iOS 7 update kills iPhones

Screenshot 2013-11-10 20.55.12

Screenshot 2013-11-10 20.55.12

My wife has been a happy user of her iPhone 4s for more than a year. Until tonight, that is.

Her iPhone was updated to iOS 7 some weeks ago, this evening she accepted the phone’s request to update to 7.03. That’s when it started: after the update all network activity seemed to be quite slow. I looked at the phone an saw that the WiFi button was greyed out and would not allow me to enable WiFi!

The problem seems to be wee known: there are 50+ pages in Apple Support forums, and the issue even has its own web site.

Summary: an official Apple iOS update will kill the hardware of your iPhone, and Apple wants you to pay to fix what they broke.

Anybody else affected?

Not funny.

iPhone to Android – One week in

(The post title alone should guarantee enough SPAM for the rest of the year ;) )

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OK, so I guess it will still take a while until Apple comes up with an iPhone with a significantly bigger screen, and my bifocals upgrade much faster. I’m heavily invested in the iOS ecosystem, and I’m also pretty happy with it, but the small screen is just getting too painful for me to bear. So I caved in and got a Galaxy S3.

Ironically what made this move possible is Apple’s move away from iTunes, mostly. I REALLY loved the way iTunes use to handle Podcasts. I listen to podcasts daily on my commute, and the iTunes way was just a “plug in and forget” mode that never failed me. Now everything gets its own app, everything is iCloud, and nothing works as predictably as before. Mail and everything else is in the cloud anyway (GMail, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr), MP3 and podcast handling was really what held me back so far.

OK, so how do I like it?

The Hardware

The screen is gorgeous. The resolution doesn’t really matter, but size and quality does. I can read it much easier, and that was the main reason for switching.

The case dimensions – not so much. It’s just the right size to be used with one hand, but it’s way too slippery: I liked the iPhone’s metal corners and edges a lot more.

The Micro USB connector? Don’t get me started… And as much as we all hate Apple’s proprietary connectors, at least you can buy AUX car kits for them, which you can’t for Android devices. Yes, I do get the concept of bluetooth and A2DP, but as long as car companies don’t provide more than one bluetooth connection the current one is reserved for my work phone. I use a cheap (…) bluetooth to AUX dongle, but it’s a PITA.

Android OS

Fascinating. Of course I immediately installed CyanogenMod, but I’m still puzzled about so many inconsistencies.

There is the home screen with all the nifty widgets (clock and weather for me, that’s more than enough), and you put your favourite programs on it. Every time I want to use something that’s not there I swipe to an empty homescreen page before I remember I need to use the middle icon – but that may be iOS muscle memory.

Notifications is the biggest piece of crap ever – I can’t understand why iPhone users asked for it so much. The phone beeps in sleep mode, then I need to press a button (which is at least a hardware button on the S3, in contrast to the side power button on the Nexus 4) and all I see is an icon at the top. Then I need to unlock, and _still_ I only see the icon. I pull down from the top, only then do I get to the App.
I have now installed a different launcher and an app that adds a counter to stuff like GMail. Seriously, that’s a productivity killer.

What I really like is the backup to my Google account, I just wish I could manage that easier. It should also be possible for non-Google apps to store their credentials there, for example. Also, like on iOS, you can add accounts to Twitter and Facebook in setting, but still some apps will open native web login pages.

For podcasts I’m using Pocket Casts which works quite well. The one advantage of Android is that it will download new episodes in the background. Skipping a defined amount of time by tapping on the right side of the screen is also very helpful. (I’m still waiting for a community driven service that defines markers that players can use to skip the ad segments in podcasts – anyone? ;) ).

Android file/memory management is outright weird. Some devices have SD cards, others don’t, which means you have to tell each app to use it. There should at least be a central settings screen to define that.

Then there’s apps like Google Music which are not even interested in SD cards – 16GB of music has to be enough for everyone! I mean, give me a break…
The app itself is confusing as hell – I never know where I am, or which music is on my device or in the cloud, or what I need to do to change that – aaarghhh!

I may eventually get used to all that – but as soon as Apple brings us a bigger iPhone I’ll switch back…

Apple’s iOS podcasts app SUCKS – here’s why

So Apple has finally come out with a dedicated iOS podcasts app, something that iOS users have been asking for a long time. The problem is: it sucks.

Let me tell you why I think that:

I’m anything but a casual podcast listener – I have a two to three hour commute every day, so I get a lot of listening time. I spent money to buy an iPhone cable that connects to my car stereo so that I can operate my iTunes Media from the car stereo, which works just perfectly, including podcasts and audiobooks. This goes as far as syncing the time codes for podcasts and audiobooks, i.e. I can continue listening where I left off on the iPhone after I take it out of the car, or even on my Mac after syncing the iPhone.

My usual routine in the morning was to press “update all” on my podcasts in iTunes, then connect the iPhone and carry the new podcasts to my car.

The supposed advantage of the dedicated app is that it allows you to update podcasts over the air, i.e. without the need to invoke iTunes. I see why you’d want to do that, but the way that Apple implemented the app breaks existing functionality:

I’m not exactly sure how they do that, but it seems Apple will store podcasts in a new directory, no longer in the iTunes Media folder.

In my car stereo scenario this means that my car will start playing music once I connect the dock cable. If I want to listen to a podcast I need to start the app and select one on the iPhone. This is really bad in the car…
If I start a podcast, the song that played will fade away and the podcast will start. Sometimes. Most of the time I’ll have to go back and forth a couple of times before I hear the podcast.

For the first few days I used to start the podcast from the car stereo, and when I started the podcast on the iPhone it would start from the beginning. That was when I realized there are two different databases for the files. I then instructed iTunes to no longer sync podcasts, so that I would rely on the App entirely.

As you can see on the image above, my car stereo and the iPhone don’t really agree which podcast they’re currently playing ;)

Android users keep complaining that iPhones NEED iTunes, and Android phones can work autonomously. That sounds like a great idea until you start downloading a 1GB video podcast, which is when you’ll realize that your desktop can do that quite a bit faster…

But back to the podcasts App: It imported all my iTunes subscriptions, and I began setting up the individual podcasts for automatic downloads and retention. It’s nice that you can set retention by podcast now, instead of globally as in iTunes.

There are two more downsides to in-iPhone downloads for podcasts:

  • They don’t work when the iPhone is off. Even though my iPhone spent the night 2 feet away from the router, I started my commute and realized that it hadn’t downloaded any new podcasts. Bummer
  • The UI doesn’t make it easy to see that – when you open the app it will start syncing, i.e. it will show you the blue bullet in front of an episode to indicate it’s an unlistened one. You’ll barely realize the tiny grey arrow on the right side for downloads – when you start playing the podcast it will download it immediately (and probably start syncing the others). Unfortunately it will happily do that via 3G, which I realized when my operator sent an SMS this morning telling me I had spent this month’s download limit. BIG bummer.

Plus, of course, iTunes no longer acts as an archive for your old podcasts.

I deleted the app today – I seriously hope Apple fixes some of those issues, or keeps the iTunes podcasting functionality in parallel. Which works just fine for me…

Buch “iPhone-Apps entwickeln” heute kostenlos!

Kurzbeschreibung
Programmieren Sie Apps für die Kultgeräte von Apple! Autor Dirk Koller zeigt in diesem Buch den kompletten Weg einer iPhone-App. Schritt für Schritt erläutert er an einer Beispiel-App den Weg von der ersten Idee bis zum Upload und der Vermarktung im App Store. In der Überarbeitung des Bestsellers wird auf alle Neuerungen durch das aktuelle iOS 5 eingegangen.

Über den Autor
Dr. Dirk Koller ist seit mehr als zehn Jahren in der Softwareentwicklung als Entwickler, Berater und technischer Projektleiter tätig. Sein Tätigkeitsfeld ist die Java-/Oracle-Entwicklung, zu der er regelmäßig Beiträge in Fachzeitschriften beisteuert. Seit dem Erscheinen des iPhones widmet er sich mit großer Begeisterung der Programmierung des Geräts. Er lebt und arbeitet in der Nähe von Frankfurt/Main.

Download bei Amazon: hier klicken

iPhone 4S camera awesomeness

I’m usually shooting DSLRs. I can’t stand mobile phone shots, and I really don’t like how Instagram degrades the image quality of the pictures you post.

Then again, there are these moments when you look at an iPhone shot and are simply blown away. This is one of those moments.