10 Hidden iPhone Features That Will Make You More Productive
Whatsapp Pinterest

Over the last nine years, iOS has had to walk a thin line: make the OS so simple that anyone can pick it up, but also robust and feature-rich so that hardcore power users can also excel.

The way Apple has handled this so far is to have a layered approach. On the surface, it’s still simple. But look around a bit, peek behind menus, share buttons, 3D Touch shortcuts, and you’ll find a whole new world of useful hidden features.

Rather than spending a couple of hours poking your nose into the nooks and crannies of iOS, just read our guide below.

1. Send Voice Messages in iMessage

If your family, friends, and coworkers use iMessage for communication, try sending them a voice message when it’s not easy or possible to type out a response. This feature has been in the OS for a couple of years now but it’s massively underused.

In a conversation, you’ll see a microphone icon next to the text box. Tap and hold, speak your message and swipe up to send it along. The person on the other side can tap on it to hear it or just put their phone to their ear to listen to it automatically.

ios hidden features productive 6

This feature makes communicating really seamless. It’s almost like a walkie-talkie for iPhone. Put your phone to your ear when you’re in a conversation, speak, put your phone down and the message is sent automatically. The messages also disappear automatically after a set time. You can choose to Keep them individually or change the setting for auto deletion for all voice messages from Settings > Messages.

Voice messages work differently from dictation. This feature doesn’t transcribe your words to text, it just sends it as is. WhatsApp also has a similar feature.

If you haven’t already, you should also give the dictation feature a shot. It’s really good at converting your speech to text and it’s accessible everywhere you can use a keyboard.

2. Interactive Notifications

Notifications got a big upgrade in iOS 10 iOS 10 Is Here! Why You Should Upgrade Right Now iOS 10 Is Here! Why You Should Upgrade Right Now Apple's tenth revision of its mobile operating system is here. This is how to upgrade right now for free. Read More . If your device supports 3D Touch, try pressing deeper on a notification on the Lock screen or in the Notification Center. You’ll usually get contextual options: actionable shortcuts for archiving an email, accepting a calendar invite, replying to a message, and so on.

If the app supports it, you’ll even see a rich preview. This can be a preview of the email or a map view of the Uber you’ve ordered. It’s also now really easy to reply to messages from a variety of IM apps, right from the notification.

ios hidden features productive 8

Try to get in the habit of 3D Touching notifications and see all the things you can get done without ever opening the app. It will end up saving you quite a bit of time and might save you from cognitive overload.

3. 3D Touch Shortcuts and Trackpad Mode

ios hidden features productive 1

3D Touch is now available in enough places that you should care about it Everything You Can Do With 3D Touch on Your iPhone Everything You Can Do With 3D Touch on Your iPhone 3D touch is really just a fancy name for a pressure-sensitive screen, but adds a whole array of extra input options to iOS. Read More . The feature is completely hidden but once you discover what lies beneath a deep press, you’ll figure out faster way of doing things. Squeeze harder on your screen to reveal shortcuts to jump into parts of the app, or show widgets that allow you to quickly accomplish a task. 3D Touching links and images even lets you preview them.

ios hidden features productive 7

Then there’s the trackpad mode which genuinely solves the issue of cursor movement and text selection on touchscreens. When you have the keyboard on-screen up, squeeze harder in the middle of the keyboard and it will turn into a trackpad.

Move left, right, up, down and the cursor will move with you. 3D Touch once again and you’ll enter the text selection mode, with the current word already selected. Move around and you’ll select the text. Press deeper once again and you’ll select the entire paragraph. Isn’t that cool?

4. Gestures

I’m still surprised just how many iPad users either don’t know about multitasking gestures or just don’t use them often. Swipe left or right with four fingers on the screen to switch between apps. Pinch in with 5 fingers to go to the Home screen.

Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and you’ll enable Slide Over. This shows a preview of a second app. If you’re using an iPad Air 2 or higher, swipe in further and you’ll dock the app to the side. Voila, you now have two apps running side by side.

In Safari, you can have two tabs open in a similar fashion. Tap and hold the tabs switcher and select Open Split View to get started.

On the iPhone, there’s a 3D Touch gesture to open app switcher and to switch between your last used app. Press deeper at the left edge of the screen and swipe in a bit to open the app switcher. Swipe in all the way to the right edge to switch to the last used app.

5. Mail Filters

If you have multiple email accounts in the Mail app iOS Mail.app Tips & Tricks for Emailing Like a Pro on Your iPhone iOS Mail.app Tips & Tricks for Emailing Like a Pro on Your iPhone Despite first appearances, Mail for iOS is much more powerful than it used to be. Read More , it might get a bit too cluttered. There’s a way to filter all the mail, right from the list view. When you’re in your inbox, tap the funnel icon in the bottom-left corner. From here you can instantly switch between your different accounts or filter by flagged email. You can choose to see emails only with attachments or just from VIPs as well.

ios hidden features productive 9

Just like Safari 15 Essential Safari iOS Tips & Tricks for iPhone Users 15 Essential Safari iOS Tips & Tricks for iPhone Users A surprising number of useful actions in Safari on iOS are hidden behind long presses, gestures, and 3D Touch. Read More , Mail is filled with hidden gestures and features hiding behind long press actions. Long pressing the compose button shows all your drafts, and long pressing the delete button brings up both delete and archive options.

6. Call Blocker Apps

One of the under-appreciated features in iOS 10 was the release of CallKit. It’s an API that lets third-party apps hook into the Phone app to provide live caller ID information and even automatically block calls How to Stop Annoying Telemarketers & Robocalls From Calling You How to Stop Annoying Telemarketers & Robocalls From Calling You Are you tired of being called by prerecorded messages and robots? Here's why that happens and what you can do to stop them. Read More .

There’s been a bit of a spam call epidemic recently, especially in U.S. and Europe, so this feature is well timed. There are multiple apps that keep a repository of spam callers and will automatically block them for you.

In the U.S., Hiya and Nomorobo work the best. Hiya requires access to all your contacts. Nomorobo doesn’t but it’s a $2-per-month service.

ios hidden features productive 5

For Europe and Asia, Truecaller works best. But it requires your name, phone number and email to verify your identity. You can choose to hide your details from public from within the app. Once you’ve downloaded the app, go to Settings > Phone > Call Blocking & Identification to turn it on.

There are privacy concerns with all such apps. Their reasoning for asking your details is to add you to the whitelist. If you’re getting so many spam calls that it’s affecting your productivity, installing a call blocker might just be worth it. There’s also an added benefit of almost always knowing who’s calling you, even when you don’t have their contact details saved.

7. Universal Clipboard

One of my favorite features Apple released in 2016 was Universal Clipboard. Yet there’s no mention of it in iOS or macOS anywhere. You won’t find a Settings item for it, or a helpful popup to guide you through it.

Universal Clipboard lets you copy something (text or photo) from iOS 10 and paste it directly on macOS Sierra (and vice-versa). The shared clipboard lasts for two minutes so it doesn’t disrupt your local clipboard.

And this little feature has improved my productivity quite a bit in the last few months because I’m no longer frustrated when I want to copy something from my iPhone to Mac or from my iPad to iPhone. Copy on one device, paste on another. So long, third party tools like Pushbullet that never quite worked as seamlessly. The feature works as long as all your devices are on the same iCloud account.

8. App Extensions

iOS 8 brought us app extensions and finally, apps could talk to each other. But it’s possible that you’re not making the best out of them, as each app extension needs to be enabled manually.

ios hidden features productive 2

App extensions are bundled with apps themselves and they live in the middle row of the Share sheet. To get started, open Safari, tap the Share button, swipe to the end of the middle row and select More. Now look at the app extensions that are available for the apps you have installed and enable the ones you’d want to use.

10 Hidden iPhone Features That Will Make You More Productive ios hidden features productive 4

Most of the productivity-focused apps do support an app extension. Once enabled, you can use app extensions to send text, link or media to an app, or accomplish a task, without ever opening the app in question. For example, Facebook Messenger’s app extension lets you send a link from Safari to a group chat directly. Apple Note’s extension lets you save a page directly into a note How to Use Apple Notes as a Research Tool How to Use Apple Notes as a Research Tool Apple's free Notes app can be an indispensable research aid on both a computer and mobile device. Read More and so on.

9. Siri’s Hidden Productivity Prowess

I’m sure you’ve used Siri multiple times, maybe got annoyed by it too. Recently, Siri has learned a lot of new tricks that can help you be more productive.

For example, open a Safari page, bring up Siri and ask her to “remind me about this tomorrow” and she will, along with a link to the page. You can also ask Siri to add things to a list in Reminders app Use Siri and Apple Reminders for the Best Shopping Lists Use Siri and Apple Reminders for the Best Shopping Lists Don't waste your money on a third-party app, just use Apple free iPhone and Mac apps. Read More or to take a new note.

Siri works with third party app as well. You can ask her to send a message to a friend using WhatsApp or to call you an Uber.

10. Today View Widgets Are Your Dashboard

Alright, this isn’t a hidden feature but Today View widgets The 10 Best iPhone Widgets (And How to Put Them to Good Use) The 10 Best iPhone Widgets (And How to Put Them to Good Use) iPhone widgets let you access app information at a glance and can be extremely useful. Here are some of the best iPhone widgets. Read More are used by a criminally low percentage of iOS users. The Today View is now only a right swipe away from the Lock Screen and the Home screen.

ios hidden features productive 3

Download the following apps: Widget Calendar, Pcalc Lite, Stacks Currency Converter, Launcher Widget, World Clock Today Widget, Dark Sky. Then go to the Today View, swipe to the bottom, select Edit, enable all these widget and arrange them in the way you like.

And just like that you have a utility dashboard. Just swipe right from the Lock screen any time you want to check your calendar, do a bit of math or check the weather.

Let Third-Party Apps Take Care of the Rest

iOS’s built-in features will only get you so far. Now that you know how to use the built-in features to be more productive, try some time-saving productivity apps. Todoist is a feature-rich task management app To-Do List App Showdown: Any.do vs Todoist vs Wunderlist To-Do List App Showdown: Any.do vs Todoist vs Wunderlist Some to-do list apps stand head and shoulders above the rest. But how do they compare and which one is best for you? We'll help you find out. Read More that’s also a joy to use. Workflow lets you automate repetitive tasks New to iOS Automation? 10 Workflows to Get You Started New to iOS Automation? 10 Workflows to Get You Started Did you know you can automate many common tasks on your iPhone with a simple app called Workflow? Read More no matter how small or big.

And don’t forget that your iPhone’s default apps have some awesome secrets 10 Secret Functions of Default iPhone Apps You Aren't Using 10 Secret Functions of Default iPhone Apps You Aren't Using If you've ignored the iPhone's default apps, you've made a mistake. Here are some hidden features of stock iOS apps to try. Read More of their own.

What are some of your iOS productivity tips that are not so obvious? Share with us in the comments below.

Explore more about: 3D Touch, Call Management, Gesture Control, iMessage, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Siri.

Enjoyed this article? Stay informed by joining our newsletter!

Enter your Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *