Family Sharing

15 01 2015

With iOS 8 Apple introduced Family Sharing and this is what we can read about this new feature …

A new way to bring harmony to your family’s digital life.
Family Sharing makes it easy for up to six people in your family to share each other’s iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases without sharing accounts. Pay for family purchases with the same credit card and approve kids’ spending right from a parent’s device. And share photos, a family calendar, and more to help keep everyone connected.

Family Sharing works across iOS devices (and Macs) and is aimed at people who own more than one iOS device in their household.

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If you’ve got them all signed in with the same Apple ID, so you can share your apps, music and movies between devices without having to buy them over and over again for different devices. But this configuration isn’t what a smartphone or a tablet is designed for. Both kind of devices are personal devices and sharing apps and content should be an option. To be part of a powerful ecosystem shouldn’t mean that all your iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches ring when you get a call.

With Family Sharing there is no need to use a common Apple ID.
So everybody’s genetic exceptionalism can be kept.

The Apple ID …

If you purchase an iOS device an Apple ID is required to register it. It’s an E-Mail address and a related password. With an Apple ID you are able to use all services provided by Apple with this one and only one ID.

These are

  • iCloud

    getting 5 GB free storage
    backing up and restoring your device
    syncing data from Apple’s apps
    Reminders, Calendar, Contacts, iWork
    finding, locking or deleting your device if it was stolen
    determining the location of one of your devices if you cannot find it
    finding friends

  • iMessage
    Apple’s free messaging system for text and media messages via internet without using special services of your carrier
  • Facetime
    Apple’s free video call between Apple devices
  • Apple Store
    purchasing devices and accessories
  • Apple iBooks
    purchasing eBooks and downloading free documents about different topics, e.g. manuals for the devices, for iWork products, the filesystem or the UI Guidelines
  • iTunes
    purchasing media
  • Apple hardware and Apple Care Protection Plan
    for extension of warranty and hard- and software support
  • Concierge (for Genius Bar appointments)
    needed to make a reservation at the Apple Genius Bar. Apple Genius Bar is a tech support service that is offered inside every Apple Retail Store.
  • iTunes U
    accessing and downloading teaching and learning aids
  • Apple Support Community
    engaging in discussions and asking questions

Since the release of iOS 8 things changed.

Purchases are still made with an Apple ID but can be shared with others using a different Apple ID.
And it’s not only purchases but also photos, calendar entries, and locations of family members which can be shared across the ‘Apple family’.

And there is much room for improvements, e.g. sending an iMessage to all family members, initiating a communication via FaceTime, or some options for members what they want to share with other family members.

Family Sharing …

To get started, one adult in your household, the family organizer, sets up Family Sharing, invites up to five additional family members, and agrees to pay for any iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases they initiate while part of the family group. Once family members join, the features of Family Sharing are set up on everyone’s devices automatically.

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All your family’s purchases, on all your family’s devices.

Once you’ve set up Family Sharing, all the songs, albums, movies, TV shows, books, and apps ever purchased by family members are immediately available to everyone else in the group. And, of course, so are new purchases. The content appears automatically in the Purchased tab in iTunes, iBooks, or the App Store for each family member. Just select the family member whose collection you’d like to browse, then download or play the content you choose. Other family members can access your collection in the same way. If you want to keep some purchases private, you can choose to hide individual items.

Making purchases is easy. So is setting limits by the organizer.

All new iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases initiated by family members will be billed to the family organizer’s account. But the organizer can still call the shots. Just turn onAsk to Buy for children in the family. When a child initiates a purchase, an alert is sent to the organizer, who can review the item and approve or decline it right from the organizer’s device. This applies to both purchases and free downloads.

An overview …

Essentials of Apple’s new Family Sharing are summarized in this mind map.

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Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts for iOS (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Office DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Stop Family Sharing …

If Family Sharing should ever be disabled by the organizer, each member of the family can still keep the content purchased by another member in their family group. Apple said in-app purchases from an app originally purchased by someone else must be re-bought however.

Parental controls …

If you already started the hard work to teach your children how and how long to use electronic devices you might want them to have their own Apple ID.

Here are the steps which can be done by the organizer of Family Sharing.

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Family Sharing supports parental controls. It allows family members to approve purchases and downloads initiated by children via an “Ask to buy” option. It’s not only the Organizer who set up Family Sharing to use this option but also members whose role is set to ‘Parent/Guardian’.

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If your kid tries to buy a $49.99 app, for instance, you will get a notification about that attempt on your own device. You must give permission through this notification before your child can actually purchase anything from the iTunes Store, iBooks Store, and the App Store.

Ask to Buy is enabled by default for children under 13. That said, children under 13 can participate in Family Sharing and even have their own Apple ID (though a parent must create it on the child’s behalf).

Parents will also be able to limit the content their children can access via the Restrictions setting on an iOS device.

Summary …

Family Sharing massively adds value to purchased devices because of saving a lot of money for a group of people.

Related links …

Apple Support: Family Sharing

The Apple ID

Thanks for surfing by.





CloudOn

28 09 2014

To work on Microsoft Office files (Excel, Word, Powerpoint) you can either use an app like DocsToGo, a subscription of Office 365 (connected with Microsoft’s cloud service SkyDrive) or a free app called CloudOn by CloudOn Inc., first released in October 2011.

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CloudOn can be connected not only to SkyDrive but also to your Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Hightail accounts, and send or share files with colleagues and contacts via email directly from within the app. Some features like AirPrint are only available through the Pro version of CloudOn with an introductory offer of $2.99/month or $29.99/year.

The features …

CloudOn works with Microsoft Office documents stored on the above mentioned cloud storages. New files can be created and existing files can be edited. Microsoft’s proprietary file format is kept in either case. •So there is 100% compatibility with Office files and you do not have to worry that they will break or compatibility issues will occur.

  • CREATE, REVIEW and EDIT documents
    Create, review and edit Microsoft Word documents , Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations on an iPad or an iPhone.
    •Insert charts, images, equations, SmartArt, clipart, tables, shapes and change format fonts, paragraphs, styles, themes and layout.
    •Review spelling and grammar, track changes, comments, annotations and rich markup.
    View and create charts (including pivot, bar, line, area etc), add formulas, filter etc.
  • ACCESS and MANAGE files
    •Seamlessly connect to and access Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat documents in your cloud storage provider account(s), including Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive.
    •Open documents, spreadsheets and presentations from your email accounts as well as Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive.
    •Copy, paste, delete, rename and move files across folders.
    •All files are saved automatically giving you the comfort that you won’t lose your data.
    •DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX, PDF, JPG, PNG, GIF are the file types supported by CloudOn.
  • SHARE and SEND documents
    You can work on the same doc with colleagues (understandably not simultaneously).
    •Use the FileSpace to add context to your work – view all the activity on any given doc including edits, action, and notes or if you prefer just send a link to the file by email.
  • AIR PRINT documents (feature of the Pro version)
    •Print Word Documents, Excel Spreadsheets and Powerpoint Presentations.

Here is a summarization of all features created with a mind map with my favorite mind mapping tool iThoughts HD for the iPad.

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Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Office DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

User interface …

The functionality of CloudOn is pretty straightforward, with a tidy interface that allows you to rearrange the layout of your files by tapping an icon. There are also shortcuts for creating a new document and for accessing the settings and other menu options.

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CloudOn also has an autosave feature, so if your quick burst of editing is interrupted, everything will have been saved for when you can come back to it.

The navigation features and the different ways to show files and storages are quite impressive. But navigation through folders is unfortunately not the main task of the app. It’s working inside a document.

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In contrast to Apple’s iWork suite the UI of CloudOn when working on a document is not perfectly adapted to touch screens. It just reflects what is well-known from the original versions of the Microsoft Office suite. With a “RIBBON” as the main menu bar it works like the big brother for desktops. This might be seen as an advantage by many users but others complain about the missing adoption for the iPad’s touch screen.

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This is the fully adapted keyboard of Apple’s spreadsheet application NUMBERS.

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As you can see Apple uses a fully adapted keyboard which fully supports the basic tasks done with a spreadsheet application like choosing the field type (text, number, date, term), building a sum, and using functions.

There would be a lot of features which should be added to CloudOn to facilitate typing on an iPad in Excel. CloudOn just helps a bit by adding a row at the top of the iPad keyboard with Ctrl, Alt, Shift, Tab, function, arrow, Esc, and Del keys.

Unfortunately there is a keyboard lag. A slight delay between touching the keys and the appearance of letters on screen makes the typing process feel disjointed. You might also recognize the usefulness of Apple’s autocorrect feature which is not working in CloudOn documents. It’s quite frustrating to manually correct all those minor typos.

In a group setting CloudOn’s lack of support for custom add-ons, templates, auto-correct settings, and other advanced features may limit the program’s usefulness. Still, the word processor lets you track and accept changes, show or hide markup, make and view comments, restrict editing, and compare and combine versions.
Similarly, the mobile versions of the spreadsheet and presentation apps provide most of the features you’ve come to expect in Excel and PowerPoint, respectively.

Summary …

For all the productivity apps working on Microsoft Office files this is still valid:

It’s not that it does it well,
it’s that it does it at all.

CloudOn goes far beyond the basics to provide a full set of word-processing, spreadsheet, and presentation features in a familiar interface. But it’s still not adapted to touch screens.

So the usefulness is only given if there is a constraint to stay fully compatible with Microsoft’s file formats. It’s also useful if documents are just for accessing information or making smaller changes.

In general the concept of porting a desktop app to an iPad with just slight modifications is wrong and will not be accepted by the majority of users. We are living in year 4 after the launch of the first iPad and users need and want apps fully adapted to touch screens.

A further disappointing approach to manage Microsoft Office files and a certificate of poverty for Microsoft not to offer an iPad version of their Office 365 Suite.

Related links …

Office 365 for Mobiles

Thanks for dropping by.





iWork to Airport

30 06 2014

iWork for iOS syncs all your iWork documents via iCloud with all your other devices running on the same Apple ID. Sometimes it’s useful to save an iWork document on an external storage e.g. a USB stick connected to your router e.g. an Apple AirPort Extreme.

There seems to be a problem with iWork documents winging to an USB storage.
I’d like to think Apple products are perfect but they obviously aren’t.
But don’t panic.
There is a way to fix it in a jiffy.
There is an app for that.

Here is how you can do it seamlessly.

The hardware and software …

This is my home configuration, an iPad, an iPhone, and an Apple Airport Extreme router connected to cable internet via a CISCO modem.

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I use the USB port of the router to connect external storage media with the WiFi network.

To seamlessly connect to external storages I use the app FileBrowser by Stratospherix. Over time it was improved many times and seems to be the best app to connect to local storages as well as cloud storages via WebDAV or predefined connections to well-known cloud providers like Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, or even Point.io. It also supports Microsoft’s SMB protocol (Server Message Block) to automatically connect to Windows networks and since the last update the FTP protocol (File Transfer Protocol) is supported with which you can seamlessly access web servers.

With FileBrowser, the iPad or iPhone becomes a powerful tool for business and private use. The app is easy to use and allows files to be downloaded, edited and uploaded back to the original location or distributed to other employees, partners or customers. With FileBrowser, users can access their documents from their mobile device and no longer need to take bulky laptops to meetings or out of the office when visiting clients.

Let’s take a look on this universal app by summarizing its features in a mind map.

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Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Office DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

The steps …

Step 1
Connecting to an attached storage

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Step 2
Using ‘Open in Another App’ in iWork

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i

An alternative …

An alternative to FileBrowser is GoodReader by Good.iWare. The app connects to the attached storage via SMB protocol.

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About SMB …
In computer networking, Server Message Block (SMB), also known as Common Internet File System (CIFS) operates as an application-layer network protocol mainly used for providing shared access to files, printers, serial ports, and miscellaneous communications between nodes on a network.

Not only does SMB allow computers to share files, but it also enables computers to share printers and even serial ports from other computers within the network. For example, a computer connected to a Windows network could print a document on a printer connected to another computer on the network, as long as both machines support the SMB protocol.

Though SMB was originally developed for Windows, it can also be used by other platforms, including Unix and Mac OS X, using a software implementation called Samba. By using Samba instructions, Mac, Windows, and Unix computers can share the same files, folders, and printers. This is great for those Windows-based office networks where there is a graphic designer who refuses to use anything but a Mac and a tech guy who does everything on his Linux machine.

Because of the many more features of FileBrowser, the clean UI, and the support of Point.io it’s more powerful than GoodReader.

An application …

If you don’t trust in cloud services or if your documents contain sensitive data you might want to disconnect iWork from iCloud.

Unfortunately you cannot deactivate iCloud syncing for single documents.

So you have to go to Settings – iCloud – Documents + Data and cut the connection for an app e.g. Numbers.

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From now on documents created with Numbers are saved locally and you can use the procedure iWork-To-Airport to save backup copies on the storage attached to you AirPort router.

Summary …

iOS devices with installed iWork apps should be improved regarding access to Apple’s routers and there should be an option for excluding single documents from automatically saving them on iCloud.

Related links …

Point.io

Thanks for dropping by.