Rediscover Your iPhone: 10 Seriously Useful Built-in Features You Probably Aren’t Using


The goal behind technology is to simplify our lives, right? Well, sometimes the key is in knowing what’s possible with the technology we already have. Here’s a list of ten iPhone features that I find particularly useful.

Editor’s note: Based on iPhone’s software Ver 3.1.2

1. Global Time Zones:

I’m in contact with folks located throughout the world and it’s always been a chore to recall time differences, especially around daylight savings time…until now. To utilize this feature, follow these steps:

  1. Select the Clock icon
  2. Click on World Clock option in the bottom navigation bar
  3. Hit the plus (+) icon
  4. Type in the city or country and select from the available choices
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for places whose time you’d like to have reported.

2. Stock Market News:

Thanks to a recent iPhone software upgrade, news stories for stocks you’re tracking are easy to monitor. To access this feature, open the Stocks icon as usual. When the graph displays at the bottom of the screen for a particular stock, swipe your finger across the graph with a leftward motion. Now you can view headlines as well as scroll vertically for more stories. When you click on a headline, it launches you into Safari’s browser to read the story.

3. Screen Capture:

Have you ever wanted to capture a snapshot of what’s on your iPhone screen? Simply press the home button (located on the front face at the bottom) then simultaneously press the sleep/wake button (located on the top right edge). You should hear a shutter click and your screen will flash white. This is an indication that you’ve successfully captured the screen shot and can retrieve by selecting your Photos icon and then Camera Roll directory.

4. Quiet a Ringing iPhone and/or Send to Voicemail:

Ever have your iPhone ring out loud during an important meeting or while in church? Not good. You can quiet your iPhone midstream by simply pressing the sleep/wake button (located on the top right edge). You still have the option to take the call, even though you’ve silenced the ringer. I absolutely love this feature because I can activate this feature while the phone is in my belt holster. In other words, I do not need to unlock the phone or look at the front face. In addition, you can optionally send the call to voice mail with a second press of the same button. Keep in mind, there’s a handy ring/silent switch located on the upper left edge of the phone for times when you want to silence the ringer in advance. When you toggle the ring/silent switch to expose the orange dot, the phone’s ringer is set to silent.

5. Voice Dialing:

(requires 3GS model) Press and hold the Home button to activate Voice Control. With this feature you can say the name of the person or number to call. In addition, the iPhone accepts audible requests for the music you’d like to play.

6. Street View:

Perhaps you’d like to explore a “Street View” of your destination before you begin your trip. Try Bern, Switzerland, for example. Or, you’re looking to buy a new home and would like to get a feel for the neighborhood.  Street View gives you a 360-degree perspective and you can zoom, rotate and pan through street level photos within cities in more than 25 countries. To activate this feature, simply select the Map icon, enter and search for an address. If street level views are available, you’ll see the orange Pegman icon. Tap on the Pegman icon to activate Street View. If you want a street view of your current location, tap on the navigation icon in the lower left of the screen. The blue strobing sphere will appear.  Tap it to reveal your approximate address. If street level views are available, you’ll see the orange Pegman icon. Tap the Pegman icon to activate Street View. Arrows on the street are clickable and your view is updated as you travel virtually. You can even turn corners at intersections or rotate your view 180 degrees to turn around! Need to look up to see tall buildings, simply flick your finger accordingly.

7. Scroll to Top of Page:

When the contents within your view exceed the length of the page, you’ll scroll down to view what’s below. By tapping the current time at the very top of the screen you’ll return to the top of the page. This works for most common views, including Email, Notepad, Safari, Phone Directory, Text Messages, Photos and more.

8. Local Public Transportation Suggestions:

When traveling by bus and/or train in major cities, you’ll enjoy the local transit feature found in Maps. Find out what forms of public transportation are offered to and from your destination and customize your scheduled departure and arrival times. The routing is overlaid on a Google Map and bus/train numbers are indicated so that you know where and when the transfers occur. Arrival time is estimated, taking into account all forms of transportation. To activate this feature, tap on the Maps icon and then tap on the Directions button at the bottom of the screen. Enter your Start and End address information. If you want to start with your current location, tap on the navigation icon in the lower left of the screen. Select the Bus icon at the top of the screen for public transportation routing information. Selecting bus or train icons on the map reveals a blue arrow icon to access contact and website information for those public transportation services.

9. Send a Text Message to More Than One Recipient at a Time:

This is a common feature for many cell phones, but for iPhone users it’s a new addition in 2009. When creating a New Message, populate the To: section, however, if a “+” doesn’t appear to the right for adding more recipients, simply tap the To: section again and you’ll see the “+” sign appear. Tap to add more recipients and repeat as needed.

10. Edit Text Within a Word or Sentence:

You can edit text within an individual word by simply holding your finger down over the area where you’d like to edit. By doing so, a magnifying glass will appear and you can then move your finger in the direction of the text you’d like to edit.


Tim CascioTim Cascio is the author of the Mobile Marketing, Monetization and Methods blog, Co-Founder/Co-Chair of the Mobile Visionary Roundtable at the Illinois Technology Association and Sr. Digital Strategist at Bader Rutter & Associates, an award-winning integrated marketing services agency that specializes in advertising, public relations, brand asset management, relationship marketing and digital solutions. Tim is @timcascio on Twitter and can be reached in the United States at 262-938-5543.

Please reach out to me if there’s any way I can help you through my network or otherwise. Your comments below are welcome.

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6 responses to “Rediscover Your iPhone: 10 Seriously Useful Built-in Features You Probably Aren’t Using

  1. Very helpful, thank you for posting. some of these were reminders and some were new altogether. The screen shot one will be very helpful.

  2. Thanks- a few new tricks I didn’t know.
    I too especially like the screen capture tip- also the
    return to top of page, and street view. Cool!
    I may pass up my kids now. :)

  3. Thanks Tim – picked up two useful, never before realized features that I will use often!

  4. The screen capture tip is pretty neat.

  5. Awesome. I feel like I’ve just acquired a new phone. ha!

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