Posts Tagged iPhone

Taking Notes

Most people reading this blog carry around a computer every day, whether its a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Yet many of us still reach for paper and pen when it’s time to take notes.

For many of us, it’s because pen and paper are what we’re familiar with, and we know how they work. There’s a bunch of note-taking apps out there, and they don’t all work the same, or even similarly in many cases.

I recently decided that I was going to try to take notes in a digital format whenever possible and went on an adventure to see which of the most popular apps fit my needs. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted when I started, and I’ve spent a few days trying to find an app that was just the right fit for me.

I put together a few apps I found and a list of the features that I directly compared between them below, and hopefully it helps someone in the same position that I’m in decide which works best for them:

OneNote 2016 Evernote Bear Turtl Apple Notes
Publisher Microsoft Evernote Shiny Frog Lyon Bros Apple
Price Free Free-$7.99/mo Free-$1.49/mo Free Free
Platforms Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Web Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Web Mac, iPad, iPhone Windows, Mac, Linux, Android Mac, iPad, iPhone
Cloud Sync Yes, via OneDrive Yes, via Evernote Yes, via CloudKit (Subscription only) Yes Yes, via iCloud/CloudKit
Self-hosted sync option No No No Yes No
Offline access Yes Paid plans only Yes Yes Yes
Local storage option No Yes No No Yes
Organization Notebooks, Sections, Pages Notebooks, Notes Notes, Hashtags Boards, Notes Folders, Notes
File attachments within notes Yes Yes Images and photos only Yes No
OCR within attachments Partial Yes N/A No No
Encryption Yes, per section Yes, selected portions of notes No Yes Yes, per note
Encryption Strength AES-256 AES-128 N/A AES-256 AES-128
Encrypts media within notes Yes No N/A Yes Yes
Web Clipping Yes Yes No No No
Sharing Yes Paid plans only No Yes No
Drawing/Write anywhere Yes Mobile apps only No No No
Markdown support No Partial, as typing shortcuts Yes Yes No
Language syntax highlighting No No Yes No No
Note history No With paid plan only No No No
Import options Print to OneNote, Import from Evernote zip file Apple Notes, Evernote, DayOne, Vesper, Ulysses None ENEX
Export options OneNote, Word, PDF, XPS, mht ENEX, HTML HTML, PDF, DOCX, MD, JPG None PDF

There are a lot more options out there than just these. In fact, there’s a whole Wikipedia page here.

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Can’t add reminders on iPhone with iOS 6

I ran into an issue where I went into the iOS Reminders app and there was no plus button to add a reminder. Fortunately, I found a fix.

First, go to Settings > iCloud and turn Reminders on.

Now, go back into the Reminders app, and the plus sign should appear.

After this, you can go back and turn the iCloud Reminders setting back off if you’re concerned about battery usage. The plus sign will remain.

Another potential solution is to tap the list icon in the top left corner, then search for a list. The results will come up empty, but then you can tap the edit button and create a new list. This will also fix the Reminders app.

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Switching from ActiveSync (Microsoft Exchange) to IMAP and CardDAV for Google Gmail on iPhone

Since Google is discontinuing it’s ActiveSync services, which allowed iPhone (and other handhelds) to sync account data using ActiveSync, you may want to reconfigure your devices now, or simply remember how to do this for the future. Note these steps are iPhone-specific, but can be easily adapted for other phones.

I’ll explain how to delete the ActiveSync setup, then how to add an IMAP account configuration for mail and calendars, and a CardDAV setup for contacts. If you only want to add a new setup, simply skip the first section here.

Deleting the existing ActiveSync setup

You can delete the existing ActiveSync setup by going to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars and locating the account under Accounts. Touch the account name, then scroll to the bottom and click Delete Account. This will remove the data associated with the sync from your phone.

Creating the sync accounts

You’ll want to create both a Gmail IMAP account (for mail, calendars, and notes) and a CardDAV setup (for contacts). If you want reminders as well, you’ll have to create a CalDAV setup.

Creating the Gmail IMAP setup

Creating this sync account is very easy on the iPhone. First, in Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, touch Add Account….  Next, touch Gmail, and enter your account information.

Creating the CardDAV setup

Similiar to the above. Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, touch Add Account…, then scroll down and touch Other. Touch Add CardDAV Account. For Server, enter google.com, and continue with the rest of your account information.

For CalDAV, choose Add CalDAV Account instead of CardDAV, and follow the same account information.

If you use two-factor authentication for your Google account, be sure to use your application-specific password instead of your account password.

Google Apps setup is exactly the same as a standard Google account, just substitute your full email address for the username.

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Using Synology DS211j as an AirPrint Print Server for Brother HL-2170W

I have a Brother HL-2170W printer that I’m using as a wireless printer. One thing I wanted to do was use AirPrint from my iPhone to print if the need should arise, as it does from time to time. My Synology DS211j includes a USB print server with Bonjour and AirPrint support, so I knew I could plug my printer into it via USB and use it as a print server, but there was the issue of the already-configured wireless clients.

I wondered: Since I’m already using my printer wirelessly, can I just plug the printer into the NAS using the USB port and use both USB and wireless? The answer to that is actually yes, according to this post at UbuntuForums. You can use USB and either wired or wireless at the same time, but you cannot use both wired at wireless at the same time.

Now that I had that important issue aside, it was time for setting it up.

First, physically plug the USB cable from the printer to the NAS. You should be able to verify that the printer shows up in Control Panel > External Devices as shown here:

Once that’s done, click the printer to select it, then click USB Printer Manager > Set Up Printer:

Since the DS211j didn’t have a specific print driver listed for this model, I took the known-working driver configuration from my “Ubuntu and Brother HL-2170W” post, and set it up as shown below:

  • Mode: Network Printer
  • Advanced Settings: Enable AirPrint
  • Printer Brand: Generic
  • Printer Model: Generic PCL 5e Printer

After that, I hit Save and then Close, and I was able to print a test page successfully by clicking on the printer and then clicking USB Printer Manager > Print Test Page. One thing to be aware of is that the DS211j is a bit lacking in RAM, so print jobs can take a bit (up to 5 minutes) from the time they’re sent to the server until they come out of the printer.

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Does the number of downloads of an app or software reflect on its quality?

We’ve all seen apps which tout their usefulness, relevance, or popularity by their number of downloads, but does it really mean anything?

“Number of downloads” means exactly that — the number of people that have downloaded your app — it doesn’t even attempt to represent the number of people who found it useful or continue to use it. It doesn’t even represent the number or rating of user-submitted reviews.

So why do application developers keep using the number of downloads to infer things about the quality of their product? Here’s a few examples:

Windows 8:

“According to Microsoft, more than 13 million copies of the Windows 8 Developer Preview had been downloaded since its release back in the fall. California-based Net Applications said that — based on the Developer Preview downloads — Windows 8 already accounts for three-hundredths of 1-percent of all PCs accessing the Internet.” — TomsHardware.

Microsoft states that Windows 8 is still considered a pre-beta product, and it’s use is discouraged on production machines.

RoadNinja:

“Since its launch in October, [RoadNinja] has been downloaded 82,987 times for iPhones and iPads.” — NBC33TV.

This article was published one month after RoadNinja’s launch; RoadNinja currently holds a 3/5 star rating in the App Store with only a total of 207 reviews.

I’m not saying these are poor quality apps — what I’m saying is that developers tout too loudly the number of downloads of their app and try to infer that its a good quality app. What the number of downloads means is that it is a popular app; not necessarily a good quality one.

I should add that I personally downloaded the Windows 8 preview to check it out in a virtual machine — something I haven’t even gotten around to doing yet. I also downloaded RoadNinja but found it impractical and uninstalled it shortly after.

Do you have any personal opinion on the quality of apps that market on the number of downloads they have? Do you have anything to share that you think I may not have covered in the article above? Please feel free to share in the comments below. Thank you!

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My list of must-have iPhone apps

I’ve been delaying this post while I search for the real must-haves of the iPhone world, and after putting together this list, I went back and updated my must-have list for Android where some of these exist in the Android app store.

So here is my list of must-have apps for iPhone. Note that some of these application descriptions have been taken directly from the App Store where I feel the author has explained it better than I could.

Google Authenticator
With Google support for 2-factor authentication for both Google and Google Apps accounts, and now LastPass support for 2-factor authentication, this is an app that I keep on my phone always. The security it adds to my accounts is invaluable.

Bar-Code
This app allows you to scan a number of barcode formats and then email or copy/paste them for use later.

Z-Bar Barcode Reader
A good, featureful alternative to Bar-Code. Allows you to email as text and csv.

Evernote
This is one of those apps that once you have it you’re not sure ow you got along without it. Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders–and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. Since Evernote’s notes are synced to all of your devices via the cloud, you don’t have to worry about losing them. iPhone users have access to Evernote’s two new apps: Evernote Hello and Evernote Food.

Flashlight
No specific app to mention or link to here, just anything that offers to turn on the camera flash to function as a flashlight. You never know when it will come in handy.

Google Maps
Okay, yeah, it’s been said a dozen ways that the Maps app in iOS 6 is pretty lacking. Google Maps is an excellent alternative — when it’s on the App Store. It’s been pulled a handful of times as well. Waze (below) is also an excellent program, but suffers from some rather glaring bugs that I’ve noticed.

LastPass
With fast and easy access to your LastPass password vault, the LastPass mobile app is a must-have. (Note: Requires a LastPass premium subscription – $12/year) For more information about LastPass, see the LastPass web site.

MyWeather
MyWeather seems to be the only app on the App Store that features push alerts for NWS severe weather alerts. This makes it the go-to weather app for me. Granted, registration is required, but it’s free and worth it.

Waze
Android has one thing over iOS devices — integrated turn-by-turn directions. Waze fills that need quite nicely, and goes way beyond, for free. Waze uses your devices GPS to not only provide turn-by-turn navigation, but also provides crowd-sourced traffic data to other Waze users  about traffic, delays, police presence, accidents, and other road incidents. Waze allows you to report a road incident with just a few taps on the screen, and Waze works well in both portrait and landscape orientation. (Thanks Jeff T. for the recommendation!)

I know this is a rather short list, but I deliberately excluded the usual social media apps.

Do you have any iPhone apps that you consider must-haves? Please feel free to share them in the comments below. Thank you!

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Google Music vs iTunes Match

Google and Apple each brought their own services which allow users to upload their music library and stream it to their devices in the form of Google Music and iTunes Match, respectively. But how do those services compare?

Let’s take a side-by-side comparative look at some of the features:

Feature Google Music iTunes Match
Number of songs 20,000 songs not purchased from Android Market 25,000 songs not purchased from iTunes
Price Free $25/yr
Supported devices Works on common browsers on Win / Mac / Linux / Android / iOS (1) Works on Win / Mac running iTunes; iOS devices supporting iCloud
Sync Automatically sync music to Google Music using Win / Mac / Linux client Automatically sync music to iTunes Match using iTunes
Sync Selection Select which songs to upload using sync client All songs from iTunes library are synchronized.
Local Storage Save music to your Win / Mac / Linux / Android device for offline playback Save music to your Win / Mac / iOS device for offline playback
Uploading Every song must be uploaded Matching is performed prior to upload; Only unmatched songs are uploaded
Supported file formats Mp3, AAC (m4a), wma, flac, ogg (source) Same as iTunes
Excluded formats None 24-bit audio; Bitrates under 96 kbps; File over 200MB (source)

(1) Although Google Music is reported to work on iOS devices, I can confirm it does work on iOS (iPhone), but only as the desktop site (which is clunky and requires zooming on an iPhone screen). The mobile site still shows I have no music in my library.

As you can see, Google Music is aimed at the Android crowd, while iTunes Match is aimed at the iOS crowd. However, a few of the major points in Google Music’s favor that I see are that it supports playback from a web browser, has a Linux client, and is free.

I’m interested in everyone else’s opinion as well. Which streaming music service do you prefer, and why? Please feel free to share your opinion in the comments below. Thank you!

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The hunt for the perfect iPhone 4S case…

The iPhone 4S follows the previous iPhone 4 design of having a glass front and back surrounded by a steel band. I didn’t want to get a nice shiny new phone only to have it lose a battle with the concrete like my previous phone did, so I knew I needed a good… no, great case to protect it. But which?

I really like Seidio cases… I’ve used their cases before for a number of my previous phones and I’ve always been happy. I figured I would try the Surface for my iPhone 4S, which I ordered at the same time as I ordered the phone. (If you haven’t figured it out yet, almost any case which fit the iPhone 4 will fit the 4S, as long as it is marked either “any model” or “Verizon” or “CDMA” — read why here.)

So I got my Surface case and I was really happy… for a bit. The case itself seemed to start warping ever-so-slightly after the first few removals. (People keep asking to see the phone with the case off!) I didn’t care too much for this and decided to try something else.

I had read a few reviews encouraging the use of two-part cases — those with rubber or silicone wraps with a hard case that goes over the top — and decided to try the Otterbox Commuter. I can honestly say I didn’t care much for it. It never seemed to fit “right” and the rubber flaps which covered the dock port and the headphone jack were just downright annoying.

I went back to Seidio and found their equivilent — the Active X. It’s an awesome case! Everything seems to fit snugly and it tolerates being removed and replaced just fine.

If you’re looking for an iPhone 4 or 4S case that will handle a busy lifestyle, check it out!

Readers, what are your preferences or experiences with iPhone cases, or any other cases? Please feel free to share in the comments below. Thank you!

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How to display ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact on your iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry lock screen

If you  have stored ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts in your phone, you probably noticed that your phone treats them like any other contact. This means that emergency responders won’t be able to access your contacts if your phone is locked. Also, if you’re an Android user using a custom ROM, there’s a chance an emergency responder won’t even know how to access your contacts. In an emergency, every moment is important.

You can, through a few easy steps, display emergency contact information, along with any other information you select, on your phone’s lock screen. This means that it will be available just by turning on the screen, making it quickly and easily available in the case of a real emergency. Who knows, this might actually help you get your device back in case it’s lost or stolen.

You might also be interested in reading about how to streamline your emergency contacts with an emergency email address.

So how to do it?

Select a wallpaper (dimensions)

Start by selecting what will be your new wallpaper (either an existing photo or graphic) with a resolution close to your phone’s display, to prevent the text from being stretched or scaled. Here’s the resolution of many popular smartphone displays:

  • BlackBerry: Varies by model, but the most common sizes are:
    • BlackBerry Bold: 480×320
    • BlackBerry Curve: 320×240
    • BlackBerry Pearl: 240×260
    • For other devices, or to verify the above, see BlackBerry forums for your device’s exact resolution.
  • Android: Android also supports a wide variety of screen resolutions. You will likely find your device and its resolution listed at Comparison of Android devices – Wikipedia.
  • iPhone 2G through 3GS: 320×480
  • iPhone 4 and 4S (retina display): 640×960

Edit it to add your contact information

Open your soon-to-be wallpaper in your favorite image editor, or use one of the following utilities:

You’ll want to place your text and/or information where the UI isn’t going to cover it. Here’s some pointers:

  • BlackBerry: Avoid the top 1/4 and bottom 1/4 of the image, as well as the direct center (where the unlock/password prompt appears).
  • Android: Avoid the top 1/4 and bottom 1/4 of the image, as well as any other UI elements (such as the unlock slider). You may have to experiment somewhat, since different Android versions have different slide-to-unlock methods.
  • iPhones: avoid the top 1/4 and bottom 1/4 of the image.
You may want to consider creating text over a solid color of text, so it stands out and it easy to read. If you’re not handy with the above programs, consider asking a friend to make the edits for you.

Save it to your phone

  • BlackBerry: Either insert your microSD card to your computer, or connect your phone and mount it as USB storage. Copy your picture to your card in any location, but remember where you put it for the next step.
  • Android: Either insert your microSD card to your computer, or connect your phone and mount it as USB storage. Copy your picture to your card in any location, but remember where you put it for the next step.
  • iPhone: The easiest way to get your picture onto your device is to email it to an account you have set up on your phone. Then, from your phone, save the attachment from your email.

Set it as your wallpaper

  • BlackBerry: open your pictures (via Media, may vary by OS version), display the image you want, hit menu > Set as Home Screen image.
  • Android: From your home screen, press menu  button > Wallpapers > Gallery > (select folder and file).
  • iPhone: Go to Settings > Wallpaper > (touch screen) > Camera Roll > (Select your picture) > Set.

There you have it. Your emergency contact information is now displayed on your phone’s display, even when it is locked, making it available to emergency personnel quickly and easily.

What do you think of this tip? Was this useful to you? Do you have any other tips or suggestions to share related to this? Please share in the comments section below! Thank you!

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I put down my Android and picked up an iPhone… here’s what I noticed

I’ve been getting more than a few expressions of “You? Got an iPhone?” from friends and family lately, after they see my iPhone 4S. While I’ve been known not to be the biggest fan of Apple up until now, I’m starting to realize why the device has gotten to be so popular — it’s an easy-to-use, reliable device that doesn’t frustrate.

Although learning a new smartphone OS hasn’t been terribly difficult, here’s some of the major points between the two that I’ve found myself having to adjust to.

The Home Screen

The home screen on an Android phone is more-or-less a “blank slate”, waiting for you to fill it to your liking with widgets and shortcuts, to make it just the way you want it. If you want to access all your installed apps you open what’s typically referred to as the “app drawer.”

On an iPhone, that “app drawer” is your home screen. No widgets here, though apps do have what’s called “badges” that can show an indicator on the icon if the app has something that wants your attention, such as a number of missed calls over the phone icon, unread texts over the messages icon, and so on.

Removable Storage

Android-based phones feature a microSD card slot for removable storage. It’s an optional — but highly recommended — additional storage space that you can use for media, and on some versions of Android, even apps. You can upgrade this by simply popping out the card, copying the contents to a new, presumably larger card, and putting that card in your phone.

On an iPhone on the other hand, what you buy is what you get — buy a 16GB iPhone, get a gross total of 16GB. Likewise for the other sizes, such as 32GB.

However, there’s some distinct differences:

Android phones by default have their apps installed on the phone’s lower-capacity internal memory. Since the internal memory is smaller than the microSD card, (Sprint’s Epic 4G for example, only has 1GB internal memory), you are sharply limited for the space your apps have to share with everything else. Starting with Android version 2.2 (Froyo) and up you had the ability to move apps to the SD card. This frees up internal memory. However, its up to the app developer to support this feature, and if they did, most apps still required that you move it yourself from within the phone’s settings. Remember those widgets? Don’t plan on them working if you move your app to the SD card.

iPhones on the other hand have a single unified storage area for everything. Assuming you get a 16GB iPhone, that storage space is used for everything — there’s no need to move anything. Apps, media, and the OS all share a single storage space. You might say “this is less overall than an Android phone”, and you would be right. But — you aren’t going to have to try to balance what apps are stored on SD card versus the phone’s internal memory.

When you plug your Android-based smartphone into your computer’s USB port, you’ll likely get a message asking if you want to charge-only, or mount as removable storage. If you select to mount as removable storage you have full access to the SD card in the phone. This is handy if you want to use your phone’s memory card as a makeshift USB flash drive. However, once you mount it to the PC, you don’t have access to it from the phone. Apps that are installed on the SD card cannot be run, and you won’t have access to any media on the card until you unmount it from the PC.

Media

Installing media on an Android phone isn’t difficult. Simply mount the phone to your PC as USB storage (or insert the microSD card into your computer), and copy music, pictures, or anything else you like to it. When you unmount (or insert the card back into the phone) the media scanner will automatically detect your media and propagate the media libraries. But — it’s up to you to get your own music.

With an iPhone and a Windows or Mac computer running iTunes you simply connect your phone to your PC, select what media — such as music, movies, or other — you want to sync, and iTunes adds it to your device. You can purchase your music through iTunes as well. However, you have to use iTunes. Don’t expect your iPhone and Linux-based PC to get along very well.

Backup and Restore

With an iPhone, completely backing up your device is as quick and easy as plugging it into iTunes and right-clicking on it and choosing “Backup.” iTunes takes care of it, and makes restoring it just as painless.

With an stock Android, you don’t have any options to make a “full” backup. You can sync your contacts, calendar, etc to your Google (or other) account, and there they will sit in case you need them. In case of a serious issue, you can boot your phone to recovery mode and wipe it from there, restoring it to stock configuration, after which, prepare to spend some time reinstalling and reconfiguring your apps and account. Rooted users have a few additional options, such as ClockworkMod’s Nandroid backup and restore, and the third party app Titanium Backup.

There’s a lot more differences between the two that I didn’t cover above. But I will say this: When people ask me why I got an iPhone, my typical response is something along the lines of “it’s easy to use without having to think about.” I really enjoy my iPhone, and I don’t think I’ll be picking up an Android phone again anytime soon.

What about you, reader? What are you experiences with Android and iPhones? Do you have anything to share or compare that I didn’t cover in the above? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

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