Last month, Apple released an update to its operating system, iOS 14.5, that gives users more control over their personal data. But if you want more control over the iPhone self, you also have options. Want to put your favorite apps within easy reach, tag friends in Messages, or set your preferred browser to open links? You can do it all and more.
Here are some quick tips to enhance the iPhone experience. Next week’s Tech Tip column will summarize some helpful tips for the Android faithful.
1. Customize your control center
The Control Center – that handy panel with frequently used settings swung with a finger – first appears back in 2013 and became more useful when Apple began adding users’ preference buttons a few years later. If you do not have tampered with your control center to add the features and functions you use most, simply open the Settings icon on the home screen, scroll down to Control Center and tap it.
From the list on the next screen, select the icons for the programs and settings you want in your control center. While tools like the Flashlight usually there, you can remove the ones you never use and add icons for applications like you Magnifying glass, the QR code scanner or even the Shazam music recognition function. To rearrange the order of the icons on the screen, drag them up and down in the list before closing the Settings app.
2. Assign a back button action
Wouldn’t it be great if you had another way to communicate with your device along with screen swipes and voice commands? If you have at least an iPhone 8 with iOS 14 or later, you can use the Back tap feature to let your iPhone perform a specific action if you tap it quickly on the back.
To set it, open Settings, select Accessibility and then touch and scroll to Backspace. Once you have selected Backspace, select Double or Triple Tap and select an action on the next screen, such as opening the Spotlight search application or the Control Center or take a shortcut you’ve set up with Apple’s Shortcut app. You can assign two separate tasks to the Double Tap and Triple Tap functions – and Back Tap should work, even if your iPhone is in a case.
3. Choose your email and browser applications
Tired of the iPhone always opening the Safari browser instead of your favorite DuckDuckGo when you tap a link, or turn on Apple’s Mail application instead of the Gmail application when you select an email address from your Contacts list? If you use iOS 14 or later on your iPhone, you can do so select the programs you want as your default programs.
To make this happen, tell Siri to ‘open the Gmail settings’ or whatever app you want to use. You can also tap on the Settings icon on the home screen, scroll to the name of the app and select it to go to the settings. Tap the default browser app or default email app line and on the next screen select your preferred application.
4. Direct your answer in messages
Do you want to respond to a specific post in a Messages chat or draw someone’s attention in a group conversation, just like on some social media platforms? You can do both.
On reply to a certain message in one-on-one or group chat where everyone is using the Messages app, press your finger on the message until a menu appears. Select Answer, enter your answer and tap on the blue Send arrow. To mark someone in a conversation so that he or she receives a notification, place the @ symbol in front of the name or tap the name and select it when it appears on your screen in your Contacts.
5. Get the Siri you want
Apple’s Siri voice assistant, which celebrated a decade on the iPhone in October, has been losing knowledge and utility for Google and Alexa from Google over the past few years. To strengthen Siri’s powers, Apple added more skills in iOS 14. And with iOS 14.5 it now includes a more diverse voices.
On alter how and when Siri sounds, open the Settings icon on the home screen, select Siri and search and make your selections. You can also choose to display your conversations on the screen by tapping Siri answers and “Always show Siri captions” and “Always show speech” to make sure you see the last word too.