Think You Know Everything About iOS? Test Your Mettle Against These 13 iOS 5 Tips/Tricks

Posted on 14 October 2011 By Ben Lang


iOS 5 launched on the 12th, and new iPhone 4S owners will be greeted with Apple latest OS when they receive their phones today. I’ve seen far too many “iOS 5 Tips/Tricks!” articles today that feature nothing but obvious things like “you can tweet stuff!” or “look there’s a notification center!”.  So I’ve compiled a list of some actual iOS 5 tips and tricks, and I’m hoping that at least one of these is brand new to you. Most of these are iOS 5 specific, a few are oldies, but hopefully still new to you. Check it:

    1. Open in background in Safari — though I’m still annoyed that Apple only brought tabbed browsing to iPads running iOS 5, leaving the iPhone and iPod Touch out in the rain, they fixed one of my major browser annoyances by allowing you to open pages behind the one you’re currently viewing. Annoying, you need to enable this through the Settings app, but it’s there none the less. To turn it on, go to Settings > Safari > Open Links > select ‘In Background’. Now when you go into Safari, you can hold down on a link to get a list of options, one of which is ‘Open in Background’. Click it and you’ll see the link jump into the window button, and it’ll open in the background without making you watch that slow window-opening animation!
    2. Private Browsing in Safari — It isn’t hard to theorize why Apple didn’t parade this option around when they unveiled iOS 5, but you can enter into a ‘Private Browsing’ mode in Safari, for whatever your purposes might be. Again, this is annoyingly activated through settings, instead of being easily toggled from within Safari itself. To turn it on, go to Settings > Safari > and flip the ‘Private Browsing Switch’. When you toggle this switch, you’ll be prompted to keep all existing windows or close them.
    3. Use the Flash LED as a Notification Light — I’ve always enjoyed testing Android devices that have notification LEDs because with my iPhone, I’m constantly flicking the screen on to check for new notifications. Of course, Apple will probably never add a flashing notification LED because they probably wouldn’t think it pretty enough for their precious iPhone. If they ever add such an LED, you can bet your bottom dollar that it’ll pulse gently, not flash. It’s an Apple thing. And because Apple is… Apple, I was surprised to find that they added the option in iOS 5 to use the camera’s LED flash as a notification light. It isn’t exactly as it seems though… Apple added this as an ‘Accesibility’ option, an effort to help disabled people use their devices more easily. But hey, that won’t stop you from using this feature. To turn it on go to Settings > General > Accessibility > and turn on the ‘LED Flash for Alerts’ option.
    4. Week View in Calendar — This one is downright confusing, and there’s no one to blame but Apple. By default, across the bottom of the Calendar application, you can see the options to switch between the List, Day, and Month views. As of iOS 5, you can rotate your device and see your schedule in a Weekly view. Pretty neat, but unnecessarily hidden if you ask me.
    5. Hourly View in Weather — Also an iOS 5 addition, you can now get by-the hour weather for the current day from the native Weather app. Go into the weather app and tap anywhere on the current weather card. You’ll see the ‘Hourly’ text under the location name light up, and you’ll get the view of 12 hours of upcoming weather for that location.
    6. See Specific Stock Prices in the Stocks App — If you’re a serious investor, I’m doubting that you’re using the native Stocks app, but if you’re a weekend trader, it might get you by. I’m actually not sure if this is an iOS 5 addition, but it’s handy none the less. Go into the Stocks app, rotate to landscape view to get a larger graph, then run your finger along the grab. You’ll be able to see specific prices for that stock at any point along the graph. The Stocks app also updates live now, so you can watch the price as the trading day progresses. Don’t forget that you can swipe between your stocks while in the large-graph view.
    7. Print Map Directions — Sometimes, having a backup paper map will save you from the dreaded dead battery situation. In iOS 5, you can now print directions from the Maps application which is pretty cool if you’re configured an AirPrint printer. To print directions, go to the Maps app, get yourself some directions (or as Siri to do it) then hit the ‘peel’ button at the bottom right corner of the app. The map will peel away, revealing some additional options, one of which is Print. From there, you can specify how many copies you want, and which printer you want to print to.
    8. Put Newsstand into a Folder — If you have no use for the new Newsstand app that comes along with iOS 5 and are annoyed that you can delete it like other apps, it has been discovered that you can actually trick it into going into a folder. To accomplish this, start with any 2 apps on the home screen (make sure Newsstand is on the same page. Hold down on one of the apps to get them to wiggle. Drag either of the two apps onto the other and drop it. A folder will be created, and right after you drop one app on top of the other, drag Newsstand into the folder. If you time it right, it’ll slide right in, like a good app. Do not click on Newsstand when it’s in a folder, it will cause your Springboard (technical name for the home screen environment) to crash. This isn’t a big deal as it will restart momentarily,  but it’s not something you want to happen if you’re in the middle of something important. The source of this solution appears to be from Coding Massacre, so credit to them! I can only hope Apple doesn’t fix this bug with a later update to iOS 5, because I’m doubting I’ll use Newsstand at all.
    9. Send More Than One Photo at a Time Through SMS or iMessage — This isn’t new to iOS 5, but it’ll be even more handy now that the messages will start flying with iMessage, which did indeed come along with iOS 5 (it also works with SMS and email). If you try to attach a photo to an SMS or iMessage, you have to select them one at a time. If you want to send a bunch at once, launch your Photos app, hit the square/arrow button at the top right after going into an album, select the photos you want, then hit Share, then Message at the bottom. Now you can enter your friends name at the top to send via SMS or iMessage (or hit the email option instead of message to send by email).
    10. Minimize the Keyboard in the Messages App — Apple finally gave us a way to minimize the keyboard in the Messages app as of iOS 5. Prior to the update, you couldn’t minimize the keyboard once you brought it up (this doesn’t apply to iPad users as they have a minimize keyboard button on every app!). Now when you go to scroll up to read previous parts of a conversation, the keyboard will minimize automatically. Thanks Apple… it’s about time.
    11. Create New Calendars and Photo Albums on Your Device — Now that Apple has ‘cut the cord’, allowing iOS 5 (and beyond) devices to run without the need of a computer, they’ve tried to move some of  the computer stuff onto the device. Now you can create calendars directly on the device (which will be synced to iCloud), and you can make your own Photo albums, which was always a pain to have to do through the computer. Photo Albums are a bit iffy as you can’t put a photo in an album then delete it from your camera roll. If you do try to delete it from the camera roll, it’ll be deleted out of the album too. I suppose this will be handy for people who use AirPlay to show slideshows on their TV. To make a new calendar, go into the Calendar app and hit the ‘Calendars’ button at the top left. Then press the ‘Edit’ button, also at the top left. Now you’ll find the ‘Add Calendar…’ option in the iCloud section. If you can’t see this option, you probably don’t have iCloud enabled (you can do this through your Settings app). To create a photo album, go into the Photos app. Go to the Albums view and press the ‘Edit’ button at the top right. On the left, you’ll see an ‘Add’ button and which will prompt you to give your new album a name, then ask you to add photos to it.
    12. Album Art Swipe Gesture — This is one of the least known iOS tips I know of. I came across it completely by accident. It’s existed long before iOS 5. I may have discovered it back when I got the first-gen iPod Touch (yeah, like pre-App Store). It’s really not that useful, and you wouldn’t think it would be used that often, but for some reason I seem to use it all the time when navigating my music library. If you’re in the Music app on the Now Playing screen (you’ll see album art and play/pause controls at the bottom), instead of pressing the little arrow at the top left of the screen to go back to the library view, you can swipe to the left on the album cover and it’ll take you back to library view. Again, this isn’t anything revolutionary, but it’s so strangely hidden that I wonder if Apple even remembers that it’s there. Whatever the case, I use this gesture every time instead of hitting that little arrow button.
    13. Change Font in Notes — I don’t tend to worry too much about fonts, but if you’re a font fiend like my pal Dante Cesa from Engadget, this may be of interest. You can toggle through a whopping three different fonts for use in the native Notes app. With a whole three to choose from, I know you might just lose your mind trying to decide, but hey, you can always flip a coin or something. I think I’ll go with Helvetica.
So there you have it folks, 13 fine iOS tips, many of which are new to iOS 5. So how did I do, did I manage to stump you on a tips you didn’t know about prior? Or do you have some incredibly unknown iOS or iOS 5 tip that you want to share? Drop a line in the comments!

9 Responses to “Think You Know Everything About iOS? Test Your Mettle Against These 13 iOS 5 Tips/Tricks”

  1. JM_66 says:

    I’m confused…aren’t these all options that have been available on smart phones and tablets for quite a while? Why is this news? Did Apple only just now get these features? I don’t have an iPad, but I thought they had these features?

  2. Ben Lang says:

    Yeah you’re right, other phones have had such features, it would be foolish to say otherwise. However, for millions of iOS users, this is useful news because yes, much of this is new to the OS.

  3. Kenneth says:

    You can also press and hold any word and an option of “define” will show up. We now have a built in dictionary.

  4. WIll says:

    I thought I would know most of these but there were several new to me. Good to see Apple has included some more useful things. JM_66 makes a good point: Apple despite being far ahead in some respects is stupidly and embarrassingly behind in too many others.

  5. Sharon says:

    And don’t forget that you can set a custom vibration for contacts so if you have your phone on silent. Go to Settings>General>/accessibility>Custom Vibrations. Turn it on. Then go to one of your contacts, then Edit>Vibration, it gives you a few options, or you can scroll down to “custom” and create your own by tapping on the screen.

  6. G says:

    These are great! I found the article because I did something cool that I can’t seem to replicate. A sort of “day at a glance” popped up on my screen after I fumbled my phone. It had local weather at the top followed my unlistened visual voice mail, then appointments, then unread text messages.
    Any guesses on how to see this again?

  7. K.G says:

    For author G,

    On the main screen you just swipe the screen from the top down with a finger and it should open up. To close it, on the bottom you will see where you swipe back up. Everything listed in this day at a glance can be controlled in your notification center through settings.

  8. Nicky says:

    This is the new Notification Center. Just swipe down from the top! Pretty cool!

    You can watch the iOS5 video to learn the coolest updates at apple.com!

  9. G says:

    Thanks so much! I was trying that but not starting all the way at the top. I LOVE it!