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Use the iPhone Camera’s Zoom to Avoid Glare, Reflections, and Shadow

We increasingly need to take photos of documents—vaccination cards, driver licenses, passports, etc.—to submit for online verification. That’s often easier said than done, especially when taking a photo at night under lights that obscure the text with glare and shadows. Similarly, when photographing a screen to document a problem for tech support, it’s often difficult to capture it without a problematic reflection. For a possible solution, back up from the thing you’re photographing and use your iPhone’s zoom feature to enlarge the document or screen. The extra distance often lets you adjust the angle and positioning to prevent glare, shadows, and reflection.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

iOS 15 Brings Back the Text Magnifier, but Trackpad Mode Is Easier

Prior to iOS 13, when you were editing text on an iPhone or iPad, Apple provided a magnifying glass that showed the position of the insertion point. It worked, but was clumsier than just moving the insertion point directly, which is what Apple enabled in iOS 13 and iOS 14. The only problem? Your finger usually obscures the text you want to edit. In iOS 15, Apple brought back the text magnification bubble to show you where the insertion point is in the text under your finger. If you’ve missed that feature, touch and hold on some text and drag the insertion point. Even easier is trackpad mode on the iPhone, which lets you touch and hold the Space bar to turn the entire keyboard area into a virtual trackpad that lets you move the insertion point above.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Ralf Geithe)

Don’t Miss the List Views in the iPhone’s Calendar App

The iPhone’s Calendar app defaults to graphical views for Day, Week (rotate to landscape), Month, and Year, but only the Day view shows information about your actual events, and even then, it’s easy to miss events that are outside the times that fit onscreen. If you find those views frustrating, you may have missed the all-important list view options. In Month view, tap the List button to split the screen, showing the calendar above and a list of events for the selected day below. In Day view, tap the List button to switch to a more easily scanned list for each day.

(Featured image by iStock.com/gpointstudio)

Understanding What “Vintage” and “Obsolete” Mean for Apple Products

Macs—and Apple products in general—tend to last a long time. It’s not unusual to see someone happily using an 8-year-old MacBook Pro. As much as it’s environmentally responsible to use electronics as long as possible, doing so may reduce your productivity or leave your business in a precarious situation if a hardware failure forces an upgrade at an inconvenient time.

Another factor to consider is whether or not you can get service and parts for your older device. It’s easy to assume that Apple will fix whatever you bring in, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Apple has policies surrounding how long it guarantees to provide service and parts, which is reasonable. No one would expect Apple to repair a 128K Mac from 1984—many repair techs hadn’t even been born then.

All Apple products fall into one of three categories: current, vintage, and obsolete. Current products, which Apple defines as those that were sold within the last 5 years, are eligible for service and parts from Apple, Apple Authorized Service Providers, and Independent Repair Providers. In other words, if you bought your Mac new within the last 5 years, you won’t have any problem getting Apple to fix it.

(Independent Repair Providers are firms that have signed up for Apple’s Independent Repair Provider Program to provide out-of-warranty iPhone and Mac repairs using Apple-provided parts, tools, service guides, and diagnostics. Other repair shops can repair Apple products but may lack Apple certifications and have to source parts from other suppliers.)

Things get trickier with the other two categories:

  • Vintage: Apple considers a product to be vintage when the company stopped selling it more than 5 and less than 7 years ago. During this 2-year window, Apple says that service and parts may be obtained, subject to parts availability.
  • Obsolete: As you’d expect, a product is considered obsolete when Apple hasn’t sold it for more than 7 years. Apple will not service obsolete products, and service providers cannot order parts for them.

There is one exception to these policies. Mac laptops may be eligible for an extended battery-only repair period for up to 10 years from when the product was last distributed for sale, subject to parts availability. That makes sense since a new battery may be all an old MacBook needs to keep working.

Apple maintains a page listing all vintage and obsolete products. To determine which Mac model you have, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu. For iPhones, iPads, and iPods, Apple provides pages explaining how to identify your model.

Apple’s policies surrounding vintage and obsolete products shouldn’t make a huge difference to most users. That’s because once a Mac hits 5 years old, it’s likely that upgrading to a new model will provide significant benefits. Many businesses prefer a 3-year replacement cycle because they’ve determined that’s the sweet spot where increasing support costs and lower performance make it worth selling the old Mac and buying a new one that’s faster and more reliable.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with keeping a Mac longer if it meets your needs and you don’t mind spending more on support. At some point, though, products in the vintage and obsolete categories are living on borrowed time.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Soulmemoria)


Social Media: It might be easier to repair vintage jeans than a vintage Mac. Read on if you want to understand Apple’s definitions of vintage and obsolete hardware and what they mean for support and repair.

Use Face ID While Wearing a Mask in iOS 15.4

Shortly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple made it so your Apple Watch could unlock your Face ID-enabled iPhone when you were wearing a mask. Starting in iOS 15.4, the company has taken the next step and enabled Face ID on the iPhone 12 and later to work even when you’re wearing a mask. If you didn’t already set up Face ID with a mask after updating to iOS 15.4, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode and enable Face ID with a Mask. You’ll have to run through the Face ID training sequence again, and more than once if you sometimes wear glasses, but it’s quick and easy. Face ID may not work quite as well when you’re wearing a mask, and it doesn’t support sunglasses, but it’s way better than having to enter your passcode whenever you’re masked.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Prostock-Studio)

Reduce iPhone and iPad Data Usage with Low Data Mode

Do you need to be careful about how much data you use with your iPhone or iPad, either via cellular or Wi-Fi? That could be true for those with Internet data caps, people using an international plan while traveling, and anyone in an area with slow data speeds. To reduce your data usage, turn on Low Data Mode, which you can do separately for cellular and Wi-Fi. For cellular, look in Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options, where you can either enable Low Data Mode for LTE/4G or take one more step into Data Mode for 5G. If you’re using two plans with a dual SIM iPhone, you can set each one separately. For Wi-Fi, go to Settings > Wi-Fi and tap the i button next to the desired Wi-Fi network and then tap Low Data Mode. Apple lists what you can expect to change in Low Data Mode. If you need a similar capability for the Mac, check out TripMode.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Created_by_light)

Can’t Rotate the Screen on an iPad or iPhone? Fix the Problem in Control Center

Normally, when you rotate an iPad, the screen happily flips from portrait (vertical) to landscape (horizontal) orientation as appropriate. Rotating an iPhone has the same effect in some apps, though many are written to work only in one orientation. If you ever end up in a situation where your device’s screen doesn’t rotate when you think it should, the reason is likely that Rotation Lock has been turned on in Control Center. Swipe down from the top-right corner of your screen (or up from the bottom of the screen on a Touch ID iPhone) and disable the Rotation Lock button. You can turn it on again later if you ever want to prevent the screen from rotating temporarily.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Jacephoto)

Apple Works to Improve Safety in the Wake of AirTag Stalking Reports

Over the past few months, there has been a spate of media reports about how people may have been tracked without their knowledge using AirTags, Apple’s elegant location trackers. Like many mainstream media forays into the tech world, the reports are often short on detail and sometimes unclear on the reality of how the AirTags work. Nor is it clear that there have been many successful cases of AirTag abuse, but the mere fact that people are trying to use AirTags to stalk others is concerning.

Apple put significant effort into preventing such abuses, revolving around three features:

  • Safety alerts: If you have an iPhone or iPad running iOS 14.5 or later and an unknown AirTag is traveling with you, your device will alert you to that fact. Although safety alerts aren’t available for those using Android smartphones, Android users can download Apple’s Tracker Detect app to scan manually.
  • Safety sounds: After an AirTag has been separated from its owner for several days, it will make a sound the next time it moves.
  • NFC identification: If you find an AirTag, you can hold it up to an iPhone or other NFC-capable smartphone to load a website that reveals the AirTag’s serial number and the last four digits of the owner’s phone number. The police can use this information to learn the owner’s identity from Apple.

Sadly, those precautions haven’t been sufficient either to dissuade all would-be stalkers or to educate potential stalking victims (and let’s be real—dissuading stalkers is also a matter of educating people that it’s unethical, likely dangerous, and often illegal to abuse an AirTag in this way). Apple has responded in two ways, one general, the other specific to AirTags.

Personal Safety User Guide

Apple documents its products and services quite well, but the company tends to generate many focused pages without much high-level organization. It’s all too easy to flail around within Apple’s support documentation looking for help if you don’t know what search terms are likely to work. In an effort to mitigate that problem for issues surrounding personal safety, Apple has created the Personal Safety User Guide website, also available as a downloadable 56-page PDF.

The Personal Safety User Guide brings together numerous Apple support articles in two main sections:

  • Review and take action: The first section helps you review how your devices and apps are set up, with a focus on settings that could expose you to harm. It helps you manage sharing settings, look at location sharing, control your Home accessories, and more. You’ll also learn how to block unknown sign-in attempts, document suspicious activity, delete suspicious content, and avoid fraudulent requests to share information, among much else. The main criticism here is that the section on AirTag safety doesn’t explain or link to all the features Apple provides.
  • Safety and privacy tools: The second section is a bit more generic, providing support documentation that encourages you to take advantage of the features Apple has provided to protect your safety and privacy. Among other topics, it discusses passcodes, setting up Face ID and Touch ID, using two-factor authentication, seeing which apps are accessing your data, blocking unwanted calls and messages, and using Emergency SOS.

The Personal Safety Guide ends with three checklists, each of which walks you through a series of steps. These are extremely useful because almost no one would necessarily know or remember all the places to check. The checklists help you:

  • See who has access to your device or accounts
  • Stop sharing with someone
  • Control how someone else can see your location

The Personal Safety User Guide website is best when you want an answer to a specific question, but it doesn’t lend itself to reading front to back. For that, we recommend downloading the PDF, which you can read at whatever depth you desire. But do at least scan the entire thing to get a sense of what it contains should you need that information later.

Apple AirTag Announcement

Shortly after releasing the Personal Safety Guide, Apple also posted a short but detailed statement on its website. In it, the company makes it clear that it is actively working with law enforcement on all cases involving AirTag abuse. Apple also says that it has updated its unwanted tracking documentation to explain AirTag safety features more clearly to users and to include resources for those who feel their safety is at risk.

Apple also outlined important advancements that will be coming to the AirTag and Find My network systems via software updates later this year:

  • New privacy warnings during AirTag setup: To ensure that everyone understands the utility of AirTags and the implications of abuse, people setting up an AirTag for the first time will see a message that clearly states that AirTags are meant to track their own belongings, that tracking people without their consent is a crime in many places, that AirTags are designed to alert victims to their presence, and that law enforcement can request identifying information about the owner of an AirTag.
  • Better alerts for AirPods: Instead of an “Unknown Accessory Detected” alert when your iPhone detects Find My network-compatible AirPods traveling with you, the alert will specify that AirPods are involved, not an AirTag. (There are third-party Find My network accessories that will still generate this alert, such as the Chipolo ONE Spot.)
  • Refined unwanted tracking logic: Apple will be updating its unwanted tracking alert system to notify users sooner that an unknown AirTag or Find My network accessory is traveling with them.
  • Precision Finding for unknown AirTags: Those with an iPhone 11, iPhone 12, or iPhone 13 will be able to take advantage of Find My’s Precision Finding feature to home in on the location of an unknown AirTag. Previously, this capability was limited to your own AirTags.
  • Display alerts with unknown AirTag sound: When an unknown AirTag emits a sound to alert anyone nearby to its presence, and it’s detected moving with your iPhone or iPad, an alert will also appear to help you play the sound again or use Precision Finding, if available. This should help when an unknown AirTag is in a place that blocks sound or if its speaker has been disabled.
  • More obvious AirTag alert sound: Apple will be adjusting the tone sequences to make an unknown AirTag’s alert sound easier to hear and find.

Overall, these changes are welcome, and it’s a testament to the care Apple took when designing the AirTag and Find My network systems that it can make such enhancements through software updates—no hardware changes are necessary. It’s also good to see Apple taking the problem—however small it might actually be—seriously and working to reduce it even further.

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: Media reports suggest that miscreants are trying to use Apple’s AirTag location trackers to stalk people. Apple has responded with personal safety advice and promised AirTag safety enhancements.

Where to Check macOS, iOS/iPadOS, and iCloud Storage Status

There’s little more frustrating than running out of space, which always seems to happen at just the wrong time. Luckily, Apple makes it easy to check any time, before it becomes a problem. On the Mac, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu and click Storage. On an iPhone or iPad, navigate to Settings > General > iPhone/iPad Storage. For iCloud, you can look in either System Preferences > Apple ID on the Mac or in Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Manage Storage on an iPhone or iPad. Once you know how much space is consumed by what, you can more easily clear unnecessary data.

(Featured image by iStock.com/alphaspirit)

Did You Know That Siri on a HomePod Can Control Alarms on Other Devices?

Siri has plenty of tricks up its sleeve, and we’ve just discovered a new one. Let’s say you set iPhone alarms to wake up and remind you to take medication throughout the day. However, if you don’t have your iPhone handy when those alarms go off, it can be annoying (for both you and others) to find your phone and stop or snooze the alarm. If you have a HomePod, it turns out that you (or someone else) can say, “Hey Siri, snooze the alarm” or “Hey Siri, stop the alarm.” Siri usually asks for confirmation—just reply with “Yes”—and sometimes tells you to continue on the iPhone, but it can be easier than finding the iPhone and stopping the alarm. (And yes, if you’re wearing an Apple Watch, you can stop the alarm from it as well. It’s also possible to set alarms on a HomePod directly, though they’re useful only if you’re guaranteed to be home when they go off.)

(Featured image by iStock.com/Antonio_Diaz)