5 things you didn’t know your phone could do

Your smartphone holds a handful of hidden talents – read on to find out what it’s keeping under wraps

Your smartphone might be a constant companion, but did you know it’s keeping secrets from you? Read on to find out five hidden talents...

Google Handwrite (Android and iPhone)

Google has added a new way to search the web: handwrite the search term on your touchscreen – ideal for those times when typing on the on-screen keyboard isn’t practical. All you need is a touchscreen phone running Android 2.3 or higher, a tablet running Android 4.0 or higher, or an iOS 5 or better Apple device. Open up the web browser, go to Google.com, tap “Settings” and enable Handwrite. An icon should appear in the bottom right of the Google page from now on, and after hitting it you’ll be able to scribble away anywhere on the Google search page.

Got an iOS phone? Then you might want to know that you can undo typing in Mail, Safari, Notes or Messages simply by shaking the phone. To prevent accidental undoings, the action isn’t totally automatic: you’ll get an alert asking you if you really want to undo your typing. And if you mistakenly do respond in the positive, you can redo the lot by shaking the phone again. You can also shake to shuffle when using the iPod app; just enable it in the iPod settings menu of your phone.

Shake to undo (iPhone)

Samsung phones like the Galaxy S II have a novel feature for zooming in and out of web pages and photos: just hold two fingers on the screen and tilt the phone (or tablet) back and forth. Of course, with two fingers on the screen you can already pinch to zoom, but this just offers an alternative…

Taking a shot of whatever’s on your screen is easy on an iPhone (just hit the home and power buttons at the same time), but it’s always been difficult on an Android phone. Thankfully, the 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update changes all that – at least it should on most phones. On most models, pressing the volume and power buttons at the same time will take a screengrab, while on the Samsung Galaxy S3 a simple right-to-left swipe across the screen should suffice. The screen will flash to let you know the shot’s been taken – look for it in your phone’s photo gallery.

Tilt to zoom (Samsung Android)

Found an important location in Maps and want to keep it bookmarked? It’s beautifully simple on a Windows Phone: tap on the location, hit the pin icon at the bottom of the screen. That way you can post a tile onto the main screen – and tapping that tile at any point in the future will return you straight to this location in Maps.

Screengrab (Android 4.0 plus)

Pin a location to your homescreen (Windows Phone)