The iPhone Manual - Tips and Hacks

By Wallace Wang
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  1. Chapter 1: Learning Basic Touch Gestures

About this book

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone available on the market, renowned for its sophisticated design, immersive UI, and user safety. And even if you’ve bought an iPhone for its impressive specifications, you may still be unaware of many of its features, which you’ll discover with the help of this book!

The iPhone Manual is your practical guide to uncovering the hidden potential of iPhones, and will leave you amazed at how productive you can be by learning tips and hacks for customizing your device as a communication, entertainment, and work tool. You’ll unearth the complete range of iPhone features and customize it to streamline your day-to-day interaction with your device. This iPhone manual will help you explore your iPhone’s impressive capabilities and fully understand all the features, functions, and settings that every iPhone owner should know. With this book, you’ll get to grips with not only the basics of communication but also best practices for accessing photos, videos, and music to set up your entertainment using your iPhone. In addition to this, you’ll learn about serious work tools that will make you productive in your everyday tasks.

By the end of this iPhone book, you’ll have learned how to use your iPhone to perform tasks and customize your experience in ways you probably didn’t realize were possible.

Publication date:
November 2020
Publisher
Packt
Pages
486
ISBN
9781838641016

 

Chapter 1: Learning Basic Touch Gestures

Before Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, mobile phones often sported confusing keyboards that flipped open and required you to press multiple keys just to type a single character. Not surprisingly, these early mobile phones were often confusing and clumsy to use.

When Apple introduced the iPhone, they introduced an entirely new way to interact with a mobile phone. Instead of forcing users to type on cramped physical keyboards and squint at information crammed into tiny screens with poor resolution, the iPhone displayed nothing but a blank screen.

This blank screen doubled as both a viewing screen and a virtual interface. Instead of sporting physical buttons, the iPhone could display virtual buttons that could adapt to whether the user wanted to type a text message, an email, or a website address. By adapting to the user, the iPhone screen proved far more versatile than previous mobile phones.

The key to controlling an iPhone lay in its touchscreen, which could interpret touch gestures to perform different commands. Although today's iPhone is vastly different from the first iPhones of 2007, the touchscreen interface remains largely the same. To get the most out of your iPhone, you must learn not only what touch gestures are available, but when and how to use them.

In this chapter, we will cover the uses of these gestures in the following sections:

  • Using tap gestures
  • Using swipe gestures
  • Using long-press gestures
  • Using drag gestures
  • Using pinch gestures
  • Using rotation gestures
 

Using tap gestures

If you've ever pointed at something in a book or magazine, you've used a tap gesture. Tap gestures consist of pointing at – that is, tapping – something on the iPhone screen, such as an icon or a hyperlink. After tapping the screen briefly with one finger to select that item, you then lift your finger off the screen.

Think of tap gestures as similar to pointing and clicking with a mouse on a traditional PC.

Tap gestures let you tell your iPhone, "See what I'm pointing at? That's what I want." Since tap gestures select items, they represent a common yet simple touch gesture you'll use all the time.

Tap gestures are commonly used to choose commands or select items represented by the following onscreen elements:

  • Icons
  • Buttons
  • Text
  • Pictures

Tapping an icon or button to choose a command immediately causes something to happen, giving you visual feedback that you tapped on an item. For example, tapping an app icon from the Home screen loads that app, while tapping a button might dismiss a dialog or open up a different screen, as shown in Figure 1.1:

Figure 1.1 – Tapping a button loads another screen

Figure 1.1 – Tapping a button loads another screen

Besides causing an action to occur, the tap gesture can also select items displayed in a list. The Mail and Messages apps display a list of email and text messages, respectively. When you want to read a specific message, you scroll through a list of messages and tap on the one you want to view its entire contents.

When you want to move, send, or delete items such as pictures, messages, or files, you need to select one or more items by tapping on them. Tapping typically highlights the selected items in some way, such as displaying a check mark, as shown in Figure 1.2. After selecting one or more items, you can then choose a command to move, send, or delete those selected items:

Figure 1.2 – Tapping on pictures selects those items

Figure 1.2 – Tapping on pictures selects those items

Since the tap gesture acts as a pointing tool, you can also use the tap gesture to move the cursor when editing text. On a traditional computer, you can move the cursor using a mouse or the cursor keys, but on the touchscreen of an iPhone, you must move the cursor by tapping where you want to place it.

 

Using swipe gestures

Think of reading a book or magazine. When you're done reading a page, you can put your finger on the far edge of the page and swipe to the left or right to turn to the next (or previous) page. That swiping gesture works exactly the same way on the iPhone.

Swipe gestures are similar to scrolling to view more information on a traditional PC. Such gestures involve placing one fingertip on the edge of the screen, and then sliding your finger in an up, down, left, or right direction, as shown in Figure 1.3:

Figure 1.3 – The four directions for a swipe gesture

Figure 1.3 – The four directions for a swipe gesture

Swipe gestures are one of the most common gestures used on the iPhone. Whenever you want to see additional options or switch to another screen, try swiping in all four directions. If an app does not support a swipe gesture, you can't damage anything by swiping, since nothing will happen.

Using left- and right-swipe gestures to navigate screens

One common use for swipe gestures is to navigate from one screen to another, just like turning pages in a book. The left- and right-swipe gestures are often used to navigate between multiple screens within a single app.

To show there are multiple screens available, a series of dots appears at the bottom of the screen where each dot represents another screen. A white dot identifies the currently displayed screen while dimmed dots identify the number of screens available if you swipe left or right, as shown in Figure 1.4:

Figure 1.4 – Dots identify the number of hidden screens to the left and right

Figure 1.4 – Dots identify the number of hidden screens to the left and right

In Figure 1.4, there's only one dimmed dot to the right of the white dot, and three dimmed dots to the left. This means there's only one more screen to view if you swipe left, but three available screens to view if you swipe right. Dots identify both how many screens are available to view and how many are hidden to the left and right of the currently displayed screen.

The most common place that these dots can be seen is on the Home screen, but they also appear in other apps that need to display multiple views of nearly identical information, such as the Weather app (see Figure 1.4). To get familiar with the left- and right-swipe gestures, follow these steps:

  1. Turn on your iPhone.
  2. The Home screen should appear. The more apps installed on your iPhone, the more screens the Home screen needs to display them all.
  3. Look for the dots at the bottom of the screen to identify how many screens are available.
  4. Swipe left.

    Notice that, each time, the Home screen displays a different screen filled with app icons. The last screen will be the App Library screen that organizes apps into common categories, such as Social and Utilities, as shown in Figure 1.5:

    Figure 1.5 – The App Library screen appears when you keep swiping left

    Figure 1.5 – The App Library screen appears when you keep swiping left

  5. Swipe right.

    Notice that, each time, the Home screen displays the previous screen. When you swipe right on the main Home screen, the iPhone displays a Screen text field along with widgets that display information from different apps such as showing news, weather, stock quotes, or appointments you've scheduled, as shown in Figure 1.6. This screen is called the Today View and is meant to display a list of useful information you might need that day:

Figure 1.6 – The Today View lists a search text field and widgets

Figure 1.6 – The Today View lists a search text field and widgets

Later in this book, you'll learn how to customize both the Today View and the App Library.

Using left-swipe gestures to delete items in a list

Many apps display information in rows, such as the Mail app, which displays messages, or the Notes app, which displays the names of different notes in a list. Deleting items usually takes two steps:

  1. Tap the Edit button.
  2. Tap the item you want to delete.

As a shortcut, you can also swipe left on list items to display options such as deleting that chosen item:

Figure 1.7 – Swiping left displays a list of options for an item in a list

Figure 1.7 – Swiping left displays a list of options for an item in a list

Depending on the app, that list of options may include a Delete, Remove, or Trash option. Other times, you may see several additional options, as shown in Figure 1.7.

Using the down-swipe gesture to view Notifications Center

Apps will occasionally display messages called notifications. For example, the News app might display the latest story, while another app might simply display a message from the company that made the app.

While you can view notifications individually, it's often easier to view them all at once in the Notifications Center, which you can access by using a down-swipe gesture. To open the Notifications Center, follow these steps:

  1. Place one fingertip at the top of the iPhone screen, as shown in Figure 1.8:
    Figure 1.8 – Start the down swipe

    Figure 1.8 – Start the down swipe

  2. Swipe down until Notification Center appears, as shown in Figure 1.9:
    Figure 1.9 – Notification Center

    Figure 1.9 – Notification Center

  3. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to return to the Home screen.

Using up- and down-swipe gestures to view more information

Both up- and down-swipe gestures are commonly used to display more information on the screen. The most intuitive use for up- and down-swipe gestures occurs when viewing lists of items, such as text messages or pictures stored in the Photos app.

Any time you see a list of items, use the up and down gestures to scroll up and down to view more information that may not fit on the screen, as shown in Figure 1.10:

Figure 1.10 – Up and down swipes let you scroll through a list

Figure 1.10 – Up and down swipes let you scroll through a list

Any time you see information partially obscured by the top or bottom of the screen, that's a visual clue that you can swipe up or down to view more information. Even if nothing is obscured, try swiping up and down just in case there may be more information hidden out of sight.

Using up - and left/right-swipe gestures to switch apps

You can have multiple apps running at the same time, even though you can only view one app at a time. When you have two or more apps running at once, you can easily switch between apps.

For iPhones without a Home button, place one fingertip at the bottom of the screen and swipe up to the center of the screen as shown in Figure 1.11:

Figure 1.11 – Swipe up to the center of the screen

Figure 1.11 – Swipe up to the center of the screen

For iPhones with a Home button, press the Home button twice in rapid succession.

In both cases, all open apps appear as multiple windows on the screen, as shown in Figure 1.12:

Figure 1.12 – Viewing all open apps at once

Figure 1.12 – Viewing all open apps at once

By viewing all open apps, you can quickly jump to the one you want to use. If there's an open app you no longer want to use, you can swipe up to shut that particular app down completely.

Using swipe gestures to open Control Center

If you need to access iPhone features such as screen brightness or volume, turn your iPhone into a flashlight, or open common apps such as the Camera or Calculator, you can open Control Center.

To open Control Center, you need to do one of two swipe gestures, depending on whether you do it on an iPhone that has or does not have a Home button:

  • On iPhones without a Home button, swipe down starting in the upper-right corner of the iPhone screen as shown in Figure 1.13 to open Control Center, shown in Figure 1.14. Then swipe up from the bottom of the screen to hide Control Center:
Figure 1.13 – A left and down diagonal-swipe gesture

Figure 1.13 – A left and down diagonal-swipe gesture

  • On iPhones with a Home button, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to display Control Center, as shown in Figure 1.14. Then swipe down from the top of the screen to hide Control Center:
Figure 1.14 –Swiping up from the bottom edge displays the Control Center screen

Figure 1.14 –Swiping up from the bottom edge displays the Control Center screen

Just remember that the gesture you use to display Control Center is the opposite of the gesture you use to hide Control Center.

 

Using long-press gestures

Similar to the tap gesture is the long-press gesture. With the tap gesture, you touch the screen briefly and then lift your finger away. With the long-press gesture (also called tap and hold), you press the screen over an item and hold it until the iPhone responds in some way, typically by displaying one or more options you can choose from.

To make those options go away, just tap anywhere on the screen, away from the list of options that appeared.

Think of long-press gestures as similar to right-clicking with a mouse to view a submenu of options on a traditional PC.

On the Home screen, the long-press gesture can display commonly used commands for a specific app, along with general commands for editing the Home screen. When you long-press the Camera and Maps icons on the Home screen, the Camera app displays shortcuts for taking selfies or videos, while the Maps app displays shortcuts for marking locations or searching nearby, as shown in Figure 1.15:

Figure 1.15 – Long-press gestures on a Home screen icon displays shortcuts

Figure 1.15 – Long-press gestures on a Home screen icon displays shortcuts

Besides displaying options for apps on the Home screen, the long-press gesture can also display options for text and pictures sent as either a text or email message. This can be handy to display options for saving, copying, or sharing a message or image, as shown in Figure 1.16:

Figure 1.16 – Long-press gestures on a picture sent as a text message

Figure 1.16 – Long-press gestures on a picture sent as a text message

When working with text, the long-press gesture can select a single word and display additional options, as shown in Figure 1.17:

Figure 1.17 – Long-press gestures on text selects a word and displays options

Figure 1.17 – Long-press gestures on text selects a word and displays options

In the Maps app, a long-press gesture places a marker to define a specific location, as shown in Figure 1.18. This long-press gesture allows you to mark a specific location rather than just point and scroll on a map:

Figure 1.18 – A long-press gesture places a marker in the Maps app

Figure 1.18 – A long-press gesture places a marker in the Maps app

As a general rule, any time you want to get more information, try a long-press gesture on that item. If nothing happens, then you're already seeing all information available.

 

Using drag gestures

Drag gestures occur when you place a finger over an item on the screen, slide your finger across the screen, then lift your finger off the screen. Drag gestures typically move items, select text, or draw lines.

Think of drag gestures as similar to holding down the left mouse button and moving (or dragging) the mouse on a traditional PC.

On the Home screen, the drag gesture is used to move app icons around the Home screen, as shown in Figure 1.19. The drag gesture typically works with the long-press gesture as follows:

  1. Open the Home Screen and use the long-press gesture to select an item.
  2. Drag the item to a new location.
  3. Lift your finger off the screen:
    Figure 1.19 – Dragging lets you move an icon on the Home screen

    Figure 1.19 – Dragging lets you move an icon on the Home screen

  4. When working with text, the drag gesture is used to select text.
  5. First, you use the long-press gesture to select a word.
  6. Then you drag the selection handles that appear to the left and right of the selected word. Dragging these selection handles highlights additional text, as shown in Figure 1.20:
Figure 1.20 – Dragging a selection handle can select more text

Figure 1.20 – Dragging a selection handle can select more text

With icons and images, drag gestures are most often used to move items. With text, drag gestures are most often used to drag a selection handle to highlight additional text.

 

Using pinch gestures

Pinch gestures are two-finger gestures where you place two fingertips on the screen and either move them apart or closer together to zoom in and out. Pinch gestures are most commonly used with both text and pictures so you can zoom in to see details and zoom back out again, as shown in Figure 1.21:

Figure 1.21 – Pinching can expand (and shrink) text and images

Figure 1.21 – Pinching can expand (and shrink) text and images

Think of pinch gestures as similar to changing the size of an item using the scroll wheel with a mouse on a traditional PC.

Pinch gestures are often used with drag gestures as follows:

  1. Use the pinch gesture (moving two fingertips apart) to expand text or an image, as shown in Figure 1.22:
    Figure 1.22 – Using the pinch gesture to expand a view

    Figure 1.22 – Using the pinch gesture to expand a view

  2. Use the drag gesture to position the expanded text or image to display what you want to see.
  3. Repeat the pinch gesture (moving two fingertips closer together) to shrink the text or image back to its original size, as shown in Figure 1.23:
Figure 1.23 – Using the pinch gesture to shrink a view

Figure 1.23 – Using the pinch gesture to shrink a view

Remember that when you reach the maximum or minimum size of an image, the pinch gesture will no longer work. This is the iPhone's way of letting you know when you've reached a maximum or minimum size.

 

Using rotation gestures

Rotation gestures are another two-finger gesture where you place two fingertips on the screen, but then move them in a circular motion, either clockwise or counter-clockwise, as shown in Figure 1.24:

Figure 1.24 – The rotation gesture involves two fingertips moving in a circular motion

Figure 1.24 – The rotation gesture involves two fingertips moving in a circular motion

Rotation gestures are commonly used to rotate images inside apps, such as rotating an image within the Pages word processor app, as shown in Figure 1.25:

 Figure 1.25 – The rotation gesture rotates an image

Figure 1.25 – The rotation gesture rotates an image

Think of rotation gestures as similar to moving the rotation handle of an image being edited on a traditional PC.

 

Summary

Touch gestures let you take complete control of your iPhone, so it's important that you know the basics of all these gestures and the common ways to use them. While not all apps will support every type of touch gesture, most touch gestures can be used interchangeably across different apps. Here is a quick summary of the gestures we went through in this chapter:

  • Tap gestures are most often used to select an icon or image, or position the cursor within some text.
  • Swipe gestures are most often used to navigate to another screen or slide an item in a list to the left to delete that item.
  • Long-press gestures are most often used to display additional information about an icon, image, or word.
  • Drag gestures are most often used to move an icon or image, or to select text.
  • Pinch gestures are most often used to zoom the screen magnification in or out.
  • Rotation gestures are most often used with images to rearrange their orientation.

In many cases, apps won't always give you any visual clues when you might be able to use different touch gestures, so try experimenting with these touch gestures in different parts of every app.

The most common touch gestures are taps and swipes, so try these three touch gestures in every app to see what they might do (if anything).

The second most common touch gestures are long presses and pinches. The long-press gesture typically displays a menu of additional commands, while the pinch gesture expands or shrinks an item to make it larger (and easier to see) or smaller (back to its original size).

By understanding common touch gestures, you'll be able to control your iPhone no matter which app you may use, now or in the future.

Once you understand basic touch gestures, you'll be ready to learn more about common user interface features of iPhone apps in the next chapter. With your knowledge of touch gestures and user interface features, you'll be able to use most almost every type of app you might use on your iPhone.

In the next chapter, we will look at the new iOS 14 apps.

About the Author

  • Wallace Wang

    Wallace Wang has written dozens of computer books over the years, including Microsoft Office for Dummies and Beginning Programming for Dummies, along with Macintosh and the iPhone books such as macOS Programming for Absolute Beginners, Beginning iPhone Development with Swift 5, Pro iPhone Development with Swift 5, and Beginning ARKit for iPhone and iPad. When he’s not helping people discover the fascinating world of programming, he performs stand-up comedy and appears on two radio shows on KNSJ in San Diego called Notes From the Underground and Laugh-In Your Face Radio. In his free time, Wallace also writes a screenwriting blog called The 15 Minute Movie Method and a blog about the latest cat news on the Internet called Cat Daily News.

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