You know all the different tasks Siri can help you accomplish with your recent iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. But perhaps you didn't realize you can teach Siri to help you save even more time when use the assistant for certain tasks.
I frequently use Siri to place calls to, or send iMessages to, my wife. She's one of two Lauren's in my address book; specifying to my iPhone each time that I'd like it to "Call Lauren Friedman's iPhone" would quickly grow tiresome.
Instead, I taught Siri who Lauren is: I triggered Siri, and then said, "Lauren Friedman is my wife." Siri then asked me if if I wanted it to remember that fact; I unsurprisingly responded in the affirmative.
Because I've done that, I can now tell Siri "Call my wife" or "iMessage my wife that I'm on my way home."
And you can use a lot more than spousal relationships. Siri knows that Jason Snell is my boss, Dan Miller is my editor, and Dan Moren is my mentor. You can use pretty much any noun, in fact. Siri can identify my in-laws, my parents, my siblings, and even my landscaper by those nicknames. Just hold down the Home button, announce that "[Person in my contacts] is my [noun of your choosing]," and Siri gets the picture.
Fun bonus fact: Siri treats husbands and wives as interchangeable: If you set your wife with Siri, and then ask Siri to call your husband, you'll reach the same person either way.
If you haven’t yet been hit by iMessage spam, you’re lucky: It’s awful. And it’s even worse when you realize that the spammer can know with certainty that the unwanted message really was delivered to you. As first noted by MacStories, Apple recently posted a way to deal with unwanted iMessages in your inbox.
Here’s the skinny.
When an unwanted, spammy iMessage arrives, first take a screenshot. (If you got the iMessage on your iOS device, press the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons at the same time. If you see the spammy iMessage on your Mac, use Command-Shift-3.)
Apple also needs to see the full email address or phone number of the person you received the spammy message from. You can either screenshot that data too, or copy and paste it.
Once you have all those details assembled, compose an email to email@example.com. (If you receive a lot of said spam, like I do, it might be wise to save that address as a contact.)
Attach the screenshot, the details about the sender, and include the date and time you received the message. You won’t see immediate action, but with luck, Apple will pool these reports and eliminate spammers from its iMessage network.
And if all this seems like a lot of work, remember that come iOS 7, you’ll be able to block unwanted callers, texters, and iMessage senders yourself.
Whether you're frequently calling a friend or loved one who's at extension 123, or you know that to speak to a human in tech support you need to press 2, then 1, then 2 again—you've no doubt faced the annoyance that is dialing said numbers on your iPhone. But there's a better way that doesn't require you toggle the visibility of the keypad after your call first connects.
As The Mac Observer explains, you can add certain details to a contact's phone number to let your iPhone virtually punch the right buttons on its own. When you're editing a contact, you can press the +*# key at the bottom left of the keypad to insert a Pause or a Wait.
As TMO explains, a Pause instructs your iPhone to wait two seconds, and then dial whichever numbers come next. A Wait actually adds a custom button the phone screen, so that you tap a single key to enter in a new series of digits whenever you're ready.
Head over to TMO for the full details of a hint that's a nice update to this one.
My friend Frank works for Canon in Manhattan, and occasionally gives demos in a room with locked-down iPads. Sometimes those iPads need to be rebooted—but Frank has no access to the sleep/wake switch ostensibly required to power off an iPad.
In the past, I’ve suggested that Frank “reset” something (under Settings -> General -> Reset) that’s easy to set again; resetting Location & Privacy settings doesn’t mess too much up, and it restarts the iPad when you tap it.
But there’s a better way. Also in the Settings app, head to General -> Accessibility, and and turn on Assistive Touch. That adds a draggable dot control to your screen, meant for people with physical challenges that prevent them from triggering certain iOS actions the traditional way. Tap the dot, then tap Device, and finally tap and hold Lock Screen—a software equivalent of the sleep/wake button. After a few moments, the familiar Slide to Power Off message appears, and you can shut the iPad down.
When you sync an iOS device to iTunes, it is backed up; by default, this backup goes to your Mac, but you can also set it to go to iCloud. When you save backups on your Mac, there's plenty of data and settings saved, so you can restore the device, or even set up a new device, using a backup.
Dave Hamilton, writing at The Mac Observer, recently pointed out that you can also archive backups. To do this, go to iTunes' Preferences, then click on Devices. Right-click or Control-click on one of your devices, then choose Archive. The name of the backup in the Device Backups list will change, to contain the name of the device and the date it was last backed up. The next time you sync your device, iTunes will create a new backup, and retain the old one.
Interestingly, when I checked my backups, I found a number of older ones, with dates, that weren't there before. I suspect this feature is new to iTunes 11.0.3, the latest update to iTunes, because I'd not seen these older backups before.
If you're unable to login to FaceTime and iMessage because the login process repeatedly loops, check the time settings. If the time is not set to automatically adjust (Settings > General > Date & Time > Set Automatically > On), you might find that the login sequence for both FaceTime and iMessage loops. Once you set the time to adjust automatically, all is back to normal.
[kirkmc adds: I've never had any problems, since I've always had that setting set to On. But I've found that a number of odd settings can affect logging into Apple services, so it's worth pointing out.]
Apparently, this occurs when memory on the iOS device gets too low; the solution is then to force-quit as many apps as possible. You do this by double-pressing the home button to show the application switcher, then tapping and holding an icon until they all wiggle. Tap on the "do not enter" buttons at the top-left of the icons to quit them. Press the home button again to close the application switcher.
Since I saw the above article last week, I haven't had the dimmed dictation button, so I haven't been able to test this. I'd been restarting my iPhone when this problem arose. If you've seen this problem, please post in the comments to say whether this solution works for you.
Siri's ability to access Wolfram Alpha lets you access a huge amount of interesting data by talking to an iOS device. One useful thing thing Siri can do for you is ask Wolfram Alpha to generate a very secure, random password.
To do this, invoke Siri, then say "Wolfram password," or "Wolfram Alpha password." This retrieves an 8-character random password, along with a list of a half-dozen others. You can also have Siri get longer passwords, if eight characters doesn't ring your bell. Say, "Wolfram 14-character password," for example.
The downside to this is that you can't copy this password, and once you've switched away from the Siri results, you can't get them back again. So you need to either type this password on a computer or other iOS device, or write it down. Either way, make sure you delete it, or store it in some sort of encrypted file.
If you have an iPad or iPhone, and a friend wants to check out a web site, or your child wants to play a game, you may not feel comfortable lending them the device, since they can access your email, bookmarks, contacts and other personal data.
There's a way to lend a device to someone, however, so they can only access the current app. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility, and scroll down to the Learning section and tap Guided Access. Turn this on, and enter a PIN. Go back to the Accessibility settings, and scroll all the way down: you'll see, in the Triple-click section, that Triple-click Home is set to Guided Access. (Unless you've already set something else for the Triple-click Home setting.)
Now, to lend your device to someone, open the app they're going to use, triple click the Home button, then tap on Start. (You can also set some options before allowing access; tap the Options button at the bottom of the screen.) When the user is finished, triple click the Home button again to exit Guided Access; you'll need to enter the PIN.
I've just moved from a country where I had unlimited (really) data on my iPhone contract to one where data plans are metered and expensive. So this recent article by David Chartier, on the Finer Things in Tech web site, comes at the right time. It points out the simple setting in iOS to turn off automatic loading of images in Mail. As with Mail on OS X, you can load images later, but you won't need to load them for every message, saving download time and bandwidth.
To change this setting, go to Settings > Mail, Contacts & Calendars, and toggle Load Remote Images to OFF. If you get an email with images, and want to see them, just tap on Load All Images in the message.
This setting would make more sense if it only affected image downloads when using cellular data. But it's an all-or-nothing choice, so even when you connect via Wi-Fi, you'll need to download images manually, if you use this setting.