Most of us use our smartphones every day without taking advantage of their full potential. Since our iPhones and Androids have so many capabilities, there are a lot of features we might not even know about. That’s why we’re putting together this list of hidden phone features you’ve probably overlooked.
Some of your phone’s coolest features are buried in menus that are easy to miss. For example, there are a lot of key phrases you can speak to turn on different features. Tap or click for voice commands you’ll use again and again.
Or maybe you already know everything your iPhone or Android can do. Even if you’ve educated yourself, it’s still easy to forget about one or two skills that can make your life easier. Check out the list below for 10 of the coolest iPhone and Android uses you might have forgotten.
1. Back Tap
Here’s one tip specifically for iPhone users. If you have the latest iOS, you can double or triple tap the back of your iPhone to trigger a custom action. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Touch > Back Tap and select Double Tap or Triple Tap.
From there, you can choose a specific action. Do you want to take a screenshot whenever you Back Tap? Or do you want to open the Control Center or do something else? You have a few options to choose from, so go wild.
2. Alarm routines
Your Android Assistant can trigger a series of actions right after you dismiss an alarm on your phone. For instance, say you wake up at 8 a.m. and turn off the alarm. If you set this feature up ahead of time, you can trigger your gadget to tell you what you need to do today.
It could also tell you what the day’s weather would be like. If you want to learn what’s going on in the world, you can set your Android to tell you the news after you turn off your alarm.
Just say “Hey Google,” then “Assistant Routines.” From there, tap Add Starter > Dismiss an alarm > Assistant-ready speakers / displays. From here, you can set up your phone to trigger certain actions once you dismiss an alarm.
3. How to capture action shots with an iPhone
Any amateur photographer can tell you how hard it is to snap pictures of a moving subject. Luckily, Burst mode takes multiple photos of running, jumping or dancing subjects. You just have to tap a button and your phone activates this mode, which takes rapid-fire pictures.
Touch and hold the shutter button if you have an iPhone X or an earlier version. Swipe the shutter button to the left if you have an iPhone Xs or a later version.
Either way, lift your finger to stop Burst mode. Then, you can select the pictures you want to keep by tapping Burst > Select > Done. This is one of those hidden phone features you’ve probably overlooked that you’ll use time and time again.
4. Close all your Chrome tabs at once on an Android
Having too many tabs open can feel like juggling a dozen pins. Luckily, there’s an easy way to clean them up quickly. Just tap the three-dot menu icon and you’ll see a command for closing them all at once.
5. Use your iPhone as a magnifying glass
Here’s one of the niftiest hidden phone features you’ve probably overlooked. Sometimes, you want to zoom in on objects that are nearby. Say you’re reading a book and having trouble seeing the words since they’re too small.
With your iPhone or iPad’s Magnifier feature, you can blow them up on your phone screen. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Magnifier and turn it on. Now your Magnifier is an accessibility shortcut.
You can even quickly access it by adding it to the Control Center. Go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls. Tap the + button next to Magnifier. You’ll see the magnifying glass icon in your Control Center from now on.
6. Take advantage of your Android’s Privacy Dashboard
If you have a newer version of Android, you can protect your privacy with a specific dashboard. It’s a control center where you can learn about your data permissions.
For example, you can see how many apps used your location, camera or microphone in the past day. It’s free to use, so you don’t have to pay to see which types of private data you’re giving away. Tap or click here for 12 Android security settings to update ASAP.
7. How to sign documents and write on emails on an iPhone
If someone emails you a document they want you to sign, you don’t have to print it. Just use your iPhone. First, download the PDF, click the pen icon in the top right and sign with your touchscreen. Then, click Done on the top left of the screen.
From there, you can reply to the email with the newly signed attachment. If you use AirDrop, you can share any documents you sign with your other Apple devices. Tap or click here to see why AirDrop is a useful iPhone feature you should start using.
8. Stop your iPhone and Android from collecting voice clips
A while back, Kim went through her Amazon Alexa recordings. She found a few voice clips that Alexa shouldn’t have recorded; it even recorded some private discussions about buying real estate. Tap or click here to find out everything Amazon knows about you.
Luckily, Siri and Google Assistant both make distinctive noises, so you know when you accidentally activated them. To stop Google Assistant from recording the rest of your conversation, say, “That wasn’t for you.” This deletes whatever it just started recording.
Once you hear Siri go off, say, “That wasn’t for you.” Just know that Apple hasn’t officially said whether this phrase wipes your previous recording from its memory. Tap or click here to stop all your smart devices from listening to you and recording what you say.
9. Measure distances with iPhone
Want to see if something is level? Want to measure distances before you? Whip out your iPhone and open up the Measure app. This helpful feature uses augmented reality to turn your device into a measuring tool.
To use it, first make sure your iOS is up to date. Then, open the Measure app and follow any instructions on the screen.
You may have to move your device around so your camera can capture an object’s dimensions. You can even save your measurement by tapping Copy, so the numbers are added to your clipboard.
10. Use Live Caption on Android
This is helpful for anyone hard of hearing. You can turn on Android’s Live Caption feature whenever you watch a video or listen to a podcast.
You don’t even have to follow special steps to see it: When the volume controls pop up, you’ll see a little box at the bottom. Tap on it and captions pop up on the screen. It only pops up when media is playing, so keep that in mind.