Why Apple Should Become a Mobile Phone Provider

You can buy an iPhone and a contract with a specific mobile provider at the same time. But imagine a different situation, where Apple sells you a new iPhone or iPad and also sells you, if you choose, a contract to connect that device to any network, perhaps, even, and any country. And the provider you sign up with is Apple. For a monthly fee, Apple could provide you with a full range of services: calls, texts, data, cloud storage, music streaming, access to videos, and much more, and give you unlimited data for any of its own services. You would no longer have to worry about data caps for, say, streaming music or movies, And Apple could probably do this much more cheaply than current mobile phone operators.

Read the rest of the article on Macworld.

How to Free Up Storage on Your iPhone or iPad

A recent study shows that 42% of iPhone users run out of storage on their device at least once a month.


Storage

Part of the problem is that people buy iPhones with only 16 GB, which means they have around 12 GB after installing iOS. Add a few apps, some music, and lots of photos, and most users will find that their devices are full.

It’s easy to free up space on your iPhone or iPad. Here’s how.

2015 01 26 13 44 27First, delete any apps you don’t use. To do this, tap and hold any app icon until all the icons wiggle. Tap the x at the corner of an app’s icon to delete it. Note that you cannot delete apps that are installed as part of iOS. In the screenshot to the left, you’ll see several of these, such as iBooks and Videos, which don’t display the x.

2015 01 26 13 38 23You can also view your apps and see how much space they take up. Go to Settings > General > Usage > Storage > Manage Storage. You’ll see a list of all your apps and their sizes. These figures include the data they contain. So you might not realize how much data certain apps may store.

To delete any app from this list, tap its name, then tap Delete App.

2015 01 26 13 38 40With Music, you have an additional option. You can delete an artist’s music quickly from this screen. Tap Music, then find an artist whose music you want to remove. Swipe to the left, then tap Delete.

Finally, go to the Photos app and clean out your photos. You may have hundreds of them, and if you’ve shot videos, they’ll take up a lot of space as well. Tap a photo to select it, then tap the trashcan icon. Or, to delete multiple photos, tap Select, then tap the photos you want to delete, and then tap the trashcan icon. Photos don’t get deleted immediately, however. You need to go into Recently Deleted (in Albums), then tap Select. Tap Delete All, if you’re sure you want to delete these photos.

With these steps, you can ensure that your iPhone or iPad has more space when you need it. Just remember to back up any photos you want to keep, and make sure that any music you delete is also on your computer at home.

Help a Good Samaritan Return Your Lost iPhone, iPad or Mac

You know it could happen some day: you might lose your iPhone, iPad or laptop. If you’ve activated Find My iPhone (or the similarly named feature for other devices), you’ll get an approximate location for the device, but if it’s in an apartment building or office building, or if there’s no Wi-Fi or cellular access, you might not be able to track it down precisely.

If someone finds your device, it would be good to make it easy for them to get in touch and return the device to you. There are plenty of Good Samaritans out there, and it’s worth preparing your device so if one does find it, they can contact you.

Essentially, you want to add contact information to your device, in a way that anyone who turns it on can find your name, email address and phone number (obviously not your iPhone’s number), and get in touch. An easy way would be to paste a sticker on your device, but that might be ugly and it could wear out. Why not add contact information to the lock screens of your Macs and iOS devices? It’s easy.

Read the rest of the article on Macworld.

Restore Missing Ringtones on iOS Devices

A bug in iOS 8.1.1 has caused many people to lose their alert tones and ringtones. To restore these tones, first update your iOS device to 8.1.2, which was released yesterday. Then, do the following.

If you sync your device with iTunes, connect it to iTunes, and click on it in the iTunes navigation bar. Click on Tones in the sidebar, and make sure that Sync Tones is checked.

Tones

Click Sync to sync the tones to your device.

You can also do this from the iOS device, restoring the tones from the iTunes Store. To do this, go to itunes.com/restore-tones in Safari; this link will redirect you to the iTunes Store app. Tap Restore; You’ll see a message saying:

“This may take a while. You can continue to use this device while we prepare your tones. You will be sent a push notification when they are ready to download.”

Tap Done, and wait for the notification. When you see it, tap Download, and all of your tones will download. You can check that they’re all on your device by going to Settings > Sounds > Ringtone and Settings > Sounds > Text Tone (and the many other sounds listed).

See Apple’s support document about this issue.

Apple’s Obsession with Thinness; How Much Thinner Can Things Get?

Apple is obsessed with thinness. With an obsession that rivals that of the CPU clock speed days, Apple touts thinness for many of its devices.

Look at the new (poorly named) iPad Air 2; the first text you see on Apple’s website is:

“So capable, you won’t want to put it down.
So thin and light, you won’t have to.”

For the iPhone 6, it’s a bit different. They start with bigness, then go to thinness:

“iPhone at its largest.
And thinnest.”

Ember

And the MacBook Air:

“Thin. Light. Powerful.
And ready for anything.”

And then there’s the iMac:

“Creating such a stunningly thin design took equally stunning feats of technological innovation.”

Apple marketed the current iMac models as being thinner, even though the thinness of a desktop computer is not a valid selling point.

Since Apple no longer touts the clock speeds of its devices – at least not as the leading argument in their marketing pitches – thin is the new fast. The problem is that this thinness is getting less and less important; with each iteration of a device such as an iPad or iPhone, the company shaves a few millimeters off the thickness, making very little difference, but giving them a marketing message that, in the end, means little.

The difference between the current iPad Air and last year’s model is so slight as to not make a difference. The newer model is 1.4 mm thinner than the previous one; the difference in weight is a mere 34 g, or just over an ounce. The iPhone 6 is only 0.7 mm thinner than the iPhone 5s, yet it’s still thicker than the iPod touch. But it doesn’t matter; the difference in thickness and weight are inconsequential.

Metric such as size are valid at certain times. When the MacBook Air was released – nearly five years ago – the difference in thickness and weight, compared to other Apple laptops, was tremendous. At 3 lbs, it was 2/3 the weight of the first aluminum MacBook with the same display size: the aluminum MacBook, released later that year, weighed in at 4.5 lbs. And the plastic MacBook, released shortly after the MacBook Air, weight 5 lbs. Those are big differences.

Yet Apple hasn’t changed the MacBook Air much in five years; it’s still just under 3 lbs (2.96 to be exact), and it’s only a few hairs thinner. The MacBook Air has hit the thinness wall. The same thing will happen to other Apple products.

Apple has nearly reached the limit of thinness. Compare the original iPad and iPhone to the current models; the differences are noticeable. But as each generation shaves a couple of millimeters off the thickness, there’s not much point any more. It’s getting harder to make devices any thinner. Already, the iPhone’s camera has to stick out because the body of the device is too thin. (This was already the case with the iPod touch, whose camera also protrudes.) Apple soon won’t be able to shave even a half a millimeter off its devices, and they’ll have to find a new marketing message.

Thin is near the end of its life as a marketing argument. Maybe it’s time to switch to something else: something that has a lot more value to users, such as battery life.

The iPad Mini Is the New iPod Touch

“Apple’s annual iPad event is upon us. The company is expected to release updated versions of the iPad Air and iPad mini, both with Touch ID, faster processors and perhaps new colors.

A year ago, it looked like demand for the iPad mini was on the cusp of potentially eclipsing that of the traditional 9.7-inch iPad. The iPad Air made a strong case for large-screen tablets everywhere, but the market definitely seemed to be trending toward the 7- and 8-inch ones that Steve Jobs so abhorred.

A year later, the scenario seems to have reversed itself yet again. At the end of 2014, tablet sales in general have slowed down (though I contend that the tablet is in no way dead). At the same time, large-screened phones (“phablets,” if we must) are taking off.

On the Android side, we’ve seen very clear evidence that the large-screened smartphones have started to eat into the sales for 7-inch devices. Even 8-inch devices (the size closer to the iPad mini), are impacted when phone screens approach the 6-inch mark.

After all, a 5.5-inch phone is in many ways closer to a tablet than it is to a smartphone. In talking with hundreds of iPhone 6 Plus owners for a recent story, a common refrain I heard from many was that “the iPhone 6 is going to make me use my iPad mini less.””

Christina Warren nails it in this Mashable article. Why carry around an iPad and an iPhone? If you use both regularly, it makes sense to swap the iPad mini and iPhone for an iPhone 6 Plus. While it’s not quite as big, it makes a lot more sense. Also, if you have an iPad with a data contract – which you don’t always need, since, depending on your cell provider, you may be able to use the iPhone to create a personal hotspot – you’re saving money on that subscription.

It’s not for me – neither the iPhone 6 or the 6 Plus – but I can see plenty of use cases where the 6 Plus is the perfect device for lots of people.

This said, a recent segment on the BBC News showed a hospital where the nurses were using iPod touches to record patient data, which is then centralized. The hospital has a much lower overall death rate because of the system. I think the iPod touch – or something like it – has a future in the enterprise, in areas where a touch-screen device is useful, but where cell access isn’t needed. It will be interesting to see if Apple addresses this market explicitly in the future.

The iPad Mini Is the New iPod Touch.

Duplicate Tracks in iTunes Cause Problems Syncing iOS Devices

My friend Rob Griffiths pinged me the other day. He had gotten a brand new iPhone 6, (and ribbed me about it), but was having problems syncing it. He could sync some content, but not movies; then some movies, but not all; then he couldn’t sync at all.

Rob took the extreme move of writing to Tim Cook, one of whose staffers read the email and reacted, quickly. It turned out, as Rob explains, that the problem was caused by duplicate tracks in his iTunes library:

“In the current version of iTunes/iOS, there’s a bug that only appears when you have duplicates of purchased songs. When encountered, a duplicate of a purchased song will (almost always) cause iTunes to silently stop syncing.”

This is interesting, in part because I get lots of emails about problems with syncing iOS devices, and I’d never found a cause. I’m not sure this is the only issue, because sync problems are multifarious. For example, in the few days that I had my iPhone 6, I had to restore it twice, because the device lost track of my music and showed it all as “Other” content. I’ve seen this occur in the past when syncs are interrupted, but this was happening to me with a new device, allowing it to sync completely.

Rob eventually scoured his library with Doug Adams’ Dupin, an app that finds duplicates in iTunes. (Read Doug’s write-up of the story.) I ran Dupin, and was surprised to find that I, too, had a number of duplicates, one of which was a full purchased album by Bob Dylan. I know I had never downloaded that album twice, so I suspect something odd going on behind the scenes in iTunes when it organizes libraries. And Rob is sure that he never downloaded his duplicate tracks twice, but what was interesting was some of them were older 128 kbps tracks with DRM, and some were newer versions; perhaps he upgraded them, at some point, and iTunes didn’t delete the older ones?

What is more likely is that these duplicates were added to his library when he chose to transfer purchases from an iOS device:


donotxfer.png

I know I’ve done that at times, when I’ve updated apps on my iPhone, for example, and didn’t want to download them again in iTunes (since my bandwidth is limited). But why would it have, in my case, only transferred one album?

I wonder if this is just a bug with iTunes, or with specific iOS devices. Rob never had problems syncing his iPhone 5, and I saw sync problems with my iPhone 6, but my 5s generally syncs without any issues. So there’s some odd combination here causing the issue.

Whatever the case, if you do have sync problems with an iOS device, I’d suggest getting Dupin and scouring your library. It may save you a lot of headache.

Is Apple Trying to Do too Much Too Quickly?

I recently wrote about Apple’s string of bad luck, with bad press, a bad keynote stream, the U2 album spamming fiasco, and, above all, the iOS 8.0.1 update that bricked a lot of users’ iPhones. If I were to go back in the archives of this website, I’d find other, similar articles about blunders when a new OS was released requiring an update quickly for some embarrassing problems, or when hardware issues that shouldn’t have happened plagued many users. (Remember AntennaGate?)

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as much of my work depends on Apple’s product cycle. When there is a new version of OS X or iOS, I, along with many of my colleagues, have lots of articles to write. When there’s a new version of iTunes, I update my Take Control of iTunes book. It’s great to have new things to write about, but the annual release cycle is becoming problematic for many reasons.

I’ve increasingly had the feeling that Apple is finding it difficult to keep up with all these releases, and that quality is slipping. This generally isn’t the case with hardware – no, the iPhone 6 doesn’t really bend, unless you apply a lot of pressure to it – but rather with software. Bugs abound; shoddy releases are followed by broken updates. On the latest episode of The Committed podcast, Ian Schray, Rob Griffiths and I were discussing the fact that Apple just released the OS X Yosemite GM Candidate. Back in the day, the golden master was the final build that was sent to the company that pressed CDs or DVDs. There was never a “GM Candidate,” but just one GM release. I think it was with OS X 10.9 that Apple issued a GM, followed by a GM 2; this is something that should never happen. Final should be final.

Right now, with iOS 8, the Health app was delayed on release because of some unspecified bugs. iCloud Drive doesn’t seem to work very well on iOS, and it’s caused problems because it’s not available on Mavericks; anyone turning it on on their iPhone or iPad will find that they cannot access their documents on their Mac. (Though, by some oddity, there is a Windows version of iCloud Drive, which apparently works.) iOS 8 is buggy, crashes a lot, has Wi-Fi issues and more. And Family Sharing, according to some of my colleagues, is problematic as well. (I’ve not tested it yet.)

Back in 2007, Apple had to delay the release of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard because it needed more developers to work on iOS. You get the feeling today that something similar is happening: that the company simply can’t scale to handle two operating systems released around the same time.

On Daring Fireball yesterday, John Gruber said:

“From the outside, it seems like Apple’s software teams can’t keep up with the pace of the hardware teams. Major new versions of iOS aren’t released “when they’re ready”, they’re released when the new iPhone hardware ships. On Twitter the other day, I suggested that perhaps Apple should decouple major iOS feature releases from the iPhone hardware schedule. That’s probably untenable from a marketing perspective, and it might just make things more complex from a QA perspective. But something has to give.”

The problem is that, now, iOS and OS X are inextricably linked. A number of iOS features aren’t available, at least not fully, because OS X 10.10 Yosemite isn’t out yet. Being married to a release cycle based on hardware, not software, makes sense for iOS – certain features of the mobile operating system depend on new hardware features in iPhone and iPads – but it makes less sense with OS X, which does not have an annual hardware update cycle.

Yes, something has to give. Apple is great at showing us how wonderful our world will be with new products, but they’ve been less successful lately at delivering on their promises. It’s time for Apple to take a step back, slow down, and get things right, instead of just getting things shipped.

Why I Returned My iPhone 6

As I recently wrote in a Macworld article, Why I’m returning my iPhone 6 (well, maybe), Apple’s latest phone just doesn’t work for me. When I wrote the article, I was still on the fence, but this morning, I’ve returned the iPhone 6.

I found it interesting that a large number of commenters to the Macworld article agreed with me. I thought I would seem like a curmudgeon, but I’ve been hearing from many people by email, and on social media, that they, too, just don’t find the iPhone 6 to be to their liking.

The only reason is its size. My iPhone is a very personal device, one that I carry with me most of the time, and one that is a link to the world, whether by phone or text (which I actually use very little), or by email, Twitter and other services. For me, the iPhone allows me, in part, to not be at my desk all the time. As a freelancer working at home, I like the freedom I have to not work set hours, and having the iPhone in my pocket means that if something urgent comes up, I can be notified, and get back home.

I used the iPhone 6 for a week; I went back to the iPhone 5s on Friday, to see if I really liked it better. And I did. This may be because of its familiarity; it’s a comfortable size. I can hold it comfortably in one hand, and do most of what I need with just one hand. The iPhone 6, however, felt alien, as though it was just not the right size for my hand. Granted, iPhones have always been smaller (I don’t consider the taller display of the iPhone 5 and 5s to be that different from previous models), so the iPhone 6 was very new. But it just wasn’t right for me.

I’ve always bought unlocked iPhones, and I’ve bought them from Apple, so I have the option of returning them within 14 days. I appreciate Apple’s return policy that allows me to try out a new device. I’ve never returned any Apple products for this reason before; I’ve exchanged defective Macs, but never sent back something I simply didn’t like.

In the latest episode of my podcast, The Committed, our guest, Christina Warren, asked if I wouldn’t feel tech lust not having the latest iPhone for a year. I don’t think I will; it’s a wonderful device, but there’s nothing really compelling in the iPhone 6 that I’ll miss, other than the ability to have 128 GB, so I can store more music on my device. Sure, the display is a bit nicer, the camera a bit better, but if the device isn’t comfortable to use, then what’s the point?

This will be the first time I’ve kept an iPhone for two years. I’ll certainly upgrade next year, to the iPhone 6s or 7, whichever model they release. I may not have a choice next year, and may have to choose a larger iPhone. But I think with the number of people who still want a smaller model, Apple is likely to offer three sizes with the next iPhone. We’ll know in a year.

How To: Prepare an iOS Device for Return, Exchange or Sale

If you ever need to erase an iOS device completely, to return it (as I’m doing today with my iPhone 6), to exchange it, or to sell it, it’s a simple process, but you need to make sure you do it correctly. You can’t just wipe the device in iTunes, using the Restore function; that will still keep it linked to your Apple ID.

2014-09-29 11.14.12.pngGo to Settings > General > Reset, then tap Erase All Content and Settings. You’ll see a dialog asking if you’re sure you want to do this; if you are, go ahead. The device will erase everything but the OS, and you’ll see the welcome screen that you saw when you first set it up, or first installed the latest version of iOS.

But there’s another thing you need to do. In iTunes, go to the iTunes Store, then to your account. In the iTunes in the Cloud section, you’ll see a Manage Devices entry. Click Manage Devices, then check to see if your iOS device is listed there. Reseting it should delete it from the list, but it may not. Since you can only have ten iOS devices linked to your account, you may be near that limit, if you have a couple of Macs, an iPhone, an iPad, and a couple of devices for your spouse, partner or children. If you find your device there, click Remove.

That’s it. You can now return, exchange, sell or give away your device.