Use the Driving ETA Feature in iOS 13’s Maps App to Share Your Arrival Time

A small but welcome new feature of iOS 13 is Driving ETA, which helps you share your estimated time of arrival with a contact whenever you’re navigating with the Maps app. To use Driving ETA, start navigating to a destination in Maps, tap Share ETA at the bottom of the screen, and pick the person with whom you want to share your location and arrival time. (You’ll share in Maps with iOS 13 users and via Messages with everyone else.) The other person will receive a notification of your ETA and if you’re delayed, updated times. You do have to start navigation in Maps to use Driving ETA, so it’s a little inconvenient when you already know the route, but it’s a brilliant feature for long-distance trips. (Featured image by Dan Gold on Unsplash)

Consider USB Peripherals When Troubleshooting Mac Problems

If you’re experiencing a sporadic problem with your Mac, the sort of thing that happens often enough to be annoying but not so frequently as to be reproducible, allow us to suggest one little-known troubleshooting tip. Malfunctioning USB devices—keyboards, mice, hubs, printers, etc.—can sometimes cause truly inscrutable problems ranging from startup issues to kernel panics. USB-caused issues aren’t common, but when they do happen, they can be challenging to track down. If you’ve tried everything else, disconnect all unnecessary USB devices and, if possible, swap your wired keyboard and mouse for another set. Then see if the problem goes away. (Featured image by Adam Engst)

New Organization and Editing in Photos in iOS 13 and iPadOS 13

Taking photos is a popular use of the iPhone, and Apple has said that the improved cameras gave this year’s iPhone 11 Pro models their “Pro” designation. But Apple continually works to improve the Photos app as well. Taking great photos is only half the job—you also have to be able to find, edit, and enjoy your photos, and that’s where the company focused its efforts in iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 (which we’ll refer to collectively as iOS 13 from now on). Here’s what’s new.

Years, Months, Days, All Photos

Previously, Photos grouped photos first by years, then by “collections,” and finally by “moments.” To simplify things, Photos now offers four more sensible groups: Years, Months, Days, and All Photos. Years shows a single image that helps you keep the years apart—previous years’ images come from the same time of year as the current day. Next, tap a year icon or the Months button to see a few tiles representing the events at which you took photos in each month. To zoom in again, tap the Days button or any event to see a curated selection of photos for each day you took photos in that month. The key word above is “curated”—Photos is using artificial intelligence to show you just the best or most representative images and eliminate similar shots, so some photos won’t appear at all in Days view. When that happens, you’ll see a +# tag on the last image indicating the number of hidden images. To see everything, tap that +# tag or the All Photos button. You may find yourself wanting to use All Photos a lot if Photos is hiding images from you in Days view.

Enhanced Photo and Video Editing

Photos in iOS 13 also gains significantly more editing capabilities, bringing it closer to par with the Mac version. In iOS 12, you could adjust some light, color, and black-and-white options. iOS 13 retains the light and color options and bolsters them with new tools and an improved interface. The black-and-white options disappear, but you can simulate them by applying a monochrome filter like Noir, Silvertone, or Mono, and then using the rest of the editing tools. When you tap the adjust button while editing an image, Photos displays a horizontally scrolling list of 16 controls, each with a circular button on top and a slider below. Move the slider to adjust that setting with a real-time preview. Also notice how the circle fills in to reflect what you’ve done. All edits are non-destructive, and you can tap the circle to turn its associated edits off, or tap again to turn them back on. This tap-off/tap-on interface works well for comparing before and after versions. The full list of controls now includes:
  • Auto: Tap to apply suggested enhancements—it’s always worth a try!
  • Exposure: Simulates changing the amount of light that reaches the camera sensor
  • Brilliance: Applies region-specific adjustments to brighten dark areas, pull in highlights, and add contrast to reveal hidden detail
  • Highlights: Increases or decreases detail in light portions of the image
  • Shadows: Increases or decreases detail in darker portions of the image
  • Contrast: Adjusts the contrast of the photo
  • Brightness: Adjusts the overall brightness of the image
  • Black Point: Sets the point at which the darkest parts of the photo become completely black
  • Saturation: Adjusts the overall color intensity of the image
  • Vibrance (new): Boost muted colors without affecting skin color or saturated colors
  • Warmth (new): Adjusts the amount of yellow or blue in the image to make it feel warmer or cooler
  • Tint (new): Adjusts the amount of magenta or green in the image to change the tint
  • Sharpness (new): Makes edges of objects crisper and more well-defined
  • Definition (new): Adds contour and shape as well as mid-tone definition and local contrast (try it—it’s often helpful)
  • Noise Reduction (new): Smooths graininess and eliminates light speckles in dark images
  • Vignette (new): Darkens the edges of the image to focus attention on the subject at the center
Previously, Photos allowed you to crop and straighten an image, and iOS 13 also now lets you adjust the vertical and horizontal perspective. You likely won’t change perspectives often, but it’s nice to have the option. Even more impressive, Photos in iOS 13 lets you apply all these edits—the adjustments and cropping/tilting—to videos as well as still images. Video edits are non-destructive, too, which makes it easy to play with effects. Photos video editing may not compare with the full features of a video editor like iMovie, but it’s a huge step forward.

Other Improvements

Apple also tweaked other aspects of Photos.
  • Multiple search terms work better now, so it’s easy to search for “cat tree” and find just the pictures of your cat in a tree.
  • Live Photos and videos begin playing as you scroll past them, which is pretty neat.
  • You can control the intensity of any filter to fine-tune the look of a photo.
  • Soundtracks for Memory movies are now based on what you listen to in Apple Music.
  • You can now pinch-to-zoom while editing to see the effect of an edit on a portion of the photo.
If you haven’t explored the new features of Photos on your iPhone or iPad after updating to iOS 13 or iPadOS 13, take some time and check them out. (Featured image by Adam Engst)

Need to Charge Your iPhone or iPad More Quickly? Get a Higher Wattage Power Adapter

By default, most iPhones and iPads ship with Apple’s tiny 5-watt power adapters. They work, but not quickly. However, the iPhone 8 and later, all models of the iPad Pro, and the most recent iPad Air and iPad mini models support fast charging when connected to higher wattage power adapters. You may have an older one of these around, or you can buy a new one. Apple has bundled with iOS devices or sold 10-watt, 12-watt ($19), and 18-watt ($29, USB-C) power adapters, and the company has also produced 29-watt, 30-watt ($49), 61-watt ($69), and 87-watt ($79) USB-C power adapters for Mac laptops. Plug your compatible iPhone or iPad into one of these chargers with an appropriate cable (for a USB-C charger, you’ll need a USB-C to Lightning Cable, $19), and it will charge significantly more quickly. Look for a wattage rating on the adapter itself, or multiply the output volts and amps together to get watts. (Featured image by Matthew Henry on Unsplash)

You Can Now Access Flash Drives on an iPhone or iPad—Here’s How

An unexpected and useful feature of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 is also nearly invisible, and for most uses, requires a special adapter. With this feature, the Files app now can “see” external storage devices. That’s huge—now you can move data to and from an iPhone or iPad using standard flash drives, SD card readers, or even powered USB hard drives. It’s also a great way to play videos and other data that won’t fit in the available free space on your device. (You’ll still need an app on the iOS device that knows how to open the files—for videos, try VLC for Mobile.) iOS should be able to read any unencrypted file system supported by the Mac’s Disk Utility, including the PC-focused MS-DOS (FAT) and exFAT, and the Apple-focused MacOS Extended (HFS+) and APFS. If you’re formatting a drive for sharing with a PC, we recommend exFAT; for use within the Apple ecosystem, use Mac OS Extended.

Necessary Hardware

If you plan to use a flash drive with an iPhone or iPad regularly, it’s worth buying a new MFi Lightning flash drive that you can plug in directly. Apple’s MFi program should ensure that drives with that label meet the necessary power and file system requirements. Or, if you have a 2018 iPad Pro model with USB-C, get a USB-C flash drive. But what about all those USB flash drives and hard drives you already have? To connect those to a Lightning-based iPhone or iPad, you’ll need Apple’s $39 Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter. For the USB-C iPad Pro models, any USB-C hub with a USB-A port should work. There is one big gotcha, which is that many USB flash drives require 500 milliamps (mA) of power, which is more than the iPhone or iPad can provide. When that’s the case, iOS will usually alert you to the problem (or the drive simply won’t show up in Files). You’ll need to provide extra power by plugging a standard Lightning-to-USB cable into the adapter and a power source. That passthrough power should usually be enough to charge the device and run the flash drive, although we’ve seen flash drives that work with the iPhone 11 Pro but not with a 10.5-inch iPad Pro. (Avoid Apple’s older $29 Lightning to USB Camera Adapter, which supports only the slower USB 2 and doesn’t provide passthrough power.) Happily, flash drives that require only 100 mA of power work fine without additional power. To learn how much power a drive requires, connect it to your Mac, open the System Information app (in the Applications folder’s Utilities folder), click USB in the sidebar, select the drive in the USB Device Tree at the top, and then read the Current Required line.

Accessing Your Drive

Once you’ve connected a drive to your device, you can access it in Files. On the iPhone, or if you’re using your iPad in portrait orientation, tap the Browse tab at the bottom of the screen. On an iPad in landscape orientation, Browse appears automatically in the sidebar. Either way, you can find your drive in the list of locations—remember that flash drives are often called Untitled or have funky names.

Copying Files to and from Your Drive

The Files app works a bit like the Mac’s Finder in that it lets you copy files by dragging or by using Copy and Paste. This latter approach is often easier:
  1. In Files, navigate to the file you want to copy.
  2. Tap and hold it until a popover appears with commands.
  3. Tap Copy in the popover.
  4. Tap the Browse tab to return to the Browse screen, and then tap your flash drive.
  5. Tap a blank spot in the flash drive’s directory, and then tap Paste in the popover.
Moving a file works similarly, except that once you tap Move in the popover, iOS displays a list of destinations. Dragging to copy a file is easier on the iPad if you open two Files windows showing different locations in Split View. With Files as the frontmost app, swipe up to reveal the Dock, and then tap and hold the Files icon briefly so you can drag it to the left or right edge of the screen. Then, to copy files, simply drag them from one view to the other. Even without Split View, you can also drag to copy files on the iPhone. Tap and hold the file you want to copy, but instead of letting up or working with the popover, start dragging. Then, with another finger (your thumb may work well), tap the Browse tab to switch back to the Browse screen, and then keep dragging the file onto your flash drive. If you’re dextrous, you can even tap the flash drive with another finger to open it—do this to nest the dragged file into a sub-folder on the flash drive. Obviously, you can also use the commands in the tap-and-hold popover to perform numerous other actions on files. These commands include Duplicate, Delete, Info, Quick Look, Tags, Rename, Share, Compress, and Create PDF. One last thing. On the Mac, you need to eject external storage devices manually by dragging their icons to the Trash, Control-clicking them and choosing Eject, or pressing Command-E. Once you’ve done that, you can unplug the drive. Happily, that’s not necessary for drives mounted in iOS—just use common sense and don’t remove a flash drive while files are being read or written. (Featured image by Adam Engst)