3 Reasons Why Your iPhone Is Your Friend

| Computing with Bifocals

The iPhone does so many cool things, and we get to decide which of those things we want to take advantage of so I thought I would cover some more of them in this column.

In Case of Lost iPhone...

Think you can never lose your iPhone because you paid so much for it that you will never let it out of your sight? Think you are always careful with your stuff and it can't happen to you? Yeah, me too. But guess what? I lead a group of 200+ Mac users and after our meetings it can get pretty hectic. I often use my phone to time the speaker so I can intervene when it is necessary to move on with the meeting.

So — use phone as timer > accidentally leave on table > go back to podium > thank speaker > give out door prizes > some members want attention > leave meeting room > phone stays on table.

Fortunately for me, someone found it before I left the very crowded restaurant and returned it to me before I even realized it was missing.

I mention this to reinforce the importance of using the Find My Phone feature. It’s there, it’s free, you should use it.

Open Settings on your phone (or iPad). Select iCloud and make sure you have Find My Phone turned on.

Turn on Find My iPhone on pertinent devices

Should you need to use Find My iPhone at any point, you can use any other iOS device, even one that belongs to someone else, or you can use your computer.

On an iOS device, open the Find My iPhone App. There is only one "Find My...." app. It works for all your iDevices. Log into the app using the Apple ID that your lost iDevice is registered under. Your Apple ID is the same one you use to purchase apps or music from the App store.

Once the app is open, tap on the name of the device you are looking for and the app will search. Within seconds you will see a map that shows you exactly where your phone is located. If you are looking for a different device, select the small device button found in the upper left hand corner and select the device you want from the list and then search.

To search from a desktop computer, go to icloud.com in a browser. You will be asked to sign-in using your Apple ID and password.


Once you are signed in, open the Find My Phone app.

Find My Phone icon

Then proceed as noted above.

Picture this scene. New grandchild in hospital nursery > you have your iPhone 5 > you take pictures > you want to tweet them, or upload them on Facebook > you want to do it now! OK. You can do that.

Head to your camera roll and select a photo. Remember, to get to your camera roll you tap your camera icon and then tap on the tiny photo icon in the bottom left portion of your screen. My example photo is of the opening of the newly remodeled Apple Store at the Austin Barton Creek Mall. In the bottom left hand corner you'll see an arrow icon—that's the share button, and it's the same across all iOS apps.

 Arrow icon

Tap that and a menu will come up with your sharing options.

Menu screen

If you choose Twitter a menu will come up with the photo attached in the top right corner. Type your tweet, tap Send, and it is on its way.

Now, I have to confess that if you choose Facebook, you are on your own. I have to presume that if you use Facebook, you will know what to do.  Personally, I have a t-shirt that says, “It’s True, I’m Not On Facebook.”

Good Vibrations

Common courtesy tells us that there are places where ones phone should not ring. Theaters, places of worship, meetings, etc. That is one reason many people use the vibration option on their phones, but what happens when you have a call coming in that you absolutely must take?

When your phone vibrates, you have to look and see who is calling. That's fine when you are at the back of the room, but what if you are chairing a meeting at work and waiting for your wife or child to go into labor? Been there, done that. When you have to stop talking about an important issue to pull out your phone to see who is calling, it might as well have just rung - the interruption has occurred.

With iPhone 5 there is a nice solution. You can choose custom vibrations for calls or texts just like you can choose custom rings. You can also create your own.

Start with Settings > Sounds > Ringtone > Vibration. There you will find a list of existing, alternate vibration patterns, along with the ability to create new ones.

Vibration options

To assign a specific vibration to an individual just open that person’s record in the Phone App, click edit, and add a vibration choice to either/or the ringtone and text tone.

Add selected virbrations

To create an individualized vibration, click on “Create New Vibration”. Tap the screen to begin and firmly tap your pattern. Tap stop when you are done and save when you are happy with it. Name it and it is part of your options.

Now we can all go forth and assure ourselves that there was a grand plan in mind when we decided that we absolutely had to have that new iPhone. After all, it can find itself, send photos without using email applications, and silently tell us who is calling.

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Great tips. Your comment about leaving your iPhone is, in my experience, not simply true but likely more common than many of us would care to think. My iPhone is highly valued, as opposed to my international-institute issue Nokia, which I would dearly love for someone to steal (please, oh please). I often use my iPhone for various things at work and in my field clinic, where it often sits on my desk as I go to and fro with no problem. The problem is in the learnt behaviour of leaving it on the desk. While I have started to walk away from it in other locations, I have only once left it in a conference room and had someone bring it to me.

Your tip on custom vibrations also applies to the iPhone 4S, which I still have (don’t have any more 4’s in my family so don’t about that model). I keep my phone on silent (vibration) mode as a default (frankly I think audible rings are, for most users, an anachronism from the era of fixed landlines - although my wife has helped to soften that viewpoint, as she keeps her’s in her purse, where vibes go unanswered). I use the feature exactly as you describe, to know, without looking, if I’m getting a call from a particular party.



I’ll add a tip (maybe useful for fellow bifocals wearers). I often forget certain important documents. So now I have a new rule: as soon as someone hands me a piece of paper more important than just a receipt I’ll throw in a drawer and forget about, I take a picture of it. This could be an invitation, a letter (yeah, still get those), or even a business card. The iPhone cameras have made quite passable scanners in recent years. There are also OCR apps (I like Prizmo) that will convert an business card picture into a contacts entry rather quickly.

The new lock screen camera interface makes this a very quick affair. Just grab, tap, swipe, focus, click, sleep, stow, and I know I don’t have to worry in two weeks about where that invitation was.

catherine priestley

I love my Iphone the only problem I have is my concern about having it and the wi-fi it operates on , in my pocket!!  It has been discovered that wi-fi causes problems ie. heart palpitations, headaches etc. So much so that the French Government is now very concerned about its use in schools.


Catherine, wireless antennas probably draw a lot more power (meaning radiate more) than wifi. I would think that the ubiquity of wifi hotspots would be almost more of a concern than an iPhone in my pocket (I say almost, as while a hotspot radiates a lot more power, an iPhone is closer). In any event, look up the SAR number for iPhone and compare it to other phones, and remember, the wifi value will be smaller than the wireless antenna value.

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