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

Tips & Tricks

Surviving an Apple launch day lineup

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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.

Boost iTunes’ automatic conversion bit rate

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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.

Quickly accessing the camera in iOS 5.1

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.

Turning on the Emoji keyboard in iOS 5

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.

Working around a dead Home button

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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]

Blocking Caller ID on the iPhone

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We’ll be the first to admit that we don’t normally answer calls from Blocked numbers, but there are situations in which you’d rather not have your number displayed to the person on the other end. Luckily for iPhone users, there’s a dead simple way to stop this from happening. Step 1: Open the Settings app. Step 2: Tap on Phone. Step 3: Tap on Show My Caller ID. Step 4: Toggle the slider to Off. Step 5: There is no Step 5. See, we told you it was simple.

Quickly access last saved Mail draft on iOS

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Should you be composing an email and need to reference a different email to complete your correspondence, the process for getting back to your draft—after you hit Save Draft, of course—is inconvenient at best. Unless, of course, you use this handy tip. Once you’re ready to return to your draft, simply tap and hold the Compose button, and Mail will automatically bring up your most recent saved draft, so you can continue writing without needing to dig through multiple folders. [via Obama Pacman]

Reopening closed tabs in Safari on the iPad

  • February 21, 2012
  • iPad

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While the arrival of tabbed browsing on the iPad was a boon to any user prone to opening more than one site at once, it brought with it the potential for accidentally closed tabs. Luckily, Apple built-in an easy way to reopen those tabs without needing to dig through the browser history. To reopen a tab, simply tap and hold on the new tab button, and a menu will appear listing your recently closed tabs, meaning that slideshow you accidentally nixed is little more than a tap or two away.

Using the iPad keyboard’s ‘hidden’ keys

  • February 16, 2012
  • iPad

iOS 5 brought with it a number of new features and improvements for iPad users, and one of the more curious among them was the ability to split the device’s software keyboard in two, allowing users to use both thumbs to type, as they do on iPhones or iPod touches. But did you know that this special keyboard also features unseen, hidden keys that can help you out if you’re used to hitting certain keys with certain thumbs? Indeed, tapping to the immediate right of the T, G, or V keys produces a Y, H, or B, respectively, and tapping to the immediate left of the Y, H, or B keys on the other side produces its corresponding letter from the other side of the gap. It’s not life-altering, but if you’re used to typing your mobile Gs with your right thumb, it’s pretty darn handy. [via Finer Things | CoM]

Hiding app purchases in iTunes in the Cloud

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The ability to re-download apps you’ve bought in the past is great, but if you’re anything like us, you’ve downloaded plenty of apps that you don’t actually use. Luckily, Apple has built in a super-simple way to hide those purchases, so they aren’t cluttering up your Purchased list. To do this from an iOS device, simply find an app you’d lie to hide and swipe across it, and you’ll see the iCloud download button replaced with a red Hide button, which you can tap to hide the app. To unhide purchases, visit the account management pane of the App Store, and tap on Hidden Purchases. You can also achieve this trick from iTunes on the PC or Mac by visiting your Purchased apps and hovering over the icon of any app you’d like to hide until a small x button appears in the corner; you can likewise unhide purchases by visiting your account settings page.

Freeing up space in iTunes by deleting SD TV shows

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Freeing up extra space in your iTunes Library—and thus on your hard drive—has long been a part of dealing with Apple’s media management software, but with the arrival of iTunes in the Cloud, it’s become easier than ever. If you have a few HD TV shows that you’ve downloaded from the iTunes Store, odds are you also have SD versions of those same videos hanging around. Assuming your portable devices support the HD version—and all current models do—you can easily get rid of the SD version, freeing up large amounts of storage space in the meantime.

To do so, simply open up your TV Shows list in iTunes and look for episodes that have the HD/SD icon next to the title. Right-click on these episodes, select Show in Finder from the pop-up menu, and then drag the version of the episode that doesn’t contain an (HD) designation to the trash. Repeat these steps for each episode that has two versions, then empty the trash. Should you ever need the SD version again, a quick visit to the iTunes Store’s Purchased section should allow you to re-download it. Unfortunately, Movies have yet to hit iTunes in the Cloud status, but as soon as they do, feel free to use the same technique to rid your Library of unnecessary SD movies — and free up gigabytes of space at the same time.

Adding formatting to emails in iOS 5

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Ever wish you could have even a few formatting options when typing up emails on the iOS device? Well, assuming you’re running iOS 5, you actually do. To access them, simply highlight the word or words you’d like to format, and when the cut/copy/paste menu appears, tap the right most arrow, then the B I U button, then choose from the bold, italics, or underline options that appear. Oh, and try not to gloat when the recipient asks how you did it.

Setting iMessage up across multiple devices

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In theory, Apple’s iMessage service sounds wonderful—the ability to send and receive texts to/from people from your iPad or iPod touch as well as your iPhone is great. But you have to set it up a certain way to make that happen. By default, iMessage on the iPhone defaults to using the device’s phone number—but as long as friends and family continue messaging that number, those messages will never go to your other devices. In order to make that happen, you need to make sure your Apple ID is also set up for iMessage on all your devices, then tell folks to message you using the ID, and not your phone number—new messages should then start arriving on all your devices, letting you respond from whichever is the most convenient. Oh, and one important note: if you use your phone number for iMessage, Apple does some sort of device ID/SIM authentication that could leave that handset receiving your messages long after you’ve upgraded, even if you’ve wiped and restored it.

Finding iTunes U content on an iOS device

If you’ve been used to finding your iTunes U content in its normal home inside the iTunes Store or Videos apps, the recent release of Apple’s dedicated iTunes U app may have thrown you for a loop. But fear not—all the content is still available. Just not where you remember it. To access iTunes U content today, you need to download and/or launch Apple’s official iTunes U app. A simple Catalog button on the Library screen will take you to the same iTunes U content you’ve accessed before, only now it will live inside the iTunes U app—on that aforementioned Library screen—instead of in your Videos app.

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]

Accessing Undo and Redo from the iPad keyboard

  • January 19, 2012
  • iPad

Accessing the undo command on the iPhone and iPod touch is as easy as shaking the device… but the iPad is decidedly less-easy to move easily, and as such, shake-to-undo features are even less common on the iPad than they are on its smaller siblings. Luckily, Apple baked an undo feature right into the iPad’s keyboard, saving you from looking like a crazy person who violently shakes their gadgets in public. To access it, simply bring up the keyboard, and hit the “.?123” key. Nearby, you’ll spot a key that’s helpfully labeled “undo”, which works more-or-less system-wide to undo your last keyboard action—and if you need to redo something, follow the same steps and you’ll see the same button labeled accordingly.

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]

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