Tag Archives: iPhone

Simple First Shortcut automation for ios

I follow The Loop and a recent post caught my eye. It is a simple Shortcut automation that almost everyone can try and use. This automation detects when your iOS device is connected to a charger and speaks “Charging”. While this is a trivial automation I can see where it will be useful.

Sometimes when I place my iPhone on my W-18 Thunder Plus Qi charging pad it isn’t aligned correctly. This will give a good audio feedback that I have positioned it for charging.

  • Open Shortcuts app on your iPhone
  • Tap the Automation tab in the center of the bottom of the screen
  • Tap the + in the top right corner of the screen
  • Tap “Create Personal Automation”
  • Scroll to the bottom and tap “Charger”
  • Make sure “Is Connected” is selected
  • Tap “Next”
  • In the search field that appears (bottom of screen), type “Speak”. The action “Speak Text” should appear. Tap on it.
  • Tap the “Text” area and type some text to speak, like “Charging”
  • Tap “Next”
  • Tap to turn off “Ask Before Running”.
  • Tap “Done”

I followed these easy instructions and created the Shortcut on my iPhone8. I placed it on my charging pad and after a moment I heard my phone say “Charging”. If you want to start exploring Shortcuts, this is a great first project.

You will find the original article at https://www.loopinsight.com/2021/01/13/a-simple-shortcuts-project/

See my other iOS related posts

Use a Shortcut to Automatically Connect your AirPods


(See my other Tech Tips posts) – I have AirPods and use them every day. Being stuck at home ‘sheltering-in-place’ I have been using them on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

The problem is that after using them with my Mac, it takes a while to get them reconfigured for my iPhone. Then I saw the article “AirPods: Automatically and instantly switch between iPhone, Mac & iPad” on the Mac Kung Fu Blog. I thought it might have solved that problem.

The described solution is to create a ‘Shortcut’ on your iPhone. When you open one of the designated Apps on your iPhone the Shortcut is triggered. The Shortcut will then connect your AirPods. I won’t repeat the detailed steps listed in the article. It is well written and easy to follow.

I have created that Shortcut (my first) and it seems to work well. You do have to have at least one of your AirPods in your ear. Wait until you hear the tone, then you can open the App on your iPhone.


Further Reading

  1. AirPods: Automatically and instantly switch between iPhone, Mac & iPad

Mac & iPad Accessory Sale – newPCgadgets Stands


Product Announcements – newPCgadgets of San Diego, California has discounted their popular selling iPad and iPhone acrylic stands and their new MacBook Stand as clever gift ideas for the upcoming 2017 Holiday season. Their slotted iPad acrylic stand is ideal for Apple owners, or soon to be, that would like a solid stand to position their iPad for better viewing and ease of interaction. With over 10,000 already sold, newPCgadgets has lowered the price 40% to $39.95. Bring the Apple store look home and give a clever gift to the Apple fan in your family.

In addition to newPCgadgets slotted iPad stand, newPCgadgets is also offering a lower priced stand for both the iPad and iPad mini. These acrylic pedestals with non-skid white silicone rings duplicate the look and feel of the Apple store and provide a great base to place the iPad on. They have lowered the retail price by 40% just in time for the Holidays.

For shoppers looking for a clever and colorful stand for the MacBook owner on your gift list newPCgadgets has just introduced their Laptop Lift 90. This MacBook stand and riser all-in-one is a great solution for raising the MacBook to a comfortable viewing angle. When not in use the Laptop Lift 90 stores the MacBook upright to save precious desktop space. newPCgadgets reduced the price 30% to $19.95 (USD) for the Holidays.

iOS iPhone Tip – Using Pause with Numbers in your iPhone Contacts

I often have the need to call numbers that require entry of additional digits after the normal 10 digit number has been answered. A good case in point is the host number for my FreeConferenceCalling conference line. It has a 10 digit number, followed by a 6 digit conference code, then finally a 4 digit host access code.

In the past I have had to dial the number, wait for the prompt for the conference number, then wait for the prompt to enter the host code. When I am home working from in front of my computer this isn’t a problem, but dialing in while on-the-go is more challenging.

A long time IEEE Central Texas Section colleague and a fellow member of CapMac, Tom Grim, suggested simplifying this by creating an entry in Contacts and using the ‘Pause’ feature of the iPhone. Actually most smart phones how have both a ‘Pause’ and ‘Wait’ function built into their dialing systems.

For the iPhone these added dialing commands are:

  • ‘Pause’ represented by a comma “,” – will cause a 2 second delay for each comma entered
  • ‘Wait’ represented by a semi-colon “;” – will cause the dialing to wait for the “Dial” button to be pressed

So for my FreeConferenceCalling requirement I created a “Free ConferenceCalling” in the Contacts App on my Mac.  After the 10 digits for the conference number I typed in two commas for a 4 second delay, then my conference code. Since I am also the moderator on the calls using this number, I followed with two more commas for an additional 4 second delay, then my host number. The resulting phone number looks something like this (999) 999 9999,,888888,,7777 in contacts.

This is synced to my iPhone via iCloud and now all I have to do is to find Free ConferenceCalling in my Contacts or Recents on my iPhone and, with a single touch, I can be dialed into the conference call.

You can enter a number directly into contacts on your iPhone as well. Open the Phone App >> Contacts. Either select an existing contact to edit or touch the “+” button to add a new entry. Enter or edit the phone number then touch the “+*#” key in the bottom left of the screen. That will bring up ‘Pause’ and ‘Wait’ as entries that can be made through your iPhone into the phone number field in contacts.

IMG_0381   IMG_0382

If you choose to insert a ‘Wait’ command, you would follow it with the next set of numbers to be dialed (such as (999) 999 9999;123456). When you then dialed this number, the phone number will be dialed and the iPhone will present you with a screen containing a Dial button and the additional digits to dial (see bottom left in image below). This would be useful when the delay between when the call was answered and when additional dialing could be entered was unpredictable requiring manual intervention.
Note that this will work for any instance where you need to dial a phone number followed by an extension. It will also work when you dial in and the phone is answered by a automated service asking you to pick the option you want to be connected to.

See my other iOS articles

iOS 9 Tip – Ad Blockers

Updated 11/16/15

A feature added to Safari with iOS 9 is the ability to add ad blockers.

What is an Ad Blocker?

An Ad blocker or Content Blocker is a software extension to Safari that will, as the name implies, block third party ads from being displayed when you visit a web page. Officially Apple refers to
these extensions as ‘Content Blocking Safari Extensions’.

Content Blockers can also be used to block tracking and other elements inserted into the page. Content Blockers are not included in Safari, but with iOS 9 these extensions can be added. In fact, if you choose, you can add multiple Content Blocker extensions to Safari. Each can be turned on or off independent of the others.
You can do that by going to Settings >> Safari >> Content Blockers.

The Pros and Cons of Ad Blockers

Why would you want to add a Content Blocker extension?
Several reasons come to mind:

  • Reduce the bandwidth used on your cellular account
  • Make the pages you visit load faster
  • Reduce the chance of Malware being introduced
  • Not be bothered by obnoxious ads

Testers have found that a page that normally loads 10MB to 15MB drops to 2MB to 3MB when content blocking is enabled [2]. Little is noticeably missing from the page other than one or two ads. What is being blocked in a lot of ‘bloat’ that has crept into the page. Enduring these bloated pages is fine when you are not limited in your data usage on your broadband account at home. But when your wireless account has limits that will cost you money if broached, the bloat needs to be trimmed.

A good example of this bloat can be seen on this 2014 Macworld (I just pulled this page at random from some I have bookmarked) article “How to use benchmarks to cut through marketing hype“. I
analyze this page by using either of the popular web tools GTMetrix or WebPageTest. These tools analyzes a page entered on their web site. Among the data provided is the load time, the total byte count and the number of calls made for the page. When I tested this particular page from Macworld, the results was surprising.  The page
load time was 28.2s, page size was 16.7MB and 385 requests were
made to fully load the page.


Having to load a smaller page means that the page will load much faster. Whys should we wait? Is our time worth nothing?

There have been instances where malware has been inserted into the ad stream from some ad companies. The popular site MSN.com was was a victim of malvertising back in August of this year [20]. A more recent example is the the situation with the UK Daily Mail. In this case 156 million readers of the Daily Mail were exposed to the Angler exploit (the same exploit used in the MSN.com attack)
through malicious advertising [19]. Do we want to leave open
this vector of attack when we can make our systems safer by
simply blocking the ad content?

Small static ads seem to be fine, but increasingly advertisers are becoming more aggressive in an effort to attract our eyes and subsequent clicks. Do you want to have irritating and distracting animations going on while you are trying to read the content of a page? Do you like pop-ups to cover the screen?

Why would you want to resist installing a Content Blocker?

  • Support the site you visit
  • Keep sites free
  • Be ethical

Keep in mind that ads are present on a web page to provide income to the person or entity that is creating the content you want to read. If users begin to block all the ads, then the income stream will dry up to the content provider. That may make them go out of business and the site you like to visit will disappear. At particular risk are the smaller publishers [21, 22].

The site may also put up a notice when you visit with an Content Blocker requesting that you turn it off at least for their site so that they can continue to get ad revenue. Some sites may make turning off Content Blockers a requirement in order to visit their site.

The other option to content providers is to make you subscribe to get access to their content if they are no longer able to get revenue from the ads.

There is also the ethical side to consider. Is blocking all the ads and consuming the content of a site any different that stealing?

How to Ad Blockers Work?

These filters use regular expressions to parse the URLs being called as a page is rendered. Based on which match a list of criteria, sites are either allowed to load, or are blocked. How much is filtered from the viewer depends on the Ad Blocker and upon its configuration. A common practice is to block any content from a domain other than from the URL of the page you are trying to load.

Other lists being used by the Ad Blocker may ‘White list’ (allow loading any content from a listed domain) or ‘Black list’ (block all content from a given domain). These ‘black lists’ are often from a service that collects the URLs from those domains that are considered offensive. Some Content Blockers allow users to add to the ‘white list’ so that selected pages will load without blocking any content [5]. I would recommend reading [2, 10] for a more detailed discussion.

What Are Some of the Available Ad Blockers?

Prices range from free to a few dollars for these extensions available from the Apple Store. Once you have selected a ‘Content Blocker’ and downloaded it, you will have to enable it in Settings and configure the App to your custom requirements. A good source to follow is [2].

Some of the available Ad Blockers [9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17]:

Built-in Bypass

Should you want to reload a page while bypassing the Content Blocker filters, you can do that in Safari. Press and hold the refresh button. A pop-up menu appears giving you the opportunity to either request the desktop version of the site or reloading it with the Content Blockers turned off [11].

I have not installed any Ad Blockers  . . . yet. Most likely I will install an Ad Blocker on my iPhone to prevent my allowed data to be wasted on site ‘bloat’. For my Mac and iPad, I will probably leave without Ad Blockers for the time being. My Mac is tied to my broadband service at home so the extra bytes are not a concern. My iPad is Wi-Fi only, so it too will not cause increased data usage.

If you are using cellular data to browse the web, I think considering the use of an Ad Blocker extension is advisable. After all you can always selectively ‘whitelist’ sites you want to support or use the Built-in Bypass mentioned above.

As to which Ad Blocker to use, I am undecided at this point. I am tempted for follow Steve Gibson’s suggestion [18] and pick Purity, Blockr, or 1Blocker. I will probably try all three and see which works best for my use case.

In any case everyone should be aware of this new capability, investigate their options and make their own choices.
[1] How to enable Safari ad-blockers in iOS 9
[2] Hands-on with content blocking Safari extensions in iOS 9
[3] What lies beneath: What you need to know about content blockers in iOS 9 Safari
[4] News Sites Are Fatter and Slower Than Ever
[5] How to use content blockers in iOS 9 (and whitelist Cult of Mac!)
[6] How to use iOS 9 content blockers to remove web popover boxes
[7] iOS 9 content blockers: Great for the reader, bad for websites
[8] How to make browsing on the iPhone 500% faster
[9] The Best Ad Blocker for iPhone
[10] Introduction to WebKit Content Blockers
[11] PSA: Another way to bypass the ad blocker in iOS 9 Safari for sites you want to support
[13] Here’s how some of the top iOS 9 ad-blockers stack up
[14] Hands On With Three iOS 9 Content Blockers: 1Blocker, Blockr And Crystal
[15] Adblock Fast: A free and open source ad blocker for iOS 9
[16] iOS 9: How to use the Purify ad blocker
[17] A list of content blockers for iOS 9
[18] Security Now Podcast #526, iOS Content Blockers
[19] Angler exploit kit targets up to 156 million UK Daily Mail readers in malvertising spree
[20] Angler Exploit Kit Strikes on MSN.com via Malvertising Campaign
[22] Cyber criminals turn to video ads to plant malware – added 11/16/15

See my other iOS articles

iOS 9 iPad Tip – Using Split-Screen Multitasking

One of the anticipated features of iOS 9 for the iPad is the new split-screen multitasking capability.

Which devices support the Split-Screen features?
While iOS 9 will run on the iPad 2 and any model of iPad after, the split-screen feature is not available on all iPads under iOS 9. Nor is it available on any model of iPhone. Further, not all Apps support these split-screen modes yet.

There are three different split-screen modes (described below) and the set of devices supporting each mode are different:

  • The simpler Slide-Over mode and Picture in Picture modes are available on the iPad Mini 2 or later Mini models, the iPad Air and Air 2 models, and the new iPad Pro.
  • The Split view mode will only be available on the iPad Mini 4, iPad Air 2, and iPad Pro.
Device Support Matrix [1]
Device Slide Over Picture in Picture Split View
iPad Mini 2 X X
iPad Mini 3 X X
iPad Mini 4 X X X
iPad Air X X
iPad Air 2 X X X
iPad Pro X X X

iOS 9 still supports the old-fashioned one-screen-at-a-time multitasking approach introduced in iOS 6. This is where you double-tap the Home button to see all of the running apps, then tap to select the one you want to switch to (or you can use the four-finger horizontal swipe gesture to move from one App to another).

What are the Split-Screen Modes?
Slide Over – provides a user-invoked overlay view on the right side of the screen (or on the left side in a right-to-left language version of iOS) that lets a user pick a secondary App to view and interact with. The secondary App is restricted to the right third of the screen. You can work in that right-hand screen while it’s open, but the App in the left-hand window is grayed out only showing the current state. When you tap the left-hand window to return to it, the right slide over window closes.

Split view – displays two side-by-side apps, letting the user view, resize, and interact with both of them.  The divider between the two screens can be slid right and left to resize the screens. In this mode you can work in either App and both remain active. Tapping on a window moves the focus to that App. This allows you to data to copy/paste data between the windows.

Picture in Picture – lets a user play video in a movable, resizable window that floats over the apps onscreen.

How do you invoke a Split-Screen Mode?
Slide Over – This is the most basic of the split-screen modes that allows you to stay in the App you are currently in while accessing a second App. This mode works in when you have your iPad in either the Portrait or the Landscape orientation.

To move to Slide Over screen mode you first have to select the primary App for your split-screen (just select an App like normal). Then you invoke Slide Over mode and the running App will be resized to the left-hand two-thirds of the screen.

You invoke Slide Over mode by using an edge gesture, sliding a finger from the right edge of the screen to the left. How your iPad reacts will depend on the App you are running when you try to invoke Slide Over mode.

If the App you are running is compatible with Slide Over mode the left side will be grayed out and the right third of the screen will show a vertical list of icons of other Slide Over compatible Apps that you can access. The most recently used Apps will appear at the bottom of the list, with others above it. The list can be scrolled up and down to view the complete list of compatible Apps. Touching an App icon will open the selected App in the right third of the screen. In the example below, the Clock App was picked as the secondary App.

iOS 9 iPad Tip - Using Split-Screen Multitasking    iOS 9 iPad Tip - Using Split-Screen Multitasking-1

If an alternate App is desired, slide down the bar from the top of the right window and you return to the full list of compatible Slide Over Apps.

To return to the original App, touch the window on the left and
that App will take over the full screen again.

Split view – For those with the latest iPads the more advanced Split-Screen mode of Split View is available. Split View is initiated the same as Slide Over mode. However, the vertical bar dividing the left and right windows will have a ‘grab bar’ in the middle that will allow you to touch and hold the bar, then slide the divider left and right to resize the windows. Re-sizing the window changes operation from Slide Over to Split View mode.

iOS 9 iPad Tip - Using Split-Screen Multitasking-3

If the ‘grab bar’ is not present, then one or both of the Apps opened are not compatible with Split View mode. In that case you can only use Slide Over with these two Apps.

The default Split View will shrink the primary window to about 66% of the screen, leaving the new window with about 33%. If you touch and drag the ‘drag bar’ to the left the Apps can share the screen 50%/50%. The 50%/50% view is only available in landscape mode. Only the primary App will display the status bar with the time, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and battery symbols at the top of it’s screen. Note that the primary and secondary Apps cannot be switched.

iOS 9 iPad Tip - Using Split-Screen Multitasking-2

Now you have two Apps that are running side-by-side. You can switch between the windows by touching on the window to change the focus. Each window is independent, allowing the use of gestures within each window to zoom and scroll each independent of the other.

To exit the split-screen mode press the Home button. This will allow a new App to be chosen as the primary, or use the old-fashioned multitasking (double click on the Home button) to switch to a different App.

Picture in Picture – This isn’t so much a productivity feature, but an entertainment feature. though I can see how it would be useful to watch a how-to video while following along.

The Picture in Picture feature of iOS 9 is not tied to any particular App. To invoke Picture in Picture, bring up a video and play it as normal (videos in the Videos App, FaceTime App, or movies/TV shows downloaded from iTunes will work with this feature).

While watching a video in full screen mode, either click on the Home button (or the new button on a lower right corner of the video) to put the video playback in Picture in Picture mode. The video will continue to play in the floating window. Behind it you can continue to work with other Apps. The floating window can be moved around the screen to any of the four corners and you can use a two finger pinch to resize the window.

iOS 9 iPad Tip - Using Split-Screen Multitasking-4

Not all Apps are compatible with split-screen mode. If they are not compatible, they won’t display in that right-hand window.

iOS 9 will remember split-screens. For example, a user can have Notes open with Clock on the left side. Click on the Home button to select a new App, such as Kindle. Then double click on the Home button and choose Notes again and you return to the split-screen view.

The “back to” Button 

Another multitasking associated feature of iOS 9 is the introduction of the “back to” button. This feature is not tied to any particular hardware as best as I can tell. It works fine even with my older iPhone 5 running iOS 9.

The “back to” button, as the name implies allows you to return to an App. Let’s say you are working in a Notes document and click on a link that it contains (the iOS articles link in the example below). Your iPad will switch Apps from Notes to Safari and open the link.

That works as before, but now, instead of double clicking the Home button and selecting the Notes App to return to, you can simply use the “back to” button at the top left of the screen to return to Notes from Safari.

iOS 9 iPad Tip - Using Split-Screen Multitasking-5  iOS 9 iPad Tip - Using Split-Screen Multitasking-6

[1] Adopting Multitasking Enhancements on iPad

See my other iOS articles

iOS 9 Tip – Be Aware of WiFi Assist

Updated 11/17/15

One of the many new features introduced with iOS 9 is Wi-Fi Assist. But that new feature has stirred up a bit of controversy (see list of articles under References).

So what is Wi-Fi Assist?
First, this feature of iOS 9 assumes that you are using Wi-Fi for your data connection when possible. The Wi-Fi Assist feature is enabled by default and monitors the quality of the Wi-Fi connection.  As you move around with your iOS device and the Wi-Fi signal degrades, Wi-Fi Assist will automatically switch the data connection over to the device’s 4G/LTE radio. This is designed to insure a smoother hand-off between the Wi-Fi and the cellular radios so as to provide the user with a more pleasant, uninterrupted experience.

Prior to iOS 9 your device performed much the same hand-off function, but the device would stay with the Wi-Fi signal far longer. In fact, a user could sometimes get caught in a ‘dead zone’ where the Wi-Fi signal was still strong enough for the device to still be connected to the Wi-Fi hotspot, but the signal was so poor that little or no data was being received. Wi-Fi Assist means switching to the cellular radio a few second sooner. As you move around within the area covered by a Wi-Fi signal, your iOS device may switch between the Wi-Fi radio and cellular radio many times as the Wi-Fi signal strength varies. You could easily think you were using Wi-Fi when you were really using your cellular data. This technology is similar to ‘Voice over Wi-Fi’ that some carriers have begun implementing for calls.

The theory behind Wi-Fi Assist is to insure the user has the best experience possible. The potential downside is that far more cellular data will be used.

Apple did release more information that clarifies when Wi-Fi Assist actually applies [11, 13, 14]:

  • Wi-Fi Assist will not automatically switch to cellular if you’re data roaming.
  • Wi-Fi Assist only works when you have apps running in the foreground and doesn’t activate with background downloading of content.
  • Wi-Fi Assist doesn’t activate with some third-party apps that stream audio or video, or download attachments, like an email app, as they might use large amounts of data.

The Evidence
Little true evidence has been presented so far other than some anecdotal observations by Chris Mills of Gizmodo where he noticed a 33% increase in his data usage [1]. All of the other articles I have come across so far speak only of the potential for higher data usage. However, on October 23 Apple was the target of a class action lawsuit claiming that it had failed to properly warn users about the potential higher data usage Wi-Fi Assist might cause, and that it had cost customers in excess of $5M [15-19]. A second similar class-action suit has also been filed [20].

The Benefits of Wi-Fi Assist
I did see one article by Matt Elliott of C|Net where he really enjoys the use of Wi-Fi Assist as it makes his use of a streaming App (http://MLB.com At Bat app) work seamlessly when he leaves the area of his home to take his dog for a walk [2].

Disabling/Enabling Wi-Fi Assist
Disabling or re-enabling Wi-Fi Assist is very easy. On your iOS device open Settings >> Cellular >> scroll to bottom of screen and tap the ‘Wi-Fi Assist’ slider to toggle to feature on or off.


This is one of those cases where there is not a clear answer for every user. If you:

  • have unlimited data, leave Wi-Fi Assist turned on
  • are a heavy user of applications that stream data you may want to leave Wi-fi Assist on for the best experience
  • have a low monthly data limit, I would turn off Wi-fi Assist

At the very least everyone should keep an eye on the data usage of their iOS devices after upgrading to iOS 9 to insure that there will be no surprises!

Myself, I have disabled Wi-Fi Assist on my iPhone. I will turn in
on when and if needed.

[1] iOS 9’s Wi-Fi Assist Is Eating My Cell Data
[2] How and why to enable Wi-Fi Assist on iOS 9
[3] No, iOS 9’s Wi-Fi Assist isn’t causing massive data overages
[4] iOS 9’s WiFi Assist is killing your data plan
[5] Quick iOS 9 Tip: Save Data By Turning Off Wi-Fi Assist
[6] This New iOS 9 Setting Could Be Costing You a Fortune
[7] How to turn off iOS 9’s Wi-Fi assist to save your data plan
[8] Pro Tip: Avoid data overage charges with this hidden iOS 9 setting
[9] How iOS 9’s Wi-Fi Assist frees users from slow connections
[10] 3 Tips to Reduce High Cellular Data Usage on iPhone with iOS 9
[11] About Wi-Fi Assist
[12] iOS 9’s Wi-Fi Assist, fully explained and demystified – added 10/12/15
[13] Apple clears the air on Wi-Fi Assist confusion – added 10/15/15
[14] Apple posts iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist guide in wake of complaints about excessive data use – added 10/15/15
[15] Lawsuit accuses Apple’s iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist of burning through $5M+ in data – added 10/25/15
[16] Apple sued for failing to properly warn owners of the price of iOS 9’s Wi-Fi Assist feature – added 10/25/15
[17] Apple sued over iOS 9’s eagerness to chew up cellular data – added 10/26/15
[18] Apple sued over iOS 9 WiFi Assist for racking up massive overage fees – added 10/27/15
[19] Apple Sued Over Its New iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist Feature added 11/5/15
[20] Apple sued (again) for failing to properly warn owners of the price of iOS 9’s Wi-Fi Assist feature added 11/17/15

See my other iOS articles

iPhone Tip – Show Signal Strength

We all have the “dots” on our iPhone to show the signal strength, but is that enough? I would prefer something a little more granular than that on my iPhone. Fortunately there is an easy way of altering the signal strength display to do just that, You don’t have to jailbreak your iPhone and the change is reversible.


To do this you need to access the hidden “Field Test Mode” on your iPhone. That can be done by entering *3001#12345#* on the iPhone keypad, then tapping the Call button. This will replace the display of the signal strength at the top left of the iPhone screen using the standard “dots” (left figure below) and with a numerical signal strength readout (right figure below). The value will be in decibels (dBm) ranging from -40 to -130, with -40 being the strongest possible signal and -130 being no signal at all.

IMG_0373  IMG_0371

This number represents the Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI) – a measure of the power present in the received radio signal. Interpreting the RSSI value:

  • -40 dBm to -60 dBm – very strong signal
  • -61 dBm to -95 dBm – strong signal
  • -96 dBm to -110 dBm – satisfactory signal
  • -111 dBm or less – poor signal

Hitting the Home button will exit Field Test Mode and return your iPhone to the normal signal strength display.

Now the process discussed thus far only displays the signal strength while Field Test Mode is invoked. I prefer to have the signal strength displayed all the time in decibels (dBm). To accomplish this dial *3001#12345#* on the iPhone keypad again. Instead of leaving Field Test Mode using the Home button, hold down the power/sleep button until is shows the “Slide to power off” message, then hold down the iPhone Home button. This will “force quit” the Field Test App. Now the signal strength is left displaying in decibels. If you tap on the displayed value, it will toggle between displaying the signal strength in dBm and the original “dots”.

To return the phone to the original signal strength display, repeat the process. This will work with an iPhone running iOS 4.1 or later.

I modified my iPhone 5 several months ago and prefer this more granular report on the signal strength. I should note too that the change persists across updates. I recently updated to iOS 9 and the change is still in place.

See my other iOS articles


iPhone Tip – How to Handle SPAM Calls

iPhone Tip - How to Handle SPAM calls

I occasionally get what I consider SPAM phone calls. While there is nothing I know of to prevent getting these all together, I do know that I get a call from any given number only once. This is a simple fix, but not everyone I have mentioned it to has set it up.

  1. Go into Phone >> Contacts on your phone and create a new contact with the “+” button in the top right corner of the screen. I just gave the contact entry the name “SPAM”.
  2. Now you want to designate that contact as ‘Blocked’. Go to Settings >> Phone >> Blocked >> Add New. This will bring up a list of all of your contacts. Scroll through and select the contact “SPAM” you created in #1 above. This will cause all phone numbers associated with this contacts entry to be blocked. (Contacts can also be blocked using Settings >> Messages >> Blocked or Settings >> FaceTime >> Blocked)
  3. When you receive a SPAM call, open Phone >> Recents then find the information on the SPAM caller.
  4. Tap on the blue “i” at the far right for the offending caller. Scroll down the page and click on the link “Add to Existing Contact”. That will bring up your list of contacts. Scroll down and select the entry you created in #1 “SPAM”. This will add the offending phone number to SPAM and you have already set that ‘contact’ to be blocked.
  5. Having done this, while someone from that offending number may try to phone you in the future, you will never be bothered by
    them again.

I have had my iPhone set up this way for about a year and my “SPAM” contact entry now has eight phone numbers that are being blocked.

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iOS – Neato

Screen-Shot-2014-11-04-at-9.59.37-PM-640x556I came across the app Neato today and gave it a try. This app installs into Notification Center as a notepad. This is the first widget I have added to my iPhone since updating to iOS 8.1. I have played with this app a little now and I think it will be useful. I often go for walks and listen to podcasts. This little app will let me jot down anything that I hear and want to remember – no longer will I have to remember pen and paper. It is also useful to make notes at anytime regardless of what else you are doing on your iPhone.

A further advantage is that Neato integrates with Evernote and Dropbox (both of which I consider essential applications to iOS and OS X devices), allowing notes to be sent to either of those for later use. You can also send tweets, emails or text messages from the App. The app is currently free on the App Store and I highly recommend it.

See all of my iOS posts