Google Productivity Pad: June 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Podcast Review: Today in iOS (Tii)

Stars: 5
Type: Technology/iOS
Run Time: approx. 45min-1.5hours
Release: ~weekly

The Today in iOS (Tii) podcast was one of the first podcasts I ever started listening too and is probably responsible for me falling in love with the medium. This show began when the first iPhone was announced, before it had even been released (it was called Today in iPhone back then) and so it is the longest running iDevice podcast in iTunes. It now deals with all news, tips, reviews and questions iOS related.

The power of this show is in its community. Rob Walsh who hosts the show has built a powerful community based podcast off of listener feedback. One listener will call into the show with an issue happening with their iOS device or something they would like to know how to do on it, Rob will give any suggestions he has, and the next week you can be sure that at least several other listeners will have called in explaining their solutions to the problem. I have contributed in the process as both questioner and answerer several times.

So there you have it, if you love learning about iPhones, iPads, and iPods this is the show for you to listen to. Go listen to an episode and let me know what you think  or leave a comment. 

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Gospel Library 3.0, new features

Last week the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released their new gospel library app, Gospel Library 3.0. The important thing to note here is that this is not an update to the existing app, so you will not receive an update notification for it. You will have to go into the app store and search for it and download it new onto your device. The reason for this is that the old version (2.5) is being kept on the app store for people running a version of iOS later than 6.1.3 this is a really nice thing for those on older devices.

Note: if you are jailbroken at 6.1.2 you will not be able to install this app but the old version should keep working for you.

The Gospel Library gives access to all the scriptures and manuals from the LDS church, including the new editions of the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

Lets go over what is new in this app.

New Layout:
Something some of us have been waiting a long time for is a new layout to the Gospel Library and they have done a really nice job with this app. Its close enough that you can still recognize everything but it is much nicer put together.

As you can see here you can access the library from the menu button (red arrow) without having to sift back through all the screens, two taps on the book shelf icon (orange arrow) will take you back to the library home which you see here.

Of course this all looks much nicer with actual covers showing up in the library menu, however if you prefer the old look you can select list view (yellow arrow).

Page Numbers
Maybe not a major new feature but it will prove very useful between those using print and those using electronic scriptures and manuals. Page numbers had previously appeared in only the Teachings of the Presidents manuals. They will now appear in all books (this feature can be turned off if desired), the page numbers will correspond directly to the page numbers in print editions.

Notebooks in Windows
One of the greatest feature of the Gospel Library has been the ability to have multiple books open at a time. This feature still exists in 3.0 and now for the first time you can have study notebooks open in separate windows as well, this is great new as it will make taking notes much easier.

A share button has finally been added, both to the menu bar and to the annotation toolbar (green arrows). This will allow you to share inspiring quote and references with FaceBook, Twitter or via email and iMessage. This will be a great missionary tool going forward.

Footnote and Audio Sidebar
By pressing the sidebar button in the upper right hand corner (blue arrow) you can access the new footnote and audio player sidebar. This will allow you start and audio recording of the book you are reading that you can follow along with. Let you jump to the footnotes. Of course this is also available by tapping on any footnoted words hyperlinked in blue.

Custom Collections
By tapping the New button (pink arrow) you can make a new collection to which you can add different items from the gospel library to have them organized. After you create a custom folder you can  add items to it by hitting the edit button (black arrow).

Those are the new features I have noticed so far, if you have found others please leave them in comments below or .

The app is not perfect yet, it has a few stability issues but nothing worse than past versions have had and I assume there will be an update soon to deal with those soon. If you haven't downloaded the app you should, let me know when you have.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Parental Controls Part 2

With Apple's recent announcement at WWDC that they will be making it easier to find kid appropriate apps in the app store I thought it might be time to revisit the Parental Controls and go over the items I did not cover in part 1.

Again go to Settings > General > Restrictions. If you have already set up restrictions then you will have to enter your restrictions pass code. We will pick up where we left off in part 1.

Privacy Settings (red box)
There are a number of options here as you can see in the screen shot.

When you click on any of these items you will have two options (orange circle):

  • Allow Changes
  • Don't Allow Changes
If you have children primarily using the device you probably want to toggle all of these to "Don't Allow Changes." The reason is that many apps will ask on launch if they can access such things as Location, Contacts, Photos, etc. All the child has to do is click yes and its done. Location services is probably the biggest one here because there are many apps, particularly free apps that advertise that will ask for your location but do not need it for anything having to do with the app.

You will also see a list of all the apps that currently have access to that setting or account. In this case this is my Twitter and we can see that both the Twitter and Flipboard apps have access to my twitter account. I can toggle these permissions on or off.

It is a good idea, even if you do not have children, to go through this list and see what permissions you have given out to apps, you might be surprised what apps are trying to track you. If an app does not have a good reason for accessing this information then turn it off. For example I need Weathercube to know my location so it can give me the proper weather, but I do not need Fruit Ninja to know my location because it is just a game.

Allow Changes (yellow box)
This is the name of the next section for some odd reason, don't ask me why because that is the same thing we were doing before.
This allows you to restrict the changing of "Accounts" which means email, calendar, and contacts accounts. Setting this just means that if you have you device hooked up with your iCloud, or Gmail account your children won't be able to delete it, it also means that they will not be able to set up syncing with some other account.

The "Volume Limit" can be a little confusing. You cannot actually set the volume limit here, you can only choose wether or not that limit can be changed. To actually set the volume limit go to Setting > Music (green arrow).
This is important because especially with young children you do not want them putting the volume up too loud and damaging there ears. So you may want to set a volume limit and then select Don't Allow Changes here.

Game Center (blue box)
The last section just has to toggle switches. You can choose not to allow multiplayer games through game center and to not allow the adding of game center friends. This is just a way to keep your children from accidentally encountering an online predator through game center.

Well that is it for restrictions. There is one more parental control item that deserves its own post to explain so I will be getting to that later. Please make sure you take the simple steps you need to to protect your children on an iOS device. If you have not already read Part 1 you may want to do so.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Initial Thoughts on WWDC

Well as we expected WWDC has brought some big changes for the iPad. Yesterday I was able to watch the first half of Apple's Keynote, then I had to go to class after which I immediately had to go to work for the rest of the afternoon. You can imagine how antsy I was all the rest of the day, since the part that I missed included the announcement of iOS 7.

Since then I have watched some more of the Keynote and read several other articles summarizing it. And I have to say that my first thoughts are that I am very excited, but then I always am after an Apple announcement. However I am also a little sad. Here are a couple of my thoughts.

iOS 7 and OSX Maverick are really exciting. The improvements that they have made look fantastic and are bringing some functionality that a lot of us have been waiting for a long time.

Control Center
This is probably the one I am most excited about. To be able to access those essentials immediately from anywhere on the device. For those of us using bluetooth keyboard, or another bluetooth device frequently, this is great because you no longer will have to search for the bluetooth in the settings app. I wish they would let us choose what apps are available here but it doesn't look like that is coming yet.

Air Drop
I think this is really going to useful. It will be so much easier to use Air Drop between devices rather than having to email it or upload and download from Dropbox or iCloud. Especially if you have multiple Apple products in your home this will make it much easier. I really liked the dig at Samsung about bumping your phone as well.

So the new interface looks very nice for multitasking. I love the part where you swipe up to close out an app, none of this hold down for a second. I do wish they had announced a close all apps option though. But the best thing about this is the smart use of battery power to open apps when needed and not when they aren't needed. I am excited for that.

Notification Sync
This is something I am very pleased to see, but it really should have come with notification center last year. I get very tired of having multiple notifications that I have to clear everywhere (particularly in Calendar). This will be very nice.

There were a few things that made me sad, because the march of progress sometimes has to leave things behind.

Jony Ive is the king of design, and I love a lot of what he has done in iOS 7. It looks really beautiful from what Apple has shown us. But I am one of those who mourns the loss of the skeuomorphic design that Steve Jobs liked so much. But I'm sure I will get over fine, and I won't have to get over it completely, which leads to my next point...

Dropping the iPod Touch 4th gen
While I noted this might happen in my 5th gen post, I was really hoping that it wouldn't. However, I know that it is probably for the best, since it is unlikely that my little 8-gig touch with A4 processor could handle the update. I understand that it is better to drop devices than to have them become very buggy, which is what happened to the 2nd gen with iOS 4; it was just a bad deal. Of course this also means that everybody on the 3GS will also be dropped. Just because we understand does not mean we like it. Looks like I might be joining the jailbreak community.

Auto updating apps
I know some people, particularly the crowd at the Keynote were very excited about this, but I am not. There are many times when you might not want to update to the newest version of an app. For example I don't always update right away because I want to see if there is another release the next day to clear up bugs discovered by those who did update. Or if you are the type of person like me who might use an older device, say when iOS 9 is coming out in a couple years and the iPhone 4 is dropped, that won't be fun because all your apps will try to auto update to versions requiring the newest OS, that's going to make it pretty much useless. Here's hoping you can turn this feature off.

Let me know what your favorite things from the WWDC keynote are, leave a comment below or

iOS 7 home screen

Those are just a few of my thoughts, I'm sure I will have many more as we approach and then actually recieve the release.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Control-Z on an iPad

Control-z (command-z on a Mac) is one of my favorite things about the computer era. As most of you know, it is the computer command for undo last action. It makes it so it's like the last thing you did never happened, so if you make mistake you can just get rid of it. I make a lot of mistakes, probably more than you do, so I have long loved this whole concept; oft times I wish life had a control-z command.

As you know I have mostly gone all iPad, only using my computer at home. So here's the problem: just as it was with control-f, that there is no control or command key on an iPad. Oh the sorrow!

However, before you through your iPad into the dust bin, just yet let me tell you their is a way (albeit not quite as good) to duplicate this functionality on your iPad.

Warning: the iPad does punish you for making mistakes, this solution can make you look like a fool.

You have to shake your iPad

That's right, shake it. You make a mistake and all you have to do is shake your iPad, and it will go away.

Here's what happens; just click the undo typing (red box) and it will go away. This solution works in most apps that use text input. Quite frankly it is easier to do this on an iPhone or an iPod Touch where you may have already shaken your device in frustration anyway.  On the iPad it's a little more difficult and risky. It can be useful however, just not as useful as control-z.

Fortunately for us, many app developers know the value of the undo command and the have built undo functionality into their apps sans the shaking.  This normally comes in the form of a a little arrow looping backwards (orange arrow).

All the Evernote apps (Evernote, Penultimate, Skitch) have this functionality.  The Adobe Reader app, as well as others contain true undo functions. They also have redo arrows (yellow arrow) which mimics the less commonly used control-y command.

So there you have it, it is not perfect, but when you want to undo on your iPad the best option is to look for the undo arrow and if that is not available to you just shake it. I believe the shake command will work in almost every app.

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Thanks for reading, and remember, live better.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How to Make Tracks an Audiobook in iTunes

One of life's most frustrating experiences is when you are happily listening to your music on shuffle and all of the sudden out of your earbud someone starts talking. Then you dig your iPod or iPhone out of your pocket, double click the home button and hit skip; its annoying.

Chances are if this has happened to you its because you've downloaded an audiobook or a talk from a source other than iTunes. The music app simply sees the tracks as MP3s and plays them along with everything else, even if they are marked as the "Books & Spoken" genre, so it shuffles them in with all your songs.

Fortunately there is a simple way to fix this, its just hard to find at first. Normally I don't talk about using a computer directly here, but I only know of a fix for this via iTunes. If you know of a way to do it on iOS please .

I just recently got Jon Acuff's book Quitter as a free audiobook on NoiseTrade, so we will use that as an example.

Note that I am using iTunes 11 on a MacBook, but the process is identical on older versions of iTunes or on a PC.

First find all the tracks that belong in your audiobook, this is probably most easily done by typing the book title or author name into the iTunes search bar if you downloaded it from a source like NoiseTrade or Audible.  If you ripped it off a CD hopefully you named the album and author when you did so and it should also work, if not you will have to do some digging.

It should look something like this:

Highlight all the tracks in the audiobook (click on the top one, hold shift, click on the bottom one) then do a right click, and select "Get Info" (red arrow)

You will then be asked if you want to edit multiple tracks at one time, click yes (orange box).

You will see this menu, click on "Options" on the far right (yellow arrow)

It will look like this:

In order to change these tracks into an audio book you want it to look like this:

Change Media Kind to Audiobook, this will force the tracks to show up under the Books tab in iTunes
Say yes to part of compilation.
Say yes to remember position.
Say yes to skip when shuffling (Hurray!)

There you have it, your problem is solved.  Just sync your iPhone, iPod, or iPad with iTunes and you will be good to go. If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Thoughts on the New iPod Touch 16-gig

Yesterday Apple quietly placed a new product on their website, a new model of the iPod Touch 5th gen. This one has 16-gig of space on it as opposed to the 32-gig which was the previous entry level on the 5th gen. Less storage allowed them to drop the price along with pulling out the rear facing camera and the loop lanyard. Apple also pulled the old 4th gen Touch from their product line, which it had still been offering as the entry level model.

What are my thoughts on the matter?

It's About Time:
Really the 4th gen is a great iPod and the one I still use, but it really should not be being sold new anymore. The technology is really pretty old now and it was time for it to go the way of all the older devices. I'm also happy when something like this happens because it drives down the prices of used electronics.

A Cheaper iPhone?
Many people seem to think that this signals that Apple will unveil a cheaper iPhone, but I disagree. Why? Because by doing this Apple has not made the iPod touch entry cheeper, it has made it more expensive. If by cheaper iPhone people are saying that Apple will release a lower quality iPhone than I definitely say no, what this shows is that if they release a lower cost iPhone it will be at the sacrifice of components.

That may sound like the same thing, but it isn't. Cheap quality is like a Samsung Galaxy where they make it out of plastic that will crack if you look at it sideways. Sacrificing components is what Apple has always done with the iPod touch. They've always lowered the price by saying were going to give you an older processor, or leave out the microphone, or leave off the camera, or offer less memory to give you a lower price. Which makes sense considering most people are buying these for kids.

So What Does This Mean?
Nobody can really say before WWDC but I think that Rob on Today In iOS, made a good guess when he said this may mean that iOS 7 will require the A5 processor that comes in the 5th gen iPod touch. While this would make me very sad because I would hate not to be able to update my iPod, it does seem like a likely explanation.

Another explanation could be that Apple is preparing to launch a new product, like an iWatch that would not be able to connect with a 4th gen bluetooth or processor, or that they are just going to limit it like they did Siri in which case they would need to stop offering products that wouldn't work with it.

It could also be that Apple was just running out of the 4th gen components and did not want to keep producing them when they could just lower the price point of the 5th gen. I think this is the most likely reason. The 4th gen has been around for a long time in terms of Apple products and as good as it is it was time for it to be picked off the Apple tree.

Well those are my thoughts. Let me know yours, .
I guess we'll find out more next week. Here's looking forward to WWDC.

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