If you’re like most people, the thought of leaving your house sans smartphone is akin to leaving an appendage behind. According to the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone, and they’re spending an average of five hours a day checking in with their preferred digital device. However, despite all that time we spend on our phones, there are a surprising number of secret features—stuff even the most avid techies aren’t familiar with.Whether you want to get home safer, instantly track an elusive selfie, or make sure your painting is properly aligned, these 10 things you didn’t know your smartphone could do might just make an otherwise-distracting device feel a whole lot more useful. Read on, and see your life improve immediately. And for more info on your most essential device, discover these 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Smartphone.
1. Scan QR Codes Without an App
While you used to have to have a specialized QR code reader app on your phone, now you can simply point your iPhone camera at QR code and have it scan automatically. All you have to do is open your camera app, focus your camera on the QR code, and then tap the resulting notification that takes you to the product page or website. Luckily, the same can be done on an Android as well by opening the Google App, enabling screen search, and following the same protocol. And if you’re feeling ready to untether, discover these 11 Easy Ways to Conquer Your Smartphone Addiction.
2. Create Custom Vibrations
If you’re the kind of person who feels uneasy when their smartphone isn’t in hand, but are also just polite enough not to bust it out in the middle of a movie theater, customized vibration patterns might just save you some frustration by letting you know whether a call coming through is urgent or not. After going into Settings on your iPhone, click Sounds & Haptics. Click on Ringtone or Text Tone, and, at the top, you’ll see an option for Vibration. Click this and scroll down until you find the section that says Custom, underneath which you’ll click Create New Vibration. In this part of the app, you can create your own customized vibration pattern, which you can then assign to contacts. And if you want to pass the time without a digital distraction, discover these 20 Genius Ways to Kill Time Without a Smartphone.
3. Search Photos By Category
Can’t remember when you took that really cute selfie, but wouldn’t mind using it for your new Tinder or Bumble photo? Don’t worry, finding it is easier than you think. Using the search function at the top of your Photo app, you can search by category. For example, type in the word “cat” and photos of you and your beloved feline friend should pop up.
4. Diagnose Your Car Troubles
Not sure what’s going wrong with your car, but aren’t in the mood to pay a mechanic hundreds of bucks to tell you it’s nothing? There’s an app for that. Download the Automatic Pro app for your iPhone or Android device and you’ll get an adaptor that allows you to plug it into your car’s ODB-II port, usually located near the base of the steering column. Once it’s plugged in, the app can remind you where you parked, diagnose engine trouble, and even alert your loved ones in the event of an accident. And for more ways to make the most of your device, this Is the Best Way to Keep Your Smartphone Clean.
5. Check the Batteries on Your Remote
We’ve all been there: your favorite show is about to come on, and the remote suddenly stops working. However, figuring out if it’s a problem with your service or your remote can waste precious time you could be using to absorb every second of the latest Westworld. The good news? You can find out what the problem is fast using your smartphone. Simply point your remote at your phone’s front-facing camera and press any button. If you can see the infrared light from the remote flashing on the screen, your remote is working. If not, it’s time to change those batteries.
6. Play Your Favorite Show on Your TV (Smartphone)
Thinking that episode of Game of Thrones would look a lot more epic if you weren’t watching it on a six-inch screen? There’s an easy workaround. On your iPhone’s home screen, swipe up and you’ll see an option for Screen Mirroring. Provided you have an Apple TV, all you need to do is click and your screen mirroring app, stand sufficiently close to your Apple TV, and enter your AirPlay passcode, if prompted. Luckily, you can do the same using an Android phone, as well, if you have a Chromecast or Chromecast-enabled device. Even if you don’t have an Apple TV, you can still do the same with your iPhone by downloading third-party apps, like Reflector or AirServer, onto your computer and using the mirroring feature as described. And for more techie fun, check out these 20 Long-Predicted Technologies That Are Never Going to Happen.
7. Keep You Safe While Walking Home
Getting a little freaked out when you’re walking home at night is natural, but there’s an easy way for your phone to keep you safer. The bSafe app, available for both iPhone and Android, allows you to send invitations to selected contacts to track your location, set a timer that will trigger a distress call to your contacts if you haven’t made it home within a specified time frame, and can even schedule fake calls to make it seem as though you’re talking to someone on your trip home. And for more ways to protect yourself, discover how This New iPhone Feature Could Help Save Your Life.
8. Update Siri’s Pronunciation
If you’ve ever wished Siri could stop mispronouncing words or names you use frequently, there’s an easy way to fix that. Activate Siri and tell her to pronounce word or name she regularly mispronounces. Once she’s repeated the word, say, “You’re pronouncing [that word] wrong,” and you’ll be invited to say the name properly. Next, you’ll be given a list of options for correcting Siri’s pronunciation.
9. Power On Your Lights
Want to make your home safer and more well-lit in one fell swoop? There’s an app for that. If you have wifi-enabled bulbs at home, you can use your Amazon Alexa app to control them throughout your house at the touch of a button, saving energy if you want them off, or keeping your home protected by making it look occupied, even if you’re not around.
10. Create Text and Emoji Shortcuts
If you’re eager to save yourself serious time when you type, try creating some text replacement shortcuts on your phone. On your iPhone, go into Settings, click Keyboard, and click Text Replacement. In the upper right hand corner, press the plus symbol and you’ll be instructed to add phrases that you’d like to type shorthand or use emojis for. In the future, when you type those characters or symbols, the word you’re going for will pop up. And when you want to get smarter about your phone habits, make sure you know The Genius Way to Stop Pocket Dialing People.