8 Hidden iOS Features You Might Not Know

The iOS 5 software has been available for a while. Since then, most iOS users are getting acquainted with their new OS. However, very few people know or have taken advantage of the hundreds of features included in the new iOS. Part of the reason behind this is because they may not find use in them, or they just don’t know about their existence. Today, we’ll unveil some of the best hidden iOS features that come out of iOS 5.

1. The Talking iPhone


As is the case with most of these hidden features, the speech feature is available in the Accessibility section of the settings. With this feature, your iPhone has the ability to say the text in your iPhone’s native applications, sorry third party applications. This means that you can have your iPhone speak your message, say a calendar event, notes, reminders, and more. Sadly, it doesn’t work with Map directions, however I found a glimmer of hope in the possibilities of such a feature if it were available. To access this feature, go to “Settings -> General -> Accessibility“, activate Speak Selection.

2. Define the Word


Have you ever been in the situation when you are reading a news article on your iPhone or iPad and you don’t understand the word mentioned in the story? If so, that situation will never happen again with the hidden dictionary feature with iOS 5. The dictionary, visible while still hidden, can’t be viewed any other way and isn’t configured in settings. To activate, simply highlight a text and click the word “Define”. The dictionary will give you the pronunciation, part of speech, and multiple definitions. Because the dictionary feature isn’t an app, you’ll have to type and highlight to define a word not in your text already.

3. Custom Vibrations


The guys at Apple must have gotten some complaints about the boring repetitive buzzing of individual’s vibration settings. So Apple answered with a feature that allows you to make your own vibrating creations. The interface, similar to the voice memo feature, allows you to tap a blank area to the vibrating tone you want. Once complete, click “Play” to hear – or feel in this case – your latest vibrating tone. I would have liked the ability to have custom vibrations for contacts and messages etc, instead of just one creation. This would allow me to know if I’m getting an app notification or a text message while in class. You can activate custom vibrations by going to “Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Custom Vibrations“.

4. Keyboard Shortcuts


If you haven’t heard already, several linguist are saying that the English language is becoming simpler and simpler as generations past, this wasn’t meant to be a complement. However, these same linguist would cry in horror with the latest hidden feature of iOS 5. Keyboard Shortcuts, activated in “Settings -> General -> Keyboard“, allows you to specify shortcuts based on words you commonly use. This is very useful for words you use all the time, making typing long messages easier, and texting a lot faster.

5. Multiple Calendar Views


A feature that many individuals surprising know nothing about is the ability to have a week view of your calendar. With a simple rotation of your iPhone or iPod Touch, you have the ability to see how your week looks by the hour. See an event out of place? No problem, just tap, hold, and slide the event to its correct time and date. If you seemed to have unexpectedly found out about this feature and want to disable it, all you have to do is lock your phone or iPod in portrait mode. To do this, simply double tap home button, slide to the left, and click the arrow next to the fast back button.

6. Photo and Camera Secrets


iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch users can rejoice with the ability to take self portraits by using the volume rocker to take photos. If you didn’t know about this feature, simply click the top volume button when taking a photo. If you did know about this, you may not have known that this is also possible using your headphones. Simply click the center button (normally used to answer calls or pause/play music). In addition, with iOS 5, to launch camera without even launching your phone, simply wake your phone, double tap the home button, and click the camera icon button.

7. Delete: One By One


Did you make a phone call that you weren’t supposed to, or downloaded the song you later regret? No problem, iOS 5 now allows you to delete downloaded songs and phone calls in your recent tab. To delete a call, simply swipe the contact in the list or click “edit” at the very top. As for songs, all you have to do is swipe the said song in the songs list. No need to worry, this isn’t reflected on your iTunes or iCloud account, just on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

8. Twitter/Contact Integration


Ever wondered how your specific contact has an image as their contact photo that you never took? That was most likely thanks to Twitter integration. When going to “Settings -> Twitter -> Update Contacts“, Twitter will then go through your contacts and match email addresses and phone numbers with registered profiles. If Twitter finds a match, your contact is updated with their profile’s image and username. This was a great way for me to find the profiles of friends and family I had no idea knew what Twitter was, and those who denied ever having a profile!


These are the features that Apple has hidden from us, but we forgive them because the features are pretty nice. The ability for your iPhone to speak text, define words, find the hidden Twitter profiles of your friends and family, and much more makes iOS 5 a much more attractive and fun OS. Are there any features I seemed to have missed? If so, share the secret features you found in iOS 5.

Image credit: BigStockPhoto

Ari Simon
Ari Simon

Ari Simon has been a writer with Make Tech Easier since August 2011. Ari loves anything related to technology and social media. When Ari isn't working, he enjoys traveling and trying out the latest tech gadget.

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