6 great Android features missing from iOS 11

 

Call me a flip-flopper, but the new features in iOS 11 have me thinking of jumping back to iOS after switching to Android barely a year ago.

Indeed, the new version of iOS brings such enticing features as a revamped App Store, a customizable Control Center, and drag-and-drop for iPad users, plus such catch-up features as one-handed typing and easy person-to-person payments.

But returning to iOS would mean leaving behind many Android features I’ve grown to love, from the ability to set up multiple user profiles to one-touch Google searches on whatever’s onscreen at a given moment.

Read on for six awesome Android features that iOS 11 has yet to match, starting with..

Multiple user profiles

Given all the innovations coming to the iPad courtesy of iOS 11, from the ability to drag-and-drop elements from one side of the split screen to the other and the new, persistent app dock, you’d think Apple would toss in a feature that’s been standard on Android for years: user profiles, perfect for letting family members in a one-iPad household create their own personal iPad spaces.

Multiple user profiles

Ben Patterson

If you’ve been waiting for Android-like user profiles to arrive on iOS, bad news: they’re still missing in iOS 11.

For whatever reason, though (privacy concerns, perhaps?), Apple has yet again passed on adding user profiles to the iPhone or iPad. That means if you share your iPad with your toddler or teenager, you’re sharing all your iPad data, too, including your e-mail, your open browser tabs, your Facebook app, everything.

Multiple Do Not Disturb schedules

Android has really spoiled me with its “automatic rules” for Do Not Disturb mode. With automatic rules, you can set up multiple Do Not Disturb schedules for weeknights, weekends, meetings, and any other scenarios you dream up. For example, I have Do Not Disturb set to turn itself off early (as in 6 a.m.) on weekday mornings, while on weekends, Do Not Disturb keeps things quiet until about 8.

Multiple Do Not Disturb schedules

 

Backing up IOS devices for sale, transfer and safety

This is sort of a “part two” to the Pointers we wrote last week about how to back up your Mac, both for immediate common-sense reasons and for other goals, such as long-term archival preservation, or for preparing to transfer data to a new machine, for example. This week, we’ll do the same for iOS devices, where — as with most things iOS — the process is quite a bit simpler. We’ll explain how to back up your iTunes purchases, your other data (and keep it safe), and how to transfer it to a new iOS device.

Most of what we’re discussing here was tested on very recent iOS devices, including an iPhone 6s, an iPhone 5s, an iPhone 4, and an iPad Air 2 — and at least one of these was not running iOS 9, but in fact limited to iOS 7 (have a guess which one). The methods described are the same on all the devices, and are important regardless of what you keep on your iOS device. If you’ve never backed up your iOS device, you should do so now — and we’ll explain how.

Backups: iCloud or iTunes?

There are two ways to back up the data on an iOS device: using iCloud, or using iTunes. The former has certain advantages, and so does the latter. The key difference is how they back up and what they back up — surprisingly, this is different. If you haven’t “tied” your iOS device to any Mac or PC, then you only have the iCloud option for backup. Doing a backup through iTunes, if you haven’t done it before, “ties” it to that particular machine (but don’t worry, when the time comes you can transfer that backup to your new machine, no problem).

The iCloud backup method is very quick, and wireless of course. The reason its quick is because it doesn’t back up absolutely everything, but it backs up the important things: the record of which apps you have, the iTunes Stores purchases, documents you’ve saved within the applications, photos, settings, and all that kind of thing. Since it already had a record of what you’ve bought, it doesn’t actually upload most of that, just the stuff you’ve added to them.

There is, however, an important limitation: iCloud accounts can only store 5GB worth of data for free, and that includes whatever else you’re using your iCloud account for (like email), so that might create an issue if you have a lot of stuff on your iOS device that wasn’t purchased from the iTunes stores. You may need to pay for more storage (this is fairly cheap, however: 99 cents per month for 50GB, and you may only need this extra storage for a month), or you may opt to back up through iTunes on your computer instead.

Backing up to your computer through iTunes has the advantage of backing up everything, including stuff like chat logs, music or videos that weren’t purchased through iTunes, photos that aren’t stored in the Camera Roll, your call history, homescreen arrangement, and more that an iCloud backup skips. The only thing an iTunes backup doesn’t automatically include is your health data; you need to turn on the encryption option to password-protect your backup before it will include that information. Make sure you create a password you can remember or retrieve, since there could be a lot of health-related data (like steps taken and heart rate) that you may not even be actively aware of. We generally recommend encrypted iTunes backups of iOS data as a matter of course.

When you get a new iOS device

Backing up your iOS data is a smart move and you should do it periodically; at least once a month would be our suggestion. This way, it rarely takes that long (if you’re doing the iTunes backup wirelessly, it can seem a bit slow; you can connect it directly via USB to improve the speed quite a bit) and it protects your data from getting lost if, for example, your iOS device was ever lost or stolen and not recoverable. The backup is also insanely great to have when you get a new iOS device.

Ideally, you would make a backup of your old device just before moving over to the new one, so that you had the most up-to-date backup possible. Regular backups, however, will minimize loss if the old device is no longer available — either because it is missing or because it just died on your, or is at the bottom of a lake or something. Plug the new device into your Mac or PC where the old device was backed up, click on the option to restore it from your backup, and before you know it you are back with all the stuff you had on your old device. The USB direct connection is fastest, again, but whatever works best for you is fine.

When you sell your old iOS device

What if it’s the other way round — that you’re selling your iOS device to someone else and you want to make sure it’s wiped clean? The procedure for this is simple, but it’s very important that you do all the steps. The first step — and the most important for avoiding future hassles — is to turn off “Find My iPhone” (or iPad, or iPod touch) on the device. You’ll be asked if you are sure, because this will disable an important tracking tool for finding a lost or stolen iOS device which we hope you have previously had on — but turn it off.

Next, sign out of iCloud. This also signs you out of all the things that use your Apple ID on the device, such as your Apple Mail account (if you have one), iTunes and the iTunes Stores, and so on. Finally, you then go to Settings, General, scroll all the way to the bottom (Apple made this hard to find on purpose), tap Reset, tap “Erase All Contents and Settings,” tap the confirmation — and a few seconds later you will have an iOS device that behaves exactly like it was just turned on for the first time, fresh out of the box. All your information is gone off the device — and safely stored in your backup on iCloud or iTunes until you restore it to another one.

When you change computers

If it’s not the iOS device that changed, but the computer, generally this will not be a big issue. You bought a new Mac or PC, and now you want your iOS device to be “tied” to it. Assuming you made a backup that was stored on iCloud or the old machine, you can restore from iCloud or by using Migration Assistant to connect your old machine to your new one — Migration Assistant will transfer over all your stuff, including your iOS backups, so everything will be just as it was.

When you plug the device into your new computer, your iTunes will recognize it and carry on — and if you do happen to get the computer saying it doesn’t recognize the iOS device, just have iTunes restore the device from your stored backup and it will get “back to normal.” If you didn’t associate your device with your computer previously and don’t want to this time, that’s fine too — just restore from your iCloud backup instead. With recent iOS versions, devices like iPhones and iPads don’t have to be associated with a computer if you don’t want them to be, though as we’ve mentioned there are some advantages to having a local backup.

There’s one other reason you may want to get more regular about backing up your iOS devices, and in particular your iTunes Store purchases: avoiding obsolescence. Although Apple will let you re-download anything you’ve purchased from them previously for free, there are some caveats to that. The biggest one is that sometimes — usually only temporarily, but “temporarily” can mean years — an artist or record company will pull songs or albums you purchased from iTunes for whatever reason.

You purchased it, it belongs to you, it’s right there on your iOS device as proof — but you can no longer re-download it if you happen to lose the copy you currently have. Similarly, movies and TV shows can get pulled, and much more frequently apps are discontinued and removed from the App Store (I have a handful of apps that fall into this category). If you’ve made backups, however, you’re covered from loss — those songs and videos can be put back on if you ever lose them or get a new device, and those games or other apps can carry on working for you as long as they are functional on the current iOS version.

Discounted apps for your new IOS device

In Part One of this article, we listed some of the many, many great deals on Mac apps and games that the new Mac owner might be interested in. We’ve also routinely posted iOS app deals when they come along, sometimes as part of the Daily Deals column and also as standalone specials, such as we did on Thursday. This time, we’re looking at apps and games you might want to download if you’ve just gotten a shiny new iOS device, either your first one or just your latest one.

While many of these specials cover the holiday period, don’t forget that new iOS device owners get Christmas every day by qualifying for a range of free Apple programs they can download, including the full “iWork” suite of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, along with other apps. Apple has also listed couple dozen great apps and games in a collection where each of the programs can be had for a mere 99 cents. From the “Pocket” version of drawing app Procreate to the note-taking app Notability to highly-regarded or cultishly-popular games such as Alto’s Adventure, I Am Bread, Bleek, and Goat Simulator. There’s at least one there that will go well beyond the fine apps your iOS device included, and remember — you can also gift these great app deals to others who got iOS devices this year.

Non-game iOS apps

While there is an astonishing amount of stuff you can do with an iPad or iPhone that doesn’t involve games, let’s not kid ourselves: games is the biggest and most popular category of apps, because the number one thing people do when they have some downtime is pull out their iPhone, whether its to check their messages, post their food on Facebook, or while away the waiting time with a quick round or two from a favorite game.

As mentioned above, Apple has a few non-game ideas on sale, but we also dug up a few more, includingDuet Display (which lets you use the iPad as a second Mac monitor) for $10 (normally $16), and 2Do (one guess what that does) which is now $8 (was $15). If you’re looking for a diary or journal, there’s Momento for half off (now just $1), and Day One for $1 (normally $5).

Readdle is discounting a bunch of their highly-regarded apps: we particularly like Scanner Pro (was $3, now $1), but there’s also Calendars 5, an alternative calendar program that ties nicely into Google Calendar (was $10 now $5); PDF Expert 5 for working with PDF forms (was $10, now $5); and Printer Pro, for sending documents from your iOS device to your printer (was $7, now $3). Darsoft has two of its PDF programs on sale as well: PDF Forms (was $9, now $4) and PDF Printer (was $6, now $4).

While nearly all of the apps we mention here are universal for all iOS devices, some still have separate iPad and iPhone versions. One example is astronomy app Star Walk for iPhone and Star Walk HD for iPad (both were $3 each, now $1 each). There’s also Awesome Note 2 for iPhone and for iPad, both now just $3 each (normally $4 and $5, respectively). Speaking of note-taking apps, Notes Plus is exclusively for iPad, and it’s down to $7 from the normal $10.

If you need some weather info, Instaweather Pro is free (normally $3), and Thermo-Hygrometer (what the what?) is half-off at $1 (usually $2). If you want to wake up, try Red Clock (was $2, now $1). Need another calculator, we think you’ll like Digits (was $4, now $1), and if you’re impressed enough with these apps that you want to try making your own, check out AppCooker (was $30, now $20). We also have a few apps where we mentioned the discounted Mac versions, including to-do list Clear (was $5, now $2), Deliveries for tracking packages (was $5, now $3) and Macphun’s FX Photo Studio (now free, was $1). Speaking of photo apps, Halftone will turn your photos into comics for $1 (normally $2).

Some other little non-game gems you might enjoy include photo-captioning app Word Swag (was $4, now $1), sound-sampling app Loopy HD (was $4, now $3), Awesome Calendar (was $7, now $3), City Maps 2Go Pro (was $5, now $1), and Fitness Buddy for just $3 instead of the usual $4. Related to that, don’t forget aboutFit Men Cook for healthy recipes, now just $1 (was $3).

Moar gamez!

We mentioned a couple at the start of this in the Apple collection, but we omitted the awesome Leo’s Fortune,Tiny Guardians, Trick Shot, and Ski Safari 2 that are also part of that sale. Some really big-name titles are priced to move as well, including all three of the Infinity Blade series (I, II, III), all now priced at $1; and a ridiculous number of Final Fantasy titles (II, III, the iPad version of Final Fantasy III, IV, IV: The After Years, V,VI, and VII for both iPhone and iPad, along with Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions available separately for iPhone and iPad). All the Final Fantasy titles are half off, which saves you between $5 and $8 per game from the regular price. We may have just set a record for the most links in a single paragraph ever, just there.

Some of our other personal favorites that are now on sale include the gorgeous quest puzzlers Oceanhorn(was $9, now $5) and Bastion (was $5, now $1), and Sid Meier’s Starships (was $10, now $5). We are also fond of Badland (was $5, now $3) and a favorite from our SNES days, The Secret of Mana (iPhone only, was $8, now $4). The Room and The Room 2 are both on sale; the former is iPad-only, and free (usually $1), while the latter is universal, and now $2 (normally $3). We also love Chrono Trigger (was $10 now $5), old-fashioned board game Ticket to Ride (was $7, now $3), and Lara Croft Go (Apple’s Game of the Year, was $5 now $2).

There’s no way we can document them all, but we do want to mention a couple of dozen others that caught our eye, including the Hitman Essentials bundle (includes Hitman Go and Sniper, was $8 now $1),DuckTales: Remastered (was $10, now $1) and Toca Lab (was $3, now $1) for the kids, XCOM: Enemy Within (was $10, now $5), and a raft of cheap sports games, including NBA 2K16, NHL 2K, WWE 2K, and RBI Baseball 15, all of which are sale-priced for between $1 and $4, and generally half to two-thirds off their normal price.

Oh, that egg nog is calling our name, but before we go, here’s some final other great app deals: there’s still a couple of games that are temporarily free that we didn’t mention previously, such as the excellent Attack the Light, God of Light, and Burn the Corn. Games that are down to just $1 include Hyper Square, Duet Game,Kingdom Rush Origins (iPhone only, that one), King Oddball, Space Inversion 2, Skip-Bo, Phase 10, Surgeon Simulator, and To-Fu Fury.

For a mere $2 apiece, games like Goat Simulator: GoatZ, the entire series of Lego Harry Potter games (Years 1-4 and Years 5-7), and the Lego Movie Video Game and Lego Lord of the Rings could be yours, along withSpace Invaders Infinity Gene. For $3 each, you can grab Goat Simulator MMO, the outstanding Broken Age,Kingdom Rush HD for iPad, and Transistor, all at at least 33 to 50 percent (if not more) off their normal price. If your family thought you kept your nose buried in your iOS device before, they haven’t seen anything yet. Enjoy, and have a “app-y” holiday.

Surprise! Mozilla just launched a Firefox-branded ad blocker for iOS

Focus by Firefox

Mozilla has released a new content blocker for the iPhone and iPad, continuing its push to provide users with privacy options for their Web browsing.

Called Focus by Firefox, the app released Tuesday works a lot like other blockers for Apple’s mobile platform: users download the app from the App Store, and open it to select the sort of content they want to block. After that, they just enable it as a content blocker in their phone or tablet’s settings.

Focus allows users to block several different types of code that track their behavior across websites, including ad trackers, analytics trackers and social trackers.  The app will block the same content as Firefox’s Private Browsing with Tracking Protection feature on Windows, Mac, Linux and Android.

That means ads that don’t track users will be allowed through Focus, giving advertisers and publishers a way to make money off those people who have the app enabled. The list of blocked ads is primarily provided by Disconnect, a company that makes a browser extension focused on blocking trackers.  It is open source, publicly viewable and doesn’t allow or require companies to pay in order to get their ads unblocked.

“We made Focus by Firefox because we believe content blockers need to be transparent with publishers and other content providers about how lists are created and maintained, rather than placing certain content in a permanent penalty box,” Mozilla Chief Legal and Business Officer Denelle Dixon-Thayer wrote in a blog post. “We want this product to encourage a discussion about users and content providers, instead of monetizing users’ mistrust and pulling value out of the Web ecosystem.”

Another interesting component of the Focus announcement is that Mozilla is providing the app free of charge, and says that it doesn’t monetize the blocker through other means. It’s another sign of one of the interesting things about Mozilla as a browser-maker: the organization doesn’t operate an advertising network like its largest competitors, and so it can afford to make a stand about tracking users.

Interestingly, Focus works in Safari on iOS but not Firefox, since Apple doesn’t allow third-party browsers to use the Content Blocker functionality. Firefox’s Vice President of Product Nick Nguyen wrote in a blog post that Mozilla is looking into how it can bring similar functionality to its browser on Apple’s mobile platform.

Mozilla has gone from avoiding Apple’s mobile platform to supporting it wholeheartedly. The organization previously refused to offer Firefox for iOS because Apple doesn’t allow third-party browsers to use their own rendering engines. That policy stance changed this year when the company launched its browser for Apple’s platform, and carries on with this announcement Tuesday.

These moves may be driven in part by Firefox’s dwindling market share. By providing users more control over how their data is shared with advertisers, Mozilla may attract people who want to take a principled stand with their browsing to its applications.