5 hidden iOS 8 features that all Apple users should know

Learn about the hidden features in iOS 8 that you'll have a hard time living without... once you find out about them. 

Hidden features in iOS 8

With each iteration, Apple adds new features to iOS to make it even better. With iOS 8, Apple started with a great foundation in iOS 7 and added quite a few new features that integrate more deeply with the Mac. You've probably already heard about a lot of the big features introduced in iOS 8, but there are plenty other unannounced features that to uncover. Once you learn about these features, you'll wonder how you ever lived without them.

1. Find My iPhone: Send last location before battery dies

Find my iPhone is a great feature, but if your battery dies, you'll be unable to track it, and your chances of seeing your device again diminishes significantly. Fortunately, a new feature in iOS 8 can help save your day (and perhaps your device).

With iOS 8, Find my iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch can now send the last known device location to iCloud before your battery dies. This can really be helpful to track down your device.

To enable this feature, perform these steps:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Tap iCloud | Find my [device type]
  3. Turn on the option for Send Last Location (Figure A)

Figure A

Figure A

Send the last known location of your device to iCloud so that you can track it down if the battery dies.

Once you've enabled this feature, whenever the device battery becomes critically low, it will make it a priority to send the device's current location to iCloud. Of course, this will work perfectly if your device has a cellular connection but not so well if your device connects to Wi-Fi and is away from a known access point.

2. Load a desktop webpage instead of mobile in Safari

Sometimes, websites load in a stripped-down mode called "mobile site" or "mobile versions." Most of these mobile-based sites don't offer the same features as their desktop counterparts, leaving users unable to perform some tasks. Fortunately, iOS 8 makes loading the desktop site a bit easier.

Simply follow these steps to load a desktop page (Figure B) on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch:

  1. Open Safari
  2. Navigate to a website that loads a mobile site instead of a desktop version
  3. Tap in the address field, then swipe down on the screen (as if refreshing the screen)
  4. Tap the Request Desktop Site button that appears

Figure B

Figure B

Allowing users to request a desktop site in mobile Safari has long been a requested feature.

When you tap this button, Safari will refresh the webpage and will ask the site to use the desktop assets instead of the mobile version, giving you full access to the site and all of its resources.

3. Scan your credit cards in Safari when paying for purchases

Online purchases can be a pain. You've have to pull out your credit cards and manually enter in all of the required information. However, mobile purchases are on the rise, and the possibility that you'll enter the wrong digits in the first go is pretty much a given when typing on such a small keyboard.

Apple Pay will most likely change this experience, but until then, you can use Safari's credit card reading ability today in iOS 8.

To scan your credit card information and place it into the web page automatically using this Safari feature, do the following:

  1. Open a website and perform the checkout process
  2. When you get to the payment method screen of the checkout process, place the cursor inside of the card number field
  3. Tap the Scan Credit Card button that appears in the toolbar above the keyboard (Figure C)
    Figure C
    Figure C
  4. Position your card in the frame as shown (Figure D)
    Figure D
    Figure D

Once you do this, your credit card information will be scanned, processed, and entered into the appropriate fields in Safari. No need to hunt-and-peck for the keys during the payment process.

4. Find battery-hogging apps

iOS battery life is continually getting better, and you can get all- day battery life from most modern iOS devices. With iOS 8, Apple lets you now see how much battery life iOS apps are using.

To find those battery-draining apps that reside on your device, follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Navigate to General | Usage | Battery Usage

After a few minutes, the Battery Usage section will be generated, and it will display the apps that are using the most energy (Figure E). The statistics provided here are a proportion of the battery used by each listed application when the iPad is not charging.

Figure E

Figure E

When viewing battery usage, you'll now get a listing of the apps that are responsible for the energy loss since the last charge.

5. Make your photos invisible instead of deleting them

Sometimes, you may not want to display all of your photos in the Photos app (perhaps you've got private photos that you don't wish to share when giving a presentation, for instance). For those photos, iOS 8 can now hide them from view, allowing you to still keep them around.

To hide one of your photos, navigate to the photo that you'd like to have hidden, and tap and hold on it until a menu appears. Tap the Hide button in the menu that appears above the photo (Figure F).

Figure F

Figure F

Hiding photos can help when giving a presentation or when sharing a photo album with your friends via AirPlay.

When hiding a photo from your library, the photo will be hidden from the Moments, Collections, and Years sections, but it will still be visible in the Albums tab. You can unhide it by navigating to one of the Albums containing it, then tapping and holding on the photo, and selecting Unhide.

iOS 8 is scheduled to be released on September 18, 2014, and will be available as an Over the Air (OTA) update by navigating to Settings | General | Software Update on your Apple device -- or, if you prefer, you can upgrade by connecting your iOS device to iTunes on your Mac or Windows computer.

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