So You Got an iPhone/iPod/iPad: Now What? (iPhone Alley’s Getting Started Guide)

Has Santa been gracious enough to leave a gift made by elves of a different breed? Perhaps, a gift featuring a name beginning with the famous “i” we have come to know and love. Welcome to the world of iOS, those lucky enough to find an iPhone 4S/5, iPod touch, or iPad under the tree. Well, you have a shiny new iDevice… now what? We will guide you in the right direction to hit the ground running in the iOS world.


Let’s get started, new users. I am going try to make this as simple yet as informative as possible: your iPhone/iPad/iPod comes pre-loaded with an array of system apps that cannot be deleted. Most crucial to you would most likely be the “App Store,” “Phone,” (only available on iPhone) “Messages,” “Photos,” “Camera,” “Mail,” and “Safari” apps.

Phone is where you’ll find your contacts and the ability to actually, heh, make a phone call. Press the “+” button atop the “Contacts” menu to add a new contact. Only on iPhone.

Messages allows you to send text messages and iMessages. When messages are green, they are being sent as text messages through your cellular carrier (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) if you are using an iPhone. If they are blue, then they are being sent directly through Apple’s servers as an iMessage (the only way to send messages on an iPod or iPad through this app). iMessages can only be sent to iPads, iPod touch’s, Macs, and other iPhones; there is no few charged to use iMessages and they do not count towards your texting limit.

Photos lets you browse photos you have taken with your iPhone as well as photos that you have saved from apps and web-sites. Press the “+” to creates a folder to organize images into a group.

The Camera app gives you the ability to add new photos. It presents you with a number of options:

- Tap anywhere to focus on an object or area manually, otherwise it will automatically do so.
-Top left button lets you enable/disable flash, top right changes the camera between the front-facing and back camera.
-Tapping “Options” will let you take an HDR photo (a photo that combines a dark and light shot of your subject into one with unique lighting) or turn on a grid that is customary in photography for lining objects up.
- Bottom right switch changes between picture and video mode.

Mail supports a wide variety of email services automatically, with easy support to add your own. Upon initial setup of the app, you will be asked to add your primary account. Heading into “Settings” on the home screen will let you add additional accounts similarly, which will be accordingly organized. The button in the bottom right allows for email composure. Tapping “from” on the “New Message” screen allows you to choose an account to send from if you have multiple email accounts linked to your iPhone.

Safari is a collection of zoo-themed games… only kidding! Sorry for adding a little confusing humor – Safari is an Internet browser, akin to a good version of Internet Explorer. The address bar is on the top left with a web search (default is Google) bar next to it on the right. On the bottom right, a new “tab” can be opened – another instance of a web page, while keeping the other page opened. The middle “arrow-square” is for sharing a web page via social networks (Facebook, etc.), email, or for printing wirelessly if your printer is setup, bookmarking (saves the page’s address in the menu that the button that looks like a book leads to), or adding to a “Reading List” to save for later. If there is a web-site you visit frequently, you can choose to add a link to it to your home screen from here as well, although I would not recommend this as it can clutter your home screen quickly and it is generally quicker to get to sites directly from Safari.

Calendar – Organizes dates, allows you to add events.

Notes – Basic text-editor at its core.

Maps – Use the built-in GPS chip to find your location with the arrow button. Type in any address or place of interest for a map view of it. Pull up the “page” on the bottom right to switch to a satellite or hybrid view. In supported areas (check out major cities such as New York or Los Angeles for a demo), drag two fingers for a fully-rotatable 3D view.

Newsstand – When you download newspaper or magazine apps from the App Store, they will organize themselves here and alert you when new issues are available.

iTunes – Preview and download new music, movies, and TV shows directly to your device.

Reminders – Setup a date, time, and event to receive an alert about. Easier to ask Siri to remind you by pressing down the home button. Example: “Remind me to shave every two weeks at 5pm.” “Remind me to pick up bread when leaving work.” (Yes, Siri is location-aware!)

Game Center – Manage friends, earn achievements, be matched with other players, and more with Apple’s version of “Xbox Live.”

Stocks – Add and view stock charts along with news.

Utilities – This is a folder filled with basic useful apps, including a calculator that can be rotated on its side to become scientific.

Settings – Change appearance and a plethora of customizable options.

Passbook – This is a location and time aware organization of gift cards, movie/plane/event tickets, and more normally tangible digital items. Cards are added as Passbook-compatible apps are installed. For example, a gift card may alert you that you are near/in a store so that you don’t fumble and forget that you have it or a plane ticket may automatically alert you of delays.

App Store – The bread and butter of iOS, your outlet to over a hundred thousand apps. What exactly are apps? Utilities, programs, entertainment – one single definition cannot encompass them. It is best to just browse and start with “free” apps based on your own uses to get a grasp of what’s available. These make practically anything possible. Apps with a “+” next to them are designed for both iPhone and iPad, so they will work fully-optimized on either.

Tapping “Install” on the page for an application will begin a download, which will then result in a tile on one of the home screens that will allow you to launch the app. Pressing the home button on the bottom of the device at any time will bring you back to the home screen. Double-tapping the home button gives you the ability to quickly jump in and out of applications through a slider of apps.

Don’t forget to download iBooks (by Apple) from the App Store to begin downloading books on your device!

For typing: trust the touchscreen. Fix mistakes that you see later on and type quickly rather than worrying about those nuances. Autocorrect picks up on what you type wrong and will work quite well once it learns mistakes you’re bound to make.

Too much to take in? Don’t worry: iOS will come as a natural lifestyle quickly.

If you’re looking to get started with quality games while they’re on sale for the holidays, check out our recommendations as well as the fantastic new releases this week.

Undoubtedly, the most essential necessity for new and old owners to do now is to wait for iPhone Alley’s radically new relaunch to hit in about two weeks; that is when we will become your end-all source for iOS and apps – the full spectrum of iPhone, iPad, and iPod. Check back on our site and follow us on Twitter to keep up with the fast-paced world of iOS.

Also look for a case and accessory guide (along with relatively huge giveaways…) to complement your gifts!

We will answer any questions about your shiny new devices in the comments or that we receive on Twitter in a separate article later this week, so please feel welcome to ask!