Posts tagged iCloud
Apple now allows Apple ID users to use two-step verification. We walk through the setup process. Apple took a big step in helping Apple ID users in securing their accounts this week with offering two-step verification. Two-step verification (or authentication as it’s commonly referred to) adds an additional barrier of security between would-be hackers and your account. The extra barrier comes in the form of a four-digit code, which will be sent to a device of your choosing via the Find My iPhone app or SMS, after you’ve entered your password.
Step one: To add the extra layer of security to your account you’ll need to visit the Apple ID settings page on your computer and click on “Manage your Apple ID.” Log in to the account for which you wish to enable two-step verification.
Step two: Click on the “Password and Security” option on the left side of the screen. Then you should see a “get started” link to enable two-step verification for your account. You’ve probably already clicked on the link, but just in case you haven’t, go ahead — click on it.
Step three: After clicking on the link, Apple will take you through a couple of Web pages explaining exactly what two-step verification means to you and your account. Some things to note:
- Your security questions will no longer exist.
- You will be the only person able to request a password reset.
- You need to keep your Recovery Key in a safe place.
Step four: Once you acknowledge you’ve read through the guidelines, you’ll need to add a device (or devices) to your account, granting permission to receive the four-digit code required to gain access to your account. If you use one Apple ID for App Store purchases, and another to access iCloud services, you’ll need to set up the App Store account to be SMS only. The iCloud-only account will be able to use both Find My iPhone and SMS to receive the four-digit code. Thankfully, you can link the same phone number to more than one Apple ID.
Step five: You’ll then be given your Recovery Key. This is a key piece of information when it comes to keeping your account secure. Write it down, print it out, and take a screenshot of it to ensure you don’t misplace it. Should you ever forget your password, or lose a registered device, your Recovery Key will grant you access to your account.
To drive home how important it is you write the key down and store it somewhere safe, after showing you your Recovery Key, Apple makes you type it in to verify you have the right key recorded. And no, you can’t copy and paste the key from the previous step.
Step six: The final step of the process is once again agreeing to the implications of enabling two-step verification on your account.
Two-step authentication is currently available in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand. Should you ever sell, replace, or lose one of your registered devices, make sure tovisit this page to remove it as soon as possible. The process only takes a few minutes of your time and is worth setting up. The additional layer of security all but eliminates any risk you have of your account being compromised. Should you have any questions about Apple’s two-step verification, be sure to look over its FAQ page. Or if you’re looking to enable the same service on your Google account, you can follow the step inMatt Elliot’s post here.
With a few preferences and equalizer changes, you can greatly enhance the sound of your iTunes library. While there are a number of media players and audio programs that can be used to play music through your Mac, iTunes being a library and content manager as well as a player that comes preinstalled on Mac systems makes it the most popular option out there. The program offers simple controls for sorting through music, generating playlists, and playing your music, but in addition there are some settings that can be used to greatly improve sound quality during playback.
The first of these is the Sound Enhancer setting in the iTunes preferences, which is activated by going to the Playback section of the iTunes preferences and checking the “Sound Enhancer” check box.
This mysterious feature enhances music quality by not only adjusting the treble and bass of the output, but also blending various phase components of the audio across channels and mixing them in stereo to give it more depth. The level of this effect can be adjusted with the slider next to the check box that enables it. I recommend adjusting this setting by playing a song or two without it, then enabling this feature and setting the slider at the extremes of its range to hear the difference, and finally by finding the midrange level that works best for you. The effect will be different for different songs and encodings, so selecting an extremely high setting may, for some songs, result in odd and sometimes unpleasant sounding music.
The next component is the iTunes equalizer, which allows you to adjust the relative power of the frequency ranges in the signal to enhance different aspects of what’s being played. Proper equalization of a signal is an art form in its own right, but for starters the following is a decent guideline to use:
- 32Hz: Mainly the power of bangs, thumps, and kicks (i.e., bass drum beats).
- 64Hz: Deep throbbing or rumbling bass signals (i.e., kettle drums or gongs), primarily audible on high-end speakers or those with subwoofers.
- 125Hz: The low-end of most bass instruments
- 250Hz: The beginning of most musical instruments’ low-end ranges, including guitar, cello, and piano.
- 500Hz: Deep vocals (i.e., Barry White) and bass instruments.
- 1KHz: Most musical instruments and vocals will be greatly affected starting in this range and going higher.
- 2KHz: Most standard vocals are affected by this range
- 4KHz: The sweet spot for melodic components of music (wailing guitar solos and fancy piano runs, etc.)
- 8KHz: High or sharp crashes and bangs such as cymbals and things that screech will be affected most in this range.
- 16KHz: The “fidelity” range, where adjustments can affect the overall “clarity” of sounds but too much may bring out white noise (high hiss sounds) in the signal.
Equalizer settings depend on both the song being played and the speaker system being used, but a commonly recommended equalizer setting is to enhance around a peak of 125Hz to 250Hz and then also at around a peak of 8KHz, slightly dropping the values surrounding these peaks. Apple includes a number of equalizer presets in the equalizer’s menu that you can use as starting points for various genres of music.
Part of the equalizer is the preamp slider, which adjusts the overall gain through the equalizer. By increasing the power in each frequency channel you risk saturating the signal, which pushes it to the edge of its dynamic range, thus clipping it and resulting in static and other harsh sounds. The preamp allows you to equally dial back the power through all frequencies, maintaining the current equalization balance but rolling off any saturation that results from it.
If attended to with care, these two settings in iTunes can be more than enough to greatly enhance the quality of your entire music library, but there may be instances where specific songs or albums might need very unique equalization settings. In these cases you can create a custom equalization setup, then save it using the equalizer’s preset menu. Then select the songs you wish to apply the preset to and get information on them by pressing Command-I. In the information window, click the Options tab and choose your new preset from the “Equalizer Preset” menu. You can also adjust the song’s volume as well, since some albums or tracks may have been recorded at quite significantly lower volumes than others.
Unfortunately the sound enhancer does not have a per-song assignment option, so if you find songs that this does not work for, then you will have to turn it off in the iTunes preferences.
In addition to these equalization options, iTunes supports several other options to enhance your music playback. The first is a cross-fade feature that will blend the last few seconds of a song into the first few of the next song, similar to what is commonly done in radio broadcasts. This will give your library a more continuous feel, but will also cut out some dramatic (and subjectively significant) beginnings and endings to songs so it may not be the most desired option.
A second feature is Apple’s Sound Check, which will scan your entire library and adjust individual song volumes so they match. While convenient in some cases, this can adversely affect many albums that include tracks that are meant to be relatively silent. It will also interfere with albums that are built for the tracks to be played seamlessly, where as one track leads into another you may hear a sudden volume jump as iTunes adjusts it.
The options discussed so far deal with the music as-is in your library. However, those who started accumulating digital music years ago may have a number of poorly encoded tracks in their libraries. When people first began collecting music on computers, the standard format was MP3 encoded at 128Kbps, which saved space at between 3MB to 5MB per music file, but it did cut down on quality (especially the highs and lows). These days the use of 256Kbps AAC and other formats offers a higher quality option, but while you can get around this by purchasing new copies of these songs, this may not be feasible or worth it. To fill this gap, Apple offers its iTunes Match service which will look up a song in its iTunes Store and if available will play the higher quality version instead of the one on your computer. This service does cost $25 per year and does require an Internet connection, but allows you to have higher quality music on all of your iCloud-enabled devices.
A last detail to mention with regard to audio quality is that the media player and audio files are only half of the equation. The second aspect is the audio system itself. If you have a cheap set of speakers or headphones, then you will only get so far by adjusting audio settings in iTunes. If you are interested in getting the most out of your music then you might consider an upgrade to your audio hardware. However, this quality argument also goes both way: if you have a fancy audio system but do not properly equalize it and use poor quality audio files, then you are not taking advantage of its capabilities.
Apple’s annual developers conference kicks off Monday morning. Tune in for CNET’s live coverage to get the scoop. Apple once again takes over San Francisco’s Moscone center for its annual developers conference next week, and CNET will be there to bring you the news live. The tech giant is expected to show off a new version of iOS, spruce up its Mac lineup, and offer a little more information on Mountain Lion, the next major version of OS X due out this summer.
The show runs the whole week, but the real action is Monday’s keynote at 10 a.m. Pacific. will have live news and photos as the event unfolds, including a pre-game show that starts at 8 a.m. Pacific. We’ve also made a handy reminder to add to your calendar. You can also check out what time that is in your time zone, right here. For Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is 01:00am – 03:00am. At last year’s show, Apple showed off iOS 5.0 for the first time, which came four months later with the iPhone 4S. That show also brought iCloud and iTunes Match (Apple’s Latest Web-Powered Services), and a price and release date for OS X Lion.
What was notably missing from the 2011 edition was any sort of hardware. Instead, Apple spent the majority of its time on stage focusing on new software features in iOS and OS X, its two operating systems. That’s not expected to be the case this time around, at least on the Mac front. Intel’s got a brand new crop of chips all ready to go, and PC vendors have already beaten Apple to the punch there. Rumors have also swirled about Apple switching to higher resolution “Retina display” screens on some of its Macs, to match what can be found on the latest iPhones, iPads and iPods. All of this to say, there’s plenty to look forward to in the way of news. Be sure to tune in.