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Sync iPhone contacts and calendars without iTunes iOS devices
I have a laptop and use an external hard drive for my iTunes library. This system works well for me, except sometimes I found myself frustrated that I couldn't update my contacts and calendars on my iPhone while I was on the go. When I'm away from the external hard drive, iTunes complains.

I recently discovered that if my iPhone is charging over USB, using the Sync system menu (chasing arrows in the upper right corner of the screen) on 10.5 syncs my iPhone to iCal and Address Book. This is great! Now I don't have to launch iTunes unless I want to sync media.

This hint might be generic for the iPod Touch or other iPods, but I haven't tested it.

[robg adds: I'm not sure if this is 10.5 only or not; if someone can test on 10.4, please comment.]
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Non-microphone-equipped headphones and the iPhone iOS devices
The iPhone mic is not disabled when headphones that don't have a mic are used (Apple's iPhone earbuds have an additional contact ring on the plug). If you have a favorite pair of earbuds from you old iPod, you can use them with your iPhone and take/make calls without unplugging. Simply take/make the call and place the iPhone a bit lower on your face and talk away.

While not quite as great as a fresh pair of $100 microphone-equipped earbuds, it works. Of course you may also need a $10 adapter to get your phones to work anyway. (Credit goes to my daughter for this one.)
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Create easy 'tracking' apps for iPhone via Google Docs iOS devices
Since I've had my iPhone, I've found a few things that I wish I could do with it. I wished that I had a fuel-economy tracker app for my car, an expense tracker for work-expenses and others. I knew I could've set-up a custom web-page backed with a database, but it just seemed that there should be an easier way.

It seems Google thought so too, as they've just released a powerful new Forms extension to their Google Docs app, Spreadsheets. Using Forms, you can essentially create a survey or email-based input form for a spreadsheet you've created. This has great implications for those needing to create ad-hoc surveys for your work-mates, friends, family and more. However, there's nothing stopping you from inviting only yourself to the form.

To get started, go to Google Docs (sign-up if necessary), create a new spreadsheet. If you want, you can add a few columns with a header row to make things a little easier in the next step. Then, go to Share and invite yourself with the 'to fill out a form' option. You'll then be able to configure your form. Here you can add or delete fields, re-order them, and set each field to 'text,' 'paragraph-text,' 'multiple-choice,' 'checkboxes,' or 'choose from a list' (with the choices, where applicable). You can also set defaults in some cases, and add simple instructions.

You'll receive an email with the form embedded, but there's also a link to a web page version of the same form. On your iPhone, click this link from your email (or import this link via Safari). Once it is open in Safari, scale it to fit better on the screen, then press the + at the bottom of the screen and add the page to your home screen.

Now, whenever I fill my tank or make a business expense, I simply press the button on my iPhone, then fill in the form, and press Submit. All results appear in my spreadsheet. It appends a new row for each submission. I've also set up the spreadsheet to automatically take averages, or compute other figures from the submitted data. You just need to put these work cells at the top of your sheet, and refer to your data with deep-reaching cell-ranges like $C$4:$C$999, for example, so that the range will 'see' new data as it comes in.
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Take steadier pictures and easier self-portraits on iPhone iOS devices
Some times when I take a picture on my iPhone, the force of my finger hitting the snapshot button makes the iPhone move slightly at the last second and cause blur in the picture. To make it much easier to prevent this from happening, just hold your finger down on the camera icon before you steady the iPhone. As long as you keep your finger held down, it won't take the picture. Steady the phone, release your finger from the icon, and the picture will be taken.

This also makes it slightly possible to take a self-portrait. Hold your finger down on the snapshot button, turn the phone around and (try to) aim, then release your finger.
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Another way to move between iPhone 1.1.3 app pages iOS devices
With the new iPhone 1.1.3 update, Everyone likes the ability to have multiplehome pages which will hold more icons. It is a sure sign that new programming will have new places to add icons.

Everyone knows that you simply "flick" the screen to the left or right to move from one home screen to the next. What Apple didn't say was that there is an easier way to do this. As you add additional home pages to the iPhone, multiple dots start appearing just above the icon dock that by default displays the main functions of the iPhone (Phone, Mail, Safari, iPod). You can easily move from one home (or Springboard) screen by simply touching the area to the left or right of those white dots.

That's it, no more flicking the screen right or left to move to the next screen. Just touch the active area to the right or left of the row of dots, and the screen instantly changes. Of course this won't work if you don't have multiple screens created.
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Update Windows domain password via iPhone VPN iOS devices
My employer's Windows domain requires that account passwords must be changed every 45 days. Usually this necessitates booting a Windows machine on the domain (physical or in Parallels).

This morning I decided to VPN into the domain via my iPhone (v1.1.1) at home. I put in my regular password and received a prompt that my password had expired and the option to change it. (On 10.4 the login would fail.)

After submitting a new password, I updated my Mail settings to match the new password, and everything has been working great -- no Windows required.

[robg adds: I can't confirm this one...if you can, please comment.]
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Easily charge the iPhone on an unpaired Mac iOS devices
I found it very annoying to have to go through the whole "this iPhone is synced with another computer..." business every time I plugged in my iPhone to charge at my desktop (it normally is paired with my laptop), or my computer at work.

But I discovered -- inadvertently -- how to prevent this from happening: just use set a passcode in your iPhone settings screen. Then, when you plug it in, iTunes will give you a single dialogue letting you know it can't connect until you enter the code. Dismiss the dialogue, and you've got a charge-only setup.
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Access Google's mobile search page on iPod touch/iPhone iOS devices
On an iPod touch or iPhone, here's how to reach a 'better' Google. First bring up Safari and tap the address bar. Leave the Google search box blank and tap search. This automatically brings you to the mobile Google home page, which is quite handy as the mobile version fits the screen much better.

Also for the Canadian user out there (like myself), your Region Format settings under International (all under the Settings button on your Home screen) are most likely set to Canada. This means that when you use the blank Google search tip, it will bring you the .ca version of the mobile Google page. This page is, unfortunately, nowhere near as nice as the US version.

To fix this, change the Region Format to United States. The actual Region Format stays the same, but when you use the blank Google search hint, it will bring you to the US version of mobile Google, which is much nicer then the .ca version.
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How to prevent iPhone audio interference in speakers iOS devices
Ever since I started listening to music in my car from my iPhone, I've been dealing with the annoying electromagnetic interference problem (loud buzz / static / popping / digital noise coming through car speakers). I set out to find a solution today, and to make a long story short, here's what I settled on: taping two small pieces of aluminum foil on the back of the iPhone in a specific location, as seen in this picture. Here's what I did:
  1. Cut out a 2" x 3" piece of aluminum foil.
  2. Fold foil in half horizontally (foil is now 2" x 1.5").
  3. Tape foil from the bottom right corner (on the back of the iPhone) up to the middle of the text iPhone (Picture #1, Picture #2) using electrical tape.
That's it; no more buzz/static/popping sounds coming out of your speakers!

Another solution which avoids using tape (although electrical tape leaves no residue whatsoever on the iPhone) is simply placing the iphone on a sheet of aluminum foil. This might be a better idea for people experiencing this problem in a static environment rather than a car (i.e. iPhone on office desk with nearby computer speakers). After discovering this solution, I also saw another potential solution online, using aluminum foil wrapped around the audio cable coming out of the phone. I haven't tested that method, but it looks much more obtrusive.

For me, other materials didn't work (at least not perfectly). I also tried various sizes of aluminum foil in various locations -- you could probably get by with a smaller amount of foil, but this amount works 100% (so far at least). I guess it should also be noted this solution could potentially work for other GSM phones with this issue (i.e. Blackberries, Sidekicks) -- you'll just have to experiment with the size of the foil and its location.
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Set up Hotmail on the iPhone via Gmail iOS devices
I know a few people who have had Hotmail address for a long time and don't want to change. They also have bought iPhones and now have no way to use the built-in client on the iPhone to read mail. This solutions lets them read Hotmail on their iPhone. (Actually, the same setup can apply for Apple Mail, too.) One catch here is that your Hotmail account must support Forwarding. You can see it is does under the Hotmail Options.

Basically these instructions help you set up forwarding in Hotmail so that incoming messages are forwarded from Hotmail to a Gmail account. This also sets up Gmail and the iPhone to make replies and new messages look like they come from Hotmail. When complete, you can read, reply, and send messages in Gmail and the iPhone as if you were on Hotmail.

With this solution in place:
  • Email people send to your Hotmail address will be visible on your iPhone in the built-in iPhone Mail software.
  • If you reply to a message on the iPhone or in Gmail, to your recipients it will look like it came from your Hotmail address.
  • You can still check mail using Hotmail on the web if you like.
  • You can also log into Gmail and see your Hotmail messages there.
  • An added bonus is that you will benefit from Gmail's junk mail filter, which is excellent.
  • Since Gmail supports IMAP, the iPhone and the Gmail mailbox is synced nicely as you read, delete and filter messages.
Note: While you can still read email on the Hotmail website as you currently do, there is an advantage to reading your Hotmail in your new Gmail account. The iPhone and the Gmail account will be synced -- so for example, Gmail and the iPhone will keep track of which messages you have read on either device. If you get a message and read it on the iPhone, when you check your Gmail account it will also show as read. Were you to check your mail on, messages you have already read on the iPhone will show as new.

The same goes for deleting messages. If you delete a message on the Gmail site, these will be deleted from the iPhone, too. The same is true for filters. You can set up filters on the Gmail site, and this filtering will by synced to the iPhone. None of this is synced with the mail you see on So basically, if you implement this, you are better off just checking and reading your Hotmail messages in Gmail, but its up to you.
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