SALT LAKE CITY -- I was in the Central American country of Belize about 30 years ago. I happened to be there during the Miss Belize contest in which one of the contestants was asked, “If you had to be on a deserted island and could only take one thing with you, what would you take?” Her answer was unforgettable. She said, “I would take my camera and I would take pictures.” What? Come again? First of all, most of us would say something along the lines of water, or matches, or something that would help us survive. Second of all, she gave two answers … sort of.
I have a similar question: If you had to give up all your electronic devices (phone, computer, TV, etc.), except for one, which one would you keep? I don’t even have to think about that one — the answer is my iPhone.
The iPhone is the greatest electronic device ever invented. Period. If you use another device and take exception at that, all I can say is I’m sorry you settled on something less than the best.
For you iPhone lovers, I have a few tips that you will definitely want to know. You probably know about one or two of these tips, but I’m guessing you’ll learn something new.
Here are a few of my favorite tips:
Pull down updates
If you're not using this little trick, you should be. Just swipe your finger from the top of the screen down to the bottom. You'll get a local weather report, your upcoming calendar items, recent phone calls, messages and various notifications from your apps. Tap on any item to go to it. It's that easy and that convenient.
Got a tip?
Hourly weather You probably use the weather app all the time, but did you know you can get an hourly weather report? That's right, most people open the app and see the weather for the next few days without realizing you can see an hourly report. Just pull down the current day, and there you go — up-to-the-hour reports.
If you're bilingual, or for various other reasons you need to use special and/or international characters in a message, it's easier than you might think. Tap and hold the letter, and a list of options appears. For example, if you want an accented “e,” tap and hold the letter “e” and you'll soon see a pop-up menu with several accent options. Drag your finger to the one you want and let go.
Speaking of the keyboard, did you know you can create shortcuts? I use these all the time when I'm texting. For example, I use the phrase "sounds good" a lot. Rather than typing it out every time, I just type "sg" and then when I hit the space bar it puts the "sounds good" phrase in my text message for me. Shortcuts work in other apps too, like email and Safari.
Deleting data from your iPhone can be a little bit of a pain — unless you know this little trick. Just swipe your finger to the right. For example, when you're in Mail and you're viewing the list of emails in your in box, you'll see a message you don't want to read. Rather than making you go into the message, then hitting the delete icon, you can just swipe to the right while still in the in box. A little "delete" box appears at the right. Tap it, and your unwanted email is gone. Try it in other apps, it comes in handy.
You probably know this one already, but just in case .... As of iOS 4, you can switch from one app to another with ease. For example, if you're reading your email but need to look something up in the Wikipanion app, just hit the home button twice (the home button is the little round button below the screen). You'll see the currently running apps, listed in groups of four, on the bottom of the screen. Swipe to the left to cycle through all the apps that are currently running. When you see the one you want, just tap it. By the way, swipe to the left and you'll see controls for your music. Nice.
Force-quitting an app
From time to time, you'll have an app go weird on you. It will stop working correctly. You've probably gone to the trouble of rebooting your phone. You don't have to anymore. Instead, press the home button just like when you're switching apps. Find the troublesome app and tap and hold it until the icons start wiggling. You'll see a red “-” (minus sign) in the top left corner of the app's icon. Click it to kill the app. Now all you have to do is start the app again. Problem solved without rebooting. You gotta love that.
There you go — a few tips for your awesome iPhone. There are, of course, many more, but if you’re going to a deserted island, you can only take so much with you.
Until next time.
Steve Schmutz is a software entrepreneur, writer and blogger. Visit www.guysthatknow.com and www.steveschmutz.com.