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

Tips & Tricks

Making Address Book sync properly to iCloud

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Use a Mac? Had problems with new contacts created in Address Book syncing over to your iOS devices? Thanks to an obscure setting in Address Book, iCloud doesn’t always work as it should, but fixing it is typically pretty simple. First, open System Preferences, and open the iCloud tab, then double-check that Contacts sync is turned on. Once that’s done, fire up Address Book, and open Preferences. Down at the bottom of the General tab, you’ll see an option for Default Account - click this, and switch it from On My Mac to iCloud. Once that’s done, all new contacts created should automatically appear on all your iOS devices.

Using an iOS device as an Apple TV remote camera

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When Apple added AirPlay video mirroring to the Apple TV with the launch of the iPad 2, it opened up a world of new possibilities for developers and users alike—including one possibility that, while somewhat silly, might someday come in handy someday. If you own both an Apple TV and an iPad 2 or iPhone 4S, you can use one of the latter devices as a remote camera, which you can view from the Apple TV. Simply double-tap the Home button, swipe over to the media controls hidden in the multitasking tray, tap the AirPlay button, select the Apple TV you wish to use, and turn on Mirroring. Once that’s done, all you need to do is open a camera app on the portable device, and whatever it’s looking at should appear on the screen. This is great for static surveillance jobs, but what if your subject—say, a child—is on the move? Simply strap one of the devices to a remote-controlled vehicle and you’ll be able to keep an eye on the entire house—or at least that floor. [via TUAW]

Dialing an international phone number

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As long-time iPhone owners, it’s easy to assume that we know everything there is to know about the Phone application’s dialer — but as we found out this past week at CES, there’s always something more to learn. While tapping on a contact with an international number is a relatively simple affair—at least, until it comes time to decipher your phone bill—manually dialing a number can present a challenge for those of us who aren’t used to it. The key to the process, as it turns out, is adding the “+” symbol to the beginning of the number, which you can do by tapping and holding the “0” key. Once that’s done, enter the country code and number as usual, and the iPhone should automatically sort through the numbers so that you’re not accidentally dialing area code 45X when you’re really trying to reach Denmark.

Making your iPhone’s LED flash for alerts

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Sure, audible alerts are great and all, and yes, vibrating alerts can be handy as well. But what if your phone is across the room, and you don’t want to hear or feel it going off, but see it instead? Apple has you covered, letting you make your LED flash serve as an alert indicator. Here’s how.

Open the Settings app, tap on General, then tap on Accessibility. Scroll down, and you’ll see an option for LED Flash for Alerts. Turn this on, and all new phone calls and other alerts will trigger the LED on the back of your iPhone, letting you know about incoming calls and messages without adding its own noise to the cacophony of modern life. Just don’t forget to place your phone screen-side down—the alerts don’t shine too well through solid material.

Hiding Newsstand on the iPhone or iPod touch

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iOS 5’s Newsstand feature can be great for those who read a lot of publications on their devices, but the trouble is that most of those publications tend to be iPad-focused if not iPad-only, leaving most Newsstands on the iPhone and iPod touch bereft of icons, like a shelf in an empty store. And unfortunately, there is no “official” way to hide or turn off the icon, and since it’s just a glorified folder, you can’t put a folder inside another folder. Or can you?

With a bit of speed, it’s possible. To start, make sure your Newsstand icon is nearby, then press, hold, and drag an app on top of another app to create a new folder, then immediately grab the Newsstand icon and drag it into the folder. If you’re fast enough, your Newsstand icon will be neatly tucked away inside a folder, freeing up valuable screen real estate. Just remember that if you want to actually use the Newsstand, you’ll need to drag it back out of the folder and on to the main screen—trying to use it from within the folder will cause your device to restart. [via GigaOM]

Top Tips of 2011

Continuing our end-of-year roundup, we’ve decided to use today’s Tip to give you a list of links to our top tips of the past year. Below, you’ll find links to tips for iTunes, iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Apple TV users, with a little something for both new users and experienced pros.

Sharing Multiple Photos on iOS
Taking control of your iTunes Library with Smart Playlists
Getting the most out of iOS’ software keyboard
Setting up Automatic Downloads in iOS and iTunes
Getting rid of Wi-Fi network pop-ups on iOS
Navigating the Music app with one hand
Mastering the Apple TV remote
Setting up an iTunes Store Allowance account
Setting up Notification Center on iOS 5
Making Siri work with Facebook + Twitter
Sharing an iCloud account for multi-device access
Customizing your Mail signature on iOS

Enabling text-to-speech on iOS devices

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Apple’s Mac computers have long offered users a built-in speech engine that can read on-screen text aloud—but did you know that your iOS device can do the same thing? To activate the feature, open the Settings app, tap on Accessibility, tap on Speak Selection, and turn on Speak Selection. Once you’ve got that set up, simply select any text, and you’ll see a new “Speak” option sitting next to the standard copy option. Tap it, and you’ll hear your device begin to read the text back to you. While it’s definitely a handy feature, you’ll want to play around with the speaking rate until you find a pace that’s right for you—we found the default setting to be a bit too speedy.

How to give an app as a gift

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Searching around for some last-minute holiday gifts? If you’ve got any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch users left on your list, an app might be just the gift they’re looking for. To gift an app, simply open the App Store on your desktop computer or own iDevice, and find the app you’d like to send out. On the desktop, click on the downward-facing arrow next to the app price, and choose “Gift This App”, or if you’re on an iOS device, simply scroll to the bottom of the individual app’s page—if necessary—and tap on “Gift This App”. You’ll be taken to a page where you can enter the recipient’s email, a personal message, and choose whether to have the gifted app delivered by email or—if you’re on a desktop—via a physical page that you can print out and hand to the recipient yourself.  Just make sure you don’t send the app to new owners until after they’ve opened their iOS device.

Customizing your Mail signature on iOS

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Sure, it was cool at one time, but these days iPhones—and iPads and iPod touches, for that matter—are so common that the “Sent from my iPhone” signature on your email has ceased to be special. If you’re not leaving it there for the purpose of explaining away a potentially terse and/or typo-ridden reply, why not make it a little more personal, or just remove it altogether? Doing so is easy. Open the Settings app, tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars, scroll down, and tap on Signature. Your current “Sent from my…” message will appear in a text field that will let you easily edit it to whatever you want. Once you’re pleased with the result, tap the back button, and you’ll never send those unnecessary characters again. [via Cult of Mac]

Accessing the 6-day forecast in Notification Center

After installing iOS 5 on our devices, the Weather widget in Notifications Center quickly became one of our most often-used, if not favorite, features of the new OS. But did you know it does more than just show you the temperature? Simply swipe to the left or right on the widget to access a six-day forecast, and repeat the motion to return to the temperature view. It’s not the most complex tip, but as with many things Apple-related, sometimes it really is that simple.

Sharing iCloud calendars without sharing alarms

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So you’d like to share a calendar with a family member or spouse, but that person doesn’t want to deal with the alarms you set for yourself. Signing into your account on the other person’s device sounds like an ideal solution, but unfortunately, you can’t turn off the alarms on an iOS device, so unless that other person doesn’t mind hearing an audible alert every time you’ve got a meeting, it’s not a workable solution.

There is a workaround, though. If you set the calendar in question to be shared publicly by visiting iCloud.com and hitting the small “broadcast” button next to the calendar, you’ll be given a highly obscure URL that the other person can use to subscribe in iCal, choosing “Remove Alarms” when they add it. If the other person isn’t a Mac user, they can subscribe to the URL directly from their iOS device by entering the URL in Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Accounts > Other > Add Subscribed Calendar, and choosing the “Remove Alarms” option. Once that’s done, they’ll have access to your complete calendar, but without the potential annoyance of unnecessary alarms.

Clearing out your iCloud Photo Stream

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So iCloud and iOS 5’s new Photo Stream feature is, conceptually, a great one: any photo you shoot—provided you’re on Wi-Fi—can instantly be accessed across all of your devices, and even used as a screensaver for your Apple TV. But what if you shot something you didn’t want to have plastered all over your TV, only to realize that there’s no simply way to remove a single photo? Well, you either have to live with it until it gets pushed out by 1,000 other photos, or reset your entire stream. Today we’ll show you how to handle the second option.

First, make sure you have an original backup of the photos in your Photo Stream, preferably in Apple’s iPhoto or Aperture photo management programs. Then, visit iCloud.com, sign in, and click on your name in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. On the pop-up that appears, click on Reset Photo Stream. One you’ve given confirmation, go around to your devices and turn Photo Stream off and back on to flush the previous contents. Sure, you’ll then be left with an empty Photo Stream, but you can easily refill it using those originals in iPhoto and Aperture, and even if you don’t, it’s still better than leaving potentially embarrassing photos on semi-permanent rotation in your living room. For more information on iCloud, see our Instant Expert article.

Deleting your on-device iOS music library with one swipe

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Sure, it would have been crazy just five years ago, but in these modern times of iTunes Match, iTunes in the Cloud, eight-megapixel photos, and HD video, the idea of needing to quickly—and temporarily—free up space on your iOS device isn’t as absurd as it might sound. Apparently, Apple’s developers thought this way too, and included a super-simple way to do so. First, open the Settings app, then General, Usage, and Music, in that order. At the top, you’ll see a listing called “All Music”—simply swipe to the right across this listing, and a Delete button will appear, giving you back however many MB—or GB—you might have tied up in audio. And if you’re ready to get some of it back and don’t have access to your home computer, follow this easy tip to re-download past purchases straight from iTunes.

How to disable Carrier IQ on your iPhone

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Key logging or no, having your phone number and potentially even your location sent off to some random company isn’t exactly comforting — so if you’d rather not let your info become part of Carrier IQ’s “Intelligence”, here’s the easy steps on how to turn it off. Simply open your Settings app, tap on General, then About, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and tap Diagnostics & Usage. On this page, tap Don’t Send—if it doesn’t have a checkmark next to it already—and you’re done. If you’re curious, you can even tap on Diagnostic & Usage Data at the bottom to see what data your phone has collected so far, although be warned: most of it won’t make a whole lot of sense unless you’re a developer or a cellular engineer. Just think—your iPhone had a tin foil hat built-in all along. Who knew?

Taking photos with your headphones

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If you’re into photography, odds are you know that lots of pros use cable releases as a way to eliminate vibrations and thus take sharper photos — but you might not know that as of iOS 5, your iPhone comes with a cable release packed right into the box. Since Apple added the ability to snap a photo in the Camera app using nothing but the volume up button, it also made it possible to do the same using the volume up button on most remote-laden sets of headphones, letting you mount your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad on a tripod or in some other secure fashion and make your picture from afar. [via Lifehacker | Mac OS X Hints]

Creating custom vibration alerts in iOS 5

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Sure, it’s great that all you have to do to silent your iPhone is flip the switch on the side, but then you’re at a loss for telling the difference between an important business call and your neighbor who’s looking for someone to watch his dog. Fortunately, iOS 5 offers a relatively simple way to set up custom vibration patterns for different contacts, so you’ll know when you really need to pick up.

First, open up Settings, tap General, tap on Accessibility, and turn Custom Vibrations on. Next, open Contacts, choose the contact you’d like to have a special vibration, and tap Edit. You’ll see a new field next to ringtone called vibration. Tap it, and you’ll be on a page where you can select from a handful of preset vibration patterns, with an option for creating a custom vibration at the bottom. When you’re finished, simply tap Done, and the next time that person calls when your phone is in your pocket, you’ll know who’s calling before you even see the screen.

Setting call Reminders with Siri

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While no one predicted it before the launch, one of the more interesting aspects of being an iPhone 4S owner is finding new ways to use Siri. Today’s tip is one such example: how to set up a reminder to call someone using the virtual assistant. When you ask Siri to remind you to call a contact, it will ask you to specify which number to call—somewhat odd, considering that this information doesn’t actually appear anywhere. But when you actually get the reminder and tap on it in notifications, the Reminders app will open and prompt you to call the contact with a simple “Call” button, saving you the trouble of digging through your contacts for the number. Interestingly, this only happens after you receive the notification, and only when tapping on the notification directly - but still, a handy time saver for those who have a lot of contacts.

Locking in Camera focus and exposure in iOS 5

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While third-party camera apps have allowed users to lock the focus and exposure of their shots for some time, the feature is a new one for users who prefer Apple’s built-in Camera app. Thankfully, the steps to enable it couldn’t be simpler. Once you’ve decided on a subject you want to be in focus and properly exposed, simply tap and hold on its image in the viewfinder until the blue focus box pulses a few times. Once you let go, you’ll see “AE/AF Lock” on the screen, letting you know that your settings are locked in. Disabling it is just as easy: simply tap anywhere in the viewfinder.

Sharing an iCloud account for multi-device access

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iCloud is already proving to be incredibly handy for syncing personal information, documents, and media across devices, but what if you’ve got someone—a spouse, roommate, or child, for example—with whom you’d like to be able to share some of your information? Luckily, there’s an easy way to do so. If the information you’re wanting to share includes Contacts, Calendars, Reminders—such as a shared shopping list—Bookmarks, or Notes, you can simply add your iCloud account as a secondary account on the other person’s device. Simply open Settings, tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and then tap on Add Account…. Choose iCloud from the list, enter your account information, and when prompted, turn on the options you want to share.

If you’d like to share Documents or have a joint Photo Stream with the person, you can do that too—simply setup the shared account as the main iCloud account on the both devices, then add personal accounts as secondary accounts using the steps above. Notably, this method will require you to share iCloud backups, but for families that need additional storage space anyway, this may save them from having to pay for additional storage for two separate accounts. For more specific information on iCloud, see our Instant Expert article. [Thanks, Allen Mazie]

Creating undated reminders with Siri

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Siri is proving to be an indispensable tool for some iPhone 4S owners, providing a powerful spoken interface for common tasks—but sometimes to utilize that power, you have to watch what you say. Like, for instance, when you’re trying to create an undated reminder with Siri. If you ask it to remind you of something, the entry will have a date, and possibly a place or time—since it’s commonly used with phrases like “when I get home”. To keep this from happening, simply ask Siri to “remember to”—it’ll notice the difference and create an undated listing in your Reminders app.

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