iPhone Life magazine

Tips for iPhone 3GS and OS 3.0

hidden features that make the iPhone and iPod touch more powerful!

The iPhone and iPod touch are very easy to use and the basics are well covered in the user manuals that come with the devices. If you’ve misplaced your manual, you can download a PDF version from Apple’s support Web page (apple.com/support).

You’ll master the basics pretty quickly. Once you do, you’ll begin to discover that the iPhone and iPod touch have some powerful but less obvious features that can make the devices easier to use. This article contains tips that will let you access some of that hidden power.


Winter 2010 Tips

  • A scientific calculator was added to the iPhone and iPod touch with versions 2.0 and later of the OS. Among its functions is a random number generator. Press the “Rand” key at the bottom of the screen and Calc displays a random number with 15 decimal places, between 0 and 1. Developers could use this feature to create registration numbers; regular users could use it to create truly random passcodes or passwords. For example, if you wanted to create a random eight digit password, you could hit the Rand button and use the last eight digits of the random number for your password. If you need to create a password with numbers and letters, you could change at least one of the last eight digits to a letter. For example, “32034856” could become e20e4856.”

  • Unless you delete them, the calendar or appointment book program on your PC or Mac keeps a record of your past appointments. This can come in handy for checking expense reports or following up on meetings. The record of past appointments on your desktop computer will suffice for most purposes, but if you need to have this record with you wherever you go, you can use iTunes to sync your past as well as current and future appointments with your iPhone or iPod touch. Follow these steps:
 Connect your device to your computer and open iTunes.
 Click on "your device" in the left-hand column.
 Select the Info tab.
 Scroll down to Calendars and check the box labeled “Sync calendars with.”
 Select the Personal Information Manager program you want to sync with.
 If you want your entire calendar synced with your device, make sure the box labeled “Do not sync events older than…” IS NOT CHECKED!
 If you want a portion of your calendar synced (say, the last year), check this box and enter 365 days.

  • This tip is based on an excellent article at Macworld.com. You can check the balance on your AT&T bill or the remaining number of voice minutes you have directly from your iPhone. From the Home screen, go to Settings >Phone >AT&T Services. Select the button labeled “Check Bill Balance” or “View My Minutes.” AT&T will promptly send you a free SMS with the info.
Persistence is an admirable quality in some circumstances, and very annoying in others. For example, a broker keeps calling you about an investment opportunity involving sub-prime mortgage-based derivatives. “Thanks, but no thanks” may be tolerable once, but having to repeat yourself can get old quickly.
 A person posting in the iPhone section at YahooGroups.com had a creative solution for this. Create a single contact and call it “BLOCKED” or “DON’T ANSWER” or something like that. Then, when you have identified a phone number as one you don’t want to answer, enter it in this contact. You can associate a scary ring tone with the contact, or import and select a scary image as the contact’s photo. That way, every time that contact calls you, you’re instantly aware that it’s one you don’t want to answer.
 Note that you can enter up to 9 phone numbers in an individual contact, so this single contact can alert you to 9 different annoying callers.

  •   Your iPhone “rings” and you see that it’s a call you don’t want to answer. Press the Wake/Sleep button once and it will stop ringing; press it twice and the call will be immediately forwarded to your voice mail.

  • When the iPhone’s Location Services is turned on (iPhone OS 2.0 or later), Camera photos are tagged with location data. This data is used with some applications and photo-sharing Web sites to track and post where you took your pictures. If you don’t want to include location data with your photos, turn off Location Services by going to Settings >General >Location Services. Once it’s been turned off, you may be prompted to turn it back on when you open the Camera app. If that happens, decline!
  •   When you buy a new iPhone, you probably want to transfer the phonebook listings from your old phone to the new one. Fortunately, phones that use a GSM-based network like AT&T, T-Mobile, and most of the rest of the world, use SIM cards to store phone numbers and contact info. To import contact info stored on another SIM card, follow these instructions:
 Remove the iPhone’s card and slip the other SIM card into the iPhone (instructions in user guide).
 From the Home screen, select Settings >Mail, Contacts, Calendar.
 Tap on the button labeled “Import SIM Contacts.”
 If you have Contacts enabled for both MobileMe and Microsoft Exchange, you are prompted to choose which account you want to add the SIM contacts.
  • Tapping on the address in your contacts opens it up in Google maps.

  • One of the keys to learning a language is to immerse your self in it. Ideally, you’d like to live where the language is spoken, but that’s not always possible. More practical ways to immerse yourself in the language include watching foreign language movies and TV shows, listening to foreign language music and radio, and reading books published in the language you are learning. Your iPhone or iPod touch can help you with this.
 The “Latino” link in iTunes will take you to a wide variety of Spanish-language content.
 Let’s say you’re learning Spanish. Go to iTunes and click on the “Latino” link. You’ll find a wide variety of Latino music listed, as well as podcasts, audiobooks, videos, TV, apps, and more. Use the “Search iTunes Store” feature to find content for other languages.
 You can change the default language on iPhone to display the language you’re studying.
 While you’re at it, change the default language on your 
iPhone or iPod touch to the one you’re learning. All the labels, menus, etc. will appear in that language. Go to Settings >General >International >Language and select the language you’re learning.

  • Folders are a great way to organize your e-mail, especially if your job requires you to wear many hats. You can’t create separate mail folders on the iPhone or iPod touch. However, if your mail service is hosted on an IMAP server, you can create these folders on your PC or Mac and sync them with your iPhone or touch.

  •   If you get a lot of incoming e-mail, personal or business related, it can clog up your inbox. Make things more manageable by limiting the number of messages displayed on the iPhone and/or the number of lines previewed for each message.
 To set the number of messages displayed in the inbox, go to Settings >Mail, Contacts, Calendars >Show. Then select 25, 50, 75, 100, or 200.
 To set the number of lines displayed, go to Settings >Mail, Contacts, Calendars >Preview. Then choose from none to 5 lines.
 You’ll have to experiment with these settings to see what works best for you.  
  • In the Google Maps app, you can zoom in on a map by double tapping anywhere on the map with one finger. To zoom out, double tap anywhere on the map with two fingers.

  • To conserve power, the iPhone and iPod touch are designed to go into sleep mode automatically if it hasn’t been used for a set period of time. The default setting is 60 seconds; the screen dims 15 seconds before this and then goes blank at 60 seconds. Once the device has gone into sleep mode, you have to press the Home button and move the slider to the right to unlock the device and use it again.
 If you find yourself getting frustrated with this—having to unlock your iPhone over and over again—you might want to change the default setting. From the Home screen, go to Settings >General >Auto-Lock and set the time to 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 Minutes. To start out, bump it up to 2 minutes and see if you’re comfortable with that. Remember that the purpose of this feature is to save power; keep it as low as you can.
 If you’re finished using your iPhone, don’t wait for it to power down automatically. Press the Sleep/Wake button on the top to power down immediately. If you want to power down your device completely, hold down the Sleep/Wake button until the red slider appears on the screen. Then drag the slider.
  •  Until the release of iTunes 9, the computer you used to purchase music from the iTunes Store was the computer the music lived on. It was possible to play it on another computer, but you had to jump through some hoops to do so. iTunes 9 includes a feature called Home Sharing that allows you to share music, videos, and other media on up to five authorized computers in your home network. Here’s how it works: Open up iTunes 9 on your computer. Select “Home Sharing” in the left sidebar. (If it’s not visible, click on the “Advanced” menu and select “Turn On Home Share.”) This displays the Home Sharing screen. Enter your iTunes user name and password, and then click “Create Home Share.” Repeat these steps for each computer with which you want to share music. To import items from another computer, select the computer from the list below “Shared” in the left sidebar and drag the desired songs from its library to yours.
  • App Genius helps you locate apps that are similar to ones you have already installed on your iPhone or iPod touch. Since there are over 85,000 apps from which to choose, this new feature should help you cut down on the time you spend searching the App Store. Here’s how to use App Genius: From the iPhone or iPod touch, tap the App Store icon. Tap on the button labeled “Genius” in the upper right corner of the display. Tap on “Turn On Genius” and you’re prompted to fill in your iTunes password. Do so and hit OK. (Note that turning on Genius sends information about the apps you have installed to Apple. If you have a problem with this, don’t use Genius. You will be asked to agree to Apple’s conditions for using Genius. After you have agreed, Genius will take a minute or two to analyze your apps and send you its suggestions. These may include both paid and free apps, depending on the apps you have installed. You can purchase or download these suggestions directly from this screen.  
  •  My favorite new feature is Sync Applications. I have over 500 apps in my iTunes library that have been rather difficult to manage until now. This feature makes it easy to install and uninstall apps and move icons around Home pages. To use this feature:Connect your iPhone or iPod touch to your computer and sync.Go to the “Applications” tab in iTunes. This tab displays a list of the apps you’ve purchased on the left side of the screen, and a representation of your Home screen(s) on the right side.To install an app, drag it from the list on the left to one of the Home screens, or simply check the box next to the app in that list.To uninstall an app, uncheck the box next to it in the list on the left.To move app icons, click and hold on them on the Home screen and drag them to the place you want them. You can move them around the screen they are currently on or drag them to another Home screen. The “Sync Applications” tab has a very helpful search feature located immediately above the purchased apps list. It is particularly useful if you’ve purchased or downloaded a lot of apps and want to find one without having to scroll through the list. Simply start typing the name of the app for which you are looking, and it will appear after you’ve entered a few letters of the name.
  • A cool feature added to iTunes 9 automatically fills any remaining space on your iPhone or iPod touch with songs.Connect your iPhone or iPod touch to your computer and sync.Select your device in the left sidebar.Click on the “Music” tab. Make sure the “Selected playlists, artists and genres” radio button is clicked, and then check the box labeled “Automatically fill free space with songs.” You can request iTunes to fill this extra space with songs from a specific playlist, highly-rated songs, and so on. Follow the previous instructions then customize your selections by checking the different items you may have in your iTunes music library. You can add genres, songs, artists, videos, etc. This function specifically lets you add more songs and videos without having to make another playlist or add one song at a time. This takes some of the busy work off your plate.