28 iOS tips & tricks: Get to know iOS 8

Ashleigh Allsopp
1 October, 2014
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iOS-8-update-pulled-Apple-macworld-australia1Apple has released iOS 8, its new version of its mobile operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. With it comes a slew of new features for your device, including a new Photos app, improved Messages, a tweaked design, iCloud Drive, a new Health app, Continuity features and more.

The changes between iOS 8 and iOS 7 are nowhere near as obvious as those that came when iOS 7 replaced iOS 6, so we’ve put together a list of tips & tricks to help you make the most of iOS 8′s new features, many of which may make your life easier.

1. How to set up Hey, Siri

Apple has introduced a new Siri feature that could come in handy, particularly while you’re driving. If your iPhone is plugged in, you can now say “Hey, Siri,” to activate the iOS voice assistant.

You’ll need to turn on the feature if you want to use it, though. Go to Settings > General > Siri and then tap Allow ‘Hey Siri’.

2. How to get quick access to contacts

Apple has added a new feature to the multi-tasking screen, which can be accessed by double clicking the home button.

Now, you’ll see a row of circular icons along the top. These represent the people you recently called or messaged, and tapping one will bring up a series of options: Call mobile, Call home, Message or FaceTime, for example, depending on which options apply.

If you would like to add favourites that will always appear on this screen, you can do so by going to the Phone app, tapping Favourites and then tapping the Plus icon to add contacts. Now, when you double tap the home button, swipe right on the icons to reveal your Favourites.

3. How to install Widgets in Notification Center

Notification Center iOS 8One of our favourite new features in iOS 8 is the ability to customise the Notification Center, which is the screen you see if you pull down from the top of your iPhone’s screen.

First, you’ll want to make sure all of your apps are up to date. Most of the popular apps you’ve got will have been tweaked for iOS 8, so go to App Store, Updates and then tap Update All.

Not all of your apps will have implemented Widgets yet, but for those that have you’ll be able to tap Edit at the bottom of the Notification Centre and then tap the plus icon to add them.

Now, when you go to the Notification Center, you’ll see those handy widgets.

4. How to maximise your battery life

Battery life has long been one of the biggest complaints among iPhone owners, but Apple now lets you see which of your apps are using up the most battery on your device.

Go to Settings > General > Usage and then tap Battery Usage. You’ll now see which apps are using up the most battery, and Apple will offer up some suggestions to help you save battery life (it suggested we enable auto-lock).

5. How to set up notifications for email replies

It’s unlikely that you want to be notified every time you get an email, but there are always those important email threads that require immediate attention. Now, Apple lets you stay on top of emails by enabling reply notifications, which you can turn on for individual emails and email threads.

To do so, open the email you want to get notifications for, tap the flag icon in the bottom left corner, and then tap ‘Notify Me…’. Now, click Notify Me to confirm you want to turn Notifications on. To stop notifications, tap the same icon and then tap ‘Stop Notifying’.

6. How to minimise an email

Another really handy email feature introduced with iOS 8 is the ability to hide/minimise your New Message window. If you’ve started writing an email but want to check something from a separate email, you can do so by dragging down from the top of the window.

Tap the New Message bar at the bottom of the app to get that Message back and continue writing it.

7. How to use QuickType predictive typing in iOS 8

QuickType iOS 8

Our next few tips relate to the new iOS system keyboard, QuickType, which sees Apple catch up on many of the keyboard innovations we’ve seen recently in the Android sphere. (To take things still further, you can download third-party system keyboards for iOS, such as Swype or SwiftKey.)

QuickType is the default keyboard setup, so you don’t need to switch it on. Whenever you’re typing – in any app that uses the standard system keyboard, from Mail, Messages and Pages to Twitter, Microsoft Word and other third-party apps, although not, interestingly, the typing-based game Blackbar – you’ll see three words sitting in dark-grey boxes above the rest of the keys. These are QuickType’s top three suggestions for what you’re currently typing, or about to type, based on the context and your own personal style.

Simply tap on one of the options to insert that word or complete the one you’re typing. You can write entire messages using suggested words only, if you’re lucky and/or willing to sound like a fortune cookie.

8. How to minimise (hide) QuickType’s predictive suggestions

If you find QuickType’s three grey boxes annoying, or aren’t finding its suggestions helpful, you can minimise (or hide) them.

Swipe downwards on the dark grey boxes and they will collapse into a slender grey bar with a white pull-up handle in the middle.

Swipe upwards again to see what QuickType has to offer, and whether it’s got any smarter.

9. How to turn off QuickType predictive typing completely

Keyboards iOS 8

If QuickType really isn’t your cup of tea, you can switch the predictive feature off entirely. Go to Settings > General and then swipe down to the Keyboard option.

Swipe the green toggle next to ‘Predictive’ so that it turns white. From now on iOS will limit its predictive activities to the pop-up suggestions you’ll remember from iOS 7.

10. Improve privacy in iOS 8: How to set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine

Privacy could be the next big issue that divided Apple and Google – and one of the ways Apple has set itself on the ‘privacy-respecting’ side of things is this small concession to iOS users: you can now set DuckDuckGo (a search engine that doesn’t track your searches, doesn’t profile its users and shows the same search results to everyone) as the default search engine on your iPhone or iPad.

Search Engine iOS 8

To enable DuckDuckGo, go to the Settings app and scroll down to Safari. Tap the top option (Search Engine) and put a tick next to the search engine you want to use as the default. As well as Google and the privacy-optimised DuckDuckGo you can go for Yahoo or Bing, which we can only assume were put in there to annoy Google.

11. How to get more out of Spotlight search in iOS 8

The Spotlight search feature is a lot broader in scope in iOS 8. From any of your home screens, swipe downwards from anywhere on the screen except the top (which will summon the Notification Center). Now start typing your search query, and iOS 8 will suggest options from your on-board apps, undownloaded apps from the App Store (together with a version number and rating, but not a price, oddly – tap the result to see more details), locations nearby, emails and Wikipedia entries, among other new features.

If you want to see more of the suggested search results, click the bottom-right keyboard key to send the keyboard away and free up more screen space.

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12. Using Time-lapse mode

There are some great new features in the iOS camera app including Time-lapse video shooting and a timer function.

To take a Time-lapse video, swipe all the way to the right on the app’s display and select Time-lapse from the options.

Now tap the record button.

The app will automatically take a still picture every few seconds.

When you’re finished tap the red button again.

The app will stitch all those pictures together to form a time-lapse video. For the best results make sure the iOS device is completely still and leave it recording for a minute or more.

You’ll find the Time-lapse video in Photos > Albums > Videos.

13. Taking selfies with the Timer button

To take a selfie on a timer tap the Timer button at the top of the screen (or left in landscape).

Choose set a self-timer of 3 or 10 seconds.

Press the white button.

Run in to shot.

You’ll see the numbers come up on the screen as it counts down. On our iPhone 5s the phone automatically took a burst of 10 photos.

You will need to be able to set up your iPhone on a steady platform so you can step away from it to take a photo without it falling over.

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14. Take Panoramas with the iPad

If you own an iPad Air or iPad mini with Retina display you can now take panoramic images. Previously this feature was iPhones only.

On your iPad swipe to the right until you reach Pano.

Press the white button and then start to carefully move your iPad from left to right across the image you wish to capture, while trying to keep the iPad as steady as possible.

If you are taking a landscape image you need to hold the iPad in portrait.

If you prefer you can go from right to left, just tap on the right side first.

15. Use manual controls for autofocus and exposure

You can now choose the point of focus and adjust exposure separately. Previously the exposure was based on the focus point.

Open the camera app and tap on the area you want to focus.

Long tap if you wish to lock the focus point.

Now tap the sun symbol and more your finger up and down to change the exposure.

16. Where to find your photos

In iOS 8 photos are stored slightly differently.

Previously every photo taken with your device was found in the Camera Roll folder. That folder no longer exists. This change caused some users of iOS 8 to think that all their photos had been deleted during the installation, but they are still there, you can find them in Collections.

At the bottom of the screen tap Photos and view your photos by Years, Collections or Moments. You will see all your photos, taken on all of your devices, mixed up together in this view.

Replacing the Camera Roll album is the new Recently Added album that includes the past 30 days worth of images.

17. How to share images to Facebook

Add to Folder iOS 8One reason for the confusion relating to Camera Roll is probably that when you try to share a photo to Facebook or similar the album that the phone shows by default used to be Camera Roll and now is Recently Added (although Facebook still labels it as Camera Roll).

Given that this shows only the photos taken over the past 30 days, it’s no wonder people thought their photos had been deleted.

For now at least, if you want to share a photo on Facebook that is more than 30 days old you need to add that photo to an album, and then tap on Camera Roll and select the image from that album.

Creating albums isn’t a new feature of iOS 8 but given the above situation, you may wish to create albums for your images to make it easier to find them when using apps like Facebook.

View the photos, tap Select and pick the photos you wish to add to the album.

At this point we usually find it frustrating that we only see a square thumbnail of the shot because it is hard to see the detail and determine how good the photo is. We tend to flick through, opening images, noting which image it was as it closes, and then tapping Select and ticking that image.

When an image or images are selected tap Add To and select the Album you wish to add to, or scroll to the bottom and hit New Album to create a new album.

Now when you try and share the images on Facebook all you need to do is select the relevant album.

18. Deleting photos in iOS 8

Deleting a photo requires a few more steps in iOS 8 than it did in iOS 7.

To delete a photo either open the photo and tap the waste paper basket. Or Tap Select and choose a number of photos before tapping the waste paper basket.

Choose Delete Photo. You will be warned that the photos will be deleted from Photo Stream on all your devices.

Select Delete Photo and you may presume that the image is now gone from your device. But you’d be wrong.

Now go to Albums > Recently Deleted. Open the album and tap on the image again to get the options to Delete or Recover.

If you choose to delete from here the image is gone. If you don’t delete it but leave it in this folder it will disappear in 30 days time.

From this album you can delete a large number of images in one go by tapping Select > Delete All or Recover All or by tapping each image you wish to keep or delete. There is also a Delete All option.

Recover Images iOS 819. Undelete and recover images

The benefit of the above is that if you delete an image from your device it’s not immediately removed. You have 30 days in which to change your mind.

If you decide you were wrong to delete an image, go to the Recently Deleted folder, open the image and select Recover.

You can also recover a group of photos. Tap Select, then select the images you wish to recover and tap Recover.

20. Search for and find images

Apple has added a smart search feature to Photos.

Tap on the magnifying glass icon and the search field will prompt you categories of images taken Nearby, Favorites, Home and in a location you have recently visited.

For example, type the name of a location where you took photos and you should see the images you took at that location.

These search criteria remain in recent searches.

21. Add Favourites

If you have an iPhone you’ll have noticed that under every photo in your library there is a heart icon.

Tap that icon to fill it in.

The image will be added to your Favourites album

22. Hide images

You can now hide images you don’t want others to see from the Photos views: Moments, Collections and Years (although they will still appear in albums).

To hide an image, tap and hold on its thumbnail, then tap Hide.

To recover the photo you need to visit the Hidden album and tap and hold the thumbnail to unhide it.

This is slightly confusing as when you tap on an image in Recently Added and select Hide it doesn’t disappear from that view. However if you are in Moments it will disappear from view when you select Hide.

Basically if you don’t want someone to see an image make sure you switch to Photos from Albums first, or just delete it and recover it again later.

23. Cropping an image

Cropping an image is a little different in iOS 8 compared to iOS 7.

Choose your image. Tap Edit.

Now tap the square Crop icon in the corner and then tap the new icon on the right that looks like different shaped boxes.

Now you can pick the constraints of your crop, including Square, 3:2, and even 16:9.

Tap Done when you are happy.

Straight Image iOS 824. Straightening an image

Do you have a photo that needs straightening up? This is often the case when you photograph the sea and then find it looks like the water is going to run out of the image because it’s on a slant.  iOS 8 makes this edit easy.

Tap the Crop icon and you will see a new dial below the image.

Turn this dial until the lines that it draws over your image appear to be in line with the horizon.

25. Add more colour to an image

The new image editing features are perhaps our favourite new feature in iOS 8.

Open an image you’d like to edit. Tap Edit.

To change the colour saturation of an image tap the new dial icon and pick Color.

You can drag the slide up (or to the right depending on the orientation of your device) to add more colour to the image.

You can do even more here. Tap the three lines and you can see what the Saturation, Contrast and Cast levels are.

To increase contrast, tap Contrast, then move that slide until you are happy.

26. Adjust the brightness of an image

You can also adjust the Light levels of your image including contrast and shadows.

Find the image you wish to edit. Tap Edit.

Select the dial icon and pick Light.

Drag the slide up for a more ethereal feel to your image.

If you tap the three lines you’ll see that Light options include Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Brightness, Contrast and Black Point.

27. Undo photo edits

If you decide you aren’t so keen on your new image, you can revert to the original at any time.

Open the image and tap Edit > Revert to revert the image back to the original.

28. Discover more iOS 8 advice with the new Tips app

Well, that’s it for now. However there’s another source of iOS 8 advice you should be using. Apple’s dedicated Tips app debuted in iOS 8 and will be updated periodically to add new information – straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were. Look for the yellow lightbulb icon, which iOS will have dropped in the first available slot on your screen, open the app, and scroll through the available tips.

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