Video: 10 cool iPhone tricks that will blow your mind

Watch our latest iPhone-tips-and-tricks video in which we surface hidden or lesser-known features of iOS so you’ll hopefully learn something new.

An iPhone can do THIS?

So you think yo’re familiar with all the cool little features, tricks and hidden gems in iOS, the operating system that powers your iPhone? That very well may be true, but it’s always good to keep your mind open to learning something new. That’s what our today’s video is all about!

How many times have you shown an iOS feature to a friend and they reacted with a “wow, an iPhone can do this?” Sometimes it’s a feature you’ve been using for ages that no one of your friends seems to know about. Other times they may rock your world by showing you something on the iPhone you never dreamed possible.

To help more people discover what their iPhone can do, we’ve asked our video guy Michael Billig (@michael_billig) to put together a hands-on video walkthrough of ten iPhone tricks that we think may blow your mind. All of the tips included below are for iOS 15 and earlier, but they should also work in iOS 16.  So grab your iPhone and follow along without our seven-minute video to learn something new.

1. Censoring sensitive information on images

If you’d like to censor sensitive information on a screenshot (or any image for that matter) like banking information or your home address, you can do that either using iOS’ screenshot-taking tool or with the Markup feature. When taking a screenshot, simply tap the + icon in the bottom right, then choose blocks or circles.

Next, you want to choose the fill option and set the color to black. Now use your fingers to drag a black box on top of any sensitive information you’d like to obscure using this method. Read: 3 ways to censor sensitive parts of an iPhone photo

2. Quick screenshot sharing

When you take a screenshot, don’t tap on a thumbnail in the top-left corner. Instead, tap and hold the thumbnail which will bring up the share menu. This way, you can instantly share the screenshot without having to save it or enter the editing interface. Read: How to share screenshots even faster on iOS

3. Fast access to secondary keys

Many people are oblivious to this cool shortcut. When tpying on the iPhone keyboard and you wannt add some punctuations or maybe other symbols, you must switch to the secondary keyboard. Normally, you would do that by pressing the dedicated “123” key on the iOS keyboard.

What you can do instead is touch and hold the  “123” key, then drag your finger to the desired character on the secondary keyboard and let go. This makes typing with the secondary keyboard a lot faster. Read: How to tab between dialogue box buttons on Mac

4. Getting to the most recent/oldest photo

When browsing in the Photos app, touch “All Photos” at the bottom to instantly scroll your view all the way down to the most recent photo. Conversely, touch the area near the top of the screen, just above the date and selection buttons, to quickly jump to your oldest photo. The go-to-top gesture also works in other apps, like Safari and Messages. Read: How to edit image metadata on iOS and macOS

5. Level in the Measure app

The Measure app is quite useful. It lets you make precise measurements of physical objects in augmented reality. But did you know that the Measure app has a leveling feature? This used to be in the Compass app in older iOS versions, but now you just touch “Level” at the bottom of the Measure app to use this feature.

Your iPhone will use its precise sensors to detect movement along all three axes. So there you have it, now  you can efortlessly do such things as making sure a painting on your wall is level. You can get to the level feature even faster: Touch and hold the Measure app icon on the home screen and choose this option directly from the shortcuts menu. Read: How to measure the distance between locations in Apple Maps

6. Getting to your App Store updates

Apple has changed over the years how app updates are accessed in the App Store. Back in the day, there used to be a dedicated “Updates” tab so everyone knew exactly where their updates were waiting for them. But over time, Apple has moved things around in the App Store and iOS now defaults to automatically downloading app updates so you don’t have to.

If you still need to get to a list of pending updates, there’s no need to touch your profile image in the App Store and scroll down. Instead, touch and hold the App Store icon on the home screen and select “Updates” to instantly jump there. Read: How to stop receiving App Store notifications for special offers and more

7. Showing hidden controls in the Camera app

If you use a large-screened iPhone such as an iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max, you’re probably frustrated that you can’t easily get to the controls lined alongside the top of the interface. That’s especially true if you’re holding your iPhone with one hand. So all you have to do is swipe up across the camera interface (or tap the chevron at the top) to reveal a hidden row of options at the bottom.

This lets you easily access shooting modes and features such as flash control, aspect ratio, Night Mode, Live Photos, timer and so on in one-handed mode. Read: 5 tips for taking great iPhone photos

8. Audio routing in the Control Center

Most people know that touching and holding the Now Playing platter in the iPhone’s Control Center brings up expanded playback controls with album artwork and more. But there’s another cool shortcut. See that little AirPlay icon in the top-left corner of the Now Playing platter?

Tap it and you’ll get a list of connected speakers, TVs and other devices like your AirPods or HomePods. This lets you easily route the iPhone’s audio to the device you select in this menu. Read: How to AirPlay to Mac from your iPhone, iPad or another Mac.

9. Quickly get to the Notes document scanner

Go to Settings → Control Center and add Notes to the list of active widgets. Now you can hit the Notes icon in the Control Center to quickly open the Notes app. But it gets even better because you can touch and hold the widget to reveal an option to invoke the Notes documents scanner, just like that.

From the same menu, you can also choose “New Note”, “New Photo” and “New Checklist”. And of course, those same shortcuts are available upon touching and holding the Notes icon on the home screen. Read: How to save photos, videos and scans taken in Notes to the Photos app

10. Adjust flashlight intensity

Your iPhone’s flashlight can be turned on or off by hitting the Flashlight icon on the lock screen or in the Control Center. If you’d like to adjust the intensity of your iPhone’s flashlight, touch and hold the icon, then drag your finger across the slider and let go. You can choose between four different levels of the flashlight.

By default, the flashlight is set to 100 percent brightness. This can be a little too much when using the flashlight feature in pitch dark so don’t be afraid to lower the flashlight brightness with this neat trick so it doesn’t blind you. Read: How to add a huge flashlight button to your iPhone’s home screen

Think you can do better than that? Prove it!

If you’re a power user who knows it all, we apologize because it wasn’t our intention to insult your intelligence. The ten tips we’ve compiled here have to do with the features that iDB team members have identified as underrepresented or lesser-known among the Apple-loving crowd.

We want to help you get the most out of your devices. If you’re aware of other little-known features or hidden gems in iOS, please share them with readers in the comments. Or, simply tell us which of our ten tips you’ve liked the most.

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