Setting Time Limits on Your Kids’ Apple Devices

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Apple’s built-in parental controls on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches leave a lot to be desired in terms of flexibility and customization. They tend to be an all-or-nothing affair (e.g. turn Safari on or off, whereas most folks would prefer something like time limits. Macworld has a nice tip for setting time limits on internet access on your kids’ iOS devices.

Two important things to note with this:

  1. The article is written with owners of Apple wireless routers in mind, but most other brands (NETGEAR, Linksys, D-Link, etc) have the same feature that assigns time limits based on a MAC address. Log into your router’s control panel and look for a setting such as “parental controls”, “restrictions”, or “time limits”.
  2. This trick will also work for other devices on a network, such as a PC, Mac, Xbox, etc. You’ll need to find the device’s MAC address, which is typically listed under “Network Settings” or “About”, depending on the device. Here are instructions for finding it in Windows, or finding it on a Mac.

iPhone 5 Review Roundup

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The early reviews of the iPhone 5 have landed. The consensus: this is the best iPhone to date in just about every way, and it remains the best smartphone on the market.

Our Take

Since we’re typically inundated with the “Which one should I get?” question immediately after an iPhone or iPad launch, here are my suggestions:

Color: The black model has black glass, a black finish on the aluminum, and a black band around the edge. If Batman had a Bat-smartphone, this would be it. The white model has white glass, a raw aluminum finish, and a silver band around the edge. Choose wisely.

Storage: If you take (and keep) tons of photos and videos without downloading them to a computer and clearing them off the phone, get a 32GB or 64GB. If you want to store several movies and TV shows along with your music, get a 32GB or 64GB. Otherwise, just get the 16GB. For the vast majority of people, 16GB is the way to go.

Carrier: I broke my AT&T contract and gave up unlimited data to switch to Verizon this time around (wish they would’ve paid me for the privilege). It made absolutely zero financial sense, but I’m through taking AT&T’s abuse. I had been holding out because of the simultaneous-voice-and-data issue, but AT&T’s coverage seems to have actually gotten worse in the last few months and it’s becoming a serious problem for business. When your commitment to clients is “Call our cell phones, we pick up”, you need your phone to actually ring when someone’s calling, and maintain a connection throughout the call. In other words, it needs to work like a phone.

Verizon’s LTE network is faster than AT&T’s and available in far more cities, and their voice coverage is second-to-none. Plus, I have a Verizon LTE iPad (which is amazing), and will be able to share a data plan between the two devices. So long, AT&T.

The Reviews

On to the reviews. I’ve pored through dozens of them, and hand-picked the best ones for your perusal. Enjoy:

John Gruber, Daring Fireball:

The iPhone 5 is really nice.

It feels great, looks great, has the best display I’ve seen at any size, runs noticeably faster, networks noticeably faster, is way thinner and lighter than any of its predecessors, takes better photos, and, in my six days of testing, gets totally decent iPhone-4S-level battery life.

But you don’t even have to turn it on to see how nice it is. Just hold it. You really have to.

David Pogue, New York Times:

At 0.3 inch, the phone is thinner than before, startlingly so — the thinnest in the world, Apple says. It’s also lighter, just under four ounces; it disappears completely in your pocket. This iPhone is so light, tall and flat, it’s well on its way to becoming a bookmark.

Jim Dalrymple, The Loop:

That has been my takeaway from the design of the iPhone 5 — small design changes that make for big user experience improvements. It’s important to remember that while the changes on the outside may be small to the naked eye, the changes on the inside are huge. Every major component of the iPhone has been changed in one way or another.

Scott Stein, CNET:

“This seems like a good time to discuss thumbs. As in, your thumb size and the iPhone 5. Going back to the iPhone 4S, I realized that the phone’s design has been perfectly aligned to allow a comfortable bridge between thumbing the Home button and stretching all the way to the top icon on the iPhone’s 3.5-inch display. That’s not entirely the case, now. I could, with some positioning, still thumb the Home button and make my way around the taller screen, but the iPhone 5′s a little more of a two-hander.”

Cooking With the iPad: Apps & Accessories

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iPad sales have continued to shatter records, making Apple the world’s top PC maker, thanks to its incredible range of uses. It’s been a natural fit in the kitchen, where most families spend the bulk of their time, thanks to a huge accessories market and a wide selection of high-quality apps.

To get started, check out Ars Technica’s great roundup of the top cooking apps for the iPad, including Basil, Paprika, and Gilt Taste.

In order to turn your household iPad into a powerful, kitchen-ready device for cooking and entertaining, you’ll also want to check out a few key accessories:

  • Thought Out Stabile 2.0 iPad Stand: A sturdy, well-made stand is essential for the kitchen. You need to elevate your iPad off the counter so it doesn’t get dirty, angle it for comfortable use while standing, and keep it from tipping over. The Thought Out Stabile stand takes care of all of these issues. It’s made of solid steel and has a low center of gravity, so accidental bumps or nudges won’t send your iPad crashing to the floor. The viewing angle is just right for a kitchen counter and it can accommodate an iPad with or without a case.
  • Cosmonaut Stylus: Unless you don’t mind getting food all over your iPad’s screen, you’re going to need a stylus to use it once it’s in the stand. Studio Neat’s Cosmonaut is the way to go here. It happens to be my favorite overall stylus, but its size, shape, and design are perfect for the kitchen. It’s easy to grip and won’t slip out of greasy hands, and it rests comfortably on the base the Stabile stand while not in use.
  • Apple AirPort Express or Jawbone Big Jambox: Want to liven things up with your favorite music from Pandora, Spotify, Songza, or iTunes? Let your iPad handle that, too. Use an AirPort Express to turn any existing stereo system into a wireless jukebox, or get Jawbone’s Big Jambox and play them over Bluetooth wherever you are.
  • Apple TV: If you have a TV in the kitchen, you can easily turn it into an extension of your iPad by adding an Apple TV. Found a great video to guide you through a recipe, or want to share something with the people you’re entertaining? Use AirPlay to wirelessly send it from your iPad to the Apple TV.


Hulu Plus Arrives On Apple TV

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Cutting the cable TV cord just got a little easier, as Hulu Plus is now available on Apple TV.

Hulu Plus is a $7.99/mo subscription service, provided by the major TV networks (Comcast, Viacom, Fox, etc), that provides online streaming to a variety of devices for popular TV shows and movies. In many cases, Hulu Plus offers every episode of the current season of a show, with new episodes added the day after they've aired. That's in addition to the existing library of movies and TV shows available as part of Hulu's free, ad-supported offering, which may only be streamed to a PC or Mac. Paying for Hulu Plus adds support for smartphones, iPads, internet-connected TVs, and now Apple TVs.

Just as with Netflix, you can sign up for a Hulu Plus account directly from your Apple TV. After your 1-week trial ends, your iTunes account will be charged $7.99/mo.

If you don't see a Hulu Plus icon on your Apple TV's home screen, you'll need to check for an update for Apple TV's iOS software. To do so, head to Settings > General, and select Check for Updates.

This is more encouraging news for a still immature Apple TV platform (which Apple CEO Tim Cook refers to as a “hobby”). Hopefully someone in Cupertino is diligently working on adding WatchESPN to the mix.

Checkmark for iPhone Provides Location-Based Reminders

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Checkmark [iTunes link] is a beautiful new app that lets you quickly create location-based reminders on your iPhone. The initial setup, in which you designate your frequent stops (home, work, school, grocery, etc), is a breeze and creating new reminders takes just 3 taps. The app uses GPS to silently track your location in the background, and once you’re at or near one of your designated spots (you can set a radius for each location), your reminder pops up.

Depending on your needs, it can either supplement or completely replace iOS’s built-in Reminders app.

From Shawn Blanc’s excellent review:

Where Checkmark truly shines is with location-based reminders that trigger on arrival. It’s fast and totally reliable.

This is something that Siri should be able to do, but in practice I’ve found her to be unreliable at reminding me to get AAA batteries next time I’m at Walmart. Which is one reason I’ve found Checkmark to be far superior to the built-in Reminders app for these types of reminders.

One very important caveat, however: it doesn’t sync with iCloud or Exchange (yet). I would imagine this capability will arrive in a future update, along with adding reminders through Siri, but as of now Checkmark’s reminders will not sync to Outlook or your other devices via iCloud or Exchange.

If lack of Exchange or iCloud syncing is a deal-breaker, you may want to wait, but at just $.99, it’s a great app to take out for a spin.