Tag Archives: iOS

iOS Tip – Showing Remaining Battery Percentage

I have been using this on both my iPhone and iPad for some time. The default iOS configuration is to show the remaining battery charge as just a bar graph within the icon of a battery. While this gives you a general idea of how much charge remains, you can set iOS to show you an actual percentage of the remaining charge.

iOS Tip - Showing Remaining Battery Percentage-procThis is a simple setting to change. Open the Settings App >> General >> Usage. Toggle the ‘switch’ next to ‘Battery Percentage’ to ‘On’.  From now on not only will the icon show you your remaining battery charge, but a percentage will appear to the left of the battery icon as well.

I find this to be much more useful as I keep an eye on the remaining battery charge throughout the day.


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Security – FREAK

FREAK is a newly discovered security flaw affecting both the iOS and OS X versions of Safari, as well as other web browsers. This vulnerability enables an attacker to force the browser to use a weakened, 512-bit form of encryption. FREAK is an acronym standing for ‘Factoring RSA-EXPORT
Keys’. This flaw has been around for years and was just exposed by security researchers March 2, 2015. Specifically this vulnerability is with TLS/SSL (i.e. HTTPS) servers and clients.

This flaw left iOS and other devices vulnerable to attack when visiting what were thought to be secure web sites. The flaw actually was caused by a cold war US government policy that forbade export of strong encryption. The export restriction was lifted in the late 1990s, but the browser code was never updated.

Once an attacker breaches the browser, they can then steal passwords and other personal information. Using this man-in-the-middle mode of attack, they can also attack the site being visited by taking over elements on the site’s pages. The researchers estimate that more than 35% of HTTPS sites world wide are vulnerable.

Apple has indicated that a fix for Safari will be available in the next week or so.

UPDATED 4/22/15 – See Security Now episode #498 for a more detailed description of FREAK.

UPDATED 3/10/15 – Apple Security Update 2015-002 1.0 applied patches that close this vulnerability. The vulnerability was resolved by removing support for ephemeral RSA keys.


See my other MAC OS X, iOS and Cyber Security articles


iOS – Pocket Drive

I came across Pocket Drive a short time ago. What is Pocket Drive? This iOS Free (with in-App purchases) App provides a easy wireless (WiFi) connection between your iOS device and your PC or Mac. It has been developed by SIS Software out of Trzin, Slovenia.

Install the App on your iOS device and launch it. Open the Finder on a nearby Mac and you will see your iDevice listed under the Shared drives. Click on the iDevice name in the Finder window and a screen will pop up on your iDevice asking if you want to allow or reject the connection. Tapping Yes will then open the shared drive created with Pocket Drive on your Mac.

iOS - Pocket Drive3 iOS - Pocket Drive4 iOS - Pocket Drive5Now files can be dragged and dropped between the Finder window and your iDevice. Files dropped into the Finder window can then be opened with an App on the iDevice. This allows you to drag and drop mp3 files to listen to, or movies to watch from your computer to your iDevice. Pocket Drive supports a wide range of file types: .pages, .keynote, .numbers, .doc/.docx, .xls/.xlsx, .ppt/.pptx, .rtf, .html, .htm, .pdf, .txt, .jpg/.jpeg, .png, .bmp, .gif, .tif, .ico, .xbm, .mov, .m4v, .mp4, .mp3,  and .zip.

iOS - Pocket Drive1 iOS - Pocket Drive2Simple storage/transfer capability is little different from what you can get for free with Dropbox. What is different is that you can walk up to any PC or Mac with your iDevice and get connected. This gives you the freedom you would otherwise need a USB Thumb Drive for.

Having Pocket Drive installed on your iDevice will give your the functionality of a USB Thumb Drive, but will eliminate the physical connection. I installed Pocket Drive on my iPad Air2 and was rewarded with 256MB of space (though the web site for the product indicated that you get 512MB of free space). The amount of storage available is only limited by the free memory on your iDevice and how much storage you have paid for through a one-time in-App purchases:

  • 4GB $1.99
  • 16GB $2.99
  • 23GB $3.99
  • Unlimited $4.99

All-in-all I think that this will prove to be a useful App, and most likely I will purchase the expanded memory option at some point. It means that any time I have my iPhone or iPad with me, I effectively have a storage device with me as well.

Pros

  • Free to try with 256MB of space
  • No configuration needed
  • No setup on the PC or Mac

Cons

  • To get any practical use out of the App a one-time in-App purchase will be needed to increase the amount of available space
  • Not too practical on 16GB iPhone

See my other iOS articles


iOS – Retweever Visualization & Image Retweever

At the CapMac (Capital Area Macintosh User Group – Austin, Texas) meeting last week Andrew Donoho (iOS developer and Instructor at Austin community College in iOS Game Development) gave a talk on his two free iOS Apps Retweever Visualization and Image Retweever. Both of the Apps are available on the iTunes store and were produced by the Donoho Design Group.

retweever_basicRetweever Visualization allows you to view your Twitter stream by finding the interesting Tweets. The Tweets are categorized as they are downloaded, allowing you to see those that are most important to you first. The Twitter messages are presented as avatar icons which scale with their relevance.

ImageRetweeverImage Retweever is a similar App which shows a full screen cascade of images culled from your tweet stream. Touch any image and the corresponding Tweet is displayed. You configure which Twitter accounts to follow and which hashtags to look for. I can see that this would be very useful for events such as the upcoming SXSW (#SXSW.) scheduled for Austin in a few weeks.


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iOS – Manything

IMG_0093I came across the Manything App a short time ago. The Manything App is currently free and allows you to set up an iOS device as a remote video monitor using the device’s built in camera, then view it remotely on another iOS device. With Manything you can record video to the cloud or watch the stream live (image is of App on iPad Air 2 viewing video from iPod). Viewing can be through an iOS device with Manything installed or through a browser on any computer (Flash is required) through their web interface. Monitoring can be either full video, or a stills taken at configurable intervals. Manything also works with IFTTT so you can automate actions when Manything detects motion.

Advanced features of the App include:

  • motion detection zones
  • continued operation even without power (as long as device battery lasts) or network connection
  • detailed metadata (timeline showing periods of sound and motion)

Manything works with any iOS device that runs iOS 6 or later. This includes iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices. I tested this out using an 4th generation iPod Touch that has been collecting dust since I got my iPhone. I updated the software on it and then installed Manything. I configured it to be in ‘Camera’ mode. I then installed the Manything App on my iPhone 5 and set it in ‘Viewer’ mode. I started the Manything App on my iPod and placed it in the front window of my office, then hit the record button to activate the stream. I could then start the App on my iPhone and go anywhere in my home viewing out my front window using
Manything.

I can see this as a great App to use when traveling to monitor your home, or to check on children who are at home before you are able to get home from work. It has many possibilities. It is also a great way to put your old iOS devices to use.


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Mac OS X & iOS – Dropbox

I have been a Dropbox user for a few years now. What is Dropbox? Dropbox is multi-platform (Windows, OS X, Linux, iOS, Android, Blackberry) tool for file sharing. Install Dropbox on two or more of your devices. All of the files you then drop into the shared Dropbox folder on one device is available on all of your other devices that have Dropbox installed. You can also log into your Dropbox account through most browsers from any device. If you have Neato installed on your iOS device, you can create notes and save them directly into the Dropbox folder.

I have a old MacBook that I sometimes take into the living room to edit documents (such as these articles) while watching TV. I can work on documents on my MacBook, but when I am ready to use my Mac Mini for final editing and posting, I can just open the Dropbox
folder and the document is at my fingertips. I don’t need to do anything special to transfer the document between my systems.

Not only can you use it as a shared private folder for your devices, but you can also use Dropbox to share photos, videos, documents or other files with friends, family and co-workers. You get to control who sees which files. Using Dropbox also gives you a backup of your files. If you lost your lap top where you were working on a critical file, the file would be available on your desktop in the Dropbox folder.

Basic Dropbox for individual use is free and provides 2GB of space. Dropbox Pro at $9.99 per month increases the storage to 1 TB. Dropbox for Business is available for multiple users with unlimited storage, and it allows the users to collaborate on documents. The
cost is $75 a month, or $750 a year for 5 users. Additional users can be added for $150 per year.

If you are a Mac OS X user using Dropbox and are still back on OS X Leopard or earlier you need to start thinking about upgrading. Dropbox announced in late January that it is going to drop support for those older versions of OS X on May 15, 2015.


See my other Mac OS X and iOS articles


iOS – iFixit

We have all heard of iFixit. They have done teardowns of Apple and other products for years. They have also offered various tools, parts and, most important, repair guides on their web site. Recently they released a free iOS App that gives you access to their repair manuals from your iOS device. 

iOS - iFixit1089 iOS - iFixit2 iOS - iFixit3

I downloaded the App to my iPad Air 2 a few days ago. The App lists repair guides for 15 categories:

  • Media Player
  • Apparel
  • PC
  • Electronics
  • Household
  • Skills
  • Computer Hardware
  • Appliance
  • Game Console
  • Tablet
  • Vehicle
  • Mac
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Car and Truck

Under each of these are many subcategories and specific products listed, with various repair guides for each. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of individual repair guides.

If you make DIY repairs, or want to start, this is an ideal way to have a wealth of information at your fingertips.


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Do you have Broadband?

On Thursday January 29, 2015 the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set new standards for the
classification of “broadband”. To qualify as “broadband” a service
provider must provide download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps. This was done because the FCC felt that the US was not keeping up with available speeds in much of the rest of the world.  By the FCC’s estimates, 17% or 55 million Americans do not have access to the newly defined “broadband” capability. Are you one of the few who has “broadband” per the new standard?

There are many sites that you can use to test your connection. One
of these is http://www.speedtest.net/, this website will test your connection (NOTE: The site does require both Flash and JavaScript). If you have an iOS device, then you can install the FCC Speed Test App from the Apple iTunes store. The App is free and runs on iOS 7.0 or later and is compatible with both the iPhone and iPad.

I used the FCC app on my iPad connected to my home network over Wi-Fi and the results were 7.61Mbps down and 1.44 Mbps up. To verify that the Wi-Fi connection was not limiting my bandwidth, I duplicated the test from my Mac Mini which has a cat 5 hard wired connection to my ATT Uverse router. Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 3.53.37 PMI visited the SpeedTest URL mentioned above in the Google Chrome browser. That test gave nearly the same results: 7.61 Mbps down and 1.43 Mbps up.

Clearly my home internet connection is FAR from the new “broadband” standard. That hardly surprises me when the US shows up ranked number 26 on a list compiled by OOKLA of countries by network speed (the US is rated at 32.65Mbps, we are tied with Bulgaria). The speeds that I measured actually puts me with the same connectivity as Bangladesh, which is ranked number 112 on the list.

iPhone Tip – The Built In Level

I have used the built in Compass App a couple of time on my iPhone, but recently I came across a feature of that App I was not aware of. The Compass App has a built in level!

If you have iOS 7 or later on your phone, then open the Compass App, then once you see the compass on the display, swipe the screen left. That will bring up a level.

ece46f02f4d92f79eb6dd5226a9cf516976aeac5Lay your iPhone flat on a surface and you will see a pair of disks that shows the angle of the surface the iPhone is laying on and the slope of the surface.

2f4ab3881dd1f47b537bd184fdf651f8ac983071If you set your iPhone on edge on a surface, you get a display that is more like you are used to on a bubble level.

This isn’t something that I will use every day, but it adds one more feature to my iPhone.


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iOS: Khan Academy

I have recenly begun picking up my 6th grade granddaughter from school and occasionally helping her with her homework. Working with her made me notice an announcement a few days ago that Khan Academy now has an iPad App that allows free viewing of it’s videos.

What is Khan Academy? As Wikipedia says:

Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization created in 2006 by educator Salman Khan to provide “a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere”. The organization produces micro lectures in the form of YouTube videos. In addition to micro lectures, the organization’s website features practice exercises and tools for educators. All resources are available for free to anyone around the world.

In the past few days the free Khan Academy iPad App has become available with access to over 150,000 exercises. I downloaded the App to my iPad and watched one of the videos yesterday (6th grade Algebra on inequalities). I think the video was well done and will be of value to my granddaughter or other students. There are many videos in each grade level to choose from including math, science, history and art.

I plan to watch some of the history videos as that is a subject I am interested in and had far too little of in school. If you are wanting to supplement formal K-12 education, or you are interested in learning just for the sake of learning, Khan Academy is a great place to start.


See my other iOS  and Continuing Education (CE) articles