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The Small Dog Apple Blog

Updated: 2016-09-30T20:24:34Z


Doing The Two-Step


How secure is YOUR Apple ID? Remember when all those celebrities had their iCloud accounts hacked? Did it make you wonder about your data? There is good news, you can do the two-step! In this article, I will explain the difference between two-step verification and two-step authentication both of which can help make your Apple ID and data more secure. I really didn’t know much about two-step authentication until I started testing the Mac OS Sierra beta and the Watch OS beta to play around with unlocking my Mac with my Apple Watch. I love that capability and I know you will, too. In order to take advantage of this unlocking feature I had to activate two-step authentication. So, I did that and I will show you how. But then I noticed that I was not getting any mail from my iCloud email address. Well, it turns out that if you are using apps that do not support two-step authentication, such as my favorite email client – Airmail, that you need to generate an app-specific password. That got me interested in the two-step and I don’t mean line dancing. Which two-step? Two-step Authentication. Two-step verification Two-step verification will require you to enter a 4-digit code sent to one of your devices. Apple requires two-step verification for many of the sites we use for sales and service information. When I surf over to those sites and enter my Apple ID and password it will ask if I want to send a code. When I say yes, a four digit code is sent to my devices that are registered with Apple. Usually, that means I simultaneously get the code on my Mac, my iPad, my iPhone and my Apple Watch. Once I enter the code, I gain access to the site. Two step verification protects your Apple ID even if someone knows your password. Two-step verification, once activated is needed whenever you: Sign in to your Apple ID account page Sign in to iCloud on a new device or at Sign in to Messages, Game Center, or FaceTime Make an iTunes, iBooks, or App Store purchase from a new device Get Apple ID related support from Apple To set up two-step verification you have to surf over to the Apple ID account page –!&page=signin Sign-in and under two-step verification click “getting started” and answer your security questions and follow the steps to finish setting it up. Two-step Authentication Two-step Authentication is a more advanced security feature built into the later operating systems. So, before you activate it make sure you meet or exceed these requirements: iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 9 Mac with OS X El Capitan and iTunes 12.3 Apple Watch with watchOS 2 Windows PC with iCloud for Windows v5 and iTunes 12.3.3 With two-step authentication, your account can only be accessed on devices you trust, like your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. When you want to sign in to a new device for the first time, you’ll need to provide two pieces of information—your password and the six-digit verification code that’s automatically displayed on your trusted devices. By entering the code, you’re verifying that you trust the new device. For example, if you have an iPad and are signing into your account for the first time on a newly purchased Mac, you’ll be prompted to enter your password and the verification code that’s automatically displayed on your iPad. The good thing about authentication is that once you have signed in you won’t be asked for a verification code for that device again, unless you sign-out completely, erase the device or change your password. When you sign in on the web, you will be asked if you want to trust your browser so you won’t be asked for a verification code the next time you sign in from that computer. The code is sent to a “trusted device or phone number”. A trusted device is an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Mac that you have already signed in to using two-factor authentication. It is a device that Apple knows is yours an[...]

iPhone 7 Plus Camera Review


I was fortunate enough to get my hands on and receive the new iPhone 7 Plus on release day. I skipped the iPhone 6s when it came around so when the 7 was announced I jumped at the chance to upgrade and I haven’t regretted it once. Despite the suggestions from my co-workers I’ve yet to drop my phone into a glass of water…perhaps that review will come in a future issue. For now, I’ll still be playing it a bit safe!

Like many of you, I’ve read some of the reviews out there and some reviewers are less than impressed with the camera. Coming from an iPhone 6, and after a few blunders with my first few photos, I can say it’s clear that there are significant improvements in the quality of the photos. I am not a professional photographer by any means but I enjoy taking photos and take a lot of them. For the first few photos that I took with the phone it appeared that the phone was struggling to focus on the object I was trying to take a photo of. For about a minute the camera was blurring and coming into focus, then blurring again. Once the camera focused, there hasn’t been a single hiccup with my photos but briefly I did wondered if I’d gotten a defective phone.

My first round of photos were taken around dusk so the lighting was low and flat. The pictures came out much better than I expected, and the optical zoom worked much better than I would have thought. I was taking pictures of my campfire and was pleasantly surprised with the details the camera picked up from the fire. Later on that night I took pictures well after dark and quickly learned the flash was not the best option to use even though it was completely dark. The photos all came out very washed and the colors were completely off; turning off the flash dramatically changed the quality of the photos. My iPhone 6 never took a good picture at night but the iPhone 7 plus in comparison takes amazing photos! I took a picture of my dog Piper and the only light was from the campfire and a small outdoor light. I was very impressed!

Night time photos are always something that I’ve struggled with, so I also made sure to take my phone along with me on our trip to the local fair and there I was frankly blown away at the quality of the photos. I took photos all day long, in dimly lit buildings, outside in the bright sun and in cattle barns. Each photo taken that day came out amazing and the details that the camera picked up were way better than I ever expected.

Lastly I finally tried out live photos, which I’ll be honest I never really understood the value of that when the 6s came out. Frankly I still don’t, but it sure is cool! I’m thinking that live photos could be a great opportunity for some very creative memes and some good laughs for my kids. Ultimately, despite what some reviews are reporting, my testing and responses from co-workers on the photos I took over the weekend, the camera in the iPhone 7 plus stands up to the expectations.

iOS 10 is Waiting for You!


iOS 10, the latest version of Apple’s operating system for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, is out! Apple fixed an issue that impacted some of the early adopters downloading the update so it is now safe to upgrade. You will be glad that you did! As you know, I have been running the beta of iOS 10 for some time. I did discover a bug early on in the process that impacted the Apple Hearing Accessibility function but I was amazed at how responsive Apple was and the problem was solved in the next beta. Most evident among iOS 10’s modifications is the new behavior of the Lock screen. Previously, you could slide the screen to unlock (and enter your passcode) or merely rest a finger on the Touch ID sensor. But as the Touch ID sensor became faster, it became too easy to unlock before you had a chance to read notifications appearing on the Lock screen. In iOS 10, you must press the Home button to unlock, after which the Touch ID sensor activates or iOS asks you for your passcode. To make it faster and easier to get to the information and tools you want, you can now slide right on the Lock screen to display Notification Center widgets or left to access the camera. But what if you liked the way iOS 9 handled unlocking your iPhone? Well, fortunately, you can change it back in the accessibility settings. Go to Settings —>General—>Accessibility. Scroll down to Home Button and enable “Rest Finger to Open” and you are all set with the old way! In a long-awaited enhancement, Apple has opened Siri up to developers so you’ll be able to use Siri to control at least some third-party apps. In iOS 10, Siri will initially support six types of activities: audio/video calling, messaging, sending and receiving payments, searching for photos, managing workouts, and booking car-sharing rides. Apple says that Messages is iOS’s most used app, so it’s not surprising that Messages gains numerous new features in order to compete with apps from Facebook, Google, Snapchat, and others. For those who enjoy emoji but have trouble entering them, the QuickType bar in the Messages keyboard suggests them as you type, and if you switch to the Emoji keyboard in Messages, it highlights words (like airplane or hamburger) that it can convert to the corresponding emoji 😎 ⛅. You can send handwritten notes scrawled with your finger, a stylus, or an Apple Pencil. Messages also gains the Apple Watch’s unique Digital Touch features, which let you send a sketch, a fireball, a kiss, and more with particular tap combination—you can even overlay these animations on a photo or video. For even more pizzazz, bubble and screen effects jazz up your messages or the entire screen when the recipient views them. Finally, the new tapback feature lets you respond quickly to messages with icons without typing. We all have trouble revisiting photos we’ve taken in the past, so Photos in iOS 10 (and Sierra) introduces Memories, which automatically builds slideshows of existing photos. It assembles collections of photos from the same day in previous years, trips you’ve taken, and more. You can “favorite” a memory if you want to keep it around, or delete it if it doesn’t contain photos you want to see again. Photos also gains facial recognition capabilities and a People album that you can use to pull out pictures of friends and family members, but even more impressive are its object and scenery recognition capabilities that enable you to search for photos that contain, for instance, cats, oak trees, or desert landscapes. Plus, a new Places album lets you browse your collection by location—alas, you can’t add a location to a photo in iOS. Although those are the major new features in iOS 10, the update abounds with additional improvements. Take Safari. You can now use Apple Pay within Safari to pay for purchases on Web sites, Safari prevents videos with sound from auto-playing, and Split Scree[...]

What's Hot in macOS Sierra


This coming Tuesday Apple will make the latest macOS available for everyone to download. There’s a lot in Sierra to be excited about and I thought I’d recap a few of the new features as we approach the official release date. As always, make sure you have a current Time Machine backup before hitting that download button next week.

Sierra brings new capabilities to Siri. It’s been no secret with me that Siri and I haven’t always had the best relationship, but I admit with each OS release it gets better and better. You’ll now be able to talk to your computer to open apps, display files in a specific folder, check your drive space, search google and more. You’ll now see a Dock icon and you’ll simply need to click on the icon, wait a moment and wait for the familiar sound of Siri.

iCloud Drive becomes significantly more interesting in Sierra, thanks to an option to sync your Mac’s Desktop and Documents folder into iCloud. Once they have uploaded you can access the contents not just on any other Macs but also on your iOS devices and Getting work done or accessing files from anywhere is now a whole lot easier. I will note that the actual Desktop and Documents folders then move from your home folder to the iCloud Drive volume ( choose Go > iCloud Drive to open it ). Beware that enabling this option might mean you need to increase the storage option you have in iCloud. This is one of the more exciting options for myself when it comes to Sierra since I’m frequently needing to access or provide information while on the go and this is going to be a huge time-saver.

If you’re someone who loves tabs in Safari and Finder, you’ll be pleased to hear that Sierra makes it so almost every app that can open multiple document windows can do so in tabs as well. Apps won’t have to change; just look in the File, View and Window menus for tab-related commands.

The security of Apple Pay on your iPhone or Watch is something many have learned to love and trust, now this same trust comes to web transactions. With Safari in Sierra, on websites that can accept Apple Pay ( which will be a lot ), you’ll be able to enter your payment information with Touch ID on your iPhone or Watch. Because your computer is paired with your iOS device, the transaction remains secure.

The final big-deal feature in Sierra—and my favorite—is Optimized Storage! This feature has a number of options that you can enable in the redesigned System Information app. Look in Window > Storage Management. Designed to free up space on Macs with relatively small drives, Optimized Storage can remove the local versions of files stored in iCloud (Including older files of your Desktop and Documents folders. Make sure you have a good backup to be safe!). You can download one if needed by double-clicking its icon. It removes already watched movies and TV shows from iTunes along with email attachments from mail, all of which you can download again if necessary. It can delete files from your Trash after they’ve composted for 30 days, and it helps you reduce clutter on your Mac by identifying large files so you can consider deleting manually. For once, I might finally get my “other” category on my drive sorted out!

Get ready for macOS 10.12 Sierra and mark your calendar for next Tuesday September 20th!

Apple Unveils iPhone 7, Apple Watch Series 2, and AirPods


As we anticipated, Apple used its September 7th event to announce the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, along with the new Apple Watch Series 2 and a pair of wireless earbuds called AirPods. Apple also announced that iOS 10 and watchOS 3 are due to ship on September 13th. Although Apple didn’t mention the iPad or Mac during the event, the company later modified its iPad lineup with new configurations and pricing and said that macOS Sierra will ship on September 20th. Let’s look at the key details of Apple’s announcements and explore what they might mean to you — there’s a lot to get through! iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus It’s what we were all waiting for. Apple announced the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, which are the same sizes as the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, respectively, so some existing cases may continue to fit, however, with two cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus and a different camera on the iPhone 7 many cases will not have sufficient clearance for the camera. The company stuck with the silver, gold, and rose gold case colors, but dropped space gray in favor of two black finishes: a matte black and a polished jet black. Apple is warning that the highly polished jet black might show some scratches so is recommending a case if you care about some surface imperfections. As rumored, the new models drop the 3.5mm analog headphone jack entirely, but they come with a pair of Lightning-based EarPods for listening to music and making phone call, plus a free Lightning-to-headphone adapter so you can continue to use older audio equipment. You can also buy additional adapters for $9. The new iPhones have notably improved cameras. Along with a 7-megapixel front-facing camera that offers body and face detection plus image stabilization, the main rear-facing camera provides a 12-megapixel sensor with an f/1.8 aperture lens that Apple claims is 60 percent faster and 30 percent more energy efficient than the camera in the iPhone 6s. The flash features four LEDs for 50% more light, plus a flicker sensor to help correct for artificial lighting. Even better, optical image stabilization is now standard on both models, and both can capture raw images with wide-gamut color. For photography buffs, the iPhone 7 Plus is particularly interesting, because it features another rear-facing camera, which provides a telephoto lens with an f/2.8 aperture. Apple’s Camera app seamlessly combines the two cameras to provide 2x optical zoom (up to 10x digital zoom) and will have a Portrait mode that focuses on people in the foreground while blurring the background. (Portrait mode is due to ship in an update to iOS later this year.) These camera features on the 7 Plus have made it my iPhone of choice which I will be ordering today! The home button takes a page from the Force Touch trackpad; it’s no longer a physical button but instead uses Apple’s Taptic Engine to make it feel as though you’re pushing a button. Apple says it should be more responsive and more reliable. Losing the headphone jack and making the Home button force-sensitive helped Apple in another way: the iPhone 7 models are now dust and water resistant. Don’t toss your iPhone 7 in the pool, since they’re rated for immersion in only up to 1 meter of water, but it should withstand an errant splash or fall into the waves at the beach. I use my iPhone on my motorcycle and whenever it starts to rain I panic and stop to put it away but now unless it is a downpour I can just ride on! The iPhone 7 models are powered by Apple’s quad-core A10 Fusion processor, which automatically switches between two cores dedicated to high performance and two that are optimized for power efficiency to prolong battery life. Their screens are improved too, with Apple promising 25% more brightness with wider color display. Pricing of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus remains the same, but the storage amounts double from those ava[...]

New Product Announcements - Going Way Back


Here’s a repeat of an article from Kibbles & Bytes #59! Hard to believe we are on issue #998. We will have to do something special for issue #1000 in a couple weeks. Anyone have any ideas? Way back in 1998 Apple made some product intros….cue wavy screen, eerie music and the whirling time disk…. Apple’s new product announcements were exciting this week. I was able to get away to go down to Boston for the dealer briefing the day before the announcements and got some details on the new G3 PowerBook but even at that briefing they did not mention the new iMac. Steve Job’s announcement of the iMac reminded me a lot of the introduction of the Mac Plus. In fact if you take away all the power of the G3 and the cutting edge technology what you have is a Mac Plus on steroids. And one powerhouse of a Mac it is with 233MHz G3 processor and a built-in 15” display. This is the first Mac to come standard without a floppy drive and to utilize the new USB (universal serial bus) ports in place of ADB and serial ports. It is bundled with the new Apple USB keyboard and mouse. USB will be the standard for both Mac and PCs within a very short time. With Apple’s version of USB you get hot swappable serial ports that are automatically configured each time a device is connected (bet it’s Windows 2010 before wintel gets that one right!). At $1299 retail it will be a trend setting machine when it is released this fall. The all-in-one design has translucent plastics reminiscent of the eMate. The iMac is squarely aimed at the consumer market and was key in no small part to bringing Intuit back into the Apple camp in terms of development of future versions of Quicken. When Apple discontinued the Performa line sales of the bundled Quicken program dropped dramatically and Intuit decided to stop development until they were shown the iMac. They then became one of the software packages to be bundled with the new machine. Apple’s consumer strategy assumes that end-users will not want to upgrade the processor on their internet machine as the processor is not upgradeable and there are no PCI slots. On the other hand just the same as with that old Mac Plus I am sure people will figure out a way to do things with this machine that Apple never envisioned. The news of this machine saw Apple’s stock shoot up over 30 for the first time in a while and is already having an impact on the prices of other Macs. Along this line we have made some deep cuts in the pricing of the entire UMAX product line and you will see some price reductions in Apple’s refurbs as well. The other announcement that almost got lost in the excitement over the iMac was the new G3 PowerBooks. These are some very interesting products. Without a doubt they are the fastest laptops available. PERIOD. There is no other portable computer that is as fast as these PowerBooks. That’s a pretty impressive statement. The new Apple advertising campaign “This new PowerBook eats the Pentium II for lunch” is hot! With the top of the line machine sporting a 14.1 inch active matrix display the line between a desktop and portable is also blurring a bit. The fastest of these PowerBook benchmarks out at around 1100 making it as fast as the fastest desktop G3s. Again hidden in the details are some interesting technological advances. These PowerBooks have S-Video input and support DVD drives (not the ones that will show movies!). They also have improved the case design and the keyboard. The lowest-end model features a SVGA (dual scan) color display and a G3 processor without backside cache. That model sells for around $2299 but still benches out near 500. It is that time of year again for new Apple gear and you can stay informed right here in Kibbles & Bytes! [...]



Last week at WWDC a new version of tvOS was announced which is set to come out sometime this fall. Apple has been promoting the app experience heavily since the latest Apple TV hit the shelves last fall and many of the upgrades to tvOS make it even easier to enjoy those apps. Here are some of the updates to look forward to in the Fall.

Siri will now specifically look for content in a specific app. You have been able to search content generically using Siri and it automatically does a general search. I will say my one complaint is that it does seem to prefer pulling content from the iTunes store. I was excited to see that you can now specify, for example, Netflix or YouTube when you’re looking for content with Siri. I’ll be excited to see how well Siri will be able to search specific apps for the content that I am looking for. Overall I have found that the Siri function on the Apple TV works extremely well.

App badging is finally coming to Apple TV, but what is it? Those little red dots that appear next to your apps on your iPad or iPhone letting you know there is something is new about the app will now appear next to the app. Additionally automatic app downloads are also going to be available with the new tvOS. When you download a universal app or game on your iPhone or iPad, it will automatically send it to your Apple TV.

Single sign-on is another new feature in the upcoming tvOS. For those with supported cable or satellite providers you’ll now just need to enter your provider’s information once and you’ll have automatic access to any supported apps. Currently you have to enter your information for each individual app you wish to use, so this feature is going to save users a lot of time and allow for faster access to content. As a bonus, this feature will also be available in iOS 10 so you’ll only have to sign on once for each of your devices.

Light or dark will be a new feature to tvOS and one that I admit I think I need to see and use to gain an appreciation for it. Similar to features you can turn on in iBooks and Night Shift in iOS, you’ll be able to set your Apple TV background to light or dark depending on your viewing environment. This will allow you to optimize your view of different apps within Apple TV. This flexibility is great when using my iOS devices but I admit I can’t just yet wrap my head around the advantages when I am watching TV.

HomeKit makes its Apple TV debut in the new tvOS and continues to make it even easier to access and control HomeKit compatible devices like your lights, the temperature in your house or lock the downstairs door before heading off to bed. Other improvements were also announced in Apple Music and in Photos allowing users to access their favorite media in new ways and faster than before.

Now if only fall was here so we can all try this out! OK, I won’t rush summer; it never lasts long enough as it is.

Watch This


I am really surprised that I have taken to the Apple Watch so completely. It is not that I use it as a fitness device although I DO have goals…that I seldom meet. But, I wear it every day even though it was over 50 years since I regularly wore a watch. Q: So, what do I use it for? A: ApplePay, sports scores, texts, answering my iPhone Dick Tracy-style, weather and a lot of other stuff like checking the time. :) I was very interested in the latest version of watchOS that was introduced by Apple at WWDC; watchOS 3 has some pretty dramatic changes in store for your Apple Watch. The first, and most noticeable for me, is that the little scribbles that you can send to your friends when you press the side button is gone. Okay, I used that like 4 times to send little drawings to Grace or my hearbeat but pretty useless for that important button. Now, pressing that button will give you a Dock which you can configure with your favorite apps, which I find a lot more convenient than trying to get my big fat finger on that tiny little icon. Something you will get used to pretty quickly, but is a huge improvement, is that it is easier and faster to perform common tasks including replying to a message, starting a workout, or skipping a track. Apps launch much faster. Swipe up from the bottom of the watch face to access your important settings in Control Center. Apple added new watch faces, too, including Minnie Mouse (I don’t get the fascination with Mickey and Minnie), Activity, or Numerals, and you can customize them with more complications like Music and Workout. Switch faces with just a swipe, so you can have the Activity face for the gym and the Modular face for work. And easily configure your faces in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Configuring your watch faces on your iPhone is much easier than on the tiny watch face. There are some improvements to the Activity app including some for the more competitive folks. You can share and compete with activity sharing. Send and receive real-time progress updates when friends finish workouts or earn achievements, and reply with encouragement or smack talk. Activity rings are optimized for wheelchair users, there are two wheelchair-specific workouts, and there’s a new Time to Roll notification. There was a lot of time spent on the new Breathe app and while I like it and have tried it out a few times it is not as groundbreaking as Apple made it out to be. It must have been someone’s pet idea. The new Breathe app encourages you to take moments in your day to do short, deep-breathing sessions. The beautiful, calming visualization and haptic cues guide you through deep, full breaths in sessions lasting from one to five minutes. And when you’re done, you’ll receive a helpful heart-rate summary. I ended up turning of Breathe notifications after a few sessions. You know those squiggly drawings we talked about that were eliminated? Well, they were actually just moved where they belong: into Messages. Set off fireworks or stick a sticker. Share a secret with invisible ink or reply in your own handwriting. You can even draw letters on the display and Apple Watch turns it into text. All your options including larger emoji, sketches, taps, and your heartbeat are in the same place, so you can send and respond to messages faster than ever. The new SOS feature is a handy safety item to complement your Medical ID that we talked about a couple weeks ago. Quickly and easily call for help if you’re in a critical situation. Press and hold the side button and your Apple Watch will automatically initiate a call with 911 or other emergency services numbers in other countries. SOS can also send a message to the people you’ve chosen as your emergency contacts, so your family and friends are alerted as quickly as possible. The Timer app which I use all the time is [...]

iOS 10


Earlier this week at WWDC Apple announced the latest edition of iOS for iPhone and iPad. As is typical with these announcements, the changes to iOS are one of the more exciting software announcements to many users. iPads and iPhones are often the sole device for many users. Some improvements to iOS 10 greatly improve productivity and others give us another excuse to do less. There is a huge list of improvements to iOS 10 and here are some highlights of what’s to come. Messages got more expressive and makes it even easier to use less words in your text messages. When sending a text in iOS 10 you will now find suggestions for autofilling emojis rather than words. That’s right, autofill for emojis! If you’re never exactly sure what that emoji is, don’t fret, emojis can be sent bigger as well as your text messages with bubbles. Do you feel that emojis just aren’t your thing and prefer a more personal approach to messages? The ability to handwrite a message has now been added to iOS 10, and offers a really cool way to add a personal touch to any message! I guess I’ll forgive Apple for making it easier to send messages without words with the added handwriting feature and lastly celebrations. Celebrations? That’s right, you’ll be able to celebrate a special moment even from afar by sending a full screen affect like balloons or fireworks, pretty cool! Maps received some pretty cool upgrades this time around. Now when you’re traveling around and utilizing maps you can quickly find and book a cab or even a reservation at a nearby restaurant all without leaving the Maps app. One other slightly hidden feature is the ability to instantly mark where you parked your car. Maps can automatically recognize that you have gotten off the highway and parked your car. It will automatically drop a pin for you in Maps ensuring you will never again forget where you parked your car! QuickType is getting some pretty incredible upgrades in iOS 10. Using Siri intelligence, your phone or iPad can predict what you might want to say to someone, suggest adding an event to your calendar or change the language with which you respond. Now if you’re having a conversation with someone about dinner reservations, QuickType will pick up on patterns found in your conversation. Easily add a dinner reservation or location right from your conversation. The Phone feature of your iPhone also is getting some pretty significant improvements which even include the ability to recognize a potential spam call. No longer will you have to be interrupted by a call from a number you don’t recognize only to find out it was a spam call. Your phone will now tell you if it thinks an incoming call is spam. Your phone will now also be able to better work with third-party VoIP calls such as Skype reducing the number of missed calls through apps on your phone. At WWDC only a small portion of the total improvements to iOS 10 can be talked about, and even this article is missing some, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the improvements they didn’t highlight. In iOS 10 you will now be able to remove stock apps, yes it finally happened! Tired of seeing the Apple Watch app because you still don’t have the watch, just delete it and any other apps that come standard on the phone that have been in your way all this time. If you’re someone who says you wish and need to get on a better sleeping pattern but find each night you once again sat up too late? A bedtime tab can now be found in the alarm App, it can help you to get on a regular sleeping schedule by alerting you it’s time to go to sleep. For those who find that space is an issue on their phone with large music libraries you can now optimize your storage. Your phone can be set to hold an ideal amo[...]

Deciphering the Graphic Format Alphabet


When it comes to graphics on the Internet, it’s easy to feel as though you’re swimming for your life in a giant bowl of alphabet soup, surrounded by shouting acronyms: GIF! JPEG! PNG! TIFF! What do those names mean? Why does your camera spit out JPEGs? What’s the best format for a web graphic? Grab onto a capital O and let’s get some answers. First off, don’t worry about the acronyms, because expanding them doesn’t explain much. For example, JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, which is the standards body that invented the JPEG format. Helpful? Not really. So think of them just as names, like Sally or Fred. That said, it can be helpful to know how they’re pronounced: GIF: Either “jif,” as in jiffy, or “gif” as in “gift” JPEG: “jay-peg” PNG: “ping” TIFF: “tiff” Let’s take a look at each one of these: GIF: The oldest of these formats, GIF was long the standard for computer-generated images. It worked well for graphics and logos with large areas of solid color, but less so for photos. Due in part to a patent licensing kerfuffle, GIF has been superseded by PNG in all ways but one. GIF’s remaining use lies in flipbook-style animations, where each frame is a separate GIF image. Animated GIFs that run in short loops have become wildly popular on the Internet because they’re small and easy to embed in a Facebook or Twitter post, email message, or web page. Numerous utilities exist for turning a short movie clip into an animated GIF; check out GIF Brewery on the Mac or Giphy Cam for an iPad or iPhone. JPEG: The most common graphics format on the Internet, JPEG owes its popularity to being the default format for photos created by all digital cameras, including those in iPhones and iPads. JPEG works well for photos because it can compress file sizes significantly while barely affecting the image quality. For instance, a 20 MB photo saved in JPEG format might end up as only 4 MB, with reductions in image quality that most people would never even notice. Most graphics software lets you adjust a slider to specify different quality levels, and while the results vary by the photo, saving at a 75% quality level is usually a good compromise between quality and file size. The downside of JPEG is that it achieves these minuscule file sizes by throwing away data in the file, which limits how they can be edited in the future. That’s why professional photographers generally shoot in what are called “raw” formats (which contain all the image data the camera sensor recorded when the shutter was opened). Raw files are huge but can be edited in ways that aren’t possible with a JPEG file. Once edits have been made, photographers save a copy as a JPEG for sharing or posting online. PNG: Conceived as an improved, patent-free alternative to GIF, PNG is now the go-to format for online graphics such as buttons, logos, and screenshots that have large areas of solid color. That’s because PNG can compress such images well without introducing any fuzziness, as can happen with JPEG. Similarly, you can edit PNG images repeatedly without hurting image quality. In another contrast with JPEG, PNG supports transparency, which means you can define one color in an image as “transparent” rather than an actual color. When the image is displayed on a web page, the transparent pixels are rendered in whatever the background color is. That’s tremendously handy for creating images that appear to float over the background. Don’t use PNG for photos, since a photographic image saved in PNG format will be much larger than the corresponding JPEG. TIFF: Like PNG, TIFF files can be compressed without losing [...]