How to: use the extra features packed into Apple’s tiny AirPods

Yes, AirPods are clearly for playing music but you can rapidly choose where that audio comes from —and just what happens when you tap on the AirPods. AppleInsider details all the options.

 

By William Gallagher of Appleinsider

You can be listening to music moments after you first put AirPods into your ear and we may never get used to how great that is. However, just because they are designed so that you can pop them in and go, it doesn’t mean this is all they can do.

AirPods don’t have screens and they don’t have tangible buttons. But, the AirPods themselves and the charging case are replete with functions. You can edit touch controls so that a tap on your right AirPod plays the next track while a tap on the left one calls up Siri.

To help you keep your iPhone in your pocket, Siri can whisper the name of your caller into your AirPods as your phone rings. You can so easily switch to listening to your phone or your iPad.

And you can only slightly-less-easily switch to listening to your Mac, your Apple TV and even your Apple Watch.

No screens

There may not be a screen on these tiny AirPods but if you open their case while you’re next to your iPhone, the phone will display information.

Just opening the AirPod case tells the iPhone to pay attention and shows battery information. You get the current charge of the case and an average of that for the two AirPods. Put one AirPod in your ear and now you get the individual battery charge for each one.

It’s worth checking this instead of relying on that average, too, because very often the two AirPods will have different levels of charge. Even though you always charge them in the case together, one may be significantly lower than the other.

That’s because one of them may have been acting as a microphone when you’ve received phone calls.

You get this information when the AirPods have been paired to your iPhone. If they haven’t been yet, find the small white button at the back of the AirPod case and hold it in.

After a few seconds, this makes the AirPods and their case discoverable over Bluetooth and your phone can find them.

Even when you’ve got them paired, though, that’s not the same thing as having them connected. To quickly connect your AirPods, swipe to bring up Control Center, then tap on the small symbol at top right of the Music section.

This is the quickest way to connect and start playing music to your paired AirPods but there is a slightly longer way around too.

With one exception to do with phone calls, you control all of your AirPods via the Bluetooth preferences in your iPhone’s Settings. Go to Settings, Bluetooth and look for your AirPods in the list of paired devices.

Next to its name there will be a Connected or a Not Connected label. It’s a toggle: tap on Not Connected and it will connect or vice versa.

There is also an Information button to the right. Tap on that and if your AirPods aren’t connected, all you see is an option to Forget this Device.

If they are connected, though, that’s when you get direct access to most of the AirPods’ best features.

Ears and throat

From here you can do the big moves like disconnecting the AirPods or, again, Forget This Device. You can also change the name of your AirPods. By default they’re called your ones, as in “William’s AirPods” or “Rachel’s AirPods”.

If William or Rachel are ever mad enough to give up their precious AirPods and they really, really like you, then you can change the name here.

Toward the foot of the settings page there is an option to have Automatic Ear Detection on. It’s the default but if it’s ever not on, switch it on. This is how the AirPods are allowed to do something with the information that you’ve just picked them up and popped them into your ear.

Similarly, it’s how they are allowed to respond when you take the AirPods out. And it rarely gets better than when you take out one AirPod and the music pauses long enough for you to hear them say “Oh, I didn’t realise you had headphones on”. That never gets old.

There’s also a Microphone option which lets you specify which of your two AirPods acts as a microphone when you’re on a phone call or recording audio.

The default is to have the AirPods themselves decide, to switch automatically to whichever one seems best. The only criteria we can think of is that if, say, the Right AirPod’s battery is low, they could switch to using the Left.

Except the reason that one AirPod’s battery will be lower than the other is that it’s been used as the microphone. So how the AirPods pick which goes first is a mystery.

It’s also hard to think of many situations where it would bother you which was the microphone. The earpiece, yes: if you happen to have poorer hearing in one ear than the other then you would of course choose the other one —except this isn’t about hearing, it’s about speaking.

So just leave this set to the default of Automatically Switch AirPods and move on to your ears.

Left ear, right ear

AirPods respond to your putting them in your ears and taking them out again. They also respond to your finger quickly tapping on them twice. Since you have two AirPods, you can tap on either —and you can choose what happens when you do.

It’s not the greatest selection of options. It would be fun to see what an AirPod equivalent of BetterTouchTool or Keyboard Maestro could do, but for now you get five options per ear.

Three are to do with music. You can set that a double tap means to Play or Pause the music, that it means to skip to the next track or that it means repeat the previous one.

There’s also a Siri option. Select this and whenever you double tap on an AirPod, it will pause whatever you’re listening to and wait for you to ask Siri to do something.

The fifth option is just Off. That may be the dullest menu item Apple’s ever done.

Not all

All of these settings are done in the Bluetooth section of your iPhone’s settings. However, there is one more option you can set for your AirPods which needs you to go somewhere else.

Go to Settings, Phone. The first option under the Calls section is Announce Calls and normally it’s set to Never.

Tap on that line, though, and you can change it to have Siri announce your phone calls in three different circumstances. One is always, absolutely every time your phone rings. The others are to do with when you’re wearing AirPods —or any headphones —or you’re driving with CarPlay.

Whenever it’s set to announce your calls, that’s exactly what it does. You hear the ringing start and then Siri says the name of the caller if they’re in your Contacts.

It’s a bit quiet, to be fair. Or our ring tone is a little loud. We’re not sure which.

However, what it means is that you can leave your phone in your pocket and not even have to peek to see who’s calling. You do have to take it out if you want to answer but then you can pop it right back in your bag while you take the call on your AirPods.

Apple Watch

Of course, if you’re fully Apple-compliant then as well as AirPods you’ve got your Apple Watch. Then a turn of your wrist will show you who’s phoning and that probably means the audio announcement isn’t very useful.

When you tap on the Watch to accept the call, though, you can take it on the Watch or you can use your AirPods. If they’re connected to the Watch.

Whatever Apple Watch you have, there is music on it if you’ve also got an Apple Music subscription. You can leave your phone at home and tell the Watch to play music direct to your AirPods.

Back to the Mac

One oddity is that it’s still hardest to link AirPods to your Mac. It’s not as if it’s actually difficult: you click on the Bluetooth icon in your menubar then select the AirPods and choose Connect.

Only, it doesn’t always work. Why this should be the case with AirPods and not other Bluetooth devices is unfathomable but it regularly takes two or three attempted connections before we can be listening to our Mac over our AirPods.

Plus when you’re used to how quickly you can go between iPhone and iPad, it’s oddly slow going to the Mac. There is a workaround, though: a $2.99 menubar app called ToothFairy sorts it out. With a click on the menubar icon or the press of a keystroke, ToothFairy connects your AirPods to the Mac immediately.

Completing the picture

When you start listing all these Apple devices out, you do wonder how you ended up paying one firm all this money. However, if you also have an Apple TV then AirPods are now able to connect to them much more easily.

Originally, you had to go through the Apple TV’s Bluetooth settings. You’d go to that, then press-and-hold the button on the AirPod case until they were discoverable. Then the AirPods would appear on the Apple TV’s list of devices and you could choose to pair them.

That doesn’t sound like a big deal, not when it’s identical to the way you pair to a new iPhone, but it always seemed to take us a few goes to get it working right.

Whereas now, you can simply press and hold the Play/Pause button on your Apple TV Siri remote. That opens up a list of all audio devices attached or reachable on your Apple TV. When you flip open the case of your AirPods, they appear on the screen and you just select them.

When you’re at that screen, you can also press and hold on the selected audio device which will then change to a volume control. Considering that just using the remote control’s volume up and down buttons will do the same thing, it’s not the most use.

Perhaps none of these AirPod options on their own is going to shake the world but it is astonishing how much flexibility and functionality these things have.

And that’s even before next year’s rumored updates.

What’s your favorite feature of the AirPods? Tell us about it in the comments below!!

How to: Force Your iPhone to Switch Cell Towers for a Stronger Signal

 

 

By Matt Milano of Gadget Hacks

Having a dropped call can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you look down and see that your iPhone has full reception. While there’s any number of issues that can cause this, one common and often overlooked issue is your iPhone failing to switch cell towers as appropriately needed.

When you’re not switched to the appropriate tower, it means there’s a problem with the communication between your smartphone and cellular network. Either your iPhone tries to hold its connection to a cell tower that’s well outside the optimal range or the new cell tower is already overloaded with other connected devices.

How Cell Phones Switch Towers

Cell phones work with networks to determine the best tower to connect to based on range, signal strength, and the frequency being used. When a phone is connected to a cellular network, it continually checks the signal strength of nearby towers and communicates that information to the network. In theory, when a phone’s connection to a cell tower drops below signal strength of a nearby one, the network should switch the phone to the new tower.

Practically, however, this doesn’t always occur as smoothly as it should and common fixes, such as cycling Airplane Mode, don’t always work. While using the “Reset Network Settings” option will always work, it’s a drastic step that will also erase any saved Wi-Fi login credentials. Fortunately, there’s another simple way to force your iPhone to switch towers.

Install OpenSignal

OpenSignal is a network performance monitoring app that not only tells you the speed of your connection but also shows you what tower you’re currently connected to. You can search for “OpenSignal” in the iOS App Store directly or use the link below to jump right to it. Install just like any other app.

• App Store Link: OpenSignal – Speed Test & Maps (free)

 

Configure & Check Your Current Tower

Once you have OpenSignal installed and open, you’ll need to give it access to your location in the notification prompt. OpenSignal uses your position to show you nearby cell towers.

The app will also ask if you want to contribute signal data. OpenSignal uses this information to rate the carriers and provide customers with input on what carriers offer the best coverage in any given region; This is entirely voluntary, but if you do opt in, any information collected will be strictly anonymous.

 

After that, you’ll see a screen with an arrow pointing to the tower your iPhone is currently connected to. You can also tap the arrow to pull up a map displaying all the nearby towers operated by your carrier. You’ll want to recheck this after forcing a switch to confirm it was successful.

 

 

Force Your iPhone to Switch to a Better Tower

To manually force your iPhone to switch cell towers, open the Settings app, then tap “Cellular.” Next, select “Cellular Data Options,” then tap “Enable LTE.”

The setting will likely be set to “Voice & Data.” Cycle it to “Off,” wait 30 seconds, and then cycle it back to the previous setting, either “Voice & Data” or “Data Only.” Once your iPhone’s LTE antenna reconnects, it will search out the antenna with the strongest signal and connect to it, likely a different one that you were initially having issues with.

 

Verify the Tower Change with OpenSignal

 

Reopen OpenSignal to see if your iPhone is connected to a different tower. If the force switch was successful, the arrow on the main screen should be pointing to a different tower.

If it appears you’re still connected to the same one, it likely means there isn’t a better tower nearby. Other towers may be farther away, have a weaker signal, might not be using compatible frequencies, or may already be overloaded.

Either way, you’ll have another method to deal with pesky cell connection issues without taking any drastic measures.

 

Do you have any hacks for improving Call Signal on your phone? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to: Use AirPlay

Minimum Requirements and Basic Information

 

by Sam Costello of Lifewire

For many years, the music, videos, and photos stored in our iTunes libraries and on our computers were stuck on those devices (barring complex file-sharing arrangements). For Apple products, that has all changed with the advent of AirPlay (formerly known as AirTunes).

AirPlay lets you stream all kinds of content from your computer or iOS device to other computers, speakers, and TVs.
It’s a pretty neat, and powerful technology that’s only going to get more useful as more products support it.

You don’t have to wait for that day to come, though. If you want to start using AirPlay today, read on for tips on how to use it with many existing devices and apps.

AirPlay Requirements

You’ll need compatible devices in order to use AirPlay.

  • A Mac or PC
  • An iOS device running iOS 4.2 or later
  • iTunes 10.2 or later (some earlier versions support AirTunes or more limited AirPlay implementations)
  • Any iPad model
  • iPhone 3GS or higher
  • 3rd generation iPod touch or newer
  • Any Apple TV model
  • AirPort Express
  • Compatible third-party apps
  • Compatible third-party hardware like speakers or stereo receivers

Remote App
If you have an iOS device, you’ll probably want to download Apple’s free Remote app from the App Store. Remote allows you to use your iOS device as a remote (are you surprised?) to control your computer’s iTunes library and what devices it streams content to, which saves running back and forth to your computer each time you want to change something. Pretty handy!
Basic AirPlay Use

When you have a version of iTunes that supports AirPlay and at least one other compatible device, you’ll see the AirPlay icon, a rectangle with a triangle pushing into it from the bottom.

Depending on what version of iTunes you have, the AirPlay icon will appear in different locations. In iTunes 11+, the AirPlay icon is in the top left, next to the play/forward/backward buttons. In iTunes 10+, you’ll find it in the bottom right-hand corner of the iTunes window.

This allows you to select a device to stream audio or video to via AirPlay. While earlier versions of AirTunes required you to set iTunes to seek out these devices, that’s no longer necessary – iTunes now automatically detects them.

As long as your computer and the device you want to connect to are on the same Wi-Fi network, you’ll see the names you’ve given the devices in the menu that appears when you click the AirPlay icon.

Use this menu to select the AirPlay device you want the music or video to play through (you can select more than one device at the same time), and then begin playing music or video and you’ll hear it playing through the device you selected.
See how to enable AirPlay for iPhone for a walkthrough.

AirPlay With AirPort Express

One of the easiest ways to take advantage of AirPlay is with the AirPort Express. This is around $100 USD and plugs directly into a wall socket.

AirPort Express connects to your Wi-Fi or Ethernet network and lets you connect speakers, stereos, and printers to it. With it serving as the AirPlay receiver, you can then stream content to any device attached to it.

Simply set up the AirPort Express and then choose it from the AirPlay menu in iTunes to stream content to it.
Supported Content

The AirPort Express supports streaming audio only, no video or photos. It also allows wireless printer sharing, so your printer no longer needs a cable attached to your computer to work.

Requirements

  • iTunes 10.2 or later
  • At least one AirPort Express running firmware 7.4.2 or newer (you can use multiple AirPort Expresses in the house)
  • Speakers (or printer) to plug into the AirPort Express

AirPlay and Apple TV

Another simple way to use AirPlay in the home is via the Apple TV, the tiny set-top box that connects your HDTV to your iTunes library and the iTunes Store.

The Apple TV and AirPlay is a powerful combination indeed: it supports music, video, photos, and content streamed from apps.

This means that with the tap of a button, you can take the video you’re watching on your iPad and send it to your HDTV via the Apple TV.

If you’re sending content from your computer to the Apple TV, use the method already described. If you’re using an app that displays the AirPlay icon (most common in web browsers and audio and video apps), use the AirPlay icon to select the Apple TV as the device to stream that content to.

Tip: If the Apple TV doesn’t show up in the AirPlay menu, make sure AirPlay is enabled on it by going to the Apple TV’s Settings menu and then enabling it from the AirPlay menu.

Supported Content

  • Audio streamed from iTunes or iOS devices
  • Video streamed from iTunes or iOS devices
  • Video from iOS apps (e.g. YouTube app or video embedded in web pages)
  • Photos from computers or iOS devices
  • Mirroring a device’s screen on the TV

Requirements

  • Apple TV: 2nd generation Apple TV and newer for video and photos, or 1st generation Apple TV for audio only
  • iTunes 10.2 or higher
  • iOS device running iOS 4.3 or higher to stream content from third-party apps, or iOS 4.2 or higher to stream from built-in iOS apps
  • An HDTV

AirPlay and Apps

 

A growing number of iOS apps support AirPlay, too. While the apps that supported AirPlay were initially limited to those built by Apple and included in iOS, since iOS 4.3, third-party apps have been able to take advantage of AirPlay.

Just look for the AirPlay icon in the app. Support is most often found in audio or video apps, but it may also be found on videos embedded in web pages.

Tap the AirPlay icon to select the destination you want to stream content to from your iOS device.
Supported Content

  • Audio
  • Video
  • Photos

Built-in iOS Apps That Support AirPlay

  • Music
  • iPod
  • Videos
  • Photos
  • YouTube
  • Safari

Requirements

  • AirPort Express, Apple TV, or compatible speakers
  • iOS device running iOS 4.3 or higher to stream content from third-party apps, or iOS 4.2 or higher to stream from built-in iOS apps
  • App that supports AirPlay
  • AirPlay With Speakers

AirPlay With Speakers

There are stereo receivers and speakers from third-party manufacturers that offer built-in AirPlay support.

Some come with compatibility built in and others require aftermarket upgrades. Either way, with these components, you won’t need an AirPort Express or Apple TV to send content to; you’ll be able to send it directly to your stereo from iTunes or compatible apps.

Like with the AirPort Express or Apple TV, set up your speakers (and consult the included manual for directions on using AirPlay) and then select them from the AirPlay menu in iTunes or your apps to stream audio to them.

Supported Content

  • Audio

Requirements

  • iTunes 10.2 or later
  • Compatible speakers
  • iOS device running iOS 4.3 or higher to stream content from third-party apps, or iOS 4.2 or higher to stream from built-in iOS apps
  • App that supports AirPlay

 

Do you have a favorite AirPlay Hack? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to: use your smartphone without leaving a trace

Cover up your digital footprints.

 

By David Nield of Popular Science

Every time you grab your phone to participate in a group chat, watch a YouTube video, or search the internet, you leave a digital trail of activity. This footprint can compromise your privacy the next time a friend borrows your device. It also puts your personal information at risk should your phone fall into really unscrupulous hands.

In this guide, we’ll explain how you can prevent your device from logging and storing data where other people can easily stumble across it. We will focus on cleaning up your phone’s local storage, as opposed to limiting the information that apps send to the cloud.

Go incognito

The web browser on your phone, like the one on your computer, offers a data-limiting incognito or private mode. When you open a session in this mode, the app will forget the pages you visit and the keywords you search as soon as you close the window.

However, private browsing doesn’t make you invisible. For instance, if you log into Facebook’s web portal in incognito mode, the social network will record your activity. Your internet service provider (ISP), will also see your browsing, and it may log your online behavior as well.

To hide your browsing from your ISP, you’ll need to rely on a Virtual Private Network (VPN) (more on that in this roundup of security gadgets and apps). But if you simply aim to clean up the record left on your phone’s local storage, then this mode tidies up after itself very effectively.

The process for using this mode will depend on the browser app you prefer. For example, to launch incognito mode with Chrome, tap the Menu button (three dots) on the top right of the page and choose New incognito tab. If you forget to browse incognito, you can still clear your saved data. Just hit Menu > Settings > Privacy > Clear browsing data.

ForiPhone users who rely on Safari, tap the Show pages icon (two squares) on the bottom right of the screen and choose Private. Now, when you tap the Plus button to open a new window, it will be an incognito one. To erase data collected outside of private mode, open the Settings app and select Safari > Clear History and Website Data.

Erase messages

Unless you use a chat app with self-destructing messages, it will keep records of your conversations. Of course, most people like to check back on their old communications, but you don’t need to preserve every moment of a years-long thread. You can delete these old conversations manually, or try a less time-consuming option: Automatically erase chat history after a set period of time has elapsed.

On iOS, open the Settings app, go to Messages > Keep Messages, and set messages to automatically disappear after 30 days. Within the app itself, you can manually erase conversations from the front screen: Swipe left on the thread and then tap the Delete button.

Unfortunately, not all chat apps offer this auto-expunge function. To leave no trace of conversations on your phone, you may have to turn to manual deletion. This may be time-consuming, but it isn’t difficult. For example, in Android’s default SMS app, Messages, you delete a conversation by long-pressing on it and then tapping the Trash icon on the top right of the screen.

Some apps make it easier to purge your entire history all at once. In the case of WhatsApp, open the app and head to Settings > Chats > Chat history > Delete all chats. Then make a note to regularly check back and re-erase your latest messages.

Another solution is to only send the aforementioned self-destructing messages. Apps with this option include Telegram Messenger, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat. For more information, check out our guide to self-destructing message apps.

Limit app logging

Each of the apps on your phone will take a slightly different approach to logging your activities. Some of them let you avoid their gaze by using incognito mode, while others will stop tracking you if you ask.

For example, the Android version of YouTube (this is not yet available in the iOS version) just added an incognito mode, which doesn’t track the videos you watch. To activate this mode, open the app, tap your avatar on the top right of the screen, and pick Turn on Incognito.

On the other hand, Google Maps will track your location by default, which lets it accumulate a lot of data about your real-world movements. To stop it, head to the settings: Launch the app, tap the Menu button (three lines) on the top left of the screen, and hit Settings (on Android) or the cog icon (on iOS). Within the settings, select Personal content and turn off the location history feature.

There are millions of apps on the market, with no hard and fast rules about how to keep them from recording your behavior. But in general, a good first step is to check for the aforementioned settings—incognito mode and stopping tracking.

If you don’t find these options, you’ll have to clear your activity manually. This process will vary depending on your operating system.

In Android, open Settings > Apps & notifications, pick an app from the list, and hit Storage > Clear storage. This wipes all the data that the app has stored locally. Afterward, the app will behave as if you’ve installed it from scratch, so you’ll need to log in again, set up your preferences, and so on.

On iOS, you won’t find an identical option, but you can achieve the same effect by uninstalling and reinstalling an app. Open the Settings app, tap General > iPhone Storage, and select one of your apps. Then choose Delete App to wipe all of its data. Finally, re-install the program from the App Store.

It’s not very practical to do this for all of your apps every day. But you might choose to run a manual clean-up at set intervals (say once a month), before you go traveling, or whenever you want to make a fresh start.

Delete search history

Many mobile apps store data locally and in the cloud, so they can sync your information to other devices. That means, to clear search logs from your phone, you’ll have to wipe the records across multiple platforms.

For example, your Google account will store the history of searches you’ve run from your Android phone. To wipe these records, you actually have to access them from the web. Open your browser and head to your Google activity history page. Click the Menu button (three lines) on the top left, then Delete activity by. Set the time span and content type—to erase everything, those should be All time and Search, respectively—and click Delete. This will wipe your search history across all the Google-linked products you use, including Android and the Google search engine.

On iOS, you won’t find a comparable activity cleaner. However, you can prevent Spotlight from betraying your past searches by displaying them as suggestions. To turn off this feature, head to the Settings app, tap Siri & Search, and toggle off the Suggestions in Search switch. Now, when you lend your phone to your mother to look something up, she won’t see all your past search terms.

 

How do you cover your tracks on your smartphone? Share your workflow in the comments below!

How to: make YouTube load up to 5x faster in Safari

 

 

By Killian Bell of CultofMac

Have you ever wondered why YouTube is so much slower than all the other websites you visit in Safari? Did you know that you could make it up to five times faster with very little effort?

YouTube’s new design doesn’t play nicely with browsers that aren’t Google Chrome, but with some simple tweaks, you can switch back to its previous design and enjoy much faster speedsHere’s how.

It’s not Safari’s fault that YouTube runs so poorly. In fact, the same problem affects Firefox and Microsoft Edge users, too. It’s all because of the way YouTube is designed.

Google builds its services to run better inside Chrome. Some have been blocked from running inside rival browsers at all. What makes YouTube slow is that it still relies on a deprecated shadow API that only Chrome still supports.

This makes YouTube five times slower in Safari, Firefox, and Edge, according to Chris Peterson, a program manager for Mozilla — but there is a way to change that.

Speed up YouTube in Safari

You could ask Google to upgrade to the Polymer 2.0 or even 3.0 APIs, which are supported by other browsers. This would help make YouTube pages load a lot faster. But that probably won’t work.

The easiest solution is to force YouTube to revert to an older design that doesn’t rely on the Polymer 1.0 API. You’ll lose its dark mode feature and a slightly more polished look, but the experience remains the same.

Here’s what you need to do if you use Safari:

1 Download the Tapermonkey script
2 Tell Safari that you “Trust” the script when it asks for your approval
3 Download this user script that forces YouTube to use classic mode

If you use Firefox on your Mac, Mozilla has done the hard work for you. Simply download this Firefox extension that automatically forces YouTube to load its older design.

Do you have any tricks for speeding up YouTube? Share them with us in the comments below!

How to: Teach Siri to Pronounce Names, Learn Nicknames

Need to teach Siri how to pronounce a name or understand a nickname in your contacts list? You can train her to better understand your commands on iOS.

 

By Lance Whitney of PCMag.com

Are you tired of Siri mangling the names of people in your contact list? Siri can get vexed and perplexed by names that aren’t easy to pronounce, but you can fix her mistakes so your friendly, neighborhood voice assistant learns the right way to speak the names of family, friends, and other folks.

Siri can also get confused when you try to call or text someone in your contact list when you try to use a nickname. You can train Siri about pronunciations and nicknames on your iPhone or iPad, but the process will need to be repeated for both devices. Luckily it works the same no matter what you’re using.

Pronounce First Name

Let’s say you’ve asked Siri to call or send an email or text message to someone, and in so doing, Siri mispronounces the name. Activate Siri again and say: “You pronounced it wrong.” Siri asks how you pronounce the person’s first name. Tell her, and she’ll display a list of options, asking you to choose the right one. Tap on each option to hear how the name will be pronounced. If none of the options sound right, tap on the link to “Tell Siri again.” Siri asks you to say the name again, then displays another list of options. Again, tap on each one to hear it and then tap on Select to choose the best one.

Pronounce Last Name

Next, Siri asks how you pronounce the person’s last name. Pronounce the name for Siri. She displays the list of options. Tap on each one to hear it. No good? Tap on “Tell Siri again” and repeat the name. Tap on each of the new options and tap Select to choose the best one. If the person has a middle name, Siri will ask you how to pronounce that as well.

Teach Siri With a Direct Command

Alternatively, you can say: “Hey Siri, learn to pronounce name of contact.” Siri goes through the same steps, asking how to pronounce the first name and then the last name by prompting you to select the best option for each.

Enter Phonetic Spelling

If you can’t get Siri to pronounce the name by voice, then you may have better results diving into the person’s contact information and spelling the name phonetically. Launch the Contacts app, open the person’s entry, and tap on Edit in the upper-right corner. Swipe down the contact page until you see the link to add field. Tap on that link. At the Add Field page, tap on the entry for Phonetic first name.

 

Finalize Phonetic Spelling

In the Phonetic first name field, type the name phonetically as best as you can. You may want to look up the name in a dictionary or search online to see how it’s spelled phonetically. Swipe down the screen, tap on add field, and tap the field for Phonetic last name. Type the last name phonetically in the appropriate field. Tap Done. You can then ask Siri to show you contact information for that person, and Siri will now pronounce the full name.

Pronouncing a Company

You can extend this process beyond a person’s name to the name of a company. The contact information for a company includes a field for Phonetic company name. Add that field. Type the name phonetically, and Siri should learn the right way to pronounce it.

Nicknames

What if their names are pronounced correctly, but Siri is having trouble telling people apart. This is where nicknames become handy.

Let’s say you ask Siri to call or text someone by saying his or her first name, for example, “call John,” and there’s more than one John in your contact list. Siri will ask which John, displaying and speaking the possible choices.

If you want to avoid all that, simply giving the contact’s last name will allow you to identify the correct contact quicker. As a warning, this method works best for last names that are different from the first names of other contacts. If you have more than one contact with the same last name, Siri will still ask you to specify the correct person.

Set a Relationship

Maybe you want to call or text a family member or relative but want to refer to that person by the relationship rather than his or her name. Here, you have a few options. Say: “Hey Siri, call Dad.” The first time you do this, Siri asks for your father’s name. Give her the name, and Siri then asks if you want to remember that person as your father. Say yes. From then on, ask Siri to “Call Dad” or “Call my father,” and she’ll know who to contact.

 

Set a Relationship With a Direct Command

You can also give a nickname to a specific person based on your relationship by explaining it to Siri. Say: “Siri, wife’s name is my wife” or “husband’s name is my husband” or “son’s name is my son.” Siri asks if you want to remember that the person you named is your wife or husband or son. Answer yes, and Siri records the relationship in your entry in the Contacts app. You can extend this to friends, cousins, doctors, dentists, and other people in your life.

Manually Set Relationship

Alternatively, you can go directly to your entry in the Contacts app to create a nickname. Launch Contacts and open your own entry. Tap on Edit. Swipe down the screen and tap on the button for “add related name.” Tap on the term that best describes the relationship, e.g., mother, father, brother, sister, spouse, manager. Then tap on the info button next to Related Name and select the contact you want to associate with the term you selected.

Set Custom Label

If none of the existing terms are a good match, tap the entry at the bottom to “Add Custom Label.” Type the term you want to use, such as Accountant. Tap Done. Then tap on the Info button next to Related Name and select the contact name for your accountant. Tap Done.

Remove a Nickname

What if you need to change or remove a nickname? No problem. You can tell Siri: “Joe Smith is no longer my accountant” or “Jane Doe is no longer my boss.” Siri asks if you want her to remember that information. Tap or say yes. If the nickname is saved in your entry in the Contacts app, just edit your entry and tap on the Delete button to remove the nickname and relationship.

 

How do you feel about Siri’s ability to learn? Sound off in the comments below!

How to: Quickly Identify and Delete iPhone Apps You Don’t Use Anymore

 

 

By Emily Price of Lifehacker.com

When it comes to giving new apps a try, I’m a pretty easy sell. I’ll download almost any app from the App Store someone has convinced me has a use and give it a test drive. However, once that test drive is over I’m not good at taking the time to delete the apps that don’t quite make the cut. The result? My phone is pretty loaded with stuff.

If you have an iPhone, finding those unused apps and deleting them is pretty easy to do. I used to do it regularly and was reminded of the feature this week thanks to a post on MacRumors.

To get to the apps on your phone go into the Settings menu and then select “General” followed by “iPhone Storage.” When you do, your device will list all of the apps you currently have installed on your device with the largest of those listed first.

If you scroll down, you’ll see a “Last Used” date below each app that lists the last time you opened it. If it’s been a few months, it might be time to part ways with it.

If you tap on the app on the list you’ll be given two options: Offload app and Delete app. If you choose to Offload it will remove the app from your device but preserve the data you have associated with it, that way if you decide to download it again later on, you’ll be able to pick up where you left off. If you choose to delete, then all the app’s data will go along with it.

If you’re routinely running out of space on your device, I also recommend enabling the “Offload Unused Apps” feature found on the iPhone Storage page. With that, your phone will handle offloading apps you’re not using on its own, so you don’t have to.


How do you manage your unused Apps? Sound off in the comments below!

How to: prepare for the iOS 12 public beta

 

 

By Matthew Potuck of 9to5Mac

Apple has shared that it will open up its public beta program for iOS 12 (along with macOS Mojave and tvOS 12) this month. Are you considering running the latest software on your iPhone or iPad? Follow along for how to get ready to join the iOS 12 public beta.

We don’t know exactly when Apple will launch the iOS 12 public beta, but based on previous years, it could be early next week. While it can be exciting to pickup the latest features and updates ahead of this fall’s general release, there are some considerations before installing beta software on your iPhone (or other device).

How to prepare for the iOS 12 public beta

 

Expectations

Before installing the iOS 12 public beta, it can be easy to focus on all the great features and changes that the software will bring. However, it’s also important think about the downsides and weigh the trade-offs.

Being pre-release software, the public beta will naturally include bugs that means apps and features won’t always be reliable. That being said, the first and second iOS 12 developer betas have been relatively stable.

Here’s a few of the issues we’ve noticed at 9to5Mac so far:
• GPS showing inaccurate location
• CarPlay crashing when viewing backup and side camera
• Reminders app crashing
• Increased battery drain

If you can, install the public beta on a secondary iPhone (or iPad). Otherwise, just make sure you’re okay taking some risks if you’re going to go for it on a primary device.

Backing up

If you do decide to run the public beta, backing up your iPhone is especially important. If you’ve been using iCloud to back up with iOS 11, these will be replaced by iOS 12 iCloud backups once you move to the public beta. If at any point you want to revert to iOS 11, you won’t be able to restore from an iOS 12 iCloud backup.

Be sure to make an iTunes backup with your Mac or PC with your iPhone prior to installing iOS 12. This will allow you to restore your data in the event you’d like to downgrade to iOS 11.

Keep in mind that while this is one of the best solutions to protecting your data when running the public beta, there may be some missing data depending on how long a timeframe there is between your last pre-beta backup and when you revert from iOS 12 back to iOS 11.

The best idea to cover your bases is to download and save any important information manually, both before installing the beta and before downgrading from iOS 12 (if you do).

Smörgåsbord

If you’re eager to try out the other public betas, Apple will be launching tvOS 12, macOS 10.14 Mojave alongside iOS 12 access. Like last year, Apple will be reserving watchOS 5 for the developer beta only.

Check out the videos below covering all that’s new with iOS 12, macOS Mojave and more.

 

Are you planning to try any of Apple’s Public Betas of their new software? Sound off in the comments below.

How to: Call 911 from Your Apple Watch in Case of an Emergency

 

 

By Justin Meyers of ios.gadgethacks.com

When you can’t reach your iPhone or don’t have it on you, how do you get help from emergency services? Unless you have one of those life-alert mobile triggers, someone nearby, or some amazing telepathy skills, hope might be the only answer — unless you wear an Apple Watch, that is.

No matter which model of Apple Watch you own, one of the biggest benefits it has is its “Emergency SOS” feature. In the United States, once activated, the Apple Watch will automatically call 911 emergency services and send emergency contacts the coordinates to your current location, if possible.

If you’re traveling abroad, your Apple Watch will call whatever local emergency service there is. However, in some countries, such as China, you have to set it to call either the police, fire department, or an ambulance beforehand.

 

How Different Apple Watches Call Emergency Services

If you have a newer Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) model, you don’t need to have your iPhone nearby to make an emergency call. Technically, you don’t even need to have a cellular carrier to call 911, just like you don’t need to with an iPhone, but it it doesn’t work as smoothly though. Aside from being able to record your runs and make calls, this is the number one reason to invest in a Series 3 model with cellular capabilities, not just GPS.

For other Apple Watch models, you’ll need to be connected to your iPhone, which also needs a cellular connection. Alternatively, if there is no cellular signal, an Enhanced 911 (E911) call can be made over Wi-Fi as long as you have “Wi-Fi Calling” enabled on your iPhone. Also, as long as you have “Wi-Fi Calling” turned on on your iPhone, you don’t need to be near the iPhone to call E911 either — your Apple Watch just needs to be connected to a known 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network.

• Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular): Can make 911 calls over its own cellular connection. Can make E911 calls with Wi-Fi calling enabled, with or without iPhone nearby, as long as connected to a known Wi-Fi network.
• Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS): Can make 911 calls over connected iPhone’s cellular network. Can make E911 calls with Wi-Fi calling enabled, with or without iPhone nearby, as long as connected to a known Wi-Fi network.
• Apple Watch Series 2: Can make 911 calls over connected iPhone’s cellular network. Can make E911 calls with Wi-Fi calling enabled, with or without iPhone nearby, as long as connected to a known Wi-Fi network.
• Apple Watch Series 1: Can make 911 calls over connected iPhone’s cellular network. Can make E911 calls with Wi-Fi calling enabled, with or without iPhone nearby, as long as connected to a known Wi-Fi network.
AT&T, C Spire, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon Wireless all support E911 calls over Wi-Fi. However, emergency calls over Wi-Fi might not be supported outside of the US.

Making Sure Wi-Fi Calling Is Enabled on Your iPhone

No matter if you have an Apple Watch with cellular capabilities or not, you’ll want to enable “Wi-Fi Calling” in order to make E911 calls when there is no cellular connection available. This is especially important when you don’t have your iPhone nearby during an emergency, because your Apple Watch can use an existing trusted Wi-Fi network nearby, if one is available, to call emergency services.

To make sure this is set up, on your iPhone, open up the Settings app, then select “Phone,” followed by “Wi-Fi Calling.” After that, tap “Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone” to toggle it on, if not already enabled.

After tapping the toggle, you’ll be greeted with a confirmation prompt giving you more details about what this setting does. Hit “Enable” to finish things up.

Once back on the “Wi-Fi Calling” screen, it’s a good idea to select “Update Emergency Address” to make sure the address matches where you will be, since emergency technicians may use this as a basis if they can’t find your exact coordinates. If you’re in your hometown, your home address is likely best here. If traveling, maybe your hotel information.

 

Make Sure ‘Hey Siri’ Is Working on Your Apple Watch

As you’ll see in a bit, one way to call 911 with your Apple Watch is to use the “Hey Siri” command, but that will only work if you have “Hey Siri” enabled. To make sure it’s on, go to the Settings app on your Apple Watch, then tap “General.” Next, select “Siri,” then make sure “Hey Siri” is toggled on.

If you cannot toggle it on, you likely have Siri turned off on your iPhone. While “Hey Siri” does not need to be enabled on your iPhone, Siri itself does need to be in order for it to work on your Apple Watch. On your iPhone, open up Settings, then select “Siri & Search.” On the next screen, make sure “Press Home for Siri” or “Press Side Button for Siri” is toggled on. If not, tap it, then “Enable Siri” on the popup. Then try enabling “Hey Siri” on your Apple Watch again.

Set Your Emergency SOS Preferences

When it comes to actually calling emergency services, there are two ways you can go about it, depending on how you set things up. On your iPhone, open up the Apple Watch app, tap on the “My Watch” tab, then select “General.” From the list of options that appear, select “Emergency SOS.”

Here, you have two options. If “Hold to Auto Call” is toggled on, you’ll just have to hold down the side button on your Watch for about five seconds. When this is toggled off, you will only be able to long-press the side button to bring up the option to activate an emergency call by swiping.

On is probably the best option because, in some emergencies, such as struggling in the water, press-holding is a surefire way to make the call, while swiping on the screen may not work properly because of the capacitance.

If you’d like a close relative or friend to be contacted automatically about the emergency, you can set up an emergency contact in the Health app on your iPhone.

After a call to 911 has finished, this contact (or contacts) will receive a text message with your current location — even if “Location Services” is turned off — though, you can cancel this if it’s nothing too serious. They may also get periodic updates if your location changes, which can help them find you at the hospital when you get there, if that’s the case.

Calling 911 from Your Apple Watch

With everything set up and ready to go, calling 911 or another emergency service is super easy, and there are a few ways to do it, depending on how you set things up.
If you have “Hold to Auto Call” enabled above, long-press the side button on your Watch. Keep long-pressing it until a successful call has been made. The power menu will appear briefly, then a countdown from “3” will begin, alerting you with a sound and vibration. When the countdown is over, the call will be made.

This other way works whether or not “Hold to Auto Call” is enabled. Just long-press the side button, then when the power menu appears, swipe the “Emergency SOS” slider to the right to immediately make the call.

Alternatively, if you can’t reach the button on your Watch for some reason, you can also use Siri to call 911 for you. After saying “Hey Siri, call 911” to your Apple Watch, a countdown will begin, and the call will go through after five seconds. You can also tap “Call” to make it right away or “Cancel” to stop it.

If you can’t speak, emergency services still may be able to locate you after making the call. You can also try using Siri to text 911 a distress message, but very few call centers in the US can handle emergency texts, and you’ll like get a response saying to call 911 instead.

 

How Emergency Services Can Track You Down

After placing a call to 911, the first thing you should do it tell them where you’re at so they can locate you even if the call gets cut off. If you can’t speak, though, how do they know where you’re located?

There’s no easy way to say exactly what will happen in every scenario since different carriers utilize different technologies to communicate with public-safety answering points, and those call centers may or may not be equipped to handle wireless enhanced 911 calls for each carrier, if at all. Keep in mind, when making cellular calls to 911 from an Apple Watch, the call may use the Watch’s cellular capabilities, if any, or use your nearby iPhone’s cellular network.

• If you’re using a carrier-branded hotspot to call over Wi-Fi, the 911 call will likely be made to the 911 communications center that services that hotspot’s area, and that hotspot may serve as a basis for locating you.
• When making a Wi-Fi call using another trusted network, the call center may use your “Emergency Address” that you added when setting up Wi-Fi Calling, so always make sure this is up to date.
• When making the call over a cellular network, they may or may not receive a general location based on which cellular tower the call came from.
• In some cases, the call center may “re-bid,” or refresh, the data to receive a more accurate location thanks to AGPS and other technologies, if making the call over a cellular network.
• When an approximate location is unattainable, the call center may use your “Emergency Address” that you added when setting up Wi-Fi Calling, so always make sure this is up to date.

You can visit AT&T, C Spire, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, or Verizon Wireless to learn more about how each carrier handles 911 calls on their end.

If you’re unresponsive when the police or emergency medical technicians get to you, they can use your “Medical ID” on your Apple Watch to see basic information about you, such as age, weight, medication allergies, etc., if you previously added that info in iOS. You can add Medical ID information via the Health app on your iPhone.

After the 911 call has ended, your emergency contacts, if any, will get texts with your location data, and they may continue to get updates on your location until you cancel.

Real-Life Examples of How Apple Watch Saves Lives

John Dovgin’s muscles gave out when about to take his boat out on Lake Michigan with his wife in late-April 2018. He fell into the cold water and was at risk of drowning. John’s wife, Mary, threw a life ring at him to hold onto, but also went into the water to make sure he did not drown. She was able to get emergency crews there to help pull John out of the water after using Siri on her Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) to call 911 using its cellular connection.

A few months before that, Kacie Anderson was stopped at a red light when her car was struck by a drunk driver. She and her child were flung around inside the car before it came to a stop. Unable to find her iPhone after the crash, she then used the side button on her Apple Watch to call 911 for help. The child only had minor injuries, but Kacie suffered a severe concussion, brain swelling, and bulging disks.

In April 2017, Casey Bennet was driving to class when he was hit by another driver, which flipped his Jeep over and caused him to be trapped by the seat belt and the deployed airbag. His iPhone was out of reach, but he was able to use the long-press shortcut on his Apple Watch to call 911 for help.

These are just a few instances where the Apple Watch has saved lives.

Preventing Accidental 911 Calls from Apple Watch

As helpful as Emergency SOS is, it does have a downside. If the “Hold to Auto Call” option is toggled on, which is the default position, there’s a chance you could accidentally call 911 when you’re sleeping. If you’re a light sleeper, the loud sounds and vibrations during the countdown should wake you, but if you’re a deep sleeper, you may make an unintentional emergency call.

There are plenty of stories of Apple Watch owners having the police show up unexpectedly. Some triggered the call while sleeping, while others have triggered it when changing Watch bands. To keep this from happening, just make sure “Hold to Auto Call” is disabled.

 

 

 

How do you feel about using the iPhone and the Apple Watch as Personal Safety Devices? Sound off in the Comments below!

How to: Enable Markup Annotation Tools in MacOS

 

 

 

By Tim Hardwick of MacRumors

Recognizing the utility of Markup annotation tools, Apple has extended their availability in recent versions of iOS, but it’s worth bearing in mind that you can access a similar and equally useful annotation toolset within several native Mac applications.

In macOS, accessing an application’s Markup toolbar lets you draw on and annotate images or PDF documents within the app using arrows, shapes, and text. You can also use it to quickly sign a document with your digital signature.

We’ve highlighted which native apps support Markup in this article. But before you can access the toolset in desktop apps, you’ll need to check that the relevant extension is enabled on your Mac. Keep reading to learn how it’s done.

How to Enable the Markup Extension in macOS

  • Click the Apple () symbol in your Mac’s menu bar and select System Preferences….

 

  • Click the Extensions preference pane.
  • Click Actions in the left column of the Extension pane.

 

  • If it isn’t already ticked, Click on the box next to the Markup extension in the right column.

One of the most useful Markup integrations can be found in Mail. Once you’ve dragged an image into your message, hover your mouse cursor over it, click the arrow button that appears in the upper right corner, and select Markup from the dropdown menu.

Your attached image will be foregrounded with the Markup toolbar across the top, ready for you to apply your annotations.

Markup can be accessed in the same manner within TextEdit as well as some third-party document editors. To test whether it’s available, simply hover your cursor over the image once it’s inside your document and look for the arrow in the upper right corner.

In Preview, the Markup toolbar has its own button next to the Search input field on the right of the taskbar. You also get a few extra Markup tools here, like Adjust Color, Adjust Size, and Crop, so if you can’t annotate an image within your application of choice then Preview should be your next stop.

Finally, the Markup toolset is also accessible in Apple’s Photos application: Next time you’re editing an image, click the Extensions icon (the three dots in a circle) and select Markup to enter annotation mode.

 

Do you find Markup useful? Tell us in the comments below!

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