iOS 5.0: Photo Stream

Another great benefit of iCloud, introduced in iOS 5.0, is Photo Stream.

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Photo Stream seamlessly synchronises your last 1000 photos (photos and screen shots taken on your iPhone or iPad) across all your iCloud enabled devices. Take a picture on your iPhone and the next time you pick up your iPad, the same photo is in your Photo Stream.

This is a great feature which makes life that little bit simpler. Anyone that blogs from their iOS devices will appreciate this function. I write the majority of my blog posts on the iPad yet take the majority of photos on the iPhone. To transfer photos from iPhone to iPad typically involves uploading to Dropbox on the iPhone and then downloading from Dropbox on the iPad. Then I can use that local photo to upload to my WordPress blog.

Now, of course, I take a photo on the iPhone and it’s ‘automagically’ transferred to my iPad. I don’t have to do anything else.

It’s fair to say it’s early days for photo stream. Currently there is no way to manage the photos in the stream directly from your iOS device (other than to save a copy to “saved photos”). Similarly, you don’t have any access or control of your photo stream via iCloud.com.

Remember, photo stream maintains the last 1000 photos only, so it is worth making sure you save any photos you want to keep to “saved photos” (aka Camera Roll).

Having said all that, it is possible to manage you photo stream via your Mac or Windows PC. Head over to the Apple site here to download the Windows Control Panel. It should be noted that the Windows Control Panel only supports Windows Vista and Windows 7 (as I run XP it means I’ve not had chance to try it out yet….. Windows 7 upgrade time?).

I am @iCraigt on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

New version of Steve Jobs autobiography

I received an email today informing me that there was a new version of the Steve Jobs autobiography available to download.

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No big deal, I shall open up iBooks and no doubt the new version will make itself known and automagically download itself and leave me with the new version. It didn’t work like that.

Alas, in a very un-Apple way, I was given this list of instructions (see extract from the email below) to follow to “manually” download it. Not only that but it involved having to sign out and back in to my account. This is all very un-Apple like in my opinion.

Dear iTunes Customer,

Thank you for purchasing Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. A new version of the book is available to you at no charge.

To download the new version:
1) First, make sure you’re using the latest version of the iBooks App. It’s available free of charge here:
http://itunes.apple.com/app/ibooks/id364709193?mt=8
2) Next, tap the iBooks app on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. If you are already in the iBookstore, tap the Library button.
3) Tap the Edit button.
4) Locate Steve Jobs and tap the book to mark it for deletion.
5) Tap Delete to remove the book from your library.
6) Tap the Store button, scroll down to the bottom of the page and sign out of your account.
7) The page will refresh; scroll down to the bottom of the page and sign back in to your account.
8) If you are not already on the Purchased page, tap the Purchased icon in the bottom-right corner of your screen.
9) Locate Steve Jobs in your purchases and tap the iCloud button to download.

You will now have the updated version of the book in your library.
Sincerely,

iTunes Customer Experience
http://www.apple.com/support/itunes/ww/

Similarly disappointing was that I had bookmarked the page I had reached yesterday. Upon dirtying my hands with the above process and opening the updated version of the book, the bookmark had moved to the next chapter!

Bitter taste…. quickly washed away with fresh coffee. I still love you Apple.

I am @iCraigt on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

Define, another iOS 5.0 gem

Another iOS 5.0 gem is the addition of a dictionary. Simple enough but very useful for anyone churning out text on iOS devices.

To invoke the dictionary, double tap a word, click the arrow and select Define. A box appears with dictionary definitions of the word highlighted.

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That’s it. It’s simple but it’s effective.

I am @iCraigt on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

iOS 5.0: swiping notifications

I don’t know how well published this feature is. I’ve not seen it specifically called out anywhere and yet I find it to be one of the most useful features of the new iOS 5.0 notification system. It may be very widely known but I discovered it by accident so wanted to share.

When confronted with a list of notifications on your lock screen, you can hone in on a specific message and open the corresponding tweet, email (etc) simply by swiping left to right across that specific notification.

Take the screen shot below. If I want to open, say, the third message from the top, I simply swipe left to right on it and the phone unlocks, launches the appropriate app and presents the tweet accordingly.

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What a great feature. Until discovering this I was simply unlocking the phone/pad, launching the appropriate app and then finding the tweet or email or Instagram message.

Hope you find it useful.

I am @iCraigt on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

iOS 5.0: Twitter integration

One of the most useful features of iOS 5.0 is, in my opinion, Twitter integration. In the new OS it’s baked right into the heart of pretty much everything.

If, like me, you tweet a lot and get tired of copying something out of one app and pasting it into your Twitter app, you may rejoice at the addition of Twitter integration in iOS 5.0. Yeah ok it’s perhaps never been that much of an issue but by baking Twitter into the OS our lives on Twitter have certainly become a little easier.

For example, on the iPad, when I am perusing my photo albums and spontaneously decide I need to share a photo on Twitter, previously I had to come out of the photo app, open up my twitter app, open up the compose screen, hit the photo button, choose the image, write my tweet and send it. Now I can just select “Tweet” from the actions menu, write my tweet and send it. Simple.

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As Twitter functionality is built into the OS, this ability to tweet immediately is available from within many apps. Another great feature of iOS 5.0.

What do you think? Is it useful?

I am @iCraigt on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

The photo is of the band Beyond Words, performing during the awards presentation in which they were voted Best Trio 2011 (their second time winning this award).

Getting to grips with iCloud

So, you’ve updated to iOS 5.0. Congratulations. It’s Apple’s finest mobile OS to date, introducing many new features, tweaks and improvements (especially for those with the brand spanking new iPhone 4S).

Hopefully, if upgrading an existing iPhone from the previous iOS 4.3.5, the process was fairly painless. As an early adopter I couldn’t wait until the day after release and joined the, probably, millions of others who bombarded the Apple servers in order to among the first to get their hands on the latest OS. With so many clambering to update it was inevitable that things didn’t go too smoothly, with many failed attemps, geek strops, error codes and an eventual very late night.

Anyway, we have iOS 5.0 and it’s excellent. There are a reported 200+ new features in the new OS, some small, others not so. The notification centre and customisable notification styles are a very welcome addition, as is tabbed browsing on the iPad, iMessage, Twitter integration and, of course, iCloud.

iCloud seamlessly synchronises your apps, photos, calendars, contacts, notes, documents, reminders, email and bookmarks. Apple very generously give you 5GB of storage for your backups. If that doesn’t sound like enough don’t worry, purchased music, apps and books, as well as your photo stream, don’t count towards your free storage and Apple store your backups and data in a way that is very efficient. It’s likely that 5GB will last most of us for some time. Upgrades to the free 5GB are available at very reasonable yearly rates, should you need more.

Setting up iCloud is very straightforward. Follow the short guide below or simply take a look at the Apple site for details on how to get started.

Setting up iCloud

First of all, and rather obviously, make sure your devices have iOS 5.0 installed.

Launch Settings and scroll down to iCloud. If you didn’t enable iCloud when you first installed iOS 5.0 then you will be prompted to do so. Sign in with your Apple ID (I recommend using the same Apple ID for iCloud that you use for purchases) and follow the instructions.

Once enabled, when you enter the iCloud settings screen you will be able to choose which services you want to sync.

All of the services you switched to “On” in the iCloud settings screen now sync seamlessly between your Apple devices (obviously you will need to go through the above process to enable iCloud on your other devices).

To enable backup to iCloud, tap on Storage and Backup and turn on iCloud backup.

Automatic Downloads

To enable automatic downloading of your music, apps and books, select Settings from the home screen and then Store.

What’s next?

That’s it. Once you’ve set up on each of your devices you’ll find that your apps, music and books are synchronised across your devices, your documents will be available on each device and any photos you take will appear in your photo stream, again across all of your Apple devices.

You will also find that, when connecting to iTunes, the process is much quicker as (if you’ve opted to backup to iCloud) iTunes no longer needs to run a backup as well as a sync.  An additional benefit of iOS 5.0 and iTunes 10.5 is that you can now continue to use your device during sync.  Previously, when syncing, you had to wait for iTunes to finish before you could use your device.

Access to your data, away from your iOS device

You can access your calendar, mail and contacts via iCloud.com as well as iWork documents.  Your photo stream can be managed via PC or MAC client (PC control panel available here) as can your contacts and calendars (requires Outlook 2007 or later and is restricted to Windows Vista and Windows 7…. us XP users are out of luck).

Enjoy iCloud, it really does make a big difference to ownership of Apple iOS devices.

I am @iCraigt on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

iOS 5.0 battery life

The jury is still out on whether battery life under iOS 5.0 is the same, worse or better than in previous builds of the iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch software.

In the meantime, if you are experiencing much faster battery drain, there are a number of things you can try.

Firstly, makes sure you only have notifications set for the apps that you really want notifications for. Sounds obvious I know but notifications are generally set for way more apps than you will typically want or need notifications from.

The same can be said for location services. You will find a lot of apps with location services turned on. Go through them and turn off anything you don’t want to use location. At the bottom of the location services settings screen tap on System Services and turn on Status Bar Icon. This will show the location services arrow in the status bar whenever one of the system services is using location. This will give you an idea of which system service is potentially draining your battery. I found that the time zone setting was the biggest culprit here and have since turned it off.

Finally, and I’d actually recommend doing this first, carry out a full charge cycle of your device. All that means is run the devices battery flat, to the point that the device turns off. Then charge it back to 100%, ideally without interruption to the charging.

Why charge cycle the device? After such a large update to the operating system software, it often needs to re-learn the extremities of the battery charge (it’s lowest and highest charge levels). The software learns this by depleting the battery fully and then charging it back to full.

I reported an issue with the battery draining rapidly on my own 3GS. Take a look at the screen grab below of the battery usage settings screen.  Pretty dire eh?

Despite turning a lot of the notifications and location services off, 9-10 hours was the most I could get out of it.  However, after giving the battery a full discharge, followed by a full, uninterrupted charge to 100% I am happy to report that battery life is back to where it was prior to the update.

So, first port of call, should you be experiencing poor battery life after updating to iOS 5.0, is to charge cycle your device.

I am @iCraigt on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

 

 

50GB free box.net account for iOS users

If you are an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch owner, you can grab a free 50GB (for life!) box.net account, with increased maximum file size upload (100MB instead of the normal 25MB).

There are some great collaboration tools available with box.net and, if you are an iPad user, you can connect to the box.net service via Goodreader to both upload and download files.

It’s free and very useful, what’s not to like?

To qualify, you need to download the latest box.net app and sign in (or sign up directly from the app). That’s it! Simple and free.

Have a read of the box.net blog for details.

I am @iCraigt on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

Welcome back notes app

The introduction of iCloud to Apple devices has had a greater effect than I thought it would.

I’ve never really used the Notes app on my iPhone or iPad, finding it too limited to the device on which it is being used.

Notes I created on the iPhone were stuck on the iPhone. That made it pretty pointless to me. Yes, I use Springpad (and used to use Evernote) but sometimes the simplicity of the Notes app really appeals. Sometimes I just want to open a notes app, enter some text and close it again.

The inbuilt Notes app on iOS devices is just like that. It’s quick, simple and easy. Now that the notes I type on it appear on both my iPhone and iPad, irrespective of which one I create the notes on, I’m using it a lot.

Welcome back Notes app.

I am @iCraigt on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

iOS 5.1?

I anticipate an update to iOS 5.0 in the not too distant future. Alongside reports of faster battery draining I’ve certainly noticed some odd behaviour here and there.

The most obvious is a blanking of the screen when switching between apps, predominantly when switching back to Safari. There have been a few instances of a slight flickering too, although I’ve not pinpointed where this is most evident yet.

Therefore, I expect to see an update in the not too distant future. A huge release like this will always carry a few bugs (truth be told most, if not all, phone software contains a lot of bugs…. the key is to make sure they aren’t critical or particularly noticeable to the end user). So it goes without saying that there will be an update to follow.

Have you noticed any issues with iOS 5.0? I’d be really interested to hear what you’ve found.

I am @iCraigt on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.