Google’s Rapid 2 Step Authentication Option

Google Prompt is a fast second step authentication option on iOS and Android.  Whenever a login attempt is made on your Google account Google Prompt sends a login confirmation to the Google app on your  phone.  You open the app (via push notification) and tap “Yes” to confirm a login attempt is valid (or “No” to deny a login attempt).
This login method is quite a bit faster than using an authenticator app.  I use Authy which even with its widget in the notification centre takes some time to copy the number into the field.  I like Google Prompt for its speed and simplicity.  The slight downside is that it requires your phone to have a live internet connection to use.  This is only a slight downside because if you are signing into a Google service somewhere chances are that you have an internet connection available; with some exceptions.  But Google Prompt works parallel to the other second step options available including an authenticator app, so in the absence of an internet connection on your phone you still have offline options to fall back on.  Head into your Google 2 step verification settings to set it up.
Google 2 Step Authentication Options.png
Google 2 Step Verification Options


From a security perspective it is hard for me to say whether this is a better or worse method than an authenticator app.  I understand the methodology behind authenticator apps, but not this one.  That said, I trust Google with my information and I trust them to have built a reliable and safe second step with Google Prompt.  Furthermore I trust that they will be on the ball enough to keep it safe.  I say this because of the numerous articles and security updates that are the result of contributions that Google has made to tech security worldwide.
In summary Google Prompt is a system I am prepared to trust and it makes my login process a great deal more streamlined whilst maintaining its integrity.  I recommend this for anyone wanting the benefits of 2 step authentication with a bit of a faster workflow.

Use the macron natively on iOS and macOS with text replacement

By far and away the most popular post I’ve ever written on this blog is how to type math and science symbols (pretty much) natively on iOS.  The method is to use the text replacement feature built into iOS and macOS which will receive unicode symbols you can paste into it.  Whilst it isn’t a perfect solution, it does greatly enhance the potential for productivity on a mobile device.  And then, every now and again, it produces a result above and beyond my expectations.

I’ve recently been designing decks of flip cards for a new app called Tinycards (it’s a great app that you should check out especially if you’re a teacher).  The deck I’m working on currently is about subatomic particles, which include antiparticles.  The symbols for just about every antiparticle require a bar across the top of the symbol (like this or this ).  Unicode includes a modifying macron (this ➝  ̄ is a macron in case you’re wondering), which puts a bar across symbols.  So I created a text replacement “shortcut” for the macron and got to work seeing if I could get it to modify my symbols on iOS (otherwise I’d need to use my Mac).

Lo and behold it worked!  I set up #macron as the “shortcut” for the macron in text replacement.  I then found that if I typed this: u#macron iOS would replace it with: .  It’s a beautiful solution.

To set this up yourself you’ll need a copy of the macron unicode symbol (I’ve included one below).  Copy it and paste into the Phrase field.  Then type the Shortcut you want to use.  I used #macron, but you might want to use something else like #bar.


If the macron listed below doesn’t work properly you should be able to get a working copy of it from my list of symbols in this Evernote note.  When you copy the macron the selection extends slightly beyond the visible symbol itself, I think that is due to the fact it is a modifying macron.


macron symbol to copy:   ̄

Type scientific and math symbols on your iOS device with ease

In a previous post I shared a way in which you could use symbols on your iPhone even though they are not included in the iPhone’s keyboard. I find this helpful because I teach physics and use many symbols that are not available on the keyboard.  Often symbols can be displayed on iOS devices even though they are not on the keyboard.  So if you type symbols from a Mac or PC into an app that syncs to your iPhone or into a webpage you can access them on your iPhone.  You can even copy and paste those symbols on your phone.

The method I posted previously was a clunky method for sure, involving making a list somewhere on your phone of all the symbols you need and then copying and pasting a symbol when you needed it.  Well I now have good news about a far more efficient method.

As I happened to be reading this post from Chris Hauk (Mactrast) it got me thinking about combining his method with my need to type certain symbols that aren’t available on my phone’s keyboard.  His method involved copying an emoji which is not available on the iOS keyboard from Twitter and pasting it into an iOS keyboard shortcut field and then creating a keyboard text combination for the emoji.

So I tried it out with “²”, by copying the “superscript two” symbol in as a phrase and then using “^2” as the keyboard “shortcut” and it worked!  Now I can type “^2” and my phone will replace it with “²”.  I then worked through most of my list of symbols to create key combinations for the symbols I use most frequently.  If you aren’t familiar with how to create text shortcuts on an iOS device watch the video below.

If you would like a copy of the symbols I used to copy from it is available here: Unicode Characters.  At the top of the document you will see the symbols followed by the text “shortcut” in red if I made one for the symbol to give you an idea of example text combinations.  If the symbol you want is Unicode there is a good chance it will work. Search the web and you will likely find a page where you can copy the desired symbol into your dictionary.

One of the really helpful things about this method is that the list of symbols you have available on your iPhone is totally customisable.  So you don’t have to search through lines upon lines of symbols you don’t use in order to get to the ones you do need.

I hope this helps if you need a quick and easy way to work with symbols on your iPhone or iPad, if so let me know in the comments or over on Google +.