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How to Manage Location Settings on Your iPhone | MakeUseOf

If you're concerned about your privacy, take a look at which apps can access your location through your iPhone. It's easy to revoke location access for any apps that don't need it anymore.

Here's how to manage the location settings on your iPhone, so you can choose which apps can access your location and keep them from tracking you in the background.

How to View Your Location Services Settings

Open the Settings app and go to Privacy > Location Services to see all the apps that have asked to access your location.

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You can disable Location Services at the top of the page to turn this feature off for every app at once, but we don't recommend this since some apps—like Maps—need to access location data from your smartphone in order to work properly.

Related: How Do Smartphones and Applications Know Your Location?

Instead, scroll through the list and inspect the location settings for each app individually.

Choose the Location Access for Each App

After tapping an app, you can choose between three or four location access options for it. The best option to choose for each app varies based on how you plan to use it.

Here's what each option means:

  • Never: This app can never access your location.
  • Ask Next Time: This app asks for one-time location access each time you use it.
  • While Using the App: This app can only access your location while you're using it.
  • Always: This app can always access your location, even when you aren't using it.

You can also disable the Precise Location option for each app. When you do this, the app can only access your approximate location, rather than getting a precise reading.

Find Out Which Apps Are Tracking You

Your iPhone shows an arrow in the status bar whenever an app accesses your location. If the arrow is filled in, then an app is accessing your location at that very moment.

However, if you only see the outline of an arrow in the status bar, it means an app has the ability to access your location if it needs to. This is the case if you choose to always give certain apps location access, which may be useful for reminders and automation based on your location.

A different arrow appears next to each app in the Location Services settings to show which ones have used accessed your location recently:

  • Gray Arrow: This app has used your location in the last 24 hours.
  • Solid Purple Arrow: This app is accessing your location right now.
  • Hollow Purple Arrow: This app has the ability to access your location at any time.

As you use different apps, your iPhone occasionally shows an alert to warn you if a particular app has been accessing your location in the background. When this happens, you can see the location data given to that app and choose whether to let it keep tracking you in the background or not.

Don't Forget About Apple's System Services

By default, the location services arrow doesn't appear in your status bar for core iOS functions, like setting the time zone. To view these settings, tap System Services at the bottom of the Location Services settings on your iPhone.

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This lists each of Apple's location-based services, showing which of them have used your location recently and giving you the option to disable any you don't want to use. Many of these system services offer useful ways to locate your iPhone if you lose it.

Find More Ways to Improve Your iPhone Privacy

Locking down your location settings is a good way to boost the privacy of your iPhone. In fact, it's useful to check these settings regularly to find out which apps have used your location without your knowledge.

But protecting your location data isn't the only precaution you need to take if you care about your digital privacy.

You should also be careful which apps you let access your microphone, camera, photos, and Bluetooth settings. Each of these options is available through your iPhone's privacy settings, letting you take complete control over your digital privacy.

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How to Customize Your iPhone Home Screen With Widgets and App Icons

Even though everybody else owns an iPhone, you can still make yours stand out from the crowd. We'll show you how to customize your iPhone's Home screen with widgets and unique app icons so it truly reflects your style.

How to Add Widgets to Your iPhone Home Screen

For the first time ever, iOS 14 made it possible to add widgets to the Home screen on an iPhone. A widget is a light version of an app that displays information and lets you interact with it directly on the Home screen.

You can customize your iPhone Home screen with widgets for almost every stock Apple app and a growing selection of third-party apps. To add one:

  1. Tap and hold in a blank space on your iPhone's Home screen to enter Jiggle mode.
  2. In the top corner, tap the Add (+) icon to view your available widgets. Search or scroll through the selection to find the widget you want.
  3. After selecting a widget, swipe left and right to view different versions of it, then tap Add Widget.
  4. Drag and drop to move the widget around your Home screen just like you would with any other app. You can even drop multiple same-sized widgets on top of each other to create a widget stack.
  5. Tap Done or click the Home button to exit Jiggle mode.
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If you aren't sure where to start, take a look at our rundown of all the best iOS widgets.

Change the Size of Your Widgets

Most iPhone widgets are available in three sizes: small, medium, and large. To change the size of a widget, you need to delete it from your Home screen, then add it again in a different size.

Here's how to do this:

  1. Tap and hold in a blank space on the Home screen to enter Jiggle mode.
  2. Tap the Minus (-) icon on a widget and confirm you want to Remove it. Alternatively, tap and hold a widget, then tap Remove Widget from the quick-action menu.
  3. Finally, tap the Add (+) icon to add the widget again in a different size.

Customize the Widget Settings

A lot of iPhone widgets let you edit some basic settings to change how they work. This could mean changing the location displayed in the Weather widget or changing the list shown in the Reminders widget.

If you create a widget stack, you can also enable Smart Rotate or edit the arrangement of widgets in the stack. Here's how to change them:

  1. Tap and hold on a widget until a quick-action menu appears.
  2. Choose to Edit Widget or, if available, Edit Stack.
  3. Change the relevant settings, then return to the Home screen.

How to Hide Apps From Your iPhone Home Screen

Apple also made it possible to hide apps from your Home screen with the release of iOS 14. This means you can personalize your Home screen layout by only including the most important apps. Here's how:

  1. Tap and hold on an app until a quick-action menu appears.
  2. Choose to Remove App.
  3. Then choose to Move to App Library.
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When you move an app to the App Library, it remains installed on your iPhone despite vanishing from the Home screen. If you choose to Delete App instead, it vanishes from your iPhone entirely.

To view the App Library, swipe to the right past your last Home screen. You should find every app on your iPhone automatically categorized into smart folders. You can also tap the search bar to search for an app or view them in a list.

Hide Entire Home Screens

Rather than sending every app to the App Library individually, you can also choose to hide entire Home screens on your iPhone. When you do this, your iPhone saves the Home screen layout so it's easy to bring back if you ever change your mind.

Below is how you change Home screen layouts:

  1. Tap and hold in a blank space on the Home screen to enter Jiggle mode.
  2. Tap the Home screen dots at the bottom of the screen. You should see a zoomed-out view of all your iPhone Home screens.
  3. Tap the checkmarks to select or deselect each Home screen, choosing whether to hide it or not.

How to Create Custom Widgets and App Icons

Since the launch of iOS 14, we've seen a lot of stylized iPhone Home screens that use custom widgets and app icons to create an inventive new look. Creating a custom Home screen like this can be a time-consuming endeavor, but it pays off in style.

Create Custom Widgets for iPhone

A range of apps are available in the iOS App Store that serve no other purpose than letting you create custom widgets. You can use them to choose color schemes, icons, and widget size.

Most of these apps are free to download at first but offer in-app purchases to unlock more customization options. By far the most popular widget-customization app is Widgetsmith.

Here's how to use it to create custom widgets on your iPhone Home screen:

  1. Open Widgetsmith and tap a small, medium, or large widget to start editing it.
  2. Tap the Default Widget and scroll through all the options to choose what you want to display on it. You can choose between different styles of time, date, weather, photos, calendars, and more.
  3. Use the menus beneath the style to change the Font, Tint, Background, and Border Color for the widget.
  4. When you finish customizing the widget, go back a page to rename and save it.
  5. Add Widgetsmith widgets to your Home screen the same way you'd add any other widget: by entering Jiggle mode and using the Add (+) button.
  6. After adding a generic Widgetsmith widget to your iPhone, tap and hold to Edit Widget, then choose your custom widget from the dropdown menu.
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Create Custom App Icons

Although you might have seen what looks like custom app icons on someone else's iPhone Home screen, this is actually a shortcut for that app using Siri Shortcuts. When you do this, you can choose your own icon and name for the shortcut before adding it to your Home screen.

The end result is a custom shortcut that looks like an app.

You need to design or download the app icons you want to use first and save them to your iPhone. Of course, designing custom app icons can be incredibly difficult, which is why we recommend you search for pre-made icon packs to download instead.

When you use a shortcut to open an app in this way, it adds a noticeable delay to opening apps, because each app needs to launch through the Shortcuts app first.

If you still want to customize your app icons on the iPhone, here's what to do:

  1. Open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap the Add (+) button to create a new shortcut.
  3. Tap Add Action and search for the Open App action, then tap Choose and select the app you want to open.
  4. Use the three dots (...) button to open the menu, then tap Add to Home Screen.
  5. Tap the app icon and use the popup menu to select the custom icon you want to use from the Files or Photos app on your iPhone.
  6. Name your shortcut after the app, then tap Add to add it to your Home screen. You can move it around the Home screen just like you would any other app.
  7. Repeat this process, creating a new shortcut for each app you want to customize.
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Find Even More Ways to Customize Your iPhone

Customizing the Home screen is only the first step to personalizing your iPhone. To create a truly unique device, you should also change the wallpaper, choose your own ringtone, and get a case to make sure your iPhone is as stylish as possible.

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Do Your Philips Hue Bulbs Keep Turning Back On? How to Fix Them

Philips Hue smart bulbs make it possible to turn your lights on and off using a smartphone app or smart speaker in your home. With color-changing bulbs and automation, you can use them to create the perfect ambiance.

However, all of that goes to waste if your Philips Hue bulbs keep turning themselves back on after you switch them off. Luckily, it's easy to fix this problem with a couple of quick troubleshooting tips.

Delete and Re-Pair Your Philips Hue Lights

Even if the Philips Hue smart bulbs appear to have paired with your bridge and smart devices successfully, you might need to pair them again if they keep turning on by themselves.

This is easy to do using the Philips Hue app, which is available an Android and iOS.

  1. Open the Philips Hue app on your device and go to Settings.
  2. Tap Light setup, then select the light that keeps turning itself back on.
  3. Choose to Delete the light from your setup. Read the warnings, then confirm you want to delete it.
  4. Now tap Add light and Search for that bulb again. If you can't find it by searching, add the serial number instead.
  5. After finding the bulb, give it a name and go to the Rooms & zones settings to choose where it is located. You may also need to edit your custom scenes and routines to start using the light again.
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Download: The Hue App on Android | iOS

Disable Your Philips Hue Routines

Another reason your Hue smart bulbs might turn themselves on is if you enabled routines in the app at certain times. You can use Philips Hue automated routines to control the lights in various different ways like this.

Inspect each of your routines to ensure none of them are responsible for turning your lights on. Here's how:

  1. Open the Philips Hue app on your device and go to Routines.
  2. Tap each routine and edit the lights it affects or disable it entirely.
  3. You should also go to Explore > Hue labs to check for any experimental routines you may have enabled. Open the Hue Labs Controls to enable or disable them.
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Depending on your smart home setup, you should also look for automation in third-party home apps you use, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Nest, or Apple Home.

Replace Your Philips Hue Bulb Under Warranty

If you're still having problems with the bulb, it may be time to contact Philips. Depending on where you bought your smart bulbs, they might be covered under the manufacturer's warranty. Philips offers a two-year warranty for any Hue bulbs you bought directly from an authorized retailer.

If your Philips Hue bulbs still turn on by themselves, contact Philips to ask if the company will replace them for free. Adding a replacement bulb to your home is just as easy as the initial Philips Hue setup, so you should be back up and running in no time.

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How to Access and Manage iCloud Drive Files From Any Device

With iCloud Drive, you can save any kind of file to your iCloud storage. But how you access all the files in your iCloud Drive storage changes depending on whether you're using an iPhone, a Mac, a Windows PC, or an Android device.

We'll show you how to access iCloud Drive on any device. With it, you can edit documents, upload files, or free up some iCloud storage no matter where you are or what you're using.

How to Access iCloud Files on an iPhone or iPad

With iOS or iPadOS, it's easy to sync different types of data to iCloud, from backups to calendar events to photos. Most of these options are built into the operating system on your device, which is why you can find your iCloud Photos directly in the Photos app.

Similarly, to access your iCloud Drive files from an iPhone or iPad, you need to use the Files app.

Use the Files App on an iPhone or iPad

The Files app is an intuitive file browser that you can pair with a range of cloud storage services, like iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox. You can even use Files to look at the documents saved locally to your device.

To access iCloud Drive files in the Files app:

  1. Open Files on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Repeatedly tap the Browse button until you see a list of Locations.
  3. Tap iCloud Drive to view all the files in your iCloud account.
  4. Tap a file to download and open it.
  5. Alternatively, tap and hold on a file to view a popup menu with more actions, like Rename, Copy, or Delete.

How to Manage iCloud Storage on an iPhone or iPad

Whether you want to clear out some space or buy more storage, you can manage your iCloud storage from the Settings on your iPhone or iPad. Open Settings and tap [Your Name] at the top of the screen, then tap iCloud.

You can see an overview of your iCloud storage usage at the top of the screen. Tap Manage Storage for more details, then tap Buy More Storage or Change Storage Plan if you want to get more iCloud storage.

Alternatively, scroll through the list and tap on each app to delete its iCloud data. This deletes that data for every device connected to your iCloud account.

If iCloud backups are using up too much of your storage, consider backing up your iPhone with a computer instead.

How to Access iCloud Files on a Mac

Much like on an iPhone or iPad, you need to use various different apps to access iCloud data on your Mac. Open the Photos app to view your iCloud Photos, open the Notes app to see your iCloud Notes, and use Finder to access your iCloud Drive files.

Use Finder With iCloud Drive on a Mac

Finder is the best way to find and manage any files on your Mac or in your iCloud Drive storage. You can even combine the two by enabling the Desktop & Documents Folders option in your iCloud Drive settings, to sync those folders from your Mac to iCloud.

To view iCloud Drive folders on your Mac, open a new Finder window and select iCloud Drive from the sidebar.

If you don't see an iCloud Drive option, go to Finder > Preferences from the menu bar. Then click Sidebar and enable the iCloud Drive option.

Interact with these files and folders the same way you would any other file or folder on your Mac.

How to Manage iCloud Storage on Your Mac

To manage your iCloud storage on your Mac, go to System Preferences > Apple ID and select iCloud from the sidebar. You can see which apps are linked to your iCloud account, as well as a storage usage chart at the bottom of the preferences window.

Click the Manage button next to the storage breakdown to delete iCloud data, buy more storage, or change your iCloud storage plan.

How to Access iCloud Files on a Windows PC

To manage your iCloud storage on a Windows machine, you need to download and install iCloud for Windows from the Windows Store. This free software lets you choose which apps to sync with your PC, view your storage usage, and turn on iCloud Drive for File Explorer.

Use File Explorer to View iCloud Drive Files

After installing iCloud for Windows, sign in to your Apple ID account and enable the iCloud Drive checkbox. You may also want to enable any other apps that you'd like to sync with your PC.

Now open a new File Explorer window and click iCloud Drive from the Quick Access navigation menu. You should be able to view, edit, download, or delete any files in your iCloud Drive account in the same way you would with other files on your computer.

If you turn off iCloud Drive in the iCloud for Windows app, it'll ask if you want to delete iCloud files from your PC. This won't delete anything from your iCloud account.

How to Manage iCloud Storage on a Windows PC

Open iCloud for Windows to see a breakdown of your iCloud storage in the main window. Click on the Storage button to delete data from your iCloud account; you can also upgrade your storage by clicking the Buy more storage button.

How to Access iCloud Files on an Android Device

It isn't obvious how to access files in your iCloud Drive storage from an Android device because Apple doesn't offer an app allowing you to do so. Fortunately, you can still access some of your iCloud content by logging in to the iCloud website from a browser.

Use an Internet Browser to Access iCloud Storage

Open any web browser on your Android device and go to iCloud.com to log in to your Apple ID account. After logging in to your account, tap the Photos, Notes, or Reminders button to view your iCloud content for those apps.

Unfortunately, there's no way to view files in your iCloud Drive storage from an Android device. However, you can access those files by visiting the iCloud website on a tablet or a computer.

Tap the Account Settings button to view your iCloud storage usage. You can't upgrade your storage through a browser, but hopefully Apple will add this functionality in the future.

Sync More iCloud Data to an Android Device

As you've seen, it's fairly easy to access your iCloud storage on just about any platform except for Android. Although you can still open iCloud Drive through a web browser on Android, this is much less streamlined than the official Apple apps you can use elsewhere.

Apple's reluctance to play nice with Android devices doesn't stop at iCloud Drive. It's just as awkward to sync photos, calendars, notes, and other details from iCloud to Android as well. That said, there are some workarounds available that can make it more bearable.

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12 Cool Things You Can Do With iPhone iMessage Apps | MakeUseOf

iMessage is Apple's internet messaging service for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS users. Back in 2017, Apple paved the way for an even richer iMessage experience with the introduction of iMessage apps, which let you do all sorts of cool new things using the app.

You could already send text, voice, picture, and video messages in iMessage. But with iMessage apps, you can play games, share your location, send files, and do even more cool stuff.

How to Install and Use iMessage Apps

It's only possible to use iMessage apps in an iMessage conversation on your iPhone or iPad; that means your outgoing messages should appear in blue.

If your messages appear green, then you aren't using iMessage. Find out how to fix iMessage to learn why that might be the case.

To see your iMessage apps, tap the gray App Store icon near the text input box in any iMessage conversation.

From here, slide along the colored iMessage app icons to view all your apps, or tap one to start using it. Open the blue App Store app to find and download new iMessage apps.

Scroll to the rightmost edge of your iMessage apps and tap More to see every iMessage app on your device. Then use the Edit button to choose your favorites, re-order them, or enable and disable particular apps.

Many full-size apps include iMessage apps as part of the package. You can enable or disable these add-ons from the Edit page. This is especially handy for sticker packs or useless apps you have no interest in.

And that's really all there is to it!

1. Play Games

This one's pretty obvious, but there are many games that lend themselves well to the asynchronous nature of an iMessage conversation. These include favorite apps like GamePigeon and 8 Ball Pool.

Playing games is one of the coolest things you can do with iMessage, and we've only scratched the surface of it here. Take a look at all the best iMessage games to learn more about what's available to you.

2. Share Your Location

You can share your location easily with other iMessage users simply by tapping the i button in the top-right corner, then hitting Send My Current Location. This is fine if you want to use Apple Maps, but if you normally use Google Maps—like the rest of the world—install and enable the Google Maps iMessage app instead.

You can then hit Send to get an exact location fix and send a Google Maps link to the other party.

3. Send GIFs

Everyone loves GIFs—so why not liven up your conversations with some looping animations? Apple provides you with a cool iMessage app called #images for this task, which is a Bing-powered animated image search, and it does the job fairly well.

But if you'd like to step it up, Giphy is the best iMessage GIF app available right now. Use it to create your own GIFs, save your favorites to a collection, and access a far bigger GIF library than what you get with #images.

4. Go Crazy With Stickers

Most of the options you'll find on the App Store are iMessage sticker packs, which allow you to send still images and animations to friends for a quick laugh. The coolest thing about iMessage stickers is that anyone can pick them up, drag them around, and place them over messages or images you've already sent.

They aren't exactly useful, but there are stickers available to brighten your everyday conversations and there's at least one pack to fit everyone's taste. For retro tech, check out Apple's Classic Mac and Microsoft's Halo Stickers for free.

You can also try out the Bitmoji sticker pack to create your own sticker avatar.

5. Share Some Music

Apple's built-in Music app for iMessage lets you quickly share a song with a friend. Launch it, and you'll find the last few songs you played, along with the currently playing item, which you can send with a tap. This provides them with a playable link, which may or may not be useful depending on whether they use Apple Music or not.

Alternatively, install Spotify and use the Spotify iMessage app to send song links that anyone can play for free.

If you want to share a song that's playing around you at the moment, use the Shazam iMessage app. Hit the Shazam button and as soon as it identifies the song, you'll find a Shazam link added to the text box.

6. Send Private or Self-Destructing Text and Media

You can already hide most messages you send in iMessage. Simply type a message or select a photo, then tap and hold on the Send button and choose Invisible Ink.

The recipient will need to swipe across the message to reveal its contents, which is a cool trick if you don't want other people glancing at your iMessage conversation.

To take this a step further, install Confide to create self-destructing text and photo messages. This app also features end-to-end encryption just like iMessage, and though there are premium options available, the core functionality is completely free.

7. Talk About the Weather

A lot of us spend more time talking about the weather than we should. But if that's something you're happy to lean into, take it a step further by using an iMessage-friendly weather app to quickly check and share the forecast in your chats.

Meteored provides basic free forecast sharing functionality. But for $3.99, CARROT Weather is probably the funniest weather app money can buy. It lets you watch or send cool animations in iMessage that also give you up-to-date weather readings across the world.

Also, don't miss Weathershot the next time you need to brag about the weather with a selfie, or check out MOON if you're a werewolf.

8. Translate Your Conversation

There are a lot of translation apps on the App Store, but not all of them play nicely with iMessage. It's also worth keeping in mind that translation and language-learning services often require a premium subscription. So the best apps for the job aren't necessarily free.

Fortunately, iTranslate offers unhindered access to a huge number of languages for translating. You just need to make sure you're connected to the web, as offline translation requires an in-app purchase. Yandex.Translate is another free option with offline support, but it isn't quite as well-designed as iTranslate.

It's a huge shame Google Translate doesn't offer iMessage functionality. Otherwise, it'd probably be the only translation tool you ever need.

9. Find a Film to Watch

Planning a trip to the theater to watch a movie with some friends? Enter IMDb and its iMessage extension, which shows you with a list of films showing nearby (provided you've granted location access) and a searchable IMDb database right from the Messages app.

Once you've found something cool to watch, simply select that film from the iMessage app to send an IMDb link to your friend. They can check out the listing and showtimes to let you know what they think.

10. Share Files in the Cloud

iCloud isn't so great when it comes to file sharing, which is why there's no iMessage app for sharing items in your iCloud Drive. But both Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive have added this functionality. If you use either of these services, you likely already have the app installed.

Once installed, each of these apps allows you to browse and share files directly to a conversation. A cool thing you can do with the OneDrive iMessage app is open a file directly into Microsoft's other apps, like Word and Excel.

11. Send a Quick Scan

Although you can scan documents using Notes or Files, neither of these apps let you scan and share documents directly in iMessage. That's where the Scanner Pro ($3.99) iMessage app comes in.

If you're not already storing your documents digitally, do yourself a favor and use this cool app to get started. Whenever you need to share a document over iMessage, either select it from the files you already scanned or hover your iPhone over the document to scan it in real time with the camera.

12. Check a Math Formula

Finally, if you're a mathematics student who needs to bounce ideas off your classmates, then Vulcanize is the iMessage app for you. It allows you to convert LaTeX to beautiful mathematical formulas worthy of any printed textbook.

Of course, not everyone will agree that this is a cool thing to do with iMessage apps. But if you've ever tried typing a complex mathematical formula into a text in the past, you know how painful it normally is.

Which iMessage Apps Do You Use?

iMessage extensions may seem like a gimmick, but the right apps can really speed up your workflow and brighten your daily conversations. Whether you're playing word games, sending dank memes, or sharing your latest playlist, there's no shortage of cool things you can do with iMessage apps.

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10 Safari Mac Browser Tips to Boost Speed and Performance

Safari generally provides the fastest and most efficient browsing experience for Mac users. Apple puts a lot of work into optimizing the browser's performance and energy consumption specifically for Apple hardware.

Unfortunately, this doesn't always hold up over time. Safari can become slow, bloated, and unresponsive like any other browser. Let's take a look at how to speed up Safari on your Mac in case this happens to you.

1. Update and Restart Your Mac

Restarting your computer fixes many of life's problems, including a slow browser. It should always be your first troubleshooting step for such issues. Open the Apple menu and select Restart to do so.

Once your Mac boots up, it's also worth installing any outstanding app updates, which you can find by going to App Store > Updates.

2. Close Unneeded Tabs

How many tabs do you have open right now? And how many of those tabs do you really need? Safari keeps many of your tabs active in the background, even if you're not using them. One of the easiest ways to speed up Safari on your Mac is by simply closing tabs.

If you're particularly protective of your browser session, try an extension like Tab Suspender. This allows you to suspend your open tabs to save processing power.

3. Clear the Cache and Temporary Files

Like almost all browsers, Safari keeps a cache of data from all the websites you visit. This takes up disk space, which can contribute to performance problems. It's always a good idea to blow away Safari's cobwebs once in a while by emptying the cache, particularly if you need to improve the browser's performance.

To clear your Safari cache:

  1. Launch Safari and click Safari > Preferences in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
  2. Click on the Advanced tab, then check Show Develop menu in menu bar at the bottom of the window.
  3. Close the Preferences window and click Develop > Empty Caches in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

4. Disable Thirsty Extensions

Safari has some excellent extensions available to install, but sometimes they do more harm than good by slowing everything down. This is particularly true for extensions that directly affect the browsing experience. A good example is TamperMonkey ($1.99), which changes how websites appear and behave with user scripts.

To isolate extension-related slowdown, try disabling all your extensions under Safari > Preferences > Extensions. To disable an extension, uncheck the box next to its name.

You can then try re-enabling extensions one by one to find the culprit.

Disabling extensions in this manner doesn't remove them. You'll need to click the Uninstall button in each entry on the Extensions tab to completely remove Safari extensions.

5. Restrict Plug-Ins and Website Access

Apple has been working to eliminate plug-ins from Safari, but they might still cause your browser to slow down on rare occasions. This is most likely if you're running an older version of Safari.

It's best to ensure plug-ins ask you before Safari starts running them. The same goes for allowing access to your Mac's camera, microphone, screen sharing, and other security settings.

Go to Safari > Preferences > Websites to see which websites have requested access to your Mac. Work through each item in the sidebar and disable access for any websites that don't need it. We particularly recommend disabling auto-play.

In older versions of Safari, you should also go to Safari > Preferences > Security > Plug-In Settings. Make sure plug-ins are set to Ask before they start running. Disable any you don't need by unchecking them. These settings aren't available in newer versions of Safari.

6. Upgrade macOS

Yearly macOS upgrades include new versions of Safari. If you don't install the latest version of macOS, you won't have the latest version of Safari. New versions of Safari mean better compatibility with the latest web technologies.

Apple's tweaking under the hood often results in faster rendering times and a speedier browser experience overall.

There's also something to be said for upgrading your operating system since many underlying issues with your Mac get patched up along the way.

To update macOS, open the Apple menu and go to System Preferences > Software Update.

7. Identify Dodgy Websites and Crashed Tabs

Safari can slow to a crawl as a result of a single problematic website. Websites can crash for all sorts of reasons, including too many scripts, auto-playing advertisements, rogue extensions, and malfunctioning embeds. Occasionally, this can bring your whole Mac to a grinding halt.

Sometimes these pages consume more than their fair share of resources; other times they crash entirely and leave you with the spinning pinwheel of death. To rectify the situation:

  1. Launch Activity Monitor under Applications > Utilities.
  2. On the CPU tab, click on the Process Name column to arrange processes by name and find Safari.
  3. Now look at the % CPU column and systematically close your Safari tabs to see which ones have the biggest impact on your CPU usage.

8. Make Sure You Have Enough Free Space

A lack of free space on your disk can have devastating consequences for your Mac's overall performance. A Mac with limited free space is more likely to freeze, stutter, and crash. This can cause your whole system to run slowly, but Safari is often one of the first apps to buckle as individual resource-intensive tabs become unresponsive.

For best results, maintain a healthy buffer of 10GB or more of free space. Follow our tips for freeing up space on your Mac if you run out of options.

9. Fix Other macOS Performance Problems

Boosting overall system performance also speeds up Safari on your Mac. This is because there are fewer resources tied up in non-critical tasks, so more of them are available for Safari.

Take a look at these common mistakes that might slow down your Mac. They include having too many apps running in the background or starting up at login, which you can change by going to System Preferences > Users > Login Items.

10. Check for Network Connection Problems

If your internet connection is slow, Safari will also feel slow. To isolate connection problems, find out how to test your internet connection speed to see if that's to blame.

You might need to change your DNS settings to fix it, which you can do by going to System Preferences > Network > Advanced > DNS. Use Google's Namebench to find the fastest DNS settings for your network.

Keep a Backup Browser Installed Just in Case

Although you can follow all the tips above to speed up Safari on your Mac, it's also worth keeping a backup browser installed as well. These are useful to have for stubborn websites that aren't optimized for Safari or in case you need to use a browser extension that's only available on one browser.

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10 Safari Mac Browser Tips to Boost Speed and Performance

Safari generally provides the fastest and most efficient browsing experience for Mac users. Apple puts a lot of work into optimizing the browser's performance and energy consumption specifically for Apple hardware.

Unfortunately, this doesn't always hold up over time. Safari can become slow, bloated, and unresponsive like any other browser. Let's take a look at how to speed up Safari on your Mac in case this happens to you.

1. Update and Restart Your Mac

Restarting your computer fixes many of life's problems, including a slow browser. It should always be your first troubleshooting step for such issues. Open the Apple menu and select Restart to do so.

Once your Mac boots up, it's also worth installing any outstanding app updates, which you can find by going to App Store > Updates.

2. Close Unneeded Tabs

How many tabs do you have open right now? And how many of those tabs do you really need? Safari keeps many of your tabs active in the background, even if you're not using them. One of the easiest ways to speed up Safari on your Mac is by simply closing tabs.

If you're particularly protective of your browser session, try an extension like Tab Suspender. This allows you to suspend your open tabs to save processing power.

3. Clear the Cache and Temporary Files

Like almost all browsers, Safari keeps a cache of data from all the websites you visit. This takes up disk space, which can contribute to performance problems. It's always a good idea to blow away Safari's cobwebs once in a while by emptying the cache, particularly if you need to improve the browser's performance.

To clear your Safari cache:

  1. Launch Safari and click Safari > Preferences in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
  2. Click on the Advanced tab, then check Show Develop menu in menu bar at the bottom of the window.
  3. Close the Preferences window and click Develop > Empty Caches in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

4. Disable Thirsty Extensions

Safari has some excellent extensions available to install, but sometimes they do more harm than good by slowing everything down. This is particularly true for extensions that directly affect the browsing experience. A good example is TamperMonkey ($1.99), which changes how websites appear and behave with user scripts.

To isolate extension-related slowdown, try disabling all your extensions under Safari > Preferences > Extensions. To disable an extension, uncheck the box next to its name.

You can then try re-enabling extensions one by one to find the culprit.

Disabling extensions in this manner doesn't remove them. You'll need to click the Uninstall button in each entry on the Extensions tab to completely remove Safari extensions.

5. Restrict Plug-Ins and Website Access

Apple has been working to eliminate plug-ins from Safari, but they might still cause your browser to slow down on rare occasions. This is most likely if you're running an older version of Safari.

It's best to ensure plug-ins ask you before Safari starts running them. The same goes for allowing access to your Mac's camera, microphone, screen sharing, and other security settings.

Go to Safari > Preferences > Websites to see which websites have requested access to your Mac. Work through each item in the sidebar and disable access for any websites that don't need it. We particularly recommend disabling auto-play.

In older versions of Safari, you should also go to Safari > Preferences > Security > Plug-In Settings. Make sure plug-ins are set to Ask before they start running. Disable any you don't need by unchecking them. These settings aren't available in newer versions of Safari.

6. Upgrade macOS

Yearly macOS upgrades include new versions of Safari. If you don't install the latest version of macOS, you won't have the latest version of Safari. New versions of Safari mean better compatibility with the latest web technologies.

Apple's tweaking under the hood often results in faster rendering times and a speedier browser experience overall.

There's also something to be said for upgrading your operating system since many underlying issues with your Mac get patched up along the way.

To update macOS, open the Apple menu and go to System Preferences > Software Update.

7. Identify Dodgy Websites and Crashed Tabs

Safari can slow to a crawl as a result of a single problematic website. Websites can crash for all sorts of reasons, including too many scripts, auto-playing advertisements, rogue extensions, and malfunctioning embeds. Occasionally, this can bring your whole Mac to a grinding halt.

Sometimes these pages consume more than their fair share of resources; other times they crash entirely and leave you with the spinning pinwheel of death. To rectify the situation:

  1. Launch Activity Monitor under Applications > Utilities.
  2. On the CPU tab, click on the Process Name column to arrange processes by name and find Safari.
  3. Now look at the % CPU column and systematically close your Safari tabs to see which ones have the biggest impact on your CPU usage.

8. Make Sure You Have Enough Free Space

A lack of free space on your disk can have devastating consequences for your Mac's overall performance. A Mac with limited free space is more likely to freeze, stutter, and crash. This can cause your whole system to run slowly, but Safari is often one of the first apps to buckle as individual resource-intensive tabs become unresponsive.

For best results, maintain a healthy buffer of 10GB or more of free space. Follow our tips for freeing up space on your Mac if you run out of options.

9. Fix Other macOS Performance Problems

Boosting overall system performance also speeds up Safari on your Mac. This is because there are fewer resources tied up in non-critical tasks, so more of them are available for Safari.

Take a look at these common mistakes that might slow down your Mac. They include having too many apps running in the background or starting up at login, which you can change by going to System Preferences > Users > Login Items.

10. Check for Network Connection Problems

If your internet connection is slow, Safari will also feel slow. To isolate connection problems, find out how to test your internet connection speed to see if that's to blame.

You might need to change your DNS settings to fix it, which you can do by going to System Preferences > Network > Advanced > DNS. Use Google's Namebench to find the fastest DNS settings for your network.

Keep a Backup Browser Installed Just in Case

Although you can follow all the tips above to speed up Safari on your Mac, it's also worth keeping a backup browser installed as well. These are useful to have for stubborn websites that aren't optimized for Safari or in case you need to use a browser extension that's only available on one browser.

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How to Use the NHS COVID-19 Contact Tracing App | MakeUseOf

The UK government has released a contact-tracing app, known as NHS COVID-19, for England and Wales. If you haven't already, learn how to get this app on your iPhone or Android device and use it to protect against the spread of coronavirus.

What Is the NHS COVID-19 App?

The UK government developed this app to stem the tide of coronavirus infections in England and Wales. It uses Bluetooth on your iPhone or Android device to keep track of other app users you come into close contact with. The app then sends you a notification if any of these people later test positive for COVID-19.

The NHS COVID-19 app uses technology developed by Apple and Google to maintain user privacy throughout this process.

You can also use it to receive local alerts, check in at different venues, or check your symptoms and order a coronavirus test.

How to Get the NHS COVID-19 App

The NHS COVID-19 app is available to download for free from the App Store or Google Play store on an iPhone or Android smartphone. You must be running at least iOS 13.5 or Android 6.0 for the app to work on your device.

Simply open the App Store or Google Play store on your smartphone and search "NHS COVID" to find the app, then tap Get or Download to install it. Make sure you don't download any fake contact tracing apps by mistake.

Alternatively, use the links below on your smartphone to jump straight to the NHS COVID-19 app in the relevant store.

Download: NHS COVID-19 for Android | iOS (Free)

How to Use the NHS COVID-19 App

After downloading and installing the NHS COVID-19 app on your smartphone, open it to set up your preferences.

Read through the privacy notice to learn how the app uses your data. After agreeing, enter the first half of your postcode to receive local coronavirus alerts for your region.

When prompted, choose to Enable COVID-19 Exposure Logging and Notifications. This turns on contact tracing for your device.

Be sure to Enable notifications as well, to let the app notify you if you need to self-isolate.

Contact Tracing

After setting up the NHS COVID-19 app, it automatically measures Bluetooth signal strength to learn when you spend 15 minutes or longer within two meters of another person who is also using the app.

If that person reports a positive COVID-19 test result after you come into contact with them, the app notifies you to self-isolate and check your symptoms.

All you need to do is keep your smartphone on you with Bluetooth turned on. The app should only use five percent or less of your battery power.

To stop contact tracing, scroll to the bottom of the home page on the NHS COVID-19 app and turn off the Contact tracing button. You can also set a reminder to turn contact tracing on again after a certain period of time.

Local Alerts

At the top of the NHS COVID-19 app you can see the risk level for your area: low, medium, or high. This changes depending on the infection rates and guidance for your region and those neighboring it.

To change your local area, go to About this app > Manage my data and Edit the Postcode District. You only need to do this if you change where you live.

Venue Check-In

As you visit supermarkets, restaurants, hairdressers, and other businesses, you can use the venue check-in feature to learn if anyone else who visited those places at the same time tests positive for COVID-19.

To check in, look for an NHS QR code poster at the venue. Then tap the Venue check-in button in the NHS COVID-19 app and use the camera on your smartphone to scan the QR code.

Check Symptoms

If you're feeling unwell, tap Check symptoms to compare your symptoms to known COVID-19 symptoms. The app asks if you have a high temperature, a continuous cough, or a change to your taste and smell. It then asks when you started feeling this way.

The NHS COVID-19 app tells you if you might have coronavirus. If this is the case, it also tells you how long to self-isolate for and presents a link to Book a free test.

Isolation Timer

If you need to self-isolate for any reason, the NHS COVID-19 app presents a self-isolation timer so you know how long you need to quarantine yourself for. This timer tells you how many days are left to go and at what date you can stop self-isolating.

The isolation timer starts automatically if you receive an alert that you came into contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus. It also does this if you report your own coronavirus symptoms, or report a positive test result for yourself.

The length of the self-isolation timer varies based on your symptoms, test results, and the people you come into contact with. Luckily there are plenty of shows to watch during lockdown to make a long isolation period go faster.

Enter Test Results

If you test positive for coronavirus, you should enter your test results into the NHS COVID-19 app to alert other people you've come into close contact with.

These alerts are anonymous, so there's no need to worry about other people learning you have coronavirus. Similarly, there is no way for you to know who receives a notification based on your test results.

If you booked your coronavirus test through the NHS COVID-19 app, it uploads your results automatically.

If you booked your coronavirus test outside the app, go to the Enter test result page and enter the code issued with your test result. You can get this from the website or hospital where you booked your test.

Is the NHS COVID-19 App Safe to Use?

The idea of a government app tracking your location is an unsettling one. It's certainly wise to learn as much as you can about how the NHS COVID-19 app works, so you can make an informed decision.

But generally speaking, it's safe to use and shouldn't compromise your privacy.

This is in part because the NHS COVID-19 app doesn't store any location data. It only exchanges anonymous ID tags, which are securely stored on your device, rather than uploading to a cloud-based server. This makes the NHS COVID-19 app as secure as everything else locked behind your smartphone passcode.

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The 7 Best Screenwriting Apps for Windows and Mac | MakeUseOf

If you want to get anywhere in the movie industry, you need to use the right software to format your screenplay. This goes for both amateur storytellers and professional screenwriters.

However, screenwriting software isn't cheap. And you don't want to waste money buying the wrong app.

To help you out, we have found the best screenwriting apps for Windows and Mac. Any of which will be a great choice to start your next screenwriting project with.

1. Final Draft: The Industry Standard Software

Final Draft is the industry standard screenwriting software. It's used by 95% of film and television productions, including the BBC, Netflix, Hulu, and Disney. If you're a professional screenwriter, most people expect you to use Final Draft.

But this expectation pushes the price up; Final Draft is one of the most expensive screenplay apps on this list. But it delivers on that price with a range of impressive features.

Choose from over 300 templates, including screenplays, teleplays, comics, stage plays, and more. Use virtual brainstorms to beat out your story. Then get the words on the page with Final Draft's innovative SmartType, Speech to Script, and Alternate Dialogue features.

Learn how to analyze and understand film before writing your script to guarantee it's as professional as possible.

Download: Final Draft for Windows | macOS ($249.99, free trial available)

2. Movie Magic Screenwriter: An Alternative to Final Draft

Use this award-winning software to write your screenplay, stage play, teleplay, musical, comic book, or novel. It's easy to use and offers brainstorming and outlining tools, alongside over 100 templates to get you started writing as soon as possible.

Text-to-speech lets you hear your screenplay read aloud. Auto Backup means you never need to worry about losing your work. And iPartner lets you collaborate with your writing partner online, no matter how far away you are from one another.

Movie Magic Screenwriter offers everything you need to go from story idea to spec to shooting script. If you don't like Final Draft for any reason, this is a highly-respected alternative.

Download: Movie Magic Screenwriter for Windows | macOS ($249.95, free trial available)

3. WriterDuet: Cloud-Based, Collaborative Screenwriting

WriterDuet is built for collaboration. Enjoy real-time co-writing, intuitive commenting, and in-app text and video chats as you work with a writing partner remotely.

As a cloud-based screenwriting software, you can access your WriterDuet projects anywhere with an internet connection, on desktop or mobile. Use it for everything from outlining to rewriting, with useful tools like scene cards, tagging, and effortless formatting.

WriterDuet uses a subscription-based pricing model, with more features available at higher tiers. But you can also get started by writing your first three scripts for free, or by signing up with WriterSolo, the non-cloud-based cousin of WriterDuet.

Visit the WriterDuet website for a premium subscription, starting at $7.99/month.

4. Fade In: Cross-Platform and Affordable

Despite its lengthy official name, Fade In Professional Screenwriting Software is a streamlined app that still manages to offer every feature a professional writer could need.

Use it to write anything from a movie to a radio play, or even a video game. Getting through pages is easy with Fade In's autocomplete typing. And when it comes to rewriting, Dialogue Tuner lets you view all of a single character's dialogue in one place, letting you tweak it to perfection.

Fade In gives you these professional tools at a much lower price than Final Draft or Movie Magic Screenwriter, and it even includes free updates. It's also available for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and iPadOS.

Download: Fade In Professional Screenwriting Software for Windows | macOS ($79.95, free trial available)

5. Celtx: The Complete Pre-Production Suite

With Celtx, you can take your script all the way through from pre-production to shooting. Use this pre-production suite to beat out the story on index cards, write the screenplay, create breakdown reports, compile shot lists, and print out a shooting script.

If you're shooting the film yourself, find out how to make video footage more cinematic.

Celtx mirrors industry-standard formats throughout the entire process. You can even collaborate with your team by working simultaneously across multiple documents or editing a script together in real time.

Since Celtx is another cloud-based app, it's available anywhere across any device. You don't even need to worry about losing your documents since Celtx automatically makes secure backups for you.

Get started with Celtx for free, or sign up for a premium subscription to unlock more features and unlimited projects.

Visit the Celtx website for a premium "Scriptwriting" subscription, starting at $15/month.

6. Highland: Write Screenplays for Free on a Mac

Highland was developed by John August, writer of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, and Aladdin. He's also a co-host of the Scriptnotes screenwriting podcast. And you can use Highland to work on anything from a screenplay to a novel, or even a school paper.

Unlike other screenwriting apps---which use the Tab and Return keys to change between character names, dialogue, and action lines---Highland recognizes what you're trying to type and formats your writing automatically.

Use the Navigator sidebar to view your screenplay at a glance, jumping to whichever section you need to work on next. Then enable Revision mode to track changes in a range of different colors.

Highland is only available for macOS, but you can download it and start writing professional screenplays for free, with a premium upgrade available for more features.

Download: Highland for macOS (Free, premium version available)

7. Trelby: Write Screenplays for Free on Windows

Trelby is a fast, simple, and clean piece of screenwriting software capable of formatting professional scripts. Best of all, it's completely free and works on both Windows and Linux machines. Unfortunately, Trelby isn't available for Mac.

Choose between draft view or What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) mode as you use auto-complete, spell checking, and smart formatting to finish your screenplay.

If you're struggling to come up with character names, you can access Trelby's database of over 200,000 names from across the world to find inspiration.

And after you finish your first draft, use the scene, location, character, and dialogue reports to inform the next rewrite. You can even compare script versions to get a quick view of everything you changed.

Download: Trelby for Windows (Free)

And If You Know How to Format a Screenplay...

Each of the screenwriting apps above makes it easy to write a script in the proper format. But if you don't mind putting in a little bit of work yourself, you could write your screenplay in Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, or Google Docs instead. You just need to know how to format a screenplay first.

Of course, these apps don't offer all the same features that you get with industry-standard screenwriting software, but they're a great way to get started without needing to spend any money.

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4 Siri Alternatives for iPhone Voice Commands | MakeUseOf

Although Siri is constantly improving, the iPhone's personal voice assistant doesn't have a lot of fans. If you frequently find that Siri either doesn't recognize or doesn't understand your commands, it might be time to try a different voice assistant instead.

Popular alternatives to Siri include Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Unfortunately, none of the alternatives below work perfectly on the iPhone, but hopefully they still offer you an improvement over Siri.

Limitations of Third-Party Assistants on the iPhone

Apple has a reputation for not playing well with others, and that certainly shows when looking at third-party voice assistants on the iPhone. Each of the Siri alternatives below suffers from fairly big limitations compared to the iPhone's native voice assistant.

The most noticeable limitation is the fact that you need to open each third-party voice assistant app in order to activate it.

You can't say "Hey Google" to activate Google Assistant without opening the Google Assistant app first. The same goes for other apps as well, despite "Hey Siri" working even when your iPhone display is asleep.

It's possible to create a Siri Shortcut as a workaround for this issue. All you need to do is make a shortcut that opens your voice assistant app, then activate that shortcut using "Hey Siri." This effectively routes through Siri into your preferred app.

Another limitation to third-party voice assistants on the iPhone is that Apple doesn't give them system-level control over iOS. That means you can't use these Siri alternatives to change the screen brightness, enable Wi-Fi, open other apps, or change your settings.

We know Apple introduced these limitations in the name of security and user privacy---it's part of what makes iOS so stable---but they sure are frustrating when you're looking for a good alternative to Siri.

1. Google Assistant

The Google Assistant app offers almost all the same functionality as Siri on the iPhone, except it's better at recognizing complex commands and strings or related questions.

Use Google Assistant to check the weather, set an alarm, make a dinner reservation, search the web, or even call and text people from your contacts list.

As expected, Google Assistant links with other Google apps like Gmail, Google Maps, Google Photos, YouTube, and more. This means you can ask Google to perform tasks linked to these apps, such as:

  • "Get me driving directions to London."
  • "Show my photos from last month."
  • "Find a YouTube video to watch."

You can also use Google Assistant to play music in Spotify, YouTube, or Deezer. As you might have noticed, Google Assistant doesn't link to Apple Music.

For more information, check out our comparison of Google Assistant versus Siri.

Download: Google Assistant (Free)

2. Amazon Alexa

Amazon Alexa works best if you pair it with Amazon Echo devices in your home. But even without those smart home accessories, you can use Amazon Alexa for a range of typical voice assistant tasks with nothing but your iPhone.

Open the Amazon Alexa app and ask Alexa to:

  • "Add milk to my shopping list."
  • "Read me the latest news."
  • "Play some music."

Alexa even offers a free video chat service in the form of Home Drop In, which lets you effortlessly connect with family and friends who also own Alexa-supported devices.

Alexa can play music using Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, and TuneIn radio. You can control a range of smart home devices from smart bulbs to cameras. And you can even tell Alexa to make Amazon purchases using nothing but your voice.

To read about all the finer differences, take a look at our comparison of Amazon Alexa versus Siri.

Download: Amazon Alexa (Free)

3. Cortana

Microsoft has announced plans to discontinue Cortana's mobile app, integrating the service into Microsoft 365 instead. In fact, Cortana has already vanished from the App Store in Australia, the UK, and many other countries.

But for the time being, Cortana is still alive and well in the US. And for as long as that's the case, it's still a good alternative to Siri on the iPhone.

As expected, Cortana is the best option for integrating with Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Teams, and other Microsoft apps.

Use it to manage your tasks, emails, reminders, and to-do lists. Ask Cortana to send messages or emails using nothing but your voice. Or just use Cortana to look up information about the news or the weather.

Cortana is mostly geared towards business use, making the following commands particularly useful:

  • "Send the latest sales report to my manager."
  • "Start a new call with my team."
  • "Add expenses to my to-do list."

Download: Cortana (Free)

4. Lyra

Lyra is clearly the underdog on this list, but it's a smart voice assistant with a wonderfully clean app interface.

Tap the microphone and ask Lyra any number of questions. Or tap the lines icon and type a question instead. Lyra can create calendar events, add reminders, look up information on the web, tell you the weather, and even get directions for you.

Unfortunately, Lyra can't control your media player. So you can't use this Siri alternative to play music or listen to podcasts.

For ideas on where to get started with Lyra, try out these commands:

  • "Add a dentist appointment to my calendar today."
  • "What's the weather like tomorrow?"
  • "Remind me to pick up milk later."

Lyra doesn't offer the wealth of features you get with other voice assistants. But it's a sleek alternative that performs all the basics exceptionally well.

Download: Lyra (Free)

Finding the Best Voice Assistant for Your Needs

There's a surprising lack of third-party voice assistants to choose from on the App Store. Most likely, this is because Apple's limitations make it difficult for third-party assistants to compete with Siri.

The apps above are all similar, so the best choice for you depends on which ecosystem you're already invested in. Google Assistant works best with Google Apps, Amazon Alexa works best with Amazon's smart home products, and Cortana works best with Microsoft.

For a simpler alternative that does the basics well, Lyra is a great choice.

But if you want to activate a voice assistant without opening an app on your iPhone, Siri is the only option. Maybe you need to give it another look? It might be able to do more than you first realized.