3 Managing in-app data
A grab-bag of tips for apps that use iCloud for data sync and storage
1 Reboot and restart
This is going to sound like a recycled line from sit-com TheITCrowd, but ‘have you turned it off and on again?’ really is a viable solution for a lot of iCloud sync troubles – and that’s very much the case for in-app data. Sometimes flicking Wi-Fi off and on will reload content; sometimes a device force-restart is needed. The more things change…
2 Reminders weirdness
The Reminders app is especially handy for to-do lists that are shared between multiple users. Only, such lists don’t always update. If you’ve been reliably informed ‘sausages’ are on a shared shopping list, but you can’t see them, try adding a new item yourself to wake up Reminders. Or, you know, restart your iPhone.
3 You’ve got mail
Every Apple ID comes with its own related email address, of the form email@example.com (@me.com and @mac.com options may also exist for long-time users). This syncs across devices allowed access to the address – but email messages can eat into your iCloud storage. If you need to free up space, delete junk and sent mail.
4 Save the date
If you’re using iCloud, your calendars will sync across devices. On Mac, updates sometimes don’t always work as expected, though. We’ve seen new entries vanish shortly after they’re added, or multiple-item cut and pastes not stick. The best tip is to keep an eye out after making new entries – and not make too many calendar changes at once.
5 Take a note
Although Notes primarily started life as the digital equivalent of a scrap of paper, it’s since grown to become a capable app. You can now add sketches, checklists, images and more. If you’re using iCloud, you can also add collaborators. By which we mean others can be invited to work on a note. Kick this
off by clicking/tapping the button that’s a + next to a silhouette of a head.
6 Messages in the cloud
When videos and photos are sent, Messages can get pretty weighty. You can manually delete threads and images, but as of iOS 11, you’ll be able to activate Messages On iCloud, automatically saving attachments in iCloud and reducing their size on your iOS devices.
7 Lock and key
With iCloud Keychain, Apple securely holds your Safari website logins and payment details in iCloud, so you needn’t remember them. This enables you to use complex passwords, making it less likely someone will break into your accounts. Sometimes, though, it’ll refuse to sync. If so, turn off iCloud Keychain on all devices, then activate it on the one with the most up-to-date keychain items, and then on the remaining devices.
8 Playing the game
Games on iOS are a bit of an odd one as far as iCloud is concerned. Every game can theoretically sync progress using iCloud, but relatively few do. Some also utilise iCloud, but only to restore progress to a single device.
Sometimes, you won’t know any of this is happening until you install a game on a new device and find you don’t have to start from scratch. In Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage, tap Manage Storage to see a list of apps saving data to iCloud, which will include games.
9 App offloading
As mentioned, it’d be great if more iOS games synced progress between devices. Part of the reason for that is many of them are massive. But if you delete a game, you also delete all of the progress you’ve made, if the game doesn’t support iCloud saves, restore, or sync. Until iOS 11, that is, because Apple’s latest operating system enables you to offload unused apps.
This feature is activated system-wide or on a per-app basis in Settings (General > iPhone/iPad Storage). In the case of racer Gear.Club, the app weighs in at 2.43GB, but the Documents & Data space requirement is only a few MB. On iOS 11, you can free up space, delete the app, reinstall later, and resume your game.
Apple’s web browser, Safari, hugely benefits from iCloud. Bookmarks automatically sync between devices, which can have big usability benefits when you haven’t got all your devices to hand. On Mac, go to View > Show Favorites Bar, and drag your most used sites to it. These then appear as big, tappable icons in iOS whenever you open a new tab.
iCloud also comes in useful if you’ve left a bunch of tabs open on one device that’s no longer handy, but you now want to check out one of those sites. Click or tap the tab overview button (which looks like two overlapping squares), and you’ll see your currently open tabs. Scroll down and you’ll then see the tabs open on other devices signed into the same Apple ID, and that are also using iCloud for Safari. Simply click or tap one of them to open it on the device that you’re currently using.