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How to use the iPhone Do Not Disturb feature

By | Tips

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been jolted awake by a late night phone call. Raise your other hand if it’s been a wrong number, robocall, or crank call.

You can lower your hands now, and consider the options. To avoid these nuisances, some people power down their iPhones or turn off their ringers before they go to sleep. But what if you want to keep the phone on to respond to family or work emergencies?

Do Not Disturb has your back. This feature, available via Settings > Do Not Disturb as well as the quick options panel (swipe up from the bottom of the screen), lets you silence incoming phone calls and alerts. You can manually activate it when you need it, or you can schedule it to run for a set period every day.

Do Not Disturb also lets you allow calls from people on your contacts, or contacts marked as Favorites. There is even a setting that allows repeated calls to get through, which might be useful if someone is urgently trying to get through to you from a number not on your contact list.

There are some missing features, however, such as the ability to have different Do Not Disturb schedules for different days of the week—I like to sleep in on Saturdays! In such cases, the easiest workaround is to turn off the ringer, using the Ring/Silent switch on the edge of the iPhone.

iPhone do not disturb

How to turn off iPhone notifications

By | Tips

Imagine if your bedside alarm clock suddenly began to go off at random times, sometimes dozens of times per day.
That’s basically the way iPhone Notifications work. A few can be tolerated, but if you turn your back, they’ll take over your iPhone, creating a seemingly endless stream of alerts, reminders, and promotions. It’s distracting and irritating.

Accessed via Settings > Notifications or when apps are first installed, notifications can make sounds or create short messages that appear on your iPhone’s lock screen or on a small banner at the top of the screen while the device is on. There is also a Notifications screen, accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen from the Home screen or lock screen (if you see the calendar view, swipe to the right to see recent notifications):

Turn off iPhone notifications

iPhone Notifications can apply to:

  • Incoming emails, calls, and messages.
  • Activity on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.
  • News, weather, and stock updates.
  • Game activity and special offers.
  • Bank, credit card, and Apple Pay transactions.
  • Flight status and other travel alerts.

In theory, notifications alert you to information that matters. Practically speaking, many notifications range from useless to downright irritating. Remember, app developers generally want you to use their apps as often as possible, so notifications are designed to bring you back. Games and social media are the worst, with some apps issuing multiple alerts per day for the most banal reasons (I’m looking at you, Plants vs. Zombies 2!)

How to turn off iPhone notifications

Fortunately, the iOS operating system in your iPhone as well as many popular apps have ways of controlling what comes to you. If you find that a certain app is sending too many alerts, open the app and check the settings (look for a gear icon or three horizontal bars) to see if certain types of iPhone notifications can be turned off. For instance, some Facebook notifications are useful, such as when someone mentions you in a comment. Others are unnecessary or distracting, such as birthday reminders for all of your friends. Turn off the ones you don’t need.

A second way to turn off iPhone notifications is via Settings > Notifications. Here you can manage the way you are notified (via a message on the Lock screen, a sound, or change to the app icon) as well as turn off all notifications for a particular app or feature. Be careful here—while it may be tempting to turn off everything, you don’t want to silence critical features such as incoming phone calls or alerts from your banking app.

I also recommend turning on the iPhone’s Government Alerts, if available—these can contain critical notifications, such as extreme weather warnings or Amber Alerts.

This post was excerpted from an IN 30 MINUTES guide. To learn more, see our catalog.

Making calls with your iPhone

By | Tips

On any iPhone, tapping the green phone icon opens the Phone app. Owners of newer iPhones (including iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and iPhone X) can also use Peek with a light press on the Phone app icon on the Home screen to call favorite contacts.

Once the app is open, use Keypad to make calls on the fly, but you have other options, too:

  • Favorites shows a list of contacts you have marked as favorite (when editing a contact, scroll down and tap Add to favorites to place it on the list).
  • Recents will list the most recent incoming calls. Tap the name or number to call the person back.
  • Contacts brings up your contact list. If you have added Gmail, Yahoo, or Exchange/Outlook accounts to your iPhone, and enabled the associated contact lists to be shared, those will show up in Contacts, too.
  • Voicemail shows a list of recent voicemail messages. Tap Edit to delete specific messages.

After you have entered the number and pressed the phone icon to start the call, the screen will show other options:

Mute. Turns off the microphone. Tap the microphone icon again to turn it back on.

Keypad. Brings up the keypad, in case you are using an automated system that requires additional input.

Speakers. This creates a hands-free speakerphone, useful for driving, simultaneous typing, or other situations.

Add call. Lets you create a conference call by joining other numbers to the current call.

FaceTime. Switches to the FaceTime app, which can be an audio call or a video conference. The other party will need to have a FaceTime account for this to work.

Contacts. Displays saved contacts.

You can also press the Home button to do other things (check the weather, take pictures, play Battle Monkeys, etc.) while you talk. A green bar will appear at the top of the phone’s screen while a call is in progress; tap it to return to the phone interface.

Incoming and merged calls

By default, incoming phone calls will cause the phone to vibrate, make a ringing sound, and show the incoming number on the screen (or the name, if the number is already in your contact list). You can use the on-screen buttons to answer the phone or decline the call. You can also press the On/Off button to silence the call (the caller won’t know this; it will keep ringing on their end).

iPhone callsIf someone calls while you are already on the phone, you will hear a beep and the screen will display the following options:

  • End & Accept. Hang up the first call, and answer the second call.
  • Send to Voicemail. The second call will be sent to voicemail.
  • Hold & Accept. The first call will be put on hold while you talk to the second caller.

If you use Hold & Accept, you will be shown options to swap back or merge the calls.

Touch screen basics for new iPhones

By | Tips

If you getting a new iPhone, you may wonder how a device without a physical keyboard can do everything from checking your bank balances to telling your Facebook friends about your daughter’s birthday party. The answer: It’s all in the touch screen. The following post explains how to use touch screens on new iPhones (including the iPhone 7, iPhone 8 and iPhone 10). Some of the instructions will be valid for older iPhones as well.

The iPhone touch screen lets you press virtual buttons, enter text on a pop-up virtual keyboard, and use other types of gestures, including:

  • Force Touch. Pressing and holding a finger on the screen can place the cursor in a document or email, select an area or object, or mark an item for cutting, copying, and pasting. Force Touch can also be used to remove apps from the phone (see Chapter 4, ).
  • Swiping and Brushing a finger across the screen allows for horizontal browsing (for instance, to see the next picture in a photo album) or vertical scrolling (useful in the iPhone’s browser, if you want to read to the bottom of a long article or page). Flicking can be used in book apps to flip through the pages, and some games even use swiping for special actions such as slicing tossed fruit (no joke—this is the object of a game called Fruit Ninja).
  • Double-tapping. In email, double-tapping text will highlight text and give you the option of copying, cutting, and pasting. In games and other apps, double-tapping might allow certain moves or special functions.
  • Dragging is a combination of holding and swiping, and is similar to “dragging” an item with a mouse on a desktop computer. Try it by holding down one of the app icons for two seconds. Without letting it go, drag it to the right side of the screen. The icon will follow your finger and will eventually be dragged over to the next pane of the Home screen. Let go of the icon, and the icon will be deposited on the new pane.
  • Zooming. This gesture is commonly used for zooming in and out, which can be useful for examining photos or maps. To zoom in, place the tips of two fingers or a finger and a thumb next to each other on the screen, and then spread the digits. To zoom out, do the reverse.

Many gestures and touch-related actions are contextual. That means a gesture may be assigned different functions, depending on the app that is being used. Fortunately, some gestures are nearly universal. For instance, the swiping gesture rarely changes from app to app (Fruit Ninja being one amusing exception!)

3D Touch, Peek, and Pop

All newer iPhones have additional touch screen actions, which Apple collectively calls 3D Touch. The touch screens on these newer models are able to differentiate between taps, light pressure (Peek), and heavy pressure (Pop). Peek generally previews content or provides additional options, whereas Pop will open the content.

Here are some examples of how Peek and Pop work:

  • From the Home screen, light pressure on an app icon will reveal a menu of Quick Action options for that app.
  • When reviewing the list of email in your inbox, light pressure on a particular message will preview it, while heavy pressure will open up the message.
  • While browsing photos and videos in the Photos app, use Peek on a single image to open it up for preview.
  • From your list of contacts, Peek will let you quickly mail, message, or call someone.
  • In Maps, use Peek to preview a business or organization, share its location, start driving directions, or browse contacts in your favorites (see the image below).

iPhone 7 Plus Peek favorites iPhone touch screenHowever, there are some drawbacks to 3D Touch:

  • It takes some getting used to. Press too hard or too softly, and it may not work as expected.
  • Apple Apps widely incorporate 3D Touch, as do some popular apps such as Instagram. However, not all apps support 3D Touch.
  • For certain apps, there does not seem to be much of a point to Peek or Pop—for instance, why bother using 3D Touch to preview or open a photo when it is already so easy to use the touch screen to open it?

Nevertheless, some apps are really improved by the addition of 3D Touch, such as Contacts. If you own a newer iPhone model, play around with 3D Touch to determine which apps work best with the new touch screen technology.

This post was excerpted from an IN 30 MINUTES guide.