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Internet & Safari tips

Wi-Fi Assist: Automatically ignore weak Wi-Fi networks

iOS 9 and later

Switching automatically from cellular data to the nearest available Wi-Fi network is a useful tool, especially if you're constantly looking for hotspots to save your data tariff. The annoying situation comes when there's an available Wi-Fi network, but it's slow or weak - maybe significantly slower than 4G. This is precisely the context in which the new Wi-Fi Assist feature will prove its worth.

With iOS 8 you lost precious seconds of your life going to settings and switching off the Wi-Fi mode, but in iOS 9 the slow Wi-Fi network will be ignored automatically and you'll continue to use cellular data. If you want to save on mobile data even at the cost of slow web access, you can opt to turn off Wi-Fi Assist.

How to reopen recently closed tabs

iOS 8 and later

In Safari in iOS 8, you can quickly reopen closed tabs by tapping the tabs button at the bottom right of your Safari window, and then tapping and holding the plus symbol. Then, simply tap the one you want to reopen to get it back.

How to quickly enter credit card numbers in Safari

iOS 8 and later

This feature is pretty cool, too. You can now skip that annoying process of typing in that long card number when you're doing your internet shopping by tapping the button on the keyboard that says Scan Credit Card.

Line your card up with the box on the screen and hold it there for a second or two. Safari will read the number on the card and type it straight into the field on the web page.

How to request the desktop site in Safari

For iOS 8

Mobile sites are generally ideal for browsing the web on your iPhone, but if you've come across one that's less than impressive and you're finding it difficult to navigate, you can tap on the URL bar and swipe downwards to reveal the 'Request Desktop Site' option.

More Safari in iOS 8 tips

Create a shortcut to frequently visited websites

iOS 8

If you visit a particular website often, you can create a shortcut that'll appear on your home screen and look just like any other app.

Simply go to the website you want to create a link to, then click the share button. Now, click 'Add to Home Screen' and you'll now see the shortcut among all of your other apps.


Magnify the screen

iOS 8 and later

Hidden away in the Accessibility section of iOS is a useful little feature that turns your iPhone into a magnifying glass. It does this by using the camera and a software tweak that zooms in on everything you point it at.

To find it, simply navigate to Settings > General > Accessibility > Magnifier and then ensure that the Magnifier setting is switched on.

In older versions of iOS you'll need to go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom, and then tap Zoom Region, Full Screen Zoom. Now, you can activate Zoom by tapping the switch at the very top of the menu. If you find that you're zoomed in as soon as you turn Zoom on, you can double-tap with three fingers to zoom out. Use that gesture to zoom in at any time, dragging with those three fingers to move around.

Read more: How to use iPhone as a magnifying glass

Health & fitness

Reproductive health tracking (and other upgrades to Health)

iOS 9 and later

The Health app gained lots of new options with the launch of iOS 9. With an eye on the aspects of women's health that have been neglected in previous updates, Health gained a new section, 'Reproductive Health', which includes six more sub-categories: Basal Body Temperature, Cervical Mucus Quality, Menstruation, Ovulation Test Result, Sexual Activity and Spotting. Here you can insert your data manually.

Tracking women's cycles may help those trying to get pregnant or avoid it, and can also help to discover health problems. The reproductive section might also help you to monitor risks of sexually transmitted diseases, since it lets you record any protected or unprotected activity.

Aside from sexual health, iOS 9 also added 'UV Exposure' and 'Water Intake' to the Health app's options.

Add emergency medical info to lock screen

iOS 8 and later

Apple's Health app means you can create what's called a 'Medical ID', which lets you enter a list of your medical conditions, medication, blood type and allergies. Should something happen to you, it might be important for a doctor or paramedic to know this information, so Apple has made it possible for them to access it without needing to know your iPhone's passcode.

Go to the Health app and then tap Medical ID. From there, tap Create Medical ID, type in your information, and then make sure Show When Locked is turned on.

The information will then be access to anyone by tapping the Emergency button on the lock screen and then tapping Medical ID.

Night Shift mode - Helps you sleep at night

iOS 9.3 and later

Night Shift mode is hands down our favourite feature of iOS 9.3, although (if you have the beta) it's fairly easy to miss. Studies have shown that exposure to blue light (emitted from displays) can affect your circadian rhythms and thus make it harder to fall asleep at night. As Macworld UK staff, you can imagine that we've been suffering from this issue for quite some time, and we can honestly say that Apple's Night Shift mode has dramatically improved the amount of time it takes for us to fall asleep at night.

The idea behind Night Shift mode is to use your iOS device's clock and geolocation to determine the sunset in your location, then automatically adjust the colours of the display to the warmer end of the spectrum which Apple claims is "easier on your eyes". The mode can be accessed either via the Settings app or from the Control Centre, and can be toggled on or off with a single tap.

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