5 iOS Features I’d Love

WWDC 2011 kicked off yesterday with Steve Jobs taking the stage as usual. Sadly, there wasn’t a new iPhone announced (because I’m waiting to replace mine). Nevertheless, I’m still looking forward to iOS 5. Here’s some of the features I thought were great:

1. Notification Center

I think this has been on everyone’s wishlist for a really long time. If you have no time to respond to the missed calls or SMSes, notifications are now shown on the lock screen so you can see what you’ve missed at a glance.

2. Camera Quick Access

I cannot stress how much I (am going to) love this feature! Because I’m paranoid, I have a complex password setup (which consists of numbers, letters and symbols) on my iPhone. By the time I unlock my phone, the moment is lost – it has happened so many times before. I hope the shortcut would still be available with a passcode set (and yet prevent unauthorized access to my photos).

3. Split Keyboard (iPad)

It’s really difficult to type on the iPad while holding it with both hands. Split keyboard allows you to thumb-type, it seems. I’d have to try this for myself.

4. Safari Reading List

I have been using Read It Later and it’s been really good. I’m not sure if Safari’s Reading List can be saved for offline reading, but having a “Read Later” button there would be really handy. I use Read It Later via a bookmarklet and it always takes a while to load the Javascript file from their servers.

5. iMessage

I use SMS more than I call on my phone. Currently, WhatsApp fills this void for me, and it has been doing a great job so far. The problem is, it doesn’t allow you to use it on the iPad. Even if it did, my chat history would be all over the place. Let’s hope iMessage can do a better job.


[Images from apple.com]


Solving the Facebook “No Internet Connection” Problem

Update 15-Aug-2011: This fix only applied to the new version of the iPhone Facebook app back in April 2011. Any problems after April 2011 is probably not the same as the one described here.

I recently upgraded to the latest version of the Facebook iPhone app, but I’m not sure if that caused the problem.

When you attempt to open your News Feed, it shows “Loading” for a while before showing “No Internet Connection“. But obviously this is not the case, because if you try other pages such as Friends or Places or Profile, they work perfectly fine.

It appears as if the app has lost the authentication cookie or something, so the fix is trivial.

  1. Tap on the menu at the top left (the icon with 9 squares) and tap the “Account” button (also at the top left) on the main menu screen
  2. Choose either “Help Center” or “Account Settings” from the popup menu
  3. You should see a login bar or login form – just fill up your details and login

That’s it! Logging in from within the app fixes the problem. Don’t try to select “Logout” from the popup menu – I tried it and it freezes the app.

It has been reported that this option may not work for everybody, but it did work for me.

Display Mirroring on the iPad 1

This is interesting, but I don’t have any video out accessories to test it on.

You just need to add a boolean that says display-mirroring: YES to the model plist (K48AP.plist for first-gen iPad) under /System/Library/CoreServices/Springboard.app/ and reboot the device.

Obviously this requires a jailbroken iPad for you to access the file. It also seems to work with devices that use the A4 chip.

I guess this is how Apple did their presentations all along, at all of these iOS device unveiling events. It’s just that now they opened up the hardware to the public (and indirectly, the configuration parameter).

Source: http://www.natureseyestudios.be/blog/enable-display-mirroring-on-first-gen-ipad/

Update 17-Oct-2011: Updated URL

iOS Profiles & Encrypted Backups

When I got my iPhone, it uses a 4-digit passcode to protect its contents. Unsatisfied with this, I found the iPhone Configuration Utility (iPCU), which was the only way at that time to enable complex passcodes (passwords) on the phone. After creating a profile and uploading it to the phone using the iPCU, my backups were all forced to be encrypted.

Encrypted backups are not good for tinkering because you need to decrypt the files before you can edit them, and you need to re-encrypt them for it to be restored to the phone. I’m not sure about the encryption scheme, or which programs can access encrypted backups since the encryption happens on the phone.

I don’t remember seeing an option in the iPCU that says “Force iTunes encryption” or similar, so why was this happening? Recently when I was digging through the iPhone OS Enterprise Deployment Guide, I found an important note, under “Backing Up a Device with iTunes”, that reads “If the device being backed up has any encrypted profiles installed, iTunes requires the user to enable backup encryption.”

If you upload any profiles using iPCU, it’s convenient – it goes into the phone directly, but at the same time it also encrypts the configuration for the phone.

For my new iOS devices I simply signed it, and uploaded onto a web server and accessed it from the device. This prevents the backups from being forced to be encrypted, but at the same time it creates a chicken and egg problem – how does my device access the web server without the WiFi profile settings?

I’ll look into that another time.

“Personal [WiFi] Hotspot” comes to iPhone 4 CDMA

Apple has just announced a new iPhone 4 hardware revision that allows it to be used on CDMA networks.

[photo stolen from Ars Technica]

Interestingly, the new iPhone comes with a Personal Hotspot preference that allows it to share its 3G connection over WiFi. Ars Technica has photos of the new preference menus. I must stress the photos shown here were not taken by me.

Of course the Android people have had this for a while (provided their phones could be updated to Froyo). They called it the Portable Wi-Fi hotspot.

I hope Apple rolls this out to the rest of the iPhone users, and hopefully if it isn’t enabled by default, it will have some secret pref that allows it to be activated easily.