16 handy iPhone tricks revealed for Baby Boomers
Functions on a mobile phone have changed dramatically over the last decade. And with so many new devices being released each year it’s hard to keep up with all of the features, functions and settings available. The younger generation tend to discover these functions a lot quicker, but for the generations that didn’t grow up with mobile phones, it generally takes a lot longer to find, or know where to look. This blog will show you some handy tricks that are available on most iPhones, in particular, features that the Baby Boomer generation may find helpful in every day use. And the best part is, you don’t need to download another App to get started.
So grab you’re iPhone, and let’s learn some handy tricks about what you can do on your device…
1. Increase your App icons & text with Standard or Zoomed view
You can easily increase the size of the apps displayed on your phones homepage screen. This might help to easily find the app you need, especially if it has smaller font size. Your iPhone settings are default to Standard. To increase the size of your app icons, change it to Zoomed.
Go to: Settings > Display & Brightness > Display Zoom: View > Select the ‘Zoomed’ tab > Tap on ‘Set’
2. Call someone right back without looking them up in Contacts
This handy trick lets you repeat that last call you made. If you need to redial the last number you rang there is actually a built-in shortcut to do so.
Launch the Phone app, this is the green telephone icon image on your device. Next, instead of tapping the ‘Recents’ tab (clock face icon), just tap the green call button on the Keypad option. This will instantly call the last number you dialled.
3. Quickly access your phone’s Calculator, Camera or Timer/Alarm in one swipe
With one swipe (bottom-to-top) of your phone, you can access your Control Centre. The Control Centre offers frequently used features on your phone that enables you to open, without having to unlock your phone to access them. The calculator, camera, timer/alarm (and many more) features are default settings so they should be displayed already. You’ll find a number of other handy functions in this Control Centre view, such as Flight Mode, Wi Fi and screen brightness.
To bring up the Control Centre: Tap the Home button to wake up your phone > then swipe your finger from below the Home button to the top of the screen.
The Control Centre should then display. To close the Control Centre, either slide your finger from top of screen down to the Home button, or turn off by pressing the side button.
Note: Most iPhone Control Centre displays will differ, depending on factory default, iOS software and models. But the good news is you can customise what features you want in your Control Centre via settings. Scroll down to our Control Centre handy trick below (iPhone trick 13).
4. Calculator trick when accidentally entered the wrong number
This is a great feature when you’re in the middle of a calculation string and have accidentally input the wrong number, or one-too-many numbers. The good news is you don’t need to start the entire sum again. Instead, you can simply delete the last number(s) entered.
To do this simply swipe left or swipe right on the calculator display panel to delete the last number(s).
5. Easily access your in-built spirit / bubble level
Need to use a spirit level on the spot? Easy, just use your phone. Yes, having a spirit level on an iPhone does seem like a peculiar feature, but now knowing you have it, you’ll be surprised at how frequently you use it. This also avoids downloading another app on your phone.
To find it, open the standard Compass app, then swipe left to reveal the spirit level.
But it doesn’t end there. You can orientate the phone edge or by lying flat to provide different spirit level displays.
6. Take photos whilst recording a video
Yes, that’s right, you can record video and take photos at the same time. Best of all, the camera snapshot is located in close proximity to the record button, so when taking photos whilst recording, your steadiness should be fine.
Such an easy feature to miss, but obvious once you have been shown it.
So let’s try it! Open your camera and switch to Video. Start recording. When the recording commences, you’ll see button to the left of the record button (in solid white). Simply tap this to take as many photos as you like, without interrupting your video recording.
To view the photos, simply jump to your photo album. Multi-tasking has never been so easy.
7. Increase the text size on your phone (emails, text messages, apps)
Your iPhone default settings for text size will be ‘standard’, however you can increase (or reduce) the size of the text display. The increased (or reduced) text size will be applied for all apps and functions within your phone. This is particularly helpful for reading and responding to emails and text messages, and any other Apps you may use.
To change the text size of on your phones, go to:
Settings > Display & Brightness > Text Size
8. Get a closer look with the In-built Magnifier
This is a handy feature to use if you need to read terms and conditions or product labels you just can’t see properly. This is also a good feature if you don’t want to increase your phone’s text size, but perhaps need to magnify text on pages every now-and-again.
To find it, simply go to:
Settings > General > Accessibility > Magnifier > and then toggle it on.
Now you can activate the Magnifier when you need. To activate it, triple-click the Home button.
And you can activate this whilst your phone is still locked.
9. Enable Flashlight instantly, without having to unlock your phone
Perhaps you weren’t aware your iPhone has a flashlight in the first place? In which case you can consider this a two-for-one tip.
You can activate your iPhone’s flashlight from the same menu as the Control Centre (mentioned in trick 3).
Tap the Home button to wake up your phone, then use your finger to slide from the Home button to the top of screen. Now press the ‘Torch’ icon image (likely on the bottom left). Flashlight ON!
To switch the Flashlight off, simply tap the torch icon again.
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10. Send automated iMessage replies for calls you can’t answer
Sometimes it’s not the right time to answer a phone call, as well, you might want to let the person calling know that you’ll call back shortly when free. This is handy if you’re in a meeting, or perhaps at a cafe with friends and don’t want to be rude, but also let the caller know you’ll call back soon.
To do this, next time there you have an incoming phone call, Tap the ‘Message’ option above the ‘Slide to answer’. Then three reply options will display. Once you tap a reply, this will cancel the incoming call and send them a message instantly with your selected response.
By default, you’ll get three pre-written options (“Sorry, I can’t talk right now”, “I’m on my way” and “Can I call you later?”), along with a button that lets you enter text there and then.
You can also create a new list of customised ‘Respond with’ messages. However, you can’t have more than three responses.
To create new custom messages, go to: Settings > Phone > Respond With Text
11. Skip incoming calls and set yourself a reminder to call back later
If you don’t want to send an automated reply to an incoming call, you can have your device remind you to call the person back later.
You can choose to be reminded in an hour, ‘When I Leave’ or (where applicable) ‘When I Get Home’. Make sure your address details are up to date in Contacts, so your iPhone knows where home is. The timings will be based on your GPS movements.
To do this, next time there you have an incoming phone call, tap on the ‘Remind Me’ option above ‘Slide to answer’. Then the two options will display.
Note: As with the auto-replies (iPhone trick 10), the way you do this depends on your version of iOS: most likely, you tap the Remind Me button above the slide, but in earlier versions you had to swipe upwards before you could select Remind Me Later.
12. Enable Night Shift to reduce alertness at before bed
Night Shift is a useful feature which dims the white tones of your phone screen display, which makes it easier on your eyes in low-light conditions.
Proven studies have indicated that brightness levels on phones can increase alertness at night, whilst your trying to unwind before trying to sleep. Being engaged on your phone in fact does the opposite. But Night Shift can reduce this impact.
You can schedule Night Shift to take place at the same time every evening, or you can manually enable it until the following day. You can also adjust the colour temperature so that it is more or less warm.
Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift.
13. Control Centre access & customisation
Think of the Control Centre as your ‘go-to’ features that you regularly use on your iPhone. For added convenience, the features saved under your Control Centre allow you to quickly access them without having to unlock your phone and search for them each time you need to use them.
Here is an example of a Control Centre that has been customised. Every user has their own preferences of what to include / remove. Perhaps there are some features that we’ve uncovered in the list above that you want to now include?
Sample list of features customised in Control Centre
1. Flight mode
2. Mobile data
5. Music control (if using iTunes Music, Spotify etc)
6. Lock / unlock screen portrait orientation
7. Night mode
8. Screen brightness level
9. Volume control
11. Timer, Alarm, Stopwatch, World clock
To customise your icons, go to:
Settings > Control Centre > Customise Controls.
The controls that will appear are listed at the top, under the heading ‘INCLUDE’. To add features you want included in your Control Centre, tap on the green + icons next to the desired features, located under ‘MORE CONTROLS’. To remove features you don’t want included in your Control Centre, tap the red minus sign next to the features under ‘INCLUDE’.
You can also change the order of the features in how they’re displayed under your Control Centre. To do this, simply tap and hold to drag them around.
14. Get your iPhone to flash when you receive a text message
If you still don’t notice a new text message when your phone’s vibrate and/or sound, you can also add a flash that blinks. This may provide that extra bit of attention to noticing a message on your phone, especially at night.
Settings > General > Accessibility > Scroll down to the ‘Hearing’ section > Turn on ‘LED Flash for Alerts’
Now every time you get a notification, the flash next to your iPhone’s rear-facing camera will blink.
15. Close applications still running in the background
Did you know that when you open an app on your phone, that is still runs in the background even after pressing the Home button? Having apps running in the background isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you regularly use the same apps, as you can continue where you left off (i.e. on a internet page, online game, news articles etc).
So why would you close your apps in the first place?
One good example is when your app times out or stops working for some unknown reason. Shutting down the app and restarting it will often solve the issue. Another example is if you no longer need to use an open app for days on end, by closing the app, the phone battery life won’t be zapped for having to support all unused apps running in the background. Or if you leave the weather App open, it will keep using internet to update your local weather etc.
To close the apps you have running on your phone, double click the Home button. This will pop up all the programs and applications. You can scroll across to select which ones you no longer need (if not all). If you haven’t done this before, there will be a lot!
To close a running app, use your finger to slide the app in an upwards direction, think of it as sliding it off the screen.
Here’s a short video if you get stuck…
Sidenote: This function is also a handy way to quickly access an open app without having to trawl through your phone to find the app icon. So it may not be just for closing down all apps, but also for easily navigating to find an open app.
16. How to filter, and report iMessages as SPAM
One feature sure to be popular with those who frequently receive iMessage SPAM is the ability to filter, and then mark messages as “Junk”.
For example, if you’ve ever received a message claiming you’ve won a cruise or a Best Buy gift card, and the bubble was blue, you’ve been subjected to iMessage SPAM.
To enable the iMessage filter, go to:
Settings > Messages > Filter Unknown Senders > Toggle On
If you return to the home screen and launch the Messages app you should now see two columns in your conversation view, Contacts & SMS and Unknown Senders.
Unknown senders are filtered based on iMessages you receive from phone numbers or email addresses that are not in your address book. When you view a conversation filed in the unknown column, you have the option to mark it as ‘Junk’ and delete the conversation from your phone.
Note: If you don’t see the two filter options, this may be due to your iOS software not being at iOS 8.3. To update your software, go to Settings > General > Software Update.
Hopefully you’ve discovered a few handy tricks on your iPhone device that you can now apply to your own lifestyle. Or at the least, you now have a few fun tricks that you can showcase at your next BBQ!
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