Hidden iPhone Tricks: Secret Keyboard and Panoramic Photos

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When people talk about iPhone secrets, they’re usually referring to little tricks and tips you might not have known about. But a couple new hidden iOS 5 features uncovered this week are much more hardcore, requiring some light hacking to unearth capabilities that Apple decided to bury–specifically, an alternate keyboard that includes spelling suggestions and a panorama mode for the camera.

(MORE: Siri Tricks and Tips: Do More with the iPhone 4S Virtual Assistant)

Neither hack requires jailbreaking, and I’ve tried them both on my iPhone 3GS, running iOS 5. Here’s how to get them on your iPhone:

Get Spelling Suggestions on the iPhone Keyboard

Fair warning: You’ll probably find this keyboard to be a nuisance. The spelling predictions aren’t very good, and if you don’t select from the suggestions on top, you have to type “confirm” to enter the word, then hit spacebar. But at least your friends will be impressed. (Thanks to 9 to 5 Mac for this.)

1. Download iBackupBot, but don’t run it yet.

2. Plug in your iPhone, open iTunes, click on the device, and choose “Back up to this computer.” Then click “Sync.”

3. Install and run iBackupBot, and click on the latest backup for your iPhone.

4. Locate “Library/Preferences/com.apple.keyboard.plist” (You may want to click “Path” to sort files alphabetically). Click “Cancel” in the dialog box that appears when you choose the file path.

5. Under the line that reads “</true>”, insert another line that reads “<key>KeyboardAutocorrectionLists</key>” (without quotations), then add another line beneath it that reads “<string>YES</string>.” Close the file and save your progress.

6. Click “File” from the iBackupBot menu, and choose “Restore.” Be patient, and wait for the iPhone to restart after the restore is complete.

Take Panoramic Photos from the iPhone’s Camera

Although I got the Panorama function working on my iPhone 3GS, I couldn’t take a single photo without the camera crashing. (There’s a reason Apple keeps these things hidden.) You may have better luck on a newer iPhone. (Hat tip to FunkySpaceMonkey.)

1. Follow steps one through three from above.

2. Locate “Library/Preferences/com.apple.mobileslideshow.plist.”

3. Just after line 36, which reads “</false>,” start a new line that reads “<key>EnableFirebreak</key>, then add another line underneath it that reads “<string>YES</string>,” all without quotations. Close the file and save your progress.

4. Click “File” from the iBackupBot menu, and choose “Restore.”

If you want to undo these changes, just go into iBackupBot and remove the lines of code you added, then restore the phone again. And if you want panoramic photos on your iPhone without the hassle, you can get Photosynth or 360 Panorama from the App Store.

MORE: Siri Hacked onto iPhone 4, but Don’t Get Too Excited