If you’re plugging your iPhone in regularly but getting low-battery warnings when you shouldn’t, consider the possibility that something is preventing your iPhone from charging successfully while plugged in. If there’s no lightning bolt badge on the battery icon when the iPhone is plugged in, that’s a sure sign that no power is reaching the device. Another hint that failures could be happening intermittently would be a lack of charging in the Last Charge Level graph in Settings > Battery when you know the iPhone was plugged in. Luckily, the solution is often easy. Take a wooden (not metal) toothpick and gently poke around inside the iPhone’s Lightning port for pocket fuzz. You’d be amazed how much crud can end up in there. If cleaning doesn’t solve the problem and you use only a single Lightning cable to charge, try another one.
(Featured image by Adam Engst)
Four years after the release of the original iPhone SE, Apple has introduced a second-generation iPhone SE with aggressive pricing that starts at just $399. Whereas the original model used the svelte, easy-to-hold iPhone 5s case design with a 4-inch screen, this new iPhone SE repurposes the larger iPhone 8 design with its 4.7-inch screen. But Apple didn’t just rebrand the iPhone 8. The new iPhone SE sports several important updates that make it a compelling purchase for the price, including a new processor and eSIM capability.
Most notably, Apple upgraded the iPhone 8’s A11 Bionic chip to the faster, more capable A13 Bionic chip that powers the latest iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models. Apart from pure speed, the A13 Bionic provides additional computational photography capabilities. Even though the iPhone SE has only a single rear-facing camera, unlike the multiple cameras on the backs of the iPhone 11 models, it still supports iOS 13’s Portrait mode and all six Portrait Lighting effects. The A13 Bionic will also likely increase the quality of iPhone SE photos beyond what the iPhone 8 could do with the same physical camera.
There are two additional changes of note from the iPhone 8, one good, one less so. On the positive side, Apple added eSIM capability, which makes it possible for an iPhone SE to support two cell numbers, each with its own carrier and plan. That’s primarily helpful for those who frequently travel overseas. Less welcome is the switch from the pressure-sensitive 3D Touch to Haptic Touch, which simply registers long presses with haptic feedback. But all of Apple’s 2019 iPhone models moved to Haptic Touch, and iOS 13 supports Haptic Touch well, so it’s not much of a loss.
Other important specs from the iPhone 8 that remain unchanged include:
- Touch ID: The new iPhone SE continues to rely on the classic Touch ID sensor embedded in the Home button for unlocking and authenticating. In a time when we may be wearing masks a lot, Touch ID may be more welcome than Face ID.
- 4.7-inch display: The iPhone SE’s screen is smaller than the 6.1-inch and 5.8-inch screens in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. But it’s still a Retina HD screen with True Tone—few people will notice much of a difference in quality.
- Cameras: The iPhone SE’s rear-facing camera has a 12-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization, and it can record 4K video at up to 60 frames per second. The front-facing camera is 7 megapixels and supports 1080p video at 30 fps.
- Battery life and charging: Battery life should be similar to that of the iPhone 8, so you should be able to go all day on a charge. If you do need to top up, the iPhone SE supports fast charging, and it’s also compatible with Qi wireless charging pads.
What makes this second-generation iPhone SE compelling is its pricing. For a 64 GB model, the price is $399. 128 GB costs $449, and 256 GB is $549. In comparison, you’d pay $200 more for 2018’s iPhone XR, $300 more for the current iPhone 11, and $600 more for today’s iPhone 11 Pro. Those phones may have Face ID and take better photos, but it’s great that Apple is finally offering a budget-friendly iPhone once again.
Some people will be disappointed with the size of the new iPhone SE. Yes, it’s a lot smaller than the iPhone 11, and a bit more pocket-friendly than the iPhone 11 Pro, but it’s significantly beefier than the original iPhone SE. If you were hoping that Apple would bring back an iPhone for those with smaller hands and smaller pockets, sorry.
The new iPhone SE will be available for pre-order starting on Friday, April 17th, with deliveries and store availability starting a week later on April 24th. For the body color, you can choose black or white, or you can go for the bright red PRODUCT(RED) version, the proceeds from which will go to help the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response through September 30th.
(Featured image by Apple)
Spearfishing. It’s no longer just a tropical ocean sport that could provide seafood for dinner. In today’s tech world, spearfishing is when someone targets you specifically, usually with the goal of taking over your online accounts. Once that’s done, the attacker will try to siphon money from your bank account, impersonate you in an attempt to deceive family or colleagues into sending money, or attempt to ruin your reputation.
You’re probably thinking, “No one would ever target me. I’m not interesting enough.” It is true that the people who should worry the most about spearfishing attacks are high profile or have a high net worth, but modern online criminals aren’t that fussy. In particular, they’re more likely to go after older people. Why older people? Older people tend to be relatively well off and less likely to notice the symptoms of a spearfishing attempt. You should also be concerned if you’re a politician or journalist, have ever been involved in an ugly divorce or legal battle, or can easily think of people who have it in for you.
As we’ve said many times, it’s imperative that you use a secure password manager like 1Password or LastPass to create, store, and enter a strong, unique password for each of your online accounts. Plus, we strongly recommend using two-factor authentication—where you have to enter a one-time code in addition to your password—on all accounts that support it, particularly important ones like your email and banking accounts. But even if you do all that, you may be vulnerable to another tactic favored by spearfishers—the cell phone SIM takeover.
Here’s how it works. Every cell phone, including every iPhone, has inside it a SIM card that gives it a phone number. Swap that SIM into a different phone and it will adopt the SIM card’s number. The problem is that support reps at cellular carriers like AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon can also move your phone number from one SIM card to another. That makes it possible for you to lose your iPhone, buy a new one, and have your phone number associated with the new one. It also lets you port the phone number to a different carrier, if you wish to switch.
All an attacker has to do is call your cellular provider, pretend to be you, say that they’ve lost their iPhone, and ask to have the number ported to a new device (one they control). It’s likely that the support person will ask a few simple questions to verify your identity, but a clever attacker will likely know your address and be able to learn details like your mother’s maiden name, first-grade teacher’s name, and favorite color, all thanks to Facebook. Criminals can acquire even information like your Social Security number through other data breaches.
Once the attacker controls your cell phone number, they can try to reset the password on various accounts, receiving any verification codes that would normally have been texted to your phone. They’ll probably focus on your email account first because, with control over it, they can reset passwords elsewhere even more easily. And once the attacker has access to your accounts, it’s game over, and you’ll be faced with the difficult and complex task of retaking control and mitigating damage.
How can you protect yourself from such an attack? Whenever possible, it’s better to generate authentication codes with an app such as 1Password, Authy, or LastPass. That removes some of your exposure, but for better or worse, your cell phone number is still the most basic form of identity for many things.
The most important thing to do, then, is to set up an additional PIN or passcode that the carrier will ask for before making any changes to your account. You’ll also have to provide it when logging in to your cellular account online. Such a PIN or passcode is different from a two-factor authentication code that changes continuously—you set your PIN or passcode just like you do for your iPhone or ATM card. And, of course, make sure to store that PIN or passcode in your password manager alongside your other credentials so you don’t forget it.
Learn more about how each of the major carriers supports PINs and passcodes at the links below, and if your carrier isn’t listed, call the company’s support line:
Don’t put this off—if you don’t already have a PIN or passcode on your cellular account, set it up right away.
Social Media: It’s shockingly easy for someone to take over your cell phone number. Once they’ve done that, they can reset passwords on many of your online accounts. Read on to learn how to protect your cell number with a PIN or passcode.
Historically, picking a new Wi-Fi network has required you to open the Settings app and tap Wi-Fi, forcing you to unlock your iPhone or switch away from what you were doing. In iOS 13, however, Apple added a better way to connect to a new Wi-Fi network. Open Control Center (swipe down from the upper-right corner on an iPhone X or later or an iPad; or up from the bottom on an earlier iPhone), press and hold on the network settings card in the upper-left corner to expand it, and then press and hold on the Wi-Fi icon to reveal a list of Wi-Fi networks. Tap one to switch to it.
For many of us, voicemail replaced answering machines, so we don’t think of voicemail messages as being something we can save or share. But on the iPhone, every voicemail message is just an audio file. If you want to retain a message for posterity or share one with a friend or colleague, you can do that easily. While viewing a voicemail message, tap the share icon to bring up an activity sheet. In it, you can save the file to any app that can handle audio files, or share the file with AirDrop, Messages, Mail, or the like.
The New York Times recently published a bombshell article revealing just how completely our every movement is tracked by companies in the business of selling our locations to advertisers, marketers, and others. Anonymous sources provided the Times with a dataset from a single location-data company that contained 50 billion pings from the phones of more than 12 million Americans over several months in 2016 and 2017.
This data enabled the Times reporters to track numerous people in positions of power, including military officials, law-enforcement officers, and high-powered lawyers. They were able to watch as people visited the Playboy Mansion, some overnight, and they could see visitors to celebrity estates. Once they identified any particular phone, they could track it wherever it went. Imagine what that data could be used for in the wrong hands.
No one intends to let unknown companies track their locations constantly. But code built into smartphone apps does just that, often without our knowledge. Many of the apps that request access to location services have an entirely legitimate reason for doing so—for example, Google Maps can’t provide navigation directions unless it knows where you are. But others want location access for less practical reasons—do you really want to let a coffeeshop app know your location at every moment in exchange for the occasional free latte? And some apps—notably weather apps—may have a legitimate need for location information but use that data for far more than users expect.
Even if you’re not too perturbed about companies you’ve never heard of knowing your exact whereabouts at all times (mostly to serve you more targeted advertising), there’s no guarantee this data couldn’t fall into the hands of foreign governments, organized crime, or hackers willing to sell your movement patterns to an aggrieved employee, corporate spy, or jealous ex-lover.
Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Location Privacy
Luckily, Apple provides controls in iOS that let you limit your exposure. For most people, going completely dark isn’t realistic. Too many iPhone capabilities require location services, ranging from turn-by-turn directions, to geotagging photos, to using Find My to see if your kid has left the soccer tournament yet.
Nevertheless, going dark is a possibility: go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and disable the Location Services switch at the top. That turns off location services for all apps, although iOS will turn them back on temporarily if you use Find My iPhone to enable Lost Mode.
Here’s what we recommend instead.
- Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and scroll down to see a list of every app on your iPhone that would like to know your location. (The same is true on the iPad, but fewer people use their iPads as much while out and about.)
- For each app in the list, tap the app’s name to bring up the Allow Location Access screen, which has up to four options:
- Never: Prevent this app from ever determining your location.
- Ask Next Time: The next time the app wants permission to track you, make it ask again.
- While Using the App: Allow the app to track your location as long as you’re actually using it.
- Always: Let the app track your location at all times, even when you’re not using it.
- Tap one of the options to select it, and then tap Back to return to the list.
We can’t tell you exactly how to configure each app since everyone has a different set and different levels of privacy worry. However, here is some advice:
- Apps and other entries from Apple are generally safe because Apple has an extremely strong privacy stance and excellent security against hacks. But, down in System Services at the bottom, we’d turn off Location-Based Apple Ads and Popular Near Me—even if Apple is collecting this data anonymously, it’s still being used to sell things to you, not to provide useful services to you.
- For most apps, change the Allow Location Access setting to Ask Next Time to force each app to prompt you again. If it asks at a point where it’s reasonable that it would need to know your location, such as Yelp wanting to show you nearby restaurants, grant it. If you don’t understand why it’s asking, or if the request seems weak (“To show you which wines are available for purchase in your area.”), deny the request.
- With apps that obviously need location services, such a parking app that needs to know which area you’re in, change the setting to While Using App and see if that meets your needs.
- Only if you clearly need to allow a particular app to track your location in the background—turn-by-turn navigation apps are the most common—should you change that setting to Always. Almost no apps should be given such power, and many won’t even provide the option.
There’s one unusual item in the list: Safari Websites. It’s a master switch that lets Web sites loaded in Safari ask for your location. That’s probably not a major privacy concern, but few Web sites provide sufficiently useful location-based features (mostly for finding nearby chain store outlets) that it’s worth bothering.
In the end, go with your gut. If thinking about a particular app or company potentially recording your location constantly gives you the creeps, turn it off and either find an alternative or do without. Legislation may be the only solution in the end, but for now, we can take steps like these to protect ourselves.
Social Media: The New York Times has revealed that iPhone apps are constantly reporting our every movement to a shadowy collection of location-data companies. If that creeps you out (as it should!) read on to learn how to protect your location privacy.
Let’s get one thing straight. You know that you should never, ever share your iPhone or iPad passcode with anyone you don’t trust implicitly, like a spouse or adult child, right? That’s because, with your iOS passcode, someone could change your Apple ID password, and if you use iCloud for email, completely steal or otherwise abuse your online identity. (Scared? Good. If you’ve given anyone your passcode, go change it right now. We’ll wait.)
So if sharing your passcode is such a terrible idea, how do you let someone else use your iPhone or iPad temporarily? Perhaps you want to let your kid play a game in the car while you focus on tricky winter driving. Or maybe you time running races with an iPhone app and want someone to do the timing without giving them full access to your iPhone. Whatever the reason you want to give someone limited access to a single app in iOS 13, the solution is Guided Access.
Enabling and Configuring Guided Access
To turn Guided Access on, navigate to Settings > Accessibility > Guided Access (it’s near the bottom), and flick the switch. While you’re here, check out the remaining settings:
- Passcode Settings: Create a passcode for getting out of Guided Access here (it can be different than your normal one), and choose whether you can use Touch ID or Face ID to exit as well.
- Time Limits: You don’t set time limits here, but you can set audio and spoken warnings before the time runs out.
- Accessibility Shortcut: Enable this if you also use triple-click for another Accessibility Shortcut like Magnifier.
- Display Auto-Lock: Choose how long the device can be inactive before the screen turns off. If the Guided Access user wakes up the device, they’ll still be in Guided Access.
With those settings configured, switch to the desired app and triple-click the side or Home button, and if necessary, tap Guided Access in the Accessibility Shortcut list. You can do five things:
- Set session-specific options: Tap Options in the lower-right corner to access various switches. If they’re disabled:
- Side Button or Sleep/Wake Button: The user can’t put the device to sleep.
- Volume Buttons: The user can’t change the volume.
- Motion: The screen doesn’t change from the orientation (portrait or landscape) it was in when you started Guided Access.
- Touch: The user can’t do anything with the screen at all—probably most appropriate for letting a young child watch a video.
- Dictionary Lookup: Prevents word lookups in some apps.
- Set time limits: At the bottom of the Options list, tap Time Limit and set an amount of time after which the device can’t be used until you enter the Guided Access passcode.
- Disable specific areas on the screen: Draw circles around parts of the screen you want to make off-limits to the user. After making a circle, you can move it by dragging it, resize it by dragging any of its handles, or remove it by tapping its X button.
- Start/Resume Guided Access: In the upper-right corner, tap Start. If you haven’t yet set a passcode, you’ll be prompted to do that.
- Exit the setup screen: In the upper-left corner, tap End.
Using Guided Access
Once you tap Start, iOS tells you it’s entering Guided Access and lets you use the current app with the restrictions you’ve applied. If you decide that the restrictions aren’t right, triple-click the side or Home button to return to the setup screen. When you’re done, tap Resume in the upper-right corner.
To leave Guided Access, triple-click the side or Home button, enter the passcode, and in the setup screen, tap End in the upper-left corner.
That’s it! Once you understand the various limitations of Guided Access, you’ll be able to turn it on and off quickly whenever you need to let someone use your iPhone or iPad for a while.
Social Media: Never, ever share your iPhone or iPad passcode with anyone who you don’t trust implicitly. Instead, you can give people limited access to a single app with Guided Access. Learn more here:
Accidents, particularly those involving automobiles, are all too common, and while no one plans to be in one, you can prepare for the eventuality. If you end up in a state where you can’t speak with emergency responders or are too shaken up to share your details clearly, your iPhone can provide them with essential medical information. Emergency responders are trained to know how to access these details.
Apple makes this possible via the Medical ID feature of the Health app, which you can use to record medical data and emergency contact information (this is sometimes referred to as “ICE information,” where ICE stands for “In Case of Emergency”). Once you’ve entered all this information, emergency responders can use your iPhone to learn about your medication allergies and other conditions, plus contact your family. This data could also help a Good Samaritan return a lost iPhone. (Unfortunately, the Health app isn’t available on the iPad.)
To set up or edit your Medical ID, follow these steps (in iOS 13; they’re slightly different in earlier versions of iOS):
- Open the Health app and tap the Summary tab at the bottom.
- Tap your profile picture in the upper-right corner.
- Under Medical Details, tap Medical ID.
- Tap Edit in the upper-right corner.
- Make sure the Show When Locked switch is on.
- Enter all the relevant details about your medical conditions, medications, allergies, and so on.
- Specify one or more emergency contacts. These must be people in the Contacts app with phone numbers; if the right people aren’t there, add them first. You can’t select your own card in Contacts, so consider making one for a fake person called “If Lost, Please Call” and listing a different phone number at which you can be reached.
- Tap Done.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to use someone else’s Medical ID information, but you should know how to do so. You should also teach family, friends, and colleagues how to find and use this information. Should you come across a bicyclist who has had a bad crash or a similar situation, follow these steps:
- With a locked iPhone that uses Touch ID, press the Home button to display the Passcode screen. For iPhones with Face ID, press the side button and swipe up from the bottom.
- On the Passcode screen, tap Emergency in the bottom-left corner to move to the Emergency screen. If needed, call 911 from this screen by tapping Emergency Call.
- Again at the bottom left, tap Medical ID to display the Medical ID screen, complete with all the details that person entered into the Health app.
- From that screen, you can share the information with EMTs or other first responders so they’re aware of any serious conditions or allergies that would affect treatment. You can also call any emergency contacts listed by tapping their numbers.
Please, enter your medical and emergency contact details into the Health app right now, and spread the word to everyone you know. It could save your life, or help you save someone else’s!
Social Media: Did you know that an iPhone can store medical information that could save your life, or help you save someone else’s? Learn how to create your Medical ID, and be sure to teach others how to work with this information in case of an emergency!
If you run a company, you know how much work onboarding a new employee can be. Beyond teaching them the ropes of your business, they’ll need a Mac and potentially an iPhone or iPad as well. Setting those devices up with all the right apps, settings, and logins can take days or even weeks. And that’s just for one person—imagine if you need to lather, rinse, and repeat for dozens or even hundreds of new employees?
The solution is Apple Business Manager, which ensures that every Apple device you purchase is associated with your corporate account—and in some cases, with a particular user—before it’s shipped to you. That enables zero-touch configuration and makes manual setup a thing of the past. Here’s how we make this happen.
We’ll work with someone at your company—your Business Contact—to set you up with two Apple programs: Apple Custom Store and Apple Business Manager. Your Business Contact will merely need to respond to some email messages from Apple and have a call with Apple to verify that they can agree to Apple’s Terms & Conditions on behalf of your company.
Apple Custom Store
The first program, Apple Custom Store, provides a customized corporate store for purchasing Apple devices. That’s important because all devices purchased through your Apple Custom Store are automatically tied to your company. In fact, they’re connected to your company until you intentionally release them while decommissioning, which can help protect against theft or employees keeping devices they shouldn’t.
Even more important, all new Mac purchases must go through the Apple Custom Store because there’s no easy way to add Macs purchased in any other way to Apple Business Manager.
Once you’re set up with an Apple Custom Store, we can suggest custom device configurations tailored to your company’s needs and even create templates for systems customized for different job roles. As a bonus, you’ll receive special “loyalty pricing” based on your annual purchase volume.
Apple Business Manager
The second program, Apple Business Manager, is what enables you to enroll and manage devices purchased through your Apple Custom Store. When we say “manage” we’re talking about mobile device management, or MDM. In essence, MDM systems allow IT administrators to define “profiles” that specify your company’s settings and policies. Those might be particular to a user, such as configuring email login credentials, or they might be general to everyone, such as security policies that require all iOS devices to use a six-digit passcode and Macs to turn on their screensavers after 2 minutes and require a password to unlock. And, of course, an MDM system lets your company control when to install operating system updates, ensuring that nothing happens before you’re ready.
You use Apple Business Manager to associate a new device purchased from your Apple Custom Store with the employee who will be receiving it. When the device arrives, the employee unboxes it and turns it on, and your MDM system goes to work downloading apps and configuring settings. Once the employee signs in with their credentials, the MDM system continues to configure the device for that person. No one from IT even has to touch it—hence “zero-touch” configuration.
Enrolling your devices in your MDM system via Apple Business Manager doesn’t just help with initial deployment. Employee turnover is a fact of life, and with a device in Apple Business Manager, you can use your MDM system to redeploy a device quickly by wiping it and re-enrolling it for the new employee.
We recommend that all Apple-using businesses purchase through an Apple Custom Store and use Apple Business Manager to tie those devices to the company’s MDM system. Contact us for more information about what’s involved, and for our MDM recommendations.