During the World Wide Developer Conference a little over two weeks ago, Apple released the first beta version of iOS 9 to developers. Many tech bloggers expect the public release of iOS 9 later this summer to be a “minor” upgrade from iOS 8 in terms of “new” features. However, it is widely believed that a concentrated effort made to focus primarily on stability and performance would be a welcomed deviation with an operating system as mature as iOS. The lack of a “laundry list” of new features is unlikely to deter the die-hard iOS faithful, and probably won’t play a big role in discouraging users from wanting to test out the beta.
There is always a electric buzz in the air this time of year for Apple and iOS. WWDC serves as the kindling for the summer excitement that continues to catch fire and build until new iPhones and iPads are released alongside a refreshed version of iOS in late September/early October. With this excitement, comes a desire by many to acquire access to an iOS developer account which grants them certain “privileges” the average consumer must wait for–specifically, the ability to download the latest beta version of iOS ahead of the public launch.
With great power, comes great responsability
I know what you’re thinking–I _really_ want to try out iOS 9 NOW–I don’t care that it’s still in beta. Well, truth-be-told, beta is beta. Pre-released versions of iOS software are released exclusively for those who develop for Apple, and iOS. Access to beta software aids developers in making their apps the best they can be so that when the newest iPads and iPhones are released to the public their apps work from the start. From Apple…
So this year your family said enough is enough–it’s time Dad got caught up with the times and started using an iPad like the rest of the world! Great! Awesome! Exciting! Now what? I know there are plenty of tech savvy Dad’s out there that know what they’re doing with regard to their favorite gadgets. I’d like to think I’m one of them–at least most of the time. However, maybe for you it’s been a while since you’ve been pushed out of your comfort zone and tried something new. Regardless of your level of expertise, there is a basic set of steps every one should take after purchasing/receiving a new iPad, and we’re going to highlight a few of the most important ones to get you on your way to enjoying your new device ASAP.
Back-up you data
I know this doesn’t necessarily pertain to those who are getting a new iPad for the first time, but I felt it was important enough that it should be the first thing we talk about. First and foremost, and this can never be overstated enough–anytime you are upgrading to a new device, you need to back-up your data–preferably in more than one place. I generally back-up my devices in iCloud as well as in iTunes. It might seem excessive until that one time when you don’t have it. Backing up your data should also continue _after_ you go through the initial process. I highly recommend you turn on automatic iCloud back-ups. It’s easy, convenient, and it happens in the background while you sleep at night as long as you are connected to Wi-Fi.
So, you’ve got an iPad and it’s starting to get a little slow on you. Stop me if this sound familiar– first, you do your best to free up as much storage space as you can muster by deleting old, unused apps. Next, you decide to offload your photo library and data to iCloud, or whatever other preferred cloud service you choose. Still not enough? While these are very intuitive, and useful steps, there are still a few additional methods available to you to bring your iPad back to life and make it feel like it’s a newer device once again. In no particular order…
Make sure you are running the latest version of iOS
This might not seem like a big deal, however in reality it can be a deal breaker. Whenever Apple updates the latest version of iOS, they take extra care to optimize it for the most recent hardware. In addition, they _also_ optimize the new software for older versions of iPad hardware. Making sure you are running the most recent version ensures that your iPad will run as efficient as it can. To ensure you are running the most recent version of iOS, first go to
Settings–>General–>Software Update. If your iPad is up-to-date it will disclose this info to you–otherwise, it will alert you that a more recent version is available to download and install.
I travel a lot and find it really convenient to be able to use my iPad to access internet content anywhere, even when I’m not near a wifi hotspot. Sure, I have my iPhone with me, but lots of content is just better on the iPad: reading foreign newspapers, downloading Kindle books for train or plane time-killing, using maps in the car to find your way to a cool tourist attraction… you get the idea. You could sign up for a US provider’s data roaming plan, but the prices are no less than robbery (e.g., $30 for 150mb of data from a provider who shall remain nameless). By comparison, I bought 2GB of data on my latest trip to England for £10 (about $15). Luckily for us, iPads come unlocked from the factory, unlike iPhones from some providers. And once you know the process, getting online overseas is cheap and easy. (The following instructions will work on your unlocked iPhone as well.)
Prepaid data explained: in most parts of the world, people pay for cellular data up front, and when they use up what they bought, they just buy more. No contracts, no paid-for unused data wasted at the end of the month, and no exorbitant overage charges.
What we know
Apple has been working on a fix for the Messages bug that has plagued iOS 8 devices since being recently discovered by Reddit users. The bug affects text messages, and can render the app unusable. In addition, in some cases it causes iPads to re-boot or re-spring. The message itself is a series of unicode characters that are sent through any app, not just the iOS messages app. The issue arises due to the way iOS 8 handles the display of notifications that contain Arabic characters. Is is unclear why, but the manner in which certain characters are stringed together confuses the app, and as a result, it crashes.
What does Apple say?
Apple has acknowledged the issue in a statement to CNBC
We are aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of unicode characters and we will make a fix available in a software update
As much as we would love to have a quick fix for this issue, we might have to wait another day or two before Apple releases one. Rushing to get a patch out the door ASAP without sufficient time to test it could potentially put far more iOS users at risk and create an even larger problem. In the meantime, Apple is offering this temporary fix on their support page…
When you first purchase your iPad you automatically get 5 BG of free iCloud storage to use for things like your email, iCloud backups of your devices, your Photo Library, and iCloud Drive. However, items you purchase from any of Apple’s stores like movies, music, apps and books do not count against the free storage totals. If you ever need more iCloud storage you can increase the amount at any time by selecting a new plan that best suits your needs. To do this in iOS 8 go to Settings–> iCloud–>Storage
Here, you will get a snap-shot of your current available storage along with a pathway to manage your storage needs. When you click on manage storage you will see a listing of all your devices that are currently being backed up to iCloud along with how much storage all of your documents and data are currently occupying on your account. You can reduce the amount of storage that is being used by deleting individual documents and data, or by deleting your iPad back-up from iCloud. If neither of those are viable options for you, then change/upgrade your storage plan.
One of the more useful features in iOS is called iCloud Keychain. With iCloud Keychain, you can save your passwords and credit card information on all the iOS devices you approve. Privacy is not a concern as all your confidential information is encrypted–even Apple cannot view what is stored in your iCloud Keychain. Setting up and configuring iCloud Keychain is easy, and starts in the Settings app.
Open the iCloud Setting and scroll down to the Keychain icon. If you haven’t already, turn the tab to the on position. Once activated, you can open the Advanced tab to further configure your settings. The first choice you all tasked with is whether or not you would like your iCloud security code to be used to set-up iCloud Keychain on additional devices.
I recently wrote about how iOS photo extensions reduce picture resolution when used. That was a really disappointing discovery for me because I loved the simplicity of doing all of my photo editing in one place on iOS. I’d use the controls built into the Photos app to make basic adjustments, and then I’d add my own custom-made filters through apps like Flare Effects. The point was to make browsing and editing photos a seamless experience, but lowering my photo resolution was not a compromise I was willing to make.
File this one under something I’ve thought about many times, but never actually looked into how to complete. I came across this tutorial from our friends over at iDB from last week, and thought that it was such a useful feature, I wanted to share it with everyone here. I don’t know about you, but I’ve often thought about creating an email signature that had links in it to direct people to my personal or work social sites. Previously, I would simply create an image in my signature with the important information saved within the image, and perhaps a logo. Now that works fine for providing the information you might want to share with recipients of your email. However, you can make it a lot easier on yourself and those you email by simply creating a HTML signature on your computer and saving it to your iPad to use for the account(s) of your choice.
How to create an HTML signature on your computer
Start by launching your favorite email app on your computer. For demonstrative purposes, I am using Gmail in my Safari browser. Create a new message and list yourself as the email recipient. Next, choose the style and content of your email signature, and then add a link right on top of each item you would like to link to.
Family Sharing is Apple’s answer to providing a family of up to six people an easy way to share all their purchases from the App Store, iTunes and the iBooks store through one main account. Now, family members can share purchases from each of their own individual accounts without having to use the same username and password. Everyone has access to all the purchases made by each and every member of the family. This provides the family with a one-stop location where they can share all of their photos, app purchases, books and calendar items—as well as their location.
In order to set-up the the Family Sharing account, one person needs to be the main account holder. This person sends out the invites to everyone that will be included in the family. He/she is also responsible for providing the credit card information for all payment arrangements made by the family. The process is initiated with email invites that family members can accept to become part of the Family Sharing account.
My favorite part of Family Sharing is that I can add my children to the plan—although you will need to create an Apple ID for your child in order to add them. Children under the age of 13 will automatically be added to your Family Sharing Plan, and the “ask to buy” feature is automatically turned on for purchases made with their device. All purchase requests made with this feature active will have to get approval from the main account holder. This is true for free and paid purchase requests.
When you finally decide to buy that sleek new iPad, one of the first tasks you are presented with is whether or not to turn on iCloud back-ups. Whether you decide to turn them on when you first purchase your iPad or later on is up to you. However, for demonstrative purposes, and because I bought and activated my iPad quite a while ago, I will quickly walk you through the set-up process from within the settings app. One thing to note with iCloud backups is that with iOS 8 Apple moved the backups to a different location within the settings app.
To navigate to the them now go to Settings–> iCloud and then scroll down to Back-up–> iCloud Backup. Here you can turn back-ups on and initiate a new back-up immediately. If you choose not to initiate an immediate backup, your iPad will backup on its own when connected to Wi-Fi and plugged into a power source. Usually this heroines during times when the iPad is middle for an extended period of time. Fo r me, this usually happens overnight. This is especially helpful the first time a backup commences, as it will take longer to complete.