iOS 5 is here! Geofencing, new Voices in Voice Command/Siri, and Notification Center for all!

We all know how heartfelt iOS makes you seem (Cards), how much control it gives you for managing your network (Airport Utility), and how it will easily turn you into a stalker (Find Your Friends), but what about all the day-in and day-out things that truely make the upgrade process worth it?

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  • 6
    Isn't this a subjective question?
    – Pitto
    Oct 15, 2011 at 12:28
  • 24
    -1 this is not a question that has an answer. It's more of a promotion stunt. apple.stackexchange.com/faq#dontask
    – Philippe
    Oct 15, 2011 at 16:06
  • 18
    @Philippe the occasional fun question/promotional stunt is OK. this question is for all those little things you'd never know even to ask about in iOS 5 Oct 15, 2011 at 16:30
  • 11
    +1, useful question! And just what CW is for, in my opinion.
    – Jonik
    Oct 15, 2011 at 17:30
  • 20
    I find these "threads" extremely useful! Most of the time I pick up at least a couple of new things.
    – user10355
    Oct 15, 2011 at 21:35

57 Answers 57


More dash types

Tap and hold the dash on the keyboard now gives an en–dash (in addition to the -hyphen, em—dash and bullet •). Not very useful but it made me smile :–)

  • It actually was present in iOS 4, I used that before.
    – Max Yankov
    Oct 19, 2011 at 9:25
  • 1
    No, it wasn't. Before it was only the hyphen and em-dash. The en-dash is new. Oct 20, 2011 at 4:32
  • Truly a typography geek's feature. Makes me happy. :)
    – Hack Saw
    Oct 22, 2011 at 19:49

iForgot My Password

When signing into the App Store, the "forgot password" button is labelled "iForgot":

  • Hahahhaa. That doesn't seem like a typical Apple thing to do. Some sneaky dev must have put that in there last second.
    – styfle
    Oct 21, 2011 at 3:23

You can now delete individual items in your call history

When viewing your call history, you can hit "edit" in the upper right and delete individual items from your call history.

via @negrino

  • 3
    As with any other editable list, you can also swipe individual items as opposed to tapping edit first. Oct 20, 2011 at 0:46
  • You can also delete your Music on device in the same manner.
    – Jonathan.
    Oct 21, 2011 at 16:00

Lock Camera Exposure+Focus

To keep Camera exposure & focus LOCKED at where you want it, tap the screen & HOLD it until the box pulses.

via @Photojojo

  • I had no idea about this one, very nice.
    – ocodo
    Mar 24, 2012 at 0:18

Private Browsing Mode for MobileSafari

MobileSafari now has a private browsing mode, turn it on and off under Settings -> Safari. Additionally, it's chrome turns black when Private Browsing is on.

Useful so you can buy your wife presents without her finding out.

  • 4
    Right, presents for the wife... ;-) Just teasing!
    – FCTW
    Oct 29, 2011 at 21:08

LED Flash on Alerts

I use this in combination with vibrate to wake myself and not the other half.

Settings > General > Accessibility > LED Flash for Alerts

Works best with a transparent or semi transparent cover, ie. they glow with the phone lying flat on a table.

  • I tried this, but it's a full flash so it's very bright. Oct 17, 2011 at 21:29
  • iPhone 4 or greater only Oct 19, 2011 at 0:52

Siri can be activated at the lock screen without a passcode

You can use Siri to call, text, and email from the lock screen without a passcode.

Didn't make me smile, but caught me off guard.

Luckily, you can disable Siri at the lock screen by going to Settings-> General-> Passcode Lock turning the Siri switch to Off.

  • 2
    But aint siri an iphone 4S feature rather than ios 5 ?
    – Viraj
    Oct 16, 2011 at 8:50
  • 5
    Yes, but do we really need an additional thread called "What tiny thing in iPhone 4S makes you smile, or has caught you off guard?" :)
    – Dan J
    Oct 16, 2011 at 11:58
  • Siri is new to iOS 5. Of course, Voice Control has been like this since, like, iOS 3. And the same tip holds true for it. Oct 16, 2011 at 18:09
  • 1
    @VxJasonxV Siri is new to iPhone 4S. It's not an iOS 5 feature, otherwise it would be available e.g. for iPhone 4's. There just is no iPhone 4s with iOS 4. Oct 16, 2011 at 18:38
  • Well heard someone is trying to port Siri to iPhone 4. Can't wait to check it out.
    – Viraj
    Oct 21, 2011 at 7:44

Speak to me (not related to Siri)

One new feature I haven't seen mentioned much is that you can now add a 'Speak' option to every text selection popup, so you can read SMSes or web pages. You can turn it on in the Settings -> General -> Accessibility.

Works on all devices on all selectable text.

  • 7
    Note that this does not require a 4S and has nothing to do with Siri. Oct 17, 2011 at 23:17
  • 2
    There are a lot of good Accessibility features that no one knows about.
    – styfle
    Oct 18, 2011 at 6:27
  • Uh, I don't get it. If I can read the screen and select the words I want, then why do I need to have it read aloud? What's the use case for this? Oct 18, 2011 at 17:50
  • There are a lot of good accessibility features, which should just be normal features.
    – Jonathan.
    Oct 18, 2011 at 18:40
  • 2
    @Styfle - "a lot of good Accessibility features that no one knows about" ... ironic that accessibility to the accessibility features is so poor.
    – ocodo
    Oct 20, 2011 at 3:17

Additional "Clear Skies at Night" Icons in Weather.app

When in 12 hour forecast mode, or when it is the night time, there are new icons in the forecast area that resemble a starry sky, as opposed to a daytime sun, indicating clear weather.

  • I actually don't like this feature. The moon without clouds is more parallel to the sun. And the first time I saw the stars, I thought it was snow. Which was very confusing, since it's still 84F here.
    – Emily
    Oct 17, 2011 at 13:39
  • You know, I'll agree with you on that second part, I too thought it said snow, which isn't unreasonable for Colorado in this season :). I still like the stars though. Oct 17, 2011 at 16:51
  • Looks like snow to me.... Oct 18, 2011 at 4:37

Swiping right when reading e-mail displays message list in portrait mode on iPad

You no longer have to reach for the top left button to show that list.

If you do not wind up selecting a message, a simple swipe left in the message content pane, not in the folder/message list, will retract it.


Find My Friends

For parents of a teenager, this is a great way to track where the kids are.

The ability to remove the app or remove 'friends' can be restricted with parental restrictions. This combo alone is worth getting the kid an iPhone.

"I see you're 1 mile from Home Depot. Please get me a box of 2" drywall screws." Creepy. I know. But we got used to caller ID quick enough.

  • Note that you can use parental controls to enforce this, actively prevent them from changing options. Oct 17, 2011 at 16:44
  • I want to +1 this for the example alone, but Find My iPhone is not a new iOS 5 feature :(. Oct 17, 2011 at 16:54
  • Hmmm. I'd never heard of it prior to this. Thanks. Oct 17, 2011 at 16:59
  • This answer can be changed to the Find my Friends app instead, which is new with iOS 5 and actually better for tracking teenagers anyway. You can mention that the ability to remove the app or remove 'friends' can be restricted with parental restrictions. Oct 17, 2011 at 17:03

In-app Download Progress Indicators

Podcasts that are downloading are shown in the Music app with a circular completion icon that fills clockwise until the download completes at the 12 o'clock mark. This may also apply to albums/songs.

  • 4
    excellent taste in podcasts :) Oct 26, 2011 at 3:19
  • This does indeed apply to anything being downloaded in the music, movies, and a few other apps. Oct 26, 2011 at 7:20

Pause a Timer

I really like the pause button for timers in Clocks.app. A tiny little thing, but so much nicer than having to change the timer to the nearest minute, and restart.


Long track titles, artist names, album names scroll to display the full title

In the example below, the full title of the song is "One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley's Boyfriend".

Long track title scrolling example


Easily view a location in a calendar event

The Location field in a Calendar event links to Maps.app provided there is enough information for the data detector to recognize it as an address.


You can actually backspace on the numbers you enter in Calculator, instead of having to clear them all.

Just swipe horizontally on the numbers on the display: it will remove the last entered number.

Pretty nifty.

  • 1
    I was going to command and say "surely you mean right to left" as would be expected with any another app, but after opening Calculator.app I realized that the numbers do come out FROM the right. However, I will note that swiping in either direction (left to right OR right to left) will remove a number. Awesome! May 16, 2012 at 22:04

Double tap screen in camera video mode to change aspect ratio to widescreen. I have yet to confirm, but this may only work on the iPhone 4S.

  • Hey, that's pretty neat. Nice find! Jun 24, 2012 at 5:58

Photo Edit Rotation

In the Photos app, you can rotate by any degree, not just at specific intervals, by pressing crop and then using two fingers to rotate the image.


View third-party app art at Lock Screen exclusively

When using an app that publishes song information/cover art to the lock screen (e.g. Music.app, Spotify), you can tap anywhere on the Lock Screen except an actual lock screen element (bars, unlock slider, etc.) to hide all of the lock screen's bars and other information in order to have a clean picture of nothing but the cover art, taking the place of your lock screen wallpaper.

While playing music via Spotify, the lock screen normally:

Lock screen with Spotify playing music

After tapping the background (tapping any of the bar areas will not work):

Lock screen with interface chrome removed


  • This appears to be an iPad-only feature.
  • You cannot do this when your normal lock screen wallpaper is shown.

In iOS 5.1 you can swipe up on the camera icon in the lock screen to take a photo - most people know that. However you can also swipe down to re-lock the phone once done with the camera.

via http://www.quora.com/iOS-5/What-are-the-best-new-features-on-iOS-5-users-probably-havent-discovered-yet/answer/Ron-Levy

  • Or simply tap the sleep/power button. Mar 21, 2012 at 19:56
  • 1
    This feature was new in iOS 5.1, changed from the behaviour in 5.0. Mar 21, 2012 at 21:58

Landscape Orientation Lock on the iPhone

On the iPhone you can lock the orientation into Landscape by doing this once:

  • Going to Settings.app → General → Accessibility
  • Setting Triple Click Home (the bottom setting) to AssistiveTouch

Then when you want to set orientation lock:

  • Enable Portrait Orientation Lock from the multitasking/app-switcher bar
  • Triple press the home button
  • Press the white circle that appears
  • Press Device
  • Rotate Screen
  • Choose which orientation to lock to.
  • Press the home button 3 times again to get rid of the white circle/overview.

An annoyingly overlong but sometimes useful ability, that should have implemented by default.


Unified Single Caller Log

I'm not sure when this happened, but I only just noticed it, but when viewing the recent calls list, of you click the little arrow next to the caller name on the right, you get a detailed list of the relevant calls. This was there before, but only showed completed calls, not is shows cancelled calls where you hung up before receiving an answer or voicemail. Using for proving you tried to call, although it won't show "call failed", it will show cancelled in it's place where a call did actually fail, like for me earlier today...

  • In older versions of iOS, this would only show you "closely related" call times (within maybe a rolling half hour?). That amount of time appears to have been raised dramatically. Nov 8, 2011 at 6:49
  • If only they would timestamp each SMS too...
    – stuffe
    Nov 8, 2011 at 10:38

Bluetooth Volume Control, and Bluetooth Text Display

Simply that the volume control on my stereo bluetooth headphones now actually controls the volume of my iPod Touch - AND the currently playing track is displayed on the Bluetooth module. Looks like they've sorted that one good and proper!

  • I suspect that's related to the work for 3rd party apps being able to publish song info. But I am quite curious, what BT device do you have that has a screen and will display this information? Oct 15, 2011 at 16:34
  • My car can display the current track. In the past, it did not display with BlueTooth, but it did display when the iPhone was plugged in with USB. I guess I haven't payed attention since iOS5 to see if there was a change.
    – GEdgar
    Oct 16, 2011 at 17:18
  • Do you know if this is a iOS 5 feature or a 4S feature? My car is supposed to display Bluetooth track info, but still doesn't for my 4 with iOS 5.
    – Emily
    Oct 18, 2011 at 21:27
  • @Emily - this works on my car radio with an iPhone 4 and iOS 5 Oct 19, 2011 at 10:04

Quickly access most recent draft email

Hold the compose button to bring up the most recent draft email

(via http://obamapacman.com/2012/02/how-to-quickly-save-access-saved-mail-draft-on-iphone-ipad-ipod-touch/)


The Immortal Newsstand

Newsstand caught me off guard, but then in a bad way. It caught me off guard because I was not expecting Apple to add a feature I cannot remove or even move to another folder without "cheating".

  • 3
    It's what the last screen is for, all the unremovable stuff. ;) Oct 26, 2011 at 6:40

iMessage supports animated gifs!

But unfortunately as of iOS 5.0.1 only animated within the message bubble - it is not animated when you tap/select the image to view full screen.

  • Do this mean it animated everywhere on 5.0? Or didn't animate at all? Feb 1, 2012 at 22:19
  • And in Lion, too! :D
    – Tuesday
    Feb 8, 2012 at 22:17

Music fades in volume but continues to play when a phone call is received — this appears to be added in iOS 5.1.

  • On further use this may be a bug as it doesn't seem to always happen (reliably or consistently), or only a partially supported feature. Trying to get to the bottom of this: discussions.apple.com/thread/3836857 Mar 28, 2012 at 18:25

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