Getting WordPress two factor auth working on iPad, iPhone and Android

I set up two factor (or two step or 2FA) authentication on my WordPress.com account yesterday. It’s an extra layer of security: anyone trying to gain access to your account wouldn’t get in even if they found out your user name and password. That’s because you enter something you know (password) and something you posses – such as a code sent to or generated by your mobile phone.

WordPress uses the Google Authenticator Android and iOS smartphone app, as well as some other options.

I found it very easy to set up. But when I tried to access my WordPress.com account on my mobile devices, I ran into difficulties.

Wordpress two factor authentication on Samsung Galaxy S5

No way in: WordPress two factor auth problems on Android

What I hadn’t realised is that the Google based two step auth that WordPress uses doesn’t (currently) work seamlessly on mobile devices, even Android ones. Or put another way, you need to follow a different route to setting it up to work on your Samsung Galaxy S5, iPhone or iPad. You need to log in to your WordPress account and generate an application specific password for each device. Once you’ve done this, WordPress treats your phone as a trusted device, which means you don’t have to do this again. (You can switch off access remotely if you ever lose your phone.)

To do all this, go to the setting page of your account, and click on the security tab. You can switch on two factor auth here, print back up codes and generate application specific passwords. This is where you’ll find which devices you have set up access for, and revoke access if necessary.)

Incidentally, you’ll need to follow a similar process if you apply two factor authentication for you Google accounts, such as Gmail.

You can find more info on WordPress’s support pages.

How to take Samsung Galaxy S5 screenshot, and other tips

I’ve just joined the Android revolution. My new work phone is the new Samsung Galaxy S5 – and I love it. But having been an iPhone user for five years, I’ve had to learn afresh how to do things that had become second nature in iOS, such as taking a screenshot. Here’s the answer to that question, and the other main lessons I’ve learned in my first week with Android.

Taking Samsung Galaxy S5 screenshot

Taking Samsung Galaxy S5 screenshot

The easiest way to take a screen shot on the Galaxy S5 is to (literally) swipe the screen with the side of your hand, as if you were wiping it.

Taking screenshot on Samsung S5 with button combination

Taking screenshot on Samsung S5 with button combination

The other option is to hold the home and power buttons. This is like the way you take a screenshot on an iPhone, but it takes longer to take the shot – wait until you hear the shutter noise before releasing the buttons.

My other top Samsung Galaxy S5 tips

Silence is golden…

I loved my S5 from the moment I turned it on. But it’s a noisy neighbour. It whistles and pings at you the whole time. After a few days of saying sorry to family and colleagues, I needed to silence it.

Silencing the Samsung Galaxy S5

Silencing the Samsung Galaxy S5

Here’s how to do it. After unlocking the phone, pull down the notifications bar from the top of the screen. Click the Sounds icon and turn it to vibrate (as shown) or mute. You can also go into settings and untick various options, such as Touch sounds and Screen lock sounds (shown) and Notifications.

Keyboard choice

I liked the Galaxy S5 keyboard at first – it was good to have the numbers and letters visible at the same time. But after a few days, I was getting frustrated by failing to find the full stop. (Bottom right, if you’re wondering.) The beauty of Android is you have a choice.

Swiftkey keyboard

Swiftkey keyboard

The SwiftKey Android keyboard is the best I’ve tried so far. It’s easy to use and predicts what you’re about to type very effectively.

Kill My Magazine

When I first got my iPad in 2010, I liked Flipboard, the app that aggregated content from various news sites. But before long I stopped looking at it. Samsung’s My Magazine is a version of Flipboard that takes up a screen of the S5. If you’re not going to use it, you can get rid of it. (The same goes for Galaxy Gifts and the pedometer.) Touch and hold the icon, and drag it to the ‘remove’ dustbin at the top of the screen.

Kill S Voice

The Galaxy S5 comes with two voice control services, Samsung’s own S Voice and Google Now. S Voice is, as you’d expect, deeply integrated in the S5 but you may want to make the phone a bit quicker by disabling it. Double clicking the phone’s home button activates S Voice, and when you press the home button the phone waits for a second press in case you want to use voice control. Disable S Voice by unlicking Open via the home key if you’re not using it regularly.

Give it the finger

Galaxy S5 fingerprint with PayPal

Galaxy S5 fingerprint with PayPal

The Galaxy S5 takes fingerprint authentication to a new level. Unlike the iPhone 5S, the S5 lets you use fingerprint authentication to do more: for example, to use your finger to shop and pay with PayPal. I found it easy to use, especially after I had stored different fingerprint angles, such as swiping from the side. Think about which fingers and thumbs you’ll find most convenient and comfortable to use on the phone when you’re out and about – and store these digits. It may take you a day or two to get used to the fingerprint technique: you need to swipe down over the trail and the home button.

Why I love my Galaxy S5 and Android

I’ve fallen in love with my Galaxy S5 over the last seven days. It’s so much nicer than the S2 I used briefly in 2012 after using it for a major media event. The combination of native Android and Samsung’s TouchWiz is much cleaner, especially if you’re moving from Apple’s iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad. I was ready for a new type of device after almost four years with a barely changed iPhone and iPad interface. And the freedom that Android allows is a bit like leaving home for the first time: you realise that you can decide.

Some reviewers have criticised the S5 for feeling cheap because of its plastic back. They compare it unfavourably with the iPhone 5S and HTC One M8. They’re all great phones but I love the S5’s bigger screen. After living with the iPhone 4 since 2010, I didn’t think the slightly larger screen of the iPhone 5 was an upgrade. Maybe it just shows how unreasonable we are to expect each new generation phone to be a leap forward.

One thing I do miss with the Android phone is Photostream. I love seeing a photo I take on the iPhone appearing almost instantly on my Mac and iPad. I’ve not yet seen any real alternative, given that Dropbox doesn’t work well on my Mac.

Android KitKat

Android KitKat

Easter is a time associated with chocolate. What better time to get to grips with the latest version of Android, KitKat

PS: read my post: Samsung Galaxy S5 camera: first impressions

Charles Arthur’s Digital Wars: Microsoft’s lost decade

The Guardian‘s technology editor Charles Arthur is an incisive observer of the tech business world. So it’s no surprise to discover that his book Digital Wars is a revealing account of Apple, Google and Microsoft’s battles for dominance in search, digital music and smartphones.

The clearest message from the book is that the 2000s were a lost decade for Microsoft. At the time of the millennium, it seemed invulnerable. Its dominance of the PC software market for consumers and businesses made it a hugely powerful and profitable corporation. Windows and Office were huge money spinners. The biggest cloud was the anti-trust actions taken by the United States Department of Justice and the European Commission. By contrast, rivals seemed powerless to confront the Redmond juggernaut.

Yet Arthur makes it clear that the anti-trust cases had a profound impact on Microsoft. In his words, the US case ‘reached down into the company’s soul’. Although Microsoft escaped the threat of being forced to split in two, Arthur quotes analyst Joe Wilcox’s verdict that the actions ‘hugely affected’ the way the company operated. ‘Microsoft was unequivocally less aggressive [and ] there was a lack of certainty and aggression in Microsoft’s response to Apple or other companies’.

There were other factors at work. For Microsoft’s leaders at the turn of the millennium, the internet was something they got used to in mid career, rather than in their formative years at college. They were set in their offline ways, and had to adapt. By contrast, the pioneers at Google were starting out with instinctive understanding of the net, email and networking. Their business was built online.

The other critical factor was the classic symptoms of bloated corporations: poor decisions and internal politics. Arthur explains how Microsoft blew the chance to compete with Google’s fast developing search and advertising business. It failed to buy Overture and even worse overlooked the fact it already owned a company called LinkExchange that enabled small advertisers to bid for their names to appear next to search results. (Exactly what Google was developing with AdWords.) Arthur recounts that Microsoft’s new chief executive Steve Ballmer closed the LinkExchange-based ‘Keywords’ project at just the time Google launched AdWords, because other Microsoft tribes feared it would cannibalise banner sales.

Later, Microsoft ploughed countless millions into search, but the anti-trust actions cast a long shadow: building search into the browser would invite a repeat of those courtroom years. The smart alternative, embedding search into Office was the obvious way to go. But the boss of Office wasn’t interested.

This story was repeated across the other battlefields: digital music (where Apple won the day) and smartphone systems (where Apple and Google, with its Android mobile operating system, shared the prizes).

Commentators have pointed out that Microsoft is largely a business-to-business (B2B) culture. With a few exceptions (Xbox and 1990s triumphs like Encarta spring to mind), the company does not have a consumer outlook. By contrast, Apple has set a new standard in how technology should be designed for everyday people who aren’t geeks. My painful experience with Microsoft’s Pocket PC software persuaded me not to buy a Windows-based smartphone. (My Dell PDA was lovely, but the Windows OS was appalling. How could they make hooking up to wifi such a ghastly experience?) Many will have the same view, yet by all accounts the latest Windows Phone system is a delight. Microsoft’s problem is that so many people have now fallen in love with Apple’s iPhone or Google Android-based phones. Switching will be hard.

It would be foolish to write off Microsoft. Or to assume that Google or Apple are invulnerable. (That’s where we came in – when Microsoft was all-conquering.) The one rule of the tech world is that no-one rules forever. The next chapter of this story will be just as compelling.