Monday, December 31, 2018

Here's to 2019

With the new year nearly upon us, it's time to set our unrealistic goals and expectations for the future. If you look at the Blog Archive widget on the right side, you'll see that I've been consistently writing 365 posts each year since 2013. And while I do look forward to adding 2019 to that growing list, with over 2,000 daily posts under my belt, I do believe that it is time to move on to bigger and better things in my life. I will stop writing daily posts on May 20, 2019. I started this blog in the summer of 2012 when I was in middle school. Today, I am a sophomore in college. The motto for this blog played off of asking a teenager for technology help, and I think it's fitting that I end my daily posts on the day before I turn 20 years old. With this, I will have written daily blog posts for nearly the entirety of all of my teenage years. I hope that everyone reading this understands my decision. Thank you for reading my blog and I wish you a happy new year.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Problem with Multitasking on iPad

iPad multitasking before iOS 11 was simple and to the point. Swipe left from the right edge of the screen to reveal an iPhone-sized second app. Swipe from the top to pick a different app. It wasn't perfect but it got the job done. Probably the most annoying thing with it was that you have to scroll through the app selection, instead of having them all on one page, but everything else felt solid. Now, you have this terrible system where you slide up from the bottom of the iPad. But, not too quickly, otherwise you'll close your current app. That is terrible design philosophy. Power users are the prime demographic for multitasking and you're telling me I have to slide up slowly? Then, tap and hold on an app in the dock, wait for it to hover, and drag it over to the right side of the screen. This feels so cryptic. It's like finding a hidden room in the original Legend of Zelda. How was I supposed to know that specific action would accomplish this? The difference with this is that video games are fun to explore every nook and cranny. You shouldn't have to do that with a mobile operating system. Hopefully, in iOS 13, we see a complete overhaul of this system. It's simply unacceptable.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Problem with Control Center

Control Center has changed constantly over the past few years. It used to be simple. Swipe up and toggle Wi-Fi or something. Later, you'd have to swipe over a page to control volume. Then that was scratched and we have the tile view we have today. On the iPhone X and later, along with all supported iPads, you have to swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen to get to Control Center. But on iPhone 8 and earlier, you have to swipe up from the bottom. While change can be hard to accept for some, I think we can all agree that change is easier to swallow when it's a consistent change. iPads have no notches, so it seems weird that only iPhones with notches follow the new swipe down rule. What's worse is that iPhone 8 and earlier owners are likely unaware of this change, so if Apple makes it consistent now, between major updates, there will be riots in the streets. Apple needs to make sure that iOS has a consistent ruleset across all devices.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Instagram's Horizontal Scrolling

Instagram, aside from many aesthetic changes, has largely remained the same app for its entire life. However, Instagram rolled out a mode where posts are looked through horizontally rather than the normal vertical scrolling screen. This mode was meant to only go live for a small group of users, but went out to more than intended. The new mode was so universally disliked that it garnered trending status and media attention. The change has been reverted and we can only guess that Instagram R&D will not put this layout in a future build.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

macOS Mojave's Stacks

When it was first announced, I didn't think too much of the Stacks feature. It essentially groups up your files on the desktop by file type. I figured that's what folders were for and didn't think much of it. However, I now see how useful it can be. I usually just cleanup my desktop from time to time by either trashing files or sending them to an archive folder, but between file purges, my desktop can get very messy, especially during big projects. So, I find that Stacks come in handy often. To enable Stacks, just right click on the desktop and click "Use Stacks."

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

iPad Mini 5 Case Leak

The iPad Mini hasn't been updated for sometime, and with significant improvements in the iPad line since that update, we wonder what could make it down to the smaller tablet. Thanks to Slashleaks, we may have a direction to go in. The alleged iPad Mini 5 case leak shown below, suggest that flash will finally be added, due to the larger camera cutout. There are also speaker cutouts for four speakers, suggesting surround sound speakers, similar to the iPad Pro. While we have to take this with a grain of salt, it would be nice to see the iPad Mini 5 live up closer to an iPad Pro. Maybe we'll even get USB-C?

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Tips for Your New iOS Device

If you just got a new iOS device for Christmas, be sure to follow these tips to get the most out of your new device.

If this is your first upgrade in a while, remember that there are more features than what is advertised for your device. The iPhone 7 introduced water-resistance and better speakers. The iPhone 8 introduced wireless charging. The iPhone X has portrait mode and two cameras in all models. Be sure to see what's changed since your last iPhone.

If you like starting fresh, rather than restoring from a backup, check the Apple App Store for some new apps. Their front page and collections are great starting points and can help you find apps you never knew you needed. I recommend 1Password and Deliveries for starting out fresh.

Finally, take note of the devices your old iPhone interacted with. For example, Bluetooth devices may need to be repaired. Your car will likely keep searching for your old phone. Bluetooth speakers will need repairing as well. However, AirPods will automatically connect to your new device, as long as it shares your Apple ID.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Ask Alexa Where Santa Is

Tracking Santa's journey throughout the past few years have changed a lot in the past decade. Google has taken over Norad for a while now, but Alexa is finally putting Norad back in the spotlight. Just ask her where Santa is tonight and she'll let you know where Santa is based on Norad's tracking service. It's a fun way to bring the family together this Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Apple's Dan Riccio Says iPad Pros Meet or Exceed Quality Standards

After Apple told the Verge that iPad Pros shipped bent are normal, a MacRumors reader reached out to Apple in an email looking for any followup. Dan Riccio, Apple's Vice President of Hardware Engineering, replied. The email is below, but to summarize, he states that the quality standards regulating the iPad Pro are the best they've had and bent iPad Pros shouldn't be too noticeable. In my opinion, if people are noticing a bend in the tablet they paid around a grand for, that speaks volumes about either the quality standards or the enforcement of the quality standards. One of those needs to change.
"Relative to the issue you referenced regarding the new iPad Pro, its unibody design meets or exceeds all of Apple's high quality standards of design and precision manufacturing. We've carefully engineered it and every part of the manufacturing process is precisely measured and controlled. 
Our current specification for iPad Pro flatness is up to 400 microns which is even tighter than previous generations. This 400 micron variance is less than half a millimeter (or the width of fewer than four sheets of paper at most) and this level of flatness won't change during normal use over the lifetime of the product. Note, these slight variations do not affect the function of the device in any way. 
Again, thanks for reaching out and I hope the above explanation addresses your concerns."

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Apple Will Release New Lower-End iPads Next Year

This year, we saw the 6th generation iPad, a great value iPad with a focus on creativity. The China Times is reporting that we will see the return of the iPad mini and a 7th generation iPad. The iPad mini received its latest update in 2015, so those looking to buy one should consider waiting. These iPads would release in the first half of 2019. These iPads are nice because they definitely get the job done for most people, provide great value, and don't feel held back by iOS, unlike the iPad Pros.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Apple Says Some iPad Pros Are Shipped Bent

Apple has told The Verge that a percentage of iPad Pros have shipped slightly bent. However, this is not a bug, it is a feature. Not really, but stick with me. Apple states that this is normal and not considered a defect, since it is a normal result of the manufacturing process. While Apple did say this, they also said customers should have no problem exchanging their iPad Pro for a new model. This is just weird for Apple to say. There is no reason for someone to pay potentially $1,000+ for a device just to find that it is bent. While the bend is not very noticeable at a glance, it's enough where users will still take note.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

John Giannandrea Promoted to Apple's Senior Vice President in Machine Learning and AI Strategy

John Giannandrea joined Apple in April of this year. He worked at Google with their search and artificial intelligence technologies, before being picked up by Apple to become their chief of machine learning and AI strategy. In the short time he's worked at Apple, he's now been promoted to their Senior Vice President of Machine Learning and AI Strategy. We can only hope that Siri becomes better under his new role.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Apple Sending Unsolicited Notifications

One of Apple's guidelines for notifications is that developers may not use them for advertising or promotional purposes, however, it seems that Apple's own Music app is now guilty of that. Many users have reported getting notifications regarding new episodes of Carpool Karaoke and Amazon Echo support for Apple Music. Not all users got these notifications, but many of those who did were upset. iOS has always been free of ads on the base operating system, and to see an ad for something like Carpool Karaoke can easily be seen as a desperate attempt by Apple to get more people to watch the show. Apple needs to ensure that their entire team is aware of their own guidelines and find better ways to communicate their marketing materials.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Charter Spectrum on Apple TV Delayed

In June, Apple said that Charter Spectrum would have a tvOS app and Zero Sign-On by the end of 2018. However, it seems that plans have changed. Instead of saying that the feature will come "later this year," the page states that it is "coming soon." Zero Sign-On would allow Apple TV to sign you into your cable subscription using your broadband connection details alone, bypassing any credentials.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Apple Offers Free Next-Day Delivery for Last Minute Gifts

Apple is offering free next-day delivery on all items in their online store ordered by December 21 at 3 p.m. local time. Next-day delivery includes weekends. Obviously, only in-stock items apply for this offer. While Apple has been branching out to new retailers as of late, it is nice to see little things like free next-day shipping to make shopping at Apple a more premium experience.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

3D Printed Head vs. Facial Recognition

Forbes used a 3D printed head in an attempt to fool various smartphones with facial recognition. They used an iPhone X, an LG G7 ThinQ, a Samsung S9, a Samsung Note 8 and a OnePlus 6. Every Android phone of the bunch opened up to the 3D printed head, but the iPhone X remained locked. While facial hacking isn't something most people should worry about, it does speak volumes of Apple's TrueDepth system.

Image Credit: Forbes

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Costco Selling Macs Online

Apple may be responding to lackluster sales with new retailers. Earlier, we saw Apple start selling more products on Amazon and now the same is going for Costco's online store. Both Amazon and Costco have had major deals on Apple products since they've had the new listings. The deals put Apple's Black Friday sale to shame. The base 2018 MacBook Air is $200 cheaper on Costco than Apple. Before buying Apple products be sure to check the websites of Costco (if you have a membership) and Amazon.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Apple Music Now Available on Alexa

Earlier this month, it was announced that Apple Music would be available on Alexa starting the week of December 17. It seems that plans have changed, as the Alexa skill is already available. I've already tried it and it works pretty well. It can play my playlists synced through Apple Music. It can even play music that I added manually (not through the Apple Music catalog). To get started, just add the Apple Music skill to your Alexa device through the Amazon Alexa app.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Apple Music Connect To Shut Down

Apple Music Connect was a very small feature in Apple Music. It was similar to iTunes Ping, shut down in 2012. iTunes Ping tried to make iTunes a social experience. Apple Music Connect added artist's posts and tweets into Apple Music. Apple has tried to make music a social experience for too long. I think most people just want a way to get notified if their favorite artists release a new album. Connect content will be searchable until May 24, 2019.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

HomePod Discounted to Apple Music Subscribers in the U.K.

HomePod's biggest problem is the ridiculous price of $350. Target had an offer on HomePods that made it $250 this week, which would be a more appropriate regular price, at least for Apple. Now, Apple is offering those in the U.K. £50 off of HomePod. That's roughly $60 in the U.S., which could eventually translate to a $50 discount. Apple Music subscribers definitely should have a discount on HomePod. Either that, or HomePod comes with three months of Apple Music. The offer lasts until December 16, and there's no work if this discount will expand to other countries.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Verizon Now Supports eSIM

Verizon now supports eSIM, which means you can have a Verizon plan without the need for a physical SIM card. This can be useful for those traveling to the United States frequently or those who have a second phone number with Verizon. Verizon's adoption of eSIM is important for eSIM as a whole. Hopefully, more carriers begin adopting it. Currently, this is only limited to non-Verizon customers who want an eSIM from Verizon. The only iPhones that can support eSIM are iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Samsung Finally Removes the Headphone Jack

Samsung has used the iPhone's lack of a headphone jack as a medium for the mudslinging in their advertising for a while now. However, they'll awkwardly slide that under the rug with their new Samsung Galaxy A8s. It has an edge to edge display and no headphone jack. With Samsung finally jumping on board, there aren't many phones that still have a headphone jack. However, the Samsung Galaxy S10 may still have a headphone jack. That is to be determined, but I believe they will use the A8s to test the waters of certain features before adding them to a flagship phone.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Google Chrome and Dark Mode

Google Chrome is one of the most popular web browsers, for both macOS and Windows. With macOS Mojave, Dark Mode is now available for apps that support it. To satisfy more users, it only makes sense to bring these two together. Thanks to a user on Reddit, we have reason to believe Dark Mode will come by early 2019. It should come out in Chrome 72. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

iPhone XS Battery Case Could Be Released Soon

The Smart Battery Cases for iPhone are a weird contention point for Apple enthusiasts. It's nice to have an external battery that integrates with iOS. But then you have the ugly silicone material and the hump of a battery that makes you wonder if Apple even cares about Jony Ive anymore. Regardless, it seems that the iPhone XS will be getting a Smart Battery Case [Source: 9to5Mac]. We could even see iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR variations. For all we know, there could be a minor redesign to make it look better, although it's unlikely. We have reason to believe it will release in 2018.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Apple Watch ECG Feature Only Available in the United States

While this is nothing new, it is important to reiterate that the ECG feature on the Apple Watch Series 4 is only available to owners in the United States. This is because of regulations, and the Apple Watch has not been approved outside of the U.S. at this time. The reason to bring this up is because, as MacRumors has pointed out, changing your device's region to the United States will not affect this. Only models purchased in the United States will work with the ECG feature. Hopefully, other countries get this feature soon. This obviously isn't Apple's fault. It's just part of the process.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

watchOS 5.1.2 Released with ECG Support

It's weird to have such a random, minor update have one of the flagship features of a device, but here we are. watchOS 5.1.2 released today, a day after Apple released new updates for so many other products. The timing is weird, but I'm not complaining. watchOS 5.1.2 includes ECG support for the Apple Watch Series 4. This can be very informative for your heart health. Make sure you update your iPhone to the latest software to take advantage of creating PDF reports of your ECG as well.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

iOS 12.1.1 Released, With No Signs of watchOS 5.1.2

iOS 12.1.1 was released today, which brings eSIM support to the latest iPhones. It also adds support for ECG data on the iPhone's side. This isn't useful unless you have an Apple Watch Series 4 with watchOS 5.1.2. Despite so many minor updates from Apple being released today. There hasn't been any sign of watchOS 5.1.2. It will likely come out in the next few days. If it is delayed, it may be to iron out the updating process. watchOS is notorious for bricking Apple Watches. While it's not super common, we do hear of quite a few cases from time to time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Every Android Flagship Phone Will Have 5G in 2020

Qualcomm's president has stated that every Android flagship smartphone will have 5G by the end of 2019. This comes right after we learned that Apple will likely wait until 2020 to implement 5G. To say that this is a a blow to Apple would be an understatement. I understand that Apple usually waits on things like this, but with iPhone sales showing no signs of speeding up, iPhone is looking to be the laughing stock of smartphones in 2019. We can only hope that 2019's iPhones have something really innovative, but it's too soon to call it.

Monday, December 3, 2018

5G iPhones Coming As Early As 2020

5G is on the horizon as its possibility of being in consumer smartphones becomes greater and greater. However, it seems that Apple will wait until at least 2020 to release an iPhone with 5G compatibility [Source: Bloomberg]. Apple has waited a year with both 3G and 4G as well. This could be a blow with Apple. While waiting on 3G and 4G may have not been a huge deal in their time, 5G will likely be a big selling point, and probably standard by 2019's end. To say that Apple would be left in the dust would leave us with another round of disappointing sales numbers. Things are certainly different this time around.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

New AirPods Not Expected Until 2019

According to Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will release their next generation of AirPods in the first quarter of 2019. Unsurprisingly, Apple did not get these out by the end of 2018. However, there is an interesting detail. Kuo notes that it will have an "all-new design model." Could this mean we'll see more than just wireless charging and "Hey, Siri" support? AirPods is at that point where people are likely holding out for an update, so an AirPods update is very welcome at this point.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Apple Watch Series 4 Getting ECG Feature in Next Update

Apple Watch Series 4 will be getting an ECG feature, which is arguably one of the flagship features of the device, alongside the major redesign. The ECG feature can help determine if you may be suffering from atrial fibrillation or irregular heart rhythm. The next watchOS update, watchOS 5.1.2, will enable this feature. This feature is still being approved in most countries, but it will be available in the United States. The update is in beta testing, but we can expect the update by the end of the year.