Friday, September 19, 2014

My First Experiences With Apple's iOS 8

iOS 8 came out yesterday, September 17th, 2014.  Since then, I installed it on an iPad Air (32GB) and an iPhone 5 (64GB).

I did both installs over-the-air not via iTunes on a computer.  This meant I had to free up 5-7GB of local space to do the upgrade.  Like many have reported, I had to painfully clear up space.  I did so by deleting movies and some larger apps (like garageband, imovie, and other Apple apps), carefully noting which ones to replace them once the upgrade was done.  I did not carefully track the time, but it took at least a couple hours, maybe a bit longer, on each, until done in this fashion.  Then I got to play!

I did not realize how much was going to have to wait until October for iOS 8 to be fully realized for me...

  • I did not activate iCloud drive.  I have been advised not to do so until October, until after Yosemite is released.
    • I have played with 1password, but since I'm not using iCloud drive, I'm not playing with 1password 5, so I'm not playing with new iOS 8-integrated features.
  • I did not activate Family Sharing.  I'm holding back until Yosemite is released.  I also need to verify it is going to work with my Apple TV version 2.  I want to be able to get all shared photos into my Apple TV photo stream.
  • HealthKit has recognized bugs.  There is not much to play with, so I will not be commenting on the Health app.  All healthkit apps were pulled from the store.
  • Some features are going to be enabled in an update in October:
    • Continuity
      • SMS Relay/Text Message Forwarding - even between an iPhone and iPad.  I can make a call from my iPad now, but not text my Android-using friends from my iPad.
  • I'm just not ready to try out the downloadable keyboards.  Try it and report how you like it!
  • I haven't yet had time to play with many photos features, such as the new larger panoamas and time-lapse photography.
  • I have an iPhone 5 and so did not play with app TouchID integration; I don't have it.

What have I tried?

  • I received and made phone calls from my iPad.  It defaulted to speakerphone mode.  How do you make a call with no phone app?  Use contacts, either from the contacts app, or when choosing another app to multitask do with the double click to the home button, where the new iOS 8 recent contacts show up.
  • I made sure to put some photos with some recent and favorite contacts so that they would show up when looking at favorite contacts.  I deleted some duplicate contact entries to make sure the pictures would show up.
  • I sent voice messages via imessage.  I have noticed that some people do not like it when I do this.  It works even with folks who are not on iOS 8 - they play the sound via QuickTime.
  • I used "Hey Siri".  It came in really handy in the car when I wanted to ask Siri to read a text back to me while driving.  I thought of making a song with the words, "Hey Siri" in it.  I want to see if Siri can be solo-activated by an iPhone/iPad playing such a "Hey Siri" song!
  • I sent my location to someone - that could be done before iOS 8 but was more of a pain.  This was simple!
  • I created a name for a group text!  Unfortunately, this name did not sync between iPhone and iPad - probably because I'm not using iCloud drive.
  • I browsed photos from chats in imessage - that is really nice!  Way to go Apple!  People may not remember how much of an upgrade iMessage (messages) is from "old text messaging before Apple".  I hope they keep improving it!
  • I used the pre-texting words keyboard feature - I chose words rather than being an autocorrect victim!
  • I checked the apps that use the most power (after using iOS 8 for many hours).  The home screen and lock screen for me were the worst!  I do still have the parallax thing turned on... Maybe I should look at that more.
  • email handling in the summary screen(s):
    • Swipe to the right and click to make a message unread
    • Quick swipe left for the options for more options, flag, or move to trash -- this one can be a bit tricky until you get used to it - don't accidentally do a long swipe right...
    • Long swipe left to trash a message
  • Photos
    • I no longer see my old Photos camera roll and cloud photos as separate things.  They are all sort of one thing.  I think this will make more sense once I am using iCloud drive in a month.
    • I am going to have to play with this more.  Old options, for example to delete something from Photos in the cloud (to get it off of my Apple TV, for example) are not nearly so obvious.  Which photos did I take vs which photos did my wife take?  It is not at all so clear any more.  This is going to freak out some family members after the upgrade.
    • I played with photo editing.  I made a photo B&W (black and white).  I had to unselect B&W to get to see it in color again; playing in the color selection did nothing.  That was a counter-intuitive.
  • iOS8 extensions - deeper integrations with apps:
    • I did web clipping with evernote!  This is a great improvement.
  • Safari
    • Request desktop site - just click the address bar, pull down, and get the options to Add to Favorites and Request Desktop Site.  This one is helpful to some for sure, but I think I get what I need without it so far.
  • New weather app - cool...
That's all for now.  Enjoy iOS 8!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fixing iBooks on my old Lion-based iTunes server

I have an old 2008 white macbook that is my household iTunes server.  I carefully back it up, but it was not always my iTunes server, and it does not know where iBooks are.  The iTunes library was on a newer machine I upgraded to Mavericks, which moved the iBooks.  I need to fix that before getting an iPhone 6.  I have books not bought from Apple, and PDFs, and I want to keep them on my iPad and iPhone.

I am not using iPhoto on this old machine.  So I have a hole in how I keep backups of photos.  I'll have to look at that later.  It is highly recommended that anyone upgrading iOS make sure that they have a full backup of photos.

I do not have room for my media (photos, iBooks, iTunes) on the local drive, and so have it on an external drive.  I moved the drive from one machine to another, and never migrated iBooks.  Now I have to look for them and update anything that needs updating so that I can again sync iBooks.  Note that audiobooks are still in iTunes - no problems there.  But once iBooks became an app for Macs, iBooks were no longer in iTunes.

I have my iBooks on my Mavericks-based machine.  Where?

  • ~/Library/Containers/
So I copied files from my Mavericks computer to a location available to my iTunes server computer.  I tried to import them.  It turns out I had some of the files located on my old Lion-based iTunes machine, so I deleted duplicates.  I tried to sync my iPhone.  It said it could not locate some files.  I ended up deleting ALL iBooks from my iTunes library, unselected all books from sharing with my iPhone, and then reimported the whole list in the shared location.  I still had no PDFs; importing PDFs did not work.  I had to drag and drop the PDFs into iTunes in my old iTunes server.   I then selected books (and PDFs) to sync, and it all worked.  Whew.

The good thing is that I had put some PDFs into categories in iBooks on my iPhone and iPad.  They fell right back into those categories once re-synced even after all of my cleanup shenanigans.  I did not have to re-select the 15 PDFs related to a class I took into a category for that class.

Friday, September 12, 2014

My experience buying an iPhone 6 online at Midnight September 12

I bought two iPhone 6 phones near Midnight, 9/12/14.  How did that work?

  • First I was going to the Apple website, to the store.  This was not getting me anywhere - just the banner saying that the site would be back up shortly as they were working on it.
  • Then I navigated to the iPhone portion of the main Apple site, and clicked on iPhone 6, and a button in the upper right (which now says Pre-Order Now) said something different about learning where to order.  At about 12:15AM Pacific time, this link changed, but still it brought up the maintenance page.
  • I grabbed both iPhone 5 phones my family owns and made sure the Apple Store app was up-to-date.  I tried to use the Apple Store app on the phone to buy iPhones.  This also did not work.
  • At around 12:30AM, it finally allowed me to enter information about the iPhone I was using to try to upgrade to a new iPhone and to check eligibility.  When this succeeded (it often failed or seemed to time out), I was able to select the iPhone I wanted to upgrade to.  However, the message on the phone let me know that each possible iPhone 6 model I selected was unavailable.
  • At around 12:40, on one phone (and not on the other), when I clicked on some random model with 16GB of storage, it was listed as available!  But this was not the case on the model I wanted.   I clicked around on models some more and the model I wanted, it was listed as available!  However, I was clicking around and clicked to another model which was not available!  Argh!  When I clicked back on the Space Gray 128GB iPhone I wanted, it was still available, and I put it in my cart.
  • I was given the opportunity to buy AppleCare.  I do want AppleCare.  However, trying to add this to the cart timed out several times.  I gave up on AppleCare.
  • I went to check out and paid, accepting terms.
  • Then I moved firmly to the other iPhone, trying over and over to select just the iPhone 6 I wanted.  It continued to show it was not available.
  • By around 1AM, I was able to complete a purchase on the other iPhone.
I checked the web site.  It still only showed the maintenance page...

On the Apple Store website, at around 8AM, I see that this model is still available for September 19th availability... Maybe I did not need to stay up late?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

First thoughts on Apple Pay and the Apple Watch

Apple Pay:

  • Only works with iPhone 6 and beyond (also with Apple Watch, probably only with iPhone 6 and 6 Plus)
  • It is about time passbook was given expanded use.
  • NFC is important because it is ultra-low power - lower power than Bluetooth.
  • Other non-Apple phones (some Android, and even Windows phone) have had this for a while.
  • So why is it really a big deal?  I think there are three bits:
    • Apple sells enough iPhones to enough folks who are likely to actually use NFC that it becomes more ubiquitous and more vendors/stores and banks will support it.
    • Apple reputedly will secure things more than other NFS solutions, and will thus cause lower fees for credit card use.  This means there is room for Apple to earn a little ($0.15 per $100) while also getting banks/vendors to use NFC more.
    • Apple reputedly will see and keep less data about transactions.  Apple does not want to sell data about buyers and sellers.
All of this will take more time to really evaluate.  It is not available until October, 2014.

Apple Watch:
  • It is only useful, according to Apple, with an iPhone (5 and up).
  • According to Tim Cook (see his interview on the Charlie Rose show: ) it can be used while leaving your iphone behind while you work out.
  • It comes in a bigger and smaller version, with 3 forms (gold, not gold (steel) but still sapphire, and steel with very strong glass.  There are tons of watch bands for every fashion need a band can fulfill.  Really.
  • Other attributes:
    • It charges wirelessly, via a magnetic attachment - via a sealed element.
    • It has a microphone and "discrete" speaker.  It is Siri-enabled.
    • There is an accelerometer
    • Other interface info: It has a new pressure-sensitive touch screen/face, a new watch crown dial and button 
    • Sensors on the back, against the wearer's skin, to sense heart rate.
    • A haptic device to enable precise/careful vibration-like communications.  This is supposed to be very unusual.  If one person taps on the phone to communicate to another, it supposedly feels like being tapped on the wrist.
    • Networking:
      • Bluetooth 4.0
      • Wifi (types unknown)
      • NFC
  • What I do not like, so far:
    • OK, um, it is used to do everything and the kitchen sink as a total extension of the iPhone on your wrist.
    • It needs to be charged, presumably every day.  This implies to me and many that it will not be used to track sleep.  Sleep tracking is important to many folks.
    • It is not water proof - not to be used in pools or the shower.  The watch I have now is water proof.  I have worn my watch into a pool; I swim.  If the Apple Watch is ruined by this, I am quite concerned I will ruin it if I own it.
  • What people can use it for:
    • A watch.  Many faces are available.
    • A view into your data:
      • Weather, stock, facebook posts, what movies are playing nearby
      • Photos - keeps a local store of photos you want to be able to see.
    • Fitness coach:
      • Look at your fitness status for the day in three areas:
        • Calories for the day
        • Minutes of active exercise for the day
        • Stand - tracks taking breaks throughout the day to stand up for a bit 
    • Interaction:
      • Mail
      • play music (music is stored in the watch), control music, control an appleTV...
      • Text, use new creative emoticon capabilities, the haptic system to tap on a friend's wrist, and draw pictures on your watch for a friend.
      • Maps: rather than pull out your phone and looking at your phone screen, your watch can show a minimap.  Also, haptic communications can just tap left or right to let you know where to go at each intersection.  This is supposed to be very cool and very discrete.
      • Challenge a friend to work out more, or invite them to dinner
    • Remote:
      • Remote control for Apple TV
      • Remote for the camera on the iPhone, including remote viewfinder
    • Bill Pay

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Summary of announcements from Apple and the September 9 2014 event

DRAFT - ongoing information

  • Stream at

  • iPhone 6 4.7"
    • gold, silver, space grey
    • in contract $199 16GB, $299 64GB, $399 128GB
    • bigger but thinner at 6.9mm thick (thinner than iPhone 5 which is 7.6mm thick)
    • as good or better in every battery category
    • Retina Display HD - 1334x750 pixels (1 million)
      • 1400:1 contrast ratio (avg)
      • 326 ppi (same as iphone 5)
  • iPhone 6 plus 5.5"
    • gold, silver, space grey
    • in contract $299 16GB, $399 64GB, $499 128GB
    • much bigger but still thinner at 7.1mm thick
    • Retina Display HD - 1920x1080 pixels (2 million)
      • 1300:1 contrast ratio (avg)
      • 401 ppi
  • A8
    • 2 billion transistors (2x A7), 25% faster than A7, 50% more efficient overall than A7
    • Next generation image processor for camera
      • more advanced face detection
  • M8
  • Camera:
    • New camera sensor
      • Phase detection auto-focus (better faster auto-focus)
      • better noise reduction
      • Panorama up to 43megapixels
    • Optical image stabilization
    • 1080P video at 30 or 60 fps (like 5s), slo-mo video at 240fps (double before)
    • h.265 for facetime calls
    • front camera improved also
      • f/2.2 (much better at capturing light - they say 80% better)
      • burst mode for better selfies
  • Other sensors:
    • Next generation gyroscope
    • Barometer (altitude detection)
  • Networking:
    • Now 802.11AC Wifi is available also - up to 3x faster than wireless N
    • LTE:
      • faster - up to 150MB/sec
      • VoLTE - when supported by carriers, enables voice over LTE
      • more bands in each phone - up to 20 (Verizon is said to be the one to buy if you are buying unlocked)
      • BlueTooth LE
        • Apple has worked hard to take advantage of all the capabilities of the Bluetooth standard.
    • When supported by carriers - the ability to take a call from WiFi back to cellular will offload cellular demands and hopefully make calls more reliable.
  • Display Zoom - makes icons and text bigger on the new screens with more pixels
  • Reachability - double click the home button to make the top of the screen reachable
  • New silicon and leather cases
  • iPhone 5C starts free, iPhone 5s starts at $99
  • new phones start shipping Sept 19th, pre-order starting 9/12/14
  • 115 countries by the end of the year
  • Not available for iPhone 4, available Sept 17.
Apple Pay
  • New payments process
  • for iPhone 6/6+, NFC + TouchID + Secure Element + Passbook 
  • Card number not stored - token created with dynamic security code - credit card info not on device
  • Find my iphone allows disabling credit card
  • Apple does not know what/where/how much you paid
  • Cashier does not see your name, card #, or security code
  • AMEX, MasterCard, VISA to start
  • Some stores supporting it: Macy's, Bloomingdales, walgreens, Duanereade, staples, subway, McDonald's (including drive-through), Whole Foods, Apple stores, Disney (all stores and Disney World), Panera, Sephora, Petco, Toys 'R Us
  • Online: one-touch checkout - Target, groupon, Uber, Opentable (to pay check at restaurants),, starbucks
  • Update to IOS8 in the US in October, 2014 (reminder: new iPhones only)
Apple Watch
  • Starts at $349, available in 2015
  • Models
    • Watch - Stainless Steel and Sapphire Crystal
    • Watch Sport - Aluminum and Ion-X Glass
    • Watch Edition - 18-karat gold, Sapphire gold
  • Apple pay works with Apple watch
  • Has to be charged with a magnetically attaching charger on the back
  • Sensors:
    • Gyroscope
    • Pulse rate
    • Accelerometer
  • S1 processor
  • Taptic 
  • Apps on the watch:
    • too many to count
  • What you can do with the watch:
    • I'll write another post - there are too many things!
  • U2 - Free just-released to 500 million people album - to all iTunes users.

Monday, September 8, 2014

OK time to prognosticate about the September 9, 2014 event

There is so much prognostication going on, it is infectious to some.  I have finally been infected.  What all is rumored?  What do I think might be real?

First let's start with product categories and rumors.  Then I'll make a short personal prognostication list.  I think Apple likes simplicity, and so I do not expect the announcement to cover anywhere near everything listed under rumors.  Here is the rumor roundup:

  • Mac
    • Macbook Air
      • Mainly the talk is about bumping screens to retina
    • Macbook Pro
    • iMac
    • Mac Pro
    • Screens
      • 4K screen
  • iPod
    • iPod Touch:
      • bigger iPod touches? 
      • better camera
      • touchID?
  • iPad
    • iPad Pro 12.9"?
    • TouchID?
  • iPhone
    • 4.7" and 5.5" versions?
    • 5.5" even thinner with humongous battery?
    • WiFi AC?
    • New super high resolutions
    • better camera?
    • liquid metal outer covering, finally?
    • sapphire yet non-shattering screen?
    • A wholly sapphire encased phone that does not need a case?
    • NFC - near field communication - used for phone-based payment services
  • Apple TV
    • De Nada - see software and services...
  • Beats Headphones
    • lightning plug high-res listening?
  • iWatch
    • Multiple versions (men/women is the most plausible)
    • Usable independent of iPhone - useful to customers without other Apple products.
    • NFC tie to iPhone
    • Tie to HomeKit: use band to get home info and possibly unlock locks at least.
    • possible tie to Disney - and their magic bands
    • text message tie to iPhone
    • sapphire screen, liquid metal band
    • flexible electronics, unique form-fitting band
    • sensors rumored for tie to HealthKit:
      • motion (mainly up/down but also useful for tracking sleep)
      • altitude/barometer
      • gyroscope
      • gps
      • heart rate
      • blood pressure
      • oxygen saturation
      • glucose monitoring
Software and services:
  • Beats streaming - integrated with iTunes radio
  • Movie version of iTunes match?
  • Mobile payments service with NFC in new iPhones (with TouchID and Passbook ties)
Notably absent:
  • More about HomeKit

Now for my prognostication:
  • MacBook Air
    • Bump to retina.  If not now, in 2014.
  • New iPhone 4.7" and 5.5"
    • with a better camera, both with TouchID
    • NFC
    • some new sensors that aren't rumored
    • a sideways mode for some iphone built-in apps that is more like iPad
    • higher resolution screens
    • Shipping by mid-October
  • iWatch
    • with more fashion than I can imagine
    • fewer sensors than imagined - definitely no glucose monitoring this time around
    • coming out in early 2015
    • comes with more HealthKit discussion
  • Services:
    • Definitely mobile payments, and NFC seems very likely, rolling out with many major retailers across the US, tied to TouchID

What is going on with Apple hires and acquihires in 2014?

I have never seen any company make so many high-profile hires (some by company purchases).  Something is goin' on!

  • Angela Ahrendts - CEO of Burberry
  • Paul Devenve - CEO of Yves Saint Laurent
  • Catherine Monier - European President, head of retail, Yves Saint Laurent
  • Patrick Pruniaux - VP Sales, Tag Heuer
  • Marc Newson - famed designer
  • Ari Partinen - formerly Nokia's Lumia photography lead
  • Ben Schaffer - famed for work on Nike's FuelBand
  • Musa Tariq, Global Senior Director Social Media & Community, Nike
  • Alex Acero - had 20 years in Microsoft researching speech technology
  • Gunnar Evermann, Siri Manager, Nuance
  • Dr. Dre - of Beats, by Dr. Dre...
  • Jimmy Iovine - of Beats
  • Medicine/sensors:
    • Michael O'Reilly - Masimo CMO
    • Marcelo Lamego - Cercacor CTO
    • Ravi Narasimhan VP biosensor technology, Vital Connect
    • Nima Ferdosi, embedded sensors exper
    • Alexander Chan, biomedical engineer, Vital Connect
    • Nancy Dougherty, Sano Intelligence
    • Todd Whitehurst, VP Product, Senseonics
I see:
  • Fashion and branding
  • Entertainment industry ties
  • Serious involvement in medicine and sensors
  • Camera technology
  • Speech technology

How much will be heard/seen in 2014 vs how much will be the future?  I'm not ready for that prognostication yet.