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iPhone 6: Cool features you should be using

There are some features in iOS 8 designed specifically for the new iPhone. These are the ones you must not overlook.
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By James Kendrick on
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Cool features of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

The new iPhones with larger screens are out in the wild. Reviews have been largely positive and new owners are learning how to use the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Apple has built some features in iOS 8 designed to help owners get the most out of the new iPhones. Here are the ones that are most useful.

These features have been tested on the iPhone 6 Plus but should work on the smaller iPhone unless only intended for the bigger phone.

See related:

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Reachability

The larger screens on the iPhones, the iPhone 6 Plus model in particular, make one-handed operation difficult. To help deal with this iOS 8 has a feature called Reachability.

To use this feature you must turn it on.

1. Go to Settings > General

2. Tap Accessibility

3. Make sure Reachability is turned on (near the bottom of the screen).

Reachability can be invoked from anywhere in iOS, including apps, by double-tapping the Home button. Don't click the button, simply tap it twice.

This causes the top half of the screen that is out of reach of the user to slide down to occupy the bottom half of the display. This brings app controls usually at the very top of the screen down into the range of the fingers. One-handed operation is easier with Reachability invoked.

Double-tap again to return to full screen or tap anywhere outside the bottom half of the display.

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Display zoom

The iPhone 6 Plus display is high resolution and gorgeous. Even so, sometimes you may find things just a tad too small to read comfortably. There's a setting that can be changed to make everything display just a tad bigger.

In Settings in the middle of the "Display & Brightness" screen, toggle the View setting from Standard to Zoomed. You'll get a preview showing what the change will look like before committing to it.

At first you may not be able to tell things are different, the zoom is so subtle. Once you make the setting, after the ensuing reboot you'll soon find that things are in fact just a bit easier to see without displaying any less on the screen as before.

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Handoff

New iPhone 6 owners who also have a late model iPad should set up Handoff. This allows phone calls to the iPhone 6 appear on the iPad. Calls can be answered on the iPad either as a speakerphone or with headphones.

In addition to phone calls, in the next few weeks text messages will appear on the iPad, too. Once OS X Yosemite ships, calls and text messages will also appear on Macs that have been upgraded to that version of OS X.

To enable Handoff, there's a process in Settings to make sure it works.

1. On the iPhone 6, in Settings tap on FaceTime.

2. Toggle FaceTime off and on, leaving it on.

3. Toggle iPhone Cellular Calls off and on, also leaving it on.

4. Go back to General settings and tap "Handoff & Suggested Apps".

5. Toggle Handoff off and on, leaving it on.

6. Reboot the iPhone.

7. Repeat for every iPad you wish to use with Handoff.

To use Handoff, make sure both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network (LTE doesn't work). They should both be logged into the same Apple ID, too.

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Voice over LTE (VoLTE)

Verizon customers in the US have never been able to surf the web while on a voice call. This restriction has been removed around iPhone launch day as the carrier has turned on VoLTE. It requires a late-model phone that has this capability, and the new iPhones do.

To activate VoLTE:

1. Go to Settings > Cellular

2. Tap "Enable LTE"

3. Select "Voice & Data"

That's it, your Verizon iPhone 6 and 6 Plus can now surf the web and make phone calls at the same time.

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"Hey Siri"

Users of Siri are used to long-pressing the Home screen to get her attention before asking a question. It’s turned off by default (at least it was on my iPhone 6 Plus) but you can set Siri to listen for the phrase “Hey Siri”.

Once configured that’s all you need to do to ask Siri a question.

To turn on Hey Siri:

1: Got to Settings > General > Siri

2. Turn on “Allow Hey Siri”

Speak the phrase or question for Siri as usual.

Note that Hey Siri only works when the iPhone is plugged in. This is to prevent excess battery drain that would be caused by always listening for “Hey Siri” on battery power.

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Camera HDR

This isn’t new to iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 but worth mentioning for owners new to the platform. The camera on the iPhone takes good photos, and this is in part due to HDR. This is High Dynamic Range, the technique of improving the ratio of light to dark in a photo.

To accomplish this the iOS 8 camera app actually snaps three photos at different exposures when you snap one. It takes the best parts from all three photos and merges them into the one saved photo. This can make much better photos, especially in low light conditions.

As good as this is, sometimes you’ll get better results if you turn HDR off. This can be done by tapping HDR Auto on the top of viewfinder screen. Turning it off might be desirable when photographing scenes with stark contrast between light and dark that you want to capture. Think shadows that you want to stand out.

You may also get better results with scenes containing vivid colors. HDR has a tendency to produce washed out colors so turning it off may be desirable.

Don’t forget to turn HDR back to Auto as it produces better results more often than not.

Note that HDR is not unique to the iPhone or iOS. The technology is used on other platforms and devices.

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