At Home with Tech

Figure out which consumer tech you need, the right gear to buy and how to use your new gadgets.

Tag: iCloud

How iCloud Photos Saved my Family’s iPhones

If your iPhone is running out of storage, it may be because it’s housing too many photos and videos. Here’s why iCloud Photos can help.

My wife and I have been happily shooting and collecting thousands of photos and videos on our iPhones over the years. But there’s a problem. We’re running out of storage on our devices.
(As we upgraded from one iPhone to the next, the digital files simply ported over, and our huge visual libraries kept on growing.)

On one level, it’s nice to have access to every photo and video you’ve ever taken on a smartphone. But it’s entirely impractical. It’s way too many files, and more importantly, any iPhone probably can’t handle that much content without being overwhelmed with the storage need.

Sooner or later, your iPhone will become hobbled. And when you find yourself deleting apps to try to free up precious memory, you really know you’ve got a problem.

Yes, I’ve been there. You need a better solution.

Fortunately, Apple’s got one.

iCloud Photos
To access more storage, you have to look to the cloud. You simply activate Apple’s iCloud Photos, and all of your photos and videos will sync to your iCloud account and across all of your other Apple devices.

How does this help your iPhone? Well, just be sure that “Optimize iPhone Storage” is checked in the settings for your iCloud Photos. That’s the magic step.

When you activate this setting, your iPhone will generate and hold onto smaller versions of your photos and videos while the full-resolution versions live in iCloud.

With just the compressed versions of your photos and videos on your iPhone, you’ll suddenly have a whole lot more available local storage.

Plus, you’ll have all of your media backed up in iCloud.

There is a Cost
Of course, there’s a price for this iCloud ‘upgrade.’ (The measly 5GB you get for free will barely cover a week’s worth of content.)

50GB costs 99 cents/month, and 200GB is $2.99/month.
(2TB goes for $9.99/month, but that’s much more data than your iPhone can generate.)

Before your turn on iCloud Photos, you’ve got to upgrade to an iCloud plan that will cover your needs.

I decided to go with the 200GB plan and share it with my wife’s iPhone through Apple’s Family Sharing feature.

No Finish Line
iCloud Photos is a simple solution to solve for the problem of your ever expanding library of photos. Paying a few bucks a month to activate this capability is definitely worth it.

But simply maintaining a disorganized library of imagery over the years isn’t going to do you any favors. You’ve got to eventually go through your photos… choose the best ones, organize them and then delete the rest.

You need to do the work and curate your best images. Otherwise, they’ll get lost in your sea of countless photos.

Sure, they’ll be safely stored in iCloud. And your iPhone will have more storage.

But that shouldn’t be the end of the story.

Good luck as you continue this life-long photo and video project!

The Borg Advantage of a Shared Cloud Calendar

You don’t need futuristic “Star Trek” solutions to properly sync to your partner’s schedule. Your smartphone already provides that connectivity…

I’m sorry if this confession surprises you, but I am about to describe how my wife and I used to coordinate our schedules… Once upon a time, we’d take out our iPhones during dinner and open up our individual calendars for the upcoming days. We’d discuss our son’s schedule and imminent family events to ensure we were both on the same page. Each of us then added in the requisite events into our own calendars.

Tap, tap, tap.
Tap, tap, tap, tap.
Tap, tap, tap, tap, delete, delete, tap, tap.

(This can really ruin dessert.)

While this antiquated process facilitated a nice conversation about what was going on in our busy lives, it was totally unnecessary from a calendar-syncing perspective.

Create a Synced Calendar to Better Connect Your Family
To upgrade from all of this unnecessary manual coordination, all you need to do is simply create a new ‘shared calendar’ in the Calendar app through iCloud and then invite your partner to join it via email.
(It’s really not that difficult…and not at all as painful as joining the Borg collective on “Star Trek.”)

When you create a new event, just make sure you assign it to this new calendar category.

Once your spouse accepts your invitation to the shared family calendar, any new event you create will also immediately appear in her own Calendar app. (She does need to ‘accept it.’) And she can do the same for your calendar!
(Remember, you can view multiple calendars together on one screen.)

It’s a perfect two-way flow of information to schedule your active lives.
Totally synced… so the two of you can be in sync!

And you don’t have to change or give up anything about your existing personal calendar. It’s all additive.
(The shared events show up as a different color.)

Brilliant!

Cloud Calendars Rock
My wife and I have been using our shared iCloud family calendar for the past few years, and it’s been a game changer for us. It even keeps us organized between our check-in scheduling conversations, because our Calendar apps let us know when a new event has been added.

So, it effectively provides real-time updates to our ever-changing family schedules.

I know there are any number of shared-calendar apps out there, but I’m always partial to using native applications for my technology solutions.

Resistance is Futile
Our son is eight years old, but I know he’s already just a few years away from using smartphone tech. (Exactly how many years is a topic for another conversation.) I expect that shared cloud calendars are already firmly established as a key digital tool for families with older kids.

But if you’re not yet savvy to this Borg-like connectivity, I urge you not to resist joining the ‘collective-think’ advantage of using a shared iCloud calendar.

Why My iCloud Email Stopped Working in Outlook for Mac

When your email program suddenly chokes, it’s probably a good idea to first find out if your email provider has updated any of its policies that require you to take action.

Yes, my iCloud emails abruptly stopped showing up in my Microsoft Outlook for Mac program a few days ago. For the record, it was on June 15. My iMac presented a message warning me that something was very wrong and that it might be my password or user ID. But as far as I knew, nothing had changed.

Boy, was I wrong…

June 15 Can be Hazardous to Your Emails
And if you think you don’t need to worry about this particular tech glitch because you don’t use Outlook for Mac for email, be forewarned that this story affects all of your third-party apps that require a password to get to your iCloud email, calendar and contacts.

I scoured the web for possible solutions.
Hours later, I stumbled across this little detail:
(Thanks to 9to5Mac and Lifewire)

As of June 15, 2017, Apple changed its security policies for non-Apple apps. Now, you need to create app-specific passwords through Apple’s enhanced security protocols of “2-step verification” (older system) or “2-factor verification” (newer system).

What this means is you can’t sign into your non-Apple apps using your iCloud password. You’ve got to create app-specific passwords through Apple.

This is not at all a new process. But if you’ve been avoiding Apple’s verification protocols, now you have no choice but to comply or get kicked out of Apple’s ecosystem.

Give a Dad a Chance!
No doubt, better security bolted onto your iCloud account is wicked important. But it would have been nice to know that this was coming.
(Cough)

But as it turns out, Apple sent an email to me on May 16 explaining the change.
I didn’t see that one apparently…

And then I missed the friendly reminder that went out two days before the deadline.
Mea culpa.

So how hard is it to set it all up?
Not at all.

In fact, it’s easy via the Apple ID page, which houses all of your account details and where you can create these à la carte passwords.

Father’s Day Gift from Apple
Look, I know I wasn’t paying attention. And I was given fair warning… twice.

But Apple… did you have to make the deadline right before Father’s Day?!
I mean… chances are there are other dads out there who ran afoul of this change.
I can’t be the only one.
(Cough)

And wouldn’t it be safe to assume we’ve all got other plans on Father’s Day weekend beyond having to spend time trying to figure out how to get our emails working again?

Choosing a different week would have been better.
(Just a pedestrian point of view from one of your faithful users out there in the trenches)

And to all of you ‘IT Guy’ dads out there who dodged this particular bullet, please hear me: If you don’t have the spare time to make your tech updates in a timely manner and hope to keep the status quo going for as long as possible… you can only wait for so long!

And then it catches up with you.
That’s the reality.
Happy Father’s Day.

Now put away your new tie and get to work.
(And read all of your Apple emails!)

%d bloggers like this: