Category: iPhone

How to Mute iPhone Text Message Notifications for a Specific Contact

iPhone Messages application green and blue

Here’s the problem: a friend is spamming you with text messages on your iPhone, and the notifications are driving you crazy. But, you don’t want to turn off all text message notifications (what if someone else important wants to send you one?), and you don’t want to completely block your spamming friend from sending messages (you’ll want to read those juicy messages later). There is a solution! Here is how to mute text message notifications for just that specific contact and still receive the messages, as well as still receive notifications from other contacts:

1. In the Messages app, tap on the text message thread from the contact you want to mute:

Select iPhone Text Message Thread

2. Tap Details in the top right corner:

Tap Details in Message Thread

3. Swipe the Do Not Disturb tab to the on position (it will turn green):

Slide the Do Not Disturb tab to On position

And that’s it, text-message notifications for just that single contact will no longer pop up on your iPhone, yet, you will still receive and keep all the messages the contact sends you.

Just make sure to switch off Do Not Disturb later if you want to receive notifications on your home screen again.

Q&A: What Is the Largest Capacity External Battery You Can Buy for the iPhone?

If you’re traveling with your iPhone to a place without power outlets, an external battery can be a lifesaver. And if you’re going to be there a long time, you’re going to need a bigger battery. So just how big of a portable battery can you get? Here’s what my research found.

The Turcom 33,600 mAh External Battery Pack

Turcom 33600 mAH battery

The Turcom 33,600 mAh External Battery Pack and Powerbank Charger ($140) is the largest capacity portable battery that I could find that recharges the iPhone. How big is it? This baby will completely recharge an iPhone 4S/5 around 15 times. 15! And it weighs about 1.8 pounds.

The Turcom comes with a built-in USB port, so you’ll need to bring your own USB lightning cable or 30-pin connector for the iPhone/iPad to charge. The battery also comes with several adapters for charging various brands of laptops. The Turcom will recharge an iPad 4 around 3-4 times (the iPad has a much bigger battery than the iPhone and thus gobbles up more juice).

How to measure a battery. The simplest way to measure the capacity of a battery is by milliamp hours (mAh). The more mAh, the longer it can power a device. The Turcom’s 33,600 millamp hours of storage is the most I found short of hooking your iPhone up to a car battery (which I don’t recommend). Car batteries start at around 45,000 mAH (truck batteries are around 100,000 mAh), so 33,600 mAh is impressive for a 1.8-pound package. Most of the biggest external batteries for charging electronics like somewhere in the 20,000-26,000mAH range.

iPhone Tip: EarPods Quit Working? They Are Covered By Your iPhone’s 1-Year Warranty

Apple EarPods

A few weeks ago, the control dongle on my EarPods stopped working. Then, yesterday, the right earbud wouldn’t play any sound, quickly followed by the left. I can’t go without earphones, so I quickly placed an order on for replacements. Then I remembered I’ve had these EarPods for less than a year (they came with my iPhone 5). I wondered, shouldn’t Apple cover these with the iPhone’s warranty? Yes, the EarPods that come with your iPhone are covered by your iPhone’s 1-year warranty, along with everything else in the box. So, I canceled my Amazon order, made an appointment at the Genius Bar at the local Apple Store. Once there, the Apple Genius quickly gave me a new pair of EarPods after taking my iPhone 5’s serial number to confirm the warranty.

Note, however, that your iPhone’s warranty does not cover damage, so if your dog has chewed up your EarPods, you likely won’t get a new pair. But except in those extreme cases, you will get a new pair of EarPods as long as there isn’t any visible damage. For example, I’m pretty sure my EarPods stopped working through some kind of damage I did to them—I’ve gone on long sweaty runs with them on, I shove them in my pocket, and generally use them and abuse them everyday—but since there was no visual damage to the EarPods, the Apple Genius quickly swapped me out a new pair.

What if the EarPods break outside of the iPhone’s 1-year warranty? Well, Amazon often sells them $5 cheaper than Apple does.

The 5 Best Waterproof iPhone Cases…That Float!

While there are many waterproof iPhone cases out there, there are very few that also float when dropped in water. Why a floating iPhone case? Because if you work around deep water or are a kayaker, outdoor sportsman, etc, a floating iPhone case could save you some serious money and a lot of hassles if you drop your iPhone in deep water. Below are several of the best solutions from keeping your iPhone from the bottom of a lake.

1. LifeProof Waterproof Case With LifeJacket

LifeProof LifeJacket Floating iPhone Case

The LifeProof case ($79) for the iPhone is waterproof for up to 6 feet, but to make it float, you’ll also need the LifeJacket ($39.99), a buoyant orange casing that fits around the LifeProof as a second layer and will make the iPhone float. The LifeProof even comes with waterproof headphones that will allow you to listen to music as you swim! (See video examples below). The LifeProof is the best and most popular waterproof/floating iPhone case solution for the iPhone, but at around $120 for the combo, it’s also one of the most expensive.

Helpful links:

Official LifeProof website

LifeProof Waterproof case for iPhone 4/4S at

LifeProof Waterproof case for iPhone 5 at

LifeJacket Floating Case for iPhone 4/4S at

LifeJacket for iPhone 5 at

2. EcoPod by Grace Digital

Eco Pod Waterproof floating iPhone Case

The EcoPod ($49.99) is a waterproof iPhone case what will float as long as it has a standard payload (smartphone) inside. Despite its waterproofing, the EcoPod isn’t the type of case you’ll to expose the iPhone to submersion in water for long periods (ie, you can’t go swimming with this case)–it’s only certified to keep water out at depths of 3 feet and for only 30 minutes. Still, it’s good for most outdoor tasks where briefly dropping the iPhone in water is a risk. The EcoPod comes with waterproof earbuds.

Helpful links:

Official website for EcoPod Waterproof iPhone case

EcoPod iPhone Case at

3. Overboard Waterproof & Buoyant Case


The Overboard ($29) is a clear waterproof pouch that is buoyant (it floats). The Overboard is waterproof up to an impressive depth of 19 feet. Another benefit of the Overboard is that, if you already use a case on your iPhone, you won’t have to remove it to place it in the Overboard—you can use both at the same time (unless the case is extremely bulky). The Overboard has a Pro Sport version that comes with an armband and waterproof headphones. There is even a version for the iPad.

Helpful links:

Overboard for iPhone 5 at

Overboard Pro Sport Case for iPhone 4/4S

4. Chums Camera/iPhone Float

Chum Camera Float

The Chums Camera/iPhone Float ($9.99) isn’t a case, but it a cheap accessory that you can attach to other waterproof cases to make them float. The Chums Float is made of high-density bouyant foam. Because there are way, war more waterproof iPhone cases and pouches that don’t float than do, purchasing the Chums Float along with a cheaper waterproof iPhone case can save you some money over an expensive all-in-one solution, the tradeoff being this combo is more bulky.

Helpful links:

Official website for Chums Camera Float

Chums Camera/iPhone Float at

5. DandyCase Waterproof Case (Requires a Float for Buoyancy)

DandyCase Waterproof for Smartphones

The DandyCase ($29.99) is an affordable waterproof solution that works with just about every smartphone under 5″ in screen size (all current iPhones fit into the case). The DandyCase is a clear pouch that lets your operate the iPhone’s touchscreen through its plastic. You can also take reasonably good photos with the case on. It doesn’t float by itself but does allow you to attach a floating dongle, like the one mentioned above in this article.

Helpful links:

DandyCase at

6. BeachBuoy by Proporta (Requires a Float for Buoyancy)

Beach Buoy case 2

The BeachBuoy by Proporta ($19) is another affordable waterproofing solution that is a see-through pouch. It is waterproof up to 16-foot. The clear plastic allows you to operate the iPhone’s screen through the plastic, so you can still use apps, send text messages, and take pictures with the iPhone’s camera. The BeachBuoy requires you to attach a float dongle to become buoyant (sold separately). You can often find this case cheaper than the $19 retail price on Amazon. And although it says “for iPhone 5,” it works with most smartphones, or any thing you want to waterproof, for that matter.

Helpful Links:

Official website for the BeachBuoy by Proporta

BeachBuoy for iPhone 5 at

Tip: The Quickest Way to Take an iPhone Photo, From Your Pocket to Snapping a Picture

If you want to capture a fleeting moment with your iPhone’s camera, there is actually a way to do it in just a few seconds. You will not need to unlock your phone, enter in a passcode, etc. Just one quick swipe, a press of a button, and you’ve snapped a photo. If you practice it, you can actually get quite fast. Here’s how.

1. Press the home button once to wake the iPhone’s screen:

Press home button to wake screen

2. Slide your finger upward from the camera icon in the bottom right:

Slide up from camera icon

3. As you grip the iPhone in your palm to steady it, press either volume button with your pointer finger to snap a photo:

iPhone 5 volume buttons and camera app

And that’s it, you’ve snapped a photo. This method takes me around 3 seconds to snap a photo from home button press to photo capture. Of course, if the iPhone is buried in your pocket/purse, that can add a few more seconds.

It may also take a moment for the iPhone to autofocus on an object. To help the iPhone’s camera focus on the desired object, tap the area of the screen where the object is displayed. This tells the iPhone where to focus.

Be sure to check out more our Art of the iPhone Tips.

8 iPad Apps That Stream Free Full Episodes of TV Shows (Part 2)


Below is a list of 8 apps that deliver free, full episodes from TV networks in the US (make sure to check out Part 1 here). Most of the apps below deliver only a few episodes of a handful of shows from a specific network—thus, the apps aren’t replacements for watching your favorite shows on cable TV or over-the-air television. But they may be good for discovering new shows or watching the latest of your favorites. And hey, they’re free, so no complaining.

1. CBS

CBS iPad app screenshot

The CBS app (free) is one of the best iPad TV apps because it offers a lot of free content from some of its best shows; in fact, there is a least one episode for just about all of their shows. And yes, there are full episodes, with commercials interspersed throughout. Shows currently streaming as of this writing are:

  • The Amazing Race
  • Survivor
  • NCIS
  • Elementary
  • David Letterman
  • The Good Wife
  • Rules of Engagement
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • And more…

2. History Channel

History Channel app

The History Channel (free) is another app with a ton of content inside. The History Channel may not feature much actual history anymore, but its shows are still pretty entertaining. As of this writing, there are 59 episodes of Axe Man available in the app (wow!). Other shows don’t feature quite so many, but most offer 4-6 episodes for streaming inside the app. Other shows with full episodes currently available in the app are:

  • Vikings
  • Pawn Stars
  • American Restoration
  • Only in America With Larry the Cable Guy
  • Counting Cars
  • Swamp People
  • American Pickers

3. A&E

A and E iPad App

A&E (free) also offers several shows with free full episodes. Storage Wars, for example, features 12 full episodes for your viewing pleasure (as of this writing—it could change week to week). Other shows with full episodes available inside the app are:

  • Bates Hotel
  • American Hogger
  • Duck Dynasty
  • Hoarders
  • Intervention

4. LifeTime

LifeTime iPad App

LifeTime (free) has a good amount of free episodes available, but it varies from show to show. For example, Client List only features the latest episode, but The New Adventures of Old Christine has 5 full episodes available for streaming. There are also a few Lifetime made-for-TV movies available to watch in the app. Shows offering free full episodes are:

  • Preacher’s Daughters
  • Project Runners
  • Dance Moms
  • How I Met Your Mother

5. Discovery Channel

Discovery Channel HD app

Discovery Channel HD (free) offers only a few free episodes in the app. There are tons of video clips from shows, but few episodes. In fact, there are currently only 5 free episodes total from the following three shows:

  • Pot Cops
  • Bering Sea Gold
  • Weed Country

6. TLC

TLC iPad app

TLC (free) has tons of clips from popular shows like Honey Boo Boo, but sadly there is currently only 1 free full episode in the app, and it’s from the show Welcome to Myrtle Manor. Of course, many of these apps add and remove content periodically, so perhaps this is just a dry spell, but as of this writing, there’s very little full-episode content in the TLC app.

7. Animal Planet

Animal Planet for iPad

Animal Planet (free) currently offers full episodes from 3 different shows. My Cat From Hell even has 6 episodes available to watch. All available shows (as of this writing) are shown below.

  • My Cat From Hell
  • North Woods Law
  • Gator Boys

8. Adult Swim

Adult Swim

Adult Swim (free) offers a mix of free full episodes and “gold” content which is only available by signing in via your cable provider. The good news is that there is a ton of free episodes available for streaming in the app. Shows currently available for streaming in the app are:

  • The Venture Bros
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force
  • Metalocalypse
  • The Boondocks

Apple Builds Support for Audiobus, a Third-Party App, Into Garageband (Audiobus Now 50% Off in Celebration)

Audiobus icon

Independent developers A Tasty Pixel have just received the rarest of honors from Apple today. Apple has built in support for their app Audiobus ($9.99, on sale for $4.99) into the latest version of Garageband for iOS ($4.99), essentially making Audiobus the standard for piping sound from one music app into another.


Audiobus is a middleman app for music-making on the iPhone and iPad. It essentially functions as a pipeline for moving sound created in, say, a synthesizer app like Animoog into another like Garageband so you can record it, or manipulate it with more filters, etc. It also makes it easier to switch between music apps with just a tap, and to start/stop recording in app while playing in instrument in another.

To non-musicians, it may sound a bit benign, but it solves a lot of issues on iOS for making and recording music. Without a doubt, Audiobus is currently the most powerful music-creation app for iOS out there, even more so now that Apple seems to recognize it as a protocol—highly unusual because Apple usually likes to control these things. Developers have to build support into their apps for Audiobus (the long list can be found in the official app description in iTunes here), so it’s a little funny to see Apple join the crowd. Apple must be Audiobus fanboys, too.

Audiobus announced via Twitter (see the tweet below) that the app is currently half off ($4.99) in celebration of Apple’s move.

We recently chose Audiobus as one of our Most Essential iPad Music-Creation Apps, which you can view as a slideshow here (Part 1, Part 2) with example videos.

Tip: How To Add Your Favorite MLB Team’s 2013 Schedule to Your iPhone’s Calendar

If you’re on an iPhone or iPad and want to easily add your favorite Major League Baseball team’s schedule to your calendar, just tap your team’s name in the list below, then tap Subscribe from the pop-up box. These are the official schedules from MLB’s website. Please note that you can easily hide all 162 games from view, as all those games can clog up your calendar (see instructions at end of post).

Arizona Diamondbacks
Atlanta Braves
Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
Chicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox
Cinncinnati Reds
Cleveland Indians
Colorado Rockies
Detroit Tigers
Houston Astros
Kansas City Royals
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Los Angeles Dodgers
Miami Marlins
Milwaukee Brewers
Minnesota Twins
New York Mets
New York Yankees
Oakland Athletics
Philadelphia Phillies
Pittsburgh Pirates
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
Seattle Mariners
St. Louis Cardinals
Tampa Bay Rays
Texas Rangers
Toronto Blue Jays
Washington Nationals

How to Hide the Games in Your Calendar

To hide the games from your calendar, go to the Calendar app, tap the Calendars button in the top left, then tap the checkmark next to the team-schedule calendar to uncheck the calendar and remove it from view. You can delete the calendar by going into the Settings app > Mail, Contacts, Calendar > Subscribed Calendars, tap the calendar and then tap Delete Account.

Siri Tip: Say “Google” First for the Quickest Way to Launch a Web Search on the iPhone & iPad

Siri icon

For the fastest way to search for something on the web, simply speak the word Google first to Siri, followed by whatever you want to search for. This method is, by far, the fastest way to do a web search in iOS. And, it can improve your overall experience with Siri.

Here’s an example: if you ask Siri, “Ten best Hawaii beaches,” Siri will bizarrely respond with a weather forecast. Begin that same question with Google and the browser will quickly and automatically launch and point to several great articles listing the ten best beaches in Hawaii. By starting off with Google, I avoid having to repeat myself or navigating to the browser app.

Another reason to say “Google” first is that Google is also great at correcting mistranslated words or phrases and figuring out what you’re really looking for. Compare this to Siri, which often takes correctly translated words and delivers incorrect info. Don’t get me wrong, Siri is great for creating reminders, text messages, alarms, & timers, and a handful of other things, but Siri is not so great at answering most questions.

Also note you can say Bing or Yahoo to automatically launch searches in those engines as well.

Review: Incipio KickSnap iPhone Case With Built-In Stand

Review Summary

Price: $35

Art of the iPhone’s Rating: ★★☆☆☆
(2 stars out of 5)

Review Summary: The Incipio KickSnap has a poorly designed built-in stand, an easily scratched glossy surface, and very little shock absorption. It makes for a poor choice of case for the iPhone 5.

Certain themes emerge after years of reviewing iPhone cases, and one of those themes is that glossy style hard plastic cases exhibit poor durability and soon degrade into scratch-covered messes. And so it was with the Incipio KickSnap ($35 suggested, bought for $10 on Amazon), which after just a day’s use, looked liked it had been worked over with sandpaper. But the KickSnap does have another key selling point, its built-in stand. Too bad it’s poorly designed as well.

The Stand. The Kicksnap’s “stand” really is just a loose rectangular strip of plastic that you pull out with your fingernail. The “stand” flaps about like a broken wing—there is no hinge or other mechanism to provide resistance. To use it as a stand, you simply lean the plastic flap and iPhone against each other—a sloppy design that shows a total lack of imagination. The stand gives you a grand total of 1 viewing angle for the iPhone (about a 70-degree landscape viewing angle).

Incipio KickSnap Case for iPhone 5

Protection. On its website, Incipio says the the KickSnap provides “excellent shock absorption.” Well, in my testing, not really. The KickSnap is a thin hard plastic case, which means most of the energy from an impact will transfer into the iPhone. That is not “excellent shock absorption.” The KickSnap does have a thin soft rubber inner lining, but there’s only enough for preventing the hard plastic of the case from scratching the iPhone itself, not enough for shock absorption duties. In terms of protection, the Incipio KickSnap is only good for everyday wear and tear—too bad the case itself will look worn and tired with just a few days use.

Buttons & Ports. There is one element of the KickSnap that is well designed, its buttons. The case’s buttons cover the iPhone’s own volume and sleep/wake buttons, and they work accurately when pressed. In fact, they are very clicky and responsive when pressed—I like them more than the iPhone’s own buttons. The case has cutouts for the iPhone’s lightning and headphone ports, leaving plenty room to plug in your earphones and charging cords. Likewise, a cutout for the iPhone’s camera leaves plenty of room to take photos. Overall, the KickSnap gives you excellent access to all the iPhone’s buttons and features.

Fit & Feel. The KickSnap is a slim-style case, and thus adds barely any thickness and weight to the already slim profile of the iPhone 5. The case feels very solid and tight, with no creakiness to the plastic or looseness to the fit. Unfortunately, the glossy surface is also quite slippery, meaning you’ll have a bit more difficult time keeping a firm grip on the iPhone with the case on. Another reason to avoid the “glossy” style of iPhone cases.

Looks. Glossy hard-plastic cases almost always look great coming out of the package, and so it was with the KickSnap. But due to durability issues, they don’t look so great after a few hours of use. So it was again with my “Obsidian Black” version of the KickSnap, which is also available in Optical White / Charcoal Gray. Scratches and scuffs will soon cover the delicate surface, making the case look worn even though it’s barely been used. The KickSnap is a slim case, so it maintains the iPhone 5’s slim profile, which is nice visually, but again, a closer look will reveal the scratches and worn look. The stand, too, is a bit of an eyesore, even though it snaps flat when not in use.


The glossy plastic of the Incipio KickSnap case for iPhone 5 ($35) is easily scratched, and its built-in stand is poor designed. Add in poor shock-absorption, and you’ve got a dud of an iPhone case, even at the discounted $10 I found it it for on Not recommended.