If you’re like me, you may have only found your iPhone Control Center by accident. But as I’ve recently discovered, it’s amazingly handy and chock full of shortcuts that busy parents can use way beyond the basic functions. So I’ve put together8 awesome ways you can use your iPhone Control Center to make life easier, starting with a quick tour of all the functions and where to find them.
To find your iPhone control center, just place your finger towards the bottom of any screen (except your text screen) and swipe up.If you’re not seeing it, then go into Settings, open Control Center, and make sure you turn on “Access on Lock Screen” and “Access Within Apps.” Then you’ll see a whole ton of icons and controls appear over your screen as seen here, some of which have all sorts of awesome uses you may not have considered.
1. Use airplane mode to save your battery life
If you’re noticing that your battery is draining pretty quickly, popping your phone into airplane mode will help you conserve it. For example, if you just can’t stop playing Threes on your morning commute, or listening to music you have stored in your library.
2. Use airplane mode to edit Instagram photos without sharing them yet
I also love toggling on airplane mode to save Instagram photos that I’ve edited without sharing them. Just take your photo, tweak it, then share it…which won’t happen since you’ve got no connection. It will, however, save it to your camera roll. Smart, right? It’s also a great way to edit a bunch that you know you’ll want to share at another time as a #latergram.
3. Get one click access to your camera
Of course you can always access your camera from your locked screen by swiping up, but it’s also in your control center, which makes it super easy to access when you’re trying to grab that adorable shot of your baby in a moment that will be gone in an instant. You’ll avoid fumbling around to get to your camera, and better, you can do it with just one hand, which as we parents know is a big deal.
4. Toggle Wi-Fi on and off for a better signal
Sometimes I find my phone is showing no wireless bars, while a friend with the same service is doing just fine. Instead of turning the whole phone off and on again (advice you should take with any device), you can just pop into the Control Center, and tap the Wi-Fi off and on. Most of the time, it resets and you’re good to go.
5. Eliminate distractions with Do Not Disturb
I never realized how awesome Do Not Disturb was until I accidentally set my phone to it–and realized I wasn’t getting calls. (D’oh.) When your screen is locked, Do Not Disturb stops calls, texts, and app push notifications from getting through, which is pretty handy if you don’t want interruptions like during work hours, a meeting, or hey, date night perhaps?
What’s awesome is that you can actually customize Do Not Disturb, though you’ll need to get out of the Control Center and go into your actual iPhone settings to do this. You’ll be amazed at what you can do: Schedule it to recur at a certain time of day (baby’s naptime?) or make exceptions for certain phone numbers that you want to get through no matter what. You can even set calls to come through by frequency, which allows repeat calls from numbers bypass the setting. This is great if you want to use it at night while you sleep and but want to make sure any call from your teen gets through–but not all your Twitter reply notifications. And don’t worry, it doesn’t affect your alarms.
6. Focus on FaceTime, stabilize videos, and more with the Screen-Orientation Lock
If you have younger kids who tend to have trouble holding the phone still during FaceTime calls, use the lock to keep the screen locked either in portrait or landscape mode, even if they’re whipping the phone around like a baton. It’s also perfect for handing a device over to kids for video watching.
For us grownups, I use the lock for travel all the time, because it drives me crazy when my e-ticket keeps turning from side to side.
7. Use the flashlight. For uh, everything.
I use the flashlight for so many things it’s hard to list them all. Think: Helping the grandparents (or yourself!) read a menu in a dark restaurant, finding things my kids have dropped in the car, checking on the kids while they sleep without tripping over the toys on the ground, finding a lost contact lens. It’s also perfect for Halloween when you’re already wrangling sugar-happy kids and you don’t have extra hands for an actual flashlight. Especially if you’ve got a handy wearable phone case like the Bandolier.
And psst…while you’re in that restaurant, tap the calculator icon to figure out the tip.
8. Manage game time with the timer
Beyond the myriad uses for your phone’s timer (my kitchen timer is gathering cobwebs) I use it to manage screen time with my iPhone. With no effort at all, just tap the timer in your Control Center and set it so that there’s an automatic limit set while your kids get to play their favorite apps. No arguments about when you need your phone back or when their time is over–the timer goes off to let them know.