Every iPhone has a series of hidden Apple apps installed by default, most of which work behind the scenes to perform actions such as filtering SMS messages, trusting computers, and dealing with payments. However, there are a few secret apps you can access right here and now, but they take a little work to unlock.
Siri is technically an app; so is Setup (which sets up the iPhone after a restore), Screen Time (which lets you manage your iPhone usage), and Spotlight (aka Search, the search tool on your Home screen). But you should already know how to use those. The really hidden apps are ones you might not ever find if you didn’t know where to look, and those include but aren’t limited to the following.
The Camera app on your iPhone can scan QR codes with no problem, and it’s easy to open web links in Safari, add someone to Contacts, connect to a Wi-Fi network, and whatever else a Quick Response code can do. It also works excellent with App Clip codes, which opens their corresponding App Clip.
However, there’s another tool for scanning QR codes called “Code Scanner,” and it automatically opens URLs using an in-app browser so that you can close the webpage and get right back to scanning. Sometimes embedded URLs will jump you to Safari or a third-party app, depending on the QR code’s design, but most web links will open within Code Scanner.
Code Scanner’s UI is much more thought out than its integration in the Camera app. For instance, when you scan an App Clip code in Camera, you get a tiny link you can tap on to open the App Clip. Code Scanner shows a neat animation when it scans the App Clip code, then opens the App Clip right up.
The Code Scanner can be added as a control to your Control Center, and you can also find it via Search from your Home screen. You can even ask Siri to “open Code Scanner.” However, you can’t add it to your Home screen, it has no preferences in Settings, and it’s missing in App Library.
Your iPhone comes equipped with AirPrint technology, and the app that does all the work is called “Print Center.” Unlike the two apps above, there is no way to open Print Center directly, but you can open it from the App Switcher if a printing job is queued up or in the middle of printing.
To find Print Center, you would select “Print” from the share sheet on a document, image, or another printable file, choose your print settings, and hit “Print.”
Whenever the printer starts, you can open up your App Switcher, and you’ll see Print Center; tap it to open it. You’ll see a list of all your queued print jobs in the app, and you can tap each one to see more details about it or cancel printing. When all print jobs finish, the order page will simply say “No Documents Waiting.”
When you type in the URL scheme diags:// or diagnostics:// into Safari and hit go, you’ll open up the “Diagnostics” app, which Apple uses to read diagnostics data to help troubleshoot any issues you may be having with your iPhone. However, without a ticket number from Apple to place after the URL scheme, it won’t do you much good.
There’s also another way to open Diagnostics. First, power down your iPhone, then connect it to a power source. Right after, hold both Volume buttons down until you see the Apple logo appear on the screen. Shortly after that, Diagnostics will open where you can “Start Diagnostics.” It’s similar to the Diagnostics tool available on Macs, only it won’t run any tests without Apple first requesting it.
You can tap the info (i) button to view your iPhone’s serial number, MEID, and IMEI, but that’s all information readily available in Settings –> General –> About.
There are many secret dialer codes that you can play with on your iPhone, but only one opens a hidden app called “Field Test.” The main reason to use this secret app is to check out your iPhone’s cellular reception strength in numerical dBm (decibel-milliwatts) digits rather than signal bars in the status bar. To open the Field Test app, type *3001#12345#* into your Phone app, then hit the call button.
If you install a public beta or developer beta of iOS on your iPhone, you’ll unlock a hidden app called “Feedback Assistant.” Beta participants use the tool to submit detailed reports of any issues they experience with the software, which helps Apple get it ready for prime time. But you don’t actually have to install a beta to access the feedback tool.
With the applefeedback:// URL scheme, used from a Safari or another web browser or through a shortcut, you can open Feedback Assistant. Then, you’d sign in using your Apple ID and submit feedback that Apple can use to improve iOS and iPadOS. The URL scheme seems to be the only way to access the app without running an iOS beta, so you cannot access Feedback Assistant from the Home screen, App Library, Search, or Siri.
“Magnifier,” an accessibility tool on your iPhone, can be used to zoom in on everyday items like signs on doors or fine print on documents to help you see things more clearly (or at all). It’s been around since iOS 10, but iOS 14 really upped its presence, iOS 14.2 added people-detecting abilities, and iOS 15 made it easier to find.
Before iOS 14, you could only open Magnifier using the Accessibility Shortcut (a triple-click on your Home or Side button) or its Control Center toggle. You can still use those two methods to open Magnifier, but now you can also open it from its Home screen app icon, by tapping on the back of your iPhone (when set up with Back Tap), via Siri, and from a custom-built shortcut, to name a few. And on iOS 15, it’s unlocked by default in the App Library, Search, and Siri, so it’s only hidden if you never come across it.
Aside from adding new ways to find Magnifier, iOS 14 also gave the tool a new interface, hideable controls, a customizable toolbar, improved filters management, and multi-image shooting. If you haven’t tried Magnifier out yet, it’s definitely something to dive into as soon as you can so that you know how it works when you end up needing it on the go.
Believe it or not, there are more hidden apps than these. When I find more, I’ll be sure to add them to this list. If you know of any, share below to get them added here!
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