iOS 6 tips and tricks

This is a discussion on iOS 6 tips and tricks within the iOS Apps forums, part of the iPod, iPhone, iPad Forum category; Have you ever noticed how some apps will have information pulled from your iOS Contacts list, like peoples names, numbers, and contact information? Or, contrarily, ...

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  1. #151
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    Control What Apps Have Access to Contacts Information in iOS

    Have you ever noticed how some apps will have information pulled from your iOS Contacts list, like peoples names, numbers, and contact information? Or, contrarily, how some apps should have access to your address book, but don’t, and are then feature limited? Though this happens by choice, it’s fairly easy to overlook these settings during initial setup of many apps, or to forget which of the “Allow” or “Don’t Allow” setting you chose. Fortunately, this is very easy to see, and change in either direction.

    If you want to adjust which apps can and can’t have access to the Contacts list on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, you will need to pay a visit to the Privacy Settings on the device:

    Open Settings, then go to “Privacy”
    Tap on “Contacts” to see the list of applications that have requested access to the address book
    Toggle the switch to OFF or ON, for apps you do or do not want to have access to Contacts information
    Every app stored in this list has requested access to the Contacts list at some point, the ON switch means it currently has access, the OFF switch means it currently does not.




    For good privacy practice, it’s wise to exclude access for apps that do not seem appropriate to need such information, for apps that you do not use, and from developers you do not trust. For example, if some single-player game from a sketchy developer is requesting access to the Contacts list for no apparent reason, does it really need this information to function and play the game? Probably not, and thus you may want to have apps like that set to off. On the other hand, apps like Skype and Google Voice do make sense to have contact information, since those apps are used directly for communications.

    Keep in mind that some apps will not function as expected, or at least not be full featured, if they do not have access to the Contacts list. For example, the Find My Friends app is basically useless without access to the address book, since it has no direct way to know who your friends are without accessing that list, or without being added manually.

    Modifying settings in this list will not have an impact on syncing Contacts between iOS devices or Macs, as that is controlled separately in iCloud settings.

    OS X users will find there is the same kind of control options on the Mac in System Preferences.


    6-6-13

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  3. #152
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    Dial & Convert Vanity Phone Numbers Easily on the iPhone

    You’re probably aware that iPhone will automatically detect phone numbers in web pages, allowing you to tap directly on a phone number and choose to call that number, send it a message, add it to Contacts, or to copy it to the clipboard. The tap-to-dial function is easily the quickest way to call a number found on the web:




    But what about phone numbers that are mnemonic and listed as letters? Often called vanity numbers, these will be like 1-800-COMCAST, 1-800-MY-APPLE, 1-800-SOS-APPLE, etc, and they are not automatically detected by iOS. At first glance they don’t appear to be usable on the iPhone, but it turns out they are, just not directly.


    Dial Vanity Numbers with Copy & Paste


    To call a vanity number and convert it to numbers, you just need to tap-and-hold on the alphabetic version, select “Copy”, and then go to the Phone app. Once in Phone app, choose the Keypad, then tap and hold on the blank region on the top and choose “Paste”. This will instantly convert the lettered vanity number into an actual phone number, that’s nice in and of itself, but of course you can then dial it too.




    You’ll notice the vanity alphabetic number is still maintained below the converted numerical version, so you can be sure you are calling the right place.

    Heads up to iLounge for finding the handy little converter trick.


    6-13-13

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  4. #153
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    Turn Off Automatic Video Playing in Instagram & Save Cell Data Bandwidth

    Instagram, the popular photo sharing app for iOS, recently added video support that allows users to post filtered videos to their picture collections. Browsing through an Instagram feed now results in quite a few videos that auto-play by default, an aspect which can be pretty obnoxious if you want to keep quiet. Perhaps worse than the auto-play audio though is that it also will consume a fair amount of bandwidth over time, especially if you follow a lot of people posting videos and you’re on a 3G or LTE connection. The reason is pretty simple, video, even short ones, are much larger to download than a simple static photo. In turn, you can save some data bandwidth on your iPhone (or Android) by turning off automatic video playing in the Instagram app:

    Choose your profile page on Instagram, then tap the Gear icon to access Preferences





    Scroll down and flip the switch next to “Auto-Play Videos” so that it’s set to OFF




    This doesn’t disable Instagram videos, it just makes it so you have to tap directly on them for them to start to download and play.

    Even if you love the Instagram video feature, unless you have a generous cellular data plan with significant bandwidth, you’ll probably want to turn off the auto-play ability to preserve some of that preciously overpriced cell plan.


    6-24-13

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  5. #154
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    Recover a Lost Encrypted Backup Password for an iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch



    iOS devices can use an optional encrypted backup feature that protects all backups with a strong encryption layer and password, meaning those backups are both unusable and unreadable without that password. If you chose to encrypt the backups of an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with such a password and then somehow forgot the password to those backups, you may have an option available to recover it and then regain access to those backups for recovery and general usage.

    This is not guaranteed to work for everyone because it depends on the usage of Keychain in Mac OS X, which not everyone uses, but it should be the first thing to check if you wind up in such a situation either yourself, or when troubleshooting someone else’s missing encrypted backup password. In most cases this must be done on the computer that the backups were made to, unless the user had enabled iCloud Keychain, which it would then be possible on any machine using the same Apple ID. Either way, here is what needs to be done to attempt to recover a lost encrypted backup password:

    Open Keychain Access, found in /Applications/Utilities/
    Use the Search box in the upper right corner and type “iphone backup”




    Double click the result, assuming something is found in Keychain
    Check the box next to “Show password” and enter the Mac administrator password to reveal the lost password associated with the encrypted iPhone backup




    Make note of the password, then close out of Keychain Access
    Now you can go back to iTunes and use that recovered password to use the encrypted backup through the normal restoring from a backup process.

    If nothing related to the iOS backup shows up in Keychain Access, you’re kind of out of luck in terms of accessing the encrypted backups unless you can somehow guess their password. The encryption is extremely secure (as it should be), and thus can’t be circumvented in any reasonable manner that is available to a human.


    What if there is no password recovery option for the encrypted backups?

    If the above trick doesn’t reveal the backup password, it doesn’t mean the iOS device is suddenly unusable, but it does mean that it must be used either in it’s current state, or reset to factory defaults and then set up as a new device without restoring from the encrypted backup, which basically treats it like a brand new phone. iCloud backups may still be available as well, as accessible through an Apple ID, but that’s also not guaranteed since not everyone uses the iCloud backup service.

    It’s important to point out that this is specifically for accessing the password protected encrypted backups made from iTunes, and this is not going to have any impact on lost passcodes set on the device itself, or any other security measures that were taken to lock down the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, through a third party encryption service or otherwise.


    6-26-13

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  6. #155
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    Turn On or Off Government Emergency Alerts on the iPhone

    The iPhone now includes FCC & FEMA alerts on all major US carriers, known as Wireless Emergency Alerts. This translates into two basic types of alerts; AMBER alerts for abductions, and general emergency alerts issued by national, state, and local governments. Both of these alert types are free to receive, fairly severe, and also pretty rare, and by no means should an iPhone get a bunch of random alerts from governmental agencies unless something truly dangerous is going on that applies to you.

    By default, iPhone and iOS has both AMBER and emergency alerts set to ON, which is probably a good idea to keep enabled, but of course not everyone wants to get any such alerts on their devices, and iOS gives you the option to toggle these off.

    Open Settings, then go to “Notifications” (labeled as “Notification Center” in iOS 7)
    Scroll to the bottom to find the toggle switches for AMBER Alerts and Emergency Alerts




    You will need iOS 6.1 or newer to have these two options available. Because they are very infrequent, toggling them off will likely have no effect on battery life unlike disabling some of the nagging alerts that arrive from third party apps.

    Assuming you have the alerts set to ON, the FCC explains the three primary alert types as so:

    Alerts from WEA cover only critical emergency situations. Consumers will receive only three types of alerts:

    1. Alerts issued by the President
    2. Alerts involving imminent threats to safety or life
    3. Amber Alerts

    Participating carriers may allow subscribers to block all but Presidential alerts.

    These are basically all public safety emergencies, evacuation and shelter orders, chemical spills, and other unpleasant scenarios that would be important to be notified of. Because the alerts only come through in extreme situations, our recommendation would be to leave these alerts set to ON with any iPhone you actually use often and keep with you all the time. On the other hand, for older iPhone models or iPhones that are serving some alternative purpose other than a daily carry device, it may make some sense to switch them off.


    6-26-13

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  7. #156
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    Use Mono Audio When One Side of iPhone Headphones & Speakers Stop Working



    The famous white Apple earbuds are great, but anyone who has had any pair of headphones and heavily used them for a long time knows they can damage over time, and sometimes you’ll wind up with a set that no longer plays sound out of both ear pieces. The problem with this is that many stereo recordings have sound tracks that are intended specifically for the left and right channels, so when one side of the headphones, earbuds, or even a speaker dock and car speakers stops working, you can wind up missing some of the audio that is playing.

    A simple solution to this problem is to use the Mono Audio feature of iOS, which combines both audio channels and plays them into both sides, insuring that all audio will be heard even if half of the headset is no longer functioning. This setting is the same on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch:

    Head to Settings, then tap “General” and go to “Accessibility”
    Look for “Mono Audio” and flip to ON




    Now go back to any audio source, whether a game, music, podcast, that had stereo sound with specific left/right output, and you’ll find the combined stream is now channeling into both sides (or rather, the full stream is channeling into the speakers or headphone that continues to work as normal).

    Mono Audio is obviously an accessibility option for those who are hard of hearing or deaf, and for that it’s equally excellent, but this is a great trick to get some extra use out of a set speakers that are blown or only half-functioning. It even works great for car stereos if you happened to blow out one side of the audio, and it’s also helpful for when one speaker is crackling and others aren’t, since you can use the car audios L/R adjustments to bring audio away from the problematic speaker(s), yet still hear everything with the mono sound output.

    A quirky side effect of having Mono Audio on is that you may find the iPhone and iPod touch speakers get stuck into ‘headphone mode’ more often than usual, typically just reconnecting and disconnecting the audio will resolve that problem though, as it’s typically not a matter of any foreign entity being jammed into the audio port.


    6-27-13

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    How to Use Personal Hotspot on iPhone / iPad to Share Its Internet Connection



    Personal Hotspot allows you to turn an iPhone or cellular equipped iPad into a wireless router, thereby sharing the devices internet connection with other Mac, PC, or any other capable hardware. Often called “internet tethering” or Wi-Fi Hotspot, this is an excellent feature for telecommuters and travelers in particular, and it’s also a great backup internet connection if a home or work network temporarily goes down. Plus, with the ever increasing range of LTE and 4G service, it’s not uncommon for a cellular connection to actually be faster than standard DSL or a cable modem anyway.

    The only real requirement for using Personal Hotspot, other than an iPhone or 4G/LTE iPad, is a cellular data plan that offers the service. Fees vary per provider and per area, so you will need to check with your specific carrier if you are not sure what it costs or how to order the feature for your data plan.


    Using Personal Hotspot to Share the iPhone or iPad Internet Connection

    Here’s how to turn on internet sharing and turn an iPhone or LTE iPad into a router:

    Open Settings, then tap “Personal Hotspot” and toggle it to ON
    Optional but highly recommended: Tap on “Wi-Fi Password” to set a new custom wireless password to access the device through wifi
    From the Mac, PC, or other iOS device, choose the newly created personal hotspot as the wireless router, typically it’s named “iPhone” or “iPad”, or whatever the name of the device is set to




    Yes it’s that simple to use. Whatever device becomes connected to the iPhone or iPad will treat it as a normal wireless router and use it’s internet connection as usual, never knowing the difference. The iPhone/iPad will display a blue status bar indicating Hotspot is on and devices are connected to it’s internet connection.

    Connecting through wi-fi is by far the easiest way to use the iOS devices internet service, but you can also connect through Bluetooth if desired, which is often slightly slower, or through a tethered USB connection, which is often the quickest and has the advantage of also charging the iPhone or iPad, but it’s disadvantaged by the physical USB attachment between the devices. Most carriers place a five device limit on Personal Hotspot use, so be aware of that and don’t try to provide the entire officer neighborhood with an internet connection through your cell phone.

    When you are finished using the iPhone/iPad internet connection, go back into Settings and toggle Personal Hotspot back to OFF. This will stop broadcasting the wi-fi and Bluetooth signal as a hotspot, and also save some battery life.


    Why isn’t “Personal Hotspot” showing up on my iPhone or iPad?

    Don’t have the Personal Hotspot setting on your iPhone or cellular iPad? There’s a few possible reasons for this. First and foremost, not all carriers support the feature, so you will want to be sure that your cell provider does offer personal hotspot and internet tethering. Many carriers will either charge an additional fee to use the hotspot ability, or require a separate data plan in order to use the feature.

    On the other hand, if you know for sure that you do have support for internet sharing on your iPhone or iPad with a data plan to support it, but Personal Hotspot has mysteriously disappeared, you can often just reset the devices network settings to bring it back into the Settings menu. Then just flip it on again as usual to get going.


    Watching Personal Hotspot Data Usage

    Once you tether a computer to an iPhone, iPad, or Android, you may be surprised how quickly you can eat up the data plan, so don’t try to do anything too crazy like download a movie or large file, it’s best to conserve cell data and use it cautiously. Because each cell provider charges different rates and fees, be sure you know what the overage charges are, and if you suspect you’re going overboard then just jump off the hotspot so you can reign things in. Perhaps the best way to monitor data usage when tethering and using Personal Hotspot is by keeping a close eye on the data counter on the device itself. Here’s how to check this in iOS:

    Open Settings, go to “General”, then go to “Usage”
    Scroll down to “Cellular Usage” and look under “Cellular Network Data” to see a live count of network use
    Until you get an idea for how much data you use in an average hotspot session, it can be very helpful to tap the “Reset Statistics” setting at this menu each time you start a tethered or personal hotspot session, that way you can know exactly how much data is being consumed.

    You can take further steps to conserve and reduce data usage when connected to Personal Hotspot, we cover 10 excellent tricks here to help keep data usage low when tethering to an iPhone or iPad, and they range from disabling automatic updates for a variety of apps and OS’s, to turning off cloud and Dropbox syncing.

    Don’t have an iPhone or iPad? No big deal, because Android can also do this and share it’s internet connection easily too. The same data usage rules apply for Android though, so always remember to keep an eye on your data plan regardless of way device is being used.


    6-29-13

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    Block unwanted iPhone callers in iOS 6



    Come iOS 7, you’ll be able to block unwanted callers. But what if you have jerks, salespeople and Crazy Great-Aunt Rita calling you nonstop now, and iOS 7’s fall release date seems like just too darn long to wait for some semblance of phone peace? There’s a solution.

    An anonymous Hints reader suggests creating a new contact. The hint provider made a contact called Don’t Answer; you might instead choose Jerky Bonehead or Loser McShutupington – it’s your choice.

    To do so, go into the Contacts app, tap the plus (+) icon at the upper right, and create the new contact without any other details like a phone number.

    Then, the next time you get a call from one of those annoying folks you don’t want to speak with ever again, add their numbers to your contact. Find the number – you can see it in the Phone apps’ Recents tab – and tap the button at the right. On the screen that appears, tap Add to Existing Contact, choose your special contact name, and save.

    Next time a call comes in from the nogoodnik, you’ll see your chosen name and know not to bother answering.

    Commenters on the original hint offered up a clever bonus: create a silent ringtone, and assign it to that contact. If you have GarageBand installed on your iOS device, you can create a silent ringtone in mere minutes.


    7-2-13

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    Export iPhone Contacts the Easy Way with iCloud



    As you probably know, all of your iPhone Contacts and related address book information is stored within iCloud, assuming you use the cloud service to sync and backup your data of course. What many people don’t know, is that the web interface of iCloud provides an incredibly simple method of exporting those same iPhone contacts, giving you easy access to individual contacts in the address book, or even the ability to export and save the entire contacts list itself – all directly from the web, with or without the iPhone itself.

    This little known feature is infinitely helpful and extremely easy to use. We’ve broken it down into three easy steps; accessing the Contacts, then exporting either a single contact, or the complete set of contact data. Once you have it saved, you can do whatever you want with it.


    1: Log into iCloud and View the Contacts

    Go to iCloud.com and log in using the same Apple ID that your iPhone, Mac, iOS devices is attached to
    Click on “Contacts”




    The iCloud web interface contains your entire contact list and all address book data. This contacts list should be up to date so long as iCloud is enabled to sync Contacts, and unlike the rest of iCloud data it does not depend on backups to update or be maintained. Nonetheless, there can be an occasional delay with updating information from different devices through iCloud, but it can be forced to update immediately by initiating a backup to iCloud. After that has finished, click the gear icon in the Contacts web-app and choose “Refresh Contacts” to have the list repopulate iCloud Contacts with the new/updated address information.

    Once you’re logged into iCloud and in the Contacts section, you can now export either a single contact, a group of contacts, or the entire contact list. Each is saved as a VCF (VCard), which is a universally accepted format for address book data that works across virtually all platforms, from iOS, Mac OS X, Windows, Android, Blackberry, etc.


    2: Export a Single Contact

    Search for the contact information you wish to export and select their name from the list
    Click the gear icon then choose “Export Vcard”




    Look in the ~/Downloads/ directory for the saved card

    You can also send individual contacts directly from an iPhone through the Contacts app, but the iCloud web method insures you will still have access to contacts even if the phone is dead, lost, or just not nearby at the moment.

    Multiple contacts can exported together by selecting more than one contact and then using the same Export function, or you can go with the next approach which will export the entire contact list.


    3: Export & Save the Entire iPhone Contacts List from iCloud

    Select ALL contacts by hitting Command+A, or by clicking the gear icon then choosing “Select All”
    Click the gear icon then choose “Export VCard”




    Find the saved .vcf vcard file in the Downloads directory

    The resulting VCF file is literally the entire address book, and it can be a few megabytes in size if you have a sizable address book. Here is what it might look like in the Finder:





    Now that the contacts list has been exported, you can save it somewhere as a backup, or quickly share it list with someone else just by emailing that entire vcf file to another individual (or yourself), which can then be imported directly to an iPhone or iPad, Android, Windows Phone, or Blackberry. Just about everything can use the vcf file, so it’s unlikely to run into any problems using it regardless of the platform.

    Being able to access contacts from quite literally anywhere with web access, plus export either a single contact, a group of contacts, or the entire address book, is one of many reasons why you should be sure to use iCloud, not only for regular iOS data backups but also specifically for iPhone Contacts. This ease of data portability is simply invaluable, and you’ll never be without important address information again, even if you don’t have the iPhone anymore because it has been misplaced, lost, stolen, or even just because the battery died.


    7-2-13

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    How to Quickly Fix Stuck Orientation on the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch



    Every once in a while an iOS device or app will get stuck in the wrong orientation, unresponsive to rotating the device and it either stays in portrait or horizontal mode, despite every effort to rotate the device any which direction. Though this seems to happen more often on the iPad than the iPhone or iPod touch, it can still occur on every iOS device and with just about any app.

    Thankfully, resolving this inconvenience is usually a very simple process.


    1: Toggle Orientation Lock On & Off

    Though this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s not terribly uncommon to either forget that the orientation lock is on (or off), and it’s easy to double-check. Also, sometimes just toggling the switch off/on again is enough to dislodge a device stuck in either horizontal landscape or vertical portrait mode. For the iPad, just flip the side-switch ON and OFF again. Or you can do it through software as follows:

    In iOS 6 and before:

    Double-tap the Home button to summon the multitasking bar, and scroll to the left until you see the Orientation Lock button




    Tap the button to toggle it ON and OFF again, then go back to the app that was stuck and try rotating to the desired orientation again
    In iOS 7 and newer:

    Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to summon Control Center
    Tap the Orientation Lock button in the upper right corner so that ON and OFF




    This is particularly effective on the iPad for those who set the side switch to be function as an orientation lock rather than as a mute button.


    2: Kill the App & Relaunch

    Sometimes the app is just stuck, and in this case just quitting and relaunching it usually enough to dislodge the orientation weirdness.

    In iOS 6 and before:

    Double-tap the Home button to bring up the multitasking bar
    Tap and hold on the app icon until it starts jiggling, then tap the red (-) button to quit the app




    Relaunch the same app to find orientation functioning as usual
    In iOS 7:

    Double-tap the Home button, then swipe over to the app that is stuck
    Swipe up on the app window to quit it, then relaunch the app




    If the app is unresponsive and actually frozen, you will need to use force quit instead.

    Quitting and relaunching most apps will resolve the issue entirely, and it’s pretty rare to have to reboot the device unless the home screen itself is stuck in an orientation.


    3: All Else Fails? Reboot iOS

    Though iOS is remarkably stable, sometimes just rebooting the iPhone, iPod, or iPad is enough to set orientation working again (not to mention other stubborn bugs or quirks). This is particularly true if the Home Screen and Springboard are stuck in portrait or landscape mode and the above tricks didn’t do anything. The simplest way to reboot the device is to basically just turn it on and off again:

    Hold down the Power button until the “Slide to Unlock” message appears, then slide
    Now hold down the power button again until you see the Apple  logo on boot
    Once the iPad, iPod, or iPhone has rebooted, orientation should be responsive again, but don’t forget to double-check the settings again to be sure.

    This is the same approach when a device freezes up or is relentlessly crashing, and it often works to resolve the more peculiar unexplained issues of all sorts.


    7-4-13

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