Category Archives: iPhone

When is Good Enough Good Enough?

My last iPhone purchase was the iPhone 6 Plus back in March,  2015. Late in 2017, I began to notice a drop off in performance and battery life.

My first thought was “I need a new iPhone.”, but, after further review, I determined that I would try a battery replacement instead.

The key component in the “review” was the use of the Coconut Battery app to measure my iPhone battery health. Within the app metrics, I saw that my phone’s battery capacity was diminished substantially and the number of charging cycles was nearly 500 which far outpaces the 200-300 advertised for the normal life span of the battery.

In January of this year, I took my phone to a local Apple repair service U Break I Fix.  Twenty minutes and $70 later, I walked out with a “new” iPhone. The performance was back. The battery was back.

Now, as to question of when is good enough good enough? The technology gene in my DNA calls for a new iPhone each time a new one hits the market. The last episode was the recent release of the Big Red One. The frugal side argues that the new iPhone doesn’t give you features that meet the “replacement threshold”.

Now I know the “replacement threshold” is a subjective measure which differs for each individual. The “threshold” is very sensitive to the usage model each person has for the device. My “threshold” has changed over time; drifting from a technology-based measure to a frugal-based measure.

For now, I am not sold on the form factor and function of the iPhone X. And the iPhone 8 Plus is better than my iPhone 6 Plus, but not to the point that I need to replace current function with updated function.

I am anticipating the next few months when the numerous iPhone rumors solidify into reality. What is most intriguing is the adoption of larger screen sizes. At that point, a reassessment may result in a new iPhone, but, for now, Good Enough is definitely Good Enough.

 

 

 

Waiting for iOS 4.2

Both my iPad and I are waiting with bated breath for the release of iOS 4.2.

Apple has prepared the way with the recent release of Mac OS X 10.6.5 and iTunes 10.1, but the availability of the iOS update is still uncertain.

Also uncertain is the viability of the iOS implementation of folders and “multi-tasking”.  In this arena, Apple could take a hint from the jailbreak community which allows custom icons for folders, folders within folders and the ability to select which, if any, apps you wish to have in a multi-tasking list. In contrast, Apple provides a single icon for a folder (the little mini icons painted on it notwithstanding. That doesn’t help for those of us somewhat visually challenged.), one level of folders, and every app showing up in the multi-tasking list.

My only experience with an iOS 4.x OS is my iPhone 3G which is intentionally forbidden from partaking in a number of features. But, I will update when the opportunity presents itself and enjoy it’s benefits or endure it’s shortcomings.

And, oh yes, my little iPhone 3G will come along for the ride.

Jailbreakme.com Do I Dare?

I have not yet moved to the iPhone 4. I am still using my iPhone 3G (Dec. 2008). My plan is the same as my original iPhone (June 2007); ride it until it drops..

I did update to IOS 4 and I am currently running IOS 4.0.1. One thing I am disappointed in is the lack of IOS 4 multitasking (app switching). Apple, in their infinite wisdom, decided by the iPhone 3G would not avail itself of this IOS feature. RATS!

I noted the recent posting of an IOS 4 jailbreak using MobileSafari. Well, I decided to go for it. I navigated to www.jailbreakme.com, moved the slider to the right, and VOILA! My iPhone firmware was modified and Cydia (sigh-d-ah) was installed. I then downloaded a free app from Cydia called ZToggle. Using the app, I enabled both iPhone 3G multitasking and wallpaper.

So far, so good. The phone appears to be functioning as well as before the jailbreak. I noticed that IOS 4 adds every app you launch to the list of background apps. After extended usage, the list gets fairly long at which time my iPhone memory is affected. The effect usually manifests itself by the failure of an app to launch or a previously launched app failing to swap in. To correct the problem, I run through the list of apps in the multitask list and remove a number of them (hold an icon until the “jiggle” begins, then press the “X” at the upper left of the icon.) The “problem” does not occur with too much grequency, so it is currently in the “nuisance” column.

As a side note, I like the multitasking features of “Backgrounder (available through Cydia). Backgrounder allows the user to decide which apps should be run in the background unlike IOS 4 which placed every app in the background. The one shortfall of Backgrounder is that it does not provide a list of background apps. You have to search though your apps looking for a small Backgrounder badge at the lower left of the app icon. There is another Cydia app that provides this function called Circuitous, but running the app causes my iPhone to crash.

Of course, jailbreaking is not for everyone. For me, I felt I needed the ability to switch between apps since I use features from multiple apps to perform higher level tasks. With the jailbreak, I now have that ability. I don’t want to turn my phone into a mobile hotspot or perform other actions that are outside the scope of the official App Store.

IOS 4 And My iPhone 3G

I have now been using IOS 4 on my iPhone 3G since the release of the OS on June 21st.

As many of you may know, not all features of IOS 4 are available for the iPone 3G hardware. Most notable among these is the app-switching capability loosely referred to as multi-tasking. I describe it this way because the iOS 4 implementation is not true multi-tasking which allows applications to continue to process in the background. Apple has implemented a narrow set of services which an App can use to maintain it’s state when not processing as the foreground application, but the app is suspended when in the background.

My biggest disappointment with the upgrade is the intermittent sluggishness of the iPhone 3G with the new OS. The touch screen is not as responsive and sometimes requires multiple touches to get the ball rolling. Another issue is that some apps are a little touchy at launching. Some days, they behave without a problem, but at other times, the apps just will not launch at all even after a “re-spring” (re-boot) of the device.

One feature I was looking forward to was “folders”; a means to group Apps to remove the clutter from the home screen. The feature does allow the home screen to be cleaned up, and the interface for adding or removing apps from a folder is seamless and intuitive. However, the final result leaves something to be desired. The largest drawback is that there is no distinctive difference between one folder and another other than the name given to the folder. For those of us with less than good eyesight, the “sameness” look makes it difficult to locate a specific group of applications. I had hoped that there would be a way to customize the folder icon in order to make each grouping visually identifiable, but, to date, this capability does not exist. With Apple’s general support for Accessibility for it’s devices, one would hope that this shortcoming will be addressed.

I have not detected any meaningful change in battery performance. I still run with notifications disabled which provides for a full day’s worth of battery life.

If not for my iPad 3G, I would probably attempt to restore my iPhone 3G back to iPhone OS 3.1.3, but, truth be known, the iPad has replaced my iPhone as my primary media consumption device. I plan to continue my journey with the iPhone 3G and IOS 4 with hopes that some improvements and enhancements will come to pass.

My Thoughts On iPhone4

I’m currently using the iPhone 3G. My original upgrade date was August 31st, but AT&T, in it’s attempt at customer service, has updated the date. I can now upgrade at the iPhone4 release date. Do I need to take the plunge?

The “techie” in me say “Without question, you need to get the new iPhone”. My Scottish ancestry says “Your iPhone 3G is operating flawlessly. You don’t need the new iPhone”. Here we have it; the classic battle between “want” and “Need”.

As a Software Engineer, the IOS4 software update is my current primary interest. I will be able to get the update on June 21st, although some of the features, such as multi-tasking, are not directly supported for the 3G [read that any way you wish].

I had planned to skip the 3G, but my original iPhone stopped working at the end of 2008 and I made the move to the 3G at that time. The loss of my original iPhone threw my basic upgrade schedule off kilter. I had planned to update every other year. Using that schedule, my next iPhone would be iPhone5 not 4.

Another factor I must consider is my recent purchase of the iPad 3G. After adding the iPad to my inventory, I find that the iPhone has been demoted to a secondary device for such things as email and web browsing. Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone is still a vital part of my data strategy, but, if my iPad is available, I tend to use it instead.

My current plans are to update my 3G to IOS4 and assess overall performance and functionality. Is the 3G capable enough to deliver?

When we look at the new iPhone from a hardware standpoint, there are a number of compelling features.

  • Battery Life
    The iPhone4 advertises a substantial improvement in battery performance. This feature, however, is not so critical for me. I currently use the Mophie Air so I already have 2X battery performance for my 3G.
  • Camera
    The upgrade to the camera (5 megapixel with LED flash) is enticing , but I just purchased a 12 megapixel point-and-shoot camera. I really don’t take too many pictures, but the camera is a definite plus. Not so much for the camera itself, but the geo-tagging features of the iPhone software.
  • Display
    Now here we get into a compelling feature. The display seems to be a tremendous enhancement for the iPhone or for any other mobile phone for that matter.  Only the iPad with it’s 1024×768 screen tempers the display as a “must have” iPhone feature. I may certainly change my mind when I get to see the real thing.
  • CPU & Memory
    I considered this as well when the iPhone 3GS surfaced last year. I have been able to continue with the 3G without any negative effects in this area.
  • iPhone Antennae in Case
    The fact that the new iPhone is 24% thinner is not too important to me, but the new arrangement for the antennae is. My strongest complaint with my iPhone 3G is poor cell reception at work. The poor reception became even more apparent  when the iPad came on board. The iPad consistently has better 3G performance that my iPhone. The new configuration promises increased cellular performance. It this indeed plays out, this may be enough to trigger the update.

My plan is to go at this issue with a “wait and see” attitude; calmly evaluating the new IOS4 software on my current 3G platform. I freely admit, however, that this “wait and see” concept may rapidly turn into a “see if I wait”  situation.

Stay tuned.

Accessibility Improvements for iPhone and iPad

With my low vision needs, the Accessibility features of a new platform, both hardware and software, are of paramount importance. In fact, Accessibility was one of the enticements that lured me to the Mac platform in 2005.

While the Zoom feature of Mac OS X is first class, the built-in Text-to-Speech feature provides these tired eyes with the help they need. just highlight the text, hit the keyboard shortcut and let the nice lady inside the Mac read to you. I also use the feature to proofread outgoing documents and emails. I couldn’t operate without Zoom and Text-to-Speech.

With later releases of the iPhone OS and the advent of the App Store, I have been able to put together a similar use of Text-to-Speech using the iPhone Copy & Paste in tandum with an App called Speak-It from Future Apps, Inc.

First, I highlight the desired text inside the current application and select the iPhone Copyfunction. It’s sometimes a little tricky to get the desired selection, but, with persistence it can be done.

Once the Copy operation has been performed, you now need to exit the current App and launch Speak-It. Note: With the release of iPhone OS 4.0 and the right iPhone hardware, you will be able to switch between the two Apps.

Once Speak-It is up and running, you tap and hold in the text entry area until the Paste option appears. Select Paste and voila!. The text from the other App pops in. Press the “Speak It” button and let the soothing tones of the little lady inside the Speak-It App read the story.

Requested Improvement

It would be nice to be able to invoke Text-To-Speech function from the first App. Add a “Speak” option to the Copy pop-up. The Speak option would be available if the user had selected Text-to-Speech in his/her Accessibility preference pane. The operation would be performed directly in the current App, eliminating the need to exit or switch to a different App.

The iPhoneVirtual Keyboard

The original iPhone (2007) was my first Smartphone. I had never really used text messaging or any other keyboard intensive operations. The iPhone virtual keyboard with it’s pop-up letter indications was a game-changer for me. I press a virtual key and the key pressed is displayed above my typing digit. I press and hold and slide left, right, up or down in the event my first press was quite right. Using this method, I can type out text messages and Tweets and emails in an acceptable time period.

I noticed that the iPad’s virtual keyboard has lost this function. I realize that the keys are larger, but the lettering on the key is still somewhat small to me. It would be comforting to see the face of the little Letter, Number or Symbol peek up at me from the touch screen.

Another enhancement would be to allow increased contrast between the key and the displayed symbol; a Black Key with White Text without affecting the rest of the display.. This is the keyboard layout for the Unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops (one of the reasons I purchased the first Unibody MacBook in 2008).

Anyway, those are some suggestions for improvements in iPhone and iPad Accessibility. Do you have any other ideas that would aid those of us that love the technology, but need a little assist in using it?

iPhone OS 4 Is Announced

On Thursday, April 8th, Apple announced the upcoming release of iPhone OS 4.

Among the many features of interest are two major items:

  • Multi-tasking
    Finally, multi-tasking is coming to the iPhone OS. But the joy of it’s arrival is dimmed by my inability to use it. I currently have the iPhone 3G which will not support the feature. One saving grace is that my update period will begin around the time the next iPhone hardware should arrive which is sometime in the June-July time frame.
  • Folders
    To me, this is a major update. I currently have 11 screens full of icons. Flicking screens back and forth is fun, but after awhile, the fun wears a little thin. Folders will allw you to group apps in whatever logical collection your logic desires.

iPhone OS 4 is scheduled to arrive sometime this summer with an iPad version coming later this fall. Yes! Multi-tasking for my new iPad. Life is good.

For more information on iPhone OS 4, visit the Apple website.

UPDATE: April 13, 2010

Rumors are rumbling concerning multitasking and the older Apple iPhones and iPod Touch models.  According to early reports, multitasking can be enabled on the devices by a simple change to a system preference file. There is currently no information as to how well the older devices may perform with multitasking enabled. It may be that performance takes a major nose dive which bears out Steve Jobs announcement at the recent unveiling. Time will tell.

What Will January 27th Bring?

The long-awaited Apple (Tablet?) event arrives on Wednesday, January 27th.

Apple will remove the paint splotches and unveil the product (s) that have fueled the flames of speculation for months.

The question remains, can Apple possibly live up to the hype that has been growing to what seems to be an unattainable level.

A number of rumors have settled on 4 basic items.

  • The Apple Tablet (I still hope for the rebirth of iBook)
  • iPhone OS 4.0
  • iPhone Next Generation
  • iLife 2010

After the Tablet, one of the other three might make the “one more thing” category, but I believe the show will center around the Tablet and the Tablet OS.

As Paul Harvey used to proclaim…”Stand by for News!”.

Price Check!

How often have you or your significant other been in this situation. There you are, staring at a piece of merchandise and wondering “Hmmm…I like this _________, but is this a good price? Perchance the item may be available at a lower cost elsewhere. Methinks I will endeavor to locate the item and profit from the savings.” (Mind you, I don’t really know any people that talk like that)

Well, you scurry around the mall or other shopping outlets on a search for that better deal. You can’t find one, so you go back to the original store where yout journey began only to find that the item is no longer there. Rats! The dreaded “price check” scenario has won again.

Well, fellow iPhone users, do not despair. Check out the RedLaser app at iTunes. This $1.99 app may save you many times that. I downloaded it yesterday for my iPhone 3G and was amazed at the features.

Product List
Product List

RedLaser works by reading the image of a UPC barcode (actually looking for the associated number). Once the information is obtained, the data is checked. If RedLaser is able to identify the product, a listing is provided with prices for the merchandise listed from online vendors as well as local prices (GPS-enabled iPhones). The app provides an audible tone when the label is scanned. If you are unable to get a good scan, the app allows the user to manually enter the UPC code.

I’ve tried it out on a few recent purchases and most items are located by the app. In fact, I could have saved over $10 yesterday if I had downloaded the app a little earlier ($5 if I had just walked across the street for one of the items).

For more information, visit the RedLaser web site. Here’s to great shopping in the future.