OS X Photos & iCloud Photo Library: Good, But Could Be Better

Apple has released Mac OS 10.10.3 and iOS 8.3 and with those releases comes the all new Photos for Mac OS X and iCloud Photo Library to sync your pictures to iCloud.

When Apple announced these two new items at WWDC in June of 2014, I became excited. I was a subscriber of the now shut down service Everpix, and I thought that iCloud Photo Library could be the replacement of that service but work natively with all of my Apple devices.

Photos

Photos is a good first effort to replace iPhoto after it’s thirteen year run. The program is minimalistic and is good in some areas but lacking other areas.

The areas that it is good in are performance, and in quick picture edits. The migrating of my iPhoto library that was 126GB in size at the time of conversion took only 15 minutes. If the library was on my internal SSD it probably would have taken less time, but since it is so large I have my library on an external drive. When the conversion was complete; I did a quick scroll through the pictures and was impressed with how fast it moved through just over 10,000 pictures. The editing controls are more advanced compared to iPhoto. I haven’t had a ton of time to play with them but there are more controls and the ability to finely tune them gives it an advantage over iPhoto.

The areas in which I feel that Photos lacks in are really more feature requests and I am hoping will get added into future releases. Much like the revamped iWork programs were stripped of features and then had them added back in is how I like to think of these “missing” items. The limited access to metadata was somewhat of a disappointment. Most people likely won’t ever use or most likely don’t even know much about metadata, but it would be useful to access and edit metadata as you could in Aperture. The preference pane is pretty lacking, and I am just not sure if that is by design or there are more preferences to come in the future.

Photos Info Window

Photos Info Window

iPhoto's Info Window

iPhoto's Info Window

Aperture's Metadata Window. Hopefully Apple allows Photos to have full metadata editing.

Aperture's Metadata Window. Hopefully Apple allows Photos to have full metadata editing.

Photos Editing Options

Photos Editing Options

iPhoto's Editing Options

iPhoto's Editing Options

Photos Preference Pane

Photos Preference Pane

iPhoto's Preference Pane

iPhoto's Preference Pane

So far my experience with Photos is promising and leaves me to believe that Apple has plans to introduce features that will just improve on a great lightweight application for managing photos.

iCloud Photo Library

With iCloud Photo Library you can choose to upload full resolution files to iCloud and keep a smaller resolution version on your computer and devices to save space. If you have the space to keep a copy of your photos on your computer I would recommend doing so. I currently have an iMac, MacBook Air, iPhone, and an iPad. My plan was; when I did switch my library over to iCloud Photo Library that I would keep a master library on my iMac that would back up to both Time Machine and Backblaze. For my other devices I would turn on iCloud Photo Library and select the option to Optimize Device Storage to free up space on my MacBook Air, iPhone and iPad.

iCloud Photo Library Options

iCloud Photo Library Options

If you notice; I chose to use the word was at the beginning of that last paragraph. I am sure that I will use iCloud Library at some point, but right now I have reservations due for a couple of reasons.

iCloud Photo Library Imports Everything

The main reason for my hesitation is that I have multiple photo libraries; the one library that I would want to use to upload to iCloud Photo Library is the library that I store pictures relating to my immediate family. The pictures that are of the most value to me are those containing my wife, children, and any picture that is relevant to that subject. My concern is the fact that if I turn on iCloud Photo Library; my iPhone will upload every picture in my camera roll to that library. I take a lot of screenshots, download pictures from Safari, Twitter and other places that I don’t want to be included in the library that I reserve for pictures of my family. I also use this library as the screensaver for my AppleTV and iMac. I don’t want to have random screenshots from my devices, or random pictures come across the screen while my children are staring at the television watching pictures, of mostly themselves, float by.

It would be a nice inclusion if the system could sort out screenshots automatically and filter them into their own album separate from the Camera Roll. I am not sure how pictures that are saved from apps like Safari could be sorted out into their own album. There may be a way for iOS to insert metadata into the picture at the time of the selecting the Save Image button and label it Saved From Safari, or whatever application you used, and then using that Saved From text as a trigger the photo could be moved into a Saved Images album that is also separate from the Camera Roll, excluded from iCloud Photo Library, but included in iCloud Backups.

Buttons that appear in iOS when you tap and hold a picture in safari to allow you to save it.

Buttons that appear in iOS when you tap and hold a picture in safari to allow you to save it.

I mentioned that I had Everpix earlier and the reason that it ties into this article is that I could tell it to target a specific iPhoto library and it would upload that library to their servers. I could if I so chose to, turn on automatic uploading of pictures from any device that I installed their applications on but the fact that I didn’t have to is why I liked it. I could be in control of what went into that library stored in the cloud. Then I could then let my wife or anyone else in my family have access to view the picture on their devices; which brings me to my next point.

Family Sharing - (Sort of)

My other hesitation is that Family Sharing isn’t a built in option. There are work arounds to be able to share photos with family members but it would seem like there would be an easier way. I would like to set my iCloud Photo Library as described above up on iCloud and have my wife, and when they are old enough, our children access the pictures from all of their devices. However I would be the one who manages the main family photo library and they would be able to view it without me having to manually drag the pictures to the family album.

I understand that this is a difficult problem to solve, and not everyone needs this kind of fine tuned precision over their photos. I am guessing though that there are many families out there that would like to control their pictures this way.

Preservation

It is great that we can take as many pictures as we want and or have the space to store them. On top of that we have the ability to carry those pictures around with us wherever we go. The problem that I see is the preservation of those pictures in the future. I am the one who currently takes the SD card out of the camera (or offloads them from my iPhone), in between importing the pictures I go through a renaming process that tags the pictures with a date and timestamp for the filename, and then I import them into iPhoto. Every couple of months I grab my wife’s phone and drag out all of her pictures with Image Capture, and go through the same process. All of that, as convoluted as it is, works fine for me. I am the digital file collector who curates our photos. My biggest concern is that if I were to get hit by a bus tomorrow; How will my family’s photos be managed and preserved?

Years ago you would have taken less pictures, they would all be developed and sorted into photo albums that could be pulled off of a shelf at any time. There was no technical knowledge required in passing those photos on to your spouse, and eventually your children. I know that I have to teach my wife about how I manage our photos, and where there are stored. That would give me some comfort that she knows if something were to happen to me that she knows where they are stored and will hopefully be able to manage them as I do. The comfort that I would have being able to use my iCloud account to store all of the family photos is that the pictures would be there and preserved for the future if and when my main computer died, if there was a house fire, or any number of unfortunate events that are likely to happen in life.

Apple has created these amazing devices that allow us to take pictures when we maybe wouldn’t have had a camera on us, or at least a device with a camera this good. Photos [1] are a very important and valuable piece of data that are irreplaceable. Memories are great but a picture can send you right back into that moment and help you remember something that you had maybe forgotten about that point in time. With iCloud; Apple also has an opportunity to help people preserve this precious data for generations to come.


  1. Videos are something that I left out of the article all together, but can be included in this statement as well. Photos manages the videos that you take with your devices, even giving them a dedicated album which is another area that makes it an improvement over iPhoto.  ↩

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.

Appsanta - Discounted apps up to 60% off

Realmac Software has teamed up with developers of well known apps to give discounts for the holiday season, and is located at appsanta.co.

Some of the apps that you can get on sale are:

There are quite a few more apps available, and wouldn't doubt that more are added over the next couple of days.

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.

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.  ↩

Learn to Design

If you have ever wanted to learn how to design interfaces or even just how to use a vector based tool such as Bohemian Coding’s Sketch[1] then you should check out designcode.io.

Meng To is a self taught designer who has taken what he has taught himself and gathered that information into a website and ebooks that teach people how they can use Sketch to layout an interface and use Xcode to build an application from scratch.

There are currently three chapters:

  • iOS Design: walks the reader through different aspects of design such as how to chose colors, fonts, and sounds for an application; how and where to get your inspiration.
  • Learn the Tools: Focuses on learning how to use Sketch.
  • Build the App: Takes you through the process of using what you learned in the first two chapters and applying it to how to use Xcode to create an iOS application.

He is currently working on a fourth chapter that deals with Apple’s new programming language; Swift. The new chapter will be available to everyone who purchases a copy of the book.

Before he launched the book the price was $50.00 and he was expected to increase the price of the book to $100.00. Currently it is still $50.00 so if you are slightly interested in it you may want to jump on it while it is still discounted.

In addition to the book he aslo has a weekly newsletter that he distributes with various design resources that he has come across on the web.


  1. This application would be the equivilant of using Adobe Illustrator.  ↩

iBooks Fix: Syncing ePub data between Mac and iOS devices

My excitement for iBooks being released on the Mac died when I finally got my hands on it when Mavericks first came out. The fact that it ripped my books out of iTunes and didn’t carryover the metadata that I had added to them, and giving all of the books non descriptive titles within the Finder was my first issue. The second being the fact that I was not able to sync any data (position, bookmarks, notes etc) between the ePubs I currently had on my iOS devices with the Mac version of iBooks.[1] I was confused because this task worked great between my iPhone and my iPad. I spent countless amounts of time opening the book on one device, waiting a minute or two for it to sync, then opening it on my Mac and the book would open to the cover, instead of to the page that it was supposed to be on.

Eventually I gave up trying to get it to work until I was recently using PhoneView to download various items from my iPad one day when it dawned on me that there is a section in PhoneView to access the books that are on the device that you have connected to it.

So I copied an ePub from my iPad I purchased form O’rielly Media about web design to my desktop, that I had been highlighting and taking notes in. My thought process was that this book has some type of data associated with it, and the syncing works between my iPhone and iPad so if I were to use the same file on my Mac then the sync should be fixed. I then wondered what would happen if I put the book in a place that I could get at it from all of my devices. I moved it to my local Dropbox folder waited for it to upload and then I opened the file in iBooks on my Macbook, and sure enough the highlights and my current position synced perfectly. I open the book on my iMac and verified that all of the same data was accessible on that machine.

The next step was to make sure that this worked with other books so I uploaded a couple of ePubs that I didn’t have loaded on any of my devices to Dropbox and loaded them into iBooks on each of my devices, highlighted some sections, took some notes and once again it worked perfectly.

Syncing ePubs with iBooks on all devices:

  • Put the ePub in a central location that you can load it into iBooks from such as Dropbox
  • Do not change the name of the book if you have already loaded the book on one of your devices. The book needs to have the same attributes on all of your devices in order for it to recognize that there is data available for it to be syncing.
  • Load the book into iBooks on all of your devices. For iOS if you are using DropBox you will need to have the Dropbox app installed you can select the book and then hit the share icon, and tap on the Open In… button.
  • Happy Syncing

  1. Even the iCloud reset article that I wrote didn’t fix the sync issues  ↩

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.  ↩

1Password iCloud Syncing Problem Fix

2014-10-21 Update: This guide is for those who have NOT moved to iCloud Drive. I still have not fully investigated where the data has moved once iCloud Drive has been activated.

Recently I discovered that my wife's 1Password information was not syncing correctly with iCloud. I had just updated the password to our Airport and wanted to make sure that her info in 1Password had the new password. I shared the new login with her via iMessage and clicked the link on her Macbook which brought the data into 1Password. I opened up 1Password on her iPhone to copy the new password and set up her wifi for her, and the old router information was in still in her database on her phone. I closed the app, reopened it and checked again; still the same old info. I tried her iPad and got the same results.

What followed next was hours of frustration trying to get all her devices to sync seamlessly. I exported the data from 1Password on her Macbook to her desktop so I had a copy of the data and then removed every trace of 1Password from her computer, stopped syncing the data to iCloud from her devices and deleted the iOS apps from her iPhone and iPad. On her computer I went into the local iCloud folder (~/Library/Mobile Documents) and deleted the two folders that had looked like this

1Password data files located in the ~/Library/Mobile Documents/ Folder

I restarted her computer reinstalled 1Password and imported the data that I had on her desktop. Went into the Preferences, Sync, and chose iCloud Sync. Made sure that the folders in the screenshot above were in the Mobile Documents folder indicating to me that the documents were in the process of being pushed up to iCloud.

I reinstalled the 1Password iOS apps and had to go through the initial setup again. I selected that I am an existing user, chose that I would like to sync with iCloud, and the next screen said that it was looking for existing data, and returned a screen that stated that Data Was Not Found.

At this point I was at a loss for words. I turned to trying to find the answer on the web, and followed the advice, multiple times, that was given on AgileBits Forums:

  • Please ensure that you are logged in with the same iCloud account on all computers and devices.
  • Please ensure that Documents and Data is enabled on all computers and devices.
  • On your iOS devices, open 1Password 4 for iOS, tap Settings > Sync > Sync Service and tap 'Disable Sync’.
  • On the Mac, open 1Password 4 for Mac, and click the 1Password menu, then Preferences. Click Sync, and click Change syncing.
  • Check the box to remove the data from iCloud and confirm that you want to disable sync.
  • Restart the Mac and iOS devices.
  • On the Mac, go back to the Sync preferences, and enable iCloud.
  • Wait about 20 minutes to give iCloud time to run the initial sync to all devices.
  • Go back into the iOS app and re-enable iCloud sync. It should work this time.

The above solution did not work. I had wasted most of my Saturday trying to figure this out, and finally threw in the towel. The next day I tried the above solution again and it did not work. Fed up I contacted AgileBits support team and after multiple back and forth emails I believe that I had stumped them. I appreciated all of their support, but I finally figured out how to get it working again.

At some point in between emails I had decided to go into the iCloud System Preferences and turn off only Documents & Data and I happened to have the Mobile Documents folder open, and noticed that there was a change to the folder name. It went from being named Mobile Documents to Mobile Documents.92991882.

This is what your local iCloud folder looks like when you turn of Documents & Data in the iCloud Preferences

I turned Documents & Data back on and I noticed that the folder changed back to just Mobile Documents. I decided to take all of my previous attempts into account and pieced together the following solution:

Fixing 1Password iCloud Sync Issues:

Macbook Air:

Open 1Password Preference -> Sync -> Change Syncing and check the box that says Delete data from iCloud, and click Disable Sync button. Accept the warning that states that it will delete your data. Quit 1 Password.

Open System Preferences iCloud -> Uncheck Documents & Data -> Click Delete from Mac button

(You may have to restart in between these steps. I did, but am not sure if that is what helped it)

On your iOS devices, now is a good time to go to the iCloud settings -> Documents & Data -> Click the Toggle Switch at the top of the screen, and confirm by clicking Turn Off Documents. Restart Your Devices

In the Finder Menu Bar click Go. Select Go to Folder -> Enter ~/Library/ and click Go Look for the Mobile Documents folder that now has what looks like a file extension at the end of it. Should look like Mobile Documents.92994182 Drag this folder to the trash.

Open System Preferences iCloud -> Re check Documents & Data

This will cause iCloud to re-sync your iCloud folder locally to your Mac.

iOS Devices:

Your devices should have restarted by now.

Go into Settings, Documents & Data and Toggle the Switch back to On.

Open 1Password and follow the setup screen as an existing user, and 1Password will find existing data in iCloud.

I have verified that everything syncs between devices by creating a login on one device and watching it appear on the other two. Hope this helps anyone who is having an issue with their 1Password data not syncing.

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.

iPhone Photography Workflow Process

We’re not scientists, and we’re not gurus, we’re just trying to get some work done. The solutions presented here are highly personal, and highly personalized. Not the only way, but our way.

The quote above is from the opening paragraph of the article. I like it, but as the author points out:

I’m a firm believer in the idea that “the best camera is the one you have with you,” and it’s never been more true than on today’s smartphone-saturated streets.

The iPhone will continue to push the boundaries of what kind of pictures you will be able to take with your phone. Most people take pictures and don’t worry about editing them other than adding a crappy Instagram filter on and pushing it off into a social network black hole. If we all took the advice of this article and took a little bit of time to delete the actual bad pictures and edit the good ones then I am sure our camera rolls would be a lot happier.[1]


  1. Not to mention our our storage capacities would thank us for not keeping every picture of lunch we have taken.  ↩

Instapaper - Free

Instapaper the read it later app created by Marco Arment is free (Normally $3.99) on the AppStore this week until December 19th. You can find it on the frontpage under the Free App of the Week section.

With Instapaper you can save articles that you would like to read at some point, but do not have the time to read right now. It strips out the text of an article and provides you with a clean plain text article with no distractions.

The service is free to use with limits on how many articles you can save, and disabled search functionality. These limits are lifted with the a subscription service. Fortunatley through the end of the year new users get two free months of the subscription based services according to Instapaper's blog; check out their post by clicking through the title post.

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.  ↩

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.

Thoughts on Flat Design

I have been using Apple products for the last 15 years, and I personally have a preference in how well the operating system of Apple products stands out against all of it's competitors. When I first started using the Mac it was running the classic mac operating system, or Platinum rather. When I got my hands on a copy of the first version of OS X I was informed that I shouldn't install it on my main machine because it is a little buggy, but I went ahead and did it anyhow even though I had one computer; that being my main machine.

Ever since laying my eyes on the Aqua interface I haven't seen a better looking user interface come along. Granted Apple has changed the look of it through the years, certainly for the better, but it always gives me a feeling that I am using a superior interface. One look at any version of iOS and you can quickly associate it's features with Aqua.

There have been a lot of rumors since the departure of Scott Forstall, and the control of software design being handed over to Jony Ive that iOS is going to see a radical overhaul. I would assume that OS X would follow suit, if not in 10.9 but in version 11. I for one do not like what I am hearing about the design direction, and I have seen mockups, and supposed leaks of the actual icons. These "leaks" look as if Apple is stealing their designs from Microsoft Windows 8. Personally I hated the look of Windows 8 when I first saw the screens of the OS. Everything in these flat designs seem so uninspired and generic.

WWDC is less than 12 hours away so we all will know soon enough the direction that Ive has decided to take iOS. I can only hope that he has not tried to do so much of a dramatic change in the little time he has had being in charge of the interface design. I would rather that iOS 7 and iOS 6 look exactly the same if I can have an iCloud that works better than what we currently have.

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.