I've got this setting called "HDR" on my phone's camera, but I'm still not sure what it does. It's supposed to make my pictures look better, but sometimes my pictures just come out blurry or washed out! Am I doing something wrong?
Jailbreaking is a process that changes little by little with each iOS upgrade. We have an always up-to-date guide for that latest jailbreaks
Chances are, you stumble upon a lot of articles during the day that look interesting, but that you don't have time to read right now. Lots of services have cropped up to solve this problem, and today we're looking at the most popular three and pitting them against one another: Pocket, Instapaper, and Readability. Here's how they stack up.
Dom Del Torto is an animator currently living in the UK. Dom Del Torto's laptop is a MacBook Pro currently living 3,000 miles away in Iran. This was not a planned separation.
In fact, Del Torto would desperately like for his laptop (and iPad, at that) to return, but both were stolen in early February after someone broke into his London flat. The iPad is still missing, but the laptop, which Del Torto cleverly loaded with Hidden App, came to life after about a month of not being connected to the internet to let him know exactly where it was. And what its new owners were doing.
So naturally, he decided to create the tumblr Dom's laptop is in Iran to document the hijinks and misadventures of these unassuming Iranian Jenga enthusiasts.
In all likelihood, These are not the people who stole his laptop. Plus, there's little he can actually do, since Iran is out of the police's jurisdiction—but he did, at the very least, get to make a new friend sort of a little bit. The whole tumblr is delightful, and you can check it out in its entirety right over here. [Dom's laptop is in Iran via The Telegraph]
Update: The story has a happy(ish) ending! The new owners of Dom's laptop discovered his site, clarified that they're not the ones who stole it, and asked how best to get it back to him. As Dom explains in his final update:
The innocent new owners of my laptop have been in touch and are mortified about the story and are keen to return the laptop.
Given the huge error of judgement on my part in sharing the story and failing to respect their privacy I have asked them to keep it by means of an apology.
Previously our images took steps to hide the identities of the Iranians in possession of Dom's notebook, but given the circumstances—and the potential for undeserved reprisals—we've removed all but one of them from this post, and hidden any identifying characteristics in the one that remans.
With the sun shining and bees buzzing in celebration of spring you've likely started decluttering your closets and basements. If you need a break from all that indoor work, it might be time to step away and do the same for your iPhone. Here are some easy tips to give your trusted iPhone a spring cleaning of its own.
Reclaim Hard Drive Space
Generally, cleaning up your iPhone (or iPod Touch, or iPad) is a pretty straight-forward process where you check and tinker with your hard drive consumption. We haven't seen a hard statistic for how much space it's good to keep free on your iPhone, but as a general rule, it's good to leave at least 500 MB-1GB of free space when you can. This frees up enough room for apps to store data so you don't have to worry about crashes.
If you're running short on data storage on your iPhone, it's time to clean up and take a look at which apps are taking up the most space and why. On your phone, tap Settings > General > Usage. Here you'll find a list of your apps and how much space they're taking up.
In the screenshot on the right you can see that the Camera+ app is taking up 273 MB of storage. Why? It has its own built-in camera roll. This means the app is storing a second set of photos on top of the default photo app. Tap through each of your apps that are taking up a lot of space and you'll likely find a few more offending apps. Twitter, for instance, is a 13.5 MB app, but somehow manages to take up 383 MB of documents and data.
The solution? For apps like cameras you can go into the app itself and delete all the extra pictures. However, for Twitter your only option is to delete and reinstall the app. Once you do, the usage will drop to around 10 MB and start climbing up again over time.
Overhaul the Settings on Your iPhone
If your iPhone is struggling with battery life the easiest fixes are available in your Settings menu. We've gone through a the biggest offenders on your iPhone's battery life before and disabling the following settings can increase your battery life significantly:
- Push notifications for email (Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars).
- Push notifications for apps (Settings > Notifications).
- Location Services (Settings > Location Services).
- Disable Ping (Settings > General >Restrictions > Ping).
You can enable and disable most of the above settings on a per-app basis, so if you like having one or two apps sending you notifications you can keep them, but you don't need notifications for everything.
Overhaul Your Settings in iTunes
It's a good idea to take a look back at your iTunes syncing settings when you're cleaning up your phone. This is especially the case if you've started using alternatives to the default apps. For instance, if you've picked up our favorite podcast manager for iPhone, Downcast, you don't need to continue syncing the podcasts you download in iTunes at the same time.
The same goes for calendars, email, contacts, and the rest of the default apps. Uncheck any boxes that don't apply to you to help speed up the syncing process. For instance, if you don't use the default calendar you have no reason to sync it every time you plug in your phone. The same goes for Safari bookmarks, contacts, and mail.
Uninstall Unnecessary Apps
A lot of iPhone users are a bit addicted to apps. We've gone over a few ways to clean up your app usage by creating a most used page and a second holding bin page to test new apps. If you're the type to download and try tons of apps on a daily basis it's probably necessary to clean up your home screen and take a close look at all the apps you didn't end up liking. Delete them and free up hard drive space and declutter your home screen in one simple step.
Remove and Clean Your Case (If You Use One)
We've shown you how to clean and disinfect your gadgets before and if you're busy optimizing the insides of your iPhone, you might as well clean up the outside too. This is especially important if you use a case because over time dust and dirt get trapped in-between the case and iPhone. The dust can end up scratching the back of your iPhone if you're not careful. If you have a rubber case you can clean it with a solution of water and Windex.
In general iPhones don't need a lot of maintenance, but hard drives fill up quickly and that's the biggest cause of problems further down the line. As always, when you're cleaning everything above don't forget that a good old hard reset (hold home button and power button until it restarts) can do wonders for your iPhone's speed. Have any spring cleaning tips we left out? Share them with us in the comments.
The sun is shining and the bees are buzzing, which can only mean one thing: spring is here, and with that comes spring cleaning. In between emptying closets and decluttering your basement, give yourself some time to clean up your computer and smartphone, too. Here are some simple tips for speeding up and optimizing your Mac, Windows PC, iPhone, and Android phone.
The weather's turning warmer in our neck of the woods, which means it's time to start thinking about spring cleaning. While you're emptying your closets, decluttering, and getting rid of the bloat in your life, why not do the same for your Mac? More »
Flowers are blooming and birds are chirping, which means it's time to start your yearly spring cleaning extravaganza. While you're emptying your closets, decluttering, and getting rid of the bloat in your life, why not do the same for your computer? More »
With the sun shining and bees buzzing in celebration of spring you've likely started decluttering your closets and basements. If you need a break from all that indoor work, it might be time to step away and do the same for your iPhone. More »
We're all decluttering our closets and basements in celebration of spring, but it's time for a break. Kick back on the couch, pull up your Android phone, and act like you're still being productive by giving it some spring cleaning of its own. More »
We could all use a better night's sleep, and the key to getting there is a mix of good sleep habits and understanding the things that keep you from getting the best sleep you possibly can. That's where sleep tracking gadgets that you wear, and smartphone apps that monitor your sleep cycles all come into play. This week, we're looking at five of the best sleep tracking tools, based on your nominations.
Earlier in the week, we asked you to tell us which sleep tracking gadgets or apps you thought were the best. We tallied your nominations, and here's a look at the top five. We know it's a bit unfair to include gadgets alongside smartphone apps, but depending on what you're looking for when it comes to sleep tracking, it's good to have options, both robust and complete (but may cost money) and affordable for the gear you already own (and free).
The poll is closed and the votes are counted! To see which of these sleep tracking gadgets and apps took the top spot, head over to our hive five followup post to see and discuss the winner!
Sleep tracking is just one of the features of the FitBit One. Clip it on your pocket or somewhere else on your person and it'll keep track of the steps you take over the course of the day and how active you are overall. It'll also generate great-looking reports and feedback on your activity levels. When it comes to sleep though, just slip your FitBit One into the included wristband and set it to sleep mode. It'll track your movements overnight, including the times you get up and move around, or when you're awake tossing and turning in bed. Turn it off in the morning, and after you sync it with the FitBit web site or app, you'll get a complete report of how well you slept, along with how many times you woke up and what times during the night you were active. It won't diagnose sleep issues, but if you're worried you're tossing and turning a lot, or if your partner is the root of your sleep ailments, this gadget will tell you. iOS and Android apps complete the picture and give you access to all the data the FitBit collects from your smartphone. The FitBit One is $100, and the apps are free.
Sleep As Android is (as the name implies) Android only, but it does a great job of watching your sleep cycles. Originally it was intended to just wake you gently at the best possible time of the morning when your sleep cycle was at the best time for you to rise, but the app has come a long way since then. The app still helps you track your sleep and shows you graphs of your sleep habits overnight, but the app will also warn you if you're running on a sleep deficit and you should get back into a regular sleeping pattern. The app even pays attention to the sound in the room while you're sleeping to catch you snoring, record you talking in your sleep if that's a problem you have, or help you diagnose sleep illnesses you might not otherwise know about, like sleep apnea. Sleep As Android will wake you up gently at the best time in the morning for you to wake without being late with nature sounds, soothing music, captcha or puzzle alarms, or whatever you choose from the music on your phone or a special playlist to get you started. You can snag a 2 week trial free, after which you'll have to drop $3 for an unlock code, and a few bucks more for other useful in-app purchases.
After a bit of a rocky start with the original Jawbone, the Jawbone Up has come a long way and addressed a number of the concerns that made the original a tenuous buy. Like most activity and fitness trackers, sleep is only one thing the Up pays attention to. It'll also track your steps and your activity level, and even makes it easy to log food and drink to keep track of your diet. It'll even remind you if you've been idle too long and tell you to get up and move around. When it comes to sleep, the Up can track how many hours you've slept, and pays attention to your activity overnight, including when you toss and turn and when you're sleeping deeply versus sleeping lightly. The Up will show you everything it's recorded in a report the next day on the web site, or through the Jawbone Up iOS or Android mobile apps, so you can start trying to figure out what the root cause of your sleep issues may be, and work your way to a better night's rest. A Jawbone Up will set you back $130, and the mobile apps are free.
Sleep Cycle is an iOS app that also watches your sleep habits from your nightstand in order to help wake you up at the best possible time of the morning. We've mentioned it before, a long time ago, but the app has grown a good bit since then, and still has a loyal following. It's $1, and for the money you get motion monitoring (and even advises you on where you should place your iPhone while you sleep so it can make use of its accelerometer—right next to your pillow) so the app will know when you toss and turn and when you wake in the middle of the night. The app collects its data and then presents it to you in easy-to-understand graphs, and lets you even mark conditions for the night, including behaviors you may have changed, so you can see their effect on your night's rest. The app also functions as an alarm clock, and will wake you to your own music or any one of over a dozen soothing alarm melodies for a gentle start to the day. Plus, the app runs in the background so you can set your regular alarm and go about your business.
SleepBot for Android is another great Android utility for tracking your sleep patterns and measuring how well you sleep over the course of several nights. We covered it a while ago, but the app has grown and added a wealth of new features since then. The app tracks you sleep, but it also tracks movement overnight, auto-recording so you can hear whether you snore or if you're having breathing problems overnight (or if you're talking in your sleep), and is even packed with tips to help improve your sleep hygiene and fall asleep faster (and stay deeply asleep). The app also has an easy-to-use widget that lets you "clock in" and "clock out" when you go to bed and when you wake up to start and stop the app from tracking your activity, and it supports a number of other Android alarm clocks, so you don't have to give up the app you love to use Sleepbot to track your sleep. Best of all, the app is completely free, and pairs with the Sleepbot webapp for even more detailed analysis.
Now that you've seen the top five, it's time to put them to an all out vote.
Honorable mentions this week go to Sleep Time for Android and iOS, which does a lot of what many of the others app here in the round up also do: it keeps track of your movements and your sleep cycles, and wakes you up gradually at the right time during your sleep cycle so you're not late, but you're also not groggy and feel terrible when it's time to get up. For more information on Sleep Time, check out our article about it. It's free for Android users, and $2 for iOS users.
Also, before you buy a sleep tracking gadget or try out an app to help improve your night's sleep, our own Adam Dachis did a lot of the work for you. Check out how he got a better night's sleep with the help of technology to learn what worked (and what didn't) for him.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don't just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it's not because we hate it—it's because it didn't get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it's a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at email@example.com!
Title photo by groenmen.
Apple has added two-factor authentication to iCloud and everything else connected to your Apple ID. This adds a nice boost to security for the service. Here's how to set it up.
Two-factor authentication is an easy way to secure your accounts and essentially makes it so you're logging in with two things: "something you know" (your password), and "something you have," (your phone). Here's how to enable it on your Apple ID:
- Sign in at My Apple ID.
- Select "Password and Security" and enter in the answers to your security questions.
- Under "Two-Step Verification," select "Get Started" and follow the instructions on screen.
- You should see the devices you're using. If not, enable "Find My iPhone" on your device (Settings > iCloud). Click "Verify" and it'll send you a four digit number.
- In the next step you'll get a recovery key. Print or write this down and keep it in a safe place. This is the only way to regain access to your account if you lose it.
- Confirm your recovery key, and then click "Enable Two-Factor Authentication."
Once it's set up you'll have to enter in both you password and the four digit code Apple sends you any time you want to make a purchase in iTunes, the App Store, or the iBookstore from a new device. Head over to Apple's support page if you have any problems setting it up.
The iPhone has a pretty beautiful home screen, but it looks the same as every other iPhone out there. If you want a phone that's truly yours, here's how to customize the look of your home screen from top to bottom.
Every week, we share our favorite custom home screens from readers, and all the tweaks they use to make them more practical, productive, or just plain pretty. Unfortunately, most of our featured home screens are Android-based, and that just ain't right! So, we've compiled this guide to customizing every inch of your iPhone or iPad's home screen. Try out some of the tweaks and share your creations with us!
Note that for all the tweaks below, you'll need to be jailbroken. There's no real way around it. While you can customize a few small things without jailbreaking, true customization can only happen with jailbroken apps, so jailbreak your phone if you haven't already (dont worry, it's easy), then continue with the instructions below.
Theme the Lock Screen and Icons with Winterboard
Winterboard manages themes for your lock screen, home screen icons, and all sorts of other small tweaks, making it a great starting point. Before you get started, we recommend poking around sites like MyColorScreen, ModMyi, MacThemes, and DeviantART to see what others have done with their home screens. If you see a lock screen or icon theme you like, find out which one it is, and install it with Winterboard using the following instructions:
- Open up Cydia and install Winterboard. Restart your phone when prompted.
- Download your theme of choice. If it's in Cydia, you may have to add a new repository to download it. If the author gives it to you in a
.themefolder, install an iPhone Explorer like iFunBox and copy the
.themefolder from your computer to
/Library/Themeson your device.
- Open up the Winterboard app. Tap on "Select Themes" and check off the theme you just installed. Some may include multiple selections in Winterboard, and you can mix and match whichever ones you want (e.g. you can turn on the lock screen part of a theme, but leave off the icon theme that goes with it). Tap the Respring button, and when it's done you should see the lock screen theme in place.
Note that many lock screen themes may require you to install other tweaks, like Lockscreen Clock Hide, in order for them to work properly. If that's the case, you'll see it in the description of the theme, and you can install those other tweaks as needed. Home screen by rshroff2 on MyColorScreen.
The great thing about Winterboard themes is that they're pretty easy to customize, even if you don't have any coding experience. Everything you need is in that
.theme folder (and if you got the theme on Cydia, you can find the
.theme folder by installing an iPhone Explorer like iFunBox and navigating to
/Library/Themes on your device).
For example, if you don't like the wallpaper that came with your theme, open up the
.theme folder, find the wallpaper, and replace it with your own. You can even replace the images for the lock screen slider, replace specific icons, or edit the
LockBackground.html (if you're comfortable editing code). You can change fonts, change the size of text, and even move certain elements around. When you're done, drag that
.theme folder back onto your device, re-select it in Winterboard, and check out your changes. The world is your oyster.
Lastly, if you want a more intense overhaul of your lock screen and home screen, check out Dreamboard. It works similarly to Winterboard, but it's designed to completely change the look of your home screen in ways Winterboard cannot, and it isn't as open to customization and mixing and matching different themes. It's worth checking out, but if you want to build a new, custom home screen from the ground up, Dreamboard probably isn't the way to go. Lock screen by falcon212 on MacThemes.
Tweak the Home Screen Layout with Springtomize and More
So you've got yourself a fancy looking home screen and some custom icons, but now it's time to really dig into the small stuff. Maybe you want to fix a few annoyances, remove certain interface elements, or spice up your device with some new animations. For that, you need Springtomize ($3). Install it in Cydia, then open it up for options like the following:
- Choose from different home screen and lock screen animations
- Add more icons to the dock, give it a cover flow effect, and more
- Change the lock screen wallpaper when charging, hide the slider, change the slider's label, and more
- Hide icon labels, clear icon badges with two taps, resize icons, or hide apps that you don't like
- Add a close button to folders, disable the folder animation, put a dock in your folders, and more
- Remove pagination from the app switcher, make the app switcher work in landscape mode, enable a brightness slider in the app switcher, and more
- Change your carrier label in the status bar, add other information like RAM or IP address, and hide other status bar icons
- Change your device's font, font size, and font color
- Change the look of your device's dock and battery icon
- Lots, lots more
If you're customizing your home screen, Springtomize is an absolute must-have. Home screen by eyeisdatsteve (MyColorScreen).
You might also check out GridLock ($5), which frees your icons from Apple's constraints so you can place them anywhere you want on the grid. If you want four icons in the middle of the screen and nothing else, you can do that. You can have four along the left side, one in each corner, or any other layout you can think of, as long as it follows the regular home screen grid.
If you want something a bit fancier than that, check out Iconoclasm ($3), which will let you arrange icons in whatever kind of grid (or lack thereof) you want. After you install Iconoclasm, head to your Settings app and tap on Iconoclasm to see the layouts available to you. Tap on one to try it out. You can also download other layouts from Cydia or make your own with the free Iconoclasm Layout Maker. With this app, you can put together any layout your heart desires. If you want to fit 30 icons on your home screen in the shape of a smiley face, you could (but we wouldn't recommend it). Home screen by kieranc88 on MyColorScreen.
Change Your Font with BytaFont
If you're tired of iOS' regular ol' font, you can change it with Springtomize. However, a free app in Cydia called Bytafont will give you more choices. Just download and install it, then open up the Bytafont app. You can browse new fonts directly from Bytafont, or open up Cydia and search through the hundreds of fonts available there.
After installing a font, it should show up in Bytafont's settings. Just tap the one you want, and your device will respring with your new font in place across the entire system. You can also go to Bytafont's Advanced section if you just want to change the font in certain parts of the interface (like the lock screen clock or the keyboard). Home screen by Jan Amundsenat MyColorScreen.
Add Widgets to Your Home Screen with Dashboard X
If you want more than just a grid of icons on your home screen, Dashboard X ($1.99) is a great little tool that puts Notification Center widgets on your home screen. That means you can put things like the weather widget, NCSettings, a music widget, and more right under your icons for quick access. You can rearrange widgets, resize them, and more. Just download Dashboard X from Cydia along with the widgets you want, then head back to your home screen. Long-press on the screen to enter "jiggle mode," then long-press again to get a list of widgets available to you. Tap the one you want to add it.
To remove widgets, just head to Settings > Dashboard X. Tap "Enabled Widgets" and you'll get a list of widgets available to you. You can tap the "Edit" button to remove them, as well as edit a few other advanced settings in this area. Home screen by 666 at MyColorScreen.
Check Out Cydia for Other, Single-Purpose Tweaks
These are the big, general apps that aim to customize your iPhone home screen, but you can find a lot of smaller, one-feature tweaks in Cydia too. For example, you can:
- Hide weather and calendar drawers under your lock screen with Peekly
- Get a Smaller Lock Screen Clock with SubtleLock
- Get different wallpapers on each page with Pages+
- Overhaul the App Switcher with Auxo
- Endlessly scroll through apps on your home screen with Inifiniapps
- And lots, lots more
The Cost of Customization
So by now you're probably asking yourself: What is this going to do to my phone's smoothness and battery life? The answer is: it depends. Many of these tweaks very well may slow your phone down or decrease its battery life, but the cost is going to be different for everyone. Obviously, if you have newer hardware, you'll be able to perform more tweaks without as much loss. If you have older hardware, you may only be able to install a few tweaks without sacrifice. I myself had no problems on an iPhone 4 running a custom lock screen with Winterboard and a few other minor tweaks, but had I installed everything we talk about in this post, it probably would have had lots of problems. Conversely, the mere act of installing Winterboard on my first-gen iPad made it pretty much useless.
So, you'll have to do some experimenting for yourself. Don't install everything at once, go one tweak at a time and see how much your phone is affected. It'll take you a bit longer, but then when your phone does get a lot slower, you'll know which tweak to blame, and you can uninstall it. In the end, it's all about how much battery life and speed you're comfortable with, and how much you want to customize your phone. Good luck! Photo by Nicemonkey (Shutterstock).