Using Your iPhone as a Phone and a Digital Camera or Camcorder

By Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitus

On the phone side, the iPhone synchronizes with the contacts and calendars on your Mac or PC, as well as contacts and events on iCloud, Google, Yahoo!, and Facebook. It includes a full-featured QWERTY soft, or virtual, keyboard, which makes typing text easier than ever before — for some folks. Granted, the virtual keyboard takes a bit of time to get used to. But most of you eventually will be whizzing along at a much faster pace than you thought possible on a mobile keyboard of this type.

The 12-megapixel camera (iPhone 6s and newer) is now paired with iOS 10’s improved Camera and Photos apps, so taking and managing digital photos and videos on your iPhone is a pleasure rather than the nightmare it can be on other phones. Plus, you can automatically synchronize iPhone photos and videos with the digital photo library on your Mac or PC.

The iPhone 6s Plus has better cameras than the iPhone SE or iPhone 6s, and the iPhone 7 models have the best cameras yet. Of course, both iPhone 7 models include all the features of the previous generation (iPhone 6s and 6s Plus) camera, including autofocus with focus pixels to help prevent out-of-focus pictures.

But the 6 Plus and both iPhone 7 models have one of the coolest features on any camera-in-a-phone: optical image stabilization, which uses data from the processor, gyroscope, and motion coprocessor to determine camera motion when you’re shooting. It then provides precise lens movement to compensate for your shaky hands or low light. The iPhone 7 models shoot better low-light photos than we’ve seen from any previous iPhone, and the iPhone 7 Plus, which has two lenses and true optical zoom, shoots the best pictures and videos yet.

Finally, don’t miss the Live Photos feature (all current iPhone models), which captures a bit of video before and after the still image. This brings images to life when viewed and may be the coolest iPhone camera feature since, well, since last year’s optical image stabilization.

Before iOS 10, if you chose to edit a live photo with the Photos app, you destroyed its “liveness” and turned it into a still image. With iOS 10, you can edit and adjust live photos without turning them into stills. Yea!

Another of our favorite phone accouterments is visual voicemail. (Try saying that three times fast.) This feature lets you see a list of voicemail messages and choose which ones to listen to or delete without being forced to deal with every message in your voice mailbox in sequential order. Now, that’s handy!

Finally, all iPhone models include Siri, an intelligent voice-controlled assistant that understands what you tell him or her (most of the time). You can (since iOS 7) choose the optional man’s voice for Siri. Regardless of which gender you choose, Siri can figure out what you mean and determine which (if any) iPhone app should be used to find the right answer. And, like a real personal assistant, Siri replies in a natural sounding human voice.

Furthermore, he or she has become even smarter in iOS 10 with “proactive assistance,” which provides the most relevant information and suggestions at a particular moment. One last thing: Both flavors — male and female — take dictation!

If you’ve tried voice control before, forget everything you’ve learned and give Siri a try. You’ll be impressed (as long as you have a good Internet connection when you try it — Siri can be close to useless if your connection is slow) — and are in a relatively quiet environment.