Unpair Apple Watch before handing down an iPhone

On September 12 Apple will hold a press event to, most likely, introduce the next iteration of the iPhone. Shortly thereafter, people will ponder giving their current phone to a friend or family member, to make room for Cuptertino’s newest and shiniest.

What about Apple Watch?

A quick Google search will bring you to countless articles on prepping an iPhone for transfer to a new owner, but I want to focus on an oft-overlooked step: unpairing an Apple Watch. It’s pretty easy to do. Just get the two devices together and then follow these steps:

  1. Open the Watch app.
  2. Hit the My Watch tab.
  3. Tap the information icon next to your Watch.
  4. A new screen appears. Tap “Unpair Watch”.

That’s it. You might be asked to enter your Apple ID password, so have that on hand.

No iPhone? No problem.

Oops, you’ve already gotten rid of the iPhone and there’s your Watch, very confused about where its companion is. You can eliminate the little guy’s anxiety by wiping its mind. On the Watch, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase all Content and Settings. It’s now fresh as a daisy.

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Use YouTube for music on your iPhone


My 13-year-old’s dramatic eye-rolling made me a better iPhone user.

I recently discovered that I can use YouTube for listening to music on my phone without it taking over what’s happening on my screen. Here’s what I mean.

My daughter was describing a song to me, but couldn’t quite recall the title or artist. As a TECH GOD I grabbed my iPhone and launched Apple Music. “Just use YouTube,” she said with the disdain typically reserved for someone who had just kicked your dog.

I would, but YouTube commandeers the iPhone. If you’re using the official app, any video that’s playing stops as soon as you navigate away. The same goes for YouTube.com in mobile Safari. Unless you do the following:

  1. Go to YouTube.com in mobile Safari.
  2. Find the video you want to listen to and get it playing.
  3. Hit your iPhone’s Home button to navigate away from Safari.
  4. The music stops. Don’t panic! Just swipe up to reveal the Control Center (below)
  5. Hit the play button.


That’s it! Hit the Home button one more time to dismiss the Control Center and use your iPhone however you like while the YouTube video plays in the background. I had no idea this was possible.

Hence the eye-rolling.

National Geographic shares iPhone photo tips

When I was a kid, visiting my grandfather in Oneida, New York meant browsing his collection of National Geographic magazines. I loved them, and hoped I’d be a Nat Geo photographer some day. That didn’t happen, of course, and years later I still have such admiration for the photos in that publication.

Recently, the site shared some tips for better iPhone photos. One suggestion is to keep your composition simple:

“When shooting with your iPhone, always look for easily readable patterns. Everything in the image should contribute to the mood and emotion you want to convey. Pattern repetition creates a rhythm that the eyes like to follow. Remember that photos sent to other phones will be viewed small—another reason to keep the image simple and clean.

I took this photo, with its simple pattern of cups and saucers, in a small restaurant in the Aland Islands, between Sweden and Finland.”

Great tips and even better photos are here.

More travel tips from the flight deck

IMG_0054Earlier this month my sister the airline pilot shared a list of iPad and iPod touch apps she uses at work, as well as several apps she recommends for travelers. Today she’s back with another post. This time is general tips for those traveling by plane. There’s some good stuff in here, so dig in.


Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned during my years of flying. I hope you’ll find something useful!

  • If an overhead bag fits perpendicular to the airplane and baggage overhead bin, place it with wheels out. It will fit in deeper. Throw your coat on top of that bag if you can, giving others room.
  • Prepare a small bag to be kept under the seat for things you may need during the flight. It might include electronic devices, chargers (most seats have outlets), any medicine, travel docs (passport, etc.), wallet (you may want to buy inboard food or order Direct TV), packed sandwich or snacks (bananas, apples, granola bars) and your own water bottle, purchased once inside security. Also consider bringing your own headset if you want to watch TV without using the painful coach headsets, a neck pillow and something light to throw over yourself in case it is chilly.
  • It seems easiest to pack your Zip Lock bag of liquids into the aforementioned small bag, so only one bag has to be opened at security. This also prevents those things from getting crushed in the larger bag.
  • Taking the first flight out is ideal since MOST airplanes have been at the airport overnight and there is LESS of a chance that delays related to late inbound aircraft for an outbound flight. You’ll also have LESS of a chance of other flights getting canceled and rebooked on a morning flight, smaller security lines, less amount of terminal crowds, and LESS weather effects as the weathers trend toward calm in the A.M.
  • While enroute, look at the airline magazine in the seat back pocket. They contain airport diagrams for major airports. This helps give you an idea where you’ll be when you get off the airplane. It helps you anticipate where to exit for pickup (arrivals is typically on the baggage claim level) and where to transfer to your next departure gate when connecting. Feel free to ring the overhead to call a flight attendant and ask for gate arrival number. The crew typically knows the gate assignment 30 minutes prior to landing.
  • Ear plugs and eye masks/sunglasses are great for sleeping.
  • Window seats good for sleeping.
  • Choose a seat near the wing if your body does not like to fly and you have tendency to air sickness.
  • Choose a seat near the front of coach, near an exit door or in economy plus/business/first class for quick exit on and off.
  • If on a 50-seat regional jet, choose the single first three seats to attempt personal space on a smaller aircraft.
  • Step into your seat and let passengers pass until you see a break in the boarding passengers to step out and find an overhead bag spot. Seating in the front of coach aids in getting first dibs on overhead space, so you never have to search. Some airlines board by zones…look for zone one first for the same bags reason.

Travel tip: rehearse the security line with the kids

firstSamantha Brown has posted a great tip for those flying with younger kids for the first time: rehearse the airport security line:

“One thing you can do before you leave is rehearse the security checkpoint.  Make it a fun event that everyone will enjoy and prepare them for what to expect at the airport.”

She goes on to list several steps for creating a mock security checkpoint in your house. That’s pretty clever. Once we started flying with the kids, we read My First Airplane Ride by Nancy Speir together. After several readings, they had an idea of what would happen, and even said, “This is like the book” at one point. But I think Samantha’s idea of rehearsing the line is even better.

When I was a kid, you could go to the airport to simply watch planes take off and land, but I don’t think they let you do that anymore.

iPhone Traveler Pt. 6 – Apps and tips from an international airline pilot

erinflightdeckI’ll admit, I’m pretty excited about this. My sister Erin is a pilot with United Airlines. She’s been flying internationally for about 10 years, always with an iPod touch or iPad in tow. I asked her to share some apps and tips with you all, and she was happy to oblige. Here’s her post: iPhone travel apps and tips from an international airline pilot. Enjoy.


Don’t the the movie Planes, Trains & Automobiles happen to you.

A bad day of travel cannot be completely avoided, but the misery can be minimized when the traveler is prepared for the worst and has backup plans. A great tool is at our fingertips in the iPhone (or in my case, an iPod touch and an iPad mini). We have come a long way from Del (John Candy) and Neil (Steve Martin) in arguably the best Thanksgiving travel movie.

There are two app lists below. The first is a list of the apps I use while at work.

The second is a collection of apps that passengers should consider. Remember, pilots travel as working crew members and as passengers. The second list includes apps that airline pilots use when traveling as a passenger. Each can provide tips on making things flow better for you and those around you.

Continue reading →

iPhone Traveler Pt. 4 – Home screen and alerts

iphonepasspordThe iPhone apps you use while on vacation will be different from those you use while at work or during typical home life. At least I hope so. Keeping our focus on convenience and ease, I’ll suggest that you make adjustments to the the apps on your home screen, the alerts your iPhone delivers and more before departing for a trip. Here are the changes I make to my iPhone while preparing to spend time away.

Re-organize Applications

Your iPhone 5 can display 24 application icons per screen. Folders hold 16 apps each. That means you can have well over 200 applications on your home screen. I don’t recommend doing that, but it suggests that having a lot of apps installed doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of swiping between screens. It also means that things can get crowded quickly, making it hard to find what you’re after.

With this in mind, I consider which apps I’ll use during my trip, and move them to the home screen. The rest are pushed to subsequent screens, reducing visual clutter and saving me from playing “hide and go seek” with my iPhone. I typically have these apps on my home screen during a trip:

  1. Mail
  2. Phone
  3. Safari
  4. Maps
  5. Messages
  6. Camera
  7. Evernote
  8. Kayak
  9. Motion-X GPS Drive
  10. Path
  11. Rego
  12. Rdio
  13. Any destination-specific apps

I’ll discuss my favorite travel apps later this month, but this is my core group. Each has a specific job.

Most of these apps have obvious functions: phone calls, a web browser, Maps, text messages, music and the camera for shooting photos and video. The others have specific duties.

Evernote is my database for everything. It lets me create and browse a fast, lightweight and searchable repository of all the specifics I’ll need. Hotel information, airport details, parking locations, confirmation numbers and so much more are all a tap away. In fact, my “everything database” has all but eliminated paper from my travel materials.

  • Motion-X GPS Drive is my preferred turn-by-turn navigation app for the iPhone. It’s reliable, inexpensive and easy to use. Advanced features like saved searches and synthetic voices that are genuinely easy to understand make it a winner.
  • Path is a social networking application with an interesting premise. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which invite users to broadcast their comings and goings to whoever will listen, Path asks you to invite a handful of family and friends to share your favorite moments. I often use it with my family, most of whom also do a fair amount of traveling.
  • Rego lets me maintain a record of all the interesting places I’ve visited, which I enjoy reviewing. I can also note places I’d like to visit and create an on-the-go itinerary that sorts itself by proximity.

Finally, I’ll add any destination-specific apps I find. For instance, there are several great apps available for navigating Walt Disney World Resort. In 2011, Macy’s released an official Thanksgiving Day Parade app. Search the App Store for apps related to your destination. I bet you’re successful most of the time.

Continue reading →

iPhone travel tip: follow airlines on Twitter


Summer storms can disrupt your travel, and spending the night on the floor of an airport is no fun. A great way to stay on top of the latest alerts, changes and notices from the major airlines is to subscribe to their Twitter accounts. Having a Twitter app on your iPhone puts access to that information into your pocket.

In these situations, being connected to your airline on Twitter can offer more than simple news delivery. In 2011, brutal winter storms left hundreds of thousands of people without a flight. Many stranded travelers  who shared their predicament with their airline via Twitter (along with the reservation number) were rebooked faster than those who waited in the customer service line or called the 800 number. Here is a list of Twitter accounts as used by several major airlines:

On your iPhone, choose a Twitter app that supports notifications (I use Twitterrific, but there are many others available). Enable notifications for mentions. That way, if you send a message to your airline’s account, your phone will let you know when you’ve received a reply. Happy flying!

Daily tip: Use special characters for a stronger iPhone passcode

Using special characters for a stronger iPhone passcode

The iPhone’s passcode feature offers front-line security to your device and its contents. If you’re not using a passcode, you ought to seriously consider it. I know that typing it over and over is a pain, but I guarantee it’s less painful than losing a phone that’s wide open.

There are two types of passcodes available: simple and complex. A simple passcode is restricted to four numbers, while a complex passcode can be longer and include letters. For a little extra security, use a special character.


You can access special characters on your iPhone’s keyboard by pressing and holding on certain keys. For example, tap and hold I, O, U, E or C for a pop-up menu of available special characters. To choose one, simply slide your finger over it and release. Now, here’s how to use them with a passcode.

  1. Tap Settings, General and then Passcode Lock.
  2. Move the Simple Passcode slider to the Off position.
  3. Tap Turn Passcode On and create a passcode, using the special characters as described above.

Now you’ve got a lengthy passcode that includes non-English characters. Well done!

This post is part is one of 31 tech tips I published in March, 2013You’ll find the rest here.