When was the last time you looked at an application’s manual? When was the last time a Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Watch came with a detailed product manual? I’m not sure if it’s an oversight, or basic hubris-laced arrogance, or maybe Apple thinks more of humanity than other tech giants, but there must be a reason our new devices don’t come with a manual.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve owned everything Apple for about 20 years, and over time that experience becomes a manual by itself, so I know what to do, what not to do, what to avoid and when, and have a good idea of where to go whenever I buy something new from Apple. What about everyone else newer to planet earth?
Tips And Tricks 101
For what it’s worth, Apple seems to rely more upon third party explanations for how to do this, or what this trick does; it’s almost like having a public party Tips and Tricks 101 class conducted across 100 Apple-centric blogs. Every week or so we’ll read about new macOS tips and tricks, or a Top 10 List of iOS Tricks, or even secret tricks that open up hidden features.
What’s with that, Apple? Why not just publish a book, put it up online as a PDF or some webpages, update it now and again, and perhaps even direct customers toward all that experience and insight.
I ask because I care, Apple. This week a young fresh faced intern to our office, one with good grades, a humble, learning attitude, and an iPhone tucked into a tight back jeans pocket, asked about a PDF. Specifically, ‘What’s a PDF?’ Oh, the humanity! How can you get through America’s education system and not know what a PDF is? Wait. On second thought, don’t answer that question. But you get my point, right?
Early this week I read another of those hidden tricks articles, this one by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, who only does them so others will know his experience and therefore superiority on such things as why Apple’s products are not as good as you think.
There’s a hidden shortcut menu bar built into every iOS device that allows you quick and easy access to features that you might need access to the most often.
Is it really hidden? Why is it hidden? Why is it there if Apple obviously didn’t want anyone to use it? And once you’ve published the location, it cannot be called hidden anymore, amirite?
Crouching Secrets, Hidden Features
To be fair, everything iOS and macOS Sierra and previous generations of both have plenty of so-called hidden features, secret features, which combine to make up Top 10 Functions Apple Doesn’t Want You To Use articles. In this case, it’s all about the little thing called AssistiveTouch, which is an annoying little floating window that moves about the iPhone’s screen and which combines some functions into a single function to save you some Home button use, which Siri does, too. In other words, something else to learn that does what you probably already know how to do, but if you didn’t, and I wonder why we pay interns who don’t know about PDFs, now you’ll know another way and probably teach others and they will go through adulthood with even more iOS-induced confusion.
I’ll be honest and say that using AssistiveTouch does take some getting used to. Initially, my brain — and fingers — kept going back to the Home button or the old ways of doing things, but if you stick with it for a few days, you will reap the rewards of having easy on-screen access to useful features.
Yes, useful features you’ve already been using, but now have another way to use, and it starts from an annoying screen on your screen. Worse, AssistiveTouch comes with three different ways to be activated. The best is Siri. “Hey, Siri. Turn on AssistiveTouch.” We’re pals, Siri and me. Try it. If you like it, good for you. But it’s not hidden. And it’s not a secret. It sure would be nice if Apple would publish a not-so-secret website with all those hidden and secret functions so we could all know them, love them, use them, and not feel as if corporate America is conspiring against us to hide what we paid to use.