10 (X) Vital iPhone X Tips and Tricks

Apple’s latest flagship phone, the iPhone X, has been out for over a month now and shipping times have finally improved to just a day or two. With more and more people getting their hands on the latest and greatest iPhone there will be more and more people looking for tips specific to their iPhone X. Here are our top 10 for the X.

10 OLED Black Magic

Probably the biggest (and brightest) addition to the iPhone is its amazing display. The iPhone X has an edge-to-edge Super Retina OLED display manufactured by Samsung.

“Super Retina” is Apple’s marketing terminology for a truly high-resolution display (458 pixels per inch to be exact). The display is incredibly large at 2436-by-1125 pixels and very bright (it can reach over 800 nits). But what makes OLED truly amazing is its high contrast ratio.

The iPhone X delivers an other-worldly 1:1,000,000 contrast ratio thanks to its OLED display. With OLED technology, each individual pixel produces its own light, and when set to true black, a pixel won’t produce any light at all. It’s a really cool experience you can only get from an OLED display. Try watching a 4K HDR movie set in space—like Star Trek Beyond—in a pitch-black room on your iPhone X and you’ll see what we mean. Stars will light up bright while the blackness of space will disappear into the room around you. It’s truly incredible.

But OLED true black doesn’t stop being magical with just movies and content. It also is a tremendous battery saver. Some apps, like Bear—a writing tool—offer true black themes so only text and necessary objects light up. The pixels that are black don’t produce any light and save battery as they are essentially off.

It would be awesome if Apple released a dark-themed, power saving mode in the future. In the meantime try using a true black wallpaper (such as the one included with iOS 11) to squeeze out a few extra minutes of battery life each day.

9 Home Bar Tricks

With iPhone X, the home button of yesterday is gone and in its place is a simple bar made of pixels at the bottom of the display. The bar isn’t a secret or anything like that, but it may hold some secrets you’re not aware of.


From a navigation standpoint the bar is quite simple. You swipe up to go home and you swipe up and pause to open the app switcher.

Advanced Tips

If you want to get fancy you can slide left and right on the home bar to switch between recent apps. Some people have found that swiping up and to the right or left slightly is faster for accessing the app switcher. If you’re using a game or a media content app the developers may have chosen to hide the home bar or have it take two swipes to enable. Don’t worry, if you go to use it, it will be there.

Pro Tricks

With a 19.5:9 ratio display it can sometimes be difficult to reach the top areas of the display. On other iPhone models Reachability could be enabled by double-tapping (not clicking) the Touch ID sensor on the home button.

  • With iPhone X you can enable Reachability. Open Settings > General > Toggle on Reachability
  • Once enabled, simply swipe down on the home bar to bring the top of the display down a bit.

One more thing. The home bar can also be used to reinitiate Face ID if it fails while unlocking your device. Simply lift the home bar up slightly and lower it back down. Alternatively you can lower and raise your device.

8 Use the Force (Quit) Luke!

Sometimes apps don’t work the way we want them to, they drain our batteries or play sound while running in the background, or maybe there’s an app you don’t want to see in the app switcher. On previous iPhones you just brought up the app switcher and flicked those apps away.

On the iPhone X, if you flick up on an app in the app switcher you’ll be brought back to the home screen instead. This is probably an intentional implementation. Apple has designed iOS to intelligently handle memory and closing apps can actually be worse for battery and performance then just leaving them in the background.

In fact, apps in the background are essentially put in “standby” most of the time and background processes are handled intelligently by the OS as needed. But not always, sometimes apps are poorly designed or they malfunction.

7 iPhone Apps That Kill Your Battery (and How to Stop Them)

So how do we close apps on the iPhone X when needed? Simple really: In the app switcher just tap and hold an app until a little red close icon (⛔) appears at the top of each app. Now you can tap the close icon (⛔) or swipe up on apps as before to close them. If you’re feeling extra productive you can even close multiple apps at once using multiple fingers.

Just remember, most of the time it requires more battery and processing power to close and relaunch and app, than simply suspending and resuming the app.

7 Biometric Kill Switch

The iPhone X is the first device to use Apple’s new Face ID technology to unlock the device, authorize payments, and access passwords or third-party apps. While biometrics are convenient, there may be times where you want a passcode to be entered in order to unlock your phone.

Apple has added a new Emergency SOS feature in iOS 11 that effectively disables biometrics while simultaneously contacting emergency services and your emergency contacts.

You can set it up under Settings > Emergency SOS. By default Emergency SOS is triggered by holding the side button and one of the volume buttons for a few seconds. In Settings, you can also enable an option to rapidly click the side button five times.

Once triggered, the phone will count down from five (you can enable or disable auto call and the countdown sound in Settings) before calling your specified emergency contacts and local emergency services. You can cancel the call if you only want to disable Face ID.

To renable Face ID you will need to renter your device’s passcode or passphrase.

6 Screenshot and Screen Recording

Previously to take a screenshot with your iPhone you’d press the home button and the sleep/wake button at the same time. The iPhone X doesn’t have a home button, so now you just press the side button and the volume up button at the same time. Voila!

But maybe you’re feeling adventurous and want to record your screen instead. In iOS 11 there is a new screen recording function built into the phone. To enable it go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls. Find and add the Screen Recording control and add it to your Control Center.

To use the Screen Recording Control simply access Control Center by swiping down from the top right of the display and find and tap the Screen Recording icon.

It will countdown from three and begin recording your display. You will see a red indicator in the top left corner to let you know you’re recording. Tap it when you’re ready to stop recording and confirm. Your recording will be saved in Photos.

5 Wake Up Call

To wake your iPhone X from sleep you can pick it up, press the side button, or simply give it a tap anywhere on the screen.

Attention! Attention!

Speaking of waking up. The iPhone X is now “attention aware.” So it can use the TrueDepth camera to know when you’re looking at your display and lower the volume of your morning alarm.

It’s not just for alarms though, your iPhone X will lower all alert volumes and keep the display from dimming while you’re looking at your phone.

If you want to disable Attention Aware Features you can find the toggle under Settings > Face ID & Passcode.

4 Shine Bright Like a Diamond

The iPhone X is a tall phone and Control Center is now accessed from the top right corner which can make getting to your flashlight and your camera controls a little bit of a chore.

To help with this Apple added two new shortcut buttons on the lock screen (and Notification Center). On the left is the Flashlight button and on the right is the Camera button. 3D Touch them to activate.

But wait, there’s more!

Camera and Flashlight options are still available in Control Center. You can 3D Touch the flashlight control to adjust the brightness or 3D Touch the Camera control to take a selfie, record a video or slo-mo, or to take a Portrait Photo. Additionally, 3D touching the brightness slider will show additional options for enabling or disabling Night Shift or True Tone.

3 Animoji Karaoke

You probably can’t think of a better use for your $ 999 iPhone than using your face to control 1 of 12 emojis, right? Okay maybe you can, but there’s no denying Animoji has taken the world by storm. Within the first 24 hours of the device being out in the wild, Animoji karaoke clips started showing up on Twitter and other corners of the Web.

Apple Joins in on 'Animoji Karaoke' Trend in Latest Ad Campaign

Maybe you wanted to make your own awesome video; but, you may have noticed that the Animoji iMessage app only lets you record 10 seconds. Great news! iOS 11 has a new screen recording tool (see number 6 in this list). Simply open iMessage, expand the Animoji app, and start recording. You can then use iMovie or other video editing software to add music and create the perfect movie to share with your friends (or the world).

2 Your Eyes Only

Because the iPhone X knows your face it won’t expand notifications on the lock screen until you look at it. So if you leave your phone at your desk and one of your coworkers tries to read your texts when you’re not around, they won’t be able to.

If you want to alter this feature (you can have it so it always or never displays a preview) go to Settings > Notifications > Show Previews.

1 Magic Button Presses

Remember how when you wanted to reset your iPhone you’d press and hold the home button and the power button simultaneously until the phone rebooted? Well, now there are less buttons so Apple had to get creative.

If your iPhone X is behaving badly and you need to perform a soft reset you’ll need to click volume up, then click volume down, and then press and hold the side button.

Also, since holding the side button now beckons Siri, if you want to turn off your device press and hold the side button and either volume button, then slide to power off. Keep in mind if you hold too long you’ll trigger the Emergency SOS feature.

That’s all folks!

The iPhone X and iOS 11 bring a lot of fun new features to iPhone users. Hopefully these tips will help you be more productive or have a little more fun. Check out my 12 Incredible iOS 11 Tricks You Need to Know if you’d like to learn more.

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The FCC Just Killed Net Neutrality – Here’s What to Expect

The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to gut net neutrality protections. So yes, the FCC just killed the Obama-era net neutrality regulations — and in a way that many say is extremely undemocratic. According to Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC is simply stopping the government from “micromanaging the internet.”

What happens now? That’s a bit complicated to answer, and many changes won’t take place overnight. But here’s what the end of net neutrality means for you.

What Is Net Neutrality?

Put simply, net neutrality is the concept that all internet traffic should be treated equally by internet service providers.

It means that these ISPs can’t play favorites and give priority and speed boosts to services that have paid for quicker access. Or restrict access to websites and apps, allowing usage of those services for a price.

Here’s what our internet, without net neutrality, could look like.

On the flip side, it means they can’t throttle or block data for services who haven’t paid. It also means that they can’t favor services or content that they, themselves, own.

The net neutrality rules that the FCC just did away with were approved under the Obama-era FCC in 2015. Indeed, the current FCC voted along party lines — with its Republican majority in favor of killing neutrality. Massive internet service providers like AT&T also support gutting net neutrality regulations. On the other hand, Democrats, consumer groups and tech companies like Google and Facebook all supported keeping the net neutrality regulations intact.

What You Can Expect

1. Prioritized Access

For one, the FCC did away with regulations that barred service providers from speeding up or slowing down contend arbitrarily. It also killed the rule that kept ISPs from favoring their own content.

Yes, this means that ISPs can prioritize content on an “internet fast lane” for content providers and creators who have forked over a fee. It also means that Comcast could — theoretically — throttle Netflix in order to make its own media content platform more competitive.

Thankfully, there’s still a requirement in place for ISPs to be transparent about blocking, throttling or paid prioritization. Post-net neutrality, the Federal Trade Commission has been tasked to evaluate whether these practices are anti-competitive.

2. Increase of Zero-Rated Services

It may not be all bad news — if only for a time. The end of the net neutrality may also mean we see an increase in the number of “zero-rated services.” Put simply, that’s services like video streaming platforms that don’t use up any monthly data.

Because of that, columnist Christopher Mims of the Wall Street Journal wrote that consumers would love the end of net neutrality but only at first.

3. Internet Monopolies

Of course, with prioritized access, we could see a massive consolidation of tech and content companies. Here’s why.

If ISPs give a speed bump to content companies that can pay their fees, it’ll make that content more attractive to consumers (no one likes buffering videos). That means smaller, independent content creators will be left at a disadvantage.

Not being able to pay hefty prioritized access fees in the first place could mean that smaller content companies won’t be able to attract an audience. In a domino effect, they could lose their profits and their advertisers. They won’t have funding to create new content, and could eventually die out, according to media executive Sergey Denisenko

If the smaller companies lose their ability to fairly compete, then there could be a monopolization effect in which we really will only see content created by one or two larger corporations. There’s a reason why social media companies like Snapchat are worried about the end of net neutrality, and what it could mean for their long-term prospects.

What Happens Next?

Of course, this isn’t necessarily a done deal quite yet. While the FCC has officially killed net neutrality, the issue is very likely to end up being challenged in court. Similarly, members of Congress have been talking about a bipartisan solution to the net neutrality issues. Any legislation passed by the House and Senate would automatically supersede FCC regulations.

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Why Apple’s Stance on Differential Privacy Is So Important

In Apple’s latest Machine Learning Journal entry, the company details how it collects data from its customers while taking privacy concerns into account by using “local” differential privacy, rather than central.

Apple claims that local differential privacy allows the tech giant to harvest big data from iPads, iPhones, and Macs while maintaining user anonymity because the process randomizes data on user devices prior to uploading it to the company server.

This means Apple, or whoever else accesses the server, never sees raw data from a specific device. Central differential privacy, on the other hand, requires collecting raw data on the server itself.

Apple anonymizes data on user devices by adding random noise to it and uploading it en masse to its cloud server. On the server, the noise averages out, allowing Apple to glean insights (such as identifying popular emoji and slang) that it can use to improve user experience. This means Apple can better their products and services by collecting data, without tying it directly back to you.

“When many people submit data, the noise that has been added averages out and meaningful information emerges,” according to Apple.

Localized differential privacy means that Apple can collect data from a large number of users without ever receiving fully accurate or raw data from devices. Any association between records, along with IP identifiers and timestamps, are also immediately discarded once they arrive at the restricted-access server.

“At this point, we cannot distinguish, for example, if an emoji record and a Safari web domain record came from the same user,” the paper continues. “The records are processed to compute statistics. These aggregate statistics are then shared internally with the relevant teams at Apple.”

As an additional privacy safeguard, this is an opt-in system, meaning that users must explicitly grant Apple permission to collect data. You can find the toggle for reporting usage data to Apple under Settings > Privacy > Analytics on iOS, and under System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Analytics on macOS Sierra and later.

While Apple suggests in its recent paper that by adopting local differential privacy (which it calls a “superior form of privacy”), it is maximizing user privacy protections, a team of researchers from USC, Indiana University, and Tsinghua University argue otherwise in a study published in September.

The researchers reverse-engineered Apple’s software in order to determine the degree to which user data has been anonymized, and were troubled to find that the user data collected by Apple is significantly more specific than recommended by typical privacy researchers. Moreover, Apple keeps its collection software secret, meaning it could potentially modify its privacy protections without disclosing the change to the public.

“Apple’s privacy loss parameters exceed the levels typically considered acceptable by the differential privacy research community,” said USC professor Aleksandra Korolova to Wired.

Frank McSherry, one of the inventors of differential privacy, put it more bluntly to Wired. “Apple has put some kind of handcuffs on in how they interact with your data,” he said. “It just turns out those handcuffs are made out of tissue paper.”

In response, Apple strongly disputed the accuracy of the team’s findings as well as some of the assumptions made in the course of their research, and noted that the data collection is purely opt-in.

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Apple Seeds New HomePod Firmware Alongside iOS 11.2.5 Beta

Apple today released a developer beta for iOS 11.2.5, and alongside it, the company seeded new firmware for HomePod.

Of course, the HomePod isn’t even out yet. As such, the new firmware isn’t available via the Developer’s Portal. Instead, it’s only available to install by early HomePod testers — which, at this point, is basically just people who work at Apple.

Apple employees have been testing the smart speaker in their own homes for quite a while now, which has led to some HomePod devices being spotted in the wild around the Cupertino area. These employees are, presumably, testing the HomePod to help Apple work out any kinks before the speaker launches in early 2018.

While it is downloadable by the public through third-party platforms, the firmware update is basically useless for anyone without a HomePod. That hasn’t stopped enterprising developers from poring over the data contained within, however.

In July, Apple unwittingly released HomePod firmware to the public, which inadvertently revealed a plethora of details about the smart speaker, as well as features of the then-unannounced Apple TV 4K and iPhone X — such as its facial-based recognition system and its sensor notch.

Currently, it’s unclear whether the new firmware will reveal any other secrets or features of HomePod. It’s worth noting that it probably won’t reveal any secrets about other upcoming Apple products since no new iOS devices are on the horizon. In October, another firmware version of HomePod was seeded with no product spoilers.

HomePod was first unveiled in June at Apple’s WWDC ’17 event. It’s a Siri-based smart speaker that’s more music-oriented than other competitors, featuring a 7-tweeter array, a proprietary 4-inch upward-facing woofer, and Apple’s own A8 chip. That chipset will allow for advanced features like spatial awareness and smart acoustical tuning.

Apple originally planned to release the smart speaker in December, but in November the product’s launch was delayed until “early 2018.”

No new features or forward facing changes have been discovered in iOS 11.2.5 beta. It’s reasonable to assume this update includes security patches and under the hood fixes only. Beta testers can download it now as an over the air (OTA) update.

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Disney Acquires 21st Century Fox, Paving the Way for Netflix Competitor

The Walt Disney Company has struck a deal with media mogul Rupert Murdoch to acquire 21st Century Fox, which includes the Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television studios and its cable and international TV businesses, in exchange for $ 52.4 billion in stock.

The deal is likely to be very consequential in the media industry, expanding Disney’s already-considerable reach in the entertainment market, adding franchises like “Avatar”, “X-Men”, and “The Simpsons” to a catalog that boasts films from Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, and Pixar Animation Studios.

Disney will also gain the rights to 22 regional sports broadcasting networks in the US, international Fox assets like India’s Star TV network, as well as a stake in European broadcaster Sky plc. The Fox Broadcasting network, which includes the Fox News Channel and Fox Business News, will be spun off into a new company.

“The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from 21st Century Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger in a press release. “The deal will also substantially expand our international reach, allowing us to offer world-class storytelling and innovative distribution platforms to more consumers in key markets around the world.”

Under the terms of the all-stock deal, Fox shareholders will receive 0.2745 Disney shares for each Fox share held. Disney will also assume approximately $ 13.7 billion in Fox debt. Rumors of the deal, which first surfaced in November, sent Fox shares surging by 30 percent. Upon confirmation of the deal on Thursday, the shares climbed 5 percent further.

The acquisition also paves the way for the entertainment conglomerate to compete with streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon, by offering content exclusively on its own streaming service. Disney announced earlier this year in August that its distribution deal with Netflix is due to end sometime in 2019. The company plans to launch an ESPN-branded sport video streaming service in 2018, followed by a Disney-branded streaming service in 2019.

“The deal illustrates the huge strategic challenge traditional media companies face and how they need to reinvent their business models to compete with digital, online competitors such as Netflix, Google and Amazon,” said Nick Jones, partner and head of technology at Cavendish Corporate Finance, to Reuters. “(It) helps Disney dramatically reduce its reliance on traditional television, a business that has declined over the last two decades.”

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