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Tips & Tricks for Getting More out of your iPhone
Tuesday, August 14th, 2007 at 8:00 AM - by
One of the best things about Apple's iPhone is its interface. For those put off by the complexity of most "smart phones," the iPhone offers an extremely intuitive way to get to its powerful features. My usual method of demonstrating my iPhone to the curious crowds it gathers (especially to those who balk at trying it, saying they'll never figure it out) is to hand the phone over with two introductory comments:
"1. Start by pressing the home button. 2. Whatever you're doing, pressing the home button brings you to the 'main page.'"
With that, I tell them to "just play" with it.
That's usually enough to let just about anyone find their way around the iPhone. Still, there are some very nice touches built into the phone that make it even easier to use, but aren't readily apparent. Here's my quick list of some of them:
- Apple's videos and documentation all say to wake the phone up by pressing the power switch on top of the phone; pressing the home button also wakes the phone.
- To get the widescreen keyboard (only available in Safari), turn the phone to landscape before touching a text field. (The keyboard won't reorient itself if it's already being displayed.)
- To dismiss the keyboard's suggested spelling of a word, touch the suggested word anywhere -- you don't have to hit the little "x" at the end of the word.
- As David Pogue made famous, you can use punctuation and instantly return to the alpha keyboard by touching the "123″ button and sliding your finger to the desired punctuation symbol (or number, for that matter.) When you lift your finger, the punctuation will be added and you will return to the alpha keyboard. It's not always necessary to use that trick, however. Typing an apostrophe will bring you back to the alpha keyboard as well, as will typing a space or return after a period.
- If you've scrolled down on a Web page, touching the status bar at the top of the screen (where the wireless connection strength and time are displayed) will automatically scroll your page back to the top.
- You can share a URL via email, but the command can be a little tricky to find. When you find a URL you want to send to someone else, click in the address field and a "Share" button will appear. Clicking it will open a new email message with the URL pre-populated in the body of the message and the Web site name in the subject.
- Your iPhone will display a picture of the person calling you, if there's one in your Mac's Address Book. You can also choose a picture on your iPhone to assign to a contact. If you do that, it will display a full-screen picture of the caller -- even if you later delete the picture from your phone. (The default Address Book photos will appear as thumbnail-sized images just to the right of the person's name.)
- In Google Maps, you can perform a search for things like a restaurants, without choosing a city, and it will display those restaurants nearest to the map's current location -- great for finding things near bookmarked locations, like your house, for instance.
- To see where a link in an email or Web page will take you, press and hold on the link for a few seconds. You'll get a pop-up balloon that shows the URL of the link.
- To extend your battery life, turn automatic brightness off and slide the brightness control down as low as you can and still comfortably view the display. Also turn off Bluetooth and WiFi if you don't expect to use them for a while. Set mail to check manually -- the iPhone will look for new messages whenever you open your mail account.
- If you use double-tab to zoom in on web pages, don't worry about accidentally clicking on a link on the page. As long as your double-tap is reasonably quick, iPhone won't misinterpret the taps.
- You probably already know you can delete emails or videos by "swiping" them. I found that iPhone is a little temperamental about guessing your intentions, though. I've found that touching and holding my finger still for a second before beginning my swipe gives me a better success rate.
- Don't like the choices Apple gives you in your iPod or YouTube menus? You can edit them. Just click on the "More" button and you'll get a screen full of icon choices. Drag one on top of the one you want to replace in your menu bar and customize your choices.
I'm sure their are even more I'm either forgetting about or haven't discovered yet. Like the Mac, iPhone's power lies in its ability to make it extremely easy to use, and even more powerful for those willing to take the time to delve a little deeper.
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