Tag Archives: iPhone

Why I didn’t order a iPhone X

It’s that time of year – November and the iPhone frenzy is well underway.

I have been on AT&T’s new iPhone every year program for several years. But this year I didn’t order an iPhone 8 or X.

Here’s why. I currently have an iPhone 7 Plus. I checked the specifications of the iPhone 8 Plus and did not see enough of a difference to justify starting the financial clock over by upgrading.

I really considered upgrading or buying outright an iPhone X. There are dozens of new features that are truly the future. But the press has been merciless about the potential for problems with all the new and revolutionary technology.

So I decided to finish off buying my iPhone 7 Plus and hopping off the merry go round with a new phone every year, but always with 24 monthly payments (in fairness to AT&T always interest-free.)

Will I eventually buy an iPhone X? Absolutely! Check with me in three to six months after Apple stabilizes manufacturing and IOS 11.x works smoothly with all the features of the iPhone X. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy a lower bill from AT&T for a while.

Apple’s IOS 10 Operating System: Mature and smooth – and it only took ten attempts.

IOS 10 Artwork
IOS 10 Artwork

Well, after ten versions Apple apparently has gotten it right with the IOS 10 operating system. An operating system (OS) – regardless if it’s Apple, Google, Microsoft, or others – is never really finished. It is always a work in progress; features are added, bugs are squashed, compatibility with third party applications (apps) is improved – the list goes on and on.

If the operating system developer had only one hardware device to write OS software for it might be easier to get it right. Writing OS code that works reliably on an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, and Apple TV for current devices, as well as for older devices, is quite a trick. There are thousands of permutations. Getting it right is very difficult, time consuming, and R&D expensive.

Apple is just about the only hardware manufacturer that also writes its own OS software. Samsung, Lenovo, Sharp, HTC, and dozens of others hardware manufacturers depend on OS software written by companies like Google (who makes Android OS software) and Microsoft (who makes Windows OS software) to develop their operating system software. Yes, I’m aware that Google also manufacturers the Google phone and the Chromebook, and that Microsoft manufacturers the Surface laptop. But these are “one-off” machines.

A few quick examples of improvements in IOS 10:

1. A completely redesigned Maps app that is simpler, bolder looking, and easier to use. A major improvement in day-to-day use. Location accuracy is also much better.

2. You can now read voicemail messages as well as listen to them. The voice transcription is pretty accurate and predictable.

3. The Photos app now includes the ability to organize by faces and map locations. Now you can easily find all the photos of your children and your friends. The map locations allows you to see all the photos you took in a specific location (as determined by GPS).

4. Siri is now open to developers so that you can directly tie into services such as Uber.

5. The music app tied to Apple Music is greatly improved in look and feel (see an expanded description below).

6. The Messages app has gone crazy! It has its own App Store. Add stickers, GIF’s, emojis and more.

7. iPhones now support a “raise to wake” feature that lets you see notifications without having to push a button.

8. The ability to remove Apple default (stock) apps like Stock, Weather, and most others. They can be reloaded later if you wish.

One detailed example:

When Apple introduced the “Music” app two years ago it was a mess. Missing options (like sorting lists), difficult navigation going from one area to another, inconsistency of menus are just a few examples. For a company that had just introduced its new 30-million-track service, like Spotify, it was a lame first attempt.

Last year’s IOS 9 update was somewhat better – but still not truly Apple in look or feel.

This year’s IOS 10 update is much better; a simpler, more stark appearing interface is easier to understand and use, with black and white graphics and text, while color is employed sparingly for emphasis. Sorting by artist, album, release date, and more, is available throughout the application. Song lyrics are also available for most tracks. The star rating system has returned to the joy of many long time iTunes users.

On a different subject – creativity:

Apple has been criticized for a lack of creativity since the death of one of its founders – Steve Jobs. I’m not sure that criticism is deserved. Here are three examples of recent product innovations.

1. The Apple Watch (second edition), has met with success from the media, retail, and the user communities. It’s now water-resistant, has a faster processor, improved operating system (3rd generation), longer battery life, and a less expensive starting price.

2. The Apple “W1” Bluetooth audio chip was just released. It is used on the new Apple AirPod wireless headphones, and several of the new Beats (owned by Apple) brand of wireless headphones. The W1 chips offers:

  • a. Extreme battery life – 40 hours of playtime vs 2-4 hours of most other wireless headphones.
  • b. Extreme range (distance) – up to 300 feet vs 33 feet of most other Bluetooth devices.
  • c. Simple pairing (connecting) interface – works with any Apple IOS 10 device by simply connecting to your first device, and then the rest of your devices are auto connected (if you use the same Apple ID on all of your devices).

3. The recently introduced MacBook Pro laptops with a new OLED color touch-bar located above the keyboard that dynamically changes depending on the software app being used.

My bottom line:

Apple is not perfect; not even close. But in many ways, they have innovative design, solid manufacturing, and great (read: loyal) customer support. I admit to being an Apple “fan boy”. 2017 will see the tenth anniversary of the iPhone. It will be interesting to see what improvements and new features will be added to IOS 11. Stay tuned!

Do seniors really need to update to Apple’s newest software?

Apple OS updates
Apple OS updates

You don’t need to update, but it’s almost always a good idea. Updates provide us with a measure of comfort by contributing a number of things:

• Generally, a slightly faster, and more reliable device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Mac).

• Usually a number of new and improved features that make day-to-day use more enjoyable.

• Security updates that help protect our devices from nasty hackers.

• Bug fixes that repair problems discovered before the update.

A better question may be: Why wouldn’t you want to update your device? Here are a few reasons to update:

• It’s free (Apple never charges for updates).

• It’s easy to do (Follow the steps below).

• You will receive bug fixes and new features.

• Get a leg up on your kids and grand kids (beat them by updating first).

Here is how to get started…

1. On an IOS device (e.g. iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)

a. Look at the connector at the bottom of your device – where you plug it in to recharge the battery. If it has the older wider 20 pin connector you cannot upgrade your device to IOS 10. Sorry. If you have the newer, small “Lightning Connector” you can update to IOS 10.

b. Make sure your device is attached to the charging cable and is at least 50% charged.

c. Now go into “Settings” (it looks like a gear). Next press on the word “General”. Finally press on the words “Software Update”. The software should now be downloading, verifying, installing and then restarting the device. Once the restart has begun, you’ll see a black screen, then a white Apple logo, and then a progress bar. This should happen twice and then the update will be complete.

2. On an Apple Watch (updating the Apple Watch from watchOS 2 to watchOS 3)

a. Make sure your iPhone has been updated to IOS 10 (this is required).

b. Connect your iPhone to its battery charger.

c. Connect your Apple Watch to its battery charger.

d. In the Watch app on your iPhone scroll down the screen until you see the “General” icon. Press on the word “General”. Next, press on the words “Software Update”. The software should now be downloading (to the Apple Watch), verifying, installing and then restarting the device. Once the restart has begun, you’ll see a black screen, then a white Apple logo, and then a progress circle. This should happen twice and then the update will be complete.

3. On an Apple TV (Hardware Version 4)

a. Start at the main menu of your Apple TV.

b. Go to the settings menu (the Gear icon).

c. Scroll down until you see the word “System” and then click on it.

d. Now look below and find the words “Software Updates” and then click on it.

e. Now click on the words “Update Software”.

f. If the system needs to be updated, the software download will begin. The Apple will automatically restart upon completion.

4. On a Mac computer (all newer models that use Mac OS 10 or newer)

a. Start at the top left of the screen. Click on the “Apple” icon.

b. The menu will drop down, and you need to click on the “App Store” menu item.

c. Make sure you click on the word “Featured”.

d. You should see the icon for “Mac OS 10 Sierra Update”. Click on this icon to begin downloading and installing the update. This is a large update and will take at least an hour to download and install. You can check on the progress by clicking on the words “Purchased” in the App Store.

Apple has made free user guides for all of the updates. If you have iBooks installed on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Mac you can go to the “Featured” menu and search for the books:

• iPhone Users Guide for IOS 10

• iPad Users Guide for IOS 10

• iPod Touch Users Guide for IOS 10

• Apple Watch Users Guide

• Apple TV Users Guide

• MacBook Essentials

• MacBook Pro Essentials

• MacBook Air Essentials

• iMac Essentials

These free digital books provided by Apple are a great way to learn about the new and improved features. They’re also excellent reference guides for the “How do I…” questions that often come up.

Happy updating!

Am I sitting in line at the Apple Store this year? No! Here’s why…

Waiting in line at the Apple store
Waiting in line at the Apple store

No one is a more dedicated Apple Fan Boy than me.  I’ve purchased almost every Apple product offered from 1978 on.  For many years, I’ve arrived several hours early at the Apple store (in either Grand Rapids or Lansing, Michigan) in order to be the “first one on my block” to have the latest Apple Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch. I should also mention that I am an Apple, Inc. shareholder.

The photo above was taken of me waiting in line at the Apple store in Grand Rapids to be the first person in West Michigan to buy an iPad several years ago. I arrived at Woodland Mall at 6 AM along with the mall walkers.  I waited from 6 AM until 5 PM when the store re-opened (Apple had closed all of its stores on 3 PM that day to re-set the displays to feature the iPad.)  I was, obviously, the first in line!

So why am I not sitting in line this year?  

First – For the last couple of years Apple has allowed on-line pre-ordering of new devices with home delivery the same day that they are first sold in the Apple Store.  This saves me time and money since my closest Apple store is in Lansing, Michigan – about an hour away.

Second – Apple reported yesterday that it was happy to announce that the Apple iPhone 7 pre-order was so successful that there would be no (nada, zero, none) availability of iPhone 7 Plus phones in Apple stores and only limited availability of certain colors and configurations of the standard iPhone 7.  The happiness was reflected in Wall Street’s surge in Apple stock from around $97 to over $115.  That happiness was not felt by those in line (see below)…

It’s already Friday, the first day the iPhone 7 is to be available in certain parts of the world, Australia for example.

People in line at Apple’s Australia stores were pretty unhappy about the lack of availability of iPhone 7’s on the first day they were offered for purchase and delivery.

This is unprecedented.  In all of the previous releases of the Apple iPhone (since 2007) there has been limited availability of new product on the first day of sales at every Apple store.

Watch for an apology from Apples CEO Tim Cook.  I suspect he will apologize but spin the story as to how wonderful -and successful,- it was; that people loved the new iPhone 7 so much that it sold out worldwide before it was even able to appear in Apple Stores.

Tim, this is called inventory control.  There should have been iPhone 7 inventory in stock and held back for the first day of sales in Apple stores on September 16.

I’m Glad that I didn’t wait in line to purchase my new iPhone 7 Plus this year.  If you read my earlier post a few days ago then you read that after only 7 seconds past the start time of ordering on-line, my iPhone 7 Plus delivery date slipped from September 16 to September 23 or September 30.

Oh well, it’s not like I’m sitting here without something to make a phone call on.

APPS: What’s on my iPhone/iPad right now.

Favorite IOS Apps
Favorite IOS Apps

A lot of my friends – and a lot of you readers – have asked me what apps do you recommend?  As an Apple “fan-boy” since 1978 I’ve used hundreds of apps on every Apple device imaginable. Over the years my long list of devices have included the Apple ][, Apple ///, Apple Lisa, Apple Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.

Quite frankly there is no such thing as the perfect app.  Every app developer thinks their app is the best.  Few are.  Even great ones like Numerous for the iPhone/iPad which had over 150,000 active users recently died an untimely death due to a lack of customer funding.  The history of computer apps (from an earlier term: applications) is littered with a few standouts and thousands of little purchased and little used want-to-be’s.

To give you an idea how big the market for apps is, consider that Apple has over 1,500,000 apps available for the iPhone, iPad, and the iPod Touch. There are more than 15,000 apps available for the Apple Watch. In less than a year the Apple TV 4 has grown from 40 apps to over 5,000. Apps range in price from free to a thousand dollars or more! The average price for an IOS app for consumer use is $1.99. I’ve never understood how a person who spends hundreds of dollars on a new iPhone or iPad complains about the cost of an app that costs only a couple-of-bucks and has a lifetime of free upgrades.

I’ve compiled a list of my all-time top ten favorite apps for your consideration. Each app I use almost daily and each provides a good mix of features, performance and reliability. Note that some are free, some require a monthly or annual subscription, and a couple are reasonably priced. The list is in no particular order.

All of these apps work on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. Some also work on the Apple Watch, Apple TV and the Apple Mac.

Check out my Top Ten Favorite Apps by clicking here:  Tom’s Favorite Apps

You will be taken to my app page where you can read a brief overview of each App and then click on a link to open the app in the Apple App Store.

Enjoy! Comments and questions are always welcome. Tech support is available from each developers web site.

The iPhone 6 Plus – Perhaps the best iPhone for seniors – EVER!

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Kudos to AT&T for under promising, and over delivering. My shiny new iPhone 6 Plus arrived almost three weeks earlier than the original order confirmation said it would.

How do I like it? As Steve Job’s would have said… “magical”

Although it’s huge compared to older iPhones, it is so thin, rounded and lightweight that it doesn’t seem to be so large.

I bought Apple’s leather carry case which is buttery soft yet rugged enough to give you peace of mind in holding the iPhone.

The 5.5″ screen is phenomenal – so sharp, clear and easy to read everything from books to movies.

This iPhone has tricked me several times by making me “think” that I’m using my iPad! It’s that good.

It works with pretty much all my “toys” like my Apple BlueTooth keyboard and my Beats BlueTooth “Pill” wireless speaker system. AirPrint to my HP printer and AirPlay to my Apple TV all work great.

I love IOS 8 – and after a few automatic free software updates – all my app’s are working great.

Sure it looks a little strange when I hold it up to my head to make or take a phone call, but when you consider I spend 1% of my time on the phone, and 99% of my time using the phone like a tablet computer then I say “bah” to those that say it looks like a waffle when you hold it to your head.

Does it fit in my FRONT pants pocket? Absolutely! But than I wear Lands’ End “classic fit” (read loose fitting), and not “skinny” or “painted on” trousers. Has it bent or warped? Nope.

Could this finally be the device that makes me give up my iPad and Mac and carry only one device – well the jury is still out – but it’s gonna be close.

Thanks Apple, for making the perfect smart phone for senior geezers and geezerettes – the new iPhone 6 Plus. PERFECTO !!!

Ordering a new iPhone 6…

IMG_5705.PNG

Of course I don't NEED a new iPhone 6. I simply WANT a new iPhone 6. Now that we've got that out of the way here is my story.

With much anticipation (and a certain amount of frustration) I watched the Apple “Event” live on my Apple TV. I wanted to learn more about what Apple was introducing and I was not disappointed in the new technology, only disappointed by the broadcasting problems (video and audio) of the event itself.

As we all know by now Apple introduced two new iPhone smartphones, the Apple Pay payment initiative and revealed the new Apple Watch which won't be available until early 2015.

I decided to retire my old iPhone 5s and take a look at the new iPhone 6 which definitely has an appeal to “Geezers.” Why? Because the screen is significantly larger on both devices making it easier for old geezers to read what's on the screen.

The now “old” iPhone 5s and 5c had tiny 4″ screens (up from the previous 3-1/2″ screens of the iPhone 3 and iPhone 4.) The new and improved iPhone 6 has a 4.7″ screen and the iPhone 6 Plus has a jumbo 5.5″ screen!

Techno Geeks and Geezers can rejoice that both of the new phones still fit into pants pockets and into most shirt pockets – although you may have to remove your pens and plastic pocket protector.

There are WAY too many new features to list here… but to name a just a few – an improved camera and camera software, storage that goes all the way to 128 GB (1/10 of a terabyte in your pocket – egad's!!!), an NFC chip (finally) that allows for secure walk up and “beep” store payments, and much more!

My ordering experience was a little disappointing. Back in the old days (circa 2009-2012) Apple would announce the new phones, and then a few days later all of us crazies would head for the nearest Apple Store and stand in line for a few hours (my longest “stand” was from 6AM to 5PM – 11 hours!) just to be the first on my block with the latest and greatest.

Now Apple makes it much easier to buy and get. Simply use the Apple Store “App” on your iPad or iPhone and at 12:01 AM Pacific time (that's 3:01 AM my time) you can order from the comfort of your kitchen still dressed in your jammies. Last nights experience was a TRAIN WRECK! The Apple Store web site was up/down and really didn't launch until roughly 3:30 AM and within milliseconds they were sold out of virtually everything.

Being a techno-tiger, I tried AT&T (my carrier) and at about 4:15 AM was able to log on and order my new phone.

Which size iPhone did I order? A 128 GB, Space Gray, iPhone 6 Plus of course. These old eyes are really going to enjoy that HUGE new 5.5″ screen that barely squeezes into my chinos pants pockets.

A full report will be forthcoming when it arrives (sigh… 14-21 days from now).

Good luck with your order!

UPDATE: Yea! AT&T sent me a message that delivery times had improved and I should receive my order within the first two weeks of October, rather than the last two weeks of October.