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Here’s how to customize your iPhone like a pro

The least you can do when you envy Android's customizability

There is a myth around in the tech world that unlike Android, iOS can’t be customized at all. But fortunately for iOS users, that is incorrect.

If you are following the new Android and iOS OS updates, you might notice a discernible pattern going on. Android is behaving more like iOS with a tight grip on APIs and background limitations. iOS is now going in an opposite direction though. It has been opening doors for third-party keyboard apps, a direct integration of third-party password managers, ability to delete default apps and much more that wasn’t really possible before (hence the myth).

Besides changing wallpapers and icons, you can change many other aspects of the Apple software too. Let’s see how you can bend iOS to your liking!

Change Default Keyboard on iOS

Most of us stick with what our devices offer out of box. In 2013, Apple allowed third-party keyboard to the App Store. iOS 8 started the trend but it was a bumpy ride back then. Reason? In 2014-15, the iOS devices like iPhone 6,6S used to come with only 1GB of RAM, as a result, the experience was quite unreliable. The device kept killing off keyboards in background. But with an increase in RAM on its latest iPhones, this problem doesn’t persist any longer.

You can choose from many popular options like Gboard, SwiftKey, Fleksy, and Grammarly. Each of them are unique to itself. Swiftkey has aced next-word suggestions, Gboard comes with Google services, Fleksy has great gesture support, and Grammarly is all about not giving Grammar Nazis a chance to pin-point.

After the initial setup, simply open the keyboard, hold on the earth icon at the bottom left corner and choose from any of the installed keyboards.

Change Siri’s Voice on iOS

We all associate Siri with the voice of a lady who sounds like one of her parents was a robot. I am yet to see anybody change that voice. What many don’t realise is that you can not only change the voice, but also the accent of Siri!

Head to Settings -> Siri & Search -> Siri Voice. You can see the list of accents including American, Australian, British, Irish, and South African. One can also select the Gender voice from the below menu.

The language will take some time to download on the device. After that, all your Siri queries will be answered in the chosen language.

Change the Default Search Engine on iOS

Do you know companies like Microsoft and Google pay Billions of dollars to Apple to stay the default search engine on iPhone? The reason? People almost never mess with the out-of-the-box options. That’s the power of defaults!

In 2017, Google outbid Microsoft to become the sole search engine provider on iPhone. Swipe down and write any query in the spotlight search box and hit enter. The Safari browser will automatically type them in Google and give relevant results.

Granted, Google is the gold standard in that area. But some may want to change that as well. Privacy-minded may opt for DuckDuckGo or Microsoft loyalists may want to search with Bing. And fortunately, you can change the option in the Settings.

Slide into Settings -> Safari -> Search Engine, and choose from Google, Yahoo (LOL), Bing, and DuckDuckGo.


Use Third-Party Password Manager to Auto-Fill Details on iOS

Apple, by default provides iCloud Keychain to store and manage the login info of a user. While logging in any website or apps, the system will authenticate you and after that it will add the user ID and password to the service.

Then again, not everyone wants to use iCloud. It’s not available on other platforms and pales in comparison to other third-party options.

Fortunately, with iOS 12, the company has added the ability to change the default password manager on the device.

Head to Settings -> Passwords and Accounts -> Autofill Passwords -> Choose the relevant option from the ‘allow filling from’ menu. I opt for Enpass Password manager, you can go ahead with your choice!

Use Widgets on iOS

Widgets has been the centre of attention on Android since ages. You can customize the hell out of it on Google’s platform. Apple also has added the ability to implement widgets.

Unlike Android, it doesn’t sit through the home screen, instead, the widgets are organized in the My feed panel. Swipe left from the home screen and you can see the list of widgets. I like this way as it gives a distraction free UI and keeps all the relevant information in one place.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to find whether an app supports widgets or not. You will have to scroll down the ‘My Feed’ menu to check if the app has a widget and make changes to the feed.

Delete Default Apps and Choose Better Options on iOS

Apple’s services often get criticism for not keeping up the pace with rivals. Unlike on Android where Google apps are frequently updated through the Play Store, the Apple ones only get an update treatment annually. Thankfully, with iOS 12, the company has implemented the ability to delete default apps. You can always choose Microsoft’s or Google’s offering for better experience.

Now I know, one can’t give the entire iOS UI a complete makeover like someone can do on an Android phone. But obviously, Apple isn’t going to allow that anytime soon. But with these tricks, you can change the core experience without messing with Apple’s ideology in design.

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