Category: News

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.

The 10 Most Useful Features Coming in iOS 7

The upcoming iOS 7 software update is more than just a fresh coat of paint, there are many new useful features that will improve or enhance our lives. Below, I rank 10 new iOS 7 features that I think will be most useful to iPhone owners.

1. Background App Refresh

Facebook iPhone

In iOS 7, apps will now be allowed to periodically refresh (download data) in the background. This will drastically improve user experience for about a bazillion iPhone apps. For example, wouldn’t it be nice to have an updated weather forecast waiting for you when you open the app—do you know how many times I’ve been fooled by an old forecast in the iPhone’s notification center? Facebook, Twitter, and numerous other apps will be all the more pleasant to use when updated info is sitting there waiting for you instead of you waiting for it. The downside to this feature will be higher data usage, but Apple has a plan for that, too (see #9 in this list).

2. Control Center

Control Center in iOS 7

Control Center will let you quickly and easily control commonly used iPhone features like bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc, (see full list below). We will no longer have to laboriously tap-tap-tap down several layers down into the iPhone’s Settings to turn certain features on and off. Control Center gathers them all in one place, accessible with a single swipe upward from the bottom of the screen, anywhere, anytime. The features you’ll have quick access to in Control Center are:

  • Airplane Mode
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • Do Not Disturb
  • Screen Lock
  • Screen Brightness
  • Music/Audio Controls (volume, play, pause, forward, back)
  • AirDrop
  • AirPlay
  • Flashlight
  • Clock
  • Calculator
  • Camera

3. Spotlight Search Available in More Places

Spotlight in iOS 7

If you’re not using Spotlight to launch apps, you’re working harder than you need to. iOS 7 will bring access to Spotlight to any of your home screens—simply swipe down from the middle of the screen to make the Spotlight search field appear. One of iOS’s most used (and useful) features made easier and more accesible? Yes, please!

4. New Siri Commands and Design

Siri Sound Wave

You’ll be able to tell Siri to do even more stuff in iOS 7, chief among them turning various iPhone features on and off like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi—you can even lower or raise screen brightness by voice command. Imagine waking up at night an telling Siri to “turn on the flashlight.” Siri is also getting a new, more useful look. How can “looks” be more useful? Well, how about a soundwave animation that lets you know Siri is listening. Do you know how many times I’ve talked to Siri only to discover she’s been ignoring me? No longer a problem thanks to the new visual feedback. Siri will also show search results from Wikipedia, Bing, and even Twitter on the same screen, meaning, without kicking you out into another app.

5. New Multitask Switcher

Multitasking iOS 7

iOS7’s new app switcher displays a screenshot of the last state the app was in when you left it, which means you can scan through info displayed by apps more efficiently, which translates into more efficient multitasking. You’ll also be able to force quit apps by just swiping upward in the switcher view. No more waiting for the jiggle, then tapping the small x.

6. Unified Search & Address Bar in Safari

Safari Unified Search Bar in IOS 7

Safari will get a unified search/address bar in iOS 7, meaning no more separate fields to enter URLs and Google searches, both go in the same place. If you already use this in your desktop browser, you’ll know how convenient and simple this subtle but powerful tweak is.

7. iRadio


iRadio may already exist in the form of apps like Pandora, but you can be sure that iRadio will have some benefits over its competitors thanks to being built into the iPhone; for example, like being able to tell Siri to launch a radio station. Another cool feature of iRadio is that you’ll be able to tweak the song mix toward more popular hits or toward discovery of lesser known songs. The “Trending on Twitter” station will also help with music discovery. iRadio will start off with around 200+ preset stations to choose from in addition to the ability to create stations based on artists and songs you like.

8. AirDrop

Airdrop iOS 7

AirDrop will allow for file sharing between iPhones, without the need for a wireless network, meaning you don’t need a Wi-Fi router between you and the other device you’re sharing with. AirDrop will connect directly to another iPhone (or iPad or Mac) using a direct adhoc Wi-Fi connection. I not sure how much use I’ll get out of AirDrop personally, but I know developers will get creative with the functionality—maybe game developers will let you share items like weapons or heroes via AirDrop to add a in-person social element.

9. Per-App Data-Usage Tracking and Control

Per App Cellular Data Usage

In the land of superfast LTE connections, it’s easy to burn through your monthly data allotment, especially if you are a YouTube junkie like me. This new iOS 7 feature will let you find out which apps are burning up your monthly data and even turn off data flow to those apps. Because Apple is letting apps automatically refresh data in the background in iOS 7, per-app data control will be more important than ever.

10. Activation Lock

iOS 7 Activation Lock

Activation Lock will make iPhones less of a target for thieves and thus much safer for everyone to use in a sort of a passive way, simply by making it more difficult for a stranger to make use of a lost or stolen iPhone. Currently, stealing an iPhone is an easy $200-$400 for a thief—all it takes is a reset to factory settings in order for an iPhone to be resold and used by someone else. The new Activation Lock feature will prevent this by requiring the correct Apple ID and password for an iPhone to be reactivated—even if it’s been reset.

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.

Good Deal: Monoprice and Amazon Selling Cheap, Apple-Certified Lightning Cables

Amazon Lightning to USB

Both Monoprice and are now selling bargain-priced Lightning cables that work with the iPhone 5 and the new iPads, and the cables are MFi certified (Made for iPod, Made for iPhone, and Made for iPad), meaning Apple has approved them for use with their devices.


Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 10.03.54 PM

Monoprice has 3 versions of the Lightning to USB cables:

  • A regular 3-foot cable ($11.77)
  • A regular 6-foot cable ($12.56)
  • A “Slimfit” 3-foot cable ($12.73) where the connector heads are slightly slimmer that the regular version, and thus slightly more expensive (hoo-ahh!).

Of course, with Monoprice, the more you buy, the less they cost. Apple’s Lightning cable costs $19.99, so Monoprice saves you around $6-$8 per cable. Apple’s official cable is 3 feet 3 inches long, so if you ask me, the best deal is Monoprice’s 6-foot cable (although too much cable can be annoying in some situations).


Lightning Cable at Amazon

Amazon is selling its Apple-certified AmazonBasics Lightning to USB Cable for $14.99 (Prime eligible), although it should be noted that Amazon is also discounting Apple’s official Lightning cable from $19.99 to $16.99 (at least they are when I’m logged into Amazon—they sometimes show different prices to different people).

It’s possible to find non-Apple-certified cables for even cheaper, but you’re rolling the dice with your expensive iPhone/iPad.

Both Monoprice and Amazon’s cables are black, while Apple’s official cable is apple-core white. Is it worth the few extra bucks to stay Apple white? Yes! I mean, No!

Review: iStabilizer, an Inexpensive Way to Use Your iPhone With Standard Camera Tripods

Review Summary

Price: $15

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

Review Summary: The iStabilizer is a handy tool that provides a quick and hassle free way to attach the iPhone to a tripod. Highly recommended for its ease of use and versatility. It works with any 1/4″ x 20 tripod screw (which is standard).

The iStabilizer ($15) is an inexpensive solution for attaching your iPhone to a tripod, and you can do so without removing your iPhone case or using any special equipment other than the iStabilizer itself. The iStabilizer is a simple clamp-like tool that can screw into any standard tripod and hold any current or past version of the iPhone in its pinchers, as well as a bunch of other small devices (iPods, small cameras, etc). It’s a great idea because the iPhone’s camera is capable of taking high quality photos and videos. But does the iStabilizer perform well in the field? Read on to find out.

In a nutshell, the iStabilizer works great. I tested it with my iPhone 5 and my camera tripod (which I bought for $25 from Amazon and which I can recommend if you’re looking for a cheap tripod). The iStabilizer’s best characteristic is how quickly and easily the iPhone can be taken in and out of its clamps. In fact, I wish most cameras could be attached/detached from tripods so easily.

iStabilizer iPhone camera tripod mount

How It Works. The iStabilizer will work with any 1/4″ x 20 tripod screw (the standard for modern tripods). You simply screw the iStabilizer onto the tripod and its ready for the iPhone to be inserted.

To place the iPhone inside the iStabilizer, you pull up on a tab, raising one of the iStabilizer’s clamps enough to slide the iPhone inside, then you let go and the iStabilizer clamps down on the iPhone with a firm grip. The grip is tight enough that you can move the tripod around and not have any fears the iPhone will slip out. You can even hold it horizontal or upside down, and the iPhone stays in it (view examples of this in my video review).

iStabilizer with iPhone in case inside

In a nice design touch, the clamps are padded with rubber so that they won’t damage the iPhone, in case you aren’t using a case. Which leads me to another nice element of the iStabilizer: it will work with just about any iPhone case, no matter how thick.

The iStabilizer pinchers can stretch to hold objects with a 2.75″ width or less. The iPhone 5 has a width of 2.31 inches, so that leaves an extra 0.44 inches, which is plenty for an iPhone case. The extra room also means the iStabilizer can work with other devices as well, like iPods, other smartphones, or even small cameras (it worked with my Canon PowerShot SD960 camera). There is also a iStabilizer Mount XL for larger smartphones, and they’re working on an iPad version.

Another nice aspect of the iStabilizer is that it leaves the iPhone’s screen unobstructed, meaning you can still tap and swipe the screen to utilize the features of whatever camera/video app you’re using to film.


The iStabilizer ($15) is a great, inexpensive solution for attaching your iPhone and other small devices to a tripod. It holds fast to any device in its grasp and won’t damage the device thanks to protective padding on its pinchers. My favorite feature was how quickly and easily the iPhone can be removed from the tripod, which is nice because the multitasking iPhone is more than just a camera, and even while taking photos I’ll need access to it for other functions as well.

Apple Officially Says Do Not Disturb Mode Will Be Broken From Jan 1 to Jan 7

Do Not Disturb Mode for iPhone

My iPhone is currently in Do Not Disturb mode, despite the fact that I scheduled it to turn off at 5:45 AM this morning. Why? Because of a bug in Apple’s iOS 6 software that breaks the feature and prevents it from turning on and off. The Mayans were right, the Mayans were right!

Apple has officially acknowledged the bug by releasing this official support document saying the problem will last from January 1 through January 7. Until then, you have to manually turn the mode on and off in the settings. The entire doc reads:

Products Affected:

iPad, iPhone, iPod touch


After January 1st, 2013, Do Not Disturb mode stays on past its scheduled end time.


Do Not Disturb scheduling feature will resume normal functionality after January 7, 2013. Before this date, you should manually turn the Do Not Disturb feature on or off.

To turn off the scheduling feature, tap Settings > Notifications > Do Not Disturb and switch Scheduled to Off.

This document will be updated as more information becomes available.

Do Not Disturb mode is one of my favorite features of iOS 6, as it stops all alerts, notifications, calls, etc, from ringing your iPhone and lighting up the screen during a period of time you set (best used for when you are sleeping or trying to go to sleep). You can still let important people call you during this time however (like family members, girlfriends, etc). Check out our instructions for setting it up.

Good Deal: Walking Dead The Game – Episode 1, Free for a Limited Time (for iPhone & iPad)

Walking Dead game icon

Walking Dead: The Game, Episode 1 (free) is currently free in the App Store for a limited time. Nothing says Merry Christmas like a good zombie horror game. The game is based on the original award-winning Robert Kirkman comic books, the basis for the current TV show. This is the first of 5 episodes (the other 4 are available as in-app purchases). MetaCritic gives this game a 86/100 rating.

Sample of gameplay:

A Review of One of Those Free Music Downloader iPhone Apps Currently Invading the App Store

Free Music Download Pro app icon

If you search the App Store using the terms Free Music Download, you’ll discover tons of suspicious looking apps all with similar names, whose interfaces all look the same, and which promise free music downloads. What really caught my eye about these apps was that 3 of them are currently in the iTunes top 200 App Store downloads. Is this a case of App Store chart manipulation, or is there something else going on here? I downloaded one to find out.

Free Music Download Pro music iPhone app

Review Summary

Free Music Download Pro

Price: $0.99

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

Review Summary: The app works as described, you can download, store, and playback music offline found on the web, but the interface is crude and generic. It’s likely this app is popular due to use with A drawback is that music files can’t be directly added to the iPhone’s default Music app, but you can download the files to your computer and add them to iTunes later.

Free Music Download Pro – Downloader and Player ($0.99) is from developer Byungsook Oh, maker of other fine apps like Free Video Download Pro and Download All Pro. This app, along with most of the others, is just a boilerplate iOS web browser tweaked to let you download and playback music files, with a few other features thrown in to boot. The interface is as generic as iPhone apps come. But Free Music Download Pro does indeed work in the sense that you can download free music files from websites, store them on the iPhone, and play them back in the app. The app even supplies the ability to build playlists. It’s generic and ugly but functional. Why so popular then? Likely because people are using the app to illegally download popular copyrighted music.

Now, the app in no way shows you where to find illegal music files; in fact, it points you to legal music download sites. Its start screen supplies you with a list of several, including Jamendo and Audio Archive. But another website not mentioned in the app itself (because it would get the app banned) but suggested by several App Store reviewers is If you go to that website using this app, you’ll quickly see why this app and others like it are so popular.

Yes, this app can be a functional way to download, store, and play free music on the iPhone, but there is a catch. Music files that you downloaded can’t be added to the iPhone’s Music app, at least not directly. You can, however, connect your iPhone to a computer and download them to add to iTunes (and thus back onto your iPhone) later, or you can move then into Dropbox using the app.

Free Music Download Pro screenshot 1

LTE and the iPhone 5. With the faster download speeds that LTE brings to the iPhone 5, you’ll likely see a growth in these types of apps, as downloading music files only takes seconds. You can quickly build up an impressive playlist in a few minutes. This would have been an annoying chore on 3G just a few months ago.

Tip: How to Download the Music Files From the iPhone to Your Computer. You can pull the downloaded music files off the iPhone and put them back into Music app. You need to do it through iTunes on your computer. Here’s how. Plug your iPhone into your computer, launch iTunes, click on your iPhone in the sidebar, click the Apps tab, scroll down to File Sharing, click on Free Music Download Pro, and download away. Add them back into iTunes, then sync them back onto your iPhone, where they’ll appear in the Music app.

iTunes File Sharing from iPhone 5


The growing popularity of apps like Free Music Download Pro ($0.99) is likely because of two reasons. First, the apps let you download, store, and playback popular music to the iPhone, and people are likely using these apps for illegal downloading of popular music through sites like Second, LTE on the iPhone 5 is the enabler, making the downloading of music superquick and reliable. All I can say is, Free Music Download Pro does indeed wor, but just don’t expect a user friendly experience.

Also, do not download copyrighted music illegally.

Apple Introduces the iPad mini (Details and Pricing)

iPad Mini

Apple today announced the iPad mini, a smaller, thinner, lighter, and cheaper version of Apple’s iPad tablet hardware. The mini shares much of same specifications of the iPad 2, including the same processor and screen resolution, but it’s a much lighter device, and that’s really the mini’s killer feature. Below is a collection of details on the new iPad mini, including pricing and release date.

Screen. The mini’s screen is 7.9 inches diagonally compared with the iPad 3’s 9.7-inch display. The mini is not, however, a Retina Display. It has the same resolution as the now “ancient” iPad 2 at 1024×768, but that resolution is packed into a smaller screen, so it has a higher pixel density of 163 ppi compared with the iPad 2’s 132 ppi, so it will appear slightly sharper. (163 ppi is the same as the iPhone 3GS’ screen.)

Weight. The iPad mini is a much lighter device, weighing a mere 0.68 pounds, 53% lighter than the iPad 3’s 1.44 pounds. As an iPad 1 and iPad 3 owner, my lone complaint has always been the weight—it really starts to grow uncomfortable after 20 minutes of use. The iPad mini is a big step toward solving that.

iPad mini in black and white

Pricing and Colors. The iPad mini comes in either black or white, with 3 different storage sizes, each with Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + Cellular versions. US carriers for the iPad mini are Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint (this is Sprint’s first time on an iPad). See the pricing table below.

iPad Mini Wi-Fi Only Price iPad Mini Wi-Fi + Cellular Price
16 GB $329 16 GB $459
32 GB $429 32 GB $559
64 GB $529 64 GB $659

Preorder and Ship Dates. Preorder starts this Friday, October 26. The Wi-Fi only version ships Friday, November 2. The cellular version ships one week later on Friday, November 9.

Videos. Apple showed off two videos featuring the iPad mini at its event today. The first is a TV commercial (which is great) and the other is the usual video featuring Apple execs explaining the iPad mini. Check them out below.

Other Features:

  • Dual-core A5 processor (same as the iPad 2)
  • Supports Siri
  • Lightning port replaces the old 30-pin connector
  • Thinner bezel on left and right sides. Apple has updated the iPad’s software to cope with the increase in accidental touches the thinner bezel may cause
  • 5-megapixel camera on back with 1080p video recording. Front-facing camera does 720p video and 1.2MP photos
  • 10-hour battery life for surfing web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music (9 hours using cellular)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Wi-Fi 02.11a/b/g/n (802.11n 2.4GHz and 5GHz)
  • New Smart Covers for the iPad mini ($39). Apple already has a commercial for it (see video below).

Apple Officially Announces Special Event for Tuesday, October 23

Apple October iPad Mini Media Event

Apple has a “little more” news for everyone this year. The company has sent out invitations for a media event to be held Tuesday, October 23, at the California Theater in San Jose. Apple is widely expected to announce an iPad Mini with a 7-inch screen at the event. Also rumored is an updated iPad 3 with the new Lightning connector, as well as updates to the iMac, Mac Mini, and a Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The California Theater in San Jose, California, has been used by Apple before. It is the same location that Apple announced the U2 iPod in 2004 and the video iPod in 2005.

U2 iPod Event at California Theater