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Finding A Lost iPhone

It happens to everyone: you put your phone down and get sidetracked, you leave it in a public place, or any of the multiple ways to lose a phone. You might be like me and have a terrible memory, which would lead you to forget where you put your phone. For some, this could be devastating; lost passwords, emails, contacts… the missing information may seem irretrievable. However, this isn’t the case; Apple has done a great job making your lost device recoverable. Your iPhone comes equipped with a few ways to find it, so don’t worry!

The most standard way to find a lost device is with a feature called ‘Find My iPhone.’ Say you’ve lost your phone; after logging on to iCloud.com using your Apple ID, you’ll be able to click the ‘Find My iPhone’ tab and instantly get a layout using Google Maps and a nice green dot showing where your device is. If that doesn’t help you locate it, there are a few features that can assist. If you click the ‘Devices’ button, you’ll get a full list of your devices. Selecting one will allow you to play a sound that’ll ring your phone – maybe you’re sitting on it and don’t even realize it. For more security, you can remotely lock your phone using the ‘Lost Mode’ button. This will allow you set a code to keep your device secure. If you feel like you need even more security, there’s also an option to erase your iPhone remotely as well. Be cautious when using this – it’s definitely irreversible, unless you have your files backed up. One thing to keep in mind is that your phone does have to be on to track it.


Find My iPhone is a great way to recover your lost device.


Another extremely efficient app is called GadgetTrak. As of now, it’s $3.99 on the App Store, but it’s definitely cheaper than replacing a lost phone. GadgetTrak has many of the same features that Find My iPhone does, but with some modifications. It can take pictures of a potential thief so you’ll have some face recognition. Of course, it comes with location tracking, which can be remotely activated from any computer with internet access. You’ll be able to send push notifications to the phone to allow a person who has recovered your device the chance to return it.

There are a multitude of other applications that can be used to locate a lost phone. Look around the App Store and see which one fits you best. Spending $4-5 for a high-end app is much more appealing than going to an Apple store to explain that you need to replace a lost or stolen phone.

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40 BILLION Apps Downloaded – And Counting!

Published on January 8, 2013 by in Apple, Apps, iPad, iPhone, News

Apple announced Monday that its iTunes App Store had hit a major milestone – 40 billion individual apps downloaded.

This amazing number takes into account both free and paid downloads, but does not include updates or re-downloads of previously deleted apps.  Also, nearly half of those downloads occurred in 2012 alone.

The Cupertino company also noted that it has some 500 million active iTunes App Store accounts on file.  The nearest competitor I could find numbers for was Amazon, with 188 million active accounts.  (I’m sure that Google is keeping tabs on the same information for the Play Store, but darned if I could nail down a single number of active accounts…)

What I find most interesting about these numbers is how close we came to not actually having an iTunes App Store in the first place.  It was announced on July 10, 2008, a year after the debut of the original iPhone itself, but Steve Jobs was initially opposed to the whole idea. Walter Isaacson noted in his 2011 biography of Jobs that Apple board member Arthur Levinson and Phil Schiller (senior VP of worldwide product marketing) repeatedly pressed him on the issue, until he finally relented.  When the iTunes App Store opened the next day, it had 500 apps across multiple genres and price points.  3 days later, customers had downloaded 10 million apps.  The store reached its first billion apps downloaded in April 2009.

Given the meteoric rise of the iTunes App Store and the competition hot on its heels, it should be extremely interesting to see what the new year brings to the mobile marketplace.

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Top 10 iPad apps of 2012

The odometer’s about to tick over on another year, and as sites like ours often do, we’re looking back at the most popular and useful apps released for Apple’s iDevices in the past year.  My last article was devoted to the top 10 iPhone apps of the year.  This time we’ll be looking at the top 10 iPad apps of 2012.  What’s most interesting about this year’s list is the number of games – just 3, versus 7 apps meant for productivity and communication.  Drum roll please – the top 10 iPad apps of 2012, split between the top of the paid and free charts:

Top Free iPad Apps:
1. Skype for iPad (Skype Communications S.a.r.l) – This app is a shining example of the future totally living up to its science fiction hype. We may not have flying cars, meal replacement pills or hover boards, but by golly do we have video phones! The current version of the app also uses cellular data, so users aren’t tied to just places with WiFi access.  If the future is calling, we’ll likely be answering it via Skype and waving to it through the FaceTime cameras on our iPads.

2. Temple Run (Imangi Studios, LLC) – Temple Run feels like an old school platformer, with a couple of changes.  The camera angle is top-down rather than side-scrolling and uses the player/avatar’s point of view, and there aren’t really “levels” to complete – just threshold numbers of coins to collect to unlock parts of the mural in the game.  Although the game is free to play, the app allows players to purchase upgrades to various items in the game’s “store”.

3. Facebook (Facebook, Inc.) – I’ll re-iterate here what I said about the iPhone version: “Here it is, the 800-lb gorilla of social media – an app for the site that everybody loves to hate, but can never give up on… It’s been updated this year, to be faster and leaner and it really does seem to be getting better as time goes on (even though the developers seem to be bent on changing it all as soon as everybody gets used to one layout).  Just about the only thing not available in the mobile app is the ability to play games, since the browser-based games are all dependent on Flash – and we all know what Steve thought about Flash!”  Also note that the iPad version of the app bears a positive resemblance to the website itself, and has the redeeming characteristic of making Timeline actually bearable.

4. Netflix (by Netflix, Inc.) – This app is just about the most entertaining way I can think of to completely max out a wireless data plan in the space of an afternoon!  In fact, a 2011 report cited Netflix as the largest source of North American web traffic, accounting for 33% of traffic during peak periods. That’s a lot of movies and TV shows streaming to iPads, kids! (In fact, at the highest bandwidth tier, it’s possible to stream just over 2GB/hour – best to stay close to the wireless router for this one…)

5. The Weather Channel for iPad (The Weather Channel) – When you absolutely, positively have to know whether to grab a jacket or an umbrella, accept no substitute. This is the mobile app presence from the venerable cable/satellite channel. The app features animated, customizable weather maps; radar maps and pollen information; tweets and user photos; as well as news coverage and storm footage.


Top Paid iPad Apps:
1. Angry Birds Space HD (Rovio Ent. Ltd) – Again, I’ll copy here what I said about this app in the “Top 10 iPhone apps of 2012” article, as well as mentioning that this game (like any other) benefits from the extra screen real estate offered on the iPad: “The number 1 mobile game of all time returns for a fourth installment, and this time it takes the physics off land and literally into outer space.  Each planet in the game has its own gravitational field, which all affect the birds that players can launch at the bad piggies. The game was debuted in March with a video presented by a NASA astronaut aboard the International Space Station. The NASA connection continued in August with the release of the first 20 levels of the Red Planet pack, which coincided with the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars.”

2. Where’s My Water? (Walt Disney) – This app is also a repeat from the iPhone app roundup: “This is a physics puzzler that involves water, pipes, cartoon alligators and rubber duckies. Players are required to fill Swampy the Alligator’s tub so that he can take a bath. In order to do that, they must dig through dirt and reroute the flowing water to Swampy’s tub.  They also have to avoid obstacles such as algae, poison mud and toxic mud. It has the distinction of being the 25 billionth app downloaded from the app store, by a user in China, and won an “Apple Design Award” at the 2012 WWDC.”

3. Pages (Apple Inc.) – This is the first of the top 10 iPad apps of 2012 that comes directly from Apple, instead of third-party developers. It’s more than just a mere word processing program.  Paired with iCloud and a Bluetooth keyboard, Pages transforms your iPad from just a way to consume data into a way to actually create amazing content of your own. And, using Mail and iTunes File Sharing, you can move your documents directly from the iPad to your Mac or PC.

4. Draw Something (OMGPOP, Inc.) – This is the last of the repeat apps from the iPhone list, and I’ll mention again that it benefits from the iPad’s larger screen. “This is the paid version of the app listed above in the top free iPhone apps, which means no ads in-app, as well as 2000 more words, 200 free coins and 5 free hints.”


5. Notability (Drive Sync Ginger Labs, Inc.) – This powerful note-taking app allows users to handwrite, type, record audio and add other media to the notes they’re saving. It also includes an auto-sync feature that allows users to save their notes and documents to cloud services such as DropBox and Google Drive. As an aside, I will also mention that my favorite culinary Mac user, Alton Brown (of Good Eats and Iron Chef America fame) has been tweeting with Post-It notes of late, and created the hashtag #MadeInNotability recently when he was tweeting from the road and ran out of physical sticky notes. Can’t get much cooler than that.

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The Mayan Apocalypse, be sure your data survives – or at least catastrophic hardware failure

I learned many things in the time I spent supporting Macs professionally; one of the most important was about how to protect (often irreplaceable) data.  I also learned that there are two kinds of people in this world: those who’ve already lost data, and those who haven’t lost data yet.  So today, in honor of the Mayan Apocalypse (which could still totally happen, we don’t know!) we’re going to take a look at some of the best ways to back up all of your important stuff.  Every good data backup/recovery plan should include both local and off-site storage; you never know when fire, flood or zombie horde is going to destroy either end of that chain.

The first, most basic backup option is an app that’s totally free and baked right into Mac OS X – Time Machine. This is Apple’s own backup utility, and it’s been included in every OS X release since Leopard (10.5).  Time Machine’s initial backup is essentially a snapshot of your internal hard drive at that given moment, with the exception of anything you’ve told it to ignore as well as the Time Machine volume itself, and ideally saved to an external hard drive.  Once this snapshot is completed, then Time Machine continues to make incremental backups of any changes to data on the drive it’s backing up.  This happens hourly; then the hourlies get compressed into dailies, dailies into weeklies, weeklies into monthlies and so on, until you run out of space on the external drive.  The very best thing, hands-down, about Time Machine is that it’s Apple software and as such is fully supported by AppleCare technicians.  This means that when (notice I didn’t say “if”) you experience Mayan Apocalypse-level data loss, your friendly neighborhood Apple techs can walk you through restoring from your Time Machine backup.

Apple also has one more backup method available, as part of its iCloud service. It requires Lion (10.7) or Mountain Lion (10.8), as well as iOS 5 or later for iPhone 3GS and up, 3rd-gen iPod touch and up, and iPad. It’s a little more a la carte, in the sense that it doesn’t start with the snapshot of your whole hard drive that Time Machine does.  According to Apple’s support article about purchasing more iCloud storage, “iCloud customers are provided with 5 GB of free cloud storage. Purchased music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books, as well as photos in your Photo Stream don’t count against your 5 GB of free storage.”  This is really important information to have, especially when you consider that most of the money people spend with Apple is in the form of media content that Apple won’t replace if you lose it. (“Some iTunes Products, including but not limited to Content rentals, may be downloaded only once and cannot be replaced if lost for any reason. It is your responsibility not to lose, destroy, or damage iTunes Products once downloaded, and you may wish to back them up.”) Potential iCloud customers should also note that its storage tops out at a measly extra 50GB of space for $100/year, which you have to keep paying if you want to retain access to stuff you’ve put in Apple’s cloud.

Other companies offer backup services for Mac users, and lots of them are in the cloud.  We’ve all gone digital these days, it seems, and hard copies of anything just seem kind of passé.  One you can’t avoid hearing about if you listen to any kind of commercial radio is Carbonite.  The company offers unlimited, encrypted online backup of a single Mac for $59/year.  However, if you’re looking to back up more than one Mac in your home, you’ll be looking at spending a minimum of $229/year for a business package.

One company that seems to combine the best of both cloud storage and easy-peasy Time Machine usage is DollyDrive. You’re literally able to purchase space from the company that then functions as a virtual external hard drive that you can point Time Machine at, set it like a Crock Pot and just forget it.  And that 50GB top end for iCloud?  That’s the entry level with DollyDrive, and even paying them month-to-month will only set you back $60 over the course of a year for it.  Their prices drop pretty respectably when you start paying for multiple months in advance.  You can also back up multiple Macs at no extra charge (just make sure you pick a plan with enough room) and for $100 they’ll even ship you a specially-prepared physical hard drive so that you can get your data safe in the cloud before the apocalypse happens.  I mean, come on, what’s not to love about a company that uses the Mayan Apocalypse (or lack thereof) as a selling point for its services?

Last but certainly not least, understand that there is a difference between backups and archives.  An archive is a static collection of data that isn’t going to change anymore, and needs to be able to last for a long time.  A backup is a collection of data that is subject to change, such as pictures being added to a camera roll, emails from your creepy ex being deleted, or spandy-new Justin Bieber songs being added to your iTunes library.  So even if you have a backup you trust, it’s also a good idea to have an off-site archive of your most important information, so that you don’t lose it and so that it can be easily accessed for a long time to come. I found an excellent ZDNet article about how to archive data for the long haul; it’s definitely worth a read.  The long and short of it is that your (often-irrepleaceable) data is valuable but storage is cheap, so buy lots and keep it in a safe place away from your home.  CDs and DVDs in a bank safe deposit box are a good start.  Make sure to choose open source formats wherever possible.  For documents, good-quality hard copies are also a good backup to your backup.

If you employ even some of the suggestions listed here, your data should safe from just about anything except the Mayan Apocalypse.

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iTunes $50 gift card at Walmart for only $40!

$50 iTunes card for only $40If you are still trying to find a great gift for that Apple fan or want to get a discount on iTunes for yourself, Walmart is offering the $50 iTunes gift card for only $40.  That’s 20% off, its rare you get discounts off of iTunes.  Walmart is only having a “Sale” on the $50 cards, all the other amounts are at full retail price.

Get your now before they take the offer away.  There was no expiration date on the website, so that means they can pull the deal anytime.   I think last month Best Buy had a deal on the $100 iTunes gift cards, they were selling for $85.  That $85 Best Buy deal lasted only a day though and it was only 15% off.  For those of you who plan on purchasing it… once you do the purchase  Walmart will send you an initial confirmation e-mail and then a second e-mail with access to a PIN. Once you get this PIN, you can then give the card as a gift to that Apple Fan.

Click here to see the deal – Get Deal




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