Some of the best features in the iPhone and iPad are so secret, it seems, it can take a most unlikely circumstance to discover one.
My editor was in a TRAX train recently when a little girl sitting in front of him instinctively tried to grab his iPad (kids are drawn to those Apple tablets like magnets). Her mom stopped her, but not before the girl swiped the iPad screen with four fingers, unlocking a little-known secret about switching apps.
That led me to this column and the beginning of a spinoff feature that I will be producing every once in a while — tech-related how-to guides to help navigate you through your gadgets. First up is this guide to some of my favorite little-known features in iPhones and iPads that Apple hasn’t promoted. Another definite clip-and-save!
App switching (iPad) • The iPhone/iPad operating system, called iOS, allows you to switch from one app to another, usually by double-tapping the Home button, which brings up the multitask bar and a list of the last apps that were used. You then tap on the app that you want to instantly go to.
But there’s a faster way on the iPad. While already in an app, just use four fingers and swipe the screen to the left to be taken straight to the last app you had up. You rotate through the apps every time you swipe. Or you can use four fingers to swipe up to bring up the multitask bar instead of double-tapping the Home button.
Caps lock (iPhone/iPad) • OMG! What good is texting someone if you can’t YELL IN ALL CAPS!? But how do you do that when there’s no “caps lock” button on the onscreen keyboard? Easy, just double-tap the Shift button.
Exposure lock (iPhone/iPad) • Sometimes, auto exposure is a great feature for video taking because it automatically adjusts the light exposure of a scene. But what if you’re moving the camera and you don’t want to change the exposure or focus as you pan? In that case, you can lock the iPhone/iPad’s camera exposure and focus. To focus or get the exposure, tap that part of the screen. To lock the exposure and focus, just press and hold that part of the screen.
Music controls (iPhone/iPad) • It never fails. You’re listening to music on your iPhone or iPad and you hear a song that you want to skip. But you don’t have music controls on your headphones, and it’s a pain to turn on your device and navigate to the iPod part with a few button presses just to skip the song.
You can instantly access the iPod’s music controls with a simple double-press of the Home button, even when the device is in sleep mode.
Scrubbing speed (iPhone/iPad) • This is a feature that works particularly well if you’re listening to voice recordings and you want to locate an exact spot on the recording.
When you play a song or recording, you will see the horizontal scrubbing bar at the top (the line with the dot on it), which shows the progress of the recording’s playback. You can touch it and slide it left or right to go to a particular part of the recording. But to do a finer search while scrubbing, slide your finger down the screen while also scrubbing left and right. The farther you slide down, the finer the control.
Undo typing (iPhone/iPad) • Did you hate what you just typed? Shake your iPhone/iPad and it will bring up a prompt to undo everything you just typed. It’s better than just sitting on the backspace key until everything’s gone.
If you have a question for Vince, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he’ll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive, go to www.sltrib.com/topics/ohmytech.