How to Remove a Google Account from Your iPhone or iPad

You know the problem. You used a Google account to login to some Google app on iOS. Now you want to get rid of this login for some reason. Just logging out won’t help as the apps remember the used accounts.

Deleting all the Google apps won’t help either because reinstalling will surface the logins again. Resetting the iOS advertising identifier to avoid Google being able to fetch the old login data from their servers won’t help either.

So it seems the logins are neither stored on this device nor on Google’s servers but most likely in some sort of iCloud app storage facility which you can’t delete. Apps have the ability to use iCloud storage to store settings for free.

That means the Google logins will persist for this iCloud login. Quite annoying especially if you don’t want to link different Goggle accounts because of privacy reasons. But there is an easy way to delete the stored Google logins.

Installing Gmail

Installing Gmail gives the option to remove a login from the account settings page in Gmail iOS on either iPhone or iPad. By doing this all logins will be removed from all Google apps including YouTube, Google Maps, Google Chrome and others.

To remove a login tap Accounts > Edit > Remove for all the logins you want to remove. Removing a Google login from one app deletes it for all installed Google apps on this device.

The same goes for Google Drive, Google Hangouts and Google Calendar. These apps can manage accounts more thoroughly than the rest of the Google apps. Maybe Google will enhance the other apps as well at some point in time in the future.

It took me some time to figure this out as I didn’t have one of those apps installed on my devices. The other Google apps I used and where I wanted to get rid of the accounts don’t have this ability.

iCloud Drive and Apple’s Own OS X File Types, Which Won’t Open on iOS

Apple thinks the future of personal computing is touch. They promote especially the iPad Pro as the device which makes you want to ditch your conventional computing device: your notebook or desktop computer.

Unfortunately if you want to transition to an iOS-only computing live, like some people already have, you first have to get all your old files on your new device.

iCloud To the Rescue!

Well, it would be funny if not iCloud sometimes seem to be the one which has to be rescued from itself, because it managed to not sync your files, not downloading it for viewing or even doesn’t display them at all on iOS devices.

After the disaster the document picker on iOS 8 was—always crashing—with iOS 9 there’s thankfully an iCloud Drive app, so you have easy access to your files. The current state is that it works okay, but sometimes you have to reboot your device to make iCloud Drive download files again.

If you manage to sync all your files from OS X to iCloud, you might not be able to open these files on your iPhone or iPad. While it’s no surprise that not every OS X app has a sibling on iOS (yet), at least all files created by Apple’s own apps which ship with OS X by default should work, right? Nope. Some are missing:

.webloc files. You create those by dragging a URL from Safari’s location bar to e.g. your desktop. Solution: use DropBox in addition to iCloud. DropBox can read those links. If you don’t have a Dropbox account, you can use the app Webloc on iOS.

.webarchive files. Web pages saved with Safari. Solution: use a 3rd party browser like Mercury.

.eml files. Emails saved with Mail. Solution: maybe a 3rd party email client is able to open them?

.txt files. Texts saved with TextEdit. iCloud Drive wants to open these in Numbers, which sometimes fails and . Solution: use a text editor which supports opening files from iCloud Drive like Byword.

.textClipping. Selected text that was dragged to e.g. the desktop. Solution? Maybe, I never used text clippings to begin with.

How To Handle Unreadable Files

I used spotlight to find all file types which are not suitable for iOS and either converted them or just deleted them. You won’t believe the file cruft which gathered over the years. If the files are in an old file format it’s very likely I didn’t use them in a long time. If converting doesn’t work saving them as PDF might be the last hope to have at least a readable copy. And some files already have outlived their purpose. I just delete them.

The files which I wasn’t able to make fit for iOS I tagged in the Finder as “iOS unreadable”. So I’m able to find these files again easily.

Unfortunately tags are not fully supported iOS at the moment. No searching, editing, removing or applying tags in iCloud Drive app. Only the colored circles are visible next to the file name. If you want to see tags for folders, you have to switch to list view.

If you are still reading it seems you’re quite interested in having an iOS-only setup. The good news is it’s entirely possible and also reasonable. There might be some apps which only exist on OS X, so there’s still possible limitation. But it’s definitely reasonable to have a personal or private iOS-only setup.

Storing Videos in iCloud Drive on iOS

iCloud Drive has come a long way. After one and a half years iCloud Drive syncing works reliably and can be used as a cloud drive for iOS and OS X. It might even allow for replacing ordinary computers with iPhones and iPads. But because of the intricacies of iOS data storage it’s not straight forward to use.

Sandboxes

iOS apps can only access their own data. Therefor all data is stored on the device “within” the apps itself. No other app can access this data. Exceptions are apps like Photos or Contacts which can grant access to their data for another app if the user agrees.

If for example a tutorial video is stored in iCloud Drive, there’s no easy way to view it in another app. It can be downloaded using the iCloud Drive app on iOS to watch it in this same app. But if you do this, it cannot easily be deleted from the iOS device, because deleting the file deletes it in iCloud Drive on all your devices as well.

Access via Sharing Menu

Another option is to save the video using the share sheet. The video will be saved in Photos, which means that a) it will be uploaded to iCloud Photo Library, which doubles the storage space needed for this video, and b) it is stored among your personal videos and photos, sorted by date. This is quite unfortunate because it’s hard to find (who knows when this tutorial video was created) and in the wrong spot amongst your very personal stuff.

The last option is to use the sharing menu to copy it to another app. Then the video will be downloaded and stored within this app. While the video downloads the receiving app can’t be used, because a download dialog is displayed. Switching apps might stop a large download, because background activity is stopped by iOS after some time.

In my testing downloading seems to fail depending on the app I chose. Infuse for example didn’t show the video after downloading it. The size of the app increased for the amount of the downloaded video, but it isn’t displayed in the app and therefor not playable. VLC however worked flawlessly.

Access via iCloud File Picker

VLC also the ability to access iCloud Drive from within VLC itself. The file picker allows for convenient access to the files on iCloud Drive. Unfortunately it failed to download the file after picking it. Only the sharing menu worked.

Conclusion

Bottom line is: you can access your videos from iCloud Drive. But it’s not straight forward, has some pitfalls and might fail.

Cloud storage is currently the only way to get rid of an ordinary computer and use touch devices only. Upload the data only once from the soon to be replaced computer to the cloud and download it just in time on the iPhone or iPad.

Alternatives

Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive are contenders for iCloud Drive. But iCloud Drive seems to be the natural choice. It’s better integrated with iOS and most likely all the iPhone photos are already on there. So you might already be spending some money for iCloud Drive. Spending money for more than one cloud storage service seems to be unreasonable. All cloud storages work about the same. If only iCloud Drive would work as expected all would be fine.

The Difference Between Apple Music and iTunes Match in a Nutshell

Apple Music and iTunes Match have overlapping features which makes them confusing. I explain why it’s reasonable to have both.

Apple has a detailed explanation of the differences between Apple Music and iTunes Match in regard to your music library, but they can be summed up more easily.

iTunes Match matches your songs’ acoustic fingerprint against Apple’s Music catalog to find the perfect match while Apple Music only matches against your song’s details (such as name, artist, album). This means iTunes might choose a different version or recording of some of your songs instead of your original ones.

iTunes Match automatically uploads songs which can’t be matched. Apple Music doesn’t allow uploading of songs which are not in the music catalog. Uploading is important if you have rare titles you want to keep.

iTunes Match let’s you download DRM-free (freely copyable) music of your matched songs while Apple Music only let’s you download DRM-protected (copy protected) music. The quality for both is the same (256 Kbit/s AAC).

iTunes Match lets you only listen to your music while Apple Music lets you listen to all the music Apple has in its music catalog. Both are available on all your Apple devices and allow for streaming and downloading.

So iTunes Match is the choice if you want to have your meticulously built music library accessible on all devices without manually syncing parts of your library to your storage constrained devices. And then you can top it off with Apple Music if you like more music but don’t want to buy anymore.

Apple-Music-only is for people who don’t have an extensive library of rare music and are fine with conveniently getting the Apple music catalog as it is.

iTunes Match is $25 a year (~$2 a month), Apple Music is $9.99 a month ($119.88 a year) or $14.99 ($179.88 a year) for families of up to six people sharing the same credit card.

Is the WordPress iOS App Still Relevant?

When Automattic announced project Calyspo it looked like they wanted to reinvent the WordPress admin panel. But then they released WordPress apps for OS X, Windows and Linux. These are essentially web apps running in an OS-native window, but they work well.

The last couple of month (or years?) the WordPress iOS app didn’t change much, at least not on the user-facing side. They bought a very cool 3rd-party iOS WordPress app called Poster eons ago (mid 2013), which was better than the official WordPress app. They might did it because they wanted to hire the talented developer behind this app, or they wanted to get rid of the better app to not fragment the WordPress app space or they just didn’t want to look bad, because a single developer could own them. Maybe all of it.

But it took almost a year, if I recall correctly, to get some of the features into the official WordPress app. Changes were slow and the app always felt and still feels somewhat unfinished. Given the importance of mobile and the growing pressure from Tumblr and Medium it seems unwise have the iOS app linger.

The sole developer of Poster, which led other iOS projects at WordPress, went working for Apple in the meantime.

That’s why I ask myself: Is the WordPress iOS app still relevant for WordPress or is it going to be replaced soon?

Using Tumblr to Take Back the Internet

A year or two ago I used Tumblr to take back the Internet and own my data. I posted links, images and videos on Tumblr to cross-post those to Twitter and Facebook.

While it felt good and I liked to look at the Tumblr stream, the Twitter and Facebook streams didn’t look as good. To no surprise all links point back to Tumblr, which they should, but there was information and meaning lost in this. It wasn’t as clear where these posts actually point to.

While I love Tumblr for the simplicity of creating video, image and link posts, I don’t like the way the URL for those posts look like. There’s always a unique ID between the blog URL and the post name. It’s there to be easier on Tumblr’s servers, which is of little interest for the user. But anyway, I digress.

Having the data on Tumblr’s servers is not actually owning the data, but it’s much easier to get it out from Tumblr than from Twitter or Facebook.

I stopped after a while and decided “what the heck, I just post to Twitter and Facebook again.” All these post are ephemeral and I don’t need to hold on to them. I even deleted my 8 year old Tumblr and moved part of the data into this blog.

Cord-Cutting: Just Do It!

Just cut the cord. You won’t miss it. Don’t be a couch potato and let other people put ideas in your mind while spending your spare time.

There are so many ways to spend your spare time. TV is linear. You have to be on time because the shows won’t wait. You don’t stop watching because you already paid. At the end of a program you immediately get fed with new shows, which makes switching off hard.

If you for example surf the Internet at least you can choose what and when you want to consume. There’s much more content which you can choose from. It covers even the most arcane hobbies. This arcane stuff is done by people like you and me who happen to love this stuff. And it shows. Much more authentic, less spin.

If you prefer laid back consumption there’s always YouTube. You have no idea what kind of interesting stuff people upload every day. From workouts and sports to healthy or not so healthy cooking and baking. From living off-grid to van-life or multi-million dollar homes. From old-school music documentaries to green-living documentaries.

Cutting the cord saves a significant amount of money every month and every odd years when you buy a new TV set. If you want to you can use your TV and connect an Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV or Roku to get Netflix or any other movie or TV show for rent. Some modern TVs even have some of services built-in. Some of these players start as low as $40.

If you are a sports nut you can subscribe to channels like NFL, NBA, ESPN and others on Apple, Google, Amazon or Roku devices to get games and tailored content about it and pre- and post-match infos. Whenever you want to.

And if you realized you can access the content whenever you want to you might stop giving in to the urge or habit to watch TV and use your time differently because you can always get back to it. If you rent movies, you pick only those which are interesting to you and don’t watch stuff because it’s on.

30 Day Challenge: No Social Media, No Online Video

It feels I’m late to write about this. I started my Social Media absence on 25th of January out of the blue. I reduced Social Media usage and RSS feeds for quite some time, but I still read a lot on the Internet. Like a couple hours a day.

I also realized I was using YouTube quite often, sometimes for a couple of hours a day. Everybody is talking about the demise of blogging and RSS feeds in favour of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on. But I think YouTube will be taking the lion share of online time in the coming years. But that’s a topic for another post.

I’m not addicted to consuming information or being entertained online. I can easily go without Internet for a couple of days if I’m among interesting people. But if I’m alone or online for some reason, I tend to consume information online a lot. Like 16 hours a day, from waking up to falling asleep, sometimes even in one sitting.

I also noticed I have the urge to read or watch interesting stuff if I find it. Sometimes I even sport completionist habits. But I retain less and less of this information. And I don’t spend my time on things which I create. It feels more and more superficial to consume information in this capacity because this information is ephemeral. Nobody will care what I read in a couple of days, even me.

The Challenge

So I made it a challenge. I mean, why not? Let’s see how I feel after 30 days without that much input. Definitely more mindful, hopefully more focused.

And I also have the feeling that the days of wired Internet, (V)DSL or cable, are almost over. That contradicts the statement above — YouTube will be huge —, but it still stands. People only use smartphones or phablets. Why should they have two contracts for getting Internet access when one of these is limited to a single location? This is also a topic for another post. For me this is important, because without YouTube and online video in general I won’t use that much data and might get away with just having a single LTE Internet contract. Another insight.

To wrap it up: I’m cutting down on external input like Social Media, RSS, YouTube and the Internet in general. This is going to be my February of 2015.

Apple ID Email Addresses: Primary, Alternate, Rescue and Notification

There are different email addresses you can add to an Apple ID. Here are the different types in a nutshell.

Primary Email Address

This is the email address for your Apple ID to login and normal communication. Everybody having an Apple ID has a primary address.

Alternate Email Address

Alternate addresses can help people find you on Apple services. Most people won’t need an alternative address.

Rescue Email Address

Rescue email addresses are used for accessing your Apple ID when the primary one isn’t working for some reason. This is a security measure and might help you.

Notification Email Address

This address is only used for notification purposes if you have two-factor authentication enabled and don’t have a rescue email address.

Apple has a thorough explanation in their knowledge base for these different types.

Why Apple iBooks Highlighting Sucks

I use highlights in ebooks to create excerpts, which I save in Evernote. If I want to fresh up my mind about the ideas of the book, I just have to read the excerpt.

In my opinion this is done easier reading a single file than to flip through a book to hunt for the highlights or use the highlight index, which interrupts immersing myself in the text. I do this both in Kindle and iBooks ebooks.

While the Kindle highlights and notes can be seen on your Kindle page on kindle.amazon.com, the iBooks highlights and notes can only be exported via email. And this export is creating a bunch of problems, which shouldn’t be. Most likely copyright holders aka publishing companies asked Apple to do this. So here are the problems, which drive me nuts.

Highlights Are Omitted From Export

Hightlights, which are too long, won’t be exported via email. And there is no warning or notification, because it happens silently in the background.

Highlights Are Exported in the Wrong Order

Highlights and notes are exported in the order they were made. That means highlights made at an earlier time will be ordered before those made at a later time. This is bad, because if you re-read the book and highlight new passages, they will be out of order when exporting. The exported text will be harder to read and out of context.

What is especially bad is both problems combined: you realized while exporting that some highlights are missing. You succumb to the tedious work of splitting up the highlights: deleting the highlight first, then creating several smaller highlights for the deleted highlight. Because these are made at a later time than the ordinary highlights you made when reading the book linearly, the result is an out-of-order export.

Thanks, Apple, for ordering highlights by time and not location. And thanks, publishing companies, for thinking I’m going to highlight all content of your books to publish them somewhere on the internet.