The Super-Practical Guide to iOS 7 Settings


Best settings for iOS 7 in 10 easy steps

You’ve done it! You mustered up enough courage to hit the Software Update button and your iPhone looks like a bowl of rainbow soup. BUT NOW WHAT!?


Apple released its latest mobile operating system, iOS 7, on 18th September 2013, and about half a billion people are likely to eventually be using it on a host of different devices, including the new iPhone 5C & 5S. Regardless of your views on flat design, the operating system is no doubt a leap forward in functionality. And with this added-functionality comes features that you may not fully comprehend, or that are hatching evil plots behind your back, this article aims to fix that!

This is not a lame list of new features, there are enough of those floating around the Internet. This is a guide to set up your iPhone for maximum awesomeness. Or should I say, iOSomeness.

Ready to kick some gradient ass?

1. Delete everything!

I’m kidding. Delete the stuff you don’t use, and be honest. There’s no honour in keeping several gigs of Infinity Blade around when all you play is Jetpack Joyride. Your phone will be faster and more reliable without it. Just long press any app icon for about a second to bring up the delete button.

Go to Settings > General > Usage to know which apps are your biggest resource-hoggers, and pass swift merciless judgment on them. You obviously didn’t need the latest operating system to do this, but it definitely feels good to clear out the clutter. We all want a fresh start, a new beginning.

If you’re daring enough to do a clean swipe, just head to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.

2. Pick A Respectable Wallpaper

iOS 7 comes with a completely new set of wallpapers (Settings > Wallpapers & Brightness). Use a home screen wallpaper that is simple and neutral, it will help with visual clarity, especially since iOS 7 uses that anorexic typeface that makes you suddenly scream words like ‘chic!’ at unsuspecting strangers.

Some of the new wallpapers are dynamic, which means as you tilt your phone, elements shift in that direction. Once you’re bored of fiddling with that though, do your processing speed and battery life a favor and use a regular static wallpaper. Also, it helps to leave Auto-Brightness ON.

3. Turn Off Parallax & Turn On Contrast

“My wallpaper still won’t stop moving, dammit!” That’s probably the iPhone 5/C/S home-screen parallax effect that Apple believes will make you a calmer person.

Granted, it does look pretty damn zen, but if you don’t mind sacrificing a little look for significant performance boost and improved battery life, then head over to Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion > ON.

Just near that setting, you’ll find Increase Contrast > ON, which will reduce transparency, and therefore increase speed. Especially recommended if you’re running a iPhone 4 / 4S.


4. Hidden Accessibility Tricks

A little looking around in that same Accessibility menu will lead you directly to the conclusion that this is where Apple hides all the good stuff! Probably so undeserving mortals won’t reach it. Settings > General > Accessibility, congratulations, you’re now invincible.

Some of our favorites from this menu are:

  • Speak Selection. This function reads out any highlighted text, useful for when you’re too lazy to read it yourself.
  • Accessibility Shortcut. Located at the bottom of the Accessibility menu. Setting this to Invert Colours lets you triple click your home button to instantly invert screen colours, which is a glorious trick for when you’re texting in the dark, but your emoji will instantly be invaded by Casper the friendly ghost.
  • Larger Type. Who needs a bigger phone, when you can have bigger type?
  • Bold Text. That skinny text can get hard to read sometimes. If you like your fonts with a large coke and extra fries, this is the way to go.
  • LED Flash Alerts. If the idea of your camera flash going berserk every time you get a call gets your blood pumping, then turn this on, and see a doctor.
  • Assistive Touch. This is especially useful if your home button (you know, that ONE button near your screen) is giving trouble. It just adds a simple touch interface for performing common tasks.

It’s definitely worth taking a look around at the other menu options, you may find some things you find useful, like Zoom and Switch Control (control your phone with head movement etc etc wait, WHAT!?)


5. Turn off Bluetooth, Hotspots

Bluetooth is useful if you’re using a wireless headset, stays off permanently for me. Personal Hotspot broadcasts your cellular data as wifi, definitely keep it off when you’re not using it. You’ve caught on, right Sherlock? The less your phone is doing in the background, the less battery gets used. Switching Airplane Mode ON in critical battery situations will quickly disable all connections and keep your phone alive longer through those final few essential minutes.

6. Adjust Location Services

Location Services really suck… your battery power.

You can find this menu at Settings > Privacy > Location Services. It’s safe to turn most of them OFF, but you’ll need to use your discretion about which ones you leave on incase their functionality depends on it, like Google Maps>ON, Camera>OFF (or know that if you turn it on, your public photos can be used to trace your location at any time by any one, no biggie), Find My iPhone>ON, unless you have an old iPhone that you particularly WANT stolen.

Below all those apps you’ll find a System Services submenu, go in there and turn OFF the following:

  • Diagnostic & Usage
  • Compass Calibration (you can calibrate manually if you really need to)
  • Location-based iAds
  • Popular Near Me (used for App Store recommendations)
  • Setting Time Zone (leave it on only if you’re traveling a lot, you lucky swine)
  • Traffic (gives you predictive traffic info to your Frequent Locations)
  • Wi-Fi Networking (doesn’t affect your wi-fi signal at all, chill out and turn it off)
  • Frequent Locations

Then head to Settings > Privacy > Advertisements (right at the bottom) > Limit Ad Tracking > ON. This will prevent usage data from being constantly sent for advertising research. You could even go ahead and click Reset Advertising Identifier, which clears out all the existing advertising data they have about you, depending on how kicked you are about being a statistic in Apple’s marketing division.

Now what’s most important, is that once you’ve taken all this care meticulously setting your Location Services up, you certainly don’t want them to be changed about courtesy your friendly neighbourhood pickpocket. Because in the godawful scenario of your phone being stolen, you must make sure Find My iPhone stays ON. Go to Settings > General > Restrictions (may require passcode) > Location Services > Don’t Allow Changes. Your favourite rounded rectangle is now just that little bit more secure.


7. Tweak Spotlight

Swiping down anywhere in any home screen of iOS 7 will reveal Spotlight Search, which can be used not only to find apps on your device, but also contacts, messages, reminders, and a whole bunch more. Navigate to Settings > General > Spotlight, and figure out what you really want it to search for. Disable all the rest. The less content your phone is searching through, the faster it will give you results.

Also, suppose you’re Gaurav Vaz and you have a gazillion contacts, you may want to reorder those categories & move Apps to the top using the grip lines on the right of the screen. So god forbid, Prakash and Paul and Pamela don’t show up before Plants vs Zombies. Priorities man, priorities.


8. Notification Centre & Background App Refresh

Notification Center now has the power to show you as little or as much about your day as you want. Go to Settings > Notification Center and turn OFF Calendar Day View, Stocks, and notifications for any other programs you don’t need, if you want to save some visual space every time you open NC.

Background App Refresh is a new multi-tasking feature in iOS 7 which lets apps update content even when you aren’t actively using them. You’ll find it at Settings > General > Background App Refresh, turn it OFF for Stocks and Weather and anything else you don’t particularly need doing secret work in the background.

The other useful task that can happen in the background thanks to iOS 7 is automatic app updates! Just go to Settings > iTunes & App Store > Updates > ON, and switch Cellular Data > OFF so you don’t suddenly end up with a shocking bill.


9. Security, Passcodes & Lockscreens

Everyone loves tight security. In Settings > General > Passcode (or Passcode & Fingerprint if you’re on a 5S), you’ll find options to set various types of passcodes for your phone, and adjust the duration it remains unsecured.

For your device to be truly secure though, you may want to look at the list marked Allow Access When Locked. Keep in mind Siri is now capable of changing phone settings, dialing, and replying to texts straight from your lock screen. If any of those options make you nervous, turn them OFF.

This might be a good time to think about the other features that are accessible from your lock screen before unlocking your phone, namely Notification Center (which may display your calendar, events, unread mails/messages etc) and Control Center (which most interestingly, allows the easy activation of Airplane Mode, effectively nullifying Find My iPhone yet again in that godawful pickpocketing scenario we talked about). Either way, you have the option of deactivating them both on your lockscreen by going to Settings > Notification Center, and Settings > Control Center, respectively.


10. Jedi Icon Sorting

This is the design philosophy of app organization. This is the feng shui of icon sorting. After all you’ve been through in the 9 steps leading up to this, you may not care how perfectly placed your app icons are, but your disorganization will inevitably cost you dozens of precious milliseconds every single time you can’t find an app. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  • iOS 7 has lifted the limit on the number of apps that can be contained in a folder; drag one icon over another to create a folder, then proceed to shove in as many related apps as your OCD allows. You can make as many folders on whichever pages you want, keep it clean.
  • Place apps that are related, closer together. For example: Camera, Photos, Instagram & Snapseed (or put some of them in a folder). This will help your brain recognize all available tools for the task at hand.
  • Your eyes tend to locate the corner apps far easier than the ones in between. Your eyes also have an affinity to the very last app on each page. Isn’t it far easier to locate the first or last word in a sentence, than anything else in between?
  • Folders should be placed next to one another because they look alike. Your mind tends to group visual elements that look similar. If you scatter folders across the screen, you won’t find them as easily as if they’re all huddled together.
  • Thanks to your mind grouping elements that look alike, you should also keep app icons that are a similar colour or use a similar visual language, closer to each other. Facebook & Twitter (dominant blue) | Notes, Reminders & Voice Memos (white with thin lines) | If these icons that look similar are far apart on your screen, then your mind gets confused between them. If similar icons are close together, then your mind is quicker in noticing the small uniquenesses that help you differentiate between them.

OR, you could just screw all this and launch any app instantly by using Spotlight Search like the bauss you are, because by reading all the way up until now, your iPhone already looks, feels, and performs far better than ever before! Respect.

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