Category: Hints & Tips

Unlocking the iPhone quickly and easily

So what’s the easiest way to unlock an iPhone after it has been released for use on another carrier?

Is it, as most will tell you – Apple included, to completely restore the phone through iTunes?

No. Simply insert a SIM card from another carrier and wait for a minute or two (use common sense with any prompts that may appear).
Note: carriers tell me that the unlock can take from 1 hour to two days, so if it doesn’t work it’s worth waiting a couple of hours and trying again.

As always, ensure you have backed up your iPhone first.

iPhone 5, iOS 6, Public Transit

Dear reader

Never mind the deterioration of map resolution, if you rely on the public transport capabilities of Maps in your iPhone you might want to think twice before you upgrade to iOS 6 or buy an iPhone 5

Apple’s switch to their own mapping technologies has left a gaping hole where useful transit directions once lived

If you have already upgraded What can you do (other than waiting until Apple catch up to where they were yesterday)

One option is simply to carry another older iOS device.

I’m lucky enough to have a first generation iPod touch lying around – this device is incapable of running iOS 6 and should continue to provide public transit times and directions well into the future

Another option while we pray that Google release a standalone Maps app is to visit and add their web app to your home screen

It’s clunkier (for example, you can’t search for directions until the page has finished loading), but at least it works

10 things you should know about your iPhone camera

Apple’s iPhone is one of the worlds most popular cameras, yet most users are unaware of many of the features Apple have included.
The following list offers a range of useful tips and tricks to help you shoot better and faster with the iPhone

1. Get to ‘Camera’ quickly when your iPhone is asleep

It is easy to get to your iPhone camera from sleep.
Just press the home or wake/sleep button, slide the camera icon (iOS 5+ required) and you are straight into your camera.

2. ‘Half Press’ – lock focus and get more immediate shutter response
Your iPhone camera can perform a ‘Half Press’ similar to a regular camera.

First, frame your shot.
Then press and hold the on screen shutter button and the iPhone will focus but will NOT release the shutter until you then release the shutter button.

3. Real Shutter Release button.
The + volume control button can act as a shutter release button affording a more secure grip and less chance of camera shake

4. Cable Release.
The + volume control button on your Apple headphones can act as a shutter release

5. Shooting at reduced resolution.
When file size is all that matters your iPhone camera is ready to take low resolution images.
Simply open the ‘Messages’ App, start a message and tap the camera icon – from here images will be captured at a low resolution (1024×768 on iPhone 4S at time of writing).
These images can be emailed from ‘Messages’
That’s right, the ‘Messages’ app can send to email addresses. Or they can be copied and pasted into mail, pages, keynote etc.

6. AE/AF Lock.
Often a camera will make an incorrect exposure decision due to an abundance of bright or dark tones in the image (it can also fail to focus correctly).
AE/AF Lock allows you lock the exposure based on the brightness values elsewhere in the scene and at the same time lock focus on that part of the scene.
To use AE/AF lock, tap and hold on dark objects to brighten and lock exposure (focus will be locked too).
If you tap and hold on light objects the image will darken instead.
Ideally you would locate objects that are the same distance as your subject and with balanced tones (neither too dark or too light), then touch and hold on the screen in this area to activate AE/AF Lock

7. ‘Rule of Thirds’ – Compositional aid.
Under the ‘Options’ button it is possible to activate a ‘Rule of Thirds’ grid. This grid overlays the screen and assists with composition (objects of interest should intersect with the lines rather than appearing within the boxes of the grid)

8. Stabilisation – avoiding camera shake.
There is a built-in stabiliser that is always active to minimise blur caused by camera shake.

9. Getting to ‘Camera’ when the iPhone is NOT asleep
The quickest way to get to the camera when the iPhone is not asleep is using a variation of the first tip.
Simply press the sleep/wake button twice and then slide the camera icon (this requires you to have the lock code active)

10. Zoom In
The iPhone camera has a little over 3x zoom Simply spread two fingers on screen to activate (unfortunately this is a digital zoom and will reduce your capture resolution to less than 1 Megapixel at maximum zoom before extrapolating back up to a 3264×2448 file)

Stay available – tips for the global iPhone traveller

Duncan Davidson has written a great article on choosing an iPhone for the Global traveller, however he has missed the following method which will work for any iPhone and is simple enough for most users to cope with no matter what happens when they are overseas and out of reach of their regular support network

I’ve used this method to help a few people when traveling overseas with their iPhone and/or iPad.

Most of them have kept their carrier sim, turned off data roaming, NOT set up or requested international call roaming and NOT made outgoing calls when abroad using the iPhone ‘Phone’ app. (This generally means they can continue to text normally without too much cost and there is nothing on the phone to reconfigure on the return home).

I install Skype, have them set up an online number at and enable automatic Skype credit top ups.

I set up each email account on each device to receive AND send while overseas (many devices are set up at time of purchase to use carrier smtp settings which fail to send immediately when you are not connected to the carrier.
iCloud and gmail just work anywhere. If you own your domain and use this as your outgoing mail server where supported then this will work too – other domains/ISP emails may require the use of webmail as a fallback

I set up an email auto responder for each account which explains received messages may not be responded to for a day or two (in the event of a failure to get online) – keep in mind that this may advertise that your home is unoccupied.

Back to Skype. As mentioned the traveller purchases an online number. With this we then record a voicemail message using the Skype desktop app and then, on leaving the country, activate call forwarding from each of the travellers local phone numbers to the online number (using the method of dialling the carriers call forward activation shortcut).
The message we record might mention the email address for urgent enquiries since it will almost always be possible to respond to an email rather than a call due to the extra bandwidth required, although the traveller can always respond via text message if all else fails

When anyone at home calls the travellers normal number(s) they are redirected to Skype voicemail and are able to leave a message.
The traveller receives email notification of any message and can listen and respond when they are able to connect to WiFi (using the Skype app on an iPhone to return the call costs very little and it is easy to check your costs on a daily basis by logging in to the Skype website)

A couple of issues crop up in this scenario

  1. Returned calls must be made at a reasonable hour in the callers time zone.
  2. Appointments that are added to your calendar can get shifted if you have set your device to your current (out of home country) time zone.
  3. If Skype is left running on any device the voice message may take a dozen rings to answer (and may even time out).
  4. If the WiFi you are connected to is not good enough then call quality can be poor
  5. Clients sometimes struggle to understand the difference between using Skype to make free calls to other Skype users only while they are online and making calls using ‘Skype Credit’ to the regular phone number of any person with a phone at any time of day or night
  6. Siri likes to activate when you make a Skype call and raise the iPhone to your ear (turn off this feature under Settings > General > Siri > Raise to Speak)

In addition to all this you might consider carrying a Pocket WiFi device which is unlocked to be used with various sim cards in each country you travel to (in case local WiFi fails to be available or of a decent quality)