10 iOS tips and tricks to bring your iPhone more to life

cinematic mode iphone hero
© NextPit

From the App Tracking Transparency feature to the Live Text function, Apple's operating system gets more complete, secure and customizable with each new version. For you to get the best out of your iPhone, we created an iOS user guide with the main tips and tricks published by our team.

Among the suggestions you will find user interface customization options, lifehacks and advanced features added to Apple's software in recent years. Remember that the latest version is iOS 16—still in public beta stage. Among the new features are the customizable Lock Screen, optimizations in the notifications, voice input systems, as well as new security options.

Find below some of the most popular iOS tutorials among NextPit community members.

Jump to:

  1. Use shortcuts to create custom icons and more
  2. Turn your iPhone keyboard into a trackpad
  3. Unlock shortcuts and other actions using the Back Tap feature
  4. How to enable Picture-in-Picture mode on YouTube
  5. Drag and drop photos and files between apps
  6. How to cast an iPhone on a TV
  7. Get the best of Cinematic Mode and Photographic Styles
  8. Set up Apple Pay on your iPhone
  9. Control Apple Music on a PC or Mac from your iPhone
  10. Add a sleep timer for all media and save your phone's battery

Use shortcuts to create custom icons and more

iOS is not the most bespoke user interface in the wide world of smartphones. However, it is undeniably getting more and more customizable, much to the chagrin of many fans.

If you're the type who likes an original UI, the Shortcuts app allows you to easily transform application icons on the iPhone home screen, making unique color combinations and much more. Of course, you can choose to use a third-party app for this, but the Shortcut tool offers a range of options in line with Apple's nit-picky design guidelines and, what's more, can be exploited for automation of routines in iOS and other shortcuts.

Check out how to create custom icons and other tricks to make your iPhone home screen truly unique.

Screenshots displaying how to customize app icons on iOS using the Shortcut app
Using the Shortcut app it's possible to customize an icon from name to image / © NextPit

Turn your iPhone keyboard into a trackpad

Of all the iOS tips, turning your iPhone keyboard into a trackpad is by far the most useful lifehack and I revel in using it almost every day. It's actually a very simple trick, one that most iOS users don't know of and perhaps even less popular than the function to dim the iPhone's flashlight.

To quickly place the Apple standard keyboard cursor in a strategic position, just long press the space bar and wait until the letters disappear. After that, without removing your finger from the display, you can move the cursor as you please, and you can edit text "like a pro"!

Turn your iPhone's keyboard in a trackpad
Turn your iPhone keyboard into a trackpad in a snap / © NextPit

Check out our complete guide on how to turn your phone keyboard into a trackpad.

Unlock shortcuts and other actions using the Back Tap feature

Ok, this tip is as old as activating Dark Mode on iPhone, but it still goes unnoticed by most people. Beyond simply taking screenshots, the Back Tap feature offers a wealth of features and shortcut options using two or three taps on the back of the iPhone.

The sensational thing about this feature is that it supports models from iPhone 8 onwards, and besides being an important accessibility tool, it also functions as shortcuts to important system software, such as the camera and—in my case—Shazam.

To enable the Back Tap feature on your iPhone, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Touch, and tap Back Tap.
  2. Tap Double Tap or Triple Tap and choose an action.
  3. Done! To trigger the action simply double or triple tap on the back of your iPhone.
Screenshots showing the steps to remap the Back Tap on an iPhone
With the Back Tap options you can be as creative as Apple let you be / © NextPit

How to enable Picture-in-Picture mode on YouTube

Since iOS 15 Apple offers an advanced option to use YouTube in a floating window. The function is known as Picture-in-Picture (PiP), and makes it possible to minimize YouTube videos on the iPhone screen. However, to enable YouTube's Picture-in-Picture mode on the iPhone a Premium subscription to Google's streaming application is required.

[Confessional interview: "Yes, I subscribe to YouTube Premium and I'm not ashamed of it!"]

If you're anything like me, you are also a YouTube Premium subscriber. First, you need to sign up as a trial user, then the function will be automatically available on your iPhone. On the other hand, if you want to remain YouTube-free, our tip is to download the PiPifier app directly from the App Store.

We show you the complete step-by-step in this tutorial on how to enable Picture-in-Picture mode on YouTube.

Screenshots showing the YouTube PiP mode working on an iPhone
Watching videos on YouTube are less annoying in an iPhone if you are a Premium subscriber / © NextPit

Drag and drop texts, photos, and files between apps

Apple's universal control may not have arrived on the iPhone yet, but that doesn't mean that you can't drag and drop texts, files, and photos between apps on the system. This is not a very popular iOS feature, but it is certainly a great multitasking feature. See how simple it is to move text from the notes app to the body of the email.

However, the most interesting feature of this feature arrived only with in iOS 16 and the "lift subject from background" option. Using drag-and-drop we can isolate a specific object in an image, removing the background—for example—or even passages of text.

Among the apps that allow you to remove the background from images are Photos, Quick Look, and Safari. For now, we can use the function only on iPhones running the beta version of iOS 16, but the feature will soon be available for all iPhones compatible with Apple's new operating system.

Screenshots showing how to drag and drop elements among apps on iOS
How easy can be to lift my colleague Antoine Engels from background in the Top 5 apps of the week image using the drag and drop feature? / © NextPit

How to cast an iPhone on a TV

Streaming the content of the iPhone screen on the TV is possible via the AirPlay feature. Similar to Miracast, this function allows you to mirror your iPhone screen on compatible TVs or connected to the Apple TV streaming device. To do so, you will need to access the iPhone control panel and activate the shortcut for AirPlay and follow these steps:

  1. Open Control Center.
  2. Tap Screen Mirroring icon.
  3. Select your Apple TV, AirPlay 2-compatible smart TV, or Mac from the list. (If an AirPlay passcode appears on your TV screen or Mac, enter the passcode on your iOS).
  4. To stop mirroring your iOS device, open Control Center, tap Screen Mirroring, then tap Stop Mirroring.
Screenshots showing how to mirroring iPhone's screen
From the Control Center is super easy to mirroring iPhone's screen / © NextPit

An important note here: the list of TVs compatible with AirPlay 2 is still small, including models released from 2018 by manufacturers LG, Samsung, Sony, TCL and Vizio. The updated list can be checked on Apple's website and also includes some devices with Amazon Fire TV and Roku systems.

It is worth remembering that, in the case of both AirPlay and Miracast, some applications may prevent the transmission of content to the TV, either for technical reasons or due to certification requirements. To learn more about the topic, check out this tutorial on how to connect your iPhone to your TV.

Get the best of Cinematic Mode and Photographic Styles

Last but not least, starting with the iPhone 13 series, Apple now offers Cinematic Mode and Photographic Styles. As both features are hardware-dependent, only owners of the iPhone 13 series models will now be able to take full advantage of these functions.

In our special article on tips for using Cinematic Mode, we show you how the video feature works and the different ways to edit footage during and after recording. If you have a compatible device, you can learn how to capture video with a blurred background and understand how you can automatically change the foreground object or person in a shot.

When it comes to Photographic Styles, Apple's latest generation smartphone camera lets you apply the same changes in hue, temperature, and saturation as traditional filters, but takes advantage of the iPhone's hardware to provide a different result compared to existing methods. Here's how to optimize the use of Photographic Styles on the iPhone.

Photographic Styles - default
Photographic Styles - Rich contrast
Rich contrast
Photographic Styles - Vibrant
Photographic Styles - Warm
Photographic Styles - Cold

How to set up Apple Pay

If you own an iPhone or Apple Watch, setting up Apple Pay will help you to deepen your devices' potential. Apple's contactless payment platform works together with Apple Wallet and offers a bunch of options. From payment card integration to ID card storage, Apple Wallet can be extremely convenient.

With your credit or debit card set up, you can easily make purchases using just your iPhone to check out in stores with Apple Pay. So whether you just bought a new iPhone or are setting up a new debit or credit card in the Wallet app, it's easy to set up Apple Pay from your iPhone and have the advantage of making transactions using just your phone. Follow our tutorial on hot to set up Apple Pay.

Screenshots showing how to set up Apple Pay on an iPhone
Setting up Apple Pay on an iPhone is easy and convenient! / © NextPit

Control Apple Music remotely from your iPhone

Apple has excellent integration between its products, and although the iPhone is not among the devices that use the Universal Control function, with the help of an app that was developed by Apple you can control your Apple Music on your PC or Mac from your iPhone—and even from your iPad. This is a great tip for those who want to change playlists or albums from the couch without having to get up!

Using the iTunes Remote app you can easily control Apple Music remotely using your iPhone. The app is available for free on the Apple Store and offers you many more possibilities. Here is how to control Apple Music on the PC or Mac from your iPhone.

Itunes Remote
iTunes Remote / © NextPit

Add a sleep timer for all media

If you're using an iPhone or an iPad, you can watch your favorite series on Netflix or Apple TV+ without worrying about killing the device's battery because you fell asleep in the middle of an episode. That's because Apple offers a sleep timer for every media playback. And the best part is that you can use it for all apps that play media content on your Apple device—it can also be set for children watch time on iPads for instance.

To use the function, all you have to do is go to the Clock app. Find out more on our comprehensive tutorial on how add a sleep timer for all media on iOS.

Instructions for using the sleep timer for media content.
Here is how simple is to use the sleep timer for media content. / © NextPit

Well, these are some of the best iOS functions and usage tips for iPhone users for now. What do you of the features shared here? What's your tip for getting the best out of your iPhone? Which feature would you like to see listed in this iOS usage guide? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Article updated on July 15, 2022.

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