Friday, 8 June 2012

iOS for beginners, A practical walk-through : Part 1

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." Out of all the things a person can be quoted to have said, Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer hopes that everyone would have forgotten this gold nugget by now. Steve's remarks came shortly after the release of the iPhone in 2007. 

Apple's iPhone has gone through 5 major versions over the past 7 years compared to numerous different phones released by competitors. The iOS system has a significant market share and others including Microsoft and their fledgling Windows Mobile are desperately trying to make up lost ground to the World's most valuable company.

Owing to the domineering presence of iOS we thought our guide below would be of help to you by revealing a few tips we encountered along the way. 

Read on if you own an iOS device or are curious about the goings on behind the glassy walls of the Cupertino tech giant. Let's start with the basics.

With stats such as the following coming out of the last Worldwide Developer Conference, consistency across their products in the form of a stable and simple operating system is the reason people are buying devices with the Apple on the back rather than any other.

“Apple has sold 200 million iOS devices to date, including 25 million iPads. Apple has paid out over $2.5 billion to App Store developers. In addition, users have downloaded a total of 14 billion applications from the iTunes App Store — including 90,000 iPad apps — and 130 million downloads from the iBookstore.”

New to iOS

Just like the Terrence Malik film, Tree of Life, which claims there are two ways through life, the way of Nature and the way of Grace, there are two ways through iOS; the way of iTunes and the way-that-Apple-would-sneer-at-you-if-you-took-it. 

Make sure you have an Apple ID created before purchasing anything with iOS, it will make things simpler. Having an Apple ID lets you download free Apps from the expansive App Store and use many of the new features found in iOS5. Another important reason for having an Apple ID is because you will be updating your Apps frequently. This is important if you want to stay up-to-date with the latest features and bug fixes!

Everything is less technical if you purchase apps with your credit card and stay clear from Jailbreak Island. 

Listed below are the steps to create an Apple ID without payment information:

Download ANY free Application e.g. iTunes Remote . 
When prompted to Sign In click Create New Apple ID

  1. Read the terms and conditions, proceed and enter email address, security question, birthday
    and choose your password.

Select payment option as none, verify email and sign in with your new account.

Apple built the interaction with the iPhone and the computer around iTunes. Many tasks such as transferring music involved iTunes and so it helps to know some of the settings since the possessive software plays a prime role in how any iOS device functions. 

iOS Tips - Syncing and Transferring

Apple's products come with plenty of storage and what good is it if you can't fill it up with Books, Music, Videos and more? This is how music, ebooks and pictures are synced to iOS devices.

If you have more than one computer in your house it is important to prevent the iOS device from syncing and wiping itself clean everytime you plug it to a different PC. To prevent this we recommend unchecking 'Open iTunes everytime this device connects to a Computer'.

To make it easy to add and remove songs to your iOS device we recommend turning the 'Manually manage Music and Books' option on. This way you can drag and drop files to your phone without having to resync the whole library and risk losing songs that aren't updated on either end.



This topic is widely associated with iPhones and seems to have a lot of negative connotations surrounding it. Jailbreaking is simply the process that removes all the limitations put on iOS by Apple. Nothing changes on the device except the addition of an app called Cydia which allows you to manage tweaks and download additional homebrew apps. Normal phone functions remain unchanged.

Jailbreaking takes about 5 minutes at most and you don't lose any data if you have a back-up. The process is legal but it might void the warranty of your phone. Why should you do it? Access to all the apps on the App store for free, as well as tweaks that make the iOS more usable thanks to the creativity of jailbreak developers. Part 3 contains everything you need to know about the Jailbreak process.

The notification center you see in iOS5 was initially a tweak that was available on Cydia until Apple hired the developer responsible for it, and released the tweak as a fully functional feature in iOS.

Upgrading to iOS5

We highly recommend taking regular back-ups of your phone. Before doing any kind of upgrade make sure you connect your device to iTunes and make a back-up!

To upgrade to iOS5 simply update iTunes to the latest version, plug the device and click on 'Download and Update'.  From then on you can Restore your data from the backup that was done before the update and everything will be back where it belongs. One feature you should definitely enable is 'Backup to iCloud'. Instead of having to connect your iOS device to a Computer everytime you want to save your Messages or Contacts, Backing up to iCloud allows you to stored all your phone's data to your free 5GB account on the Cloud. 

Why should you do this? Let's say you lose your phone or you bought an iPad and would like to clone your iOS data onto it; simply log in to your Apple ID account and everything that you had on your phone would be replicated onto your new device.

Here are the features that you have access to now that you are on iOS5.

Notification center

iOS' notification system was lacking severely compared to Android; Alerts came in the form of a bland blue box and the only thing you could do was either Open the alert or cancel it. To access this feature, simply slide down from the top of the phone to bring down a 'Blind' that has widgets and all recent alerts. 

If your device is locked all alerts will stack vertically. Swiping the icon goes directly into that application.
iMessage and FaceTime
iMessage is free iOS-to-iOS messaging and is a big feature for everyone using an iOS device. FaceTime is another addition that was released with iPhone and is a simple way to video call iPads, iPhones, iMacs and iPods. It is ridiculously easy but setting it up pre-iOS5 was a headache. You need your Apple ID when setting up FaceTime and iMessage.

To do so, go into Messages in the Settings tab and turn iMessage on. If it says activation unsuccessful, add an email address into the Receive At field. This email is your iOS iMessage username, pass it on to others and if they have this email in you can be contacted for free.

iMessages turn the usual SMS Message app blue in colour whereas SMS's are displayed in green. The seamless integration of iMessage into the means you'll be sending blue-coloured messages to your iOS contacts instead of SMS's, much to the dismay of telco's. iOS will default to iMessage when it detects the recipient is also on an updated Apple device. What's more is that you will be able to send images and video along with your text messages.

Activating FaceTime requires the same setting, simply pick and email that you can be FaceTime-d on and if you and your friend are on a WiFi connection, video calls are free anywhere in the world. Easy.  

Newsstand is an app that holds all newspaper and emagazine subscriptions. You have 1 free subscription to try out with the release of newsstand.

Reminders is an app that does exactly that. Your iDevice will now alert you to important or not-so important events. A very straightforward and much-needed app that puts all the other million paid alternatives to shame, it also integrates nicely with Notification center. Something you should check out is Location-aware reminders. For example, if I want to set a Reminder to 'Send Message to X', adding a reminder tagged to X's contact details will Alert me when I am nearby their place.

The iOS browser now has a feature called Reading List which lets you save webpages for later reading. Reading list removes all formatting from saved articles so you have just the text to read. Through iCloud you can keep a unified copy of your favourite articles across your iPad and iPhone.

iCloud is a service for iOS that offers 5GB of free storage for your Contacts, Calendar events and Photos. You can keep all this data in sync and in one place so that it can be accessed on any device
that supports iCloud. You can choose if you want to Backup all your Contacts, Calendars and Photos to your Computer or to iCloud.

Now that you've glanced through the main features of iOS, stay tuned for a list of must-have apps that might increase your productivity and keep everything streamlined.

The article above was also featured in C3 Magazine's Infotel edition.

Part 2 : How to make iOS work for you and not the other way around

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