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6 things you might not know your iPhone can do

The iPhone has been in the market of smartphone usage for quite some time but still offers secret features all may not be aware of.


Since 2008, my smartphone tent has been firmly set in iPhone’s camp. In the eight years that we’ve been together, I’m still learning new things about the iPhone all of the time.

Because of this, I love sharing this newfound knowledge with other iPhone users. For example, on two separate occasions, I informed two different users of a trick to taking photos. Both conversations happened to go like this:

Me: “Did you know you could take pictures by using the volume keys?”

Them (in a tone of mocking disbelief): “Nuh-uh…”

Me: “It’s true! Try it.”

Them (some 12 seconds later): “How did I not know this?”

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“How did I not know this?”

Then, following both conversations, the next few minutes were spent taking pictures of anything and everything using the volume keys. This got me wondering what else iPhones could do that would elicit the reaction of, “How did I not know this?”

1. Thumbprint identification: On iPhones 5s and newer, there is an option to set your thumbprint as means for identification rather than typing in your passcode. In my opinion, this is just about the coolest thing in the world as it is seemingly futuristic. Oddly, one of the people I had the volume key discussion with, again did not buy into my story that I could unlock my phone by placing my thumb on the home button. Maybe one of these days, he’ll start listening.

[To implement: Go to settings, touch ID & passcode, enter your passcode, and add fingerprint. Note: it takes a few moments to set up as it has to garner every crevice of your fingerprint.]

2. Medical ID: Simply put, this is just smart. When your phone is locked, there is an option for ‘emergency’ use. Once emergency is clicked on, you are allowed to make calls to 911. You are also able to view the owner’s medical identification. This is extremely helpful in the case of an accident when information is crucial.

Information you can include: name, birthdate, medical conditions, medical notes, allergies and reactions, medications, emergency contacts, blood type, organ donor status, height, and weight.

[To implement: Go to contacts, click on ‘my card’ at the very top, click edit, scroll to Edit Medical ID.]

3. Do Not Disturb: Another personal favorite. There are a few ways to use this tool that silences messages without having to turn your phone off. Typically, I use them to silence group chats because those can go crazy and get annoying. To do this, open the group chat, go to details, then switch the Do Not Disturb tab to green (then do the opposite to turn it off). You will still receive the text messages, you just won’t be notified. Once you manually unlock your phone, you will see the little red dot on your message app that will inform you.

You can also set your whole phone to DND. This is helpful when sleeping, because it will silence text messages but give you the options to leave phone calls on in case there is an emergency.

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4. Details: Inside every text thread, there is a “details” option. This allows you to see every photo and video sent throughout that thread without having to scroll back through the messages. It also gives you the option to share your location with an individual.

5. Group chats: There are a few nifty things within group chats you can do. If Do Not Disturb is not good enough, you have the option to leave the group chat altogether. This option is also found in the details section. But, if you get to the details section and decide to change your mind about leaving, you have the option to give the group chat a name. Just keep in mind that, once you name the group, it informs everyone involved. So, name wisely.

6. Siri: Everyone knows about Siri but there are many things that she (yes, I give her a pronoun) can do that not everyone knows about. If you go into Settings, select General, Accessibility, Speech, then turn on Speak Screen and Speak Selection, Siri will be enabled to read to you. If you swipe down from the top of your phone’s screen using two fingers, Siri will read to you whatever is on the screen.

When you ask Siri a question, she will call you by whatever you have your phone registered under. For example, Siri knows that my name is Taylor, so when I ask a question, she calls me that. However, if I said, “Siri, call me beauty queen from now on,” Siri will remember this and will use the term “beauty queen” until otherwise informed.

Drop in the bucket

These six features are just a small percentage of what the iPhone is capable of doing. The best way to learn new tricks is to explore the phone and see what it can do.


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Staff Writer, Taylor Leddin is a publicist and freelance writer for a number of national outlets. She was featured on Thrive Global as a successful woman in journalism, and is the editor-in-chief of The Tidbit. Taylor resides in Chicago and has a Bachelor in Communication Studies from Illinois State University.

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