iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iOS and iTunes Tips & Tricks | iLounge

Tips & Tricks

Taking Right-to-Left Panoramic Photos

  • October 9, 2012

If you have an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 you can take advantage of a new iOS 6 feature that allows you to capture panoramic photos without the need to resort to third-party apps. The feature is only available for shooting in portrait orientation and can be accessed simply by tapping on the “Options” button at the top of the built-in Camera app and choosing “Panorama.” An overlay will appear on the screen to guide you in taking your panoramic photo, and you can simply tap the shutter button to begin and slowly pan the iPhone across your scene. By default, the panorama feature works left to right, but if you want to start from the opposite end, you can simply tap the arrow to reverse the panning direction and begin your panoramic photo on the right end of your scene (thanks to iLounge reader Thomas for pointing this out in the comments to Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 6.0).

Turning off Facebook Calendars and Contacts in iOS 6

Many Facebook power users will undoubtedly appreciate the new integration with the social network provided in iOS 6, which not only includes the ability to share items directly on Facebook, but also integrates your Facebook Contacts, Events and Birthdays into your iOS Contacts and Calendars app by default. However, what if you don’t want to see all of your Facebook friends in your iOS Contact list, or aren’t interested enough in upcoming Facebook Events to have them appearing in your calendar? Fortunately, it’s easy to turn them off: Simply go into the iOS Settings app, find the Facebook section, and toggle off Contacts and/or Calendar under “Allow These Apps to Use Your Account”—although this isn’t obvious with Calendars and Contacts mixed in with other built-in and third-party apps that simply post via Facebook, if these apps can’t access your Facebook account, then they won’t be able to access your Facebook Contacts or Facebook Events either, thereby disabling the Facebook integration in these two areas.

Helping Siri recognize difficult names

  • October 2, 2012

Siri’s integration with your iOS Contacts can be very handy for placing calls, sending e-mails and messages and getting directions. However unless everybody in your address book has simple to pronounce names like “Bob Smith” it’s likely you’ve had less than satisfying results when trying to look up your friends by voice. Fortunately, there’s a fairly simple way to help Siri with hard-to-pronounce names—like Phil Dzikiy—simply by adding the phonetic pronunciation of each name directly to the Contact record. Simply open the Contacts app, tap on the person’s name and tap Edit. Scrolling down to the bottom of the page you should see an “Add Field” option, which you can tap on to see a list of additional fields that you can add to your contact record. For example, for Phil Dzikiy, you would choose Phonetic Last Name and type in something along the lines of “Dezeekee” and then do the same for the Phonetic First Name and enter “Fill.” As an added bonus, not only will this help Siri recognize your friends’ names better, but it should also help her with the pronunciation when the names are read back to you. Unfortunately, it’s worth mentioning that there is a small downside to this approach: the iOS Contacts app will sort your Contacts based on the Phonetic Names, when present, rather than the actual names, so this will affect the sorting of your Contacts, however that may be a small price to pay for accurate recognition of their names.

Reporting Problems in iOS 6 Maps

  • September 27, 2012

Apple’s new Maps in iOS 6 has received valid criticisms for a number of problems such as poor local search results. However, the new Maps app also allows users to quickly and easily report incorrect information back to Apple. For incorrect search results, labels, missing locations or problems with directions, simply tap on the curled page in the bottom-right corner of the main map screen and tap the “Report a Problem” link; for issues with a specific local search such as incorrect business information or location, a “Report a Problem” button appears at the bottom right of the information card. In either case, the Maps app will take you through a series of screens where you can provide more detailed information about the specific problem, such as adding a missing location, correcting an incorrect street name, filling in the correct business information, manually adjusting the pin for an incorrect location, or adding written comments as necessary.

Hiding Main Menu icons on the Apple TV

Apple has regularly added some great new categories of content to the Apple TV over the past two years, ranging from MLB, NHL and NBA sports options to Netflix and Hulu Plus. If you’re not a sports fan or subscriber to any of these services, however, you may find that the additional icons do little more than clutter up your Apple TV main menu screen. While the new Apple TV 5.1 Software Update now allows you to reorder these icons, you can’t easily remove them while reordering them. However, there is a useful trick to get rid of almost any item you don’t want to see on your main Apple TV menu screen by using the Parental Controls feature. Simply go into Settings, General, Parental Controls, scroll down to the list of items at the bottom and set each one to “Hide” to make them disappear from your Main Menu entirely. You don’t even need to actually turn on parental controls simply to hide items from here, although doing so will allow you to set rating restrictions for iTunes content and leave certain items visible but passcode-protected. Note that the Movies, TV Shows, Computers and Settings items cannot be hidden.

Be sure to check out Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of Apple TV 5.1 for more information on what’s new in the latest Apple TV update.

Disabling Ad Tracking in iOS 6

As of iOS 6 Apple is gradually changing the rules for in-app advertising, forcing developers to replace the older Universal Device Identifier (UDID) tracking with a new “Advertising Identifier.”  The added bonus to this approach is that iOS 6 users now have the option of opting out of tracking for targeted ads, however Apple has made this feature less than obvious, hiding it away at the bottom of the About screen in the iOS 6 Settings app. To find the setting, simply open the Settings app, select General and About and then scroll down to the bottom and you should see an “Advertising” button right above “Diagnostics & Usage.” Tapping on this will take you to a page with a single ON/OFF toggle to Limit Ad Tracking. Apple includes a “Learn More” link at the bottom to provide more information on this feature, explaining that advertising networks are not yet required to use the new iOS 6 Advertising Identifier feature, and hence the use of the word “Limit” rather than “Disable” or “Opt-out,” suggesting that it will not yet completely eliminate ad tracking, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction if you’re concerned about this.

Be sure to check out Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 6.0 for more on what’s new in iOS 6.

Removing Devices from iTunes in the Cloud

If you’ve subscribed to iTunes Match, or used any of your computers or iOS devices to re-download or automatically download purchased content, these devices become registered to your iTunes Store account. While there’s normally little need to worry about this, Apple does enforce a maximum limit of ten (10) devices that can be used to access iTunes in the Cloud with a single iTunes account, which can become a problem for larger families and those who regularly upgrade or replace devices. Fortunately, you can easily remove these devices from your account if you’ve hit the maximum or simply want to clean out devices you’re no longer using. Simply go to your iTunes Store account settings by selecting View My Account from the Store menu in iTunes, and then choose “Manage Devices” from the Account Information screen. This will display a list of all of the devices currently associated with your iTunes Store account for use with iTunes in the Cloud features with a “Remove” button beside each one. Keep in mind that removing a device in this manner does not automatically disable features such as iTunes Match on the device—you’ll still need to do that directly on the device.

Manually Backing up your iOS device

With the release of iOS 6 scheduled for next week, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a current backup of your device before taking the update plunge. While most iOS updates install without any problems, preserving your existing data, making a backup is always a sensible precaution. iOS 5 devices can be configured to use either iTunes or iCloud for automatic backups, but not both. However, if you’re normally backing up to iCloud, you can still easily make a manual backup in iTunes any time you like; simply right-click on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch in the iTunes Devices list and select “Back Up” and iTunes will immediately make an on-demand backup of your device, even if you’re normally backing up to iCloud. Automatic backups to iCloud occur once every 24 hours provided your device is plugged in and on a Wi-Fi network, however you can also check the last backup time for your iCloud Backup and force a manual backup to iCloud as well by going into the Settings app on your device and choosing iCloud, Storage & Backup and scrolling down to the bottom.

Sorting and Filtering Apps in iTunes

If you have a lot of apps in your iTunes library, it can sometimes be a challenge to keep track of them all. While finding an individual app is easy enough simply by using the search box, sometimes you may not know the name of the app you’re looking for, or you may simply want to browse through your list of apps by genre or see which apps have recently been purchased or updated. iTunes actually makes this pretty simple since the Apps section can be viewed and organized in the same manner as any other part of your iTunes library. Simply switch to a “List” view from the View menu, and you can sort on any column, add more columns, and even call up the Browser view to quickly filter by device type and genre.

Hiding Categories in the iTunes Source List

The iTunes Source list on the left side of your iTunes window helps keep your content organized to make it easier to browse by content type, such as Music, Movies and TV Shows. However, not every uses every type of content, and there’s an easy way to hide those categories you don’t actually need to see.  Open your iTunes Preferences, and on the General tab you will see a list of checkboxes; simply uncheck the categories you don’t want to see in your iTunes Source list and they’ll vanish from view. These same settings can also be used to hide and display additional features such as Ping, iTunes DJ, Genius, and Shared Libraries.

Filtering Content Listings in iTunes sync settings

If you’re syncing your iPhone, iPad or iPod to an iTunes library with a large collection of apps or media content you may have grown weary of the seemingly endless scrolling required to find that one app, artist or movie that you’re looking to sync to your device. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to filter these long lists of content on at least some of the sync screens in iTunes. If you’re on the Music, Apps, Movies or Books tab, the standard iTunes Search field in the top-right corner of the iTunes window will become active allowing you to dynamically filter the list of content displayed in each of those sections; simply start typing in the search field and the list is filtered as you type, helping you quickly find the specific item(s) that you’re looking for. Sadly, this doesn’t work on all tabs—TV Shows, Podcasts and iTunes U seem to be left out—but it’s still a handy way to filter down long content lists in at least some categories.

Keeping older entries in your iOS Calendar

By default, the iOS Calendars app only synchronizes and retains the last months’ worth of events on your device, regardless of how much data is stored in whatever cloud or desktop calendar application you’re synchronizing with. This can easily be changed with a quick trip to the Settings app, however; under the Mail, Contacts, Calendars section there is an option near the bottom to set how much of your calendar data you want synchronized and retained on your device, with options for two weeks, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months or everything regardless of how old.

Setting Repeats in Reminders with Siri

The Reminders app in iOS 5 can be very handy for creating quick and simple task lists or reminders without having to resort to third-party apps, and with Mountain Lion these Reminders can be easily synced via iCloud and managed on your Mac as well. Unfortunately, its flexibility for repeating reminders is somewhat limited, at least on the surface. Users are given a choice of only five repeat intervals: Every Day, Every Week, Every 2 Weeks, Every Month or Every Year, and the Reminders app in OS X Mountain Lion isn’t any better in this regard. Fortunately, for iPhone 4S users looking for a bit more flexibility, Siri comes to the rescue by allowing custom intervals to be created using your voice; simply tell Siri something like “Remind me to take the garbage out every three days” and it will happily offer to create a Reminder with the specified repeat interval. The resulting task can even be edited in the Reminders app to adjust things like dates and times—as long as you don’t change the custom repeat setting, Reminders will leave it in place and continue to repeat your completed task at the specified interval.

For more information and some other options for setting custom repeat intervals, be sure to check out our Ask iLounge article on Setting Custom Repeat Intervals in the Reminders app.

Controlling Auto-Lock on iOS

iOS’ built-in Auto-Lock feature is great for saving battery life by killing the backlight on your screen, but there are times when it can be less than ideal. Luckily, there’s an easy way to take control of the feature—or turn it off altogether. Open up the Settings app, tap on General, tap on Auto-Lock, and set it to the time limit you’re comfortable with. Just remember if you turn it off completely that you’ll need to manually lock your phone every time you’re done with it—or face a battery that’s out of juice way before its time.

Using a 24-hour clock on your iOS device

While most civilians in the U.S. are perfectly happy measuring their time in 12-hour chunks, there are plenty of folks both here and abroad that prefer the more exact notation of the 24-hour clock. Luckily, iOS makes it easy to switch between the two. Simply fire up the Settings app, tap on General, tap on Date & Time, and turn on 24-Hour Time. To go back to your a.m. and p.m. ways, just repeat the process and turn the option off. [via OS X Daily]

Changing the amount of email preview shown in iOS Mail

iOS’ built-in Mail app for the iPhone and iPod touch has steadily improved over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the number of emails you can see at once—unless you’ve already followed this handy tip. Open up Settings, tap on Mail, Contacts, and Calendars, and under the Mail heading, tap on Preview. From there you can reduce the number of lines devoted to email previews from the default two down to one or even none, allowing for a far greater number of emails to appear on the same screen. Alternatively, if you’d rather sacrifice space for an expanded view of each correspondence, crank the same setting upwards—the top limit is 5—and enjoy a far greater one-screen look at your emails.

Resetting the Autocorrect dictionary on iOS

iOS’ built-in Autocorrect feature typically works pretty well, but sometimes it will learn misspellings or words that you simply don’t want to have reappear regularly. If your dictionary has gotten a way from you, there’s a simple way to get back to square one. Open up the Settings app, tap on General, scroll to the bottom, then tap on Reset. In the list of admittedly scary options on this page is one called Reset Keyboard Dictionary, which will rid your device of all the Autocorrect goodness it’s learned, letting you start from scratch. [via OS X Daily]

Cleaning up your bookmarks in Safari on iOS

Find yourself faced with a mess of unorganized bookmarks on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch? There’s an easy way to remedy the situation. Simply tap the Bookmarks button, then tap Edit. Doing so will bring up the familiar red deletion circles for bookmarks and folders you no longer need or use, the triple-line buttons for grabbing and rearranging bookmarks and folders, and a New Folder button, which lets you pile bookmarks you simply want to reorganize into their own folder, and out of your main Bookmarks menu.

Making iOS forget Bluetooth devices

Bluetooth can be super handy for short-range wireless communication, but with so many devices supporting it, you might sometimes find yourself in situations where the list of Bluetooth devices appearing in your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch’s list becomes unmanageable. Thankfully, Apple built in a way to get rid of listings for devices you don’t use. Simply fire up Settings, tap on Bluetooth, and tap on the blue circle next to the device you’d rather not see again. On the next page, tap on Forget this Device, and you won’t see it again. If you decide at some point in the future that you want to use a forgotten device again, just set it to pairing mode and it will reappear in your list. [via CoM]

Hiding text message previews on iOS

Sure, getting a preview of your incoming text messages without needing to unlock your device is handy—but there are some times when you might not want everyone in eyeshot of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to see what you’re discussing with the person on the other end. Luckily, iOS offers a super-easy way to stop this. Open the Settings app, tap on Notifications, and tap on Messages. Scroll down the screen a bit, and you’ll see an toggle for Show Preview. Set this to off, and you won’t see anything more than an alert telling you who your new message is from. [via CoM]

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