Sunday, 10 June 2012

Setting up iOS [Part 2]

If you own an iOS device, staying informed about the features or latest additions to the OS is useless if you can't find a way to make these new features work for You, and not the other way around. The number of iOS users are ever-increasing but along with this surge in ownership figures, so is the ignorance or, more appropriate, failure to understand how some of the major features work. I would like to think that new technologies are released to build on previous iterations and to make tasks more efficient or convenient or better yet, accessible.

The following post talks about how you can set-up iOS to streamline day-to-day tasks such as checking email or keeping your files in sync in one place ('the Cloud', nowadays). In the next post I share some of my favourite iOS apps. Read on to find out how to make iOS work for you.

In my opinion, and I'm sure if you own an iOS device you would agree with me on this, the strongest feature of iOS is its consistency. Consistency in all aspects of devices that run the iOS platform is the sole reason that compels users from competing platforms to make the jump to Apple devices and is the same reason that keeps them happy for devices to come. The fact that the core UX philosophy remains largely unchained since the first version of the iPhone is testament that change can be achieved without compromising Simplicity. 

The iPhone

I believe if manufacturers stopped thinking of ways to make 'Cooler' user interfaces and worried more about what the end-user does with the device, we would see an increase in functional and practical software and hardware. By that I'm referring to products that boldly claim 'Also runs X' but attempting a menial task with this 'X' results in disaster. If however your criteria depends on how good a phone's user interface looks, compared to the tasks it can actually help you do, I'm afraid we're on two opposite ends of the spectrum. Having said that, this argument defeats the purpose of manufacturing devices. This would affect the primary business model of releasing new iterations, regardless if it is the same device at core (with minor improvements), that are always harder, stronger better and faster than the last edition. This is after all a business.

iOS 6 will be announced next Monday at the WWDC conference, so before new of that hits, let's take a look at how to set up an iPhone running iOS 5.

Setting up an iPhone 

The following guide was written based on my experience with iOS. Some settings mentioned below may vary from person to person. I hope the following information can save you time, money or energy spent searching the Internet for common queries.

Let's start with the Settings screen and go through some of the basics. 

The complete Settings screen

More settings

Video, Photos, Notes and lastly Store settings

In order to stop alerts every time you are within the vicinity of a public WiFi network, use the following setting. It also helps save battery life.

Wi-Fi -> Ask to Join Networks [OFF]

If you have a WiFi-only iPad and a mobile data plan on your iPhone enable the following setting to broadcast your phone's internet connection to your iPad allowing you to use Internet on your iPad and/or any other device. 

Personal Hotspot -> [ON]

Configuring Notification Center lets you completely disable annoying Alerts that could pop-up from time to time. If your homescreen is filled with badge icons from Apps shouldn't be displaying badge alerts simply open up Notifications and browse the app in question.  

Notification settings
For example, the App Notifo seems to have 15 badge notifications. To turn this setting off browse the App within Notifications and Turn of badges. Configuring these settings per app allows you to control specifically which Apps are important and which aren't.
Turning off badge notifications

Notifications -> App -> Badge App Icon [OFF]

Going down the list ignoring the obvious settings brings us to Brightness. I would recommend turning on Auto-Brightness and moving the slider just about the T in the word 'Brightness'. This is a good setting to keep it at and it also helps conserve battery life.

Now we get to the General settings screen which contain a lot of helpful settings such as Usage, which we will take a look at below.

To change the name of your iPhone or see exactly how much space you have left on the device simply browse the About screen. Here you can also see how many Photos, Videos, Applications as well as the version of your iOS software.

A list of all installed apps as well as storage space taken

The Usage tab above is, well, useful; Here you can browse a list of all the Apps you have installed on your device. Furthermore, you can see the version number of Apps as well as its size and more importantly the size of data it takes up on your phone. If you're running out of space you can delete apps directly from this window. All apps are sorted by storage size from largest to smallest.

A quick summary of the storage used in your free iCloud account is displayed just below the list of installed apps and underneath this is the toggle for battery percentage which I recommend turning off.

Next in the General settings sub-menu is Spotlight Search. Spotlight Search can be brought up by pressing the Home button twice from any screen. It's the quickest way to look up contact details. Checking items in the list adds the contents of these items to a search index allowing you to use Spotlight Search to search through these '.apps'. Dragging items to the top of the list changes the Search results priority. In the above image, Contact hits are always displayed first, followed by Messages and Mail. I recommend removing Music and similar apps that contain a large amount of data off, in order to conserve battery life.

Going back into General settings we get the Restrictions settings which defaults to Off. If you receive YouTube links on iMessage, it defaults to open up with the stock which hasn't been updated in what seems like a very long time. Using the Restrictions screen you can use the Safari Youtube website to open all Youtube links by default.

Enable Restrictions [ON] -> YouTube [OFF]

One little known feature in iOS 5 is Shortcuts under the Keyboard settings. Shortcuts is simply TextExpander for iOS. For those of you unfamiliar, it replaces a string of text with another string of text.

In the above image, typing my# anywhere in iOS will automatically insert, for example, all your contact numbers. This is just one example of how you could use shortcuts. You could also set up an 'myEm' shortcut that inserts your email address.

iOS supports 'emoji' emoticons which can be seen in the image above. To use 'emoji' install the Emoji Free! app from the app store and add the Emoji keyboard.

Keyboard -> International Keyboards -> Add New Keyboard...

As seen in the image above, if you add international keyboards, dragging one item above another will affect the display order when the 'Other Keyboard' icon (seen in the bottom left of the Emoji image above) is pressed. Lastly, if you find it annoying that a word autocorrects to a typo, you can reset the Keyboard dictionary by going into the Reset setting.

Rest -> Reset Keyboard Dictionary

If you use an iPad you could sign in with your iCloud account to iMessage and keep your data synced across both devices. For example, if you iMessage a friend on your iPhone you can continue the conversation on the iPad and when you switch back to the iPhone the conversation will resume from where you left off.

The Storage & Backup menu allows you to toggle if your backups are stored on iCloud.

iCloud -> Storage & Backup -> Back Up Now

Another helpful setting can be found in the Safari menu. If you use the Safari browser often and open many links, the 'Open Links in Background' setting doesn't jump into the tab when you click on a link.

All the above settings are what I use on iOS. There is by no means a 'correct' way to set-up iOS nor is there a wrong way, it all depends on your preference. If you have a tip or have any questions leave a comment below.

Now that we've gone through some of the settings in iOS the next post deals with the must-have Apps.

Stay tuned...

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