62 (Yes, 62) of Our Favourite iPhone Hacks and Explainers of 2021

62 (Yes, 62) of Our Favourite iPhone Hacks and Explainers of 2021

Talk about a year for the iPhone and iPad — new devices across the board and tons of software updates, including the much-anticipated iOS 15. All that news means a lot of change and plenty of advice to share. Whether you’re an Apple fanatic or just someone who appreciates a good feature for their iPhone, we have something for everyone. They’re just an overview, so if you want a closer explanation on how to enable any of the settings, simply click the link for a full walkthrough. These are our best iPhone and iPad tips and hacks of 2021.

Unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch when wearing a face mask

2020 forced all of us to get used to wearing masks everywhere. It took until 2021, however, for Apple to make it easier to unlock our Face ID iPhones while wearing a face covering. If you have an Apple Watch, you can quickly and conveniently unlock your iPhone whether you’re wearing a mask or not.

How to take scrollable, full-page screenshots of websites on iOS

Screenshot: David Murphy Screenshot: David Murphy

A traditional screenshot on iOS doesn’t capture anything past the bottom of the display. If you’re trying to take a screenshot of an article on Safari, for example, a regular screenshot won’t grab much of it. With this simple feature, however, you can quickly grab a full-page screenshot of whatever you’re looking at.

How to take screenshots in iOS without that annoying pop-up preview

Screenshot: David Murphy Screenshot: David Murphy

Speaking of screenshots, does that little pop-up that appears in the bottom-left corner bother you? There’s an easy way to make sure it never appears again.

How to spot scam iOS apps that sucker you into making expensive purchases

When it comes to App Store control, few platforms are as strict and stringent as Apple. Even still, malicious apps can make it through the vetting process, scamming users out of a lot of money. These apps deserve to be called out and never downloaded again. Luckily, there’s a great solution to make that a reality.

How to find an Apple product’s ‘repairability score’

Let’s get this out of the way: An iPhone’s “repairability score” is not something Apple wants to share. This is not an idea from the makers of iPhone. Instead, the government of France, of all places, is requiring all companies — not just Apple — to disclose their products’ repairability scores, in an effort to educate the public about the devices they may or may not buy.

How to change which apps Siri uses to play audio in iOS

Screenshot: David Murphy Screenshot: David Murphy

While iOS doesn’t have as many “default app” options as Android, Apple is getting better. One half-measure we now have is the ability to tell Siri which audio player we want as our default. That way, if you want Siri to always default to Spotify when you ask “play Red (Taylor’s Version),” it will.

How to tell if you’re being tracked by Apple’s AirTags

AirTags have been making the news lately, but not in a good way. More people are reporting misuse of Apple’s tiny devices, often discovering they were being secretly tracked by an AirTag. From the beginning, however, Apple offers all iOS users tools to protect themselves against unwanted AirTag tracking (and they’re not done yet).

How to find COVID vaccination sites in Apple Maps

Screenshot: David Murphy Screenshot: David Murphy

Unfortunately, we’re still very much in a pandemic at the end of 2021. While we can’t help speed along the end of this nightmare, we can help you find a vaccination appointment with Apple Maps. Whether it’s your first COVID vaccine, or it’s your booster shot, it’s as important than ever to find an appointment.

How to find iOS’ hidden code scanner app

After nearly two years of ordering food from QR menus, have you ever stopped to wonder, hey, where is this app? You won’t find it in the App Library, which purports to feature every app installed on your iPhone. If you’re curious, here’s where you can actually find iOS’ code scanner app.

How to delete your Apple Pay information remotely if your device is stolen

We sincerely hope you never need to worry about someone stealing your stuff. However, if your Apple device is stolen, you don’t need to fear the thief will obtain your Apple Pay information. You can remotely delete that valuable data before the thief ever has a chance to use it.

How to find your iPhone with Google Assistant

If you’re like us, you’re not tied into one single brand’s ecosystem. For those of us with Apple and Google products alike, it’s extremely helpful Google Assistant helps you find your iPhone.

How to hide from advertisers with iOS 14.5’s new ‘App Tracking Transparancy’ settings

2021 was a great year for sticking it to the apps and sites that track our digital activity. With iOS 14.5, Apple introduced “App Tracking Transparency,” which introduced the idea of app tracking to the company’s giant customer base. Now, apps have to ask your permission to track you. And for the vast majority of us, the answer is an unequivocal “no.”

How to answer calls with your voice

If you’re ever in a situation where you can’t answer your phone — whether you’ve got your hands full, or you’re washing your hands — it can be frustrating to watch the call fail. Ever since iOS 14.5, however, Apple has made it easy to answer a phone call with your voice, so long as you’re wearing the right pair of earbuds or headphones.

How to share your ETA in iOS 14.5 if you’re driving, biking, or walking

Apple Maps has let you share your ETA when driving with your friends. It’s a great way for your people to follow your journey without them needing to call. But even in a car-dependent country like the U.S., there are plenty of us that walk and bike places. This year, Apple gave us the tools to share our ETA in transit as well.

How to automatically set your iPhone screen orientation for every app in iOS 14.5

Photo: David Murphy Photo: David Murphy

It’s no fun when you’re in bed on your iPhone and turn to your side, only to have the app you’re using to flip to landscape mode. And yet, there are plenty of times when you want landscape mode, but it won’t flip because you forgot you had Portrait lock enabled. Finally, Apple gave us a way to fine-tune how we want our screen orientation to behave, app-by-app.

How to check the battery health on all your Apple devices

Most of the time, we’re concerned about our device’s battery life — that is, the amount of charge that device can run on in a given period. But it’s also worth considering battery health, which is the amount of charge a battery can hold relative to when it was new. As batteries age, they lose more and more of their total capacity. Checking in on your iPhone’s battery health can be a good practice, but you shouldn’t obsess, either.

You can lock your shady incognito tabs with this hidden Face ID setting

If you use Chrome on iOS in incognito mode, you’re likely trying to browse the internet without leaving as much of a trace. However, if someone accesses your iPhone, they can simply look at your incognito tabs to see what you’re up to. Not good. That’s why you should try locking these tabs behind Face ID.

The iOS message effects you think you know how to use but really don’t

Screenshot: Joel Cunningham Screenshot: Joel Cunningham

There are quite a few Messages effects that are hidden, many of which are very cool. Check out this post, in which we thoroughly break down how to utilise iOS message effects to their full potential.

Two ways to get your iPhone to stop ‘ducking’ around

Screenshot: Joel Cunningham Screenshot: Joel Cunningham

How many times this year did you mean to write “fuck,” but you actually wrote “duck?” It happens all the ducking time. Duck. DUCK. If you want to avoid this ridiculous autocorrect quirk, we highlight two easy ways to go about it.

The best iPad drawing apps (that aren’t Adobe Fresco)

Adobe discontinued Photoshop Sketch and Illustrator Draw this year, and instead they combined their features into the new Adobe Fresco. If this app isn’t for you, we have a list of recommendations you might enjoy better.

How to access the hidden symbols on your iPhone’s keyboard

Screenshot: Pranay Parab/MacStories Screenshot: Pranay Parab/MacStories

There are a ton of hidden symbols sprinkled throughout iOS’ keyboard. You might already be using some of them. If you’re wondering where they all are and whether you might be missing out on some good characters, we have the full list here.

How to force restart any iPhone or iPad

iPhone unresponsive? iPad giving you a hard time? If your phone or tablet is not cooperating, the best solution might just be a force restart.

10 useful controls everyone should add to their iPhone Control Centre

Control Centre can be an extremely useful shortcut on iOS, but many people live with Apple’s default options. We argue you should take some time to add these 10 controls to Control Centre — it’ll make life on your iPhone all the easier.

Why you shouldn’t buy Apple’s MagSafe Battery Pack

Apple’s MagSafe Battery Pack sounds like a dream product. An external battery that magically connects to the back of your iPhone with magnets? What’s not to like? Well, unfortunately, quite a bit. If you’re interested in another option, we have a list of 7 smarter alternatives to Apple’s offering.

Avoid unnecessary distractions in iOS 15 with ‘Notification Summary’

Photo: Khamosh Pathak Photo: Khamosh Pathak

Notifications on iOS have gotten much better in recent years. Apple’s iOS 15 improved things yet again, introducing “Notification Summary.” With this feature, you can group together all those notifications you want to see, but don’t need to see as they come in. They’re organised into scheduled “summaries,” that way, you can pick one time to review these alerts without feeling overwhelmed throughout the day.

You should definitely use iOS 15’s new, distraction-squashing ‘Focus’ mode

Photo: Khamosh Pathak Photo: Khamosh Pathak

Another great notification update this year is Focus: it expands upon Do Not Disturb, giving you the ability to create different modes that block alerts from specific apps and contacts. For example, you can create a Work Focus that only allows notifications from apps like Gmail and Slack, as well as contacts like your boss or coworkers. But if you switch to a Personal Focus after hours, it’ll only allow alerts from friends and the apps you enjoy using.

10 time-saving features and settings you should be using on your iPhone

We’re all about saving time over here. We’ll show you ways to teleport through settings, jump into the camera mode you want, use Face ID while wearing a mask, among other tips.

How to finally FaceTime your non-Apple friends

2021 was the year Apple finally open the gates to its ecosystem (a bit, anyway). Android and Windows users can now join FaceTime calls, albeit with a few catches.

How to keep your iPhone’s camera settings from resetting when you close the app

This is such a pain in the arse. By default, Apple resets the camera back to photo mode, and wipes any settings you had in place before. Luckily, you can fix this with a few adjustments in settings (but it probably shouldn’t be like this in the first place!)

How to watch Netflix with spatial audio on iOS

Back in August, Netflix added support for spatial audio for iOS. The new option allows you to experience your favourite Netflix shows and movies in surround sound, granted you have the right equipment on hand.

How to move Safari’s search bar back where it belongs in iOS 15

Apple’s decision to move Safari’s search bar to the bottom of the display was…controversial, to say the least. While the design has some merit, most people simply hated the change. In case you didn’t know, it’s not permanent: you can choose to put the search bar back to the top of the display at any time.

How to hide your browsing history from ad trackers with iCloud ‘Private Relay’

Photo: Khamosh Pathak Photo: Khamosh Pathak

It’s not a VPN, but Apple’s iCloud Private Relay helps keep your browsing history and data out of the hands of ad trackers. If you have iCloud+, we highly recommend you use this feature.

How to get a burner email address with iCloud+’s ‘Hide My Email’

Photo: Khamosh Pathak Photo: Khamosh Pathak

Another iCloud+ perk this year is Hide My Email; this feature lets you share a “burner” email address with anyone who asks. Apple then forwards any messages to that burner account to your actual email, so nobody ever needs to see what your personal address really is.

It’s finally easy to find and save photos from Messages in iOS 15

Photo: Khamosh Pathak Photo: Khamosh Pathak

This is a personal favourite feature in iOS 15; Apple finally made it easy to find and save all the photos you’re sent in Messages to your own personal photos library. Something like this feature was a long time coming — how many times has someone sent you an important photo, only for it to be lost in a sea of iMessages?

How to use your iPhone as an official ID

Photo: Jake Peterson Photo: Jake Peterson

We wrote this piece back in September, and unfortunately, the feature isn’t active yet. It looks like we’ll see IDs coming to iPhones by February 2022, but before then, you can read up on how it’s all going to work.

12 ways to speed up your slow-arse iPhone

One of the iPhone’s biggest strengths is its longevity, as Apple tends to support these things until they need dentures. Of course, many iPhones that last that long eventually slow down, almost to the point of unusability. If that sounds like your iPhone, you might want to try these 12 methods to speed it back up before you drop $US1,000 ($1,378) on a new one.

How to use ‘Live Text,’ the best new feature in iOS 15

That headline isn’t hyperbole — Live Text really is an amazing feature. It allows you to copy and paste text from photos, whether you just snapped it yourself or downloaded it from another source. It’s a game-changer for iOS, and you need to be using it if you aren’t already.

How to use Siri to share whatever is on your iPhone screen in iOS 15

Photo: Khamosh Pathak Photo: Khamosh Pathak

This is a really cool, underrated iPhone feature this year: you can now ask Siri to share whatever’s on your iPhone’s screen, and the assistant will queue it up to send to whoever you like.

15 hidden iOS 15 features worth knowing about

We’ve covered our favourite iOS 15 features in one post, but it’s also worth highlighting the features that Apple doesn’t advertise. Knowing these 15 features will make your iOS 15 experience even better, and you might impress a friend or two who had no clue these features existed.

How to enable Centre Stage on your iPad

Centre Stage is now on a lot of different iPads, and it’s great. It takes the iPad’s wide-angle camera and zooms in on your face, no matter where you are on-screen. That way, you can move around the room while on a video call, all the while remaining in focus and in frame.

How to finally group your Safari tabs, praise be

Photo: Khamosh Pathak Photo: Khamosh Pathak

You no longer need to suffer from an endless array of Safari tabs on iPhone and iPad. With iOS and iPadOS 15, you can now collect your tabs into organised groups.

How to rearrange or delete your home screens in iOS 15

Screenshot: Pranay Parab Screenshot: Pranay Parab

Home Screen management on iOS hasn’t always been easy. With iOS 15, however, it’s simple to rearrange or even hide entire Home Screen pages. Within a minute, you can have a clean, organised Home Screen, without needing to remove or delete 1,000 apps one by one.

Every iPadOS 15 keyboard shortcut worth knowing about

If you have an iPad with a keyboard, whether attached to a case or wireless, you need to memorise these keyboard shortcuts. Knowing them will make your iPadOS experience more like that on macOS, and, after all, isn’t that what we’re striving for on iPad these days?

How to view all open windows for any iPad app

Photo: Khamosh Pathak Photo: Khamosh Pathak

Speaking of making the iPad more like a Mac, you can now view all open windows for any app on your tablet. This simple change makes multitasking on iPad way easier.

How to borrow iCloud storage for free to transfer data to your new iPhone

If you’re moving to a new iPhone but don’t have enough iCloud storage to make a backup, don’t worry. Apple now gives you a free, temporary three-week backup to make the transfer smoother. That’s a pretty good deal.

Use ‘Dark Reader’ to force all websites into dark mode

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

Doesn’t it suck when you’re using dark mode on iPhone, only to visit a website that uses a light theme? We have an extension to share that turns all websites dark, so you never need to go blind browsing again.

You should use your iPhone’s new built-in two-factor authentication

Photo: Khamosh Pathak Photo: Khamosh Pathak

Forget about using a third-party app. Apple’s built-in 2FA authenticator is now the best solution for anyone on iPhone.

12 better ways to browse the internet on your iPhone

We take you through our 12 favourite extensions for Safari on iOS, now that Safari on iOS actually supports extension (thank goodness).

10 of the biggest annoyances in iOS 15 (and how to fix them)

Photo: Khamosh Pathak Photo: Khamosh Pathak

Apple’s iOS 15 was a big update this year, introducing a host of awesome, new features. Still, the new update wasn’t free from annoyances, either (such as the aforementioned Safari search bar). If you’re finding the update frustrating, you might want to check out these 10 fixes.

How to unlock your iPhone with your voice (and why you probably shouldn’t)

With a little effort, you can unlock your iPhone with just your voice. It’s a cool trick, but we’d argue it’s likely not worth the security risk.

How to find your lost iPhone, even if it’s turned off

Find My is a great tool for locating a missing iPhone, but once your phone runs out of battery or is shut off, it’s game over, right? Actually, Apple now makes it possible for you to locate your iPhone using Find My even when the device is powered off.

The difference between LCD and OLED screens (and why it matters for your iPhone)

You might not pay much mind to what your iPhone’s display is made out of. After all, it shows you what you need to see, what more could you need to know? Well, even if you’re not an enthusiast, knowing what type of display your iPhone has can actually give you some power in how you use it.

10 ways to make the Apple Podcasts app suck less

My god, is this app frustrating. You could always go with a better option, but if you just want to make your iPhone’s built-in option a little better, there are more than a few ways to go about it.

How to (finally) use SharePlay to watch videos together on FaceTime

Photo: Apple Photo: Apple

SharePlay took forever to land on iPhone and iPad (and took even longer on Mac). But now that it’s here, you can use it to watch videos, listen to music, and even share your screen with your friends.

What happens when you block someone on your iPhone?

There are a lot of questions that arise when you’re looking to block someone on your iPhone. Will they know I blocked them? How can I make sure they don’t contact me again? Have I been blocked before? We can’t help you with that last one, but most questions you have, we can answer here.

You can customise ‘Low Power Mode’ on your iPhone

We all know Low Power Mode kicks in when your battery hits 20%. But you don’t need to live with the default experience. You can tailor Low Power Mode to your own personal needs, using automation.

Why you should probably buy AppleCare+ for your iPhone (even though it’s bullshit)

Image: Graphic: Elena Scotti (Photos: Shutterstock) Image: Graphic: Elena Scotti (Photos: Shutterstock)

AppleCare+ sucks. It’s also something you should buy if you pick up a new iPhone. It’s Apple’s world, we just live in it.

7 reasons why you should probably just use FaceTime over Zoom and Teams

We use so many different apps for so many different purposes, it’s always nice when we can simply consolidate all tasks into one of them. FaceTime might not seem it, but it’s slowly becoming a viable replacement for Zoom and Teams.

How to lock your secrets in the Notes app (and why you should)

Again, why download a third-party app when the one on your iPhone already gets the job done? If you have secrets you need locked away, look no further than iOS’ trusty Notes app.

16 of the most useful iPhone Messages features you should be using

If you have an iPhone, your primary messaging app is, well, Messages. Since you use it so much, you might as well make the best of it. Check out our 16 tips for improving Messages on your iPhone.

This extension lets you finally play YouTube in the background on mobile

Photo: Jake Peterson Photo: Jake Peterson

There’s a lot to like about YouTube, but YouTube on mobile remains a rough experience. If you want to take some of the best features of YouTube desktop and use them on your iPhone or iPad, this extension can help. (It also works on Mac.)

How to know when your iPhone could be recording you

Screenshot: Jordan Calhoun Screenshot: Jordan Calhoun

Green dots! Orange dots! What do they mean? And how can you know when your iPhone is recording you?

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