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Latest iOS version

The latest iOS is 13.3, released Tuesday, December 10th, 2019. If you’ve installed iOS 13 already you should definitely get the update to 13.3. If you have an iPhone that can’t go past iOS 12, get the 12.4.4 update, released 12-10-2019.

The latest iOS is 13.3, released Tuesday, December 10th, 2019. If you’ve installed iOS 13 already you should definitely get the update to 13.3. Here’s a link to Apple’s iOS 13.3 release notes. If you have an iPhone that can’t go past iOS 12, get the 12.4.4 update, released 12-10-2019.

How to un-zoom (and re-zoom) your iPhone’s screen

Here’s how you zoom back out when your iPhone’s screen is zoomed in. Practice zooming in and out so you’ll remember, when you need it.

If your iPhone’s screen is zoomed in, and you can’t get it back to normal, fear not. We can get you from this:

iPhone 8 Plus screen, zoomed

… to this..

iPhone 8 Plus screen, back to normal

… and it only takes a second.

All you have to do is double-tap, anywhere on the screen, using three fingers. Really. Try it!

Double-tap with three fingers to zoom in, double-tap with three fingers to zoom out.

If you’re wondering about the settings for this, here they are: Settings, Accessibility, Zoom.

Settings, Accessibility, Zoom (iOS 13.3)

I know people whose iPhones have gotten zoomed and they’ve gone to an Apple Store to solve this problem. Save yourself a trip: if your iPhone is zoomed in, and you want to zoom back out, try the three-finger double-tap.

Use Siri to go directly to any iOS app’s preferences

Quit hunting around in the iOS Settings app, looking for some setting. Instead, ask Siri. Siri can take you right where you need to go.

Let’s face it, there are a LOT of preferences in the Settings app. Finding the one you want can be tough. Siri can help!

For example… want to see the preferences for Safari? Just say “Show me Safari preferences” and voila, there they are.

Asking Siri to show Safari preferences

Same thing with iCloud settings:

Asking Siri to open iCloud settings

Siri isn’t limited to helping with Apple apps. It can help you, for example, with the settings for Google Maps, like so:

Asking Siri to open Google Maps’ preferences

Notice how there’s no “perfect” way to phrase your request– you can ask Siri to “show preferences,” or “open settings,”, or “open preferences” for the app in question. There are probably other phrases that work.

Regardless of the exact phrasing you use, being able to go directly to the settings you care about will save you a ton of time. Try it and see!


Check out my Seven Super Siri Tips for more. And, check out my giant, up-to-date list of every Siri article on this site.

Swipe to Type in iOS 13

New in iOS 13: Swipe to Type. Swipe to Type (or Slide to type, in Apple’s words) is a new way to enter text from the keyboard.

iOS 13 brings us “Swipe to Type,” a new way to enter text from the keyboard. Apple calls it “Slide to type” but “Swipe to Type” rhymes, so I’m going with it.

Swipe to Type is turned on in iOS 13 by default. If it’s not on you can turn it on in Settings, as shown below:

Making sure Swipe to Type is turned on in Settings (click for larger version)

It takes only a minute to learn how to use Swipe to Type. The basic idea is you drag your finger around, touching every letter in a word without lifting it. You’ll leave a little trail behind as you do. See the video below.

You don’t have to use it, but it’s there. It’s not an either/or situation: use Swipe to Type when you want to use it, peck away at the keys the normal way when you don’t. Give it a try and see how you like it!

Solve the “Can’t rearrange app icons” problem in iOS 13

iOS 13.1.3 has a bug: you can’t rearrange app icons! Well, actually you can, but you have to know the trick. Here it is.

iOS 13.1.3 (and possibly earlier versions) has a bug that makes rearranging icons almost impossible. You can drag an icon to place but it snaps back to where it came from. In fact, it doesn’t even quite go where it should go (and it doesn’t show an “x” in the top left corner, and the name disappears also– see below).

Left side: App has no name, no “x”, and it’s not quite on the grid.
Right side: everything is fine.

The solution is sort of ridiculous but it works:

Turn off “Zoom” in the Accessibility settings.

  1. Settings
  2. Accessibility
  3. Turn off Zoom
Turning off Zoom in Accessibility settings

You can turn Zoom back on after you’re rearranged the icons. Just remember to turn it off again if you have trouble moving things around.

(If you’re not having problems dragging things around you must already have Zoom off. Lucky break for you!)

Siri Tip of the Day: What Song is that?

You can ask Siri to listen to the music and tell you what’s playing. Yes, this is Shazam, but Apple bought them, and now it’s part of Siri.

You may know about an app called Shazam.

Shazam app icon

When activated, Shazam will listen to whichever song is playing on the radio or TV and identify it for you. Very cool, but it gets cooler, because Apple acquired Shazam and added Shazam’s abilities to Siri. So now, instead of launching the Shazam app (which still works, ad-free by the way) you can say “Hey Siri, what song is this…”

Siri, what song is this?

… and get your answer, without opening an app. Pretty neat.

Here’s your answer: Siri knows songs!

Of course there’s a “Buy” button right there alongside the name of the song, in case you have that urge. The main thing is, you can get the name of the song, and the artist.

Try it and see. Quicker and easier than opening an app, available hands-free (“Hey, Siri!”) in case you’re in the kitchen making pancakes.

Check out my Seven Super Siri Tips for more. And, check out my giant, up-to-date list of every Siri article on this site.

Secret keywords for sending iPhone text messages with screen effects

You can trigger special screen effects in your iPhone text messages by typing these secret keywords. Here’s the list.

You know about sending screen effects with messages from your iPhone with iOS 10 or later: balloons, confetti, fireworks, etc. (You don’t? Then read my article How to send messages with balloons and other screen effects in iOS 12.) Turns out there are secret keywords that will trigger effects automatically!

Here’s the list of keywords and the effects they generate.

  • Congratulations (Confetti)
  • Congrats (Confetti)
  • Happy Birthday (Balloons)
  • Happy New Year (Fireworks)
  • Happy Chinese New Year (Celebration)

(This list may grow as I continue to test.)

In Messages, just type one of the words (or phrases) from the list and tap the Send button. Presto, the effect is sent also. Test by sending text messages to yourself so you can see how it goes. It won’t work if you add other words, so “Wishing you a happy birthday” doesn’t work, while just “Happy birthday” does.

Of course there are several other effects that you can send (see my article about screen effects) but these are the ones that are triggered automatically.

Siri Tip of the Day: What’s my Elevation

Get your elevation by asking Siri. This works on iPhones from the iPhone 6 and newer.

Your iPhone, if it’s new enough, knows your elevation. You can find out how high up you are by simply asking Siri. There are various ways to phrase it, but the way I do it is “What’s my elevation?”

Siri knows how high you are.

Check out my Seven Super Siri Tips for more. And, check out my giant, up-to-date list of every Siri article on this site.

Which model of iPhone do I have?

Some iPhone models look a lot alike! In iOS 12 you can find out exactly which one you have, right down to Apple’s part number.

The iPhone 8s looks like the iPhone 8– and the iPhone 7s, and the iPhone 7, and the iPhone 6s, and the iPhone 6! The iPhone X, the Xs, and the Xr also look a lot alike. How can you tell which phone you have?

In iOS 12, it’s easy. Just go to Settings / General / About… and there it is.

Which iPhone do I have?

Note the name of your iPhone (at the top of the About screen) is up to you. Call your iPhone anything you want. If you don’t change it, your iPhone is just called “iPhone.” If you restored from the backup of an older iPhone when setting up this one, your new iPhone probably has the name of the older one. This will be confusing when you use AirDrop, when you look at Find My iPhone, and other times too, so it’s best to change the name to something that makes sense.

While you’re in there looking at your iPhone’s model name, you can also see your iPhone’s model number. You can tap the model number to see the Apple part number (it sure doesn’t look like something tappable, but it is.) This is, potentially, useful information too. So is your warranty expiration date, which for me is 8 days from the date of this post.

Note: if (because you’re on an older iOS) all you see in About is a model number, you can still figure out which iPhone you have by going to Apple’s page that lists all of the iPhones and model numbers, all the way back to the original iPhone of 2007, complete with pictures and specs. Worth a look.

Unfortunately Apple is not consistent with their nomenclature. The “Model Number” they show in Settings / General / About is called “Part Number” on their page listing the iPhone models. For example, in the picture above, the Model Number is listed as “MQ8X2LL/A,” but they really mean “Part number.” The actual model number for my iPhone, obtained by tapping where it says MQ8X2LL/A, is “A1897.” Now you know. They could fix this by changing the label in iOS 12’s About screen– maybe they will.

Siri Tip of the Day: Translate

Use Siri to translate from nine foreign languages into English. See the translation, and hear it also. It’s as easy as “How do you say…”

Translate words and phrases into other languages using Siri. It’s easy when you know how, and here’s how:

Just say “How do you say…” and then the words you want to translate and then “… in Spanish.” Or “… in French.” Or “… in German.” (Or one of several other languages.) For example:

How do you say “Where is the bathroom” in Spanish?

Siri: How do you say “Where is the bathroom” in Spanish?

You’ll see the translation written out, and also spoken. Want to hear it again? Tap the “play” button at the right of the translation.

Or… how do you say “Where is the nearest train station” in French?

Siri: How do you say “Where is the nearest train station” in French?

Or… how do you say “I would like three pretzels with mustard” in German?

Siri: How do you say “I would like three pretzels with mustard” in German?

Not sure which language to translate into? Just ask “How do you say…” and then your phrase, but don’t specify a language to translate into. Then, choose a language from the list that appears. For example:

Siri: How do you say “I love you”

(If you scroll you’ll see that Siri also knows Mandarin Chinese.)

Tap a language and see the result.

How to say “I love you” in Russian

Speaking of Russian, here’s a phrase that may have, possibly, come in handy for some people recently:

Siri: how do you say “Could you help me get elected” in Russian

Want to go in the other direction– Spanish to English, or French to English, or German to English, or (whatever) to English? Sorry, Siri can’t do that. Not right now. (Technically Siri CAN do that, but you’d have to set the Siri language to Spanish, or French, or German, or whatever, and that messes up other things, so for now, the answer is “Sorry, Siri can’t do that.”)

Check out my Seven Super Siri Tips for more. And, check out my giant, up-to-date list of every Siri article on this site.