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But there’s no proof that the ASP model will be as hassle-free as promised. Most vendors are just unveiling their offerings, and early users are only now starting to move out of the pilot stage and go live with hosted applications. That means there are still questions about performance, system availability, and security, as well as uncertainty over the long-term viability of some of the ASP players, many of which are startups.

“The proposition for users is you don’t have to build your own computing any more; it’s delivered to you out of the wall the same way as the telephone and electricity come to you,” says Phil Wainewright, editor and founder of ASP News Review , a specialty newsletter and Web site based in London, which covers this emerging area. “The ASPs are saying, ‘we’ll take care of all that hassle … for a fixed, predictable, monthly fee.’”

ASP deals–which typically span three to five years and cost anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars a month per user up to $1,000–are often significantly less expensive than creating the technology infrastructure and hiring the IT talent to run the systems internally. Along with a reduced initial investment, companies can leave their IT work to someone else, freeing them to concentrate on core competencies. Finally, handing off the implementation and operations to a highly skilled third party is also a way to get complex software into production much more quickly and with the potential for easy scalability.

For small to mid-size companies like $200 million Sunburst Hospitality, the ASP model can be a way to get Ritz-Carlton-like software quality and service at Holiday Inn prices. Warczak estimates that it would cost his company $1 million to $2 million up front to implement the software directly with PeopleSoft. By contrast, with an ASP implementation, up-front payments are minimal and software costs are about $500 to $600 per month per user according to Warczak. The Sunburst implementation went live in April with about 25 users.

ERP applications currently make up the bulk of the ASP offerings, although there are datamarts, electronic commerce, customer relationship management, salesforce automation, desktop productivity, human resource, supply chain, and specialized vertical applications coming to market, with new entrants being announced on a regular basis (see “Who’s hosting what”).

Sunburst Hospitality, along with a handful of other companies, is hoping to catch that break by working with application service providers (ASPs), an emerging class of players offering companies the option of renting applications run off-site at the hosting provider’s data center that are accessible via dedicated leased lines or over the Internet through a browser. The monthly fee, which varies depending on the specific requirements of the installation and the number of users, covers the hardware, software, and network infrastructure to run the systems along with the personnel and consulting support for management, configuration, and maintenance.

After Choice Hotels spun off Sunburst Hospitality Corp. in 1997 and Warczak became vice president of finance and systems for the new company, he vowed to find a more accommodating solution for a deployment of PeopleSoft’s ERP suite.

The solution: Sunburst opted to lease the PeopleSoft suite from Usinternetworking Inc., of Annapolis, Md., letting the vendor host and run the software for a monthly, per-user fee. As a result, Sunburst got the ERP suite up and running in 90 days; within a couple of months, the company’s monthly financial close was back on schedule.

The problem: How to implement the PeopleSoft ERP suite while avoiding the headaches that Choice experienced during its implementation.

Chuck Warczak is no stranger to the sleepless nights that accompany an ERP rollout. At Choice Hotels International, of Silver Springs, Md., Warczak’s group watched the hotel chain wrestle with the standard implementation nightmares– everything from the performance and configuration glitches associated with getting PeopleSoft Inc. applications up and running to the problems connected with retaining qualified IT staffers to support them.

But Usinternetworking’s chief competitor, Corio Corp., of Redwood City, Calif., maintains that the more effective model is to outsource data center operations and concentrate instead on such issues as performance tuning and remote management. “We don’t want to invest in building data centers–our focus should be on supporting customers” says Jonathan Lee, Corio’s CEO.

Pricing models

Best Practices

Before aligning with an ASP partner, keep these things in mind:

(1) Since many ASPs are startups, check their financial stability and ability to deliver on key components of hosting,such as providing top-notch consulting services for enterprise applications and network management. If vendors call themselves ASPs but they lack IT solution providers or partnerships to help out, they’ve underestimated the task at hand.

(2) Make sure the ASP can grow your service to meet changing needs,whether that encompasses additional users, new sites, or new business requirements. Scalability is one of the key promises of the ASP model.

(3) Spend time up front making sure the ASP understands your business.If you want customization, make sure you get in writing the scope of the project and what specific customizations are critical to make your production deadline.

(4) Build an exit strategy into your contract.This way, if the model doesn’t meet your business needs or your company decides to bring the systems in-house, you can make the switch without incurring harsh penalties. Also make sure that you own the data so if you decide to migrate, there are minimal conversion headaches.

Pricing is another area of differentiation. Most of the ASPs charge a flat, monthly, per-user fee for their software offerings, which the customer rents. Others, like the SAP/Electronic Data Systems (EDS) Corp. and J.D. Edwards & Co./IBM Global Services partnerships, offer more of a traditional outsourcing arrangement whereby customers pay per month and per user, but own the software at the end of the contract, giving the customer a bit more control over the application and the hosting environment.

Even SAP sees this type of offering as a stepping stone to Web-based application hosting. “We will have multiple offerings,” says Tom Melchiore, director of outsourcing for SAP America Inc., in Newtown Square, Pa. SAP in May announced a lease option as part of its chúng tôi Internet strategy, and Melchiore says the company will make additional announcements about partners sometime later in the third quarter.

Startup chúng tôi with U.S. headquarters in San Jose, Calif., is taking yet another approach. Officials are looking to price the company’s Java-based component ERP suite, designed from the ground up for the ASP model, on a per-individual-business-transaction basis, rather than by the month or per user. “Over time, ASP packaging will become more standardized, but today, pricing is a big question,” says Clare Gillan, vice president of applications at IDC, in Framingham, Mass. This is an area that will have to mature for the market to more easily expand.”

Cost comparisons

The bottom line of the ASP model is what sold Enerline Restorations Inc., a Calgary, Alberta, Canada, oil and gas services company, on leasing applications from FutureLink Distribution Corp., also of Calgary. Six months ago, the 25-person Enerline shop was essentially running all of its accounting and day-to-day operations on one PC. The company urgently needed to add PCs and a full-blown network, but the firm had no IT staff to steer the initiative, let alone to support systems once they were installed.

“The FutureLink way was a no-brainer,” says Ron Hozjan, Enerline’s vice president and CFO. “The three-year contract and the fees I’m paying don’t even reach the other alternative of buying the equipment and supporting it myself through third-party consultants.” Enerline is currently renting Microsoft Office as well as a vertical accounting package for the oil and gas industry through FutureLink, for an up-front investment of around $60,000 to $80,000, Hozjan says.

Price was also a factor steering Sebastiani Vineyards Inc. to application hosting. Sebastiani’s main motivation was to avoid the cost of hiring qualified IT people to support an SAP R/3 installation. The winemaker had an IT staff of four and had no desire to expand it to administer R/3 for 120 ERP users. Taking a hybrid approach rather than leasing the software, Sebastiani is outsourcing R/3 operations to EDS of Plano, Texas, and using Plaut Consulting Inc. of Waltham, Mass., as its implementation partner. “We’re a typical mid-market company trying to implement one of the big boys of the ERP world and we didn’t think we could service SAP from a technical perspective with the staff we had,” says Jeff Perkins, director of information services for the $200 million Sonoma, Calif.-based vineyard, which was expected to go live with the application last month.

“If we didn’t outsource, we’d have to hire several additional people in the IT group, and that goes away from the desire to have Sebastiani employees focus on the business [of making wine],” says Perkins. Part of what appealed to Sebastiani about the EDS outsourcing agreement, which runs for three years, was the guaranteed levels of performance for R/3. “EDS had well structured SLAs as well as feedback and response processes,” Perkins says. Since the pilot began in Dec. 1998, he says EDS has lived up to all its performance levels and has been very accommodating about extra requests.

Choosing a vendor

The SLA–the contract provisions that specify guaranteed availability, response time, and quality of service–is one of the primary criteria for choosing ASP partners (see “Best practices”). Another key point is customization. Companies implementing ERP or HR applications on their own typically get into lots of custom programming. But in the ASP model, many of the players discourage customization because it impedes their ability to offer inexpensive lease prices.

Oracle, for one, has strict rules on what its hosting customers will and will not be able to tailor. “We do not allow customers to modify base tables in the application,” says Chris Russell, president of Oracle Business OnLine in Redwood Shores, Calif. “If we do, we lose our ability to manage performance and upgrade without incurring a lot of cost.” Oracle will, however, offer flexibility in terms of configuring the application.

What to put in writing

In addition to writing specific customization requirements into his five-year lease, Warczak negotiated an exit clause, which would allow Sunburst to get out of the contract after three years with minimal penalties if the model didn’t prove effective. Clarent Corp., which delivers equipment and software to service providers, also wrote an exit strategy into its five-year agreement with Corio. The 160-person company is planning to lease 15 PeopleSoft modules for 25 to 30 users, including financials and manufacturing, according to Richard Heaps, chief operating officer and CFO of the Redwood City, Calif., firm.

Both Warczak and Heaps also made sure the arrangements leave their respective companies with ownership of its PeopleSoft data. “If my people are trained, and we own the data, the worst thing [that can happen] is that we take the data and go to PeopleSoft and buy a license,” Heaps explains. “The implementation costs have already been spent.”

Karen Egan, systems specialist at Robert Mondavi Corp., doesn’t see a worse-case scenario in the winemaker’s decision to lease Oracle’s human resource system through the software maker’s Business OnLine program. Oakville, Calif.-based Mondavi, which needed to upgrade its payroll and HR system to comply with Year 2000 and improve performance, likes the ASP model because it frees up the company’s 22-person IT department to concentrate on more critical sales and marketing systems that help employees sell more wine. The pilot, which launched in late Jan. and went live in May, supports seven HR specialists overseeing 850 employees. Says Egan: “Oracle has proven applications, and we don’t feel the ASP model has a whole lot of risk. It’s not that revolutionary–time sharing and hosted applications have been around for a long time.”

Heaps says Clarent’s ASP experience has been good as well. The project kicked off the first week in March and is scheduled to go live in Aug. But only time will tell if the exit strategy will come into play. “Until we have some real live experience with the process, the [jury] is out,” he says. “But if my service provider doesn’t keep me happy, they’re not going to stay with me forever.”

Partnerships promote application service provider standards

If partnerships are at the crux of the application service provider (ASP) movement, the flurry of activity over the last quarter seems proof that the model has long-term potential.

In addition to a steady stream of vendor announcements of new ASP customers and services, one of the more telling examples of collaboration is the ASP Industry Consortiumannounced in May at Networld + Interop in Las Vegas. The 25-member group, headquartered in Wakefield, Mass., is chartered with promoting the ASP model by sponsoring research, fostering standards and best practices, and demonstrating the benefits to users. A cross-section of companies have signed up for the initiative, including AT&T Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., and Citrix Systems Inc.

“The ASP model is one of the great focal points of the IT industry,” says Richard Steranka, director of marketing small/medium business at Cisco, a San Jose, Calif., networking company. “The main goal of the consortium is to accelerate this fast-emerging application segment and make sure we don’t trip over ourselves in the early days.”

A variety of other players are promoting similar efforts. Hardware and software maker Sun Microsystems, of Menlo Park, Calif., announced its chúng tôi initiative, which will encompass a range of products and services designed to help providers build ASP offerings based on Sun technologies. Sun has also established a competency center to test new ASP services.

For their part, Qwest, Hewlett-Packard Co., and SAP America Inc. have teamed up to offer SAP R/3 in a hosted environment. Telecommunications giant U S West Inc., of Englewood, Colo., launched its hosting solutions offerings and announced an alliance program, which will help provide IT expertise to its ASP customers.

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Google Sues Rank And Rent Marketer

Google is suing an online marketer for violating it’s terms of service and to prevent the defendant from causing additional harm to Google as well as to business owners and consumers.

The person being sued was a member of a public Facebook group called, Rank and Rent – GMB Strategy & Domination.

The lawsuit claims that the company has been misleading users, engaging in activities that violate both federal and state laws, and violating their contract with Google as laid out in their terms of service.

There are three main schemes the defendants are accused of:

“(1) fraudulent verification of nonexistent Business Profiles,

(2) posting fake reviews on Business Profiles, and

The two entities being sued are GMBEye and Rafadigital, which Google links together as one company.

Rank and Rent

This practice gained prominence around 2023.

Google’s lawsuit includes a screenshot of that public Facebook group, with a description of the defendant claiming to “renting out GMBs” and “selling GMBs”

The defendant was in a rank and rent Facebook group stating that he rents Google Business Profiles and sells them, which is a part of what Rank and Rent is.

Screenshot of Rank and Rent Facebook Group Published in Google Lawsuit

The lawsuit describes the business practice:

“Once Defendants successfully verify these dummy Business Profiles, they proceed to either sell the listing or modify the fake business’s information to make the Business Profile more desirable to potential buyers.

At times, Defendants transfer control of fraudulently-verified Business Profiles, updated to include an unverified real-world business’s business information, to their buyers.”

Google Business Profile Verification Service

One of the services that the company provided was Google Business Profile verification services, as well as promising top listings.

According to Google:

“GMBEye is replete with express and implied assurances that Defendants are able to bypass the verification procedures that Google requires of most merchants, and also to ensure a particular business listing is ‘at the top’ of Google Search results—a misleading and false statement, for no business or entity can guarantee such placement by Google’s Search algorithm.

Much of Defendants’ messaging suggests that GMBEye has preferential access to Google or is otherwise uniquely positioned with respect to Google, allowing it to secure the ‘Premium Business Listing Verification’ that is unavailable to those who verify their businesses through Google’s free processes.

…GMBEye’s customers and prospective customers likely include both legitimate merchants seeking a shortcut through Google’s procedures, as well as other scammers or bad actors who abuse fake business listings; while the latter may quickly recognize GMBEye as a fellow scammer, the former may not.”

The lawsuit makes statements about the website messaging that suggests that they have “a proprietary process” for establishing trust with Google, which allows them to “fast track” the process.

There are also descriptions of extraordinary claims made by the defendant.

According to the lawsuit:

“Further explanation on the GMBEye website boasts that Defendants can even verify businesses ‘with [s]pammy names,’ suggesting the service avoids Google’s measures to maintain accurate and high-quality Business Profiles.

Defendants similarly claim that “[m]ost verification methods cant [sic] handle that because Google will suspend your listing but with our method you can sustainability rank your GMBs with Spammy names helping you rank on Google in no time!”

GMB Profiles and Fake Reviews

The lawsuit claims that the defendant offers to improve Google Maps and “GMB” profile listings and “encouraging reviews.”

It also states that the business claims to be able to rank customers #1, which is generally known in the search marketing industry as a red flag because nobody is able to guarantee such a thing.

Lead Generation

The lawsuit states:

Google Describes Rank and Rent Scheme

The lawsuit offers a description of how the defendants operated their scheme.

They write:

“…Defendants first create a Business Profile for a fake business, generally accompanied by a fake website based on a simple template.

Defendants typically associate these fake businesses with Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) phone numbers whose area codes correspond to the fake businesses’ supposed locations.

Upon information and belief, Defendants have been associated with over 350 fake Business Profiles listings since mid-2024.”

How Defendants Tricked the Google Verification System

Google’s verification system was shockingly easy to circumvent.

The defendant appears to have made little effort to create photos and videos for proving they are a real business, sometimes using the same toolbench, photographed from different angles, to prove they were a business.

A video screenshot included in the lawsuit shows the image of the individual who Google says is “purported to be associated with a nonexistent chiropractor, Wilmington Chiro Health.”

This was used as a part of the verification process for what Google alleges is a non-existent chiropractor.

The lawsuit also posts images provided by the defendant during the course of verifying a company called, “Western Los Angeles Garage Door Repair.”

This is the image provided by the defendant to “mislead” Google into believing that it was an image of the work area.

The following is the image provided to Google to verify a Houston, Texas “Pro Tree Service” that shows the exact same tool bench:

Google’s lawsuit provides another image the defendants used to verify “AS Budget Plumbers, purportedly based in Davis, California, when Defendants contacted Google to verify that fake listing on March 29, 2023:”

Rank and Rent – GMB Strategy & Domination Facebook Group

Google’s lawsuit names a Facebook group named, Rank and Rent – GMB Strategy & Domination as a place that the defendant used to sell business listings.

The lawsuit describes the process:

According to the lawsuit:

“Mr. Hu—who admits in his biography on chúng tôi to “renting out GMBs” and “selling GMBs”—sought $1,000 for this nonexistent business’s Business Profile.”

Fake Google Profile Reviews

The defendant is also accused of selling fake reviews that Google claims were outsourced to fake review providers in Bangladesh and Vietnam.

According to the lawsuit

…Upon information and belief, Defendants are connected to a network of over 350 fraudulent Business Profiles that involve at least 14,000 fake reviews.

Nearly all of the reviews awarded five out of a potential five stars.

Damages Sought By Google

Google is suing the defendants engaged in the rank and rent scheme for triple the amount of actual damages, attorneys fees and prejudgment interest.

A Cornell University Law School webpage describes the meaning of prejudgment interest:

“The interest that a creditor, usually a plaintiff in the case, is entitled to collect, derived from the amount of a judgment, which compensates the creditor for an injury which occurred before the judgment.

… Another example is Short v. U.S., where the Federal Circuit awarded the Yurok Indians prejudgment interest on their damages to recover revenue generated from timber harvesting from which they were wrongly excluded.”

Google’s Terms of Service

Some people are flippant about violating Google’s terms of service, scoffing that Google is not the law, regarding the terms of service without the seriousness it deserves.

Google is suing the defendant for breach of contract for violating the terms of service related to Google Maps and Google Business Profiles.

What this lawsuit makes clear is that violating Google’s terms of service should not be taken lightly.

As can be seen with this lawsuit, Google has the right to enforce their terms of service in a court of law.

Read the text of Google’s lawsuit (PDF)

Featured image by Shutterstock/Tanya Antusenok

Relax! This Phone Measures Your Blood Pressure

This Swiss electronics company is on a mission: to stop millions of people dying of ignorance each year.

Before high blood pressure can be controlled, though, it needs to be detected, and that’s the part that Leman Micro Devices wants to make simpler. It is showing off its solution at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week.

Measuring blood pressure usually requires a bulky and inflatable cuff that fits around the upper arm, squeezing it till it stops the flow of blood in the artery then releasing it until the flow starts again. Some cuffs can automatically detect the stop and start and record the pressure at each point; others require the medical practitioner to listen to the blood flow using a stethoscope and record the pressure manually.

The arm isn’t the only part of the body where an artery is accessible enough for the measurement of blood pressure, though: There’s one in the index finger, on the side of the middle phalanx nearest the middle finger.

Depending on how you hold your smartphone, you might already be in the habit of pressing this part of your finger on the top, which is exactly where Leman Micro Devices wants phone makers to install its tiny package of chips and sensors.

In that position, the package can measure blood pressure using a pressure sensor covered by a flexible pad a few millimeters across. And it can tell when the blood flow stops and starts because the package also contains infrared emitters and receivers that allow it to measure pulse rate and blood oxygen level. With a little mathematical wizardry, it’s also possible to calculate when someone takes a breath from cyclic variation in blood pressure, according to LMD CEO Mark-Eric Jones, and the package also includes an infrared thermometer for contactless temperature measurement, meaning it can measure five vital signs in all.

Named for the white coats that doctors traditionally wear in many western countries, it describes how some patients’ blood pressure will rise as they become nervous at the prospect of a visit to the doctor. It can be exacerbated by the discomfort or pain sometimes associated with the measurement cuff.

The device is undergoing clinical trials in Switzerland, he said. Because it relies on the same physical principals that have served to measure blood pressure for the last 120 years, and because the testing process for blood pressure measuring devices is standardized internationally—even down to the format in which the results must be presented—Jones expects few difficulties in getting to market. The company is seeking approvals in 14 regulatory regions (the European Union is one, the U.S. another) covering 97 percent of the world smartphone market, he said.

To maximize the accuracy of the device and simplify its production, LMD came up with an interesting way to get around manufacturing variations in the “color” of the two infrared LEDs it uses in the blood oximeter. It calibrates them in the factory, recording the peak wavelength to within 1 nanometer, and storing that in a database alongside the serial number burned into each device.

Choosing when, and how, to take certain measurements can have dramatic consequences—in manufacturing and in health.

How To Lock An App With A Password In Windows 11

Do you have an app you don’t want anybody to be able to open without your permission? Whether it’s for the sake of your kids or clueless family or friends, there are several methods to restrict others from being able to access the app. This short guide will show you how to lock an app with a password in Windows 11.

If another user has a separated user account in the same Windows PC, you can restrict access to a certain folder so that any executable file (of the app) in the folder will not be visible or accessible to the user. To learn how to restrict access to app, file or folder in Windows 11, go to: How to Restrict User Access to a Folder or Drive in Windows 11.

If you only have one user account on your PC and you share the same user account with other people, use the method below to lock an app with a password in Windows 11.

How to password protect an app in Windows 11

Since there is no built-in feature that allows you to password protect an app, folder or file in Windows, we will have to rely on a third party tool to do so. We recommend My Lockbox.

My Lockbox is a simple tool that is able to lock an entire folder with a password set by you. Any file in the locked folder cannot be opened without first unlocking the folder with your set password.

Here’s an example of how to set up My Lockbox to lock an app with password on Windows 11.

First, download and install My Lockbox.

Once installed, open My Lockbox. The first time you open the program, it will prompt you to specify a password you want to use with the program. You need to enter a password twice, a hint to remind yourself about the password should you forget it, and an email address for password recovery if you lose your password in the future.

Once the folder is locked, when you try to open an app (via desktop shortcut, Start menu or anywhere else) that is located in the folder you’ve locked, Windows 11 will show an error that says “The item referred to by this shortcut cannot be accessed. You may not have the appropriate permissions.”

To unlock the folder so that you can launch the app again, open My Lockbox and enter your password. Then, open the app again.

My Lockbox free version allows you to lock only 1 folder. To lock more folders, you will need to pay for a subscription or purchase the software. Tip: You can try to put all the apps and files you want to lock in a single folder and lock only that particular folder. It will still be able to lock all files and subfolders within that particular folder you select to lock.

For example, you can create a folder such as “C:Personal“, and install all the apps (or change the installation location) you want lock onto this folder. Then, use My Lockbox to lock this folder to lock all the apps installed in this particular folder.

How To Merge Pdfs On An Iphone Using Files App Or A Shortcut

If you have a lot of versions of the same document scanned on your iPhone, you may want to share them as one file with others. Instead of sending them as multiple PDF files, iOS lets you combine or merge them into a single file to make it easier for you to share them. 

In this post, we’ll help you understand all the ways you can merge two or more PDFs into a single PDF file on your iPhone. 

How to combine two or more PDF files into one

There are two ways you can combine PDF files into one on iOS – using the Files app and the Shortcuts app. 

Method #1: Using the Files app

The easiest way to combine two or more PDFs into a single file is using the Files app. To get started, open the Files app.

Inside Files, locate the PDF files you want to merge. You need to ensure that all the files are present inside the same folder as that will make it easier to combine them into one.

Once you’ve located the files to combine, tap on the 3-dots icon at the top right corner. 

In the overflow menu that appears, tap on Select.

On the screen, tap on all the files you want to merge to select them.

When you’ve made your selection, tap on the 3-dots icon at the bottom right corner.

In the overflow menu that appears, select Create PDF.

Files will now merge the select files and create the combined PDF inside the same location.

When you create a merged PDF, the original PDFs will still appear inside the folder and won’t be deleted from your iPhone.

Method #2: Using iOS Shortcuts

When you tap this link, you will see the Merge PDFs shortcut appear inside the Shortcuts app. 

To add it to your iPhone’s share sheet, tap on Add Shortcut at the bottom. 

The Merge PDFs shortcut will now appear alongside all your existing shortcuts inside the app.

You don’t need to interact with this shortcut directly. Instead, you’ll be using the same Files app as on Method #1 to combine the PDFs but in a slightly different way. 

To get started, open the Files app on your iPhone. 

Inside Files, locate the PDFs you want to combine and make sure they’re all present in the same folder. If not, move the other PDF files to this folder. 

Once you’ve located the files to combine, tap on the 3-dots icon at the top right corner. 

In the overflow menu that appears, tap on Select.

On the screen, tap on all the files you want to merge to select them.

When you’ve made your selection, tap on the Share icon at the bottom left corner. 

In the Share sheet that appears, select Merge PDFs. 

You will now see a prompt at the top asking you which file you want to put first in the order. Select the file you wish to use as #1 by tapping on it. 

The prompts will appear for as many files you selected to merge, so you can sort the order of the combined PDF. Since we selected two files to merge, you’ll be prompted with the Sequence prompt twice. To add the next PDF file to the combined PDF, select it from the prompt again. 

When you’re done selecting all the files, you’ll be asked to select the location where you want to save them. In the screen that appears next, select your desired location and then tap on Done at the top right corner. 

The shortcut will now ask if you want to keep the original PDFs or delete them. To keep them as it is, tap on Don’t Delete. Otherwise, tap on Delete. 

You’ll now see the merged PDF in the folder that you put inside the Finder app. 

That’s all there is to know about merging multiple PDFs into a single file on an iPhone. 

How To Force The Facebook App To Use An External Browser To View Links

The option to open links within the Facebook app in a browser of your choice is a good feature to have. For a start, it’s clear Facebook isn’t particularly dedicated to making its in-app browser any good any time soon. Also, the less data we’re directly feeding to Facebook, the better, right?

There’s been some strange activity with the option to open links externally in Facebook lately. The feature seemed to have been silently removed in June 2023, before being silently reinstated again.

So who knows if this option is going to stick around. But in the meantime, here’s how to force the Facebook app to use your browser of choice to view links.

What Is an In-App Browser?

In-app browsers are nothing but webpage viewers without all the other functionalities that browsers like Opera, Chrome, and Firefox have built in. The developers of apps like Facebook create these browsers to work only in their app. They cannot open independently, only through their app.

These browsers are used by companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail to keep you using their app instead of another one. They don’t want you to move out of their app.

Negatives of Facebook’s In-App Browser

Here’s what the Facebook in-app browser looks like. As you can see, it’s pretty feature-thin compared to Chrome and Firefox.

Beyond that, there’s a slew of reasons you might not want to use the in-app browser:

Change the Default Facebook Browser

If you would like to force Facebook to open links in your default browser, here are some steps to make that happen.

Scroll down to Media.

At the very bottom, you should see “Links open externally”. Check this box to enable it.

Now, next time you try to open a web page link through Facebook, you’ll see the below screen, asking you which browser you want to use to open links. You can tap “Always” to always open links in that browser from now on.

Now that you have set Facebook to use the default browser of your choice and not theirs, you will never have to worry again about losing access to a link after closing the app. You’ll be able to use the history in your browser and continue reading.

Want to do more with Facebook? Here’s how to bulk-delete Facebook messages. We can also show you how to download your Facebook chat history.

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