iPad Air 3 featuring 3D Multitouch and Apple Pencil Compatibility – My Prediction!

Coming up on the end of 2015, it’s a good time to look back at all of the latest Apple gadgets released this year. Some of the technologies released across several products were groundbreaking and enabling, but what wasn’t released also tells a story and likely predicts what is to come.

The Apple Watch was released in the Spring of 2015, and by most measures, has been a tremendous success. Whether it is used as a watch, a notification system, or a fitness tracker, it has found widespread appeal. One of the most interesting and key technologies that it introduced was Force Touch. This enables the device to sense the amount of pressure with which you touch its screen, thereby opening up a whole new branch of interactions for shortcuts and settings.

Similarly, the iPhone 6S was released this Fall with an updated version of Force Touch, rebranded as 3D Touch. This allows shortcuts into app functions directly from the home screen by touching the app icon with pressure to open up a brand new menu. Other implementations of 3D Touch include pressing with force on the left side of the screen and dragging right, which opens the multitasking screen, or force touching on a link or photo to open a preview that just hovers over what you are doing. It’s a remarkable technology right now, and can only get better in the generations to come.

Following the release of the iPhone 6S, Apple came out with this year’s iPad. However, it was not an iPad Air 3, as many had expected (though given how powerful the iPad Air 2 is, it’s not surprising that they didn’t advance this quite yet), but rather it was the long-rumoured iPad Pro. While the obvious attraction of this iPad is its sheer size, under the hood is a remarkable feature that gives the Apple Pencil its power. The iPad Pro has a scanning system that tracks the position of the Pencil 240 times per second, twice the rate at which it senses your fingertip, allowing you to draw with virtually no lag between the touch of the Pencil and displaying the line. It is like you are drawing on paper with ink. And it is because of this scanning system, or lack of it, that the Pencil is not compatible with any other previous version of the iPad.

On the software side, iOS 9 was released, and one of its key features is Split Screen on the iPad Air 2. This allows compatible apps to run in a reduced-size mode on only part of the screen, but share the screen with a second app, so that you end up with Safari on the left and Notes on the right, or some other combination to enhance your productivity. This is a fantastic feature, and is only available on the iPad Air 2 because of the sheer power that it is capable of producing. What is obviously missing from this implementation of Split Screen is the ability to drag and drop from one app to the other.

And this is where I wrap all of this together into my prediction for next year.

The iPad Air 3 was not introduced because it is going to include bits and pieces from all of the releases this year. The high scanning rate that enables Apple Pencil is built into the iPad Pro, but not any other devices. Since I think that the iPad Air has always been a wonderful device for drawing, I have a hard time seeing Apple limit the use of Pencil to only the iPad Pro, so I think this enhanced scanning rate is destined for a future iPad Air as well. Similarly, the Apple Watch and iPhone 6S introduced us to Force / 3D Touch, but the force sensitive display was not included in the iPads (Pro or Mini) released this year, but given the enriched workflows that this enables, I think that is likely to appear in a future iPad as well. Furthermore, I believe that by this time next year, the next iPhone or Watch will have been introduced with an upgraded version of 3D Touch that support multi-finger force touch, or “3D Multitouch.” I think it will be this version of Force Touch that make the leap to the iPad, and I think it will be this ability that enables the drag and drop between apps in Split Screen. As it is now, touching on something selects it, 3D Touching is a shortcut to a Preview window, but I predict a 3D Multitouch will be the key to actually “pick up” something and move it as in drag and drop functionality.

So, in my opinion, here are the key features that the iPad Air 3 is going to include next year: 240 Hz scanning system to enable Apple Pencil compatibility, and 3D Multitouch to enable drag and drop and other pressure sensitive applications. Since these are new technologies this year, they have been slowly released and are not in use across all the lines, as with the Retina Display. Without those, there wasn’t anything sufficiently interesting to include in a new iPad Air this year. So, next year, count on these techs to mature and come together in the iPad Air 3.

I’m saving my money for one already!

Movie Trailers Icon

How to Use Siri to Watch Movie Trailers

Siri has been a very important part of iOS since its introduction with the iPhone 4S. This personal digital assistant is able to do all sorts of things for you at your command, such as place phone calls, send text messages, set up reminders, or make dining reservations… among many other, lesser-known things. One of these less commonly used features is to find and play movie trailers! Movie trailers have had a special place in Apple’s heart for many years, going back to their Apple movie trailers website, and extending into modern times with dedicated apps on our iOS devices and Apple TV to play these video clips. They have a great resource to find the latest clips or some classic favourites. Considering this historical relationship, it should come as no surprise that finding and playing a movie trailer can be as simple as asking Siri to do it for you!

Here’s how to use Siri to watch movie trailers:

  1. Launch Siri by pressing and holding the Home button on your iOS device. (Before iOS 7, you could let go of the button and Siri would begin listening. However, from iOS 7 and onwards, you can continue to hold the button for as long as you have something to say to Siri, so that she won’t cut you off before you are done!)
  2. Ask Siri to play a movie trailer for whatever movie you are interested in. Try something like “Play the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy.” Interestingly, Siri replied that she can’t help me with videos if I worded my request as “Play the movie trailer…” It has to be “Play the trailer…” Correct me if I’m wrong!
  3. If Siri understood exactly what movie you were referencing, she will start playing the trailer right away, completely automatically!
  4. If Siri requires more information, you will be presented with a list of movies from which to make your choice. Try “Play the trailer for Transformers” or “Play the trailer for Superman”. You can tap to make your selection, or you can tap the Siri button again and just speak your selection!
  5. If there is no such movie trailer available, Siri will simply tell you “There’s no trailer available for…. ”, and instead just serve up a movie poster and some information about the movie.

This is another great example of how Siri can take a multi-step process, such as searching for, finding, and selecting a movie trailer, and reduce it down to often a single voice command. It certainly is a great example of how using an app can simplify your life!

Touch ID logo

Touch ID on a Mac

The 2014 Apple WWDC keynote has come and gone, and it has left most people feeling very good about where Apple is taking both OS X and iOS. The next version of OS X will be called “Yosemite,” and it represents a monumental upgrade to the Mac’s operating system. Similarly, iOS 8 will be getting a lot of brand new features, for which many of them have been wished for several generations already, such as third-party keyboards and third-party developer access to Touch ID. However, since Apple decided to focus on the developers exclusively this time, as they should for a “developer” conference, everything that was revealed was software. There was no new hardware. Of course, we all expect an iPhone 6 and updated iPad Air and Mini to be released in the fall, closer to the holiday (buying!) season. Perhaps also an iWatch or upgraded Apple TV may also be in the mix. But for now, we are left with only software to see where Apple is going.

One set of the fantastic new API’s that were announced will now allow app developers to make use of the Touch ID, currently only found in the iPhone 5S. In all likelihood, it will be included in the iPhone 6, as well as new versions of the iPad. It has been very well received so far, and is a great incentive to have people actually make use of a PIN to secure their iOS devices. Some argue that Touch ID should also make its way to the Mac, especially MacBooks, which are a lot more portable and likely to be targeted for theft than the much larger iMac or Mac Pro. Having the added security would be great, as well as having a simple way of authenticating purchases, or access to personal bank accounts, etc. However, my feeling is that we won’t see Touch ID on a Mac any time soon, if ever. Here’s why.

Touch ID logo

With the release of both OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, both systems work together a lot better. For example, Yosemite can automatically detect when your iOS 8 iPhone is on a network, and automatically a network hot spot can be created to share the connection. The Photostream will sync between all of your devices so that all of your photos are viewable everywhere, almost immediately. You can even answer a phone call, coming in to your iPhone, right from your Mac’s speakerphone. There is also the fantastic new feature called Handoff, where you can begin your task (e.g. composing a new email message) on one device and then complete it on another that is nearby. This feature works because both Macs and iOS devices will gain proximity awareness, in that they know when they are near to each other. This is what will have your Mac prompt you to finish your email on the bigger screen when you sit down to it, allowing you to pick up right from where you were on your iPhone. And it is this quality that I think will be the reason Touch ID will not appear on the Mac.

Touch ID does not need to be on the Mac, because it will be on your iOS device that is right nearby. I can see in the future that when the Mac will need to do something that requires user authentication (standard username/password combination), if there is an iOS device nearby, the proximity sensors will facilitate a prompt on the device to scan your finger, which in turn will communicate back with the Mac to verify the user and allow the action to proceed. The user authentication was performed by the Touch ID built into the iPhone or iPad, and the securely communicated back to the Mac with the confirmed identity. The Touch ID sensor does not need to be built into the Mac at all; it just needs to be present on a nearby iOS device that is registered with the Mac. Furthermore, the Touch ID sensor is built into the home button of the iOS device. There is no home button on a Mac, nor would it be an ergonomically useful addition to make to one. Touch ID works so well on the iPhone 5S because it is natural; it is a simple action to push the home button with your thumb or finger. Imagine having to scan your thumb on a Mac. How would you have to contort your wrist to make it register. That doesn’t seem like a very Apple thing to do.

So, Touch ID likely won’t come to the Mac, but its feature will be usable by the Mac via a local proximity connection to a future iPhone or iPad. A final thought about this is how well the Apple ecosystem works, with the fantastic interplay between software and hardware. Apple products work great on their own, but their power is truly unlocked when you combine them. Future Touch ID will only work for your Mac if you have the accompanying iOS device . And Apple would love to sell you one.

iwatch concept

My Comments on the Apple iWatch Rumour

Over the last few weeks, the rumour mill has been heating up about Apple products again.  At this time last year, the Next Big Thing was the mythical Apple television set – or at least a revamped Apple TV set-top box that had the blessings of cable companies and had access to their content – which to this day is still nothing but a rumour.  People are still predicting this to be revealed to the public in the next year or so, but until something happens, that’s old news.  Essentially the same predicted hardware and functionality, that while great, is just the same repeated rumour over and over again.  Since the public’s appetite for all things Apple must be fed, the latest rumour to pick up steam is based on a wearable computing device, in the form of a so-called iWatch.

iwatch conceptWearable tech has been called the next leap forward in technology, but it has been around for years in various devices.  However, many feel that it is on the cusp of going mainstream.  Fitness technophiles will be the first to point out the usefulness of their Nike Fuelband, Jawbone Up, and Fitbit One.  These devices simply clip on to your clothing or wrap around your wrist, and then go about their business tracking your movement and reporting the analytics back to you in meaningful ways.  Not to sit idly by, Google, the masters of categorizing and presenting relevant data to you, have an ongoing limited public trial of their version of wearable tech, in the form of Google Glass.  This pair of glasses has a small built in camera and computer that interprets what you’re looking at and serves up data to you as you need it (such as reminders, or map directions, or contact info), displayed directly on to the lens of the glasses.  This has the potential to be a game-changer.  However, in my opinion, there are a few problems with this: it’s not discrete enough (nor stylish enough to go mainstream), and having a camera always on has inherent security risks.  This is why I think an Apple watch has the potential to be a hit.  It could be as subtle as a wristwatch, fashionable, and be much safer.

In terms of hardware, we can expect it to have the usual Apple elegance and lust factor.  One can imagine that it would naturally have a Retina-grade touchscreen to make everything it displays gorgeous.  Function-wise, you can’t have a Retina display turned on all of the time without it being a massive battery drain.  Maybe they would opt for the lower resolution display with a pixel density comparable to the iPad mini or pre-Retina devices, but that would still need a lot of juice.  Forgive my admitted ignorance of feasible screen tech, but I think it would be cool if the watch displayed an e-ink or LCD-like clock when at rest, and when activated, the Retina screen would overlay on top of this.  That kind of technology would be perfect for a watch, as it would conserve power when not in use, and only when required would the brilliant display kick in and start to drain the battery.  Of course, this watch isn’t going to have the incredible number of pixels found in an iPad, so there is no reason to think that it would require the horsepower of an A5 or A6 chip to run it, nor would it need large amounts of RAM.  Also, today’s battery tech would need to be improved in order to get a mandatory multi-day charge for the device, as consumers aren’t going to want yet another device they have to remember to charge every night when they go to sleep.  (For comparison, my Fitbit One gets nearly 7 days on a charge – though this has a minimal display, it is tracking movement 24 hours a day.)  I can see some modest amount of memory, alongside a new or potentially die-shrunk chip and relatively minuscule battery, all of which would have to be precision-fitted into a space that would fit on your wrist.  If they were to continue their reliance on Corning’s glass tech, it could utilize the new version of Gorilla Glass (I know I’ve nicked and scraped my old watches countless times!).  Alternately, one of the hotter developments at Corning is Willow Glass, a new kind of bendable glass that can be wrapped.  A wrappable glass could be used very well to form to the contour of a wrist much more nicely than a flat piece, which would be especially useful for smaller wrists.  A minimal bezel could surround this glass, with a Home/Wake button located on the edge to maximize the screen size – a departure from the usual iPhone/iPad/iPod touch design, though more akin to the previous generation square iPod nano (which itself was widely used as a watch with aftermarket watch bands).  One could imagine the body to made of brushed aluminum with the highly polished chamfered edges found on iPhone 5, though with reports of iPhones being easily gouged on edges, this may not be a good place for this design.  An intriguing idea would be to make the body or backing out of Liquid Metal, which has yet to make a meaningful appearance in any Apple product since it was purchased a few years ago.  A biometric sensor would likely be included for security and applications, potentially built into the underside like an optical heart rate monitor, along with low-power Bluetooth to facilitate connections with other Apple devices, rather than a Lightning connector.  Unless the watch had onboard storage for photos and music, which I highly doubt, I don’t see a need for a Lightning connection – all communications could happen over Bluetooth.  An accelerometer and gyroscope would likely be included, as well as a microphone, though I don’t think that a speaker would be necessary.

About the style of the watch, it would need to have an easily adjustable band of some sort.  I have a hard time seeing Apple incorporate a leather strap with holes in it, though that would be more acceptable than a traditional metal clasp band which requires you to go to the watch shop (Apple Store?) to have links removed.  The adjustability of this watch has to be simple and elegant, with some kind of proprietary locking mechanism, likely.  Having not tried a Jawbone Up, I would think that a wrappable lock-less design such as that would be less than ideal from a security standpoint – it could potentially be easily grabbed and pulled off.  Perhaps something like the Nike Fuelband might be more appropriate, where the band itself is a preset size, and for wider wrists, extension “links” can be inserted to fit better – another place for a proprietary Apple connection!  In terms of colour, you can easily predict that the watch face would have a black or white bezel, potentially extending to the band itself as well.

Now that we have an idea of what this Apple watch might look like, the next obvious question is “what will it do?”  Of course, a watch has to tell the time, so it needs a clock app.  As I referred to earlier, an always-on clock would be nice, and if my dual-tech screen were to become a reality, this would look like a traditional (albeit with Apple style!) digital watch display most of the time.  Alternately, with a more typical Apple touchscreen display, one could image the face to look like a sleeping iPhone display when inactive, requiring a touch or a button press to wake it up and show the time.  In fact, this wake-up action could display the watch’s lock screen, showing the time, date, and some version of slide-to-unlock to do anything more.  With an integrated biometric sensor, there would be no need to password-protect the watch either, though I think that would always have to be an available option.  Through its Bluetooth connection to your iPhone, iPad, and Mac, these devices would likely be able to push any updates that would appear in Notification Center straight to your watch, including new emails, missed calls, calendar appointment reminders, etc.  Apple may open up development to third parties in the App Store, though any apps would obviously be very limited in what they could do.  Fitness apps would be an obvious suggestion, especially if they could tap into the biometric and motion sensors.  Other than that though, I don’t know how many apps would find a home on the small screen of a watch.

Incorporating Siri into the watch would be an intriguing inclusion, though I don’t necessarily agree with general opinion that this would be needed, for these reasons.  For starters, Siri only runs on post iPhone 4S devices, with reasons provided that it requires the power of their CPUs to process the natural language recognition.  I doubt a watch CPU is going to be powerful enough to do this, especially if it hopes to get good battery life.  Secondly, as it stands right now, Siri requires an Internet connection for the Apple servers to process your queries.  While that would work fine on home wifi networks, what about being out and about during the day, where you require 3G or LTE connections to cell phone carriers?  Are they going to start offering subsidized Apple watches now as part of their cellular plans?  I highly doubt it, and having a device that only works at home doesn’t seem very Apple-like.  Any type of network access would likely be provided via Bluetooth tethering to your other iDevices.  This leads to my final point, that if we consider the watch to be a peripheral accessory, it doesn’t need to RUN Siri.  Rather, it needs to make use of its connection to your devices, invoke Siri there, rely on its data connection, and then provide you with the results.  That way, your iPhone does the heavy lifting, and your watch essentially becomes equivalent to your Bluetooth car mic – a very fancy I/O device specifically for your Apple product.  I think this makes way more sense for a watch than including Siri as a native application, especially if you consider the alternative is a hit to the battery life between charges.

To conclude, I would like to comment on it’s potential name.  While everyone seems to assume that this device will actually be called iWatch if/when it is announced, I don’t know if I complete agree with this.  So far, Apple’s iDevices include iPod, iPhone, iPad, and iMac.  An iWatch would have to be a pretty big thing to rank up there with the big boys, rather than be considered as simply an accessory to them.  If we assume that it would have a much more limited functionality than any of these devices, I don’t think that it would be a stretch to think of it as an accessory.  If so, I could see it getting a more playful name (like EarPods) or functional name (like Retina Display).  My idea would be something like CuffLink – it explains where it’s worn, and says that it’s a link to your other devices.  Both playful and functional.  You heard it here first!

How to Enable Emoji Icons on iOS

4 Quick Steps to Enable Emoji Icons on iOS

Not too long ago, Apple changed their App Store policy to stop selling emoji apps.  These were some of the most downloaded apps in the store, as they enabled users to easily copy and paste little smiley faces and pictures into text messages and emails.  However, just because they aren’t available in the App Store anymore doesn’t mean you have to go without.  Actually, Apple has built in an emoji keyboard into iOS.  You don’t have to download anything to make it work!  Here’s all you need to do to turn it on:

How to Enable Emoji Icons on iOS

  1. Tap on the Settings app to open it, and then tap on General.
  2. In the General options, tap on Keyboard.
  3. In the Keyboard options, tap on Keyboard, and then tap on “Add New Keyboard”.
  4. You can add any of the available keyboards, but for our purposes, tap on Emoji.

That’s all there is to it!  No complicated setup or downloading at all.  Simply go into your typing app, and when you want to insert an Emoji character, just tap on the globe icon that is in the bottom row to the left of the space bar.  Then you can tap to select an Emoji, or swipe left and right to view different screens of available character choices.  Have fun!


iOS Settings icon

How to Change your Language Settings

Changing your language settings on your iOS device is easy to do.  In the unfortunate event that you change the language to something that you can’t understand, you likely would have a hard time getting it back to something familiar.  Here are a few things you can do to change your language setting on your iPhone or iPad.

iOS Settings iconLanguage settings are found in the Settings app of your Apple device, under the General button, and then towards the bottom under the button for “International.”  When you tap that, the first setting that you see at the top of the list is Language.  Hopefully it is set to what you understand.  If you want to play around, you can tap it to switch to a different language, which will cause your iPhone to go black for a moment while the language change propagates through the system.  When it wakes up again after a few seconds, you’ll be back at the home screen, and you icons will be labeled with the language you selected.

Now, that’s well and good.  But what about changing it back to something that you can understand?  Thankfully, the button placement hasn’t changed at all, so you can navigate back.  Here’s what you look for:

  1. Open the Settings app.  It’s the same one with the gray icon of the gears.
  2. When Settings has opened, scroll down the list and tap on the button that has the same icon of the gears on it (for General, in English).
  3. When you tap into the General tab, scroll down until you come to the group of buttons that has four options.  Tap on the third option (in English, this is International).
  4. The first option in this screen is for Language, so tap that to bring up the list of languages that you can choose from.  Scroll through the list and tap on the one that you know (and recognize!).
  5. To set it, tap the blue button in the top right (done, or OK, or something similar).

If you have an iPhone 4S or newer, or a newer version of the iPad, you can also change the voice of Siri independently of the language of your device.  To do this, go into that same Settings app, then tap General, then tap Siri.  Midway down the screen, you can choose Siri’s language.  The available selection has been improved in recent updates, and it will very likely continue to expand as Apple programs Siri with additional languages and dialects.

Here is a tip that I have recently learned.  If your device is telling you that you have various units (such as money) in a form that you aren’t familiar with, this regional setting is connected to the language settings somehow.  To change this to be in line with your local area, go to Settings, tap General, then tap Accessibility.  Near the bottom is the Language Rotor.  Tap into that, and deselect any out of the ordinary languages that may be selected.  This is likely why some apps will report to you in terms of this language setting, rather than the one that you are used to.


Messages icon

How to Resend an iMessage As an SMS Text Message

Messages iconOne of the greatest conveniences of mobile phones is their ability to send text messages to other mobile phone users.  It means that you don’t have to actually dial a number, wait for the phone to ring, hope they answer, and then carry on a conversation, when all you really need to get across is “I’m running late” or some other short anecdote.  It’s very similar to email, though the difference is that the message is delivered straight to the recipient’s phone and notifies them immediately, rather than going to their email account and possibly getting buried and forgotten.  Cell phone providers know that these messages are powerful, and that’s why they are often offered as pricey add-ons to standard plans.  Text messages are great, but you have to pay for them.  That’s where iMessage comes in.

iMessage is Apple’s answer to standard SMS (Short Message Service) text messaging.  It is built into current versions of iOS and OSX, so you can use it to send messages between not only iPhones, but also iPods, iPads, and Macs.  The best part about it: it’s free!  Some of the most popular apps that you can download are those that enable free text messaging, and Apple has now built this service directly into their products.  However, as wonderful as it is to be able to communicate with your friends without having to pay for it, it does have a few downsides.  iMessage is a part of iCloud, Apple’s latest foray into the online services world, and being a young service often comes with its share of problems.  The biggest problem users have found when using iMessage is that sometimes the messages don’t send promptly, or at all.  It’s an issue that they are undoubtedly working on, though for now, outages are a reality of using anything attached to iCloud.  (For what it’s worth, Apple is building several sites that supposedly will be used for upgrading their network, so hopefully when those all go online, everything will work as intended!)

Maybe Apple realized that there was a potential for this to happen, but for whatever reason, they included a bypass mechanism which will switch the iMessage into a regular SMS text message and then send it over the carrier’s service.  Of course, this will cost you whatever a standard text message would normally cost you, but sometimes that’s better than waiting and waiting and then never having your message go through at all!  Thankfully, it’s a very simple action to do to resend a failed iMessage as a normal SMS text message.  All you have to do is tap and hold on the message bubble of the failed message, and a pop-up will appear with a button to Send as Text Message.  All you have to do is tap on this, and the message will resend.  Since it sends as an SMS message over your cell phone provider’s network, you obviously need to have a phone number for this to work, and have SMS texting available to you on your provider’s network.  I haven’t tried on a Mac or other device, though this would suggest that it only works on iMessage on iPhones.

You can apply this trick immediately after finishing composing it and sending it, whether it would ultimately fail to deliver or not.  However, once it has been delivered, you cannot (and there’s absolutely no use it trying to) resend as a text.  If that’s the case, then you won’t even have the option available to you anymore.  With that, hopefully you no longer have to worry about dealing with some of the early struggles of iCloud, and you can get your messages off to your friends whether iCloud wants to agree with you or not!

iCloud icon

How to Set up iCloud

iCloud iconIf you’ve got an iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV or Mac, you’ve probably seen the term “iCloud” several times.  In fact, you were likely prompted to set up iCloud when you first set up your device.  In case you never had it explained to you, iCloud is the free online service that Apple offers to all of its users.  Once set up on all of your iOS devices, it enables you to sync data between them effortlessly, without any actual user involvement at all.  With this turned on, you can leave a website open on your Mac and then pick up where you left off on your iPad while taking the bus.  Or, it allows you to take pics with your iPhone while at your kid’s soccer game, and almost immediately have them viewable on your Apple TV at home with your wife.  It is a fantastic service that all Apple users should sign up for so they can take advantage of all of its benefits.  If you haven’t yet signed up for it, this article will tell you all you need to know about how to set up iCloud.

If you’re reading this, you most likely already have an iOS device, Apple TV, or Mac.  In that case, the first step is done!  The next thing to do is to sign up for an Apple ID.  This is the account that you’d use to buy anything from iTunes or the App Store, so you probably have that already as well.  If you’re just setting up your first Apple device, follow the prompts to get a free Apple ID.

To set up iCloud on your iPhone, iPod, or iPad, your device must be running iOS 5 or later.  All current generation devices qualify, so this likely isn’t something to consider.  (If your device is on iOS 4 or earlier, you will have to upgrade by plugging into iTunes, or else you are out of luck for iCloud.)  Open the Settings app, and you will see somewhere in the middle of the list an button for iCloud, with its representative icon of a black cloud outline on a metallic silver background.  When you tap this, you enter the iCloud settings screen, tap on the Account button, where you are prompted to enter your Apple ID and the password associated with the account.  Hit the blue Done button, and that’s almost all there is to it!

When you go back to the iCloud settings screen, you will see a list of services for which you can toggle iCloud on or off.  They should all be turned on by default.  For example, if you want your Mail to stay synced between your iPhone and iPad, have that option turned on.  Same for Reminders, Notes, Calendars, etc.  If you turn on Photo Stream, any new photos that you take (the most recent 1000) will automatically sync to the iCloud Photo Stream to make viewable by all the other devices that you allow.  Another good setting to enable is the Find my iPhone (or other device), which allows you to locate your device on a map if you happen to lose it.  Documents and Data will allow apps to have access to iCloud syncing, which is being used by more and more apps everyday (think about reading a book on your iPad, and then picking up in the same spot on your iPhone).  Similarly, you can sync Safari to keep track of the tabs that you have open on all your devices at any times.  You can even tap on the Storage & Backup option to enable your device to backup to iCloud, which is incredibly useful if you don’t have a computer to sync and backup to.  The only downside is that you only get 5 GB of storage space (which does not include Photo Stream.  1000 photos are free, and newer ones will push older ones out).  However, a lot of devices have a much higher capacity (eg. 16, 32, 64 GB).  So, if you want to backup to iCloud, Apple allows you to buy more storage space directly from the settings page, and they will easily charge you on your Apple ID account.  If you backup to one of your home computers, then you likely don’t need to worry about buying extra storage space.  Once you have all these settings set up as you’d like, that’s all there is to do to enable iCloud!

To set up iCloud on a Mac (OS X 10.7.5 or later only!), the process is also simple, though obviously slightly different.  You need to open the System Preferences panel, and then iCloud is found on the Internet and Wireless line, with the same silver and black cloud icon as on iOS devices.  Once there, you can sign in with your Apple ID (the same one that you logged in with on your other device), and then turn on and off whichever services you want synced.  You don’t have an option to backup your Mac to iCloud, but that’s fine, because your Mac has way more than the 5 GB of data allowed!

Finally, you can set up your Apple TV to take advantage of iCloud syncing.  You won’t have access to a lot of the features, such as calendars, reminders, mail, and notes.  However, the big feature is access to the Photo Stream.  There’s nothing like viewing all of your great pictures effortlessly on your big TV with the whole family!  To do this, all you have to do is go into the Settings screen on the Apple TV and log in with your credentials.

Hopefully, this brief tutorial has convinced you of the benefits of iCloud, and allowed you to get it up and running.  It all works behind the scenes, with minimal user interaction.  It just works.  Having your data on the device that you have, and not the one you left at home, saves you time and effort.  Being able to track down your device if you misplace it provides you with peace of mind and helps you to actually find it again.  And making your photos viewable across all of your devices nearly instantly is amazing convenient.  If you have an Apple product that supports iCloud, you really need to enable this fantastic service.

Allrecipes app icon

How to Save Recipes on your iPhone and iPad

One of the greatest features of smartphones is their portability.  Anything you can do on a smartphone, you can pretty much do anywhere.  For aspiring cooks, or just parents with mouths to feed at home, the power of their iPhone means that they can look up new and exciting recipes at any time of day and be able to save them to prepare the delicious meals when they get home.  Also, with the sharing abilities built into iOS devices, the recipes that you save on your iPhone during the day can be ready for you to look at on your iPad as soon as you get home and start to cook.  There are several ways that you can use your iPhone and iPad to find and keep track of recipes, and I’m going to outline a few of the ways I do things here in this post.

For many people who may not be the most comfortable when it comes to computers and the internet, the first and most common place they may search for recipes is right in Google itself.  Google search results are almost guaranteed to provide you with something relevant to what you are searching for, and if you are looking for recipes, it tends to present you with recipes first from some of the more popular cooking websites on the Internet.  For example, if I do a simple search for “chicken recipes,” the first hit I get is from the site Allrecipes.com. This is a great site that has a ton of recipes and variations available for you to try.  You can also sign up for a user account, which allows you to save your favorite recipes, or recipes that you want to try out, into a virtual recipe box.  Once you have your user account set up, you can then log into it from any computer or device to get access to what you’ve saved.  This is a great site, among many others like this, that will undoubtedly be able to provide you with great new ideas for your meal plans.  However, this method doesn’t really draw upon the power of your smartphones and tablets.  Of course, that’s where apps come in!

Allrecipes app iconAllrecipes.com also has several apps available that you can download and install to your iPhone or iPad.  They draw upon the same enormous user database of recipes from around the world, so you are getting the same content as if you simply googled for a recipe.  There are built in search functions so that you can look up a recipe if you know it’s name, but there are also powerful options that let’s you narrow down the results by ingredients or dietary restrictions.  Then you can sort results based on filters such as popularity or preparation time.  Once you’ve identified the recipe that you want to cook, the Allrecipes app gives you a beautiful presentation of the necessary ingredients, the directions to prepare it, nutritional info and reviews.  It’s really all that you need to be able to put together a wonderful meal.  As an extra feature, you can also log into the app with your username from the website, so that you can gain access to your saved recipe box.  This really is a standout feature.  With it, you can search for recipes on any computer at any point during the day, save your recipe to your recipe box, and then when you get home, you can use your iPhone or iPad to access that recipe, even if that wasn’t the device you saved it on earlier.

Epicurious iPad screen

Another very popular website with related apps is called Epicurious.  It works very similarly to Allrecipes.  On the website, you can search or browse for recipes, restricting them as you like through the use of various filters.  You can save interesting recipes as you wish to a personal recipe box tied to a user account that you can set up with the site.  Much like Allrecipes, you can download an iPhone or iPad version (or other mobile device) of the app for specific use with your smartphone or tablet.  I personally make use of the Epicurious iPad app.  It is a beautiful app that is organized like a cookbook, with tabs located along the sides to indicate pages or chapters of the book.  You can search or browse the recipe database, and then once selected, you have the ingredients and directions for your dish listed out for you conveniently.  This is a great app that I have used for as long as I’ve had my iPad.

Evernote iconSo far, the two apps that I’ve mentioned draw upon their websites’ recipe collections.  However, what if you want to keep a recipe that might not be in their databases?  You have the option of uploading and sharing your own recipes, but I have a few other methods that I find useful.  The first method is with the app called Evernote.  Evernote markets itself as a service to help you remember everything.  You can use it to save notes you jot down, or catalogs or information.  Some people build their entire business around the functionality of this app.  It really is powerful, and I recommend it for far more things than just keeping track of recipes.  But for this post, that is exactly what I want to mention.  In it, you can create notebooks, within which you can save specific information to that notebook.  In this case, you’d create a notebook called Recipes, and then in that notebook you would add a note for each recipe.  It’s kind of modernized version of what your mom would have used: a recipe box in the cupboard full of little handwritten notes with recipes and comments on each one.  For each of the notes you save, you can simply type out the text as you’d like to remember it, or if you really want to preserve the magic of Mom’s cooking, you can simply take a photo with your iPhone of the recipe card, and your note will consist of the image with Mom’s handwriting and everything on it, nicely filed away in your recipes notebook.  While Epicurious and Allrecipes draw on the power of social networks and massive databases, something has to be said for the elegance of Evernote.  It only keeps track of what you want it to remember, but as beautiful as some of the other apps are, a pic of Mom’s written recipe can be a priceless memory.  I use this method of tracking my recipes even more than the other dedicated apps, and as I mentioned, Evernote’s functionality goes way beyond simple recipe tracking.  This one is highly recommended, and is available for nearly every platform, including Mac and PC, and it syncs between all your devices.

The final app that I’d like to mention here is a kind of similar to all of what I’ve mentioned so far.  The app is called Springpad.  It allows you to save things in dedicated workbooks, much like Evernote.  You can create the notes that you save inside, or you can save entire webpages that you find online.  Springpad has additional applets that you can install to your computer browsers which allows you to search on your computer for whatever you want, and then when you find something you’d like to save in your Springpad workbooks, you can “spring” the page.  This saves a concise copy of the important information from the webpage to your Springpad account, which you can then view either online or on one of your devices.  I like this app as well, and I find that its strength comes in when I randomly find something online and I want to save it beyond just a simple bookmark.  Saving to Springpad is a good way of collecting and organizing things.  I’ve reviewed Springpad before as a shopping list app, so being able to use it to track recipes is yet another great feature of this app.  It’s also highly recommended.

There are several recipe apps available in the app store.  Some of them are free, and some of them come with a premium price.  All of the apps I’ve mentioned in this article are free to use, so there really isn’t an excuse not to give them a try.  How to save recipes on your iPhone and iPad really isn’t difficult, and I’m pretty sure that if you give them a chance, you will find that they are incredibly useful.  Recipe apps are just one more thing that make our iPhones and iPads so increasingly functional and important to our day to day lives.


How to Gift Apps on the App Store

Tis the season for giving gifts to the ones you love!  And what better gift is there than a brand new app for your iPhone or iPad to play with during the holiday!  With this in mind, Apple has updated their App Store to make gifting apps just a click away.  Now you don’t have to resort to just buying iTunes or App Store gift cards at the grocery store!  Here’s all you need to know to be able to surprise you favourite Apple fan this Christmas.

Gift AppIf you want to gift apps on the App Store, the process is simple.  You can only gift apps that cost 99 cents or more, but that’s ok because you don’t want to be known as the person who gifts freebies!  You start by finding the gift that you like in the App Store.  Now, instead of tapping on the Buy button, this time you have to tap on the Share button which is located in the top right corner.  When the pop up displays, you will now be given the option to Gift the app, in addition to the usual options to share by Mail, Message, Tweet, or Facebook.

The next screen that comes up is the Send Gift screen, where you will be prompted to enter the name and email address of the person to whom you are gifting the app.  You also have a place to enter in a message if you’d like, such as “Happy Birthday!” or “Merry Christmas!” or “Instead of the 10 bucks I owe you, I hope you like this app instead!”  Finally, at the bottom of the screen, you select when the gift will be delivered.  You can choose to send it today or on another date, which is remarkably convenient to do your “Christmas shopping” early and then have it arrive on December 25.

You can also gift apps through the App Store in iTunes on your Mac or PC.  All you have to do is find the gift you’d like, and then click on the arrow next to the buy button, and select “Gift this App”.  After you fill out the required information, you have an option to deliver the notification by email, or to actually print out a certificate for the lucky recipient to redeem.

Apple has made buying apps for someone else an incredibly simple process, and the payment is automatically charged to the credit card you have on file in iTunes.  Now that you know how to gift apps on the App Store, hopefully that makes your Christmas shopping a little easier this year.