How to Get More Out of Your Phone

Around ten years ago, smartphones were only just emerging onto the marketplace. But today, they’re such a natural extension of who we are and what we do.

Apart from maybe a few other life necessities (such as your keys or wallet) your phone is usually always within arm’s reach. And with that in mind, you’d expect to know pretty much everything about using it. Think again. There are, in fact, a wealth of under-used functions on our phones; settings and modes that could make things easier (if only we thought about turning them on).

While there are plenty of ingenious apps out there and smart home technology that can assist you, there’s a lot you can already do with the settings built into your phone. Today we’re taking a look at some of this underused functionality and how you can set it up to make life easier.

You can activate most of these modes and features from the Settings app on the iPhone. We’ve also made a note of where similar features are available on Android.

Dark mode

This feature will give all the apps already on your phone (and those you’ve downloaded that are compatible) a dark grey or black background. This backdrop is much easier on the eyes as well as being more reader-friendly, especially after dusk.

How to use:  You can turn Dark Mode on by opening the Settings app on your phone. Then, scroll down a little until you see ‘Display and Brightness’. If you tap on this, the following screen should give you two options side by side - ‘Light’ and ‘Dark’. You can either tap the one you want to use or set the Dark Mode to turn on automatically at certain times during the day.

Emergency contacts 

You never know when having a loved one on speed dial is going to come in handily. If you have a personal alarm, it’s something you’ll likely already have installed as part of your service package. But did you know that you can also create emergency contacts on your smartphone?

How to use: On the iPhone, you can add emergency contacts from the Health app. Open the app and tap on the tab ‘Medical ID’. Tap on ‘edit’, then scroll until you reach your Emergency Contacts. Tap on the Plus Icon to add an emergency contact. 

Screen time

We’re all much more aware of how spending time on our phones can affect our mental health. On the one hand, it’s wonderful to be able to stay connected with old friends and acquaintances. But spending too much time on our phones, instead of out doing things, can lead us to feel a little glum. The Screen Time setting can show you just how much time you spend browsing and scrolling.

How to use: Go to the Settings app then tap on Screen Time. On the next screen, tap ‘turn on ‘screen time’ and then ‘continue’. Once you’ve selected ‘This is my device’ you can then access the report which will tell you how much time you spend on your phone, and how this time breaks down between apps and websites visited.

Do not disturb mode

Sometimes it’s good to have a complete break from our device. That way, we can focus on getting things done (or having a little rest). Activating Do Not Disturb, which silences all alerts and incoming calls, will keep distractions at bay while you’re working or sleeping.

How to use: You can activate Do Not Disturb from the Control Centre. To do this, use one finger to swipe upwards from the bottom of the screen. Then, locate the icon shaped like a crescent moon and tap it. A smaller, matching icon should appear on the top bar of your screen. For more advanced settings, like exceptions and quiet hours, navigate to the ‘Do Not Disturb’ section under settings.

On accessibility

From motor, vision, hearing and physical support, the iPhone has many accessibility features to make your life easier. If you have limited mobility, it's likely there's a setting on your phone that you can adjust to compliment your lifestyle.

How to use: If new, you can turn on whichever accessibility settings you need during the setup of your phone. If you've been using your phone for a while, you can adjust these by navigating to the Accessibility section under Settings. You can find out more about each accessibility feature on the Apple website. And here’s a handy overview of similar features available on Android.

Now you know much more about how the very settings on your smartphone can be used to improve your life. We hope you’ll feel much more confident in getting full use out of your device.