In iOS 5 with Notification Center, there was finally the ability to get push notifications for all emails that came in through the official Mail app. There was just one problem, not every email is necessarily all that important to make one’s phone go buzzing all willy-nilly.
Thankfully, that’s what the VIP feature in iOS 6 is designed to alleviate. It’s possible to get a push notification when certain people send emails. Setting it up is easy.
Open up Mail. Go to the Mailboxes screen, by tapping the upper left arrow until it disappears. Then tap on VIP. If a VIP has already been set up, then tap the blue arrow on the right. This will open up the VIP list. Tap Add VIP… to set up a contact as a VIP. Only people with email addresses will be selectable as VIPs. Note that as of iOS 6.0, all of a contact’s email addresses are added as a VIP, so separate contact cards will need to be set up for a person in order to not have certain emails show up in VIP.
The VIP inbox should now be selectable from the Inboxes section of Mail, below All Inboxes. This inbox includes all recent email from VIPs, from all accounts.
The beauty of VIP email is that it exists as a different set of rules in Notification Center, so there’s no need to enable all notifications for Mail, or only certain ones like sounds can be enabled while VIPs will appear as a banner. These can be configured from the VIP List screen by tapping VIP Alerts, or by going to Settings -> Notifications -> Mail -> VIP. VIPs can be configured to appear as alerts, and everyone else as banners. Look at them up and their emails up there in that tiny banner. They’re like ants from up here. VIP emails will show in Notification Center with a star to to differentiate from non-VIP email notifications.
There’s a drawback for Gmail users looking to take advantage of VIP notifications: as built-in Gmail support is still Fetch-only, this means that true Push will only work through Gmail accounts set up as Exchange accounts.
Has the VIP inbox helped tame the email beast? Let us know in the comments?
AirPlay Mirroring is great – in theory. Beaming an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch screen to an Apple TV without having to fuss with cables at all? Wonderful! However, apparently beaming HD video across a wireless network is not easy! For those getting blurry video, or latency so slow that it feels like communicating with the moon would be faster, here’s some tips to make AirPlay Mirroring work far better.
Get close to the router
Rule number one of wireless communication: the closer you are to the wireless source, the better the signal. In this case, video will look a lot better. What may help is to set up a second router near your TV as an access point, using a physical ethernet run to the main router. This may be most easily done via powerline ethernet adapters.
Plug the Apple TV into ethernet
Look, the great thing about wifi is that there’s no cables to fuss with. However, because wifi is essentially sound waves traveling through walls and and other waves, as opposed to beams of concentrated light sent on a direct path like with ethernet, a lot of issues can come up because of this. So, if possible, plug the Apple TV in to the router via ethernet. Performance will get better instantaneously as only one the iOS device will have to be wirelessly communicating to the router.
Upgrade that old router
That old Linksys router with the curious blue front and black body may still work fine for many tasks, but even wireless-G is something of a speed and latency dinosaur. Upgrading to a wireless-N router will find video quality and latency much improved. A dual-band router, one that uses both 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz bands, may find improved performance all around.
Upgrade that old Apple TV
The 2nd generation Apple TV, released in 2010, can decode 720p video sent by AirPlay. Just not very quickly. Upgrading to the newer Apple TV, bolstering an A5 processor, can help. But really, there’s one step for getting high-quality, low-latency AirPlay Mirroring:
Get a Mac.
It’s not an officially-supported feature, but there is a third-party app that can do AirPlay Mirroring on the Mac, called Reflection. It’s $15 with a free trial, and it leverages the powerful processor in a Mac (generally more powerful than the ones in Apple TVs) to provide AirPlay Mirroring at probably the lowest latency possible. I was able to get six-digit scores on Punch Quest, and while some latency is definitely noticeable still, it’s the best possible experience. Just get an HDMI cable and plug that bad boy in to the flatscreen!
AirPlay Mirroring will never be perfect because wireless communication is inherently imperfect, but these tips will make the experience far better!
Your computer is a powerful piece of technology, and it usually has a lot of storage space on it, enough to store band discographies that you’ve never even listened to one track off of. Your phone and tablet are great mobile devices, but they’re also great for listening to music and watching videos while at home. So, you’re sitting on your couch or laying in bed, and want to listen to that one album from that band that you’ve never really listened to all the way through. However, you’re too lazy to get up to your computer to actually put it on there. Or maybe you downloaded season 5 of Breaking Bad but your storage space is best measured in kilobyes, not gigabytes. If only there was a way to stream the media from iTunes to your iOS device!
Well, there is, and it’s called iTunes Home Streaming. This streams media from an iTunes library over a local wi-fi network to any iOS device.
Set it up on iTunes first. Log in with the Apple ID of your choosing – it’s best if this is the same Apple ID that was initially set up on the device, and is logged in to iCloud, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be. To manage the Apple ID that is logged in to Home Sharing, go to Settings -> Music or Video and tap Apple ID.
To access music from a local iTunes library, go to the Music app. Tap More, Shared, the name of your iTunes library (configurable from iTunes’s preferences), and then the standard music listings will instead show what is available from the remote library, which can then stream the music to your iOS device.
Now here’s the kicker: it also works for video. As long as the video in the iTunes library is compatible with iOS, then it will play. DRM-protected content purchased from iTunes plays back via Home Sharing too. These videos can also be streamed from AirPlay to an Apple TV. It’s the ultimate in high technology being used for new levels of laziness.
Now, the only real downside to Home Sharing is that it only works over local wi-fi. There are plenty of ways to stream music and video over the internet, but that would fill up a completely different article. Until then, enjoy using thousands of dollars of technology to stream video to TV without getting up to your computer.
One of the features that Apple added into iOS 6 that is kind of hidden away is the new Shared Photo Stream functionality. What this allows you to do is to take photos from your photo library and share them with other people in an album that can be viewed and automatically updated on an iOS device or browsed on the web. Sounds nifty, right? Just one problem: how do you use it? Good question! Apple didn’t exactly put this functionality front and center in iOS 6, but it’s there and it works. Here’s how to start using Shared Photo Streams.
Go to Photos. Go to the album where the photos are stored, such as Camera Roll, though these can be from pretty much any album on the device. Now tap Edit in the upper right corner, and select the photos to be added to a Shared Photo Stream. Once this is done, tap Share, then Photo Stream. Then there’s the option to add them to an existing Photo Stream, or to a New Photo Stream. Tap this to call up a dialogue to where people can be selected to send the stream to, name the stream, and whether to make the stream public.
When photos are shared to other people, they can see the entirety of this Photo Stream. When adding addresses, the Contacts list will show those with an actual iCloud ID. Otherwise, these albums can be shared to other people who don’t have iCloud IDs, as they will receive a URL to view this Photo Stream on the web at iCloud.com. People can comment on these photos that are shared. As well, these photos don’t take up any iCloud storage space.
Now, visiting iCloud.com and logging in to your own iCloud account won’t actually show your Photo Stream or any shared albums, even ones that you’ve made public. There is a way to get the URL for easier sharing. On the Photo Stream page, tap Edit in the upper right corner, then tap Share Link. From here, it can be mailed, messaged, tweeted, Facebooked, or copied. The name of the album, new people can be invited, current subscribers can be modified (with their invite status visible), and the album can be set to private.
So, that’s how to use Shared Photo Streams. It’s a little buried, but easy to use. Have any creative uses for them? Let us know in the comments!
One of iOS 6’s big new features is Passbook: a one-stop shop for accessing cards and tickets that is not only available from a single app, but is also location and time-aware to make coupons and loyalty cards appear near certain locations and tickets at the time of the event. Now, it doesn’t work with just anything, unfortunately. There’s a limited selection of apps that are available at the moment with support for Passbook. There’s been some confusion on how to activate it with apps, and this guide is here to help.
First, find an app that is compatible with Passbook. Launching Passbook for the first time will come up with a short description of what Passbook can do and launches an App Store section with apps to check out. Tap that, and a variety of Apple-curated apps with Passbook support are listed. Even for apps like the Starbucks app that have a card functionality already, the card needs to be added to Passbook through the app. To show how this Passbook functionality works, let’s download the Walgreens app and add the Balance Rewards card to Passbook.
Create an account with Walgreens and sign up for their rewards card, or log in to the account if you have one already. If you signed up in-store, you can add it to a new account. Now, go to the Rewards section of the app, and the card will appear. Below, there is an Add to Passbook button. Tap this, and it will prompt to tie it to a specific store location, which will make an alert pop up when near that location. Then, a final prompt to add it to Passbook with the location information attached will pop up. Tap Add, and boom, the card is now in Passbook.
Launch the Passbook app, and all added cards and tickets will appear, including the one we just added. Tap the (i) icon to modify the individual card’s settings. This automatic card recall works on the iPod touch as well, though location detection may be spottier due to only being able to detect location by nearby wifi hotspots. Once added, cards in Passbook are accessible offline.
While Passbook is still somewhat limited as developers continue to integrate into their apps, and apps that already had user cards need to be updated to support Passbook, this is still handy, especially with its handy awareness features. Know of any useful apps using Passbook that Apple didn’t feature? Let us know in the comments.
No matter how much storage space we get when we buy our iOS devices, we eventually run out of room. And it’s usually apps that are the culprit, from high-end games to turn-by-turn navigation software.
Apps take up so much space in part because iOS requires that installed apps have both their zipped IPA file installed, along with the unpacked files for the app, meaning that any installed app is going to take up roughly twice its download size once installed. It gets worse: app updates need to be downloaded and unpacked into free space before they can be installed. This means that to update a gargantuan app like Infinity Blade II, it needs essentially four times the storage space to update it because ‘delta’ updates that only download the changed bits are not yet available for apps like they are for iOS updates.
If you have a filled-up device like me, this causes particular consternation as what to do to clear up space for it. Rob Rich and I usually complain loudly on Twitter about the whole thing before playing ‘duck duck goose’ with whatever apps need to be deleted.
Now, it is still possible to manually manage media and apps from iTunes. That’s clunky and requires syncing, which takes forever. Thankfully, iOS does provide ways to manage space on the device itself in the Usage section. While this normally shows info like how long a device has been on, there’s a storage section as well. Access it by going to Settings -> General -> Usage -> Show all Apps. What this does is show a view of all the apps installed, sorted by space used in descending order, with the ability to delete an app by swiping horizontally across it to call up a ‘Delete’ button.
This shows the total space that an app is taking up including the compressed IPA, unpacked IPA, and the “Documents and Data“ portion, which can be handy as a reminder to delete unneeded data from applications like GoodReader, or audio recording apps, that may not need to be on the device any more. Now, it isn’t possible to delete the ”Documents and Data” from Usage, only to see how much it takes up, so files must be deleted from apps themselves, and save files for games can’t just be erased here, unfortunately. However, it provides a way to see which apps are taking up stealthy amounts of space. A 50 MB app sounds a lot bigger once it’s uncompressed to over 100 MB!
Also, this section shows how much data music, photos, and videos are taking up. To individually manage these files, they need to be done in their own respective apps like Music and Videos, but the results of clearing up space in these apps will be reflected in Usage.
With these tips, hopefully now you understand why apps are taking up more room than they should be, and know now how to easily manage storage. Have a method for determining what needs to go when space must be cleared? Let us know in the comments below.
Ah yes, iOS 6 and the iPhone 5 just came out. As with every major iOS release, complaints of battery life being worse than before are in tow. There are ways to preserve battery life on iOS, thankfully.
Now, the thing with saving battery life is that there’s a trade-off between being able to leave some feature on, and having to jump in and out of settings to re-enable features we need. If you’re so fed up with battery life that you really need to start disabling features, here’s a rundown of what may help.
Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not using it.
While it can be convenient to leave these on, and Wi-Fi assists in location detection, they’re also both massive idle battery drains because they’re constantly scanning in the background. Disable both of these features in Settings when not using them. Bluetooth settings are no longer hidden under submenus iOS 6, making it easier to manage.
Disable or Reduce Cellular Data When Necessary
If you don’t need or don’t have data service available, then disabling Cellular Data can save on battery life while leaving you available to the world. What if you have wifi access and are not expecting – or not wanting – any calls, and anyone who needs to reach you has iMessage? Well, Airplane Mode serves as a handy way to make sure that there’s no usage of cellular access at all. It should dramatically improve battery life.
LTE on the iPhone 5 is fast, and will also drain your battery fast. Your Twitter notifications will come in just fine on 3G networks alone, so disable LTE when not needing it, or not in an LTE service area, to save some battery life. Disable this in Settings -> General -> Cellular. Older phone models may have the option to disable 3G networks.
Turn Off Notifications, and Reduce Background Data Usage
Getting lots of notifications can be a real drain on battery life as the screen constantly turns on, and the device constantly polls the Apple servers for notifications. While there’s no easy way in iOS 6 to turn off all notification, at least turning off certain applications’ notifications can help.
As well, if you have push email and don’t really need it, set it to Fetch every so often, or just check it manually. This can be done from Settings -> Mail, Contacts, and Calendars -> Fetch New Data and diabling Push, and setting Fetch to manual.
Just Buy an External Battery Already
Look, the reason we leave all this stuff on is because we want the convenience of being able to jump from mobile data to Wi-Fi, to be notified of every little thing, and to have a screen so bright it could be seen from space. So why trade off? There are plenty of external batteries out there, including separate ones, and ones built in to cases. Yes, it’s something else to carry around, and will leave less pocket room, but for the ability to never have to turn off Bluetooth ever again when you want to pull out that keyboard? Priceless. Mophie makes battery-enabled cases with wide availability. NewTrent makes external battery packs that are beefy enough to charge an iPhone several times over. DealExtreme is a great source for cheap external chargers.
Have other ways to save some battery life? Let us know in the comments below!
It’s that most magical time of year: the time before a new iPhone launches. This means that for many people, it’s time to sell that old phone to buy the new one. For those looking to ditch their phone, here’s three handy tips to make sure everything goes smoothly in transitioning to the iPhone 5.
Make Sure the Phone is Backed Up
There’s no real need to start fresh with any missing contacts or apps when using a new iPhone. Follow our handy guide to setting up backups via iCloud or iTunes. Then, when the new iPhone is purchased, simply restore to the backup of that phone. On iTunes, this is just as simple as selecting the device from the list when choosing what to restore from. For iCloud backups, make sure to log in to the same iCloud account when restoring on the new device. It may be a good idea to note which iCloud account is being used on your old iPhone. Remember as well that backups are cross-compatible, so even an iPod touch backup could be used to restore to the new iPhone
Make Sure the Phone is Erased.
No one wants to accidentally hand over a phone with all their contacts, saved payment information in apps, and their most embarassing photos to a stranger or even worse: a family member! Thankfully, erasing a device is easy. Just go to Settings -> General -> Reset and choose Erase All Content and Settings. This will erase all user data on the phone. Make sure it’s backed up first! This will leave it in a state where it will be possible to restore to a new device. If you’re selling it to someone you don’t know, you may want to set it up as a new device just so they can test the features out, while showing how to erase it so they can set it up themselves, possibly even from a backup they made!
A website like Gazelle or a store like GameStop may make it easy to sell the phone quickly and securely, but this will not net as much as selling it directly to another person will. Selling via eBay or Craigslist is a good way to quickly sell the phone, but it comes with the inherent risk of dealing with strangers. Hold on to the original receipt if possible in order to ensure that you have proof that you purchased it in case someone tries to claim that the phone was stolen. Especially log your phone’s IMEI or ESN, a phone’s unique identifying number, if possible, as it is what the carriers use to track stolen phones. Here’s how to find this information on the iPhone itself. Having a log of this may help if a scammer tries to claim you sold them a stolen phone.
So you, like many, have decided to switch carriers with the iPhone 5? You could go data only but perhaps you still need the phone part of the iPhone. Let’s say for instance you are tired of the customer-hostile management at AT&T and want to move to Verizon. Just, you know, as an example.
Let’s rundown what you will need to make the switch and any pitfalls you might hit. It’s a fairly simple process, but there are some things you should know first, before starting.
Double check your new carrier choice
While you can look at coverage maps online to see where your new carrier of choice has coverage (see below for quick reference). It’s always best to double check the service in the places that matter most to you. For most people this is going to be home and work. Find someone you know on your new carrier in or near those locations and check their signal strength as close to those locations as you can.
This is a much more reliable way to test that your new carrier will have service where it matters to you most.
Call your current carrier, and be nice
It’s a good idea to call your current carrier to find out what your early termination fees will be, if any. They may give you the tough sell and try to get you to stay. Be careful though, unless the deal is killer and enough to sway you, they could renew your contract for another two years if you agree to a new plan rate.
Try to be nice to them, even though you are likely fed up by now. Remember that the person you are talking to doesn’t set the policies or prices.
If any of your phones are still under contract, you’ll be looking at an early termination fee. This will be somewhere around $350 minus $10/per month fulfilled in your contract depending on when you signed up and what carrier you have. And that’s for each line still under contract.
If you are out of contract, the carrier you are switching from shouldn’t charge you anything to cancel, except perhaps a small account change fee; they get you whenever they can.
Make the Switch
To actually pull the trigger and make the switch you’ll create a new account at your new carrier of choice. This is typically done when you order your new phone. In this case we’ll assume you are ordering the iPhone 5. You’ll create the account during the ordering process and then cancel your old account after your new phone is all set up and working.
You’ll need your current mobile phone number, your account number, and your account password from your current carrier to make the switch. Though those things are only needed if you wish to keep your current phone number. If you are getting a new number, you’ll just need to call your current provider to cancel your account once the new one is working.
Next you’ll need to decide if you want to do the switch online or in a store. Each has it’s advantages. In store you will have someone who will help you walk through the process. If you do it online you won’t need to wait in any lines.
Make the Switch Online
You can pre-order the iPhone 5 and switch carriers at the same time. Here’s what you need to know to do so.
First, during the order process you want to create a new account with your new carrier. You will likely need to choose what level of service you want to for the new account and then continue.
Next, you will have two choices when you order your phone online. You can either keep your current phone number (called number porting), or you can get a new one. Think about both options, you may want a new number, especially if your old boyfriend/girlfriend keeps bugging you.
If you want to keep your current number, at some point during the process it will ask for your current phone number, your account number and password with your current carrier. The account number and password are what you typically use to login to your carrier’s site to check your account. For some carriers, your account number may be the same as your phone number.
Enter this and it will walk you though the process to port the number. A couple more steps and you’ll likely be asked for your Social Security Number as the carrier will want to do a credit check before opening your account.
Finish the process answering things like your billing address, then do the normal hardware ordering process, pay for it, and then wait. And skip to The Switch is Done below.
Make the Switch In Store
By far the easiest way to do this is to go to the carrier you want to move to. After all they are incentivized (and the salesperson usually gets commission) to get you set up properly. You can also go the the Apple Store to do this and it will be just about as easy.
When you get to the store let them know that you want to create a new account with your new carrier. They will get the information needed and help you pick a service level plan. You will need to decide if you want to keep your current phone number (called number porting), or you can get a new one. Think about both options, you may want a new number, especially if your old boyfriend or girlfriend keeps bugging you.
The sales assistant will need your phone number, account number and password with your current carrier. The account number and password are what you typically use to login to your carrier’s site to check your account. For some carriers your account number may be the same as your phone number.
The rest of the process will be fairly straightforward, filling out forms with your address, billing info, etc.
The Switch is Done
Ok, the switch is done, your phone is ordered, now what?
Nothing will really happen until you get and activate your new iPhone. When that happens, your phone number will transfer over and your old account will be a zombie. This will likely happen in store if you go that route, or when you plug in your phone for the first time if you order it online. If you ported over your number, that will take 1-3 hours from when your new phone is turned on. Once that’s done your phone number will ring to your new phone on your new carrier.
Once you have your new phone, new account, and everything is in working order, it’s a good idea to call your old carrier again. You will need to close the account down and pay any termination fees. If you don’t close your account, they may just keep it open and assign you new phone numbers and keep charging you.
While talking to them, ask them to unlock your phone as well. It will make it worth a bit more money down the road.
Backup and Restore Your Old iPhone
If you already have an iPhone you’ll likely want to use iCloud or iTunes to backup and restore your phone. This will bring over all your apps, preferences, and data to your new phone. Here’s our Howto backup your device with iTunes or iCloud guide that will walk you through that.
Enjoy your new iPhone and your new carrier!
They will hopefully be better for you. Remember that each carrier has dead spots, don’t expect your phone to magically work everywhere. And the dead spots that you memorized for your old carrier will likely be different now. You phone may get reception in places it didn’t before and will likely not get reception in all new places. Hopefully you did step one above to make sure it works in the places most important to you.
Consider donating your old phone to a charity that helps people in need. Or you could sell it, hopefully as an unlocked phone. Just make sure to wipe the old phone’s data before you get rid of it (instructions in the above linked backup post).
Here’s a quick reference to some of the items you may need in helping you decide if you want to switch carriers.
In traveling the internet for interesting iOS conundrums to solve, I came across this one on Reddit: “How do I get games that are no longer offered on the App Store?” Now, this was both referring to buying games not available for sale any more, and a false positive at that. But it raises a very good question, one that some people may not realize: it is possible to get a game that is no longer on the App Store if it was once purchased on an iTunes account.
See, when an app gets pulled from public view on the App Store for whatever reason, Apple still allows users to reinstall the app, even if it’s deleted. The thing to remember about this is that purchases are tied to an Apple ID, not to a device. This means that as long as a device is authorized with that Apple ID, either through iTunes or by logging in to the account on the device, that app can be downloaded to that device. This means that some apps that may have been once downloaded and since updated can be redownloaded if once purchased or downloaded, even to a new device – and it also works if the app has gone universal.
For users who sync apps to iTunes, the app should still work if it’s in the library. Just set it up to sync with the device of choice, and it’s good to go. Well, assuming it still works on modern iOS versions.
The other method is to go through Purchased history. Now, one would think that it would be as easy as just searching for it and seeing if it pops up, right? Wrong. This did work shortly after the Purchased tab was introduced in iOS 4.3.5, but Apple changed it so that deleted apps do not show up when searching any more when searching. But they’re still there. It just takes a lot of patience. On iPhone/iPod touch, the Purchased section is available under Updates, at the top of the list. Open this section, and just keep scrolling through the list (either sorted by date or by alphabet, depending on which seems like will pull the app up sooner) until the desired app is found. On iPad, tap the arrow in either the upper or lower right corner to keep going to the next page until the app is found.
Isn’t it funny how ringtones, short snippets of full songs, cost as much as the songs themselves? It sure is. There is a way to beat the system and use any song – or any piece of audio, really – as a ringtone on iOS, and it can be done using iTunes alone. Seriously.
To understand how this works, realize that a ringtone file on iOS is essentially just an AAC music file – the file format for the music downloaded from iTunes – with the extension changed from .m4a to .m4r. So creating custom ringtones is just about getting that perfect snippet of audio, and then getting iTunes to recognize it as a ringtone.
Step 1: Getting a perfect snippet of audio
While I said that this can be done using just iTunes, for users unafraid to find the files themselves and just cut the audio snippet in an audio editor like Audacity, that can be done as well. Just make sure to export the file as AAC. For those who use this method to get the audio, skip directly to step 2.
For those who just want to use iTunes, here’s how it goes. Note that while screenshots may be from OS X, these all work on Windows as well. First, find the song to make a ringtone out of. Listen for the part that you want as your ringtone, and note the beginning and end times of this section. Right-click on the song in iTunes and click Get info. Select the Options tab. Put in the start time and end time in the appropriate boxes, and click OK.
Now, go to the iTunes Preferences, General, and select Import Settings. Set the import settings to AAC Encoder and iTunes Plus as seen in the screenshot at right. Click OK, then click OK again. Right-click on the song again, and click Create AAC Version. This creates a new file that should be listed right next to the original, that is the length you specified. Right-click the song and click View in Finder. Go back to iTunes and delete the file from your iTunes library, but choose Keep File.
Step 2: Getting iTunes to Recognize the Ringtone File
Now, with the file that we’ve just created, we need to rename the file extension from .m4a to .m4r, the extension for iOS ringtones. You may need to enable viewing file extensions in Windows Explorer or in the Mac Finder. Once the file is a .m4r, just drag it in to iTunes’ sidebar in the Library section. If you sync tones automatically, the ringtone should show up on your next sync. If you manually manage media on your device, click Tones under Library on the sidebar, find the file you just added, and drag it to your device on the sidebar.
Now, check your ringtones in Settings -> Sounds -> Ringtone. Custom ringtones are on top of the list, and if you followed these steps correctly, your custom ringtone is in this list. Congratulations! Now you too can wake up every day like it’s the intro of CSI: Miami. Yyyyyyeeeeaaaahhhhhh!
Well, the first solution when iOS picks up on some bad autocorrection habits is to just erase the keyboard dictionary entirely. Do this by going to Settings, General, Reset and Reset Keyboard Dictionary. Note that this will erase everything in the keyboard dictionary, including any good things like emails and usernames that iOS has picked up on. It’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Now, there is a way to get rid of the bathwater while keeping the baby around – it’s cute, even if diapers ain’t cheap. Starting with iOS 5, Apple implemented a feature in iOS to let certain keyboard shortcuts be automatically inserted when typing.
This is designed primarily to make typing long strings of text much easier by setting up shorter strings to automatically expand to longer strings. For example, I use it to easily send emails to a long address easily. But it also serves as a great deterrent for frequent typos by replacing a misspelling with the proper spelling every time.
Go to Settings, General, Keyboard, and scroll down to Shortcuts. Tap Add New Shortcut… to do exactly what it says on the tin. Note that the top line is the text that should be replaced, and the bottom line is for what gets inputted.
Note that these shortcuts work even with hardware keyboards, so common typos can also be corrected even with real keyboards. This is also particularly useful to correct typos like thr being replaced with Thr when trying to type the. Unless you know someone named Thr, which is just awesome. The downside is that pretty much any frequent typo needs to be replaced manually using this method, but at least it exists as a reliable solution.
To delete a text shortcut, just swipe horizontally and tap “Delete” – this is recommended for the default “omw” shortcut. We’ve all sent a message where we just wanted to say OMW and wound up sounding far more excited than we really were. Yes, we’re on our way, but we’re not all sunshine and rainbows about it.
So, while perhaps it’s not a perfect replacement for a flawed autocorrect system, at least it’s a clever solution. Have something you need to know how to do on iOS? Let us know in the comments!
There are many reasons to back up an iOS device. Need to replace that iPhone? Backup and restore! Upgrading to a new iPad? Backup and restore! Sometimes an iOS device just acts weird with no way from the user end to fix them, and a full restore can help a device run in a much smoother manner. As well, the beauty of the restoration process is that a backup can be reinstalled on a completely different device, making upgrading to a new version of the iPhone or iPad easy. It makes upgrading to a new type of device, such as going from iPod touch to iPhone, and even to an iPad possible as well. But how does one go about doing this?
The iTunes backup process is fairly simple. While a backup is created after every device sync, individual full backups can be made by right clicking (or Command-clicking) on the device in the iTunes sidebar, and choosing Back Up. After the lengthy backup process, that backup with its date and time will appear in a list of backups when restoring from iTunes.
iOS 5 introduced iCloud backups and restoring, and these skip iTunes altogether. The advantage to iCloud backup is quite simply that it does not go through iTunes. There’s no weirdness involved with apps and media getting inadvertently deleted from a device unintentionally because iTunes decided to replace them. It’s much more painless when restoring, and handles downloads from multiple iTunes accounts much easier. As well, iCloud backups happen automatically overnight when charging, so if something bad happens, the restored device will not be far out of date.
The downside is that instead of installing from the computer, it downloads apps from the web, which can take up a long amount of time depending on connection speed and depending on how many apps one is restoring. I have too many apps installed (way more than 148) so I usually leave the process to finish overnight. Note that any media synced from a computer will have to be re-added through iTunes. As well, Apple servers tend to get hammered during new product launches, so early adopters may not enjoy a smooth experience. As well, those who take a lot of photographs and videos will find that the Camera Roll takes up a lot of iCloud space. It becomes a choice between either foregoing backing up the Camera Roll (as individual app backups can be disabled in the iCloud menu) or shelling out for more iCloud space.
iCloud backups must be enabled by selecting it as the backup method in iTunes. While the iCloud backup process is otherwise automatic, it can also be manually initiated by going to Settings -> iCloud -> Storage and Backup -> Back Up Now.
In order to reset a device to restore it as new from iCloud, go to Settings -> General -> Reset -> Erase All Content and Settings. This will set it up as if it was a brand new device. Enable iCloud while setting back up, choose to restore from iCloud, and choose the name of the device that was backing up to iCloud that you wish to restore from.
Now, there’s no way to do this with methods that are built-in to iOS. Apple doesn’t provide a way to use an iOS device as disk storage like the old iPods did. However, there are definitely ways to do this through various apps. One good way to do this is through the app GoodReader. It’s available on both iPhone and iPad, though through separate apps, although both function in similar ways.
There are two primary ways to transfer files between computers using GoodReader as an intermediary: through iTunes, and through a web browser.
iTunes file transfer is simple, and can be done through both over USB and wifi. Select the device from the sidebar in iTunes, then click on the Apps tab. Scroll down to iTunes file transfer. Then select GoodReader. Either use the “Add…” button or drag and drop any files into the directory.
Repeat this process on the other computer to download files from the iOS device. Note that while it’s possible to download entire folders from iTunes, opening and downloading individual files from a folder is not quite possible in iTunes yet. Packaging folders as a ZIP file is the easiest way to transfer folders.
The other method is to use GoodReader’s wifi transfer capability. Launch GoodReader, and select its wifi option. This sets up a wifi server that can be used to upload files to the device from a web browser, and then any other computer on the network can also download files from that device. It is also possible to map the drive as a network drive, allowing for files to be transferred to and from the iOS device as if it were an actual storage device.
The downside to this and many other apps is that they are all essentially stuck in the app – if the app is deleted, then the files disappear. Public computers may not have USB access, or limited permissions that would make downloading the files or setting up the network file server difficult. As such, this may be best not be a serious method of file transfer, but as a matter of convenience in a pinch.
This week, Apple released iOS 5.1.1, which brings some minor bug fixes, particularly to some camera functionality and to AirPlay. Software updates have been made a lot easier since iOS 5 was released, as now small updates like these don’t require a full download of the entire iOS software. However, for users not yet on iOS 5, there’s still reasons to use iTunes to update. In this latest how-to guide, we’ll show you how to update that iOS device.
iOS 5 Software Updates
For owners of devices already on iOS 5, updating to the latest version is as simple as going to Settings, selecting General, then Software Update. iOS will send a push notification once an update is ready, and add a badge to Settings if an update is ready to be downloaded and installed. However, the news of an update usually circulates before notifications are sent out, so this process can be manually done before the notification is sent.
It’s best to charge the device while the update process is going on, so that the device doesn’t accidentally lose power during the update. If all goes right, the device will reboot, and a few minutes later, iOS will be up to date. Both my iPod touch 4th generation and iPad 2 had two separate bars pop up while installing the update, so this may be a normal part of the process. Don’t freak out.
Updating via iTunes
For those devices still not on iOS 5, or for people that find it more convenient to do this process on the computer, it is still possible to upgrade through the computer. Plug the device into iTunes. Select it from the left sidebar. Then, on the main screen, select Check for Updates. iTunes will find the latest update, and start downloading it.
There are two potential downfalls. One, what if the iTunes used for updating doesn’t have internet access? Or, if iTunes has issues downloading the software update quickly? Well, it is possible to download the software update manually and then load it into iTunes. Download the update from some source, such as this site (make sure to download the correct update for the correct device). Then, in iTunes, hold down Shift (Windows) or Option (Mac) and click on the button. A dialog box to open up a file should appear. Open up the previously-downloaded file from this point.
Once on iOS 5 (for devices that support it), this process should not be necessary. However, in cases where it may be, this is good to know how it works as well.
A little-known feature of iOS is parental controls, known as Restrictions. With this feature, it’s possible to set an iOS device to block off certain functions, secured by 4-digit passcode.
Why use Restrictions? This is not just because of the potential for minors to view content that is not appropriate for their age. This is also because of the rise of free-to-play games. Many of these games have expensive in-app purchases, and children who may have access to a credit card connected to an iTunes account may wind up buying thousands of dollars of in-game items, not knowing they are spending real-world items.
So, let’s get started with enabling Restrictions on iOS. Screenshots below are from the iPad, but the steps are identical on the iPhone and iPod touch.
Open up Settings. Tap on General. Tap on Restrictions.
Tap on Enable Restrictions to pull up a password prompt. Enter a custom 4-digit code that will be used to access the Restrictions in the future. The device will prompt to re-enter this password when setting it.
The first section is for disabling certain system apps and features, including disabling installation and deletion of apps. Sadly, Stocks can’t be disabled on the iPhone/iPod touch using Restrictions.
Next is the Location Settings controls. This makes it possible to enable and disable location access on a per-app basis. As well, way at the bottom of this list is the System Services section. This makes it possible to disable some system functions that have access to location, and to be notified when a system service tries to access location.
Next are the content settings. This makes it possible to disable the playback of explicit music, to disallow movies of a certain MPAA rating, and to disallow TV shows with a certain rating. Note that only an upper limit can be set, despite it looking like certain ratings can be disabled – no way to make only TV-MA shows appear on iTunes!
Most importantly for those worried about in-app purchases, these can be disabled entirely. As well, it’s possible to make any iTunes purchases require that the password be put in immediately, instead of having the usual 15-minute period where it doesn’t need to be re-entered. As well, it’s possible to set restrictions on Game Center games, disabling multiplayer and the ability to add friends.
To disable restrictions, just tap the Disable Restrictions button at the top and enter the passcode set earlier.
Note that as of iOS 5.1, all Restrictions settings reset when they are disabled. As such, this is not a good a way to let little Billy or Billie play with mommy or daddy’s iPhone, but to set up a device that they can safely use without being able to view explicit content, spend money, or mess up important settings.
For users of Google accounts, iOS provides a built-in way to access mail, calendars, and notes from Google. However, for users looking to get their email pushed to their device, or to synchronize their contacts, this built-in method doesn’t work. But there is a way to do this, though, via Microsoft Exchange on iOS. This will allow for email to be pushed to the device, and for contacts to be synchronized to the iOS device. With iOS 5, it is also possible for notifications to appear in Notification Center, unlike in the official Gmail app, which only plays a notification sound.
This is a better method of contact synchronization with Google than doing it through iTunes. This means that contacts will be directly synchronized to and from Google when they are updated. This is great for those who have an Android device to go along with their iOS devices. This method also only synchronizes the main contacts; iTunes has been known to add all people that have ever been emailed. This method is safer and smarter.
Here’s how to enable this feature on iOS.
Open up Settings. Tap on Mail, Contacts, and Calendars. Tap Add Account. Select Microsoft Exchange.
Enter the email address to be synchronized. The username is the same as the email address, and the password is the password to the account. The description can be anything the user wants. After submitting this information, a new Server option pops up. Enter m.google.com for this field.
If all the info has been successfully submitted, then the ability to enable/disable Mail, Contacts, and Calendar is available.
After all the information synchronizes, contacts from this Google account should appear in the Contacts app. Make sure that for new contacts to sync to the Google servers, set the Default Account in Mail, Accounts, and Calendars to the Exchange account. Multiple Exchange accounts can be synchronized, but only one account can have contacts added to it at a time.
Apple’s new iCloud service is the promise of MobileMe made real. Imagine a PC-free future, traveling our world with an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and yes, even a Mac or PC, without ever having to sync them together again. Apple’s got that future started with iCloud, and we spent a little time trying it out. We’ve untethered our iPhone and iPad and we’re here to tell you how to do it and how it works.
Before we start, though, here’s a quick video, right from Apple, explaining the concept.
iCloud wants to be the basis of our wireless future. The basics of iCloud are contained in the settings app on the iPhone and iPad, the System Preferences on a Mac, and the iCloud Control Panel on a Windows PC. First up, we needed to update our iTunes to version 10.5, then our iPhone 4 to iOS 5, via that new iTunes. When activating a new iOS device, users will see a couple of new screens to walk them through the iCloud setup. The best way to do this is to log in with an Apple ID, either one that already exists, or creating a new one from the iCloud screens.
For families and multiple device owners, there’s a lot of confusion on how to set up iCloud and iTunes under iOS 5. Under iOS 4 there was just a single iTunes login that members of a family or work group could use to share iTunes purchases. Now, under iOS 5 there are now multiple logins on a single device, leading to confusion. We can help.
The problem under iOS 5 is that users do not want to share their contacts, email, photostream, calendar, or other iCloud services with family members or co-workers. Yet they still want to share iTunes purchases across multiple devices and users. Luckily Apple has left a simple solution for this in iOS 5.
First, each user in the group should have their own iCloud account. This will maintain privacy across all of the iCloud services like calendars and contacts. It will give each user a unique identity. Next, the users in the group can share a single iTunes account for store purchases. Here’s how to do it.
Under the settings in iOS, there are two unique sections for iCloud and for the iTunes Store (listed as just Store in settings).
iCloud Settings: Under iCloud, set up each user with their own account and turn on the services they wish to use.
iTunes Store Settings: Under the Store section in Settings on each of the iOS devices in the group, sign in with the shared iTunes account for purchases from the App Store, etc.
If you have multiple iTunes accounts, you can sign in and out of the different accounts without issue from the Store settings. That is unless you turn on automatic downloads. New to iOS 5 are automatic downloads for the iTunes Store for Apps, Books, and Music. If this device only uses the one account, it’s safe to turn on any of these that you wish. But, turning this on will lock this device to this iTunes account for 90 days. So if multiple accounts are used, do not turn on automatic downloads.
It should also be noted that previously as many devices as needed could share iTunes purchases. But now, officially only five devices can share purchases. Though it seems as though this currently only applies to music.
We hope this has helped at least a little bit in one of the more confusing parts of iOS 5. Still confused? Hit us below in the comments.
Sling Media has added support for Chromecast through their Slingplayer app for iPhone and iPad. Chromecast allows you to send content to your TV straight from your mobile device, and Slingplayer lets you turn that around and watch TV on your mobile device. With the two combined you can use the Slingplayer as a remote control for […]