iOS 10 beta 5 Arrives on My iPhone 6S

After a very bad experience with the first incarnation of the iOS 10 beta I downgraded back to iOS 9 back in early July. Yesterday I decided to give iOS 10 beta 5 a chance and “upgraded” my iPhone 6S. So what did I find? Is it more stable that beta 1? Was it worth the 2 hours of install and setup time? Will iOS 10 bring new excitement to the iPhone user? Well lets take a look at what I have found so far during the past day with iOS 10 beta 5.

While the new update is still a bit buggy, there are some improvements over the beta 1.

If you have been on the beta for a while and have been fidgeting with the iOS Photos app, you will have noticed the new facial recognition feature that groups images based on faces. Well, if you have arranged everything on your iPhone in a long list of groups, it’s all going away. This is because the new update will scan through your folders once again and rearrange whatever is currently available.

If you noticed that your iPhone 6s Smart Battery case was misbehaving after the last update, this has now been fixed. The case that is available for the iPhone 6 and 6s should now work properly.

Bored of the iOS 9 lock sound when you lock the phone? Well, there is finally something new in iOS 10 beta 5 for you. The new lock sound seems to have moved on from click to sound of door closing.

The output icon seen in the Control Center gets an update as well. The same goes for the Music app, and other locations in iOS, that seem to be slightly tweaked.

The date now appears in the swipe to the right from the home screen and even in the notifications panel (swipe right in there again).

All-in-all it’s just some minor fine-tuning taking place in iOS 10 beta 5 compared to what we noticed in the earlier betas. While it iOS 10 may be a bit annoying in the notifications area and the Control Center for some, it may seem like a good move that spaces things out for others. Like it or hate it, the bolder new look is here to stay.

Apple’s iPhone 7 Brings Small Changes

In case you missed it Apple’s new iPhone, appropriately named, the iPhone7 will be here soon. What can we expect from Apple with the new model? Will it be worth an upgrade?

Here are some of the changes that I have found are coming.

The new iPhone will reportedly feature a longer ear speaker. Also the ambient light sensor, which automatically adjusts the screen’s brightness based on the surrounding light, will swap positions from the left to the right side of the phone.

The proximity sensor, which detects the distance between the phone and your ear, will adopt a “dual specification”. This could mean the phone will have two such sensors to provide faster and more accurate readings. The rear camera face on the iPhone 7 will become larger. And the iPhone 7 Plus (the larger phone) may sport a dual rear camera which has been rumored for some time so it will be nice to see if this actually does happen. This upgrade could push sales the Apple’s plus sized phone.

Oddly this year’s iPhone will apparently only offer these minor physical changes, and that it will be next year’s model that will bring much bigger design changes.

This is also apparently going to be a 256GB model available which will also make many happy as well.

You can expect the iPhone7 to arrive this September.

 

It appears if you can wait another year you will be able to skip this one.

Microsoft Word Flow Arrives on iOS

Until voice-to-text texting is perfected, Microsoft is hoping that iOS users will be content with one-handed texting. Microsoft has released a new keyboard as an iOS app that not only enables one-handed texting but also provides the ability to predict the next words users want to write.

The Word Flow app was developed by Garage, Microsoft’s in-house experimental projects division, and is now available in Apple’s App Store for users in the U.S. It was made available for beta sign-ups earlier this month.

Word Flow was originally developed for Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform and is also available for desktop users via the Windows 10 operating system. It comes on the heels of the Hub keyboard, another recent offering from the Garage division. The Hub keyboard, which is available now for iOS devices, acts as more of a multitasking and productivity tool, letting Office 365 users share and search for documents from OneDrive, SharePoint and other Microsoft services.

Game Changer?

Independent technology analyst Jeff Kagan told us that if Word Flow is successful, it could be a game changer for mobile device owners. “Users love the iPhone, but hate it being so large they now need to use two hands to do anything,” said Kagan. “Texting used to be so easy, then devices enlarged, making texting a two-hand activity.”The Word Flow app differs by promising users faster texting thanks to the ability to swipe input instead of typing it. The app’s one-handed typing mode is displayed by way of an arc-shaped keyboard, allowing users to employ only their thumbs to type as they hold their devices. Users can customize Word Flow’s background with one of the images included in the app, or use an image of their own. Microsoft plans to add more images, including arc-shaped images to fit with the keyboard’s design.

Kagan said he was surprised Apple didn’t find a way to bring its own one-handed texting app to its customers before Microsoft had the chance. Although Apple initially kept developers from offering system-wide keyboards on iOS devices, the tech giant was slow to add advanced features to the native iPhone keyboard, leaving a need for others to fill.

SwiftKey Integration

Apple opened up its mobile operating system to outside developers in 2014 with iOS 8. Around the same time, Microsoft began using app development as a way to gain traction in the mobile market. In February, Microsoft bought London-based keyboard maker SwiftKey, with plans to integrate SwiftKey’s next-word prediction technology into Word Flow.

Microsoft plans to continue offering SwiftKey’s own apps. When Microsoft bought SwiftKey, it had been installed on about 300 million devices across Android, iOS and other platforms.

If Microsoft’s Word Flow can be switched from one side to the other for right-handers or left-handers, and if it really works well with one hand, this could be…. a game changer!

Wi-Fi Calling Starts to Catch On

Here is a new feature – at least to Verizon Wireless that I have been waiting for and it has finally arrived, at lest for some of us. Wi-Fi Calling is arriving and for those of us who work, live or visit areas that have poor cellular coverage this will be a winner.

 

What is Wi-Fi Calling and How To Use It

Wi-Fi calling allows your iPhone to place and receive phone calls and text messages over a Wi-Fi network. If you have a weak cellular signal but a solid Wi-Fi signal, your iPhone will automatically switch over and route calls and texts via Wi-Fi.

Apple first added support for Wi-Fi calling to the iPhone with iOS 8, and it’s gradually becoming supported on more and more carriers, including the latest addition of Verizon Wireless on iOS 9.3. You can only use this if your cellular carrier supports it.

This is disabled by default, so you’ll have to enable it before it will do anything. Once you’ve enabled it, it will “just work�? and your phone will automatically switch to Wi-Fi when necessary. You’ll see this indicated in the status bar — for example, it will say “T-Mobile Wi-Fi�? rather than “T-Mobile LTE�? if you’re using T-Mobile and your phone is currently connected to Wi-Fi rather than the LTE cellular network. Dial a number or send a text message in the normal way while “Wi-Fi�? appears in your status bar and it will connect over the Wi-Fi connection instead of the cellular one.

It’ll automatically switch between cellular and Wi-Fi networks as you move out of an area covered by Wi-Fi, so you don’t have to do anything different or even think about it.

This only works if your carrier has enabled the necessary support on their end. The carrier has to be able to automatically route calls and texts to you over the Internet.

How to Set Up Wi-Fi Calling

You just need two things to use this feature:

  • A carrier that supports Wi-Fi calling: In the US, T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T support this. Verizon is also very recently began to support this – as long as you are running iOS 9.3 or higher.  More carriers should support it in the future.
  • A special note about Verizon Wireless. As of this report Verizon Wireless only supports Wi-Fi Calling on iPhone 6 and newer and Samsung Galaxy S6 and newer. I am sure more models will be supported soon so stay tuned if you have a different mobile device.
  • An iPhone 5c or newer: Older iPhones don’t support this. You’ll need an iPhone 5c, 5s, 6, 6s, or a newer model to use this feature.

How to Enable Wi-Fi CallingIMG_5619

To enable Wi-Fi calling, open the Settings app on your iPhone, scroll down, and tap Phone. Tap “Wi-Fi Calling�? under Calls and activate the “Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone�? slider.

You should also tap “Update Emergency Address�? and ensure your carrier has a correct address. If you ever dial 911 over a Wi-Fi network, the emergency responders will see your call associated with the emergency address you enter here.

You will also need to log into your cellular account and turn on “Wi-Fi Calling” for each phone. Be aware that Verizon calls this “HD Voice”. Turning this feature on is free – but you will need to do this as well.

Living With Wi-Fi Calling

Wi-Fi calling isn’t a feature you willl notice a lot after you enable it, but it will make your iPhone work much better in areas with low cellular reception but a solid Wi-Fi signal. For someone like me where I have very poor cellular coverage in and around my home this is huge!

Securing Your iPhone

With the recent FBI – Apple dispute regarding unlocking a iphone now is a good time at reviewing various ways to make sure your iPhone is safe from hacking and breaking into.

The Lock Code

By default, we are allowed six-digit unlock codes. If those six digits are chosen carefully, it’s a strong way to protect your phone from most threats. The reason for this is due to a couple of security features from Apple and the sheer number of passcode combinations possible.

The first security feature is the requirement that all password combinations are attempted on the phone itself. The good news here is that currently, it is not possible to connect an iPhone running iOS 9 to a machine in order to brute force the passcode.

The second feature adds a delay to each attempt. This delay gets longer as you guess incorrectly. After four incorrect guesses, the attacker has to wait one minute before trying again, and then five minutes, 15 minutes and finally one hour.

There’s a third feature as well, but it has to be turned on. In Settings > Touch ID & Passcode, you’ll find an option at the bottom that says Erase Data; enable it.

erase-data

Enabling this feature gives attackers 10 tried to guess your passcode and then wipes all of the data from your phone.

All of the features above are what the Department of Justice ordered Apple to write new firmware for. If Apple had created this new firmware, it would allow the FBI to bypass these security features and simply guess all possible password combinations. If allowed, the FBI could crack a six-digit numeric passcode in less than a day.

Of course, if you just want to call it a day and put this whole thing to rest right now, you have the option to create longer passcodes, or even to make them alphanumeric. In Settings > Touch ID & Passcode > Change Passcode, you have the option to set it to alphanumeric after you input your current passcode.

passcode-options

A 12-digit passcode with letters, numbers and special characters, for example, would take 4 million years to crack using current brute force techniques and hardware. Even if Apple did create the software the FBI is asking for, it’d be all but meaningless. However few people are going to take the time to create a password this long.

Disable Touch ID

This may surprise you but sadly it has been proven repeatedly that the fingerprint sensor is not really a secure way to unlock your phone. To disable Touch ID, Settings > Touch ID & Passcode and then disable all of the settings that use the Touch ID.

touch-id

The strongest passcode in the world means nothing if you can defeat a fingerprint sensor with a piece of plastic.

Instead of Touch ID you really want to force attackers to enter a passcode, and a long one at that.

Another problem with the TouchID is that there is also a precedent that police can force you to unlock a phone with a fingerprint sensor, even though they can’t require your passcode without a warrant. Weird huh.

Stop Automatic Backups – They are NOT Secure

iCloud backups are not secure. Your files reside on Apple’s servers, non-encrypted, and are easily accessible by Apple, and anyone else who has a court order.

Instead of iCloud backups start making local backups of your iPhone using iTunes. I realize this is not the most convenient of solutions, but if you are looking for the safest way to protect your backups, this is it.

If you’re extra tinfoil hat-y, you can even disable the internet while making these backups, but it’s not necessary.

Don’t forget to encrypt the backup by checking the appropriate box.

itunes-elcapitan-encrypt-iphone-backup

Now, you can store the encrypted backup file in iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, or any other cloud storage provider, or locally on your hard drive.

More Considerations

The steps above are all reasonably easy changes to make and none require a significant shift in user behavior. They’re also going to prove remarkably efficient at keeping attackers out of your iPhone.

From here, the only common vulnerabilities are going to be from third-party applications, malware or perhaps a Bluetooth exploit, but the latter is said to have been fixed in iOS 9.

Stingrays are also a real threat, but even they can’t decrypt files within an iPhone. Instead, they trick your phone into believing it’s connecting to a cell tower and then handing over call and messaging data.

If you’re worried about bulk data collection tools, like the Stingray, you can avoid calls, email or sending text messages and instead opt for a secure messaging app that uses end-to-end encryption, such as Signal orChatSecure.

Again, no security solution is perfect but if you were looking to protect your information, while not significantly altering usage behavior, we hope these steps will help.

Apple Releases iOS 9.2.1 Update

Today Apple released iOS 9.2.1, marking the first update to iOS 9 since iOS 9.2 launched in December of 2015. iOS 9.2.1 has been in testing since December 16, with developers and public beta testers receiving a total of three betas before its public launch.

Today’s iOS 9.2.1 release is available as an over-the-air update to all iOS 9 users. A minor update, iOS 9.2.1 is the fifth update to iOS 9 in total, following the launches of iOS 9.0.1,iOS 9.0.2, iOS 9.1, and iOS 9.2.

iOS 9.2.1, as a 9.x.x update, is minor in scale, focusing mainly on under-the-hood performance improvements and bug fixes rather than outward-facing changes. According to Apple’s release notes, the update includes security improvements and bug fixes, including a fix for a significant Mobile Device Management issue that affected enterprise customers.

This update contains security updates and bug fixes including a fix for an issue that could prevent the completion of app installation when using an MDM server.

iOS 9.2.1 will be followed by iOS 9.3, which has also been seeded to developers for testing purposes. Set to be released in the spring, iOS 9.3 will be a major update that introduces a new Night Shift feature to cut down on blue light exposure during the evening for better sleep and brings new educational features.

iOS 9.3 also includes new Quick Actions for iPhone 6s users and it introduces updates for apps and features like Apple News, Notes, Health, Siri, CarPlay, and More.

Facebook’s iOS Battery Drain Resolved?

If you are an iPhone owner who uses Facebook I recommend applying the latest iOS Facebook app update as soon as possible. This is because you will probably find that the battery life of your device improves after the update. After ongoing complaints about iPhone battery drain, Facebook reported last week that it has released a new version of its app that resolves two key issues leading to the problem.

Apparently, iPhones with the app were prone to experiencing CPU spin, according to Facebook engineering manager Ari Grant. “A CPU spin is like a child in a car asking, ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?’ with the question not resulting in any progress to reaching the destination,” he explained in an update on his Facebook page.

The other culprit behind fast-draining iPhone batteries was Facebook’s approach to managing audio sessions, Grant said. Even when users left the Facebook app after watching a video, the audio session sometimes stayed open as if the app was playing audio silently.

“This is similar to when you close a music app and want to keep listening to the music while you do other things, except in this case it was unintentional and nothing kept playing,” Grant noted. “The app isn’t actually doing anything while awake in the background, but it does use more battery simply by being awake. Our fixes will solve this audio issue and remove background audio completely.”

The description of the updated app on the Apple App Store mentioned that “continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life,” but Grant noted in his post that the location history feature didn’t have anything to do with the battery draining issue many iPhone users have been experiencing.

So there you go, if you use Facebook on your iPhone make sure you go to the app store and update the app. Your battery will thank you!

Apple Updates It’s iOS

Last week Apple released a new version of its iOS. Although it is primarily a maintenance release of the mobile operating system, the upgrade includes some improvements for music and news enthusiasts.

The release, iOS 9.2, improved Apple Music, the company’s streaming music service, in a number of ways.

For example, users can create new playlists when adding a song to a playlist.

Also when adding a song to a playlist, the most recently changed playlist will appear at the top of the display stack.

Downloading albums or playlists from a personal library in Apple’s cloud is easier, too, the company said. All you need to do is tap the new iCloud download button.

There is also a new download indicator that appears by tracks displayed in My Music and playlists will make identifying those songs easier.

The update has made browsing the Apple Music catalog for classical music friendlier, too, with the display of works, composers and performers.

Better News, Mail, Books

Improvements also have been made to Apple’s News, Mail and iBooks.

In News, Apple added a Top Stories section that lets followers stay up to date on the important news of the day. That feature, though, is limited to U.S., UK and Australian users.

A Mail Drop feature allows email attachments to be as large as 5 MB in size.

In addition, 3D Touch, added to iBooks, allows you to pop and peek at pages from the table of contents, notes and bookmarks, or from search results inside a book.

You can now multitask while listening to audio books, too. As you listen, you can browse your library, read other books, or explore the iBooks Store.

For shutterbugs who don’t use their iPhone for all their photographic needs, Apple added support for the USB Camera Adapter to import photos and videos from external cameras and camcorders.

30 Security Fixes

The updated also contained some 30 security fixes.

They include patching an iBook vulnerability that allowed a maliciously crafted iBook file to expose user information and fixing a Siri bug that allowed a person with physical access to an iOS device to use Siri to read notifications of content not set to be displayed at the lock screen.

I believe that taking the time to update your smartphone with the latest OS is always a good idea so be sure to check this one out.

Cortana Arrives on iOS

Siri has competition from Cortana now for your personal assistance attention. One of the things I miss most from my Windows Phone is Cortana. Now she has arrived on your iPhone.

Microsoft’s digital personal assistant, Cortana, received an intelligence boost this summer with the release of the Windows 10 operating system. Now Microsoft is expanding its intelligent-assistant ambitions even further by bringing Cortana to select iOS, Android and Cyanogen mobile devices.

Two months before the late-July release of Windows 10, Microsoft had already pledged to bring Cortana to iOS and Android devices as a more limited-capability phone companion app. Cortana for Android was released in beta in August, while the iOS version became available to beta testers in November.

The Cortana app is available today in both the U.S. and China for Android devices running 4.1.2 and up, and for iPhone with iOS 8 and up. Users in the U.S. with One Plus One phones powered by the Android-based Cyanogen OS will be able to access Cortana later this month via a 12.1.1 over-the-air update.

Among the tasks that Cortana will be able to handle on Android, iOS and Cyanogen devices are location-based reminders that, for instance, can give you a nudge to buy a wine gift when you’re close to a package store. It can also pop up missed-call alerts to your Windows 10 PC while sending callers automated texts to let them know you’ll call back later, or it help you track flights, packages, stocks and scores on your PC or phone.

Get Control of Your iPhone’s Photos

If you use an iphone and feel like your photos are “out of control” here are a couple of tips that just might help you get all of your photos organized and cleaned up. The more photos you take the more frustrating it can be to get a handle on separating unwanted photos from those magnificent ones taken or even just finding a photo you just know you captured.

First, here is how to erase multiple images at once using the iPhone’s Photos app:

  1. Launch the Photos app.
  2. Tap the “Select” button in the upper right corner of the screen.
  3. Choose the photos you want to get rid of. You can do this by tapping each individual photo or by tapping one photo and then dragging your finger over the other images you’d like to delete to select pictures more quickly.
  4. Once you’ve selected all of the files that should be disposed of, tap the trash can icon at the bottom of the screen.

Sometimes after you delete an image, it might still appear on another Apple device if you have My Photo Stream turned on. This is a feature that syncs images across all of your Apple devices. If you want to delete images from all of the Apple gadgets you own, navigate to Photos > Albums > My Photo Stream and repeat the steps listed above.

Getting Your Photos Clean with the Cleen App

In can indeed be difficult to decide which photos to part with. Cleen Books is an app designed to help you separate the photos you should trash from the ones worth holding on to. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Launch the App Store on your iPhone.
  2. Search for Cleen.
  3. Tap the “Get” button to install the app. You may be required to enter your AppleID password.
  4. Launch Cleen once it’s been installed and grant the app permission to view your photos.
  5. The app will then display the most recent photos you’ve taken on your iPhone. If you want to erase the photo, swipe down. Swiping up will favorite the photo, and swiping left skips it completely. This allows you to sort and rate the images on your phone so that you can remember to keep the important ones and erase the insignificant snaps.

Siri Can Help Too

If you want to keep your recent photos and jump to images taken at a specific date or location, try asking Siri. With iOS 9, you can ask Siri things such as “Show me photos from 2012″ to quickly navigate to older images.

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