No matter how effective you are with your smartphone, software features are always rolling out and changing, so periodically checking out what your operating system is capable of can lead to higher productivity and convenience. In today’s post, we’ll take a look at three cool and helpful features for the iPhone that you may not know about, or that may have slipped your mind after not using them for a while.
1. Show photos or videos on a TV from your iPhone or iPad
If you need to share a video with folks in the room, iOS’ casting and mirroring features make it simple to share on a TV over WiFi. AirPlay is a built-in feature on iOS devices, and a growing number of smart TVs can work with the protocol. If you want to use AirPlay with a smart TV that doesn’t natively support AirPlay, then you can install the Apple TV app from your TV’s app store. AirPlay has two components to it that are similar, but work very differently behind the scenes.
You can use AirPlay Mirroring to show photos (or whatever else is on your phone’s screen) on a smart TV that is AirPlay enabled. When you use this feature, you simply need to find the icon for AirPlay in the Control Center. Clicking the icon and selecting the TV to stream to will show whatever is on your device on the display. Since this feature uses WiFi to stream a video from the phone to the TV, it will likely experience some lag, and might be a little lower quality for moving images.
AirPlay can also “cast” a video from a supported app to the TV. If an app supports AirPlay, you’ll find an AirPlay button when playing a video in that app. Casting is different from mirroring, since it doesn’t actually use your mobile device to play the video; rather, it asks the TV to play the video from the internet. You can also cast a video that is stored on your phone to the TV: behind the scenes, the TV is just playing the file directly from your phone’s storage, which keeps the quality high and the user experience smooth.
2. Disable auto-playing videos in Safari
Many websites, especially news sites, automatically play a video segment—or worse, a video advertisement—when you open the page. This type of web design isn’t inherently nefarious; it might be convenient to see a fully produced news segment if you clicked on a news story, instead of just reading it. On the other hand, this style of webpage can be obnoxious if you’re just browsing and don’t intend to have sound start blasting from your device; it can be wasteful of your data, if that’s important for any reason; but worst of all, it makes pages super slow.
One way to deal with advertising that uses auto-play is to make sure that you have ad blocking on your device. That’s not a perfect solution for all mobile devices, though, since you often need to implement your blocklist as a VPN (which becomes a problem if you use a VPN for anything else).
Luckily, Safari can be set to block all auto-play videos. Go to Settings, Accessibility, and Settings by app; add Safari to the applications list. Open the browser settings section, find the item Auto preview video, and change the parameter value to “Off.” The only downside to turning off all auto-play videos is that it doesn’t distinguish between ads and real content, so you may have to click play on some videos on the web that you do want to see.
3. Hold the spacebar to move the cursor
If you do a lot of typing on your phone and often need to move the cursor back to text you’ve already written, the easiest way to move around in a text field is by holding the spacebar. In a lot of apps, it can be hard to place the cursor exactly where you need it, especially if you’re fixing typos in the middle of a word. You can try it out anywhere where you’re using the keyboard: hold the spacebar and drag right or left to move the cursor. This nifty trick might take a little getting used to, but as someone who may or may not be writing this blog post on a mobile device, I can say that adding this trick to your repertoire can save you a ton of tiny frustrations once you get a feel for it. -Written by Derek Jeppsen on Behalf of Sean Goss and Crown Computers Team