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How To: Turn Emails into Reminders Using IFTTT

Posted by Carter Dotson on December 2nd, 2013

Often, incoming emails can feel like things to do - important items just kind of floating around the inbox until they're finished. Want to add these emails to the iOS Reminders app so that they can be dealt with in an important place? Well, this is possible by using IFTTT. Here's how to do just that.

First off, download IFTTT and register an account with the email address that you primarily want to forward items from. Now create a new recipe, which is what IFTTT calls the actions that it executes.

For starters, let's choose the Mail option. You can choose to forward all mail from your registered email address to the IFTTT trigger email address, or only emails tagged with a certain hashtag.

For the second part of the recipe, choose iOS Reminders. By default, this will add the email subject as a reminder to a list called IFTTT. However, that is an option that can be changed from the IFTTT recipes menu.

Tap on the recipe to open up its options, then tap Edit Recipe. From here you can configure what the reminder title will be, which list it will be added to by manually entering the name of the list, and what, if any, priority the reminder will have. Tap the blue plus sign next to an option to add in specific dynamic text like sender, body text, and more.

Now, if you use Gmail you should use the Gmail channel when setting up your recipe. This adds more options for what can trigger the IFTTT recipe. This can include emails from certain senders, emails with certain labels, starred emails, and more.

What the label trigger can do is make it easy to manage emails using Mailbox. Create a list in Mailbox with the title of your choice. Let's say it's Reminders. In IFTTT, have the label that the recipe is added to be [Mailbox]/Reminders. Now, whenever you add an email to that list in Mailbox, that will trigger IFTTT to add it to Reminders.

Now, you have a convenient spot to do things like send replies to emails once they are cleared from reminders. You can create a recipe in IFTTT to send emails when a reminder is completed in that list, but you might want to send more personal replies. Still, it is an option.

Hopefully this helps you get your inbox under a bit more control by utilizing IFTTT's powers of automation!

How To: Set Up and Use iCloud Keychain on iOS 7

Posted by Carter Dotson on November 27th, 2013

One of iOS 7's new features is the iCloud Keychain. What this allows is for passwords and credit cards stored in AutoFill to be shared between iOS devices and Safari on Mavericks so that you can easily retrieve them without needing to type them in again. It is also engineered to protect your data through an additional security key and two-factor authentication. Here's how to set it up, use it, and protect yourself.

iCloud Keychain can be set up when setting up a new device, when updating to a new iOS version, or from the iCloud menu in Settings. When setting up for the first time you'll be asked if you want to enable iCloud Keychain and to create a security code. By creating a security code, this will store the data in iCloud; if you don't create one it will still allow for data to be shared between devices, but it will not be stored in iCloud and you will need to authenticate a new device from another device with iCloud Keychain enabled on it. Authenticating from another device requires putting in the password to the iCloud account and choosing "Allow" on the dialog that appears.

To save a password or credit card to iCloud Keychain, just log in to a site or use a credit card in Safari. A dialog will pop up asking if you wish to save to the iCloud Keychain. Now, when you try to use a saved login or credit card from another device, Safari can automatically fill it in no matter where it was originally saved from.

It's important while using iCloud Keychain to have a passcode of some sort on your device. This treats you physically using your device as secure, so make sure that there's a security mechanism in place to ensure that your device is being used only by yourself or someone you trust. Otherwise someone can easily get access to your passwords and credit cards just by having your unprotected device.

What the security code for iCloud Keychain does is make it simple to sign in to the iCloud Keychain from a new device without needing to log in on that other device. This is a separate code or password from your login passcode, though it can be the same.

By default iCloud Keychain will prompt for a four-digit security key, though it's possible to either have an advanced security key that can contain letters and numbers, and/or one that is randomly-generated for complexity. If you forget this key, then you can use a second device in order to approve it. It also provides security so that even if someone compromises your iCloud account and wants to set up iCloud Keychain, they still can't get into your data unless they know the second password or if they have another device of yours that they also know the password to.

If you disable iCloud Keychain on a device by disabling it from the iCloud Settings, you can prompt to save the AutoFill data locally or erase it.

Hopefully this demystifies this very useful feature!

How To: Use AirDrop on iOS 7

Posted by Carter Dotson on November 18th, 2013

Apple has introduced a way to share files locally with other iOS users in iOS 7, called AirDrop. This allows for users to share photos, documents, and text with other iOS devices with ease. Here’s how to use it.

There are two important things to know about AirDrop: One, it only works with supported devices. These devices are oddly-selected: the original iPad mini can use AirDrop but the iPad 2 cannot despite identical - and technically slightly more powerful - internals. Two, this is different from AirDrop on the Mac despite being named the same, so don’t expect to send files from Mac to iOS.

To use AirDrop, it must first be enabled from Control Center. Swipe up from the bottom and tap on the AirDrop logo. Now, set it to Contacts Only or Everyone. Everyone will allow anyone within Bluetooth range to share files with you, whereas Contacts Only allows only people in your Contacts list to see you when sharing to AirDrop. Note that enabling AirDrop will turn on both wifi and Bluetooth.

To share a file via AirDrop, go to an app that uses the built-in iOS Sharing feature. This is generally indicated by an arrow pointing upward out of a rectangle. You should see the AirDrop description text first. After a short bit, any nearby AirDrop users will appear. They may need to have their device on and unlocked to be discovered. Tap on their picture that appears to share the file to them. Tap again to cancel.

On the receiving end of the AirDrop process, an alert will appear to Accept or Decline the AirDrop. If accepted, the AirDrop content will open up in the appropriate app.

Some uses of AirDrop include sharing photos from Photos, with the ability to share multiple at a time. All photos are saved to the Camera Roll.

Share contacts from Contacts – it’s possible to just temporarily view a contact card to call or email a person based on the contact info given (but not to FaceTime), or to save it to your contacts. This is great in lieu of business card trading. See a cool link in Safari? Share it with AirDrop.

You can share documents from iWork apps like Pages with others, in a variety of formats like PDFs.

More apps will start to use AirDrop as time goes on, particularly as it is an extremely handy way to send files without having to tap devices or share via the web!

How To: Master the Intricacies of the Clock App in iOS 7

Posted by Carter Dotson on October 28th, 2013

The Clock app. Not much to it, right? Wrong. There's some little tweaks and intricacies that you should know about that can help make this core system app better to use.

The World Clock section can display the times from various cities. Just tap the + in the upper-right corner to add a city. Tap the time to switch between analog and digital clocks. City searching is a bit frustrating in that it only supports a limited number of cities. Thus, for comparing where you are to other world cities, you may need to choose a city in your time zone that isn't where you are. For example, Lubbock, TX isn't in the list of cities despite being where I got my start, and the home of America's dreamiest football coach, Kliff Kingsbury. So, you may need to put in a larger city near you in your time zone. You can also search by country, not just city name, if you just need to find a city in a country somewhere to compare your time to.

The Alarm section of course allows for various alarms to be set, but there's a variety of options here. Repeat allows for one alarm to be used on a regular basis, so you can set an alarm for weekdays, and one for weekends, or any combination of days, and not have to worry about setting it before you go to sleep. You can also label alarms individually. The Sound function works with songs, alert tones, and ringtones, so you can wake up to whatever you so choose. Snooze can be disabled for those who know that they'd get up way too late if they snooze too much. However, now when you snooze, the lock screen shows how long the snooze is for.

The Stopwatch is a stopwatch. You can use the Lap timer to list any lap times, though the data can't be copied and exported in any way, unfortunately.

The Timer can be used to set off an alarm a certain number of hours or minutes from whe it is set. It has one incredibly useful feature that you may not be aware of. Think that the When Timer Ends section is just for selecting which alert to play? Nope! Scroll all the way to the bottom and enable Stop Playing and when the timer ends, if you have a music app playing, sound will stop being played. Note that Spotify has a bug with it, but it works for the built-in music app and Pandora. This way, you can fall asleep to music without it wasting power your bandwidth.

And of course, the system time can be set by going to Settings->General->Date & Time. Here you can configure 24-Hour Time to show 13:31 instead of 1:31 PM for example, choose to have the network set the time automatically, and manually choose your time zone, though automatic time setting will try to locate which time zone you're in automatically. You can enable or disable this in Settings->Privacy->Location Services->System Services->Setting Time Zone.

Hopefully you now know all the useful little things you can do with this otherwise-straightforward function!

How To: Use Keyboard Text Shortcuts in Clever Ways

Posted by Carter Dotson on October 14th, 2013

Keyboard shortcuts on iOS are an extremely useful feature. However they may be extremely underused, perhaps because people just don’t know what they can do.

Read our guide on setting up and using text shortcuts (which is still valid with iOS 7) and then utilize these clever methods for keyboard shortcuts!

Canned responses to emails

Does your job have you responding to lots of emails saying the same basic thing? Create a shortcut with a good canned response to save some time and thought.

Fix common typos

iOS’ built-in autocorrect is useful, but sometimes its autocorrect can try to correct to phrases that aren’t what you want. So, make your common mistake the shortcut, and the corrected version your phrase. This will take preference over autocorrect’s suggestion so you can create your own autocorrections!

As well, autocorrect works for text shortcuts you've created. So if you make a typo for a shortcut, autocorrect will fix it to the correct shortcut and correct expanded text. You don’t have to be perfect – just close.

Only use the emoji you want

Like to use certain emoji but hate having the international keyboard button? Well, it’s possible to have only certain emojis be triggered by using a keyboard shortcut. Just enable the emoji keyboard, insert the emoji(s) in the phrase section, and then create a useful shortcut. Want to insert the US flag into tweets? Just create a usflag keyboard shortcut.

You can then disable the emoji keyboard and it will still work – it’s a system font, so it will work even if the keyboard is disabled. This works with any international keyboard, too, though emojis are more fun.

Insert frequently-used URLs

Constantly need to link to something? Set the URL as the phrase and set an easy-to-remember shortcut. This is perfect for reaction images or for, you know, more serious purposes. But mostly for GIFs.

What kind of shortcuts should I use?

Make sure that they’re phrases that don’t conflict with actual words. I like to make six-character shortcuts, usually making the first three relate to the topic of the shortcut, and the last three being something about the shortcut. It needs to be simple, memorable, and short enough to justify you saving time! Note that shortcuts do sync up between iCloud devices, so you don’t have to worry about having to recreate shortcuts when you pick up your other device.

Keyboard text shortcuts are a great way to save time – using them is a great way to make the use of your device more efficient! Go on and be short!

How To: Block Contacts in iOS 7 and Configure Contact Short Names

Posted by Carter Dotson on October 7th, 2013

iOS 7 contains two new options for managing contacts: blocked contacts and short names.

Blocking a contact will prevent that contact from calling, messaging, or FaceTiming you. Blocked contacts can be added in two ways: You can do it from a message by tapping the Contact text in the upper-right corner, and then tapping the (i). From Phone or from FaceTime in the Recents list, tap the (i) icon next to the contact.

After tapping the (i), scroll down to Block Caller. Tap this, read the warning text, and then tap Block Contact. This will block the contact. They don't inherently have to be in your contacts list, you just have to have received a message or call from the number or email address in order to add them to your list.

You can manage your blocked contacts not in the Mail, Contacts, and Calendars section, but from any of the PhoneMessages, or FaceTime sections in Settings.

You can remove blocked contacts from this section, and add new contacts to the list from contacts already in your book.

For the blocked contact, their iMessages will show as delivered, but will not pop up on your device. FaceTime calls will ring on their device, but not on yours. Same with phone calls - your device just pretends that they don't exist.

Now, for the people that you do want to hear from, one of the new contact options in iOS 7 is the Short Name option. This controls the way that contact names are displayed in apps like Messages. It allows for names to be displayed in a brief way, as opposed to just displaying the whole name entirely.

You can configure Short Name by going to Settings and Mail, Contacts, Calendars. The Short Name icon is under the Contacts header. By default,Short Name is set to display just the first name only, and to prefer nicknames for contacts. The settings are all fairly self-explanatory: having First Name & Last Initial will show my short name as Carter D, for example.

These features should help you manage your contacts in a much better way and make sure the people you don't want to hear from are ignored, and the people you do are shown in the way you want!

How To: Use Notification Center in iOS 7

Posted by Carter Dotson on September 30th, 2013

Notification Center may be nothing new to iOS users, but iOS 7 brings a bit of an overhaul to the veritable notification bar. Here's a guide to what's new, what's different, and what's been removed.

The first big change is that there are now three sections to Notification Center: TodayAll, and Missed.

Today replaces many of the widgets that were originally displayed at the top of Notification Center. This shows the current weather in a human-readable forecast, saying what the weather today will be, what the current temperature is, and what the high will be. Below this, Notification Center will tell you what events you have today and show you which events are coming up in the next few hours. Below this, the Stocks widget is displayed. At the bottom, the summary of events for the next day is displayed.

All is the traditional list of notifications: based on how they are sorted in Settings, apps' recent notifications will all display here as they come in. Tap the X next to an app's name in this view to clear out all of that app's notifications.

Missed shows notifications as well, but only ones that appeared while the device was locked. These are not sorted by app, but are sorted purely by when they came in. Clearing the app's notifications out of All or opening up the app the notifications came from will clear it out of Missed.

As well, Notification Center is now available from the lock screen, so you can see the Today, All, and Missed notification views from this screen. As well, you must swipe on the notification itself to open it up - the bottom Slide to unlock bar will always unlock the device, not view the most recent notification.

Many of the settings for Notification Center remain the same as they were in previous versions, particularly arranging notifications for the All view, but there's new settings for the new features. You can control Access on Lock Screen to enable or disable access to the Today view and to view notifications while the device is locked. Disable both to disable the Notification Center pulldown on the lock screen entirely.

The Today View settings control which widgets appear in Notification Center. Most notably, the ability to share to Twitter and Facebook from Notification Center has been removed.

This covers the changes to Notification Center in iOS 7. Now go on, be notified! Be aware!

How To: Use and Configure iOS 7's Control Center

Posted by Carter Dotson on September 23rd, 2013

Perhaps the biggest addition to iOS 7 is the new Control Center, which makes common setting toggles available from anywhere with a simple gesture. Here's how to use it and to configure its options.

To call up Command Center, just swipe up from the bottom of the screen, like you would swipe from the top to open up Notification Center. This works from the lock screen as well.

Many of the controls that were available by double-tapping and swiping left-to-right in previous iOS versions are available here. The new multitasking bar has no actual controls.

The top row of commands from left to right toggles Airplane ModeWi-FiBluetooth, Do Not Disturb, and Orientation Lock. The first four can now be toggled from any app, instead of having to open up Setting to specifically toggle the features. Below that is the brightness dial. Auto-brightness toggling is sadly not yet available from Command Center, which would be a handy toggle for saving battery life, like disabling Bluetooth is.

Below the brightness toggle is the music and volume controls. These are expanded from the standard music controls in iOS 6 and earlier, in that there's more than just play/pause buttons. It's possible to see track name, artist, album, and current play time, with the ability to seek to a different time. Of course, reverse/pause/forward buttons are available, with the forward and reverse commands changing to jump 15 seconds commands when Podcasts is playing a track.

The AirDrop setting allows you to toggle whether AirDrop, the new feature for sharing content from apps with other local users, is disabled, enabled for contacts only, or enabled for everyone nearby. This will enable both wi-fi and Bluetooth if they are disabled. The text will be black when disabled, and will turn white when enabled, and will display which setting is enabled when there's not an AirPlay receiver nearby. This is the other option on this row, and it allows for audio, video, and/or mirroring playback to AirPlay receivers on the same network.

The bottom row has quick shortcuts to four built-in features. On the left: Flashlight, meaning that it's time to dump that flashlight app for good. Second from left is a shortcut to the Timer in the Clock app. This means setting an alarm is just an additional tap away. Second from right is Calculator, and on the right is Camera. This makes these features easier than ever to activate.

Settings has a Control Center section, but there's only two toggles: Access on Lock Screen and Access Within Apps. The former configures whether Control Center can be accessed from the lock screen, and the latter whether it can be accessed within apps. For some intense games, this may be a good setting to have, but much like Notification Center a quick inadvertent swipe will not open it up, it will just call up an arrow to swipe to open it up, so it shouldn't open unless by the user's volition. Still, that's why this setting exists!

Control Center makes using an iOS device more convenient as many toggles are now available without switching apps. Settings just might feel lonely without all that attention now!

How To: Use iOS 7's Anti-Theft Activation Lock

Posted by Carter Dotson on September 18th, 2013

Because Apple devices are so unique, they are often popular targets for thieves because they’re so distinctive and valuable. It's such a problem that the NYPD has a special unit for Apple device theft. However, in iOS 7 Apple has turned the tables on the thieves by being able to make a device practically unusable with the new iOS 7 Activation Lock.

Powered by Find My iPhone, the still-misnomered service that tracks and locates a user’s iOS devices, Activation Lock makes a device that gets reset to be unusable unless it is logged in to with the iCloud username and password that was used to reset it. It’s the nuclear option that can make a stolen device unusable if the worst comes to worst.

Go in to Find My iPhone, either on an iOS device registered with the same iCloud account as the lost device, or on iCloud.com. Open up your device. Now, you need to choose whether you want to do Lost Mode or to Erase the device.

Lost Mode works the same as it did before: it automatically locks the device, and creates a temporary passcode if one is not set in order to make sure that the device can’t be used by someone who shouldn’t be using it. As well, it is possible to add a message that someone with the device will see on the lock screen. But they can still theoretically erase it and use it for themselves.

However, when choosing to erase the device from Find My iPhone, now what happens after it is erased is that not only is the Lost Device message that was input with optional phone number is shown:

But also, when trying to set up the device, the unlucky thief will now have to log in with the iCloud account that was set up with Find My iPhone to reset the device.

This makes it so that unless the person knows the Apple ID and password of the person they stole it from (which is highly unlikely), the device will be virtually unusable. Whether this helps to deter thieves is unknown, but it will help ensure that any thief not only won’t have access to data, but the device they stole will be a brick, too. Just remember to have Find My iPhone set up to begin with!

iOS 7: How To: Update to iOS 7

Posted by Carter Dotson on September 18th, 2013

iOS 7 brings not only a radical new look to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, it also brings new tweaks and features that make the iOS experience better. Upgrading to the latest version on compatible devices is fairly painless, but there are things you need to know before you get started.

Which devices can upgrade to iOS 7?

The iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 can upgrade to iOS 7. The iPhone 5c and 5s will come with it preinstalled.

Only the iPod touch 5th generation (the widescreen model released in 2012) can be upgraded to iOS 7.

The iPad 2, iPad Mini, iPad 3rd generation, and iPad 4th generation can all be updated to iOS 7.

Note that not all features will come to all devices: the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and iPad 3rd generation won’t get AirDrop, for example.

How to update?

The easiest way is to just do an over-the-air update: go to Settings -> General -> Software Update. Once the update is live, the device will download the latest update and install it when ready. You will need to be on wi-fi, and eventually need to be plugged in, to install it.

You can also install from iTunes, but this may take longer as iTunes will download and install the entire update file. Update to iTunes 11.1, which should be available as iOS 7 launches. Plug the device into your computer and open iTunes. On the device’s summary page, click Check for Update. If the update is ready, then iTunes will download it and install it.

Now, Apple’s servers will most likely be absolutely hammered in the period after the iOS 7 release and as the new iPhones release later in the week. What you may want to do in order to make the process quicker is to download the file externally – find a trusted website with an externally-hosted version of the file, and install the update manually. It’s the same as installing in iTunes, just hold down Alt on Windows or Option on Mac and click the Check for Update button. You can then open the IPSW file that contains the update manually.

As well, with a new software update it may be a good time to do a fresh start on your device. In iTunes, you can click (or option-click if you have the file) Restore to start anew on iOS 7, or to even just restore from the backup, which may help clear out some lingering bugs and errors that occur over time.

Apple has made the installation process of iOS 7 to be very easy, so go ahead! Take the plunge!

How To: Prepare Yourself for iOS 7

Posted by Carter Dotson on September 9th, 2013

iOS 7 is imminent. With Apple announcing new iPhone(s) this week, the final version of iOS 7 seems imminent. Thus, it's time to prepare to upgrade in case anything goes wrong. Here's what you can do to ready yourself for iOS 7.

Backup your device.

Look, you never know when an upgrade might go wrong. Make sure your iPhone, iPod, or iPad is backed up so that you can restore in case something goes wrong. And if the update process 'bricks' your device, know how to enter DFU mode. It will save you a call to Apple support, which will likely be busy during iOS 7 update times.

Make space.

If you download and install the update on your device, you will naturally want to make sure that you have room to download the file, of course. But you will also want to have plenty of room to update your apps. Many developers will be issuing updates to their apps to ensure that they are compatible with the released version of iOS 7. Many ensure that their apps work with the betas, but things can obviously change between now and then. Especially for large games, it's recommended to free up some space around this time. As well, you need enough free space that's double the size of the app in order to update it. Might be time to do a good spring cleaning?

Know how to update!

You can obviously update on your device itself since iOS 6 introduced this feature, but you may want to download and install the update via your computer. iTunes will let you download the file on to your computer, but you can also obtain it through other sources like downloading through a web browser or through a mirror (since Apple servers will likely be hammered) and install iOS 7 from the downloaded file.

Be patient!

Installation will take time. App downloads will take time. Developers may be slow to update apps because many developers are not large faceless corporations, but actually just individuals or small teams working part-time. So be patient: you likely won't be able to get everything you want right away!

How To: Set Up and Use VPN Connections from iOS

Posted by Carter Dotson on August 26th, 2013

Have issues with firewalls on a local network? Need to connect to work networks for reasons of work? Just want to get privacy while browsing? Setting up a VPN is easy on iOS.

To set up a standard VPN connection, start by going to Settings -> General -> VPN. Tap Add VPN Connection. Choose the protocol that your VPN connection uses from the three protocol choices.

Use Description to create a name for the service. Server will be the server that gets connected to - this may be a URL or an IP address. RSA SecurID may be used by your VPN connection, toggle it if necessary. If off, then the Password section will appear. Put your password in this section. Encryption Level will determine just how much of the connection is encrypted. Send All Traffic will determine if all traffic gets sent to the VPN or not.

To enable the VPN, you can either turn on the connection by enabling it in the VPN section, or by turning on the new VPN toggle that appears in the main section of Settings. If the connection works, a VPN icon will appear in the status bar to indicate when you are connected to the VPN.

Some specialized VPN connections, like OpenVPN, require being set up in an app. For example, OpenVPN Connect, the official app from the creators of OpenVPN, works for opening those connections up. They require loading a file with the connection information in it, which can be added either by importing files from Private Tunnel, an OpenVPN Access Server, from iTunes local file storage, or by opening up a file from another app.

Once you input your credentials, you can sign in using the app you originally used to sign in with. The credentials will appear in the VPN section, but you must connect through the original app.

While many VPN services are paid, there are some free ones out there: a great way to try out the feature is through VPNbook.

Now get connected!

How To: Restrict In-App Purchases on iOS Devices

Posted by Carter Dotson on August 19th, 2013

In-app purchases, especially in regard to kids making them (often accidentally), remains a hot topic. Apple is poised to launch new restrictions on some apps that offer them, but for parents, it is important to know how to keep accounts secure by restricting in-app purchases.


Apple’s built-in parental controls, available in the Settings app under General then Restrictions, contain options for restricting in-app purchases.

The first of the two settings that you will want to consider is the In-App Purchases toggle, which will allow you to disable them entirely. Apps will either report that IAP is disabled or that the app is not connected to the internet.

As well, you can require Require Password immediately, which will make any new purchase from the App Store, in-app or otherwise, require the user’s password to be immediately re-entered. This way, you can make a one-time purchase without future ones being automatically approved.

Now, there’s not necessarily an easy way to disable these restrictions temporarily without going back in to the Restrictions menu and temporarily re-enabling them. As well, disabling Restrictions entirely will reset all settings. So, for someone loaning their device to their kids, it’s not the best solution.

Separate iTunes account with gift cards only

One other solution is to create a separate iTunes account that’s funded only by gift cards. Normally iTunes accounts must be tied to a credit card, but there is a way to create one that isn’t tied to a form of payment.

The trick is similar to creating an account in a different country. Go to the iTunes Store on your computer and log out of your current account. Go to download a free app. Choose to register an account and complete the process. When you put in your billing information, None should be the selected option, only available by trying to download a free app.  You now have an account that doesn’t have a credit card tied to it. You can redeem gift cards on to this account to provide credit for IAP and buying apps without needing to be connected to an alternate form of payment. This is perfect for kids’ accounts.

To switch between accounts on the device itself, just scroll to the bottom of the App Store, tap on your account, and choose to Sign Out. Then the next user can sign in either through that same prompt or when going to download an app and/or make a payment. I recommend disabling automatic downloads – sometimes Apple will force an Apple ID to remain logged in to a device with them enabled.

Hopefully these tips make controlling in-app purchases much easier. Apple could still do a lot to make them less of a hassle for users who share devices, but in the absence of such mechanisms (or apps that target kids with expensive purchases), it’s up to parents to be educated about the features of the advanced technology they want their kids to enjoy and benefit from.

How To: Manage iCloud Settings

Posted by Carter Dotson on August 12th, 2013

iCloud, much like life, is a scary and often unknowable thing that doesn’t always work the way it should. But much like life, if you know the little things and tweaks, you can make it work much better for you. I think that’s how life works, anyway. At least that’s how iCloud’s settings works. Here’s a guide to the iCloud settings menu.

The iCloud settings are available in the Settings app, under the iCloud section when you scroll down. Here, you’ll see a bunch of different toggles and sections to browse.

Account allows you to control which account is currently logged in to iCloud across the device. As well, you can change the description of the account, modify your storage plan and payment information, and set up advanced email options.

The various switches for Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Safari, Notes, and Passbook will toggle those features on or off for the iCloud account that’s currently logged in, for those who don’t want that info to sync. For certain features, a prompt will appear to have the current local data deleted or not.

The Photo Stream option will allow for uploading to Photo Streams and for Shared Photo Streams to be toggled as well.

Documents & Data will allow you to disable apps uploading data to iCloud, such as games that save to iCloud. You can also toggle Use Cellular Data to help save data fees when on the go. Find My iPhone’s toggle allows you to enable or disable finding your iOS device with the Find My iPhone service. Storage & Backup allows you to view how much storage you have left in your account. Change Storage Plan lets you pay for more storage. The iCloud Backup toggle allows you to enable or disable backing up to iCloud when plugged in. You can also force the backup by tapping Back Up Now.

The Manage Storage section lets you see which devices are being backed up to iCloud, and control what specifically gets backed up to iCloud and to delete the backup entirely. If you select the backup on the device you’re currently on, then toggles for each app’s backup will be shown, allowing you to disable backing up that app to iCloud. You can disabled syncing of Camera Roll photos and videos to iCloud to save storage space, for example. Or if an app uses a lot of local storage that you don’t necessarily need synced up, you can disable it. Scrolling to the bottom and tapping Delete Backup will allow you to delete that backup form iCloud, but you can’t restore from it in the future.

The Documents & Data section lets you see which apps are storing how much data in iCloud. Apps that just use key value data won’t be shown, but games that use save files to sync up between devices will be shown here, too. You can also delete any files as necessary.

Now you know how to properly use the iCloud settings menu, and knowing is half the battle.

How To: Protect Your Online Identity with 1Password and Two-Factor Authentication

Posted by Carter Dotson on August 5th, 2013

Apple recently suffered a security breach when the iOS Developer Portal had information stolen from it, purportedly by a ‘researcher’. The point is, not even Apple is immune to hackers, and you need to protect your identity as best as you can because you never know who will get their hands on it. You need to secure your online accounts as best as possible.

One way to protect your information is to use an app like 1Password to generate and track secure passwords for all your accounts. There are other apps that can be used to similar effect, but 1Password is one of the most robust solutions and also is cross-platform, with support for syncing up to PC and Mac versions of the app, along with universal iOS support. Now, if you’ve got your hands on it, let’s begin.

You’ll first be prompted to set up and enter a Master Password. Make sure that this is something incredibly memorable and secure, as it is used to decrypt your 1Password info. Developer AgileBits has a handy guide toward ensuring that your master password is secure.

Now, go to categories, choose one, and hit the + button. For this, let’s choose Logins. You can rename the text that says Login to the name of the service. Put in your username. Now, for the password section, you can either put in your current password, or tap the combination lock icon to generate a new one. It’s possible to customize the length, and to customize the ‘recipe’ that comprises the password in order to make it pronounceable (and easier to remember) or to make it as random and secure as possible.

Now, if you go to this login once done customizing its details, tapping on the password will let you copy its data to the clipboard so that you don’t have to remember it, or reveal it to you as a reminder. As well, the app’s web browser lets you automatically input passwords for logins and other info. You can also set up 1Password in the settings to sync up to iCloud and Dropbox to make the info available on other devices.

Passwords, however, can still be cracked; so two-step verification is a great step to take toward ensuring that your identity is protected by giving you verification codes on a trusted device. Apple supports it, as outlined in this earlier guide. Google supports it as well, and it’s well worth setting up as it adds a trust element that’s more than just a string of characters. Stay safe out there!