10 Hidden iOS Features That Will Change The Way You Use Your iPhone

From setting a timer that pauses music, using the hidden backspace key in the Calculator app to leveling surfaces using the hidden Spirit Level—there are a lot of hidden features in your iPhone that can change how you use the device.

If there’s one thing about iPhones that anyone can bet on, it’s the never-ending list of hidden features. Apple doesn’t necessarily equip the iPhone with hard-to-find tools, but there are too many features to keep track of, which leads you to discover some more than others.

Here are 10 features you might not have heard of before, but once you get the hang of them, they can change how you do many things on your iPhone.

Pause Music and Podcast Playback with a Timer

It’s not uncommon for iPhone users to sleep while listening to their favorite music track or podcast on Apple Music or Apple Podcast apps. However, only some know that the iPhone’s Clock app allows one to set a timer so that when it ends, it stops anything that is playing at the time, including WhatsApp audio or YouTube videos, and locks the screen.

To set a timer, open the Clock app on your iPhone’s home screen.

iPhone's home screen with an arrow next to the Clock app

Select Timer from the options at the bottom of the screen.

Clock app home screen with an arrow next to the Timer option

Set the Timer between 10 to 20 minutes or any other duration.

Timer duration in iPhone's clock app

Now choose the “When Timer Ends” option, scroll to the bottom of the menu, and hit “Stop Playing.” Press Set at the top right.

When Timer Ends option in Timer with a rectangle around the Stop Playing option

Finally, hit the Start button and tune in to your bedtime playlist without worrying about stopping the playback, as the Clock app will automatically pause it and lock the screen for you.

iPhone's Clock app with an arrow next to the option to start a Timer

Use the Hidden Backspace Key to fix Mistakes in the Calculator

Your iPhone’s Calculator doesn’t have an obvious backspace button, but that’s because it’s hidden in plain sight. Yes, it’s possible to delete mistyped numbers on the Calculator app, and here’s how you can do it. It’s important to mention that the method doesn’t work on results.

Open the Calculator app on your iPhone and input some numbers.

Screenshot of a folder with an arrow next to the Calculator app

With your finger, swipe toward the left or right on the numbers you entered to remove the last digit. Every time you swipe, the app clears one digit from the end.

iPhone's calculator app with an arrow indicating the direction to erase input

You might also want to check out how to open the hidden scientific calculator on your iPhone.

Cast Spells with Siri to Turn on the Flashlight

Harry Potter remains one of the most famous fictional characters ever, and for his fans, Apple has hidden an Easter Egg in iPhones. In the popular movie franchise, the wizard uses the spell “Lumos” to summon a ball of light from his wand and “Knox” to extinguish the light.

You can use both these spells to control the flashlight on your iPhone through Siri. Just say “Hey Siri” to wake up the voice assistant. Then say “Lumos” to turn on the flashlight. Siri confirms by showing a message on the screen.

Siri's confirmation dialogue box for turning on flashlight

To turn off the flashlight, invoke Siri and say “Knox.” Again, Siri confirms that the flashlight is off.

Siri's confirmation for turning off the flashlight

If you haven’t set up Siri, check out our guide on enabling and using “Hey Siri” on iPhone and iPad.

Convert a Picture Into a Fun WhatsApp Sticker

This is one of iOS 16’s coolest features that lets you convert someone’s picture into a sticker to share on WhatsApp. It’s based on the subject picker feature built into the Photos app.

Open a picture with a distinct foreground in the Photos app. Tap on hold on the subject until a wavy white light highlights the selection. Now, hit the Copy button at the top of the image.

Photo picker in iOS 16 with an arrow next to the Copy option

Head to a chat in WhatsApp and select paste. This will turn the image into a sticker that you can share with others.

Custom Sticker dialog box on WhatsApp with an arrow next to the Send option

Set Custom Alerts to Prepare for Charging the iPhone

By default, your iPhone informs you when the battery reaches 20%, which is also when it asks to enable the Low Power Mode. However, you can set a custom battery alert to deal with your battery anxiety. Using Shortcut Automation, you can program your iPhone to show a custom notification when the battery reaches a certain level, in addition to the standard low battery alert. It also allows you to set the percentage.

For setting a custom battery alert, open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone. If you’re unable to locate the app, consider using Spotlight search.

Shortcuts app in iPhone's Spotlight search with an arrow next to it

Tap the Automation option at the bottom of the screen.

Shortcuts app's home screen with an arrow next to the Automation option

If this is your first time creating an Automation shortcut, select the “Create Personal Automation” option.

Automation option in the Shortcuts app highlighting the Create Personal Automation option

In the New Automation menu, scroll down and select “Battery Level.”

Personal Automation menu highlighting the battery level option

On the following screen, select the battery level at which you intend to receive a notification using the slider. Once done, hit the Next button in the top right corner.

Personal Automation options highlighting the battery level

At the bottom of the screen, search for “Notifications” and select “Show Notifications.”

Personal Automation menu highlighting the Show Notification option

Enter the custom message beside “Show Notification.”

Automation actions setup screen highlighting the custom message dialog box

Hit the Next button in the top right corner, and once you review the summary, tap Done.

Personal automation summary screen on iPhone

Now, you’ll get a notification that warns you about the battery percentage and gives you more time to prepare to charge your iPhone.

Shield Sensitive Information with Notes Lock

If you store a lot of sensitive information as notes, you can put a passcode lock on them in iOS 16.

Head to Settings > Notes.

iPhone's Settings app with an arrow next to Notes

Tap on Password.

Notes settings highlighting the Password option

On the following screen, choose “Use iPhone Passcode.” Enter your iPhone’s current password to confirm.

Use iPhone Passcode option in Notes' settings

Once done, the menu should look something like this.

Notes password menu with the options to use iPhone passcode

Open the Notes app, head to the required file, tap the three-dots icon at the top right, and select Lock. Allow the Notes app to use Face ID and enter the iPhone’s passcode.

A file in Apple Notes with an arrow next to the Lock icon

You can lock this note from the app’s menu by hitting the lock beside its name or locking your phone.

An arrow next to the lock icon in an Apple Notes file

Elevate the Lock Screen’s Appearance with Depth Effect

Yet another iOS 16 hidden feature, the Depth Effect, allows you to hide some part of the digital clock aesthetically. It immediately adds a sense of uniqueness to your lock screen.

On the lock screen, press and hold to bring up the Customize menu and tap on the plus sign at the bottom right.

iPhone Lock Screen customization mode with an arrow next to the plus sign

Hit Photos to select an image you wish to use as a wallpaper.

Lock Screen customization menu with an arrow next to the Photos option

Remember that the Depth Effect works well with photos with taller subjects. If you pick the right image, iOS 16 will showcase it with the Depth Effect already enabled.

Editing Lock Screen wallpaper to add depth effect

However, you can always press the three-dot menu in the bottom right to turn it on.

Lock screen customization screen with an arrow next to Depth Effect

Finally, tap Add in the top right corner and select “Set as Wallpaper Pair.”

Highlighting the Set as Wallpaper Pair option

Change How Notifications Appear on Your iPhone

If you don’t like the way your iPhone displays notifications, change it in the Settings menu.

Open the Settings app and head to the Notifications menu.

Settings app with an arrow next to the Notifications option

At the top of the menu, you’ll see three options: Count, Stack, and List. Experiment with these options and see which one you prefer.

Notifications settings on an iPhone highlighting the three different options

While Count only shows the number of notifications, Stack groups the alerts based on apps. The last option, List, views all the notifications as a simple list. You might want to check our detailed guide about managing notifications on iPhone.

Use Your iPhone’s Back Panel to Get Things Done

Some videos on the internet show people tap the back of their iPhones to get stuff done. Well, it’s a feature that works on iPhone 8 or later—called Back Tap—that converts double or triple taps on the back of an iPhone to specific actions.

Head to Settings > Accessibility > Touch.

Accessibility settings with an arrow next to Touch

Scroll to the bottom and hit “Back Tap.”

Touch accessibility options highlighting the Back Tap feature

Choose Double Tap and set the action to one of the available options, including App Switcher, Camera, Home, Lock Rotation, Mute, Screenshot, etc. For this example, we’re setting double tap to Flashlight.

Double Tap menu with an arrow next to the option that turns on Flashlight

Similarly, select an action for Triple Tap.

Triple tap menu with an arrow next to the option that opens camera

Measure a Surface’s Slope with the Hidden Spirit Level

To end this list, we would like to tell you about another hidden iPhone feature that hides in plain sight: the digital spirit leveler. You might know your iPhone has the Measure app that lets you measure the distance between two objects. This app also has the Level feature that determines whether an object is perfectly straight or flat.

To use this feature, open the Measure app.

iPhone's folder that contains several apps with an arrow next to Measure

Tap the Level option at the bottom right.

Measure app with an arrow next to the level option at the bottom right

Hold your iPhone against a standing object or a flat surface to check the slope or the level.

Spirit level iPhone showing that a surface is perfectly levelled

If you liked this list of 10 hidden iPhone features, check out another compilation of 10 iOS 16 features you might have missed.

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