Home Tech Secret treasures: Hidden apps on your smartphone and how to find them

Secret treasures: Hidden apps on your smartphone and how to find them


There’s a whole slew of features baked into smartphones most people don’t know about. Tap or click here for my favorites, from seeing where a plane overhead is going to quickly deleting your last few searches.

Some of the most valuable tricks are hiding in your phone’s accessibility menu. These features make things easier for folks with vision, hearing, and motor impairments. Tap or click for 10 handy accessibility settings anyone can use.

There are also many great apps and features that you won’t find front and center on your phone’s home screen. It makes me wonder why the smartphone engineers are keeping them a secret. Here are a few stashed apps you’ll use time and time again.

Use your phone as a magnifying glass

Let’s begin with one hidden app that is amazingly simple and very functional: Magnifier. I recently used it to read the super tiny text for my pasta machine’s model number. The next time you don’t have your readers handy or need to see something small swipe right on your iPhone’s Home Screen. In the search box at the top, type “Magnifier.” It’s simple to use. Just tap, hold, and drag the slider to adjust the magnification.

There’s also a flashlight icon near the bottom of the Magnifier app. Having an extra splash of light truly helps you see better. And good news for iPad users, you have the secret magnifier app, too.

Maybe you don’t like your job, maybe you didn’t get enough sleep.

This image provided by TEDMED, shows a medical student preparing to photograph the inside of someone's eye using a special tool that taps a smartphoneâs camera during a recent TEDMED conference in Washington. Companies are developing a variety of miniature medical tools that hook onto smartphones to provide almost a complete physical. The hope is that this mobile medicine will help doctors care for patients in new ways, and also help people better monitor their own health. (AP Photo/TEDMED) (AP2013)

One app to quickly scan QR codes

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it: Don’t download a third-party QR code scanner app. At worst, it will charge you money or even inject malicious code into your phone. At best, it’s taking up space. QR code scanning is already built-in to your phone.

On an iPhone, open the camera app to scan a QR code. It works, but here’s a pro tip. Your iPhone has a hidden Code Scanner app. You can find it by swiping right on your iPhone’s Home Screen and searching for “Code Scanner.”

Here’s why it’s important. If you scan QR codes a few times a week, add Code Scanner to your phone’s Control Center. That’s the list of icons you can quickly access by swiping down from the top of your screen.

  • Open the Settings app, then scroll down and select Control Center.
  • Tap the plus icon next to Code Scanner.

Now when you swipe down from the top of your home screen, you’ll see Code Scanner in your Control Center. Tap it to open and scan a QR code. By the way, if the Magnifier app is something helpful to you, follow the above steps to add it to your Control Center, too.