Tag Archives: Google

Hidden Secrets of the iPhone Revealed

David**The following is a guest post by David, a good friend and former colleague, who loves finding hidden features of the technology he uses. Below, he reveals a few iPhone features you may have missed. (The original post can be found here.)**

Okay, that’s a bit too Penn & Telller perhaps, but there are some fun little nuggets somewhat buried in the iPhone that I’ve slowly been discovering.  I feel like in the past month especially I’ve dug up some good stuff.  I’ll start off with the stuff that most folks know.  If you didn’t, great.  If you did, I never said I was the great Houdini 🙂

Special Characters
We all know that you can find some add’l characters by tapping the 123 then the #+= button on the keyboard.  This provides us with some European currency characters, as well as the important hash tag for twitter.  But what about the eñe in spanish?  Or the upside down exclamation point for spanish?  If you simply tap and hold the “n” on the keyboard, the ñ will appear.  Same with the accented letter “e” or the exclamation point.  If you play around, you’ll find other fun hidden characters lurking above the letters (ooh, m-dash!).

Keyboard Settings: Periods & Caps Lock
I’ll admit it.  I never really got into the whole text speak.  Sure I LOL and might wonder WTF occasionally.  I am also a fan of FML – makes me laugh when I see it.   But I don’t write “Wr U @? C U L8r.”  With full keyboards, the inner English Major in me just can’t stomach it.  I write things out.  I tend to still use proper sentence structure.  Call me fusty, but I can’t help it.

So I like that if I double-space after a word, I get a period.  That makes it nice and easy.  And while I’m not a big YELLER when it comes to texting, there are times when you want to write a bit in Caps.  And hitting the shift key each time is tedious.  There are settings for both these features.

Go to Settings>General>Keyboard.  Toggle “Enable Caps Lock” and “‘.’ Shortcut” to On.  Now when you double-space after a word, the period pops in.  And if you quickly double-tap the shift key, it’ll turn blue and Caps Lock is on.  Pretty nifty.

Contacts View
I mentioned I’m a little old-fashioned.  I can also be a little OCD too.  I have set up my iPhone Contacts to sync with my Google Contacts.  I like having a back-up and over-air syncing is still pretty cool to me.  But the other day I realized I had 6 more contacts in my iPhone than I did in my Google Contacts.  Quite frankly, I’m still confused how this happened.  But to make matters worse, Google Contacts are sorted by first name.  My iPhone Contacts were sorted by last name.  Trying to eyeball over 400 contacts is tough enough, but when the lists aren’t apples to apples, it’s even harder.  Enter Settings.  Settings>Mail, Contacts, Calendar.  If you scroll to the Contacts section (near the bottom), you’ll see that you can change both the Sort Order and Display Order.  While I prefer to sort by last name, it’s nice to be able to toggle this when comparing to Google.  I’m sure there are other benefits to this toggle as well.

I’d seen plenty of people showing their Weather app image on Facebook to indicate a crappy/fantastic week of weather ahead.  I just presumed they had purchased some app that enabled this.  Nope.  The iPhone has a built-in screenshot feature.  Which I think is pretty cool. When you have what you want on your screen, simply push the top button and the bottom home button on your iPhone quickly at the same time.  The screen will quickly fade and come back.  That image is now saved in your Photos.  Pretty nifty.  It is great when you happen to be in 1st place in foursquare or something and you might want to share that with your friends 🙂


I heard at&t will finally be supporting the updated MMS features on September 25th.  I’m looking forward to that.  I’ll be happy if I never see the following screen againg – scribbling down those ridiculous message ids and passwords – only to open a picture of someone’s dog.


Any hidden secrets that you’d like to share?

Reclaiming the Rolodex

Facebook is the new RolodexI’d like to talk about the statement to the left, made by Brian Devine via Twitter yesterday morning. (I should mention that it caught my attention when it was forwarded by Jonathan Rick, who, in case you’re wondering, I met in person first and then connected with online.)

I completely agree with Brain: I do believe that Facebook and other online networks – loosely defined – such as LinkedIn and Google have become the contact management systems du jour.

The problem, and what worries me, is that we, as individuals, had full control of the data in our Rolodexes of yesteryear. We chose when to add, when to remove, when to edit contacts. And that Rolodex was ours to keep, save any unfortunate circumstances (I’m thinking natural disasters here), for as long as we wanted no matter where we went.

Now, we are at the mercy of these companies. For example, I use Google Contacts to stay in touch – by e-mail and phone – to friends, family, colleagues, and former classmates around the world. But let’s say that Google decided one day without warning to stop supporting that feature? I would be left with no numbers or emails addresses for any of my closest contacts. And, at least with Google Contacts, I am able to export all the data I’ve inputed into the system and take it to another provider or save it on my comptuer (or another location) for safekeeping.

Neither Facebook (nor LinkedIn nor MySpace) allow anything of the sort. (It should be noted that Facebook, in its infancy, did have this feature enabled. With its epic growth, however, I think Facebook thought that for privacy reasons, enabling users to exports the contact information of other users they connected to through the site could be dangerous.)

Where does that leave us? What happens if our account were to get hacked or accidentally deleted? I’m sure many of you shudder at the thought of losing all those connections (and pictures and videos and messages and everything else that’s now contained within the site).

When I said this all to Jonathan (in less than 140 characters!), he replied: “Since we all use Facebook voluntarily, if we disagree with the Terms Of Service, then we should stop“. He has a good point. BUT – because that’s where the majority of our contacts are active, we miss out by not participating in the service. So, we’re stuck in between a rock and a hard place since there’s not much we can do, is there?

I can’t offer a solution (other than to reiterate how important backing up and creating copies of such information truly is) but I do continue to hope that in this era of collaboration, Facebook as well as other services can find a balance between user privacy, a competitive advantage and allowing users to own and manipulate their data in a suitable manner.

My First Rule of GChat

HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT GCHAT? My “Answers to Common Questions About Gchat” post may be helpful to you.

GChat Status Let me start by saying this. If you are still using Hotmail or Yahoo or any other type of web-based (or even worse: non-web based!) program that is not Gmail, finish reading this post and then go SIGN UP!

Google is one of those companies of which I am truly in awe. (Facebook, Twitter, Apple, AIM, are others that come to mind). Google’s products have COMPLETELY revolutionized our lives. Gmail, Google’s web-based mail application, simply BROKE THE MOLD and shifted the way we think about e-mail communications.

The first example of Gmail’s uniqueness I can think of at the moment is the threaded conversation feature, which has made it easier to follow the life of an e-mail. And the second is its chat feature within the mail client.

In fact, GChat is to this second era of the internet what American Online and American Instant Messenger were to the first. (And, as I wrote in October, it has helped bring about the convergence of our offline and online identities.) People you e-mail a certain number of times get added to the list of people you can chat with. And there are different ways to alert those people to your availability: you can be available to talk, idle if you’re away from the computer, ask people not to message you if you are busy and, lastly, you can “go invisible”. This last status allows you to view and message your contacts without allowing them to do the same.

In the past few weeks I’ve had several experiences which have led me to the creation of my first rule for GChat: I do not talk to those who have made themselves invisible. Why, you ask?

To begin, I consider myself to be a compassionate and loyal friend who stands by and supports the people she cares about. And, truly, I expect nothing less from the people that I allow to be a part of my life. Yes, those words were chosen carefully – being a part of my life and commanding my friendship are privileges.

When someone is “invisible” it means that they can contact me if they need me, but I can’t contact them to do the same. It ruins any chance at a reciprocal relationship which makes it inherently selfish. And that’s the sort of thing that I just can’t tolerate from those around me.

Listen, folks, I know it seems like such a trivial thing to get caught up in, but I think it’s a small thing that reflects a person’s general personality and that’s why it bothers me.

But, let me turn it over to you. How do you feel about “invisible” people on GChat? Do you yourself have rules for GChat?

HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT GCHAT? My “Answers to Common Questions About Gchat” post may be helpful to you.