It’s Amazing That Anyone Upgrades Their iPhone — 500ish Words

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.

Source: It’s Amazing That Anyone Upgrades Their iPhone — 500ish Words

Why I Won’t Sell an iPhone on eBay Any More

For many years, I have bought new iPhones and sold the previous models. As a tech journalist, it’s useful for me to have the latest technology – even though I don’t do this every year – and I don’t want to accumulate old devices, like many of my friends who have “boxes of phones.”

I used to do this on eBay, but, when I tried to sell my iPhone 8+ recently, the experience was so bad that I will never do it again.

The first problem is that scammers hone in on iPhone sales pretty quickly. Each time I listed it – I’ll explain in a bit why I had to do this several times – I got emails like this:

hi i was wondering if you iphone 8 has been sold or not as I might be interested
my contact number is XXXX XXX XXX
regards
john

Often, the messages would give an email address, in the form username @ outlook dot com, so eBay’s filters wouldn’t catch them. And many of them used the same story, saying they needed to get one for their daughter’s birthday that week.

eBay seems to be very slow catching up to this. Generally it took a day or so before I got an email from eBay saying:

Our records show that you recently contacted or received messages from XXXXXXXX through eBay’s messaging system. We’re writing to let you know that an unauthorized third party may have compromised this member’s account security. It’s important to note that we’re unaware of any problems with your account. We recommend the following precautions to help keep you safe:

  • Don’t respond to offers to buy or sell an item from this user. The offer may be fraudulent, and the transaction won’t be covered by eBay.
  • Don’t respond to any messages you received from this user that appear to be a Second Chance Offer for an item you recently bid on.
  • Never pay for eBay items using instant cash wire-transfer services such as Western Union or MoneyGram. It’s against eBay’s Safe Payments Policy for a seller to request payment with these methods.

Most of these are new accounts – they weren’t “compromised” – which you can see by the low or zero feedback, and the join date on their pages. (Some may have feedback; scammers just buy a few cheap items to get some feedback on their accounts.)

I can understand how some people may fall for this scam, where the buyer pays you via PayPal, then claims that they never received the item, or, if you have sent it with a signature required, that it was broken. (And they’ll have photos of a broken iPhone to show.)

Another issue I had was people paying, then sending a strange looking address. In these cases, I just cancelled the order and refunded the person.

I’ve sold other items of value on eBay; I recently sold a Mac mini, and last year I sold an iMac, and never get this kind of email. I think it’s too much of a hassle for the scammers to try this for things bigger than a smartphone.

So when I bought the new iPhone XS Max last year, I moved over to Apple’s upgrade program. I won’t have to worry about selling old iPhones any more. As for the iPhone 8+, I traded it in to Apple; I got less than I would have from eBay (even after their fees), but there’s no hassle involved.

But that’s it. eBay has made itself far too dangerous to sell items like this. Knowing that in disputes they tend to side with the buyer automatically means I simply cannot trust the company to protect me.

The iPhone Is No Longer “Magical”

The big Apple news this week was the company’s surprising profit warning, the first time Apple has had to do this in 15 years. Apple is expecting revenue of about $88 billion this quarter, rather than its initial guidance of up to $93 billion. In other words, they’ve sold about $5 – $9 billion less in iPhones. (Yes, this is mostly the iPhone, because other products seem to be stable, and services have apparently increased.)

Funny, though; this is a record quarter for Apple, yet they had to issue a profit warning, and the stock fell nearly 10% the following day. But the stock market fall was not about this single quarter; it was about Apple’s future. The company’s revenue is mostly – and dangerously – focused on this single product. It represents about 59% of Apple’s income, so any drop in sales could have very serious effects.

It was interesting that Tim Cook spent 1,500 words blaming all sorts of reasons for this drop, whereas he can’t come out and say the real reasons. First, the iPhone has gotten too expensive. As Apple has seen demand flatten, they have raised the price of the iPhone (as well as other products, such as the high-end iPad, and the Apple Watch):

Price

The second reason is that the iPhone simply isn’t magical any more. And hearing Tim Cook use that term in the presentation of the latest iPhones sounded falser than it had in the past. Steve Jobs could say that in the early years of the device, because, for a while, it was magical, at least to many users. But now, the iPhone is an appliance, it’s one of many smartphones that all look more or less alike, and that all do more or less the same things. I stick with the iPhone because of the ecosystem – in part, because I write about Apple products, but also because I’m somewhat locked in through the apps I use – and because it is more reliable and more secure. But it’s not magical.

It’s time for Apple to grow up and stop selling their devices using this sort of language. Sure, the company is transitioning to services, and, as this article suggests, we might see iPaaS, or iPhone as a service, in the near future. Apple has already started that transition, with their upgrade program, but given the high price of new iPhones, the monthly payment for that is still somewhat steep. With the company’s dependency on the iPhone as its main revenue source, this transition will need to happen very quickly to maintain the level of income the company has seen, and that keeps its share price high.

But Apple’s biggest problem is that their services have never been stellar. Sure, the iTunes Store was and still is profitable, but their other services are not leaders in their sectors. We’ll see how Apple negotiates this turnaround as their star product becomes mature and no longer seems magical.

The Camera Features on the iPhone XS and XR Bring New Possibilities

People buy new smartphones for many reasons: some for the apps they can run, others for the ability to watch videos and play games, but one feature that drives many to upgrade is the camera. All smartphone makers work hard to improve their cameras to entire users to opt for newer devices, and Apple has done this for years. With this year’s iPhone models – the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR – Apple has brought new possibilities to the camera. (Read our review of the iPhone XS Max here.) But it’s not just the sensors or lenses that change; the real innovation these days is in the software that creates photos called computational photography.

Read the rest of the article on the Mac Security Blog.

Review: The iPhone XS Max is a Max iPhone at a Max Price

With the second iteration of Apple’s iPhone X line, the company moved from a single device to three versions: the XS, the XS Max, and the lower-priced XR. The two new flagship phones, the iPhone XS and XS Max, are almost exactly the same other than for the size. The larger display doesn’t let you see a broader scene, it’s just bigger.

The iPhone XS is about the same size as last year’s iPhone X, and the XS Max is a hair smaller than the 8 Plus and 7 Plus models. Respectively, the iPhone XS, XS Mac, and 8 Plus have displays that are 5.8″, 6.5″, and 5.5″, so even the smaller model has a larger display than the biggest pervious iPhone. However, the display area is taller, so it’s not an easy comparison. You could go for the iPhone XS if you want the same size display as the larger standard iPhone model, or the XS Max to have the same size phone as the Plus models with a much larger display.

Read the rest of the review on the Mac Security Blog.

iPhone XS: Why It’s A Whole New Camera — Halide

iPhone XS has a completely new camera. It’s not just a different sensor, but an entirely new approach to photography that is new to iOS. Since it leans so heavily on merging exposures and computational photography, images may look quite different from those you’ve taken in similar conditions on older iPhones.

The developers of the Halide app for iOS – a photo app that notably shoots in raw – explain how the iPhones XS camera is so different from its predecessors. He goes into great detail, and it’s worth reading this if you’re a bit of a photography geek and want to know how to manage this new device.

Source: iPhone XS: Why It’s A Whole New Camera — Halide

Apple’s Most Lucrative iPhone Feature Is Storage – Bloomberg

Apple is tackling a global smartphone industry slowdown by raising iPhone prices, offering new digital services, and wringing more profit from parts that are becoming more commoditized. Selling more storage with iPhones is a powerful example of the latter strategy.

[…]

Ponying up for extra storage could lead iPhone users to spend more in other ways, too. People who’ve become accustomed to having what seems like a bottomless pit in their phones are likelier to cram the devices with more music, apps, movies, and subscriptions, boosting Apple’s services revenue. And Apple is charging anyone who wants an iCloud plan to back up their entire 512GB phone an extra $9.99 a month for 2 terabytes (2,000GB) of remote storage.

It’s really ridiculous that Apple doesn’t increase the basic amount of iCloud storage you get, especially for those who have multiple devices.

Source: Apple’s Most Lucrative iPhone Feature Is Storage – Bloomberg

What a Hellish Experience it Is to Restore an iPhone

IMG 8125I’m sure you’ve had to restore your iPhone at least once. Stuff happens, you try to reset some settings, but it still doesn’t work as it should. Since yesterday, I’ve been having trouble connecting to cellular networks on mine. If I put the SIM card in my iPhone SE, that works fine, so it seems to have something to do with iOS 12. I tried resetting network settings, and that worked for a few minutes, but then the same thing happened.

So, it was time to restore the iPhone. I have a 15 Mbps internet connection, so the 3+ GB download for iOS only took about an hour. But then there’s all the apps to re-download. Because iTunes no longer manages apps, you have to redownload potentially tens of gigabytes of stuff. If you have music and photos in the cloud, you have to download some of them, but the apps alone make this process painful.

In addition, you can’t pause the process; you can only put the phone into airplane mode. So if you do need to use the phone to make calls or use data, your connection is saturate, and you’re limited for the several hours it takes to get everything downloaded.

When I think about all those who have even slower internet access than I do, I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry about Apple, who assumes that everyone has fiber, and can restore an iPhone in five minutes. It’s really quite a bit of contempt for many of Apple’s users. It makes life really complicated.

Is the Apple Watch the New iPhone?

In last week’s presentation of new products, Apple covered only two items, the Apple Watch and the iPhone. And they led with the Apple Watch, which meant they were prioritizing the iPhone; save the best for last.

But the opinions of many tech journalists, and, apparently, consumers, suggest that the Apple Watch is the new, hot gadget. Many journalists have pointed out that there are no real innovations in this year’s iPhones. This is, of course, an “s” year, that Apple has gotten us used to; years when iPhone models add an “s” to their names, and feature only incremental updates. (However, some key technologies have been introduced in “s” years.) The iPhone XS and XS Max are extensions of last year’s iPhone X, and the iPhone XR is a “budget” version of the more expensive model.

But the Apple Watch caught the attention of many people. Apparently, pre-orders have been “above expectations,” while iPhone sales are tepid. One reason may be the new, large size of the Apple Watch, converting what has been a fairly small display to one that will be much more readable. And there’s the glitzy new Infograph watch face with multiple complications. And the stainless steel model now comes in gold.

Some are suggesting that the addition of an ECG feature may be swaying consumers, but I find that unlikely; while this is a useful medical tool, it’s hard to imagine that everyone wants to run ECGs on themselves (and I worry about what happens when people try to understand them). Fall detection is a very interesting feature, and, while it’s mostly for the elderly, there are other cases when it can be useful: epilepsy, perhaps car accidents, and more. It could be that consumers are seeing the potential of a wearable as a medical device, and that these limited features have convinced them to invest in one, in part because of existing technologies, but also because of the potential of the Apple Watch to change the way they look at their health with other technologies in the future.

This comes at a good time for Apple. The smartphone market has been mature for years, and is limping along on incremental upgrades. It’s good for manufacturers that many smartphones take a beating, so even if people keep them longer, they eventually need to upgrade. But it’s hard to imagine many interesting new features being added to this technology. Other than the new size, and the improved display and internals, there’s nothing in the new iPhone that sets it apart from last year’s model. (And that “groundbreaking” dual-camera system is neither new nor truly groundbreaking.)

Apple knows this, and will be pushing much of its innovation to the Apple Watch in the coming years. The company has already drastically increased the price of the device, in order to turn it into a cash cow, and there’s one big change they can make that could increase sales exponentially: make it a standalone device. The Apple Watch still requires an iPhone to set it up, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t exist on its own, so Android users can have Apple Watches too. While this wouldn’t offer full functionality, since there wouldn’t be the same tight integration with apps, notifications, etc. – an app on Android could manage the actual setup, and everything would function over cellular access, and all data could be stored in the cloud. The Apple Watch can already work without the iPhone after the initial setup, using cellular access, but it’s only a question of time before Apple makes it an independent device.

Of course, this is only a temporary solution; there are so many limits to the Apple Watch that it will never be able to do too much, but Apple’s focusing on health (they barely mentioned fitness in presenting this new model) shows how they want to make this device essential.

The iPhone will continue to sell by the tens of millions, but as sales become flat, Apple is poised to have another success on its hands with the Apple Watch. It will be interesting to see how far this device goes.

Apple Introduces New iPhones and Apple Watches

Today Apple introduced the latest models of the iPhone and Apple Watch at the Steve Jobs Theater on the new Apple campus. If you’ve been following the Mac news sites, you’ve seen much of what was announced; leaks made this event less surprising that it often is. This is an “s” year, when Apple iterates the latest model iPhone without any major new features. There are two new top-of-the-line iPhones and one inexpensive model, similar in many respects to the flagship iPhones Xs.

As for the Apple Watch, the update was more interesting. Some major new health-related features join new sizes for the device. A redesign of some of the watch faces means that you will have access to more information at a glance. A new gold stainless steel model adds a bit of class to the product line.

Here’s what’s new:

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.