Use the Driving ETA Feature in iOS 13’s Maps & 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)

Understanding Dark Mode in macOS 10.14 Mojave

The feature Apple is promoting most heavily with macOS 10.14 Mojave is Dark mode, which the company advertises as “a dramatic new look that helps you focus on your work… as toolbars and menus recede into the background.” Let’s look at what Apple has done with Dark mode, after which you’ll have a better idea of what to think about while trying it.

Enable Dark Mode

First, to turn Dark mode on, go to System Preferences > General and click the Dark thumbnail to the right of Appearance. Mojave immediately switches to Dark mode, turning light backgrounds dark and swapping the text color from dark to light.

While you’re in System Preferences, click over to the Desktop & Screen Saver preference pane. If you scroll down in the Desktop Pictures list, you’ll discover a bunch of new wallpapers that blend well with Dark mode.

Dark Mode Support and Controls

You’ll notice that the color change takes place instantly not just in the Finder, but also in any apps that support Dark mode. Most of Apple’s apps support Dark mode and third-party developers are rapidly adding support to their apps as well. However, Dark mode requires explicit support from apps, so older apps that aren’t being updated will maintain their standard dark-on-light color schemes.

Some apps, such as Maps and Mail, give you additional options that change just how dark they get. In Maps, choose View > Use Dark Map to toggle between a dark map style and the familiar map style that mimics a paper map. Similarly, in Mail, go to Mail > Preferences > Viewing and deselect “Use dark backgrounds for messages” to return to a white background.

If you generally like Dark mode but have trouble reading light text on a dark background due to the reduced contrast, you may be able to choose a different font or style in the app’s preferences that makes the text more readable. Apps like Mail give you a fair amount of that sort of control.

For even more control over contrast, open System Preferences > Accessibility > Display. There you’ll find a Display Contrast slider that lets you make text lighter and backgrounds darker. You can also select Reduce Transparency to make it so items like the Dock and menu bar are solid colors, rather than allowing the background to bleed through. To separate dark and light further, select Increase Contrast, which increases the brightness of divider lines as well.

The Dark Side of Dark Mode

Contrast is necessary for pulling out fine details, but too much contrast can be uncomfortable or even painful—think about how you feel when someone turns on a bright light in a previously dark room. For visual comfort, it’s usually best to match your screen with the lighting of your surroundings. That’s why people who often work at night or with the window blinds down like dark modes—a bright screen seems brighter in a dimly lit room. That’s the theory behind the traditional dark text on a light background too, since the room will be quite light during the day.

So Dark mode can run into two problems. First is that using it during the day or in a brightly lit room may create an uncomfortable contrast between the screen and its surroundings. Controlling your room lighting can eliminate this as an issue. Second and more troubling, even apps that support Dark mode may have large content areas that are bright white, creating a strong contrast between the content area and the rest of the app. Many Web sites in Safari have this effect, as do documents in apps like Pages and Numbers. There’s no way around this scenario.

Even if Dark mode isn’t perfect, it’s worth a try if you have trouble looking at bright screens. Regardless, if it goes too far for you, one of the new dark wallpapers may be easier on your eyes. While most people aren’t overly light sensitive, a non-trivial percentage of the population is, particularly those who suffer from migraines or who have endured concussions, and those with a variety of ocular conditions. And if you’re on the other end of the spectrum—if Dark mode looks dirty and is hard to read, just stick with the traditional Light mode.

 

Find Your Way around Airports and Malls with the Maps App

When you’re in a huge mall or airport, it’s all too easy to take a wrong turn and get lost. Happily, your iPhone will increasingly be able to help prevent that. Maps in iOS 11 now knows about some indoor places, such as the Philadelphia International Airport and the Westfield San Francisco Centre mall. Zoom in to such a place in Maps, and it shows you a detailed floor plan. In an airport, you can view terminals, boarding gates, security checkpoints, baggage claim carousels, parking garages, and restaurants. For malls, Maps lets you filter the view by store type or to show restroom locations. Notice the icon that lets you switch floors! Apple is adding more airports and malls all the time.

Did You Know Your iPhone Can Help You Find Your Parked Car?

The iPhone’s Maps app automatically records where you park your car as long as the iPhone is connected to the car’s Bluetooth system. It even notifies you of this when you get out of the car. But how do you get back to the car after you’ve done your errands? Just bring up Maps, and you’ll see Parked Car in the recent locations list at the bottom. Tap it, tap the Directions button on the next screen, and then tap Go (tap the Walk button first if necessary). Then just follow the blue brick road and the directions that Maps gives you.

The Top Features You’ll Want to Try in iOS 11

Even if you’re not buying a new iPhone this year, you can still enjoy a hefty dose of “New and Improved!” with Apple’s iOS 11, which provides a host of new capabilities. Hold on tight, there’s a lot to cover, and we have another article coming about the iPad-specific changes in iOS 11. iOS 11 will be available to download on Tuesday September 19th. 

Getting Started

After you install iOS 11, you’ll notice a few things right off. Dock icons no longer have names, and many Apple apps now have the bold text design Apple brought to the Music and News apps in iOS 10.

Although the new Automatic Setup feature won’t help you today, when you next get a new iOS device, it can transfer many settings from an older iOS 11 device automatically. Similarly, the new Share Your Wi-Fi feature lets you send your Wi-Fi network’s password to another iOS 11 device that tries to connect.

You may not need a new iPhone or iPad anyway, since iOS 11 can help you recover precious space. Choose Settings > General > iPhone/iPad Storage and you can offload unused apps (while keeping their settings and data), delete old Messages conversations automatically, and see how much space each app consumes. Deleting music from the Music sub-screen (tap Edit) will help too.

Special Screens

Apple redesigned Control Center, which most people still get to by swiping up from the bottom of the screen (iPad users keep swiping up after the Dock appears, and iPhone X users will have to swipe down from the right-hand top of the screen). It’s back to a single page of icons, and you can access additional options by pressing and holding on any set of controls. Even better, you can add (and remove) controls in Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls. 

The Lock screen is all you’ll see while in the car by default now, thanks to the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. It blocks notifications and prevents you from using your iPhone while at the wheel, all while auto-replying to people who text you. Calls still come through to your car’s Bluetooth system, and texts from people designated as favorites can break through the texting cone of silence. Passengers can disable Do Not Disturb While Driving easily from a notification on the Lock screen.

Smaller Changes and App Updates

A few smaller changes that you’ll appreciate include:

  • Siri sounds more natural, can do translations, and uses on-device learning to understand you better and provide more useful results.
  • On an iPhone, a new Emergency SOS feature will call 911 and notify your emergency contacts of your location after you press the Sleep/Wake button five times quickly and swipe the Emergency SOS button. Tap Settings > Emergency SOS to set this up.
  • The password auto-fill feature now suggests stored login information for many apps right from the QuickType bar above the keyboard—manage this in Settings > Accounts & Passwords > App & Website Passwords.

Many of iOS 11’s built-in apps receive significant changes as well:

  • Camera: New file formats will make your videos and photos take up less space. There are a few new filters, and Camera can finally scan QR codes, which simplify loading Web sites, getting contact info, and connecting to Wi-Fi networks.
  • Photos: You can now edit the video in a Live Photo and apply looping, bouncing, and long exposure effects. Photos can at long last play animated GIFs and has a new Animated smart album to hold them.
  • Files: This major new app replaces the iCloud Drive app. Look in Files for access not just to iCloud Drive, but also to files on your device and in other cloud sharing services like Dropbox and Google Drive.
  • Messages: A new app drawer at the bottom of the screen tries to entice you to use iMessage apps. Most are just stickers, but some are useful and Apple provides a new Apple Pay app here that lets you make person-to-person payments.

  • Maps: Apple has added indoor maps of some airports and malls to Maps. Maps also now provides lane guidance on more complicated roads.
  • Notes: The new Instant Notes feature make starting a note as simple as tapping the Lock screen of an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil, or the optional Notes button in Control Center. A note can now look like lined paper or graph paper (tap the Share button, then tap Lines & Grids). You can also now scan a document. The idea is that you then sign it with the Apple Pencil and send it on its way. Notes can also now find text in Apple Pencil handwriting.

Take some time to explore—we’re liking these new features and we think you will too! It’s likely safe to upgrade to iOS 11 now, but check our upgrade advice first.

Mark and Navigate to Arbitrary Locations in Maps

Sure, you know how to search for a place or address in Maps, and you probably even know that you can ask Siri to “Take me home.” But sometimes you want to go somewhere that doesn’t have an address, or where the address you can find doesn’t match the precise location you need. For instance, a festival or fun run taking place at a large park may be far from the address of the park office, or even require that you enter on a different side of the park.

Luckily, the Maps app in iOS has you covered, with a feature that lets you mark any location and then get directions to that spot. It’s easy to use and provides several enhancements, but like many things in iOS, you might not run across it in normal usage.

First, marking locations is usually easier in the satellite view in Maps. If you’re in the standard Map view that shows just streets, tap the i button in the upper-right corner, and then tap Satellite so you can see the terrain and any buildings.

Next, position the map over the general area you want to navigate to, and then pinch to zoom in. Drag the map with a single finger as necessary to see the place you want to mark, perhaps a parking area or trailhead.

Then, to mark the location, press and hold on the exact spot. A pin appears on the map at the marked location. On the iPad, a panel appears on the left side of the screen with controls and more information, such as distance from your location, approximate address, and latitude and longitude. On the iPhone, the top of an identical panel appears at the bottom of the screen; drag it up to reveal the rest of its contents.

In that panel, you can:

  • Get directions: Tap Directions to start navigating to the marked location. The button defaults to telling you how long the drive will be, but once you tap Directions, you can switch to directions for walking, transit, or ride-sharing. You can also tap the route summary to see and share a turn list.
  • Move the marker: To reposition the marker slightly, tap Edit Location; for a more significant change in location, press and hold on a new spot.
  • Share the marker: If you’re trying to explain to others how to get to the marked location, tap the Share icon and then an app like Messages or Mail to send them a link to your location.
  • Delete the marker: Tap Remove Marker.
  • Favorite the marker: For a marked location that you might want to use repeatedly, tap Add to Favorites and give it a name. After that, you’ll be able to search for the location by name. Maps automatically syncs your favorites via your iCloud account, so you can favorite a location on your iPad and later search for it on your iPhone in Maps or even via Siri.
  • Add the marker to a contact: If the marked location goes with a person or business, tap Create a Contact or Add to Existing Content to record it.
  • Report a problem to Apple: If you find something missing or wrong with Maps’ data, you can mark a location and then tap Report an Issue at the bottom of the panel.

Maps may be good at finding many places and addresses, but it’s far from perfect, especially in less populated areas. By using marked locations, you can work with areas that can’t be found with a search.

If you use Maps on the Mac, most of these features are available when you click and hold on a location, and then click the i button in the tag that appears. The interface looks a bit different but works in much the same way.