Apple’s iOS 14 is being beta-tested.

Apple’s iOS 14 is being beta-tested.

Times are still tough. At this writing, we’re still pretty much stuck at home, in some cases bored and looking for creative ways to endure our “imprisonment.” Being especially desperate to pass the time, I searched the web for information to pass along to you, my faithful iPhone readers.

I was happy to find some technical information that should be of use—plain-language explanations for some rather vague technical terms possibly heard during a conversation with a tech guru.

PMAC: Problem exists between monitor and chair.

ID10T:A masked jab at the user: Spelled out, ID-Ten-T becomes “Idiot.”

PEBKAC: Problem exists between keyboard and chair.

PICNIC: Problem in chair, not in computer.

RTFM: Read the "freaking" manual.

DSL: Decidedly slow link.

HTTP: Head to this page.

JPEG: Just pretty electronic graphics.

WWW: Wealth of weird websites.

CRT: Crummy retro television.

Now, for a few iPhone tips!

Software update

The latest update, at this writing, is iOS 13.5.1. If you like, you can select Automatic Updates to be sure you have the latest one: Settings->General->Software Updates->On. If you choose not to select the automatic update function, be sure to watch for update notices and install them promptly.

There is only one case in which it might not be advisable to download an update: when a new version (not just an update) of iOS is being introduced, for instance, when moving from say iOS 12 to iOS 13. When a new version is introduced, there are usually a few bugs hidden in it. In almost all cases, the initial release will be followed shortly by an update. I generally try to install the new release only after the first update. Realize, however, if automatic update is on, you will still end up with the correct release, and, in most cases, the bugs in the initial release won’t be noticeable.

Offline Maps

Though there’s not much travelling these days, but be of good cheer; in the future, we’ll again be able to go abroad. When you travel to a new city, it is easy to get confused and lost, especially in a non-English-speaking area. The best help in this case is a reliable, accurate map. Sadly, if you’re not in a place with internet access, Apple Maps and Google Maps won’t be available.

There’s another method to ensure help: Offline Maps are as detailed as the ones seen while connected. They do use a small amount of storage, no more that 1.5 GB—not very much when most phones have around 132-256 GB of storage.

To download city maps, find them on Google Maps. Next, adjust them so the area you want to save is shown. At the bottom, scroll to the rightmost item shown on the list of actions. Select Download and voila! That map will be in your phone for 15 days. It’s important to note these offline maps expire after about 15 days unless you reconnect to a data connection. Google wants you to have an updated version of your maps even when you’re offline, which is the reason for the time limit.

QuickPath, aka Slide-to-Type

A new feature, enabled by default after installing iOS 13, is QuickPath, more commonly described as Slide-to-Type. Just place a finger on the keyboard and swipe to type.

For example, to type "avocado," start by placing a finger on the "A" key and draw a line to the "V" followed by "O" and so on until every letter in the word is connected. Once you're done, lift your finger off the keyboard. As with traditional typing, you don't have to be precise with your gestures; iOS will predict what you're trying to write as you swipe across the keyboard. As long as you get in the general area of a letter before moving on to the next, odds are iOS will either get it right or, at least, give you the right option in the QuickType bar. The more you use QuickPath, the better you'll get and the better iOS 13 will get at determining what you’re writing. Give this a try (of course, it helps if you’re proficient at using the QWERTY keyboard).

iOS 14 introductions

Almost every fall, Apple introduces a new OS to the iPhone, and this fall is no exception. Here’s an overview of expected iOS 14 improvements and changes.

Home screen. The familiar multi-icon Home screen is changing with the introduction of App Library, all in the name of making it easier and quicker to get to the apps you want. App Library lets you hide the Home screens of apps you use least often and present them in one large overview, with apps in individual folder-like views, found with a swipe up on the main Home screen.

Widgets. Widgets present information at a glance and, in the new OS, they will have improved visuals and will appear in different sizes. They can be placed in your Home screen and dragged around (placed) as you see fit. Smart Stack will be implemented, allowing placement of many widgets in one space.

Picture in Picture. In iOS 14, PIP allows you to watch a video in a small window while using other apps. PIP can be placed around the screen, enlarged or swiped away, with the audio continuing.

Siri. Siri’s visual interface will appear as a small icon at the bottom of all screen, making it easier to access.

Translate app. Siri has been integrated into this, so that even offline you can see side-by-side translations. There will be a microphone button to make new recordings easy.

Messages. This app will get a new feature called Conversations. It pins important conversations to the top of the screen and adds incoming messages from them automatically. Supposedly, this makes it easier to keep track of important messages.

That’s all for this month. Devon Collins and I hope to schedule an iPhone Club meeting this fall. Watch for further information.