10 Tips for iPhone Users From the Apple Support Twitter Page

Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Whether you’re a longtime Apple devotee or a recent convert, you likely have a lot left to learn before becoming an iPhone expert. We mined the Apple Support Twitter feed for the best tips on how to use your device to the fullest. 

1. SIGN AN EMAIL ATTACHMENT ON YOUR PHONE.

Apple // Twitter

Having a smartphone makes sending emails easy—until you have to send something that needs a signature. If you’ve been printing out documents, signing them, and scanning them back into your computer before sending them off, there’s a much easier way.

Next time you email a document that requires a signature, tap and hold the document in the message to open the Share sheet. Two rows of icons will pop up: Tap "Markup and Reply" beneath the toolbox icon to go to the document. By tapping the signature in the bottom-right corner of the screen, you’ll be taken to a window where you can sign your name with your finger instead of printing it out. Hit "done" and your document will be ready to send out into the world.

2. ACTIVATE LOW POWER MODE.

When your battery bar is dwindling down to zero, tricks like closing all your apps won’t do you much good. One thing that will extend your phone’s battery life is activating Low Power Mode. After going to the battery page in your phone’s settings, toggle on the switch to reduce or turn off automatic downloads, background app refresh, and other non-essential tasks that eat up energy.

3. AUTO-ADJUST SCREEN COLOR AFTER SUNSET.

Many of us are guilty of climbing into bed and scrolling through our phones in the dark. Give your eyes a break by turning on your phone’s Night Shift setting. Head to Settings, Display & Brightness, and activate Night Shift to have your phone automatically transition to warmer colors at night. The default times are 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., but you can customize the setting to best fit your schedule.

4. ACTIVATE DO NOT DISTURB TO SILENCE NOTIFICATIONS.

Apple // Twitter

Owning an iPhone means getting constant notifications from friends, family members, and mobile games that are eager for your attention. To temporarily disconnect without powering down your phone all together, switch on Do Not Disturb mode. When you swipe up from the bottom of your screen, the control center should pop up with a crescent moon icon in the top row. Tapping this silences all pings and buzzes from calls, messages, and notifications until you decide to switch it off. A crescent moon symbol beside your battery sign indicates when it’s on, so if you’ve been missing calls and you don’t know why, the symbol's appearance tells you that you may have hit it accidentally.

5. BREAK DOWN BATTERY USAGE BY APP.

You may have an idea of which apps are the worst offenders when it comes to battery usage (we’re looking at you, Pokemon Go), but figuring out exactly how much power they zap can be a guessing game. Tap on the battery icon in Settings to see a breakdown of your phone’s energy consumption by app. You can choose to view battery usage for the last 24 hours or the last seven days. This window is also where you can switch on your phone’s battery percentage in the corner of the home screen.

6. TURN YOUR COMPASS INTO A LEVEL TOOL.

Your compass app is probably one of the standard features you use the least, but it can serve a practical purpose at home. When you have the app open, swipe left to access the level tool. Now you can hang pictures without having to dig out a level from the bottom of your tool kit.

7. MUTE A TEXT CONVERSATION.

For the times when you find yourself stuck in an especially chatty group text chain (or when you’re being badgered by one person you'd rather ignore), there’s an option to hit mute. Go to Details in the upper right corner of the conversation, turn on Do Not Disturb, and proceed with your life without being interrupted with a notification every time someone chimes in.

8. CUSTOMIZE VIBRATIONS FOR DIFFERENT CONTACTS.

When you feel your phone vibrate in your pocket, there’s no way of knowing if it’s your mom, your boss, or your boyfriend unless you pull it out to check. One smart way around this is by setting custom vibrations for special contacts in your phone. Go to the contact you want to customize and scroll down to where it says "vibration." It should be set to the default, but you can choose from a selection of pre-set options or even compose a vibration pattern of your own. This way you’ll know which notifications to check right away and which you can get away with putting on the back-burner.

9. TEACH SIRI HOW TO PRONOUNCE YOUR NAME.

Hearing Siri mispronounce your name can be funny the first time. But after a few months of using her, it may start to wear on your nerves. Next time Siri says your (or anyone else’s) name incorrectly, make sure to let her know. She’ll give you a few alternative pronunciations to choose from—select the one she gets right or press "Tell Siri again" if none of them fit.

10. SET A LIVE PHOTO AS YOUR LOCK SCREEN.

If you’re the owner of an iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus, you have the option to snap live photos in the form of 3-second clips. Just like still photos, these moving images can be used to liven up your lock screen. Tap the share button beneath your live photo to set it as your wallpaper like you would a regular picture. When it gives you the option to select still, perspective, or live photo, hit the last choice to revisit the "living memory" every time you open your phone.

Google Now Lets Parents Manage Their Kids' Phone Time Remotely

iStock
iStock

Setting screen time limits on teenagers was much easier in the pre-smartphone era. Modern parents often have to choose between taking their kids' phones away or letting them text through family game night—but now Google is offering a different option. Beginning today, September 18, Android phone owners are able to set restrictions on their teens' devices, either by setting time limits, locking their phones remotely, or subjecting app downloads to parental approval, The Verge reports.

These features are rolling out through Family Link, an app Google released in 2017 that lets kids create Google accounts that their parents can access. With the new changes, minors over age 13 can create similar Google accounts, or update their old ones to enable parental controls.

As is the case with Family Link for kids, parents can use Google's software to manage how—and how much—their kids use their phones as well as track their location. The biggest difference with the Family Link apps for teens is that both account holders must consent before parents can start monitoring their kids' phones. And if teens ever decide they want to make their phone activity private, they can choose to turn off the supervision mode. The catch is that doing this will lock them out of their phones for 24 hours and send a notification to their parents.

The new features are now available on all Android phones, and will be coming to Chromebooks soon. Users in the U.S. will also be able to use their Google Assistants to manage their Family Link accounts starting next week.

[h/t The Verge]

AI Is Tackling Yet Another Creative Medium: Improv Comedy

iStock
iStock

AI-generated fan fiction, music videos, and film scripts are often so bad that they’re hilarious. Could an AI program get the same number of laughs if it attempted improv comedy in front of a live audience? As Inverse reports, artificial intelligence researcher Kory Mathewson created an algorithm to find out.

Mathewson, from Canada’s University of Alberta, teamed up with London-based researcher Piotr Mirowski to create a chatbot, A.L.Ex, which stands for Artificial Language Experiment. They fed subtitles from 100,000 films into a neural network in the hope that A.L.Ex would be able to come up with jokes and carry on a conversation with a live human performer. (They also applied a filter to the robot to stop it from saying “politically incorrect” things, and presumably to prevent a disaster akin to Tay, Microsoft’s Twitter bot.)

Once A.L.Ex was sufficiently prepared for the spotlight, a performer interacted with the chatbot (who was given a robot body) on stage in an improv scenario. Audiences were asked to participate in a Turing test: During some scenes, a human backstage was controlling the robot's responses, while in others, A.L.Ex was doing all the work. Audience members were later asked to guess whether the dialogue was coming from the bot or an actual human. The experiment was repeated in three locations: Stockholm, Sweden; London, England; and Edmonton, Canada.

The result? The bot failed to fool humans and pass the Turing test, but it still garnered a few laughs. For one thing, the system was unable to tell complete stories. “If you want to tell a story, humans tend to have to pick up the arc and carry it through, since the Cyborg rarely brings arguably important characters or plot items back,” one of the improv performers wrote, according to a paper that Mathewson and Mirowski uploaded to the preprint platform arXiv [PDF].

Mirowski told The New York Times that the bot is like a “completely drunk comedian” who is only “accidentally funny” on occasion. Fortunately for comedy lovers, machines probably won’t be taking over the stage anytime soon. “We do not think that machines will replace human actors or comedians,” Mathewson told Inverse. “We aim to build new tools and techniques for human storytellers to share their human experience. This work aims to test the development of a new form of medium.”

[h/t Inverse]

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