May Meeting Notes: Contacts and Calendars

Here’s some useful information from this month’s meeting on Contacts and Calendars.

The contacts and calendars apps exist on both the Mac (computers) and iOS (iPad & iPhone). The different versions can cooperate and share data via iCloud, but they are not the same. The Mac version can do some things, such as edit contact groups that the iOS version cannot do.

Here is Apple’s Support Article on Contacts for the Mac.  It is an overview of Contacts and how to use them.

And, similarly, here is Apple’s Support Article on Calendars on the Mac.

Besides Apple’s pre-defined Holiday calendar and your own calendars, you may find public calendars for various topics and groups on-line which you can subscribe to. For example, here is the MacMAD meeting calendar.  If you subscribe to that, you will see our monthly meetings. If any changes are made, you will see the changes automatically.

The Shortcuts App for iOS

Dennis Crowley presented on Shortcuts for the iPhone and iPad at our February meeting.

Shortcuts is a new scripting tool for iOS. Although it has more potential than anything Apple has released recently, it is widely under appreciated. Many people have never heard of it.

Shortcuts lets you easily create and use your own scripts for commonly performed actions on iOS. You can also use many pre-existing scripts which are freely available.

Although Shortcuts is an Apple app, and is free, it may not be installed on your device by default. You can get it from the App Store.

Here are the slides from that talk. Note that many of the slides contain links to more information. The slides are shared in Apple Keynote format through iCloud.

 

June 2018 WWDC Notes

At this month’s meeting we are reviewing the announcements from Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference Keynote. As usual, MacMAD is providing links so that you don’t need to take notes in the meeting.

The announcements fell into three subject areas:

The Apple TV and Apple Watch (PDF)

iOS 12 – New system for the iPhone and iPad (Pages document) or (view as PDF)

MacOS Mojave – New system for the Macintosh (RTF Text Edit document)

 

 

iOS 11.0.3 Fixes Problem with 3rd Party Replacement Screens

Apple released iOS 11.0.3 on Wednesday, October 11, 2017. The description of the release is as follows:

iOS 11.0.3 includes bug fixes for your iPhone or iPad. This update:

  • Fixes an issue where audio and haptic feedback would not work on some iPhone 7 and 7 Plus devices
  • Addresses an issue where touch input was unresponsive on some iPhone 6s displays because they were not serviced with genuine Apple parts

It so happens that I repaired my iPhone 6s screen recently with an apparently reputable, but non-Apple replacement screen.

Old screen, miscellaneous tools and the new screen installed.

Since the repair, I had noticed a few times when the touch screen became completely unresponsive. This was disconcerting at first, because an iPhone that doesn’t respond to any tap, touch, drag, etc. is pretty much a useless brick. However I found that just waiting about 1 minute or so with the screen off would bring it back to life. Since it didn’t happen but a few times, and since I knew a workaround, I didn’t complain to anybody.

Apparently, this was happening to enough people to reach the ears of Apple.

I want to give Apple a big thank you for putting in a software fix to work around a hardware problem that was not their fault. They could have done nothing. Some companies have gone so far as to deliberately disable unauthorized 3rd party hardware. Not Apple. Apple stuck by their customers, and this customer intends to stick by Apple.

Apple customers who used 3rd party replacement screens escaped with only a stern talking-to:

Note: Non-genuine replacement displays may have compromised visual quality and may fail to work correctly. Apple-certified screen repairs are performed by trusted experts who use genuine Apple parts.

While we’re on the subject of screen repair. Although I did successfully repair my own iPhone screen, I can’t really recommend doing it yourself. The process involved a jeweler’s magnifier, a guitar pick, a suction cup and six or eight nearly microscopic screws. I came extremely close to letting the magic smoke out of my iPhone. (Smoke must be what makes it work, because if the smoke ever comes out, it doesn’t work any more!)

I got away for about $50, but the folks who install a genuine Apple screen for, say, $150 are earning their money.

iPhone and iPad and the Elderly

In the process of helping older people with their iPhones and iPads, I have noticed certain problems common to many older users and solutions for some of those problems.

Unintended Actions

The first type of problem is unintended actions. This is when someone intends to do one thing, but accidentally does another. This can be as simple as typing the wrong character, but often includes major things like accidentally opening another app or pressing delete instead of save. I often see accidental swipes. The user intends to press a button or icon, but, perhaps due to poor motor control, instead swipes. Depending on the context, and where a swipe occurs, surprising things happen: the search window pops up, an email is deleted, etc.

One person asked me what the control center was and why it keeps popping up from the bottom of the screen. This was happening when she accidentally swiped up from the bottom of the screen invoking the control center.

You can make this less likely by turning off the control center from within apps. It can still appear on the home screen, but won’t pop up within any app. This setting is in Settings:Control Center:Access Within Apps.

I turned that off on my own phone and realized that I had probably been invoking Control Center more often by mistake than on purpose.

Touch Accommodations

Another very useful setting is in Settings:General:Accessibility:Touch Accommodations. If you turn on Touch Accommodations, the whole touch screen interface becomes less sensitive, and requires more deliberate actions. Buttons and other controls won’t activate until you press them for at least 1/10 of a second. That doesn’t sound like very long, but it makes a huge difference. Many accidental swipes and clicks will be eliminated.

Once enabled, you can adjust the delays. The default durations are probably okay for most people. If the user has severe tremors, then these settings can be increased. It might take a little bit of time to get used to this mode, but it can be worth it.

The iOS Touch Accommodations Setting Screen

Overlooked Controls

The second category of problem is the “Oh, I didn’t know you could push that.” problem. iOS conceals many options behind innocuous looking symbols or words which are actually buttons that you can click, leading to useful functions. Often, people don’t notice those, or don’t realize that they are buttons.
There is a setting, General:Accessibility:Button Shapes, which outlines text buttons with a grey shape, making them look more like buttons. For example, notice how the word General has a gray background in the screen shot below.

Button Shapes turned on. Notice the “General” button at top.

Try these settings for yourself or for your older friends and relatives. They could lead to a calmer, less frustrating experience with the iPhone or iPad.