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Apple iOS 8, what users want

iOS 8 What users want to seeThe latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 7, has been getting a lot of attention.  While many users are ecstatic over the new functionality offered by iOS 7, there could be a few more useful changes.  When iOS 8 comes out sometime in 2014, it would be nice to see some of the following changes implemented.

Hide Those Pesky Default Apps

Don’t get me wrong, I love most of the iOS default apps for email, browsing and other activities, but it would be nice to be able to pick non-Apple apps for these kinds of things.  It probably won’t happen, but would it really be so tough for Apple to let users hide those default apps?  This is something that Apple enthusiasts have been less than enthused about since the first iPhone came out.  Maybe iOS 8 will provide an option to hide the default apps, but don’t hold your breath.

Accounts for Guests or Kids

Yes, it would be nice if Apple’s dream of everyone owning their own device were somehow magically transformed into reality, but a lot of families just don’t have the financial wherewithal to get an iPhone for both parents and each of the kids.  It would be peachy if Apple would figure out how to provide a guest/child account that doesn’t affect the principle settings and data on the device.  Surely, it wouldn’t be that difficult to provide the structure for a single-tap account that does not save its own settings and data.

Managing Apps

With the advent of iOS 7, apps can now be automatically updated, but this should not be the end of it.  Developers have a tough time dealing with app data on iCloud when it should be fairly easy to save (or restore) the app’s associated data when an app is removed or reinstalled.  It wouldn’t be too terribly difficult to offer app trials along with paid versions so that developers don’t have to do the in-app-purchase or replacement app shuffle, either.

Inter-App Communication Improvement

We’ve all been in the middle of using an app, only to be transferred to another app.  When you get done with the secondary app, you don’t always get shunted back to the original app.  The workflow between apps when making changes to documents presents its own nightmare landscape because the document won’t always update in the other relevant apps, leaving you with various stages of the document in several different apps.  This shouldn’t be too difficult to correct; it just requires better inter-app communication.

Improved Management of Documents

All right, I’m just going to say it outright: Can we please get some type of centralized document access in iOS?  Sure, you can employ Dropbox as a surrogate for a real file system, but iCloud could provide the service, if Apple would just take the time to integrate all the discrete parts of the current iCloud configuration.  The lack of a serviceable workflow in iCloud is extremely disappointing.

FaceTime Conferencing

This one isn’t specifically tied to iOS, but FaceTime got its beginnings on Apple’s mobile operating system, so that’s probably the best place to start trying to implement FaceTime conference calling.  Wouldn’t it be great to make a FaceTime call that included several devices, rather than having a whole crowd of people trying to share a single device?  FaceTime is awesome, and this limitation just doesn’t make sense.

Do Not Disturb Upgrades

While iOS 7 does make some improvements to the Do Not Disturb function, it can still only handle a single schedule.  Introducing separate schedules for weekend and weekday use would be a huge improvement to the current Do Not Disturb option.

Apple, We’re Giving You a Year

The new iOS 7 provides some pretty neat new features and functions, but it’s still missing some of the basic improvements listed above.  Users are already talking about what they’d like to see in the next version, so Apple might do well to heed the rumblings coming from the masses that use their devices.  Most of these changes wouldn’t be terribly hard to make into reality.  Apple, we’re looking forward to iOS 8.  Can we have some of these options, pretty please?

 
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Apple iPhone 5S Tips and Tricks

iPhone 5S tips and tricksIt’s finally arrived and everyone has had a couple of weeks to get used to the new iPhone 5S and its attendant iOS 7.  The handset itself has some new features; iOS 7 has a whole new feel.  If you’re still in possession of an older iPhone, like the iPhone 4, 4S or 5, you can install iOS 7 on your device for free (although you’ll need around three gigs of free space on your device to do so).  If you’re one of the lucky duckies with the brand new 5S, you’ve already got iOS 7 and you’re probably pretty pleased with the new operating system for Apple’s flagship handset.  So, let’s look at a few of the new features and tips and tricks for the iPhone 5S and iOS 7.

Swiping Gets New Dimensions

While swiping has always been a big part of using an iPhone, iOS 7 brings a whole new dimension to the action.  Instead of just swiping left or right to move between screens, or swiping up or down to access specific features like the camera, you can now swipe from any edge of the screen to access new features or content.  While it’s intended to make navigation easier, users aren’t provided with a “comprehensive swiping guide,” meaning that you don’t always know when to swipe, or where, for specific features.  You can always just keep using your iPhone 5S as though it has no new swiping capabilities (i.e. tapping an icon/button) but it’s a lot more fun to explore by swiping from different edges of various screens to see what fun new capabilities pop up.  Just remember what you did in case something cool happens!

There are lots of different swipe capabilities in various apps, but some of the basic swipes are:

  • Also available in iOS 6, swiping up from the bottom, right-hand corner of the lock screen accesses the camera.
  • Swipe up from the bottom of the screen, either locked or unlocked, to access the Control Center.  This feature is meant to allow easy access to apps you use often like the flashlight or the clock, as well as settings like Wi-Fi and Airplane Mode.  Volume for audio and video can also be controlled here, but ringer and alert volume is still set with the volume buttons.
  • From the top edge of an unlocked screen, swipe down to access the Notification Center.  The Notification Center has the highlights of the day from weather to stock quotes and more.  You can access notifications from Gmail, Facebook or other services by tapping the “All” or “Missed” tags.  Swiping down from any other point on an unlocked screen will take you to the search box for your device.
  • Many apps will now respond to left and right swipes.  Not all have this feature, but several popular ones do.  Safari now has left and right swiping that can be utilized instead of the forward and back buttons.

Photo Sharing and Organization

Your photos will now be automatically organized into “moments.”  The organization is based on when and where the photos were taken and several moments will be grouped together to form “collections.”  The downside is that the organization is completely automated, meaning that you can’t change the collections, which are automatically grouped by year.  The upside is that you won’t have hordes of random photos floating around in your device.

Sharing photos from a vacation or other event becomes much easier because you can share whole moments just by tapping the “Share” button, located at the right side of the moment header.  Make sure you’re hitting the right button (a menu will pop out along the bottom); it’s easy to accidentally miss the “Share” button and tap the “Select” button that’s just above it.  From the menu that pops up, you can choose to share the moment by posting to Flickr or Facebook or by email or text message.

Siri Gains Understanding…and Other Stuff

You know there’s been at least one time that you’ve been trying to make yourself clear to Siri and you’ve wanted to hurl your iPhone at a wall in frustration.  You don’t have to endlessly repeat yourself anymore.  Now, there’s a “tap to edit” option for Siri that allows you to make a change manually.  No, you shouldn’t have to deal with that with a voice search app, but changing a single letter is a whole lot faster and easier than tapping out the whole search phrase.

Have you ever wished Siri sounded a little tougher, more masculine?  Well, wish no more!  You can effectively change Siri’s sex just by going to Settings, tapping “general,” followed by “Siri,” and finally “Voice Gender.”

Siri can now also be employed to return recent or missed calls or to change the device settings.  Siri also has a new ability to give turn-by-turn directions when you’re on foot.  Previously, Siri could only give vocal directions from Maps; these are, of course, driving directions, not walking directions.

Free Stuff

Apple has a new, free, streaming music service called iTunes Radio.  You can find it by clicking on your Music icon and choosing the “Radio” option at the bottom.  You can create your own stations with the musical genres that most appeal to you.  You can even tell iTunes Radio how much you like a song by pressing the star while the song is playing; you can choose to ask the service to play more songs like it, or to remove it from the rotation completely.  Stations can also be created using favorite songs or artists.  It’s completely free (meaning, you’re going to have to put up with ads), but you can subscribe to iTunes Match for a little more than $2 a month ($25 annual fee) and eliminate the ads completely.

There are other free apps that you might be eligible for, including Pages (word processing), Numbers (spreadsheets), Keynote (presentations), iPhoto (editing photos) and iMovie (editing video).  These apps typically cost between $5 and $10 each, but you qualify to get them for free when you purchase a new iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.  This offer applies to all purchases of these devices purchased since September 1st.  After the new device is activated, the free apps can be shared with other devices on the account that have been upgraded to iOS 7.

Biometric Security

With the new fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5S, it’s possible to make sure your device is completely protected without having to enter a passcode every time you want to use it.  Many users choose to forego securing their devices because passcodes can be irritating and disruptive.  Using your fingerprint is faster than a passcode, and safer, too.

You can set up your biometric security fairly easily.  The device walks you through the entire process, step by step.  Once you get the initial fingerprint scan done, you can choose to scan more fingers, be they yours or someone else’s that you trust to access your device.  You can start the new fingerprint setup by going to Settings, then tapping “General,” followed by “Passcode & Fingerprint.”  You can add up to four additional prints that can access the device.  Passcode screens will still pop up, but unless the device specifically requires the passcode, a fingerprint will usually work on these screens.

It’s important to remember that the device needs to be on the screen for the fingerprint scanner.  You can get to this screen quickly by depressing the Home button firmly and then allowing the button to come back to its original position while maintaining light contact with it.  The first action activates the screen and the second serves to unlock the device.

 

 

 

 

 
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