April 20, 2024

10 things you didn’t know your iPhone can do for you

Your iPhone is an incredibly powerful and capable device. So much so that it can probably take some of your daily tasks off your shoulders. These are some of the most useful things your iPhone can help you accomplish.



Measure distances by pointing your camera

Your iPhone comes with an app called Measure which, as the name suggests, allows you to measure distances between two points using just your device. If you deleted the app, you can download it again from the App Store for free.

Using the iPhone Measure app to measure a cat.
Tim Brookes / How to Geek

The app works using augmented reality (AR), where the measurement is overlaid on the camera viewfinder. Drop points to measure multiple differences and then use the shutter button to take a photo. The application is quite precise, although you should keep in mind that the measurements are approximate.

It is perfect to have an approximate idea of ​​the distance between two points.

Measure angles and check things are level

The Measure app has another trick up its sleeve: the ability to check angles and act as a digital spirit level. Open the Measure app and tap the “Level” tab, then place your iPhone on a surface to measure the angle. At 0º (level), the black level indicator will turn green.

Measuring levels with the iPhone Measure app.

You can lay your iPhone flat (camera face down) or in landscape or landscape orientation to measure the angle and tap the screen to reconfigure the spirit level. This feature uses multiple sensors within your device.

Help you find your way (and measure altitude)

The Compass app on your iPhone works whether you have a cell signal or not, and it could get you out of a sticky situation if you get lost. That said, we recommend using offline maps on your iPhone if you’re at risk of being stranded without cellular reception.

Tap the compass face to plot a heading and know how far you are from the direction you’re traveling. On the screen, you’ll also see the current altitude (elevation) and your GPS coordinates (which you can tap and hold to copy to the clipboard).

Play background sounds to help you sleep or concentrate

There’s no shortage of meditation and sleep sound apps on the App Store, but did you know that your iPhone comes with this feature by default? Head to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual > Background Sounds to activate the feature. There are six sounds to choose from, including three white noise variations, the ocean, a gentle rain, and a stream.

A selection of background sounds available on iPhone.

Enable your iPhone’s Accessibility Shortcut (by triple-clicking the side button) to quickly activate the feature in Settings > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut.

Create 3D models

Perhaps one of the most impressive features of the iPhone is the ability to create 3D scans simply by moving the device around a space. You can do this with a standard iPhone using photogrammetry techniques, which convert 2D images into 3D models, with an app like Polycam.

Alternatively, get a much more accurate and detailed model by using the LiDAR scanner on an iPhone Pro model. The iPhone 12 Pro and up (and some iPad models) feature this type of scanner, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging. It’s like RADAR but for light waves, where light bounces off your iPhone to create a 3D image.

If you have an iPhone Pro with LiDAR capability, you’ll likely notice improvements in many other useful features, including distance measurement in the Measure app, focus speed in the Camera app, and AR performance in apps like Pokémon Go.

Speak for yourself and imitate your voice

Live Speech is an accessibility feature that lets your iPhone speak on your behalf. First, you’ll need to enable the feature in Settings > Accessibility > Live Speech. You can nominate some of your favorite phrases in this menu to quickly remember them (so you don’t have to write them down all the time).

Next, head to Settings > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut and add Live Speech to your shortcut list. This allows you to quickly activate Live Speech by triple clicking the side button (you can assign multiple functions to this function if you wish).

Use Live Speech so your iPhone can speak on your behalf.

Once activated, your iPhone will appear with a text message and keyboard, plus a “Phrases” menu. Type, press “Send,” and your iPhone will speak on your behalf (albeit robotically). If you don’t hear anything, make sure your iPhone’s volume is loud enough (although you don’t need to turn off Silent mode).

However, you can do better, and that is to train your iPhone to sound like you. To do this, head to Settings > Accessibility > Personal Voice and tap “Create Personal Voice” to get started. You’ll need to read sentences out loud for about 30 minutes, after which your iPhone will process them and create a voice (which may take a few days).

Once your voice has been processed, go to Settings > Accessibility > Live Speech and select your personal voice from the “Voices” menu. Now everything you type in the Live Speech box will sound like you.

Recognize sounds and notify you

Your iPhone can be trained to recognize sounds such as a doorbell or smoke alarm for accessibility reasons. Although the feature is designed for the hearing impaired, there are other reasons you may want to turn it on. Head to Settings > Accessibility > Sound Recognition to enable the feature, which requires a small download.

From here, tap “Sounds” to set up notifications. The iPhone is already trained to recognize some of the most common sounds, such as fire alarms, dog barking, and emergency vehicle sirens. You can tap “Custom Alarm” to add yours to the list.

iPhone sound recognition accessibility menu.

When your device detects a sound, it will send you a notification letting you know. Alternatively, you can use the function to trigger an automation. To do this, launch the Shortcuts app (or download it for free from the App Store if you don’t have it already) then use the “Automation” tap to create a new Personal Automation and use “Sound Recognition” as a trigger.

Social media can consume too much of your time without you realizing it. Fortunately, you can use Screen Time on your iPhone to limit the amount of time you spend on social media. Head to Settings > Screen Time > App Limits to enable app limits and define how much time you want to spend on these apps each day.

When you reach your time limit, a notification will appear and the app will temporarily “lock.” From here you can decide to stop using it, delay the app limit by a minute (or 15 minutes), or ignore the limit completely for today and effectively unlock it.

Options to ignore your self-imposed time limit.

This feature is great as a reminder rather than an outright blocker. You can choose to ignore it, but sometimes just having a message is enough to make you more aware of where your time goes (especially when you’re supposed to be working).

Isolate subjects in photos and videos

Isolate subjects on your iPhone using the Photos app. Open a photo (or pause a video) and touch and hold a subject until your iPhone highlights it. From here you can choose to “Copy” the subject, create an iMessage tag using the “Add Tag” option, or “Share” it with another app.

Allow your iPhone to isolate the subject of the photo.

This feature isolates subjects and places them on a transparent background. You can combine this feature with an image editing application to save time manually cropping a subject.

Your iPhone also uses this feature when creating depth effect lock screen wallpapers.

Help you converse in another language

There are many apps you can download from the App Store to translate voice and text, but Apple includes one on your iPhone that can work even offline. Launch the Translate app to get started, either by selecting languages ​​and typing or using the microphone icons to speak your version of the conversation out loud.

Tap “Conversation” mode for a more natural conversational translation style. Tap the microphone icon to start the talking process, then just talk normally.

Tap the ellipsis (…) icon in the top right corner of the app and choose “Download Languages” if you want the feature to work offline. This is especially useful if you are traveling abroad and may not have the data budget or cellular reception to translate online. Make sure you download your native and foreign language.


With these tips, you can let the supercomputer in your pocket do more for you—it’s powerful enough. Perhaps the best way to make your iPhone do more for you is to master Spotlight Search on your iPhone. Use Spotlight to launch apps, convert currency, start timers, and more instead of flipping through app pages and menus.

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