Three hidden iOS app tricks you didn’t know about

No matter how long you’ve used a product, it’s common to find surprising, obscure, and quite handy functionality that may have been buried under the radar — even for years. So, as a public service, we dug up some cool operations you can perform with the built-in Notes, Calculator, and Clock apps in iOS.

If you’ve installed iOS 13, there are plenty of great features to explore — but beware of some of the pitfalls too. Now let’s dig into three useful iOS app tricks that are worth knowing about.

Scan documents with Notes

If you want to scan a document like your car registration, a receipt, or a serial number, generally you’d just haul out the camera and snap a shot. But odds are that image will be somewhat skewed, and hard to print. If you need a clean document, you’d be better off using a scanning app, and there are many free and cheap ones in the iOS store. But finding a good scanning app is time-consuming — you need to hit on one you like, that’s easy to use, and which doesn’t bombard you with ads and popup notations to upgrade. Luckily, the solution lies in your iPhone’s built-in Notes app — the icon that looks kind of like a yellow legal pad. Here’s how to scan with Notes.

  • Launch the Notes app from your home screen.
  • Open a new note and tap the Camera icon right above the keyboard.
  • Tap Scan Documents from the slate of options.
  • With the camera open, aim it at the document you want to scan.
  • Observe that the app highlights the whole document, or part of a document, in yellow.
  • It will either automatically capture the image or you can tap the white button to start the scan.
  • From there you can adjust the margins or edit content as needed.
  • Save the document to share as an email, message, or insert into another document.

The scanner function is pretty smart, as it can automatically pinpoint sections of your document that you may want to isolate, as opposed to only capturing the entire page — which it also does quite well.

Swipe to correct numbers in Calculator

As you’re adding up a bunch of receipts for your expense report, you discover that you’ve entered one or a series of mistaken numbers that threaten to throw off your calculation. But no worries. With the nifty iOS Calculator app, it’s easy to backtrack without having to start all over from scratch. To delete one error or even several erroneous numbers, just swipe left over the numerical display and the wrong number will disappear. Swipe multiple times in a row to delete a series of errors. Then, just continue with your work.

And, if you rotate your iPhone into the landscape orientation, this cool Calculator will display its elaborate scientific calculator variation, should you ever need it.

Track your sleep with Clock

While iOS does not have an elaborate sleep function that measures REM sleep, light sleep, and how often your eyelids flutter while you dream, the Clock’s Bedtime Mode can help you get to bed and wake up on time and track your progress in actually getting the amount of shuteye you desire. It can even remind you when bedtime is approaching if you like.

  • To set your bedtime, launch the Clock app and tap the Bedtime tab at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap Get Started, answer the three date and time questions, and tap Save.
  • Choose your wake up time, which days you want to track or set the alarm, the number of hours you want to sleep, your bedtime reminder time, and the sound effect you prefer. You can change these parameters at any time.
  • Tap the Bedtime tab and scroll down to Sleep Analysis, which lets you observe your recent sleep history.
  • Data from Bedtime automatically appears in the Health app under Health Categories > Sleep > Sleep Analysis so you can easily track your progress in getting enough sleep.

Don’t bother cheating Bedtime Mode. If you start scrolling through your Twitter feed after you’re all cozy under the covers, your iPhone will not count that screen time as sleep. So put your phone on the nightstand and settle down to get those Zzzs. Similarly, if you hit the snooze button instead of climbing out of bed in the morning, it will add that time to your sleep total.

Sweet dreams!

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