We discuss running iOS and macOS betas, the new iPod touch, Firefox’s coming subscription service, Safari auto-submitting user names and passwords, and how some companies’ private policies can be as complicated as Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.
Apple announced their new operating systems early this week, and we take a close look at the many interesting and useful new security privacy features that will soon be available on your Mac and iOS devices.
This isn’t new, but I’m always surprised how quickly the batteries of iOS devices drain when they’re doing nothing. I put an old iPad mini 2 in the kitchen, to watch the news with breakfast, and to display recipes and play music when I’m cooking. I have a charger in the kitchen, but I don’t leave it plugged in all the time. Even though I only use it for about 15 minutes most days, I generally have to plug it in every three or four days.
I got a new iPod touch, and set it up yesterday. Around 6 pm, it was charged to 100%. This morning, at around 8:30, I checked it, and it was at 69%. That’s more than 30% of the battery in a bit over 14 hours.
The iPod was doing nothing other than occasionally checking iCloud, and maintaining wi-fi and Bluetooth active (the latter uses very little power). Yet it used about one-third of its power. Over 24 hours, it would lose nearly half its power.
Apple should improve this element of iOS devices. When they’re not being used for more than a certain amount of time, there should be a sort of hibernation mode. If you put a charged iOS device in a drawer, and leave it for three days, you likely won’t have any power left, and that’s just a waste.
Update: It’s been a while, and it’s clear that if wi-fi is on, then the battery dies pretty quickly. Partly because of the wi-fi itself, but also because of iCloud updating when the device is idle. I have background app refresh turned off globally, but Photos still updates, and downloads new photos; Music still updates iCloud Music Library; and any other Apple iCloud-based app will update as well. So to save battery life, either turn off those features, or put the device into airplane mode. If I do the latter, the battery does deplete, but much more slowly.
I’ve owned every iPhone since the original one back in 2007. Each time that I get the latest version I do something many people consider crazy: I set it up as a new iPhone, rather than restoring a backup of my last device. My rationale is both simple and silly: I like the idea of this being a natural “reset” of my phone–a way to determine which apps I really want, or more to the point, need, on my device. It’s always far fewer than I think. And certainly less than I would have if I restored and deleted just the ones I thought I wouldn’t miss.
Anyway, I bring this up because this process, while in a way liberating, is also a pain. It takes a long time to re-download every app that I actually want. And, of course, even longer to log in to each of these apps. One by one.
And yet I was reminded this week that my process actually isn’t that much more laborious than the more traditional restore. A few weeks back I bought my wife the latest iPhone–she had been using an iPhone 8, and I wanted her to have the best camera to take pictures of our little girl–but she kept pushing off setting it up. When I asked her why, she noted that the restore process is incredibly slow and cumbersome.
Actually, that was my prim and proper translation of what she said. She really just said that it sucks. And I know she’s not alone in thinking that.
This sort of surprises me since I had heard the restore process had gotten a lot better in recent years as iCloud itself has gone from a laughing stock to quite good. And again, doing this all over-the-air sure sounds much easier than what I do each time with a full rebuild from scratch.
But as it turns out, restoring an iPhone does indeed still suck. While you can do everything via the cloud, there are still a whole slew of things that are no better than a clean install. And in some cases, actually worse.
This is a difficult situation. There is some data that gets lost if you don’t upgrade: health data, and passwords (if you don’t have iCloud Keychain turned on). So the best way is to do an iTunes backup and restore from that.
But the author points out the problem with the new phone that needed an iOS update in order to load the backup, because the phone he had backed up was on a later version of iOS. This is quite frustrating, and gets me every time I don’t get an iPhone on the very first day it’s released.
The whole process is needlessly complicated, especially since iTunes no longer manages apps, and you have to download them all, which can take more than an hour with my internet bandwidth.
I was looking at my iPhone today, and the thought crossed my mind that I don’t really need to see the names of apps beneath their icons. Just as with the four apps in the Dock, I recognize my apps by their icons; their names just get in the way, adding clutter to my iPhone’s home screen. Imagine if it looked like this:
Doesn’t that look a lot better, a lot cleaner? Compare it to this, where the texts of some apps are pretty compressed to make them fit on one line.
It would be great if Apple offered an icon-only option on iOS. One advantage is that it would be possible to decrease the spacing between icons, allowing for an extra row.
These are apps I use daily, and I don’t need to see their names, and I can understand that people who download lots of apps may want to see the names for new apps. So perhaps the option could be just for the first home screen, and only for apps, not for folders.
Apple had a mean FaceTime bug; then they slapped down Facebook, and Google, for some underhanded app distribution. There are security risks using iOS Shortcuts, and there’s new malware using steganography.
(*Note: the title of this article is a riff on a statement made by Bill Clinton’s campaign manager during the 1992 presidential race: “It’s the economy, stupid.”)
We saw recently how Apple’s profit warning caused the company’s stock to tank. This is because the iPhone, whose sales are down, represents about 60% of the company’s revenue, and any disruption to that leading product has a strong effect on the bottom line. But at the same time, Apple’s services revenue is increasing, as Apple is morphing from a hardware company to a services company.
Apple is a lot more than just the iPhone; its products represent an ecosystem. In a recent interview with Jim Cramer on CNBC, Tim Cook said that the “virtuous ecosystem is probably under-appreciated,” and that “the ecosystem has never been stronger.”
Apple’s new iPad Pro is an amazing tablet, but as our review points out, it comes at a price. Apple has priced this device at close to the cost of a laptop–aka a “real computer”–which means that for most people, buying an iPad Pro means making a commitment to using it as their main computing device.
But the iPad Pro runs iOS, the same operating system that runs on the iPhone. While Apple says, “And it works like your iPhone, so it’s familiar to use,” this isn’t really a good thing. Some people may be able to replace their laptop with an iPad Pro, but for the iPad Pro to really serve as a computer, it needs a pro version of iOS.
Everyone knows that New Year’s resolutions don’t always stick. You may decide to join a gym or start a diet, and by February, you’ve slipped from your goal. But there are some New Year’s resolutions that you can use to check the security and your Mac and iOS devices. Here’s a selection of simple things you can do to make sure your devices are as secure as possible. (Listen to episode 64 of the Intego Mac Podcast where I discuss these and other tips with my co-host Josh Long.)