9 surprising iPhone tips and tricks

iPhone tips and tricks
(Image credit: Denis Cherkashin at Unsplash)

Looking for some cool iPhone tips and tricks? You're in the right place. The iPhone has always been a revolutionary product, ever since it burst onto the scene in 2007. But these days, it's pretty much a fully-fledged computer in your pocket.

Perhaps the best thing about the iPhone is how many incredible features are hiding right under your nose. From life-changing hacks to little wins, there are so many ways to get the most our of your iPhone – and to neutralise those little nuisances you thought you were stuck with. Here are some of our favourite surprising features – and if it inspires you to grab some new kit, check out the best Apple deals.

10 surprising iPhone tips and tricks

01. Dig up dinosaurs

ARcheology app

ARcheology (Image credit: MacFormat)

Augmented Reality (AR) apps make the impossible appear right in front of you. ARcheology – Dig Into History is a great example of that. It puts dinosaurs under your floorboards, in the garden, in the park or anywhere else you can point your phone’s camera, so you can discover a T-rex under the terrace or a diplodocus under the dinner table.

02. Measure like magic

If you have an iPhone SE / iPhone 6s or later, you can use the built-in Measure app to measure things simply by pointing your phone at them. It’s even better on the iPhone 12 Pro/ Pro Max thanks to LiDAR scanning. Just set the start and end points and Measure calculates the distance.

03. Set shortcuts

iPhone shortcuts

iOS shortcuts  (Image credit: MacFormat)

The Shortcuts app is an amazing tool for tinkerers, enabling you to set up automation based on “if this happens, do that”, but many iPhone users may not be aware of its powers. Open the app and tap on Gallery to see existing shortcuts you can add to your phone or adapt to your own requirements.

04. Take photos with EarPods

No, your EarPods don’t have a camera in them. But you can use them to take pictures using the volume up or down keys. Open the Camera app, point your phone and press the button. You can reassign the touch controls in AirPods but so far you can’t use them to do this.

05. Make a GIF

Make a GIF on iPhone

(Image credit: MacFormat)

Turn one of your videos into an animated GIF. Create your own Share shortcut using Shortcuts, or install a dedicated GIF app such as Giphy, which enables you to make and share GIFs without programming. It also has a search engine to help you find the right GIF for any message.

06. Tap the back

On the iPhone 8 onwards, you can turn the Apple logo into a button using Back Tap. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Touch > Back Tap and choose a function for a double-tap and triple-tap, such as Spotlight, muting audio, or going to the Home Screen. Back Tap works even if your iPhone is in a case.

07. Hum a song


SoundHound for iPhone (Image credit: MacFormat)

We’ve all had those moments when we know a song but can only remember a bit of the tune. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just hum that bit and our iPhones could tell us what it is? That’s what SoundHound does, and while it doesn’t recognise everything it still has an impressive hit rate.

08. Watch your baby

If you’re travelling with multiple iPhones, you can use FaceTime to turn one of them into a really good baby monitor. Position one phone in the room, call it via FaceTime and then mute the audio. The downside to this is that it’ll hammer the phone battery, and if there’s no Wi-Fi it could incur data charges too.

09. Screenshot full pages

In Safari, you can capture an entire web page in a single screenshot. Even if it’s much bigger than what you can see on screen and you haven’t scrolled through it. Take your screenshot and then look at the top of the screen. If you tap Full Page, you can now save or share the whole thing.

This article was originally published in issue 367 of MacFormat. Buy issue 367 or subscribe to MacFormat.

Read more:

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Carrie Marshall

Carrie Marshall is a journalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, broadcaster and musician from Glasgow, where she lives with her two children, a greyhound and more guitars than are strictly necessary. A professional writer since 1998, Carrie is particularly interested in how technology can help us live our best lives and has written thousands of features, columns, reviews and news stories for a huge range of magazines, newspapers, websites and trade publications including T3, Techradar, MacFormat, BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend.