With every update to iOS, bug fixes and native apps aren't the only things that get modified—Apple's developers often include under-the-hood functionality and frameworks that enhance how users interact with their devices.
Many of these updates are typically not highlighted in the release logs or bullet points compared to the much-touted new features and applications, so the enhancements often gain popularity when users discover them by accident or via word of mouth. For instance, gestures are shortcuts that allow for quick executions of common or helpful tasks. Gestures are often overlooked additions that are hidden throughout the system and can dramatically change how users do things.
Here are five tips that may help iOS users increase productivity and be more efficient. All of the shortcuts work on iOS 11—it's possible they may not work on previous versions of iOS.
SEE: Software usage policy (Tech Pro Research)
1. Leverage Spotlight for everything
Spotlight works much like it does in macOS—it catalogs all the files on your device to allow for quick and easy search results when needed. Among the files inventoried are apps, emails, and contacts—basically, everything on your iOS device.
By performing a pull-down swipe mid-screen, the search prompt will be called up. Simply start to type a keyword or a term that best matches what you're looking for, and the search results change dynamically as you type additional letters to narrow down the search.
If you keep all of your applications sorted into organized folders, or you have pages of unsorted apps, for example, pulling up a specific app (or document, keyword, etc.) can be loaded exponentially faster and more easily then scanning each folder or scrolling through pages to locate it.
SEE: How to become an iOS developer: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
2. Request Desktop Site instead of mobile version
Arguably, one of the biggest boons to mobile technology was having access to the internet in your pocket anytime, anywhere. Apple laid much of the groundwork for moving technology to this point where we could essentially load a full website on Safari—even making it one of its initial selling points back in 2007.
Since then, websites have evolved, and many sites have mobile versions designed to adapt to the size of the screen they're being loaded on. Whether it's a 5" screen from an iPhone or it's a screen double that size on an iPad Pro, websites will look the same no matter what. That's smart, right? Certainly.
However, it's problematic when a mobile site is a shell of its desktop version. So, iOS developers created a way to request the desktop version of the website when necessary by pressing and holding down the refresh button until Request Desktop Site appears at the bottom of the screen. Tapping that selection will reload the website with the full, desktop version of the site.
3. Trackpad navigation with 3D Touch
Apple has done an admirable job of creating an easy to use interface when typing or entering text into fields, but let's face it—mistakes happen, and sometimes those mistakes can be easily corrected by tapping and holding the cursor where we need to fix the error.
Other times, we require a bit more precision control over the cursor than is provided, such as when using a mouse. Since that's not a connectivity option, using the 3D Touch functionality to press and hold any letter down will invoke the trackpad function and allow users to gain that precision functionality while editing text.
SEE: iOS 11 tips and tricks for business professionals (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
4. Scan QR codes with the Camera app natively
QR codes are used by many companies to display data and load contact or website information, and yet, Apple never officially supported scanning the popular matrixed barcode, only relying on third-party apps to be able to decode the barcodes. That is no longer the case.
Built-in support for QR codes is available using Apple's native Camera application, and it's easy to use. Open the Camera app and point it a QR code as though you were going to take a picture, and the information will be automatically read and a notification will be generated providing details as to what it is or what information it's providing.
5. Have Siri read text aloud with a swipe
Siri is capable of many great feats, all with the push of a button or merely saying, "Hey, Siri... ." There are some features that utilize Siri's voice functionality in conjunction with accomplishing a specific task (these features aren't exclusive to Siri).
For instance, if you want Siri to read text aloud, enable the accessibility feature by going to Accessibility | Speech | Speak Screen and then use the two-finger gesture to swipe downward on any screen with text. This feature can help read aloud parts of websites, documents that must be reviewed, emails, texts, and just about any page with text.
- iOS 11.3: Tips, tricks, and how to fix the biggest annoyances (ZDNet)
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- iOS 11 Safari productivity tips: Four hidden features you don't want to overlook (TechRepublic)
- Three iOS 11 iPad features business users are overlooking (TechRepublic)
- iOS 11 hidden features (CNET)
Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 19 years of experience and multiple certifications from several vendors, including Apple and CompTIA.