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  • Brian Fishbach

10 Hard Lessons for iPhone Users from a former Apple Employee

1: Use a passcode AND two-step verification

Believe it or not, many people need to be told to set up a passcode on their iPhone. Oftentimes, it's someone who didn't get an iPhone until they were far past Social Security age, which is understandable. But if your phone gets stolen and you don't have a passcode, there is a lot that can go wrong—starting with identity theft.

2: Don't Delete Work-Related Texts

Some people like to delete their text/iMessage history on a monthly basis. But if it's a message thread with someone who owes you money or has been harassing you, don't delete it. In fact, go back in the text conversation, do a screen recording and slowly scroll through the most pertinent parts. This can be admissible evidence in a legal proceeding. But if you delete the text thread before creating a record, it's gone forever.

3: Pay for Extra iCloud Storage

If you are only using the 5 GB free plan for iCloud storage, please reconsider. You can multiply that space by a factor of 10 for as little as $0.99 per month. Some people say they don't trust the cloud, iCloud or otherwise. Newsflash: Do you use email? That's cloud-based storage. Whether it's Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, AOL or iCloud. They all store your email on cloud servers. iCloud will get you out of a bind when your iPhone breaks. And if you're a Mac user, you can use it to create instant backups of your Desktop, Downloads and Documents folders. For the 2 TB plan (which most people do not need, yet...) it's $11.99 per month. Worth it.

4: Write your iCloud and Email passwords down somewhere outside of the iPhone.

You don't want to lock the key inside the safe. If you haven't done so yet, a good time to do it is twice a year: Thanksgiving day and on the 4th of July. If you need help with this, during both of those times per year, you're probably around other people who care enough about you to take 10 minutes and help you figure this out.

5: Download the Apple Support App on all of your devices.

For reasons I still do not understand, the Apple Support App (dark blue), is not an app that comes pre-loaded onto your iPhone. It is the best resource for fixing a problem with any of your Apple devices. Stop reading this and download it now:

6. Hide alerts from group messages.

How often do you get a group message with information that is actionable right now? Group messaging has been around since 2013, but since the COVID-19 Pandemic, they have exploded into our existence. They're a great way to get the crew together for a moment when in the past, it would require travel.

But literally the only time I ever had alerts for group messages was when I was steering a work event where we all needed to be in constant contact to ensure things got done. Otherwise, group messaging with alerts is just a nuisance.

7. Never make an international cellular call.

International cellular phone calls often begin with a country code that is not your own (+61 for Australia, +44 for the UK, +1 for the United States...) You can use WhatsApp, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, or even FaceTime for an international call. But for the love of Jobs (RIP), please do not surrender hundreds of dollars to your carriers. Those hyenas at AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint have enough of your money already.

8. Change your NOTES settings to iCloud, not Gmail or "On This Phone"

Notes has become one of the most frequently used apps for iPhone users. And Apple knows it, as they are constantly refining it for more versatile use—adding photos, shared notes, checklists, and collaborative notes. But some people still are backing their notes up to Gmail. If you go to the Notes app and tap the upper left to go to the "folders" page, you may see that it just says "iCloud" and then have a list of your notes folders. But if you see Gmail or any other email service, I recommend you select all of those notes and move them to iCloud. The Notes app was designed to be backed up to iCloud. If you tried to access your iPhone notes using Gmail, it can be a hellish experience. Stick to iCloud.

9. Don't use your iPhone in the shower

Yes your iPhone is water resistant (if it isn't an SE or an iPhone with a home button). No, that does not mean it's configured to work in the shower. The heat and the force of the water pressure are not a good mix and if you do it enough, your phone will stop working. Every time your phone is submerged in water, its water-resistance decreases. Take the underwater photos with a GoPro and save your iPhone's water resistance for when you inevitably drop it in a toilet (or pool).

10. Always go to the Apple Store before going to the carrier store for assistance

The Apple Store employees don't work on commission. They get too many benefits and there's plenty of accountability for you to trust going there to get advice. The carrier stores are often quite empty and devoid of energy. Who do you trust more: the dinosaurs of the telecom industry or the chipper smiling nerds at the Apple Store? Most of the Apple employees will be super kind and open to listening to whatever you have to say. They're not worried about making quotas. They literally want you to give you all the best information that suits your needs. Launch days and the winter holidays are pretty stressful and busy, so be kind and they'll be kind back.


If you're getting an iPhone repair done at the Apple Store, bring a book. Have something to read while you wait. If you need recommendations, go to Rock Music Life's BOOKS page.

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