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5 indispensable iPhone time-savers

Quick-launch the camera, bring back the Home button, type like the wind, improve your battery life, and more.

5 indispensable iPhone time-savers
[Photo: Charles/Unsplash]

Like just about every iPhone owner, you probably opened the box, peeled the plastic from your new phone, and started using it—nonexistent user manual be damned. And like just about every other iPhone user, you’re probably not using said device as smartly as you could be. In that spirit, here are some tips and tricks that’ll help you use your iPhone more efficiently.

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First, a little housekeeping: we’re dealing with an iPhone 11 here running version 13.1.3 of the iOS software. These tips should work for most modern iPhones running most versions of iOS 13, though.

1. Faster photos

We’ve all been there: a perfectly photogenic moment gets thwarted by the extra seconds it takes to find the Camera app, fire it up, and take the shot. There’s got to be a better way! (Spoiler: there is indeed a better way.)

[Animation: Doug Amouth]
From the Lock screen, you’ll notice a little camera icon in the lower-right corner. But it’s in an awkward spot unless you have both hands on the phone. And there’s an even faster way to reel off a quick shot anyway: simply swipe to the left. That quick-launches the Camera app instantly, with one hand and zero fumbling. While you’re at it, check out additional Lock screen tricks here.

2. Squash the swipes

Ever since Apple unceremoniously killed the Home button, it’s been all swipes, all the time. If you long for simpler days, you’ll be happy to know that there is a way by which to get a reasonable facsimile of the Home button back. Head into Settings > Accessibility > Touch > AssistiveTouch, and then toggle the feature on. From there, select Single-Tap, and from the menu that follows, select Home.

[Animation: Doug Amouth]
Once you’ve done that, you’ll notice a little on-screen Home button that you can move around to various parts of the screen. Position it how you like it, and when you’re in an app and want to go back out to the Home screen, well . . . you know what to do. More on the AssistiveTouch feature can be found here.

3. Twinkle-toed typing

Forget hunting and pecking for each individual letter while you’re trying to type something. With iOS 13, Apple has finally infused the default keyboard with some slick sliding action. Called QuickPath, the feature lets you swipe from letter to letter without lifting your finger and guesses your desired word along the way based on the letters you’re stringing together.

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[Animation: Doug Amouth]
There’s also a cool feature whereby if you hold down the space bar for a moment, the whole keyboard will turn into a big trackpad that lets you quickly move the cursor elsewhere—great editing for long emails or notes. Additional keyboard tricks can be found here.

4. Better your battery

Despite numerous smartphone advances over the years, the lowly battery remains a constant buzzkill after a full day’s use. The iPhone has a couple settings you can use to not only lengthen the amount of time you can squeeze out of the battery each day but how much longevity you can eke out of the battery over its lifetime.

The first, Low Power Mode, is found under the Settings > Battery menu and scrimps on nonessential tasks such as the frequency with which your phone checks for new emails, app updates, and the like. This mode will kick on automatically once your battery gets too low. But if you find yourself constantly searching for an outlet, it might not hurt to try using Low Power Mode all the time to see if it can help.

[Animation: Doug Amouth]
The second, Optimized Battery Charging, is found under the Settings > Battery > Battery Health menu and leverages artificial intelligence to try to make sense of your daily charging routine so that it doesn’t overcharge the battery. Instead, it’ll hang out around 80% until it thinks you need to top the phone up to 100%—such as right before you unplug and leave the home or office for the day.

Learn more about the battery here.

5. Silence strange callers

It’s 2019. Let’s face it: nobody talks on the phone nowadays anyway. But when we do, it’s probably to someone we know really well. As such, why should we even field calls from unknown callers, some of whom are bound to be spammers? If this sounds like a credo you can live by, then check out the Silence Unknown Callers feature found in the Settings > Phone menu. The feature works just like it sounds: calls from unknown callers won’t cause your phone to audibly ring. They will, however, appear in your recent calls list and have the option of leaving voicemails just in case it’s someone you actually want to hear from.

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Learn more about the feature here, along with some additional information about dealing with spam calls.

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