10 Incredibly Useful iPhone and Android Tricks That Make Your Life Easier

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Remember when we only used phones for calls? Today, our smartphones contain our entire digital life.

This, of course, includes your precious photos and videos. Tap or click for nine photos you should always have close at handlike your medical and dental insurance cards.

Speaking of photos, how often do you spend way too much time looking for a photo you to know is hidden somewhere in your gallery? Stop scrolling and use this clever trick to quickly find a photo.

Your iPhone or Android has a ton of hidden goodies. Here are 10 tips you’ll come back to again and again.

1. Start using the back tap

Instead of browsing app pages, you can instantly perform a specific task with your phone. I take a lot of screenshots with my phone, and I do it by double tapping the back of my phone. Three knocks, and the front door to my driveway opens. A friend of mine turns on his back patio lights the same way.

In this photo illustration an Android logo displayed on a smartphone.

In this photo illustration an Android logo displayed on a smartphone.
(Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

On an iPhone 8 or newer, you can use your finger to double-tap or triple-tap the back of your phone to trigger a custom action. Go to Settings > Accessibility > To touch > Press Back. To select Tap twice Where Triple tap.

From there, choose a specific action. While this is handy, I warn you that you might accidentally trigger an action once in a while.

More Apple smarts: 10 iPhone tricks I use every day, and you will too

2. Set up shortcuts for your most used apps

Want to add a shortcut to a specific app on your home screen? Not all apps have shortcuts, but you can find out by tapping on the app.

Here’s how to do it on Android:

  • Tap an app, then lift your finger. If the app has shortcuts, they will appear.
  • Long press the shortcut.
  • Move the shortcut where you want it and lift your finger.

On your iPhone, it’s a super handy shortcut. Tap the Messages app icon and you’ll see some of your conversations. Select and hold one of your most sent contacts. Drag it to your home screen. Now you press this button to chat.

Trick within a trick: When trying to find an app on your phone, stop switching between pages. On your iPhone, swipe right until a search bar appears at the top. Then type the name of the app you want to use. On Android, swipe up from the middle of the screen. In the app drawer, tap Search.

3. Stop missing great action shots

If you’ve ever tried to get a good picture of your kids playing, you know how hard it is to capture movement. Burst mode allows your camera to take pictures faster than humanly possible. You get multiple photos for each second and then you can select your favorites to keep.

Touch and hold the shutter button if you have an iPhone X or earlier. Swipe the shutter to the left if you have an iPhone Xs or later.

Either way, lift your finger to stop burst mode. Then select the photos you want to keep by tapping To burst > To select > Ended.

Woman using smartphone on wooden desk.

Woman using smartphone on wooden desk.

On Android phones, press and hold your camera’s shutter button to activate burst mode.

Tired of taking bad photos? Take better photos with these genius tips.

4. Get rid of clutter

When was the last time you closed all browser tabs on your phone? Don’t waste time going through them one by one. On Android, open Chrome. Tap the number next to the URL bar to see a grid of all your tabs. Press the three dot menuthen select Close all tabs.

On an iPhone, you can do the same thing in Safari. Tap the icon with two overlapping boxes in the lower right corner. A menu will appear. To choose Close all tabs.

Speaking of your browser, it’s worth deleting cookies. Tap or click here for steps on your preferred mobile browser.

5. Use your iPhone as a magnifying glass

The last time I had to read a little serial number, I remembered how useful it was to use the iPhone’s built-in magnifying glass. No more squinting or running for your readers.

Go to Settings > Accessibility > Magnifying glass and turn it on. Now your magnifying glass is an accessibility shortcut. It also works on iPads.

To quickly access it when you need it, add it to your control center. Go to Settings > Control center > Customize controls. Press the + button next to Magnifier. You’ll see the magnifying glass icon in your control center when you swipe down from the top of your screen.

A customer tries out an iPhone.

A customer tries out an iPhone.

6. Fix Google Assistant

Does your smart assistant always get the wrong name? It might seem silly to teach your phone to pronounce a name. Make a change so that Google understands you the first time when you call someone in the future.

  • Say, “Ok Google, open Google Assistant settings.”
  • Choose yourself, then touch your people > Add a person.
  • Select a Contact.
  • Under “Name pronunciation”, choose Register yours > Disk.
  • To choose Player to hear it, then touch to safeguard to finish.

You can do the same with Siri on an iPhone. Tap or click here and scroll to number 7 for steps.

Get the most out of your Android: 5 hidden Google Assistant tricks to try now.

7. Quickly sign documents

When someone emails you a document you need to sign, you don’t need to print, sign, and scan it. Just use your iPhone. First, download the PDF, click the pen icon top right and sign with your touch screen. Click on Ended at the top left of the screen.

You can reply to the email with the newly signed attachment.

If you use AirDrop, you can share the documents you sign with your other Apple devices. Tap or click here to see why AirDrop is a useful iPhone feature you should start using.

8. Tell Them To Forget It

Siri and Google Assistant both make distinctive noises, so you know when you’ve accidentally activated them. To stop the Google Assistant from recording the rest of your conversation, say, “That wasn’t for you.” This deletes whatever it just started recording.

You can say the same to Siri, but be aware that Apple hasn’t officially said whether this phrase erases your previous recording from its memory. Tap or click here to stop all your smart devices from listening to you and recording what you say.

9. Measure or level anything

Want to see if something is level? Take out your iPhone and open the Measure app. This useful app uses augmented reality to turn your device into a fantastic measurement tool.

It’s simple to use. Suppose you want to measure a frame. Open the app, then tap the screen to one side of the frame. Scan your phone through the frame and tap the opposite end. The measurement will appear on the screen.

You may need to move your device for your camera to capture the dimensions of an object. Save your measurement by pressing Copy, which adds the numbers to your clipboard.

10. Get subtitles when playing video or audio

If you’re having trouble understanding something or you’re in a noisy place, try Android’s Live Caption. Use them for podcasts, YouTube videos, or even phone calls. This feature is available on the Pixel 2 and later, as well as some other Android phones.

  • press the volume button.
  • Under the volume controls, press the Live Legend icon.
  • Live captions are now enabled for all media on your device.
  • To turn off dynamic subtitles, press the volume button and press the Live Legend icon again.

Bonus Tip: Wi-Fi on the Moon, Russian Cyberattacks and Google’s Gas-Saving Trick

Did you know Wi-Fi is coming to the moon? Yes really. In this episode of Kim Komando Explains, I’ll teach you how to find an airplane seat with the most legroom, save gas, and some other technical tips you’ll use over and over again. I also have an action plan you can use to protect yourself against Russian cyberattacks.

Discover my podcast “Kim Komando explains” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotifyor your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando”.

What questions do you have about the digital lifestyle? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando show on your phone, tablet, TV or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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Discover all the latest technologies on The Kim Komando show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For his daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit his website at Komando.com.