We take a close look at the great new security features in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave. We also answer a few reader questions, about the Activity Monitor app, about when to upgrade hardware, and whether “free” media sites are safe.
iOS 12 has brought many new features to your iPhone and iPad as we discussed here. But beyond the more obvious changes – new notifications, Screen Time, Shortcuts and others – iOS 12 has delivered a bushel of new security features. Most of these features revolve around passwords and iCloud Keychain, but there are a few other features that make your devices more secure. Here’s an overview of what’s new in iOS 12 security.
One of the new features of iOS 12 that hasn’t gotten much attention is shortcuts. Shortcuts are automation routines that you can run on your iPhone or iPad, making complex tasks as easy as tapping a button or giving a command to Siri. Shortcuts aren’t that simple to create, but you can find many pre-made shortcuts and use them as is or adapt them to your needs. Here’s a primer on using shortcuts for iOS.
We take a look at some of the new features in iOS 12, released early this week. We also talk about some issues with Safari 12 and extensions, and follow up on a story we reported about malware in Mac App Store apps from Trend Micro.
One of the more interesting apps in iOS 12, which Apple released this week, is Measure. It uses augmented reality (AR) to calculate the length, width, and area of items. This is a complex process, which involves having the iPhone or iPad calculate the distance between its camera and the object you are measuring in order to determine the object’s dimensions.
The problem is that it is not very accurate.
I tried measure a number of objects, and two things were apparent. The first is that Measure is not very accurate, and the second is that the same object measured twice can return different dimensions.
Here are some examples:
The inside of the frame measures 78 cm x 101cm; the Measure app is off by about 20%.
The stool above measures about 38cm x 53cm. The Measure app isn’t that far off, and this would be an acceptable measurement if I were, say, sizing up furniture for my living room, where tolerances don’t need to be precise.
But what is worrisome is the fact that when I’ve measured the same items multiple times, the results differ. Here are two measurements of one of my shakuhachis.
Ignore Rosalind the Cat; she wanted to see what was going on, but I had completed the measurement before she started checking it out. I took both of these measurements from the same position, with the iPhone at the same height. The shakuhachi is 55cm long; while one might allow for a bit of tolerance because the measure points are not exactly at the ends of the instrument, they do both end up at about the same position on the instrument.
I thought I’d give it another chance today; it’s sunny, and yesterday was a bit overcast. This time it says 57cm.
And here’s one last example; I got as close as I could, and it even says on the cover that it’s 21cm x 29.7cm…
In a Twitter conversation yesterday, some people said they found it very accurate, others not at all (one showed a 38″ MacBook Pro they had measured). I don’t know if this app is better suited for certain types of measurements, such as full rooms and the height of walls, but my tests show that its results are essentially estimates.
The Measure app is a good party toy, but little more, in its current state.
Note that these measures were taken with an iPhone 8+; I’m not sure if it uses the dual cameras, but if so, the parallax of the dual cameras should make it more accurate than a single camera.
Although iOS 12 focuses largely on performance and usability improvements, it also contains dozens of useful new features. In Take Control of iOS 12, TidBITS Managing Editor Josh Centers takes you through all the new stuff–including some powerful but obscure capabilities you may never notice on your own. You’ll learn about Screen Time (to help you monitor and address screen addiction); updated notifications; improvements to Siri, Camera, Messages, and Photos; new password management tools; and a long list of other changes–as well as the forthcoming Shortcuts app, which provides new and improved automation features to iOS. Anyone with a compatible iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch will benefit from Josh’s in-depth explanations.
But the book also goes far beyond the new features, providing an extensive guide to getting the most out of iOS 12. For example, you’ll learn how to:
Make sense of the Lock screen, Home screen, and Control Center–and customize them to meet your needs
Search with Spotlight
Switch between apps and use Handoff to transfer your work
Use Siri effectively, and even create your own custom Siri shortcuts
Become a whiz at using the various keyboards and editing controls built into iOS 12
Use Share Sheets (for more than just sharing)
Make the most of special iPad features like Instant Note, multitasking, and drag & drop
Navigate the App Store
Understand the ins and outs of Family Sharing
Manage your data–both locally on your device and in the cloud
Use Screen Time to make better choices about when and how you use your device
Take photos and videos, apply camera effects, and organize your media
Send and receive messages in any of numerous ways with the Messages app
Make calls and use FaceTime and Voicemail
Surf the web with Safari
Use Maps, Find My iPhone, and Find My Friends
Organize your Wallet and use Apple Pay
Install, delete, create, and use shortcuts in the Shortcuts app
Protect your privacy
Make the most of numerous iOS accessibility features
Improve your battery life
Version 1.0 of this book was written while iOS 12 was in beta testing, and the book will be updated soon to cover a few small changes between the beta versions and the public release and add extra details. Everyone who purchases version 1.0 of the book will get version 1.1 for free.
We use our iOS devices to keep us up to date on important information. With notifications that can display on your iPhone lock screen, you can see who’s emailed you, important messages, and much more. But with the default iOS settings, sometimes private data that you don’t want others to see can display on your lock screen, and anyone who can see your iPhone or iPad can potentially access personal information on your iPhone, even if it’s locked.
This means if your iPhone is lost or stolen, whoever has your iOS device will not need your passcode to look at the information that displays on the iOS lock screen. Even someone who randomly walks by your phone when you’re not there could potentially see sensitive information displayed on it while it’s locked.
Fortunately, Apple’s iOS contains a number of privacy settings to control what data can display on your lock screen, but many people ignore these options. Want to keep your sensitive information private? In this guide, we’ll show you what you can control and how to change these settings to keep private data off your iPhone lock screen.
I have long used the iOS Remote app to play music on my iMac, streaming to one of my AirPlay-compatible devices. It’s convenient, and allows me to control the music and the volume with any iOS device.
But since the recent update to the Remote app, it no longer updates metadata in iTunes. Previously, it would update the play count and the last played date, useful notably because this would put music you played via that app in the Recently Played playlist. It’s a bit annoying; imagine if you play music on shuffle, and you want to go back and check out some of the songs you heard, because you don’t recall exactly what they are. Previously, the Recently Played playlist would show you this; now, there’s nothing.
However, what you can do is start playing the music in iTunes, then, later, if you wish, control if from the Remote app. You can skip tracks and change volume, but you can’t start playing something different; if you do, then the metadata won’t be updated.
I don’t know why Apple has made this change. It doesn’t make things better in any way, and only removes useful data from your iTunes library.
Apple yesterday released an update to the iOS iTunes Remote app, which can be used to remotely control playback from an iTunes library. This wouldn’t be a big deal except for the fact that the company finally updated the iPad version of the app, which, in spite of received minor updates over the years, still presented an iOS 6 style interface.
Here’s how it looked before the update:
I had long been surprised that Apple couldn’t bother updating the interface of this app. Granted, it may not be widely used, but still; compared to the current iOS look – which has been “flat” since iOS 7 – it looked archaic.
We all know that our iPhones have a way of attracting us to their bright screens. Waiting for a bus? No problem, let’s just play a few levels of that new game. At the bank or doctor’s office? Why not browse Facebook or Instagram for a bit–we’ve all been there.
The advantage is that we always have something to do, but the disadvantage is that, well, we always have something to do. We have less downtime, less time to think, to ponder, to daydream. These activities help us be more creative, and even help us relax. Having a smartphone means that we spend more time looking at its screen than we probably should.
iPhone addiction has become a real problem, especially for kids, but many adults also find that these smartphones suck them in as well. In this week’s presentation of the new features coming in iOS 12, Apple showed off new tools to help combat the overuse of smartphones.