App Spotlight – Outlook for iOS

Although I gave up on Microsoft’s Windows Phone a couple of years ago I still have plenty of good memories of me and my nifty Windows Phone. In fact if you are in a nostalgic mood you can browse my Windows Phone articles here.

All is not lost for Microsoft in the smartphone world. Even though I gave into Apple empire for both myself personally and my organization all is not lost. That’s because Microsoft has been publishing apps at an amazing rate during the past two years and many of them are simply top notch.

One of my favorite Microsoft Apps is “Outlook”. Why do I recommend trashing Apple’s default mail app and installing Outlook?

Phones with Outlook app.

Innovation and Consolidation 

The Microsoft Outlook app is a mobile productivity powerhouse, bringing your email, attachments, contacts and calendars into easy reach. Outlook’s built-in analytic engine automatically surfaces important email (across multiple accounts) based on your communications, and quick swipe controls allow you to easily triage your email. It’s a great mobile email app, and works with Exchange, Office 365, Outlook.com, Gmail, Yahoo Mail and iCloud email accounts.

Also included with Outlook is your calendar, files (OneDrive, Box, Dropbox & Google Drive) and contacts. If you are using Apple’s default apps you have separate programs for each of these. With Outlook – you have one app to control them all.

Of course if you rely on Microsoft Outlook on your desktop this is the perfect companion app on your smartphone or mobile device.

You can learn more about Microsoft’s Outlook app here.

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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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Apple’s iOS 10.3 Arrives with Little Fanfare

Today Apple delivered iOS 10.3 to compatible devices, adding a small number of new features.

This is the 4th updated to iOS 10. The original iOS 10 release shipped back in September and brought with it some new features and was followed up by iOS 10.1 in October and again iOS 10.2 arrived in December.

Each of those two most recent updates came with a single marquee feature – Portrait mode (for iPhone 7 Plus only) in iOS 10.1 and the new TV app in iOS 10.2. iOS 10.3 is no different in that there is nothiing really flashy here. This time the marquee feature is Find My AirPods, which is a little ridiculous (if you ask me).

In addition to “Find my AirPods”, iOS 10.3 adds a single Apple ID profile interface in Settings, a Touch 3D-compatible weather icon in Maps, and various CarPlay improvements. There’s new file system called Apple File System (APFS) that is better optimized for the NAND storage used in i-Devices. In other words, not much. Or, as BGR puts it, iOS 10.3 is “packed with new features.”

Apple also shipped even less interesting updates to macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. So if you’re using Apple devices, be sure to fire up Software Update to get the latest software.

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Streaming Superbowl 51

It’s Superbowl Sunday and you are in a pickle. You either cancelled your cable (cord cutter) or you on the road. If you are in one of the situations… don’t panic. Their are options to catch the game. I do realize that my mighty Broncos are not in this year’s affair – and that’s OK because they can’t be in every year. I am sure the Broncos will be back in full force next season. This year we have the Patriots & the Falcons.

Here are some tips for catching the game if you don’t have cable or if you are on the road.

Over-the-air

If you have a digital antenna, you can (probably) catch the game, in HD, over-the-air. The channel varies with your local area, but it’ll be broadcast on your local Fox affiliate in some 170 local viewing areas.

Web, Phone, and Tablet

FoxSportsGo.com will host a free livestream of the event, complete with commercials. (Almost) any device with a web browser — smart TVs, laptops, and set-top boxes — can watch the game on the Fox Sports website with no need to log in, or to enter details about your cable package.

The one caveat here is that you can’t watch it on a smartphone, although who really wants to watch the game that way anyway? If you really want to tune in to the action on your smartphone, you’ll need to be a Verizon wireless subscriber. If that’s you, you can grab the app for either Android or iOS devices and stream via the NFL Mobile app.

If you’re on an iOS, Windows, or Android tablet (or Kindle), you can stream the game from the Fox Sports Go app for iOS, Windows, Android, or Amazon.

Set top boxes and video game consoles

SlingTV and PlayStation users are out due to licensing restrictions with the Fox network in Denver, but Xbox, AppleTV, Roku, Chromecast, AndroidTV, and FireTV users are in luck. You’ll have to download the Fox Sports Go app on your respective device, but you’ll be able to see all the action from your device.

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Apple’s iOS 10.3 Released to Beta Testers

This morning I downloaded and installed the beta release of iOS 10.3 on my iPhone 7. This is a promising update and it looks like there are many valuable and useful updates coming to your iPhone. I have a sneak peak here so if you have an iPhone keep on reading!

On the face of things, iOS 10.3 beta 1 doesn’t look to be a huge step forward for the platform, but does actually contain a number of interesting and exciting improvements. First and foremost, Apple has furnished the Find My iPhone app with the ability to locate lost AirPods, meaning you don’t have to worry about losing one of the lose little Pods. Apple has also improved the ability of Siri, much to the pleasure of cricket fans, by allowing Siri to check and report back international and Indian Premiere League cricket match scores. Improving Siri also seems to be hot on the agenda with a number of improvements to SiriKit to bring additional functionality, like paying bills, scheduling (instead of just ordering) rides with Uber and Lyft, and even checking the status of payments.

Apple has also made some smaller improvements, such as adding Reduce Motion support into Safari, bringing a new Podcasts app widget, and even adding HomeKit enhancements, as well as a new hourly weather forecast via 3D Touch actions in Maps app.

iOS 10.3 also means that the iPhone and iPad will be the first devices to adopt Apple’s new file system, APFS.

For a complete list of changes, head on over to our post here: iOS 10.3 Beta 1: All Changes And New Features In One Place.

iOS 10.3 Public Beta 1

Those who are registered on Apple’s Beta Software Program are able to grab iOS 10.3 public beta 1 right now from Settings > General > Software Update. For those who aren’t enrolled yet, head to beta.apple.com to get started.

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Avoiding iPhone’s New Killer Text Message

Has your iPhone been freezing without a reason when receiving texts? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one – and it probably means someone is playing a prank on you.

YouTuber EverythingApplePro has stumbled upon a peculiar new bug in iOS 10 that allows pranksters to crash any iPhone and iPad by simply sending a short text message containing a flag and a rainbow emoji.

The glitch works in two different ways, both of which will freeze your device in varying degrees.

The first method involves a text string that contains a white flag emoji, a zero, a rainbow emoji as well as a hidden character called a variation selector, which can then be copied into iMessage and sent to anyone. The second way is to deliver the same faulty text string by embedding it within a contact’s card and using iCloud drive to share it via iMessage.

Although the former approach seems to affect only devices running iOS 10.1 and below, the latter method will crash all reiterations of iOS 10, including the latest version 10.2.

The bug was initially discovered by French iOS developer Vincent Desmurs, who suggests in his blog that Apple’s handling of the variation selector is to blame for the issue. As the coder explains, the buggy message tells your device to combine the white flag and the rainbow into a rainbow flag, but iOS ultimately crashes when it fails to process the request.

While Apple will likely release a fix in the coming few days, Desmurs has posted some tips on how to deal with the flaw for users experiencing continuous issues with their phones after receiving the text.

This isn’t the first time Apple has struggled with such glitches. Not too long ago, EverythignApplePro came across a similar bug in iOS that could freeze any iPhone and iPad by sending a short three-second video.

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Super Mario Run on the iPhone!

Super Mario Run is exactly what you’d hope and expect it to be. Why anyone thought Nintendo wouldn’t be able to make the most iconic figure in video games work on mobile is a mystery – because this is a very fun – nostalgic app.

This doesn’t mean that Super Mario Run is the greatest entry in the franchise to date. Nor does it mean you should expect the level of sheen that a home console version would offer. To do so is approaching this in completely the wrong fashion, because ultimately this is a mobile app. It’s meant to be enjoyed that way, too.

At its most basic all you’re ever really going to be doing is tapping the screen to make Mario jump as he automatically runs through numerous worlds. You can tell from a mile away that it was developed by Nintendo. It has that recognisable aesthetic, and all the usual additions are here; it’s just that they’ve been stripped back to make it accessible for a more casual audience.

Instantly that will sound offensive to some – gaming’s poster boy being shilled out to the masses. That’s an argument you’re welcome to have, but it doesn’t stop Super Mario Run from being extremely fun. Although you’re only ever in control of jumping, the way the world around you reacts and evolves means it can be far more tricky than it sounds. Mario will hop over small objects, including enemies, automatically, but timing your leaps right is imperative to both do away with foes, fly over giant chasms and execute special moves, the latter of which gets you more coins.

This is of the utmost importance, because coins fuel everything you do in Super Mario Run. While they’ve always been a staple of the franchise, now they not only determine how well you performed, but also act as the reason to replay levels and try to nab every coin you see. This includes special red coins which are even more devilishly placed, and black coins (which unlock after you’ve grabbed all the red ones and are even harder to obtain).

The point is that that’s three reasons to play through each level, which in turn triples your playtime. You’ll want to do that, too, to get your money’s worth, as you’ll probably have the basics done in about an hour.

Super Mario Run is so addictive, however, there’s a good chance you’d have wanted to replay it anyway. It progressively gets harder as you go on, and learning how to time your jumps to get the most out of an attempt is a skill within itself. You could call this an endless runner, and many have, but it’s much more in the vein of a platformer when all is said and done. The precision and care often needed isn’t so far away from Mario games of old.

There’s more to sink your teeth into as well, should the foundations start to wear thin. While it still follows the same basic structure, Toad Rally adds a competitive spin to proceedings. Using ‘Rally Tickets’ you’ve earned in the main game, you’re pitted against an opponent of your choice (and you can do this with friends by adding them into the game). The aim? To outshine your rival as you both race through a level.

This is achieved by timing your jumps right, not getting thumped by goombas, and looking out for the fabled ‘Coin Rush’, a power-up that allows you to increase the rate at which you’re gaining coinage. With each successful step, more toads will cheer you on, and whoever has proved themselves the most worthy by the end wins. Everything you’ve earned then gets shifted over to the creation hub.

Seeming to mimic in-app purchases (without asking for any real money), the kingdom-building element of Super Mario Run literally exists so you can unlock more objects, houses, shops and other bits and pieces for a central play area using your toads and coins. This then lets you play special levels, decorate the world as you see fit, or opens up the option to use other characters such as Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad.

Rather than just a visual change, they alter the pace of the game as – like always – Luigi jumps higher than Mario, so you have to switch up your playing style. That straight away gives you another reason to go around again, and it’s clear Nintendo isn’t looking for this to be a throwaway experience.

Is Super Mario Run a Worthy 10 Dollar App?

The question, then, is if it’s worth $9.99 – which is no doubt a premium price for an iPhone title. The novelty of having Mario on Apple’s device is probably worth it alone, but it’s only fair to say you’re paying a little extra given whose name is attached to it. The mechanics aren’t too out of the realms of what we’ve seen before, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Because it is. And having Mario in it just makes it better still.

It’s no surprise that Nintendo didn’t skimp on Super Mario Run. It’s a Nintendo product and therefore a certain amount of quality is expected. There’s a novelty here, sure, and this isn’t a game-changer like the franchise has produced so many times in the past. It’s good, though. And sometimes that’s enough.

Super Mario Run is a great iPhone game that sticks to the expected formula but makes that formula extremely fun. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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iOS 10.2 Arrives Today

The long wait for iOS 10.2 is finally over. After weeks of beta testing, Apple made the big iOS 10.2 update available to the public this morning, adding a host of new features that make the iPhone and iPad better than ever. I can say I have been using the beta of iOS 10.2 for several weeks now and it it a nice upgrade, bringing a couple new features, new emojis and of course the usual bug fixes.

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 Included in the new goodies are a fresh batch of emoji, a new SOS feature, Apple’s new TV app and much more.
Downloading the Update

To download iOS 10.2, go to Settings >> General >> Software Update. The 1.82GB update can then be downloaded and installed over the air. You can also update your device via iTunes.

What’s New is iOS 10.2?

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus users get a couple of new wallpapers in the new update. There are also more than 100 new emoji, including new characters for shrug, avocado, gorilla, shark and bacon.

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New wallpaper arrives with iOS 10.2

OS 10.2’s biggest new feature is probably the new TV app. Apple is hoping to create a unified experience where users’ subscribed and purchased video content gets grouped together in one app. With the new TV app, you can watch a show on your Apple TV and then pick it up later on your iPhone or iPad.

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New Emojis!

iOS 10.2 also brings hundreds of new highly anticipated emojis to iPhone and iPad. More diverse characters, new professions, expressions like face palm, shrug and fingers crossed, and new emoji representing sports, food, animals and more, can be shared today right from within Messages, the most frequently used app in iOS.

Improved Security – Faster Backups and More

Today’s iOS update also improves security by making backups nearly 1,000 times safer. You’ll get new Message effects called “Celebrate” and “Send with love” as well.

A number of bug fixes and performance enhancements improve stock Apple apps like Mail, News, Music and Photos.

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Securing Your iPhone

If you have a iPhone you have probably upgraded it with iOS 10 by now. In addition to getting comfortable with Apple’s newest operating system there are some security issues you should be aware of as well.

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These settings need to be checked and changed.

1. Today is a leaky set of widgets

Gone are the days when your iPhone acted as a security checkpoint. A new feature, dubbed Today, lets you see at a glance from your lock screen your events for the day, news, and in some cases personal information.

You can turn off each panel by swiping to the right on the Home screen (into the Today pane), then scrolling to the bottom, and selecting Edit. From there, you can remove each panel as necessary.

2. Switch off Home screen features

Or, if you want to turn off the Today screen altogether, you can do so.

Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode, and scroll down to see your lock screen access. The fewer items that are on, the better. From here, you can turn off your Today view, your wallet access, and other features — like Home Control, a new feature of iOS 10.

3. Set a stronger six-digit (or longer) passcode

You can encrypt your entire iPhone or iPad storage with a simple passcode.

Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode, and enter your existing passcode if you have one. If not, select Turn Passcode On, and then select Passcode Options. This gives you the option of a custom alphanumeric or numeric code, or the older four-digit numeric code.

4. Disable fingerprint security with Touch ID

Fingerprints and thumbprints might be convenient, but they can be used against you. Police in the US have compelled suspects to unlock their phones.

To begin, you need to go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode. Make sure the Phone Unlock setting is disabled.

5. Stop your iPhone from tracking you

Your iPhone can track you wherever you go — so long as you’re connect to Wi-Fi while you’re there.

You can stop these “frequent locations” tracking by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services and then Frequent Locations. Once you’re there, turn the option Off. For extra privacy, hit the Clear History button.

6. Enable “Find My iPhone” in case of lost device

Apple’s Find My iPhone can display on a map where your device is if it’s lost or stolen. Head to Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone (or iPad) and make sure that it is switched on. You may need to enter your device passcode to authorize this.

Also, by selecting Send Last Location, with the last few percent of battery life, your device will update Apple’s servers with the last location — just before it powers down.

7. Require password with every app purchase

For your financial security — especially if there are children involved — you might want to ensure that each app requires your Apple ID or your fingerprint. That’s to prevent multiple purchases being made on your credit card after your initial authorization.

When presented with this prompt, select Always Require.

8. Limit apps from tracking your location

Some apps will ask to use your location in the background, even when you’re not actively using them. If you see this message, it means an app wants to keep using your location. You may see popups and other notifications from the app, depending on where you’re located.

For perfect privacy, select Don’t Allow when it displays. You may have to do this a number of times with different apps. This may limit an app’s function. You can always change this setting in your device’s settings.

9. Prevent apps from uploading your data

Your contacts, email, calendar, and your photos are some of your most personal data. When an app wants your data, either for processing or uploading, it will tell you the first time.

You can change each app’s access by going to Settings > Privacy and selecting each app, like Contacts, and swipe on or off which third-party apps you want to grant access to. If you have already granted an app access to your data, switching off the service on your device does not mean that service will delete your data. You will have to contact that company or app maker for this.

10. Allow voice and video iMessages to expire over time

Since iOS 8, you can send voice and video messages through iMessage. These can be indefinitely stored on your device. But the longer you keep them on your device, the greater the risk that those conversations can be read by others.

To reduce the time in which iMessage data is stored on your device, go to Settings > Messages > Keep Messages, and select the time you wish to retain your messages. Go back a step and check the Audio Messages and Video Messages as well. These options offer shorter life-spans.

11. Tame what your notifications say

Previews of your messages and emails can be shown on your lock screen, allowing anyone with access to your iPhone or iPad a glimpse.

To limit this feature, for example, to just showing the recipient of the message, go to Settings > Notificationsand then select Messages and Mail for text messages and iMessages and email, respectively. From each screen, you can change the preview style. For maximum privacy, disable Show Previews so messages won’t be displayed on the lock screen.

12. Set up two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is one of the best preventative methods for stopping hackers from accessing your data. Before Apple lets you into your account, it sends a code to a device that only you will own, which prevents someone from taking your data even with your username and password. Setting up two-factor authentication takes just a few minutes.

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Skype for Business Gets Better on Your iPhone

If you are a Skype for Business user – listen up – it just got better on your iPhone.

Skype for Business Offers Deeper Integration with iOS 10

Thanks to new integration capabilities in iOS 10, Skype for Business calls can work the same way as the native calling experience on Apple’s devices. This, Microsoft says, means you can now seamlessly extend your personal device as a business phone.

So, what does this mean to users?

Lock screen support. You can now accept an incoming Skype for Business call directly from the lock screen. So you no longer need to sign-in and launch the app to receive calls. Skype for Business calls will appear and behave just as regular cellular calls do—including being able to see the caller’s name on the lock screen, Microsoft notes.

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Integrate Skype for Business into your device’s call interface. Now, you can access Skype for Business from the calling interface with just one touch: There’s a new Skype for Business button right in the iOS screen for calls.

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Switch between cellular calls, Skype for Business calls, and other VoIP calls. You can now switch between calls across Skype for Business, your personal cellular line and other VoIP applications that support this new iOS 10 functionality. “If you are in an important Skype for Business conversation and receive an incoming cellular call, you can send the second call to voicemail or put the Skype for Business call on hold to accept the incoming cellular call,” Microsoft notes. “You’ll also see Skype for Business calls in your phone’s call history.”

Handle incoming cellular calls while using Skype for Business. While you’re using Skype for Business, you can now send incoming cellular calls to voicemail or put the Skype for Business call on hold to accept the incoming cellular call.

IT control. The new Skype for Business features are enabled by default on IOS 10. But IT admins who prefer to disable this functionality can do so to a granular level. For example, you may not wish for Skype for Business calls to appear in the native iOS call log.

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Skype for Business is available for iPhone and iPad from the Apple App Store.

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