Posts Tagged ‘ios’

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So, iOS10 has finally dropped, it has bricked some iPhones but the majority have got away unscathed. We are still trying to decide what we think, but here are the changes this shiny new firmware will bring you;

iMessage – This is probably the biggest update in iOS10 with the ability to be able to draw messages with your finger and send the animation to someone else. You’ll be able to use rich links in Messages. Share a link and, as it would in Slack or Twitter, artwork and a precis of the article may be pulled in, so your friends can get an idea of what they are about to click on.

Bad news for the emoji haters as iMessage will now add emojis into predictive text giving you the option to swap full words for pictures. The death of the English language is nigh.

It has also been opened up to third party developers, meaning that there will soon be apps in the messaging service that can be used to order food, shop, book tickets and send people money within a chat. We are loving the iMessage Super Mario App.

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Voicemail Transcription – iOS is apparently going to put your voicemail into text so that you can glance at it without having to listen to it. It will be interesting to see how accurate this is.

Home App (HomeKit) – Finally the launch of the hotly anticipated HomeKit. Those of you with automated homes will be able to link most devices under one app which has always been an annoying thing with automation. HomeKit will allow you to quickly dim lights, tell Siri to turn up the heating and have access from the lock screen to do all of these. We are especially looking forward to seeing how this feature handles scenes which will allow at a click of a button or a few words to Siri and your room will be ready for movie night with a raft of set processes starting ie lights going off, Apple TV turning on and blinds closing.

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News – Redesigned and now looking simpler, the News app is the go-to for any news. Subscriptions have now been allowed so we assume Newstand will soon disappear. There is also a ‘Breaking news’ notifications from the app. You can toggle the feature from settings and even custom-tune the publications you wish to see pushed to your device.

Photos – Apple says it will use deep learning techniques to analyse faces, places and objects. The app can now draw together photos and videos that are linked by place, people and time and then automatically create reels and trip customisable short clips which Apple is calling ‘Memories’.

Siri – We have seen a deeper involvement with Siri in iOS10 with HomeKit making full use of voice control. But more interestingly it has been opened up to third party developers meaning that soon you will be able to ask Siri to check other apps other than Apple ones. A great step forward.

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Feature Changes; 

•’Slide to Unlock’ has been removed, and instead you’ll see ‘Press home to open’. This will prompt you to enter your pass-code or will unlock the phone if you use Touch ID.

• Deleting Stock apps has been a real issue for some people and now you can delete as you wish. Enjoy the power!

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• Apple will now keep track of where you park your car so you don’t have to bother. Apple maps will detect when you park and automatically drop a pin so that you can find it later.

• Bedtime is the new clock feature which you tell what time you want to get to bed on a given night of the week, and your phone will let you know when the clock strikes that hour to remind you to get some shut eye.

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• The update will bring with it more than a hundred new and redesigned emoji characters with multicultural and gender types.

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A couple of years ago, I reviewed one of the first generation of smart thermostats on the market in the UK. Long before Nest was available, the German made Tado was making significant inroads into our fledgling IoT marketplace.

Two years have now passed and Tado have released v2 incorporating an upgraded Smart Thermostat and an Extension kit for dual zone control. In my opinion this is sorely needed so I have big hopes that it works as well as intended.

Before continuing to review this upgrade, we need to look at a some statistics from the 2 years the 1st generation system has been in my property.

Straight energy saving comparisons between Tado v1 and the traditional method of heating that was pre-installed in my property (the legacy thermostat) are actually difficult to quantify for a number of reasons. We cannot compare money spent as we have fluctuations in energy prices which would cause us some calculation issues. Secondly, the weather. Of course this is being tested in Britain, weather changes all the time, so one year could have been considerably hotter or colder than the next so please keep this in consideration.

KW/h expressed in units are what are reported but for the purposes of this review I will refer to them only as units. I took an average of the three years prior to my time with Tado (with the same energy provider) and compared the result to the units used each of the two years with the device.

Here are my results;

Year 1: 21% less units used

Year 2: 26% less units used

As you can see, under my conditions, using Tado has saved a significant amount annually which would have easily paid for the price of the 1st Gen model in the first year.

The bottom line is that Tado deliver on their promise.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the new upgraded version.

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I opted for a professional to install it for me, firstly as I did not want to mess around with my heating system but more importantly I wanted to see how Tado handle the entire upgrade.

As the equipment arrived with instructions on how to install, my first thought was that Tado had got a little mixed up as the instructions advised me to register the device before booking my installation which sounded a little odd as I already had a Tado system in the house.

But I should have had more faith in Tado because my new devices were registered and a professional installation were booked in an instant by following the instructions.

I will say that I think that Tado could improve on their communication with their upgrade  customers, specifically that the proper procedure is to register new devices first which will eventually allow you to book an engineer install further along in the process.

Each step felt like it was leading up to a manual setup which I did not want.

Secondly they could just advise the user that your old setup will run alongside the new one until the professional fits the devices which does become apparent at the end of the process.

But with all that said, Tado continue to impress me with not only the devices but the way they make setup so easy to follow. You may have a nagging feeling that the setup process will eventually lead you down the wrong path but if you stick with it, you will have no problems. Tado know what they’re doing and I could name a few tech companies who could take a lesson or two from these guys.

The only thing that seemed to cause the engineer some trouble was pairing each device.

I think this was more due to the engineer’s lack of knowledge rather than Tado’s design as one call to Tado themselves and it was fixed remotely in a matter of minutes.

If you can take anything from this review – call the Tado support team if you have any problems – the service really is second to none.

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Anyway, back to the devices. The first generation Tado thermostat has been replaced with a similarly looking white plain thin box. When discussing the aesthetics with my wife, she hit the nail on the head when she said “the box just disappears into the wall, you wouldn’t even notice it day to day” and that is exactly what a thermostat should be. Clever but invisible.

But don’t be fooled by the boring exterior, one press of the front button and the device wakes to show the temperature set in a very cool white LED. Each press flips to a new display showing the current mode:

Heating Status (On or Off)

Temperature

Hot water setting (if you have configured the system for this)

The next two pages show the conditions. Two touch sensitive led little arrows allow you to change the settings on each page.

Tado has been set up in my property to control two zones and my hot water tank. I can control each zone independently from the device or my iPhone.

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Above is the photo of the first page showing the main temperature in that room and of course below the set point temperature which is where the heating will come on if the room temp drops to that level. You can see at the bottom the fact that Tado tracks where it’s users are, which in my opinion is the best thing about this system. It is simply brilliant that the system knows when I am just round the corner and may need the heating ready for when I get back as the room temp is below the set point temp, but equally if we are 20 miles away at work, the system knows not to do this as it will take at least an hour to get home.

Equally zone 2 also operates in the same manner and can be set independently from zone 1 which is downstairs for us. The system allows you to set times when the system will operate, so for example in zone 2 we only need it to work in the evening as we normally go up there to relax and watch TV. But because of the timing feature, if we were home during the day this zone would not be heated as it was outside of the time range we had set. This is all very versatile and will fit around any family household but again is all very easily over-ridden by going manual on the app or simply clicking the button on the thermostat which with a few finger presses lets you override.

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Tado are a very interesting company and have already signed up to Apple’s HomeKit. The eagle-eyed amongst you would have noticed the Tado logo in the HomeKit presentation in Apple’s WWDC earlier this week which means that not only are the company working with the whole HomeKit which will become available in Autumn 2016, but it should also allow the device to be able to work alongside the other brands that were also on screen in the pic below.

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Imagine what this means for a moment, if Tado get this right you will be able to have the device interact with brands that are nothing to do with Tado themselves. For example temperature spikes as it is in Manual Mode in error – flash my Philips Hue lights red to notify me. Or even better, use Tado’s geo-fencing properties to know when I am coming home to ensure heating is on (Tado), lights downstairs are on and ready (Philips Hue) and the garage door is now open (Fibaro Z-Wave Sensors). This will be subject to the Extension Kit being upgraded by Tado as I have been informed this will not be a simple software upgrade as the Extension Kit came out before Apple’s certification process.

On top of this Tado support have told me that the devices themselves also have some unused sensors inside which they may use at some point in the future. This intrigues me as it shows they are future proofing themselves. They have also now signed up to IFTTT, the popular website which again connects devices.

We are looking forward to testing the individual radiator controls as this is the logical next step to total heating management in the modern home allowing you to control individual radiator temperatures per room, but these are due Q3 2016.

To conclude, Tado is a no-brainer for me, if you haven’t got one, then start looking into it as it should quite rapidly save you money in an area which seems to be getting more and more expensive.

The system is solid, with even more solid support to go with it. It will fade into your wall as you forget it is even there and I think this is exactly what it is designed to do.

 

TheTechSpy Rating: 10/10

 

Apple used the stage on Monday to unveil the 9.7” iPad Pro. Clearly the unwieldly 12.9” iPad Pro isn’t for everyone and they know it. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a slightly upgraded Air 2. Make no mistake, it’s every bit an iPad Pro, packed with all the same features.

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When Apple launched the iPad Pro, a lot of people were put off by its size. At 12.9”, it was more of a coffee table tablet than something you would take around with you. Sure, it’s marketed as a professional tool rather than just a bigger iPad, but we’re pretty sure Apple wouldn’t mind ordinary folk paying more for the flagship model if it were only a little more accessible….

Enter the 9.7” iPad Pro.

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Packing the same A9X chipset as the 12.9” model, the 9.7” model is remarkable due to the fact that they’ve managed to shoehorn all of the 12.9” features into a smaller chassis and yet sell it at a lower price point.

Apple seem alone in this new way of thinking. Let me explain:

Go into any computer retailer and take a look at the laptops. The specs and the prices of models seems utterly bewildering to most people. The reason is that there’s no real cohesion in pricing.

There could be a 15” model sporting an Intel Core i5 CPU coupled with a respectable GPU, SSD, with 16GB RAM for around £500.

Next to this, there could be a 13” model with the lower end Intel i3 CPU, integrated Intel graphics, 8GB RAM and a rotary HDD, priced at £599.

The reason? Well, components shrink with each new iteration. It’s the reason that Moore’s Law still holds – roughly every 18 months, you can double the amount of transistors on a chip. More transistors can perform more calculations, and smaller transistors require less power. It’s the reason that an iPad 2 is roughly on a par with a Cray supercomputer from 1995 in terms of raw processing power, yet you can hold it in your hand.

So, a 15” model may well have faster components and the price may be lower than its 13” counterpart, but that’s because the 15” has last generation components which are larger and more power hungry. You can also buy the 13” model with the same specs as the 15”, but you’d be looking at a considerable bump in price, possibly to £700-£800. And that’s because you are buying bleeding edge technology.

Back to Apple…

Apple make such a huge profit on hardware that they can afford to flip this system upside down.

As an example, an iPhone SE packing the same features as the 6S but in a smaller body is a manufacturing challenge and will be more expensive if both were launched at the same time. It may be that Apple have managed to reduce the die size of the A9 processor in the last 9 months and can now fit these components into a smaller body. That manufacturing process at a smaller size serves two purposes – 1) to produce the last generation CPU at a smaller die size, and 2) to ‘tool’ or prepare for the next generation CPU.

I’m aware that the bill of materials (BOM) for iPhones show that the larger screens cost a fraction more than the smaller screens, but this isn’t the real issue here. Don’t forget that the battery will be smaller too, so a reduction in power usage is required.

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They have launched the SE as a lower end model though, and that’s what’s interesting. In order to continue with this system, you will never see an iPhone SE launched at the same time as the larger iPhones. That’s because the next generation (iPhone 7 and 7+) will be launched in September with the latest chipset. In the following months leading to March, the manufacturing processes will be advanced enough to shrink these components to fit into the new SE model.

They did it with the iPad Mini 4 (a smaller iPad Air 2, but cheaper), and they’ve done the same with the 9.7” iPad Pro. It was a marvel only a few months ago what they’d managed to cram into such a thin 12.9” body. Now they’ve managed to fit all that tech into a smaller unit. Again, it’s cheaper, because Apple want to make it simple for people to decide entirely on display size.

This is only possible because of the obscene profits Apple make on hardware, but nevertheless, it’s an interesting flip on the classic PC pricing structure.

Talking of pricing, it’s interesting to see that Apple are offering a 32GB configuration in addition to 128GB and 256GB. That’s not offered on the 12.9” which seems to add weight to the theory that Apple consider the 9.7” as a semi-pro device aimed at both professionals and wealthy consumers alike.

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So iOS 9 has now been released and is out in the wild, some bugs have been reported and even some serious enough for a security firm to offer a bounty to find them…..But for most of us we just want to know what has changed.

So here are the updates you need to know about;

Public Transport Directions – Along with the iOS update, Apple have also updated the Maps app which now allows you to see buses, trains and tubes (subways) for your journey. This is very clever, as not only will it show you the times of your nearest public transport, but it will also factor this in to any journey planning you try to do.

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Split Screen – For all you iPad owners out there, you can swipe in from the right to reveal a new menu which allows you to open up another app alongside. So if you are on the web in Safari and hear your notification that an email has arrived, you can swipe in and read it without even exiting the Safari app.

Auto Events into Calendar – You now will be automatically prompted to add a date that was found within your email to your calendar.

iCloud App – When upgrading you would have been asked if you wanted the iCloud App on your home screen. This places an app on your home screen which gives you full access to all the documents that you have saved on your cloud taking on the likes of Google Drive and Dropbox directly. You can remove this app after via settings if you no longer need it.

“Back to” Feature – This has proved very useful already for me. Simply, if you for example click on a link in an email which then takes you to Safari to view, you will see a “Back to Mail” in the top left of the screen which when you have finished will conveniently take your back to where you were in Mail.

Markup – Ever wished you could write on an email attachment you have just received and then send it back? Well, now you can with Markup. If iOS 9 allows it, when you open an attachment you will see a small “Markup” button appear which will allow you to annotate on the file…or if you are like most of us, suitably deface the attachment and then send it back.

Improved Notes – This is one we have been waiting for! Notes is used by many and yet has stayed relatively the same since its inception. Now you can take notes, add web links, attachments and pics to your heart’s content.

Ad Blocking – We now have the choice to block ads in Safari. If you go into the Safari section in Settings, you’ll see a new Content Blockers option which you will have to install first.

Low Power Mode – I think Apple are finally starting to listen to their clients….The battery life is shocking, but has been improved in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus dramatically. Now they offer “Low Power Mode” which gives you over an hour more battery life but of course sacrifices a few processes in the process. Think of it as your saviour when you are coming home from your night out with only a few percent of battery life left, this could be just what you need.

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Track Pad – When a keyboard is not enough, Apple have allowed you to turn the keyboard into a trackpad by simply placing two fingers on the touch screen.

Attachments in Mail – Apple have spoken and you can now attach other documents to emails within Mail where prior to this you could only attach a photo. On clicking “Add Attachment” you will be ushered to the iCloud Drive to add a file, but you should know that the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive are supported so you will pretty much be able to send any file via Mail.

Fast Photo Selection – You no longer need to tap individual photos when you want to choose multiple. Just keep your finger on the screen after selecting the first photo and drag it to select as many as you want in a single action.

Quick Calculator and Currency Conversions – Spotlight in iOS 9 now gives you answers to calculations and currency questions as you type into the text box.

As you can see a lot of features have been added to an already cool line up. Let us know if you find any neat tricks you want to share with the rest of the world and we will post them with your name for credit.

It still amazes me that with all the tech stuffed inside our phones and all these expensive materials used to build them, they still break so easily.

We all know someone who is walking around with a cracked iPhone screen trying to find the cheapest way to get it fixed. I once saw an iPhone 5 fall off of a colleague’s desk straight onto the carpeted office floor. It dropped no more than 80cm to the floor and the result….a completely cracked screen.

So when this particular case was brought to our attention, we had to have a little look.

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The Quadlock case is called this due to its locking mechanism which attaches the specially designed case that you put onto your phone, directly to the mount. This in turn can then be attached to different hosts and one thing is for sure, once locked in place (which is very easy) the phone is very securely attached indeed.

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The first thing I thought about when I opened the packaging was how I was going to live with having the case that Quadlock supply constantly on my iPhone 6 as it would just be annoying replacing it every time I went out for a run or cycle. I started to instantly dismiss the idea of ever owning a kit like this.

But after two weeks of having the case on my iPhone, I really like the feel of it. It has beefed the phone up in the right way and I actually find myself holding the phone more because of it. Even as a standalone case this would protect your iPhone, but I do wonder whether dust and dirt will eventually collect inside the lock section. But in two weeks of use this hasn’t happened and on further inspection it would be quite easy to clean.

I have had no issues docking the phone on my nightstand with the case on, as it is unobstructive and really doesn’t increase the size of the iPhone that much at all.

As you can see from the front it looks like a normal case which even has a small lip to ensure that if you place the phone down on its screen, it won’t actually touch the surface protecting the screen from scratches.
Quadlock make an attachment for cycling, running, driving and of course even selfie taking. I have got the cycling attachment which fits onto the middle of the handle bars by two very strong bands. The company supply two sizes of band to cater for most bikes. The size I have gone for was quite tough to put on but I would say this is a good thing as the attachment is now sat firmly in place and that baby is going nowhere.

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You secure the phone into place by pulling the little blue sleeve down (shown in the picture) which is on a spring so immediately snaps back into place. The Quadlock easily slots in and holds the phone firmly. This is very well designed and I would be perfectly happy cycling with this in front of me with no worries of it ever coming off or even sliding with any turbulence you may encounter on your ride.

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Along with the case and lock mechanism, the company even supply a nice rubberised clear case which can be attached to the whole setup to protect the iPhone even further while cycling. I suppose if you were out cycling and it was raining this would aid protection from the elements, but I will admit I have not tested it with rain so cannot confirm.

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The Quadlock can be purchased for all iPhones from 4 to 6 Plus and the Galaxy S4/5, so it would be ideal if you were using the phone for directions and its GPS capabilities.

I do like the idea of being able to use this on a run and even to hold my phone in my car rather than the traditional annoying phone holders due to its ease, rigidity and solid feel, but you will have to get used to your hand going behind the device to unlock it out of place where the gap is quite tight.

All in all we love this product, not only is it a nice case within its own right, but it also serves the purpose it was built for allowing you to travel with your smartphone safely in play.

It’s the right price for a solid product, well done Quad Lock

TheTechSpy Rating – 8/10

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The PhotoFast 32GB USB 3.0 MemoriesCable for iPod, iPhone and iPad arrived for review last week and I couldn’t wait to try it out.

This little Lightning to USB cable houses storage (16/32/64/128GB) on the cable itself, allowing you to easily transfer files between iOS devices and your computer.

I’ve longed for an easier method of backing up photos and video on my iPhone and iPad for years now but have never found anything that fits the bill. PhotoFast think they have cracked it. Have they? Let’s find out…

When you first plug the cable into your iOS device, a popup will inform you that the accessory requires an app from the App Store:

The companion app for the hardware is the new PhotoFast One app, not that you need to know the name of it because clicking App Store on the pop-up will take you directly to it. It’s a nice touch.

Once the app is downloaded and installed, any subsequent cable insertions generate the following pop up. If you click Allow, you will be taken directly to the app.

The app itself is very well designed and packed with features. There are clear sections at the top of the screen for accessing In-App Storage and External Storage.

At the bottom of the screen are buttons for Music/Photos/Video, YouTube (downloader) Google Drive (browser) and Dropbox (browser).

Swiping to the right takes you to a second page almost entirely dedicated to backup buttons.

I tested the Contact Backup option first and it saved all 600 of my contacts to a .vcf file in a matter of seconds.

Next up was the Photo Backup, some 693 photos in my camera roll, all saved in under 2 minutes.

It’s all very impressive.

To test the transfer speed side of things, I copied a 1GB test file from my PC (using a USB 3.0 port) and was able to achieve write speeds of ~19MB/s. Read speeds of ~33MB/s were consistently achievable.

The app isn’t just for backups and file transfers though. It also has built-in music and video players which can be used to stream content from the cable storage. In fact, the video player is compatible with MP4, MOV, M4V, MKV, AVI, FLV, RM, RMVB, WMV, VOB and 3GP formats.

The Settings section is also full of features, including the ability to protect the app with a passcode or Touch ID.

There is even an option to completely encrypt the storage, although this will render the cable unusable on a computer. If you are just transferring files to and from your iOS devices though, this may be a valuable option.

The Auto Backup feature is what really interested me for the simple reason that Apple are bordering on the sadistic with their 5GB free iCloud storage limit. Granted, Apple are trying to upsell to their paid plans but 5GB is used up in no time, usually due to iCloud photo backups.

This is where Auto Backup comes in. Every time you open the app, an incremental backup can be performed.

So now I plug the MemoriesCable into my wall charger and iPhone before I go to bed, and the app takes care of backing up my photos, contacts and calendar items, all while charging.

I have set my iCloud backup to ignore photos now and as a result, I can backup daily to iCloud with no more of the annoying ‘Storage Full’ messages I usually wake up to.

All in all, this is an excellent product that really unshackles Apple devices and their famously non-expandable memory.

PhotoFast are currently running an Indiegogo campaign from the 3rd – 24th August, where units can be obtained for significantly lower prices than RRP.

More details here: http://igg.me/at/PhotoFast

TheTechSpy rating:  9/10

I think it is safe to say that now it is a normal sight in society to see the majority of people carrying a smart phone. Most of us carry around our whole lives in these little devices, which have private information, social network logins and our lives in photos just a few clicks away.

The other issue is that not only is there a sentimental value to the device with everything it has inside, but we forget of the actual monetary value and most of us walk around in public openly looking at our smart phones without a care in the world.

Imagine walking down the road, holding £500 in cash in front of you for the world to see….I am not sure that would last very long as thieves look to make an easy steal.

The good news is that you can protect yourself with certain tweaks which a lot of iPhone owners do not know about.

Before I start the most important thing to have is a pin number or passcode to lock the device. Make sure you ALWAYS have a passcode as this is the first line of defence to someone snooping through your device. Also make sure your device auto locks itself after a few minutes, this will ensure that if you put the device down and walk away it will lock on its own and will need your unique passcode to unlock it.

Find My iPhone:

Firstly, make sure you have Apple’s very own “Find My iPhone” app which can be downloaded from the app store, as this will allow you to track your iPhone if it has been lost or stolen. With this app you can remote wipe the phone to at least give you some peace of mind and put it into “Lost Mode” which allows you to locate and post a message when the phone is turned on. This can be accessed via the internet on any web browser through iCloud.com or on one of your other Apple devices with the “Find My iPhone” app installed.

Once installed, do the following to turn the service on;

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on iCloud
  3. Tap on Find My iPhone.
  4. Turn On the option for Find My iPhone.

Recently I lost my rucksack on the train which had my iPad inside. On returning home I launched “Find My iPhone” from my iPhone and was quickly faced with all of my Apple devices in a list. I could see the iPad in question had not been turned on yet, so I clicked on the device in the list and put it into “Lost Mode”.

Lost Mode

This allowed me to firstly set a tracker on it which meant I would be notified as soon as it was turned on and its location. I then could set a phone number and a message allowing the person who turned it on to know who owns the device and how to get in contact. If you think you could be near the device you have lost, you can also set a loud tone to sound which will allow you to find it if it is in close vicinity and will annoy the person that has it.

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Three hours after putting it in Lost Mode, I was notified that the device had been switched on and of course the location of the device and within minutes I got a call from National Rail staff telling me that they had the device and that I could pick it up.

Now this does rely on two things, firstly that your iDevice has a connection of some sort as this is how it pushes info back to you and secondly that the person who switches it on actually gets in contact to return the device. If they do not get in contact, we recommend giving the details to the police as you will now have a location. At the very worst you will be able to erase all of the data on that phone through the app.

Safeguarding Your iDevice:

Now, criminals have got tech savvy and have realised that merely switching off location services disables the tracking feature which police can use to track the phone down, so here is how to stop them doing this;

  1. Click on Settings
  2. Hit General
  3. Select Restrictions – at the point you will be asked to set up a pass code, do this!
  4. Click “Enable Restrictions”
  5. Scroll down and look for Deleting Apps and toggle the switch to “Off” – This stops people deleting “Find iPhone” which aids in locating the phone after its been stolen.
  6. Scroll down to the section labelled Privacy
  7. Click on Location Services and then click “Don’t Allow Changes” – This stops location services from being disabled without your pass code.
  8. Lastly, scroll down to the Allow Changes section and click on Accounts, then hit “Don’t Allow Changes” – This will stop anyone disabling your iCloud account and will allow the phone to be tracked as long as a Sim card is in the phone. Even when a thief puts their own sim card in, your details cannot be taken off even with a system wipe.

This makes it impossible for your phone to be disabled, so if you do encounter the worst and your iPhone is stolen, call the police and hand over your iCloud account details and let them track your phone.