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Tips'n'Tricks for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch

Mar 23

Written by:
Tuesday, March 23, 2010 9:26 PM  RssIcon

Apple iPhone and TouchWhen I bought my Apple iPod Touch, I vowed to learn as much about it as I possibly could.  Before I brought it back, I learned a few cool tips'n'tricks I would like to share with you.

Apple iPhone and TouchWhen I bought my Apple iPod Touch, I vowed to learn as much about it as I possibly could.  In the short time I had it, I learned some cool tricks I would like to share.  Maybe you won't use ALL of these, but hey, if just one saves you a bit of time, or shows you something about that cool tool you didn't already know you could do, then it's worth the read.  If not, sorry, hey, you can't win them all ya know, look at my Habs, they're not doing so well this year.

  • Use the screen/keyboard that helps you focus on what you're trying to do.  For example, use the computer's iTunes app for searching/finding/loading apps onto the phone.  Why?  Cause you can use your keyboard for faster typing, bigger screen real estate to get the big picture faster, and if you don't like it, you can quickly type out your rating.  I prefer to use iTunes to rate apps as well as I had my feedback toasted and the ration application lost all my typing! ggrrrrrr
  • Set the phone to lock after 1 or 2 or 4 hours with a password.  That way, if you lose your device, chances are it'll go into lock mode and although you might have lost your device, your data is (somewhat) protected from prying eyes.  I set mine to 4h, and would only have to enter my password in the morning.
  • You can click'n'hold on any app icon on the phone, wait a moment, then see all the icons jiggle?  You CAN do that, but I find moving them around in iTunes on the computer much faster and more accurate.  Another tip, MAKE SURE TO HIT THE APPLY BUTTON AFTERWARDS!  The chicken switch (you made changes, do you want to save them) DIDN'T work for me!  I made a boat load of changes and lost them cause I forgot to hit the Apply button.
  • My cousin (thanks RH) suggested grouping my apps.  I put the apps I used 80% of the time on the first page, next was productivity tools and news, next was general utilities, then I put games last (first my kids games then a few for me). 
  • Don't think you HAVE to leave the apps you get with the device where they are!  You can certainly move them around, see previous tip.
  • Set the Home button to a single click to goto the Home page, the first page, therefore, you can use the Home button to take you to what you use the majority of the time.
  • Set the double click of the Home key to the Search function.  It doesn't do much of anything else of any use (well, in the options you have that is) and Search isn't a bad one to use.
  • Change background to something personal.  Why?  Why not????!!!!!!  The other reason is IF someone else picks your's up and they swipe it, they'll immediately know who to return it too (well, that's your hope at least right?).  You change it by putting the right size picture in your My Pictures directory, and telling iTunes application to sync up your Pictures directory.
  • If you use numbers or caps a lot, this is very cool!  Say you want to enter only one number or one capital letter, you would normally, press the number or shift button right, then the number or character, then press the number or shift button again right?  Well, the iPhone OS understands the click'n'drag motion!  Ya!  So if you wanted to type out a capital letter, you just click the shift button BUT DON'T LET GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!  drag to the letter you want, THEN let go!  Don't worry about the OS thinking it will type out the letters you scroll over, it won't, it'll just type out the one you release on.  Then it'll go back to normal typing.  Very cool!  Works with punctuations as well!  Very cool!
  • Be VERY careful with entering Contacts in the device.  First, the Birthdays and Anniversaries dates HAVE to have a year, and don't enter anything before 1940, it won't work.  And the syncing works by first syncing the Contact into Outlook, then the bdays/anniversaries are created in the Outlook calendar, then you sync again with the device for them to make them back on to the iPhone/Touch.  Very weird and convoluted process if you ask me.
  • Syncing with Contacts in Outlook works (with some caveats), but make sure NOT to add any contact's birthday's/anniversaries before 1940.  The proper events won't be created in the iPhone/Touch.
  • Contacts (for the most part), Calendar and Notes sync with iPhone/Touch, Tasks don't!  You'll need some other app for that.
  • If you're like me and thinking Notes will sync nicely, DON'T delete them completely, cause when you sync up with iTunes, the syncing computer says "oh, you're missing that note, here, let me add it for you" meanwhile you deleted it a few hours ago cause you completed that task.  But it's now?!?!?!?  DOH!  OH man.
  • Some apps have a Save or Done button, some don't (like Notes), it's as if they save after each keystroke.  Just something you have to get used to.
  • Thanks to SG for this one, forget about pinching to zoom in on web pages, that's so passe! LOL  Just double tap in the area you want to zoom, and the browser will automagically zoom to the correct html table size.  Try it out.  You might need to zoom still, but give the double tap a try first, I think you'll find it works 90% of the time.
  • Switch over to iTunes to play your music instead of using Windows Media player.  Pausing in Windows Media Player still has the music streaming down (costing you bandwidth and therefore $), iTunes Pause doesn't seem to do that.  Bonus is if you have one of those funky eergonomic keyboards with media buttons, they work! Sweet!  No need to remap a special key to the stop function.
  • Don't bother buying any special Apps to get you holidays.  Use Outlook to add holiays, BUT, only do it once, otherwise you'll end up with multiples (yup, I tried it).  Also, another good idea would be to create another calendar to add the holidays into so you can turn them on/off both in Outlook and on the iPhone/Touch.
  • DON'T TRY SYNCING WITH MULTIPLE COMPUTERS.  No good can come of that.  Yup, nasty one there.  If you're looking to do this, you better know what you're doing.
  • Careful when attaching to your corporate email server (GMail or Exchange).  Syncing calendars is one thing, syncing the entire corporate contacts/address book is another!
  • The one thing I LOVED about my Touch was the ability to quickly move Calendar events which I didn't get done to day, to tomorrow.  Just had to change the day, very quick.  That was something I just can't do with my paper DayTimer.
  • If you use Outlook a lot, then try to use Outlook for your Calendar tasks, bigger screen, full size keyboard, it's made for that stuff.  Use the iPhone/Touch for keeping track of things.
  • The Notes in the device, have one font, but you can easily change the font in Outlook to what's easier on the eyes for you.
  • Although Apple says there "is not multitasking on the iPhone/Touch" that's not completely true, they just don't expose that (yet) to third party developers.  I found I could select an app from the App Store, and while it was downloading, go back to the Home page, goto the App Store again, and continue searching while the other app was still downloading/updating.  That was kind of cool.
  • Pick the option for iTunes to minimize to the system tray to free a bit more space on the Start Menu.
  • Use the iTunes website on your computer for doing investigations about apps you want to buy, the increased screen real estate is one reason, but access to multiple web browsers is another and being able to do a CTRL+F to poke around sites is useful too.
  • Don't forget about the "...More" link on the very far right in the iTunes webpage for more information.  I kept missing that for some reason.
  • Thanks to SB for the tip about being able to make corrections within a word.  If you spell a word wrong, you can click'n'hold, wait for the magnifying glass to pop up, then move the I-bar cursor to the letter you want to erase, then let go, correct and click where you want to continue typing next.

Most of these tips'n'tricks are related to syncing, working with Outlook, but I hope they were helpful to you.  Now it's time to grab a coffee and get coding!


Resources (Development) Incredible iPhone Game Programming Tutorials With Video

Stanford University: CS 193 iPhone Application Development (free online course)

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