Hide the microphone button on the iPhone keyboard

How to hide the microphone button on the iPhone keyboard

Dictation is a favourite feature for many iPhone users. But if you don’t use it, and find accidental tap on the little microphone icon annoying, you can hide it from appearing on the standard iOS keyboard. Go to Settings app. Under General > Keyboard, toggle off the option “Enable Dictation”. With this, the microphone icon on iOS keyboard is gone.

SanDisk upgrades iXpand flash drive with USB 3 and wrap around design

SanDisk upgrades iXpand flash drive with USB 3 and wrap around design

SanDisk’s iXpand range flash drive is a popular choice for iPhone/iPad users with its support for both Lightning connector for iOS devices, and USB connector for the desktop. With the flash drive, you can copy and backup files between iOS devices and Macs/PCs.

SanDisk has upgraded the range with a new wrap around design and added USB 3.0 speed when using the drive on your Mac. In addition, SanDisk has upgraded its iXpand Drive app to work with the new hardware. 

SanDisk iXpand Drive app

iXpand Drive app is required to use the flash drive as third party apps are not able to access the flash drive directly due to Apple’s iOS design. With the app, you can automatically backup your photos and videos on camera roll, backup your contacts, and watch MKV, WMV, AVI, MP4 videos on your flash drive. 

SanDisk iXpand Drive comes in 16GB ($49.99), 32GB ($69.99), 64GB ($89.99) and 128GB ($129.99) capacities. You can buy direct from SanDisk. Currently only 32GB and 128GB options are available at Amazon.

Reminder: Windows 10 free upgrade to end July 29th

Reminder: Windows 10 free upgrade to end July 29th

Just a reminder that if you’re still running older version of Windows, please consider upgrade to the latest Windows 10 soon as the free upgrade offer is expiring on July 29th. After July 29th, you need to purchase a full version of Windows 10 Home for $119.

How to hide Apple Music in iTunes for OS X

If you do not subscribe to Apple Music, you might want to hide it from the already crowded interfaces of iTunes. It is simple to remove Apple Music using iTunes’ Restriction feature.

Goto iTunes > Preferences. Select the Restrictions tab. Under the Disable section, check the boxes “Apple Music” and “Connect”. Click “Ok” to save the settings. These few steps will cleans up the iTunes interface.

Check your Internet speed with Netflix’s fast.com

Check your Internet speed with Netflix's fast.com

Speedtest.net is the goto destination for speed testing on the Internet. But you might want to give fast.com a test run. Fast.com is a new tool launched by Netflix to check your Internet speed. It has a simple interface that displays just the test for download speed and its result. There is no upload test, no ping and no ads. It even has a link to speedtest.net if you need to compare and detail test result.

In addition to no ads, fast.com uses Netflix’s own servers to accomplish the test. This mitigate one possible issue when using speedtest.net where ISPs give preferential treatment to those connections used for the test. The default server selection by speediest.net might be a server inside your ISP’s network, which makes the speed looks great. In most cases, the download speed you get from fast.com should be close to what you get from other tools.

You can’t always unlock your iPhone with Touch ID

You can't always unlock your iPhone with Touch ID

If you’re used to using Touch ID to unlock your iPhone, you might notice that iOS wants you to unlock using passcode whenever you restart your iPhone. Turns out that Touch ID can not replace the passcode completely. Taken from Apple’s iOS Security document, passcode is still required under the following circumstances:

  • The device has just been turned on or restarted.
  • The device has not been unlocked for more than 48 hours.
  • The passcode has not been used to unlock the device in the last six days and TouchID has not unlocked the device in the last eight hours.
  • The device has received a remote lock command.
  • After five unsuccessful attempts to match a fingerprint.
  • When setting up or enrolling new fingers with Touch ID.

Nokia brand to return with Android smartphone and tablet

The return of Nokia phone

Nokia has announced in a blog post that they are back in the smartphone and tablet business. This news comes just as Microsoft announced its offloading of Nokia’s phone business to a Foxconn subsidiary and a Finnish company HDM Global Oy. There is no schedule when we’ll see Nokia-branded smartphones and tablets. The new Nokia will be running Android, making it the dream device of many Nokia fans.

Opera is building free VPN services into its browser

If you’re not currently using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service, Opera is making it easier by building a free VPN service baked into its browser. The feature is currently available from its developer channel version and is a VPN proxy service that allows you to surf the web as if you’re virtually travel to USA, Canada or Germany. This allows you to access restricted content and make it harder for websites to track you.

Until now, most VPN services and proxy servers have been limited and based on a paid subscription. With a free, unlimited, native VPN that just works out-of-the-box and doesn’t require any subscription, Opera wants to make VPNs available to everyone.

Opera developer browser is a free download. To activate VPN after install, go to Preferences from Opera menu and check to turn on VPN. 

Please note that Opera’s VPN only protects web traffic from inside the browser. It is not a replacement for full service VPN that protects all web traffics from other browsers and apps. 

Wish list for WWDC 2016 Part 2

We have written our Wish list for WWDC 2016 from a developers’ perspective. This is part 2 that includes some more wish lists.

MapKit for the Web

MapKit is currently limited to iOS and OS X. It is spotted that Apple is using its own map data at the newly launched WWDC site. Lets hope Apple will open up their Map database for third party web apps. Opening web API for MapKit will allow iOS and Mac developers to reuse the same data for web and Android version of their app.

Keeping OS X Command Line Utilities Current

As with any Unix based operating system, OS X contains a large number of command line utilities and tools. Apparently Apple is not keeping these tools updated even if there are security vulnerabilities.

This post highlights one example with the git tool. The version that is in the latest OS X El Capitan 10.11.4 contains two bugs that allows remote code execution. Worst still, it is not easy to remove the git version installed in OS X due to the rootless protection by El Capitan. Lets wish Apple applies their security update practice to these command line tools.

Sample Android Java app

Apple has its own Android app. How about teaching its developers how to develop one that uses CloudKit? WWDC will shock Android developers if there is such a talk.

Mac Bootcamp for Linux

It is possible to install Linux operating system such as Ubuntu for dual boot usage on a Mac. But there is no official support and installation instructions are coming from the communities. There is always the concern of hardware compatibility. There are large number of developers using Linux for their work. There is definitely a market as evident by Dell’s Linux based XPS 13 notebook. It makes sense for Apple to target these segment with a bootcamp for Linux. Apple is in the hardware business and not the OS business.

Siri API

It is long overdue. Apple seems to be ok with Amazon Echo and Alexa taking over the market.

Migrating from Parse to CloudKit

To reduce the number of non functional apps in the App Store that uses Parse, it might be in Apple’s interest to guide developers on how to migrate from Parse to its platform.

Swift Playground for iOS

It will probably be a few more years before we see Xcode for iPad, but there is no reason why there is no standalone Swift Playground for iOS. 

Push Notifications Kit

Push notifications is basic requirements for many apps but it requires a third party server in order for app to send out notifications. It is straight forward to implement such server using open source push notification server, or developer could implement push notifications via a provider.

The wish list is for Apple to be a push notifications provider in order to simplify the interfaces for apps to use push notifications. This could be implemented as add-on services on top of CloudKit. Interface could be implemented using web API or using server-to-server key similar to CloudKit.

Safari Downloader for iOS

Have you ever try to download a large file via mobile Safari? Its time Apple implements a background downloader for Safari in iOS.

Print to PDF for iOS

Print to PDF is basic feature in OS X. It is curiously missing in iOS. It should be implement right within iOS system printer to allow saving PDF output to iCloud Drive.

News app for the Rest of the World

Apple News app is available only in U.S., UK, and Australia. It appears to be an experiment for Apple as it is not rolled out to more countries months after its debut last September.

“Login With Apple” Identity Kit

Games that uses iOS Game Centre API is able to obtain unique user identity. This allows games to bypass user account registration and signin process. Apple prohibits non-games app to use this API. For normal apps, CloudKit provides similar mechanism whereby apps are able to obtain unique identifier for each user. Thus it is possible to implement a “Login with iCloud” to provide seamless signing without password.

However “Login with iCloud” requires user to grant additional permission by switching on iCloud. Not all users have iCloud enabled. The wish is for Apple to implement a general purpose Identity Kit that allows apps to implement “Login with Apple” that ties to users’ Apple ID. 

API for Notes App

Many are using Notes app for note taking. Notes app has become a goto app to store all sorts of personal data. It would be ideal if there is an API that allows third party apps to use Notes as the base for user’s data collection, be it notes, links, snippets, quotes etc.

Core Data sync with CloudKit

It is possible to roll your own codes to enable Core Data sync using CloudKit as store. It is however a complex undertaking. An official reference implementation from Apple is most welcomed.