Fun fact: When you set up your iPhone, invisible dots create a detailed map of your face so you can open your phone by looking at it. How many dots are used to map a face? Quiz your friends and family over the holidays. The answer is 30,000. Whoa.
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There’s so much built into our smartphones. I’ve been on Team iPhone since the first model, and I’m still discovering new things. No matter your model, I bet there are hidden features you’ll be happy to know.
Find a little peace: White noise is great for getting things done, falling asleep or drowning out more annoying sounds. You don’t need an extra app. Open Settings and tap Accessibility > Audio/Visual > Background Sounds. On the next screen, enable “Background Sounds” and tap Sound. Choose between Ocean, Rain, Stream and more.
No more clutter: You can take photos through the Notes app on your iPhone so they don’t appear in your camera roll. Go to Settings > Notes, then turn off “Save to Photos.” Now, open the Notes app. Create a new note and tap the camera icon > Take Photo or Video.
Quick privacy checkup: The App Privacy Report shows how apps use your data. Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > App Privacy Report to access. You can revoke any permissions here if you see something you don’t like.
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G’day mate: You can change your smart assistant’s voice if its dulcet tones get on your nerves. I like the Australian woman’s voice. On iPhone: Go to Settings > Siri & Search > Siri Voice. For Android: On most phones that use Google Assistant, say, “Hey Google, open Assistant settings.” Go to All settings > Assistant voice and choose one.
For teeny-tiny print: Open Settings > Accessibility > Touch, then activate the Magnifier. Triple-click the side button, and voila! Your camera becomes a magnifying glass. I used this to see my router’s model number.
Two thumbs-up: Typing with thumbs at the bottom of a screen is so much easier that Amazon redid its shopping app to move the search bar there. Chrome for iPhone is doing the same. Hold down a URL, and you’ll see Move Address Bar to Bottom/Top. Cool, right?
Update bug: The upgrade to iOS 17 reset some users’ privacy settings. If you’ve ever deactivated Significant Locations on your iPhone, the update may have turned it back on. Review the steps now to make sure it’s off if you prefer it that way.
If you don’t text back: Like with email, you can mark a text as unread, making it easier to remember to respond. On iPhone, simply swipe right on a conversation to mark it as unread.
Powering down: This one is for the iPhone 15 only. Open Settings > Battery, you can see when to replace your battery. You have to get deep into your phone’s analytics to do that on an older model.
Privacy, please: Nearly every social media site strips out the metadata that reveals a photo’s little details, like when, where and how it was taken, but not the data showing when you text a pic. You can stop that. Open the image you want to send and tap the share button. Select Options and toggle off Location. Tap Done.
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The best emergency setting in years: Emergency SOS allows you to contact help if you’re stuck somewhere without cell service. It’s already saved lives. You can use Emergency SOS by pressing the side button and one of the volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider pops up. Drag the slider or continue holding the side and volume buttons to contact emergency services automatically. Before you ever need it, set up your Medical ID and emergency contacts.
Siri, stop: You can change your smart assistant settings to summon Siri when your phone is unlocked — or turn it off altogether. Open the Settings > Siri & Search. Tap Listen for and select Off. You can turn off Allow Siri When Locked to prevent Siri from activating if a button’s pressed in your pocket.
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