It's very important for us to know that the things we store on our mobile devices are safe from prying eyes. It gives us a sense of security knowing that our private thoughts, photos, videos and whatnot will only be seen by us and the people we share them with. But what if it is the US Government that wants to take a look? If the authorities get hold of our devices, what's to stop them from using search warrants to see what's in there?
If we are talking about iOS 8 devices, then its security design is standing in the government's way. Apple has updated its Legal Process Guidelines to reflect that it will be unable to extract data that its customers store on devices running its latest mobile operating system, as the key which unlocks the treasure trove is solely in its users' control.
The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system is set to be released officially today.
Before you install it, it’s worth taking a few steps to make sure your device is ready for the update (and of course if it’s jailbroken, and you want to keep it that way, you’ll want to avoid updating until a jailbreak is made available for the new OS). Here’s what you should do in advance.
Stock mobile keyboards tend to suck. There's always a deal-breaker somewhere that offsets all their strengths. There is friction when typing in multiple languages, the language support is limited, abbreviations and the like are a no-go, the layout can be unintuitive, there is a limited amount of customization options, or the touch vibrations are too harsh. Take your pick. I have ran into all of them. But, fret not, there are some solid keyboards out there.
The one keyboard which I am a huge fan of is SwiftKey. It shames every stock keyboard and it's generally better than any other third-party offering. With Google being the only mobile operating system maker to allow third-party keyboards, it has only been available on Android. But, now that Apple has followed suit, you can get your hands on SwiftKey on an iPad or iPhone too. And you should, first of all because it's free!
I must disagree with colleague Mark Wilson, who last week asserted: "There is no reason for anyone to care about the iPhone 6", which as I write has 124 comments. I'm a big fan of provocative posts, because they engage the readership. But my feelings differ about commentaries that bluster without substance. Mark is absolutely wrong. There is every reason for everyone to care about the next iPhone.
Mark asserts that iPhone "used to be aspirational and high-end. Now the world and his dog has an Apple handset and it's turned from something special into a poor substitute for one of the countless alternatives...The iPhone is run-of-the-mill. It is predictable. It's just plain boring". In many ways, I agree, but his boring assessment is every reason to "care about the iPhone 6".
Unless you've been completely avoiding the news over the past few days, you will have heard about Apple's little problem with nude photos being stolen from celebrity accounts. The company has strongly denied that there has been a security breach, but in a statement it advised its customers to check the strength of their passwords as well as enabling two-step verification.
Two-factor authentication -- also known as two-step verification -- is a stronger method of security because it relies not only on something you know (your password), but also something you have (like your iPhone). Sounds good, but how do you do about doing it for your Apple account?
It may have been something of an unknown quantity for years now. Just why was a particular app denied entry to the App Store? Now Apple -- the company so famed for its secrecy -- has finally laid its cards on the table and revealed the most common reasons apps are rejected. Taking a snapshot from the last week of August, the new Common App Rejections page on Apple's Developer site details the top ten problems that prevent apps from making their way to the App Store. Accounting for more than a quarter of rejections (14 and 8 percent respectively) are apps that do not have enough information and those that exhibit bugs.
Six percent of rejected apps fell foul of terms in the Developer Program License Agreement -- although no further breakdown is given -- and the same percentage of titles were given the thumbs down for not meeting Apple's exacting standards. "Apple and our customers place a high value on simple, refined, creative, well thought through interfaces. They take more work but are worth it. Apple sets a high bar. If your user interface is complex or less than very good, it may be rejected". Apps that are either misleading or similar to other apps, and those with inappropriate names and artwork were also stopped in their tracks, each accounting for 5 percent of vetoed apps.
I charge my iPhone 5s every night -- it's pretty much a standard routine. Although people moan about the iPhone's battery life, I have no complaints. In fact my old Samsung Galaxy S III needed charging more regularly. But every so often a little extra battery boost is required, which is fine if I'm at home, but less convenient when I'm out and about (and I have no interest in being a wall hugger). This is where an external battery pack can come in handy.
Lumsing's PBJ-6200 Power Bank has already proven to be a life saver in the couple of weeks I've had it. The device is roughly the same dimensions as my phone -- 4.88x 2.64 x 0.51 inches (124 x 67 x13 mm) -- and has a 6,000mAh capacity, which is enough to charge my iPhone about three times (a Galaxy S4 twice, or an iPad mini once).
In usual fashion, Apple has been the talk of the tech world over the summer, and for good reason. As well as being one of the premier companies in the world, it recently signed a landmark partnership with old enemy IBM and is set to launch a brand new batch of iPhones in a fortnight.
However, the Cupertino-based firm has also come in for a lot of criticism, especially where the iPad is concerned.
Think about wearable tech and your mind probably jumps to watches first. V.BTTN is a little different. It's a programmable button that links smartphones, tablets and computers via Bluetooth and it can then be used to trigger all manner of events. Looking for a remote shutter trigger for your smartphone? V.BTTN can do that for you. Need a remote control to start and stop recording? Got that covered too. The device comes from VSN Mobil and is available now for $59.99. It's one of those pieces of hardware billed as having virtually limitless possibilities, but this is one instance where the claim is justified.
What the button does depends entirely on the app you decide to link it to. It's slightly more advanced than just "hit the button" -- there are short and long press options, as well as gesture support thanks to a built-in accelerometer. As standard, V.BTTN is just a button. You can stick it in your pocket or bag and carry it around with you if you like, but there are also a number of accessories.
OneDrive and Dropbox users with access to an iPhone or iPad rejoice: both iOS apps were just updated with major improvements with the release of Microsoft OneDrive 4.4 and Dropbox 3.3.
Both apps gain new features -- the ability to search within Word and PowerPoint documents in Dropbox, a brand new Photos view in OneDrive -- as well as a number of improvements and stability fixes.
All three apps gain exclusive new features, but all gain the ability to export documents to PDF, improved picture editing tools and support for third-party fonts.
My colleague Alan Buckingham has already detailed the different hardware he switches to when the weather warms up. He makes his changes to escape his hot office environment, but I have a rather different reason for swapping devices in the summer.
I work in a basement office. It’s a very nice basement office -- it used to be a call center in the days before I moved in -- but the temperature rarely changes throughout the year down there and the lack of windows means the different seasons have very little impact on me. I’m unaware of when it’s snowing in winter, or more importantly, when it’s gloriously sunny in summer. So on days when I know the weather is nice, I move outside, so I don’t miss the sunshine, and get a welcome (and much needed) dose of vitamin D.
In the second of our (hopefully) regular competitions, we have quite a treat for you. You've read the headline so you should know what's up for grabs, but if you missed it, the prize is a year's subscription to Office 365 Home worth $99.99.
Microsoft has very kindly donated a full subscription for us to give away, but this is more than just one copy of the world-famous office suite -- you can install Office 365 Home on up to five PCs or Macs, as well as five tablets. Enough for all the family!
Hitting the road means luggage, and luggage is a pain -- all that… stuff… to carry from place to place. Traveling light can help to make the journey less of a chore, but there are some things that simply have to be packed: no self-respecting technology fan would go on vacation without taking a raft of devices with them. But devices need power, and this means chargers are needed. iPhones, MP3 players, Android tablets, iPads, digital cameras, Chromebooks, and countless other devices all need power -- and that means a lot of chargers.
We just took a look at the Lumsing DCH-5U 5-Port USB Travel Wall Charger which enables you to leave the chargers at home and charge up to five devices simultaneously from a single power point. And we have one to give away!
A few weeks ago I took a look at Lumsing's harmonica battery pack. Now from the same stables comes the lengthily titled DCH-5U 5-Port USB Travel Wall Charger. This is a slightly different twist on the idea of providing power to travellers' devices -- this is a wall charger rather than a portable battery pack. If you're going on vacation, taking a trip, or even just hitting the office, there are your devices to consider. Your phone, tablet, MP3 player, and other bits and pieces all need power, all need their own charger.
Except they don’t. Leave all of your chargers at home, and just take a selection of USB cables -- this 5-port hub allows for up to five USB devices (obviously) to be charged from a single wall power point. The 31W/6.2A unit has two 5V 1A ports for phones, and three 5V 2A ports for tablets and devices with higher power demands. Oddly, the ports are labelled, left to right, iPad, iPad, Samsung Tab, iPhone, and Android. It would have made more sense to simply indicate which of the five were the high-powered ports, but this is a minor niggle in the grand scheme of things.