Make Life Easier: Reminder Lists w/ Siri


"Hey Siri, add Chardonnay to my grocery list."  Try it! And If you don't have a "Grocery List ", Siri will ask you if you'd like her to create one. Do it! 

There's a couple different ways to use reminders with the iPhone. Lets discuss. If you tell Siri to randomly remind of of something, those reminders are automatically added to your default list. You can find this in Settings > Reminders > Default List. That is generally used for thing like —“Hey Siri, remind me to fill the dog's water bowl at 10pm tonight” — which is awesome, but not as good when you want to maintain different shopping lists.

For instance, like I mentioned above, you can create a list called “Grocery,” and then you can tell Siri, “Put chocolate-covered bacon on my Grocery list.” Want to be even more organized? Make a list called “House Projects” (you can do this manually OR just say "Hey Siri, make a reminder list called "House Projects") and then tell Siri, “Add blue paint to my House Projects list, and remind me when I arrive at Home Depot.” She will not only do it, she will also verify which Home Depot works best for you first! Then you’ll receive an alert reminding you to buy blue paint when you pull into the parking lot. To look at any list via Siri, just say something like "Hey Siri,"... “show my House Projects list” or "show my Grocery List". You can make any Reminder List(s) you want!

Let the technology in your hand help you! It is really great when you're busy cooking and realize you need more butter but your hands are dirty and you can summons Siri to add it to your grocery list. Or better yet, when you are relaxing and suddenly remember something you need but do not want to get up...or forget later...or especially when you're driving.

You can also share these lists with others, for instance, when I add something to the grocery list, my husband knows to check the list we share when he is at the store and vice versa. Try it out, don't be scared to use Siri, she gets better at communicating with you the more you communicate with her (or him).

Call 911 or Emergency SOS with an iPhone or Apple Watch.


And while we are discussing this - please go to your Health App and complete your Medical ID card! Medical Professionals and first-responders are starting to use it.

Lets say you needed to call emergency services from your or someone else’s iPhone? These kind of calls take place at stressful times, it can be hard to remember what to do. For example, if you’ve been in an accident, it might be difficult to think or impossible to navigate the iPhone if you can even find it. In iOS 10.2 and watchOS 3 and later, Apple added the Emergency SOS feature to help

What does it do and how do I use it?

Emergency SOS does three very important things:

  • First, it calls emergency services, using whatever number is appropriate for your location, which could be particularly helpful when you’re traveling abroad.
  • After your emergency call ends, Emergency SOS sends a text message with your location to emergency contacts that you’ve set up previously in the Health app.
  • Finally, it displays your Medical ID for first responders so they can be aware of things like medication allergies. You create your Medical ID in the Health app as well.

How you invoke Emergency SOS varies slightly depending on which Apple device you have:

  • On the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, press and hold the side button and either of the Volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears. Either drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services right away, or just keep holding the side and Volume buttons. If you continue holding the buttons down, a countdown begins and an alert sounds; at the end of the countdown, the iPhone automatically places the call, a feature that Apple calls Auto Call.
  • On the iPhone 7 and earlier, rapidly press the side button five times to bring up the Emergency SOS slider. Drag the slider to call emergency services. (The quintuple-click can work on the new iPhones too; it’s an option in Settings > Emergency SOS.)
  • The Apple Watch acts like the newer iPhones. Press and hold the side button to bring up the Emergency SOS slider, or keep holding the side button to start a countdown after which the Apple Watch will call emergency services automatically via Auto Call. The Apple Watch must be connected to your iPhone, be on a known Wi-Fi network and have Wi-Fi Calling enabled, or be an Apple Watch Series 3 with a cellular plan.

You can test this in a non-emergency situation, without actually placing the call. On both the iPhone and the Apple Watch, there will be a red hangup button you can tap, followed by an End Call or Stop Calling button. Similarly, you can cancel notifications of your emergency contacts.

You’ll also want to stop calls if they’re placed accidentally—I have personally and accidentally activated this once and after cancelling the call, 911 immediately called me back to make sure I didn't need help. It was slightly embarrassing but also very reassuring and cool to know that it worked!

To add emergency contacts—the people who you’d want notified if you were in an accident, for instance—follow these steps on your iPhone:

  1. Open the Health app, and tap the Medical ID button at the lower right.
  2. Tap Edit, and then scroll down to Emergency Contacts.
  3. Tap the green + button to add a contact.
  4. Select the desired person, and when prompted, pick their relationship to you.
  5. Tap Done to save your changes.

A couple things. First, if you’re concerned about activating the Auto Call feature inadvertently, you can turn it off in Settings > Emergency SOS on the iPhone, and for the Apple Watch in the Watch app, in My Watch > General > Emergency SOS. 

Second, bringing up the screen with the Emergency SOS slider also automatically disables Touch ID and Face ID, such that you must enter your passcode to re-enable them. 

Clearly, lets hope that you never have to use Emergency SOS, but if you do, it is a fast and  effective way of contacting emergency services that everyone should know about.

HomePod Smart Speaker Arrives This Friday


Yes, it was first announced back in June of 2017 and soon Apple’s long-awaited HomePod will ship in the US, UK, and Australia on February 9th for $349. You can get it in space gray or white. We ordered one of each. Watch out Amazon Echo and Google Home, there’s a new smart speaker coming soon. Why is the HomePod any different...or dare we say, better? 

Amazon and Google focused mostly on how you could interact with their smart speakers. Apple, however, is placing emphasis on audio quality that HomePod users and music lovers can enjoy. The HomePod has seven beam-forming tweeters for high-frequency acoustics, coupled with a large woofer for deep, clean bass, in a cylindrical package just under 7 inches tall. The sound will be unmatched.


An A8 chip is what makes the HomePod much smarter than regular speakers. The HomePod has processing power equivalent to an iPhone 6. The software running on the HomePod gives it spatial awareness. What does this mean? It can sense its location in the room and adjust the audio automatically for the best listening experience. What?!


Want to know something else that is pretty cool? With a free software update due later this year, you’ll be able to control multiple HomePods throughout your home. You can control each one independently or playing the same music on all of them, perfectly in sync. Also, if you put two HomePods in the same room, you’ll be able to set them up as a stereo pair. Sounds pretty awesome, right?

Order your HomePod now at ➚

Keep in mind, the HomePod can do more than play music. It uses Apple’s Siri voice assistant to listen for your commands with an array of six microphones, so you can ask Siri to send messages, set timers, play podcasts, read the news, get the weather, check sports scores, and more. Apple has even expanded Siri’s knowledge of music for the HomePod. You can also transfer a phone call from your iPhone to your HomePod for a hands-free conversation - Awesome when you are cooking!

What if you don’t want to talk to your HomePod? You can tap its top to play/pause (single tap), move to the next track (double tap), or go back to the previous track (triple tap). Touching and holding invokes Siri without saying “Hey Siri,” and you can tap or hold the + and – buttons to adjust volume.


Home automation/Smart Home enthusiasts will be excited to know that they can control HomeKit accessories via Siri on the HomePod as well. The HomePod can act as a HomeKit hub that can trigger automations and let you control HomeKit accessories while you’re away from home.

But what most people will use the HomePod for, most of the time, is music. For full music functionality, the HomePod would work best with an Apple Music subscription. We love ours! However, those who don’t subscribe to the $9.99 per month Apple Music will still be able to play music purchased from iTunes, stream Beats 1 Radio, and listen to podcasts.

Setting up a HomePod is simple—just plug it in, and your iPhone or iPad will detect it automatically, just like a pair of AirPods. The HomePod will require an iOS device. It must be relatively recent (iPhone 5s or later, iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, or sixth-generation iPod touch), and it must be running at least iOS 11.2.5—you’ll want to install the latest available version to keep up with tweaks as Apple rolls them out.

It will be a couple weeks before the HomePod can be fully tested against the various other smart speakers. Undoubtedly, we think the HomePod will sound much better than the more-established products from Amazon and Google. Along with adding multi-room audio and stereo capabilities, Apple will also be one to introduce new capabilities on the HomePod over time.

Order your HomePod now at ➚


Watch Amazon Prime Originals on Your Apple TV


First, you need an Amazon Prime membership? How is it different from your regular Amazon account? Well, if you're not familiar with Amazon Prime, it is basically an upgrade to the standard Amazon account and we like ours a lot! It costs $99-per-year, which amounts to $8.25 per-month and is well worth it. An Amazon Prime membership provides a number of perks, including FREE 2-day shipping (you can't beat that) from the Amazon online store and FREE streaming access to Amazon’s media libraries.

Until now, accessing Prime Video content for Apple TV users has been a tiny bit frustrating, because there was no Amazon app for the Apple TV. That has all changed now. If you have an Amazon Prime membership and an Apple TV, it’s time to download the new Amazon Prime Video app. It gives you a ton of awesome additional video content, including Amazon’s original programming. Seriously, google "Amazon Prime Original Series" and see what you are missing. Especially if you have run out of Netflix is time. 

You can find the app on your fourth-generation Apple TV or Apple TV 4K in the App Store app. If you are still using a third-generation Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video should appear automatically on your Apple TV Home screen. Get the blankets and snacks, it's binge-worthy.


What's your favorite Amazon Prime Original series? 

Adjust Web Site Behavior with Safari’s Site-Specific Settings


So it seems that macOS 10.13 High Sierra was a little light on new features. However, it did bring one welcome addition to settings. What's that mean? If you regularly visit a blog that you prefer to read using Safari’s Reader view. Rather than invoke it each time you visit, you can now set Safari to use Reader automatically on that site. Just the same, if there’s a site whose text is too small, Safari can remember your page zoom setting for that site. Simple and convenient!

Want to know how to make the most of Safari’s site-specific settings? 

First, load a site whose settings you’d like to customize. Then choose Safari > Preferences and click Websites in the toolbar. You will see a list of general settings in the sidebar at the left, followed by any plug-ins you’ve installed. For each setting or plug-in, you can set what happens when you visit the site you just loaded. Or if you have a bunch of sites open in different tabs, you can customize the behavior for any open site. Here are some options.


Reader view displays an article as a single page that’s formatted for easy reading, without ads, navigation, or other distractions. It’s such a significant change that it’s off by default. You enable it by clicking the Reader button to the left of the URL in the address bar. To turn it on for all of a site’s articles, in Safari’s Websites preferences, select Reader and choose On from the pop-up menu next to the site name.


Content Blockers

You can also see fewer Web ads by installing a Safari content blocker. Choose Safari > Safari Extensions to open Safari’s Extension Gallery, and then scroll down slightly to find the page’s Search field, where you can search for blocker. There are many - you can look for one like Adguard AdBlocker that supports Safari’s content blocking API. Once you’ve installed one, select Content Blockers in the Websites preferences. By default, Safari blocks ads on all sites, so choose Off from the pop-up menus for sites whose ad content you want to see.



How much do we dislike sites that play a video when a page loads, scaring everyone including yourself at the office and distracting you from the text you want to read. Even worse are those sites like Macworld, we’re looking at you, that auto-play videos that aren’t even related to the page. Safari squelches auto-playing videos by default, but for sites like YouTube, you might want to allow videos to play. You can also choose to stop only videos that have sound!


Page Zoom

Most of us know how to hit Command-Plus to zoom in on a page, increasing the text and graphics  but who wants to do that every time you visit a page sporting tiny words? With the Page Zoom setting, Safari will use your preferred zoom every time you visit a particular site. You don’t have to do anything other than set a zoom level with Command-Plus when you’re viewing a site because Safari remembers it automatically, as you can see in the Configured Websites section for Page Zoom. To tweak it manually, choose a zoom level from the site’s pop-up menu.


Camera & Microphone

You’re unlikely to run across many sites that want to access your Mac’s camera and microphone, maybe but for Web conferencing services. That’s why the Camera and Microphone settings default to asking you whenever a site wants permission to record you. If you find it irritating to be asked constantly by a site you use often, you can change this and choose Allow from the pop-up menu for that site. And if a site asks repeatedly but you never want to allow it, choose Deny to stop the prompts.



Most Web sites that ask for your location want to determine how close you are to particular stores - they want to help! If that’s information you’re interested in sharing, let them see where you are, by all means. And if you’re using a mapping service that wants your location, it’s entirely reasonable to set its pop-up menu to Allow. But if a site keeps asking and it feels creepy, set it to Deny.



Are there sites whose new posts you’d like to know about right away? If they support Web notifications and you give them permission, they can post push notifications that appear on-screen and in Notification Center, just your other notifications. Same goes for ones you don't want to see - make em' stop!


The Notifications preferences look different from the others because they show only sites that have asked for permission in the past. Safari remembers your choice, and if the site gets annoying later, you can always take back permission by changing the Allow pop-up menu to Deny. And if you never want to be prompted for push notifications—they can be distracting—uncheck the “Allow websites to ask for permission to send push notifications” checkbox at the bottom of the pane.



It’s impossible to know what plug-ins you’ve installed, but Safari is configured to make sites ask for permission to use a plug-in each time you visit. That’s the safest setting, but for any given site and plug-in, you can use the pop-up menu to give the site access (choose On) or not (choose Off). And if you can’t even remember what a plug-in does, you can deselect its checkbox to disable it.


And there you have it! Some of Safari’s site-specific settings work without any interaction from you, such as your page zoom and notification preferences. Others require a tiny bit of configuration, but that’s a small price to pay for the Web working more the way you want.


How to Split Restaurant Checks with Apple Pay Cash


You’re out to lunch with tech-savvy friends, one picks up the check and says, "How do you want to split this?" And another friend answers, “I got it. Just send me your portion with Apple Pay Cash.” Say what?! 

Apple Pay Cash is Apple’s new person-to-person payment service, designed to make it easy for individuals to send and receive money to each other. Basically, it's as easy as sending a text message! It’s perfect for repaying a friend who buys concert tickets or a relative who picks up some groceries for you. If your friends and relatives use iPhones with iOS 11.2 or later - you can do not need to rely on cross-platform services like VenmoCircle, and Square Cash any longer. Here’s how to start using Apple Pay Cash. And believe me, you want to try this!

First, if you haven’t yet enabled Apple Pay, go to Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay > Add Credit or Debit Card, and follow the prompts to add at least a debit card. You’ll also need two-factor authentication turned on in Settings > Your Name > Password & Security—regardless of Apple Pay, two-factor authentication is essential for security. With Apple Pay enabled, tap Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay > Apple Pay Cash and run through the setup process. You might also be asked to verify your identity after setup— this is necessary to send or receive more than $500 in total.

Once you've completed this, you’ll end up with a new Apple Pay Cash card in the Wallet app. It’s a virtual card that stores money you receive and works like any other debit card for payments. If it doesn’t have enough money on it to cover a payment, you can choose any other debit or credit card you’ve added to Apple Pay. You can also add money to it or withdraw money to a linked bank account. You’ll want to use a debit card when adding money or paying beyond your balance with Apple Pay Cash, since then there is no transaction fee. A credit card incurs a 3% fee.


Now on to the fun part! To send or request money via Apple Pay Cash, just open your text messages and pick the lucky recipient. While in an iMessage thread (think blue bubbles) with the person with whom you want to exchange money, make sure the app drawer is showing (tap the app button if necessary) and then tap the Apple Pay button in the drawer. This "drawer" is the lovely bar of fun app additions available in a text message. You should see an Apple Pay icon (black) as seen in the photo below. If you don't see it, you may need to click the App Store icon, next the camera icon. 

A panel appears with a dollar amount, + and – buttons, and buttons for Request and Pay. Use the + and – buttons to set the amount, or tap the dollar amount to show a keypad where you can enter an exact amount, with cents if necessary. Then tap Request or Pay to insert the transaction into the message. It won’t be sent until you tap the black send button, so if you change your mind, you can tap the little x to delete. Lastly, you’ll be prompted to verify the transaction in the usual Apple Pay fashion, which means authenticating with Face ID on the iPhone X or Touch ID on all other iPhones.


GET THIS, You can even use Siri to initiate transfers—“Send my mother $15.” or “Ask my sister for $4.99.” And if you have an Apple Watch with watchOS 4.2 or later, you can also send money from the Messages app, or send or request money via Siri. On the watch, double-press the side button to confirm the transaction.


The one and only downside to Apple Pay Cash is that it works only within the Apple world. But as long as you want to exchange money with Apple-using friends and relatives, it’s fast, easy, reliable. I love it. Go ahead, try it now, feel free to use me as your recipient, I don't mind.


The Best Apple Related Gifts!!


Maybe you have waited too long to shop and now you're wracking your brain for gift ideas  - or - maybe someone is asking for your list. If you or your special someone is an Apple user, we have a few suggestions.

Chargers, Cables, and Adapters, Oh My!


We know that giving someone a cable feels a bit like buying them socks, but Apple’s minimalist design and focus on USB-C and Lightning ports means that many users would appreciate extra cables or adapters. It's a great stocking stuffer at the very least! 

Plus, giving someone a second iPhone, Mac, or Apple Watch charger could reduce battery anxiety or make it less likely that they’d forget to pack one while traveling.



Apple’s most surprising hit of 2017 was the AirPods, svelte wireless earbuds that pair quickly and seamlessly to all Apple devices logged in to the same iCloud account. Those who own them, seem to love them! They’re light, stay in the ear well, and are comfortable even for many people who couldn’t wear the wired EarPods. At $159, they’re not cheap, but they’re still less expensive than many competing wireless earbuds.

The only catch? Apple has had trouble making AirPods fast enough, so don’t assume you can buy a pair as a last-minute gift.

Apple Watch


Apple always intended the Apple Watch as an iPhone accessory, so it makes a great add-on for any iPhone user who doesn’t already have their iPhone in hand most of the day. For most people, the $249 Apple Watch Series 1 is a fine gift, although the $329 Series 3 is faster and brighter, and doesn’t need the iPhone to track a run or bike ride via GPS. 

Consider the $399 Series 3 with cellular access only if you’re certain the recipient will make use of the watch while out and about without the iPhone, since its data plan costs $10 extra per month.

And, if someone on your gift list already has an Apple Watch, a new band might make a great present—Apple offers a wide variety of attractive and comfortable bands.

Apple TV


Although it’s a few years old, the $149 fourth-generation Apple TV still makes a good present for anyone who watches TV shows and movies from Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, and other Internet streaming video services.

For most people, the $179 Apple TV 4K may be overkill, since its support for 4K video and HDR color require a compatible 4K HDR TV purchased in the last year or so. 

If you’re looking for a related stocking stuffer, search for silicone cases that protect the brittle Siri Remote and make it easier to orient in the dark.


Last, but very far from least, if someone in your family has never tried an iPad or is limping along with one of the early models, the current fifth-generation iPad combines good performance and a gorgeous screen with a compellingly low price starting at $329.


At $399, the smaller iPad mini 4 doesn’t provide as much bang for the buck, but it could be the perfect present for a child. 

Particularly when buying an iPad for a kid, a durable case is a must— and perhaps you have just saved another person from wracking their brain for gift ideas...suggest that as a gift idea to another family member. 


Great New Features in watchOS 4


Who has the new watchOS 4? We've probably all seen one on someone's wrist. Maybe you've wondered what that "red dot" on the crown means? Well, whether you've already purchased yours - or - you're just thinking about it... lets make sure you aren’t missing out on any of the important features and give you some tips for how to use them. The watchOS 4 works on all Apple Watch models, even the original Apple Watch. It does require iOS 11, so if you’ve been using your Apple Watch with an iPhone 5 or 5c, you’ll need to stick with watchOS 3 until you get a new iPhone.

#1: Dock Scrolls Vertically instead of Horizontally

Press the side button to see the Dock, and you’ll notice that it now scrolls vertically—this makes sense since one of the ways to scroll it is by turning the digital crown. You can now arrange Dock items (using the Watch app on your iPhone) based on either your favorites or which Dock items were used most recently.

#2: Useful and Fun Watch Faces

The new Siri watch face doesn’t add new speech capabilities, but it does show timely information, pulling in personal details and suggestions from apps such as Calendar, Reminders, and Photos. It also shows Now Playing controls when you’re playing audio on your iPhone, along with Apple News headlines and stock tickers. We liked it more after customizing its Data Sources in the iOS Watch app.


If you want something fun on your wrist, there’s now a Toy Story face for those who are tired of just Mickey and Minnie. Or, you could try the trippy new Kaleidoscope face that changes slowly as time goes by—you can speed it up by turning the digital crown.

#3: App List Supplements Icon Cloud

The App screen’s icon cloud looks impressive, but it can be challenging to locate and tap a specific app. We’re appreciating the new List view, accessed by force-pressing the App screen, which displays apps alphabetically.


#4: Flashlight on Your Wrist

Swipe up to find and tap the new Flashlight button in Control Center, which turns the screen bright white. Swipe left to access a flashing option, designed to make you more visible at night while walking or running. Press the side button or digital crown to turn the flashlight off.

#5: More Fitness Encouragement and Options

The Activity app is now more chatty and will make suggestions in the morning to inspire you. It will also remind you at night if you are close to closing a ring. Great motivation for some late night jumping jacks!

Apple gave the Workout app some attention, too. Starting a workout is easier than before: it now requires only one tap, Do Not Disturb turns on automatically, and your default playlist can even start playing. With the workout underway, you can now switch easily to a different workout type (swipe right and tap the + button), and see a multi-workout analysis at the end of the entire session.


Swimmers using an Apple Watch Series 2 or 3 can now track sets and rests, pace for each set, and distance for each stroke type. Apple also has added a High Intensity Interval Training workout type. 

Finally, your Apple Watch can connect with some gym equipment, like ellipticals and indoor bikes, allowing it and the machine to share data. Look for an NFC label on your machine, and tap it with your watch.

#6: Multiple Playlists On the Go

The Apple Watch is great for playing tunes to AirPods while you work out, but with watchOS 3 you were limited to just one playlist. With watchOS 4, you can sync multiple playlists and albums via the Music settings in the iOS Watch app. Plus, for Apple Music subscribers, your automatically generated favorites mixes can sync automatically.

#7: More App Enhancements: Phone, Timer, and Camera

Other apps also receive improvements in watchOS 4. You can dial phone numbers manually with a new keypad in the Phone app. Timer now has a Repeat button, so you can repeat a timer with a single tap. And the Camera app offers some new remote options, including support for starting and stopping videos. 


All-in-all, watchOS 4 is a solid upgrade, and the changes will make your Apple Watch both more useful and easier to use.