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I love discovering things by accident. It makes me feel much more in tune with the device or operating system. So with any product I get my hands on, I immediately get to know it as well as I can. What can it do? What can’t it do? Are there any cool hidden features or utilities not known or understood by the masses?
Since innovation clearly hasn’t skimped out on the iPhone, it’s natural that there are hidden talents built right in. Here are a few quick things I’ve discovered that you may, or may not have known about.
For Spanish speakers, the iPhone already has a comprehensive ability to understand Spanish vocabulary. But often enough you’ll end up needing an accent mark or a tilde above a letter. In which case, holding down the appropriate letter will give you a mini pop up menu where you can choose the appropriate mark for your letter.
Another handy typing tip is for punctuation. At the end of your sentence, most often enough you’ll use a period. Instead of hitting the “.?123” button and selecting the period, hit Space twice and it will automatically place a period for you and create the proper space for your next sentence.
If you aren’t planning on using a period at the end of your sentence, another simple trick is to hold down the “.?123” and slide your finger to the right punctuation, then release. This will automatically place the punctuation and switch right back to the qwerty pad.
The iPhone is a phone too, hard to believe I know. It’s not always the quickest of phones only because you jump through a few more hoops than you normally would to place a call.
One way to compensate this is by getting to your “Favorites” quickly. By double clicking the home button from any screen, you automatically are taken to your list of favorite contacts.
Keep in mind though, if you’re playing music from your iPhone or iPod touch, double clicking the home button will give you an iTunes controller pop up instead. It works anytime you navigate away from the iPod menu and is a great feature while you’re driving or going for a run and want to switch songs quickly.
Where the innovation is lacking
One feature request I hope will benefit others would be the ability to cancel an SMS message. One great thing about the iPhone’s SMS capability is that I can hold onto entire conversation threads without ever deleting them. Naturally my SMS section tends to look more like my Contacts section. Often enough when I text someone, I’m only looking at the first couple letters of a name and automatically assume I’m sending it to the right person. Then, as I’m watching the progress of my SMS being sent, I realize it’s the wrong name at the top of the message.
One simple way to alleviate this problem is to include the ability to cancel an in progress message. Take a look at the mock up I’ve provided. Just by adding a quick “x” for canceling to the right of the status bar would provide huge utility to me as a user.
My next issue is with e-mail. I’m really surprised the ability to flag an e-mail in your inbox isn’t currently available. Using Gmail, I can move items to my Starred folder, but I’d much prefer having my flagged e-mails stand out. I think even a simple approach would be very similar to how you can star items in Google Reader’s iPhone application. Maybe when you slide to Delete an e-mail, you’re given the option to flag it as well.
I’d love to know your thoughts on the shortcuts and ideas I’ve listed, or if you have any of your own please share them in the comments below.