Apple Releases iOS 8.1.3

iOS 8.1.3 ReleasedApple released an update for iOS 8 today. iOS 8.1.3 was released that promises “bug fixes, increased stability and performance improvements”. This latest release reduces the amount of storage required to perform a software update (for those that still haven’t made the jump to iOS 8), fixes a Spotlight search issue that prevented app results in search, and fixes an issue that prevented use of multitasking gestures when using an iPad.

So far no widespread issues have been reported with installing this update, but still use caution and make sure your iPhone or iPad is backed-up prior to installing any iOS update. I have installed on my iPhone 6 Plus without issues. I am still crossing my fingers that this update will address issues with 3rd Party Keyboards repeatedly crashing.

To install the update, simply visit your “Settings” app on your iPhone or iPad, and go into the “General” section and select “Software Update”. If you have an internet connection, you should see the option to install update. You can also manually install the update by plugging your device into a computer and using iTunes to update. Let us know if you have any issues!

Learn More about Your iPhone/iPad with Free Workshop at Apple Store

Apple Store WorkshopsOne of the advantages of living near an Apple store is the ability to take part in free workshops that are offered on a daily basis. Currently Apple is offering free workshops on iPads, iPhones, Macs, iCloud, iTunes, Using your Apple Devices Together, iPhone Photography, and using Apple in Your Business. All the Workshops last an hour and are free with registration. To check on availability of workshops in your area, visit the learn section of Apple.com.

In Delaware, our only Apple Store is the Christiana Mall location. To view a list of all workshops being offered at the Christiana Apple Store, visit http://www.apple.com/retail/christianamall/. At the top of the page, there is a link to register for a Workshop, or you can scroll down to the bottom of the page to see a list of all Workshops and events currently scheduled. To register for a free event, you do have to have an Apple ID. This is the username and password you use with iCloud. If you do not have an account, you can create a free account during registration.

If you are new to an iPhone, iPad or Mac, or feel that you are not getting the most out of your device, I would encourage to explore the free help that is offered directly from Apple.

TurboScan for iPhone free for Limited Time

My favorite iPhone scanning app, TurboScan, is currently free. The promotion is set to expire today, so if you want one of the best scanning apps for your iPhone without having to pay anything, head to the Apple App Store now!

This app uses your iPhone camera to make high quality page scans. It supports multi-page scans and once you have scanned documents, you can email them to others or send as a PDF to your favorite PDF viewing app. It is definitely worth the try for free, but even if you miss the sale, still easily worth the $2.99 regular purchase price.

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iOS 8.1.1 Now Available – Speed Improvements for Older iPhones and iPads

iOS 8.1.1Apple released iOS Version 8.1.1 for the iPhone and iPad today. This is a small incremental update that mainly increases performance on iPhone 4s, iPad 2 and the original iPad Mini. Bug fixes and stability improvements are also promised. You can update your device over-the-air by going to the Settings app, General, and then Software Update (you can also connect your phone to iTunes and do an update through your computer).

I have successfully updated my iPhone 6 Plus without issue. So far there have been no complaints of crashes with this update, but as always, it is recommended that you have a full back-up before performing any update. If you are still using an iPhone 4s or iPad 2, let us know if you notice performance improvements with the new update.

“Hey Siri” Brings Hands-Free Operation to iPhone/iPad

When iOS 8 was released, one of the most useful features it added was “Hey Siri”. This new command allows you to complete functions hands-free while your iPhone or iPad is being charged. This works on any device with Siri capabilities, and is enabled within the Siri settings by selecting “Allow ‘Hey Siri'” (open the Settings app, then go to General, and then Siri). Once enabled, you can activate Siri on your device by simply speaking the command “Hey Siri” followed by the action that you would like performed.

Hey Siri iPhone 6I have been using this functionality on a daily basis since updating to iOS 8. While I am in the car, I always have my iPhone docked so that I can listen to music or podcasts on my iPhone. While it is plugged into my car dock, I simply say “Hey Siri, text my Wife”, and I am immediately prompted to speak my message. After I speak the message, Siri repeats it back to me and asks me if I am ready to send my message. I simply answer yes, and my message is sent. After I am done with Siri, I simply say, “Hey Siri, go away” and I am returned to my music.

Hey Siri Text MessageOnce you have Siri on screen, you can also continue to give commands without pressing any buttons. This is again accomplished by starting your command with “Hey Siri”. So for example, after sending the text message above, I could ask Siri to read my text messages to me by saying “Hey Siri, read text messages”. Siri would tell me how many unread text messages I have and then would proceed to read the messages. After each message is read, I would also be prompted whether to send a reply.

Hey Siri Read Text MessagesAlthough I find this functionality most useful while in my vehicle, I also use “Hey Siri” at home. After I wake up in the morning, I can find out the time by asking “Hey Siri, what time is it?”. I can check the weather by saying “Hey Siri, what’s the weather today?”, and I can check my schedule by asking “Hey Siri, what’s my schedule like?”. If I wake up before my alarm is set to go off, I can even say, “Hey Siri, turn off my alarm.”

If you want to use the “Hey Siri” command when your phone is not being charged, you first have to manually start Siri by holding down on your Home button. After Siri is on the screen, additional commands can be done hands-free by saying “Hey Siri” followed by your command.

Of course “Hey Siri” is only useful if Siri can understand you. I have found that Siri does a much better job of understanding my commands in iOS 8, but your mileage may vary. See our previous post for a list of commands that can be used with Siri.

 

Microsoft Office Apps Come to iPhone, Editing and Creating Now Available for iPad and iPhone

Microsoft announced on its blog today, that Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps are now universal, meaning that they are available for both iPad and iPhone. In addition to Word, Excel and PowerPoint now being available on the iPhone, the updated apps now allow users of both iPhone and iPad to create and edit Microsoft Office documents without a subscription to Office 365. The prior versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the iPad could only be used to view documents without a subscription to Office 365.

As part of this release, the horrible Microsoft Office Mobile app for iPhone will be retired. Additionally, Microsoft has promised a preview of Office for Android tablets in the near future and confirmed that a touch-optimized version of Office is in development for Windows 10.

Although Microsoft announced immediate availability of the updates in the Apple App Store, I could only access them with through a link currently and not through an App Store Search.

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This is a great change for Microsoft. Although a Microsoft Office 365 account is not needed for editing abilities, you do have to login with a Microsoft Account. If you already have a Live.com account, a Hotmail Account, or you have registered with Microsoft in any way, you can use the same login information. If you do not have an account, it is free to setup and use. If you do not login with a Microsoft Account, you are still limited to just viewing documents.

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The Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps on the iPhone are just as full featured as the iPad versions, but due to the smaller screen, toolbar options have been adjusted to a menu instead of across the top. It will not be as quick to edit and create on an iPhone, but it is a nice option for those situations when you do not have access to a computer or tablet. I can confirm that documents that I routinely use with advanced formatting options appeared in the native format on my phone.

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Dropbox integration that was just recently announced has been added in the updated apps. When you first launch the updated app, you are given the option of immediately signing in to Dropbox. If you decline, the option can easily be added later by selecting “Add a Service” under connected services. I was able to easily add my Dropbox account and authenticate through the Dropbox App. Editing and viewing of Dropbox documents worked with no problem.

This is a very welcome addition to the Microsoft Office Applications.

Amazon CloudDrive Now Offers Unlimited Photo Storage For Prime Members

One of the biggest complaints I hear from iPhone users is that they often run low on disk space due to the amount of photos that they have stored on their device. Amazon today announced that Amazon prime members will now have unlimited storage in the Amazon CloudDrive app for full resolution photos. The Amazon App offers automatic background upload of your photos from your iPhone or iPad. Once the photos are stored on CloudDrive, they can be accessed on any device that has Internet access.

The Amazon CloudDrive back up of photos is being offered to all members of Amazon prime at no additional cost. If you are not currently a member of Amazon prime, a free 5 GB storage limit is still being provided. If you have been unable to upgrade your iPhone or iPad to the latest version of iOS because you are out of disk space, the option to back up all of your photos to Amazon CloudDrive would allow you to delete photos on your device knowing that you have full resolution backup copies in the cloud. Once you have your photos stored in the drive, you can delete the photos from your device and apply any updates that are waiting for you.

Although Apple offers iCloud backup of your photos, free space is still limited, and Amazon provides another option for you. If you are a Microsoft office 365 subscriber, Microsoft OneDrive also provides you with unlimited backup of all of your photos. Google Drive, and Dropbox also provide options for backing up photos if you are already a subscriber of one of those services. It is nice to see that several of the cloud drive services are offering easy ways to back up and preserve all of the photos from your mobile devices.

You can download the Amazon CloudDrive Photo backup app from the app store now.IMG_5680.JPG

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