An iOS device is a powerful device that only gets better the more you know about it. iPhones, iPad, and iPod were designed to be easy to use and figure out, and exploring all the features yourself can be one of the best things about owning a new device. If it is a new device or you are new the iOS world, I encourage you to dig deep into your iOS device and figure out all the neat little tricks and tweaks. In the meantime however, here is my list of 10 things every iOS owner should know and do.
Before we begin, I should apologize for the somewhat misleading title. I tried to keep it to just 10 tips, but I got a little carried away.
#1 – Install and Uninstall apps
This is fairly basic however I’ve seen it happen where a co-worker has an iPhone and hasn’t installed a single app. One of the most enticing thing about iOS is its vast app library. Not installing apps on an iPhone, iPod or iPad is like owning a Ferrari and never putting gas in it. It looks nice, does the basics like plays music, but it’s not being used to its full capacity.
To install apps from the App Store you need an Apple ID. If you don’t already have an Apple ID, one can be created by going to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Add Account -> iCloud -> Get a Free Apple ID. If you want, you can use an existing email address instead of creating a new …@icloud.com email address just tap the “Use your current email address” instead of “Get a free iCloud email address” while going through the setup process.
Once you have your Apple ID setup and ready to go, you’re all set to explore and download the vast collection of apps that the App Store has to offer.
Installing an app is really easy; browse the App Store and then download any app you want by using your Apple ID. A good first download to test it out, if it is your first app download would be the YouTube app.
Uninstalling apps is also really easy. On the home screen, located the app you want to delete, tap and hold the app until it starts to wiggle. Then just simply tap the little circular “x” button on that appears on the app icon.
- A purchased app can be deleted and downloaded again without any charge.
- You can see all your previously downloaded apps by opening the App Store and going to the “Purchased” tab.
#2 – Closing Apps and Multitasking
Closing apps and multitasking on iOS go hand in hand.
The multitasking feature lets you navigate between apps that are currently open. To bring up multitasking just double-tap the home button. Or on an iPad, swipe up with for fingers from the bottom of the screen.
Sometimes an app can freeze or just has a case of the hiccups, closing and re-opening the app can commonly alleviate the problem. I even close and reopen YouTube when it’s buffering slow.
To close an app first enable the multitasking mode, then simply swipe the app upwards off the screen. To close apps faster, you can close multiple apps at once. With multiple fingers, just select multiple apps and swipe upwards.
- Multitasking has a feature called Background App Refresh that keeps apps running in the background and refreshing content.
- Apps that run and update in the background drain battery.
- If you want to stop apps from running and updating in the background go to Settings -> General -> turn off Background App Refresh (completely or app by app).
- Even after disabling Background App Refresh, multitasking still functions, it just doesn’t update and run apps in the background.
#3 – Backing up: iTunes vs iCloud or Both
I’m sure you’ve heard it many times, but I’m going to say it anyways. Always back up your device!
Backing up with iCloud is convenient and extremely easy to do. Once iCloud backup is setup, it will automatically back up your data whenever it’s connected to Wi-Fi and plugged in. Do you plug your device in when you go to bed and is it connected to your Wi-Fi network? If so, iCloud backup is for you.
When backing up with iCloud, your backup is uploaded and stored on Apples servers. Because of this, it is mandatory that your device be connected to Wi-Fi since constantly backing up over a cellular service could lead to an expensive bill.
If you want to manually back up your device at anytime just open Settings -> iCloud -> Storage & Backup -> “Back Up Now” (device still has to be connected to Wi-Fi).
Backing up and restoring with iTunes is faster because it uses a fast direct connection to your computer over Wi-Fi or USB. To back up with iTunes, connect your device over Wi-Fi or USB -> go to the devices Summary page -> click “Back Up Now”. While it can back up automatically, it is inconvenient for those times when you hurriedly want to sync a new album from iTunes, but instead of just syncing the new content it also decides that it’s a good time to start a backup… before it starts to sync.
|Works without Computer||✓||x|
|Set it and forget it||✓||x|
Here’s how I back up:
I back up to both iCloud and iTunes. A daily iCloud backup is automatically completed while I’m sleeping because it’s plugged in and connected to Wi-Fi. An iTunes backup is manually completed a couple of times a month, whenever I remember. It provides an extra layer of backup protection in case anything were to happen with the iCloud backup.
#4 – Five Quick Absolute Must Know Tips
#1. Scroll to Top:
The status bar (at the very top where the time is located) can be used to instantly jump to the top of a list or page. Example: While in an app such as Camera Roll, tap the status bar and you’ll instantly taken up to the top of the page instead of having to manually scroll all the way back up.
#2. Orientation Lock:
Want your iOS device to stick to one orientation? To prevent an iOS device from automatically rotating the screen, open Control Center (swipe up from the very bottom of your iOS device) and tap the little icon that looks like a lock with a circle-shaped arrow.
#3. Enable Emoticons:
Apple includes a vast collection of emoticons (smily faces), the only problem is that they’re not enabled by default. To enable emoticons on your iOS device open Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> Keyboards -> Add New Keyboard -> Emoji. Once enabled, in order to access them, tap the new little globe key while using the keyboard. Tap the globe key again to switch back to your regular keyboard. More info on using emotions, including images: Enable emoticons in iPad, iPhone and iPod.
#4. Schedule Do Not Disturb:
Nobody likes being woken up multiple times a night because of text messages or emails. With Do Not Disturb you schedule a timeframe where your device will be silenced. To set up a schedule open Settings -> Do Not Disturb.
Do Not Disturb can be further customized. You can add a group that will always override the Do Not Disturb feature. For example, maybe you always want the feature to be overridden by family members. How to organize your contacts into groups.
Also usually when someone calls again within a 3 minute timeframe they have something important to say. To allow repeated calls to get through, enable “Repeated Calls” in Settings -> Do Not Disturb.
#5. Change and Create Ringtones:
Included in iOS are many ringtones and alert tones that can be used to customize the way your iOS device sounds. Access and change them by opening Settings -> Sounds.
Want to customize the sounds on your device with your own songs? Read my other article that shows 3 ways to create Ringtones from your Music and Videos.
#5 – Copy, Select, Paste, Define, Speak and More
There’s a lot of functionality hidden behind the simple action of tapping and holding down on text in iOS. The basics, such as select, cut, copy and paste are thing that I’m sure you knows about. However, beyond the basic functions are other functions that you may not have seen before because they are application specific, hardware specific or just not enabled… yet.
The “Replace”, “BIU“, “Quote Level” and “Insert Photo or Video” buttons are application specific. These options are available where they are needed, such as the Mail app. They aren’t present where they aren’t needed, such as the Camera Roll.
The Define function is extremely useful, it’s a quick and easily accessible dictionary! Select a word, tap “Define” and a little pop-up will come into view with the definition as well as the pronunciation of the specific word.
The speak function is another awesome feature that I use quite a lot. This right here is a long article, wouldn’t it be nice to just sit back and have your iOS device read it all for you? If your answer is yes, then you’ll need to enable the “Speak” feature in order to use it. All you have to do is go to Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Speak Selection -> Enable. Once enabled just select all the text in an email, online article or anything else where you can select text, then tap the “Speak” button.
- You can change the dictionary that is used when tapping the define button. To change the dictionary, select a word in any app -> tap define -> tap manage.
- For the Speak feature, you can change the voice, speaking speed and there is even an option to highlight words as they are being read. (Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Speak Selection).
- Once speech is activated, it can be paused by pressing the Pause button that will replace the Speak button.
#6 – Control Center
Control Center was introduced to iPads, iPhones and iPods with iOS 7. It provides quick and easy access to a few more commonly used settings and features. To activate Control Center all you have to do is swipe up from the very bottom of your device. By default Control Center can be opened from any app as well as from the lock screen. This however can get a little annoying if it’s constantly being activated by accident. To customize where and when Control Center can open go to Settings -> Control Center. There are two options, one to disable or enable it on the lock screen and another to disable or enable it within apps. If you disable both of these settings, it will only be accessible from the home screen.
#1 – Playback Options
The basic playback controls. You already know how to use this. On and iPhone and iPod the volume control are included in the playback options.
#2 – Quick Settings
- Airplane Mode – Turns on and off all network activity, including Wi-Fi, cellular, bluetooth, GPS and location services.
- Wi-Fi Settings – Turns on and off Wi-Fi.
- Bluetooth – Turns on and off Bluetooth.
- Do Not Disturb – Turns on and off Do Not Disturb.
- Orientation – Lock and Unlock screen orientation.
#3 – Quick App Access
- Tap to instantly open the Clock app.
- Tap to instantly open the Camera app.
#4 – Volume Control
You know how to use this.
#5 – AirDrop and AirPlay
- AirDrop is a feature that lets you share photos, videos, websites, locations, and more with other nearby iOS 7 devices. Tap the AirDrop icon it will give you option to share files with nearby people in your contacts lists or with anybody who is nearby.
- AirPlay lets you wirelessly move your iOS devices screen onto your Apple TV. You can also choose to just have the audio wirelessly transfer over. Read more: How to use AirPlay with Macs, iOS devices and Apple TVs.
#6 – Brightness Control
Move the slider to change the screen brightness.
#7 – Extra Options on iPhone and iPod
In Control Center on an iPhone and recent iPod Touch there is a flashlight feature. Tapping it turns it on and off.
Another button that’s not on an iPad is the button for quick access to the built-in calculator app.
#7 – Notification Center
Notification Center is the hub of your iOS device. It keeps track of all your notifications, alerts, calendar events, stocks, reminders, weather and even tells you how long it will take to drive home from your current location. When I pick up my iPhone for the first time on a fresh day the first thing I usually do is check the notification center. To access Notification Center simply swipe down from the very top of your iOS device.
Notification Center gets even better when you customize it. To customize it, go to Settings -> Notification Center.
By default anyone can access your Notification Center from the lock screen without unlocking your device. This may not be a problem for some, however if you want to disable this feature, it can be disabled at the above mentioned location.
To take the customization even further you can change the way you are notified by these notification, app by app.
To customize the way a specific app alerts you go Settings -> Notification Center and tap on the app you want to modify. Your first choice is how you’d like the notifications to appear. You can choice between having it show as a banner on the top of the screen or as an alert that pops up in the middle of the screen. It can also be set to not display an alert.
Customization goes beyond just that however, it can be tweaked even further. Maybe you want an app to show in the notification center, but you don’t want it to show on the lock screen, that can be done as well.
To sum it up, if you rely on Notification Center like I do, it doesn’t hurt to spend a couple of minutes customizing the way it works for you.
- Not all app Notification Center settings are the same.
- Notifications can be sorted by time or manually.
- To disable an application completely from Notification Center, tap edit and drag the app to the very button where is says “Do Not Include”.
#8 – Add & Edit Mail Accounts
Adding an email account is relatively easy. All you need to do is go to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Add Account. From here choose what kind of email service you use. The options are iCloud, Exchange, Google (Gmail), Yahoo, AOL, Outlook and Other. Once logged in and depending on what kind of email address you’ve setup there are a few ways of customizing it.
From the Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars area you can decide how you’d like the emails to be fetched. If you tap “Fetch New Data”, you’ll be given the option to choose how regularly your device check for new emails. If your email service provider has “push” support, it will push the email to your device instantly instead of the regular method which can be set to intervals of every 15 minutes, 30 minutes, hourly or manually.
That’s just one small part of customizing mail however, from the Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars there are a lot more options. Here’s a short list of things in the Mail settings you should change or check out:
- Signature (Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Signature): By default when you send an email the default signature is included. That signature is something like “Sent from my iPhone”. To make your emails look more professional you can create your own signature.
- Default Account (Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Default Account): If you are constantly changing your From address when composing a new email, then change the default email address.
- Sorting Contacts (Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Sort Order): It may just be me not being professional enough, however I can’t stand having my Contacts sorted by last name. Under the “Contacts” area you change the sorting order.
- Default Calendar (Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Default Calendar): If you have multiple calendars and want events to automatically default to specific calendar it can be changed here. Example: I add a lot more events to my “Personal” calendar that I do to my “Work” calendar, so I want to default to my Personal calendar.
- If using an Apple email address (@icloud.com, @me.com, @mac.com) tap on the account (in Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars) to edit what is synced with your email address.
- Change the mailbox behaviours (where and how emails are stored) by going to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Tap iCloud email account -> tap the Account -> Advanced -> Advanced.
- To manually check for new mail, open Mail, drag the list of Mail down until a rotating loading image appears, then let go.
#9 – Block Calls, Messages & FaceTime:
The ability to block calls was included in iOS 7. Blocking someone with this feature does more than just block calls, it also blocks text messages as well as FaceTime calls. The steps to blocking someone on an iPhone is slightly different from an iPad and iPod.
On and iPhone there are two ways to block someone. One is to go to Settings -> Phone -> Blocked, and the other is to simply open the Phone app -> Navigate to the contact you want to block -> click “Block this Caller”.
On and iPad or iPod, you must go to Settings -> Messages -> Blocked.
- Unfortunately there is no way to simply enter a phone number or email address to block. It has to be done with the above methods.
- Once a contact is blocked, you can delete the contact and the phone number / email address will remain blocked.
#10 – Five New Hidden Features
#1 – Frequent Locations:
With the release of iOS 7 your iPhone by default keeps track of where you’ve recently been. This information is used by the OS to “provide useful location-related information”, such as predictive traffic routing. It’s also possible to see the recorded locations as well as the times that you were at those locations. To access this information go to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services -> System Services -> Frequent Locations.
When I first heard about this feature, my first thought was that this is just a scheme by Big Brother to keep track of me and my location. For those who are worried about this information here is what Apple has to say about it:
This data is kept solely on your device and will not be sent to Apple without your consent. It will be used to provide you with personalized services, such as predictive traffic routing.
You can manually clear the location history or even turn of the frequent locations feature at anytime by going to the above listed location. For a much closer look at Frequent Locations read this article by iDownloadBlog – A closer look at Frequent Locations in iOS 7
#2 – Twitter in Safari is the new RSS:
You’ll have to excuse me if I seem a little to excited about this. I seriously love this feature, it’s the RSS reader I’ve always wanted Safari to have! Why? Because it’s full of links to websites from people who I follow. People who post tweets about content that I am interested in, which is why I follow those people in the first place. Here’s an example of what I mean. I like graphic design, and @abduzeedo is a talented graphic designer who also just happens to post links to other graphic design works that he thinks is inspirational and impressive. To top it off, only tweets with links to websites are included in the Twitter sidebar. This gives a more personal and wide range of content to explore than simply getting RSS updates from a single website.
Also, most websites utilize a Twitter account, and with those Twitter accounts they post links to their new content. Much like an RSS feed, only now it’s built into Safari.
To access the Twitter feed open Safari -> Bookmarks -> select the @ tab.
#3 – Activation Lock:
Find my iPhone on iOS has always been a good way to find a lost iPad, iPhone, or iPod. However if it were stolen, the thief could just restore the device, remove the SIM card and walk off with their shiny new iOS device. Activation lock prevents a thief from restoring and reactivating your device without knowing your Apple ID password.
This means that all the device would be good for is a paperweight. This is because through the Find my iPhone feature you could lock the device, preventing the thief any access to your device, and they can’t bypass it to restore the device. For more information on how use Find my iPhone as well as its many features read my other article: How to enable and use Find My iPhone
#4 – Automatic App Updates:
There is no longer a need to open the App Store just to manually update all your apps. To enable automatic update open Settings -> iTunes & App Store -> enable automatic updates. To save cellular data, there is another switch just below that can enable or disable these automatic updates while connected by cellular data.
#5 – Show all Text Message TimeStamps:
One of the most frustrating things about the old Messages app was that it didn’t show all the timestamps of every text. With iOS 7, showing the timestamps is really easy. While viewing a text message, simply swipe your finger from the right to the left. This will move the text messages to the side and reveal the times at which a message was sent or received.
If you’re interested in learning more about your iPad, iPhone or iPod then you should definitely subscribe to new posts from AppDucate using the links below. This website is called “AppDucate – Educating the Mac and iOS user”, it’s kind of what we do here. I’d love to hear from you guys, what’s some of your favorite and absolutely must know tips that you use on your iOS device?