Call Your Mother: Build Relationships in iOS with Siri

When giving commands to Siri, you can refer to people by relationship, rather than name. So, if you want to call your mother on your iPhone, you can say “call my mother” instead of something like “call Natasha Jauch-Hoechstetter.” But to do this, you need to introduce Siri to your family. First, make sure you have a “card” in the Contacts app for yourself, and then go into Settings > Contacts, scroll down to find and tap My Info, and select your card so Siri knows who you are. Next, make sure you have a contact card for your mother, and then tell Siri, “Natasha Jauch-Hoechstetter is my mother.” Or, if Siri doesn’t hear you correctly, open Contacts, open your card (not your mother’s!), tap Edit, scroll down, tap “add related name,” tap the default relationship to pick “mother,” tap the info “i” icon, select your mother’s card, and tap Done.

The Secret Trick to Turn the iPhone Flashlight Off Quickly

One of the most useful, if low-tech, features of the iPhone is its flashlight, which you turn on by tapping the Flashlight icon in Control Center (get to it by swiping up from the bottom of the Lock screen or Home screen). But you don’t have to retrace your steps in Control Center to turn the flashlight off. Instead, just swipe left partway on the Lock screen, as though you wanted to take a picture—you don’t even have to go far enough to switch to the camera. That turns off the flashlight without any need to fumble around in Control Center.

Build Travel Time into Your Calendar Alerts

We’ve all done it. You swing into a meeting late, and as everyone looks up at you accusingly, you mutter, “Sorry. Traffic was terrible.” Maybe it was, but if you’d left at the right time for the traffic conditions, you could have arrived on time. Happily, the Calendar apps in both macOS and iOS can build travel time into event alerts so you can leave at the right time. There’s a bit of setup, but once you form the habit of attaching locations to your events, you’ll get a reputation for punctuality.

First, if you’re working on an iOS device, make sure Calendar can access your location by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Calendar and selecting While Using the App.

Next, you need to make sure the Time to Leave option is turned on. On the Mac, choose Calendar > Preferences > Alerts and select the Time to Leave checkbox. In iOS, go to Settings > Calendar > Default Alert Times and enable Time to Leave.

Now follow these steps:

  1. Create a new event, and enter a title and the start time. Travel time doesn’t work with all-day events.
  2. In the Location field, start typing your destination’s name or address. You must be able to reach the destination within 3 hours to receive alerts about when to leave. 
    Calendar is smart about this, offering matches from your contacts, from recently visited places, and then from place names and addresses near you. So you could type a friend’s name and pick their card from Contacts, or a place name like “Tompkins County Public Library,” or even a specific address, like “806 State Street.”
    Calendar-PickLocation

  3. Regardless, after typing a partial name or address, you must pick one of Calendar’s suggestions so it knows the exact location of your destination.
  4. The next step is a bit different between the Mac and iOS:
    • On the Mac, in the Travel Time pop-up menu (click once to reveal it), choose the automatically generated travel time for driving or walking, or, if your city is supported, public transit. You can’t change your starting location, which is based on the location of events in the previous 3 hours (it assumes you’re there!), your work address during work hours, your home address during off hours, or your computer’s location if all else fails. (The addresses come from the card in the Contacts app that is open when you choose Card > Make This My Card.)
    • In iOS, tap Travel Time and in the Travel Time screen, enable the Travel Time switch. A starting location may be picked for you, based on your current location and time of day, or based on a previous event, but you can always tap Starting Location and pick a different spot. Then tap a travel time based on location for walking, driving, or transit, which will reflect both your starting and ending locations, plus the traffic conditions.
      Calendar-SetTravelTime

  5. Now it’s time to back out of the Travel Time screen and set alerts based on the travel time, which may take traffic conditions into account. By default, setting travel time creates an alert for Time to Leave, although you may wish to set a second alert that gives you a few minutes to get ready beforehand.
    Calendar-FinalEvent

That’s it, but with one important bonus. When you see the alert on an iPhone 6s or later, you can 3D Touch the alert to open a preview that has a link for directions; tap Directions to view the travel directions in the Maps app. If your iPhone doesn’t support 3D Touch, tap the alert to open the event in Calendar, after which you can tap the map preview to open the location in Maps.

Once you get the hang of setting up the events, getting alerts that are sensitive to travel time and include directions is like living in the future!


Twitter: Tired of being late? Did you know that the Calendar app can build travel time and traffic into its alerts? See how:

Facebook: Hate being late because you didn’t anticipate traffic? The Calendar app can alert you when it’s time to leave for a meeting based on the travel time necessary to get there, including slowdowns for traffic jams. Learn how to set up this magical system at:

4 New Apple OS Features You Can Use Today

Apple just released new versions of all its operating systems—iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS—fixing bugs, plugging security holes, and, best of all, adding a few new features. Here are four things you can do once you’ve updated. (If you’re concerned that installing the updates may cause other problems, check with us first, but it’s best to stay current.)

1: Sleep better after using your Mac late at night.

macOS 10.12.4 Sierra has gained Night Shift, a feature from iOS that automatically shifts the colors of the screen to the warmer end of the spectrum after dark. Night Shift may help you sleep better by reducing the amount of blue light that tricks your body into thinking it’s earlier than it is.

To set up Night Shift, open System Preferences > Displays > Night Shift and choose Sunset to Sunrise from the Schedule pop-up menu. Night Shift knows when the sun rises and sets wherever you are, but if you prefer, you can also set custom on and off times. (If you don’t see the Night Shift button in the Displays preference pane after upgrading to 10.12.4, your Mac is unfortunately too old to support Night Shift.)

If you’re working with graphics at night, or if video looks odd, you can turn off Night Shift manually. Do that either in the Displays preference pane or by scrolling down in Notification Center (click it in the upper-right corner of the screen) to see the Night Shift switch.

2: Find the AirPod that fell between the couch cushions.

Apple’s wireless AirPods earbuds are cute, but they’re also easy to misplace. If you can’t find yours, iOS 10.3’s Find My iPhone app can help. Bring it up, tap the AirPods icon in the display, and then tap the Play Sound button to make them play a locator sound. If you’ve lost only one AirPod, you can mute the other so it’s easier to hear where the sound is coming from.

Note that Find My AirPods works only when in range of a paired iOS device, so it may not help if you lose an AirPod while running.

3: Don’t be “that person with the Apple Watch” at the theater.

You’re in a darkened theater, at a movie or a play, and when you move in your seat or cover your mouth to cough, your Apple Watch’s screen turns on, annoying the people around you. Even worse is when a notification rolls in, causing the watch to make a sound. Embarrassing, we know. Happily, watchOS 3.2 adds Theater Mode, which turns on Silent mode and keeps the screen dark by disabling its standard “raise to wake” behavior.

To enable Theater mode, open Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. Then tap the Theater Mode button, which is emblazoned with theater masks. After the performance, you’ll need to disable Theater mode manually by tapping its button again.

If you do need to check the time surreptitiously (who knew this performance would go so long!), tap your Apple Watch’s screen, or press the Digital Crown or side button.

4: Ask Siri to find your car in a humongous parking lot

We’ve all been there. You parked at the mall, but got turned around while you were inside, and now you can’t find your car in the sea of automobiles. In iOS 10.3, you can now search for “parked car” in Maps, or just ask Siri, “Where did I park?”

And if you ever lose your car at a place like Disney World, this feature alone will be worth the price of the iPhone!


Twitter: 4 new features in Apple’s latest operating systems will make your life easier. Learn all about them at:

Facebook: Once you’ve updated to Apple’s latest—iOS 10.3, macOS 10.12.4, and watchOS 3.2—you’ll want to read this article:

Reset iOS Devices Before Passing Them On

If you have an old iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch that you want to sell or give away, you don’t want to leave any of your apps, data, or personal information on the device. Luckily, Apple makes it easy to reset to factory defaults. Go to Settings > General > Reset (all the way at the bottom) and then tap Erase All Content and Settings. Enter your passcode, confirm the erasure (twice!), and then type your Apple ID password. After all that, the device restarts just as though you’re taking it out of the box for the first time.

Extend iPhone Battery Life with Low Power Mode

There’s nothing worse than your iPhone running out of juice at an inopportune time. Starting in iOS 9, there’s a Low Power Mode that’s offered to you when the remaining battery charge drops below 20%, and it’s automatically disabled once the charge rises to 80%. You can also enable Low Power Mode manually in Settings […]

Enable Wi-Fi Calling to Improve Call Quality

If you use AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint in the United States with an iPhone 6 or newer model, you can turn on a feature starting in iOS 9 that enables your iPhone to send calls over a Wi-Fi network (and thus the Internet) rather than relying on spotty cellular coverage. It’s especially useful in […]

What Are QR Codes and How Do You Use Them in iOS?

By now you’ve probably seen one of those odd-looking white squares with a bunch of smaller square dots that make up a random pattern inside—that’s a QR code. QR stands for “Quick Response,” and a QR code is a type of barcode, just like those you see on the packaging of nearly everything in grocery […]

Speed Up Mac and iOS Typing with Text Expansion

With all the advances in computing and communications, it’s amazing that—after nearly 150 years!—we still use the keyboard layout from the world’s first practical typewriter for entering text into our computers, smartphones, and tablets. But we haven’t improved as typists, nor do we enjoy typing more—if anything, we increasingly abbreviate to avoid typing, hence “CUL8R.” […]