iOS

What are offloaded apps in iOS 11 and how do they work?

Prior to iOS 11, once an app was installed on an iOS device, you either kept it or removed it. Removing it would cause iOS to prompt you first with a warning that all associated data on your device would also be removed. Some iOS apps get around this by using web-based or app-based accounts or other associations, so if you later reinstall the app, you can relink your data.

iOS 11 introduced a wrinkle that Macworld reader Audrey unintentionally asked a question about, because it came up in a different context when she was restoring an iCloud backup from an older phone to her iPhone 8 Plus, and she was prompted to enter the password of an Apple ID she hasn’t used in six years:

Several of my apps appeared with “ghost cloud” little icons next to their names on the iPhone screen. Apple Store specialists said those were tied to that old Apple ID, but that wasn’t true. Many NEW apps I recently got or paid for with my current Apple ID had those “ghost clouds” and did NOT show up on my Purchases list in the App Store app.

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Why you should not rely on iCloud Photo Library as your only media backup

iCloud Photo Library, when it fits your needs, is a great way to avoid having to manage where your images and videos wind up. You capture video on your iPhone or drag an image into Photos in macOS, and it just syncs everywhere while making a central copy at iCloud. While I hear regularly from people having difficulty with aspects of it, it's a way to reduce the stress about how much storage you have on any given device, especially iOS devices.

(And, yes, once again: if you delete an image on one device that's linked to iCloud Photo Library, it deletes it everywhere. Apple's warning when you try to delete is real.)

However, there's one configuration I can't advise, and Macworld reader Eric writes in with a question that prompts a discussion. He's wondering if he could rely on iCloud to be his "main backup of images." The short answer is no, but it's not about distrust in Apple's technical abilities. Rather, about the frailty of all material things, and the risk of putting all one's digital eggs in one basket, no matter how firmly the basket-storing company is holding that basket.

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Is there any way to shorten the available Wi-Fi list in macOS and iOS? Unfortunately, no

macOS and iOS displays a list of the Wi-Fi networks in your area, whether they are private or not. This can be helpful, but how often are you able to really use a private network you can see but know nothing about?

Macworld reader Michael is irritated by the huge list of Wi-Fi networks around him whenever he tries to connect in iOS. He’s in a densely populated city, and neighbors’ networks are all around him. Since he’s connected to his own network and he’ll never connect to any of the others, is there a way to make them not appear in his list?

It’s a good question and one I honestly never thought about in 17 years of writing about Wi-Fi. The network scanning features built into Wi-Fi user interfaces on every platform I can think of that let you select a network are designed to maximize what you see. They weren’t created for crowded network environments, and a re-think would make a lot of sense, since we mostly don’t want to connect to any network, nor see them.

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What to do when breaking up a shared Apple ID account

Apple’s cloud services (iTunes, iCloud, etc.) require you to create an Apple ID, which is essentially your key to access. Each person using Apple’s services should have a unique Apple ID, but sometimes people share IDs for convenience. That could led to some issues, however.

For example, if an Apple ID is being shared by a couple, it can create a problem if the couple breaks up. A reader writes in with such a story:

My partner and I broke up. We’ve been sharing the same iTunes account for years. Everything downloaded on one phone appears on the other. How do I stop this?

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How to avoid password-prompted phishing scams in iOS

Unfortunately, it’s easy for an app developer with malicious intent to create a pop-up dialog in iOS that exactly resembles a system-level message prompting for a password. Felix Krause, like other iOS developers and security advocates, have taken issue with this for years. Krause is the founder of fastlane, a project designed to speed app release by automating all the app-store metadata and required elements.

His post on October 10 received due attention, because he created visualizations of a user interface problem Apple needs to tackle. Few malicious apps make their way to the App Store, and they’re usually stopped before they can do much or any harm. However, an attacker who subverted an app’s internal repositories and was able to insert code could do just as much harm as an app designed to phish intentionally.

From the Mac 911 perspective, here’s how to avoid being suckered into one of these fake password prompts in a malicious app:

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Why Photos for macOS says an image is an unsupported image format

With the recent release of operating system updates, you might see a message like this in Photos in macOS:

The original image was captured in an unsupported image format. To view the full-resolution photo you need to upgrade to the latest version of macOS.

It’s a new one, unique to asymmetric upgrading! If you move your iPhone or iPad to iOS 11, change a setting, and keep a Mac running macOS 10.12 Sierra or earlier, you can wind up with files syncing across iCloud that Photos for macOS can display previews of, but not manipulate.

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