The Apple Holic's essential guide to Apple's iOS 7 secrets

Apple [AAPL] has responded to the well-publicized lockscreen security flaw, introducing a security patch within six days of the problem being identified. To celebrate Apple's industry-leading commitment security I've gathered together some hidden iOS 7 features to inform the many millions of newly-upgraded iOS 7 users.

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Security

While it's not widely recognized for doing so -- a perception that's reinforced by its stoic silence and secrecy, Apple does listen to its critics. Its responses to 'Antenna gate', reports of problems in its manufacturing chain and Maps all show it aims to please.

Now, with Touch ID, the company is working to develop a biometric security system that really is secure. There's been lots of people who've tried, but if the company can accomplish this on a mass market device, it will have secured yet another industry first.

With this in mind Apple's move to upgrade security to address flaws identified in the last week suggest the company is raising its security focus to the next level -- as I said it would. It knows it needs to do this as it's likely Touch ID will attract a lot of attention from those keen to undermine the security protection, for whatever the reason.

Of course, while Apple works to perfect Touch ID it makes complete sense for iPhone 5S users to also passcode security. Two layers of protection are better than one.

First base

When you install the OS do take a look at Dynamic Wallpaper:

  • Go to Settings>Wallpaper & Brightness>Choose Wallpaper
  • Select Dynamic
  • Pick a nice color.

There's been some ludicrous reports across media outlets which really should know better citing claims some iOS 7 users "feel sick" when they watch the 3D moving effects. While I think that's media-manufactured scuttlebutt in the absence of any significant criticisms of the OS (other than it not being made by Google), it's easy -- really, really, really easy -- to disable Parallax.

  • Settings>General>Accessiblity
  • Select Reduce Motion
  • Enable this and those motion elements will stop bothering you.
  • Non-story.

A few of my friends don't seem too keen on the white interface employed across iOS 7. They might give this a try:

  • Settings>General>Accessibility
  • Select Invert Colors
  • See how that goes

This tip gives you a choice, but it isn't perfect as you'll almost certainly want to disable this when using apps -- you can do this by telling Siri "Switch Invert Colors off", and/or "Switch On Invert Colors". Neat.

(And I agree with some critics who feel Apple should be a little more liberal in terms of what users can do with colors in this element of the OS.)

One more thing: If you've time to spare why not select a panoramic shot taken with your iPhone's camera as your lock screen wallpaper? When you do, be sure to also enable the Parallax effect.

Even more secure

If you're an iPhone 5S owner you have Touch ID to enhance your security. If not then you have Find My iPhone and Passcode (which you have on all iPhones). However, it's possible you missed a security feature which will wipe your device after too many failed password attempts:

  • Settings>General>Passcode Lock
  • Look for the Erase Data option at the bottom of the screen
  • If you enable this your iPhone will wipe itself if someone tries to access it and fails ten times.

Safari will save your passwords and credit card numbers if you wish, but I wouldn't recommend using this feature unless you are 100 percent sure your phone won't be compromised -- though Safari never shows the data in plain sight.

  • Settings>Safari>Passwords and Autofill, Saved Credit Cards
  • Enter your card details
  • Toggle Credit Cards to on.

Using Notifications

New in iOS 7, Notifications (accessed by sliding your finger down from the top of the screen) offers even more than you see at first:

  • Slide your finger to the right when in the Notifications screen and you'll see All Information, which includes more messages from your social media.
  • Slide your finger to the right one more time and you'll see Missed Information, which offers up all those things you didn't see at first.
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Siri's special secrets

No longer in beta Siri has a few additional talents:

Phone calls

Tell Siri "Return my last missed call" and Apple's intelligent assistant will call the number for you. You can also ask Siri to call specific contacts and it will dial their number.

Control Settings

Tell Siri to search Twitter, post to Facebook and control settings using phrases such as "turn off Wi-Fi" or "Turn on Do Not Disturb".

Teaching talking

So you're speaking to Siri and it pronounces things wrong. It tries, but it does this from time to time. You can help -- if Siri pronounces something incorrectly just tell it:

"That's not how you pronounce that."

Siri will ask you to say the name or word again.

It listens when you do and learns to say it correctly.

Accessibility

Siri can read you any bit of text you select.

Here's how to get this feature:

  • Settings>General>Accessibility
  • Switch Speak Selection on
  • A series of options appear, including the presence of a Speak button which appears when you select text, and the capacity to set the rate of speech.

SMS changes

The Edit button in the top right hand corner of Message view has disappeared. To delete a message you must hold your finger down on the message you wish to delete and a contextual menu pops up, offering two things "Copy" and "More…"

  • Tap More and circles appear to the left of each message
  • Select those you wish to delete
  • Tap the trash icom in the bottom left hand corner.

You can also raise the time stamp on your messages by swiping your finger to the left.

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Mail

Mail's message deletion seems a little trickier: this is because it seems the only way to delete a message is via the Edit button -- but it isn't. You can delete messages on the fly more swiftly using this trick:

  • In mailbox view, swipe the message from right to left.
  • Two options appear: Grey "More and Red "Trash"
  • Tap Trash and the message is deleted.

Tap more and you see the following options:

  • Reply
  • Forward
  • Flag
  • Mark as Read
  • Move to Junk
  • Move Message…

Better reading

You can make fonts across iOS 7 much easier to read using the Accessibility controls inside Settings>General. Here you'll find controls for Larger Type, Bold Text and Increase Contrast. Take your pick of these to enable an easier reading experience on your phone -- and don't forget Siri can read selected stuff for you if you want.

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Bad vibrations

Got someone you hate who keeps calling/texting you? Perhaps you're enduring regular nuisance calls from some telephone marketer who is ignoring your Telephone Preferences Scheme warning? Don't worry -- you can block them.

Select the message in Messages or find the phone number within Recents in Phone.

  • If it's a Message you need to tap it an a small i symbol appears in the top right of the screen.
  • Tap i and then scroll to the bottom of the options you are given on the next page to select "Block".
  • They won't bother you again.
  • In Phone the small i appears to the right of the number
  • Select it and scroll to the bottom of the options given on the next page, select Block.

Additional options within the "i" interface include: Call, FaceTime, FaceTime Audio, Send Message, Create New Contact, Add to Existing Contact, as well as "Block this Caller".

Oh, did I mention FaceTime Audio? If you're on WiFi and the other party is also an iPhone user you can now have a lengthy voice chat without paying a dime to your carrier just by using this feature.

Good vibrations

iOS 7 offers a bunch of new ringtones and alerts, but that's not all: the OS also lets you tap out your own custom vibration alert.

  • Go to Settings>Sounds
  • Select Ringtone
  • Select Vibration
  • Scroll to the bottom of the Page and select Create New Vibration
  • A screen appears on which you can tap out your own custom vibration. (I used The Doors "Touch Me" rhythm as it kind of made sense at the time).

**Another little feature that I use all the time has been around for an age: you can set your camera flash to go off whenever you receive a call.

  • Settings>General>Accessibility
  • Scroll down the page and enable LED Flash for Alerts.
  • Erm, that's it.

Happy Birthday and other eggs

Look inside Contacts for your profile card.

  • If you've entered your birthdate and location, iOS 7 is now able to do three things for you (at least):
  • Somewhat sweetly, the phone will wish you a Happy Birthday on the day.
  • If it has your address Siri will be able to remind you do to something when you get home.
  • Notification Center will offer you traffic updates in the morning.

Compass has a secret: Swipe to the right after calibrating Compass and you get a new screen that lets you access and use a spirit level.

You can check which of your apps are data hogs:

  • Settings>Cellular
  • Scroll down the page and you can check which of your apps are using cellular data -- and disable the feature for those apps which you don't want hogging your mobile bandwidth.

One more thing

Apple's international customers don't yet enjoy access to iTunes Radio, though I believe the company is working hard to introduce the service into more territories as the Christmas season looms. While you wait for iTunes Radio to reach you in your home country, why not use this simple trick to enable the service on any device, anywhere. Here's what you need to know.

It's very likely you may already know a couple more interesting features within iOS 7. If you do, why not share a few of them with us in comments below?

Also read

A simple guide for Android to iPhone/iOS switchers (LINK)

Upgrading to Apple's iOS 7: What you need to know (LINK)

Google+? If you're one of those who likes to use social media and also happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when these items are published here first on Computerworld.

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