Art of the iPhone

5 Features From the New iOS 5 to Try Out After Upgrading

Did you just upgrade to iOS 5 and wonder what new features you can play around with? Below are 5 of the most popular new features to try out.

1. View the Notifications Center

The new Notifications Center is likely to be one of the most popular features on the iPhone. To access it, simply swipe down from the top of the screen from the home screen or inside any app.

By default, you should see two widgets for the Weather and Stocks apps as well as any other alerts you’ve received since installing iOS 5. Want to receive more notifications? You can turn them on by going into the iPhone’s Settings app, tapping Notifications, and selecting from the apps you’ve installed. Note that you may have to set up alerts inside the apps themselves as well. For example, you can send notifications for your favorite sports team inside the settings of the ESPN ScoreCenter app.

To close the Notifications Center, swipe up from the bottom of the screen.

Extra Tip: Swipe left or right on the Weather widget to view a 6-day forecast.

2. Check Out the System-Wide Dictionary

You can now get the definition of any word in any app, provided the app lets you select text. To try it out, open up an email someone sent you and select any word by tapping and holding on it. Tap Define from the pop-up menu to bring up the iPhone dictionary’s definition.

3. Send a Free Text Message With iMessages

If you’re looking for the new iMessages app, there isn’t one. iMessages is a feature hidden inside the iPhone’s old text messaging app called Messages. To test out iMessages, open up Messages and select a contact that has an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5 or newer. The recipient has to be running iOS 5 or newer for this to work, so tell your friends to upgrade! Now simply start typing a message and eventually you’ll see the Send button turn blue, confirming the recipient has iMessage (you’ll need a data connection, 3G or Wi-Fi).

4. Assign Custom Sounds to Text Messages and Other Alerts

It used to be that you were limited to the boring default sounds for text messages on the iPhone. Now you can assign your own fun sounds. You can create your own tones (our instructions here) or buy tones from the iPhone’s iTunes Store app. The Star Wars tones are particularly popular.

To change your tones, open up the iPhone’s Settings app, select Sounds, then select from the list of sound alerts. You can change the sounds for text messages, new mail, tweets, calendar alerts, and more.

To buy alert tones, tap the Buy More Tones button to open the iTunes Store app and scroll down until you see the words Alert Tones. Note that, currently, you can only buy Tones from the iPhone or iPad. You can’t buy them in the iTunes desktop application.

5. Take a Picture Using the iPhone’s Volume Up Button

There’s no need to fumble around with a touchscreen button to take a photo on the iPhone anymore. Simply open the Camera app and press the volume-up button on the side to snap a photo.

How to Prevent Text Messages and Notifications From Appearing on the iPhone’s Lock Screen

Text messages and other notifications appearing on the iPhone’s lock screen could cause privacy problems for some. Such alerts automatically wake up the iPhone’s screen and display the messages for anyone walking by to see. However, there is a way to prevent notifications from appearing on the screen when the iPhone is locked. Check out our instructions below.

1. Open the Settings app:

2. Tap Notifications:

3. Tap the app whose lock-screen notifications you want to turn off:

4. Scroll down until you see View in Lock Screen:

5. Slide the tab to Off:

And that’s it. If you want to test it out, lock your iPhone and send yourself a text message from another source other than your iPhone. For example, you can google the terms “Send free text message” and use one of the free website services.


For text messages on the iPhone, there is a settings option called Show Preview that will show the text of the message along with the sender’s name on the lock screen. Switching this option to off will no longer show the text of the notification, but the notification and sender’s name (if it’s a text message) will still be visible.

Stuff.TV, CNET, and Others Demo Siri on the iPhone 4S (Updated)

It looks like got their hands on an iPhone 4S a little early and ran Siri through some tests. The video doesn’t show much of anything new, but it does reveal that Siri’s British computer voice sounds much better than the American English one. I’ll be switching over to British English in the Settings menu for sure.

*Update* MacRumors says the video above was recorded at Apple’s event last week. The site points out that even though the reviewer is tapping the microphone button to end speech recognition, it’s not necessary, as Siri will recognize the end pause. The site also linked to the video below, which shows off Siri and a few other iOS features.

CNET also has a video demoing Siri. Nothing much new here either except that it appears to show that iOS 5 can notify you with an alert when your are leaving a location.

And here’s an epic look at Siri by Jason Snell at MacWorld:

Some iPhone 4 Cases Won’t Fit the iPhone 4S

iPhone 4 (bottom) vs iPhone 4S (top). Image via Gizmodo.

For anyone shopping for a case for the new iPhone 4S, one thing to keep in mind is that it may not be compatible with older iPhone 4 cases. The new iPhone 4S matches up with the Verizon iPhone 4 in terms of the location of the volume buttons and ringer switch, but it doesn’t match the button placement of the original AT&T iPhone 4. So buyers should be careful in selecting a case.

When compared side-by-side, the ringer switch of the 4S is about a millimeter lower than the AT&T iPhone 4, and the volumes buttons are slightly lower as well.

iPhone 4S (left), iPhone 4 (middle), and CDMA iPhone 4 (right), via AppVV

Shoppers looking for a 4S-compatible case should either look for language that says its compatible with the Verizon CDMA iPhone, or just take note that the case provides leeway for the positioning of the iPhone’s volume and ringer switch buttons; in other words, the case should have a large cutout area for the ringer switch and volume buttons. Check out the ZeroChroma Teatro as an example. This is the case I use when I’m not reviewing other cases.

You can also check out our Top Verizon iPhone 4 cases page as a starter guide.

iPhone 4S left, iPhone 4 (GSM) middle, iPhone 4 (CDMA) right

Upgrading to iPhone 4S? AT&T Will End Your Old Text Messaging Plan *Updated*

*Update* An AT&T representative has said that customers can keep grandfathered texting plans if they call AT&T immediately after ordering the iPhone 4S.

Customers ordering the new iPhone 4S are running into a nasty little surprise from AT&T. AT&T is forcing customers with grandfathered texting plans (the now defunct plans of $5 for 200 messages, $10 for 1000 messages) to choose between AT&T’s two new plans:

  • $0.20 per message
  • $20 for unlimited messages

AT&T introduced their new text messaging plans in August 2011 in a move they called “streamlining” at the time, although some feel AT&T is making a money grab in response to Apple’s new iMessage feature. iMessage will allow free text messaging between iPhones and other iOS devices.

There were also some reports of AT&T and Verizon ending grandfathered-in unlimited data plans (AT&T and Verizon no longer offer unlimited data plans) of iPhone 4S customers, but that doesn’t appear to be their official stance. For example, I am an AT&T customer with a grandfathered-in unlimited data plan, and I was allowed to keep my plan in the buying process on (screenshot seen below). Some websites are suggesting to use Apple’s site instead of AT&T’s and Verizon’s to avoid the problem.

I was allowed to keep my grandfathered-in unlimited data plan.

iPhone 4S: Does HSPA+ Mean You Should Go With AT&T?

Coverage map from AT&T. 4G = HSPA+.

With no LTE radio inside the iPhone 4S, it is not a true 4G phone, but it does support AT&T’s faster HSPA+ network. With the only HSPA+ network in the US carrying the iPhone (sorry, T-Mobile), AT&T seemingly has the advantage over Verizon and Sprint in luring in new iPhone 4S customers. So if AT&T has the fastest data network for the iPhone, does that mean you should buy an AT&T iPhone 4S? If average download speed is your only factor, then yes; but unfortunately a good experience with a wireless carrier is more complicated than that.

Yes, the HSPA+ radio in the iPhone 4S is theoretically capable of downloading data twice as fast as the iPhone 4’s HSPA radio. HSPA+ speeds top out at 14.4 Mbps compared with 7.2 Mbps of HSPA. However, real-world speeds are never as fast as advertised.

Buying any smartphone is like buying real estate, it’s all about location. In the case of smartphones, network coverage should be what you start with. Or more precisely, network coverage in the areas where you’ll be spending most of your time, like home and work.

Unfortunately, AT&T’s network coverage for HSPA+ is sparse in the US, although it does appear to be about equal to Verizon’s LTE coverage. This means most people in the US, at least for now, won’t be able to take advantage of faster HSPA+ speeds, even assuming AT&T is up to the task of offering those faster download speeds—no sure thing in itself. AT&T’s official stance is that HSPA+ can offer 4G-like speeds “when combined with enhanced backhaul,” in other words, bigger data pipes.

AT&T’s coverage map can be found here on their official website. You can zoom in on your area to see if it’s covered by 4G (which stands for HSPA+ on the map).

*Update* Here’s a list of AT&T’s HSPA+ markets. This is a list cobbled together from press reports, so it may be incomplete. Please check the coverage map link above to check your area:

– San Francisco (including north to Santa Rosa)
– Los Angeles
– San Diego
– Sacramento
– Bakersfield, CA
– Modesto, CA
– Chicago
– Dallas/Fort Worth
– San Antonio
– Austin
– Boston
– Providence, R.I.
– Houston
– Charlotte, N.C.
– Buffalo, N.Y.
– Puerto Rico
– Baltimore
– Jacksonville
– Tampa
– Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.
– Hartford, Conn.
– Syracuse, N.Y.
– Greater New York City
– Southern New England
– Eastern Pennsylvania
– St. Louis, Mo.
– Kansas City
– “Michigan”
– Anchorage, Ak

iPhone 4S: How to Check If You Qualify for Subsidized Pricing

Want to check if you qualify for subsidized pricing for the iPhone 4S? Apple offers an easy online tool here on their website. Both Verizon and AT&T customers can use that link.

My subsidized pricing doesn’t kick in until November 19, that’s approximately 16 months after I bought the iPhone 4, which I pre-ordered and received on the day it became available in stores. Others may qualify earlier, as AT&T supposedly weighs in how much money you spend per month on text messaging and voice and data plans. I have the $30 unlimited data plan (grandfathered in), a $45 voice plan, and pay for unlimited texts.

A screenshot of my subsidy eligibility is below:

My iPhone 4S subsidized pricing kicks in November 19.

Apple Announces the iPhone 4S: Notes and Interesting Facts About the New iPhone

Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone has been announced, and it’s the iPhone 4S, a device that looks exactly like the iPhone 4, but with substantially updated internal hardware and over 200 new software features. Some are disappointed that the rumors of a sleek, wedged-shaped design didn’t come true—ie, disappointed that the iPhone doesn’t suddenly look like the Lamborghini of smartphones—but in reality, there’s a lot of change coming in the iPhone 4S. But is there enough to lure iPhone 4 customers into an early upgrade? I know I’m likely to.

Here’s probably the best succinct look at the new phone and the features announced yesterday, from Apple:

Below are brief notes and interesting facts and links concerning the announcements from yesterday:

  • Prepare to stay up late this Friday, October 7, as preorders for the iPhone 4S start at 3:00 AM Eastern, 2:00 AM Central, and 12:00 AM Pacific. Looks like the West Coasters won’t be losing as much sleep as the rest of us.
  • The new Siri feature takes the iPhone’s voice control to a new level. But is Apple playing catchup to Google’s Voice Actions that have been available on Android phones for about a year now? Or have they blown right past them? Or does the general public even care about speech recognition features? I have my doubts about speech recognition in general, and while the original Siri app was cool (before Apple bought the company), it was hardly perfect, I never used it regularly.
  • Siri has roots in technology built for the US military.
  • TUAW has a thorough list of the commands Siri is capable of comprehending.
  • Apple will shut down the old Siri app with the launch of the iPhone 4S.
  • Siri means “buttocks” in Japanese, no kidding.
  • Plan on upgrading? MacRumors claims an app called AT&T Upgrader will tell you if qualify for a subsidized price. It hasn’t appeared in the App Store as of this writing.
  • The 4S is getting an upgrade to Bluetooth 4.0 hardware, which supports the new low-power Bluetooth spec.
  • Find My Friends was another new feature introduced yesterday. It allows people to temporarily share their location and movements with others. The WSJ noted the feature’s similarity to the coolness that is the Glympse app.
  • The new Cards app seems like a niche thing. Isn’t the foreign postmark on a postcard part of the charm? It won’t be as exciting to receive a postcard about a Paris vacation with a Cupertino, CA, postmark on it. With Cards, it’ll cost $2.99 to send a postcard anywhere within the US, $4.99 to send outside the US. Apple has previously offered photo albums, calendars, and cards for its iPhoto app, so this isn’t much of a stretch. I can also remember Apple bragging about the quality of their printers. If anyone has that video, send me the link.
  • Is Apple going to sell an unlocked iPhone 4S? Their site seems to suggest so.
  • Want to know how Apple Store employees will pitch the new iPhone 4S to you? 9to5Mac got a hold of the secret internal docs.
  • From a geek’s point of view, the iPhone 4S’s new antenna system sounds cool. It essentially creates a backup antenna in case one is being blocked by your hand or other object. MacRumors talked to an antenna expert about it. The whole phony Antennagate thing seems to have produced something positive.
  • In terms of hardware, the iPhone 4S trails behind the Samsung Galaxy S II in a lot of categories. But the smart money knows there’s more to a phone than a faster processor and larger screen, don’t we?
  • Looks like our UK friends across the pond are getting a new iPhone adapter that accepts micro USB.
  • Apple is now selling insurance for the iPhone to cover accidental damage. The “insurance” is an upgraded version of AppleCare. It’s a $99 a year service, and you’ll get 2 repairs from accidental damage. Each repair will cost you a $49 service fee, however, so don’t go thinking you can use your iPhone as a hockey puck and not pay for it.
  • The iPhone’s new 8 megapixel camera will perform better in low-light situations. Ars Technica has an interesting article that gets all technical about it. The iPhone 4 had a camera that performed well above expectations, and this new one is going to take things up a notch.
  • Apple will pay you $200 for your old iPhone 4 if it’s in good condition. This could really help convince people to upgrade.

Sprint to Pay $20 Billion for 30.5 million iPhones, Including an Exclusive WiMAX-Enabled iPhone 5?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Sprint has struck a deal of unprecedented size with Apple to finally bring the iPhone to the third-largest network in the US. According to the WSJ, Sprint has agreed to commit $20 billion toward the purchase of 30.5 million iPhones over the next four years. Sprint has agreed to buy the iPhones whether or not they can find customers to purchase them.

A second, less credible report by BGR claims that Sprint is getting an exclusive on the redesigned iPhone 5 until spring 2012. BGR claims the Sprint iPhone 5 will be a WiMAX-enabled 4G device. Verizon and AT&T will follow-up with a LTE 4G version of the iPhone 5 in the first quarter of 2012. It should be noted, however, that BGR’s track record on iPhone rumors is poor, with the blog originally claiming the iPhone 5 would be released the last week of August. The fact that Sprint appears to be focusing on LTE instead of WiMAX for its future 4G buildout also conflicts with BGR’s report.