The secrets and tricks of your mobile that perhaps you did not know

A couple of swipes back to take a selfie, lower the volume of the ringer automatically when you get to work… It’s easy not to remember that a mobile phone is, above all, a sophisticated computer capable of doing many things for the user, and carrying them out automatically. On the other hand, the platforms continue to advance by leaps and bounds incorporating new features and learning from user behavior. Do we know well all the tricks and secrets of the mobile? We go through, both on the iPhone and Android, some of the most interesting.


It is not necessary to unlock the mobile to take a photo

Did you know that you can take a picture without having to unlock your phone? In the vast majority of Android mobiles, a double press of the power button will activate the camera, even if the terminal is turned off; in case it was not activated, it can be done in the system settings (by customizing the function button).

Receive urgent notifications even if the headphones are worn

“It is one of the functions that I use the most,” Christian Collado, coordinator of the Andro4All blog, explains to EL PAÍS. It basically consists of receiving important sound alerts, even if you wear headphones; let’s think of a baby crying, the doorbell or we are waiting for a package or we simply want to be aware of what is happening around us. Once activated, it uses the microphone of the mobile (or the smartwatch, if you are wearing it) to pick up and identify common sounds, such as the doorbell, the alarm of a smoke detector, the telephone or the cry of a baby. To activate it, you must access the accessibility settings of the system, and enable the option called “Sound notifications”.

Unlock the mobile automatically when you get home

Android allows the use of trusted places thanks to a function called Smart Lock, which deactivates the screen lock in certain locations or when connected to certain devices (for example, the car). To activate it, just go to (its location and scope depends on the manufacturer) Settings / Security / Advanced / Smart Lock; can also be located using the Settings finder. Once there, select trusted devices or locations where you want the device to remain unblocked.

See all notifications received in the last day

Managing notifications can be a real nightmare and the tendency —recommended— is to deactivate unnecessary ones or discard them once they have been consulted. Now, what if we want to recover one of these deleted notifications? Android offers since its version 11 a valued function: the notification history, in which the notifications received the last day are kept. To access it, go to Settings and type “notification history” in the search engine and select the one you want to check.


Two taps back… and a selfie is taken

Not many iPhone owners know that they have an additional ‘button’ – which is not visible – and configured, on their device. We refer to the back of the device which, thanks to the accessibility features, can be configured at the user’s will. “When I tap twice, the flashlight is activated”, explains Pedro Aznar, founder of the Applesfera blog; “When there are three touches, the camera is activated”. Actually, everyone can set it as they like in Settings/Accessibility/Touch/Touch Back, and choose the function that suits them best.

“Hey Siri, take a photo (or turn on the flashlight)”

Apple’s virtual assistant has been hated and revered in equal parts for its uneven performance, but the truth is that it is capable of performing very useful functions. One of them, not very well known, is to ask him to take a photo of us out loud (the only limitation is that Siri only opens the camera application, but does not press the shutter). In the same way, and in the dark we can ask “Hey, Siri, turn on the flashlight”, and the light will come on. The assistant is capable of performing many more basic functions and it is about trying until you find one that solves daily tasks.

Shake to undo…almost everything

Another function not well known among iPhone owners is ‘undo’ (the equivalent of Control+Z), which is executed on the device by shaking it with your hand. That’s right, if you can undo almost any function executed by a short flick of the wrist: a typed text, a recently deleted email… if you’ve made a mistake, it’s worth testing to see if the shake undoes the path. By the way, this gesture had an almost anecdotal origin: Scott Forstall, one of the key figures in iOS at the time, asked his team to come up with a way to add the undo function to the iPhone; one of his engineers suggested, humorously, that it should be shaken: Forstall ‘bought’ the idea and the feature is already standard on the device.

Key? Better to write using gestures or even dictate

The experts have it clear: pressing the keys of virtual keyboards on mobile phones is not the fastest way to write per se and with few exceptions, one is faster getting used to gestures. Not all iPhone owners know that the device’s keyboard supports swipe typing natively: it involves sliding your finger from character to character until the system offers the desired word. Thus, to write “house”, you will have to go through each of its letters without lifting your finger from the keyboard and when you see the suggestion at the top, lift your finger. This way is, in the end, faster than the traditional one, but it is not the only one: iOS has greatly improved its dictation capacity in the latest version of the platform and makes very few errors.

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