Elevate Your Tech Series
Ten iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max Action Button Life Hacks
The iPhone® 15 Pro and Pro Max have replaced the alert slider switch with a so-called ‘Action Button’ above the volume controls. This is a somewhat customizable switch than can do many different things, but you will need to choose one at a time. Here are what we think are the 10 best lifehacks for your Action Button.
KEEP YOU FROM FALLING DOWN
When stumbling around in the dark you may stub a toe or fall down a set of stairs before you unlock your iPhone, swipe down to access the System Services screen, and finally select the Flashlight icon—just to later do it all over again to turn it off. With the iPhone 15’s Action Button, you can turn your Flashlight on or off with a press of the Action Button. If this prevents you from injuring yourself it could be worth upgrading to an iPhone 15 just for this!
SECRETLY RECORD CONVERSATIONS
If you find yourself in a situation that is getting dicey, a single surreptitious button press to start recording the audio around you might just save your life, or at least help the police find your killer. 40 states have adopted one-party consent laws making it legal to record conversations without the other person’s consent. In the remaining states it may still be legal in some situations so if you can’t speak for yourself at least you can leave a record.
INSTANTLY SNAP CANDID PHOTOS OR VIDEOS
We are big advocates of taking photo or videos that aren’t posed. To do that, sometimes you need to get a bit sneaky. The iPhone 15 Action Button helps you do that by assigning a Shortcut to the button that opens the app and trips the shutter. And before you get all high and mighty on us, it is perfectly legal to take photos of anything and anyone that is in plain view as long as you are legally in a public place. We are also big fans of asking for permission to use those photos before posting, but hey, follow your own conscience.
BEAR WITNESS TO SOMETHING GOING DOWN
Sometimes taking a photo or video secretly isn’t the hard part, it’s sending it to someone who needs to see it before you are prevented from doing so. By coupling an action from the Shortcut app to the iPhone 15 Action Button, you can send the last image or video taken to a list of pre-defined recipients. You can even send it to yourself to have a record in the cloud in case that image gets erased from your iPhone photo library.
BLOCK OUT THE WORLD
Notification addiction is turning us all into ADHD-afflicted individuals...Squirrel! Being required to wake your phone, unlock it, and swipe down to the System Services screen just to invoke the Focus mode is counterintuitive at best, and an attention trap at worst. How much better would it be to just press the Action Button to slide into a mode of quiet concentration. A single button press may just fool you into not thinking that you were cutting yourself off from the world, albeit temporarily.
PLACE YOUR FAVORITE STARBUCKS® ORDER
Sometimes the best computerized automation is that which brings a little physical joy into your daily routine. Would you consider having a single press of the Action Button cause your favorite drink order to be waiting for you at your local Starbucks within a few minutes? That is the power of combining the iPhone 15 Action Button, Shortcut app, and Starbucks app.
NAME THAT TUNE
It’s so geeky to ask Siri to ‘name that tune’ when trying to identify what music is playing in the background. How much better would it be to secretly press the Action Button and casually tip your screen to see what song title and artist is playing? You might even win a bar bet.
OPEN THE CURRENT BOOK YOU ARE READING
One of the reasons we love the Max-sized iPhones is that they are more comfortable for reading books on screen, plus we take them with us everywhere. We like to read whenever we have a few moments to ourselves which could happen while waiting for a coffee order, or for someone to arrive for a meeting. Needing to ‘formally’ open our Books or Kindle app is just one more impediment to the spontaneity of immersing ourselves into a favorite novel. How about a one-button push to see right where we left off reading? Yes, please.
START GPS TRACKING
So many times we’ve started on an adventure—whether hiking, biking, or off-roading— forgetting to start tracking said adventure via GPS. When finally remembered, it’s too interruptive to stop and open the GPS Tracks app and start a new set of tracks. But configuring the iPhone 15 Action Button to start that going? Easy-peasy!
SEND FOR HELP
And finally, it’s not a bad idea for many to dedicate the Action Button to send for help to your rescuers of choice, especially when an incident doesn’t rise to the level of a 911 call. Sometimes you just want to tell a loved-one that you need some assistance. Using the Shortcut app to send an Action Button-triggered text to your spouse to bring you a roll of toilet paper might be one person’s emergency. But saying “I’ve fallen down and can’t get up!” could be another. There is no limit to the creative messages you can send to whomever you want to ping in your time of need.
We could have easily written 100 of these types of Action Button lifehacks. What’s more fun is for you to determine which ones work best for you. And maybe the iPhone 15 Action Button will be the trigger necessary for you to discover all of the clever and useful things that can be accomplished using Apple’s Shortcuts app. Have fun exploring.
— The Speck Team | Sept. 18, 2023
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