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watchOS 9’s New Low Power Mode Could Help Older Apple Watches

Until watchOS 9, Low Power Mode on the Apple Watch turned the smartwatch into a dumb watch that only told the time. With watchOS 9 on an Apple Watch Series 4 or later, however, a new Low Power Mode reduces the watch’s capabilities while keeping it largely functional. It turns off the Always-On display, heart rate notifications, background heart rate and blood oxygen measurements, and the automatic start workout reminder. When your iPhone isn’t nearby, it disables Wi-Fi and cellular connections and incoming phone calls and notifications. Other features will be slower: making a phone call, refreshing background apps and complications, Siri requests, and some interface interactions. (You can still use the Workout app in Low Power Mode and record metrics like heart rate and pace. Go to Settings > Workout on the Apple Watch to turn Low Power Mode on automatically whenever you start a workout.) watchOS 9 prompts you to turn on Low Power Mode when your battery drops to 10%, or you can enable it manually by swiping up from the bottom of the screen to open Control Center, tapping the battery percentage button, and enabling the option.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

Are You Paying Too Much for Internet or Cellular Connectivity?

We’ve recently worked with a few clients who were paying too much for their Internet or cellular service. Internet service providers (ISPs) and cellular carriers occasionally adjust their service plans to account for new technologies, economies of scale, changing competitive landscapes, and marketing efforts. Sometimes they’ll increase speeds or capabilities across the board, but more often, when they debut new plans, current customers are grandfathered into their existing plans, often without notification. Upgrading to a new, better plan is usually simple—first, check the plan details on your ISP’s or cellular carrier’s website. Then, if they look better or cheaper—or if you don’t remember what service levels you should be getting—call the company’s support line and ask if switching plans would be beneficial. Beware that they may try to upsell you on a more expensive plan, so agree to switch only if you’ll end up paying less or getting significantly more. Remember, more speed isn’t necessarily worthwhile—most people won’t notice the difference between 250 Mbps and 1 Gbps, for instance.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

The Many New Lock Screen Customizations in iOS 16

iOS 16 has been out for a bit now, and it’s likely safe to upgrade as long as you don’t rely on obsolete apps that might not be compatible. When you take the plunge, the first new feature to check out is the capability to create, customize, and switch among multiple Lock Screens, each with its own wallpaper, clock font, and widgets. It’s reminiscent of how you customize Apple Watch faces. Plus, you can now link a Lock Screen to a Focus so you know when that Focus is active.

To get started, touch and hold the Lock Screen until the Lock Screen switcher appears. (Your iPhone must be unlocked at this point, which can be a bit tricky with a Touch ID-based iPhone—gently touch the Home button to authenticate, but don’t press it or you’ll open the Home Screen.)

Tap the blue plus button to create a new Lock Screen—see below for how to configure it. Once you have several Lock Screens, swipe left and right to pick one, and tap it to make it active. You can customize aspects of a Lock Screen after creating it by tapping the Customize button, and if you don’t like what you’ve done, delete it by swiping up and tapping the trash button.

Wallpapers

iOS 16 offers seven types of wallpapers, which you select while creating a Lock Screen by tapping buttons at the top or samples in a visual gallery below.

  • Photos: Most people will choose a photo for their wallpaper. iOS 16 uses machine learning to identify images that are likely to work well, separating them with image-selection filters into four categories: People, Pets, Nature, and Cities. You can also scroll through all your photos or particular albums and search for photos. Some people and pets will float above the clock (unless you add widgets), but you can toggle that with the Depth Effect option accessible in the ••• button.
  • Photo Shuffle: Having trouble deciding which photo you prefer? The Photo Shuffle wallpaper automatically selects and switches between photos for you, letting you specify which categories to use, which people to include, and even which individual photos to show or hide (tap the ••• button to remove a suggested photo from the rotation). You can set the photo to rotate with a tap on the Lock Screen, whenever you lock your iPhone, hourly, or daily.
  • Emoji: This wallpaper tiles up to six emoji in several different grid sizes and layouts, and you can change the background color by tapping the ••• button. Thanks to Apple’s quality emoji art, the Emoji wallpaper is surprisingly attractive.
  • Weather: Those who work in windowless offices might particularly appreciate the Weather wallpaper, which changes to reflect the current weather conditions (and time of day) in your location.
  • Astronomy: For a broader perspective, the Astronomy wallpaper lets you look at the Earth, Moon, or solar system whenever you pick up your iPhone. Swipe to pick your preferred celestial body and zoom level.
  • Color: Want something simpler? The Color wallpaper lets you choose a background color gradient from the color picker. Swipe to apply different effects.
  • Collections: This category, which appears only in the gallery, provides Apple-designed graphics such as Unity, Pride, and the clownfish wallpaper from the original iPhone.

Take some time to explore all the wallpaper types and their options—the combinations are nearly endless. There’s no downside to creating and switching among different Lock Screens as the mood strikes you.

Clock font and color

Once you decide on a wallpaper for a Lock Screen, you can customize the clock font and color by tapping the clock. There are only eight font options, but you should be able to find one you like. With color, Apple provides some suggestions below the font choices, but if you scroll all the way to the right and tap the color wheel, you can use iOS 16’s color pickers to select any color. The goal is to make sure it’s readable against the background image you’ve chosen.

Widgets

Beyond the eye candy of wallpapers and the customizable clock, widgets make the iOS 16 Lock Screen more useful than ever. Some iPhone users are accustomed to having flashlight and camera buttons on the Lock screen—everyone can now add widgets to two distinct zones on the Lock Screen, above and below the clock. The widget zone above the clock holds only a single line of text or other controls, and it always displays alongside the date, which shrinks if necessary. The zone below the clock is taller and can hold two sizes of widgets: small ones that occupy a single slot and large ones that take over two slots. You can mix and match small and large widgets to fill—or not—the four available slots.

To add widgets, tap the desired zone and tap widgets in the panel that appears. Suggestions appear at the top, but if you scroll down, you can see a list of all the apps that offer widgets. Tap an app to see its widgets—swipe to see the full set it offers. Once you’ve added a widget, you may be able to tap it again to configure it—such as by specifying tickers for the Stocks widget. To rearrange widgets, drag them but be aware that this works poorly at the moment; it may be easier to delete the widgets (tap the ⊖ button) and add them again in the desired order.

Focus

Focus subsumed Do Not Disturb in iOS 15. Although Focus is far more flexible and customizable than Do Not Disturb, that power also makes it hard to predict when notifications will be blocked, since it can be difficult to know when a Focus is active. With iOS 16, Apple has made Focus more obvious by letting you link a Focus to a Lock Screen.

When you’re in the Lock Screen switcher, a Focus button appears toward the bottom of each Lock Screen. Tap it and select a Focus to link them.

Two things become true once you’ve linked a Focus to a Lock Screen:

  • When you activate that Focus in Control Center, or its settings cause it to activate automatically, iOS 16 switches to the linked Lock Screen. That’s handy if you have a manually triggered Focus for family time, for instance, or an automatically activated Focus for Driving.
  • When you switch to a particular Lock Screen, its linked Focus activates and starts blocking notifications. It’s probably easier to activate a Focus in Control Center, but switching Lock Screens has the same effect.

It may take a few weeks to figure out what Lock Screens you prefer and customize them to your liking, but we think you’ll enjoy this new feature.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)


Social Media: iOS 16’s marquee feature is customizable Lock Screens—read on to learn how to make multiple Lock Screens, each with its own wallpaper, clock font and color, and interactive widgets.

New Messages Features in iOS 16: Mark as Unread, Edit Messages, Undo Send, Report Junk, and More

After years of user requests, Apple has finally beefed up Messages with a few welcome features—options to mark conversations as unread for later reference, edit messages after they’ve been sent, and undo sending entirely. Plus, when you delete junk texts in Messages, you can now report them to Apple and your carrier, and you can find inadvertently deleted conversations in Recently Deleted. Finally, there’s a Tapback improvement for SMS messages to Android users.

Before we begin, beware that editing messages and Undo Send work the way you expect only if your recipient is also using iMessage (blue bubble friends) with iOS 16 (or iPadOS 16 or macOS 13 Ventura, once those come out later in 2022). Instead of an edited message, a device running any other operating system will display a second message with the edited text. An unsent message can’t be called back from a recipient not running iOS 16—it will remain in the conversation with no indication that you tried to unsend it.

Mark as Unread

There are two types of people in the world: those who use red icon badges as reminders and those who ignore them entirely. The same applies to the blue dots that appear next to conversations in Messages to indicate unread posts. If an icon badge or blue dot is your nudge to do something, you’ll like Messages’ new capability to mark messages as unread. That way, if you receive a message while you’re busy, you can pretend that you haven’t read it so the red icon badge and blue dot remind you to deal with the message later.

Note that Mark as Unread works at the conversation level, not the message level. To mark a conversation as unread after looking at it, return to the message list and swipe all the way right on the conversation. For a pinned conversation, press and hold the conversation and tap Mark as Unread.

Edit Messages

We’ve all been the victims of auto-correct or dictation errors that render a message embarrassing, confusing, or inexplicable. With Messages in iOS 16, you can fix such errors within 15 minutes after sending, and if necessary, you can do it up to five times.

To edit a message during that 15-minute window, press and hold the message, then tap Edit. Your message opens for editing. Make your changes and then tap the blue checkmark; if you change your mind, tap the gray X.

It’s important to note, however, that the recipient could have seen the message before you edited it, and even if they didn’t, such messages are marked with Edited in the conversation. If they tap Edited, they can see previous versions of the message. In other words, you can fix mistakes, but you can’t pretend they never happened.

Undo Send

Have you ever sent something in Messages that you wanted to call back? We’ve certainly sent the right message to the wrong person and inadvertently sent gibberish with errant taps on the keyboard. With iOS 16, if you realize you’ve made such a mistake within 2 minutes, you can undo sending, which deletes the message from the recipient’s iPhone, replacing it with a message saying that you unsent it. However, if the recipient isn’t using an iPhone or has any Apple device logged into iMessage that’s not running iOS 16, iPadOS 16, or macOS 13 Ventura, the message will not be deleted on that device, with no indication that you tried to recall it.

To unsend a message within that 2-minute window, press and hold the message, then tap Undo Send. It disappears instantly, and you see a warning about it working only with compatible devices.

Meanwhile, even if the recipient is running iOS 16, they still could have read the message before you unsent it, and if they didn’t see it, they would still see a message saying that you unsent it. In short, you still need to think before you send!

Report Junk

There’s no way to know how effective reporting junk messages is in preventing future spam from that person or phone number, but it feels good. (We like to imagine an Apple satellite’s space laser vaporizing the offender’s phone.) If you get a junk text, either via iMessage (blue bubble) or SMS/MMS (green bubble), swipe all the way left on it. Then tap Delete in the prompt that appears, and Report Junk in the next one.

Recently Deleted

What if you inadvertently delete the wrong conversation or message? You can now access those for up to 30 days in Recently Deleted. Tap Edit in the upper-left corner, tap Show Recently Deleted, select the messages to restore, and tap Recover in the lower-right corner.

SMS Tapbacks on Android

Finally, Apple has tweaked Messages so you can use the Tapback feature (press and hold a message, and then tap one of the response icons above it) to send a corresponding emoji to messages sent by Android users with SMS. This small change helps to provide a consistent experience for both iPhone and Android users.

Although it’s too bad that message editing and Undo Send work only with other iOS 16 users, there’s no avoiding the need for support at both the system level (which eliminates SMS messages sent to non-iPhone users) and the app level (which eliminates older versions of Messages). Nevertheless, they and the other new Messages features are useful now and will become all the more so as more iPhone, iPad, and Mac users upgrade.

(Featured image by iStock.com/ViewApart)


Social Media: Messages in iOS 16 gains a slew of useful features: marking conversations as unread, editing sent messages, unsending messages, and more. They’re great, but some require your recipients to upgrade to iOS 16 for the full experience. Learn more at:

Security Questions Your Organization Should Be Asking Itself

We’re increasingly hearing from organizations that need to establish that they have sufficient security policies in place, either to meet the requirements of a larger client or to qualify for cyber insurance that insures against breaches and similar losses. Details vary, and we’re happy to work with you on the specifics, but here are some of the kinds of questions you may be asked. Of course, if you don’t have to prove that you’re doing the right thing to some other company, answering these questions for yourself can only improve your security readiness.

Do you enroll all organizational devices in a device management solution?

With device management, an IT department or managed services provider (MSP) maintains oversight and control over all organizational devices. That’s helpful for automating configuration and deployment, providing secure access to organizational resources, ensuring consistent security policies, managing app and operating system updates, tracking device inventory and status, and much more.

Do you have an organization-wide backup strategy with offsite backups?

Regular backups—some stored offsite—are essential if you need to recover from lost or stolen hardware, a natural disaster, or a ransomware attack. Even though ransomware isn’t currently a major problem in the Mac world, it wouldn’t hurt to start creating immutable backups using “write once, read many” tape or something like Retrospect’s Cloud Object Lock, a technology that ensures that cloud-based backups can’t be corrupted. Finally, have you tested restoration and recovery of key systems from your backup data? Backup is important, but only if you can restore.

Do you have a policy for updates?

It’s essential to install security-related updates to operating systems and major apps, but how quickly that happens has to be weighed against problems that version changes can cause for important workflows. There’s no right answer here, but you want to make sure that you aren’t leaving your organization’s apps and devices vulnerable to known security exploits for longer than necessary.

Do you have a strong password management policy?

Short, easily guessed, or cracked passwords are one of the primary ways attackers breach corporate networks and systems. At minimum, your password management policy should require that all passwords be stored in a password manager, new passwords be generated by the password manager and meet minimum requirements for strength, and two-factor authentication be used when available.

Do you use an endpoint protection platform?

Endpoint protection is essentially software aimed at preventing and detecting malware on employee workstations, often with an organizational dashboard and management capabilities. Although the Mac doesn’t have nearly the exposure to malware that Windows does, it’s still important to keep computers free of malware that could hurt performance, exfiltrate data, or provide an entry point for future attacks. Endpoint protection is usually part of a larger managed systems approach that can also ensure that devices adhere to security policies like full disk encryption, run only approved software, stay up to date with security updates, and more.

Do you have a list of sensitive data on your network?

Exactly what counts as sensitive data will vary by organization, but anything related to network and corporate security qualifies, as does any personally identifiable information you may hold about or for clients. It’s not uncommon to store information about people that includes names, email addresses, phone numbers, and postal addresses, but you should be even more careful if you store Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, driver’s licenses, passports, financial records, or medical records. Knowing what you have is the first step; after that, consider what additional precautions you should take to protect such information.

Do you provide periodic anti-fraud and security training to employees?

Social engineering is another common way attackers gain access to corporate networks and systems. Does your organization require that all employees take regular training to learn how to identify phishing attacks, require appropriate approvals for unusual transactions or access requests, and report suspected incidents to the necessary people? If an administrative aide in the accounting department gets an email request from the CEO to pay an urgent invoice to a new vendor, will that person know how to respond?

Do you allow access to organizational email and systems from personal devices?

It’s tempting to allow users to access their email from personal devices or to have contractors use their personal email addresses for work communications. We recommend keeping as clear a line as possible between work and personal devices and accounts to reduce the security implications of such mixing. Particularly when there’s sensitive information in play, personal email addresses should never be used for work communications, and if personal devices are being used, they should be set up with two-factor authentication for organizational logins.

Do you have incident and disaster response plans?

Bad things happen, and it’s important to consider how you would respond to different types of security incidents and natural disasters. How will your organization maintain crucial business operations, communicate with employees, coordinate with partners (insurance, legal, PR, and clients), and more? Is your plan written down and updated regularly? Have you tested key aspects of your plan?

We know there’s a lot to think about regarding security in today’s world, and we’re always available to help if you’d like assistance answering any of the above questions.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Bulat Silvia)


Social Media: Securing an organization’s digital assets requires ongoing attention. This article poses questions your organization should be able to answer—and that will likely come up when purchasing cyber insurance or doing work for other, larger organizations.

Five Best Practices for Organizing and Naming Computer Files

We’ve had decades to get used to organizing computer files, but it’s still hard for many people. Part of the problem is imagining how you—or your colleagues, if you’re in a workgroup—will need to find the files in the future. Another part of the problem is mustering enthusiasm for renaming and reorganizing existing files to match an improved approach. Let’s see if we can help!

#1: Start Now and Catch Up Later

Don’t let your old files prevent you from starting a new organizational approach. The best time to begin is now; you can reorganize old files later.

An easy way to avoid being bogged down by old stuff is to move all your existing files and folders into a folder called “Unorganized” at the top level of wherever you store documents. Make sure to retain any hierarchy that those old files might have. If you’re still working with those files, they remain just as accessible as they were before.

One type of cleanup is often worth doing right away: If you have a lot of temporary or duplicate files from past projects that you can instantly identify as unnecessary, delete those now while they’re still familiar. That saves you or someone else the work of thinking about them again in the future.

#2: Pick an Organizational Structure

The most important question to ask yourself or your colleagues is what sort of organizational structure matches how you think about your data. There are four common approaches:

  • Project name: It’s hard to go wrong with using a project name as your primary organizational structure. For instance, an ad agency might have a top-level folder for each client, or a book publisher might have one for each title. A nonprofit that organizes five annual events could have a folder for each event. Within each project folder, additional folders can separate files by category. You may also add some date-based structure to keep older files from getting in the way of current work. For instance, here’s how an ad agency might organize email marketing files for a hotel.
  • Date: Groups with many files that revolve around time periods may find it easiest to organize everything by year, month, and day. Date-based organization is a special case—you’ll know if it makes sense for your data and usage patterns. For instance, if a distributor creates different inventory reports for every supplier every day, a hierarchy like this might make working with files from the same time period easy. However, finding all the files for a particular supplier would be more difficult, although a file naming convention could help resolve that problem.
  • Project type: Large organizations with a lot of cross-departmental collaboration across numerous projects might find it easier to separate files by category first and name second. That way, everyone in the marketing and production departments working with scripts and audio files for radio spots, for instance, can find those files without having to see files related to social media ads. The downside is that finding related client projects is tricky unless you add that information into a file naming structure.
  • Department: For large organizations with siloed departments that seldom interact, each department can have its own hierarchy. That keeps the marketing department’s files separate from the accounting department’s, for instance, but can result in confusion when departments do collaborate. Plus, it can be difficult to bring data about a single project together, although again, a good file naming structure can help.

We often get questions about how best to organize images. If they’re tightly related to particular projects, the easiest approach is usually to store them alongside other files in that project. For example, photos for a cookbook might live with the layout files within a folder for each chapter.

 

For graphically intensive fields with a very large number of images to track across multiple projects, particularly when any given image might be used in multiple contexts, consider moving to a digital asset management app that stores all your images, providing access through hierarchical categories and keywords or tags. Digital asset management apps are essentially databases for images and other media, enabling you to search and sort far more flexibly than with a simple folder hierarchy.

#3: Decide on a Consistent File Naming Convention

Although an organizational structure is important to help you find files quickly and work with related files, your file naming convention is even more important. You should be able to identify a file merely by glancing at its file name, even if it was moved outside its folder hierarchy. That’s especially true if files are shared outside your organization, where the recipient won’t see the folder hierarchy above the file. You can see this problem illustrated below: you can tell exactly what this Mailchimp.pdf file is from the folder structure, but would someone else have any way of knowing it’s a Belvedere Hotel-related invoice from 2022?

 

File names should be as specific and detailed as necessary for quick identification, preferably starting with a date or project name and including essential aspects of the organizational structure. Dates work well for any file that’s created on a regular basis—instead of the vague MailChimp.pdf, try 2022-09-29-Belvedere-invoice-MailChimp.pdf. Project names are better for one-offs, so instead of Chapter3.docx, use something like Second-Breakfasts-Ch03-recipes.docx. Note how both of those names integrate key aspects of organizational structure.

Three pieces of advice:

  • When you name files starting with the date, use the YYYY-MM or YYYY-MM-DD format to ensure that they sort well and can’t be confused with older or newer files.
  • Consistency is key. Stick to the conventions you decide to use and require that everyone else do so as well. Having one file name start with “Second-Breakfasts” and another with “2nd breakfasts” will cause confusion and annoyance.
  • When separating words, use a space, a hyphen (-), or an underscore (_). Spaces are the easiest to use but should be avoided for files destined for a website. We prefer hyphens because macOS interprets two words separated by an underscore as a single word when selecting, which can be irritating while editing file names.

#4: Identify Versions Clearly

Many files go back and forth between multiple people in a collaborative workflow. Building a versioning scheme into your file naming convention is essential to ensure that everyone knows which version is the most recent and who worked on which version. It’s tempting to use a single file, with each person renaming it as necessary, but we recommend archiving each version until the completion of the project to make it easy to see who did what and to recover from any file corruption or accidental deletion of data. When using a file server or shared folder, it’s best to make it clear when someone is actually working on the file to avoid collisions. Let’s assume in these steps that you and your editor are taking turns working on a Word file.

  1. Alongside the file in question, create a folder called CHECKED OUT and another called OLD.
  2. Move the file you’re working on into CHECKED OUT. Name the file however you like, but end it with your initials and the number 1, as in Second-Breakfasts-Ch03-layout-rte1.docx.
  3. After you make your changes, move the file back into the main folder and alert your editor that it’s available.
  4. When your editor wants to work on the file, they first make a copy of it in OLD to archive a version. Then they move the working copy into CHECKED OUT and rename it with their initials, incrementing the version number, as in Second-Breakfasts-Ch03-layout-afp2.docx.
  5. They edit the file, moving it back to the main folder when done and alerting you.
  6. You each then repeat Steps 4 and 5 as necessary, storing an archive copy in OLD, putting the working file in CHECKED OUT, renaming it with initials and the next version number, and then putting it back in the main folder when done.
  7. On the final revision, rename the file one last time, replacing the initials and version number with “final,” as in Second-Breakfasts-Ch03-layout-final.docx.

If you’re instead sending files back and forth via email, there’s no need for the CHECKED OUT folder, but you should both keep a copy of each version in OLD, just in case.

#5: Know When to Browse and When to Search

If you have a solid organizational structure, you should be able to jump right to the files you need by navigating the folder hierarchy, and if you’ve designed your structure well, you’ll browse for files most of the time. However, if a consistent file naming convention enables you to fall back on searching in certain situations:

  • You need to find files across multiple folders. For instance, if you store files by client but want to see all the invoices for all clients, a search on “invoice” is more effective than looking in each client folder separately.
  • There are too many files to work with fluidly. Imagine that you have an automated system that generates dated reports for multiple suppliers in a particular folder. If they’re sorted first by date and then by supplier, a search could help you filter the folder’s contents to a single supplier.
  • You don’t entirely understand the organizational structure or trust that others have followed it. This scenario is most likely when you weren’t the person to set things up. Hopefully, you at least have consistent file names to look for with your searches.

Apart from these situations, if you find yourself regularly resorting to a search, that may be a hint that you should revisit the organizational structure and make sure it works the way you need.

As you can see, there are numerous approaches for organizing and naming your files, and what makes sense for one group may not for another. If you’re having trouble deciding on the best approach, feel free to ask us for suggestions.

(Featured image by iStock.com/everythingpossible)


Social Media: Having trouble finding files because they have vague names and are scattered across multiple folders? Read on for concrete advice on how to organize and name files for easy access.