This is a discussion on iOS 5 tips and tricks within the iOS Apps forums, part of the iPod, iPhone, iPad Forum category; Remember the old days when someone would send you a text message with a phone number, and you’d either have to memorize it while you ...
Save a Number from a Text Message to Create a New Contact Quickly on iPhone
Remember the old days when someone would send you a text message with a phone number, and you’d either have to memorize it while you dialed or even worse, get a pen and write it down, just to add it to a new contact immediately after? Those days are long gone, and even better with the iPhone you can actually create a new contact directly from any phone number that is sent to you via text message.
The next time you receive a text with a phone number:
Tap the blue arrow button alongside that message to be brought to the new contact creation screen
Tap “Create New Contact” or “Add to Existing Contact” as appropriate
This works in iOS on iPad and iPod touch too but chances are you’ll get the most use out of it on the iPhone.
If you’re on the other side sending a phone number out, remember that you can directly send contacts from the iPhone through iMessage and email that contain a full address book listing for a person, including their number, name, email address, picture, and whatever other information you have stored in the vcard file.
Save a Number from a Text Message to Create a New Contact Quickly on iPhone
One of the most frustrating things to type on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch keyboards is an email address. Typing out a name, then tapping the “.?123″ button to access special characters and numbers, then tapping it again to type more letters, than tapping it yet again to type a period, and again to finish off an email address, by the time you’re done you’ve shifted between the touch keyboards half a billion times. Instead of repeating that process over and over again, do yourself a favor and create a keyboard shortcut for your email address.
Open “Settings” and tap on “General”
Scroll down and tap “Keyboard” and at the bottom of that screen tap “Add New Shortcut”
Enter the email address at the top and create your text expansion shortcut on the bottom
Tap “Save” and exit out of Settings
Some general advice for setting these email expansions to be the most effective: use a shortcut that doesn’t match any other word, and keep them short and containing only characters that are accessible on the primary iOS keyboard.
Once configured you can try it out. Open any place you’d enter text, like Notes or Messages, and type the shortcut you set, it will automatically expand to the email address. No more tapping and switching keyboards between numbers, letters, periods, @ signs, your life is now easier and you’ll be touch typing even faster.
Convert Any Audio or Video File to an iPhone Ringtone Easily with QuickTime
Most people use QuickTime Player as a way to watch movies, but using it’s Export function you can also turn any audio or video file into an iPhone ringtone very quickly. Here is how to convert just about anything into an m4r ringtone:
Launch QuickTime Player and use it to open the desired audio or video file that you want to turn into a ringtone
With the audio or movie file is in QuickTime, hit Command+T or pull down the “Edit” menu to activate the Trim function and trim the clip to 30 seconds or less, use the sliders to select the portion of audio to use as the ringtone, then hit the yellow “Trim” button when done
Now pull down the “File” menu and choose “Export”, selecting “Audio Only” as the Format type, and set the Desktop as the save location, then click “Export”
Next, go to the desktop to find your ringtone, and rename the .m4a file extension to .m4r, confirm the change
Double-click yourfile.m4r to open it in iTunes, where you’ll find it under the “Library” section within “Tones”
Connect the iPhone to the computer via USB and drag & drop the ringtone from the Tones folder to the iPhone
That’s all there is to it, pretty simple and should take you just a minute or two to complete.
One hiccup I ran into with some audio sources is the audio length metadata remains in exported m4r despite creating a new file. This then causes iTunes to complain the ringtone is too long and can’t be transferred to the iPhone, but it ends up copying over anyway. Just ignore the error if you see it and you should find the ringtone on the iPhone anyway.
Also, if you recorded a video with your iPhone or iPad that you want to use the audio track as a ringtone, you can get a head start by using the same trim function in iOS before sending it to your computer to finish the conversion to a ringtone.
You can also still use iTunes to create free ringtones out of any song in your music library, a method that has been around forever, but the QuickTime approach is often faster and works with a wider variety of file formats, reading and converting both audio and video files to the desired m4a filetype.
Test & Compare Mobile Broadband Speeds on iPhone & Android with SpeedTest
Ever wondered just how fast a 3G, 4G LTE, or Edge network is on your iPhone or Android? Using a free app called Speed Test you can easily test and compare the mobile broadband speed of your smartphone (or cell equipped iPad) with others, whether they’re on AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, or any other network.
If you’ve been thinking about switching carriers when the new iPhone arrives, this is a great app to help you make such decisions. Have your friends with iPhones or Androids download the SpeedTest app on their device and check mobile broadband on their respective carrier networks, then compare the results to see if it makes sense to jump ship.
The SpeedTest app isn’t specifically designed for comparing providers, so you’ll have to rely on your friends or family members with competing networks to run the test on their devices and either take a screenshot or just tell you their results. For the most accurate comparison, you’ll want to get a sample from various locations on different days from the general vicinity in which you use iPhone (or Android).
It’s important to remember a wide variety of things can impact data connectivity and transfer speeds, including the current location, signal strength, network capacity, and many other things you generally don’t have much control over. For example, in big cities it’s common to have really slow download speeds, but in rural areas with less burdened cell towers you can often get extremely fast data transfers. Then of course there’s Edge, which is usually so slow everywhere that it’s unusable for anything beyond checking email.
You can also test the speed of your home broadband connection with the Flash-based SpeedTest.net, or by joining your local wifi network and running the app from home. With the exception of true 4G LTE, your home connection is almost certainly faster.
Assign Unique Ringtones to Contacts on iPhone to Know Who’s Calling
You can make your iPhone life a lot easier by assigning custom ringtones to contacts. This makes it easy to determine who’s calling before you even see the caller ID, letting you either rush to answer the phone or continue snoozing and ignore the call. With how easy it is to make ringtones for the iPhone, it also provides a great way to differentiate inbound calls from the common ringtones you hear elsewhere too.
Here’s how to assign a custom ringtone to contacts:
Open Contacts on the iPhone and tap the person you want to set the custom ringtone for
Tap “Edit” in the corner, then scroll down to “ringtone” and tap it
Select from the list of bundled ringtones, or one you made yourself then tap “Save”
Repeat for other contacts as desired
Assigning a completely unique tone to each contact is generally too time consuming, but a happy medium is setting unique tones to people on your favorites lists.
Now anytime you get an incoming phone call from the users with custom ringtones set, you’ll know by the sound alone. It’s also a great strategy to field incoming calls from people you don’t want to hear from, and it works for everyone so long as they are not blocking their caller ID.
Use Field Test Mode to See True iPhone Signal Strength as Numbers Instead of Bars
Field Test Mode is a hidden feature on the iPhone which allows you to see technical details of the device, the most useful of which is the true signal strength displayed as a number rather than the traditional signal bars.
Entering Field Test Mode on iPhone
This will work on any iPhone model except the original:
From the iPhone keypad, dial *3001#12345#* and hit “Call”
You’ll immediately see the signal numbers in the upper left corner, and you can tap around the menus to discover other random features and information that is generally meaningless outside of cell technicians and field operators. If you hit the Home button you’ll quit out of Field Test and the signal indicator will return to bars rather than the signal numbers, but it’s easy to always see the numbers too as described below.
Enabling Signal Number as Reception Indicator Rather Than Signal Bars
To always see the signal numbers rather than the signal bars, you’ll use the Force Quit app function to kill Field Test when it’s open:
Dial *3001#12345#* and hit “Call” if you haven’t done so already to launch Field Test
Now hold down the Power button until the “Slide to Power Off” message appears, then release the Power button and hold the Home button until Field Test quits
Tap the signal bars or signal numbers to switch between the two
To remove the tap-to-switch signal indicator ability, you can either reboot the iPhone or go back into Field Test and close out of it as usual.
How to Read the Field Test Signal Indicator Numbers
The numbers don’t follow a scale that makes much sense to normal people, but the lower the number (in other words, the more negative) the worse the signal, and the higher the number (less negative) the better.
Anything above -80 is good, and would be considered full bars
Anything below -100 is bad, and would be considered few bars
For example, a signal number of -105 is considerably worse than a signal of -70. You’ll generally find that anything approaching -100 or lower is fairly bad reception, while anything above -80 is usually good, and if you tap the number signal it’s usually shown as full bars. The full range of the signal numbers extends from -40 to -120, with -120 being a nearly impossible number to see because it means no reception, and -40 would be about the strength you’d get being right alongside a cell tower.
If you’re having any problems getting this to work, or you want to see how to do this yourself before jumping in, watch the video below:
This is actually a fairly old hidden feature that works on any iPhone running iOS 4.1 or later, but we’ve had a lot of questions about it recently due to several recent tip screenshots showing the signal numbers.
Use a Silent Ringtone to Ignore Specific Callers to Your iPhone
Though you can send calls directly to voicemail and mute incoming calls, you can’t really block a specific caller on the iPhone. Rather than keeping your phone on silent all the time, you can selectively mute only specific callers by using a special silent ringtone and assigning it to a Contact you want to ignore.
Here’s how to make a silent ringtone (or download a pre-made one) and then set it to a contact.
Make a Silent Ringtone in 5 Seconds with QuickTime Player
Open QuickTime Player and pull down the “File” menu to select “New Audio Recording”
Click and unclick the red record button immediately, do it in a single motion like double-clicking something, you’ll create a tiny silent recording of 0 seconds in length
Save that file to the desktop as ‘silent.m4a’ then locate the file and rename it to “silent.m4r” and accept the file extension change
Double-click the m4r file to import it into iTunes
Once in iTunes connect your iPhone and drag the ringtone to the iPhone to sync it to the device as usual
If you don’t have QuickTime Player you can always download a premade m4r here or find a premade silent mp3 and convert it to m4a with iTunes.
Set the Silent Ringtone to a Contact
This is the same as setting any other unique ringtone to a contact on the iPhone:
From the iPhone, select the Contact to silent, tap “Edit”, tap “Ringtone” and then select your newly made silent ringtone
Now anytime the caller set to the silent ringtone calls, only they will be muted. Everyone else still rings as usual.
This is such a useful feature that I’m hoping Apple includes a “None” option for ringtones in a new version of iOS sometime down the road, but until then this blank ringtone approach works just fine.
If you’re having problems creating the silent ringtone, this short YouTube video walks through it:
Auto-fill is one of the more useful features in iOS since it prevents you from having to use the slow touch keyboard to re-enter logins and passwords and contact information like email addresses or phone numbers. The obvious problem with auto-fill though comes with shared iPads (or iPods/iPhones), where multiple people may be using the same device and going to the same web pages, only to find someone else is automatically being logged in or their information is being filled in. Not only can that be annoying, but it can be a privacy issue in some cases, so here is how to clear out the autofill information and then disable the feature:
Open Settings and tap on “Safari”
Tap “AutoFill” and then tap “Clear All” under ‘Names and Passwords’
Next turn “Use Contact Info” and “Names and Passwords” to OFF
Now Safari in iOS will no longer keep that information, and it won’t automatically fill it in when you’re visiting a page with forms for emails, contacts, logins, etc.
A happy medium is to also only disable the “Names and Passwords” feature, but leave Contact Info enabled, making it simple to sign up for new services but not storing the actual passwords.
It’s worth pointing out this feature is disabled by default, so unless you turned it on to begin with you won’t need to do this. For single-user devices, this feature can be extremely useful, but it’s best used in conjunction with a strong passcode to prevent people from accessing websites with sensitive data.
The default setting for Notification Center in both OS X and iOS is to sort alerts from apps manually, a setting which doesn’t make much sense if you use Notifications as a timeline of events and want the most recent always on top. Fortunately, changing Notification Center to arrange alerts by time is as simple in OS X as with iOS:
Launch System Preferences from the Apple menu and click the Notifications panel
Look for “Sort Notification Center” at the bottom, pull down the submenu to select “Time”
Now Notifications will arrange themselves by time of arrival, with the most recent alert at the very top of the panel. This is a much more useful sorting method for many of us, give it a try.
Did you know you can put calls on hold on iPhone? This suspends the phone call without hanging it up, but it prevents you from being able to hear the individual on the other end and they can’t hear you either. It’s a slightly hidden feature that you won’t see at the normal phone options, but here’s how to use it:
While on a call, tap and hold on the “Mute” button until it turns to “Hold”
Tap it again to resume the call as usual
Apparently this is only available on GSM enabled iPhones (AT&T and T-Mobile in the USA), and the Verizon and Sprint iPhone doesn’t support the feature on their networks. Users on CDMA networks can always just use the Mute feature instead though.