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.
There are various ways that you can search, organize and view your photo library on your iPad. You can choose to view your photos based on when they were taken, or by how you grouped them into albums. You can even view them based on when and who you shared individual or groups of photos with. But did you also know you can view your photos based upon where they were taken? Let me preface this by saying that this will only work if you have allowed the Photos application on your iPad to have access to your location. To check this setting and/or change it, go to the Settings App–> Privacy–> Location Services–> Photos. Here you will have two options to choose from–allow the Photos App access only while you are using the app, and not allow at all.
To view your photos based on their geolocation, this feature must be set to “while using the app” or the pictures won’t even have a location to sort them by. Once you have the setting updated, all of your photos taken on your iPad moving forward will now have a geolocation stamped into the metadata stored within the photo. Armed with this knowledge, you can now sort and search your photos based upon their location.
In my opinion, Control Center on the iPad is analogous to a Swiss Army knife, only in electronic format. Like a Swiss army knife, it is the place to go to get things done. Control Center is a collection of utilities that you can reply on to solve a multitude of problems and gain access to them quickly and easily. It’s the control hub of your iPad.
Activating Control Center is simple and intuitive–in one motion, just swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Here you will find all you need to activate, disarm and adjust various settings and functions on your iPad. You can also activate Control Center from the lock screen and from within apps with the same swiping motion. You can turn these settings on and off in the Settings App under Control Center.
Highlighted (call-out) Controls starting in the upper left and moving in a clock-wise direction are as follows
- Wi-Fi. Tapping this button will allow you to turn your Wi-Fi on or off. Turning on will let you connect to Wi-FI hot-spots–however, you may still need to enter password information of your iPad detects a hot-spot that you have not previously connected to, or you instructed your iPad to “forget” the hot-spot after the last time you were connected.
- Bluetooth. This will turn your iPad’s Bluetooth connection on or off allowing your iPad to pair with a Bluetooth device such as a keyboard
- Do-not-Disturb. A great little utility that you can adjust to mute notifications and calls for pre-set times or on the fly as needed.
- Screen Lock. Locks the screen orientation in other portrait or Landscape mode.
- Airplane Mode. When active, it will turn off cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Can be a useful way of saving battery–especially in areas where signal strength is weak and your iPad is looking for a cell tower.
One of my ongoing missions, despite all of the lovely hardware keyboards available, is to find a way to write comfortably for longer periods of time on the iPad. I’m actually surprised there aren’t more articles out there that acknowledge that the iPad isn’t really a very ergonomic setup for touch typing. I can’t be the only one suffering from occasional pins and needles, or soreness from typing for too long at the tablet.
In fact, a few minutes of typing is usually enough to I start to cause the dreaded finger tingles that signal the return of RSI. However, in the interests of science and my own morbid curiousity, I push onward and try out different sitting and typing positions every once in a while.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my posture while I type and how it distributes the weight and pressure on my wrists. My latest attempt at a more sustainable typing position involves keeping my feet flat on the ground, lower back pressed ups against the chair, and generally reclining while looking down at the iPad. This takes a lot of strain off of my wrists, and because I don’t have to bend them upwards as far, and I’m finding I can type for a good 15-20 minutes in this position before actually feeling uncomfortable.
Another key has been to experiment with keyboards that minimize the numbers of keystrokes I actually need to complete a sentence. I’ve written about Nintype and Fleksy before,but I’m giving SwiftKey another thank due to its more aggressive auto-suggestion algorithm. SwiftKey is much faster the iOS QuickType keyboard at showing corrections and at displaying predictions for what my next word will be, so a lot of my typing can be reduced to simply tapping on the spacebar to confirm the currently suggested word.
I’m also learning to try and type at a slower pace on the iPad. Doing so has reduced the number of typos in my pieces, but also made it a little easier on my hands. My fingers tend to fly on real keyboards because I can feel the he rhythm of a sentence and how much pressure certain keys will respond to, but it’s a very different experience on a touchscreen that doesn’t move. I’m finding a lighter, more deliberate touch just feels better and ends up being more accurate overall.
Family Sharing is a great utility Apple introduced in iOS 8 that allows family members to share all their purchases across the App Store, iTunes and the iBookstore. With Family Sharing, though, all participating members need to have their own Apple ID’s. However, minors under the age of thirteen can’t create an Apple ID on their own. Luckily parents can give consent and create one for them–and when you do, it will be added to your Family group automatically.
Apple verifies that you are indeed an adult and can create an Apple ID for your child when you use a credit card as your method of payment in your iTunes account. Unfortunately for this exercise, though, if your payment method is currently a debit card, you will have to replace it with a credit card because iTunes uses the security information on the credit card to confirm consent for a minor to use the account.