15 iPhone Tips and Tricks You Might Didn’t Know About

Everywhere on the web, you can see the same old iPhone tips and tricks, like how to use MobileSafari, but what about some hardcore iPhone tips and tricks?

1. Avoid an iPhone self-updating Smart Playlist bug

The current version of the iPod.app on the iPhone and the iPod touch has a strange bug which prevents updating Smart Playlists based on criteria which change when playing from the playlist.

That sounds a little bit complicated, but there’s an often-used and simple example: a playlist based on play count (e.g. Play Count — equals — zero). When you play titles from the playlist on the iPhone, they should disappear automatically after playing, which currently isn’t the case.ƒ

The workaround, as described in this post on Apple’s Discussions site, is to create a second Smart Playlist. For the second Smart Playlist, set the criteria to simply this: Playlist — is — [the troublesome Smart Playlist]. When you now play titles from this new Smart Playlist, the criteria change properly, and both playlists change accordingly.


2. Set a reminder to reply to a text message on the iPhone

If you get a text message when you’re in an application and don’t want to leave that app to respond, but you’re worried that you’ll forget about the text message when you’re done, here’s a simple solution…

When the text message arrives, push the lock button to lock the iPhone’s screen. Then press it again and unlock. You’ll still be in the same app, but the text message dialog will be gone. When you exit the app, you’ll see the red “1” counter on your SMS icon, reminding you to respond to the text message.

3. Sync iPhone while talking on the iPhone

If you are syncing your iPhone and want to make a phone call, you’ll have to cancel the sync.However, if you’re already on the phone and want to sync and continue talking, the iPhone won’t drop the call. So, syncing while talking is possible if you need to do it; just start the call before syncing.

4. Reduce travel gear by one device with AirPort Express

I recently bought an Airport Express, and to me, it’s really the ultimate MacGyver tool for my needs. At home, I use it to extend my wireless LAN; when traveling, I use it to create a new wireless network to free me from the cords required in the typical hotel room. No hints there, obviously; that’s what it was designed to do. But what I also figured out is that I can use the USB port on the AirPort Express to charge my phone, so I can leave the iPhone’s charger at home.

5. Possibly enable GPS tracking with iPhone display off

There are lots of GPS applications for the iPhone which do live tracking of your position via GPS. Sadly, most of them don’t work when the iPhone display is switched off. There are some exceptions, though. The newest release of RunKeeper Lite seems to include a workaround — according to their blog, the iPhone display can be switched off and tracking still proceeds. Trails.app includes a nice display dimming feature, which switches the display off automatically when put into the pocket.

At least for some other applications, the following hint might be useful: If you start playing music with the iPod application, then open your GPS application and start tracking, you might be able to switch off the display with the lock button without losing tracking capability. If you turn the volume down, you won’t hear the music. This may not work in all apps, so just give it a try.

6. One way to handle compilations on the iPhone/iPod touch

The preferences for the iPod program on the iPhone/iPod touch does currently have an option to hide compilations from the Artist’s view. If your artist list is also filled with these entries, and you’re annoyed by that, the first thing to do is probably to tell Apple about it.

As a temporary work around, create a Smart Playlist that contains only compilation tracks — simply set Compilation to is true in the Smart Playlist setup. Next, select all tracks in this Smart Playlist, open the Info dialog (Command-I), go to the Sorting tab, and enter a special character (e.g. . or #) into the Sort Artist field. After synching, all compilation tracks appear at the end of the artist list (of course, in both iTunes and on the iPhone/iPod touch).


7. Use the iPhone’s mic/headphones with the iPod touch

You can use the iPhone’s Apple Stereo Headset (with microphone) on an iPod touch (second edition, at least) and Fring or Skype, as long as you’ve got a WiFi connection.

Granted it’s only via WiFi, but it can come in real handy, as I found out while I was over in the USA and had a need to call back home from my hotel. I did not want to use my mobile, and dreaded even more doing it through the hotel’s linees. But I had free WiFi in my room, so I spent about 30 minutes using my iPod touch, and talking to someone at my bank in the UK. With a set of Skype subcriptions I already had, I did not pay any call charges.

I have been doing this for a while, but I notice all the pointers to using Skype, or Skype through Fring only normally mention the iPhone. I suspect most people do not know it’s possible, so I wanted to share.

8. Use iPhone headphone button in QuickTime on some Macs

Following up on the recently-covered use of the iPhone headphone in Keynote and iTunes, one can also use the iPhone’s headphones button in QuickTime on the new Unibody laptops:

  1. Click: Play / Pause.
  2. Two clicks: Next frame (if movie with no chapters); next chapter (if movie with chapters); next track if it’s a playlist.
  3. Three clicks: Restart playback from beginning (if one file), or restart playlist (if it’s a playlist).

9. Enhance experience on twitter.com with CSS3 animations

How do you enjoy tweeting on Mac OS X? Do you feel better when actually using an iPhone Twitter client such as the iPhone’s Tweetie and others? In my expeirence, most Mac OS X clients don’t provide the rich set of information available from twitter.com. So I wrote an experimental bit of code that works on twitter.com.

pbtweet is small javascriptlet (bookmarklet) that relies on GreaseKit and shows conversation chains and images sent from twitpic.com and brightkite.com as cool icon badges on twitter.com. All animation effects and interactive motions are based on WebKit’s early implementation of CSS3 transitions. Thus, pbtweet works only Safari, and I recommend Safari 4. Here are some of pbtweet’s features:

  • Shows conversation chain balloons based on in_reply_to_status_id
  • Removes redundant tweets
  • Picture posts to twitPic.com and brightkite.com are placed on twitter.com as picture badges
  • Inserts a [more] page when you scroll down to page bottom
  • In the dev version only, new tweets are automatically updated at the top of timeline

Go to this URL, and drag the pbtweet bookmarklet onto your bookmark bar. (If you’re using Safari 4, I recommend using the dev version). Then click the bookmarklet while viewing twitter.com.

10. A heads-up on teaching the iPhone new words

As you’re probably aware, the iPhone is supposed to learn new words as you correct its suggestions–each time you click the ‘x’ box to reject a spelling suggestion, for instance, the iPhone should be noting that behavior. At some point, it will then stop suggesting an alternative when you type that word again. However, for some people (including me), it seemed this training wasn’t working. I was using Notes to do my training, as it seemed like the most logical spot to do a lot of typing.

However, it turns out that that’s a very bad spot from which to try to train your iPhone. Ars Technica’s Erica Sadun explains why in this entry. Using a jailbroken iPhone, Erica was able to see that the customized dictionary was never updated when she typed new words in Notes. So basically, any attempt to train in Notes would be futile.

She then switched to Mobile Safari, and found that when she entered new words in the Google search box, they were immediately added to the dictionary file. In short, not every app on the iPhone seems to be capable of modifying the custom dictionary, and Notes is one such app. So if you’re trying to add words to your iPhone, give the Google search box a try instead, and check out Erica’s original post for more gory detail on this ‘ducking iPhone’ problem.

11. Use iPhone headphones as a remote for Keynote

Since the new MacBooks now receive input from the iPhone’s headphones, you can use those headphones as a remote for running a presentation in Keynote ’09:

  • One click starts the presentation.
  • Two clicks moves to the next slide.
  • Three clicks moves to the last slide.

12. See additional device info in iTunes’ Summary tab

iTunes (in version 8.1, at least) has a feature that I accidentally discovered today. If you have an iPhone plugged in (and possibly other devices and iPods), and look at the Summary tab of your device, it lists your device’s Name, Capacity, Software Version, Serial Number, and in the case of an iPhone, the Phone Number of your phone.

If you click on those titles (or the text next to the titles), the information changes to show you the following:

  • Software Version » Build Version
  • Serial Number » UDID Identifier
  • Phone Number » IMEI » ICCID

This information can also easily be gathered from the iPhone itself, but it could be handy to access this information in iTunes when you are doing a backup or the iPhone is otherwise occupied.

13. How to record an iShred (iPhone) guitar in GarageBand

I’m sure many people have pined for a hotrock electric guitar and a pumped up amplifier that can power an entire stadium for all your dream solo rock concerts. Let me show you how to achieve that this very second, with nothing more than your iPhone and GarageBand ‘09 on your mac. Let’s get started!

Meet iPhone App Store app iShred. This powerful app is a complete steal for $4.99: it’s basically an electric guitar plus all the effects boxes you’ll ever need PLUS every chord-bank in the world compressed into a mere 19MB on your iPhone. iShred and GarageBand ‘09 are a match made in the Mac heavens. Here’s what’s needed to record your iShred playing on your Mac, in addition to GarageBand and iShred:

  • A Mac with a line-in port (found on most recent Macs, I believe)
  • A 3.5mm male-male audio cable
  • An iPhone audio cable adapter, male-female (only for the 1st-gen iPhones with a recessed audio port)

Set up the cables such that the iPhone is connected to your Mac’s line-in port via the 3.5mm audio cable (with the adapted if required). Fire up GarageBand and start a new song. Create a new track for a real electric guitar.

Once in the main editing interface, click over the right side and play with the amplifier settings. There are quite a few built-in options, but go over and change the master amplifier settings by clicking on the image of the amplifier and selecting Edit. Turn Monitor on (or on with feedback protection).

Now, open up iShred on your iPhone and play around with the interface. Set up a few user chords or use the ones built-in. Play those chords: if your setup is correct, your iPhone should be acting like an electric guitar! Mess with the settings and effects.

14. Use Kindle to get longer Amazon book previews

With the advent of Amazon’s free Kindle application for the iPhone and iPod touch, readers who don’t want to spend the bucks for an actual Kindle device can use their mobile device to read e-books.

While this is interesting, many readers don’t want to read e-books on a small screen, or simply don’t want to buy books that are not made of dead trees. However, you can use the Kindle app for something else: to get previews of just about any book an Amazon.com. (Currently, that’s 245,000 books, according to Amazon.)

To do this, install the Kindle app on your iPhone or iPod touch, then set up your account. Go to the Amazon site, and find a book you’re interested in. Click Send Sample Now to have a sample sent to your iPhone or iPod touch. When you open the Kindle app, sync it, and you’ll get the sample. You can read a long-ish chapter of the book you’re interested in — much more than Amazon’s Look Inside feature offers you.

So if you want to sample a book, use the Kindle app, then buy the book on paper; or, try an e-book to see if you like reading on your iPhone or iPod touch.

15. Add eBooks to Kindle.app on jailbroken iPhone

If your iPhone is jailbroken, you can add any book that is in Mobipocket’s PRC format to Kindle.app. The file needs to be placed in Kindle’s eBooks folder, which is found in /var » mobile » Applications » random_hash_number » Documents » eBooks. You’ll have to find out what your Kindle.app’s hash is by comparing it to the date you installed the application.

[via MacOSXhints]


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