We’re already looking forward to learning about the new iOS 10 features and apps that Apple will introduce in the fall. But if you’re looking to get the most out of the software currently on your iPhone or iPad, you don’t have to wait until the fall. there are plenty of great features and hidden tricks in iOS 9, and particularly in iOS 9.3, the latest version of the operating system. Apple has revealed a few tips and tricks on its support website, but there are plenty of others that you’ll want to learn to get the most out of iOS 9.
1. Get some help from Siri
There are plenty of fun questions to ask Siri, but Apple’s virtual assistant also has your back when it comes to tasks that you’d otherwise have to open an app to complete. For instance, Siri can complete basic calculations for you; just ask her to find a percentage, or do some addition, subtraction, or division. Or, you can ask Siri to send someone a message, even hands-free if you have “Hey Siri” enabled, or ask Siri to remind you about a task later in Mail, Notes, Maps, or Messages. You can always correct Siri’s pronunciation by telling her, “That’s not how you say. . .” and then giving her the correct pronunciation.
2. Take advantage of the Search screen’s knowledge of your habits
Take advantage of iOS 9’s ability to learn your routine. If you call your mom at the same time each week, go for the same playlist when you arrive at the gym each morning, or open the same app each evening when you arrive home from work, then your iPhone will take notice and start placing the appropriate icons on the search screen at the appropriate time of day. The icons will put your usual task within easy reach and make them easy to accomplish with a single swipe. Browse the search screen to take advantage of iOS 9’s ability to learn from your habits.
3. Save your eyesight (and your sleep schedule) with Night Shift
One of the best features of iOS 9.3 is Night Shift, which uses the clock and location of your iPhone or iPad to determine when the sun sets in your location, and then automatically shifts the color of the light emitted by the display to reduce your exposure to blue light, which has been shown to interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. By opening the Settings app and tapping Display & Brightness, you can either automate a schedule for Night Shift or manually turn it on for the night. If you want the feature to activate automatically each evening, you can either set a schedule for it or just have the operating system turn it on at sunset and deactivate it at sunrise.
4. Learn all the hidden features in Messages
There are plenty of hidden tricks and shortcuts in Messages. If you want to see when a message was sent, for instance, you can drag the message bubble to the left. If someone sends you a message that you’d like to forward to another contact, press the message bubble, then tap “More” in the resulting menu. Select the bubbles of the messages you’d like to forward, and then tap the arrow to send them to another contact. Or, to listen to an audio message privately, raise your iPhone to your ear. Lower and raise it again to record a reply.
5. Use 3D Touch’s Quick Actions
On 3D Touch-enabled devices, there are plenty of shortcuts you can take throughout the operating system. To see some of those shortcuts in Calendar, press an event to preview it and then swipe up to see some shortcuts. Or, when you’re in Maps, press a landmark, business, or point of interest to share its location, get directions to it, or take advantage of other helpful Quick Actions. Another great time-saver enabled by 3D Touch faster text editing. To use it, press deeply anywhere on the keyboard, and then slide your finger to select where you want to edit existing text or type more.
Additionally, many 3D Touch-enabled apps have Quick Actions you can access from the home screen; just press the app icon to see your choices. You can even press the icon of the Settings app to get quick access to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Battery settings.
6. Learn when and where to Peek and Pop with 3D Touch
3D Touch also adds support for two new gestures called Peek and Pop. In Mail, for instance, you can press a message to preview it, and press a little deeper to pop it open. You can use Peek and Pop not just in Mail, but also in Safari, Photos, Maps, and even third-party apps that support 3D Touch. And in any app that you’re using, you can use Peek and Pop to look at a link without leaving the app you’re in.
7. Use all the new features in Notes
You can now add drawings and sketches to notes thanks to 3D Touch. By tapping the icon with a scribbled line, you can use a variety of pressure-sensitive drawing tools, or touch and hold the erase to start over. You can add to-do lists to your notes, or you can start a note from many apps, including Safari and Maps, by tapping the share button and selecting Notes. You’ll be able to save what you’re looking at without even leaving the app. Another useful feature is the ability to password-protect your notes. Just tap the share icon within the note that you want to protect, tap “Lock Note,” and add your desired password. Any other notes that you lock will use the same password, and you’ll just need to tap the lock icon to add protection.
8. Learn all of Apple Music’s shortcuts
Apple Music is a new app, so you may still be getting used to the app, or trying to decide whether you should use it or another streaming service. To share an Apple Music playlist, tap the three-dot icon, then tap the share icon, and choose a sharing option. To see what music you have saved offline, tap My Music, then tap the sort menu, which offers an option to display the music that’s available locally. Or, on the app’s For You tab, tap and hold a playlist to bring up a plethora of options, including one to tell the app that you don’t like the recommendation.
9. Learn Camera tricks to make photos quicker to take and preview
There are plenty of hidden tricks inside Camera, an app that many iPhone owners use on a daily basis. For instance, you can adjust the Camera’s exposure by tapping where you want to set the automatic exposure and focus, then sliding your finger up or down to adjust the exposure. Or, in one of the most useful implementations of 3D Touch, you can peek at the photo you just took by pressing the thumbnail to see if you like it, and either swiping to see another shot or pressing a little deeper to pop it open.
10. Do more with your pictures in Photos
Thanks to iOS 9, you can now add filters to your snapshots right from the Photos app. To try it out, tap Edit, then tap the Filter icon (which looks like three overlapping circles). When you add a filter you like, tap Done. Or, if you want to remove the filter, just tap None. Also in Photos, you can set a favorite image as your wallpaper by tapping the share icon, then selecting “Use as Wallpaper.” You can even set a Live Photo as your wallpaper, and press the screen to see the photo come to life. Or, you can ask Siri to find photos from a recent vacation, for instance, by asking for images from a certain time or place.
11. Use the best new features in Videos
iOS 9 makes it easier not only to browse your photos, but also to look through the videos that you’ve captured. When you’re browsing your videos, you can find your favorite part by dragging the video playhead left or right. But for finer control, you can move your finger toward the bottom of the screen as you drag. And when you’re recording a video, you can toggle the flash light on or off to ensure that you have the perfect lighting for the scene or action you’re recording.
12. Know how to turn on Private Browsing
To turn off search and browsing history, prevent AutoFill, and block cookies, you can turn on Safari’s Private Browsing mode. To do so, tap the Pages button, then tap Private. Tabs that you open while Private Browsing is turned on will close when you turn it off. However, you should bear in mind that, counter to popular assumptions, a private browsing mode won’t keep you totally anonymous, and your activity will still be trackable by your ISP, the sites you visit, any law enforcement agencies that are watching your activity, or even ad networks that track your movement.
13. Unlock your device with a longer passcode
Another great feature for privacy-minded iPhone owners is the ability to set a 6-digit passcode to unlock your device. Instead of the 4-digit passcode that past versions of iOS asked for, iOS 9 will ask you to set a 6-digit passcode. While it might take you a few minutes to think of a new 6-digit passcode, it’s absolutely worth adding the extra digits.
14. Set up the iCloud Drive app
In past versions of iOS, iCloud Drive has receded to the background, as the invisible feature that kept your files synced among devices. But with iOS 9, you can use the iCloud Drive app to browse all of your files, and open them in any compatible app. To have your iPhone display the app on your home screen, open the Settings app, tap iCloud, then iCloud Drive, and tap “Show on Home Screen.”
15. Have your iPhone read to you
Your iPhone can speak selected text or the entire screen. To look at the options available to you, open the Settings app, navigate to General, then tap Accessibility. From there, you can select Speech and have a Speak button appear when you select text, add a shortcut to hear the content of the entire screen, or have your iPhone speak auto-text, like auto-corrections and auto-capitalizations.
16. Get where you’re going with new features in Maps
One of the best features of iOS 9 is the addition of public transit directions in Apple Maps, but it may not be immediately obvious where you get those directions, particularly if you’ve been using another navigation app to find your way around using public transportation. Tap the “i” icon, then tap Transit, and enter your destination for step-by-step directions. Also in Maps, you can see what’s nearby — whether you’re looking for food, drinks, shopping, fun, health facilities, or any other category of business or place — just by tapping the search box.
17. Take important precautions with Health
The Health app is capable of aggregating all of the data you collect on your fitness, activity, and nutrition. But a feature that few people take advantage of is the option to use Health as a way to keep basic information about yourself, which may prove useful in the case of an emergency. If you want to make such information about yourself available on your iPhone, tap Medical ID to fill in your details. To view, just tap Emergency on the lock screen.
18. Catch up on what’s going on with News
Apple’s new News app offers an easy way to stay up-to-date on news stories from around the world. When you first launch News, you can choose your favorite news outlets and topics. But even if you’ve alreadyconfigured the app, you may not know just how easy it is to go from story to story each time you check in to read the news. When you’re reading a story in Apple News, you can swipe left to view the next one, or return to the list of stories by swiping from the left edge.
19. Use Apple Pay for in-store or in-app purchases
You probably already know that you can use Apple Pay at the grocery store, the drugstore, and lots of other businesses. But you can also use Apple Pay to complete purchases within the apps on your iPhone. Open the Settings app, navigate to Wallet & Apple Pay, then enter the shipping and contact information that you want to use when you shop from your iPhone.
20. Save webpages with iBooks
iBooks is a great place to read ebooks and other documents on your iPhone or iPad. But you can also use iBooks to keep track of long-form articles or other web content that you want to return to at a later date. In Safari, tap the share button, then tap iBooks to convert the current page to a PDF and add it to your bookshelf.
21. Learn iOS 9’s new multitasking features
If you have an iPad, you can take advantage of iOS 9’s multitasking features. On any iPad that can run iOS 9, you can open an app and then swipe inward from the right side of the screen; then, you’ll see a sidebar where you can choose another app to open in that part of the screen, while the other app is displayed on the rest of the screen. On select newer iPads, you can run two apps side-by-side and interact with them both at the same time thanks to a feature called Split View. You’ll also be able to change the screen space used by each app. Or, use a feature called Picture in Picture to watch a video clip or conduct a FaceTime call while you’re using another app.
22. Screenshot something funny or useful to save it for later
If you’ve ever found yourself wanting to a take a screenshot, but at a loss for how to do so, you should be happy to learn that it’s actually pretty easy. Just press the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons simultaneously. The resulting screenshot will be saved to a dedicated Screenshots album in Photos.
23. Easily invite or address multiple contacts in Mail or Calendar
If you always invite the same people to recurring meetings, or address your emails to the same group of friends, iOS will learn about your habits, and use that knowledge to make inviting event attendees or addressing emails even easier. You’ll just need to enter a name or two, and iOS will suggest the rest.
24. Add more attachments in Mail
While it may not be obvious from Mail’s simple interface, the app lets you do a lot of the same things you can do when you check your email on your computer. For instance, when you’re sending an email message, you can attach more than just photos. Double-tap the screen while you’re composing a message, and then tap Add Attachment.
25. Take advantage of Wi-Fi calling
Wi-Fi calling can be a great way to make and receive calls in areas where your cell reception is spotty, but you have access to a Wi-Fi network. If your carrier supports the feature, you can now make calls over Wi-Fi using your iPhone. Simply open the Settings app, tap Phone, and turn on Wi-Fi calling to take advantage of the functionality on a compatible mobile network.
26. Save your iPhone’s battery life
Another great feature that was recently added to iOS is the Low Power Mode, which helps you get a little more battery life out of your iPhone on a long day away from home. To find and turn on Low Power Mode, open the Settings app and tap Battery. When you turn on Low Power Mode, your iPhone will reduce its power consumption by turning off mail fetch, Hey Siri, background app refresh, automatic downloads, and even some visual effects that you’d otherwise see throughout the operating system.
27. Find a misplaced iPhone
Most iPhone users have already figured out how to use the Find My iPhone app, or how to turn off the Find My iPhone feature on their iPhones or Macs. But did you know that you can use the app to make your iPhone play a sound, even if it’s set to silent, which makes it a lot easier to locate a device that’s slipped between the couch cushions or is hidden under a pile of notes and books. Just open the Find My iPhone app on another device, tap the missing iPhone, tap Actions, then tap Play Sound.
28. Find exactly what you’re looking for in Settings
There are tons of useful things packed into the Settings app, but with all of the options and submenus to scroll through, it can be difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for. In those cases, you can open the Settings app and use the Search Settings box to find the functionality you need. As noted in the Quick Actions section, you can also press the icon of the Settings app to get quick access to settings for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and the battery.