Turn the back of your iPhone into a home button and fix typos without cursing the cursor

Dog or kid doing something cute?  Swipe up on the right side of your iPhone, and select the camera icon.  Then switch from photo to video by holding down the shutter button.  Your phone will start shooting.

Dog or kid doing something cute? Swipe up on the right side of your iPhone, and select the camera icon. Then switch from photo to video by holding down the shutter button. Your phone will start shooting.

A few months ago, I figured out how to use the iPhone’s built-in magnifier to help my aging eyes read tiny text on the back of a medicine bottle. I thought at the time: “Totally genius.” “How did I go so long without knowing anything about this?” The truth is that the super powerful Pocket PCs we carry around with us every day are so packed with features that it’s hard to keep up!

Some of the best tips and tricks come from the hardware makers themselves. But sometimes the know-how comes from other people who stumble upon it and then share it via Reddit threads or trendy TikTok videos. Here are seven of the most useful things I’ve found so far.

1. Take photos and videos very quickly

It took me a long time to convince my mom that she doesn’t have to use the six-digit password to unlock her phone and then swipe up to find her camera app, just to snap a quick picture on the fly.

Most of us know we can just tap and hold on the little camera icon to get straight to the photo taking part, even from the lock screen, but that’s only one part of the quick photo puzzle.

When you open the Camera app, the first option is Photo. But let’s say your child is about to take his first step – or your dog is doing something cute – and you don’t have a second to spare to scroll inside the Camera app to go from photo to video. Simply press and hold the round white shutter button at the bottom center of the screen and hold it down. It automatically converts to a video and you’ll see the red record button take snapshots until you lift your finger from it. Apple details more hidden camera tricks here.

2. Find setting, feature and application very quickly

We’re about to cover several tips that include “going to settings” and then searching for a particular feature. It drives me crazy to see people scrolling around to find the settings icon, and then scrolling there to find a particular feature. The quickest and easiest way to find anything on most smartphones is to swipe down from the top anywhere on the screen to reveal the search bar, then type in what you’re looking for – like settings. You can do this same step inside settings as well.

3. iPhone “Secret” Home Button

Most modern smartphones have ditched the front buttons in favor of a massive screen. The physical buttons are usually reserved for the sides of the device, and the lack of a home button or navigation buttons on the front can restrict the input options a bit. Hardly anyone knows that the iPhone has a “secret” button that is activated only by clicking and is located on the back of the device.

On iOS, head to Settings, then Accessibility. From here, access the Touch menu and scroll down to find Back Tap. Click on it and you will find a whole new world of touch input for your iPhone.

With Back Tap, you can assign double and triple tap commands, allowing you to access things like the camera, flashlight, screenshot, and even audio functions by double or triple tapping on the back of the device.

Google’s Pixel phones have a similar feature called Quick Tap, but some other Android devices will need to download a separate app called Tap to access the same functionality.

4. Make room for editing operations

Instead of desperately clicking near a typo and hoping to land your cursor exactly where you want it, you can turn your keyboard into a trackpad.

Instead of desperately clicking near a typo and hoping to land your cursor exactly where you want it, you can turn your keyboard into a trackpad.

Missing something in a message, tweet or email is a huge pain when you’re typing on your phone, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead of desperately clicking near a typo and hoping to land your cursor exactly where you want it, there is a much easier way to do it.

On both iOS and Android, just tap and hold your finger on the space bar to turn the entire keyboard area into a trackpad. With your finger still on the screen, move it left or right to scroll through the text you’ve composed and select exactly where you want the cursor to be. Nobody talks about this useful little feature – maybe because everyone already knows about it? – But it makes text debugging very simple which is better than tapping and praying.

5. ‘Accidental’ hang up

When you activate Airplane mode while on a phone call, the call magically ends.  The best part is that the call doesn't appear as a disconnect, but rather '  Connection failed.  & quot;

When you activate Airplane mode while on a phone call, the call magically ends. The best part is that the call doesn’t show up as a disconnect, it shows up as ‘failed to connect’.

We’ve all been through a situation where we need to end a phone call, but can’t seem to find a way to end the conversation. Maybe you just have to go to the bathroom or maybe the person makes you cry. Either way, it can be brutal and your smartphone feels your pain. There is a built-in feature that puts a phone call out of its misery without “hanging up”.

You know about airplane mode, right? It’s what you’re supposed to enable when you hop on a plane to prevent your phone’s cellular signals from messing with the plane. Well, when you activate Airplane mode while on a phone call, the call ends magically. The best part is that the call does not appear as disconnected. The person on the other end of the line will not see “Call Ended” as if you ended the call but will instead see an error message such as “Connection failed.” You get out of the uncomfortable conversation and don’t hurt the other person’s feelings.

On both iOS and Android, swipe down from the top of the screen (top right for iOS) to access the various device control options. Tap the Airplane mode icon to enable it and immediately drop the call.

6. Make quick calculations without opening the calculator app

Both iOS and Android have calculators built into the system-wide search bars that you can access with a single tap on the screen.

Both iOS and Android have calculators built into the system-wide search bars that you can access with a single tap on the screen.

Having a super powerful calculator in your pocket all the time is one of the countless benefits of owning a smartphone, but did you know that there is a faster way to complete quick calculations?

Both iOS and Android have calculators built into the system-wide search bars that you can access with a single tap on the screen. Both systems allow you to write simple math problems and get an instant result, without having to search for a calculator app.

On iOS, swipe down from the middle of the screen and type your math question into the Search field. The result will be displayed in a popup box just below the entry.

On Android, swipe up from the dock and type your account into the search bar at the top. A small calculator icon will appear below the entry, along with the answer to your math question.

7. Name this tune!

Want to know the name of the song? Just Shazam it, right? Well, that used to be the best way to see what tune is playing around you, but these days, iOS and Android devices identify songs without any additional help from the app.

On iOS, simply ask Siri “Hey Siri, what is this song?” And on Google, it’s an easy phrase “Okay Google, what song is this?” To find the same information.

Apple bought Shazam back in 2018 for $400 million. Siri received Shazam integration with the release of iOS 8, all the way back in 2014. Meanwhile, Google’s music identification algorithm is different, but both are very accurate when it comes to naming this tune.

Additional tip

Make sure that you are running the latest and most up-to-date operating system when trying these tricks. And don’t worry if you haven’t learned anything new, there are many such hidden tips and tricks and I’ll be sharing more soon. Until then, be sure to share your favorites in the comments section or on our social media.

Jennifer Jolie is an Emmy Award-winning consumer technology columnist. Email her at jj@techish.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferJolly. The opinions and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of USA TODAY.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: iPhone tricks and Android hacks: Fix typos faster and use a secret home button