August 2016

privacy & security

Russian hackers are targeting iOS devices, by using social engineering schemes to guess weak or guessable passwords. Then they place your iPhone or iPad in lost mode and demand ransom to release the lost mode so you can access your device again. . (Note this is not an iOS vulnerability. Anyone who uses guessable passwords creates this vulnerability.)

Learn How to Secure your Apple ID in the best ways possible.

Set up Two-Step Authentication with your Apple ID. It's not mandatory but it is strongly recommended.

Go to to see all the devices associated with your Apple ID.

If you think your Apple ID has been compromised, here is what you can do.

67% of Used HDDs/SSDs Sold on eBay and Craigslist Hold Personally Identifiable Information. Remember to use secure-erase options to scrub your data clean if you decide to sell your old devices.

Do you want to trace your Google history? This includes your past searches, your browsing history, location history, and much more. How to trace and reset your Google history, by the NY Times.

Smartphones are indispensable and popular but they are also `perfect tracking devices', points out a research paper presented at MIT Media Lab, co-authored by Edward Snowden and Andrew Huang. Snowden presented an iPhone case to protect journalists from surveillance, reports Macworld. This is especially useful for those who travel abroad to report from dangerous war zones and about political conflicts. `Snowden's solution detects errant phone signals when the handset is switched into airplane mode', reports Macworld.

iPhone case
Concept rendering of Snowden's antisurveillance device. Credit: Edward Snowden

iOS & Apple news

Apple Celebrates One Billion iPhones. Only 2 years ago, they were at 500 Million.

The US Army is switching from Android to iPhone, due to poor performance, reports DoDBuzz. `The iPhone is faster, smoother. Android freezes up and has to be restarted too often, the source said. The problem with the Android is particularly noticeable when viewing live feed from an unmanned aerial system such as Instant Eye’.

At WWDC, Apple honored the developers who won the coveted Apple Design Awards. Apple has also posted the video of the ceremony, recognizing the `state of the art iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS apps that reflect excellence in design and innovation.'

Among the winners, djPro was recognized for the 2nd time in 5 years. Watch the Award Ceremony starting at the 54:30 minute mark. An Apple engineer who is blind demoed djay Pro, with his own, personal story about how his vision declined when he was a teenager, and how he wanted to be a DJ, and how the digital revolution in the DJ world had passed him by until Algoriddim came along. It's a heart-warming story that shows the power of good technology and design. Apple lauded the developers for embracing accessibility features.

[ RUMOR ] There are some reports that the new iPhone 7 will be released on Friday, Sept 16. This is consistent with the general timing of the past several years.

[ RUMOR ] A credible rumor is that the next iPhone will not have a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Speculation is that new headphones with a lightning connector will become available. Likely, an adapter converting older headphones to the rumored lightning connection. John Gruber discusses possible ear buds that could ship with the new iPhone expected in September.

More iOS 10 features emerge: including Spam-call Detection and Voicemail-to-text.

Storehouse, one of the best iOS apps, has shut down, as of July 15. After earning several Design Awards, much critical acclaim, and a popular following, it saddened its users and the community by permanently coming to an end. Word on the street is that VC funding demanded a growth rate to surpass Instagram's. Hopefully, this will inspire some other future endeavor.

With iOS 10 coming soon, take a look at some nice features with iOS 10 and iPad Pro.

Up until recently, those who had Apple Music Match and/or iTunes Match, faced a discrepancy between the two services. Now Apple Music Match and iTunes Match have been re-designed to do the same thing and avoid discrepancies.

Are eye-scanning capabilities coming to the iPhone in 2018? So claims 9to5mac.

The WSJ reports that Apple has tapped Bob Mansfield to oversee car project. `Highly regarded executive helped bring to market many of Apple’s signature products.' This is a credible report, not the usual rumor-mongering. It suggests Apple is serious about being in the car business in some shape or form.


The winners of the iPhone Photography Annual Awards have been announced. All are stunningly beautiful images, all taken on an iPhone and, if edited, they are edited on an iPhone as well. here are some of the year's best iPhone photographs, as CultofMac reports. Time Magazine interviewed some of the winners.

Grand prize winning photo

First place, in Trees category.

First place, portrait category.


Walt Mossberg writes about Deciding to delete half of apps from his iPhone. The purge is thoughtful and the idea may well apply to many other users who download a lot of apps to try.

[ Demo using Reflector ] Olga used Mossberg’s idea to review and purge a lot of apps on her iPhone. After deleting many, the ones that were iffy were placed in pages that came after a a new separator page she created. She plans to review these again in a month to decide what more to delete.

iOS apps & widgets

Apple has just released a new Apple Remote app for the iPhone, reports This is not an upgrade, but a fully new app. `Entering text, like passwords and usernames, is much easier with the iOS Remote app because any text field automatically brings up a keyboard. Full Siri voice commands are supported, as is dictation. Because it includes the same gyroscope and accelerometer in the Siri Remote, an iPhone can be used as a dedicated game controller for playing games on the Apple TV.' . Here is an overview:

For musicians and music players, forScore is a smart sheet music app for iPads. It lets you do everything you can do with paper sheets of music, and more. As it uses PDF files, you can scan your existing collection or use anything you find online. You can annotate with an Apple Pencil.

Notebook is designed to be an all-purpose notebook for notes, lists, audio recordings and photos. It works on iPhones and iPads and it's an alternative to Evernote. It also has an optional Apple Watch app. You can create `notebooks' and within each one, you can place cards. There are 4 card types: text, to-do lists, pictures, and audio recordings. You can pinch cards together and combine them in a notebook or unpinch them to separate them. You can easily create colorful pages and chose from a list of beautiful fonts for your text. The app works on a single iOS device but also syncs across all of them, if you want to. It's a free download. While it does not have all the Evernote functionality today, it's well worth trying, plus they claim more is in the works, such as a web app, clipping ability, and so on.

Notebook also highlights how Notebook is an Alternative to Evernote.

Day One has just released a significant upgrade with v2 for both iOS and Mac. These can be used independently or together with syncing. You can now have multiple journals. The UI is even nicer. Most importantly, they have released their own sync service, eliminating sync options via iCloud or Dropbox. They also offer optional backup in iCloud. Finally, the next upgrade will offer end-to-end encryption.

Do you want to see your iPhone or iPad data on your Mac or PC? iExplorer is your answer. It's NOT an iOS app. It's a `desktop' app that reads your iOS backup data from iTunes on your desktop computer and lets you easily access it and transfer files back and forth to your iOS devices.

Pixelmator for iOS continues to add sophisticated features that are typically found on a desktop-class professional photo editing app. For example, take a look at how their new quick selection works:

Pixelmator for iOS - Quick Selection Tool from Pixelmator Team on Vimeo.

An example of a very practical use of iExplorer: Olga needed to clear up some storage capacity on her iPhone and she realized that the Messages app had by far the highest capacity usage. In Settings, she had selected the choice to keep old messages forever. Before deleting old messages, she wanted to save an old but important conversation. She used iExplorer on her Mac to export the old conversation to a PDF. Here is How to transfer text messages to your Mac or PC. She then changed her iPhone Settings to keep only one year's worth of old Messages, and ended up clearing about 4 GB of capacity.

The food website Food52 is a very nice online magazine and online community for recipes, food advice, and sharing information. They also have an app (Not) Recipes by Food52, which is free and works on all iOS devices. It's designed to help you find—and share—cooking ideas and inspiration using photos. It's not intended to give formal recipes, rather it shows how cooking happens spontaneously by people sharing their experiences.

Dropbox has new productivity tools, including a scanning function that lets you easily snap a photo of a document, a white board, or a napkin with text and drawings. It automatically cleans it up and straightens it, and uploads a PDF document to a folder of your choice.

Koredoko is an iOS app to let you view the EXIF and GPS data from your photos.

Curt points us to iFontMaker, an app that lets you create your own font based on your handwriting.

Drafts is a notes app that lets you quickly type some text and then lets you act on it. DO you want it to become an email? or a text message? a note to self? a tweet? a snippet of code? a reminder? post on Facebook? whatever you want, you can easily act on it. Drafts gives you the one-stop-shop that is quick and smart. Take a look:

Need someone to pick up your dog's poop? There's an app for that: Pooper is the Uber for dog poo. (Is this a joke? Is it for real? It claims to be a real app.) Here is their video:

spotlight on AnyList app

AnyList is an iOS app for making list of any kind. It also includes many additional features for creating grocery and shopping lists. Olga has been using it for the past 3 months and gave an overview.

AnyList recently got a significant update, improving its Mac version, as well as its web-based view. These are optional versions of the app for users who want to access their lists on any device, including a PC via the web version of the app..

Lists can be created by a single user or can be shared across a family or group of people.

AnyList is a free iS app. Additionally, it offers premium features to those who choose to pay $8/ year (individual) or $12/year (families). Olga decided to upgrade to premium within a couple of days.

Here is an overview of features, most of which come with the free version of the app. You can add photos and notes to items, filter by store, categorize, and customize the view via themes. If you create a lot of lists, you can also create folders to manage them more easily. You can protect individual lists with a passcode.

The app offers location-based reminders for when you are near a store.

Location-based reminders also optionally work on an Apple Watch.

Here is an overview of premium features offered by AnyList.

Support online is easy via a quick How-To page to answer frequently asked questions.

This app is even better than what meets the eye initially. There are some nice touches, such as an easy view of recently used items on a list, shaking to undo a crossed-off item, and much more.

There are also some major features, such as the ability to import recipes directly from websites and the ability to plan your meals using the recipes and a calendar view. To import recipes, they offer web browser extensions that work on iOS Safari as well as desktop Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and even on IE.

In fact, the recipe view alone makes this app much more than a `list-making' app. It is a better recipe app than note-taking apps which offer recipe-clipping functions (and much, much better than, say, Evernote's clipper). You can scale recipes (up/down), you can identify ingredients you need to buy and place them on a list. After an ingredient is added to a list, a note automatically references the recipe where it came from to help you remember why you need an item or whether to skip it later on.

[ DEMO ] Try Leek and Cardamom Fritters recipe from the NY Times: import with Evernote and with anyList. Compare results.

[ DEMO ] Try Roasted corn and poblano chowder recipe from Cooks Country. Compare and contrast.

The developers used to work at Apple and it shows in their design and usability features. They are also very quick to reply with support. Olga sent them a note with suggested new features and they replied quickly with a meaningful response (not a canned thank-you).

spotlight on Paper app

Paper is an app for iPads and iPhones that lets you draw, sketch, jot notes, doodle, annotate photos, and much more. The app is free. It is one of the best apps for iOS.

It can be used with your fingertip or with a stylus. It becomes even more enjoyable with an Apple Pencil ($100) or with their own stylus, the Pencil. ($50).

Lisa Donelly is an illustrator and cartoonist for the New Yorker. Lately, she has been using Paper on an iPad to create beautiful `snapshots' from events the New Yorker reports on.

Most recently, Donnelly created quick illustrations while reporting from the presidential conventions. Her live-drawings are a nice example of what a talented illustrator can do with this app.

Traveling to a convention

setting up flags

security with dog

Vendors outside

getting a hot dog

See more examples of Lisa Donelly's work here.

tips & tricks

4 Ways to be a Considerate Late Night iPad User: good advice from Macworld.

Learn how to master Paper for doodling, sketching, drawing, illustrating. This is a wonderful collection of very brief tutorials by an artist, showing you how to use one of the best iOS apps, Paper, by FiftyThree.

How to turn off your iPhone's cellular data. A simple and easy tip for times when you need to avoid using cellular data. Why? To save battery life in a pinch, or to avoid overages either because you are traveling or because you are approaching the end of your billing cycle and have used up most of your cellular data allocation.

Why is my iPhone battery yellow? This happens in case your battery was low and you switched to Lower Power Mode. You can go back to regular mode via Settings > Battery.

For Mac users: How to empty your Safari web caches, without emptying your search history and cookies. This is very useful when you want to get fresh versions of pages but you do not want to lose convenience you have from cookies.

How to sell your older devices

If you are considering selling your older iPhone or iPad, eBay is a good choice to consider. To help you out, eBay has a page to help you estimate the price and list your iPad, as well as a page for iPone sales estimation and planning. Bookmark these.

Here are 3 best sites to sell your old cellphones, according to iHeartBudgets. They include eBay, Gazelle, and Swappa.

gadgets & accessories

iDevices has just released a new devices. Socket lets you transform any light into a `smart' light. You can control it via the app, automate when it comes on and off. Even better, it is HomeKit enabled and requires no additional hardware (such as a bridge). Finally, as a bonus, the Socket has its own LED ring that can be set to different colors to create a mood.

Eve energy is a smart-switch from Elgato. It supports Apple's HomeKit.

Libratone's wireless speaker review by CultofMac. They write, `The small Libratone ONE Click provides big sound and a long-lasting battery that delivers about 12 hours of use per charge.' The review is very positive, reporting that sound is excellent. retail at $199.

The new Glif is a tripod mount for iPhones and any smartphone. It's been redesigned to be smarter and adjustable. Their Kickstater campaign is going on now and has already exceeded its funding goal.

The Logitech Create keyboard is praised by Macworld: this is a keyboard now available for iPad Pro 9.7''.


More US-based banks now support Apple Pay as of July 2016, reports 9to5mac.

The ultimate guide on how to use Apple Pay, by iMore.


Do you need the watch face to stay on longer than the default 15 seconds at a time? Change how long it stays on in Settings, advises Glenn Fleishman. He claims this only affects the watch face, which a a native app, since it does not require communication with iPhone, it should not have a major affect on battery life. Also, this only changes the wake time for when you tap the watch to wake it up, not how long it stays on when you flick your wrist.

With watchOS 3, you will be able to send an SOS message, in case of emergency. Cult of Mac shows how.

Apple may sell 6 Million watches in just weeks, with the expected release of Watch 2 in the fall, reports ComputerWorld, citing high satisfaction surveys and increasing demand.

general news and crossover

An article on how to get out of early termination fees from your cellphone provider.

Amazon'sChinese Counterfeit Problem is Worsening, reports CNBC. Birkenstock has quit Amazon, after counterfeit surge. Be mindful of items that are `fulfilled by Amazon' as they might be counterfeit. Here is a ridiculous example.

general apps & services

America's Test Kitchen has been redesigned to work well with iPhones and iPads, for all content including recipes, videos, and easy searches. This is a high quality resource for anyone who enjoys cooking, and includes Cook's Illustrated, The Test Kitchen, Cook's Country, Cooking School, and more. Their announcement describes all the new projects.

For all of us who use gadgets, a New Yorker cartoon:

New Yorker, Cartoon of the Day, Aug 1, 2016