iPhone 12 / Pro / Max: tips and tricks

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If you are looking to make the best out of your iPhone, these tips and tricks will help you master the basics, find new shortcuts and also learn a few advanced tricks you may have never known existed.

Let’s start with the basics, and later on skip to the more advanced parts if that’s what you’re looking for. With this in mind, the first tip is how to...

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Tip #1: Quick-start the Camera



On your lockscreen, you have the camera button in the bottom right and you can long press it, but that button is tiny and I find that not very convenient, so instead you can swipe left from the right side of the phone and go directly into the camera.

Tip #2: Spotlight Search secrets



The next tip is one of my favorite features in iOS, and it’s called Spotlight Search. You simply swipe down from the middle of the screen. You probably already knew that, what you may not know is that here you can type not only the name of an app, but also any setting. For example, you may want to add a new language in the keyboard. You don’t have to go search for it in settings, you can just type “Language” in Spotlight Search and you can instantly go to that setting. Or if you want to see your camera settings, just type Camera and the settings result appears below. Or are you looking to disable the auto brightness option? Simply type “auto brightness” and it appears, super convenient.

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Tip #3: Quick-record Short Video



So back to the tips, the next one is also camera related, did you know that you can quickly record a video without ever switching to video mode? Simply open the camera, press and hold the shutter button and your iPhone will start recording a short video. The moment you release your finger, the video is over. That’s an easy way to record a quick video and I love using this for capturing impromptu moments.

Tip #4: Use standard formats like JPEG



Another camera tip is to use standard formats so you can easily share your photos and videos with a PC or an Android phone. By default, the iPhones use newer formats that other devices may not recognize. That’s why I recommend you go into Settings, then Camera, then Formats, and select the Most compatible format instead of the Most efficient one. Now, these compatible formats take up a bit more space, but at least you can easily share them with different devices.

Tip #5: Quickly change camera settings



While we’re talking camera, next tip is that you can now quickly toggle between video settings right in the camera app. Tap on the numbers in the top left corner to quickly switch between higher resolution 4K and smaller, HD files, and also you can record in 30 fps for everyday stuff, and 60 fps which is more suitable for sporting events.

Tip #6: Optimize Control Center



Okay, enough with the camera stuff. iOS also comes with Control Center where you adjust your brightness, volume, and so on. By default, in iOS 14, it also shows you a big shortcut to Apple Home, and that’s cool if you use it, but if you don’t it’s kind of annoying. To disable it, open Spotlight Search, type “Control Center” and turn off the “Show Home Controls” option. While we are here, it’s a good idea to add a few useful icons to Control Center. I always add Low Power Mode and Screen Recording, but take a look at the other shortcuts too. Once you add them, open Control Center again, and voila, it’s much more useful now.

You can tap on the Screen Record button now and it will start recording, so you can capture your gameplay, or something else.

Tip #7: How to take a full-page screenshot



Next up, how do you take a simple screenshot? Easy, press the power key and the volume up key for a brief moment and release. Apple also supports Expanded Screenshots so you can capture a longer webpage, but this works a bit differently than rolling screenshots in Androi. First of all, on iOS, this option is only available in Safari, meaning that you cannot use it in other web browsers like Chrome for example. So here’s how it works: just take a screenshot in Safari, tap on the screenshot thumbnail and then press “Full page”. You can now crop out the part that you want. Once at it, you can also draw, add an arrow to show a specific part, or a magnifying glass. Tap done and you can save this as a PDF document in the Files app.

Tip #8: Get Better Battery Life



Next, a few battery tips. The iPhone 12 series all come with AMOLED screens that use more power showing up bright color and less power showing darker colors, that’s why a darker wallpaper is recommended. You can also use Low Power Mode, indicated by a yellow battery icon. Here is what it does: it limits 5G connectivity, reduces app refresh, stops automatic downloads and cuts down on some visual effects. Testing also shows that while in Low Power Mode the CPU on your iPhone runs at about 70% its regular speed, so it’s indeed a powerful switch.

Tip #9: Dark Mode for articles in Safari!



I also use Dark Mode at night: open spotlight search and type display, here you can tap on automatic and use dark mode when it gets dark outside. Unfortunately, Dark Mode does not turn the background of webpages in Safari dark, but here is a neat trick. Once Dark Mode is enabled, you can enter a specific article and tap the reading mode button at the top left, this will turn the background black and is much easier on your eyes at night.

Tip #10: Siri Voice Accents!



Okay, a few more fun tips. Did you know you can change the accent for Siri? Open Spotlight Search and type “Siri Voice”, and you can pick between American, Australian, British, Indian, Irish and South African accents, as well as a Male or Female voice. Cool!

Tip #11: Learn the AR Measure app



Next up, the Measure app! If you own a 12 Pro series iPhone, you now get a LiDAR sensor that’s great for augmented reality. One simple example is to just open the Measure app and have your kid or a friend stand in front of the camera. It will automatically see that and will tell you how tall they are with pretty good accuracy. Awesome!

Tip #12: Typing and corrections



Next up, let’s dive a bit deeper with some more advanced tips. First, typing. Writing long paragraphs on a mobile device means you are guaranteed to make some mistakes and you often have to go back and make corrections. This requires precise cursor control, so here is how you get it on iOS: with the keyboard open, long press on the space bar and it transforms into a sort of a touchpad, and you can use that. What’s new is that you can also just pick up the text cursor with your fingertip and move it anywhere easily, which is very convenient.

Tip #13: How to undo and redo typing



And if you are writing longer bits of text, now this works on both iPhone and iPad, you can swipe with three fingers left to undo, and right to redo. Or alternatively, you can double tap with two fingers to undo. This is more convenient on the larger Max phones or iPad, but still worth knowing.

Tip #14: Put an end to SPAM calls



Next, if you get a lot of pesky calls from unknown callers, you can now easily put a stop to that. Open Spotlight Search and type Silence unknown callers, tap on it and flip the switch and voila, you will be no longer bothered.

Tip #15: Master the Files app



Also, you have to explore the Files app on iOS. This file manager app gives you a ton of information. For example, right now in the Photos app you cannot even see the name of a file or a video. A simple tip to see that is to open it, and then tap Share and select Save to Files, and you see the name and the format.

Tip #16: Get full info about a photo



Once in the Files app, long press on a file, and you’ve got a bunch of settings. For photos, tap on Info to get a full Exif read-out: you can see when the image was created, when it was modified, last opened, the model it was captured on, the aperture, ISO, everything.

Tip #17: How to Archive files for sharing



You can also use the Files app to compress multiple files into one archive for easy sharing. Tap the dots button in the upper right corner and select multiple files, now tap on the dots button this time in the bottom right corner and select Compress. And voila, a new ZIP archive file will be created that you can then easily share with others. You can see your files as a list and you can also easily sort them by kind, name or size.

Tip #18: How to Hide photos



Next up, the Photos app. Did you know that you can hide photos from the camera roll? Simply select a few of those secretive photos of your, tap share and select Hide, and then they will disappear from your camera roll. They are not password protected but you can only see them if you go into the Albums tab and scroll all the way down to the Hidden folder, and that’s where they are.

Tip #19: Check up your Battery Health



Finally, on the topic of battery, open spotlight search and type battery, then go into Battery Health. This is one piece of data that only iPhones give you and that’s not available on Android. Brand new iPhones like this one will have 100%, but once you use the phone for a few months, the percentage drops. This shows the wear and tear on an iPhone battery, and once it reaches about 80%, your phone may slow down and it’s recommended that you swap the battery for a new one.

Tip #20: Preserve your battery long-term



Also, if you charge overnight, it’s a good idea to turn on the “Optimised battery charging” toggle, this way your iPhone will know to charge up to 80% and delay the last 20% charge until just about you wake up. You will still wake up to a full battery, but the phone will spend less time charging at that above 80% range which causes faster degradation of the battery.

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