One of the most annoying things about the Apple TV is using its on-screen keyboard -- for instance, when entering WiFi information, usernames, or searching for YouTube videos. The process of moving character-by-character and row-by-row is slow and tedious. If you've got an iPhone or iPod touch and Apple's free Remote application, however, you're holding the solution to this problem in your hand: just fire up Remote any time you see a keyboard input screen on your Apple TV, and the keyboard will appear on your iPhone (or iPod touch).
While I wouldn't go so far as to say that this one feature justifies the cost of an iPhone or iPod touch, if you use your Apple TV a lot, it is an amazing timesaver to be able to use a "real" (real virtual?) keyboard instead of the Apple TV's onscreen version.
The most conservative data use sync options are to turn the master "push" switch off, and to set the fetch settings to manual. When that happens, calendars and contacts seem trigger an immediate sync when new items are added. Otherwise, there is no apparent periodic traffic unless you trigger a manual sync (done by entering the application itself.)
You can usually trigger a manual sync by entering the application whose data you want to sync. With the conservative settings, exiting and entering an application (contacts, calendar, etc) seems to remind the iPhone to check for new data from MobileMe. If the phone hasn't recently checked for a few minutes, over the next 10 to 15 seconds, the phone will reach out over the network and poll for updates. For instance, if at 5:52pm you enter the calendar application and update data, you will trigger a sync. But if at 5:54pm you enter the application again, you will not trigger any network traffic. If you enter at 5:55pm you get a sync.
Once you've triggered a sync (for whatever reason), all updates for the application are exchanged with MobileMe. Updates apply only to that application, so a sync on contacts does not necessarily update calendars.
Even polling for new data is expensive -- I typically measured 5KB to 6KB in traffic for an empty poll to check if data had changed.
I have noticed something interesting: When visiting certain Apple websites (MobileMe sites in particular) on the iPhone, the URL is modified, with /iPhone/ being interjected. Thus the iPhone is being recognized as the originator, and the site is tailored accordingly. The problem here is that you don't necessarily get to the site you really want.
For example, if you want to go to me.com, you don't get to log in there, but rather you get a page advertising MobileMe. Obviously Apple is trying to tell you that you have direct access to MobileMe through other means on the iPhone. This doesn't help if the MobileMe feature you wish to avail yourself of doesn't work on the iPhone, such as sending from MobileMe aliases or viewing subscribed calendars.
Now I've noticed another instance of where this acts to your disadvantage on the iPhone. If you create a private webgallery (i.e., have it not listed in your main web gallery index), e-mail the notification of the direct URL, and then click on the direct URL on the iPhone, you don't get the page you want. Instead, the iPhone takes you to the top level of your web gallery where, of course, that private gallery is not linked.
What does work is, after you have arrived at your top level web gallery page, scroll to the top and edit the URL on this page to append the gallery ID number (this gets deleted when the /iPhone/ bit gets inserted), but this is a pain in the neck, and not at all Apple-like.
I have notice that my iPhone running v2.0 will remember the volume for headphones and speakers independantly. For example, if you have headphones connected and set the volume to 50%, then remove them and set the volume to 100%, when you reattach the headphones the volume returns to 50% and vice versa. This also works on an iPhone 1st generation running v2.0. I do not know if this was a feature in v1.0, however.
[robg adds: This works in both phone mode and iPod mode; the onscreen display when setting the ringer volume level even tells you that you're setting the headphone ringer level when you've got headphones plugged in.]
This recent tip showed how to disable the backup process when syncing an iPhone by using a Terminal command. The way I do it is much less elegant, but has the benefit of being simple for novices and allowing the user to choose whether to perform a full back-up or a simple sync when the phone is plugged in.
I've created an album in iPhoto called iPhone Sync which contains one photo. When I plug in my phone (which is set to not auto-sync on connect), I can perform the lengthy backup by pressing the Sync button in iTunes.
If I only want to perform a basic sync (which will copy any new music, videos, or applications to the phone), however, all I have to do is toggle that album in the Photos tab of the iPhone in iTunes. This adds an Apply button where Sync used to be. Clicking the Apply button avoids a full back up, and only copies over new files.
[robg adds: Another advantage of this method over canceling a backup that has started is that it will leave your existing backup intact. The combination of iTunes 7.7.1 and iPhone firmware 2.0.1 has mostly solved my lengthy backup problems -- they're down to a more-reasonable five-ish minutes or so.]
Be aware that if you leave an email message displayed/open on your iPhone, that message may not appear in Mail's messages list on your computer(s).
I've tried to replicate the issue with other messages, but wasn't able to do so 100% of the time. So I'm not sure why sometimes this is the case, and other times not. In any event, this is how it happened:
My iPhone was in Sleep mode.
On my MBP, I read an email message, flagged it, marked it Unread, and moved on to other email messages.
When finished (leaving Mail open), I put my MBP to sleep.
Later that evening on my iPhone, I opened that email message.
Without closing the message, I put my iPhone to sleep.
The next day, back in Mail on my MBP, that message was no longer in the messages list.
On my iPhone, the "missing" message was still displayed in the Mail app. I closed the message by returning to the messages list, and after a couple minutes, that message was once again in the messages list.
I'm using a MobileMe account, and in Account Settings » Advanced, I have Keep copies of messages for offline viewing set to All messages, but omit attachments.
So if you seem to be missing a message in Mail, check to make sure that message isn't displayed on your iPhone. If you can explain why sometimes this happens, but not always, that would be helpful, too!
You can use your iPhone to check if a household remote control is working. Start the Camera application, then point the remote in question toward the camera. Be sure the end of the remote with the dark plastic filter is facing the back of the iPhone. If the remote's batteries work, and the remote are functional, you will see a light glow in the picture of the remote in the iPhone's viewfinder window.
This can help narrow down a balky remote as to being broken or just having bad batteries.
This trick isn't unique to iPhones, but takes advantage of the camera's sensitivity to infrared light, and the fact that you never go anywhere without your iPhone!
I have several (more than 30) applications installed in my iPhone 2.0 (some of them are over 10MB). I've been a bit disappointed with the oh-so-slow syncs in iTunes due to the required backup process. Searching a bit, I found that I could disable the backups by setting a hidden iTunes preference. Quit iTunes, open Terminal, and enter this command:
Whe you next sync, your iPhone won't be backed up, so the actual sync will go quickly. If you feel the need to back up your data again at some point, simply change YES to NO and sync your device (quit iTunes before changing the setting). After the backup is done, you can then disable backups again. If you want to restore a previous backup, you must set this value to NO before trying the restore.
[robg adds: The long backup times with iPhone 2.0 software are a real pain -- while sometimes they seem speedy, my current "record" is 4.5 hours to back up about 500MB of data! (I wrote about long backup times in a recent piece for Macworld.) However, these backups are also important, as they store all of your application-specific data. So if you've added notes to a note-taking app, or made it through 20 levels of your favorite game, that data is part of what's being backed up. Without a backup, if you have to restore your iPhone, you'll lose all such data.
The other problem is that if you ever cancel a backup (by clicking the 'x' next to the progress bar), it apparently corrupts the existing backup -- so if you do then go to restore your iPhone, the backup won't be usable -- I've experienced this twice already myself. Because of this, a reasonable strategy would be to let one good backup run, then use this command to disable backups, use your phone as usual for a day (or whatever period of time you're comfortable with), re-enable backups, and then make sure the full backup is allowed to run, and repeat the process. Hopefully Apple can fix the abysmally slow backup speed in a future iPhone and/or iTunes update, so that such workarounds aren't needed. The recently-release iTunes 7.7.1 update may have improved things, but I need to do more testing before I can confirm that.]
To use the script, drop a PDF (or multiple PDFs) onto this application, and an internet location file/s will be created in the same folder. Drag these internet location files into Safari's Bookmarks window. Now sync your iPhone/Touch (make sure you have it set to sync Safari bookmarks) and open one of these bookmarks.
You can now view your PDF, even in landscape mode. I cobbled this script together with some help from posts at MacScripter.
[robg adds: This is a home-built alternative to the method used in this prior hint. I haven't tested this one.]
One of the more annoying things about the iPhone is the process of rearranging application icons. When all you could add to your phone's screen were a few web shortcuts, things weren't so bad. But now that you may have 50 or more third-party programs on your iPhone, it can be a real pain to drag newly-installed programs to the proper position on the proper screen. (How about a Mac program to ease the process, Apple?)
This is especially true if each of your screens are completely filled with the maximum of 16 icons, as something will have to shuffle off to another page while you're dragging -- and if you drop the new program onto a full screen, you'll then need to go find the application that got shuffled away, and move that one to its desired location, too.
To avoid this, just leave an empty spot on each screen, placing only 15 icons per screen. This solves the drag-arrange issue noted above. As you drag from screen to screen, no icons will jump off the page, as there's room to fit the one you're dragging around. The other advantage to leaving an empty spot is that -- assuming you only install one program at a time -- newly installed programs will always appear in the final position on the iPhone's main screen. This insures that none of my carefully-arranged pages are messed up by a new app install. I can also easily find the newest addition to my iPhone, and then drag it to the desired screen.
This is a simple tip, but I've found it makes the (still not pleasant) task of placing newly-installed app icons much easier. Of course, it also means you'll need more screens to manage your applications, as you're giving up one icon spot per page. For me, though (at least until I get closer to the 148 program limit), that's a minor inconvenience.