Saturday, July 27, 2013

Preventing Large Bills from Child Purchases

A great thing about the iPad and iPhone is how easy they are to use - so easy, even a child could do it!  But you can get in big trouble when you combine this ease-of-use, a child, and simple app store / in-app purchases - credit card bill in the hundreds can result!  Just as you childproof your home, these days you have to childproof your iOS smart devices.

Settings App
 By making a few changes in the Settings app, you can stop worrying about children running up hundreds of dollars of credit card bills. Here are step-by-step how-to instructions to turn off unwanted App Store and In-App purchases.

1. Examine your Restriction Settings
  • Open the Settings app
  • Tap on General.  If, your settings for Restrictions "Off"(as in the screenshot) your iPad may be vulnerable to child ordering.
  • Tap on Restrictions to continue.

2. To protect your Restriction settings, you are asked to provide 4 digit secret code.  Thereafter, changes to Restriction settings cannot be made without entering this code (otherwise, you're protected settings could be reversed by anyone that knows how). Choose a secret code, you aren't likely to forget.

3. Once in Restrictions, you can alter a number of permissions on your various apps.  Turn off those you don't want to allow. You might consider making some or all of the changes shown above during times your iPad will be in the hands of children or other parties.  You can change settings back when you need to purchase things yourself.
  • Itunes = OFF.  Turns off purchases through the Itunes store of music, movies and videos.
  • Installing Apps = OFF.  Turns off purchases through the App Store.  The App Store icon actually disappears from your iPad, iPhone with this setting set to OFF.  Turning it ON restores the icon.
  • In-App Purchases = OFF.  Very important!  This is how children buy additional things while in a game. 
  •  Require Password = Immediately.  If you only make one change do this one.  The default is 15 minutes, so after making an app store purchase where you have put in your password, for the next 15 minutes additional purchases can be made without reentering the password. Typically, you buy a game for a visiting child and give it to them to play. If the game allows in-app purchases, how many times can a child click the cute "Buy" button in 15 minutes?  This setting always requires passwords before any purchases are made, no 15 minute allowance.
If you're interested in learning more, this article has additional detail on protecting your iPad from accidental purchases, including detecting in-app purchases on your credit card bill, contesting in-app purchases and setting up an itunes monthly allowance.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Correcting Auto-Correct

Auto-correct can be both a blessing and a curse on your iPad or iPhone. If you are keying a long word and part way through auto-correct guesses what you want, saving you from extra typing - well, who can argue with that? 

Alas, auto-correct is far from perfect: frequently its "guesses" are not what you intended. Problems arise when these erroneous guesses are substituted for the perfectly good word you just typed! And it's far from intuitive how to prevent auto-correct making these "bad corrections".

If you do any amount of typing on your iOS device you need to know how to outwit auto-correct and keep it from undoing your perfectly good typing!

Auto-correct: The Good

Auto-correct being nice.  I did mean "Detergent", and tapping the space bar completes the word.

Auto-correct: The Bad (and the Ugly)

Problems can arise with proper names and specialty terms. I want to add "Dreyers" (ice cream) to the grocery list, but auto-correct assumes I must mean "dryers".

The Bad auto-correct: my correct word was replaced!  Talk about frustrating: I have to delete its "correction" and retype the word I typed correctly the first time!

It's not super obvious how to keep it from replacing what you want with a wrong substitution. Continuing to type, hitting the Return key, tapping elsewhere on the document, etc. will not stop auto-correct's zealous substitutions!

Correcting Auto-correct
How do you avoid wrong "corrections" by auto-correct?  As with many iOS issues, it's easy...once you know what to do.

Let's rewind.  I typed "Dreyers" and auto-correct helpfully wants to fix it and make it "Dryers".  To disregard the auto-correct suggestion, tap anywhere in the pop-up bubble.

Ta-da! By tapping on the auto-correct bubble, my correct word remains, the wrong suggestion discarded.

Fixing Auto-correct

Ideally, auto-correct will learn from your corrections, and after a few wrong attempts at a given word, it will add your word to its dictionary. This would minimize wrong corrections in the future. However, apparently this doesn't happen in every app, and Notes appears to be one of these.

Notice after several attempts, the wrong suggestion continues to appear.

If you have a word you use frequently, and are fed up with auto-correct botching it up, one trick is to add it to your contacts list. Auto-correct will then pick it up and not try to change it.  Here I have added "Dreyers" as a contact.

With "Dreyers" in my Contacts, auto-correct's suggestions for this word are now more accurate.

As a last resort, if you are totally fed up, you can turn off auto-correct in Settings:
Settings > General > Keyboard >Auto-Correction > Off

If you would like to pursue this subject more, there are additional ways for adding words to the Dictionary.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Frozen iPad? How to Restart

There are times when you need to restart or reset your iPad to clear a problem, the equivalent of a Windows PC Alt+Ctrl+Delete. However, it's not as simple as pressing the iPad "power button". This post will give you three options for handling an unresponsive or otherwise weird-acting iPad.

Can't I just press the "power button"?

No, because this button is actually a "Sleep/Wake" - pressing this button puts your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch to sleep. It does not power off the device, which is why you can have background apps, such as the alarm, still able to work. Unfortunately, Sleep Mode will typically not help a frozen iPad, or clear up any strange problems.

iPad Home and Sleep/Wake buttons indicated

Option 1: Restart your iPad

Starting with the easiest of the three options, this lets you truly power off (not just put it to sleep) and then restart your device.

1. Press and hold the Power/Sleep button until you see the red arrow and the "Slide to Power Off" pop up.

2. Follow the instructions and slide your finger to power off the iPad (alternatively, you can tap the Cancel button to get out).

3. Then, to restart your device, press and hold the Power/Sleep button until you see the Apple logo.

After the logo goes way, the restart is complete and you can get now start up your iPad normally, getting to the start screen by pressing the Home button or the Sleep/Wake button.

Option 2: Reset your iPad

If restarting your iPad doesn't solve the problem, resetting your iPad probably will. Don't be scared off by Apple's "reset" terminology - this is simply the equivalent of an "Alt+Ctrl+Delete" to clear a problem. It is not a factory reset or anything close; none of your settings, data or apps will be disturbed by this "reset".

1. To reset your iPad, simultaneously press and hold the Home button and the Power/Sleep button for 5 seconds or so, until you see the Apple logo. Continue holding if you first see the "Slide to Power Off" pop up until the Apple logo appears.

2. The logo will stay for 20 seconds or so and then revert to your start screen. At this point the restart is complete.

3. Start your iPad normally, pressing the home button or the sleep button to get to the start screen.

Still Dead? Option 3

If the above two options don't work as your iPad is completely unresponsive - nothing happens when you press the Home button or the Sleep/Wake button - don't panic, just recharge your iPad. Most likely the battery is completely dead.  Be forewarned (don't worry) when the battery has been drained it still may take several minutes after starting the recharge before you can tell your iPad is still alive.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

iTunes Advanced Tips

Katherine Boehret, a tech columnist for the Wall Street Journal, in a recent column points out some hidden tips and tricks for the iTunes application. Although I've used iTunes for quite a while, many of these finer points were new to me.

Some of the iTunes tips and techniques covered in the article:
  • How to redeem iTunes gift cards
  • Gifting items without a gift card from the iTunes store or the Apple App Store
  • Sharing iTunes content amongst family members from iOS devices
  • Comparing iCloud and iTunes Match
  • Keeping your kids from running up a huge iTunes bill
  • Deleting iTunes content
Many of the tips work with mobile iTunes.  Definitely recommended.