The other day I was watching someone using their iPhone — with their permission, I wasn’t just shoulder-surfing — and I found myself becoming frustrated. It’s not that they were doing anything wrong. In fact, they were using it exactly as Apple intended. They were scrolling and making gestures and opening and closing apps.
But it was weird to watch, because it was nothing like how I use my iPhone. I’ve come to rely on two hidden features that allow me to use iOS and navigate through apps much quicker.
The first of these features is AssistiveTouch.
AssistiveTouch is an accessibility feature and what it does is it floats a small menu on your display (which you can move around on the screen with a finger) that allows you to carry out gestures such as pinching or multi-finger swipes with a single finger and offers quick access to a variety of functions.
There are three ways to activate AssistiveTouch:
- Tap Settings > Accessibility > Touch > AssistiveTouch, then switch on AssistiveTouch
- Tap Settings > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut and then click AssistiveTouch
- Ask Siri: “Turn on AssistiveTouch”
You can customize AssistiveTouch by going to Settings > Accessibility > Touch > AssistiveTouch, then click on Customize Top Level Menu. You can have as many as eight icons showing (or as few as one) so it’s incredibly versatile.
It’s an amazing shortcut to useful features I use all the time (especially screenshots!).
Another feature I use a lot is Haptic Touch to bring up menus for apps. Just long-press on an app and see what pops up. It might be useful, it might not be. It depends on the app!
You can even do the same with built-in iOS features, such as Control Center.
If you are finding these hard to activate, you can adjust and experiment with the sensitivity.
I wish there was some sort of user interface clue that you could press on apps or areas of the UI to activate such options, but alas you have to go exploring for them.
So, go exploring! The payoff is worthwhile as you will almost certainly find some useful time-saving shortcut.
If you’re using your iPhone for work, then I think that these two features will undoubtedly boost productivity. They take a little time to get used to, but after that you will see benefits.
And you’ll wonder why everyone isn’t using them!