How to Sync Your Phone With Windows 10

At Build 2017, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “The user experience is going to span all of your devices. That multi-device experience is what now needs platform capability.”

A big part of this is connecting your smartphone to your PC. Not only does this let you seamlessly move from web browsing on the phone to the Windows 10 PC, but it also enables the Cloud Clipboard, which will let you copy from one device and paste to another.

Since Windows 10 is considered a service rather than a set software products, more cross-device capabilities will be added on the fly. The first to appear is Continue On PC. How does it work? Simple. You’re browsing on your smartphone—on any browser and on either Android or iOS—and you just send the current page to your Windows 10 PC, where it opens automatically to that same page.

Continue on PC is just a taste of the multi-device cloud services promised by what Redmond terms the Microsoft Graph, which EVP for Windows and Devices Terry Myerson describes as “…an intelligent fabric that helps connect dots between people, conversations, projects, and content within the Microsoft Cloud–ensuring experiences flow seamlessly between Windows, iOS, and Android devices.”

Read through the slides to see how you get started with this new world of interconnection. The process is basically identical on Android phones, though I used an iPhone to test the process.


1. Start at Settings

Starting with Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, the Settings app gets a new Phone section. Begin by opening the Settings app and clicking on this icon.

 

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2. Phone Settings in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

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Here’s the Phone settings dialog. Note that you’ll be able to continue more than just browsing from phone to PC. In particular, email and other apps will also be able to make the jump from phone to PC. To get going, click on the Add Phone button. Of course, before you can do that, your PC needs to be signed into a Microsoft account.


3. Link Your Phone

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The add phone dialog, as you might expect, asks for your smartphone number. Fear not, though, the number isn’t saved and is just used to send you an SMS with a link.



4. SMS Message

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Here’s how the message sent to my iPhone looked, before and after previewing the iTunes App Store entry.


5. Continue on PC App

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Connect to PC is the app that makes it all happen. A four-screen tutorial shows you how to complete setup.


6. Add to Share Sheet

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Open the Share sheet from any app, press the More … button. Then find Continue on PC and slide its slider so that it’s green.


7. Sign In

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When you first try to share to Continue on PC, you see this page for signing into the same Microsoft account that you use with your PC. You’ll only have to do this once.


 8. Send!

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Now you can send the current web page (or other app) to the linked PC. Note that you get a choice to open the item immediately or to send a notification to the PC’s Action Center. A lot of apps don’t work with Continue on PC, including Apple native apps like Photos. But any browser works, as do the Flickr and the Soundcloud apps, for example.



9. Ta-Da!

It’s pretty cool to launch something remotely from your phone on your PC!

MacOS High Sierra ‘Root’ Bug Can Reactivate

Last week, Apple was left red-faced after it was discovered a bug in macOS High Sierraallowed anyone to gain root access to the system without a password. The company quickly released a security patch to fix the problem, but it also needed updating with an advisory because it could prevent file-sharing on the Mac. Now another problem has been identified, and it allows the root bug to be reactivated.

As Betanews reports, it turns out when Apple released the security patch it assumed Mac owners would apply everything in the correct order. Assuming never ends well and so further clarification was required from Apple as to how to go about applying the patch.

The patch assumed your Mac is already running macOS 10.13.1, but that isn’t the case for everyone. Some users applied the patch while running 10.13.0. Everything seems fine afterwards, but then the 10.13.1 update gets installed and the root bug is reintroduced. User wouldn’t realize this and Apple didn’t state that would happen.

Another oversight from Apple is assuming everyone would reboot their Mac after applying the security patch. If you don’t, apparently the patch isn’t applied properly and your Mac is still vulnerable.

In order to ensure your Mac is fully protected, be sure to upgrade to macOS 10.13.1 first, apply the security patch, and reboot your machine. if you have already gone through the update process and now aren’t sure if it worked or not, there’s an easy way to check. Simply visit the Apple support page for the update and follow the steps there using the Terminal app to confirm you are secure.

This simple AirPods hack can dramatically improve the sound quality

Apple’s AirPods have always struck me as peculiar. Not just because of the shape, which is definitely odd, but the fact that so many owners rave about their $159 earbuds, despite admitting to mediocre sound. Surely the most important feature of any headphones sold for that price is the quality of the audio?

Nevertheless, I bought a pair at the urging of several of my colleagues. Now I get it. The AirPods experience is simply delightful in ways that fiddly Bluetooth headphones have yet to achieve. They’re so lightweight that I forget I’m wearing them and they make Siri surprisingly useful. The battery also lasts forever (in wireless terms), thanks to the clever charging case that also doubles as an iPhone stand.

But the sound… I had to do something about the sound.

Vlad Savov, our resident headphone expert, will be the first person to tell you how important fit is when it comes to audio. Remember, he’s the guy that unlocked the sound of an $1,800 pair of earphones using nothing more than some tips he scavenged from the bottom of a drawer. Since the AirPods are notoriously leaky due to their open-air design, that got me to thinking: what if I could close the air gap to simultaneously block ambient noises while increasing the bass response? That’s when I found this video on the PoltergeistWorksYouTube channel:

Looks easy, doesn’t it? So I tried it. The surgery lasted about 20 minutes, but the result… the result would have been worth two hours of work. My AirPods now have bass!

I wasn’t able to find white foam covers that could be delivered to my home in Amsterdam, so I settled for black which cost me just a few bucks per dozen. They look fine as the foam disappears into the ear — not that you could really make the AirPods look any worse. The black foam is also transparent enough under direct LED lighting that I could still mark the sensor locations using my daughter’s pink sparkly nail polish. I then used a disposable lighter to heat the business-end of a tiny screwdriver meant for eyeglass repair (about 60 seconds for each hole). I wasn’t able to burn the sensor holes as cleanly as the video, having to repeat the process a few times on all but one of the holes, but I was ultimately able to achieve the desired result without my fingers getting too burnt (though the tip of my thumb used to ignite the lighter is still numb 12 hours later).

The AirPods after foam cover hack.
 Photo by Thomas Ricker / The Verge

The better sound, especially at the low end, is remarkable. And the better seal in my ear makes my hacked AirPods far more enjoyable in the gym where my aggressive music tastes have to compete with music playing on the loudspeakers, and the grunts and clanking of the human machinery all around. My colleague Dan Seifert who runs The Verge reviews program hacked his AirPods last week as well. Now he says that he doesn’t have to crank his AirPods as loudly on the train.

Sure, there are plenty of aftermarket tips you can buy for just a few dollars that achieve similar results. However, none of those products — usually made from a flexible silicone — fit inside the AirPods case. That means they have to be constantly taken on and off in order to charge the buds. The hacked foam covers, however, fit inside the charger case with only a slight resistance felt when closing the lid.

Like most hacks, the results aren’t flawless. Both Dan and I have experienced times when the foam slips to obscure the sensor openings, thus defeating functions like auto pause when removing an AirPod from an ear. Features like double-tap for Siri or to advance tracks are unaffected by the hack.

All this makes me wonder why, nearly a year after the AirPods went on sale, we still can’t buy a retail version of these foam covers with precision cutouts for the AirPods’ sensors. “I’d buy a four-pack in a heartbeat instead of dealing with this DIY crap,” said Seifert in his adorable surly style. And you know what? As satisfying as do-it-yourself is, I’d have to agree.

How to scan QR codes from your iPhone or iPad

QR codes can be used for a lot of things – website links, coupons, tickets, and contact information, just to name a few – and scanning them using your iPhone or iPad couldn’t be easier.

Apple has built QR Code recognition into its camera app, which means all you need to do is open it up and point it at the code in question.

You’ll then get a notification appear on screen, promoting you to action the link the QR code points to – a quick tap on this and you’ll be taken to the desired location, usually within the Safari web browser.

How to scan a QR code on iPhone and iPad

Step one: Open up the camera app on your iPhone or iPad

Step two: Hold the device’s camera up to the QR code

Step three: No need to hit the shutter button, your iOS device will automatically recognize the QR code and provide you with an on-screen notification. (Make sure you have mobile signal or you’re connected to Wi-Fi.)

 Step four: Tap the notification to be taken to the destination of the QR code.

Wallet app can scan QR codes on iPhone and iPad

There’s also a built-in QR reader in the Wallet app on iPhone and iPod. To access the scanner, open the app, click on the plus button at the top of the “Passes” section, then tap on Scan Code to Add a Pass.

From here, you can scan QR codes for coupons, boarding passes, tickets, and loyalty cards, but only for the specific things that Wallet considers “passes.”

If you try to scan any other QR code, you’ll get an error message.

If you don’t fancy either of the above two methods, you can also head to the App Store where you’ll find a wide selection of free QR code reading applications.

 

How to change the root password in macOS High Sierra

A pretty major security flaw has been found in macOS High Sierra, which allows people to log into a Mac running the latest operating system by simply using ‘root’ as a user name, and not having to enter in a password.

Worst of all, logging in with this account gives the user full admin rights, which means they can change system settings, and potentially wreak havoc on the Mac.

Update: Apple has now released a fix for this update, so you should implement it immediately. To do this open up the Mac App Store and click on ‘Updates’. Select the security update (2017-001) then click ‘Update’. You may also want to follow the steps listed below to make sure you have a root account with a password you have set.

How to change the root password in macOS High Sierra

First of all, open the Apple menu by clicking the Apple icon in the top-left hand corner of the screen, then click on ‘System Preferences’.

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From there, click on either ‘Users & Groups’ or ‘Accounts’. You should see a padlock icon. Click it, then enter in the name and password for your administrator account. Click ‘Login Options’ then ‘Edit’.

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Next, click ‘Open Directory Utility’, then click the padlock icon in the window that appears. You’ll need to enter in your administrator name and password again, then open the menu bar in Directory Utility and click on ‘Edit’ then ‘Change Root Password…’

Now, choose a password for the root user account. It’s worth making this an easy to remember – but hard to guess – password. The root user account is an incredibly powerful account, so you don’t want most people being able to log into it.