3 Tips for an iPhone user to help save time and be a Power User

DISCLAIMER: iPhones or any other smartphone for that matter, are not distracting. It is the user that suffers from these symptoms. In this post, we find shortcuts to use iPhones more efficiently to reduce distraction. [POST WILL BE CONTINUOUSLY UPDATED]

We are not going to talk about Do Not Disturb (DND) or any of those common tips you see elsewhere. This is a quick post to help reduce distractions while you are using your iPhone by reducing the number of steps to get into that specific task you need your phone for.

1. Use Spotlight Search for… everything!

Spotlight is a very good on-device search interface. It is very under-rated too as people think its only for searching apps and some files on your Apple device. With iOS 15, you can invoke Spotlight search by swiping down right from the lock screen making it even more easier to access it. But that’s not it. Here’s a list of things Spotlight can do on iPhone:

  • Searching word definitions: You can search up word definitions and assuming you at least having a single language dictionary downloaded on device, it will give you word definitions along with its usage in noun form, verb form, phrases and some word links. Time to ditch those fat dictionaries in your house.
Dictionary Search on Spotlight
  • Installing Apps: Up until iOS 14, installing apps from App Store using Spotlight was 2-step process where you search the app and then it gives you an App Store float window where you finally click install. However, now with iOS 15 its a 1 step process: just search it on Spotlight and tap the Install button. No need for opening App Store again, I guess.
Photo Search on Spotlight
  • Searching photos by date, location, person, text in photos: Starting iOS 15, you can search up photos by approximating the date you took them on (specifying month and year, maybe) right in Spotlight. All iOS 15 supported devices (right up from iPhone 6s) will be able to search photos on spotlight by date, location and person in the photo (if you have tagged them). This makes it so much easier to find photos without going into the photos app and being overwhelmed by the 1XX,XXX photos you might have. Also, iPhones with A12 and later chips (2018 and above iPhones) will also show photos that might have the text that you searched up on Spotlight. This makes old shopping lists so much easier to find.
  • Wiki Search/Safari Search: Searching on browser involves going into that browser before you start typing your query. However, now that you know how smart Spotlight is, all you have to do is type your query on Spotlight. This helps with celebrity names and product items as Siri returns the best search. However, if you don’t find your search there, then with one tap you can search it on Safari, without loading Safari first.
Contacts in Spotlight Search
  • Get everything about a contact: You can quite some relevant results about a contact (across all apps and the internet in general) with your current Spotlight: Reminders, WhatsApp Chat, Photo Memory and if you are lucky even the meaning of their name. With iOS 15, it goes a step further to nicely organise those bits for you returning everything about that contact: right from reminders, calendar events, messages, FaceTime calls etc.
  • It’s a Calculator: Yes! You can do calculations right on Spotlight and copy the results from there. Try it yourself, if you don’t believe it. Works on iPad Spotlight too. Who needs the calculator app now? Ok fine, maybe we do need one on iPad ;(
Calculator on Spotlight

2. Use 3D Touch/Haptic Touch for getting more relevant information

3D Touch Menu Options for Medium

When Apple introduces 3D Touch with iPhone 6s in 2015, it seemed really cool. But even to this day, the learning curve of it has been getting the better of me . However, I do use it on some apps I have been using since a long time and it is very helpful as you don’t have to waste time scrolling through the entire app to reach a specific tab or page.You can use it on the Settings App on iPhone/iPad to directly go into WiFi, Bluetooth, Mobile Data or Battery section of the app. Here’s a fun task that will help you in the future: Try out 3D Touch/Haptic Touch (force touch/long press) on all app (icons) from homescreen and check out the menu options they offer. I bet you will find at least 60% relevant and useful tabs right there.

Some places where I use the 3D Touch/Haptic Touch are:

  • Apps I use everyday: Going into a specific tab of an app right from the Home screen or App Library
  • Control Centre Toggles: You can switch WiFi/Bluetooth/Cellular Data connections right from the lock screen of your iPhone. Jut pull up/down the control centre and use 3D Touch/Haptic Touch on WiFi symbol. This will give you a longer menu with more options like hotspot and AirDrop. Now long press again on WiFi and you can switch connections right away. Its all about pressure (on screen), baby!
  • Inside Apps: You can use some 3D Touch features inside apps to get more info or change settings. Like in Photos, using 3D Touch on a photo allows you to copy or share the photo. There might be some options like peek-and -pop in chats on messaging apps like WhatsApp that you might find helpful.
  • Keyboard: There is a ton you can do with 3D Touch/Haptic Touch on Keyboard. You can some long press on a character on the keyboard to get some special characters to use. For iPhones with Haptic Touch (iPhone 11 and above) you can long press on spacebar on keyboard to use a cursor to move around and with iPhone with 3D Touch (iPhone 6s to iPhone XR/XS) you can long press any character on keyboard to start using the cursor.

3. Use Shortcuts and Siri Suggestions for redundant tasks

Siri Suggestions

Siri Suggestions are helpful when your device learns about some frequently occurring habits from you: like when you set an alarm, when you start a group call, text, use an app and other time and location based activities. I have found them helpful some times (but not every time) like when I want to start my workout routine.

Shortcuts are becoming more and more helpful with every iOS update that Apple rolls out in fall. With Widgets, you can access these from home screen and some even from lock screen (if they don’t need a specific permission). Here are some shortcuts I use:

  • Food Delivery Order Status : This is app specific but I am sure if you go into the Shortcuts apps, there might be some shortcuts your favourite apps might be having.
  • Finding that Guitar Chord: Finds the name of guitar chord you play.
  • Connect/Disconnect Headphones: For connecting or disconnecting bluetooth headphones with one tap.
  • Home Automation: Again specific to smart home device and apps you use. Turning on/off lights with one tap has never been easier. Some work directly with HomeKit and can be controlled from Control Center.
  • QR Your WiFi: Sharing WiFi with Friends? Just show them this QR code of your WiFi that pops up with one tap on the shortcut.

So these are all the iPhone features I adore and help me a lot in saving time. Which ones do you find helpful? Did I miss out any? Let me know below in the comments.

~Aditya Darekar



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Aditya Darekar

Aditya Darekar

Since you have finally stumbled upon me, Hi There! Love to write about Tech, Productivity, Books, DIY Cooking and sharing some Life Stories you may like.