10 Things You Didn't Know Your iPhone Could Do

Photographed by Mark Iantosca.
Whether you’ve been using an iPhone for five years, five months, or five days, there’s always something new to learn.

With the arrival of iOS 9 just around the corner, it’s a good time to make sure you’re taking full advantage of the oft-hidden, life-hacking features currently on offer in iOS 8. From icons you've never paid attention to while snapping pics, to settings that will ensure messages don’t disrupt your regularly scheduled beauty sleep, we’ve rounded up 10 tips and tweaks that may have slipped under your radar. 


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Photo: Courtesy Apple.
Check For Battery-Draining Apps
Keep getting caught with a dead battery at the end of a long day? Go to Settings, General, Usage, then tap Battery Usage to see exactly what apps have been using your battery most over the past 24 hours or over the past week. If you spot a few battery hogs, double tap the home button to pull up all of your most-recently used apps, then swipe upward to close them out.
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Photo: Courtesy Apple.
Change The Order Of Social Sharing Icons
If you always share photos via Message or Facebook, and never by email, you can rearrange the order of the share icons to better suit your preferences. So when you’ve selected a photo, for example, tap the share button in the lower left corner, then tap, hold, and drag the Mail, Twitter, or Facebook icons around in the order you want.
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Photo: Courtesy Apple.
Use The Camera’s Self-Timer
Squeezing a group of friends into the camera frame and hitting the shutter button at the right time is a special sort of circus act. Fortunately for your group-selfie game, the camera actually has a built-in self-timer: Just tap the clock-looking icon at the top of the screen. There, you can select a three-second or 10-second timer that starts counting down once you hit the shutter button. It then takes a Burst shot of 11 photos in rapid succession, to give you a fighting chance of grabbing a photo where no one is blinking.
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Photo: Courtesy Apple.
Ban Sleep-Disrupting Notifications
If you haven’t set up “Do Not Disturb” already, you’ll thank us later for this. The feature holds call, message, and notification alerts during a specified time — so, for example, you can get quality sleep on a Saturday night without being interrupted by drunk texts from friends (don't worry, you’ll see them in the morning when you wake up). To set this up, go to Settings then Do Not Disturb. To set it to turn on automatically, select “Scheduled” and set the time from, say, 12:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m., or whenever you're most likely to be in bed. You can choose to allow calls from your Favorite contacts, in case you always want to get a notification from your partner or parents, or switch on “Repeated Calls,” which will un-silence a second call from the same person if they call twice with in a three-minute time span (indicating something urgent).
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Photo: Courtesy Apple.
Make Reading In The Dark Easier
Instead of turning down the brightness on your handset, which still leaves a white glare searing into your retinas, try inverting the colors when you need to do some reading in the dark. Go to Settings, General, Accessibility, then switch on Invert Colors. This flips your screen's whites to blacks, and so on. Or, you can also try switching on grayscale (located in the same settings menu) to help alleviate eye strain.
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Photo: Courtesy Apple.
Visit A Website’s Desktop Site
Even though you’re on your phone, sometimes you want to see a website’s full, desktop version, not its pared-down mobile site. To do so quickly, when you’re typing the URL in mobile Safari, just swipe downward on the main screen (below the URL field) and then tap Request Desktop Site. (Alternatively, some sites add an “m.” in front of their site name to pull up the mobile version. Delete that from the URL, and the desktop version will load.)
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Photo: Courtesy Apple.
Use Spotlight To Find Anything
New iPhone users (particularly recent Android converts) may not be aware that with a swipe downward anywhere on the screen, you pull up Spotlight Search. Start typing what you’re looking for — an app, a song title, an email subject, a friend’s name — and Spotlight surfaces suggestions that match. Spotlight can search the App Store, iTunes, Wikipedia, Bing, maps, news, movie theaters, and more. It’s particularly useful if you want to open an app you haven’t used in a while, or if you want to pull up a piece of information quickly.
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Photo: Courtesy Apple.
Share Your Location With Friends And Family
Whether you’re navigating a massive concert venue or trying to catch up with a friend on the street, you can find each other easily by sharing your location with a contact. Just go into your iMessages, tap Details in the upper right corner of a message thread, and you can either send your current location, or share your location. If you choose the latter, you can share for an hour, the rest of the day, or indefinitely. In this menu, you can also mute a conversation, if a certain texting thread is getting distracting and out of control.
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Photo: Courtesy Apple.
Share Purchases From iTunes
With Family Sharing, up to six people in your family (or family of friends) can share iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases without sharing accounts. You can also share photos, locations, and a family calendar. Go to Settings, iCloud, and tap “Set Up Family Sharing.” If you're the one to set it up, you’ll be the “Family Organizer,” and it will be your card that’s used for purchases by anyone else you invite as part of your family.
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Photo: Courtesy Apple.
Make Your Screen Easier On Your Eyes
Constantly making squinty eyes down at your phone? You can make both the icons and the text size bigger. Go to Settings, Display & Brightness, then tap Zoomed. This changes the number of icons on your screen from 24 smaller ones to 20 larger icons. You’ll have to hit “Set” in the upper right for this change to apply to your phone. On top of that, you can also adjust the text size across the system (and in many third party apps). In this same menu, tap Text Size, then drag the slider to increase or decrease the size of the text, making it easier to read whether you’re near- or farsighted.
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