this from an iOS device, simply find an app you’d lie to hide and swipe across it, and you’ll see the iCloud download button replaced with a red Hide button, which you can tap to hide the app. To unhide purchases, visit the account management pane of the App Store, and tap on Hidden Purchases. You can also achieve this trick from iTunes on the PC or Mac by visiting your Purchased apps and hovering over the icon of any app you’d like to hide until a small x button appears in the corner; you can likewise unhide purchases by visiting your account settings page.
Ever wish you could have even a few formatting options when typing up emails on the iOS device? Well, assuming you’re running iOS 5, you actually do. To access them, simply highlight the word or words you’d like to format, and when the cut/copy/paste menu appears, tap the right most arrow, then the B I U
button, then choose from the bold, italics, or underline options that appear. Oh, and try not to gloat when the recipient asks how you did it.
In theory, Apple’s iMessage service sounds wonderful—the ability to send and receive texts to/from people from your iPad or iPod touch as well as your iPhone is great. But you have to set it up a certain way to make that happen. By default, iMessage on the iPhone defaults to using the device’s phone number—but as long as friends and family continue messaging that number, those messages will never go to your other devices. In order to make that happen, you need to make sure your Apple ID is also set up for iMessage on all your devices, then tell folks to message you using the ID, and not your phone number—new messages should then start arriving on all your devices, letting you respond from whichever is the most convenient. Oh, and one important note: if you use your phone number for iMessage, Apple does some sort of device ID/SIM authentication that could leave that handset receiving your messages long after you’ve upgraded, even if you’ve wiped and restored it.
If you’ve been used to finding your iTunes U content in its normal home inside the iTunes Store or Videos apps, the recent release of Apple’s dedicated iTunes U app may have thrown you for a loop. But fear not—all the content is still available. Just not where you remember it. To access iTunes U content today, you need to download and/or launch Apple’s official iTunes U app. A simple Catalog button on the Library screen will take you to the same iTunes U content you’ve accessed before, only now it will live inside the iTunes U app—on that aforementioned Library screen—instead of in your Videos app.
Use a Mac? Had problems with new contacts created in Address Book syncing over to your iOS devices? Thanks to an obscure setting in Address Book, iCloud doesn’t always work as it should, but fixing it is typically pretty simple. First, open System Preferences, and open the iCloud tab, then double-check that Contacts sync is turned on. Once that’s done, fire up Address Book, and open Preferences. Down at the bottom of the General tab, you’ll see an option for Default Account - click this, and switch it from On My Mac to iCloud. Once that’s done, all new contacts created should automatically appear on all your iOS devices.
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