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The Ultimate Guide To iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus: iOS 8 Tips & Tricks

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The iPhone 6 and its mammoth big brother the iPhone 6 Plus are the two best smartphones Apple has ever made. Yet if you’re like many (myself included) chances are you’re not using Apple’s latest and greatest handsets to their fullest. That’s because the iPhone does so much it’s virtually impossible to know every little tip and trick both the hardware and its software can perform. 

China’s United Daily News (UDN) claims that Apple’s iPhone 6s release date has been pushed forwards as a result of an excessive component yield. The handset was expected to land inside late-Q3 just like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Quite a bit is now known about Apple’s upcoming iPhones. As expected, the handsets won’t be all that different to last year’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The big updates will be to do with the handsets’ display technology: both will use Apple’s Force Touch technology. Updates to the cameras are also expected, as is a new CPU and improvements to memory. 

Beyond this, however, there won’t be too much to tell the difference between last year’s model and the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. All the big changes are apparently being saved for 2016’s iPhone 7, and there is also talk of Apple rekindling its iPhone Xc range in 2016 too. 

“Apple has upped the amount of components ordered by a staggering amount, which could indicate the preparation for an early release,” reports Tech Radar. 

iOS 8 brought with it quite a lot of new functionality as well as load of improvements to existing, core Apple applications like Mail, Messages, iBooks and Photos to name just a few. Apple has been incredibly busy during the past couple of years, pumping out updates and implementing big, sweeping changes to its mobile OS. 

This is one of the reasons iOS has lost some of its stability in recent times; Apple almost became too focussed on features and lost sight of one of iOS’ core USPs, stability. Thankfully, iOS 9 –– which is coming later this year at WWDC 2015 –– will aim to make iOS as stable as its ever been, so things will begin to get dramatically better re: stability in 2015/16. 

We’ll be updating this guide most weeks to show you the latest and greatest tips we’ve discovered and the ones that our readers have discovered too. And we’d love to have you contribute. If you’ve got a favourite iPhone tip or trick let us know about it in the comments.

This feature is broken up into sections. The thought behind this is simple: if you want to know something specific simply click one of the topics below and it will take you straight to that page. We’ll be adding more topics over the coming weeks and months, so be sure to either bookmark or check back regularly to see what’s new.  

Now, here’s our first addition: Security. 

1) iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus: Privacy & Security

Enable iCloud backups of your entire device

Over the last few years my iPhone has become just as important a hub for all my data as my laptop has been for the last ten years. Matter of fact, if my laptop would get lost or stolen, there’s a good chance I could continue running my life with just my iPhone.

It contains my credit cards (thanks, Apple Pay), my most important documents (hat tip to you, Dropbox and iCloud Documents), all my banking information (my bank’s apps), my contacts and addresses, my emails, and even my personal photos.

Unfortunately due to its size the iPhone is much easier to lose or have stolen than a laptop. And if it gets lost, I lose a big part of my life’s information. That’s why it’s more important than ever that I–and you–make complete backups of your iPhone frequently.

Thankfully, Apple makes that easy to do–and it lets you do it in two ways: via iCloud or via iTunes. Here’s how:

Backup your iPhone via iCloud

Go to your Settings app and navigate to iCloud>Backup. Toggle the iCloud backup switch to ON (green). Now any time your iPhone is plugged into USB power (a computer or the USB power brick) and it’s connected to a Wi-Fi network all of its documents, accounts, Health data, HomeKit data, settings, and more will be backed up to iCloud. As you normally plug your iPhone in every night before bed, this means your iPhone will be backed up each night. If it’s then ever lost or stolen you can simply restore all your data to a new iPhone from your iPhone backup.

Backup your iPhone via iTunes

Another way to backup your iPhone is via iTunes. To do this plug your iPhone into your computer and launch iTunes. From the File menu choose Devices>Backup. As with the iCloud method, the iTunes method will backup all your documents, accounts, Health data, HomeKit data, settings, and more directly to your computer.

Hide pictures on your iPhone

One of the great things about the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are its cameras. It allows us to take pictures wherever and whenever we want. The drawback is sometimes others may borrow our phone and could view some pictures we may want to keep from their eyes.

That’s why Apple has now built in the ability to hide individual pictures at will. When you hide a picture is it removed from Years, Collections, and Moments views on your phone and can only be accessed from the Hidden photo album in your Photos app. This means you can safely let someone swipe through the main photo library on your phone without the worry that they’ll swipe to a photo of a personal nature.

To hide pictures on your iPhone find the picture you want to hide in your Photos app and tap and hold on it. From the contextual menu that appears tap “Hide” and then tap the Hide Photo confirmation popup that appears.

You can unhide photos by going to the Hidden album, tapping on the hidden photo, and tapping the “Unhide” contextual menu item.

Set up a strong password with nuclear options

In the unfortunate case your iPhone is lost or stolen you want to make sure that at least your data is as off-limits to prying eyes as much as possible. The single best way to do this is by making sure your iPhone 6 and 6 Plus has Touch ID enabled. This is your first line of defense in keeping people out of your iPhone.

Enable Touch ID

Go to the Settings app and tap Touch ID & Passcode. Under the USE TOUCH ID FOR: header, toggle iPhone Unlock to ON (green). You’ll be walked through the steps necessary to enter your fingerprints. Once complete any time anyone wants to unlock your iPhone they’ll need your fingerprint or passcode.

Speaking of those passcodes…Touch ID requires you set a passcode in case the sensor fails and it can no longer read your fingerprint. Many people just set a 4-digit PIN as a passcode, yet given 4-digit PINs only have 9999 possible combinations, they aren’t the most secure against someone who really wants to get into your phone.

That’s why I highly recommend creating strong passcode that can be an alphanumeric phrase.

Create Strong Password

Go to the Settings app and tap Touch ID & Passcode. Switch the Simple Passcode toggle OFF (white). Now enter you new alphanumeric strong passcode. Now anytime anyone wants to unlock your iPhone and they don’t have your fingerprints they’ll need to guess a much more complex passcode.

And lets not forget you can associate a nuclear option with both a simple and strong passcode. If someone does steal your iPhone and tries to continually guess your passcode you can set all the data on the iPhone to be erased after 10 failed attempts. If this happens and you do get your iPhone back it will be completely erased, so make sure you make backups of your device on a regular basis.

To set your iPhone to erase its data after ten failed passcode attempts go to the Settings app and tap Touch ID & Passcode. Toggle the Erase Data switch to ON (green). You’ve now set the nuclear option.

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2. iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus Notifications

Turn your iPhone camera’s flash into an LED flash alert for calls, texts, and notifications

Apple has long has a comprehensive and dedicated approach to designing its software for those users who have unique needs. Its accessibility options in iOS are particularly empowering for those with sight or hearing impairments. But there is one such accessibility option that is beneficial to all users: the ability to turn your iPhone camera’s flash into an LED flash alert for calls, texts, and notifications.

The iPhone has always had vibration and sound alerts for notifications, calls, and texts, but it never included LED alerts for these occurrences, unlike many Android phones that feature a dedicated LED light for visual alerts. There’s probably a number of reasons Apple has never included a dedicated alert LED light on the iPhone–the most obvious being for aesthetic purposes–but now thanks to iOS 8’s accessibility options anyone who wants such an LED alert can have one.

To turn your camera’s flash into an LED alert for calls, texts, and notifications you’ll need an iPhone 4 or newer. If you’ve got the right device, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility

  2. Toggle the LED Flash for Alerts to ON (green)

Now when you receive a call, text, or notification your iPhone’s camera light will flash in a two-blip sequence that repeats continuously. This visual alert will occur alongside other alerts you have enabled, such as audio or vibration alerts. Also note that the LED flash alert listens to your Do Not Disturb settings, so if Do Not Disturb is enabled the LED flash alert will not go off.

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3. Battery: Master Your Battery Usage

The single most important feature of any smartphone is its battery life. It’s more important than the storage space or the screen resolution or even the software and apps. Why? Because without battery life your smartphone is just a glass and aluminum brick. Unfortunately if you’re a moderately active iPhone user, it’s hard to get through a full day without needing to recharge your phone (Possible? Yes. Likely? No.).

The problem is that while we all know if we want to conserve battery life we shouldn’t sit around and watch movies on our commute, many of us have no ideas which apps or iOS services are using most of our battery life. If we did we could then see if we could use any of these apps or services less frequently in order to conserve battery life when the juice in our device is running low.

Thankfully, in iOS 8 Apple has built in a battery usage reporting screen that tells you the exact apps and services that are shortening your battery’s life. To find this reporting screen:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Usage and then tap Battery Usage.

  2. The Battery Usage screen will show you the time that has passed since your last full charge. But below that it will also list all the biggest battery hogs: the apps and services that are using the largest percentage of your battery when the iPhone isn’t plugged into power. In the screenshot you can see my biggest battery hogs are the Phone app, followed by the Messages app, and then the Home & Lock screen, and then a third-party fitness tracking app called Moves. Facebook and Twitter are big hogs too.

  3. Now that I can see the biggest battery hogs, I know which apps and services to avoid if I’m getting down into the last 10% territory or battery life on my iPhone. Or, if I want to get drastic, I know which apps to remove from my iPhone so I no longer need to worry about their battery-draining code again.

Adjust your iPhone’s Screen Brightness Using Home Button

Increased brightness on any devices screen means increased battery usage. There’s no way around that. That’s why its important to monitor and adjust your screen’s brightness if you are trying to conserve battery life. Android devices have always been excellent at this, offering a number of ways to quickly adjust screen brightness. It’s taken Apple, on the other hand, some time to catch up.

Apple made big leaps with screen brightness adjustments in iOS 7 when it introduced the Control Center and allowed users to adjust screen brightness by swiping up from the bottom of the screen and then using a brightness slider. But if that’s even too many taps and drags for you, Apple has now gone one step further, introducing a new feature in iOS 8.1 that allows you to automatically adjust your iPhone’s screen brightness by pressing the Home button three times. But first, you need to set this feature up. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom.

  2. Toggle the Zoom switch to ON (green).

  3. Now tap the screen three times, with three fingers to bring up a menu overlay.

  4. Tap Choose Filter.

  5. Tap Low Light.

  6. Now in Settings go to General >  Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut.

  7. Set the shortcut to Zoom.

And now you are able to dim the brightness of the screen anytime by pressing the Home button quickly three times. Pretty cool, huh?

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iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus Tips: Siri

Siri, Apple’s personal digital assistant, has come a long way since her introduction way back in iOS 5. What began with a rocky –– and somewhat lacklustre –– start has now become a tool that is fairly impressive in iOS 8, especially since the introduction of the “Hey, Siri” feature.

Here’s the official line via Apple’s release: “Talk to Siri as you would to a person. Say something like ‘Tell my wife I’m running late’ or ‘Remind me to call the vet.’ Siri not only understands what you say, it’s smart enough to know what you mean. So when you ask ‘Any good sushi round here?’ Siri will reply ‘I found a number of sushi restaurants near you.’ Then you can say ‘Hmm. What about pizza?’ Siri remembers that you just asked about restaurants, so it will look for Italian restaurants in the area. And Siri is proactive, so it will question you until it finds what you’re looking for” 

In this guide we show you to use the newest –– and most little known –– features of Apple’s voice assistant and we’ll also explore what it means for the future of Apple TV’s aspiration.

“Hey, Siri…” Setting up Siri hands-free in iOS 8

Before iOS 8 the only way to activate Siri was by pressing and holding the iPhone or iPad’s home button for a few seconds. The familiar double-beep would chime and then Siri would wait for you to speak your request. But with iOS 8 Apple introduced a new feature to Siri that makes the service much smarter and easier to use. It’s called “Hey, Siri” and allows you to activate Siri by just using your voice. 

There are a few steps you need to take before being able to use the “Hey, Siri…” feature. The first step is you need to enable voice activation in Siri’s settings. To do this: 

  1. Go to the Settings app on your iOS device.
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap Siri
  4. Where it says ‘Allow “Hey, Siri…”’ toggle the ON/OFF switch to ON (green). 

The above steps will enable “Hey, Siri…” but the hands-free feature will unfortunately only work when your iOS device is plugged into a power source (the power source could be a wall charger or a USB port on a laptop). If your iOS device is not plugged in “Hey, Siri…” will not work. 

Why does Apple do this? Because the “Hey, Siri…” feature requires your iOS device to constantly be listening for your voice commands, which means it’s drawing extra power from your battery. Limiting “Hey, Siri…” to plugged-in iOS devices ensures you aren’t going to drain your battery faster throughout the day.

Using “Hey, Siri…”

Once you have “Hey, Siri…” enabled and your iOS device plugged in, simply say, “Hey, Siri…” followed by your request. “Hey, Siri…” requests aren’t limited either. Anything you can ask Siri by activating her by touch you can ask Siri in “Hey, Siri…” mode. This includes, but is not limited to, asking Siri to read your emails, check the weather, set reminders, and more.

At first I though “Hey, Siri…” was a feature that was a bit gimmicky, but I’ve come to find is that it is extremely useful at night when I’m lounging around in my flat watching TV and my iPhone is plugged in by my nightstand. Instead of getting up to check a text message, I can simply say “Hey Siri, read my text I just got…” and she does it. Or when I see something advertised in a commercial I just say “Hey Siri, reminder me to pick up that new brand of toilet tissue” and she sets a reminder. All this happens with my iPhone across the room. 

The “Hey, Siri” feature is also incredibly useful when I’m going to bed at night. My iPhone is my alarm clock and as soon as I hit the sack all I need to do after I turn out the lights is say “Hey, Siri, set my alarm for 9AM” and my alarm is set. I don’t even need to touch my phone. 

Using “Hey, Siri” to identify a song 

Siri can now identify any songs too, and she does this using Shazam’s song identification technology. Using Siri’s Shazam capabilities combined with her “Hey, Siri” features means you can be watching a TV show and when a song comes on that you like you don’t even need to reach for you phone to identify it. You can just say “Hey, Siri, what song is this?” and Siri will listen to the song and identify it within seconds. What’s even better is this identified song will automatically be added to a “Siri” section in your iTunes previews history, so you can browse your Siri’d songs and choose which you want to buy later. 

What “Hey, Siri” means for the future of the Apple TV

At first it may seem odd correlating the “Hey, Siri” feature with the Apple TV, but it’s actually the most logical use for “Hey, Siri”. There are plenty of rumours that the next generation Apple TV will be more than a digital media player. Instead, it’s likely it could be the centre brain of an “Apple Home” that works with other iOS 8 features like HomeKit. 

Since HomeKit uses Siri voice commands to allow users to interact with their smart devices, it’s likely “Hey, Siri” will be the key user interface of choice for the next Apple TV. Matter of fact “Hey, Siri” could be the only remote the next Apple TV comes with.

“Hey, Siri, turn off the lights in the kitchen.” “Hey, Siri, change the channel.” “Hey, Siri, show me the weather for tomorrow.”

You get the idea. “Hey, Siri” is also likely for the next Apple TV because it’s power requirements would be negligible since the Apple TV is always plugged in –– unlike an iOS device.

If I were a betting man, I’d say there’s a 90% chance this is why “Hey, Siri” was included in iOS 8, as means for Apple to test the feature out before integrating it as the main interface of the product it is actually destined for–the Apple TV.

Until then, “Hey, Siri” is still a pretty cool feature for your iPhone.

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iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus Tips: Safari

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus’s larger screen makes browsing the web really stand out. And thanks to the slick, minimalistic design of iOS 8’s Safari web browser, it’s easier than ever to concentrate on the content of the web page. But Safari on the iPhone 6 has a ton of other cool hidden tricks. Below we’ve spotlighted the best.

Safari: Reopen Recently Closed Tabs

Have you ever closed a Safari window and seconds later realize you shouldn’t have? Perhaps the site contained more information you need to access. Well Safari has an awesome feature that allows you to reopen recently closed tabs. Here’s how:

  1. Tap the tabs button in the lower righthand corner of a Safari window.

  2. In the tabs screen you’ll see a + button that allows you to add a new tab. Instead of tapping it to add a new tab, tap and hold it. This will bring up the Recently Closed Tabs window, which lists any tabs you’ve recently closed. Tap one to open that webpage in a new tab again.

Safari: Browse Privately

The importance of online privacy has never been more apparent than in today’s surveillance age. That’s why you’ll probably appreciate the new Private Browsing Mode Safari offers. This is a great feature for those of you who share your iPhone with someone else. Browsing in Private Browsing Mode means Safari won’t remember the pages you visit, your search history, or your autofill information.

  1. Tap the tabs button in the lower righthand corner of a Safari window.

  2. In the tabs screen tap the Private button. This makes you enter Private Browsing Mode.

  3. Tap the + button to open up a new tab in Private Browsing Mode. Any sites, searches, and details you enter will not be saved by Safari.

  4. What’s really cool about Private Browsing Mode is that you can keep some tabs private and others public. To toggle between the tabs, select and deselect the Private button. Whichever mode you are in will only show the tabs from that mode.

Safari: Search Privately

In addition to private browsing, Safari now offers DuckDuckGo search, which is a search engine alternative to Google, Bing, and Yahoo (Safari’s other search provider options) that does not collect or share personal information. That means DuckDuckGo users can be relatively assured their search habbits aren’t being tracked or passed on to advertisers. To enable DuckDuckGo search:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Tap Safari from the Settings menu.

  3. Tap Search Engine.

  4. From the search engine list tap DuckDuckGo.

Safari: Scan a Credit Card

Buying things online on your mobile device can still be a bit of a chore. Many mobile checkout pages don’t have the best mobile layouts and even if they do they still ask you to enter a ton of information including your shipping and billing address and your credit card details. Apple is working to improve this mobile checkout experience by building Apple Pay support into apps. But it also has made Safari easier to use when checking out. Instead of having to enter your credit card information manually, Safari now allows you to scan your credit card by taking a photo of it. You credit card details like its number and your name will be pulled from the card and automatically entered in the credit card billing fields on the mobile website.

  1. On a mobile website in Safari tap the card number field that appears on the web page.

  2. Over iOS 8’s keyboard that appears you’ll see a button that says Scan Credit Card. Tap it.

  3. A camera field will appear on screen with a frame displayed. Position your credit card in that frame and hold it there. after a few seconds Safari will automatically grab the card details and enter them into the credit card fields on the mobile web site.

Safari: Request Desktop Site

There are more mobile devices on the planet now than there are computers. Perhaps that’s why it’s no surprise most major websites offer “mobile optimized” versions of their site. But while these mobile optimized sites are formatted to make mobile browsing easier they are often time barebone sites that only offer a fraction of the information or abilities of the regular full desktop site. The site’s owners know this, so sometimes they’ll hide a link somewhere on the mobile site that takes you to the desktop side. But then again, most times they won’t.

That’s why my favorite feature of Safari in iOS 8 is the ability to force a site to display the desktop version even if the mobile site doesn’t offer such a link. Here’s how:

  1. On the mobile website you are viewing, tap the address bar in the Safari window.

  2. When the Favorites screen appears, swipe down to reveal a submenu below the address bar.

  3. Tap Request Desktop Site.

  4. The mobile site you were on will now load the desktop version of the site.

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iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus Tips: Photos

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus comes packed with two cameras, the rear-facing main iSight camera and the front-facing FaceTime camera (perfect for selfie lovers). Both cameras allow you to take some pretty amazing pics. Once you do you’ll be able to access all your images in the iPhone’s Photos app, which has some pretty cool features not many people know about. Here are our favorite tips and tricks for the Photos app on the iPhone 6.

Photos: Store Your Entire Photo Library in the Cloud

We all have years worth of digital pictures by now and iCloud Photo Library is Apple’s way of making sure our iPhone 6 can access every single image we’ve ever taken–even if they are images from 10 years ago–right on our iPhone. Apple calls this feature iCloud Photo Library and what it does is store all the images from your Mac, PC, iPhones, and iPads in one central library in the cloud. It is from this cloud library that the original, full-resolution files of your images alway exist and your iPhone’s Photo app simply becomes a portal through which you can access any image at any time.

iCloud Photo Library is a compelling feature not only for its ability to allow you to access all your photos from your iPhone 6, but also because it make a great backup and retrieval option for your pics should the worst happen and your Mac or iPhone is lost or stolen. iCloud Photo Library will allow you to easily download all your photos to a new device.

iCloud Photo Library is turned off by default, but if you want to enable it, here’s how:

  1. Open the Setting app on your iPhone.

  2. Tap Photos & Camera.

  3. Toggle the iCloud Photo Library switch to ON (green). Now all your pictures from your iPhone will be uploaded and stored in the cloud and combine with any photos from the libraries on your Mac, PC, or other devices (if you’ve enabled iCloud Photo Library on those devices).

Photos: Search Your Pictures Metadata

Many of us carry thousands of pictures on our iPhone–and quite possibly have access to every single image we’ve ever taken if we’re using iCloud Photo Library. While it’s incredible to think we can actually carry all our photos in our pocket, things get a bit more frustrating when trying to find that one cool image we want to show someone. Even with Photos’ Years, Collections, and Moments views, quickly locating one specific image among 10-or 20,000 can be like finding a needle in a haystack. But that get much easier if you know about Photos search features. Here’s how to use them:

  1. In the Photos app, tap the magnifying glass icon in the toolbar at the top of the screen.

  2. The Search screen will appear.

  3. In the search field you can begin typing in a search query based on metadata information like date taken, album name, specific address, city, country, year, month, and more. Search is dynamic, so as you continue typing your search query, the results will continue whittling down.

  4. You’ll also notice that after you tap the search magnifying glass a list of predefined search suggestions will appear below the search field. These include suggestions like locating all the images taken near your current location, images taken at your home, or images taken around a specific date.

Photos: Hide Private Pictures

Photos gives you the ability to hide certain photos of your choosing. I know, all your photos are amazing, so why would you want to hide any of them? Hiding is useful when you are thinking about deleting photos but aren’t quite sure if you want to do that. It’s also great if you have any personal pics on your iPhone you’d rather not have other people catch a view of if they’re swiping through your Photos library. You want them to see pics of your beach holiday, but then they swipe too far and see that shot of you and your girlfriend in the hotel room at night. Choosing to hide a picture removes it from view in your Photos Library and puts it into a special Hidden album, which is the only album it then becomes viewable in. To hide a photo from view:

  1. Open a photo in the Photos app.

  2. Tap and hold on the photo until the contextual menu appears.

  3. Tap the Hide button.

  4. That photo now becomes hidden in Years, Collections, and Moments and is only viable in the Hidden photo album.

  5. To unhide the photo tap the Album button at the bottom of Photos’ screen.

  6. Tap the Hidden photo album.

  7. Inside the Hidden album tap and hold on the photo you want to unhide. A contextual menu will appear. Tap Unhide.

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Installing Widgets in iOS 8

As the weeks go on the more I fall in love with iOS 8. That’s because much of what makes iOS 8 great is so tightly integrated with third-party apps. There’s custom keyboards, extensions and Touch ID–all which require support by third-party apps to be really useful. Each day, more and more apps are updated to support these cool new features. But best of all is the new widgets support in Notification Center. Widgets are little interactive status graphics that allow you to quickly access information from apps all in one place. We’ve put together this primer to tell you how to enable third-party widgets and also show off some of the best apps that have the coolest widgets.

Installing and Activating Widgets

As with most things with iOS, Apple has made installing and using widgets as easy as possible. Widgets aren’t separate apps; they’re just extensions of existing apps on your iPhone. So if an app has a widget when you download that app you’ll get the widget. But in order to see the widget in Notification Center you’ll need to enable it. Here’s how:

  1. Swipe down from the top of any screen on your iPhone (or iPad). This will display Notification Center.
  2. Tap the “Today” view. Widgets are only viewable in Today view.
  3. By default you’ll see some built-in Apple widgets, like Today Summary and Tomorrow Summary. The Reminders widget is also enabled by default. Below these default widgets you’ll see an Edit button. Tap it.
  4. The Widgets list slides up the screen. This list shows you all the widgets available on your device. It’s segregated into two sections. At the top you’ll see your active widgets and below that you’ll see a header labeled “Do Not Include”. Any widget in this “Do Not Include” list will have a green + button by it. Widgets in the “Do Not Include” list are listed in alphabetical order by app name. Active widgets above this “Do Not Include” list have a red – button in front of it.
  5. To add a widget to Today view simply tap the green button by the widget’s name. The widget will automatically shift up to the top list.
  6. To arrange the order widgets appear in in Today view drag the grab bars up or down to the right of the widget’s name (note that while Today Summary and Tomorrow Summary must be the first and last items, respectively, you can remove them from Today view if you want).
  7. To remove an active widget, simply tap its red – button. The widget’s name will slide to the right and a red REMOVE button will appear. Tap it and the widget is removed and placed back in the “Do Not Include” list.
  8. Tap the Done button when you are done enabling, disabling, and rearranging widgets.
  9. Back on the Today view screen in Notification Center you’ll notice a small text notification below the Edit button whenever you’ve downloaded an app that adds a new widget.

Interacting with Widgets

Widgets just aren’t static graphics of information; you can actually interact with most of them. Some of this interaction is simple. For example, tapping on Apple’s Weather widget will launch the Weather app. Virtually all app’s widgets support this simple launcher functionality. Tap on the widget = launch the app.

But some widgets offer a greater degree of interaction. London Bus Checker, for example, lets you navigate through ever populating lists of the next busses that will arrive near your location. Apple’s Reminders app allow you to check off a reminder in the Notification Center as soon as you’ve completed it–without opening the app. Several news apps allow you to tap on a breaking headline to be taken right to that story in the app.

In short, widgets are what the developers make of them. They can be simple launchers or offer some pretty cool interactivity that allows you to save time by completing tasks without opening up the app.

Some Cool Widgets

The list of apps with great widgets is growing by the day, but here are some of my favorites:

  • Dropbox – see the most recently added and changed files right in your Notification Center. Tap on a file to open it.
  • London Bus Checker – track live bus times in Notification Center.
  • Vidgets – get status icons for battery life, clock, speed, date and more right in Notification Center.
  • British Airways – gets flight status updates in Notification Center.
  • Instapaper – view recently added articles in Notification Center.
  • Quick-Tap – quickly launch other apps right from Notification Center.
  • Yahoo Weather – see beautiful weather notification widgets in Notification Center.
  • PCalc – get a calculator right in your Notification Center.
  • TeeVee 3 – this widget lets you see a list of your upcoming favorite TV shows in Notification Center.

Have a favorite widget? Let us know in the comments!

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iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus Tips: iBooks

With its bigger screens the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are ideal for reading. That’s nowhere more evident than when opening up Apple’s ebook reader app, iBooks, and diving into the latest novel. But more than just being a reader app, iBooks has many hidden tips and tricks that make marking up, managing, and reading your books easier than ever.

iBooks: Save PDFs found on the web directly to iBooks

One killer feature of iBooks is its ability to manage all your PDF documents. That’s right: iBooks isn’t only for e-books. It’s also a powerful PDF reader and organizer. You can import PDFs to iBooks via iTunes on your Mac or PC, but you can also get them into iBooks via another way: by saving PDFs directly from the web in Safari for iOS.

For all its benefits, iOS still doesn’t have a file structure that people can save files to and move files around. All file saving and storage must be done in apps. This previously made it a pain when you found a PDF of the web and wanted to save it for later use. If you were on an iOS device you were out of luck–all you could do was bookmark the PDF. But iBooks now allows you to save any PDF you find on the web. Here’s how:

  1. In Safari, click any link that takes you o a PDF. The PDF will be displayed in Safari’s window.

  2. Tap in the center of the PDF so a new file menu appears at the top of the screen. On the left side of this file menu you’ll see the command “Open in…” and on the right side you’ll see the command “Open in iBooks”.

  3. Tap the Open in iBooks link and you’ll be taken from Safari to the iBooks app where the PDF will be saved and stored for offline viewing.

iBooks: Create new iBooks collections

If you’re like me you probably have dozens of iBooks in your library as well as a similar number of PDFs. By default the iBooks app sorts your library into three collections: All, Books, and PDFs. “All” contain all the books and PDFs in your library. “Books” contain just the books, and PDFs contain just the PDFs. These three collection are a great way to get started managing your library, but as you add more books and PDFs over time things can quickly spiral out of control on an organizational front.

Thankfully iBooks allows you to create new collections of books and PDFs–and a mixture of both. Collections are handy when you want to organize your reading material into school texts or work PDFs, for example, or create collections which just feature children books your kids could browse on that long car ride. Here’s how:

  1. Tap the collections button at the top of iBooks. This button is labeled by the name of the current collection you are in. For example, it may say “All” or “PDFs”.

  2. From the menu that appears tap the + New Collection button.

  3. The button will fade away and a text entry field will appear. Name the collection anything you want and then tap Done.

  4. Now tap the name of your new collection in the list.

  5. You’ll be taken to that new collection’s empty shelves. This is a bit silly on Apple’s part, but you can’t actually add books and PDFs to an empty collection from its shelf. You need to go to a current collection to add books to a new collection. So tap the collections button at the top of iBooks again and in the menu that appears tap the name of a collection that contains the books and PDFs you want to add. My suggestion is you add books and PDFs from the “All” collection.

  6. Tap the Select button in the upper righthand corner.

  7. Now tap the cover of each book and PDF you want to move to the new collection. As you tap each one a blue checkmark will appear over the cover.

  8. Tap the Move button in the upper lefthand corner.

  9. On the Collections Move screen that appears tap the name of your new collection that you created. You’ll be taken to that collection where the items you’ve moved will now appear on its shelves.

Note that when “moving” books or PDFs to a new collection you aren’t actually moving them. They all remain in place in the main “All” collection and any other collections they appear in. “Moving” a book or PDF into a new collection essentially just creates a shortcut to it. Since it’s just a shortcut and not a new file any highlight or bookmarks in the book or PDF you moved from one collection to the next will also remain.

iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus Tips: Messages

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Recent studies suggest the two top most features many of us do with our smartphones are play games and send messages. Though Apple hasn’t entered the gaming market, iOS 8 brought a ton of new messaging features to its iMessages app. It also added a whole bunch of tricks below Messages surface that allows you to communicate more effectively and only with who you want.

Messages: Segregate iMessages into known and unknown senders categories

There’s an awesome new feature in Messages that hardly anyone knows about: it’s the ability to separate the text and iMessages you receive into two categories: known and unknown senders. Known senders are anyone you have in your contacts while unknown senders are iMessages from phone number or emails not saved in your contacts. The ability to segregate messages in this way means you can quickly access your most important ones–likely the ones from the people you care about enough to save their contact info in your iPhone.

To set up message segregation:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Tap Messages.

  3. Toggle the “Filter Unknown Senders” switch to ON (green).

  4. Now go back to your Messages app. At the top of it, below the search field, you’ll now see two new tabs. One reads “Contacts & SMS” and the other reads “Unknown Senders”. All texts and messages from known contacts now show up in “Contacts & SMS”, while any iMessages from unknown people show up in the “Unknown Senders” category.

Messages: Easily report iMessages as spam

Gone are the days when people needed to know your phone number to send you a text. With iMessages they only need to know your Apple ID email. While this has made it easier to send texts–and enable non-cellular devices like iPod touches and iPads to do so–it’s also lead to an increasing flood of spam iMessages. As spammers only need to find out your email–something much easier than finding out your phone number–iMessages have become a perfect new vehicle for spam.

Apple has actually always allowed you to report iMessages as spam by emailing them a screenshot of the message along with other details, but now the company has made it even easier. Here’s how:

  1. First make sure you’ve enabled the “Filter Unknown Senders” option as discussed above.

  2. Once “Filter Unknown Senders” is enabled tap on the “Unknown Senders” category and find an iMessage you think is junk or spam.

  3. Below the message you’ll see a note saying “The sender is not in your contact list.” And below that you’ll see a blue button that say Report Junk. If the message is junk or spam, click the Report Junk button.

  4. A popup will appear saying “You can report this iMessage as junk by sending it to Apple.” Click the red Delete and Report Junk button to do so.

Note that while you can use the above steps to easily report spam iMessages, it’s a bit more complicated for reporting spam text messages. If the message is an SMS and not an iMessage after tapping the Report Junk button Messages will take you to an external webpage where you can manually report the spam text message.

Messages: Do Not Disturb on a per-thread basis

For a while iOS has had a great feature called Do Not Disturb that allows you to silence all notifications between certain hours. The feature is amazing–especially when you are trying to get some shut eye at night. But it’s often an impractical feature to use during the day as it’s all or nothing. That’s why I’m thrilled Apple has decided to enable Do Not Disturb on a per-thread basis in Messages in iOS 8.

The way it works is that if you want to be notified of messages from some people but not others, you can toggle notifications off for specific senders or groups of senders. That way, only the notifications for message threads with new messages that are important to you come through.

So if that one person–a boss or an ex–is annoying you with messages, here’s how to silence them (and they’ll never know):

  1. Open the Messages app.

  2. Tap on the thread you want to silence. This could be a thread of messages from a single person or a group of people.

  3. On that thread’s messages screen tap the Details button.

  4. On the Details screen toggle the “Do Not Disturb” switch to ON (green). All notifications for that thread will now be muted until you toggle the switch OFF (white). Keep in mind you’ll still receive any messages the sender sends while Do Not Disturb is enabled–and you can check them at any time–you’ll just not be notified by any push or audio alerts when they send a new message.

How To Automatically Delete Messages In iOS 8

Apple’s Messages app will store every single message you send or receive unless you set it up to delete them automatically. If you don’t do this it will eat into your memory and then you’ll have to go through and manually delete them when it’s full.

Apple’s iOS 8 allows you set it up so conversations will be automatically deleted after either 30 days or a whole year. Here’s how to set it up.

  • Find The Settings App
  • The Settings app is a grey icon with a black cog shape in the middle, you want to tap this and you’ll be greeted by a long list of settings you can fiddle around with.
  • Find The Messages Section
  • Then you want to head down until you find the Messages app Settings. You want to press on this.
  • Toggle Keep Messages
  • There’s only one option in here, it’s Keep Messages. You can then toggle it from either forever, a year, or 30 days.
  • From now on your messages will be deleted depending on how you’ve changed the setting. If you’ve still not got much space and you need to free some storage you’ll need to delete the conversations manually.

To do this head into the Messages app and hold down on the conversations you want to lose, then select the delete option. Delete these until you’ve got the amount of space you need. To stop the messages automatically deleting you can just go through the same process as above and toggle the setting back to “Forever”.

iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus Tips: Mail

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With the release of the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 Apple made a ton of improvements to its iPhone Mail app. Many of these improvements were aimed with the business user or email power user in mind, but plenty will be helpful for the everyday user as well.

Mail: Save draft emails in a whole new way

Prior to iOS 8, saving a draft email in Mail was cumbersome at best. After beginning composing an email you were effectively cut off from the rest of your inbox (not good if you wanted to find an email to copy and paste from). Once you had a draft on screen in order to get back to the rest of your email you either had to send it or tap the cancel button and delete the draft or save it to the drafts folder. If you saved it to the drafts folder you’d need to perform several taps to get back to it just to open it again.

With iOS 8 Apple added a completely new way of dealing with drafts. Now when you have a draft message onscreen you can simply swipe down on its header to push the draft message out of the way so you can browse and access your other emails. When you’re ready to interact with the draft again, just swipe up on its header at the bottom of the screen to bring it up again.

  1. In Mail, click the Compose new message button.

  2. On the New Message screen begin typing your message.

  3. Swipe down on the New Message header to push the draft out of the way to the bottom of the screen.

  4. Now you can continue navigating your inbox.

  5. To return to the draft, tap on the New Message header from the bottom of the screen.

You can also create multiple draft emails at the same time:

  1. Follow steps 1-3 above, but once you get to step #4, tap the Compose new message button again. This will create another new draft.

  2. Now swipe down on this second new draft.

  3. At the bottom of your screen you’ll see a header that now says you have two draft emails.

  4. Tap this header and both drafts and your inbox will be presented in a 3D card view, much like open tabs in Safari are presented. Tap on one of the cards to bring that item full screen.

Mail: Configure swipe gestures and actions

Before multitouch gestures meant we were mainly tapping on small UI elements, but recently as we’ve gotten more used to multitouch technology it’s become apparent how the big sweeping swipe gestures used for full-screen UI elements can greatly speed up productivity in and make performing actions easier when used on specific in-app elements on the screen.

That’s all a long way of saying Mail has some great swipe gesture support built into it that makes performing Mail tasks much easier. Now you can swipe on a message to mark it as read, flag it, trash it, or archive it. But rather than have one swipe fit all, Apple lets you customize what a swipe left or right will do. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars.

  3. Under the MAIL header, tap Swipe Options.

  4. On the Swipe Options screen you’ll see two diagrams that represent left and right swipes.

  5. Tap where is says Swipe Left.

  6. On the Swipe Left screen tap whether you want a left swipe to do nothing (None), mark a message as read, or flag a message. Since you can’t use the same action for a left and a right swipe, if that action is already in use by the opposite swipe, you’ll need to disable it there first before applying it to the current swipe settings.

  7. After you’ve configured your Swipe Left settings, tap Swipe Options to return to the previous screen.

  8. Tap Swipe Right.

  9. On the Swipe Right screen tap whether you want swipe right to do nothing, mark a message as read, flag a message, or archive a message.

Mail: Set VIPs

This is probably my favorite feature of Mail. For years we’ve had the ability to distinguish between emails that matter to use or ones that don’t. For the ones that don’t we could mark them as junk or spam, but there was no way to mark emails that matter to us more than the normal email. For example, there was no way to tell Mail that an email from your children is more important than an email from your boss. That’s all changed with VIPs. VIP of course stands for Very Important Person. In Mail, VIP is its own special inbox where messages from anyone you designate a VIP get sorted to. This VIP mailbox allows you to cut through your regular, non-junk emails and quickly access messages from people that matter the most.

Here’s how you set up the VIP mailbox in Mail:

  1. Open the Mail app.

  2. On the Mailboxes screen tap the VIP mailbox. It’s got a blue star next to it.

  3. If you haven’t set up VIPs before you’ll see a Add VIP button. Tap it.

  4. A list of every person in your Contacts will appear. Tap their name to add them as a VIP. Now any email you receive from them will appear in your VIP mailbox.

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Continuity 

Apple’s iOS 8 update added in a bunch of new features (as well as a fair few bugs). The overarching theme of the update, however, appeared to be productivity, a push by the company to help its millions of dedicated users do more with their iPhones, iPads and Mac PCs. In order to facilitate more productivity across devices, Apple introduced a bunch of new features: Handoff, Continuity and Extensions.

These new features are designed to make working across Apple’s mobile and PC products even easier. For instance, you can start an email on your iMac and then pick it up later on your phone. Another useful example is to do with calls: you can receive incoming calls and texts on your PC –– even if your iPhone is in another room. Need to leave the house but still on a call? Simple: just hit the caller app on your iPhone and it will be directed back to the phone.  

And now that OS X 10.10 Yosemite has finally arrived iPhone and iPad users finally get access to some really cool iOS 8 features called Continuity. Continuity brings your Mac and iOS device closer together than ever before. Here’s everything you need to know about what it is, how it works, and how to use it.

What is Continuity?

At its most basic level, Continuity allows your Mac and iOS device to immediately know they are near one another with zero configuration on your part. If both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network, Continuity is in effect. As the name suggests, Continuity allows you to start something on one device and pick it up on another. Continuity encompasses four features: the ability to begin working on a document or email on one device and instantly pick it up on another; the ability to automatically enable iPhone tethering from your Mac; the ability to make and receive standard text messages on your Mac; and the ability to make and receive standard phone calls on your Mac. It is the latter two features that this article is concerned with. 

How does Continuity work?

Thanks to iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite when your iPhone is on the same Wi-Fi network as your Mac you can make and answer phone calls on your Mac even if those phone calls are to/from traditional landlines. Because of this Continuity allows your Mac to become an extension of your iPhone. It works by wirelessly transferring the call information over your Wi-Fi network from your iPhone to your Mac and vice versa.

If your iPhone is plugged in by your nightstand upstairs, but you’re at your iMac in your home office, and you mom calls from her home landline (e.g. not a VOIP call), you don’t need to run to answer your phone. The call will be pushed from your iPhone to your Mac over your wireless network. A caller ID will appear on your Mac enabling you to answer or decline the call. 

The reverse is true too, meaning you can dial a number from any webpage or contact on your Mac and the number will be pushed to your iPhone in your house, which will dial it out, and then Continuity will push the entire conversation back from your iPhone to your Mac (all without you noticing this is happening).

And just as you can now make and receive calls from your Mac, you can also now make and receive SMS texts –– non-iMessage texts (even to and from Android users!) –– right on your Mac. Apple calls this SMS Relay and it’s part of Continuity. Previously iOS and OS X users could get iMessages (the blue chat bubbles) on their iPhone and Mac no problem, but regular text messages (the green chat bubbles) were relegated to just your iPhone since they require a cellular connection. But now SMS Relay automatically pushes all your regular green text messages from your iPhone to your Mac (as long as the two are on the same Wi-Fi network). This allows you to send and receive text messages on your Mac from people that might not have an iOS device.

Again, keep in mind that Continuity’s phone calls features and SMS Relay features require your Mac and iPhone to be on the same wireless network. If you’re at a Starbucks, for example, and your Mac is on their Wi-Fi network but your iPhone is only connected to 4G, Continuity will not work. 

What are the requirements for Continuity? 

Continuity requires an iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad (4th generation), iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini, iPad mini with Retina display, iPad mini 3 or iPod touch (5th generation) running iOS 8.1 to work. If you have an older iPhone, iPod touch or iPad Continuity is not supported. 

On the Mac side Continuity works with any Mac capable of running OS X 10.10 Yosemite. Those Macs include most models released in 2008 or later. They include iMac (Mid-2007 or newer), MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer), MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer), MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer), Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer), Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer). 

Older Macs cannot perform many of Continuity’s newest and best features, and in true Apple style, nobody really knows why –– it’s just the way it is. That means if you’re running an older MacBook you miss out on a lot of iOS 8’s new and very cool cross over features. That’s the bad news. 

The good news is there is now a tool –– OS X Continuity Activation Tool –– that makes all the Continuity features work on older Mac models. The app was spotted by 9to5Mac and is described by the developer of the programme as follows:

It’s an all-in-one app to activate and diagnose OS X 10.10 Continuity (Handoff/Instant Hotspot/Airdrop iOS<->OSX) on older Mac configurations. I’ve been working on it for the past few weeks and tested it successfully on various Mac models. It should be stable enough now.” 

Handoff and Instant Hotspot work on the following OS X machines: MacBook Air (Mid 2012 and later); MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 and later); iMac (Late 2012 and later); Mac mini (Late 2012 and later); Mac Pro (Late 2013). Meanwhile, other features call and SMS relay work on all machines, as it only requires a Wi-Fi connection. 

OS X Continuity Activation Tool works on the following OS X machines, according to the software’s developer: 

  • Macbook Air:Early 2008-2010: Requires new bluetooth/wifi card and modified Kext.
  • Macbook Air:Mid 2011:Requires modified kext only
  • Macbook Air:Mid 2012-2014: Works OTB
  • MacbookPros:Mid 2009-Mid2012 requires new bluetooth/Wifi card and Modified Kext.
  • RetinaMacBook Pros: Works OTB.
  • MacPros:Early2008-2013 requires new bluetooth/Wifi only
  • MacPros:Works OTB .
  • MacMini:Early 2009-2010 requires new bluetooth/Wifi Card and modified Kext.
  • MacMini:Mid 2011-2012 Only requires Modified Kext
  • iMac:Mid 2007-2011 requires bluetooth/Wifi Card and Modified Kext
  • iMac:Late 2012-2013 works OTB

Continuity is not supported on Windows PCs.

How to Set Up Continuity Phone Calls On Your Mac and iOS 8 Device

Using Continuity phone calls requires all your devices are logged in with the same Apple ID. Make sure they are and then perform the follow steps:

On You Mac: 

  1. Open FaceTime (you can find it in Launchpad or in the Applications folder).
  2. In the Menu bar at the top of the screen select FaceTime>Preferences.
  3. In the preferences window make sure iPhone Cellular Calls is checked. 

On Your iOS device: 

  1. In the Settings app tap FaceTime.
  2. Toggle the iPhone Cellular Calls switch to the on position.

Once both these settings are enabled the first time your Mac and iOS device are on the same network you’ll be prompted to enter a code that appears on your Mac into your iPhone. This is a security measure ensuring your phone calls aren’t being routed to the wrong Mac. Once you’ve entered this code once, you’re good to go. The next time you receive a call on your iPhone you’ll get a notification on your Mac and can simply click the notification to take the call. You can also make calls from the FaceTime app or by clicking on any phone number links in mail messages, web pages, and your contacts.

How to Set Up SMS Relay On Your Mac and iOS 8 Device 

Using Continuity SMS Relay requires all your devices are logged in with the same Apple ID. Make sure they are and then perform the follow steps:

On Your iOS device: 

  1. In the Settings app tap Messages.
  2. In the Messages settings tap Text Message Forwarding.
  3. On the Text Message Forwarding screen you’ll see a list of your devices that all share the same Apple ID. Toggle the switch to ON (green) next to each device you want your SMS texts to be relayed to.
  4. Be sure to have your Mac nearby because a window will pop up on it with a code. Enter this code from your Mac in the prompt window on your iPhone.

Once these steps are completed your Mac will begin getting all the green SMS text messages that were once limited to your iPhone. You’ll also be able to send these standard text messages right from your Mac.

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