How to increase/decrease the time your iPhone rings before diverting to voicemail

The iPhone supports ringtone of up to 30 seconds, but most networks will divert to voicemail before you gets a chance to hear the full ringtone.

The way around this is to instruct your network to increase the delay before a caller is sent to voicemail:

  1. Via the Phone app, enter *#61# and press Call.
  2. Write down the message that appears after “Forwards to”. This is your voicemail access number.
  3. Now dial **61*xxx*11*y# (where xxx is your voicemail access number and y is the number of seconds before the call should be sent to voicemail – this must be a multiple of 5 seconds) and press Call.

I have tested this tip on an iPhone 3GS on Orange and an iPhone 4 on O2, but it should work on all phones and networks as it’s a standard GSM feature.

Simple synchronised note-taking for your iPhone

Simplenote is a free note-taking app for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. It was recently brought to my attention by Lifehacker, and I’ve been making extensive use of it since. As well as the iOS app, there’s a universal web application (which you can sign up for even if you don’t have an iOS device), and there are numerous third-party clients for PCs, Macs and other devices such as Android phones. I use ResophNotes on my home PC,  and the web app on my work PC (as I’m not allowed to install unapproved software).

So far, I’ve found the ads to be fairly unobtrusive, but it’s possible to remove them for a one-off payment of $4.99 (around £3), or sign up for the $8.99/year (around £5.80) premium service which also offers additional features such as as automatic backup, RSS and email features.

I’ve previously tried another Lifehacker favourite, Evernote, which provides a desktop client as well as an iOS app, but as someone who just needs to keep track of short, text-based notes, I found it bloated and unwieldy.

How to cut your own micro SIM card for free, in time for iPhone 4 launch day

I braved the queues (actually, the barrage of error messages) on Tuesday, 15 July, to pre-order my iPhone 4 direct from Apple. Hopefully I’ll save in the long run as I’m planning to go for a £10-15 pay-as-you-go or SIM-only contract deal rather than being tied in to a £30+ contract for 18 to 24 months.

Until I’ve figured out which operator to go with, I plan to stick with my current O2 contract. I’ve crossed my fingers that O2 will ship me a microSIM before I get the phone, otherwise I will be going down the DIY route, trimming my existing SIM down using this PDF template. In case you don’t read German, here’s a quick translation of the instructions:

Micro-SIM template for iPad/iPhone 4 SIM cards

The Apple iPad (and upcoming iPhone 4) uses not a standard 25x15mm SIM card, but a micro-SIM. The micro-SIM format is 15x12mm, but the contact layout is identical to a standard SIM.

Therefore, it is possible to convert a standard SIM into a micro-SIM which can be installed in the iPad or fourth-generation iPhone.

How does it work?

  1. Print the stencil at 100% – don’t shrink to fit the page. The outer black portion should match the size of your existing SIM.
  2. Cut and paste the stencil on the back of the SIM (not on the contacts!). The white area must be exactly on the reverse side of the chip.
  3. With sharp scissors, cut cleanly along the outline of the inner white area.
  4. Remove the stencil. If necessary,  diagonally trim the corners and/or grind down the edges with a nail file.

I accept no responsibility if you damage your SIM by following these instructions… in fact I’m too busy worrying about whether I’ll break mine!

There are commercial card cutters that can do the job, but I can’t justify spending upwards of £20 for something I’ll only use once or twice at most, and again there’s no guarantee that the item would be delivered by launch day.

Guitar Hero comes to iPhone

The official Guitar Hero iPhone game was announced today at Apple’s 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference. While there have been many similar apps – such as the Tap Tap Revenge franchise and the Rock Band app – it’s nice to see an official GH game for the iPhone, and it certainly doesn’t fail to impress.

Expecting great things given its high-profile launch, I didn’t hesitate to purchase the app. I wasn’t sure that the concept would translate well to the small screen, but the developers (Vicarious Visions) have done a great job, squeezing in both tapping and strumming mechanics, unlike many competing games. Most of the notes are played simply by tapping, but some of the notes (signified by an arrow on the screen) need to be strummed by pressing the relevant colour then dragging your finger to the edge of the screen. It’s actually quite tricky, and I like to think of myself as a fairly adept Guitar Hero player.

When the game loads, you are first asked if you want to allow it to access your iPod music library, in order to notify you when your favourite artists have tracks available. You are then offered a brief introduction to the game before diving in to a selection of tracks from artists such as Vampire Weekend, The Rolling Stones, Rise Against, Weezer, The White Stripes and Queen. The app is stable and the graphics smooth, even on my aging iPhone 3G

There’s a music store which lets you download three-track song packs for £1.19 ($1.99), with 14 artists to choose from but presumably more to follow. There’s also Facebook integration, which allows you to brag about your progress to your friends, although I haven’t explored this functionality yet.

I’m not a big iPhone gamer, so this is the first game I’ve purchased in quite a while, and I’m glad I did. Attractively priced at £1.79 ($2.99), it’s well worth checking out, whether you’re a long-term Guitar Hero fan or not.

BBC News app coming soon to iPhone

The BBC Future Media & Technology team have announced that their first official iPhone application, BBC News, is currently under development and due for release next month.

I’ve had a play with the online demo and it looks pretty slick, so I’m looking forward to installing the app when it becomes available.

The BBC are also planning to follow up with a BBC Sport application, and they’re also considering an iPlayer app in order to provide a richer experience than the current iPlayer mobile site.

Update: Sadly, these plans have been shelved for the time being.

Orange Wednesdays comes to iPhone

The official Orange Wednesdays app is now available free from the iTunes Store. You don’t need to be on Orange to use the app’s basic functionality (showtimes, reviews and trailers), and customers of Orange’s mobile or broadband services can also obtain free 2-4-1 cinema ticket codes through the app.

To prove that you’re an Orange customer, you need to enter either your broadband username or mobile number (unless you are using your iPhone on Orange, in which case this step isn’t necessary). If you go down the broadband route, Orange checks that you’ve entered a valid username. If you provide a mobile number on the Orange network, you will receive a text message with a unique PIN, which needs to be entered into the app to unlock the 2-4-1 functionality.

This is great for me, as my iPhone is on O2 but I also have an Orange phone supplied by my employer, which is only switched on when I’m on call. Previously I had to send an SMS to the 241 number to get my code (at a cost of 35p) and take my work phone to the cinema. Now I can request Orange Wednesdays 2-4-1 codes without even needing to switch on my work phone. Result!