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5 somewhat secret things you didn’t know your iPhone could do

Updated Mar 16th, 2015 5:16PM EDT
Top 5 iPhone Secrets
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

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If you’re an enthusiastic, tech savvy iPhone fan, the odds are pretty good that the iPhone is an open book for you. From top to bottom, all of the device’s features are like second nature to you, and you’re constantly helping friends and family discover new features on their own iPhones.

For everyone else, however, there is still a wide range of functionality packed into Apple’s iPhone that hasn’t yet been uncovered.

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Even if you’ve owned every single iPhone Apple has released straight up to the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, there still may be features baked into Apple’s smartphones that you’re unaware of.

Here are five somewhat secret things your iPhone can do that power users might be familiar with, but most people have no idea about.

1. Block Numbers and Mute Conversations

There’s nothing worse than being included on a massive group text with no end in sight. Actually, there is one thing that’s worse: Spam messages.

Thankfully, Apple’s iPhones can address both problems thanks to recently added software features.

To block a spammer that’s sending you text messages or iMessages, simply open the conversations and tap “Details” in the top right corner. Then tap the “i” next to the phone number and select “Block this Caller” at the bottom of the screen.

For conversations you’d like to silence without blocking the contacts completely, there’s an easy solution for that as well. Tap “Details” in the top right corner of a chat and then tap the slider next to “Do Not Disturb” so that it slides to the right.

2. Head Gesture Controls

Even if you’re the most savvy power user out there, you might not have known that it’s possible to control your iPhone with simple head gestures. This is one of several cool things hidden from most users, and you’ll find the means to enable head gesture control in the Accessibility section of the Settings app.

As we noted in an earlier post, here’s how to enable the feature:

Open Settings and go to:

General > Accessibility > Switch Control

Tap Switches to add a new switch. Use a source of Camera, then Left Head Movement and a System setting of Siri. In other words, I want the camera to watch me and when I shake my head to the left, I want the system to bring up Siri.

Now tap back and tap Switch Control to On.

You should see some blue rectangles scanning each item on the screen. Shake your head to the left. Siri should come up.

3. Help Siri Pronounce Names Properly

Siri is pretty great when it comes to helping you find information and do things using only your voice, but sometimes Siri has trouble pronouncing your name. In fact, sometimes Siri can’t even pronounce common names properly.

Thankfully, it’s an easy fix.

Next time Siri messes up your name, just reply with “you didn’t pronounce my name correctly.” Siri will then ask you how to pronounce it and will use the corrected pronunciation moving forward.

4. Show You Everywhere You’ve Been

Did you know that unless you disable the feature, your iPhone tracks everywhere you go and saves all of that location data? It then uses that information to personalize your experience in a few key ways.

This is a feature that stirred up a lot of commotion among tech fans who are concerned with privacy. Apple says this data is well protected though, and it’s actually quite useful if you’re comfortable with it.

Want to see the places you visit most commonly? Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations. You’ll see everywhere you’ve been recently in here, and you can also easily disable the feature if it makes you uncomfortable.

5. Use a Physical Camera Shutter Button

This is a simple one, but I can’t tell you how happy I was when Apple added this feature to the iPhone. I’m also still amazed at how many people don’t know about it.

In the default camera app, you don’t need to contort your hands and tap the on-screen shutter button to snap a photo. Instead, you can just click one of the physical volume buttons on the side of the iPhone to take a picture.

Using the volume button makes the experience more like using an actual camera, and you’ll find your hands move much less this way as well, so photos come out better.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.