Forget hammers and screwdrivers — iPhones are the most important tool of our times. But do you wield yours like a pro, or do your thumbs fumble its screen like an amateur?
From apps that dash off reminders with a simple tap, to settings that make your battery stretch well into the night, these nine tips can help you get the most out of your iPhone.
Save Web Clippings Fast
When you find a gem online, you want to stow it away fast, before you forget it. Mail to Self is a one-tap solution for sending yourself an email with a link to whatever webpage you’re browsing. Never mind pecking in the proper email address as you’re trying to text or email yourself. This free app is especially great for people who use their email inbox as their to-do list.
Quickly Type Tedious Terms
Everyone has their own collection of familiar keystrokes, like your mailing or e-mail address. Text Replacement, a setting found in your Settings->General->Keyboard menu, lets users program their own shortcuts into iOS, saving themselves from unnecessary taps.
For instance, program “OMW” to display as “on my way,” “addy” to spew forth your mailing address, and more. Unfortunately obscured passwords (the ones that appear as dots) don’t accept Text Replacement, but usernames are fair game.
Never Forget the Plumber’s Number
Have a doctor, electrician, hairdresser, or plumber? Of course you do. Now think fast, what’s their first or last name? Siri can actually remember your contacts’ relationships to you, if you tell your phone who is who.
Summon Siri and say, “Jane Smith is my wife,” or “Steve Williams is my plumber.” (Substituting in your wife or plumber’s name, of course.) After Siri makes the association, you can text or call them saying “text my wife,” or “call the plumber,” no names necessary.
Bookmark Your Life
iOS 9 brought about a slew of new “proactive” features, but one that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves is Siri’s ability to “Remind me about this.” If you suddenly remember there’s someone you should call or something you should buy, you can ask Siri to remind you about it later, either at a specific time or even in a certain place.
So, if you’re halfway into a deep read but want to pick it back up in the evening, say, “Siri, remind me about this at 8:30 p.m.” Later that night, not only will you get nudged, but the alert will lead you directly to the webpage. Likewise, if you ask Siri to remind you to call your uncle when you get home, his contact information will spring to the screen when your phone realizes you’ve arrived at your address.
Make Deleting Photos Fun
There’s a reason why Tinder is so fun (other than that reason) — the user interface of swiping left and right turns dating into something of a game. Taking that idea to photo management, Cleen bills itself as the fastest way to clean up a photo library. The free iOS app can make short work of a stack of recklessly snapped images. Just use some spare time to swipe through memory lane, and your phone storage space will get cleared up in no time.
Fall Asleep to Music
Most people associate the iPhone’s timer function with some sort of alarm coming on at the end. But buried within the Clock app, there’s an option for the iPhone to stop playing media when the time is up. Essentially a ‘sleep’ function, this can help you fall asleep to music or movies. (It even works with media on the YouTube app.)
Stretch Your iPhone’s Power
Consider it the smartphone equivalent of hypermiling, the (somewhat dangerous) practice of getting the most out of every drop of gasoline in a car. By engaging iOS’s new low power mode early and often, you can make your battery run for much longer than it currently does.
Low power mode automatically shuts down all those energy-hogging applications and processes, like email pushing, background app refresh, and snazzy visual effects. And when your phone dips below 20% battery life, iOS prompts users to turn it on anyway, so they may get a boost of up to three more hours of life.
Make Touch ID Work Perfectly
The iPhone’s fingerprint scanner is like the little girl with the curl: When it’s good it’s very, very good, and when it’s bad it’s horrid. The best way to make it work better is to give it the finger — just one of them.
Instead of setting up Touch ID with multiple fingers like iOS encourages, scan and rescan your thumb (the only digit most people typically use on the home button) multiple times. The result: You’ll unlock your phone on the first time, every time.
Don’t Dial, Talk
When Steve Jobs launched the iPhone in 2007, he joked that the device would look like an iPod with a rotary dialer instead of the iconic click wheel. The crowd roared with laughter, but many of us are stuck in the past, entering phone numbers by pecking at buttons on the touchscreen.
That’s so iPhone 3G. Today, the easiest way to dial is to have Siri do it for you. Just hold down the home button and when the digital assistant appears, say, “dial 555-6792.” Saving you time from looking back and forth from the phone number to the screen, this isn’t a trick so much as it’s the future of phones, much like the iPhone itself.