New to iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad? Here are the Basics!

Just unwrap that new iPod touch, iPad, or iPhone 4? Of course you’ve heard of the products, but now that you have a real, physical unit in your hands, what’s next? Here, we cover nearly every single aspect of iOS and the iDevice world to get you up and running, and include some useful tips as well!


Regardless of if you want it, you’ve gotta have it; literally, you will be lost without a PC or Mac to sync your iDevice to. When you first power the iDevice on, it will simply show a graphic that instructs you to connect to iTunes. iTunes is, luckily, very easy to use, and for the most part, requires little effort on your part. Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Download/ update iTunes: If you are on Windows, go here and simply download iTunes by selecting your operating system, and clicking ‘Download.’ If you already have iTunes on a Mac or PC, simply find the Apple Software Update utility, and check for updates. Download the new version (if available), agree to any licenses that may pop up, and let it install.
  2. Connect your device: In that box that your shiny new toy/tool came in, there should be a cable with a USB connector on one end. The other should have a thinner, elongated side that connects to the iPod, iPad, or iPhone (note: this is what we call a ’30-pin dock connector’). Simply connect the USB side to a port on your computer, and the other side to the bottom of your iDevice.
  3. Create an iTunes account: You now have an Apple product, and you will need an iTunes account to access the universe of apps, music, and videos awaiting you. No credit card is required, although you will only be able to buy free apps and other media until you have purchased an iTunes gift card and redeemed it in the iTunes Music or App Store.
  4. Let iTunes do its thing: This is where your new iPod, iPad, or iPhone will be set up so that you can use it for daily use. When you connected your device, iTunes should have automagically recognized it and brought up a screen saying that you need to set it up. For different devices, this process will be different. Basically, read through what iTunes is asking you, and don’t sweat it… Apple didn’t get their ‘easy to use’ reputation for nothing!

The initial sync will range from 1 minute to 1 hour, as it is completely dependent on how much media and apps you have in your library. After it is over, you should be all set up and able to download new apps, music, play games, browse the web, and enjoy all the new features of your new iDevice.

If you have any media on your computer from ripped CDs, or from the various stores like Amazon, etc. you’ll have to add them manually. Luckily, it isn’t very difficult:

  1. Select ‘File’ from the top
  2. Select ‘Add file to library’ if you are only looking to add one piece of music
  3. Browse to the file that you are looking for and click it

That’s it! You may want to double check, just to be sure that it did indeed get added. You can repeat this procedure for as many times as you need to add media.

Apps to Download

Possibly the single greatest thing about iOS is the App Store: you have hundreds of thousands of programs and games just waiting to be used. However, when you first dive into the App Store, whether on the device or your computer, things can be a little dizzying. Here’s a fairly basic list of what I consider to be must-have apps and games:


  • Twitter for iPhone (free): Formerly known as Tweetie, this is one of the best Twitter clients on any mobile platform. While the name would suggest it only works for the iPhone, it also works for the iPod touch and iPad.
  • Facebook (free): Everyone and their cat has  a Facebook page these days, and this app is the official portal to let you keep track of them. It includes all the features that die-hard fans know and love, and will notify you of changes via push notifications. Downside? No iPad support, which brings us to…
  • Friendly for Facebook (free): Just because Zuckerberg and Co. (a.k.a. Facebook) don’t believe the iPad is a mobile platform doesn’t mean that a few enterprising app developers are on board with their train of thought. Enter Friendly for Facebook, an app that recently became free for the masses to enjoy.


  • Pulse: Pulse is a popular RSS newsreader with support for Google Reader integration. It features a fairly unique interface, which displays little photos that are included in whatever RSS article it is showing. There is also an iPad version, available here, formatted specifically for the larger screen.
  • WSJ: For users in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal app is one of the best sources for news available on the App Store. However, while the app itself is free, you have to have a subscription. Subscriptions start at $1.99 for access to the online-only version, and can be purchased here. There is also an iPad version, available here, which follows the same subscription-based model as the iPhone-and-iPod version of the app.
  • Engadget: If you have any interest in technology and gadgets space, this is probably the best place to start learning and get updated on what’s going on in the tech industry. (besides our frontpage, of course!). They recently launched a great iPad app as well, which you can grab here.


  • Evernote: Need a way to sync all of your apps across multiple platforms? Evernote might be what you need. You simply take a note – voice memos, photos, and text all supported – and it syncs it to the cloud automagically. All for the great price of free, though there is a cap on how much data you transfer. Head over to their site to download clients for Mac OS X, Windows, Android, Blackberry, and more.

  • Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite: It’s a mobile office suite, offering excellent compatibility with Microsoft Office documents, as well as support for Google Docs, MobileMe, and other cloud-based office alternatives. The app allows you to not only view documents and PowerPoint presentations, but create and edit them. Of course, that’s assuming you can rip yourself away from the games we mention below.
  • Instapaper: Ever find yourself not being able to finish a long article or document due to time constraints? Instapaper aims to solve that problem, by allowing you to save the text of the document, and any relevant pictures, to the cloud. Instapaper then pulls down any saved documents, and allows you to read over them whenever you have the time. The paid version is $4.99 a pop, but there is an ad-supported free version.


  • Camera+: If your iDevice sports a camera, this is something to look into. Sporting features such as exposure and focus control, scene modes, and dozens of effects, it’s pretty easy to justify the $0.99 if you are planning to ever use that camera.
  • Word Lens: Word Lens is an augmented reality app, which means that it takes in your surroundings via the camera, and changes it in some way. In this case, it’s a translation app. Simply point your device at Spanish text, and it will be translated into English almost instantaneously. The basic app is free and contains some proof-of-concept features, like the ability to reverse text. Language packs cost $4.99 each, and are available in Spanish to English and English to Spanish.
  • iMovie: Carrying the namesake of Apple’s popular movie editor that is bundled with iLife, iMovie has the ability to make a short video clip into a full presentation worthy of showing off. The interface is easy to navigate, but there are some pretty powerful features for a mobile device held within the app. It’s available for the very nice price of $4.99.

Games – Blockbuster Titles

These are the games that are considered ‘hardcore’ on the iOS platform. These are some of the highest quality apps developed by some of the most well-known and innovative developers out there.

File:Infinity Blade Icon.png

  • Infinity Blade: This is the current heavyweight in the department of graphics. It’s simply beautiful, and is an amazing showcase of just how powerful the silicon in the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad really is. It isn’t cheap as far as apps go (it’ll cost you $5.99), but it will work on both iPad and iPhone/iPod touch. Also, with an update promised to add significantly more gameplay, that six dollars just got easier to stomach.
  • RAGE HD: Set in a post-apocalyptic world where mutants rule, RAGE HD is a first-person shooter to rule them all. From the great graphics to the easy-to-use gyroscope controls, it’s hard not to recommend this one. The app is optimize for iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, as well as iPod touch 3G and iPod touch 4G, and comes at a very reasonable $1.99 at the time of this writing.
  • N.O.V.A. 2: Like the thought of Halo on the go? Then you’ll probably like this series. Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance (N.O.V.A.) 2 is a sci-fi first-person shooter, based directly after the first. While the graphics aren’t quite up to par with the previous two apps, the storyline and gameplay remain very good. You can find an excellent review by one of our Member Reviewers, rrroach21, here. The game isn’t cheap, though: $6.99 for the iPhone/ iPod touch version, and $6.99 for the iPad version.

Games – Quick to Play

These are the games to play if you’ve just got a minute, or if you’ve gotten an hour. Most of these are by indie developers (developers who aren’t part of a developer studio), and as such reflect a level of innovation in gameplay that most developer studios fail to reach.

  • Canabalt: Currently on sale for $0.99, this is a platformer based around surviving by jumping from building to building. Yes, it’s that simple. However, every aspect of the game seems to mesh well with the hardware the iDevices offer, and it creates a game with outstanding value. It’s a game perfect for on-the-go. And, to get a little bit of the feel of it, you can play a Flash version on the developer’s website.
  • Tilt to Live: Over the past six months, I’ve probably spent more time playing Tilt to Live than any other game on the App Store, which is saying a lot. The object of the game is simple, and pretty much given away by the title of the game: you tilt to control your character (a triangle), and dodge the red ‘enemies’ (dots), while trying to navigate to the power-ups which you use to destroy the fiendish red dots. With four major game modes, and a price of $2.99, the gameplay-to-value ratio is pretty obvious here. There’s a version for the iPad, too.

  • Doodle Jump: You’ve probably heard of this one. After all, who hasn’t? With over five million downloads, this one makes almost any App Store list. The goal? Simple: you tilt your device left and right to control a little doodle figurine, and try to break high scores. Of course, Lima Sky (the developers) have thrown a few surprises into the mix, but you’ll figure those out pretty quickly yourself.

Games – The Best of the Rest

Some of the iOS games just don’t fit anywhere else, but deserve to be mentioned anyways.

  • Angry Birds: It just got updated, and it is still great. This game has definitely intrigued the world with it’s additively simple gameplay. The object is to launch your birds into the evil pigs to recapture the birds’ precious offspring. There’s also an iPad version available built to take advantage of all that screen real estate.
  • Real Racing 2: Even the developer’s name, Firemint, inspire the feeling of speed. And guess what? So does their app. With graphics able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Infinity Blade and RAGE HD, this game is a mobile powerhouse. The controls, an important factor in racing games, are also near perfection. The only part of the app that causes a little pause is the price: $9.99 is ‘expensive’ by App Store standards.
  • Words with Friends: It’s been described as a game heralding in the era of social games, and that description might just be correct. The title of the app might give it away: it’s a crossword game that you play with other people, online. Features such as an online chat messaging system and invites through Facebook and Twitter show a backbone forged from social networks of all types. There’s a free version (ad supported) and one designed specifically for the iPad.

Introduction to Jailbreaking

Browsing around on the forums will almost certainly have brought up a new word for you: jailbreak. Jailbreak is, simply put, the act of taking your device out of Apple’s grasp. The only effect the jailbreaking process itself will have on your device is the installation of a new app, called ‘Cydia.’ This is another App Store. What’s on this new App Store? Frankly, a little bit of everything. From themes to apps to help you install said themes, to widgets, to SBSettings, there’s definitely variety in Cydia.

Jailbreaking is, frankly, a ‘nerdy’ thing to do. It shouldn’t be attempted by someone that has no experience with computers. Normally, I tell people who ask if jailbreaking is right for them, I say ‘No.’ I tell them to play with their iDevice for a few weeks. Get a feel of its capabilities-and limitations-and then decide for themselves. While the process is much easier than it was even a year ago, things can still go wrong. There is always a way to rescue your device (see below), but it may not be something that every user wants to experience.

There are some downsides, and the ones that are most noticeable are only there after you have installed multiple ‘tweaks,’ such as IconSpiral, or running system intensive themes. These programs use up your devices RAM (something you’ll want to watch on the iPod touch and iPad, as they both have 256MB, while the iPhone 4 has a more spacious 512MB), as well as using more of the CPU. The side effects are sluggish performance, and sometimes drastic hit on battery life.

Jailbreak tools are developed by a few people in the iOS community. Here’s the most prominent:

  • iPhone Dev Team [Blog]: These guys have been at it for a while, and could be considered the ‘professionals’ of the jailbreak scene. Their blog is probably the single biggest source of news in the jailbreak community. Anytime a new version of iOS or iTunes hits, check their site to see if it is safe to update. These guys have contributed and updated tools such as ‘redsn0w,’ which have been in use for about two years.
  • Geohot: George Hotz, a.k.a. ‘Geohot,’ is a retired iPhone hacker who has made many large contributions to the community. Though many despise him because of his often rude and cocky actions, there is no denying his talent. He was the first to offer a hardware unlock for the original iPhone, and he released Blackra1n. After that, he left the jailbreak community to pursue other project, such as hacking the PlayStation 3. He later made a controversial return, and released limera1n, his jailbreak tool for the iPhone 4, iPad, and iPod touch G4. This release forced the Chronic Dev Team to postpone the release of their greenpois0n tool, as they ported Geohot’s exploit to their tool. Currently, the exploit that Geohot first used in limera1n is the same one that is being used by all jailbreak tools.
  • Chronic Dev Team [Twitter]: The Chronic Dev Team is made up of about eleven hackers, working with others interested in the jailbreak scene, who have produced tools such as greenpois0n. pod2g, an ‘associate’ of the Chronic Dev Team is responsible for the ‘SHAtter’ exploit, one that is being saved for future devices so that they will also be jailbreakable.
  • Comex [Twitter]: Comex is, in short, responsible for making previously ‘tethered’ (a term that we will cover below) jailbreaks untethered. He specializes in finding userland exploits, or holes in iOS, and exploiting them to make a previously-tethered jailbreak untethered.

Other notable people/entities include:

  • The iPhone Wiki [website]: The site includes information of nearly anything related to the jailbreak scene. From jailbreak developers to the different exploits used, you are likely to find valuable information by searching.
  • Jay Saurik [Twitter]: Jay Saurik is the man behind the scenes for many of the most popular jailbreak applications. His projects include Cydia (currently the only App Store/package manager available for jailbroken devices), Winterboard (which manages various themes, and allows you to tweak other user interface properties), and Mobile Substrate (which is what nearly all of the most popular tweaks are developed on).
  • pod2g [Twitter]: This is the man behind SHAtter, an exploit that should be used when the next generation of iDevices hit next year.

There are, of course, others that are in the jailbreak scene. However, those are the most active.

Jailbreaking isn’t just a land of milk and honey, though: you can encounter trouble. Some trouble may require you to go back to an ‘un-jailbroken’ state. Luckily a fool-proof method of getting out of literally any trouble (excluding hardware damage) is a method known as DFU Restore.

You can get into DFU Restore by doing the following (note: These procedures will require you to restore your device via iTunes.  They also need to be done as precisely as possible, so it might be best to have a timer with you):

  1. Hold the Power button (which is along the top of the device) for three seconds.
  2. Without releasing the Power button, push the Home button (on the front of the device) for ten seconds.
  3. Without releasing the Home button, let go of the Power button. Hold like this for fifteen seconds.
  4. Connect to iTunes, and restore.

This method, when done right, will get you back to ‘stock’ iOS. When in DFU mode, the device will look as if it is off. This is normal. Connect it to iTunes, and you should get a pop-up notifying you that iTunes has found a device in DFU mode, and that it has to be restored before it can be used. If you are interested in DFU mode, or are simply looking for more information, see this very helpful thread here.

Now that you know how to fix any problems that might come up, here’s how you can jailbreak your device:

  1. Upgrade to iOS 4.2.1. You can make sure that you are on the latest version by clicking ‘Check for updates’ in iTunes.
  2. Visit the Dev Team Blog, and download the latest version of redsn0w for your operating system. Windows Vista/7 users, take note: you will have to run the program as an administrator and with Windows XP SP3 compatibility enabled.
  3. Connect your iPod/iPhone/iPad, and double click on the redsn0w application. Follow through it, and be sure to pay attention! If you mess up on the DFU part, don’t panic and restore! Instead, simply try again.

Also, be aware that what happens one day in the jailbreak world may be obsolete the next. The best way to stay informed is to read our frontpage, and to visit the latest jailbreak forums. That’s where you will likely find guides pertaining to the latest information and software, and where you can ask relevant questions about jailbreaking, tweaks and applications on Cydia, and more. Also, visit the above links to sites like the Dev Team’s Blog to get even more information regarding the state of the jailbreak.

Tricks and Tips

Here are some general tips and tricks for using any iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. They are pretty basic, but are also incredibly useful in some instances. Many of these are taken from forum member’s spoonforknife extensive guide that he wrote back in 2008. Luckily, most are still very relevant. I’ve merely taken the most prominent, updated them where needed, and posted them here to make it easier to find. Some may be easy to find, though others I hadn’t even thought of until I read through them.


  • If you’re scrolling through a long document/page in an application – if you tap the status bar (the bar at the top of your screen containing the time and battery), the application will automatically scroll up to the top of the document/page.
  • To take a screenshot of any screen of your iPod (including the lock screen), hold the power and home buttons and release them. A white flash will appear on screen and a screenshot will appear in your Photos application.
  • If your iPod is frozen and will not respond, you can force reboot by holding the power and home buttons until your device turns off. Please note that this is not recommended and is the equivalent of pulling the cord out of your computer to turn it off.
  • Made an error in typing/cutting/pasting? Simply shake the device to undo.


  • Double tapping the home button in any application, or with the screen off will bring up the multitasking bar. From there, you can swipe to the right to locate music controls and volume controls.
  • If you pull your headphones out of the socket, any currently playing media will pause.
  • When playing media, you can tap the screen in the iPod app once and scrub to move to that time in the media. Move up on the screen to move through faster, and move down to scrub slower.


  • Turn off WiFi and 3G to save battery power when not in use (where applicable).
  • Close apps that are running in the background often. You can do this by  double tapping the Home button, and pressing and holding any of the icons down there. They will start to wiggle, and you can close them out by tapping the red minus sign.
  • To improve battery life, turn down brightness through the Settings application.

Home Screen

  • If you would like to rearrange your Home Screen icons, tap and hold an icon until they all start to wiggle. Drag the icons around to rearrange them. Drag them on top of each other to make a folder. When you are satisfied, tap the Home button.
  • Press the home button while on the home screen, and it will return to the initial home screen. When on the initial home screen, tap the home button to go to the search function. Press it again to return to the initial home screen.
  • Instead of sliding across the page, tapping imediately left or right of the page dots on the Home Screen will move to the next page.


  • When typing a lot of text turn your iDevice horizontal. The keyboard will be bigger and you can get a better grip of the while typing with two thumbs. On the iPad, the keyboard will be nearly the size of a regular sized keyboard in this orientation.
  • When typing, if you press the space bar twice after a word it will insert a period and another space.
  • When using the keyboard, if you hold the delete key down for about 3 seconds it will change from deleting letters to deleting words.
  • Holding down letters on the keyboard will pop up the accents/symbols associated with those letters. Once it pops up, slide your finger over to the accent/symbol you like.
  • When typing if you want to add something from the numbers keyboard just hold down the numbers and slide your finger to the number or symbol you want, and release. It will take you back to your letters keyboard. This way you dont have to tap numbers, tap your number, then tap numbers again to go back. This also applies for using the ‘shift’ key to apply capital letters.
  • Make a spelling mistake? Press and hold the word until it is highlighted, and select the ‘Replace’ option. It should give you suggestions for what it thinks you mean. Tap the suggestion for it to replace the word.
  • Double tapping the shift key will toggle Caps Lock, if enabled in Settings.


  • To open a link in a new window, simply tap and hold the link. When a dialog box pops up, select ‘Open in New Page.’
  • In Safari double tap to zoom in or out. You can also “pinch” (putting your thumb and index finger on the screen and pinching in and out) to zoom in Safari, Maps, and in Pictures.
  • If you would like to save an image from the web, simply tap and hold the image to save it.


  • Need a scientific calculator? Simply go in to the stock Calculator app, and turn your device sideways.
  • In, delete emails in bulk by tapping ‘edit’ and selecting the emailyou want to have deleted.
  • In Google Maps, double tapping zooms in as expected, but single tapping with two fingers zooms out.
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