Apple iOS updates are well known for hiding secret features (sometimes more than one), but now Apple has taken this to a whole new level.
‘Great Secret Features’ and ‘Nasty Surprises’ are my regular columns investigating operating system updates for the best features / biggest problems hidden behind the headlines.
A discovery by developer and accomplished hacker Steve Troughton-Smith has revealed Apple has been hiding new functionality in iOS for several releases without saying a word. Troughton-Smith tweeted his discovery that Apple has added a configurable Ethernet section into the main page of the Settings app. Go ahead, check – I’ll wait.
What Troughton-Smith discovered was the setting is hidden until you connect a compatible Ethernet adapter (Apple sells an official one) at which point the Ethernet preferences option magically appears below the WiFi section. Remove the Ethernet adapter and it disappears. 9to5Mac made the following video to demonstrate it in action:
Moreover it turns out that this feature has been hidden away since iOS 10.2, which was released in December. So if your iPhone or iPad uses iOS 10.2, iOS 10.2.1 or one of the iOS 10.3 betas you can try it for yourself.
It’s quite a cool trick and, as far as I’m aware, this is the first time Apple has added a completely contextual settings category (third party app settings aside) in iOS history. It could also be an effective way for Apple to add more complexity into iOS over time while still keeping the famously intuitive operating system simple for those who don’t need the extra options.
As for the Ethernet settings section itself, it is very well featured. It allows users to select the Ethernet interface, view connectivity details and potentially even connect multiple Ethernet adapters. Granted, with WiFi the defacto Internet connectivity option on iOS devices, Ethernet won’t be in high demand but it will be particularly useful for businesses who value security – especially if they have a BYOD policy.
With iPhone 8 feature cancellations gaining a lot of attention recently and a flurry of leaks revealing the handset’s supposedly secret radical redesign, this iOS discovery shows Apple can still surprise us