After 13 years of the iPhone, it’s no longer a novelty—and neither are most of the iPhone hacks you’ll find online. You probably already know that you should close out your background apps for faster performance, for example, or that you can put your iPhone into Airplane Mode to charge it up more quickly.
Here’s something you may not have considered, though: Every new operating system update brings new, hidden tricks. For instance, Apple introduced its upgraded software package last September: iOS 14. With it came a whole slew of upgrades, including the ability to pin conversations at the top of your Messages app, an update to Maps that shows where speed traps lie, and even the ability to unlock your car with your iPhone.
But as with all software rollouts, there are some even cooler Easter eggs to discover. Here, then, are our nine favorite iPhone hacks that you can immediately use right away.
iPhone Hack #1: Send Spam Calls to Voicemail
Sick of robocalls? You can now direct unknown callers directly to your voicemail. Of course, some robocallers may spoof a friend or relative’s phone number so that it actually looks like they’re calling you—and iOS can’t really help you there—but otherwise, if the phone number isn’t saved in your contacts, you won’t have to deal with it until later. Exceptions include phone numbers that you’ve recently made an outgoing call to or phone numbers that Siri finds in your email, for instance.
- Settings > Phone > Switch on Silence Unknown Callers.
iPhone Hack #2: Turn on Dark Mode Only at Night
The army of Dark Mode disciples finally got what they’ve been begging for all of these years with iOS 13. If your primary preference isn’t a dark little screen, but you still want to reap some of Dark Mode’s benefits, like reducing your eye strain at night, consider turning it on only during certain hours.
- Settings > Display & Brightness > Turn on Automatic > Tap Options, which should appear as a list right below. There, you can create a custom schedule for dark mode, either based on dusk-to-dawn settings or your own specific timing.
iPhone Hack #3: Type Faster With One Hand
Apple is nearly a decade behind in enabling this feature, as Android users have long had the option, but better late than never. QuickPath swipe typing lets you slide your finger across the letters of whatever you’re trying to say, rather than tapping. It’s much faster and, in some cases, prone to less errors. Even if your finger isn’t directly touching all of the right letters, the right word will be selected, similar to the regular autocorrect and suggestions feature in iMessage.
If you already use a third-party keyboard app like SwiftKey, this isn’t new for you. However, if you don’t, you can skip paying for one of these apps.
- QuickPath is turned on by default when you download iOS 13. To turn it off, go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Slide to Type.
iPhone Hack #4: Pair Two Sets of AirPods to One iPhone
There’s something romantic about sharing one of your AirPods with someone so you can both hear the same song, but I’ve been handed my fair share of grimy, waxy AirPods that I’d love to decline. If that sounds familiar, ask your friends to pair their grody AirPods to your device.
This also works with wireless Beats headphones. The following are all of the supported models that you can use with this setting: AirPods Pro, AirPods (1st generation) or later, Solo Pro, Powerbeats Pro, Powerbeats3, Beats Solo3 Wireless, Beats Studio3 Wireless, BeatsX.
- Connect your AirPods to your iPhone > Tap the AirPlay icon in the Control Center or from your lock screen or the app you’re listening to > Share Audio > Hold your friend’s AirPods or Beats headphones near your device (keep the AirPods in their case, but with the lid open, put all others into pairing mode) > When your friend’s headphones appear on-screen, tap Share Audio.
iPhone Hack #5: Customize Your ‘Do Not Disturb’ Gates
With a parent who’s been a loyal Do Not Disturb user for years, I’ve had a number of minor emergencies where I couldn’t reach my mom. No, she still hasn’t turned off Do Not Disturb, but she has added me to a list of contacts that can breach its ironclad gates. If you’d consider them an emergency contact, you should consider adding them to that list.
- Find the desired person in Contacts > Tap Edit in the top right corner > On the edit page, click either Ringtone or Text Tone > At the top, you’ll find Emergency Bypass, which will allow sounds and vibrations from that person even when Do Not Disturb is Enabled. You may want to select a quiet ringtone if you choose to do this—after all, not every text and call after bedtime is a dire emergency.
iPhone Hack #6: Charge Smarter, Not Harder
No reason to rehash #BatteryGate, but Apple’s new “Optimized Battery Charging” feature is certainly a response to the controversy.
“A battery’s lifespan is related to its chemical age, which is more than just the length of time since the battery was assembled,” Apple writes on its website. “As lithium-ion batteries chemically age, the amount of charge they can hold diminishes, resulting in reduced battery life and reduced peak performance.”
Optimized Battery Charging was introduced last fall with the debut of iOS 13. It supposedly reduces wear-and-tear on the battery by delaying charging past 80 percent. On-device machine learning algorithms learn your charging habits so that the feature only kicks on when your iPhone thinks it’ll be plugged in for an extended period of time, like overnight.
The aim is to give you a full battery when you do finally unplug, so if you typically wake up at 8 a.m., Optimized Battery Charging will juice up that last 20 percent of the battery just before you wake.
- This setting is turned on by default when you update to iOS 13. To turn it off, go to Settings > Battery > Battery Health > Optimized Battery Charging.
iPhone Hack #7: Play Radio Stations Through Siri
This feature isn’t exclusive to iOS 13—a limited number of iOS 12 users can enable it–but this is the first time all iPhone users can ask Siri to play a given radio station, from your local pop FM channel to NPR.
- Say “Hey Siri,” and follow with “play [name of radio station] radio station.”
iPhone Hack #8: Unlock Your iPhone With Your Apple Watch
If you’re wearing a mask or glasses, your iPhone’s Face ID functionality may be compromised. If typing in your passcode isn’t on your agenda, no worries—iOS 14.5 makes it possible to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- iPhone X or later with iOS 14.5 or later installed
- Apple Watch Series 3 or later with watchOS 7.4 or later installed
Before you begin:
- Make sure your Apple Watch and iPhone are paired
- Turn on Bluetooth and WiFi on both devices
- Your Apple Watch should have a passcode set up, and you should have wrist detection turned on
- Put the Apple Watch on your wrist and be sure to unlock it
How to set it up:
- Settings > Face ID & Passcode > Type in your passcode > Scroll down until you see Unlock with Apple Watch > Switch the feature on.
How to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch:
- Wake your iPhone by raising it or tapping on the screen > Look at your iPhone to unlock it > Slide up from the bottom of the screen to use it.
iPhone Hack #9: Get Apps To Quit Spying On You
On average, each app on your iPhone includes six trackers from other companies with the sole intention to collect and sell your data in bulk. Fortunately, Apple has introduced a new tool in iOS 14, called “App Tracking Transparency,” that makes it much easier to block ad trackers.
So if you don’t want Facebook to track you over to Amazon, you’re in luck. The best part? Companies can’t limit the functionality of their apps for users who don’t want to be tracked.
- Settings > Privacy > Tracking > Find Allow Apps to Request to Track and toggle it to the on position.
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