Archive for the Tips Category

My HomeKit Setup – The 2022 Edition

Posted in Tips with tags , on April 29, 2022 by itnerd

This is an article that I’ve been wanting to do for a while and some of you have been asking for. Which is how I use HomeKit in my condo. Let’s start with what HomeKit is. This is Apple’s home automation platform which is part of iOS/iPadOS and to a limited extent macOS and watchOS that lets users configure, communicate with, and control smart-home appliances using Apple devices. It provides users with a way to automatically discover such devices and configure them. It’s got its flaws, which I will speak to in a bit, but it generally works fine.

First, let me describe my use case for HomeKit. I live in a 1000 square foot condo that has one door to enter and exit. The condo has two bedrooms. We use the master bedroom to sleep in, but we converted the second bedroom to a den for my wife and I to work in. Then we also have a living room and kitchen. The walls are concrete which makes Bluetooth and WiFi penetration a challenge. We decided that the master bedroom would have no smart home devices other than a HomePod Mini to stream audio or play a radio station. Everywhere else was fair game. We also wanted to build security into our HomeKit setup as long time readers will recall that my wife and I had a break in which cost us a MacBook Pro and a lot of jewelry among other items. While we had an IP enabled camera that alerted us to the break in, the police were not able to get there in time to capture the scumbags who broke into our place. So being able to detect when doors open and unauthorized parties are in the condo are a must. We don’t have to worry about windows as we are in a high rise.

With our use case out of the way, let’s get to the tech that powers our HomeKit setup. To fully leverage HomeKit, you will need a home hub which will allow you to control and automate your HomeKit devices from anywhere. It also acts as a connection point for Bluetooth based HomeKit devices as without it, those devices need your iPhone or iPad in range of it so that you can control them. WiFi based HomeKit devices don’t need a hub, but you may not be able to control them outside your home.

A HomeKit Hub can be any of the following:

  • An iPad that never leaves home. (I personally wouldn’t go this route because if the iPad loses power, dies or is stolen, you’re out of luck).
  • An Apple TV 4 or higher
  • A HomePod or HomePod Mini

In my case, I went the HomePod Mini route:

I have three HomePod Mini devices in my home as that was the path of least resistance for me. One in the living room, one in the den, and one in the bedroom. That’s due to the fact that I have three Bluetooth enabled devices that need something to connect to as Bluetooth signals don’t travel far in my condo due to the concrete walls that my condo has. Thus they act as repeaters for Bluetooth signals to cover use cases like mine which has the added bonus of speeding up the amount of time that it takes for a Bluetooth device to respond to commands that you give them. Thus if I could give you a piece of advice, you need to plan your HomeKit rollout to cover the use case of Bluetooth devices and purchase your home hubs based on that.

Another thing to point out about home hubs is that if you have more than one, they are used in an “Active/Standby” configuration. As in if you have two home hubs, one is actively controlling everything. But if something happens to it, the second one will take over. My use case looks like this:

You can’t choose which HomePod Mini is the one that is the “connected” one. Which seems at first glance to be a #Fail. But what I believe that Apple is doing behind the scenes is picking the home hub with the best reception and performance to the router. I’ve observed that it tends to gravitate towards making the living room Home Pod Mini the connected one. I suspect that’s due to the fact that it is connected to an ASUS mesh WiFi node that is in close proximity (as in two feet away) to the Home Pod Mini in question which has direct access to the Internet. That would make that one the logical choice to be the one that runs the show. The HomePod Mini in the den is physically closer in proximity to the ASUS mesh WiFi node that’s in the den versus the one in the living room. But because the node in the den has to connect to the node in the living room to get out to the Internet, it’s not as good of a choice to be the connected Home Pod Mini as it has to make a extra hop to the Internet that the HomePod in the living room doesn’t have to make. And the one in the bedroom is the worst choice of the three as it is a room away from the ASUS mesh WiFi node in the den which is where it connects to the Internet from. All of that means that its reception isn’t as great as the first two HomePod Mini units on top of the fact that it has to make an extra hop to get to the Internet.

Another thing that I should point out is that two of the three HomePod Mini units that I have are plugged into Uninterruptible Power Supplies so that they will stay on even when the power goes out. Which means that assuming that my Rogers Internet connection is still live, I will be able to still see into my condo if I am away from home.

So with the home hubs out of the way, let’s move onto the devices that I have. I’ll start with my door:

This is the Onvis CS1 Security Alarm Contact Sensor. This is on the door to not only let my wife and I know when the door is opened or closed (as it will give us a notification on our iPhones and Apple Watches when a door is opened or closed, not to mention chime when the door is opened), but it also acts as our alarm system when we’re away from home or asleep as we have automations to arm and disarm the alarm. More on our automations later. This is the first Bluetooth only device that I have, and it required us to get a HomePod Mini for the living room so that it could connect to it.

Next up are a pair of HomeKit cameras that we have installed.

We have two Eve Security Cameras which are both powered from an Uninterruptible Power Supply and connect to WiFi so that they stay live even if power goes out. In terms of the WiFi part, I have them bonded ASUS mesh WiFi node that has direct access to the Internet so that they can stream effectively should I need to have a live look inside my condo while I am away from home. One thing that I should note is that these cameras use the 5 GHz WiFi band which means that they are less likely to have interference issues which would be the case if they were on the 2.4 Ghz WiFi band and are fast when it comes to streaming video as well. These are HomeKit only cameras and while they are not cheap (not that you want anything cheap for home security purposes), they work very well even in the dark. They have built in motion sensors to detect movement and will send notifications to our iPhones and Apple Watches should it detect a person. When we’re away from home, I have them set to record anything it detects to iCloud using HomeKit Secure Video which is part of iCloud+. But when we are at home, there’s no recording taking place.

Now over to lighting. I only have a couple of places where I use HomeKit lighting as I feel that I don’t need to have HomeKit enabled lights everywhere. The first place that I use HomeKit light is the living room:

I have a lamp attached to this iHome iSP6X Smart Plug. It works on 2.4 Ghz WiFi and allows me to turn the lights on and off. This bonded ASUS mesh WiFi node that has direct access to the Internet so that it doesn’t roam from node to node which seems to confuse it in such a way that it requires a reboot to get it working again. For the most part, the light gets turned on via an automation in the morning, and gets turned off in the evening via another automation. In short it lives a dull and boring life.

I have a pair of Sylvania Smart+ A19 Full Colour LED Bulbs which I have set up in the Home app to be seen as a single bulb:

The reason for doing this is that it makes it easier to turn the bulbs off and on as well as tweak the colour and brightness as you’re dealing with one set of controls and not two. These are Bluetooth bulbs which meant that I had to get a HomePod Mini for the den as they had problems staying connected to the either of the other two HomePod Minis that I have. I have had some other challenges in terms of them acting weird and stability, so these may not stick around in the long term. But I will give them an honest shot to see if my experience with them improves over the next few weeks. I currently have the brightness set to 80% as that gives the perfect amount of lighting for Zoom or Teams calls.

The final HomeKit device that I have is this:

This TCL 43″ Class 4-Series 4K UHD HDR ROKU Smart TV which is powered by RokuOS got HomeKit compatibility a couple of software updates ago. Though at times, HomeKit support has been problematic. In any case it allows me to turn on and off the TV as well as control inputs. But the extent that I use HomeKit functionality is to turn the TV on and off via some automations that I have as there is no value to doing anything else via HomeKit as the support that this TV has for HomeKit is very limited.

Speaking of automations, I use four of them which I set up in the Home app:

Leave: This is an automation that activates when everyone has left home as it uses location services on our iPhones to determine where everyone is so that it can run the automation. It’s also supposed to use Apple Watches as well to determine the location of everyone, but my wife and I have never seen that work. Thus we assume it’s a bug that Apple needs to fix as according to Apple’s own documentation, that use case is supposed to work. In any case, when everyone leaves home, the following happens:

  • A notification appears on our iPhones and Apple Watches with a request to arm the alarm system.
  • If the TV is on it is turned off.
  • All the cameras are set to “stream and record” so that anything that is detected by the cameras is recorded to iCloud.

It usually activates when we are roughly a block away from home. Or I can activate it using Siri or via the Home app. If I go the Siri route, it will turn on the alarm without the need to click anything.

Arrive: This is the opposite of “Leave” and operates as follows:

  • A notification appears with a request to disarm the alarm system. There’s no way that I can find to do this automatically.
  • All the cameras are set to “stream” so that there is no recording taking place while we are home.

An interesting quirk about these two automations are that I can use Siri to run the Leave automation, but I cannot use Siri to run the Arrive automation unless I unlock my iPhone to do it. Which means I can’t use Siri while I am driving for example to run the automation. This is due to the fact that unlocking a HomeKit compatible doorknob or disarming a HomeKit compatible alarm system requires you to use what Apple calls a “personal device” to do it, such as an iPhone or Apple Watch. Likely because you have to unlock your phone to run the automation, which serves as a form of authentication. In the case of the Apple Watch, the watch locks automatically when you take it off your wrist. Thus to use it you have to put in a passcode after you put it one which is a form of authentication as well. I suppose that I can see why this use case exists as this stops someone using Siri from disarming an alarm system and opening doors via a “Hey Siri” command and breaking into your home.

Good Night: This is an automation that allows us do the following just before going to bed:

  • If the den and living room lights are on, they are turned off.
  • If the TV is on, it is turned off.
  • The alarm system is armed. We do this as we would be alerted if someone tries to break in while we are asleep.

I can activate this via a “Hey Siri” command or via the Home app.

Good Morning: This is what is run when we wake up in the morning. And it only works from a iPhone or Apple Watch for the same reasons that I described above.

  • The den and living room lights are turned on.
  • The alarm system is disarmed.

Now I will admit that my use case is pretty simple. But how simple or complex your use case happens to be will be driven by things like the number of devices and what you’re trying to do. For example if we had multiple windows that we had to monitor or multiple doors to monitor, it would make the setup a lot more complex because there would be more devices in play. My advice is to spend a lot of time experimenting until you find what works for you. I also recommend carefully picking your HomeKit devices as some are really good, and some are not as good.

So that’s my HomeKit setup. If you have any questions or suggestions as to how I can improve it, leave a comment and share your thoughts.

How Move Your Playlists From Spotify To Apple Music & Tidal…. And More

Posted in Tips with tags , , on January 30, 2022 by itnerd

Seeing as there’s a lot of people who are dumping Spotify to move to services such as Apple Music because they aren’t happy about Spotify’s stance on having Joe Rogan who spreads COVID and vaccine mis-information on his podcast (see here and here for my stories on this), it seemed inevitable that I would get questions about how to move playlists from Spotify to Apple Music or Tidal. The reality is that it is very easy. But the key thing to note is that you need to do this before you show Spotify the door. Because after you dump them, it’s too late to do this.

One of the services that is recommended for this purpose is a web based service called Soundiiz. They have a free tier of service and two paid tiers which you can see here. But if you don’t mind moving one playlist at a time, the free tier is all you need. The reason why I am recommending this service (and in the interest of transparency I am not sponsored by them in any way) is that during the research for this article, it seems to be the one that comes up a lot and people are happy with. And it supports both Apple Music and Tidal, along with a number of other services. Using it is easy via their website and they have tutorials to help you along the process. For example, here’s the tutorial to move from Spotify to Apple Music. And here’s the one to move from Spotify to Tidal. Again, if you use their free option, you can only move one playlist at a time. But unless you have hundreds of playlists, I think you’ll be fine with that.

Another option for iOS users is an app called SongShift which is in the App Store. The free version will let you transfer one playlist at a time, while upgrading to SongShift Pro lets you transfer multiple playlists at once in a wizard driven manner. Again, my research indicates that people are happy with this service and this is also worth a look. The only catch is that it supports less services than Soundiiz. But the two biggest players not named Spotify are one the list so I think that’s a non-issue.

If you can come up with alternate ways to move your playlists from Spotify, please leave them in the comments and share your wisdom with others.

Upgrading To macOS Monterey 12.1 Was A Pain In The A$$

Posted in Tips with tags on December 14, 2021 by itnerd

Yesterday Apple released macOS Monterey 12.1, and I of course tried to install it on my new 16″ MacBook Pro. The thing is, that it seemed that the MacBook Pro didn’t want it. At first, I couldn’t get it to show up in Software Update. A quick look at Twitter indicated that I wasn’t alone in that department:

His experience mirrored my experience. But there were others:

In my case, I briefly saw the update. But when I tried to download it and install it, the update failed and then caused my CPU to spike with a service called “NRDUpdateD” chewing up a massive amount of CPU time. And rebooting the Mac wouldn’t fix that. My guess was that my operating system was in some state where it couldn’t perform the update properly because the service in question was going haywire. Thus I needed to take action via reinstalling the OS.

Now the best way to reinstall macOS is via recovery mode. The reason is that the Mac boots to a completely separate OS which makes it way less complicated for the installer application to install the OS as any customizations or applications like anti-virus applications don’t enter the picture. This document details how to enter recovery mode. And once you’re in it, I started the macOS installer.

Now here’s where things get time consuming. Once you get into this installer, it will download roughly 12.5 GB as this installer always installs the latest version available. So you need to have a fast internet connection or you will be waiting a very long time. In my case, it took about an hour to download and reinstall the OS. After that, I was on macOS Monterey 12.1 and everything worked.

I am now starting to do some testing. Specifically, to see if the memory leak issue is fixed. Apple didn’t specifically say so on the release notes. But here’s hoping that it is fixed. I do notice that my MacBook Pro is running slightly cooler with less CPU being used. I’ll follow up on that front and with whatever else I find.

UPDATE: A reader asked if my data remained intact after the reinstall. It did. But it goes without saying that you should have a backup just in case.

The Most Wonderful Time of Year for… Email Fraud 

Posted in Tips with tags on November 24, 2021 by itnerd

The holiday season is upon us, which means it’s also the busiest time of the year for online shopping. It’s also the season when cybercriminals bank on people being in a rush and distracted during this hectic season, and therefore more likely to fall victim to a scam, allowing them to cash in.

Now both AARP and FBI have tips on how to avoid scams like these. But it’s not just individuals who are targets for this sort of thing. Businesses are also targets. Mike Jones, product manager at Agari by HelpSystems has this advice for businesses who want to protect themselves:

“It’s not just individuals who are at risk. Businesses often suffer insurmountable losses in brand trust, credibility, and email deliverability, as well as millions of dollars of revenue from both fraudulent and legitimate purchases. If people fall prey to someone who has impersonated a brand, that business suffers, because every real email they send may now not be trusted. Plus, loyal or new customers might not feel safe coming to the legitimate website to make a purchase. 

Employees need to think carefully before responding to emails. Would the CFO really want you to send them gift cards? Of course not, but would a trusted supplier change their bank account details? Perhaps. Suspicious emails should be reported to your security operations team immediately so they can be verified, and, if found to be a scam, other employees can be warned.”

It may be the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to have your head on a swivel. Threats are out there and you need to be careful so that you protect yourself.

Do You Have A Lot Of Menu Bar Items On Your 2021 MacBook Pro? Here’s A Tip To Make Sure The Notch Isn’t A Problem

Posted in Tips with tags on November 12, 2021 by itnerd

The most controversial thing about the MacBook Pro that was just released is the notch. While it gives you insanely thin bezels, it does cut into the menu bar. That’s a problem for me as I run iStat Menus which monitors things like RAM and CPU usage as well as system temperature. If I have enough things active, it runs up against the notch:

On the left side of the screenshot is where the notch is. If anything else enters the menu bar, it goes under the notch. For example I’ve gotten rid of the Bluetooth icon for that reason as it was inaccessible at times. I needed a more elegant solution. Which is why after some research I installed a utility called Bartender. What Bartender does is allows you to take control of your menu bar so you can decide what is visible, and when it is visible. In my case when I run it, it makes my menu bar look like this:

While I clearly have a lot more space on my menu bar, you’re likely wondering where the rest of the stuff went to. Well, the stuff that I don’t need to look at on a constant basis gets placed here:

You can see that there’s a hidden menu bar with items that I don’t need on a constant basis. You can make it reappear if you click on the three dots. But the really cool thing is that they can reappear when needed. For example:

  • When I am on battery power, the battery icon will show.
  • When Time Machine is doing a backup, the Time Machine icon will show.
  • When I am disconnected from WiFi, the WiFi icon will show.
  • When my Cisco AnyConnect VPN Connection gets dropped, the icon will show.
  • When Garmin Connect has a notification, the icon will show.

The net result is that I get some space on my menu bar that allows me to see what I need to see, while making sure that the notch will not be an issue. And this setup can help anyone who doesn’t have a new MacBook Pro, but simply has a Mac with a ton of menu bar items.

Hopefully this tip helps you. If you have any ideas as to how to bring sanity to your menu bar, leave a comment or send me an email and share your thoughts.

Two Easy Ways To Easily Tell If You Are Running Mac Apps That Are Compatible With Apple Silicon

Posted in Tips with tags on November 9, 2021 by itnerd

So you just got a brand you Mac with the M1, M1 Pro, or M1 Mac processor in it. Congratulations! You absolutely made the right decision. But to fully leverage that new processor, you need apps that are designed for Apple Silicon so that you get the best performance and the best compatibility. Which means the question is, how do you make sure that your apps are ones that work with Apple Silicon? Before I get into the two ways that I would recommend to do that, let me explain the three different app types and why you should care:

  • X86-64 app running under Rosetta 2: If you’re coming from another Mac, or the developer of the app in question is on the lazy side, they may have only created an app that runs on Intel Macs that have Intel processors using the X86-64 bit instruction set. Which means that when you use that app on an Apple Silicon computer, macOS will have to use a translation layer called Rosetta 2 to allow it to run on Apple Silicon. Most of the time this works very well. However it is entirely possible that you may not be getting the best performance from the app in Rosetta 2. Also, it is also possible that you may have some issues with the app as no translation is perfect.
  • Universal Apps: This is where things get a bit confusing. Apple uses the term “Universal” for Apple Silicon/M1 optimized apps which work with Intel Macs too. But Apple uses the same term to refer to the same app being available on iOS and macOS. In this case, I am talking about the former as that form of Universal App ensures that you get good performance and compatibility with Apple Silicon Macs.
  • Apple Silicon Apps: These are apps that are native on Apple Silicon. These apps will give you the absolute best performance on your Apple Silicon Mac.

At the moment, I would expect most people who own Apple Silicon Macs to have Universal as developers really only want to write one app that works on both Intel and Apple Silicon platforms. But over the next few years, I expect that developers will transition over to Apple Silicon apps because there will be less and less Intel Macs in the market as time goes on and Apple will eventually drop support for Rosetta 2 for that reason. Thus it’s in your interest to make sure that you have as many apps that are Apple Silicon compatible as possible to stay ahead of this.

So, how can you tell what types of apps you’re running. Apple has a built in tool called System Information that can help you with that. Simply go to the Apple Menu –> About This Mac –> System Report. This will bring up System Information. Scroll down to the Software section and pick Applications. You should see this:

Here is where you will see all the apps that are on your Mac. Under “Kind” you will the type of app. In the screen shot above, you will see that I have the Apple Silicon version of Zoom, but everything else on the screen is a Universal app. You will also see iOS apps which is fine, Intel apps are ones which you should upgrade if you can, and Other. I honestly have no clue what that is. And nothing that I searched for cleared that up for me. If anyone out there has any info on this, I’d really appreciate a comment or an email with some clarification.

The second option is to use an app called Silicon which scans your computer for apps and displays everything in a user friendly way:

If you see a green dot next to the app, you’re good. If you see a yellow dot next to the app, then you need to update the app. It really doesn’t get any simpler.

Once you have an idea of what types of apps you have, I would go to the developer’s website or to the App Store to see if there is an update. If there isn’t one, I would email the developer as that may encourage them to update their app seeing as they will have to do it at some point.

Hopefully this helps you to get the most out of your new Apple Silicon Mac. If you have any questions, please leave a comment or send me an email and I’ll do my best to help you out.

Which Apple Watch Should You Buy? Deciding Between The Series 3, SE, or Series 7.

Posted in Tips with tags on October 13, 2021 by itnerd

This Friday marks the release of the Apple Watch Series 7. That has sparked a number of inquiries into my inbox as to which Apple Watch that one should get. Hopefully this article can help you in deciding which one you should get.

Let’s start at the top. Apple has three Apple Watches on offer: 

  • The Apple Watch Series 7
  • The Apple Watch SE
  • The Apple Watch Series 3

Buying the Apple Watch Series 3 is a complete waste of your money if you are in the market for an Apple Watch. Why you ask? Here’s the reasons why I would avoid it like it is radioactive:

  • It has an S3 processor which is a 32-bit processor. It’s also the last 32-bit processor that Apple supports. Which means it’s not long for this world. It is entirely likely that in the next year or two that Apple will drop support for it. After all, they dropped support for anything below the Series 3 in watchOS 7. 
  • Not only that, the Series 3 is not all that fast. Though I will admit that if you have never had an Apple Watch, you won’t know what you’re missing.
  • The Series 3 doesn’t support Apple’s Family Sharing feature. That’s the feature that allows you to activate and manage an Apple Watch without the person on the receiving end of that Apple Watch needing an iPhone. As long as the Apple Watch in question is a cellular model.
  • The Series 3 lacks ECG functionality and fall detection functionality that is found in the SE and Series 7, and the blood oxygen monitoring that is exclusive to the Series 7.

For those reasons, I’d avoid the Series 3. That leaves the SE and Series 7. Here’s what I think of those two options:

  • If you’re price sensitive and you don’t care about the always on display and you don’t care about blood oxygen monitoring, the SE is for you.
  • The SE is also a great choice to give a child or a parent or grandparent an Apple Watch as you can leverage the Family Sharing feature at a lower price point.
  • If however you want “the new hotness” of the most recent Apple Watch, or you want the option of getting a titanium or stainless steel case which the SE does not offer, or the 20% bigger screen versus the SE interests you, then the Apple Watch Series 7 is for you. Not to mention that the Series 7 is also noticeably faster than the SE.

You can’t really go wrong either way as both options will be supported for Apple for years to come. It’s just a matter of deciding what features you want and how much you’re willing to spend to get them.

Hopefully that helps you to decide what Apple Watch to get. But if you’re still having a hard time deciding, drop me a note or leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out.

If You’re Not Receiving Mail Notification Sounds On Your iPhone/iPad After Upgrading To iOS 15, Here’s The “Fix”

Posted in Tips with tags on October 1, 2021 by itnerd

After installing iOS 15, the emails that come through on my phone were silent even though I have sounds associated with him either default or custom sounds. I went through the usual troubleshooting which was as follows:

  • I have power cycled my iPhone 12 Pro no change.
  • I did a hard reset. No change.
  • I changed the sound but there’s still no sound notification when emails come in.

I started to dig around and it appears that Apple made a change that isn’t inherently clear to users who were used to the behavior in iOS 15. If you go Settings –> Mail –> Notifications –> Customize Notifications, you’ll see this:

Note the Customize Notifications option. If you click on that, and choose an email account on the next screen, you then see this:

Chances are, this is turned off, turn on alerts and make sure that a sound is selected. In other words, it should look like this:

Now if you have an Apple Watch, you need to do some extra work. Specifically:

  • Go to the Watch App on your iPhone
  • Go to Mail
  • Change “Mirror my iPhone” to “Custom”
  • Select “Send to Notification Centre”

That way, unless it’s a VIP I won’t get a notification on my Apple Watch.

By doing all of this, it roughly approximates the behavior that was present in iOS 14 and earlier. I say approximates because this does not fully fix this problem which I am certain is a bug. One that I hope will be fixed in a future iOS update.

Has this helped you? I would appreciate it if you could provide some feedback and let me know.

How To Fix Some Of The “Quirks” Of iOS/iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, And Safari 15

Posted in Tips with tags on September 22, 2021 by itnerd

On Monday, Apple released a ton of software to the world. And that as is typical for me caused my phone to ring and my inbox to fill up from people who had minor “quirks” in terms of how the software looked and functioned that annoyed them. I’ve collected the common “quirks” into this article along with how to fix them. I’ll start with Safari 15. It has a feature that colors the Tab Bar. If that annoys you, here’s how to turn it off:

  1. Go to the “Safari” menu, then “Preferences”
  2. Go to “Tabs”
  3. Uncheck “Show color in tab bar”

Now this same feature exists in iOS/iPadOS 15. Here’s how you disable this same feature in those OSes:

  1. Go to “Settings” then “Safari”
  2. Under the “Tabs” section turn off “Website Tinting”. Note: On iPadOS the option is called “Show Color in Tab Bar”

Safari on iOS and iPadOS 15 also moved the address bar to the bottom of the screen by default. Based on what my clients are saying, it’s not a popular change. But you can change it back to the top easily:

  1. Go to “Settings” then “Safari”
  2. Under the “Tabs” section, select “Single Tab”

watchOS 8 removed the dedicated bed icon for activating sleep mode. That caused a few calls from clients of mine who used Apple’s sleep tracking feature. In watchOS 7, you simply had to swipe up from the bottom and click on the bed icon to activate sleep mode. Now in watchOS 8, it’s tied to the new Focus Mode feature which Apple defines as “A powerful new set of tools gives you more control over how you prioritize your time and attention. So you can find balance and stay focused on whatever you’re doing in the moment.” The problem is that this change is confusing lots of users. To save you stress of figuring it out when you’re going to bed, here’s how you activate sleep mode:

  1. Swipe up from the bottom to display Control Center.

2. Find the moon icon, press and hold it to get the menu pictured below.

3. Choose Sleep.

Finally, some of you might have issues with iOS 15 where you might have problems with Bluetooth devices (Bluetooth headsets specifically) and WiFi. The solution could be classified as a “nuclear option.” But it seems to fix most things that have been reported to me.

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Go to General
  3. Go to Transfer or Reset iPhone
  4. Go To Reset
  5. Click on Reset Network Settings

The reason why I call this the “nuclear option” is that you will have to re-join any WiFi networks that the phone was paired with after you do this. Which by extension means that you will need to know the passwords of said networks before you go down this path. It also seems to reset some cellular options like roaming preferences and WiFi calling. But it seems to clear up strange Bluetooth and WiFi issues. Thus it’s worth trying.

Do you have an “quirks” in watchOS 8, iOS/iPadOS 15 and Safari 15 that you’ve come across and fixed? Please leave a comment below and share your wisdom. Alternately, if you have a “quirk” that you need help with, leave a comment below and I will try and assist you.

UPDATE: Someone emailed me asking where Private Browsing Mode was in Safari on iOS/iPad OS 15. I am not sure why Apple did this, but it is buried in the tab menu:

If you click on it, you’ll be given the Private option:

Click on it and you’ll be in Private Browsing Mode.

Choose done. To get out of Private Browsing Mode, simply follow these steps and choose “x Tabs” where “x” is the number of tabs that you have open.

Microsoft Teams Comes To Apple CarPlay… Here’s What You Can Do With That

Posted in Tips with tags on September 10, 2021 by itnerd

Yesterday I went to run a quick errand in the car and I noticed this in CarPlay:

In my CarPlay interface, I noticed a Microsoft Teams icon. I had not noticed that before, so I checked to see when it was last updated and in my case, it was updated on September 2nd. So I am guessing that that update brought this CarPlay support. I then went about experimenting to see what it was capable of. That amounted to two things.

The first was that you could call someone on Teams using Siri. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Click on the Teams icon in CarPlay.
  2. Siri will then appear. At that point you could say something like “Call John Smith on Teams” or if you wanted to call multiple people, you could say “Call Jack Smith and Jane Smith on Teams”

The second thing that you can do is join a Teams meeting. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Click on the Teams icon in CarPlay.
  2. Siri will then appear. At that point you could say something like “Call next meeting using Teams”. That assumes that your next meeting in your Teams calendar. If it’s not, that command will not work. But assuming you do, it will connect you to your meeting (Assuming you arrive no more than 15 minutes before the meeting starts and as late as five minutes after the meeting starts). All the controls will be look and act like a regular phone call.

I should note that you can only use Teams audio for obvious reasons. And I should also note that when you join a meeting, your mic is muted. Again for obvious reasons.

One thing that I should point out is that all of this assumes that Siri is not blocked by your IT admin. So if any of this doesn’t work for you, you might want to read the document that I just linked to.

Hopefully this will be the start to further support of Teams in Apple CarPlay as the pandemic has required all of us to work from anywhere. If you’ve found anything else of note, drop a comment below and share what you’ve found.

UPDATE: I have also found that Teams chat messages will show up in CarPlay and be read to you. However there does not seem to be any way that you can respond to them.