15 hidden features in iOS 5

There are loads of great new features in iOS 5 that should make any iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch owner upgrade as soon as possible, including notifications, improved camera app, reminders + many more. Digging a bit deeper there are also a range of hidden gems to be found in iOS 5 as well, new features that just make the experience overall better.

Here are some of the hidden iOS 5 features that you might want to explore further.

Using remote volume control as camera shutter

I earlier wrote about how iOS 5 have added the functionality of accessing the camera app from locked screen and how you can use the volume + button on the iPhone as a shutter instead of the touch button on the screen. It has now become evident that this feature also works with iPhone compatible headphones that feature the in-line volume control. You can then use the volume + button on the controller as a shutter as well, which is great for example if you have a stand and looking to take portraits etc.

Remote camera shutter using volume + button on headset

Perhaps in the future they will make this feature work with bluetooth wireless headphones as well.

Alternative routes in maps

One of the new features in Maps is the ability to look at alternative routes, where when you use the route finder it will show you the 1st route and then small symbols that will allow you to toggle between alternative routes to get to your destination. This feature could be great if you want to avoid certain routes where you know traffic can get bad or if you plan to add in a specific stop etc.

Alternative routes in iPhone maps

User-defined keyboard shortcuts

Do you have certain phrases that you tend to use a lot in emails or txt messages, or perhaps have a tendency to mistype? Then you might want to check out the new keyboard shortcuts feature in iOS 5.

Accessible through Settings –> General –> Keyboard it allows you to specify certain shortcuts that will automatically insert the correct sentence/word. For example ‘wtm’ could be a shortcut for ‘What time should we meet?’.

custom shortcuts in iOS 5

As Wired.com pointed out, this can also be used to do some mischief. Grab a friends iOS device when they are not paying attention and create some funny shortcuts that might take them by surprise later when they are trying to type something.  How about shortcut ‘hi’ turning into ‘You have been punk’d!’.

Private browsing in Safari

Apple has included a few new privacy features in iOS 5 as well, including the ability of private browsing in Safari. Just head into Settings –> Safari settings and enable private browsing. This will ensure that the Safari browser does not build any history for your browser activity.

Private browsing in iOS 5

Read receipts in Messages

One of the other new privacy features is the ability to turn off or activate the ‘read receipts’ function for messages. Go to Settings –> Messages to turn the feature on/off.

Turn off message previews on locked screen

While i love the new notification feature, it can sometimes be awkward that the first few words/sentences from a message or email pops up on the locked screen on your iPhone. You can however hide this feature by going to Settings –> Notifications and turn off ‘show preview’ in the messages tab and email tab (or any other app that displays a preview message on locked screen.

Turn off iOS 5 message previews in notification center

Check which apps use up your memory

Running low on memory or noticing that apps are taking up a lot of storage? You can now check which apps are hogging the memory by going to Settings –> General –> Usage to get an overview of storage space usage by app. You can even click on the offending apps and delete them right there and then if you want to.

Custom vibrations for alerts

Sometimes we all  have to put our iPhone in silent mode, even when we might be expecting an important message or phone call. In comes the new feature of creating custom vibration alerts.

First you need to ensure the feature is enabled by going to Settings –> General –> Accessability –>scroll down to custom vibrations to activate. Once that is done you can go your contact list, find the contact you want to create a custom vibration alert for, tap on edit and find the vibration feature. Once you have done that you can choose from a default set of vibrations or at the bottom create your own vibration alerts. It is actually quite fun to play around with as well!

Creating custom vibrations in iOS 5

LED flashes for visual alerts

In the same accessability setting as for custom vibrations you can also enable visual alerts that utilizes LED flashes. When this is activated and your iPhone is in silent mode, a message or email will trigger the camera LED flash to signal you. A great feature for those that are hearing impaired.

Emoji keyboard

Do you tend to use a lot of emoji symbols in your messages etc.? Well now you can activate the emoji keyboard on your iPhone by adding it under Settings –> General –> Keyboard –> International keyboards, and looking up Emoji to add as an alternative keyboard.

For those that are unaware how to toggle between keyboards on the iPhone, it is done by clicking on the globe symbol at the bottom left of your iPhone keyboard.

Hide the keyboard in messages app

Sometimes in the message app the keyboard automatically appears and blocks you from reading the full message on the screen. You can now hide the keyboard by tapping on a free area just above the keyboard area and swipe down. To get it back just tap in the text field at the bottom of the screen.

Daily weather forecast in notification center

The default weather in the notification center is set to show you current weather for your location. But you can also easily see the weather forecast for the next few days for your location by swiping left or right on the weather icons in the notification center.

See daily weather forecast in iOS 5 notification center

Hourly weather forecast

Do you want to see an hourly forecast for a specific day in the weather app? All you have to do now is to tap on the day you want to see the hourly forecast for and it will expand to show hourly weather forecast.

Hourly weather forecast in weather app iOS 5

Multitasking features on iPad

iPad owners with iOS 5 have finally access to multitasking gestures including using four or five fingers to:

  • Pinch to the homescreen
  • Swipe up to reveal multitasking bar
  • Swipe left or right between apps

Split keyboard on iPad

Another iPad exclusive feature for iOS 5 is the option to split the keyboard in two and to move it up and down on the screen. Not sure how many will be using this feature, but if you are ‘thumb writer’ it might come useful.


Filed in: Apple iOS, Lead Story

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One Response to "15 hidden features in iOS 5"

  1. Thomas says:

    Nice write-up. “Multitasking features on iPad” should say “Gestures” not “Multitasking” though.

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