Encrypted iTunes Backups

With iOS 9's release just a few hours away, it seems like a good time to mention that it is always a great idea to make a backup (or two) of your iOS device. More than likely, the upgrade will go smoothly for you, but in the odd chance that it doesn't, you'll be glad to have a backup (or two) handy.

I actually take two backups. The first I do is an iCloud backup via Settings > iCloud > Backup. My iOS devices are also set to do an iCloud backup when they are charging and connected to Wi-Fi, so they tend to backup every night.

But my preferred backup before updating iOS or getting a new device is an Encrypted iTunes backup. By default, iTunes does not encrypt backups. You have to enable it in iTunes' preferences. While any backup is better than no backup, there are some advantages to the encrypted variety.

  • Your data is encrypted, which is always a good thing.
  • It is a more complete backup, as it includes:
    • Your saved passwords
    • Wi-Fi settings
    • Website history
    • Health data

I'll tell you right now, the saving of Wi-Fi settings alone is worth it, but I also think retaining your Health data is extremely worth it.

While iCloud backups save me day-to-day (and are also encrypted), I like the iTunes backups because if you need to do a restore, you'll save yourself a lot of time by doing it over the USB Lightning cable than over Wi-Fi with iCloud.

So go make your backups, and happy updating!

Should You Upgrade to iCloud Drive?

The short answer is probably not.

When you install iOS 8 tomorrow, part of the setup will ask if you want to upgrade to iCloud Drive. That same screen will also list devices attached to your iCloud account that will not yet work with iCloud Drive. Namely, your Mac running OS X Mavericks will not be able to sync with iCloud Drive. iCloud Drive is simply not backwards compatible with the Documents & Data portion of iCloud sync that we've been using for years.

In about a month's time we should have OS X Yosemite, which will work just dandy. That is the time to embrace iCloud Drive. If you use OS X Mavericks (or an even earlier version) iCloud sync will permanently break on that Mac once iCloud Drive is enabled on an iOS 8 device.

Don't get me wrong here. iOS 8 should be a fantastic upgrade. iCloud Drive will be fantastic, too — when all your devices are ready for it. It's just that tomorrow is probably not that time, unless you only use iOS 8 capable devices.

Last year, with iOS 7, Apple held off with iCloud Keychain until OS X Mavericks' release. I wish they had done the same with iCloud Drive, as the ability to sync between your devices seems like something pretty important.

¶ Hopes & Dreams for WWDC 2014

I've been meaning to write up my usual WWDC predictions but have thus far been uninspired to do so. I mean, any self-respecting Apple nerd with a website is supposed to write up their prediction list, right? It's written right there on the membership card.

I've just been distracted lately. My free time has been taken up by kiddo activities, church stuff, homeownership stuff, husband stuff, daddy stuff, stuff stuff, and more stuff.

And let's not forget that I have had a terrible track record for previous prediction lists. So call me a little jaded.

So here I am on eve before the keynote not wanting to write about predictions that will likely be regurgitation of all the rumor blogs, or dead wrong. Or both.

Instead, I am just going to share the hopes of what I'd like to see announced. After all, S stands for hope. So let's go pick some low-hanging fruit from the Apple tree.

iOS 8

Everyone's favorite mobile operating system is due for its annual upgrade. Last year was a big change, at least visually, for iOS. This year I hope to see a lot of refinement to the design and existing feature set.

  • Bake the code before shipping. Let's not repeat the fiasco of constant crashing between 7.0 and 7.1.
  • While I love the overall design direction in iOS 7, there are some areas it could stand to be dialed back a bit.
    • Making navigation buttons just text was a mistake. In iOS 7.1, the Accessibility part of settings added Button Shapes. Unfortunately they are hideous. Apple should take a cue from the the blue outline of the price/open/update button in the App Store. Use that thin blue outline for the button shapes.
    • Flatten that silly, glossy Game Center icon. Or better yet, get rid of the standalone Game Center app. Who actually opens that thing?
    • The "missed" tab in Notification Center makes zero sense. Get rid of that.
  • I really want Apple to bring its A-Game for modernizing its already-existing features.

    • Maps needs an adrenaline shot to the heart. The data is just terrible. A few things (very few) that I have reported issues on have been fixed in my city, but there are entire city blocks and neighborhoods that are mislabeled or even missing. And for some reason, if Apple isn't sure what a street name is, they just label it as O Ave. Now, there is a main road named O St, but there sure seem to be a lot of residential streets in Apple Maps named O Ave.
    • I'd also love to see Siri gets a lot smarter and useful. Google is downright shaming Apple with Google Now inside their iOS apps (and even more on Android phones). I shouldn't need to hold down a button to activate Siri in 2014. I should be able to use a phrase like "Hey Siri" to her it to listen up. Much like "Okay Google" for Google Now or "Xbox" for the Xbox One.

      A friend was telling me today how his Moto X knows he is driving and puts everything into a handsfree mode automatically. When he received a text message, it automatically piped up and told him a new text had come in, and asked if he wanted to listen to it. He didn't have to prompt his phone first.

      Siri has constantly felt like the failed promise of the almost conversational Star Trek computer. Google is getting this right on making the assistant part actually, you know, assist you.

    • Hail Mary Hope: A Siri voice store. I'd gladly pay to have Siri sound like Jarvis from the Iron Man movies.

    • An end to the multitude of modal dialogs asking for permission for everything on the first launch of a new app. I like what iMore came up with in their Privacy Sheet mockup.
    • I'd like Calendar on iOS to get the Travel Time integration that the Mac has. It is incredibly useful information, but not so much on my Mac. This is needed on my iPhone more than anything.


If the rumor mill is to be believed, OS X is now up for the major interface overhaul like iOS received last year. While I really like OS X as is right now, I am entirely open to change. No matter what happens visually, there are a couple things I want OS X to get this year.

  • I adore AirDrop on iOS. It is simple and fantastic and just plain works. OS X's AirDrop has always been…complicated. And the fact that it is not compatible with iOS' AirDrop in any sense is maddening. I'd like to see OS X's AirDrop mimic the simplicity of iOS, and become compatibly with its mobile sibling.
  • Since I went on about Siri ad nauseum earlier, I won't do so again, other than to say why do we not have Siri on OS X yet?
  • Kill Dashboard. It's a relic and hasn't changed much since OS X 10.4 Tiger.
  • But keep things like weather integration, but just toss it in Notification Center for easy access.
  • Break iTunes into smaller apps. Have a Music app that does handles music playback and purchasing. Merge the iOS App Store into the Mac App Store (especially since the MAS is already named App Store). Bring back the iSync name for an app for iOS device management. Make a Videos app to purchase and play your iTunes videos.


Ah, iCloud. So much promise, so many headaches. This list could easily get carried away, but I'm going to keep it to just a few points.

  • More free storage. In 2014, 5GB is paltry. The competition gives a lot more away for free. At the very least give us 5GB per device on our account, instead of 5GB for all of them to share. And give us more bang for the buck on the extra storage options.
  • Fix Photo Stream. I don't know how to do it, but do it. It is one of the most confusing aspects of iCloud as a service today.
  • Help me to trust iCloud sync by making it easier for developers to support it. Right now it is a black box to developers that they are supposed to trust. That's fine and dandy until it breaks and my data ends up hosed, and developers don't know what happened. Transparency is key here.

Whew, that really did feel like an airing of grievances, but it isn't without merit. Apple's hardware has remained top notch, but there are many aspects of their software and services where things have languished. I think a lot of this is the rigidity of the once-a-year updates. That is an incredibly long time for software, but even longer for services like iCloud.

In a dozen hours we'll see what Apple's engineers have been laboring over. I'm super excited, and can't wait to see if some of the above items come true.

¶ A Step-by-Step Guide to Pre-Ordering an iPhone 5 and Switching to Verizon

It is very possible that Apple will open up pre-orders for the iPhone 5 next week after its media event. I’ve mentioned it before, but both times I have purchased an iPhone, AT&T was the sole US carrier. But that isn’t the case now. Now Sprint and Verizon are options, too.

I’m taking the opportunity to not only move up to the iPhone 5, but to switch to Verizon. And I have a feeling I’m not the only person in this situation, so here’s a little guide from yours truly on how to pre-order an iPhone 5 and switch to Verizon while keeping your number.

  1. Pre-order your Verizon iPhone 5 from Apple or Verizon and sign up as a new Verizon customer. Let the system assign you new numbers. Just think of the new numbers as placeholders, as you’ll switch your AT&T number later.
  2. Wait a week or so for your new iPhone 5 to arrive.
  3. Unbox the iPhone 5, boot it up and activate it. I’d hold off on restoring from iCloud’s backup just yet. (Speaking of iCloud backup, on your previous iPhone, make sure you are on Wi-Fi and go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Back Up Now and run a current backup).
  4. After it is activated, make sure you can pull cellular data and make a phone call.
  5. Now call Verizon to have them switch your AT&T phone number over.
  6. Say good riddance goodbye to AT&T.
  7. Make another call and make sure your number is correct.
  8. Now, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. This will start the setup guide over. Now connect to Wi-Fi during setup and log in with your iCloud ID and restore from your iCloud backup. Everything should be awesome now.

This process should have the least amount of friction in switching both phones and carriers. Godspeed.

iCloud vs. the web

Manton Reece, creator of the awesome Tweet Marker service, discusses iCloud:

It’s a step forward on user convenience and a step back on interoperability.

I like iCloud for document storage. It is fast and, so far, reliable. However, it scares the crap out of me that iCloud document storage is essentially trapped within little app silos.

If you ask me, iCloud should stores files by file type, with apps able to read and write to the file type silos. For instance, all .txt files are accessible to any app that can read and write them. The same goes for images file types, and so on and so forth.

It’s still early days for iCloud, but I hope some of the obvious problems are corrected sooner rather than later. Until then, I’m a huge fan of Dropbox (referral link).

¶ App Within an App

I always try to use a stock app that comes with my iPhone, iPad, or Mac if it can do what I need it to satisfactorily. Hence for quick notes I use the built in Notes app on my iPhone quite a bit, especially since I know, thanks to iCloud, that the note will be on my iPad and Mac if I need it. And when Reminders arrived in iOS 5, I eschewed the other app I was using in favor of Apple’s solution, because Apple’s app performed the same function that I needed. Heck, it provided a little more with location-based reminders, which are awesome.

I do, however, have one little annoyance about Notes and Reminders — the way they are integrated into the Mac. On iOS, Notes and Reminders get their own apps. On the Mac, they are relegated to being apps within an app. Notes and Reminders are shoehorned into Mail and iCal, respectively.

I would much rather Notes and Reminders have their own apps on the Mac, with similar interfaces to their iOS counterparts. Notes, on its own, could effectively replace the Stickies app on the Mac.

My problem with Notes and Reminders being integrated into other apps is consistency. A great example of consistency between the Mac, iPhone, and iPad is Twitterrific. The app offers the same experience across all three devices. The user never has to question how to do anything on each device. Learn once, apply everywhere.

Take a new user, give them an iPhone for a bit. Sit them in front of a Mac, and tell them to find their reminders. I bet they’d hunt for a Reminders app. In fact, they’d probably be confused to learn that Reminders is part of iCal. It doesn’t really make sense.

One of the greatest things Apple did when releasing the iPad was to keep the experience familiar and consistent. Lately, the experience on the Mac has started to feel like a neglected ugly duckling.

¶ iCloud | Review

It would be impossible to talk about iOS 5 without mentioning iCloud. iCloud is the successor to Apple’s previous subscription MobileMe service. iCloud offers many of the core features of MobileMe, but does so with more elegance in my opinion. Also, where MobileMe ran you a C note per year, iCloud is free.

Apple billed MobileMe as Exchange for the rest of us, referring to Microsoft Exchange for similarly handling email, calendars, and contact syncing. MobileMe also tacked on things like iDisk, Photo Gallery, and iWeb integration. In my experience using MobileMe for three years, the email, calendars, and contacts worked great. iDisk and Photo Gallery were abhorrent. I never used iWeb.

Here is how Apple describes iCloud:

iCloud stores your music, photos, documents, and more and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices. Automatic, effortless, and seamless — it just works.

iCloud still handles email, calendars, and contacts very well — I’d go so far as to say even better. Everything about iCloud just feels faster than MobileMe. I think a lot of that can be attributed to iCloud being a completely rewritten service. It’s lean.

iCloud also does a few other things that are pretty great. iTunes in the Cloud lets you browse your entire purchase history from any device and redownload music, TV shows, apps, & books for free. Photo Stream lets you take a picture with your iPhone, and in mere moments it is also on your iPad and Mac (via iPhoto or Aperture)! Find my iPhone (or iPod, or iPad, or Mac) is a great security feature (or great for finding out which cushion of the couch your phone slid under).

And, for one aspect, Documents in the Cloud works incredibly well. That one aspect is between your iOS devices. Make a change on a document on your iPhone, and it is updated on your iPad. Where Documents in the Cloud falls short is integration with the Mac. It just really doesn’t work. You have to upload and download changed documents manually via iCloud.com. And that stinks. It dispels the magic.

I have to believe Apple is working on a completely new version of iWork for OS X that will work well with Documents in the Cloud.

Overall, iCloud is fantastic. You get 5GB of storage for free. There are paid subscriptions for more storage if needed. Storage is comprised of email, Documents in the Cloud, and backups. Photo Stream and your iTunes purchases do not count against your storage.


Speaking of backups, iCloud allows your device(s) to backup wirelessly over Wi-Fi while they are charging. This will help ensure that your iPhone or iPad have fairly current backups. Even better, if you need to replace a device or decide to upgrade to a newer model, you can restore from that iCloud backup over Wi-Fi, which I have heard works incredibly well.

So please, sign up for iCloud. Enjoy ad-free email from Apple. Enjoy having access to your entire purchase history any time. Enjoy the wonderful web-apps at iCloud.com when you are away from your own computer. Enjoy knowing that you can track a lost device. And enjoy knowing your data is backed up more than you have been backing it up.

Quite simply: enjoy.

The S is for 'Selling Like Hotcakes'

Apple PR announced first-weekend sales of the iPhone 4S today:

Apple® today announced it has sold over four million of its new iPhone® 4S, just three days after its launch on October 14. In addition, more than 25 million customers are already using iOS 5, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system, in the first five days of its release, and more than 20 million customers have signed up for iCloud®, a breakthrough set of free cloud services that automatically and wirelessly store your content in iCloud and push it to all your devices.

Four million is a lot. For perspective, the XBox Kinect currently holds the Guiness record for selling 8 million devices in its first 60 days. My guess is the iPhone 4S will take that by the end of October.

Other choice bits:

  • iOS 5 is already on 25 million devices. Yesterday I talked with several of my friends who had yet to update because they wanted to let the dust settle.
  • iCloud is already at 20 million users. That's amazing. I've had relatively few issues with iCloud so far. Getting MobileMe to start the transition took some doing, but other than that it has been a smooth ride. Also notice how Apple doesn't say the word 'sync' anywhere in their description of iCloud. Smart.

Preparing for iOS 5 and iCloud

Tomorrow Apple will undertake what is likely the most ambitious software launch in the company’s history. Tomorrow will see the release of iOS 5, OS X Lion 10.7.2, updates to various supporting apps, and the biggest thing since iTunes — iCloud.

It would be prudent to make some preparations for all of this. First, let’s talk iPhones, iPads, & iPods.

iOS 5

iOS 5 is Apple’s latest software for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It has loads of new features that you’ll want. Best of all, it’s free.

The first thing you’ll need for putting iOS 5 on your device is iTunes 10.5, which was released earlier today. I would sync each of your devices before upgrading to iOS 5, as that will create a backup. And just for kicks, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to import your camera roll to your computer, as part of iCloud will include significant changes to how photos are handled within iOS. More on that in a bit.

Also, make sure you check for updates to your apps and install them. Apple is approving app updates like gangbusters right now because developers are adding iOS 5 compatibility. If you have an update for an app that lists fixes for iOS 5 and you don’t install them, don’t complain if the app breaks. Install the updates, okay?

Okay, after all that is done, get a good night’s sleep and plug your device in tomorrow afternoon, wait for it to show up in iTunes, then select the device in the sidebar, and click the big Check for Updates button. Then let iTunes update your device while you get a snack.

After you’re all updated, you can enjoy never having to physically plug your iPhone to your computer for syncing again, as long as you have Wi-Fi. From now on you can sync over your home Wi-Fi, backups happen wirelessly with iCloud, and future iOS updates will be pushed over the air to your device.


Where iTunes was the digital hub for the past decade, iCloud is the hub for the next decade or so. iCloud will hold onto copies of your purchased music, TV shows, apps, & books, device backups, contacts, calendars, notes, reminders, documents, photos, and email.

You get a free @me.com email address, which is ad-free to boot. Apps that take advantage of iCloud will be able to sync their data between your devices, as well. iCloud also features location services such as being able to find and lock down a lost device, and even find family & friends that have given you permission to see their location. All in all, iCloud is Apple’s big new amazing technology that will make us feel like we live in the future.

After you update to iOS 5, you will be able to set up iCloud and all its nifty services from the Settings app.

OS X Lion 10.7.2

Ah yes, the Macintosh. The original digital hub. With the advent of iCloud, the Mac has been “demoted” to just another device, and OS X Lion 10.7.2 will bring all the advantages of iCloud with it — including that ability to find and lock down a lost Mac.

The Mac is known for its iLife suite, and part of that will see a little upgrade tomorrow, too. iPhoto 9.2 will include iCloud’s Photo Stream. Take a picture with your iPhone, it shows up in mere moments on your Mac.

A Note for MobileMe Users

If you are a MobileMe user, you’ve probably heard that iCloud is succeeding MobileMe. You’ll still get email, and syncing for calendars, contacts, & bookmarks. You still get Find my iPhone. But a few things aren’t making it. iDisk and Gallery are going away. They are sort of being replaced by Documents in the Cloud and Photo Stream, respectively. And if you’re a multi-Mac user who used MobileMe to keep dock items, Dashboard widgets, and keychains in sync — well, those are going away, too.

But honestly, things like iDisk, and the syncing for dock, Dashboard, & keychains — they never really worked well. So, when you migrate to iCloud, be prepared. On the bright side, iCloud is likely to work much more effectively, and hey, it’s free. Enjoy it.

Tomorrow is a big day. Things are about to get a lot more awesome.