Once more, Christmas Day dawns and no doubt countless smartphones are being unwrapped around the world. For some these phone be ‘same again with a slightly bigger number’ as the familiar wins out. For others the new smartphone will be their introduction into a new ecosystem. The last few years have seen Apple’s iPhone break sales records, and no doubt the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and a few older models have been gifted and a legion of new users are being welcomed into the world of iOS with their festive ‘phone.
In this article you’ll find discussion points and suggestions to get the most out of your new Apple iPhone. Don’t forget to check back ever week to read Apple Loop, our regular round-up of news from the iOS world (the Christmas edition of Apple Loop can be found here).
Get On To Right iCloud
The last few years has seen a greater focus on cloud-based services. From file storage and backup, to media files and personal information, your choice of platform will also reflect your primary cloud service. In the case of iOS, you’re looking at iClould.
You’ll be prompted to sign on to an existing account, or to create a new account, during the initial start-up process. If this is your first time on an iPhone i would recommend setting up the account – existing users signing on will be offered the chance to restore any previous iOS machines backed up to the iCloud account (which means allowing back-ups to be sent to iCloud is a good idea).
You’ll also have the opportunity to secure the account with two-factor authentication. My advice would be to do so, but ensure that you take a physical copy of your recovery key. Print it out and put it somewhere safe and memorable. Without it you might be locked out of the account over all your devices if there are security issues.
Apple’s Cloud Is Not The Only Cloud
Although iCloud drives much of the Apple experience, the iPhone can use other cloud providers and online services. It’s a simple matter to add accounts provided by Microsoft, Google, Yahool, AOL or an Exchange server – the option is under ‘Settings – Mail – Contacts, Calendars – Accounts’.
If you are already in these clouds (those coming from Android will have a Google account, and while Windows 10 Mobile and Windows Phone are still very small parts of the market, Windows 10 desktop users should have a Microsoft account to hand), then you should add them in and download the extra apps – Gmail, Google Calendar and the Google Docs apps; Outlook, Office 365, and OneNote for Microsoft.
The days of a phone being a complete data island are past, but you do need to do a little bit of work to get your cross-platform clouds working.
Wait For The OS Update
Thanks to the short period between manufacturing and retail, a new iPhone is more than likely going to be on the latest version of iOS, although any handset bought in the weeks before Christmas may not have the recent point updates. Although there are reports of battery issues with December’s iOS 10.2.
No version of iOS is going to be perfect – at the end of December 2016 a particularly awkward battery bug is kicking around that causes some iPhones to switch of when they reach thirty percent power remaining (more details here). For some that may be enough of a reason not to update, but it’s not yet a showstopper and Apple is relatively quick to fix bugs and errors in the iOS code – even if it might not say exactly what has been fixed.
An iOS update is not something you need to do the second your iPhone comes out of the box. iOS 10 in all its versions copes well, and there are no real show-stoppers that cannot wait a day or two before doing the update. One thing to note is that if you update iOS, there’s usually only a very short window of time when you can roll back to an older release – if you consider an iOS update a one-way road you’ll be taking the pragmatic route.
Release Your Inner David Bailey
It has long been understood that the best camera you can have is the camera that is with you at the time you really need to take a picture. The quality of images coming out of camera phones in general and the iPhone in particular means that for many people their smartphone will be the main camera in their life.
With your new iPhone, you’ll always have a great camera with you, and you should be able to capture any moment in time… as long as you know how to use the camera. Apple has increased the flexibility and accuracy in its main camera modes (including burst mode to take multiple pictures, and super-slow motion video recording at 240 frames per second). Those of you with the iPhone 7 Plus and its dual lens camera option are sitting at Apple’s cutting edge of what can be done with a mobile.
No matter what handset you have, there are many decisions to consider and options to select from to help you take the best picture. Learn these before you miss the moment of a lifetime. Play around with the functions, try out tap to focus, practice switching between the various modes, and get your photographer’s eye in sync with Apple’s engineers.
When the time comes to take a picture quickly, you won’t need to think about you need to do with the camera settings… you’ll just know.
When Things Go Wrong
For some, extended warranties have a bit of a bad name, but once the statutory warranty has run out, many people like to have a safety net, especially on high value products like the iPhone. Strictly speaking AppleCare is a service contract and not an extended warranty scheme, but it does provide two years of technical support and hardware coverage (including the option to repair accidental damage such as cracked screens with a small excess payment at the point of repair).
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In the short term it’s a high-margin product for Apple, but it’s an option worth considering immediately, even though you have a year to purchase the extended warranty. While the cost might seem high, the replacement or repair cost of a new iPhone would be much more – and for those of you who have purchase d an iPhone through Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, Apple Care comes as part of the package.
When the time comes to look for a repair or advice, AppleCare will come into its own.
It’s All About Apps
Apple has worked hard to include a solid suite of first-party software in iOS, but the real strength of a smartphone is in the third-party apps. With everything routed through the App Store it’s easy enough to navigate, but where to start? Well, there are some obvious apps to point out.
The first would be your social networks. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn, all have strong iOS applications that tie in with both the iPhone notification system and the ‘share’ dialog. The new wave of messaging clients such as Instagram and Snapchat should also be on your list.
As noted earlier, the cloud based apps from Google and Microsoft are recommend. So strongly consider Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Plus, and Google Search from Mountain View’s Cloud; and Outlook, OneNote, OneDrive, and the Office 365 suite (including Word and Excel) from Redmond.
…And A Few Games
Games are far more ephemeral on the smartphone, and make up the largest number of apps in the store. Here are my three current favourites.
It’s hard to avoid the publicity around Super Mario Run from Nintendo, and while the $9.99 price to unlock the full game is causing lots of negative reviews, Nintendo’s skill in gameplay shines through. Grab the free download to try out the first few levels to see what you think.
While it’s not a full-blown driving experience, Need For Speed: No Limits is a good balance of fast graphics, action, and bite-sized arcade driving. With long campaign modes an on-going targets to chase, this freemium game offers great value for money.
First released in April 2015, Monument Valley is firmly in the ‘classics’ territory but it still looks wonderful. A slow-paced isometric puzzle game that uses perspective as another dimension, it’s a gentle piece of art as well as a curiously enthralling game.