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Revert to iOS 9 Home Button Behavior

Ever since upgrading to iOS 10 and getting my iPhone 7 Plus I have been amazed with how fast the fingerprint recognition works. I must admit, however, that I was a little thrown off with having to press the Home button before unlocking my phone.

iOS 10 changes how you use the Home button to unlock your iOS device from the lock screen. Previously, you could unlock it by merely resting your finger on the Home button when the lock screen is showing. In iOS 10, however, you must press the Home button and then use Touch ID to unlock the device. With newer iPad and iPhone models, Touch ID reads your fingerprint so quickly that you can usually press the Home Button instead of just resting your finger on it.

If you’re like me and find this to be more of a hassle than convenience and prefer to skip the requirement to press the Home button I’ve got good news for you. You can change it! To revert to the previous, and one could argue faster, behavior go to Settings>General>Accessibility>Home Button and enable “Rest Finger to Open.”

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Take iPhone and iPad Photos with the Volume Buttons

Annoyed by having to tap the on-screen Shutter button to take a picture in the Camera app on your iPhone or iPad? Happily, there’s another way—press either of the physical Volume buttons on the side of the device to snap a photo. You can even press and hold a button to take a burst of photos. Be a little careful with an iPhone 6 or later, since it’s easy to press the Sleep/Wake button on the other side of the case accidentally, putting your iPhone to sleep instead of capturing that perfect shot.

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Hey Siri! Now on Your Mac

Have you upgraded to Mac OS X Sierra yet? I know that some people wait awhile to upgrade but I have been running Sierra for some time and you will want to upgrade. It is a rock-solid upgrade, it is free and it brings a lot of new features to the Mac. In the words of one big loser, “what do you have to lose?”

Okay, political commentary aside, one of the most exciting and useful features of Sierra is that Siri, finally, has come to the Mac! You know I have been playing around with Amazon’s Echo and I can definitively tell you that Siri is way smarter than Alexa. I still like Alexa but she pretty much is good for telling me dog and pirate jokes.

You can access Siri by clicking on the menu bar icon in the upper right-hand corner of your Mac’s screen or by clicking on the Siri icon in the dock. If you do not see those, you might not have Siri activated so go to System Preferences > Siri and check the box to “Enable Siri”. There you will find the check box to “show Siri in menu bar” which you can toggle on and off as well as options to choose Siri’s language and voice. You can also choose a keyboard shortcut if you would like, F7 is the default.

But, don’t you want to just say “Hey Siri”? That doesn’t necessarily work out of the box but you can make it work! Make sure you activate enhanced dictation in the keyboard system preference. Then, you can go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Dictation to set up the voice command that will activate Siri with a “Hey Siri”.

So, what can ask Siri to do for you? Well, start out by asking her what she can do. You will get a nice long list of things. You can ask Siri to launch apps, tell you the weather, get the Cubs score, FaceTme a friend, get directions to your meeting and so much more. I have been using Siri to find particular files, launch my apps and most of all to settle trivia bets.

Remember PDAs? Not public displays of affection, the other PDA – Personal Desktop Assistant. Well, Siri finally has made that a reality on your Mac. Use Siri to manage your calendar, remind you of appointments or bills to pay, play music for you or just a huge range of tasks. Here’s one huge list of Siri commands.

One of my favorites is searching mail. I can say “find me emails from Hapy” and Siri will give me those almost instantly. Better yet, I can ask Siri to email someone about that Kibbles & Bytes special or set a calendar appointment for the meeting with my service team. I think you are going to like Siri on the Mac!

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What’s Coming to the Big Screen and the Little Screen

Despite the focus on iOS 10 and macOS 10.12 Sierra, Apple isn’t forgetting about its other hardware lines, the living room-focused Apple TV and the wrist-based Apple Watch. For those who own a fourth-generation Apple TV, tvOS 10 is here now, and all Apple Watch owners who are running iOS 10 on their iPhones can install the radically revised watchOS 3.

Although Apple jumped the gun on tvOS 10 by releasing the new Siri-savvy Apple TV Remote app for the iPhone, tvOS 10 brings plenty of enhancements to the Apple TV itself. Siri gets smarter, enabling you to search for shows or movies by topic or theme. It will also find YouTube videos and find live TV playing in supported apps, like ESPN.

We particularly like tvOS’s new Photos app, which provides a big-screen experience for viewing Memories slideshows or the new albums for People and Places. Those who find the Apple TV’s main screen too bright in a dark room will appreciate the new “dark mode.” A new option to download apps automatically ensures that you get any Apple TV apps associated with your iOS apps without additional effort. And, finally, a new single sign-on feature should make it a lot easier to log in to those apps that require a paid cable or satellite subscription. If only we’d had that for the Olympics!

These tvOS changes are welcome but not earth-shattering. With watchOS 3, however, Apple rethought how you interact with the Apple Watch, throwing away both glances and the Friends screen and giving the side button an entirely new function. When you add in significantly faster app launches, additional watch faces (including Minnie Mouse!) with more complications, and a simplified way of replying to messages, watchOS 3 essentially gives you a whole new Apple Watch.

Taking a cue from iOS, swiping up on the Apple Watch screen now displays Control Center for quick management of common settings. And, instead of showing the Friends screen, pressing the side button displays the Dock, to which you can add your most used apps. Swipe left and right in it to navigate between apps, which are kept up to date and launch instantly, making for a far better experience than poring over the app cloud. You can also swipe left and right on watch faces to switch between them, which makes it easier to choose the face that best matches your mood.

New apps include Reminders and Find My Friends, which let you glance at your wrist instead of pulling out your iPhone to check to-dos and the location of your friends. Entirely new is Breathe, which guides you through deep breathing sessions to reduce stress. For those who find social pressure motivating, the Activity app now lets you share workout and activity information with friends and family. Activity also now supports wheelchair users, encouraging them with “time to roll” instead of “time to stand” reminders, and providing wheelchair-specific workouts and wheelchair-aware calorie tracking.

To increase peace of mind, a new SOS feature will call emergency services when you press and hold the side button (set it up in the Apple Watch app on the iPhone). Then it notifies your emergency contacts, providing them with a map of your location. The Apple Watch can also display your Medical ID (set that up in the Health app on the iPhone), which provides information about allergies and medical conditions.

Last, but far from least, after some setup, wearing your Apple Watch will be all that’s necessary to unlock recent Macs running macOS 10.12 Sierra. It might be worth getting an Apple Watch just to avoid having to type that login password multiple times per day!

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iPhone 7 Plus

I was fortunate enough to get my hands on and receive the new iPhone 7 Plus on release day. I skipped the iPhone 6s when it came around so when the 7 was announced I jumped at the chance to upgrade and I haven’t regretted it once. Despite the suggestions from my co-workers I’ve yet to drop my phone into a glass of water…perhaps that review will come in a future issue. For now, I’ll still be playing it a bit safe!

Like many of you, I’ve read some of the reviews out there and some reviewers are less than impressed with the phone, especially the camera. Coming from an iPhone 6, and after a few blunders with my first few photos, I can say it’s clear that there are significant improvements in the quality of the photos. I am not a professional photographer by any means but I enjoy taking photos and I take a lot of them. For the first few photos that I took with the phone it appeared that the phone was struggling to focus on the object I was trying to take a photo of. Once the camera focused, there hasn’t been a single hiccup with my photos, but briefly, I did wondered if I’d gotten a defective phone. This past weekend I took my phone to the local fair and became truly impressed with the camera. In showing the photos to friends and co-workers we can clearly see the difference in the quality. I’m most impressed with the fact that it seems no matter the lighting, the pictures come out clear and crisp. Inside, outside, the photos are just as great. My biggest surprise has been that I’ve had little need to use my flash, even when taking nighttime photos.

I’ve noticed a significant increase in speed with with 7, especially with the fingerprint recognition. The speed is so fast when I put my thumb on my phone I actually thought I forgot to set the passcode protection. There is almost no delay when I go to unlock my phone and I’m instantly at my home screen. The larger screen of the plus now also means that I can utilize landscape mode in multiple applications. This isn’t new to the 7 but is a feature of the plus that I’ve been missing out on! I love that I can look at my e-mail in landscape and easily toggle through my inbox. The dual speakers have also made for a much clearer listening experience. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the same experience as with the iPad Pro but it’s a significant improvement.

Lastly I’ve not missed the lack of of a headphone jack. Early rumors and reports had me wondering, but with most speakers systems and headphones running wirelessly it’s far less of a obstacle than originally feared.

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