Archive for Apple

watchOS 5.1.1 Now Available… It Promises Not To Brick Your Apple Watch

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 5, 2018 by itnerd

After last weeks incident where some Apple Watch owners had their Apple Watch bricked by watchOS 5.1, which led to Apple pulling the update, Apple has taken a lot of heat for what happened. Consequently, there has been a lot if anticipation to see how Apple was going to address this. In the last few minutes, Apple has released watchOS 5.1.1 which says this in the release notes:

watchos.png

There’s not much there. Thus I guess the bricking of really expensive smart watches is a bug. In any case, I am downloading and installing this as I type this. After all it’s better I rather than you brick their really expensive smart watch in the event Apple goes 0-2 here. Update to come.

Oh, by the way, bricked Apple Watches require servicing from Apple and this software update doesn’t do anything to change that. Sorry.

UPDATE: My Apple Watch is now on watchOS 5.1.1 with no issues.

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If You Have A Newer iPhone, You Should Consider Fast Charging

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 5, 2018 by itnerd

For reasons that nobody fully understands, Apple includes a 5W charger in the box of every iPhone that they sell. The problem with that is that is that if you have an iPhone 8 or later, you can actually “fast charge” your iPhone. Meaning that you can get 50% of a charge in 30 minutes according to Apple. And about 90 minutes to get a phone fully charged. Because a fast charger doesn’t come in the box, owners of those super expensive iPhones are forced to buy a fast charger from Apple. And they aren’t cheap. Just see what it costs for an Apple 29W, 30W, 61W, or 87W USB-C Power Adapter and associated USB-C to Lightning cable in your neck of the woods.

Now why is that a big deal? Pretty much every flagship phone on the Android side of the fence comes with a fast charger in the box. Not to mention substantially downmarket Android phones costing as little as $300 come with fast chargers. So Apple has really dropped the ball here. Doubly so now that Apple now sells phones that are so expensive.

So if you want to fast charge your iPhone, and you don’t want to be nickeled and dimed by Apple, here’s your choices:

  1. Get a 7.5W Qi compatible wireless charger. I personally use this one and it works quickly to get either a quick top up, or to charge my phone completely. But any Qi compatible wireless charger will work just as well. Just make sure you are running iOS 11.2 or higher and you’re good to go. One thing that I should point out is that this isn’t as fast as fast charging with a cable. But it is way better than using the dinky 5W charger in the box of your iPhone.
  2. Use a wall charger such as this one from Anker. It has great reviews on Amazon and is far cheaper than anything Apple offers. Just use the official Apple USB-C to Lightning cable and you’re good to go. Now you’re likely wondering why I am recommending a USB-C charger and a USB-C to Lighting cable. Fast charging is based around USB-C. Thus you do need USB-C devices to make this happen. And for the record, fast charging an iPhone requires at least a 15W USB-C charger. Top Tip: Try to stay away from chargers that lack Apple’s “Made for iOS” (MFi) certification because they may easily damage your iPhone battery or the phone itself. Now Anker is a quality brand that I have never had issues with. But not all brands are like that.
  3. If you have a USB-C MacBook or MacBook Pro, you can use the USB-C charger that came with it to charge your iPhone. Just use the official Apple USB-C to Lightning cable and you’re good to go.

The bottom line is this. If you have a newer iPhone, you should at least consider leveraging fast charging as that will help to keep your phone alive and working with minimal effort. The options that I have outlined should cover the use case that works best for you.

Getting My 2015 MacBook Pro Battery Replaced

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 4, 2018 by itnerd

Last Thursday night I was using my 2015 MacBook Pro when I noted that the battery was switching between “Service Now” and “Normal” on the menu bar via iStat Menus. That was a clear sign to me that the battery was about to go as I’ve written about this situation in the past. It is a three year old laptop so that made sense. It was also out of AppleCare so I knew that I had to cough up some bucks to fix it. But unlike my wife’s 2012 MacBook Pro which had a battery that was easy to replace, I had a bit of a challenge. The battery in my MacBook Pro is a pain in the backside to replace as it is literally glued into the notebook. Here’s a YouTube video that illustrates how difficult it is to replace it. It’s also a tad bit dangerous to replace. I’ve heard of people puncturing batteries which starts one hell of a fire seeing as these are lithium polymer batteries. So there was no way I was buying the battery and doing it myself. Also going to the Apple Store was going to be expensive and not any faster. Thus I phoned around to repair shops that I trust to see if I could get it addressed the same day.

That lead to two challenges for me. The first being that not a lot of places had the battery in stock as it appears that they are popular at the moment. The second was that I would be without my MacBook for the day or longer. That was kind of unpalatable to me, but I was resigned to that until I came across a company called TechKnowSpace in central Mississauga. They had the battery in stock, an Apple OEM one at that, and they said that they could swap it in 45 minutes or so. So I handed out my MacBook Pro and went to the Bier Market next door and consumed a Mad Tom IPA while watching Novak Djokovic play tennis on one of their big screen TVs.

About 45 minutes later I got a text message from TechKnowSpace saying that my MacBook was ready. I powered it on, found a new battery installed when I booted things up. So I paid up and went home. I ran a battery rundown test of running videos from YouTube and got just over 7 hours. The notebook is rated for 9 under less taxing activities so that meant I was good to go. Gripes? A minor one. There are two very tiny dents in the top case where your palm is supposed to go. The only reason why I noted them was that I am insanely detail oriented about my stuff. My guess is that they got there when they removed the old battery as you have to do some scraping and prying to get it out. I was able to smooth them out so they are less noticeable. But in no way was this a dealbreaker.

So, the total cost of this battery replacement was $149 CDN plus tax. To put that in perspective, Apple charges $259 plus tax. And for the most part I found very little to complain about. Now with a new battery installed, I can continue to use this notebook until Apple comes out with a MacBook Pro that I feel comfortable buying. Because I have to admit that #KeyboardGate as well as their processor throttling issues (though they did fix that) have made me sit on the sidelines when it comes to buying a new MacBook which is something that I do every 2 to 3 years. While I am sure that Apple doesn’t care about that, I am happy that I have a reliable notebook to use. Though I have to get the screen replaced under Apple’s #StainGate program at some point in the near future.

 

So I Just Bought A New iPhone XS/XS Max/XR… What Accessories Do I Need?

Posted in Tips with tags on November 2, 2018 by itnerd

If you’ve dropped the cash (and to be frank, it’s a lot of cash) on the new iPhones from Apple like I did, you might be wondering what accessories you need. I’ve gotten a few emails asking me that question, so I thought it would be a good idea to put my thoughts down on paper so to speak.

  1. AppleCare: The number one thing to do with these phones is to buy AppleCare. These phones are expensive and the cost of repairing them in or out of warranty (in the case of accidental damage) is sky high. AppleCare mitigates that by keeping the cost of repair from accidental damage low and extending the warranty to two years from the factory standard of one. Consider this a must buy.
  2. Buy a case: A case is the next thing on the list. But not just any case. Look for one with some form of drop protection as it’s a matter of when not if you drop your iPhone. I reviewed two examples of such cases recently but there are many others out there. Look around and see if you can find something that fits your use case.
  3. Buy a screen protector: The screens on these new iPhones, or any iPhone for that matter are not cheap. So a screen protector is a must. My go to for the last few years is this one by Belkin. It’s saved screens on my iPhone at least twice. So I have no problem recommending it. Plus it will be professionally installed at your local Apple Store. That’s hard to beat.
  4. Consider wireless headphones: There’s no headphone jack on these iPhones. Thus unless you feel like living the dongle life as Apple for reasons only they understand no longer include the 3.5mm to Lightning adapter in the box with a new iPhone, a set of wireless headphones are in your future. Besides the headphones that do come in the box aren’t that great and should never be used. I’ve been rocking out using these headphones for a while now and I highly recommend them. They’re at a great price point and have great audio. Plus the link above has a discount code that can save you a few bucks.
  5. Consider a wireless charger: I used to be indifferent about wireless charging. That is until I got one and I have to admit that it sure is convenient to just drop your phone on the charger and have it charge. The new iPhones are compatible with any Qi standard charger but you should look for one with two or more coils on it. That way it guarantees that your iPhone will charge regardless of how it is physically placed on the charging surface. Also look for one that will do 7.5W as that’s what will charge the iPhone the fastest. I’m currently using this one which also charges my Apple Watch, but there’s a ton of them out there from a variety of companies.
  6. Keep it clean: Who knows what your new iPhone picks up during the day? Thus keeping it clean is a must. My go to product for keeping any of my iDevices clean is IKear which comes with a microfibre cloth if you buy the right package. I highly recommend it for keeping your gear clean.

Are there other accessories that you would recommend for a new iPhone XS/XS Max/XR user? If you have something in mind, please leave a comment and share your wisdom.

So…. Are iPhone 8/8 Plus & X Models Affected By #BatteryGate?

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 2, 2018 by itnerd

That’s the question based on the fact that iOS 12.1 which was released by Apple earlier this week has given the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X the same battery management features that showed up in the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus after the #BatteryGate scandal broke. In fact Apple says as much in its official release notes and on its Battery and Performance website. But Apple also claims that performance management may be less noticeable due to the newer iPhones’ more advanced hardware and software.

I found that to be weird because I remember Apple saying that the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X were not affected by #BatteryGate. In fact to confirm that I wasn’t smoking something, I found this article that confirmed what I was thinking:

“iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models include hardware updates that allow a more advanced performance management system that more precisely allows iOS to anticipate and avoid an unexpected shutdown,” Apple public policy VP Cynthia Hogan wrote in a letter to the US Senate. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus were introduced in September; the iPhone X in November.

So, what’s up with Apple bringing these features to phones that are supposedly not affected by #BatteryGate? I can think of two reasons:

  • The most likely reason is that Apple is covering itself by rolling these features out to every iPhone regardless of whether it needs it or not. For example my iPhone XS has these battery management features, and from what I was able to gather, so does the XS Max and XR. So they in effect are giving every user the same user experience when it comes to potential battery issues. That on the surface makes total sense. It also could be that getting slapped by Italy over #BatteryGate was a factor in this as well.
  • If you’re into conspiracy theories, you could argue that Apple is doing this because this is a more widespread problem than they are admitting to. Thus they need to do this in order to make #BatteryGate go away. Or at least stay somewhere under the surface. Now iPhone 8 and X models haven’t been around long enough to say if that is the case or not. But perhaps there might be an issue that they have seen in their labs and are now trying to get in front of?

The bottom line is that there is no clear answer. And Apple sure isn’t going to tell us because they aren’t really a company that is known for transparency. But one thing is certain. This isn’t going to make #BatteryGate go away anytime soon.

Apple Pulls watchOS 5.1 Update After Reports Of The Update Bricking Some Apple Watches

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 30, 2018 by itnerd

As I type this Apple has pulled the watchOS 5.1 update that was released earlier today after reports of the update bricking devices started to pop up on  Reddit, Twitter, and other places. The symptoms that people are seeing are that after installing the watchOS 5.1 update, users getting stuck on the Apple logo. Restarting the Apple Watch and paired iPhone doesn’t seem to fix the issue and some users have been waiting several hours with no change in behavior. The only fix that seems to be out there is a full Apple Watch replacement.

How many Apple Watches are affected by this? That isn’t clear. It is clear that not everyone who owns an Apple Watch is affected as I was able to update just fine for example shortly after the update was released. But whatever the issue is, it brings back memories of Apple pulling iOS 8.0.1 when it killed cellular service for iPhone users and watchOS 3.1.1 being pulled by Apple after it bricked devices.

Today was a really good PR day for Apple having released a ton of new hardware that was well received. Too bad that this day ended on a major downer for them. I hope for their sakes that they can get this sorted and quickly, and if they are smart they should bundle in a public apology too for this PR disaster.

So…. What Did Apple Announce In New York Today?

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 30, 2018 by itnerd

Quite a bit was announced at an Apple event in New York this morning. Let me run through the list:

  • Apple announced a new MacBook Air which includes a 13″ Retina Display(!). It hits the streets with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and one headphone jack. From a looks perspective it looks like a MacBook as it comes in three colors. Apple’s T2 security chip is on board along with an 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor with up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1.5TB of SSD storage. You can order it today and expect to get it a week from today starting at $1199 USD.
  • We finally have a new Mac Mini that is clearly aimed at pro users as the starting price of $799 USD is a healthy increase over what Apple had out there. The new Mac mini can include up to 64 GB RAM and Core i7 processors, and all models feature solid state drives up to 2TB. The Apple T2 chip is on board along with gigabit Ethernet, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, HDMI port, and USB-A. You can also configure it with 10 Gigabit Ethernet if you so choose. Oh year, there’s a new space gray finish too. You can order it today and it will be available next week.
  • There’s a new iPad Pro with a full-screen design, flat edge, rounded corners, Face ID, and insane storage and performance. The screen is a Liquid Retina display just like the iPhone XR. Under the hood is a A12 Bionic X process with 8-cores and a 7-core GPU. That serves up 35% faster CPU year-over-year. 90% faster CPU for multicore. 1000x faster graphics performance. 1TB of storage is available and so is USB-C. There’s a new Apple Pencil and automatically pairs and charges wirelessly. It magnetically snaps to the new iPad Pro too. There’s also a Smart Keyboard Folio also a new accessory with an adjustable screen-angle. iPad Pro 11-inch priced from $799 USD, and iPad Pro 12.9-inch priced from $999 USB. You can order it today and it will be available next week. Also of note, the older iPad pros are still available.

Also, it was mentioned that iOS 12.1 is out today at most likely 1PM EST. It will bring Group FaceTime, dual SIM support for the new iPhones, and 70 new emojis. I would not be surprised if a macOS Mojave, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5 update ships as well.

I am also watching to see if anything else pops up because Apple does have a habit of making changes after an event without letting anyone know about it. So stay tuned to this post as I will update things accordingly.

UPDATE: The full video of today’s event is available here.

UPDATE #2: As expected, just after 1PM EST this happened:

I have confirmed that tvOS 12.1 is out too along with an update to the HomePod. In other news, Apple apparently has killed off the rose gold 12″ MacBook. It has been replaced with a gold version.