Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Shipping and the iPhone 7 - a warning and an interesting path

I ordered 2 iPhone 7s.  They were both to arrive some time at the end of the month.  And then, they were to come today!

One iphone showed up Monday.  I happened to be in the shower at the exact moment the delivery attempt happened.  But with a wonderful UPS driver, he came back later and delivered!  That was a very happy experience.

Knowing I might not be available the precise second a delivery was attempted, and not wanting to pre-sign for the iphone and worrying it could be stolen,  I changed the delivery location for the second iphone to a local UPS Store.  DO NOT DO THIS.

The outcomes from this action:

  1. My iphone was in the US when I changed the destination (by about 1 mile).  It went back to China!  It was in China 3 times total in the end.  This travelling miracle was completed in only a couple of days.
  2. Once it was ready for delivery today, they had an address problem.  Wait.  How can UPS have an address problem with a UPS Store?  UPS Stores are not part of UPS.  Not really.  They are franchise businesses.  I am not sure if it is because of a deal with Apple, or packages requiring signature, but the iPhone could not be left with a UPS Store.  But the online status did not say this.  It said, "Your package is in transit. We're updating plans to schedule your delivery. / The package will be forwarded to a UPS facility in the destination city." I had that message the day I made the request, as well as this morning.
  3. A bit later today I saw, "Directions to the address are required to complete delivery. We are attempting to update this information. / The address was corrected." The correct interpretation of this is, "We aren't allowed to deliver it how you asked.  We didn't bother to tell you that.  When we feel like it, we'll get back to you, but definitely not today."
  4. I called UPS, waited on the phone for a while, eventually got to talk to a person.  After a while, they said, "Oh, this is an Apple shipment.  I have to transfer you to a special team dealing with Apple shipments."  So I waited for a while and got to a person.  I came to understand that the UPS Store delivery was not an option.  Can they fix it so this problem does not happen to anyone else?  No.  Otherwise, my conversation went something like this:
    1. So... what is an option?  Delivery to my original address, or depot pickup.  Where is my iphone?  At the depot.  Can I go pick it up?  Not until tomorrow.  But, it is not on a truck?  It is at the depot?  Yes.  But I cannot pick it up now?  I can pick it up tomorrow.  I will need to change my delivery preferences online.  They cannot do it for me now on the phone?  No.  (eventually they did change it for me).  I continued asking if I could pick it up today.  They eventually called the depot and told me to expect a call in an hour.  But an hour from now is very near when they close...
  5. I had gotten driving to the depot during the end of the conversation.  I had clearly written the tracking number, my name, and address on a piece of paper.   I asked for help at the depot.  They gave me the iphone (with ID).  
What did I learn
1) Don't change the destination
2) If you do, change it to the depot.
3) Never use a UPS Store if you can avoid it.  (I have had other UPS Store problems, but never related to Apple before)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Partial iPhone 7 experience

I have upgraded from an iPhone 6 to iPhone 7 with 256GB of storage.  It has all of the amazing feature upgrades (remember I'm mentioning 6-7 NOT 6s to 7):

  • Better screen that some have called the best screen ever
    • Wide color gamut
    • 625 nits - brightest ever on an iPhone (only the new Apple Watch is brighter at 1000 nits) for better performance while in bright light.
  • Double max storage at 256GB
  • An A10 fusion CPU that is reputedly 2x the speed, 3x faster on graphics, but also more efficient with an additional 2 slower cores with an even better motion M10 co-processor.
  • Double the RAM at 2GB
  • So much better camera:
    • 12MP main/iSight camera instead of 8MP
    • Wider color range
    • Image stabilization (previously only on the 6S plus)
    • 4k video
    • f/1.8 - better low light performance
    • also from 6S level - live photos, slow motion support (120fps video)
  • Better facetime/front camera at 7MP up from 1.2MP
  • Bigger battery - 1960mAH instead of 1810mAH, with a reputed 1-2 hour boost in life (have not tested this yet myself)
  • Faster LTE with carrier aggregation - 2-3x faster depending on carrier
  • Siri is improved, and able, like on the 6S, to listen at all times (if you enable this feature)
  • 3D touch (like 6S)
  • waterproof (only for shallow dunks. Called water resistant.  DO NOT TAKE IT IN THE POOL!)
  • lift to wake screen
  • No more headphone jack
  • Replaced home button with taptic response non-button (works great for me!)
  • Taptic Engine - slowly learning how to enjoy using it!
My experience so far has had some unexpected twists and turns
1) I had to upgrade iOS from who knows what to 10.0.1 as soon as I received it.  This interrupted my iCloud recovery.  So I upgraded, reset many settings, and then had to erase all data and settings to recover from iCloud.  Very weird, and I felt lucky in knowing how to do this.  I wished I had not made any settings.
2) Siri:
  • always on is spotty.  So far this has worked better from the headphone adapter and headphones than from lightning headphones
  • Things that always used to work - hey Siri play album Exit (Exit by Tangerine Dream) left me playing all music shuffled.  On screen it showed that Siri heard me, it was just that Siri no longer seemed to understand what these words mean.  That is sad.  Also Siri turn music down was interpreted to try to play some song called Down.  I have also had this work, so it is hit and miss.
3) No headphone jack
4) Big text stops me from seeing some device data
  • This is not a new issue for iPhone 7, but if you have text set via Accessibility features, it is not possible to see your whole hardware wireless address (MAC addr).  Some people need this to set up secure wireless connections.  Turning this off did not work for me - I had to adjust the size to a smaller size to see the whole address.  This was just a minor one-time hiccup. 
5) Problems others have reported that I thankfully have not experienced
6) iTunes server - if at all out-of-date, will not work with iOS 10.
  • If you have a somewhat aged machine acting as your iTunes server, it will not even try to let you sync your media.  I was aware that this was likely going to be the case, but I am waiting to upgrade (probably to a new Mac mini once they are/are not announced in October).  So bear this in mind if you are upgrading

I was originally told my iphone 7 would arrive at the end of September, but it arrived more than 1 week earlier!  That was great!

I'm enjoying using all of the features that are new to me like live photos, 3D touch...

I'll update this post at the top as I use it more in the next few days.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Recent iPhone 6 battery problems

UPDATE:  A replacement iPhone 6 has fixed my battery issues and has fixed other problems I had forgotten about, such as errant triggering of ApplePay and the fact that taking screenshots was nearly impossible.  It is back to being a pleasure to use again!  I wish I had that months ago, but no one suggested these issues could be hardware related.


I have not been blogging about Apple.  When I am less enchanted with my Apple experience, I am much less interested in blogging about it.

I have been having iPhone 6 battery issues for more than 6 months.  Problems are in 2 core categories:

  1. Poor battery life - a full charge sometimes lasts less than 2 hours.
  2. Shut off when the iPhone indicates that it still has power - It looks like I have 20-30% power, and suddenly my iPhone is powered off with no notice.  In this case, sometimes I can turn it back on, and sometimes it indicates that I must plug it in to turn it on.  In both cases, once I plug it into power, once it turns on, it shows 20-30% power.
My attempts to remediate:

  • Try 1:  I went to an Apple store for a Genius Bar appointment to help.
      • I was assured that the condition of all hardware involved was good.  My battery was in good condition.
      • we performed a reset of all settings
      • shut off nearly all background activity
      • shut off location services access for most apps, and "always" access for any app that had it.  I ended up deleting Waze as part of that effort.
    • In the end, this consumed time and was not effective.  My battery life was a bit longer with some background activity no longer happening.
  • Try 2:  I did an online chat with Apple Support to try to fix the problem.  I was guided to reinstall iOS from scratch and then recover from iCloud.  After a 2 hour process in chat, the icloud recovery was starting.  In the morning once I logged into my iPhone, app downloads and photo syncing.  After 24 hours, a few more hours of re-doing logins and re-doing all of my 2-factor setups not based on SMS, I was back to normal use.
    • This proved not effective.  I was able to get screen shots of my iPhone going from full to 1% battery use in 1 hour 50 minutes.  I plugged it in, and within 2 minutes showed 60% battery capacity available.
  • Try 3: I had another online chat with Apple Support some days later.  Although I had my iPhone set to send debugging data, Apple was not getting it.  After an hour of getting my debug data to Apple Support, I was told to take my iPhone to a store.
  • Try 4: Back for a Genius Bar appointment.  I was assured by my last Apple Support call that the store would have all appropriate history and be ready to help.
      • A full diagnosis was performed.  This appeared to be a repeat of the last diagnosis done online with Apple Support.  My battery shows as still in good condition, but just barely.
      • Instead I showed the Apple Genius the history from my emails from Apple Support.  
      • The Apple Store showed that there was no location nearby with my model of iPhone for replacement.
    • I was told that it might be a corrupt file, and rebuilding without iCloud recovery was strongly recommended.
      • When I asked how I would get back to normal use on my iPhone, there was no answer.  The idea seemed to mostly be that I had to go back to acting like I had not been an iPhone user for years.  Eventually I was assured that I would only lose my call history and text history.
      • I brought up that I have an iTunes server with media, and that I sync many types of media, and that that configuration would be forgotten as well.  There is no solution to that problem.
So I thus far have no solution.  I have these comments:
  • As a result of my battery problems, I was probably charging my iPhone much more often than it was designed to be charged, degrading my battery condition.
  • Drove twice to apple stores and spend many many hours and did not get resolution.
  • I am told a corrupt file is involved, and that some apps and core functions are crashing, and that this is related to my iPhone having battery issues.  When I asked if this was due to a bug in iOS, that is not known.  So even if I took further steps, if it is a corrupt file could I have to go through this whole problem set again?  Yes.  Was it due to a specific app or apps that I could delete to avoid the problem?  No.  That to me implies it is an iOS bug.
I am glad Apple is willing to replace my iPhone as they are contracted to do, but the whole experience is painful.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Apple Photo services - experience and concerns

I use many Apple products and services. I find that there are some confusing choices Apple has made, and I cannot guess at how they make sense to Apple product management.

I have used Photo Stream for quite a long time. I have family members who do not otherwise use iCloud, who are set up to use my Apple ID for Photo Stream. We use/used this for:

  • automatic sharing of photos we take
  • looking at photos we take on Apple TV via Photo Stream
  • enabling download and saving of photos family members take to the core photo library on my computer
  • We delete photos after sharing that I did not mean to share for a variety of reasons
This shows up in a photo album My Photo Stream.

When iCloud Photo Library became available, the features were really attractive:

  • My entire photo library is sync'ed and available on configured Apple devices!
  • My entire photo library is available on the web via
  • All photos I take from configured devices are part of my entire photo library
  • I do pay for iCloud storage to have enough room for all of my photos.

Problems using both:

  • With the iPhoto OS X app before, I could see and download My Photo Stream photos to my photo library.  With the Photos OS X app and iCloud Photos on my iPhone:
    • I cannot see photos in My Photo Stream
    • I cannot delete photos in My Photo Stream

I was unable to find documentation about this feature change, and feature lack.  Apple support staff had inconsistent information.  Apple support staff cannot explain how I might be able to access or delete photos from My Photo Stream.

So what am I doing?

  • I use an iPad to access My Photo Stream, and on rare occasions use that to save photos to my computer sync'ed from the iPad.
  • I am living with no longer having immediate access to My Photo Stream.
  • Wishing Apple made different service decisions...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Summary and some thoughts on the September 9 2015 Apple Event

The feedback from many pundits after the event has been that the event was underwhelming.  This has been common feedback after many events in the last few years.  Looking at all of the new technology and renewed partnerships, this seems crazy.  I think our ability to absorb and comprehend, or even guess, at the impact of the outcomes from this announcement, is reduced by just how huge the announcements are.

Apple has continued to come out with products that are superior to all existing solutions in the space - I'm thinking of the Apple Pencil.

Apple continues to focus on various applications related to healthcare, giving people greater access to their health data and giving medical professionals access to that data as well.

Apple Watch:

  • What I am hoping for but have been unable to confirm is in Watch OS2:
    • more reliable connectivity to the iPhone
  • Partnership with Hermes for bands and a watch face
  • Gold and Rose Gold - anodized aluminum sport models
  • Stainless Steel Product Red
  • New vibrant hues and neutral hues
  • New models and bands available immediately
  • Watch OS 2 - September 16
What I am hoping for in iOS9 on new hardware and old:
    • audiobooks in ibooks that work - remembering location, allowing scrubbing
    • better navigation in music - more like what we used to have, with easy access to playlists.
    • reliable use of and better navigation of my large on-network iTunes library

  • The all-all new iPad Pro:
    • 12.9" retina screen - 2732x2048
      • Large enough to require a custom timing controller, also uses a variable refresh rate for energy efficiency
      • New technology to make the screen bright, sharp, with excellent contrast and uniformity
      • greater touch and multi-touch accuracy
    • 1.57 lbs
    • 12"x8.68"x0.27" (thinner than the original iPad Air)
    • 4 new speakers with more sound chamber space on the interior of the iPad Pro to enhance frequency range for excellent sound in any orientation
    • A smart connector for accessories, such as the smart keyboard, for powering the accessory and for communications
    • A9X CPU
      • 1.8x the CPU performance of the A8X
      • 2x the GPU performance of the A8X
      • vastly faster storage controller
      • Like the A9, has a built-in M9 always-on motion co-processor
      • Adobe says it has 4GB RAM
    • 10 hour battery life
    • 802.11ac with MIMO - similar to wired 1Gb connectivity
    • The same facetime (front) and iSight (back) cameras as the iPad Air 2
    • Cellular:
      • 20 LTE bands, up to 150Mbps via LTE, and uses Apple SIM
    • Apple Pencil
      • It is pressure sensitive, and angle-sensitive
      • It is engineered to work with iPad pro for highly sensitive high resolution and lag-free use.
      • 12 hours of battery life, 30 minutes more from 15 seconds of charging via lightning to iPad Pro
      • $100
    • Smart Keyboard
      • Built for iPad Pro, uses the new smart connector
      • Has what you need for keyboard shortcuts
      • $169
    • Coming in November
      • 32GB $799
      • 128GB $949
      • 128GB with cellular $1079
    • Developer support
      • Microsoft with the office suite of productivity apps - core initial support for iPad Pro - Microsoft is back making software for the best platforms!
      • Adobe - is back with core support for this new Apple platform!
  • iPad Mini 4:
    • Most the power of the iPad Air 2 in a small package, but with the A8 instead of the A8X.
  • Updated iPhones - for both new phones: 
    • also comes in rose gold (keeping silver, gold, space gray)
    • new glass - dual ion exchange - like the Apple Watch
    • 3D Touch
      • not just tap/swipe/pinch
      • force is recognized - peek and pop
      • allows shortcuts on the home screen and fully in Apple apps some other apps (facebook, instagram
        • light = peek at data
        • heavy = pop into app
    • tactile feedback - taptic engine
    • uses capacitive sensors 
  • Apple custom alloy of 7000 series Aluminum - like the Apple Watch
  • A9
    • 70% faster than A8 for CPU (iPhone 6)
    • 90% faster for graphics than A8
    • built-in motion co-processor M9 - always on with this integration
    • hey siri can be always on too
  • 2nd gen touchID sensor
    • 2x faster
  • Camera
    • Back:
      • 12MP iSight
      • 50% more pixels, 50% more focus pixels
      • deep trench isolation - separates photo diodes for better color with more pixels
        • low noise
      • thus bigger panoramas - 63MPixel, for example
      • 4K video - 8 million pixels/frame
      • (edit 4K video too!)
    • Front: 
      • 5MP facetime camera (front)
      • screen is the flash!
  • live photos - include a mini-video - 3 seconds - with every video, taking almost no additional space
    • developer apis for live photos - facebook will support them this year
  • Wireless
    • LTE Advanced - 2x faster
    • 23 bands - best for roaming
    • 2x faster wifi
  • iOS9 - Sept 16
  • new charging docs
  • new phone covers/cases
  • pre-order Sept 12
  • available Sept 25
iPhone upgrade program
  • This is an warranty and replacement agreement
  • Different prices for different models$32.41-$44.91/mo
  • Is a 24-month installment for $777.84-$1077.84
  • you can upgrade every year, or keep a phone free and clear after 24 months
  • these unlocked phones able to connect to any provider
  • Yahoo! summarized the program well:
iCloud storage - 1/2 price, I believe by Sept 16:
  • 50Gb $0.99/mo
  • 200Gb $2.99/mo
  • 1TB $9.99/mo
  • no more 500Gb plan
Apple TV
  • What I am hoping for once units are more fully tested:
    • Stability for Netflix:
      • not getting kicked out of watching when I pause
      • not having issues just watching content several times per week (that I do not see with other devices)
    • Much better navigation:
      • Something like bookmarks so I can switch between content I'm watching in a way that is like switching apps on an iPhone - just an easy 1-2 steps back and forth
      • Much better navigation within Netflix so there are not as many steps
      • Much better navigation within iTunes content so that I do not have so many many many steps
  • Why is it a big deal?
    • the new remote:
      • Siri integration:
        • Search across your iTunes library, Netflix, HBO, and Showtime
        • filter/narrow your search once you start to look for content
      • Touch - allows single-finger gestures to greatly enhance navigation
      • frankly it acts like a Wii remote for the games and apps as well with accelerometer and gyroscope
      • Bluetooth connection to Apple TV
      • IR to control the volume on your TV
    • App store
      • Games!
      • TV channels are real apps with much more depth in how they can behave, and with the new remote, input options are hugely expanded.
      • iPod touch and iPhone can act as a remote, for up to four players.
    • Overall - you can get more information about your TV shows and movies as you watch, or get other information as integrated with Siri (like sports scores and weather information).
  • It's a bit taller - 1.4"
  • 32GB and 64GB storage models - for applications
  • A8 processor (same as iPhone 6)
  • Ports:
  • all-new Siri remote
    • glass touch surface
    • bluetooth 4.0 (to talk to the Apple TV without infrared)
    • Accelerometer
    • Gyroscope
    • dual microphones
    • IR transmitter (to control other devices)
  • available late October
  • There is no 4K support with this model.
  • You will need an HDMI cable - C|Net has a good article about them:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Some thoughts on ios9 and OS X El Capitan from a non-user

I have not used iOS9 or OS X El Capitan, so these thoughts are based on Apple's announcements and observations from the Apple reporting community.  These releases are in public beta, and are available for normal release this fall.

What is new in El Capitan?  Here is a quick summary based mostly on Apple's announcement page:

  • Split Screen to look at two apps in full screen view.
  • advanced Mission Control to organize your windows.
  • cursor finding capabilities - it can get big with a shake
  • updated spotlight - you can move and size the spotlight window,  search many other kinds of content (from the internet) including transit information, and use natural language for queries.
  • mail has many updated features:
    • full screen features enabling cut and paste across multiple threads
    • just like in iOS, we can now swipe to delete messages
    • more context sensitivity for adding contacts and events based on email messages
  • Notes is a much more fully featured app that some say will be able to compete with Evernote.  Images fit right in to notes, and there is an attachments browser.
  • Photos
    • 3rd party filters
    • 3rd party plugins for photo editing
    • location editing for a photo or an event is now possible (again)
  • Safari
    • Pinned sites for favorite websites
    • Air Play for web video (without sharing your whole screen)
    • The ability to mute all or other tabs
  • Maps
    • Public Transit information
    • time-based planning for a future trip
  • Better language support (for non-English languages)
  • Performance
    • Metal graphics performance comes to OS X
What is new in iOS 9?
  • A news app
  • An update to the Notes app (which matches new features in OS X Notes) including an attachments browser, checklists, and sketches
  • Maps
    • Transit, matching OS X features
    • A new nearby feature to find shopping and restaurants
  • Passbook becomes Wallet
    • your rewards/loyalty cards can in many cases will be part of Wallet.
    • A double-click to  the home button activates Apple Pay.
  • Carplay - major updates enabling using car knobs and applications from automakers.
  • Features for new iPads
    • Slide-over to have a 2nd app on the right 3rd of the screen.
    • Split view to have two apps shown 50/50
    • Picture in Picture - watch a video while using another application!
    • Quicktype:
      • Shortcut bar - Icons for cut, copy, paste, and fonts
      • Easy text selection - using multi-touch gestures on the on-screen keyboard to do text selection
      • Keyboard shortcuts - for external hardware keyboards
  • Siri - is supposed to be much more intelligent
    • context aware regarding photo and video information
    • can create context-aware reminders, based on what application you are currently using.
    • Deep search within apps
    • guesses for caller ID for unidentified callers?!?
  • Performance
    • power-savings across built-in iOS9 apps will enable longer battery life - 1 hour is claimed
    • built-in iOS9 apps use metal for faster performance
    • iOS updates stream and require much less free space to enable updates
  • 2-factor authentication for your AppleID means your old 
  • Android migration
    • Migrates much of your content automatically
    • Helps you re-download (or buy) applications on your Android device.

Frustrated with Music and iBooks on iOS

I am frustrated with Music and iBooks on iOS 8.  There have quietly been some fixes in iOS 8.4.1. Note:  I am not using Apple's new Apple Music service.  I do, however, happen to have and use iTunes Match.

I'll start with iBooks:

  • Peeve 1:  Until the recent fix, my iTunes server on OS X 10.7.5 was recently changed by Apple to no-longer know about Audiobooks.  It would import them, and then hide them.  No syncing of new audiobooks for users to iOS devices.  Thankfully, that has been fixed!
  • Peeve 2: iBooks does not remember my place in audiobooks reliably at all.  I am not the only one experiencing this problem.  Often iBooks puts me back at the start of a book.  
  • Peeve 3: iBooks often does not allow me to scan through to a point in a chapter - instead always showing that I am at 0.00 until the next chapter starts.  This is very frustrating.
Now on to Music:
  • The horizontal view in music went from cover flow (a while ago) to some other cover view, which was not at all useful, to no longer having a horizontal view.  Where did the horizontal view go?  Why can I not have a useful horizontal view?
  •  I never know what I'm going to get when I open the music app.  For example, I'm listening to a music playlist, and my iPhone was locked.  I unlocked and opened the music app, and the Radio choice is showing.  Why is Radio showing?  I'm not using radio at this time.
  • How do I see what I am listening to - i.e. a playlist I previously selected?  There is a tiny three-dots "button" to the right of the tiny line near the bottom that... doesn't get me back to the playlist.  It lets me "Start Station" - a radio station based on the current song.  Miracle of miracles, this time, when I clicked on My Music, I am back in my playlist.  I wonder if there was a fix in 8.4.1?  Usually I'm back in my music somewhere and have to re-select playlists and then reselect the playlist as the only way to get back to it.
  • How do I play the playlist over and over?  I see no controls for this in music any longer!  The controls are available when selecting the current playing song only, as a tiny icon in 2nd from the right.  It has the same 3 options as it always had - it just isn't available on the playlist screen any longer
  • Is it on my iPhone or not?  I'm getting on a plane... Ah a fix with 8.4.1 - I can see with a tiny icon on the right next to the song now. 

Bonus peeve: outages in the Apple Store - I tried to redeem a free song on a Starbucks card from Apple - but I cannot as the store is unavailable.  Adding insult to injury, I had to retype my AppleID password to check every time.  Not fun Apple.

I have been known by some for watching news about Apple and information from Apple with a large amount of attention.  Apple feels much less transparent about these kinds of problems and changes now.  That greatly disappoints me.  It feels more like what I hear from Android users, frankly.

I reveled in being able to get an elderly relative to use an iPhone when not familiar with using the internet.  Now these items are getting less self-explanatory, quietly having new major feature problems, and videos and manuals are needed to know how to use them.  It is not what I expect.