9 things you might not know you can do in iOS 9

We tapped on everything so you don't have to

The newest, flashiest features of iOS are usually public knowledge. You can read about 3D Touch on the Apple website, or see Apple Pay in action on their TV ads. This isn’t a list of features advertised by Apple on their website. Instead, these are the 10 cool or quirky tricks we’ve only learned by climbing around iOS 9 and experimenting. Note that we were using the iPhone 6. Some of these features might not work on older models.

1. 3D Touch for switching apps

3D Touch is a feature that lets the phone measure the pressure of your touchscreen pressing. This is particularly handy in compatable apps where you can peak at items without opening them fully and on the home screen where you can access useful actions by holding down on app icons.

Something that’s less obvious is that 3D Touch can be used at any time to switch between open apps. Previously the only way to open the app drawer was to double-click the home button. You can also press hard on the left edge of the screen to access the app drawer. Pressing hard and then moving slightly to the right opens the drawer and moving much further to the right switches between the open apps much like Alt-Tab on computers.

2. Place your phone face-down to save battery

The biggest battery drain on any smartphone is the screen. Android has the useful feature of low-energy LED lights to provide alerts, but Apple lights up the whole screen when a notification comes through. You can save some battery power by placing your iPhone face-down as iOS uses the light and proximity sensors to detect the surface and stops the screen from activating.

3. Hide photos

We’ve all been there. You hand your phone to someone to show them a photo and they start browsing through your your whole library. The horror! Fortunately you can now hide photos you don’t people to come across while casually browsing your phone. Select the photos you want to hide in the Photos app and hit the Share Sheet button. In there you can find a Hide option, which will stop the photos from appearing in Moments, Collections and Years. You can still find them by going to the specific albums they belong to, which means your friends won’t stumble across incriminating pics while in your Camera app.

4. Apple Pay double-click and deactivate

You can double-click the home button when the screen is locked to bring up Apple Pay and your Wallet. Some people may not know this but it’s no secret and is mentioned on the Apple Pay website. The idea is that you can quickly access Apple Pay while in a store and pay for items without unlocking your phone. Some users probably won’t ever do this and only use Apple Pay for in-app purchases. In that case you might find you activate Apple Pay by accidentally double-clicking, which can get really annoying. In Settings you can go to Wallet and Apple Pay to turn off this feature.

5. Drag to select multiple items

If you want to select multiple items such as photos to perform a bulk action, you used to have to select them all by tapping your choices. Now you can press “Select”, hold your finger on one of the items, and then drag your finger to select the others. It’s just like using a cursor on a computer operating system. Finally, thank you!

6. Email markup

In the native Mail app you can now markup photos. Attach a picture to an email and then press and hold the image to bring up several options. This is great when you’re trying to quickly show someone something, perhaps directions. Take a screenshot from Maps and then quickly draw your directions while writing up the email. It’s nice to see this as a native feature. It’s a shame the Photos app doesn’t allow the same markup options.

7. Request desktop site in Safari

Chrome users have always been able to request the desktop versions of websites through the standard menu. Safari has always had less advanced features and there’s nothing about desktop site requests in any of the Safari menus. However, the option does exist and it’s hidden away. By holding the refresh button you can request the desktop version of a website.

8. Plugging in headphones gives you access to your most-used music app

Or maybe not… If you plug in some headphones while your iPhone is locked, a music app will appear in the bottom left corner of the lock screen for easy access. We guessed it was the most-used app but it might be more complicated than that. In testing we used different headphones for different things. Some large, high-quality headphones for chilling to music at home but also Apple’s earbuds for podcasts while commuting. iOS suggests a music app on the lock screen but the choice of app seemed to depend on which headphones were plugged in. It feels like iOS knows which headphones are being inserted, but that’s unlikely. It might not be impossible, perhaps using electrical impedance. It’s more likely iOS is able to guess what you want to listen to based on location and time of day. Either way something pretty cool is happening in the background.

9. Quickly access music apps from the control panel

Obviously the control panel is useful for bringing up music controls while you’re in another app. What I found by inquisitively tapping anything is that you can jump straight to your music app by tapping the track information in the control panel. It’s useful if you’re skipping tracks then decide you want to listen to a different album entirely. If you aren’t currently listening to anything, the word “Music” sits where the track information would normally be. You can also tap this to be taken to your music. Once again, this takes you to the music app that iOS 9 thinks you’re mostly like to want access to.

So are these big secrets? Not really. Many of these features are neat but probably not worth entire pages and paragraphs on Apple’s official website when they’re trying to advertise the core functionality of their OS and native apps. The moral of the story is that it pays to be inquisitive and start tapping anything you can when you get a new phone.

Oh and a special mention: you can now save voicemails to email, text, and other apps. It’s easier to remember those answer messages if you save them to Evernote.


Main image © jeshoots.com