5 little-known iPhone tricks sneaky people use — don't let anyone use these on you

Sneaky iPhone tricks
Sneaky iPhone tricks (Image credit: Getty Images)

Never trust a sneaky snake with an iPhone! Apple’s beloved iOS device offers a plethora of convenient, useful features that are advantageous to one’s everyday life. (Did you know that you can use a Harry Potter spell to open your iPhone’s flashlight by saying, “Hey Siri, Lumos!”?)

However, while most use these advantageous iOS perks for good, there are a few bad apples who are undoubtedly rubbing their hands devilishly at the thought of using these tricks to facilitate their deceptive schemes. They can “Muhahaha!” all they want, but you, dear reader, will be armed with knowledge about the little-known features miscreants use to dupe their quarries.

iPhone 12 mini

(Image credit: Future)

Without further blathering, we’ll highlight some of Apple’s coolest iOS features that could be exploited for one’s own selfish desires.

Eavesdrop on someone’s conversation 

In the right hands, the iPhone trick I’m poised to reveal would be beneficial for parents with newborns. They needn’t run to WalMart for a baby monitor — they can simply leave their iPhone in the nursery and listen intently for any concerning cries with their AirPods.

Our reviewer testing the AirPods Pro's force sensors

AirPods Pro (Image credit: Future)

But let’s be real — moms and dads aren’t the only ones who’d take advantage of this audio-monitoring feature. The prying, meddlesome spies among us would love to exploit this perk to eavesdrop on unsuspecting victims. How would they do it? Check out the steps below. 

1. The nosy nitwit would head to Settings > Control Center.

2. They would tap the plus sign (+) next to Hearing.

Hearing on iOS

(Image credit: Future)

3. The spy would then swipe up to reveal the Control Center and the ear icon should appear.

Ear icon on Control Center

Ear icon on Control Center (Image credit: Future)

4. Once their AirPods are paired to the iPhone, they leave their iPhone in the room next to their quarry and listen to the target’s conversation.

Hide incriminating apps by making invisible folders

What’s a telltale sign that someone has incriminating apps on their phone? They typically place their phones screen-side down! However, with this particular trick, deceivers no longer have to do that. They can simply employ a trick that allows them to hide the offending apps in plain sight.

Hidden folder in iOS

Hidden folder in iOS (Image credit: Future)

1. The swinder starts off by searching for a solid wallpaper with hex color 1F1F1F on Google. This is the same hue as an iPhone folder.

2. The con artist then downloads it to their iPhone.

3. Next, they will set it as their wallpaper by navigating to Settings > Wallpaper > Choose a New Wallpaper > All Photos and selecting the 1F1F1F wallpaper.

4. Now, for the fun part! It’s time to camouflage the apps. The conniver opens Shortcuts and taps the plus button (+). 

Shortcuts on iOS

Shortcuts on iOS (Image credit: Future)

5. Next, the beguiler taps “Add action” and searches for “Open app.” In the Open App page, they tap “App” and scroll for the app they want to hide. 

Hinge app on iOS

In this example, Hinge will be hidden. (Image credit: Future)

6. Next, they'll tap on the blue icon on the top-right corner, tap on “Add to Home Screen,” press and hold the icon next to “New Shortcut,” and tap “Choose Photo.” They will then select the 1F1F1F photo (the same one that’s currently their wallpaper). Now, the offending app is the same color as the wallpaper and iPhone folder.

1F1F1F wallpaper in iOS

1F1F1F wallpaper in iOS (Image credit: Future)

7. They will repeat steps 4 to 6 for a second app (there must be more than one app for this to work).

8. The newly tweaked apps can be found on the home screen with the name “New Shortcut.” Now, the trickster will drag one app into the other to create a new folder, but the problem is, the folder will be named “Bookmarks” by default, so it’s not totally camouflaged. When the swindler tries to erase it, iOS won’t allow it. Have their evil plans been thwarted? Nope!

Erasing folder name in iOS

Erasing folder name in iOS (Image credit: Future)

9. The grifter will simply copy a blank area (like the space between the following brackets [ ]). Next, they’ll long press the “Bookmarks” folder, tap “Rename,” paste the blank space, and just like that, the folder is “gone”! The swindler knows it's there, but no one else does.

Schedule automated text messages for one’s “roster”

If you’ve forgotten your friend’s birthday for the umpteenth time, and don’t want to risk another embarrassing memory fail, you can “cheat” by scheduling a “Happy Birthday” text. Of course, this type of “cheating” won’t raise any eyebrows, however, some shady characters may use this automation trick for more unscrupulous activities.

Two timers may use this trick for juggling several lovers. After all, who has the time to wake up in the morning and send all of them a “Good morning, beautiful!” text? Here’s how they’d keep up the charade: 

1. The two timer will say, “Hey Siri, open Shortcuts!” Once the app is opened, they’ll tap on “Automation” followed by “Create a Personal Automation.”

2. Next, they’ll click on “Time of Day,” tap on the time to change it to 8:00 a.m., and tap “Daily” under Repeat.

Time of Day automation iOS

Time of Day automation iOS (Image credit: Future)

3. The double crosser will then tap on “Next” followed by “Add action.” They will then search for “Send Message.” Here, they will type in their sneaky “Good morning, beautiful!” text to all the lovers in their roster — and all would be none the wiser that their wake-up message is far from unique.

Use the Notes app to secretly communicate with others

While we’re on the subject of clandestine affairs, there’s a way you can use the Notes app to chat with others. For those who want to use this iPhone trick for good, they’d use it similarly to how they’d collaborate with others on Google Docs. Among those who want to use this feature for illicit purposes, they can use it to openly message their paramours.

“How does it work?”, you ask? Check out the steps below.

1. The philanderer will open the Notes app and give it an innocuous title. 

2. Next, they’d tap on the three-dot icon on the top-right corner and tap Share Note. 

Share Note on iOS

Share Note on iOS (Image credit: Future)

3. The debaucher then taps on Messages to invite their secret lover to their “note.” Once they’ve accepted the invitation, both can chat on the “note” discreetly. By using the Notes app as opposed to Messages, the adulterer throws his partner off their scent.

Intruders get their photo taken if they open a no-no app

If you’ve got a sneaking suspicion that someone’s been snooping on your phone, there’s a clever way to find out. You can program iOS to take a photo of intruders who attempt to open a forbidden app — and the picture can be emailed to you, too. The startled expression on their faces would be hilarious! 

1. Go to Shortcuts > Automation > Create Personal Automation.

Create Personal Automation on iOS

Create Personal Automation on iOS (Image credit: Future)

2. Go to "App." 

3. Tap on “Choose.”

4. Select the forbidden app from the list. Tap “Next.”

App in Automation iOS

App in Automation iOS (Image credit: Future)

4. Tap on "Add an action" and type in “Take a photo.” Tap on it.

5. Make sure “front camera” is selected.

Front camera in automation

Front camera in automation (Image credit: Future)

6. Tap Next, turn off “Ask before running,” and hit “Done.”

7. To program it to email you the photo, add another action by searching for “Send Mail.” Add your email address, and for sh*ts and giggles, put “Intruder alert!” as the subject.

The moral of the story is to keep your eyes peeled for any sketchy iPhone behavior. If someone’s iPhone wallpaper is a dark gray that matches the hue of an iOS folder, they might be hiding something sinister. If you spot someone’s iPhone in your vicinity, they may be spying on you. If you’re getting the same exact text every morning with no variation to its contents, something’s up! Lastly, if someone is spending a little too much time on the Notes app, I’d be suspicious.  

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!