Hey Siri when you run out of coin and dice

We all learned from Jamie Foxx that you can ask Siri to flip a coin. Turns out that you can also ask Siri to roll dice. “Roll dice” or “Roll a dice” will give you result of rolling two or one dice.

Bring Apple TV screen savers to your Mac with Aerial

The fourth-gen Apple TV comes with screen savers that is a collection of over 30 videos of day and night aerial shots of cities (China, Hawaii, New York, London and San Francisco). Developer John Coates has created an OS X screen saver aptly called “Aerial” to allow you to enjoy the videos on your Mac.

Aerial screensaver osx

Aerial is free and open source. The source code to build the screen saver as well as the screen saver binary is available to download on Github. Visit the Github depository and follow the download instructions to install the screen saver onto your Mac. The file size of the screen saver is small as Aerial streams the videos directly from Apple website. 

There is a paper tape in Calculator app for OS X

It might surprised some that Calculator app in OS X comes with a paper tape feature. This feature is reminiscent of those old calculator with running paper tape, that keeps a running trail of each item entered. This is useful when you enter many items and needs to follow and audit the calculation.

To display the paper tape, select from Calculator app menu Window > Show Paper Tape, or press the keys Command-T. Use the same menu and shortcut keys to toggle and hide the paper tape window.

There is a paper tape in Calculator app for OS X

When you complete your calculations, save the paper tape trail into a file with menu File > Save Tape As. Or you can print out using menu File > Print Tape. Hit the “Clear” button to clean the paper tape and start over.

How to zoom with one finger on Google Maps for iOS

How to zoom with one finger on Google Maps for iOS

Zooming in and out are essential gestures when you’re using a map app. Google Maps for iOS makes it easy with using just one finger. Start by double tap on a spot and then hold on the screen. You can now swipe down to zoom in and swipe up to zoom out. This zooming shortcut is not standard on iOS. It takes some practice to get it right but could be a saver especially when you’re using your iPhone with one hand.

Update your Facebook app to stop it from draining battery life

Facebook app for iOS was under fire recently for sucking enormous battery life. Facebook engineering manager Ari Grant has confirmed the problem in a post and a bug fixes update is available on the App Store today. If you use Facebook app for iOS, go to the App Store app and update the app immediately. 

Facebook has identified and fixed two issues. One was a “CPU spin” issue where the app keep pushing out network queries when there is no response. “This repeated processing causes our app to use more battery than intended” said Grant. The second problem happened when users watched a video and then left Facebook app. The audio session “sometimes stays open as if the app was playing audio silently” explained Grant.

To check battery usage by apps, go to Settings app at Settings > Battery

Check the price before you sign up for service subscription from within iOS app

YouTube Red

When you buy an app or in-app purchase from the App Store, Apple takes a 30 percent cut of the revenue. This applies to subscription fee when you sign up in-app for web services such as Spotify. Instead of paying its cut of revenue to Apple, Spotify chooses to pass that cost directly to consumers. As such you will pay higher fee when signing up from within Spotify for iOS app than on the website.

As reported by ArsTechica, YouTube’s newly announced ad-free subscription service YouTube Red is taking the same approach. It is cheaper to signup YouTube Red from its web page at www.youtube.com/red:

There is a big catch about that $9.99 price: $9.99 will cover Android, desktop, and the mobile Web, but if you purchase a subscription via Apple’s in-app purchasing on iOS, the price goes up to $12.99/month. Apple takes a 30 percent cut of all subscription revenue on its platform, and Google is passing that cost directly onto the consumer.

As a side note, you might notice that some apps such as Dropbox, does not offer you to subscribe for its paying plan directly from within the iOS app. As per Apple App Store policy, if an app does not offer in-app purchase of its subscription plan, the app can not advertise such plans or provide a link to its webpage from within the app. 

Not many web services are passing the 30% cost to consumers. Before you subscribe to any web service paying plan, check and compare the prices from within iOS app and on the website. 

Apple TV 4 sales start on Monday October 26

Apple TV 4 sales start on October 26

During an interview on stage at WSJDLive 2015 conference, Tim Cook announced that the new Apple TV 4 will be available for order next Monday October 26, with shipping expected the same week. Pricing starts at $149 for 32GB model and $199 for the 64GB model. Since Amazon.com has banned the sale of Apple TV and Chromecast, your best place to order the new Apple TV 4 is at Apple website.

Apple offers prorated refund for unused AppleCare and AppleCare+ warranties

Apple offers prorated refund for unused AppleCare and AppleCare+ warranties

You can request for a refund of the unused portion of your AppleCare and AppleCare+ plan. Apple has even published a support article on how to request for a refund. Essentially you need the proof of purchase, the serial number of the device and you have to call them.

  • If you cancel your AppleCare plan within 30 days of your purchase date, you’ll get a full refund, minus the value of any service already provided.
  • If you cancel your AppleCare plan more than 30 days after your purchase, you’ll get a refund based on the percentage of unexpired AppleCare coverage, minus the value of any service already provided. You can find the cancellation fee in the AppleCare product Terms and Conditions for your AppleCare Protection Plan or AppleCare+. 

Depending on the product and your country, the cancellation fee varies. For example, the AppleCare for iPhone in the US has a cancellation term for cancellation after 30 days: “you will receive a pro rata refund of the original purchase price, based on the percentage of unexpired Coverage Period from the Plan’s date of purchase, less (a) a cancellation fee of twenty-five ($25) dollars or ten percent (10%) of the pro-rata amount, whichever is less, and (b) the value of any service provided to you under the Plan.”

So on your $99 AppleCare+ plan after 1 year with no service incident, you’d have $49.50 left. The cancellation charge is the lesser of $25 or $4.95 (10% of $49.50), which will give you a net of about $45. This is definitely a value you want to include and highlight when you’re selling your iPhone with remaining warranties. 

Visit the page How to request a refund for an AppleCare plan to get started.

What’s new in Finder file contextual menu in OS X El Capitan

OS X El Capitan doesn’t have many significant new features, most of the cool stuff is under the hood. Who would have thought there is a need to improve on the file contextual menu in Finder app?

It should be a habit now for you to click on a file item in folder in order to change its name, or simply press the Enter key when the file is selected. In OS X El Capitan, Apple added a “Rename” in file contextual menu. Right-click on the file to bring out the menu, and select “Rename“.

What new in Folder file contextual menu in OS X El Capitan Rename File

In addition to Rename, you can now copy a file’s pathname right from the contextual menu. Right click on the file, press the Options key to reveal the menu item “Copy XXXX as Pathname”. This is handy for those who regularly use the Terminal command prompts.

Copy filepath in OS X El Capitan

Automatically hide and show the menu bar in OS X El Capitan

Automatically hide and show the menu bar in OS X El Capitan

OS X El Capitan comes with a new setting to automatically hide and show the menu bar, similar to what you can do with the dock. To turn it on, go to System Preferences > General and check the box “Automatically hide and show the menu bar”. App menu will be hidden to give you a clean desktop. The menu will appear when the mouse cursor is over the top edge of the screen.