About the new iPhones and T-Mobile’s 600 MHz spectrum

Iphonex front side flat

If you’re in the U.S., looking at a new iPhone 8 or iPhone X and you’re a T-Mobile customer, you may wonder if the new phone supports T-Mobile’s LTE Band 71, new 600 MHz spectrum the company is in the process of bringing online. The short answer is no. Apple’s new phones don’t support Band 71 and can’t be made to. You’ll have to wait until Apple’s next iPhone refresh to get that capability. The devil is in the details, so read on for more.

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Hey Apple, stop dragging your feet on the iCal spam problem

Over the US Thanksgiving holiday weekend, my social media feed lit up with complaints from other Apple users about iCloud-related calendar spam. Here’s the thing: This isn’t a new problem. In fact, it’s been happening for months. So why hasn’t Apple said anything, and more importantly, why hasn’t it fixed it?

Some background:

Apple’s recent operating systems all support “data detectors” which can scan and identify calendar invitations in your email and Messages. They’re actually quite clever. If your friend asks you to lunch a week from next Tuesday or your boss sends an email asking you to a planning meeting on Wednesday at 2PM, data detectors are smart enough to understand and can attempt to populate your calendar with the appropriate info. Under ideal circumstances, this is a frictionless system that just makes it easier for you to get work done instead of having to fire up apps to make sure you get everything written down.

Here’s the problem: this same mechanism enables spammers to hit you up with ads for fake sunglasses, boots and other gear. They send these ads to your iCloud email address as calendar invitations. Your Apple device doesn’t discriminate between these invitations and legitimate ones from friends and coworkers.

Calendar spam

What’s worse, there isn’t a built-in mechanism to delete these invitations without responding to them. You can ignore them, but they’ll hang out on your calendar indefinitely. If you accept or decline the invitation, the spammer receives an email response. That lets them know your email address is live, which makes it likely you’ll get spammed again in the future.

The correct action, according to reports from various Apple–related blog sites, is to create a new calendar, drag the invitation to the new calendar then delete that calendar. That deletes the instance of the invitation without responding back to the spammer.

Delete spam

To help prevent the problem from happening again, you can also sign into iCloud.com, open your Calendar, then change the advanced setting “Receive event invitations as” from “in-app notifications” to “email to.” Invites will appear as email, which you can delete like you do with other incoming spam.

Icloud cal change

This multi-step process is awkward, nonintuitive, and difficult for people who know what they’re doing. The vast majority of iCloud account users don’t have the faintest idea what to do. It is, quite frankly, an astonishingly stupid, inelegant workaround for what appears to be a glaring security hole in Apple’s data detection scheme.

If this were a new behavior that just popped up over the weekend, I would be willing to grant Apple a pass on this. But it isn’t. I’ve seen the problem pop up occasionally on a relative’s iCloud account since the summer. Reports of this have been going on for months and Apple has done absolutely nothing to fix the problem. They are certainly aware of it, and have been for a very long time.

To date, Apple still has not acknowledged the problem officially to any website nor have they posted anything to their own knowledge base. There’s plenty of chatter on Apple’s discussion boards, but those are user–led discussions. We should hold Apple’s feet to the fire to make sure a more permanent and effective solution is put in place as soon as possible because this is unacceptable.

iPhone 6s shutting down unexpectedly? Apple will fix it for free

Some iPhone 6s owners have been plagued by a problem that causes their phone to shut down unexpectedly, even though the battery meter shows a charge. What’s even more frustrating: If you bring your phone to an Apple Store or authorized service provider, their diagnostic tools have shown the device to be working properly. Now you can get the problem fixed by Apple, for free.

Iohones

On Sunday Apple launched a new Repair Extension Program to cover iPhone 6s models afflicted by the issue. According to Apple, “a very small number of iPhone 6s devices” are afflicted with the problem, and all were made in September or October 2015. You’ll need to get in touch with Apple to find out if you’re eligible. Assuming you are, Apple will replace your device’s battery for free.

Just anecdotally, I was in an Apple Store last week to get my iPhone screen replaced when I overheard the customer at the table next to me complaining about this very issue. At the time, the Apple Genius didn’t know about the service program, which just launched over the weekend. So if you’ve been turned away at the Apple Store for this problem or given unhelpful advice to fix it that hasn’t worked, make an appointment to have your device looked at.

If you’ve already paid for a replacement, Apple should comp you for the repair. More details are available on their web site.

This comes only a few days after Apple launched another Repair Extension Program aimed specifically at iPhone 6 Plus users experiencing a problem that’s been called “Touch Disease:” Some iPhone 6 Plus models, after being repeatedly dropped, will develop flickering display problems or issues with the Multi-Touch functionality. Unlike the iPhone 6s shutdown issue, this is not a covered repair – you’ll need to pay Apple $149 to have it fixed (the key here is that it’s because the phone has been dropped, and user-caused damage isn’t something Apple covers). But at least Apple now acknowledges it’s a problem and has a program in place to deal with it.

Unlock your iPhone in iOS 10 faster with this tip

iOS 10’s lock screen now instructs you to press your iPhone or iPad’s Home button to unlock it. Worried about wearing out your Home button, or just don’t want to press it? If your device uses Touch ID (if it’s an iPhone 5S or later, or one of the many iPad models that sports Touch ID), you can set up your device to unlock by just resting your finger on the Home button instead. Here’s how.

How to unlock your iPhone without pushing the Home button

  1. From your iPhone’s home screen, tap Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Accessibility.Speed Up Your Home Button 1
  4. Tap Home Button.
  5. Tap the switch next to Rest Finger to Open to activate. (While you’re here, you can also modify the click speed needed to double or triple-click the Home button, if you’d like.)Fast home 2
  6. Tap the Home button to exit.

Now when your iPhone is locked, resting your thumb is all you have to do to unlock it. Enjoy!

T-Mobile iPhone not working after iOS 10 update? Fix Carrier Settings

Some T-Mobile customers who upgraded their iPhones to iOS 10 this week have run into “No Carrier” problems following a botched Carrier Update setting. There’s a fix available that should help, and it’s easy to install.

Apple released iOS 10 earlier this week. T-Mobile customers also saw a Carrier Settings update when they installed the new operating system. Carrier Settings files give the iPhone key information about T-Mobile’s network.

This is where things went pear-shaped: Apparently something went wrong with the carrier settings updates for iPhone 6, 6 Plus and SE, according to Engadget. After upgrading, some of us noticed our phones were dropping offline. With the hinky carrier settings, once an iPhone loses a connection to T-Mobile’s network, nothing short of powering it down and turning it back on restores the cell service. That’s been my experience, and it’s maddening.

Late on Thursday, T-Mobile and Apple pushed another carrier update setting that should fix the problem. I haven’t experimented with it extensively to test it yet, but I do see that the update is live. Here’s how to apply it. Obviously this will only work once you’re connected to T-Mobile’s network or on a Wi-Fi connection, so if your phone is offline, make sure to restart it.

How to update your iPhone carrier settings

  1. Tap the Home button.
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Tap General.
  4. Tap About.Carrier settings
  5. The phone should automatically find the updated carrier settings automatically..Carrier settings 2

Once you’re done, you should see “Carrier” changed from 25.1 to 25.2.

Pokémon GO afflicted with throw accuracy bug, developer promises fix

I’ve been frustrated because I’ve been wasting so many Pokéballs on monsters I knew I should have caught on the first throw. You too? That’s because Niantic broke it. They confirmed it in a Tweet on Thursday, and promise a fix:

How to play Pokémon GO without annoying everyone: Shut off the camera

I love Pokémon GO but the novelty of actually having to find my Pokémon by looking through my smartphone’s camera wears thin quickly. There are only so many times I stop, lift my smartphone and “look around” to find my Pokémon before it feels intrusive and, quite frankly, a bit rude to the people around me. Fortunately Pokémon GO has a setting that lets you turn this feature off, and still play the game.

 

The next time you’re trying to catch a wild Pokémon, take a look in the upper right corner of the screen. There’s a toggle switch labeled AR. That’s short for “Augmented Reality,” and that’s the camera feature. Slide that toggle off, and your Pokémon will be rendered in a 3D setting, but your camera will no longer be used.

Ar off

The game renders a 3D scene and drops the wild Pokémon right in the center of it. That makes it a bit easier to locate the Pokémon and throw a Pokéball to catch it. It also means less jerking the camera around as you’re walking around. 

All the other aspects to the game remain the same. This won’t affect your ability to visit Pokéstops or gyms, won’t change the frequency with which you encounter wild Pokémon, and doesn’t affect basic gameplay mechanics when it comes to tossing Pokéballs or walking to hatch lucky eggs and the like.

How to post to Instagram right from Photos on the iPhone

Up until this week, posting iPhone photos to Instagram required the Instagram app. Now you can post directly from Photos. Instagram 8.2 finally adds support for Share Sheets, which we’ve been waiting for since iOS 8 was released in 2014!

If you’re like me, this is a big deal. I use Photos to catalog, edit and tweak my photos. I don’t much care for the built-in editing or filter tools in the Instagram app. So being able to post from right within Photos saves me the step of having to open Instagram and post from there. Even if you’re not using Photos but you are dependent on another photo cataloging or editing tool, Instagram’s support for Share Sheets makes it that much easier to integrate Instagram sharing into your workflow.

Here’s how to activate the new Instagram feature.

To add Instagram to your iPhone Share menu

  1. Make sure to download and install the latest version of Instagram from the App Store.
  2. Tap Photos.
  3. Select the photo you wish to export to Instagram. Tap the Share menu icon in the lower left corner.Share sheet
  4. The share sheet shows you the list of available services and apps, including Mail, iCloud Photo Sharing, Facebook, Twitter and others. Tap and left-slide until you see More. Tap on More.More
  5. In the Activities window, scroll down the list until you see Instagram. Tap the toggle to turn Instagram on, then tap Done.Instagram share
  6. Instagram will now appear in the list of services you can export photos to. You can add a caption and hashtags and post when ready.Instagram button

The downside of posting to Instagram is that you’re just posting to Instagram. The Instagram app lets you cross post to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Flickr as well. But those services are also supported in Share Sheets – it’s just not a one-stop crossposting shop. If you want to cross-post to different services at once, you’ll still need to use the Instagram app.

Download Word Flow for the iPhone and type faster

One of the best third-party keyboards for iOS is from Microsoft. Yeah. Microsoft. Go figure!

It’s called Word Flow, and it’s downloadable from the App Store for free. Word Flow is already available for Windows phones, but Microsoft has developed an iOS version that you can grab. The effort is the work of a group within Microsoft called Garage, the company’s experimental apps group. (Readers have pointed that at least for now, Word Flow seems to be a US-only release. Sorry, international folks!)

I use an iPhone 6, and I often find it unwieldy to type with one hand, using my thumb, as so many of us like to. It’s simply too wide for the radius of my thumb, which requires me to compensate by holding the device with two hands. Word Flow offers a clever adaptation it calls “Arc Mode.” The keyboard can be set on the lower right or left edge of the screen, in an arc, to make it easier to quickly tap keys with your thumb. Word Flow also lets you “swipe” to type words (sliding your thumb between “a” “n” and “d” will cause Word Flow to type “and,” even if you don’t lift your thumb between each key).

IMG 0565

Word Flow is also customizable; you can color it with different themes or even create your own. 

So why wouldn’t you want to install Word Flow? Privacy is the main reason. Like all third-party keyboards for iOS, Word Flow’s predictive text requires you to turn on “Full Access,” which lets the app store data about your keystrokes to help improve the app’s predictive text feature. Apple offers some more details about how third party keyboards work in this support document.

This does not mean that Word Flow is a keylogging application, and it does not mean that Microsoft or Apple suddenly get a full transcript of everything you’ve typed using the application. But Apple’s scare warning and its lack of communication about what Full Access actually does is enough to make some people not want to install third-party keyboards on their iOS devices. You can leave Full Access off, but Word Flow won’t be nearly as efficient at predicting what you’re typing.

Apple’s support for third-party keyboards is begrudging at best. So you’ll often have to tap the keyboard icon (which looks like a wireframe globe) a few times before you see Word Flow pop up.

Having said all that, it’s a free app, and if you’re having trouble with the built-in keyboard on an iPhone – especially a larger one, like a 6 Plus or 6S Plus – this might be exactly what you need.