The latest smartphones and tablets can save us time, effort and allow us to have more fun on the move. But unless you’ve dozens of spare hours, it’s unlikely you’ll delve deep enough into the device to get to grips with everything it can do.

Most of us never use our gadgets to their full potential but if you have an iPhone running the latest iOS 5.1 software – or the new iPad – then there are plenty of tips and tricks to make the most of the technology at your fingertips.

To help, here are 20 iOS suggestions to check out for both the iPhone and iPad.

Take note of notifications – Find out the weather news, the latest share prices and more crucially see all your missed calls and messages simply by swiping your finger down the middle of the screen from top to bottom to open Notification Center. To have more items show up in it, go to Settings > Notifications and tap any item that is not listed under the Notification Center and then turn it on.

A snappier way to shoot – Desperate to take an important photo but the iPhone is locked? Double click the Home button and the camera icon appears, putting you just a tap away from that perfect picture.

Grab the screen – Take a screenshot at any time by pressing the Home and lock button simultaneously. You will see the screen flash and find the image you’ve taken in your Camera Roll.

Sort your apps – Press down on any app until every icon on the screen begins to shake. You can then drag apps from one screen to another but also drag one on top of another to create a folder. The iOS software will automatically assign a name to this folder, judged by the type of apps you put in it. This name can though be changed. Try and drag similar apps on top of each other to create the most useful folders.

Rise to the top – In nearly all applications, you can scroll instantly to the top of long pages (such as websites, emails or social media timelines) by tapping the Status Bar.

Talking about your emotions – You don’t need a third-party app to get smiley, teary or winky faces for your messages. You’ll find a Emoji keyboard filled with these icons built into iOS 5. Go to General > Keyboard > International Keyboards and tap “Add New Keyboard”, look for Emoji and select it.

Speak your words – If you own the new iPad, then one great addition is voice dictation. You’ll see a microphone icon appear on every keyboard you type on. Tap this and record what you want to say.

Soar into iCloud –
If you own more than one iOS device then iCloud is a must. Even if you only own one, it’s a simple way to backup your precious contacts and photos. Go to Settings > iCloud and sign in with your Apple ID. Having iCloud also means anything you download or store on your Apple devices can instantly be shared between them all.

Create phrase shortcuts –
If you don’t want to type out a long phrase every time you need to use it, create a simple shortcut. Go to General > Keyboard > Shortcuts > + and then enter your phrase and shortcut. Auto-complete will then suggest it when you type in the shortcut.

Understand iMessage – You can now instant message for free any of your friends who own an iOS device including an iPad without needing to send a traditional paid-for SMS text. You can see what type you’re sending in the text field as it’ll say iMessage or Text Message. The two are also now shown as different colours with iMessage in blue and texts in green.

Split the iPad keyboard in half –
This is pretty cool for those who struggle to type on the iPad. Using two fingers, you can pull the keyboard apart from the middle making it appear on either side of the screen. It actually makes it much quicker to touch-type with only your thumbs while holding the iPad with your fingers behind it. Try it, you’ll love it.

Make your own website apps – You’ll find this really useful if some of your favourite webpages don’t have specific downloadable apps. Bookmark favourite webpages as app-style icons by selecting the button at the bottom of Safari with an arrow inside a square. Choose ‘Add to Home Screen’ and iOS will turn the page into an icon you can name.

Never lose your iOS device –
The Find My iPhone or iPad app means you can track down the gadget if you mislay it, or even if it gets stolen. You can check out where it is on a map – assuming it is turned on and sending a signal – or make it ring in case it is nearby. More usefully, it can be locked or wiped if it falls into the wrong hands.

Go Retina on the new iPad –
It’s a real waste not to take advantage of the gorgeous screen on the new iPad, it’s the main reason to buy one or upgrade from the iPad 2. The Retina display has more pixels crammed in than most big HD TVs so download or update apps that have been optimised for this immense screen quality. Just click here to open up a list in iTunes.

Check your app sizes – You may well have 64GB of space on your iPhone or iPad but that doesn’t mean you should needlessly fill it with massive apps that you never use. Go to Settings > General > Usage and you can see the amount of space each app is taking up.

Keep an eye on your data use – In a similar way to the app sizes, go to Settings > General > Usage > Cellular Usage and you can view statistics for the length of Call Time and the amount of data you’ve sent and received. Tap the Reset Statistics button to put all the stats back to zero to start again. If you know the date your billing cycle begins, then consider resetting it on that date each month to ensure you don’t go over your network limits. Set a Calendar reminder so you don’t forget.

Surf in private – Safari has the option to let you surf the internet without things appearing in your iOS device’s web history. If you go to Settings > Safari you can switch Private Browsing on. But remember when it’s switched on, nothing is saved so you have to type in the same URLs again and again if you visit them often.

Go text only in Safari – When you’re viewing webpages you may notice a Reader icon appear in the URL box of Safari. By tapping this, you can remove all the pictures and adverts and simply show the article text. You’ll also be able to increase the font size making this option great for those with eyesight problems.

Learn the iPad gestures – You can now use a range of gestures on the iPad when you have iOS 5 installed. You can switch from app to app with a four finger swipe, while pinching with five fingers brings up the Home screen.

Set Parental Controls – Whether your child is using your iPhone or iPad, or their own, you can set controls on their usage. Go to Settings > General > Restrictions and you’ll find a list of all the possible controls including ensuring a password is needed for any in-app purchases. It could save you a small fortune if the little ‘uns use your device to play games.

Do you have a favourite iOS tip or trick? If you do share it by commenting below…

Source : Jonathan Weinberg

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