How to Get Back to Siri’s Web Results Quickly

Ask Siri to search the Web and you’ll get five results back from Google (not Bing anymore!). Tap one and it opens in Safari. But what if that page doesn’t contain the information you want? How do you get back to Siri’s results? The easy way is to tap the little Siri button that appears in the top-left of the screen. Or activate Siri again, but instead of speaking, swipe down on the screen until “What can I help you with?” disappears and your recent Siri queries appear with your last search results in view.

The Best Apple-Related Gifts for 2017

It’s that time of year again, when many of us start wracking our brains for gift ideas for our loved ones—or for our own wish lists. If your special someone is an Apple user, we have a few suggestions.

Chargers, Cables, and Adapters, Oh My!

We know that giving someone a cable feels a bit like buying them socks, but Apple’s minimalist design and focus on USB-C and Lightning ports means that many users would appreciate extra cables or adapters. You’ll want to ask them what they find most annoying about their current cable situation—they might want an extra Lightning to headphone adapter, a USB-C to USB-A cable for connecting some peripheral, or an HDMI cable to run a big-screen TV.

Plus, giving someone a second iPhone, Mac, or Apple Watch charger could reduce battery anxiety or make it less likely that they’d forget to pack one while traveling.

AirPods

Apple’s most surprising hit of 2017 was the AirPods, svelte wireless earbuds that pair quickly and seamlessly to all Apple devices logged in to the same iCloud account. They’re light, stay in the ear well, and are comfortable even for many people who couldn’t wear the wired EarPods. At $159, they’re not cheap, but they’re still less expensive than many competing wireless earbuds.

The only catch? Apple has had trouble making AirPods fast enough, so don’t assume you can buy a pair as a last-minute gift.

Apple Watch

Apple always intended the Apple Watch as an iPhone accessory, so it makes a great add-on for any iPhone user who doesn’t already have their iPhone in hand most of the day. For most people, the $249 Apple Watch Series 1 is a fine gift, although the $329 Series 3 is faster and brighter, and doesn’t need the iPhone to track a run or bike ride via GPS.

Consider the $399 Series 3 with cellular access only if you’re certain the recipient will make use of the watch while out and about without the iPhone, since its data plan costs $10 extra per month.

And, if someone on your gift list already has an Apple Watch, a new band might make a great present—Apple offers a wide variety of attractive and comfortable bands.

Apple TV

Although it’s a few years old, the $149 fourth-generation Apple TV still makes a good present for anyone who watches TV shows and movies from Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, and other Internet streaming video services.

For most people, the $179 Apple TV 4K is overkill, since its support for 4K video and HDR color require a compatible 4K HDR TV purchased in the last year or so.

So stick with the previous Apple TV, and if you’re looking for a related stocking stuffer, search for silicone cases that protect the brittle Siri Remote and make it easier to orient in the dark.

iPad

Last, but far from least, if someone in your family has never tried an iPad or is limping along with one of the early models, the current fifth-generation iPad combines good performance and a gorgeous screen with a compellingly low price starting at $329.

At $399, the smaller iPad mini 4 doesn’t provide as much bang for the buck, but it could be the perfect present for a child.

Particularly when buying an iPad for a kid, a durable case is a must—perhaps suggest that as a gift idea to another family member.

Stop Paying Too Much for a Family’s iCloud Drive Storage

Apple gives iCloud users 5 GB of free storage, but that fills up fast with iCloud Photo Library, iOS backups, iBooks, and more. Until iOS 11 and macOS 10.13 High Sierra, each person in a family had to buy extra iCloud space separately. Happily, Apple has now made it so everyone in a Family Sharing group can share a single 200 GB ($2.99 per month) or 2 TB ($9.99 per month) plan. The family organizer can start sharing storage in High Sierra or iOS 11 as follows: on the Mac, go to System Preferences > iCloud > Manage Family > My Apps & Services > iCloud Storage; in iOS, go to Settings > Your Name > Family Sharing > iCloud Storage. Any other family member can then cancel their paid plan and join the Family Sharing plan using their iCloud Storage screen.

Please, Please, Use iOS 11’s Do Not Disturb While Driving Feature

Distracted driving may not make headlines, but it’s a huge problem. In the United States in 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 391,000 people were injured and 3477 killed in accidents caused by distracted driving.

Many things can distract drivers, but the most concerning—and the most avoidable—is texting. Given that the iPhone has a 30–40% share of the market, it might have been involved in as many as 100,000 injuries and 1000 deaths in just 2015. Not good.

Apple has stepped up to the plate by introducing the Do Not Disturb While Driving (DNDWD) feature in iOS 11. You’ll be prompted to enable DNDWD when it first detects that you’re driving in a car after you install iOS 11. In normal use, it activates automatically when you’re driving, blocking notifications and preventing you from using apps until you stop the car. Here are answers to the most common questions we get about DNDWD.

How does the iPhone know that I’m driving?

The most reliable way is that your iPhone has connected to a car via Bluetooth. Obviously, that requires the car to support Bluetooth, and that you pair your iPhone with it. If there’s no Bluetooth connection, the iPhone uses its accelerometer and signals from nearby Wi-Fi networks to figure out that you’re driving.

In Settings > Do Not Disturb > Activate, you can choose from Automatically, When Connected to Car Bluetooth, or Manually. Stick with one of the first two options unless the iPhone regularly fails to detect that you’re driving, at which point you can add the Do Not Disturb While Driving button to Control Center, and activate DNDWD with it.

Will any notifications break through the DNDWD cone of silence?

Yes. As with standard Do Not Disturb, timers, alarms, and emergency alerts will still work. Plus, you can opt to receive urgent text messages. To enable this feature, go to Settings > Do Not Disturb > Auto-Reply To and choose a group (Recents, Favorites, or All Contacts). Those people will get an auto-reply—which you can personalize—when they text you, and if they reply to that auto-reply with the word “urgent,” the message will be delivered.

What about phone calls?

If your car has a Bluetooth hands-free system, phone calls will come in as they always have, and you can answer them via your steering wheel controls and carry on the conversation using the car’s built-in mic and speakers.

However, if you don’t have car Bluetooth or another hands-free accessory, DNDWD will block calls just as they would be by standard Do Not Disturb. That means you can allow calls from specific groups in Settings > Do Not Disturb > Allow Calls From and let anyone through if they call twice within 3 minutes.

Can I still use Maps to navigate?

Yes! Maps works on the Lock screen just as it always has, though it’s best started before you begin driving. If you keep your iPhone in a car mount so you can use it for navigating, DNDWD won’t get in the way.

Will Siri still work while in DNDWD?

Indeed it will, both via Hey Siri and by holding the Home button. But don’t do that—Hey Siri is safer than taking your hand off the wheel to press the Home button.

Siri won’t do some things for you while you’re driving, like open apps. Plus, Siri tries to respond to you so that you won’t have to look at the iPhone, reading all responses instead of displaying them on the screen.

How do I turn off DNDWD if I’m a passenger?

If DNDWD is on and you try to use your iPhone, an I’m Not Driving button appears. Tap it, and you can use your iPhone normally for the rest of the trip. If you’re always a passenger, go to Settings > Do Not Disturb > Activate, and select Manually. Then, if you do want to turn DNDWD on, you can use its Control Center button.

So hey, if you didn’t turn on Do Not Disturb While Driving when you first set up iOS 11, do us and everyone else on the road a favor and turn it on now. The life you save could be your own.

 

The Swipes You Need to Know to Multitask in iOS 11 on an iPad

With iOS 11, the iPhone and iPad interfaces continue to diverge, which makes sense, since the iPad is not merely an overgrown iPhone. Particularly when you pair an iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, you can now get real work done on an iPad more fluidly than ever before. The “hard” part is learning how you switch between apps, display a second app in a Slide Over panel that floats on top of another app, or make two apps share the screen in Split View.

Switch Between Apps

Moving between apps is a key aspect of using the iPad. Apple has provided multiple ways to switch so you can pick those that best fit your style:

  • Press the Home button, and on the Home screen, tap another app’s icon.
  • On the Home screen, swipe down to show Siri app suggestions and search for another app.
  • Within an app, swipe right or left with four fingers.
  • Within an app, swipe up from below the bottom of the screen to reveal the new Dock, and then tap an icon on it. Note that the three rightmost icons are the most recently used apps.
  • After revealing the Dock, keep swiping up to reveal the new app switching screen, then tap an app thumbnail to switch to it. Swipe right to see less recently used apps.
  • From a Smart Keyboard or other keyboard, press Command-Tab to bring up a Mac-like app switcher. Release both keys quickly to switch to the previous app instantly, or keep Command down while you press Tab repeatedly to move sequentially among the shown apps, letting up on Command to switch. While the app switcher is shown, you can also tap an icon in it.

Display an App in Slide Over

Say you’re having a sporadic conversation in Messages while browsing the Web in Safari. You don’t need to see both apps all the time, but you also don’t want to have to switch back and forth. With Slide Over, you can put Messages in a panel that floats over Safari and then hide and show it.

The easiest way to put an app in a Slide Over panel is to use the Dock, so this technique works if the app’s icon is already on the Dock. For instance, while you’re in Safari, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to display the Dock. Then touch and hold the Messages app’s icon until it dims slightly. Keeping your finger down, drag the icon over Safari until it becomes a vertical lozenge. Lift your finger, and Messages appears in Slide Over.

If the app you want to put in Slide Over isn’t on your Dock, you can use a two-handed procedure to get it from another location and drop it onto another app. For instance, you can start dragging an app icon from any place where app icons appear, including the Home screen or Siri search screen. Once you’ve started dragging it, use your other hand to switch to the other app (perhaps via the Dock or pressing Command-Tab on an external keyboard) and then drop it over the other app. Don’t worry if you find this approach confusing at first—it takes some time to become accustomed to two-handed usage.

Once an app is in Slide Over on the right side of the screen, you can swipe right on its left edge to hide it, or swipe left on its right edge to move it to the other side of the screen.

Put an App in Split View

Displaying two apps side-by-side in Split View is almost the same action as Slide Over. The only difference is that, instead of dropping the app lozenge on top of the current app, you drag it to the far left or right of the screen, and drop it once the screen shows a 90/10 split—after you drop, the split changes to 70/30.

Drag the handle between the apps to switch to a 50/50 split or a 30/70 split; if you drag the handle all the way to one side of the screen, the app that’s shrinking in size disappears entirely. One of the two apps in Split View will have a handle on its top as well, and dragging it down slightly converts that app into a Slide Over panel. (You can also drag a Slide Over panel’s handle down slightly to switch to Split View.)

Take a few minutes and try putting apps in Slide Over and Split View in different ways, since some of the actions require practice before they feel natural. Finally, if combining two particular apps doesn’t seem to work, don’t fret. Apps must specifically support both Slide Over and Split View, and not all do.

 

Avoid Ransom Requests with a Unique iCloud Password

We’ve been hearing reports from people whose Macs have been locked remotely via Find My Mac, with the criminals responsible holding access to the Mac hostage until they receive a ransom in Bitcoin. First, if this happens to you, do not pay the ransom! Any Apple Authorized Service Provider or Apple Store can unlock your Mac for you if you bring it in and provide proof of purchase. Second, if you ever used your iCloud password on another site, change it immediately, since if that site was hacked, your iCloud account is now vulnerable. Unfortunately, Apple’s two-factor authentication, which is otherwise great, does not currently protect against this problem! Learn more at TidBITS.

iTunes 12.7 Can’t Download or Manage iOS Apps Anymore

The writing is on the wall: Apple doesn’t want us downloading or managing iOS apps on our Macs anymore. Most of the changes in iTunes 12.7 revolve around features Apple removed, including ringtone management and iTunes U. But the kicker is the removal of the iOS App Store and support for app syncing. This means you won’t be able to click a link on a Web site on your Mac to download an iOS app to iTunes, nor will you be able to use iTunes to choose which apps are on your iOS device. You can’t even customize Home screen layouts from within iTunes. All those tasks must now be done on your iOS device. You can still back up your iOS devices to iTunes—but if you have to restore, your apps will be downloaded from the App Store. Sorry!

The New Two-Swipe Shortcut for the Camera in iOS 11

When you want to capture that perfect action shot or incriminating video, it’s a mad rush to open the Camera app as quickly as possible. That’s why Apple lets you get to the camera in multiple ways: by swiping left on the Lock screen, using the Camera button in Control Center, and tapping the Camera icon on the Home screen. iOS 11 adds another shortcut that could be useful: from within any app, swipe down from above the top of the screen to display the Lock screen, and then swipe left to get to the camera.

What’s New in macOS 10.13 High Sierra and Its Main Apps

Although Apple’s eye-catching Desktop image of the High Sierra mountains makes it easy to confirm that your Mac is running High Sierra, the most noteworthy new features are invisible! These changes are aimed at improving your Mac’s performance. But, don’t worry that there’s nothing new in High Sierra, which came out on September 25th, to play with—you’ll find plenty to do in Apple’s apps, and I’ll share my favorite features below.

Apple’s invisible, under-the-hood changes modernize the Mac. The new APFS file system significantly improves how data is stored on your disk. It replaces the HFS+ file system, which dates from the previous century. You’ll notice the switch to APFS when you look up the size of a selected folder or duplicate a large file because the operation should run much more quickly. APFS also provides better FileVault encryption and reduces the chance of file corruption.

Also new is HEVC, a new video compression standard that will let videos stream better and take up less space on your drive, and HEIF, an image format that boasts significantly better compression to keep photos from overwhelming your drive. HEVC and HEIF have other advantages too, but they’re so embedded into High Sierra (and iOS 11) that all you’ll notice is more space. When you drag images and videos out of Photos, they’ll come out in familiar formats suitable for sharing.

 

Photos 3

In Photos, it’s now easier to browse your photos from the always-on sidebar on the left side of the window. Photo editing is also more streamlined, with the Edit screen now separated into three tabs: Adjust, Filters, and Crop.

You can now edit Live Photos! Look at the bottom of the Adjust tab for controls for picking any frame as the static “key” frame, trimming the video, and applying special effects. The most interesting effect blurs the Live Photo by turning the 3-second mini-movie into a single long exposure.

Those who are into tweaking photos by hand should check out the new Curves and Selective Color options on the Adjust tab. Or, if you’d prefer that your Mac do the heavy lifting, try the new filters on the Filters tab.

My favorite new feature is more of a fix—when you train Photos to match faces with names, that training will now sync through iCloud Photo Library to your other Apple devices. About time!

Finally, for serious photographers, Apple has at long last brought back round-trip editing of a photo in an external app, like Pixelmator or Photoshop.

 

Safari 11

I seem to always bounce between using Chrome and Safari, but the new version of Safari may make me a permanent convert. A new Websites tab in Safari’s preferences lets you specify Web sites that should always open in Safari’s clutter-reducing Reader View, blocks some ads and auto-play videos, lets you set the zoom level on a per-site basis, and more. I like to tweak these options for the current Web page by choosing Safari > Settings for This Website to open a popover with the necessary controls.

And in the “Thank you, Apple!” category, Safari now offers Intelligent Tracking Protection (ITP), which limits advertisers’ cross-site tracking of where you’ve been online.

 

Notes 4.5

Notes now offers a capable Table feature and a handy File > Pin Note command that puts the selected note at the top of its list rather than listing it by order last edited. Neither feature is earth shattering, but I’m enjoying both already.

 

Mail 11

Behind the scenes, Mail gets a welcome change you probably won’t notice—according to Apple, message storage now takes 35% less space. How do they do this? I have no idea, but if it’s true this is great news!

More obvious is how Mail revamped its behavior in full-screen view. Instead of the message-composition area overlapping most of the Mail window, the screen splits, and your new message appears at the right. This layout simplifies viewing an older message while drafting a new one.

FaceTime 4

A fun new FaceTime option is taking a Live Photo of your call. It’s a perfect way to record mini-movies of far-away relatives. If the person you’re chatting with allows Live Photos in FaceTime’s preferences, hover over the FaceTime window to see and then click the round Shutter button.

 

Spotlight

Spotlight isn’t exactly an app, but it lets you search for anything on or off your Mac. Click the magnifying glass icon at the right of your menu bar—or press Command-Space bar—to start, and then enter your search terms. New in High Sierra, you can enter an airline flight number to see oodles of flight-related info.

High Sierra won’t radically change how you use your Mac, but I’m in favor of anything that makes our Macs run faster and keeps our drives from filling up so fast. Should you upgrade? Yes. When? That’s another story. I’d recommend waiting for at least a month, and perhaps until early next year, to upgrade. This will give Apple time to work out any bugs that might be lingering.

 

Siri Learned Five Languages over the Summer So You Didn’t Have To

While you were basking at the beach this summer, Apple kept Siri busy taking intensive language classes. In iOS 11, Siri can now translate English words and phrases into Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. So if your next vacation takes you to Paris, you can now ask Siri for help you with commands like “How do I say ‘where can I find a bathroom’ in French?” or “Translate to French: ‘How much does the baguette cost’?’” Even better, tap the triangular play button to have Siri read the translation aloud so you can mimic it or let a Francophone listen, in case your French accent is exécrable.