Tag Archives: features

Hidden Secrets of the iPhone Revealed

David**The following is a guest post by David, a good friend and former colleague, who loves finding hidden features of the technology he uses. Below, he reveals a few iPhone features you may have missed. (The original post can be found here.)**

Okay, that’s a bit too Penn & Telller perhaps, but there are some fun little nuggets somewhat buried in the iPhone that I’ve slowly been discovering.  I feel like in the past month especially I’ve dug up some good stuff.  I’ll start off with the stuff that most folks know.  If you didn’t, great.  If you did, I never said I was the great Houdini 🙂

Special Characters
We all know that you can find some add’l characters by tapping the 123 then the #+= button on the keyboard.  This provides us with some European currency characters, as well as the important hash tag for twitter.  But what about the eñe in spanish?  Or the upside down exclamation point for spanish?  If you simply tap and hold the “n” on the keyboard, the ñ will appear.  Same with the accented letter “e” or the exclamation point.  If you play around, you’ll find other fun hidden characters lurking above the letters (ooh, m-dash!).

Keyboard Settings: Periods & Caps Lock
I’ll admit it.  I never really got into the whole text speak.  Sure I LOL and might wonder WTF occasionally.  I am also a fan of FML – makes me laugh when I see it.   But I don’t write “Wr U @? C U L8r.”  With full keyboards, the inner English Major in me just can’t stomach it.  I write things out.  I tend to still use proper sentence structure.  Call me fusty, but I can’t help it.

So I like that if I double-space after a word, I get a period.  That makes it nice and easy.  And while I’m not a big YELLER when it comes to texting, there are times when you want to write a bit in Caps.  And hitting the shift key each time is tedious.  There are settings for both these features.

Go to Settings>General>Keyboard.  Toggle “Enable Caps Lock” and “‘.’ Shortcut” to On.  Now when you double-space after a word, the period pops in.  And if you quickly double-tap the shift key, it’ll turn blue and Caps Lock is on.  Pretty nifty.

Contacts View
I mentioned I’m a little old-fashioned.  I can also be a little OCD too.  I have set up my iPhone Contacts to sync with my Google Contacts.  I like having a back-up and over-air syncing is still pretty cool to me.  But the other day I realized I had 6 more contacts in my iPhone than I did in my Google Contacts.  Quite frankly, I’m still confused how this happened.  But to make matters worse, Google Contacts are sorted by first name.  My iPhone Contacts were sorted by last name.  Trying to eyeball over 400 contacts is tough enough, but when the lists aren’t apples to apples, it’s even harder.  Enter Settings.  Settings>Mail, Contacts, Calendar.  If you scroll to the Contacts section (near the bottom), you’ll see that you can change both the Sort Order and Display Order.  While I prefer to sort by last name, it’s nice to be able to toggle this when comparing to Google.  I’m sure there are other benefits to this toggle as well.

I’d seen plenty of people showing their Weather app image on Facebook to indicate a crappy/fantastic week of weather ahead.  I just presumed they had purchased some app that enabled this.  Nope.  The iPhone has a built-in screenshot feature.  Which I think is pretty cool. When you have what you want on your screen, simply push the top button and the bottom home button on your iPhone quickly at the same time.  The screen will quickly fade and come back.  That image is now saved in your Photos.  Pretty nifty.  It is great when you happen to be in 1st place in foursquare or something and you might want to share that with your friends 🙂


I heard at&t will finally be supporting the updated MMS features on September 25th.  I’m looking forward to that.  I’ll be happy if I never see the following screen againg – scribbling down those ridiculous message ids and passwords – only to open a picture of someone’s dog.


Any hidden secrets that you’d like to share?

Facebook Features You May Have Missed

I have recently been receiving quite a bit of traffic to this website from those who have specific questions about Facebook functionalities. If YOU are one of those people, I am more than happy to do my best to answer your question. To do so, simply leave your question in the form of a comment on this post. Hope this helps!

As a Facebook user for almost five years (can you believe that?) I’ve witnessed Facebook’s “growing pains” as it has  experimented with different features. Some of the changes have been asbolutely horrid, other very much appreciated. But looking back, here are three features that were, at one point, available on the site but have since been removed. And you may have not even known about them…

1. Exporting “Friends'” Contact Information

Yes, at the very beginning (let’s say 2004 – 2005) it was possible to export your friends’ contact information as an excel spreadsheet. Phone number, address, birthdays: nothing was spared. And it was great! I used the list to supplement my online e-mail address book. At the time, the site was so small and only open to those with an .edu address, so it made sense to make the information available. Now, because of privacy concerns and the overall looser connections between people and companies, this would never happen. (But, man oh man, think how useful it would be to be able to export all the information! I get nostalgic just thinking about the good old days when it was possible.)

2. Visual Display of Social Graph

Julie Minevich TouchgraphThis was another feature that was available at Facebook’s inception. When you clicked on the appropriate link, Facebook would create a circular representation of your online connections. It was really interesting to see what your relationships looked like at an aggregate level.

 I remember in my graph, there were several distinct sections that had some overlap: “Greeks”, friends from my freshman dorm,  my high school connections, etc.

Currently, there are several applications that claim to provide the same functionality. However, I have not been successful at finding one that 1. works, 2. provides the information in the nice, crisp manner that Facebook was able to.

UPDATE: I was finally able to get one of the third-party applications to create a graph for me, as shown to the left. However, this graph was created using relationships based on common pictures, which may not be the most accurate indicator of relationship proximity.

3. Map of Friend’s Locations 

This was a feature that Facebook enabled one summer as a way to show you where your friends were. Again, at this point, the site was only open to those with .edu address so this was a pretty useful tool as many of Facebook users “migrated” for the summer – whether it be back to their respective homes or to different cities for temporary internships or wherever else they chose to spend their break.

Facebook wasn’t an international site yet, so what you’d see was a map of the United States with circles over different cities. The bigger the circles, the more friends were at that location. By clicking on the circle, you could call up a list of friends in that city for the summer. It was great feature for planning trips and trying to reconnect with friends who were in the area.

Again, I’m sure there’s a third-party application that has duplicated this functionality by now, but I believe the data would be a little muddied as not everyone necessarily has to indicate a “current town” or even a “location network”.

Do you have any features that you’ve seen come and go that you nostalgically recall from time to time? Or features you’d like to see implemented in the future? I’d love to hear your thoughts.