Tips & Tricks
- May 24, 2012
Siri is certainly smart, but she’s not a mind reader—if you want to be able to tell her to call your mom, you have to tell Siri who she is first. Doing so is amazingly simple. Just call up Siri, and when you hear the familiar prompt, say “Jane Doe is my mother” or “John Doe is my father”—note that you should use your actual family member’s names, unless your name happens to be James Doe—and soon enough Siri will know your spouse, parents, siblings, and other relations—possibly better than you do.
Most of the time, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for on a webpage from an iOS device—especially if you’re on a mobile-friendly site. For those times when it’s not so easy, like when you’re searching for a particular passage in a long-form article, Safari offers an easy to do so. Simply tap in the built-in search area and type in what you’re looking for. Below the recommended search suggestions you see an area marked “On This Page”, with the number of times a certain term is used. Tap on it, and you’ll be given a pair of arrows that will let you hop between each appearance of the term; once you’re finished, simply tap the Done button to start reading.
- May 17, 2012
Ever notice how the Ping button in iTunes always tries to send you back into the iTunes Store? Ever wish it would show options to explore your own Library instead? If you’re on a Mac and can work the command line, you can make it do just that. Make sure you’ve quit iTunes, then launch Terminal, and type or paste in the following instruction:
defaults write com.apple.iTunes invertStoreLinks -bool YES
When you open iTunes back up, you’ll notice that the Ping button now shows you options to look through your own Library instead of the Store. If you’d like your Store links back, simply repeat the process, but replace the “YES” at the end with a “NO”. [via CoM]
- May 10, 2012
- Apple TV,
(Most) everyone likes plants and animals, but may not want to watch them repeatedly dance across their screen. Luckily, the Apple TV provides you with a number of ways to access other photo content for your screensaver. To change things up, roll over to the Apple TV’s Settings menu, then down to Screen Saver. On this screen you can decide how long you want the little black box to wait before taking over, choose whether you want the ‘saver to show up during music playback, choose what style of screen saver you want—there’s plenty to choose from, or you can even have it pick one at random—and choose what photos you want to appear.
Most users of iBooks are familiar with the Define option that appears whenever you select a word — but did you know this trick works all over iOS? In any app that has selectable text, simply highlight the word you’d like defined and tap the Define button. On the iPhone or iPod touch, a definition pane will slide up from the bottom of the screen, while on the iPad, the definition will popup to the side of the word.
Tired of the built-in alert tones on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad? It’s easy to acquire new ones via the built-in iTunes Tone Store. Simply fire up Settings, and click on Sounds (if you’re on an iPhone or iPod touch) or General, then Sounds (if you’re on an iPad), then select any of the Alert options you’d like to change, such as Ringtone, Text Tone, or New Mail. Scroll up to the top of the screen, and you’ll see an option to Buy More Tones, which will launch the iTunes Store and take you to the Tones section.
Alternatively, you can launch the iTunes Store first, then tap the More button, and select Tones (on the iPhone and iPod touch) or tap the Genres button in the upper left-hand corner of the iPad app, and select Tones. At $0.99 a pop, they aren’t cheap, but there’s a ton to choose from, and it sure beats being the 20th person in the restaurant to check your phone when someone’s device starts blaring Marimba.
iOS is known for its smooth scrolling, but sometimes all that swiping can be an annoyance when all you really want to is get back to the top of the screen—to access the address bar in Safari, for instance. It appears that Apple planned for this, as iOS has had a simple shortcut built-in since the days of the first iPhone that does precisely that. In nearly any app, you can tap the status bar—where the time lives—to instantly jump back to the top of a list or page, letting you get get where you need to go—no more wasted swipes.
- April 19, 2012
The iPad’s built-in Picture Frame is one of its coolest (sorta) hidden features—but did you know that you don’t have to settle for its default settings? Open the Settings app, and right below Brightness & Wallpaper you’ll see the selection for Picture Frame. On this screen, you can choose between two transitions—Dissolve and Origami—set the time that each photo is on the screen, choose whether or not to zoom in on faces—set to on by default when using Dissolve, and unavailable on Origami—choose whether to show the photos in order or shuffle them, and choose whether to display all your photos or just a subset. With all those options, you should find ways to make this long-standing feature feel fresh and new.
- April 17, 2012
While no one is likely to use it for critical music listening, the iPad’s built-in speaker is perfectly serviceable for watching video. But you might sometimes find yourself in need of just a little more volume than it can provide—for those occasions, there’s a cheap solution: passive amplification. Since the iPad 2 and third-gen iPad speakers point backwards rather than forwards, you can increase their volume by redirecting their sound waves. Simply cut an iPad corner-sized hole in the closed end of a cup, insert the iPad with the speaker aiming towards the rear of the cup, and voila—your iPad should sound noticeably louder, if not necessarily better. Make sure you cut the hole in a place that will let your iPad stand upright, and at a size that captures as much of the audio as possible from the rear speaker for redirection. [via Reddit | Lifehacker]
Find yourself frequently changing the From address when composing a new email in Mail? Perhaps it’s time to change your default Mail address. To do so, open the Settings app, tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars, scroll down, and tap on Default Account. From the screen that appears, you can select your most oft-used account from every account on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, shaving one step off your new email routine.
With iOS devices becoming ever more capable of creating and downloading content and apps, managing your device’s storage has become increasingly important. If you find yourself running out of room on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, there’s a simple way to see what apps are using the most storage. Open the Settings app, tap on General, then tap on Usage. At the top of the screen under the Storage header, you’ll see a list of your installed apps, sorted by the amount of storage used, with an option to show all apps at the bottom. Using this list, you can discover which apps are the most storage hungry, and simply tap on any app to see more details, along with a button to delete the app, letting you delete only those apps that are adversely affecting your storage and leave the rest on your device.
No matter how hard you try, sometimes you just aren’t able to make the first available train offered to you by the Maps application’s transit schedule. Luckily, there’s a simple way to adjust the times to allow for a certain departure or arrival time. Once you’ve done your route search and settled on one you’re happy with, tap the clock icon to see the available options, then tap on Depart to bring up a page that will allow you to adjust your departure or arrival time to better fit your schedule. Just note that it’s not a time machine, so setting the Arrive By time to two hours ago won’t get you there on time. [via CoM | UK Cnet]
- March 27, 2012
You know that rumor that cropped up right before the release of the third-generation iPad, about it not having a Home button? It wasn’t as silly as it sounded, thanks to Multitasking Gestures, a hidden iPad/iOS 5 feature that you can take advantage of right now. Simply open the Settings app, tap on General, and turn on the slider for Multitasking Gestures. Once it’s on, you’ll be able to use four or five fingers to pinch your way back to the Home screen, swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar, and swipe left and right between apps—no buttons required.
Ever in a hurry and enter one too many numbers into the Calculator app for iOS? Instead of clearing the whole number out, use this tip to quickly get rid of the extra digit. Simply swipe your finger across the number display and the app will clear out only the rightmost digit, allowing you to continue on with your calculations without needing to reenter a thing. [via Cult of Mac]
Got a third-generation iPad? Well, the handful of apps that have been updated for the device’s gargantuan 2048 x 1536 display aren’t the only apps that can get in on the Retina iPad fun. If you have any Retina-ready iPhone and iPod touch apps installed, the new iPad allows those to appear in all their glory — something that’s supported on no other iPad thus far. It’s even noticeable when running the apps in 2x mode, making those few small-screen apps you can’t live without that much more enjoyable.
So you didn’t get your pre-order placed in time, or just now decided to purchase the new third-gen iPad/iPhone 5/insert future Apple product here. Guess what? You’ve just sentenced yourself to hours of waiting outside a retail store for your chance to own one—but don’t despair. Using these simple tips, your time standing in line will at least be a little more tolerable, if not downright fun.
- March 13, 2012
Have an iTunes library full of uncompressed audio? Then you’re probably familiar with iTunes’ built-in option to automatically convert higher bit rate songs to a lower bit rate—and thus smaller file size—when filling up an iDevice. Previously, this option was not so audiophile friendly, due to its 128 kbps restriction, but with iTunes 10.6, you have some freedom to lower the file size of AIFF and Apple Lossless files while maintaining better sound quality. On the Summary page for your device, check down in the Options box, make sure you have the Convert higher bit rate songs box checked, and then take your pick from 128, 192, or 256 kbps, and enjoy the extra space on your device while also enjoying your music.
Among a handful of other new features and improvements, iOS 5.1 lets users of the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and fourth-generation iPod touch access the camera even more quickly than what was possible under its 5.0 predecessor. To do so, simply press any button to bring up the device’s lock screen, then place your finger over the camera icon and slide up—as you do so, the traditional camera interface will appear underneath, giving you near-instant access for more timely shots.
The iPhone’s lack of Emoji characters used to be a sore spot for some, with complex workarounds required to enable access on Western devices. Now, with iOS 5, accessing your iOS device’s built-in Emoji keyboard is a simple as can be. To do so, open the Settings app, tap on General, tap on Keyboard, and tap on International Keyboards. On the next screen, tap on Add New Keyboard and select Emoji from the list. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to access the full library of Emoji icons from the standard keyboard by tapping the globe icon.
The build quality of Apple’s iOS devices is generally commendable, but we’ve encountered more than a few users who’ve had their Home button stop working, in some cases long before they were due for a cheap upgrade on their subsidized device. With the new Accessibility features in iOS 5 came an on-screen workaround for this problem, less than optimal though it may be.
To enable the workaround, open the Settings app, tap on General, tap on Accessibility, scroll down, and tap on AssistiveTouch. Turning this feature on will bring up a small button with concentric circles that when tapped will bring up an on-screen menu offering the software equivalent of the home button, as well as options for quickly accessing Device controls like volume, mute, screen lock, and rotation, Gesture controls, and saved Favorite gestures.
The button is located in the lower right hand corner by default, but can be dragged around the screen’s edge to any position you choose. Like we said, it’s sub-optimal, but if you’re dealing with a wonky Home button, it sure beats dealing with the frustration of not having your device work consistently. [via AppHipMom]
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