Advanced iOS 8 tips for iPhone and iPad

We’ve been digging down into the goldmine that is iOS 8 to find a selection of lesser-known secrets that might just change the way you use your device forever.

By

  • 1 Use Hey Siri - WITHOUT charging!
  • 2 Share Reminders
  • 3 Magnify the screen
  • 4 Use photos and formatting in Notes
  • 5 Search sites quickly
  • 6 Create folders within folders
  • 7 Add emergency medical info
  • 8 AirPlay on a different network
  • 9 Limit how long kids can play
  • 10 See what Siri's recognised
  • 11 Close tabs on other devices or Macs
  • 12 Access iCloud Drive anywhere
  • 13 Dismiss individual notifications
  • 14 Mute conversations
  • 15 Make a swap-in keyboard default
  • 16 Move Favourites and delete history
  • 17 Go dark
  • 18 Buy cheap apps as part of bundles
  • 19 Reply to messages from dialog boxes
  • 20 Roam free in Europe (well, for less)
  • 21 Read eBooks out loud
  • 22 Spot incorrect email addresses
  • 23 Third-party web browsers
  • 24 Capitalise words
  • 25 View email drafts
  • 26 Use wacky keyboards
  • 27 Get better weather
  • 28 Rearrange sharing icons
  • 29 Hide icons
  • 30 Translate Spanish on the fly
  • 31 Get tips online
  • 32 Organise your iBooks
  • 33 Selective history removal
  • 34 Snap a photo for iMessage
  • 35 Go 3D with Maps
  • More stories
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Hey Siri without charging

Hey Siri is a cool new feature of iOS 8 but contrary to what most people believe you don’t necessarily need to be connected to a charger to use it.

First, activate the Hey Siri feature by tapping Settings > General > Siri, and then tap Allow Hey Siri. Next, activate Siri in the usual way by pressing and holding the Home button, but say something simple like “Hello”. This will cause Siri to appear, greet you, but then stick around waiting for further commands.

From now on while Siri is waiting for a command you can invoke it hands-free by saying “Hey Siri” – regardless of whether or not the device is charging! Obviously this only lasts until your phone or iPad goes into Auto Lock power-saving mode, but you can also adjust this in Settings.

Read our complete guide to Siri for more Siri tips

And our tips to extend battery life on your iPhone

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Next Prev 1

Hey Siri is a cool new feature of iOS 8 but contrary to what most people believe you don’t necessarily need to be connected to a charger to use it.

First, activate the Hey Siri feature by tapping Settings > General > Siri, and then tap Allow Hey Siri. Next, activate Siri in the usual way by pressing and holding the Home button, but say something simple like “Hello”. This will cause Siri to appear, greet you, but then stick around waiting for further commands.

From now on while Siri is waiting for a command you can invoke it hands-free by saying “Hey Siri” – regardless of whether or not the device is charging! Obviously this only lasts until your phone or iPad goes into Auto Lock power-saving mode, but you can also adjust this in Settings.

Read our complete guide to Siri for more Siri tips

And our tips to extend battery life on your iPhone

Best iPad & iPhone games | Best free iPad games | Best free iPhone games | Best iPad & iPhone apps | Best free iPad apps | Best free iPhone apps

 

Share Reminders

It’s been possible for some time to share lists you create in Reminders, but only using the iCloud website, or the Mac OS X app. In iOS 8 you can now do so directly from the Reminders app.

Open the list for viewing, then tap the Sharing entry. Then tap Add Person, and type the iCloud ID of the person you want to share the Reminders list with.

Because sharing reminders has been possible since iOS 6, you can share with people who aren’t necessarily running iOS 8!

Read our iOS 8 review

 

Magnify the screen

iOS 8’s new magnify tool is great for looking at pictures close-up if an app doesn’t support to the pinch-expand gesture. It’s not a true zoom because it just makes the pixels bigger. However, this can still be very useful.

To set it up, open the Settings app then tap General > Accessibility > Zoom. At the bottom, tap Zoom Region and then tap Full Screen Zoom. Then tap the switch alongside the Zoom heading at the top to activate the feature. (If you find yourself zoomed in immediately double-tap with three fingers bunched together to zoom out.)

In future to magnify the screen just double-tap the screen with three fingers. To move the zoom around, drag with three fingers. To zoom out, again double-tap with three fingers. Don’t forget that most apps, like Safari and Photos, have their own zoom modes using the pinch-expand gesture.

Read: iPhone gestures you should know

 

Use photos and formatting

While Notes remains fairly basic, in iOS 8 it’s gained the ability to insert pictures into your notes. Simply tap and hold at the cursor position, then select the Insert Picture option on the menu that appears.

Additionally, you can now format text in notes, although only after you’ve typed it – double-tap to highlight the word, or double-tap and drag to highlight a sentence or paragraph, and then select BIU on the pop-out menu (or tap the right-facing arrow and select it). Then make your selection.

It’s still not possible to change the font, although this IS possible if you use Notes on a Mac – just open the note you create there after it’s synced via iCloud, and then tap Cmd+T to open the font picker. Whatever font you choose should appear within the note when it’s opened on your iPhone or iPad (provided it’s amongst those fonts installed on iOS).

 

Search sites quickly

Just like its desktop older brother, the URL/search field in Safari within iOS 8 has the ability to automagically search websites using the site’s own search function.

However, first you need to go to the site and run a dummy search using the site’s search field in order to educate Safari.

Once that’s done, typing the name of the site and then the search term will show an option below the URL field to initiate a search – for example, “macworld mac mini”.

 

Create folders within folders

App folders are created by tapping and holding an icon until it wobbles, then hovering it over another app icon. To keep things simple Apple stops you putting a folder inside another folder – or at least not without a small cheat.

First, create the second of the folders – the one you want to place inside an existing one. Then create a new folder but, just as the icon flashes and before iOS zooms in so you can see its contents, lift your finger and use another finger to tap and hold the first folder.

If you do it right, that folder will be dragged into the new one. Release your finger and you’ll have a folder within your folder!

 

Emergency medical info

The new Health app lets you enter a list of your existing medical conditions and medications that will then appear whenever somebody taps the Emergency button on the phone’s lock-screen.

To set this up, open the Health app then tap the Medical ID icon at the bottom right. Then tap Create Medical ID. Ensure Show When Locked is visible, then tap below to enter your medical data.

Read: Complete guide to Apple's iPhone Health app

and here's how to use Apple's Health app to get fit and healthy

 

AirPlay

In iOS 8 there’s no need to be on the same network as an Apple TV in order to use AirPlay.

This means you can use the Apple TV at a friend’s house, or in an office or school, without first needing to find out the Wi-Fi details.

And don’t forget that you can play what’s on your iOS screen via a lightning cable on a Mac using QuickTime Player.

 

Limit your kids

Guided Access is a feature within iOS that lets you lock the device to one particular app. It’s great if you want to ensure your kids play a game without accessing your email or messages, for example. In iOS 8 it gains a very useful timer feature, that lets you limit how long they can play.

To activate Guided Access, open the Settings app then tap General > Accessibility > Guided Access. Then tap the switch.

From now on, to lock kids to a single app, just start the app and triple-click the Home button (if a menu then appears, tap Guided Access). To set a time limit on an iPhone tap the Options button at the bottom left, while on an iPad tap the Time Limit Options button at the right. Once you’re ready, click the Start button. If this is the first time you’ve used Guided Access you’ll need to enter a PIN, which will lock Guided Access so your kids can’t break out of it!

Once the time limit has expired the lock screen will appear. Alternatively, if you want to break out of Guided Access before this then triple-click the Home button.

See: How to set up Family Sharing

 

See what Siri's recognised

Siri can now recognise tunes for you – just start it up and say “What’s this song?”. There’s no need to buy the tune immediately, however, or even make a note of what it is.

Instead, you can switch to the iTunes Store app, then tap the Music link at the bottom left, and then tap the menu icon at the top right. Then tap the Siri tab. Here you’ll find listed all the tunes Siri has identified.

 

Close tabs

By viewing iCloud tabs on iOS 8 (which you’ll see beneath your currently-open browser tabs) you can also close those on other iOS devices, or even on any Macs logged into same iCloud account.

Simply swipe left on the entry in the tab list until Delete appears, and then tap it.

Read: How to avoid running out of data on your iPhone

 

Access iCloud Drive anywhere

iOS 8 brings with it iCloud drive, which syncs automatically across all your devices and Macs.

Windows users are not left out in the cold, however, because iCloud for Windows provides access to iCloud Drive, Photos, and Safari bookmarks.

Alternatively, you can simply visit iCloud.com and download your files from there, something that'll work on any computing platform - including Linux.

Read: What is iCloud Drive

 

Dismiss individual notifications

The little tweaks in iOS 8 can make all the difference, so how about this one: you can now remove individual notifications in the Notification Centre.

Just select the Notifications tab, then swipe left on the notification. An (X) will appear, and tapping it will do the business!

Read: How to use iOS 8 Notifications

 

Mute conversations

If you’re messaging somebody and want to avoid notifications when they reply, such as when you’re going into a meeting, there’s no need to put your phone into silent mode.

Instead, just open the conversation and tap the Details button, then tap Do Not Disturb. Other message notifications will come through fine. Just not ones from this person!

Read: Best Messages features in iOS 8

 

Default keyboard

iOS lets you use third-party keyboards such as SwiftKey. There’s only one problem – iOS will still frequently default to the built-in iOS keyboard, forcing you to tap the globe icon to switch keyboards.

To make your new keyboard the default, just open Settings, then tap General > Keyboard > Keyboards, then tap the Edit button. Finally, drag the new keyboard to the top of the list by tapping and dragging the bar block at the right of each entry in the list.

Read: Best iOS 8 keyboard apps

 

Move Favourites

Tapping in Safari’s address/search field now shows a list of Favorites. What’s not obvious is that by tapping, holding and dragging these you can rearrange the list, to ensure more popular sites or folders are at the top. 

Scroll to the bottom of the list and you’ll find a list of your most frequently visited sites. If there’s a site listed that you’d rather wasn’t included, just tap and hold it for a second. When you release a Delete option should appear. The same will happen with any item in the Favorites list too.

Read: Tips for using Safari on the iPhone and How to keep your browsing history secret with Private Browsing

 

Go dark

Every wanted to drop down the brightness of the screen temporarily? Try this neat trick. First, follow all the steps in Tip 3 to activate zoom. Then tap quickly three times on the screen with three fingers, and in the menu that appears select Choose Filter > Low Light.

Drag the slider at the bottom of the screen all the way to the left, then tap outside of the menu so it disappears. Click back to the previous Settings screen and scroll to the bottom. Tap Accessibility Shortcut, and then tap Zoom, removing ticks alongside anything else.

From now on clicking the Home button three times will instantly dim the screen. Tapping it again will undim the screen. Note that this only applies a dark overlay and the screen brightness remains at whatever it was set at.

 

App bundles

iOS 8 brings with it the ability for app developers to bundle several apps together for one (usually discounted) asking price. This can represent some very large savings.

Unfortunately there’s no way to ferret out app bundles other than using the standard search tool and entering “bundle” or perhaps “pack”, and hoping these words appear in the title.

Read: How to find apps on the iOS App Store

 

Reply to messages

iOS 8 lets you reply to SMS/iMessages directly from the notification that slides down at the top of the screen. Simply pull it down and type in the space provided.

Less well known is that by opening Settings, tapping Notifications > Messages, and tapping Alerts in the Alert Style section, you’ll be able to switch to replying to subsequent new messages via a dialog box instead.

This still avoids switching to the Messages app and provides a slightly more relaxed environment where you’re less likely to accidentally cancel the notification.

 

Roam free in Europe

Making calls and accessing data within the EU may become as cheap as the same calls or data in your home country as of December 2015.

However, whatever the case, since 2007 roaming charges have been falling dramatically, and iOS 8 takes this into account with a new EU Roaming switch within the Mobile component of the Settings app.

This lets limits data roaming to EU states, although it has no bearing on voice calls.

Read: How to avoid data roaming charges

 

Read eBooks out loud

Although iOS has featured a speech synthesizer as part of its Accessibility features for some time, it’s always been hobbled when it comes to iBooks. In iOS 8 this limitation is removed and you can make your iOS device read entire books, even turning pages automatically if you want to read along with it. It’ll even keep reading in the background while you switch to other apps. 

To set it up, open the Settings app, then tap Accessibility > Speech. Then tap the Speak Screen option. Back in iBooks, swipe down from the very top of the screen with two fingers pinched together. This will show a toolbar that you can use to control playback, which will minimise into a small arrow. This also works when viewing webpages, and is terrific when combined with Reader view!

Read: How to turn iBooks into audiobooks

 

Spot incorrect email addresses

Ever sent something you shouldn’t to somebody you shouldn’t? In iOS 8 there’s some protection against this in that you can cause any email address not from a particular domain (such as that of your company) to be highlighted in red when composing and replying to email.

To set it up, open the Settings app, tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars, then tap Mark Addresses. Enter the domain in the field provided. Unfortunately, only one domain can be entered.

With careful use this feature can also be used to watch out for incorrect addresses – if a friend has switched to Gmail from Yahoo, for example, and you keep accidentally using his old address, you could add Yahoo.co.uk here.

Read: Best new features in iOS Mail

 

Third-party web browsers

This isn’t so much a tip as an interesting note. Apple now allows third-party browsers available in the App Store to access the same Nitro JavaScript Virtual Machine as the built-in browser.

The new tech is still finding its way into browsers like Google Chrome but to try it out, install the free WebView app from MashSpots at the App Store. Select the WKWebView tab to try Nitro, and UIWebView to try the older non-Nitro tech.

 

Capitalise words

To capitalise a word you’ve typed in iOS 8, or to switch it to BLOCK CAPITALS, just select it and then tap the Shift button.

One of the predictive suggestions above the keyboard will be the capitalised word, and tapping it will swap it into the sentence. Double-tapping the Shift button will change the suggestion to block capitals. 

Read: Apple QuickType keyboard tips

 

View email drafts

We’ve already mentioned how you can swipe down on a new mail to minimise it and reveal your inbox. What’s less obvious is that if you then choose to compose more emails, you can tap and hold the New Message header and they’ll all be arranged like tabs in Safari.

Swiping one to the left will remove it from the list but won’t delete it, and you can still see it when you view your mail drafts by tapping and holding the compose button.

 

Use wacky keyboards

iOS 8 lets you use third-party keyboards but this technology has been cleverly appropriated by apps like Bitmoji and PopKey to let you insert humorous images into messages and emails.

Inkboard turns the keyboard into a drawing area. Give them a try! They’re all free from the App Store.

 

Get better weather

The weather app in iOS 8 is significantly boosted, now showing a nine-day forecast. It’s also been switched from Yahoo to The Weather Channel, and a neat little trick is to tap The Weather Channel icon at the bottom left when viewing a forecast.

This will switch you instantly to that location’s page on The Weather Channel’s website, where you’ll see a whole load more information!

Read: Best weather apps for iPhone

 

Rearrange sharing icons

Tapping and holding is always a good idea on any touch interface, and doing so when you’re accessing a share sheet (the screen that appears when you opt to share something by email, or on Facebook), will let you rearrange the icons.

Want Facebook to be the first option? Just tap, hold and drag it there!

 

Hide icons

Ever wanted to hide an app icon, such as one of the iOS built-in apps that you never use? A bug in iOS 8 makes this possible. We’ve no idea how much longer the bug will stick around but it’s been there since iOS 7 was released.

Start by ensuring the first home screen is filled with icons, so there’s no gaps. The app you want to hide should be on a different home screen page. Tap and hold the icon you want to hide so that it wobbles, and drag it over any of the first home screen icons. This will create a folder, but don’t drop the icon. Instead, drag it over to where the Dock usually lives at the bottom of the screen and quickly release before the folder disappears.

Read: How to delete iPhone apps

Hey presto! The app’s icon will have vanished. You’ll still be able to access the app by typing its name into Spotlight, and it’ll return should you reboot your device. We had trouble getting this to work on an iPad, although it worked just fine on our iPhone.

 

Translate Spanish

Just like with OS X Yosemite, iOS 8 has gained several new dictionaries although as usual you need to manually install them. New to iOS 8 are Russian, Thai, Turkish, Portuguese and a Spanish-English translation dictionary.

To install them, visit any web page using Safari, then tap and hold a word until the pop-out menu appears. Then tap Define.

When the pop-up (iPad) or full-screen (iPhone) definition appears, tap Manage. Then tap the cloud icon alongside whichever dictionary you want to download.

 

Get tips online

Apple’s new Tips app has some fantastic info for those new to iOS 8, but did you know it’s actually part of a much more expansive tips library that can be found online?

Just visit http://tips.apple.com, where you’ll find separate categories of tips for iPhone, iPad and the iPod Touch.

 

Organise your iBooks

In iOS 8 iBooks becomes a standard app and has been enhanced by a handful of additional features. One of these lets you create your own collections of books – a bit like filing them away on their own virtual shelf.

To do so, tap the Select button at the top right and then tap the books you want to be part of the collection. Then tap Move, and in the pop-out menu that appears tap +New Collection.

Tap Done, then tap your new collection and the books will fly onto your new shelf (on an iPad – iPhone users don’t get such luxury).

Read: Kindle/iPad versus Books

We've rounded up links to all our iPhone tips and tutorials here: iPhone tips and tutorials, everything you need to know

 

Selective history removal

Safari in iOS 8 allows you to remove individual sites from your browsing history, or clear away sites visited in the last hour, today, today & yesterday, or since forever.

To access this, tap the bookmarks button, then tap the bookmarks tab (the left-most icon). Then tap History in the list. Swipe left on individual sites to remove them, or tap Clear at the bottom for a more expansive list of options.

Find out how to make space on an iPhone when you need it

 

Photo for iMessage

Photos can be inserted into iMessages by tapping the camera icon but if you tap and hold this icon, you’ll activate the camera, where you’ll be able to snap a picture or record a video for instant attachment.

Read: Tips for using the iPhone camera and photo editing in iOS 8

 

Go 3D with Maps

Maps continues to improve with iOS 8 and more and more UK cities are being given 3D make-overs, allowing you to fly around them via satellite imagery, using the much-vaunted Flyover feature, as if you were in a helicopter.

How do you know which city supports Flyover? Open the Maps app and then locate the city. Zoom out very slowly so the entire city fills the screen and you’ll see a very small 3D icon appear in its centre (it really is very small!).

Tap this and you’ll be offered the opportunity of a Flyover! Not all cities that have 3D imagery also have flyovers – in the UK at the time of writing Birmingham falls into this category.

Read: Send a map from a Mac to an iPhone

Now read our basic iOS 8 tips - for everything you should know about using iOS 8

Also read Keir Thomas's amazing tips for OS X Yosemite

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