No – you can’t set up multiple users on an iPad

Many users

Can lots of people all use the same iPad?

Unlike on either a Windows or Mac computer, it is not possible to set up multiple users on an iPad. This is a shame. There must be many, many, families out there where Dad doesn’t want to see pastel-coloured unicorns or ponies (or any other colour of unicorns or ponies, for that matter), and little Teagan doesn’t care much for the Six Nations Rugby scores.

You may think that it’s because the machines are not powerful enough to keep track of multiple users or there isn’t enough storage space, but that’s unlikely to be the case as there is, in fact, a multi-user version of the iPad – but it’s only for schools. It allows different children in a class to share the same iPad. There isn’t even a multi-user version available for large enterprises with pockets deep enough to pay a premium for such a beast.

2 iPads

iPads aren’t designed to have several users

The only conclusion we can probably draw from this is that Apple don’t want to undermine potential sales of several iPads per household by making it easier to share a single device. But not every household can afford – or wishes to own – one iPad per person, so are there any ways of making it easier to share one device with only a single user account?

Email – one user could use the stock iPad email program, another the Outlook app, and another the Gmail app.

Browsers – if different users use dfferent browsers (such as Safari, Chrome, and Firefox) then each could save their own bookmarks (favorites) separate from those of other users

Social Media – each user just needs to remember to log out of their own account when they have finished, if they want to retain their privacy.

If several family members are sharing a single device then it might be an idea to create a special “family” Apple ID for that device. This would probably be cleaner than using one particular family member’s Apple ID (and better for privacy, as well). I have seen horrible complications (in the area of app updates, for instance) when just one person has two different Apple IDs. This could get very much messier if several members of a family sign in and out of the same device using their own Apple ID and then download apps under their own Apple ID. And signing in under a different Apple ID won’t help to keep one person’s iPad content separate from others’ content, anyway, so the situation is best avoided by using just one Apple ID that everyone understands is a shared account.

Galaxy Tab

Android tablets (such as this Galaxy) will happily host several users

Now, I think it best to confess that I haven’t actually seen these ideas put into action on a “family iPad”. After decades of IT experience, if there’s one thing I have definitely learned it is that all manner of things are fine in theory, but can get a lot more complicated when put into practice, and the only way to find out whether something really works is to try it.

Of course, there is another solution to all of this. Don’t buy an iPad: buy an Android device instead. Android devices allow you to create different users, with their own apps and content. To create a new user on an Android device:

  • Go to “Settings”
  • Look for “Users” under the Device tab at the left of the screen
  • Click on “Add user or profile” and follow the instructions

Slightly off-topic, but I’d like to express one caveat about buying an Android tablet: don’t buy one with less than 32gb storage (and get more if possible). It’s all very well thinking that you’ve got virtually unlimited space because you can add micro SD cards, but many apps (and even their data) insist on being installed in main storage. This is, of course, exacerbated by all the junk apps that you don’t want but which can’t be uninstalled from Android devices. All of this leads to a small Android tablet running out of space very quickly.

A “photo burst”, on an iPhone or iPad, is a sequence of photos taken in rapid succession

Taking a burst of photos can improve your chances of getting a good picture in situations when things are moving quickly and you can’t go back and do it again if you miss it the first time.

The way that you take a burst of photos on an iPhone is simple in that all you have to do is keep your finger on the “shutter button” (the white circle in the Camera app) for a few seconds. The camera will then take a rapid sequence of pictures for as long as you press the button. Incidentally, you don’t have to press the “shutter button” to take pictures. Clicking on either the “volume up” or “volume down” button while the camera app is open will also take pictures.

If you now open the Photos app and go to the picture that is a “Burst”, you will see some text near the top left of the screen saying, for example, “Burst (22 photos)”. Note that if you tap on the image (so that all the surrounding text and icons disappear), this text also disappears and you can not tell that you are not looking at a normal, single, image. If this happens, just tap on the photo to bring the icons and options back.

When you are looking at a burst, there is a new option below the image that says “Select…” If you tap on this, you can then scroll (left to right and vice versa) through each separate image in the burst to see which one(s) you would like to keep as separate images. For some odd reason, the first image you see will be part way through the sequence so you have to scroll leftwards to get to the beginning. As you scroll through, just tap on each image to be kept and a tick will appear in the bottom righthand corner of each one. When finished selecting, click on “Done” (at top right).

The first time you select images from a particular burst, pressing “Done” will bring up the option to “Keep Everything” or “Keep Only 5 Favourites” (or however many you ticked). If you choose to “Keep Everything” then you will keep the “burst” (ie all the images in the burst presented as a single “burst image”) plus you will keep separate images of the ticked items in the burst. If you choose to keep only the favourites (ticked items) then the burst will be deleted. This is obviously good for saving space on your device, but the burst will now have gone to data heaven and can’t be accessed again.

If you want to revisit the burst and save further images from it, just display the burst in the photos app again, click on “Select” and choose further images to save separately. This time, however, when you click “Done” you will not be presented with the option to “Keep Everything”. This time the burst will be automatically saved and the images that you have just chosen will also be saved (as separate images).

Not re-presenting the option to “Keep Everything” is one thing that confused me when first looking at bursts. Another is that I expected the option “Keep Everything” to mean that each single image in the burst would be automatically saved as a separate image. That’s not what it means. Rather, it means “keep the burst plus any ticked images”. To keep each image in the burst separate from the burst, just select each image in the burst and click “Done”.

The illustration below shows every fourth image in a burst. No doubt, most people could have found a more interesting subject.



Having now got to grips with how “burst” works, all you need to do now is remember to use it in those few seconds that it would be useful!

“Intuitive” seems to be a bit of a dirty word among, shall we say, more mature computer users

IntuitionMany, many times I have listened with sympathy as an IT Support client has told me that a younger family member has insisted that the computer struggles they are suffering are “weird” because the iPhone/tablet/computer is “so intuitive”. The implication is that you should understand it without any conscious effort or specific prior knowledge.

Well, I have a number of thoughts about this, including:

1) Said younger family member probably spends hours and hours a day playing with his/her device and probably tries several things to make a function work without even realising that they are trying different things (eg swipe something left, right, up, down, press on something, hit the back button and try a different route). This is not intuition – it’s trial and error based upon hours and hours and hours of experience (often spent while walking down the street, with head down instead of looking where they are going).

2) Added to the “trial and error” approach mentioned above, we all know that younger people are less fearful in trying things out than older ones. “Will it get me stuck somewhere I can’t get out of”, “Will I get locked out?”, “Will I delete everything”, “Will I break the internet?” are questions that don’t seem to occur to youngsters as they learn to handle IT.

3) Young children teach and show each other. If someone discovers a new app/trick/website then isn’t it quite natural that they’ll show it to their mates?

So, I don’t think it’s “intuition” at all. I’ll offer just two examples to support this “theory” (alright, “contention” might be a better word):

Example 1 – Fitbit

Fitbit pull to sync

Fitbit’s “Pull to sync” hint is only revealed after you’ve started “pulling”

For the last three years or so I have been using Fitbit fitness trackers. They have some great points and some pretty bad ones. Some of the bad ones are really irritating. Here’s just one of them:

Data from the big black clunky “watch” has to be “synchronised” with the smartphone. This will happen automatically, but you can force it to synchronise. Now, instead of just tapping a “button” on the screen of the smartphone marked “Synchronise”, you have to press on the screen and drag downwards. Once you start doing the “dragging”, a helpful hint is displayed which says “Pull to sync” (ie drag downwards) When you have pulled far enough another message appears that says “Release to sync”.

In other words, the hint doesn’t even appear until you have started to perform the action that the hint will tell you to perform. In what way could this possibly be called “intuitive”? It is stupid. You need to know what you are doing before you are given a hint about how to do it! And how can “pulling” and “releasing” be easier or more “intuitive” than a simple tap? I know not.

Example 2 – iPhone Files

ios Files - 01

No sign of how to change file order until……

The latest version of Apple’s IOS operating system (for iPhones and iPads) includes a very welcome app called “Files” which lists certain types of data files stored on the device (eg pdf files, Word docs) and gives access to those files by just tapping on them. However, the files are listed in alphabetic order and there appears to be no way of changing this order (eg to Date order). So, I’ve been using this app and quietly cursing its lack of flexibility.

Then, today, it occurred to me to try to “drag down” in the same way that forces a “synch” in Fitbit. Surprise, surprise. A dropdown menu appeared that allows for sorting by different parameters (including Date order).

ios Files - 02

… you drag downwards and reveal the dropdown menu

Now, it could just be argued that my attempting to drag downwards was “intuition”. I would say that that is just nonsense. It occurred to me to try and pull downwards because I’ve spent hours and hours and hours tinkering with computers, applications, apps, devices and so forth and been irritated on a daily basis by Fitbit’s “Pull to synch” feature. Intuition has nothing whatever to do with it. It is experience. It is also experience that led me to try tapping on “date” again in the “Files” example to see if it would sort in the opposite direction. It did.

So, the next time someone under 40 tells you how intuitive it all is, just be grateful that you haven’t spent as big a proportion of your life wrestling with the technology as they (and I) obviously have.

Does your iPhone randomly capitalise words?

iPhone rageSeveral of my IT clients have mentioned this problem to me recently, and there doesn’t seem to be one single cause or one single fix. To add to the annoyance, the capital letter often doesn’t pop up until you have moved on several words in what you are typing. You then have to go back to it and try – sometimes several times – to persuade it that a lower case letter is what you wanted.

To begin with, I thought that this problem cropped up with the release of IOS version 11, but a bit of googling shows that some people have been having problems with this as far back as version 9 (a couple of years or so ago).

Apple themselves are not exactly helpful on the subject. Their support page mentions just one suggestion – re-setting your personal dictionary. This is achieved by going to:

Settings > General > Reset > Reset keyboard dictionary

The problem with this option is that it deletes any personalisation that you have created in your dictionary and, moreover, isn’t guaranteed to solve the problem. So, if you have personalised your dictionary at all, I would suggest that you try the possibilities listed below first as they are much easier to reverse if they don’t work.

IOS Keyboard Settings

The first thing to try is turning off auto-capitalisation. This, of course, means that the first character after a full stop will no longer be a capital unless you hit the shift key yourself, but you could at least try this first to see if it works and to see if you really would miss auto-capitalisation. Having to intentionally create an upper case letter when you want one is probably less annoying than removing a spurious one. Turn auto-capitalisation off as follows:

Settings > General > Keyboard > Auto-Capitalisation – and then slide the switch to the left (off)

Another possible reason for random capitalisation is that you are typing a word (in a different context) that is included in your Contacts as if it were a name. So, for example, if you’ve put “Acme Cabs” as the NAME of a contact, then you may get the word “cabs” capitalised if you use it in other contexts. If this is the case then the solution is simply to move “Acme Cabs” away from the Name field in your Contacts and into the “Company” field.

Another thing you can try is to disable auto-correction as follows:

Settings > General > Keyboard > Auto-Correction – and then slide the switch to the left (off)

Steve Jobs with iPhoneIf your rogue capitalisation is completely predictable – ie the same peculiar thing happens every time you type a particular word – then you could try employing what we techies might call a “dirty fix”. You could go into the “text replacement” setting and tell it to always replace what it got wrong with what is correct. To access this feature, go to:

Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement

This is all a bit of a mess, and we mere mortals are left to wonder how this glitch can be so difficult to cure that it has been around for a long time now.

Sometimes, you can’t help getting the impression that some of the gloss has gone from Apple since Steve Jobs died. On the other hand, maybe the rot set in right at the beginning when Apple decided to spell “iPhone” with a capital “P”. If that isn’t “random capitalisation”, I don’t know what is!

With the coming of iOS10 (Apple’s latest operating system for iPhones and iPads), my first generation iPad Mini can’t keep up: it can’t be updated to iOS10

ios10 logoIt’s not yet four years old, so if I’d got out of bed on the wrong side this morning I could well be whingeing about “built-in obsolescence”. But let’s take a sunnier view. It doesn’t mean that my iPad is about to stop working. It just means that I can’t run iOS10 on it. This means that some features of iOS10 are not available and, in time, some new apps won’t run on it either, and some existing apps will not be updateable.

Apple Store - Covent Garden

Apple Store – Covent Garden (sans Fan Boys)

Forgetting the Apple Fan Boys who camp outside Apple in Regent Street and Covent Garden the night before a new Apple product comes out, would a normal, sensible person, think iOS10 is a trigger to get a new iPad?

Probably not. I’ve said before that the iPad Mini is my favourite ever piece of technology and I think it probably still is. Mine is working just as well now as it ever did. I’m writing the first draft of this blog on it. Funnily enough, the excellent Logitech keyboard that I bought for it has some keys going a bit yellow, but the iPad itself looks and behaves like new.

Battery Life

My iPad’s battery has lost 13% of its capacity in almost four years

Does it wear out in ways that we can’t see? Yes. The battery becomes less efficient over time. I’ve just installed an app called Battery Life that tells me my battery is only 87% as good at taking a charge as it was when new. I don’t know how steep the curve is going to be between 87% and useless%, but it’s not worrying me today. It should also be said that I’ve got no idea how accurate the “Battery Life” app is.

Probably just as important as the battery, there’s no hard drive to wear out, and no fan to get as noisy as a cement mixer.

So, what’s a new iPad got that mine hasn’t? Well, it might be a bit faster, but it’s still the same size and weight, and the screen resolution is still the same. If, like me, you own a first generation iPad and wonder what benefits you’d get from a new one, you can compare them at the links below:

Original iPad Mini spec
Current ipad Mini spec

Personally, I can’t be bothered to check them in minute detail as I’m fairly sure the current model doesn’t have anything so staggering that it’s worth upgrading.

iPad Mini Logitech Keyboard Cover - White

The first iPad Mini with Logitech keyboard

The truth is that the iPad mini is proving to be a resilient, reliable fact in my life life that does its job extremely well. When my IT support clients ask me how long they should expect their laptops and desktop PCs to last, I say that anything over four years should be looked on as a bonus. That’s for Windows PCs. I’ve got a Mac Mini and a Macbook Pro of late 2009 vintage that are both still going strong at almost seven years old (although they, too, are now unable to keep up with the latest operating systems). As my clients will know, I’m not a particular fan of Apple as a company or of their computers (as opposed to iPhones and iPads), but there’s no denying that their (initially expensive) products do last very well.

No, I won’t be replacing my iPad Mini any time soon. I’ll just have to get used to the fact that from now on it’s a click on the Home button to fire up the iPhone 5 (in iOS10) and the old familiar swipe rightwards on the iPad (in iOS9).

Have you ever wanted to increase the storage space on your idevice?

Apotop DW-17 Wi-Reader

Apotop DW-17 Wi-Reader

However much you like your idevice, it can be a pain that you can not connect either a USB flashdrive or an SD card to increase the storage capacity. This is particularly irritating at this time of year, of course, if you want to take some extra stuff on holiday with you – such as more music, downloaded movies, TV programs, and the like.

Well, I’ve found something that can go a great deal of the way to solving this problem. The specific item that I bought calls itself a Wi-Reader. There are other brands available and the specifications differ slightly.

The idea at the heart of this device is that it can read either an SD card or a USB flashdrive and transmit (stream) the contents via its own wifi signal direct to your iPad, iPhone etc. Clever, huh?

It’s not a perfect substitute for “onboard” extended storage as the contents are only available to a specific (free) app that you install on your idevice. That’s not quite literally true as you can make the contents available via FTP, but I don’t think that my own computer support clients would be likely to want to go off-piste into such rocky terrain.

I’ve been testing this device for a week now, and it works very well indeed within its limitations. The types of content that I’ve tested with it are:

  • Music – both aac format and mp3 format
  • Video – MP4 format
  • PDF files
  • Microsoft Word documents (docx files)
  • Microsoft Excel spreadsheets (xlsx files) – but it only show the first sheet in a workbook
  • Image files in tif and jpg formats

DW-17 Music View

Using the app’s “Music” view mixes all the albums together and lists tracks alphabetically…

I haven’t checked this out thoroughly, but I think it’s fairly safe to assume that all of the data is available in a “read only” format. In other words, I don’t think you can use this device to create or edit files.

I have almost filled a 128gb San Disk Cruzer Blade flashdrive (mainly with music and TV programs converted from DVD format to MP4) and the response time in finding anything specific is perfectly acceptable. This 128gb flashdrive is currently available from Amazon at the very reasonable price of £23.99.

The device itself is called an Apotop DW17 Wi-Reader. I bought it from Maplin for £39.99. If you look at these links, you will see that this particular model can also act as a battery charger for your iDevice. It will also work with Android devices using the freely available Android app, but I think it’s less likely to be needed on an Android device as they typically have SD or micro SD slots of their own.

DW-17 Folder View

…but using the alternative “Folder” view solves the problem

The only slight disadvantage that I’ve encountered is that you (obviously) need to connect to the wifi signal coming from the device in order to access its content. That means that you don’t have a wifi connection to the internet while you are accessing the wi-reader and the iPhone doesn’t attempt to connect to the internet using a 4G connection while the wifi connection is busy doing something else. Several times, I have wondered why I can’t check my email, only to remember that the iPhone’s wifi connection is otherwise occupied. However, that’s a small price to pay.

This solution is obviously not quite as convenient as having external storage slots available on the device itself, but it’s a very good alternative solution for anyone – like myself – who would like to have his entire record collection of about 1500 albums available with only about 120gm weight overhead in their luggage (including the charging cable and the San Disk USB drive). That comes to about 0.1gm per album, and at a cost of about 4p per album. Result!

Apple will let you have IOS 9 before it is released in the autumn

IOS 9 logoWe are accustomed to Microsoft giving the hardy among us access to new versions of their operating systems before they are “finished”, and now Apple is doing the same.

The next version of IOS (the operating system that runs on iPads and iPhones) will be released in the autumn, but you can download and install the “beta” version now if you are brave enough. Follow this link to sign up for the beta release of IOS 9.

Why would you do that?

Well, for someone like me, offering computer support and advice, it would obviously be a good idea to be one step ahead of my clients. You might also be attracted by the potential benefits of the new release and not want to wait.

Why wouldn’t you do that?

IOS 9 wallpaper

IOS 9 wallpaper

The main problem with beta releases is that they are not – by definition – the finished product. They may still have bugs and glitches and they may not be cosmetically complete. This is a risk you might feel it is worth taking, but there’s a potentially bigger problem.

The developers of all the other (non-Apple) apps that you have on your iPad and/or iPhone can not reasonably be expected to have updated their apps for a new operating system before that operating system has been completed. It’s true that they could have joined Apple’s “Developers’ Program” and had access to preview versions, but no-one knows exactly what the finished operating system will be like until it is released. If you install a beta version now, you run the risk of not being able to use some of your most useful non-Apple apps.

Apple Logo - GreenPersonally, I just don’t think that that is a risk worth taking – either as advice for my computer support clients or for myself. If I just happened to have a spare iPhone lying around (of minimum specification 4S), then I would install the beta version on this spare, but it’s not worth the potential disruption of installing it on the only iPhone that I have that would support it. And neither would I risk breaking my iPad.

So, if you’ve been bored by a smart-alec in the pub telling you he’s got IOS9 and it’s sooo coool, and you must get it, then I suggest that you do two things:

  • Bide your time for just a few weeks until the real thing arrives.
  • Change your pub.

Here’s a list of some of the changes that I understand are coming to the new version:

  • Better Siri (the voice interface with IOS)
  • Better search facilities
  • Better app switching (swapping between open apps)
  • Notes app will be able to include photos, maps, doodles
  • Public transport directions – but only for major US cities to begin with. I still find the TfL app very accurate for us Londoners –
  • A news app (think I’ll stick with the Beeb, thanks)
  • “Settings” will be searchable – a very welcome update
  • A “back” button to go back to previous apps
  • A “low power” mode to extend battery life
  • The four digit passkey is being increased to six digits
  • Last – and very definitely least – an album for selfies (groan). Maybe it’s an age thing, but I just don’t “get” selfies

And which hardware will support the new operating system?

In short, any iPhone or iPad that supports IOS8 will also support IOS9. The full list is:

  • iPad Air
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPad Mini
  • iPad Mini 2
  • iPad Mini 3
  • iPad 4th generation
  • iPad 3rd generation
  • iPad 2
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 5S
  • iPhone 5C
  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 4S
  • iPod Touch 5th generation

Small iPhone niggle solved!

Down The PlugholeFollowing on from last week’s blog about blocking unwanted phone calls, I have finally had a look at a problem with iPads and iPhones when attempting to delete emails from the inbox.

When I open my iPhone Mail app I like to be able to see the option to view all emails that have come in today. Clicking on the “Today” option will reveal a pile of emails coming into all my accounts – including real, urgent, dealt-with, spam, unwanted etc. It can be quite therapeutic (as well as “administratively sound”) to go through these, deleting all of those that don’t need my attention. Like most people, I only use my phone and tablet to keep abreast of new stuff and to deal with anything that needs dealing with immediately. Therefore, I’m not at all interested in long-term storage or filing of emails on these devices. I either need to keep them in the inbox for now or they can be deleted.

Unable to Move Message

Look familiar? Read on…

So, here comes the irritating problem. You ought to be able to delete an email by sliding the message leftwards. The message will be replaced by a red bar and the word “delete”. Remove your finger from the screen (at the end of the leftward swipe motion) and the message should be despatched to data heaven. Quite often, though, it doesn’t. Instead, a message pops up declaring “Unable to Move Message. The message could not be moved to the mailbox Trash”.

This is one of those small computer niggles that’s just important enough to create a scintilla of annoyance, but not important enough to bother investigating. Well, this time I thought “no more, I’m going to get to the bottom of this one”.

I have found that the problem happens when you connect to an email account on your IOS device (iPhone or iPad) via the IMAP method and the account settings on the device need a slight tweak to tell the app where your incoming message are kept. The solution (for an iPhone running IOS version 8.1.3) is as follows:

  • Go to “Settings”
  • Scroll down to “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” and tap on it
  • Tap on the account that is displaying the behaviour you wish to change
  • Under the heading “IMAP”, tap on the account name
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and tap on “Advanced”
  • Scroll down until you see the item called “IMAP path prefix”
  • Tap on the item and replace the contents (“probably a “/”) with the word “INPUT” (in capitals, no quotation marks)
  • Tap on “< Account" at the top lefthand corner of the screen
  • Tap on “done” and close the “settings” app in the normal way.

Do be aware that, since this is an IMAP connection, deleting any messages from your iphone/iPad will also cause the message to be deleted from the server.

iPhone Mail Preferences

Tap on a circle to select or unselect that option (you would need to scroll down to see the “Today” option)

I started this blog by saying that I like to open the “Today” screen in my emails – showing all emails that have come in to all accounts today. You can choose which items are displayed when you open the Mail app by opening the Mail App and then tapping on the “Edit” option at the top righthand corner of the screen. Then just tap on any “empty” circle to replace it with a tick. That item will then be displayed when you open the Mail app. As you would expect, this is a “toggle” switch, so tapping on it again will change its state back again (ie ticked to not ticked and vice versa). Tap on the “Done” option at the top right when you have finished changing selections.

For the most part, I like to avoid computer jargon but it’s probably worth knowing what a “toggle switch” is since there are lots of them in computer software. A toggle switch (in computer terms) is just a switch that can be in one of two or even three or more positions and changing between the positions is achieved by operating the same switch in the same way so that you “cycle” through the available settings and stop when you’ve reached the setting you want. In other words, it’s not analogous to a light switch that you flick down for “on” and up for “off” but it is analagous to a light switch on a cord where you pull the cord down in the same manner whether you are going from on to off or off to on.

Is Apple trying to drive us mad?

If you’ve got an iPhone and at least one other Apple toy, such as an iPad or a Mac, then you may have noticed recently that when your phone rings there’s a cacophony of sound emanating from all your Apple goodies.

This is a feature of the new Mac Yosemite operating system signed in with the same Apple ID as an iPhone running IOS 8 and/or an iPad signed in with the same Apple ID as an IOS 8 iPhone.

So, your phone rings and then your Mac and iPad ring as well. You can then answer the call on your Mac or iPad (using the inbuilt speakers and microphone). The question I must ask myself is “why?”

Maybe you like this feature or maybe, like me, you think your Apple technology is coming on a bit un-necessary. I can just imagine some smarty-pants at Apple saying “ooh, look what we can do” (to which, of course, all present will reply “cool”). At the risk of sounding (as usual) like a 21st century Victor Meldrew, I have to ask the hypothetical question “why on earth would I want my computer and my tablet to ring in unison when my phone rings?” After all, if there’s one piece of technology that I’m more likely to have within reach than any other it’s my mobile phone.

Luckily, it’s easy to change the settings so that life goes back to how it used to be – back in the days when you didn’t nearly jump out of your skin every time the phone rang.

So, here’s how to restore sanity on your Mac:

  • Open the “FaceTime” program on the Mac
  • Click on the “FaceTime” option in the top menu (see Figure 1)
  • Click on “Preferences”
  • Uncheck the box next to “iPhone Cellular Calls” by clicking on the tick (Figure 2)
  • Close the open dialog box and FaceTime
  • Relax
FaceTime Menu

Figure 1

FaceTime Preferences

Figure 2

And here’s how to do it on your iPad:

  • Go to “Settings”
  • Tap on “FaceTime” in the lefthand column
  • On the righthand side, slide the switch against “iPhone Mobile Calls” to the left
  • Close Settings
  • Relax
iPad FaceTime Settings

Figure 3

You might be wondering – as I did – whether this new feature of sending and receiving voice calls to and from iPads and Macs means that you can now create and send text messages from these machines. I looked for this feature as I’ve still not got used to the cramped keyboard on iPhones and would much rather type on something else. Alas, you can’t. There are still only two ways of sending text messages from an iPad:

  • Use the inbuilt “iMessages” app (which only works if you are texting to another Apple device)
  • Get a third-party app (which means your text will appear to have come from a phone number other than your own)

So, all you smarty-pants at Apple, for your next cool trick…

Most smartphones (including iPhones) can serve as “wifi hotspots”

In effect, this means that the phone is acting like your wireless router at home. It can be used to allow you to connect another device to the internet (eg a laptop or a tablet) when a “normal” wifi connection is not available and when the laptop or tablet does not have its own 3G internet connectivity.

Turn on HotspotWhether this will work with your smartphone depends not only on the hardware but also on the deal you have with your mobile provider. If your phone was supplied by your provider then it’s possible they have “crippled” this feature so that it won’t work. On an iPhone, for instance, the option to turn on the personal hotspot connection may be “greyed out”. You can find this option by going to Settings and then Mobile. If yours is greyed out, my advice is to speak to your provider as they may offer a deal whereby it can be turned on.

Assuming that you have Personal Hotspot enabled on an iPhone or on an iPad with cellular access, and you wish to use either of these devices to pass an internet connection to your Macbook Pro or Air, this can now be done without even taking the phone out of your pocket. In other words, you don’t have to turn on the “Personal Hotspot” feature on your iPhone and then connect the computer to it. This new capability is known as “Instant Hotspot”. It’s part of the latest round of updates to Mac computers and devices (called “Continuity“) and it will only work if you have OSX 10.10 or later on your computer (ie the new version, known as Yosemite) and version 8.1 or later of IOS on your iPhone or iPad.

I learned the above from the blurb that Apple and various blog sites told me. So then I tried to test it – just to make sure that I’m not telling you porkies. No joy. If I manually turned on the personal hotspot on my iphone, the Mac recognised it with no problem. To do this, all you need to do is simply click on the Wifi icon on the Mac and there it is – offered as one of the available wifi connections. To try to encourage Instant Hotspot to work I tried turning off my router, just in case the Mac was favouring that over other connection possibilities. Still no joy. Then I checked the versions of the operating systems on both Mac and iPhone. Both were definitely up to date.

After much googling (and not a little profanity), I eventually found a site that tells me that the Mac needs to be 2012 or later for it to work. So, if you’ve got a Mac that’s older than that then maybe reading this blog will save you a bit of frustration – it’s not going to work. Pity that Apple didn’t make that clear in their blurb.

Look for HotspotSo, for the rest of this blog, I’m just winging it and hoping that what I read is true for Macs of 2012 or later vintage. All you have to do is click on your Wifi icon at the top of the screen and your iPhone should appear as an available network. It doesn’t even ask for a password. It doesn’t need a password as it will only work if both phone and computer are logged into the same iCloud account. After a period of inactivity, the connection is automatically dropped. This is to save the battery on the iPhone.

Instant Hotspot

Just have your iPhone reasonably close to the Mac when you look for the Instant Hotspot

It’s worth mentioning here that mobile data allowances aren’t usually very generous in comparison with your home or office broadband, so do be careful. You can always check how much of your download allowance you have used by going to Settings on the iPhone, then take the Mobile option and scroll down to the figure headed “Mobile Data Usage”. This will only be meaningful if you reset the statistics at the beginning of your “billing period”. My understanding – at least with T-mobile – is that the “current billing period” is a calendar month and not the month from one payment date to the next (but I wouldn’t actually stake my life on that being true).

Something I came across more than once when researching this item is that an initial connection to an “instant hotspot” is sometimes difficult. If this happens, the recommendation is to manually turn on the personal hotspot (on the iPhone) and make a connection that way first. Thereafter, it seems that the Instant Hotspot is more likely to work.

I’ll have to take their word for all this as I’ve got absolutely no need (otherwise) to update my perfectly good five year old Mac.

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Computer Support in London
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