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This little-known iPhone hack can help you master the art of DIY

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Master that measure, level that spirit

image credits: techmarmot

One of the best things about the modern world is that you can keep a device in your pocket for months, if not years, and still be astonished by the cool things it can do. This week, the iPhone was the one who made me sit up and say, “hey, you’re a neat little guy, aren’t you?”

I’m not going to pretend that you’re all unaware of this functionality. The pre-installed Measure app on the iPhone, on the other hand, was crucial to me this week, and I’ll be using it indefinitely as a result. That’s because it’s not just a handy measurement instrument, but it also functions as a highly precise spirit level.

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I’ve been in my new(ish) house for almost six months, and it’s finally time to put the finishing touches on it. There are some potted plants for the balcony, smart connected decorative lights on the wall, and, finally, frames for prints and photos.

The previous owners had left some useful picture hangers in place, but they felt a little wrong — all my frames looked crooked against each other. I was also able to rapidly ascertain that, yes, I was living in a crooked house, due to the iPhone’s Measure app, which has steadily improved since its release in iOS 12. I’m the vision of perpendicular accuracy after a few modified hooks. Here’s how it’s done:

How to use the spirit level in the iPhone Measure app

Measure comes pre-installed on every iPhone, so there’s no need to download it. If you can’t find it, open it from the Utilities folder on your iPhone.

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When you initially start the app, it will use your iPhone’s camera in “measure” mode (more on that later), which employs augmented reality (AR) technology to measure objects without the use of tape. You can ignore that and instead tap the right-hand “Level” symbol.

The app will then transform into a spirit level, using the accelerometer and gyroscope sensors on your device to determine whether you’re standing on a perfectly flat and balanced surface.

There are two ways to use the feature. Place the iPhone on its back and you’ll see two white circles, which you may use to measure a huge flat area. When you overlap them, the screen will turn green, indicating that the surface is level.

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Turn the iPhone on its edge and place it on the surface if you’re measuring anything smaller. After that, you’ll see a more classic spirit-level interface with a white line indicating the exact angle you’re off by. The iPhone screen will turn green once you align the surface till it is level.

Get rid of the tape measure

As previously said, the app’s default mode is a tape measure, which is quite useful if you’ve never used it before. The camera system and sensors on today’s iPhones are advanced enough to detect depth, which is a critical prerequisite for augmented reality (AR) applications. As a result, the app can assess an object’s distance from the iPhone and utilise that information to give you a rough estimate of its length on screen.

The programme does a good job of determining object straight edges (handy for measuring shelves and the like). It then employs a pin mechanism to allow you to draw a line between two spots to determine their height. When you approach close enough to an item you’re measuring from afar, the onscreen measuring tool transforms into a full-fledged ruler, displaying the exact distance between points of the piece you’re measuring.

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While I wouldn’t use it for architectural purposes because it still requires you to accurately determine the exact edges of the object you’re measuring, it’s a great way to get a very good estimate of the length of something in a pinch – for example, when you’re walking around IKEA and want to see if something will more-or-less fit a gap in your home.

Finally, if you point it at a person, it will quickly recognise them as a human and measure their height – useful for figuring out whether your Tinder date is exaggerating a little on their profile!

Will the iPhone 14 come with any new features?

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