Taking Control of Your iPhone’s Privacy Settings

As technology continues to take over our lives, the struggle to maintain privacy becomes ever harder. But while we may take special steps to update our privacy settings on Facebook and other social media services it turns out that just having your phone on you at all times has some disturbing consequences.

Did you know that every place you’ve ever visited such as the the local supermarket, the office where you work, the movie theater, your own home is all being stored on your iPhone? This information even includes the exact address and the number of times you’ve been to that location.

Are your feeling a bit freaked out right about now?

How is This Happening?

The reason is a feature hidden deep in your privacy settings called ‘Frequent Locations’, and while it’s in no way new, it often goes unnoticed. For years, the system has been pinpointing the places you visit on a map and logging your arrival and departure times from each location, so your iPhone can help improve the Maps app and serve you best.

Clear your location history settings right here if you are feeling spied on by Apple.

Stopping This – If You Want

So if you want to stop this here’s what you do:

  1. Open your ‘Settings’ menu
  2. Select ‘Privacy’
  3. Select ‘Location Services’
  4. Scroll really far down and select ‘System Services’
  5. Scroll more and select ‘Frequent Locations’
  6. Select ‘Clear History’
  7. Swipe left on the ‘Frequent Locations’ tab to turn it off

There you go – you can now rest easy.  Be warned however – that your Maps app probably will not work as well.

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iPhone Battery Saving Tips

How is the battery on your iPhone? Do you find that it’s running out of power long before your day is done? This is one of the most common problems I hear. The first thing that most complainers of a “bad battery” state to me is that “I hope my battery isn’t going bad”. The good news is that very often it is not the battery that is bad – but a problem with one of the apps or settings on your phone.

The challenge here is that you need to be a detective to figure out what is draining your battery. I have some things you can try if you are a victim of a “bad battery” on your iPhone.

Lets take a look at some things you can do to improve the battery life of your iPhone before you drop hard earned cash on a new one.

First head over to Settings > Battery and take a look at the Battery Usage list. Tap anywhere on the list to change it from showing percentages to also show you a breakdown of how much screen time and background time the running apps are taking.

What to do if your iPhone has a battery drain issue
Battery Usage screen in iOS

Remember that while some apps — the Music app for example — are designed to work in the background, most apps are not and could be the cause of the problem.

While you’re here also look to see if you have No Cell Coverage on the list. If this is responsible for high battery usage then you’ve found your problem — being out of cell coverage or in an area with poor coverage. If this figure is high, try putting the iPhone into Airplane Mode when cell coverage is poor (you can still turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth independently) and see if that helps.

If you notice an app with unexplained high background usage then you may have solved your problem. Go into Settings > General > Background App Refresh and turn off background refresh for that specific app.

After you’ve done this it is a good idea to check to see if the battery drain issue is any better by repeating the tests you carried out here. If things are now good, then you’re done. If things are better then look for another app that may be working in the background where it shouldn’t and switch that off too. And if things are no better, undo the change you made previously.

Push Email

Another feature that could be draining your battery is push email, which can actually prevent your iPhone from going to sleep properly.

Head over to Settings > Mail > Accounts > Fetch New Data and temporarily disable push and see if that helps. If you have multiple email accounts coming to your handset then you can click on them separately and disable push separately and see if that works.

I find that push works well for iCloud accounts but routinely causes problems with other third-party email providers.

Get your apps under control

Apps can have an indirect effect on battery life in a couple of ways.

  • Working in the background.
  • Popping up notifications

This is why you need to get your apps under control. Here are a few ways to do that.

  • Delete apps you are not using
  • For apps that you don’t use much, disable features such as notifications (Settings > Notifications), background refresh (Settings > General > Background App Refresh), and also location services (Settings > Privacy > Locations Services).

If all else fails…

If none of the above helped you narrow down the battery drain problem you are facing then you’re down to a few final options:

  • Wipe your iPhone and either reinstall everything from a backup (which risks bringing the problem back) or setting it up from scratch (which is time consuming).
  • Take your iPhone to an Apple Store and let the Geniuses attempt to fix it by laying their healing hands on it.
  • Carry a portable battery pack with you to recharge during the day. This can be a great cost saving solution that at least will allow you to save some time before going out any buying a new phone.

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BigKeys for Big Hands On Your iPhone

If you are like me you sometimes wish that either the keyboard on your iPhone was bigger or that your hands were smaller. While I can’t really help you with the size of your hands I can give you a tip how to make your iPhone Keyboard a little bigger.

Now that’s a keyboard I can work with!

If the size of the keys on the built in iPhone keyboard has ever caused you frustration I have an app for you try out.

Because iOS supports third-party keyboards there are a couple of good solutions out there for replacing the built-in keyboard. One of my favorite keyboards for the iPhone is Microsoft’s Wordflow. I have written about this nifty little keyboard a couple of times and you can check out those articles here if you are interested. However if all you really need is an app that gives you bigger keys on your keyboard I might just have a solution for you.

If you are looking to increase the size of your keyboard check out Big Keys. It’s an iOS app normally worth $2.99 but is free at the moment. Big Keys lets you increase the size of the keyboard keys. It works best in landscape mode but it does help in portrait mode as well.

How to Try out Big Keys

Download and install Big Keys from the App Store. You then need to add the app as a keyboard. Open the Settings app. Go to General>Keyboard, and add a new keyboard. From the list of keyboards, select Big Keys.

Next, open any app that you can type in. Tap the globe key and select ‘Big Key’ from the available keyboards to switch to it.

You will also need to open the app (it has it’s own icon) to customization the text & emoji sizes.

This app is not perfect but it is simple and may help if you have trouble with the keyboard size.

Good Luck if you give it a try!

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iOS 11 Looks to Save Lives

What took so long for this…

When you’re driving, it’s all too easy to become distracted by a notification popping up on your smartphone.

But that distraction could soon be a thing of the past with Apple’s latest iOS update.

Image result for driving texting

Apple announced yesterday at its WWDC conference that it is launching a ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ feature that will automatically prevent notifications from popping up when it senses that you are in the car. I applaud this new feature and hope to see it in all mobile devices sooner then later.

The feature will be rolled out worldwide as part of Apple’s iOS 11 update later this fall.

The announcement of the feature comes just six months after Apple was sued for not including one like it.

The case involved a fatal car accident that was caused by a driver who was using FaceTime at the time of the crash.

Do Not Disturb While Driving can detect when your phone is connected to a car using Bluetooth or a cable, or if the car is moving, and withhold any notifications that could distract you.

This includes text messages, WhatsApp messages and news updates.

The iPhone screen will also lock to prevent drivers from accessing their apps while driving.

The feature is optional for passengers in the car, who can choose to disable it if they would like.

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iOS 11 Will Force Retirement of Older iPhones

If you are using an older iPhone you may want to consider upgrading soon. It looks like Apple is pushing you in that direction.

Apple has officially announced its new iOS Image result for ios 1111, and since this update will only run on 64-bit devices, this means it’s the end of the life for some devices.

End of the Road includes:

  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPad 4

This means that the oldest Apple devices to support iOS 11 will be the iPhone 5s and iPad Air.

iOS 11 will also mean the end of the road for all 32-bit apps. Any that are not updated by the time iOS 11 is released will stop working.

iOS 10 has a built-in feature for highlighting which apps are affected:

Settings > General > About > Applications > App Compatibility

iOS 11 will be available as a public beta for supported devices in July, and is scheduled for release in the fall. I will be installing the beta so that I can report to everyone what to expect.

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Skype Gets Big Update

Skype is getting its biggest face-lift in years, ditching its light-blue theme for a customizable interface and features aimed at the way young people communicate, from emojis to a Snapchat-like recap of the day.

In addition to the cosmetic changes being made by Microsoft, the update modernizes Skype’s underlying infrastructure, years in the making, in an effort to give the service the reliability needed to compete with upstarts in the crowded world of communications software.

Image result for skype reboot

The service’s former backbone — peer-to-peer connections that linked a caller to their target through a direct line — is being replaced in the update by Microsoft’s network of data centers. Some of users’ complaints about the service, including phantom notifications or calls that were missed entirely should – for the most part be resolved by this upgrade.

Skype, which Microsoft scooped up for $8.5 billion in 2011, was a pioneer in voice and video calls made over the internet, instead of wired telephone connections or cellular networks.

Today, such internet communications tools are commonplace, and some have lapped Microsoft’s product in usage.

Facebook Messenger and Facebook-owned WhatsApp each boast more than one billion users. China-focused QQ and WeChat aren’t far behind, and Google and Apple are both investing in communications tools tied to their expansive mobile platforms.

A year ago Microsoft said Skype had 300 million “monthly connected users,” little changed from 2013.

In addition to the new Snapchat-like “Highlights” feature that compiles recent photos and videos into a shareable reel, the update places greater emphasis on tools to find friends and quickly fires off emojis or reactions in response to chats and videos.

Automated chatbots, a push by Microsoft as it aims to build more intelligent software, have been given a prominent home in the new Skype. Through a text window, users can summon Expedia to search for flight prices, or ask StubHub about concert tickets. But that functionality remains limited, and many software developers are only now getting their hands on the tools to make such Skype bots.

The update will began going out late last week, first targeting mobile devices running Android and, afterward, iOS. The software is expected to make its way to the desktop edition this summer.

Skype’s workplace cousin, Skype for Business, isn’t affected by the change.

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10 Cool Hidden iPhone Tips

Happy Memorial Day Weekend Dedicated Readers. Here are some cool tips if you have an iPhone!

Apple’s iOS platform has a very simple and intuitive user interface which in many ways explains its popularity.  However the platform continues to grow more and more complex with each passing year. The iPhone is the kind of device that just about anyone can pick up and figure out how to use quickly, and yet it also hides all sorts of cool features and functions that even the most savvy users probably don’t know about.

Image result for iphone tips

Learning about cool secret features that are hiding in your iPhone is always fun because it makes your phone feel fresh and new. There are countless hidden tricks with more being discovered all the time. Here are some of my favorite ones that in most cases will be helpful to iPhone users.

Delete text faster: When you tap and hold the backspace key on the iPhone’s keyboard, the delete rate speeds up after a while. But here’s a trick we bet you didn’t know — if you press harder on the backspace key on any iPhone with 3D Touch, it’ll speed up instantly. Deleting will also slow back down if you release some of the pressure.

Quickly and easily turn off the flashlight: Being able to turn on the iPhone’s flashlight from Control Center while the phone is locked is super convenient. But having to swipe back in and tap the button again to turn it off can be annoying, especially when your hands are full. Instead, simply start to swipe our lock screen to the left like you’re opening the camera, but only swipe a tiny bit and then let go. Your phone will think you’re opening the camera app and the flash will turn off.

As someone who walks a dog late at night every day, I can confirm that this trick definitely comes in handy when you’ve got an iPhone 7 Plus in one hand and a bag full of 🐶💩 in the other.

See all open Safari tabs: Isn’t that cascading list of Safari tabs annoying? Instead of scrolling around looking for something, turn your phone to landscape while on any tab. Then pinch the screen like you’re zooming out on a photo, and you’ll see all of your open tabs like this:

Open Spotlight in any app: Sometimes you want to search your phone without opening the Notification Center. You can — with any app open, just pull down from the top of the screen like you’re opening Notification Center, but stop when just the search field is visible and you feel a little haptic vibration.

Easy package tracking: Did someone send you a package and then text you the tracking number? Tap and hold on the tracking number in the Messages app and an option will pop up right there to track it.

Prioritize app downloads: Via Reddit, did you know you could prioritize your app downloads? If you’re in the middle of downloading and/or updating a whole bunch of apps but there’s one in particular you need, just 3D Touch the icon and you’ll get this menu:

Infinite zoom on any photo: It’s kind of annoying that you can only zoom in to a certain point on photos you capture on your iPhone. Check this out — tap the edit button, crop the photo just a tiny little bit, and save it. Now you can zoom in infinitely! Things start to get a little weird after you zoom in too far, so try not to get lost.

Search for words on a webpage: Okay, this one is HUGE. Most people have no idea that you can actually search for words on a webpage in mobile Safari just like you can in a desktop browser. One any webpage, type the word you’re looking for in the URL bar but don’t tap “Go.” Instead, scroll down and you’ll see an option to search for the word, and you can then tap through each instance. Here, you can see that I searched for the word “echo”:

Close all Safari tabs at once: This is a big one for people who leave tons of tabs open and decide they need to start fresh. Just tap and hold on the tab switcher button in the bottom-right corner in Safari, no 3D Touch needed. A little menu will then pop up and give you the option to close all tabs.

Drag share sheet options to rearrange them: Here’s another trick that comes courtesy of Reddit. If you want to quickly reorder your options on the iOS share sheet, simply tap on one and drag it around. Here’s a screenshot that shows how it works:

There you go – 10 cool hidden iPhone tips. These are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hidden features in Apple’s iOS.

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Microsoft Looks to Invade Your iPhone

I love my iPhone. However I have been slowly morphing it into a Windows Phone. If you are a long time dedicated reader you surely know that I was a big fan of Microsoft’s much maligned smartphone. I do still hold out hope for Microsoft in the smartphone world but I would not bet much on it. However all of that being said there are quite a few Microsoft apps that can help you get the Microsoft experience you deserve and improve the iPhone experience along the way. Here are a couple of my favorite Microsoft apps.

Microsoft Word Flow

Word Flow, the keyboard Microsoft puts it brand on, has grown from an experiment to a charming and fully-realized alternative in recent months.

Word Flow’s big hook is that, with a couple of taps, you can contort the keyboard to a shape that rounds out on the left or right. This is less accurate than its full-sized mode, but it does work, and it makes Word Flow the most convenient option to use with one hand.

Image result for microsoft word flow ios

The keyboard itself isn’t as snappy or active with suggestions as SwiftKey, but it yields few complaints with both swipe and touch typing. It’s all stable and smooth. There are several themes to use with it, too.

Word Flow’s narrow lead comes from its search function — as of late last year, you can search Bing for GIFs and web links that can be shared right from the keyboard. You can look up Microsoft-using contacts as well. This is all much faster than going in and out of a browser.

Put it all together, and you have a surprisingly full-featured option that’s both smart and comfortable.

Outlook

Outlook’s design is very clean, but still unique. That’s fine; I’m not looking for something to mimic Mail.app exactly. Do I want it to be a complete departure from the normal look and feel of iOS? No, but I want a unique experience.

Image result for outlook ios

Outlook has 5 icons across the bottom: Mail, Calendars, Files, People, and Settings. The way it’s laid out makes it feel like a complete communications/file management ecosystem. You are only one tap away from getting what you need. It uses a light theme with black and blue text throughout. I know some people like darker themes, but I feel like the design is very easy on the eyes. I don’t ever feel like the UI is distracting; it melts away and allows me to focus on what I need to see.

From a usability perspective, Outlook really shines. It provides me with just enough options to make it my own, but not so many that I am overwhelmed or spend time tinkering.

I love the built-in calendar function. I love being able to see email and my schedule in one app. The compose screen is simple to use as well. It allows me to change which account I am sending from, add files, photos, send calendar invites, or see my calendar availability.

One important aspect of all third-party email apps is which types of email services it supports. Outlook supports Office 365, Outlook.com, Exchange, Yahoo, iCloud, Google, and IMAP. (POP3 isn’t supported, so if you require it, you need to look elsewhere.)

Outlook has support for iPhones with 3D Touch features. From the 3D Touch menu, you can hop right to your calendar, create a new event, or start a new email. I find myself using the View Calendar function frequently. A Notification Center widget and watchOS app are included as well.

Outlook supports push notifications for new emails, or just “important ones” with a feature Outlook calls Focused Inbox.

Focused Inbox sorts your email so you see the important ones first. It does this by considering past emails from a particular sender and your address book. You can also reclassify emails as you go in order to help train it. The calendar feature can also notify you of upcoming appointments as well as send short emails letting the people in your meeting know you are running late.

The snooze/delay function of email was made popular by Mailbox, but has since become adopted by a handful of other apps. Outlook offers a feature that allows you to control which folder your snoozed emails are stored. Your options for snoozing are in a few hours, this evening, tomorrow morning, or a custom time. Outlook doesn’t offer the ability to customize these times, and I’d like to see that added in the future.

Like I mentioned earlier, I love the fact that Outlook has a built-in calendar. It also has native support for a number of file systems. It includes OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. While this isn’t as important for attaching files (due to document providers), it does offer some advantages. There is a file screen that shows your most recent files for cloud document apps, as well as making saving attachments faster.

A recent update added third-party app integration through “add-ins.” Add-ins let you turn any email into a Trello card, save a message to Evernote, insert a GIF, translate messages, and more. These are currently only available to users with Office 365 email addresses, however.

Overall, Outlook is the best Mail.app replacement, especially if you are a Microsoft 365 user.

Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint & Word

These are full-fledged mobile versions of Excel, Word and PowerPoint. All of the apps are jam-packed with advanced formatting and editing features, although they don’t include quite as many options as the desktop versions. They’re also beautifully designed and touch optimized, with big, easy-to-tap buttons.

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Important Security Patches Arrive for Apple Products

This past week Apple released multiple security upgrades yesterday for its iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS systems, addressing dozens of security bugs across its devices. The iOS update fixes 41 security flaws, including some that could potentially allow a remote attacker to execute malicious code on an Apple mobile device.

The update is well-timed, as most of the world is still reeling from the latest WannaCry ransomeware attck that has been racing across the globe since late last week. While the ransomeware attack targets Windows systems, Mac users are likely to feel a little safer knowing they have the most recent security patches installed.

Mostly Security Fixes

Apple attributed almost half of the bug discoveries to Project Zero, Google’s internal security and bug-hunting initiative. The most significant patch Apple released last week was for macOS. The update includes several fixes to the operating systems kernel, some of which address security vulnerabilities that would allow an application to gain access to kernel privileges as well as execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges.

The iBooks application received several fixes for bugs that would have, among other things, allowed a maliciously crafted book to open Web sites on its own without user permission. Meanwhile SQLite, a relational database management system, received four separate patches for issues that could have given an attacker remote access to a user’s device.

Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS, also received a major security upgrade. Several of the fixes relate to similar problems as those addressed in the macOS patch, such as the SQLite vulnerabilities, and kernel and iBooks bugs. Another major component of the OS that was patched was WebKit, a component that helps power the Safari browser.

No New Functionality, But Some Glitches Fixed

The watchOS update includes improvements and bug fixes while the tvOS update provides bug fixes and other enhancements to the fourth-generation Apple TV.

WebKit received a whopping eight patches, including several that would have permitted hackers to attack a user’s device through malicious Web content. The upgrade also changes the way Wi-Fi network credentials are handled to prevent having a person’s username and password stolen when accessing a malicious hotspot.

The security fixes will likely be the foremost in users’ minds as they rush to update their devices, but they are not the only changes Apple rolled out yesterday. While the upgrades do not appear to include any major new functionality, they do address several performance issues that should make the user experience a bit more pleasant.

On the Macintosh platform that includes a fix for the problem where audio may stutter when played through USB headphones. The update fixes an issue affecting some enterprise and education clients that may cause the system date to be set to 2040, and also prevents a potential kernel panic from occurring when starting up from a NetInstall image. All of the updates can be downloaded over the air.

If you have any apple products you should take the time to update its operating system.

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Microsoft Sprinkles Your iPhone

Microsoft has launched a new iOS camera app called Sprinkles. I am not sure if we actually need another iOS camera app, but I guess Microsoft thinks we do. I do think Microsoft picked a cool name for this app. It’s called Sprinkles. With Sprinkles Microsoft is taking on a genre currently dominated by Snapchat. Like Snapchat Sprinkles brings with it captions, stickers, and emojis and more fun stuff.

There was a time, not so long ago, when you’d take a photograph and that would be that. Each photo would capture a moment in time, and remain unsullied by filters and other silly stuff. And then Snapchat arrived on the scene, and changed everything.

Microsoft’s Sprinkles

Sprinkles is an iOS camera app which lets you do a host of different things with each photo you snap. You can add your own caption, add stickers and emojis, and place virtual photobooth-style props about your person.

Sprinkles utilizes Microsoft’s machine learning capabilities. The app will suggest captions based on what’s in the photo, resize and align stickers to fit your face, auto-detect your age, and inform you who your celebrity lookalike is.

Sprinkles is a strange app, but one that’s likely to appeal to a certain demographic. That being the younger generation who need to add something, anything, to a photo before letting anyone see it. Which is, we assume, why Microsoft called this app Sprinkles in the first place.

Sprinkles is available for free on the iTunes App Store right now.

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