Pogue's Picks: Tips from iPhone: The Missing Manual, 2nd Edition
By David Pogue
The beauty of the new iPhone 3G is that you don’t need one. Almost all of the juicy stuff actually comes with the iPhone 2.0 software and the online App Store, both of which run perfectly well on the old iPhone as well.
That, incidentally, is also the beauty of “iPhone: The Missing Manual, 2nd Edition.” It covers both the old and the new iPhones, because it covers the 2.0 software, the iPhone App Store, and so on.
Here are a few of my favorite tips from the book.
- At the top of the screen, little icons indicate how you’re connected to the Internet: an E for the vast but dog-slow AT&T Edge network, a 3G icon if you’re on the faster but limited-area AT&T third-generation network, and radiating signal bars if you’re on Wi-Fi.
The tip here: The two cellular icons (E and 3G) disappear whenever you’re on Wi-Fi. That’s not a mistake. The iPhone assumes that Wi-Fi is faster and better than any cellular network, and if you’re on it, you don’t care about E or 3G (and it’s right).
- Unfortunately, 3G is a battery hog. If you don’t see a 3G icon on your iPhone 3G’s status bar, then you’re not in a 3G hot spot, and you’re not getting any benefit from the phone’s 3G radio. By turning it off, you’ll double the length of your iPhone 3G’s battery power, from 5 hours of talk time to 10.
To do so, from the Home screen, tap Settings->General->Network-> Enable 3G Off. Yes, this is sort of a hassle, but if you’re anticipating a long day and you can’t risk the battery dying halfway through, it might be worth doing. After all, most 3G phones don’t even let you turn off their 3G circuitry.
- More ways to save power: turn off more features. In Settings, you can turn off Bluetooth; Wi-Fi; GPS; “push” data; and the cellphone radio. Each saves you another bit of power.
- When typing on the on-screen keyboard, you can save time by deliberately leaving out the apostrophe in contractions like I’m, don’t, can’t, and so on. Type im, dont, cant, and so on. The iPhone proposes I’m, don’t, or can’t, so you can just tap the Space bar to fix the word and continue.
- To produce an accented character (like é, ë, è, ê, and so on), keep your finger pressed on that key for 1 second. A palette of accented alternatives appears; slide onto the one you want. (Keys that sprout these alternative versions: A, E, Y, U, I, O, S, L, Z, C, N, ?, ', ", $, and !.)
- Even if you’ve engaged the silencer switch on the side, the iPhone still sounds any alarm you’ve set. Good to know.
- You probably already know that you can rearrange your Home screen, and even set up multiple Home screens (up to 9). Just hold your finger down on any one icon until they all begin to wiggle. Now you can drag them to rearrange them (even onto the Dock of four special icons at the bottom), or drag off to the right to create a new Home screen.
And what if, in the process of downloading and then deleting new App store programs, you wind up with unsightly gaps on your Home screens? Here’s a quick way to consolidate them onto a smaller number of full Home screens, without gaps: tap Settings->General-> Reset->Reset Home Screen Layout. If you’d put 10 programs on each of four Home screens, you wind up with only two screens, each packed with 20 icons. Any leftover blank pages are eliminated.
- If you come to the iPhone from another, lesser GSM phone, your phone book may be stored on its little SIM card instead of in the phone itself. In that case, you don’t have to retype all of those names and numbers to bring them into your iPhone. In Settings->Contacts, the new Import SIM Contacts button can do the job for you. (The results may not be pretty. For example, some phones store all address-book data in CAPITAL LETTERS.)
- If you’ve indulged yourself by downloading some goodies from the App Store, then you may find yourself wondering where you’re supposed to adjust their preferences. Turns out they often get stashed away in a completely different program—in Settings. That’s where Apple encourages software authors to locate their own setting screens. For example, here’s where you can edit your screen name and password for the AIM chat program, change how many days’ worth of news you want the NY Times Reader to display, and so on.
- Don’t type http://www or .com when entering Web addresses. Safari is smart enough to know that most Web addresses use that format—so you can leave all that stuff out, and it will supply them automatically. Instead of http://www.cnn.com, for example, just type cnn and hit Go.
- Don’t type .net, .org, or .edu, either. Safari’s secret pop-up menu of canned URL choices can save you four keyboard-taps apiece. To see it, hold your finger down on the .com button. Then tap the common suffix you want.
- The iPhone can now geotag the photos you take with it. Geotagging means, “embedding your latitude and longitude information into a photo when you take it.” After all, every digital picture you’ve ever taken comes with its time and date invisibly embedded in its file; why not its location? So the good news is that the iPhone can geotag every photo you take. How you get to see this information, is a bit trickier.
Once the photos are synced to your computer, you can view the geotag information in iPhoto (the Get Info command reveals latitude and longitude), Preview (the Inspector window shows a map), Picasa (use the Tools->Geotag menu to see the photo’s location in Google Earth). Unfortunately, the iPhone strips away the geotags whenever you send a photo by e-mail. That’s a good argument for using the free downloadable program AirMe instead of the iPhone’s built-in camera program. It avoids that geotag-stripping problem and many others.