With all of the additional capabilities of iOS 15, it can be easy to miss some of the features that can create the best possible iPhone experience for users. From scheduled notification summaries to shareable FaceTime links, we were impressed with all the new improvements and features.
To help you navigate the new update, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks that can increase your productivity and make your life a whole lot easier. And better yet, iOS 15 works with the iPhone 6s and all subsequent models, so you don’t need the latest iPhone 13 to apply these tips and upgrade your device’s user experience. Of course, we’re also including some classic tips and tricks that have been available on iPhone for many generations.
Reduce background noise on FaceTime
If you’re making a FaceTime call in a noisy room, the new voice isolation feature will ensure your voice is heard clearly on the other end by blocking out ambient sound. During a FaceTime call, just open Control Center by swiping down from the top right corner of the screen, tap “Mic Mode” and select “Voice Isolation.”
Tap with three fingers to undo or redo
While it’s a known feature, it’s fair to say that “Shake to Undo” is sometimes forgotten. Truthfully, it’s an easy way to go back a step and to undo text. But now you can also tap with three fingers to “undo” or “redo” when in a text field. This is handy for messages, typing in a URL and even with emails.
Silence spam calls
If you’re sick of receiving calls from random numbers, this little-known feature allows you to ignore them easily by automatically silencing unknown callers and sending them to voicemail. In Settings, tap “Phone” and turn on “Silence Unknown Callers.”
Share a website as a PDF
Yes, you can screenshot on an iPhone (just click the power button and volume up at the same time on models with Face ID, and power and home button for older models). But you can also tap “Full Page” to have iOS capture the entirety of the webpage. It’s a great way to share news articles, your favorite listicle or even a recipe. From there, you can save it to your iPhone or share it in an email or message.
Invite friends to FaceTime with shareable link
While FaceTime calls were once exclusive to Apple users, Android and Windows users can now join in on the fun too. With iOS 15, you can open FaceTime and tap “Create Link” to get a unique URL for your group call. You can then share the link with your friends, who can join even if they aren’t using an Apple device.
Your iPhone can be a tape measure
Apple first introduced the Measure app with iOS 12, and while it’s a perfect demo of augmented reality, it can actually come in handy. Essentially, through the combination of the cameras on your iPhone and software smarts, it measures distances. You can mark those with different starting and stopping points while also being able to easily change what standard you’re using to measure.
Related: iPhone 13 and 13 Mini review.
Switch Wi-Fi on the fly
In the Control Center, you can easily turn Wi-Fi on or off, but you can also switch between different networks. Swipe down from the top left-hand corner, long-press into the square with connections and then long-press again on the Wi-Fi symbol. It will then show the network you’re currently connected to and then show a list of other networks in your range. You can switch on the fly to a known network or join a new one. Plus, this also works for Bluetooth connections.
Look your best on FaceTime with Portrait mode
Need to make a FaceTime call but forgot to clean your room? Now you can use Portrait mode to blur the background and place the visual focus on your face. When you’re on FaceTime with someone, tap on your video tile to reveal four icons, one in each corner. Select the icon on the upper left corner of your tile to turn on Portrait mode.
Group tabs in Safari
If you’re frequently surfing the web, it can be easy to accumulate more open tabs than you know what to do with, making it difficult and annoying to navigate. Luckily, you can now group tabs into different categories so you can easily find and access whatever webpage you need to. Just open Safari, hit the pages button on the bottom right corner, click “Tabs” and select “New Tab Group.”
Schedule notification summaries
Not every notification requires your immediate attention. Notification summaries allow users to bundle less important notifications and schedule them to show up at a specific time. In Settings, click “Notifications” and select “Scheduled Summary” to set this up.
Scan text from photos
If you have a lot of useful information in your camera roll, iOS 15 can help save you a lot of time in your day-to-day life. The new Live Text feature is a game changer since it lets users copy text directly from a photo or screenshot and paste it into emails, notes or documents rather than manually typing it out. Simply view a photo and tap to select the text you see in the shot — you can then select a portion or all of it to copy it out.
Your keyboard can be a mouse cursor
There’s nothing worse than writing a long email and having to oh-so-carefully click to change a double space or to fix sentence structure. But holding down your keyboard will let you turn it into a mouse cursor, allowing you to quickly get to the spot you need to fix. It’s super helpful for those quick changes.
Related: iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max review.
Swipe away a number in Calculator
While the Calculator is pretty basic, it’s a handy app. But did you know hitting Clear (aka the “C” button) isn’t the only way to start fresh? You can swipe an individual number away to remove it. This is super handy, especially if you add an extra digit. Just swipe left or right on a number to remove it.
Limit distractions with Focus mode
There’s nothing worse than getting bombarded with unimportant notifications when you’re in the middle of a task. Focus mode allows you to silence certain notifications while allowing relevant alerts from specific people and apps to go through. You can set up different profiles like sleep, personal, work and driving, which you can customize to filter notifications depending on what you’re doing and let others know when you’re not available. All you have to do is open the Control Center and select “Focus.”
Enable background sounds
Whether you’re trying to unwind after a long day or working on a big project, soundscapes (or as Apple calls them, “background sounds”) can help you tune out the outside world when you need it most. While there are many third-party apps that offer this feature, you can now access a range of sounds like rain, ocean, stream or dark noise that are built in. In Settings, go to “Accessibility,” click “Audio/Visual” and select “Background Sounds.”
Pin your favorite conversation
Messages got a number of new features in iOS 14, but our favorite trick is pinning conversations. No longer do you need to scroll through endless rows of convos to find your most used; rather, you can pin it to the top. Simply swipe from left to right on a conversation and you’ll see a yellow pin icon appear. That contact will jump to the top as a circle and you can rearrange it as you like.
Tap the back of your phone instead of swiping up
Back Tap might be the best-kept secret on the iPhone. Originally designed as an Accessibility feature for easily triggering a task or action, it’s open for everyone and can be supercharged. Essentially, an iPhone can pick up a two-finger or triple tap on its back, thanks to the haptic sensor. In Settings you can set a double tap to open Messages or to go back home, while a triple tap can trigger the opening of a specific app or even locking your phone. It’s super handy. This is found under Settings > Accessibility > Back Tap.
Easily translate text
Need to translate text in a different language on the fly? Now you don’t have to copy and paste it into a search engine or use a separate app to do so — it’s built in. Just select the text by highlighting it, then tap “Translate.”
Related: iPhone SE review.
Easily find specific words on Safari using keyword search
If you’re reading a text-heavy article on Safari and need to locate a specific word or phrase, you can now use keyword search instead of having to scan through the entire article. Type the word you’re looking for in the search bar, scroll down and select “On This Page.”
Prevent unwanted emails using Hide My Email
Keeping your personal email private can be difficult, considering the number of websites, apps and newsletters that require users to provide their email address upon signing up. Hide My Email, which is available with iCloud+, protects your personal email address by creating a randomly generated email address you can use and then forwards the messages to your inbox. In Settings, just tap “iCloud” and select “Hide My Email.”
Bedtime in Clock can help set a habit
The Bedtime feature in the Clock app lets you set a bedtime and will send a friendly reminder. You can set when it should send (typically 30 or 45 minutes prior), and it can even engage Do Not Disturb to encourage less phone usage before slumber time.
Search for emojis
Apple adds a plethora of new emojis to iOS in updates throughout the year and we all have our favorites. For us, it has to be the upside-down smiley face and the lightning bolt. But did you know you can search for an emoji right within the keyboard? It’s super handy for finding the right emoji for when words aren’t enough.
Organize your Notes app using hashtags
If you’re avid Notes users like us, you might find yourself overwhelmed with grocery lists, work jottings and personal memos to the point that it becomes difficult to find what you’re looking for. Now you can use hashtags to categorize your notes so they’re easier to group with similar ones, making the app much easier to navigate. Once you’ve added hashtags anywhere on your note, you’ll be able to access the “Tags” section on the main page of the Notes app.
Get real-time weather alerts
With the Weather app’s new Stay Dry feature, you’ll never again forget your umbrella at home. In the Weather app, tap the icon in the top right corner of the screen, select “Notifications,” allow location access and notifications, then select your location to receive alerts whenever rain or snow is about to start or stop.
Hide your IP address from websites
Browsing the internet can make you vulnerable to third-party observers who may attempt to track your online activity. iCloud Private Relay, which is available with iCloud+, can protect your safety and privacy by preventing websites, network providers and trackers from seeing what sites you’re visiting and your identity. You can turn on this feature by going to Settings, tapping on your name, selecting “iCloud” and turning on “Private Relay.”
Set a Recovery Contact to protect your stuff
In the unfortunate event that you can’t access your iCloud, you can now assign a friend or family member you trust to help you get back into your account. If you’re locked out of your account, you can reach out to your Recovery Contact and Apple will send them a code that you will enter on your device in order to be able to change your password. You can add a Recovery Contact by going to Settings, tapping “Password & Security,” “Account Recovery” and selecting “Add Recovery Contact.”
Use Visual Look Up to identify content in photos
If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the content in your photos, the Visual Look Up feature can provide a ton of information with just the tap of an icon. The feature can recognize different objects, animals, plants, books, landmarks and more, providing search results, similar photos and links about the subject. If the selected photo is available for Visual Look Up, there will be an info button with sparkly stars directly to the left of the “delete” icon.
Add attachments to events in Calendar app
Have an important presentation or meeting coming up soon? Keep files easily accessible by attaching content to Calendar events. When creating a new event, scroll down and tap “Add attachment,” which will allow you to select files and keep them on hand.
Adjust font sizes for individual apps
While some apps may be better suited for large text sizes, you may prefer smaller text while using others. With iOS 15, you can now customize the text size on an app-to-app basis. When you open Settings, go to “Control Center” and add the “Text Size” option to the included controls. Then, when you want to change the size of the font while using an app, swipe down to open Control Center, tap the “Text Size” icon and adjust the size to your preference.
Capture in ProRaw
Looking to take your photos to the next level? Shooting in ProRaw on the newest iPhones bundles additional information that you can take advantage of in photo editing apps. Think Photoshop or Pixelmator. This ultimately gives you greater control over an image, but know that these files take up a bit more space.
Take a photo in FaceTime
Now more than ever, we’re using FaceTime to stay connected. Ever notice the white circular shutter button? Well, it’s an easy way to snap a photo during the call — and you can even set it to be a live photo. It’s an easy way to capture a memory during a call.