Mobile touch-based UIs—be it iOS or that other one—are complex, intricate pieces of software. These platforms allow users to literally reach out and poke, pull, and prod the digital world.
In many ways, this is the way interactions with computers always should have been. Humans are designed to interact with the world with our fingers—the technology just had to catch up first.
If you're old enough to remember purchasing PC software in a big physical box (and installing it via the steady parade of physical discs contained within), then you'll remember the encyclopedic instruction manuals that usually accompanied them. Computers aimed at consumers were new enough that these sort of instructions were probably necessary.
Not so today. In 2016, app developers don't seem the least bit interested in teaching users about all the little features and flourishes contained within. If you're lucky, perhaps you'll encounter an intro screen with a few starter animations, but for the most part, manufacturers assume you have enough tech-'sperience that you'll figure it all out with a little effort.
That being said, there's a very good chance there are some gesture-based interactions you aren't using—even on some apps you use every day. Previously, we showed off some Android gestures hidden in plain sight, now it's iOS's turn. We, of course, can't name them all—so if you have any favorite hidden little iOS gestures, leave them in the comments and maybe we'll include in a future update.
Spotify: Long-Press Previews
Long press on any recent album or playlist to prompt a pop-up featuring the last five you played along with audio samples—just slide your finger over each cover to play. This feature works with any tappable audio category, i.e. radio stations, recently played, and playlists.
Spotify: Swipe to Toggle
When listening to any radio station or playlist, you can swipe left or right on the bottom display to go back or forth between tracks. On an iPhone, you will only be able to use this feature if you have Spotify Premium. On iPad, it's available for regular (ad-supported) and premium flavors.
Gmail: Slide to Archive
In Gmail, you can slide left/right on an individual message to archive it. If you prefer to delete, navigate to the hamburger menu on the top left > Settings > [select account] > General > When removing messages, I prefer to. There, you can select Archive or Move to Trash.
If you use the stock iOS Mail app, you can also archive a message by sliding all the way to the left.
Gmail: Long-Press on a Message to Select It
If you long press on any individual message, you will prompt a series of selection bubbles to the left. You can then "check" any message you'd like (and as many messages as you'd like).
Once selected, you will be perform certain actions with any selected messages, i.e. mark these messages as read, delete them, or place them in a particular folder. Tap the message again to return to normal.
Mail: Swipe Down to Save Draft
In the Mail app, you can swipe down on a message you're working on to save it to drafts. You can do this with as many messages as you please. If you want to see all your saved drafts, tap on the bottom to "explode" the folder.
Mail: Swipe for Options on An Individual Email
In Apple's stock Mail app, if you swipe left on an individual message, you can prompt a number of options including Archive and Flag. There's also a "More" option which leads to additional options (reply, forward, move, and even to notify you if there is a reply). If you want to customize what happens when you swipe, navigate to Settings > Mail > Swipe Options.
Instagram: Pinch-to-Zoom and Pivot any Photo
Want to get a closer look at that sunset or brunch shot on Instagram? You can zoom into any photo in your stream with some pinch-and-zoom action. Drag your finger around the screen to explore more; it'll bounce back once you release.
Instagram: Slide to Access Different Functions
From the home screen, slide left to access Instagram Direct, the photo-sharing site's version of direct messages. Slide right to post a new picture or video (or start an Instagram Live sessiononce that feature rolls out to your account).
Photos: Two-Finger Zoom
In the iOS Photos app, use two fingers to zoom and pan inside of the image. You can also pinch and twist for a nifty little trick whereby you can make a photo bigger or smaller and move it all around the screen (see above), if you're into that sort of thing. (BONUS: This trick also works on videos as they're playing! ) A quick pinch on a photo, meanwhile, will return you to your menu of photos.
Google Maps: One-Finger Zoom
Want to zoom into a particular location in Google Maps? You could always pinch-to-zoom with two fingers—like a sucker. OR you could zoom about with the help of just a single digit. Sounds insane, I know, but it's true!
Simply double-tap on your desired topographical target, but instead of lifting up your finger after the second tap, keep it on the screen and then slide it up or down along the screen to zoom in or out of the map. This trick can take a few tries to master (I found I had to try tapping faster than I would for a normal double-tap). Unfortunately, this fun little thing does not appear to work with Apple Maps if that's how you roll.
Google Maps: Two-Finger Tilt
Ever want to tip the Earth over at an angle with just the tip of your fingers? Like a god!? Well, you can in Google Maps! Simply take two fingers and push up to alter your vantage point. You may find that you have to push slightly further than expected to get this gesture to "catch." You can easily return to the default birds-eye POV by pulling back down with two fingers or simply double-tapping on the screen. Once again, this fun little thing does not appear to work with Apple Maps.