Saturday, May 16, 2009

Stupid iPod Touch tricks

When you first get your iPod Touch you are blown away by the slick interface and all the neat features that you now can't do without. It's chock full of features, though some of them might not be very obvious. Some are in the instructions (which I rarely read, and I'm not sure that you do either) and others are not.

1) Music controls anywhere: a neat thing about the iPod Touch is that you can use other programs besides the music player while you are listening to your music. This is easily done by getting your music started and then pressing the Home button to return to the Home screen. From there you can choose whatever app you want to use - Mail, Safari, and even games that support you providing your own music. But what if you're using that app and you run into a song you don't feel like listening to? Double-tap the home button real fast. This'll bring up the music controls wherever you are, allowing you to pause, skip forward, or skip backwards. Tapping the Close button will dismiss the controls and return you to your regularly scheduled app, or touching the Music button will quit your current app and bring up the full fledged Music player app. The only downfall to this feature is that if you don't double click the Home button fast enough, or if you give it 3 clicks instead, it behaves as if you pressed it once, returning you to the Home screen.

1a) The double-tap feature also works if you're at the "Slide to unlock" screen.

1b) Sometimes apps (usually games) support you playing your own music but by default will silence your music upon startup and play its own music instead. To get around this, double tap the Home button while in the game and press Play. This will silence the in-game audio and resume your music instead in most (but not all) apps.

2) Screenshot: This is self-explanatory, but it's a real killer feature. Say you have something cool or hot on your screen and you want to save it for posterity (or at least to show your friends). You can save an exact picture of what you're seeing in your Photo library. Keep in mind that you have to be fairly quick about this. While holding the Sleep button, press and release the Home button, and then immediately release the Sleep button. The screen will flash white and you'll hear a camera sound. The iPod touch doesn't have a camera on it like its older sibling the iPhone, but you can still capture memories on it.

3) Auto-Pause: Say you're listening to something on your headphones and someone important walks up. You want to pause the audio because you don't want to miss the rest (as is often the case with audiobooks and podcasts) but you can't be bothered to quickly bring up the audio controls (either in the Music app or via the trick in #1). All you have to do is quickly unplug your headphones. You'll notice that the audio automagically pauses itself, because it knows you're not listening anymore. Sweet. When you plug your headphones back in, it doesn't resume automatically, which makes sense because while unplugged headphones = not listening, plugged-in headphones does not necessarily = you have the headphones on your ears. Bring the audio controls back up to resume listening.

4) Rearranging/deleting apps: tap and hold on any app's icon on the home screen until everything starts jiggling. Yes, that's right, jiggling. You'll notice that all the third-party apps will also now have "x" buttons on them, allowing you to delete them from your iDevice. Also in this mode you can tap-drag icons to arrange them to your heart's content. Remember that the bottommost row holds apps that are shown no matter what page you're on, so keep the most frequently used apps down there. Press the Home button to exit Jiggly Mode.

5) Quicker page changing: Once you get enough apps to fill several pages (believe me, this will happen pretty soon with all the free apps available), you may find yourself swiping your finger across the screen over and over to switch between pages. There is a little invisible area to the right and to the left of the "page indicators" at the bottom (the white and gray dots) where if you simply tap, it'll change the page. So if you tap just to the right of the page indicators, it'll go to the next page, and if you tap to the left of them, it'll go to the previous page. Also, if you're on any page other than page 1, pressing the Home button will return you to page 1. Handy if you have more than 2 pages of apps.

6) Battery saver: The killer feature of the iPod touch in my opinion is the wifi. Even when not connected to an access point, however, the wifi drains battery. If you go to your Settings app you can disable your wifi. I highly recommend doing this while not using wifi - for example, when you're driving somewhere, so it doesn't keep draining battery looking for access points. Turn it back on when you know you're going to use it.

6a) Auto-brightness: Along the same lines, you can find the Brightness setting in your Settings app. Nothing too fancy. You can adjust the brightness. Turn it down in dim lighting, and turn it all the way up in bright lighting. The interesting feature here is "Auto-Brightness" which uses the light sensor located near the top of the iPod's face. This feature can also help to save battery by sensing the light level in the room.

All of these tricks also work with the iPhone.

Tune in next time for some app recommendations and some more neat features.