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Smartphones & gadgets

12 hidden iPhone features you’ll wish you knew sooner

With every iOS update or release of newer models, the iPhone’s functions just keep on growing. There are so many that it is almost impossible to be aware of them all.

For example, did you know that you can take a screenshot just by tapping the back of your phone? Or that you can set up almost any action through triple tapping the back? You can even identify a song you’re listening to with the simple tap of a finger. Tap or click here to find out how.

Want to become an iPhone expert? We can help. We delved deep into the nooks and crannies of the iPhone to discover 12 hidden features that you will use time and time again.

1. iPhone measuring app

iPhone measure app

It’s a real drag if you need to get the dimensions of something and you left your measuring tape at home. But not to stress — the iPhone comes with a built-in measuring app. Using Augmented Reality, it allows you to measure whatever your phone’s camera is pointing at.

The Measure app uses augmented reality (AR) to turn your gadget into a tape measure. You can find the size of objects, automatically detect rectangular objects’ dimensions and even save a photo of the measurement for later use.

How to take a measurement:

  • Open the Measure app, then follow any on-screen instructions that ask you to move your device around. This gives your device a frame of reference for the object you’re measuring and the surface it’s on. Keep moving your device until a circle with a dot in the center appears.
  • Move your device so that the dot is over the starting point of your measurement, then tap the Add button.
  • Slowly move your device until the dot is over your measurement’s ending point, then tap the Add button again.

After taking a measurement, you can adjust the starting and ending points. Just touch and hold one of the points and drag it where you want it to go. The measurement will change as you move the point.

2. Fake eye contact for FaceTime calls

FaceTime Attention Correction sounds like a medical term, but it is actually a handy setting. On long video calls with friends and family, your attention to the screen might be waning a bit. With this setting turned on, the iPhone will essentially mimic that you are looking directly at the camera.

So, when your eyes start to drift towards social media or mobile games, the iOS software will take over. The feature was first introduced with iOS 12 but seemingly disappeared with the next update. However, Apple has once again included it as Eye Contact in iOS 14. Note: Eye Contact is only available in iPhone XS and later models.

RELATED: Change this hidden setting before you lose everything on your iPhone

To enable Eye Contact:

  • Tap Settings
  • Scroll down to FaceTime and tap it
  • If Eye Contact is available on your device, toggle the switch next to it on

3. A faster way to charge your iPhone

iPhone charger Anker Nano

Running out of battery life can seriously dampen your day. Having a charger that takes forever to move the needle can be just as bad. Invest in a superfast charging adapter like the Anker Nano and you’ll be back up to full strength in no time.

The Nano has a 20W power output, making it one of the fastest chargers on the market. The main feature is the USB-C Fast Charger, which allows it to charge an iPhone to 50% battery power in only 25 minutes.

4. Make looking at your devices easier on the eyes

Dark Mode is one of the best inventions that developers could give users. From websites to operating systems, Dark Mode turns all the white space to black. This reduces strain on your eyes during low light conditions and can make things easier to read.

The iPhone is not only capable of Dark Mode, but it comes in two varieties. One option allows you to enable Dark Mode across the whole operating system, while the other allows for Dark Mode in specific apps.

To enable Dark Mode:

  • Tap on Settings.
  • Scroll down and tap on Display & Brightness.
  • Under Appearance, you’ll see the options for Light or Dark Mode
  • Selecting Dark mode will change the entire operating system to dark.

To turn Dark Mode on automatically at sunset or at a specific time, go to Settings > Display & Brightness and select Automatic. Then tap Options to set a schedule for Dark Mode.

For specific apps, there is, unfortunately, no easy way around it. You must enable Dark Mode from within each app. For Twitter, as an example, tap on the hamburger menu in the top-left of the screen. Once it opens, tap Settings and Privacy > Display and Sound. Here, you can toggle on Dark Mode.

RELATED: Tech how-to: 5 useful tricks to try with iPhone’s Shortcuts app

5. Stop new apps from appearing on the home screen

By default, when a new app is downloaded, the shortcut will appear on your Home Screen if there is room for it. You might not want that to happen, and luckily there is a way to stop it.

  • Open Settings
  • Tap Home Screen
  • Select which option you want — either Add to Home Screen or App Library Only

If you select App Library Only, the shortcut of the downloaded app will only be displayed there. You can also select if notifications for App Library downloads are shown.

6. Smart Stack widgets

iPhone smart stack

The iOS 14 update brought with it the ability to create and edit a Smart Stack widget. It is a group of iOS functions or widgets stacked into a single widget window. By adding more widgets, you can scroll through the stack — like a news feed. You can add things like photos, world clocks, weather, reminders or notes.

To create a Smart Stack:

  • Touch and long-press on the Home Screen
  • In the top left-hand corner, tap on the + icon
  • Tap Smart Stack
  • Scroll through the design options
  • Tap Add Widget
  • Note: To add more widgets to the Stack, they must be the same size as your initial choice

RELATED: Creepy AirPods setting can let you listen in on someone’s private conversation

7. Quickly record a short video

Sometimes taking a picture isn’t enough, but before you find the video recording button on your device, the moment has passed. The Camera app has a handy shortcut that allows you to take a short video clip without leaving the photo option.

  • Open the camera app
  • When in Photo mode, press and hold down the shutter button
  • This will take a video recording until you lift your finger
  • The clip will automatically be saved to your camera roll

8. Tag contacts in group messages

iPhone tags and mentions

Make sure that you get a specific person’s attention in group chats by tagging them. Also known as mentions, this function was added to iOS 14 and is done by:

  • Open the Messages app
  • Select a group message
  • When typing a message, include @ and then the person’s name with no spaces in between
  • This will tag that person in the message

There are some conditions, though. It will only work if everyone in the group chat is using an Apple device, and the tagged person must already be part of the group.

9. Add captions to photos and videos

Now that you know how to record a video quickly, it is time to add captions to them. This is helpful as it will give recipients more context to the video or photos.

To add captions to photos and video:

  • Open your camera roll
  • Tap on the photo or video that you want to add a caption to
  • Swipe up from the middle of the screen
  • An ‘Add a Caption’ box should appear below the photo or video
  • Add your caption and tap on Done

10. Enhanced recording for Voice Memos

Unreadable handwriting has been eliminated with the Notes app, but voice recordings can still suffer from bad quality or background interference. Thankfully you can enhance recording quality so that Voice Memos are clear on playback.

  • Open the Voice Memos app
  • Tap on the recording that you want to enhance
  • In the bottom left-hand corner, tap the three dots
  • Tap Edit Recording
  • Under the date and time stamp, tap the magic wand icon
  • If are you satisfied with the enhancements, tap Done

RELATED: Apple releases a new iPhone update to fix buggy iOS 14

11. Hide the Hidden folder

Simply hiding a photo or video from prying eyes might not be enough. Sometimes you need to take extra precautions by hiding the Hidden folder where all hidden items are kept.

To do this:

  • Open Settings
  • Scroll down and tap Photos
  • Look for the Hidden Album option and slide the toggle to the left

When disabled, it will prevent the Hidden Album from being visible in your camera roll’s Utilities options.

12. AssistiveTouch

This great feature can help those who have difficulties in pressing the side buttons or screen gestures. It provides a separate button on the Home Screen and can replace things like the down swipes to open the Control Center or Spotlight.

To enable AssistiveTouch:

  • Open the Settings app
  • Tap Accessibility > Touch
  • Tap AssistiveTouch
  • Slide the toggle next to AssistiveTouch to the right to enable it

If you have problems reaching the top of the screen, you can also turn on Reachability. It is directly under the AssistiveTouch option. When enabled, swipe down on the bottom edge of the screen to bring the top into reach.

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