iOS 8: A Take Control Crash Course
by Josh Centers

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An Introduction to iCloud

iCloud is perhaps Apple’s most ambitious, yet most derided, contemporary initiative. It’s so important to Apple that CEO Tim Cook has called it “a strategy for the next decade.” But that strategy hasn’t been executed without bumps—services sometimes go down or syncing doesn’t work as it should. But despite that, iCloud is Apple’s best attempt yet at cloud services, and Apple takes it to the next level in iOS 8.

iCloud isn’t a singular thing, but rather a suite of services: email, calendar sync, password sync, file storage, and more.

Signing In

To sign in to iCloud and work with your iCloud settings, tap Settings > iCloud.

When you first visit the iCloud screen, if you are not signed in to iCloud, you can sign in with an existing Apple ID or create a new one . Once that’s accomplished, you see your sign-in name near the top of the screen.

① 	If you see this at the top of Settings > iCloud, enter your iCloud username and password, and tap Sign In.

① If you see this at the top of Settings > iCloud, enter your iCloud username and password, and tap Sign In.

iCloud Services

For the most part, the iCloud services are listed on the Settings > iCloud screen with switches that control whether a service is on or not . Let’s consider each option, from top to bottom—you can turn on (or off) most of these options as you read along.

② 	Once you’ve signed in, the iCloud screen offers a long list of options. Your list may be different from what’s shown here.

② Once you’ve signed in, the iCloud screen offers a long list of options. Your list may be different from what’s shown here.

Family Sharing

I explained this interesting collection of iCloud-related features in All in the Family Sharing, previous chapter.

Storage

Your iCloud account includes 5 GB of free disk space—located on Apple’s servers—for storing device backups, app data, iCloud Drive files, iCloud Photo Library photos, email, and more.

Tap Storage to view what’s using your iCloud space, delete unwanted data, or buy more storage.

iCloud Drive

iCloud Drive stores documents in a new way, as I explain in the adjacent sidebar.

New! iCloud Drive

Under older versions of iOS, iCloud Documents & Data could store app documents in the cloud, but files could be accessed only by a single parent app. For example, if you created a file in Byword on the iPhone, you could access that document only in Byword on your iPad or Byword for Mac.

Now, with iCloud Drive, you store files in a common pool. In iOS, the iCloud file picker lets you open a compatible file from any iCloud Drive folder in apps that support iCloud Drive.

Once you tap Upgrade to iCloud Drive in Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive, you can access your iCloud files on your other devices, but only if they are running at least iOS 8, 10.10 Yosemite, or iCloud for Windows 4.0.

With the introduction of iCloud Drive, Apple has made its iCloud pricing more affordable. For more details, see the TidBITS article Apple Releases New iCloud Storage Plans.

Warning! If you are already using Documents & Data with iCloud on any devices running iOS 7 or earlier, or any Macs running 10.9 Mavericks or earlier, do not enable iCloud Drive until you are ready to upgrade those devices so that they can run iCloud Drive too.

Photos

Tap this item to see these options:

Tip: If you have a slow Internet connection or small bandwidth cap, you may prefer to keep iCloud Photo Library and My Photo Stream off. You can transfer your photos to a computer through a USB cable connection.

Mail

Apple gives you a free icloud.com email address when you sign up for iCloud. You want to leave it enabled even if iCloud is not your preferred email provider, because Apple may contact you via this email address .

④ 	Even though my Gmail address is associated with my Apple ID, Apple chose to send email to my iCloud address when I set up two-factor authentication.

④ Even though my Gmail address is associated with my Apple ID, Apple chose to send email to my iCloud address when I set up two-factor authentication.

Contacts

iCloud Contacts syncs your contacts with your iCloud account. You can view these contacts on the iCloud.com site (as long as you sign in with the same Apple ID). Also, if you sign in to iCloud with the same Apple ID on another Apple device, you can sync that device with iCloud, and thus sync your contacts across your devices.

Calendars

This service syncs your calendars with iCloud, much like contacts syncing. You can view these calendars on iCloud.com and sync those calendars with other devices using iCloud .

⑤ 	iCloud Calendars lets you sync calendars across devices and share calendars with other iCloud users.

⑤ iCloud Calendars lets you sync calendars across devices and share calendars with other iCloud users.

To share a calendar in a read/write fashion with another user (who’s not using your Apple ID), you have to go beyond just turning on the Calendar switch. For example, Family Sharing makes it possible to share a Family calendar among group members.

Safari

The Safari service syncs bookmarks and open tabs between copies of Safari on any Apple devices that are signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID. If you use Safari, it can be helpful to turn on this service, but if your battery tends to drain quickly, bookmark syncing may be part of the problem.

Notes

This service syncs notes in the Notes app between devices. If you don’t use Notes, turn it off.

Passbook

Keep this switch on if you wish to keep your Passbook cards synced between devices. (Passbook is not available on the iPad.)

Note: Passbook can digitally store commonly used cards, like discount cards. See Apple’s article, iOS: Using Passbook, for details.

Documents & Data

If you have yet to upgrade to iCloud Drive, here’s where you can select which apps can store files and data in iCloud . If you’re running short on iCloud space, you might want to turn unused apps off. (See New! iCloud Drive.)

⑥ 	In Settings > iCloud > Documents & Data, you can set which apps store data in iCloud. If you’ve enabled iCloud Drive, then Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive will look similar.

⑥ In Settings > iCloud > Documents & Data, you can set which apps store data in iCloud. If you’ve enabled iCloud Drive, then Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive will look similar.

Tip: If you’ve upgraded to iCloud Drive, the settings that were once in Documents & Data are in Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive.

Backup

Perhaps the most important iCloud service for avoiding data loss, and the most reliable, iCloud Backup automatically backs up your device to Apple’s servers when it’s charging. You should absolutely enable iCloud Backup if you have enough iCloud Storage space.

(You can also back up to iTunes on your computer; Apple has a nice support article about iOS backups.)

Note: To find out exactly what gets backed up, see Apple’s article, iCloud: iCloud storage and backup overview.

Controlling iCloud Backup Size

iCloud Backup is an important and usually reliable tool, but it can quickly eat up your storage allotment. Here’s how to manage your space:

  1. Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage.
  2. Choose your device under Backups.
  3. Under Backup Options, tap Show All Apps.

Disable apps that take up a lot of space, but that are backed up elsewhere. For instance, if you use iCloud Photo Library or upload your photos to Dropbox, there’s no need to back up your photo library. The same is true of apps like Instapaper, which sync with a server anyway.

Keychain

Keychain syncs passwords that you’ve saved in Safari among your various Apple devices. Note that if you enable this feature, you must set a passcode for your device.

Find My iPhone

This feature—called Find My iPod touch or Find My iPad on those devices—makes your device discoverable if it’s stolen or misplaced .

⑦ 	If Find My iPhone is enabled, you can see the location of your devices with the Find My iPhone app.

⑦ If Find My iPhone is enabled, you can see the location of your devices with the Find My iPhone app.

I recommend keeping this feature on, even if you’re not worried about theft. I often use it to make my iPad chime to find it in my house. See Find My iPhone.

Location Sharing

Under Share My Location (near the bottom, under Advanced), you can:

Note: To learn more about iCloud, check out Joe Kissell’s Take Control of iCloud.

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“Don’t upgrade to iCloud Drive until all of your devices are running at least iOS 8.1, 10.10 Yosemite, or Windows 7.”

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