Apple's iPhone and iPad are well established leaders in the smartphone and tablet markets and are generally regarded as the most easily understood as such devices go. You may nevertheless find some aspects of Apple's iPhone or iPad confusing or irritating. We gladly provide help for anyone wishing to improve their understanding of their iPhone and iPad. Do call if you have any questions or if you're feeling stuck in a rut and want more.
Following the introduction of iCloud in iOS 5 the need to sync your iPhone or iPad in the traditional way, i.e. connecting to a computer with the white cable and "syncing" with iTunes, has largely been dispensed with. Sure you should sync from time to time, if you want to maintain a backup of you phone on disk and of course to transfer music and photos. However, for syncing contacts, calendars, bookmarks, notes and mail, well that's all done through iCloud today. With the coming of iOS 7 things have moved along once again, distancing us ever more from old creaky techniques.
If you hope to enjoy iCloud to the full be aware the required specification for your Apple computer will be an Intel Core 2 Duo or better, running OS X "Lion", "Mountain Lion" or "Mavericks". If your Mac runs on anything less than an Intel Core 2 Duo, such as an earlier Intel Core Duo iMac, you're stuck with 32bt Snow Leopard, which DOES NOT include iCloud!
For PC users needing to sync their iPhones with iCloud, Apple provide a stand alone iCloud control panel which integrates with MS Outlook. It is only compatible with "Windows 7" and "Windows 8".
For more information about iCloud check Apple's FAQ. Apple also have issued an eBook called "iCloud Mini Guide" available from the iBookstore.
iMessage is Apple's free messaging system, I tend to think of it as a companion piece to their FaceTime service but I use it more frequently. It is available to all iPhone, iPod and iPad users and also anyone using an Apple computer running OS X 10.7x, which includes a computer version of the Messages app.
When you are connected to a wifi service you can send iMessages to other iDevices instead of using the regular SMS service provided by your telecoms carrier. This is useful for people running iPods and iPads which only use Wifi connections. The iPhone can distinguish between your various contacts and select the correct service to use. So if your contact is using an Android phone iMessage will not be used. It's a shame but I regularly meet longtime iPhone users who have never switched on iMessage or have somehow remained ignorant of its very existence.
IMAP for Email
If you experience inconsistencies between the mailbox on your computer and the mailbox on your iPhone, chances are your email is probably configured using POP3 instead of IMAP. You will need to change to IMAP to balance up your user experience and remove the schizophrenic sense that you have two conflicting email accounts.
If you're looking for a straightforward email service that isn't an Apple product, Gmail from Google or Yahoo Mail are examples of typical IMAP services. They are both provided free of charge and integrate perfectly well with the iPhone and iPad and whatever email application you use on your computer.
Google and Yahoo provide mail services without asking for any money in return, however these services are not really "free". Somewhere in the USA your mail is stored on a server and is monitored by robot programs. These programs scan your text, searching for keywords and phrases which can be used by national intelligence services or otherwise used to target you with advertisements relating to your conversations. We know this because advertising banners show up when you view your email within a web browser. It is worth noting that Firefox allow for plug-ins which prevent advertising banners showing in your email. Ads are not visible when using the mobile mail app or when using Gmail or Yahoo mail within a standard email app on your computer.
Many people feel these invasive practices are immoral and seek to use alternative systems. If you're like me and don't feel too concerned that you have anything much to hide, you might make your decision on the basis that the service works very efficiently. I've been using Google Mail for years and I'm quite happy with the service they provide.
Since writing this piece we have all learned a great deal more about the exact level of surveillance that is in operation, courtesy of Edward Snowden