iPad, Built Apple Tough

I had just gotten to work and noticed that I already had a missed call on my work phone. Shortly after checking to see who called me, I received a text from my wife.

Call me when you can.

She had taken our son to her parents house for the day because he was running a fever, and daycare would have likely sent him home, so I of course thought something had happened on their travels, to them.

I immediately picked up the phone and called her and when she answered the phone I could hear that she was driving (hands free people, calm down), so I knew that there hadn't been an accident. She said, "So there has been a little bit of an accident with the iPad." She had successfully dropped my son off, got back into her car and drove off. On the main county road to her parents house she accelerated to about 45mph and then she heard a loud bang, like something had hit her car.

She looked in her rearview mirror and saw something shiny flying behind her, saw something else go in another direction and it was in that moment she realized what it was. When she went to get our son and all of his stuff that he needed for the day out of the car, she took the iPad that we usually let one of the kids use on the long ride to school, and set it on top of her vehicle. Had she had a car it probably wouldn't have been a big deal, but she has an SUV that is slightly taller than she is, and forgot all about it.

She pulled over and went back to retrieve what she thought were going to be pieces of a now unusable iPad. She noticed that the case was laying facedown in the middle of the road, of which a number of cars had already gone by. She saw two pieces in the rearview mirror but thought maybe the iPad was still in the case, facedown on the pavement, but it was not in the case and nowhere to be seen.

She walked quite a ways back towards the road that turns off the main road to her parents house and nothing. The ditches on the side of the road had stagnant water setting in them and feared that it had been thrown into the ditch and was submerged. After about fifteen minutes of looking she found it laying down off the shoulder of the road in the grass.

When I left in the morning with my daughter she said to me, "Daddy can I have the iPad?" I told her no, it was her brothers turn to have it because she had used it the day before. I guess I should have told her yes! My wife was heartbroken that it had happened and I was upset that it happened since the kids use it to learn their alphabet and learn how to write, along with just using it for pure entertainment such as watching movies on it, but I told it that things happen.

When I left the house this morning the iPad looked like it did the day it was purchased. Despite taking flight at 45mph and skidding across the road it didn't picked up one scratch on the screen let alone break the screen. I am amazed by that because the one corner is almost flattened from the impact. The back has all kinds of battle scars, and the camera has a crack through it, I mean who takes pictures with their iPad anyway, right? As long as I can still get a charger into the 30 pin port that is bent all to hell I can throw it back in it's wonderful case from iFrogz, now owned by Zagg and the kids can use it until they get an Air 2 as a hand me down and the iPad 3 can be put out to pasture.

Pictures of the aftermath:

iPhone 6S Feature Wishlist: Improved Camera, Unlocked, Force Touch, USB-C?

Apple expected to announce new iPhones on September 9th, 2015.

Some things that I would like to see from this years iPhone release are:

Camera Improvements

Perhaps the biggest reason that I am glad to upgrade my iPhone every two years, and possibly yearly now that I am not buying subsidized phones, is the fact that the quality of the camera improves with almost every release.

The rumor for this years iPhone is that the camera will be a jump up in megapixels from 8MP to 12MP. Apple has never used the marketing of megapixels to sell phones, but instead they focus on improving the technology to increase the quality of the photos with the image processor built into their A series chips and increasing the pixel size on the sensor.

This past year Apple purchased a company from Israel by the name of LinX that specializes in cameras for mobile devices

LinX develops and markets miniature cameras for tablets and smartphones. Using an array of sensors that capture multiple images at the same time and proprietary algorithms, LinX says its cameras can gauge depth and create three-dimensional image maps.

Last year, the company said its tiny camera modules allow for better-quality pictures in low light and faster exposure at standard indoor conditions. It said the technology offers single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera image quality without the need for a bulky device.

The news that Apple purchased LinX came out in April, so it is possible that technology may not have been incorporated into this release. It will be interesting to see how it is used when it finally is.

Unlocked At Launch

As cell phone carriers are moving away from subsidies, I am hoping that Apple will offer a factory unlocked version on day one.

Typically you cannot purchase a SIM free phone from Apple until a certain time after the carrier versions of the phones have gone on sale. I assume that there is a rule somewhere in the contracts that Apple has with the carriers that requires Apple to wait to offer customers an unlocked version. For the iPhone 6, which was released on September 19th 2014, the SIM free version (unlocked) was released on January 06, 2015.

Back in June, Apple stopped selling subsidized phones through their online store and switched to only selling phones available through AT&T's NEXT plans.

The shift away from two-year contracts is not specific to Apple or iPhone, but rather part of a larger move by AT&T. Droid-Life reported last month that AT&T would begin moving away from two-year contracts on June 1, although the report claims that the option will remain available through AT&T's website, company-owned retail stores, local dealers via direct fulfillment and customer service.

Since AT&T, and the other carries, are moving away from contract phones that are cheaper priced it would only make sense for Apple to provide an unlocked phone up front.

When the iPad Air 2 was released, the cellular version shipped with Apple Sim, allowing customers to choose from a couple of different carriers. A universal sim would be a welcomed feature.

Storage

Storage on mobile devices seems to be more of a problem as content increases in size, and the camera quality increases. Apple has taken steps to make it not be so much of a problem by having smaller OS updates, iCloud Photo Library, and iCloud Music Library. When iOS 9 comes out they will further improve on saving storage on the device with the App Thinning.

The App Store and operating system optimize the installation of iOS and watchOS apps by tailoring app delivery to the capabilities of the user’s particular device, with minimal footprint. This optimization, called app thinning, lets you create apps that use the most device features, occupy minimum disk space, and accommodate future updates that can be applied by Apple. Faster downloads and more space for other apps and content provides a better user experience.

When I purchased the iPhone 6 I picked up the 128GB model. I managed to use up over half of the storage on it after a year of taking pictures and video, in addition to all of the other app data that I have. I haven't started using iCloud Photo Library yet as it isn't as customizable as I would like it to be, features that I detailed here. I do use Apple Music, paired with iTunes Match, so very little of my device's space is used by music.

It will be interesting to see if Apple holds on to the the 16GB size as for it's main phones. I could see if they kept the iPhone 5S around as the low end phone keeping it at 16GB, but I would really like to see the options be 32GB, 64GB, & 128GB.

Force Touch

One of the biggest features that is rumored to be a part of the iPhone 6S is that it will include Force Touch . As described on the design page for the new Macbook, which incorporates Force Touch into it's trackpad.

In addition to the intuitive Multi-Touch gestures you may be familiar with — like scrolling, swiping, pinching, and rotating — Force Touch brings a new dimension to the Mac experience. The sensitivity is customizable, allowing you to adjust how much pressure is needed to register a click. And the trackpad can even tell whether you’re clicking with your thumb or another finger and automatically adjusts the sensitivity level.

Force Click

Click and continue to press on the trackpad to enable new capabilities, like looking up the definition of a word, previewing a file in the Finder, or creating a new Calendar event when you Force click a date in the text of an email.

Accelerators

Gradually add pressure to the trackpad to vary the speed with which you fast-forward through a QuickTime movie or zoom in on a location in Maps.

Pressure-Sensitive Drawing

Press lightly for a thin stroke or harder for a thick one when marking up a Mail attachment or creating a signature for forms in Preview.

Description of Force Touch in the Apple Watch.

In addition to recognizing touch, Apple Watch senses force, adding a new dimension to the user interface. Force Touch uses tiny electrodes around the flexible Retina display to distinguish between a light tap and a deep press, and trigger instant access to a range of contextually specific controls. With Force Touch, pressing firmly on the screen brings up additional controls in apps like Messages, Music, and Calendar. It also lets you select different watch faces, pause or end a workout, search an address in Maps, and more. Force Touch is the most significant new sensing capability since Multi‑Touch.

Force Touch Could bring finer control to the iPhone for scrubbing through a song, or down through a list. Force clicking to define a word, or add events to the calendar.

The drawing enhancements that the technology brings to a device open up so much opportunity for artists, those using their devices for mobile payments and need customers give their signature, photo editing, and the list goes on.

Connector

When Apple introduced the iPhone 5 they also introduced a new connector for their mobile devices; Lightning Connector. The change while I think was a great improvement over the old design, was not welcomed by everyone. There was a pretty large backlash from people, who I imagine had a huge cache of 30-pin connectors that they had amassed over the years. I never completely understood the backlash over the change. It wasn't like Apple went through a design change every couple of years just to make you buy new accessories for your devices. The connector had been around since the original iPod, which debuted in 2001.

For the next iPhone I would like to see Apple rip that wound open again, and give it a USB-C connector. Sure people will be upset, but the connector is so much more versatile.

From the webpage for the new Macbook

To create a notebook as thin and light as the new MacBook, we had to strive for efficiency in every detail, right down to how it connects to peripherals and power. So we contributed to a new universal connectivity standard that combines the essential functions you need every day in one dynamic port. The amazing USB-C port offers charging, quick USB 3 data transfer for connecting to external devices and peripherals, and video output that supports HDMI, VGA, and DisplayPort connections. All in a small, reversible design that’s one-third the size of the current USB port.

Since Apple was one of the main contributors to the USB-C standard I don't think it will be long before all of their devices have the port incorporated into them.

No matter what features are or aren't announced next week, I think that this will be a significant update. I will likely be upgrading my phone for the first time to an S update. I am hopeful that the camera will be such an improvement that it will be worth it.

Siri - Who's Phone is This?

Dave Mark from The Loop Insight posted a link to a tip that was posted on OSXDaily Found iPhone See Owner Contact Info

And then followed up with a post pointing out that this "feature" is actually a security risk.

Siri responds to your query by displaying the owner’s contact info, even on a locked home screen...

When scrolling through Twitter today I came across this tweet from Mark Gurman of 9to5:

That moment when an iPhone security flaw is spun into being a tool for good samaritans. Absolutely insane. Tweet Link

This is a security concern no doubt, as Siri offers up your whole contact card on a silver platter to anyone who asks for it. If done correctly this could be used, as the original tip posted by OSXDaily suggested, in returning a lost phone to it's rightful owner.

While the phone is locked it could just display the name that is on the "me card" and display a message stating to contact the phone's owner using an alternative number than that of the cell phone if one has been entered in the contact. If the owner has any 'Related Names' entered into the phone these could also be listed in a generic format such as Spouse, Mother and so on.

Mac OS X Yosemite: Back to My Mac & iPhone Hotspot Fix

Since having the ability to tether my computer to my phone, I have had the ability to use the Back to My Mac feature of OS X on a cellular network. That is until I upgraded all of my machines to Yosemite. When it worked and I was away from home, my iMac and my Airport Extreme connected hard drive would show up under the Shared section of my Macbook's Finder Sidebar. After upgrading to Yosemite these would show up occasionally, and if I tried to connect it would connect one time, and not work the next. Then one day it stopped working all together.

I tried going into the settings on my MacBook and turning Back to My Mac off under iCloud and re-enabling it. I tried doing the same thing on my iMac and I still could not connect. While I was on my home wifi network I could connect with no issue at all. After trying a couple more things in regards to changing my network settings, and even my sharing settings, I got frustrated and turned to Twitter to try and find the answer. I was told to try changing my iPhone's name and then changing it back but unfortunately that didn't work at all.

Then I remembered that the one thing that makes Back to My Mac possible at all is that you have to enter your Apple ID into the Airport Base Station, and got an idea.

I logged into the base station with Airport Utility, removed the Apple ID and restarted the Base Station. Once it restarted I once again went into Airport Utility and re-added my Apple ID and restarted the router. After that I once again had the ability to use Back to May Mac over a cellular connection.

Not really sure why it worked on wifi and stopped working over cellular, and why removing my Apple ID and re-adding it, fixed it, but glad to have it working again.

iOS 8 Feature Highlight: Medical ID

With iOS 8 and the Health app, Apple has allowed you to create a Medical ID card that you can enter vital information into, and if you so chose you can allow this information to be displayed on the lock-screen of your device. (Click here see how to set up a Medical ID.)

The purpose of this information being accessible from the lock screen is that if something were to happen to you, a medical responder could know who you are and any pertinent information that they would need to know if you were in a state that would prevent you from being able to communicate it to them.

Medical ID Information Displayed

  • Birthdate
  • Medical Conditions
  • Medical Notes
  • Allergies & Reactions
  • Medications
  • Emergency Contacts
  • Blood type
  • Organ Donor
  • Weight
  • Height

Barrier to Entry

Medical ID is a great addition to iOS, however I have some issues with its execution.

Information is Hidden

The main problem that I have with it is that in order to access the information you have to know it is there. Your phone has to be locked with a passcode so when the person slides to unlock the screen the passcode screen must appear. They then have to know to click on the Emergency button at the bottom left corner, and then click on Medical ID. There is no need to have that information buried and require that someone have the "training" to know how to get to it. Granted if a stranger finds you and decides to use your phone to call 911 they may stumble across it, but there is a greater chance they may be using their own phone.

There are just too many variables and assumptions that make me wonder why it is even there. As more and more medical professionals become aware of it they may know to look there, or the 911 operator may say can you go to the Health app and get me the following information? Until then I guess the best way to get it out there is to tell people to set it up and make them aware that it is a feature.

Not All Devices Created Equal

The second issue I have with it is in regard to Apple's continuing desire to keep all of their iOS devices segmented by choosing to not include an application on one device or to run a different version of the application on another device.

Health is yet another application that the iPad mysteriously does not get, it was the first thing I noticed when my iPad rebooted after upgrading because the Tips application was the only additional app that my home screen had. When I upgraded my iPhone it had Health and Tips. I am aware that you won't be taking your iPad out for a jog to collect health data, but Health on the iPad just makes sense from a standpoint of syncing your dashboard stats, and using Medical ID.

Over the weekend I help some family members upgrade their devices and I noticed on the iPod Touch that I upgraded that the Health app was included. This furthered my confusion, because if not the iPad why they iPod?

When I went to show the person how to set up a Medical ID for her son I was dumbfounded to discover that Medical ID was absent from the application. It is unfortunate because it would be the perfect scenario for Medical ID. My thought was this a great way for kids to carry around an identity; if they got lost an adult could get the required information to get ahold of parents. In this case he is an 8 year old child who has allergies which could be listed out in detail in this Medical ID and could very well be used to save his life. I did some research and saw that there were a lot of people who were disappointed that this was not included on the iPad as they carry their iPad with them everywhere as their only device.


I am hoping that in the future they will realize that all devices should get the same functionality and to make Medical ID more accessible to someone who isn't tech savvy. It could help save someones life by allowing for a more intuitive discover of the feature.

Considerations for the iPhone 6 Plus

You may have heard that there are new iPhones models. I am for once not eager to upgrade at launch this time, even though I am due for an upgrade. I am actually more excited to upgrade to iOS 8 which will happen in a couple of days.

Apple finally released their bigger iPhone that has been rumored for some time now. I am still of the opinion that these larger phones are completely unnecessary; I will reserve that judgment of course until I get my hands on one. [1] The biggest reason I have always been against the larger phone is the fact that they look ridiculous when you hold them up to your head to talk on them. That reason diminishes over time as more and more people actually don’t use their phones to make phone calls anymore. If a phone call is made there are enough people who use the speakerphone, or talk into their ear buds with the inline microphone.

The two test factors for me to get the Plus will be:
1. How well can I use it with one hand?
2. Will it fit in my pants pocket comfortably as that is where my phone spends a lot of it’s time.

Beyond those two factors and my general dislike of these bigger phones I have tried to build a case for why I would actually find a larger phone useful.

  • Optical Image Stabilization - The image stabilization between the two version of the iPhone 6 are different. The iPhone 6 has digital image stabilization and the iPhone 6 Plus has optical image stabilization; making the iPhone 6 Plus the better camera.
  • Longer Battery Life - A bigger phone means that there is extra room to pack a bigger battery into; and will result in more time in between charges.
  • Navigation in the car - The Plus would be great to mount on the dashboard of your car to use for navigation. When I bought my car I thought I don’t need the one that has the digital display on it because I have an iPhone.[2] Using the iPhone 5 for navigation has been alright, but a bigger screen for that purpose would be nice.
  • Reading - I read a lot of things on my phone. Everything from RSS to Books. More real estate means more words on the screen.
  • Gaming - The iPhone certainly has changed the landscape of handheld gaming. Some of the games that have come out for iOS have console level detail to them, and the bigger the better to see all of that detail.

The above reasons are pretty compelling to get the iPhone 6 Plus, but so far I think I am going to stick to my original decision of the iPhone 6 and live with the 4.7" screen when I do decide to make the leap. I will be going with at least the 64GB[3] storage option and am currently undecided as to whether I am getting the Space Grey or the Silver phone.


  1. A friend of mine decided that he is going to upgrade his 4S and will most likely get the iPhone 6 Plus.  ↩

  2. Now that CarPlay is coming I am kicking myself for that choice.  ↩

  3. I am baffled that Apple decided to keep the 16GB around at least for either version of the 6. I would have thought the capacities would have been 32GB, 64GB, & 128GB.  ↩

Forcing iCloud To Reset Syncing On All Devices

Update:

If you have upgraded to iCloud Drive you will not be able to force iCloud to sync using the method described below. From research I am seeing that the best way to force a sync is to reboot and it should refresh iCloud, and or to create a new document. I am still trying to figure out if there are other ways to force iCloud Drive to sync.

Note: Solution is below if you would like to skip the backstory.

I have heard the frustrations over how iCloud syncs and how much of a nightmare it is for developers to implement it into their apps. There are many developers who have created their own sync solution as a result of not being able to get their apps to work with iCloud syncing. There are also stories of people loosing their data while using iCloud.

I personally have never had a problem with syncing data from the apps that use iCloud to sync until my wife started having problems with 1Password a couple of weeks ago, which I detailed here.[1] Even though that was my wife’s data I am I.T. person for our house and I had to deal with the frustration of syncing not working.

Fast forward a couple of weeks later and I decided that I wanted to upgrade my laptop to a MacBook Air and prepare my MacBook Pro to sell it to fund the purchase of my new computer. I ordered the Air before selling the Pro because I wanted to make sure that I transferred all of the data over to the new computer before I wiped my Pro. I turned on my Air and went through the set up process signing into my iCloud account and turning on all of the features of the service.

The first app that I installed was 1Password[2] as a lot of my password are long passwords using the built in generator I would have preferred to have that installed on my machine before I proceeded to install anything else. I opened up 1Password, clicked that I am an existing user and it asked me where my data was. I selected iCloud and the window stated that it could not find any existing data in iCloud. I have an iPhone, iPad, iMac, and a MacBook Pro that I have never had a problem with my 1Password syncing between, so I was confused as to why it wasn’t finding the data now. Since having dealt with my wife’s 1Password issues a couple of weeks ago I thought I would have this fixed in no time. That would prove to be an incorrect statement.

My first move was to check my Mobile Documents folder, and I examined the folder that contains the 1Password data called 2BUA8C4S2C.com.agilebits.onepassword, and there were 24 files in it and the size was 867kb. I checked my iMac and noticed that it had 32 files in it and was 6.6mb in size. Another thing that I noticed was that my Mobile Documents overall folder size on my Air was 401mb, but on my iMac it was 557MB. I went into System Preferences -> iCloud and unchecked Documents & Data and selected Delete From Mac. Restarted the computer went to ~/Library and dragged the Mobile Documents.xxxxxx[3] to the trash. Restarted and re-enabled Documents & Data and waited quite awhile to make sure that all of the data had time to download. Upon opening 1Password I was greeted with the same window stating that my data could not be found. I uninstalled 1password, removing it’s associated preference files, and reinstalled only to receive the same error. Fed up with trying to make it work I ran the 1Password DiagnosticTool and sent their support an email.

The next night I hadn’t heard back from AgileBits so I decided to call up Apple. In my mind I concluded that the problem was with iCloud and not 1Password. The gentleman who answered the phone asked me why I had called and I let him know that I was having an issue with data not syncing with iCloud on my new computer. I said that I have it working with all of my current devices but it seems like not all of my documents are downloading to the Air. When he found out that the issue was with 1Password he said that there was nothing that he could because Apple does not support the syncing of third party apps with iCloud. He said that the developer must not have coded their application correctly and that it is an issue I need to take up with them.[4] I was instantly livid but kept my cool saying sternly You mean to tell me that this application works flawlessly on four other devices yet it won’t sync to this brand new computer, because it is an app problem? Everything points to this being an issue with iCloud not syncing properly. His reply was that he can understand my frustration and see how I would think that it would be iCloud. I was told that if I was having an issue with my Apple apps syncing with iCloud then he would be able to help me.

After not getting an answer from Apple I decided to open up Byword[2] since it uses iCloud to sync as well, and over half of my documents were missing. I opened up Safari, went to their website and sent an email to their support team. Within an hour I received an email from their support team that said:

Try logging in at http://icloud.com, go to Account Settings , Advanced and perform Reset Documents & Data. Does that fix the syncing issue?
Reset Documents & Data will not delete any of documents or data. It will simply reset the syncing information on all your devices that the sync process starts with a clean slate on all them.

I had not tried that because I didn’t know that the setting even existed. However it worked perfectly as described. It worked so well in fact that it fixed sync issues with apps that I didn’t even know I had a problem with, because my Mobile Documents was now 805MB now instead of the original 557MB that I thought it was. The conclusion that I have made is that it was a problem with iCloud syncing all along so below I have provided a couple of screen shots detailing how to force iCloud to re-sync to all of your devices.

Force iCloud Sync

Go to icloud.com and log in with your Apple ID.

From the iCloud home screen click on your name in the upper right hand corner.

Within the drop down menu click on Account Settings.

Click the Advanced row

Select the option to Reset Documents & Data. You will be taken to one more screen that tells you:

Reset and merge all documents and data on iCloud with what is currently on your devices. No documents or data will be deleted. More Details.

Click Reset Documents & Data again.

After that you will want to restart every device that is associated with your Apple ID and that has iCloud sync enabled. Any problems that you have had with applications syncing should now be fixed.

This option should be built into the iCloud Preference Pane, and the iCloud Settings for iOS instead of being an obscure setting on the web version of iCloud. When I called AppleCare the Advisor should have at least told me about this option[5] rather than trying to say that the developers at AgileBits must not know how to program.


  1. I actually take that back. I have had problems with Apple’s notes not syncing correctly, and disappearing. So much so that I use Simplenote now.  ↩

  2. Disclosure: Link is an affiliate link to the iTunes store.  ↩

  3. The xxxxx will be a series of numbers and be shown like Mobile Documents.92991882  ↩

  4. My first thought was you are really going to throw a developer under the bus like that? Developers are dropping the Appstore left and right, so it really isn’t in their best interest to be making comments like that.  ↩

  5. He may not have even known about it, but he should.  ↩

iOS 8 Music Recognition: Shazam or Apple's Own

There have been rumors that Apple will partner with Shazam to bring music recognition to iOS by using Siri. The user would ask Siri something along the lines of "What song is playing?" and Siri will pull in the results using Shazam's technology for recognizing music.

I have used Shazam since it came out and would love to be able to have the ability to find out what song is playing quicker. There are times that I am at the tail end of a song and by the time I get to Shazam the song is over.

The rumor that Apple and Shazam are partnering I think is plausible, but then I got an email from a service that I am a member of. There is an app by the name of Soundtracking. Their tagline is Share the Share the soundtrack to your life™. In a nutshell you have an app on your phone that will identify music either buy automatically identifying what song is currently playing from your music app, or if there is a song that is in your heard and you want to share your interest in you can search for the song, and finally if there is a song on the radio you can use their song recognition ability within the app to identify what song is playing.

Once you have used one of these three methods the app will bring up a picture of the album cover and if it is available a preview of the song. You can then write anything about the song, how it makes you feel or if you chose you can just post the song. While posting to Soundtracking you can also connect your account to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Instagram.

Your posts show up in a twitter like feed, and you can follow other peoples feeds much like twitter as well.

This past week I recieved an email from them stating that thier Terms of Service had been updated. I usually don't read TOS changes, even though I should, but for once decided to read it. A paragraph in particular caught my eye.

THIRD PARTY SERVICES AND BUSINESS TRANSFER SoundTracking uses a variety of third party contractors, vendors, social networking services, and music content delivery providers to perform services such as application and website management and hosting, user account creation, out-sourced music audio features, and email marketing. In such instances, your personal information may be shared with these third-party services, providers, vendors, and contractors for the purpose of performing services and enhancing the user experience on behalf of SoundTracking, and in accordance with our privacy policy and the privacy policy with those third parties. These third parties may have a privacy policy that applies to you if it is a social networking service such as, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare or music content delivery service, such as, but not limited to, iTunes, Spotify, or RDIO, with which you also have a user account and have authorized to be connected to your SoundTracking user account. In addition, if SoundTracking or any of its services get acquired by another company, your personal information may be shared and transferred to that company.

The last line is what jumped out at me, and I immediatley thought of the rumors of iOS 8 having music recognition. Not only would they be getting the song recognition, but they would also be getting a social network. Apple tried to start their own social service withing iTunes, called Ping which was a huge failure. However it would make complete sense for Apple to take over an existing social network with an established user base.

Another feature of Soundtracking is the ability to listen to a song preview which is powered by iTunes with the ability to purchase the song from iTunes.

In their FAQ it is stated:

> What are the sources of music audio found on the SoundTracking service?

The music on SoundTracking is powered by iTunes, the digital music service owned and operated by Apple, Inc. SoundTracking is an official iTunes Affiliate service and allows users to stream 30-second previews directly from iTunes servers and purchase digital downloads of those songs. In addition to iTunes, users can also connect their Spotify and RDIO paid subscriber accounts using the SoundTracking iOS app, which is enabled by a direct integration with Spotify and RDIO under their Terms of Service.

I'm not sure that Apple is going to have the music recognition feature built into iOS at all, but think that it is something that is useful and could be included. I am interested to see what they do impliment and if they are going to give social networking a stab again. After all, Phil Schiller and Eddie Cue are already members. They both were earlier adapters, although Schiller's last post was 37 months ago, and Cue has never posted.

A Bigger iPhone

I will never understand why people will want to have a phone that is the size of an iPad Mini. Understandably most people do not use their phones to make many phone calls these days, but when you do need to make a call it looks absolutely ridiculous to have something that big next to your face. With that being said I want a bigger iPhone…

Apple has spent the last half of a decade making it’s devices thinner and lighter. This is for the most part a good thing, and I have enjoyed the benefits of these advances.[1] The weight difference after only a week of using the iPhone 5 and picking up the iPhone 4 was incredible; I couldn’t believe the difference.

So why then would I want a bigger iPhone, and what do I mean by that? I have already stated that I am not one that is on the side of the phablet revolution, but I wouldn’t mind having possibly one more column of icons on the home screen, as far as screen size is concerned. [2] The only other area that can be changed to increase the size of the phone is the thickness. I would be willing to have a thicker iPhone if it would help improve three areas:

Camera

The iPhone camera is amazing, but I still rely on my DSLR to take the important pictures that matter most like the ones that I take of my children. I don’t want to have to do that anymore. I want the camera that is always with me to be really, really good and not just alright. A thicker bodied phone would allow Apple to improve upon the technology that they have been packing into the iPhone year after year. I think that they could close the gap or come very close to closing the gap between the high level consumer cameras and professional cameras.

Storage

16GB, 32GB, & 64GB are the storage capacities available for the iPhone right now. It is time to let the 16GB phone go. Even though I have all of my music in iTunes Match and store non of it on the device; I still have a huge issue with storage. On my phone I am down to 1GB of space on a 32GB phone that I am constantly micro managing the pictures and videos that I take, or any new applications that I want to try. I am assuming that a thicker phone would allow for bigger storage capacities.

Battery Life

I have had the iPhone 3G, 3GS, the 4 and the 5. Out of all of these phones the 5 has held a charge the longest for me. I have read multiple comments from disgruntled users stating the opposite, but I can’t complain. A thicker phone means that there is that much more room to pack a battery into. I would love to get to the point where I don’t have to charge my phone for 24 hours.

I am interested to see what Apple does with their next revision of the iPhone, mostly because I will be due for an upgrade when it comes out. Whatever they decide to do with their bigger phone the one criteria that I would like most of all is that it still fits in my pants pocket, and not look like I am carrying an 11" MacBook Air.


  1. I have even been envious of my wife’s MacBook Air since she got it, every time I lift my bag that has my 13" MacBook Pro I wish I had hers, which is half the weight.  ↩

  2. All of the mockups of the larger screened iPhones that I have seen do not show any more icons, which to me doesn’t make much sense. Going from the iPhone 4 to the 5 there was an additional row added, so if there is another screen size increase I don’t see why there wouldn’t be more icons added.  ↩

Quick access to turn off iPhone Flashlight

Nice tip.

After I upgraded to iOS 7 and used the flashlight from Control Center, and my screen went to sleep I realized that the only way to turn the flashlight off was to wake your phone up; reopen Control Center and hit the flashlight icon again. Even with this way you still have to wake the phone but you could easily train yourself to hit the area where the camera icon is without looking.

Finally using iTunes Match

Two nights ago I decided that it was time to give iTunes Match a chance. Since it’s debut my only hesitation to sign up; was the fact that there is a song limit of 25,000 songs. I am swiftly heading towards the 70,000 song mark I am over qualified for iTunes Match.

Besides the song limit, I wanted to at least wait and see what the initial reaction and what the limitations, if any to the service there were. Before Apple came out with the service I was already running essentially the same thing with the help of an app called AudioTap. AudioTap is a great little app; however it does not receive that much attention from it’s developer and has a limiting fact that your computer has to be running for you to be able to stream your library to yourself. After much deliberation[1], have decided to take a dive and test drive iTunes Match.

In order to get around the song limit of iTunes Match I created a new iTunes Library that resides in my Music folder named iTunes Match (I know; not very creative). For a little background; my regular library lives on my iMac but only contains the database file, and the artwork folder. All of the media that is associated with the database is loaded onto an external drive. In order to create an iTunes Match library I held down the option key while opening iTunes, which in turn brings up a dialog window that asks if you would like to create a new library or open an existing library. [2] After selecting create a new library and selecting the location for the library; the very next step that I took was to go into preferences under the advanced tab and make sure that copy songs into library was unchecked as this eliminates creating duplicate files.

From this point I go to the music folder located in my iTunes Music folder on my external drive and selectively click and drag the artists and albums that I want to be included in my Match Library. This way I can manage exactly what I want available to me on all of my devices. My main library has both my wife’s and my music, and there are definitely items that I do not want to come up in a shuffle that she owns.

The initial setting up iTunes Match was done with 2,472 songs. I was a little surprised that it took almost two whole days for the whole process to complete matching the songs, and uploading cover artwork for items that it didn’t have. I assumed that it would breeze through all of the tracks that were already available in the iTunes Store, but that really was not the case.

Before I add anymore songs to the library I have to run through and check out their iCloud Status and see what was matched vs. what was purchased. I am slightly confused, because there are items within the very same album that say they were matched and others say that they were uploaded. I need to determine why that is and see if there is a way that I can fix the tracks that say uploaded to have a matched status. I am using a couple of Smart Playlists [3]that Merlin Mann has created that give me a very quick way to analyze the status of the tracks in iTunes Match. I am going to use this playlist to try and figure out if I can alter the songs and get iTunes to recognize and match the songs that say uploaded.

My overall first impression is that I am pretty satisfied with iTunes Match. I don’t have to waste space on my phone to access my music, and I also don’t have to keep my home computer running to access the music like I do with AudioTap. After using it for a couple of weeks, and once I get a chance to tweak the unmatched songs I will have to sit down and write up any thoughts about how my opinion is after putting it through it’s paces.


  1. and a $25 iTunes gift card, making it free for the first year!  ↩

  2. For more on creating a seperate iTunes Library  ↩

  3. Merlin’s first Smart Playlist uses the Any condition. In this case it is if Any of the following are true. In order to get this option you must press the option key and the + button will turn into three dots (…). When you click the three dots you will have the option to pick Any.  ↩

iOS Screenshots Settings

The iPhone needs to have a dedicated camera roll for screenshots. I am always taking screenshots with my iPhone when I see an album in iTunes that I want to remember to download later, capture a section of an iMessage conversation, need a receipt of a purchase that I made, and countless other situations. These screenshots I want to have available for quick access later but they get buried amongst the million pictures that I take of my daughter[1], and are soon forgotten. Then when I want to import my camera roll into iPhoto I have to sort out these screenshots by not selecting them in the import window, and then processing them from the phone by deleting the ones I have already taken action on or saving them somewhere else to process later.

Admittedly this problem is probably not one that the average user has to deal with. Honestly I would bet that there are more people who don’t know that you can take a screenshot with your iPhone than people who know that you can. So all that I am asking is if in the Photos & Camera section in Settings that there be a toggle switch to send screenshots to a separate camera roll.[2]


  1. That seems almost like a literal figure at times.  ↩

  2. These need to be in their own camera roll, not their own album. Albums only reference pictures that live in the Camera Roll.  ↩

iCons!!!!

I wrote in a post on the eve of WWDC, that linked to a supposed mock up of the actual icons used in iOS 7, that hopefully the new icons do not look like the "mockups" that 9to5mac leaked. Prior to that post i had written a piece expressing my concerns about the rumors that I had heard about Apple's move towards a flat windows 8 like design.

Unfortunatley the 9to5mac leak turned out to be true, and I think that it was an actual leak. The author tried to pass it of that they had their graphics department mock the icons up in photoshop. I was hopeful that they had a new graphic designer who hadn't had much experience creating icons, coupled with the fact that this person was creating them based on how they were described to him, or her. However these horrible icons are a reality of the next operating system. I just don't understand how anyone could think that these icons are passable for Apple's standards, but there they are.

The rest of the operating system, for the most part looks amazing; save for the akward translucency in certain places. The OS certainly is not flat. It has a depth to it, and I can't wait to have a copy of it to see how it works in person.

For a comparison of what the icons use to look like and what they will look like in iOS7 I have linked to a picture from an article on mashable.com

iOS icons

I would have prefered that the icons looked like these that appleinsider.com had posted before WWDC.

iOS flat icons

Is iOS 7 Laying the Path Towards a Larger iPhone?

During the WWDC Keynote Monday, Apple pulled the curtain off of their redesign of iOS. I have my thoughts on certain aspects of the design, such as iconography, but will use this post to speculate on some observations I made while watching the iOS 7 demos.

The operating system has seen a radical change, and one of the most prominent aspects of the design is the use of layered sheets for things like Notification Center, Spotlight, Control Center, and the updated Share Sheets. Apple states that "Technology should never get in the way of humanity.", however while watching the videos I noticed that with these new overlays it almost seems that the current iPhone seems a little small for this new design.

My wife who loves to watch the keynotes with me actually said out loud, about the same time I had the thought, "It almost seems that the phone needs to be bigger now." I couldn't agree more; I think that Apple may be setting itself up to introduce another device size into the iOS world. Certainly this isn't the first post to proclaim that, but watching the Keynote and seeing iOS 7 in action I thought it looked like it was designed to be on a device that has more screen real estate to afford to it.

I love the size and weight of the iPhone 5, and have often wondered how cumbersome a wider phone might be. Even though I laugh at the oversized Samsung phones out there; I think I wouldn't mind seeing a bigger iPhone introduced this fall. I don't mind that is, as long as I don't see people walking around with iPad Mini sized devices strapped to the side of their faces talking on them.

What iOS Looks Like (Hopefully Not)

After I posted my thoughts on flat design I checked a couple of my regular sites and saw that 9to5mac.com has a new post up called What iOS 7 looks like. They had someone in their graphics department mock up what the new icons look like. Say it isn't so...Here is an except from the post regarding the icons.

Yes, they are flat. Our in-house Photoshop guru Michael Steeber has mocked up (Above) the icons based on descriptions which closely match what I believe we’ll see tomorrow.

iOS Dictionary App?

dictionary.png

iOS ships with a handful of generic utility apps such as Calculator, Stocks, Weather and Voices Memos to name a few. These are not the only apps that come pre-installed; but they usually fall under scrutiny from a number of posts recommending that you quickly tuck them in a folder, and replace them with any number of apps from the App Store. 

One app that I realized that is not on iOS is a Dictionary app. You can select a word;  click Define and a style sheet displaying the definition appears. However there is not a full blown Dictionary app such as the one that ships with Mac OS X that you can search. Another feature of the OS X dictionary is that it has a built in Thesaurus. 

I know that a dictionary app isn't going to change the world or anything, but it is interesting to me to see what Apple choses to add or not add to iOS. With that said I am trying real hard to not launch into a long drawn out post about the fact that the iPad doesn't ship with the Calculator, or Voice Memos apps.

iCloud storage relative to amount of devices

Every iCloud user is given 5GB of free storage, and that can be upgraded to 20GB of storage for $40.00 a year or to 50GB of storage for $100.00 a year. I currently have my account upgraded to the 20GB of storage, as I was pushing the limit of the free 5GB of storage that was given to me. 

Recently someone I know made the switch from the Microsoft world to a Mac. The transition slowly starting with an iPad, then an iPod touch, and then eventually he bought a Mac for home use. A conversation about iCloud came up between the two of us, and he was complaining about the amount of storage that Apple offers for free. He voiced his concern that he has these multiple devices and only 5GB of free iCloud space. His thought was that if he buys multiple devices then he should get an extra 5GB of storage on iCloud for no extra charge. My response was, you only get 5GB and that is just the way it is. If Apple gave away 5GB for every device then almost no one would pay to upgrade their iCloud, and Apple wouldn't make money off of the service. (I assume that Apple doesn't really make money off of iCloud as much as it probably turns whatever profit they receive from iCloud upgrades into maintaining the infrastructure.)

Since having the the discussion I have started giving it some thought and I have started to change my feelings towards the subject. I still feel that 5GB per device is an excessive amount for Apple to give away for free, and that it would never happen. However I do think that Apple could compensate multi device users with additional storage space to a point.

In my case I have two mobile devices, and two computers. OS X does not fully utilize iCloud for storage, but I would guess at WWDC this year it will be revealed that the Mac is getting more iCloud integration and therefore it will take up more of that storage footprint. I don't really now what a reasonable amount of storage would be for Apple to give out, but even another 5GB for free would be welcomed. The problem however with this whole philosophy is how does Apple determine how much space to give someone, and what happens if that person sells their device, should they be able to keep their upgraded storage since they have one less device?

If I look at my iCloud usage the only OS X apps that are using iCloud storage are Pages, Keynote, and Pixelmator. I had recently considered purchasing Together 3 which I would chosen to use iCloud to keep all of my stuff in sync between all of my devices. Something like that would use a significant amount of storage over time. If I go to my iCloud settings and look at my total storage used is, it is 8 GB, so I don't even need the full 25 GB that I currently have, but I need more than the 5GB that was given to me. 

Since developers have such a hard time trying to implement Core Data syncing I don't think that this is such an issue right now. This is because a lot of developers choose to provide access to Dropbox, or they build their own syncing services for their apps. The majority of an iCloud users storage is taken up by iOS backups, but if Apple finally gets Core Data right and developers start using iCloud more for their app data, then I think people are are going to start finding the need to require more iCloud storage for their devices.

Whenever Apple decides to make iCloud functional for developers to use the service to sync their app data I think that they are going to have to either give storage increases for people who buy multiple devices or offer a wider selection of upgrades for storage, such as more tiers than their current offerings.