My iPhone Story in WIRED! Welcome to the Dark Side!!!


Thank you to my editor, Alan, and Wired for publishing my article, “8 Useful iPhone Tips for Ex-Android Users: Welcome to the Dark Side. We have Memoji.”

SEVEN YEARS AGO, working on a video web series shot in Puerto Rico, the director told me they liked the footage I’d shot on my smartphone. The problem was I could not figure out how to get it off the phone. My devices—an Android phone and an Apple laptop—were in a fight, just like my marriage. I thought, “Can’t everyone just get along?” But no, it doesn’t work that way.

I had to use a software bridge to transfer between the phone and the computer, and every time there was an upgrade on either side, the transition became uncertain. I used Commander OneAndroid Transfer, anything I could find. Nothing worked consistently, especially with large video files. My cohost asked me, “Why are you living in two universes?” While I thought he was referring to the fact that I had recently left my husband on another continent, he actually meant: Why did I have a Nokia phone and a MacBook Air?

Shortly after that film shoot, I ditched my husband for good, but I went on to have seven LG phones, as their cameras and video quality kept improving. On any group trip, everyone would agree to let me take the pictures because my camera was just better. It seemed worth the struggle to keep the dual status because the image quality was far superior.

Early in the pandemic, a film director for the Discovery Channel told me he had switched to the iPhone12 Pro Max. Shortly after, LG announced it was leaving the phone business. I asked myself, “What could make my life easier?” and went to Costco to get a new phone. I knew that swapping would have challenges, but I told myself Costco always takes things back and walked out with a new iPhone 12 Pro Max.

My iPhone friends said, “Welcome to the Dark Side” as they anxiously waited for my chat bubbles to change from green to blue. I was a rookie, and it felt like a rocky new relationship at first, but eventually I found my bearings. Here are some of my favorite features and a few cool tricks for Android users making the switch—some of which have even made friends who are loyal iPhone users say, “How do I do that?”

Working With Photos and Video

My main goal was to have my photos appear on my laptop easily, instead of struggling to move them over from Android. Initially I needed some help with this, so I made an online appointment to speak to Apple Tech Support, and after some back and forth, my devices were able to speak to each other. Tech support helped me redirect the photo library. To work with my photos, all I do now is select a group of photos, create a new album, and Airdrop them from my phone to my desktop. The photos are also in the Photos app on my laptop and backed up immediately in iCloud. When I make movies from an adventure, like my recent excursion with bears in Ketchikan, Alaska, I can move the videos from the desktop into iMovie, and it is seamless, painless, and so much easier than it used to be.

A Built-In Magnifying Glass

Good news: An iPhone can make you feel younger. My doctor takes her reading glasses everywhere, and it makes her feel old. With one step, I taught her to turn on Magnifier.

In your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > Accessibility. Tap Magnifier, then turn it on. Now tap the button on the right side of the phone three times and the powerful magnifier will open. My doctor can ditch the reading glasses at the market or on a date because she already has her phone. She has had an iPhone for 14 years but never knew it could help her read small print. With Android, you need to download a special app, and while there are plenty to choose from, it’s nice having the feature baked into your phone.

Easy Screen Recording

Screen Record, as its name implies, allows you to record a video of your screen. To do so, swipe diagonally down from the upper right corner to get to the control center and then press the screen record button. It will give you a countdown of 3 before it starts, so make sure you are open to what you want to record BEFORE you press the button.

When I wrote a Thrive Global article about brand expert Aliza Licht, she made a video of the article and tweeted it.

When I asked her how to do it, she said, “You need an iPhone!”

Take a Screenshot

On Android, the screenshot function used a combination of pressing buttons on the sides. Whatever the combo is meant to be on the iPhone, I just could not make it work (Ed. Note: It’s supposed to be the Sleep/Wake button and Volume up, but it depends on the model of iPhone you have!) Then I figured out I could use the back tap, which is easier than the actual button combo. To set it up, go to Settings > Accessibility > Touch, and tap Back Tap.

I use double-tap for screenshots. You can pick the action you want from the many choices, and there is an option for both double- and triple-tap. Sometimes I accidentally get a photo because the phone thinks I tapped it when I set it down or it hits something, but those mistakes are easy to delete, and I really like to take screenshots, so it works for me.

Set a Custom Ringtone

One friend called me and said, “Now that you have an iPhone, can you teach me how to add a custom ringtone?” She’d had an iPhone for more than a decade and never figured it out. For your general phone ringtone, go to Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Ringtone > and select a ringtone or download one you have purchased from the Tone Store.

If you want to have a special ring for a contact, open the Contacts app > select a contact, tap Edit, tap Ringtone, then choose a ringtone for that person. I set my dad’s phone to ring like the opening music from his all-time favorite TV show, 24. You can have a different ring for your boss, spouse, child, or best friend.

Share Your Location With Trusted Friends

When I was meeting a friend in a crowded park for a walk, I dropped a pin in Maps to indicate where I was waiting. She then followed the pin and was able to park her car next to me. You can follow these steps like your own Yellow Brick Road: Open the Apple Maps app, click on the Blue dot (which is where you are), and then click on the blue Share my location button to send the pin to anyone by iMessage or Airdrop. You can do the same in Google Maps, but it requires a few extra hoops to share your location.

For Fun: Memoji and Invisible Ink

Have you always wanted to be a cartoon character? Press the A button on the left of the text message box and then click on the Brown button with the yellow parentheses to create your Memoji, an avatar that looks, sounds, and moves like you. You can even animate your face. Personally, I made my skin blue so I look like an actual character from the movie Avatar. It makes me laugh every time I see it!

You can also send messages in iMessage with invisible ink, which looks like shifting sand. Your recipient then has to rub their finger over the message for the ink to appear, but it’s even better if you are sending a photo and do not want anyone looking over someone’s shoulder to see it. There are also sound effects, such as “slam,” “loud,” and “gentle,” and screen effects like balloons, confetti, spotlight, laser, and fireworks. These are accessed by holding down the blue arrow at the end of a text message prior to sending.

Lisa Niver's Memoji
Lisa Niver’s custom-made blue memoji, on her brand new iPhone. COURTESY LISA NIVER

After a few months, I finally feel like I have nearly earned my Apple Girl Scout badge or travel visa for the land of iPhone. It was a bumpy beginning, but I am confident that I will learn more tips and tricks with time. For me, it is better to be all in one universe.

CONTRIBUTOR: Lisa Niver is always exploring new technology, books and places to travel. She is writing a memoir about reinvention after 50.

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

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