John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

iOS Shortcuts and Automation

Apple bought a company to get an app called Workflow. It then got brought into iOS as Shortcuts. This is a way to bring Android like automation in an Apple controlled/limited world. Let’s start off with the obvious … these are dramatically neutered in comparison to Android. And another one, there are LOTS of articles out there that are out of date, incorrect, and misleading as to what you can do with this. I’ve burned more time than I would like to admit to, sorting this mess out. Apple have really made a mess of this situation, leaving it almost impossible for the average shmoe to sort out. So I’m going to see what I can do to clarify what works and what does not. If it comes across that I am frustrated by this mess … I AM!!

Ok let’s start off with Shortcuts. Shortcuts are a collection of actions that can be put together that can in turn be manually triggered. You can even create a shortcut to execute the list of events. There are articles that say you can teach Siri to listen to a programmable keyword to run shortcuts, these are misleading at best and incorrect at worst. What you can do is create a shortcut with a particular name, and then say Heh Siri and the name. This will then, maybe, run that shortcut through Siri. This alone burned a ton of time. It seems earlier betas allowed this, and either it wasn’t or hasn’t been released yet. So IGNORE the articles that supposedly teach you program Siri to listen to something your record to run your shortcuts. There are galleries of shortcuts that can be downloaded and you can enable them to run. Beware, who’s to say they aren’t doing something bad, and the possibility of viruses using downloadable shortcuts is definitely there. So with all this we now move onto automations. And as poorly documented, confusing, and misrepresented as shortcuts are, automations are even worse. Apple really needs to clean this up.

Apple allow a number of triggers that can be used to do things automatically … or so the promise goes. But again, this is poorly documented. Only some triggers can then run tasks automatically (without being manually started, in Apple terms, otherwise they simply bring up a notification to allow you to manually run them), and this is small. And to make matters even worse, those triggers that can be automatically triggered are disabled by default.

This list of tasks that can be automated (run without asking as Apple calls it) is listed here.

December 31, 2019 Posted by | iPhone Stuff, iPhone/iPad, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

iPhone XS review

Well, I was off plan and needed to change providers so I went ahead and splurged on an iPhone XS as part of black Friday to replace my iPhone 8. Now, in reality, the iPhone 8 is still an awesome phone, and it had no need of being replaced, but I get to hand me down the 8 so what the heck. In a previous article I blogged about the different models of iPhones. The decision to go with the now out of production XS was size, weight and better screen. The iPhone 11 just seems big and heavy while the XS just seems extremely close in size to the 8 which I like. There’s lots of hype about the OLED screen on the XS, and while it’s nice (slightly higher res/brighter), it’s by no means head and shoulders above the LCD on the iPhone 8. So don’t expect a HUGE difference.

Where you get the biggest difference is the elimination of the bezel below, and above as compared to the iPhone 8. The screen goes from 53x102mm Vs 62x131mm, and this doesn’t even include the ears on the sides of the top of the screen. This gives a boost in screen area of a whopping 50% with little to no increase in physical size of the phone. The difference is quite noticeable. The older phones look quite dated next to the XS (or an X, XR, or 11). This image is actually an X but makes the point:

In exchange for this, you need to relearn how you work with your phone. Gone is the home button, replaced by gestures. Also gone is the finger print scanner, replaced by faceID, which works surprisingly well, even with or without glasses. You no longer have to press a button to wake the phone, just tap the screen. The iPhone does NOT have an always on display like the newer Samsungs …

Weight wise the XS is smack in the middle of the pack with the 8 coming in at 148g while the XS is 177, the 11 194. The weight difference is noticeable in the hand and pocket.

As with all phones since the iPhone 7, the 3.5mm audio cord is gone, replaced by lightning based headphones, really Apple expects you to use bluetooth. Apple no longer provide a lightning to 3.5mm converter as they did with the 8, but they can still be had inexpensively on Amazon.

Sadly, not gone is the archaic lightning port. I keep hoping Apple will embrace USB-C, but still no joy. So your left with the horrendously slow process to reload your phone. Be sure and leave lots of time to complete all this, even if everything goes perfectly, and given the data involved I HIGHLY recommend this be done ONLY on WIFI. The basic process to replace your phone is time consuming, here are your onerous steps:
1) Activate your new phone as a new device, so that you can upgrade the phone to the current OS. Mine arrived with iOS 12.3, while 13.3 is current. You can NOT restore a backup of one phone to another unless it is newer or same version. This can take quite a while so be patient, like more than an hour.
2) Using iTunes you can now restore your new phone with your old phone’s backup. This works pretty well and avoids the need to have to manually find and load apps, with a number of caveats. These will need to be manually resetup … These include:
a) re-adding your credit cards to the wallet
b) re-pairing your bluetooth devices, yes all of them
c) reloading some app data, for example Merlin (a bird identification app) has to be reloaded with it’s data base and photo ID apps
d) some apps will require you to re-sign in gmail for example
3) Now you will need to be patient while all the apps you previously had loaded are downloaded and installed, with a caveat. If the app has been removed from the App store since you previously had it, that app will NOT be installed on your new phone and it just mysteriously disappears with no explanation … Again this can take more than an hour.
4) resync back your music. Now even on a 64G iPhone, this again can take more than an hour. I can only imagine how long this would take on a 128/256G.
So all in, your looking at 2-3 hours. Now a lot of this time is unattended and you let it work and walk away, but still. And compared to some older Android phones where i had to manually re-find each of the apps and install them, it’s a lot more hands off.

Equally disappointing is that Apple still ship the same old ubiquitous 5W charger with the XS, in spite of the fact the phone supports quick charging using up to an 18W charger. So to get the benefit of quicker charges you will need to belly up some additional cash.

Speed wise, the iPhone 8 was already good, and the XS is just that little bit faster again. Apple claim “A12 Bionic Chip’s is 15% More powerful in CPU performance and consumes 40% less power comparing A11 chip. Not a lot to say, nothing ruins you for instantaneous quite like an iPhone. Android just can not compare. Even with my Samsung Galaxy Tab A 2019 which is brand new the pregnant pauses leave me clicking the buttons again and again thinking it hasn’t registered. Honestly it can be quite maddening.

Apple have yet again constrained the menu system to only one orientation. Why they continue to insist on doing this when the plus models and tablets can do it is beyond me. Just another one of those examples of Apple telling it’s customers what they need rather than listening.

Battery life is always a challenging thing to do at best. You can use artificial bench marks and compare them relatively? Using Apples own specs here is what they say Vs the iPhone 8
Talk time (wireless): Up to 14 hours Vs 20 (XS) 43% better
Internet use: Up to 12 hours Vs 12 (XS)
Video playback (wireless): Up to 13 hours Vs 14 (XS) 8% better
Audio playback (wireless): Up to 40 hours Vs 60 50% better
Personally, completely unscientifically speaking, what I see, it’s not dramatically better and not dramatically worse.

Charging wise, the same comment is in both the iPhone 8 and XS specs: “Up to 50% charge in 30 minutes with 18W adapter or higher (sold separately)”. In fact from a charging point of view the iPhone XS and 8 are VERY similar.

Looking at a graph comparing even a cheap 10W (5V 2A) charger with the included standard charger you can clearly see the XS supports fast charging:

To put this in words, in 30 mins the standard charger put 21% into the battery while the 10W charger put 38. Or to put it another way, the standard charger took 2 hours to put the same amount of charge into the battery the 10W charger took 86 mins. Using a 10W (or 12W charger)

I was able to go from 0 to 50% in about 37 mins using a 12W iPad charger. So not quite the 50% in 30 mins Apple claims with the 18W charger but pretty close, and given the cost difference … Oh, by the way, the Apple solution requires you to buy their 18W USB-C charger, and then a USB-C to lightning cable which are expensive and not justified IMHO.

Fast charging starts to slow down after 80% and really drops off after 90 as you can clearly see in the graph. Taking forever to make it from 90-100%. I saw no difference in charge curves between the run of the mill 10W (5V 2A) charger and an iPad 12W. Apple has never supported the Qualcom quick chargers so don’t even bother …

If there’s any time you want you juice to flow quickly it’s when you low and on the go … I recently reviewed the Luxtude battery pack and it is by far, the best, most elegant charging pack I’ve found to date. And it’s able to deliver a solid 10W into the iPhone despite it’s small size, the only one I’ve found so far that can do that. So let’s have a look at the charge curve on that in 30 minutes:

As you can see it does way better than a standard charger and as good as a 10W home charger. In 30 minutes it went from 30 to 72% while the standard charger only got to 51%!

Now Apple’s battery information says some interesting things, no idea when this “Optimized charging” snuck in … I see no difference in charge speeds between with optimization on and off. No idea if this is because the phone is brand new?

Last but not least I looked at two different wireless charge pads. One, a no name charger that supported both 9, and 5V inputs and another, a Fiora that also said it supported 9V and 5V inputs, but I could only get it to work with a 5V input.

Charge speeds are by no means fast using wireless, but compared to the standard 5W wired charger, it’s somewhat comparable. Wireless charging is super convenient. When choosing a charge pad to buy, look for one with multiple coils. This makes sure the field is larger allowing more tolerance to where the phone has to sit on the charge pad, otherwise it’s super sensitive and easy to get on the wrong spot.

Numbers wise if you take the Apple 5W standard wired charger as the baseline, you can see how the various numbers stack up. So for example the best one charged at 89% the speed of the 5W wired.

Efficiency wise wireless charging looses some power in the wireless delivery, these two were around 66%, and 72%, better than I expected. So the losses are reasonable for the convenience …

Camera wise what can you say, I find myself having to finally admit, the point and shoot camera is dead. Even with some optical zoom on small point and shoots the current generations of iPhones are as good or better … sigh. The low light, special features like slow mo, or panoramic are really quite good, and on par with point and shoots. Not a chance this is EVER going to hold a candle to my DLSR with great optics. All summer, even with my iPhone 8, I never once took my waterproof Nikon out, there’s no longer a point 😦

Iphones X and beyond (X, XS, XR 11 etc) all support multi SIM. How this works is the phone itself has a SIM called an eSIM (or electronic SIM), this is the same kind of thing you see in the Apple watch. The provider sells you an ESIM which is basically a QR code. For now, for Rogers anyway, this is a physical card that looks like a credit card. That ESIM is then activated and assigned a phone number on the back end of the provider’s system (Rogers in my case). This is where it gets a little challenging, and it took me a visit to Rogers, who sent me to Apple who explained this to me, and then back to Rogers to get this working. Even Rogers tech support didn’t know how to do this … So the answer is … drum roll … you insert a physical SIM for the additional number you want (Apple calls it a Cellular plan), not the same number … This requires 2 plans to even activate the eSIM. That was a complication no one knew. Apple Genius’s had to look it up in their knowledge base, and Rogers, and Rogers tech support had no clue. And if you try and activate the eSIM without a physical SIM present, or with a the SIM and eSIM on the same account you get this confusing and misleading error message.

More info from Apple’s site

With the eSIM activated this leaves the nano SIM slot free for if your travelling and get a SIM in that country, or perhaps you have a work phone. From there you can now send and receive calls/texts from either number. You can name each of the cellular plans. You can setup a default for phones, and one for data to a specific plan.

You can even manually choose to enable and disable each plan. This is helpful for a work phone you may not want on all the time. When calling/sending a text you can then choose to make that call/send that text from the alternate phone number. It’s pretty simple to manage once setup. And the physical SIM can be removed from the phone which then leaves the sSIM as the only cellular plan.

So all in all the XS is an excellent upgrade to the 8, similar in size/weight while supporting the new user interface which gives you a lot more usable screen area.

December 18, 2019 Posted by | iPhone Stuff, iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

Unused apps and bloatware

Apple, Samsung etc all load their phones up with lots of apps that you may NEVER use. Sometimes these are done for your convenience, other times it’s because they were paid to install these apps. The net result is a bloating of software that takes up precious space, has to be updated, and maybe talking back to the mothership without your knowledge. Over time the companies have gotten much better at allowing user to uninstall these apps, but you the user need to take control of your device. On an iPhone I found a number of exceptionally large apps I’ve never used in all the years of having an iPhone. Once uninstalled they can easily be reinstalled if you change your mind so there’s no risk. You can use Offload Unused apps function to automatically manage this, but I’d rather be the master of my own iPhone. First head over to setting general, iphone storage. You can easily see what apps are taking up storage (both app and data) as well as when they were last used if EVER.

On my device iMovie (617M), Garage Band (1.6G), Numbers (500M), and Keynote (623M) were at the top of the list of LARGE, NEVER used apps. Add this up and I recovered 3.3G of wasted space. Sheesh.

Here’s an official list from Apple of what can be uninstalled by the user. A shocking amount, well done Apple! Of course don’t put these bloatware apps in by default would be better, but …

December 17, 2019 Posted by | iPhone Stuff, iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

iPhone models

I consider myself fairly technical, but the dizzying array of iPhone models available from Apple is confusing at best. Now some of this is the fact that some older models have simply not sold through, but none the less. So I found myself coming from an iPhone 8 and with my contract expired looking to see what I could do. I’m going to have a phone anyway, so unless I can find a dramatically lower monthly fee by going bring your own device (BYOD) I might as well upgrade. And given this is Black friday I also wondered if there might be some bargooooons to be had. So the choices for me are the iPhone XR, XS and 11. The 11 pro is more than I want to pay so it got tossed out. The iPhone 8 is the baseline from which everything is going to be compared.

Now to be honest, I like my iPhone 8. I’ve really only had one issue, I believe I’ve had a defective battery since the start. Any time the phone is in the cold, less than 0C, the battery falls off a cliff. This is problematic for me being an outdoursy person. At $65 to have Apple change the battery this is not a big deal. And in fact, I did get it replaced anyway, in case the phone gets handed down to a family member. Amusingly Apple broke a connector in the process and ended up giving me a new (well refurb) iPhone 8).

So looking at the models and doing a bunch of reading, and I recommend you do your own diligence too … here are my thoughts:
XR = cost reduced X
XS = follow on to the X, but it is replaced by the iPhone 11, some stock at some places still exist
11 = improved XS with improved cameras, improved camera app, down graded screen, heavier, larger, better battery life

For me, given the cost difference the iPhone XS seems like the deal, with the 11 being heavier, larger, more expensive, worse screen, and the XR being only a slight improvement on the 8 that I already have.
Here’s a little chart to show you the comparisons:

All models support dual SIM by use of an eSIM and regular nano SIM.
Hope that helps a little. A review of the XS will follow, I’ve bought one! Got it for $240 on a 2 yr plan.

November 29, 2019 Posted by | iPhone Stuff, iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

Tablet Pen comparison

You my regular readers know I’ve been on a bit of journey, exploring pen enabled tablets. I thought I’d take a moment and give you a summary of my findings. In my readings I’ve found it really hard to find reviewers that focus on the pen, and in reality that’s what makes these particular tablets stand out of the crowd (for me). Let’s just start with a table.

It’s worth noting a number of these criteria, if not all, are very subjective. And what’s important to you might not be important to me and vice versa. The place I am using the pen is 100% Microsoft One Note. If you used a different app you might get different results. The reality though is OneNote is cross platform (and Web enabled for that matter), I can’t think of another choice. The number in the brackets is a numerical rating of that criteria for that tablet.

What do the criteria mean (to me):
Feel in the hand: How much does the digital stylus feel like a real pen in the hand?
Button location: Bad button placement can make for a clumsy interaction with the pen as you keep hitting it. No buttons makes overall operations clumsy
Writing feel: As you write does it feel like your writing on paper with a pen?
Palm rejection: When you first place you palm on the screen does it think it’s a finger?
Scroll detection: When you lift up your hand and want to use your finger to scroll does it switch modes quickly/smoothly?
Errant lines: As your writing does there magically appear a line out of nowhere?
OneNote Functionality: The only place OneNote is 100% functionally implemented is Windows 10. Windows 10 S on the Go it slightly less well implemented, and Android and iOS are missing functions. Everything from convert writing to text, convert a graphic to text and templates (as some examples)
Pen battery life: Self explanatory
Ease of erase: Microsoft implemented an eraser on the top of the pen which is brilliant and super convenient.
Pen manufacturer: If you know the manufacturer of the pen, you MAY be able to use other companies pens on your tablet. This is the case with the Surface and Asus transformer being interchangeable.

This tablet covers off ONLY the pen use. There are of course other factors for your choice of tablet, reality is you may want to do something else with the tablet rather than it being a single function device. If one was to weigh this into the discussion the Surface Go would fare MUCH worse, it’s a VERY poor performer, as an example.

Here’s the link to the various reviews:
Asus Vivotab Note 8
Surface Go
Surface 3

Samsung Tab S3
iPad 9.7

June 25, 2019 Posted by | iPhone Stuff, Windows tablets | Leave a comment

Garmin Glo bluetooth GPS

Those of you that follow me know I am a Garmin fan boy. I love their products. They are often some of my most cherished gadgets. I often write Glowing (pun intended) reviews of their products … ehhhh this won’t be one of those :(. Ok so what is this … It’s a bluetooth GPS designed to be used on Apple and Android devices. Garmin went so far as to get MFI (Made for iDevice) certification for this device. So why would you need this you might ask? Well two reasons, one your bought an iPad that didn’t come with a GPS (only the cell models have GPS), or you want to use your iPad in a plane. And in fact, that is where this product if most firmly aimed at.

Like any bluetooth device you power it on, and go into settings and pair it. It can be paired with two devices (not sure if more) at a time but I found the second device needed a prod to connect. It can however, remember multiple devices it has been paired with (no idea the limit). On iOS you then are informed of the apps you can/should install
As you can see use in a plane is what it’s really targeted for. The device powers up, locks up quickly and has a few lights to show you the status. The unit has a battery which Garmin say can last for 12 hours, or you can plug it in using a mini (no micro) USB connector. I’m a little disappointed that it is not mini, micro is so passe and means you will need to remember to bring along the cable for this device since nothing else uses mini today. The unit CAN be used without the battery so you can plug it in and forget it. If your lighter plug goes on and off with the engine then this would be the perfect solution. If not then you should know there is no intelligence whatsoever built into this device. So don’t expect it to auto power off when not in use. On the positive side I measured a VERY low .07A at 5V or 350mW of power drawn. This is low enough you could probably leave it on anyway. Quite impressive.

Don’t go looking for the battery status on the battery widget on iOS. Don’t go looking for an app that would tell you the status of the device, nada. This gadget seems like it was designed in Garmin’s skunk works 🙂 The software that could have been there isn’t. Instead Garmin spent time working on apps like Garmin Pilot and others.

Once linked just about every app I tried from Waze, to Google maps to whatever just worked. Really quite well done. The work with the MFI program paid off, and this does what is supposed to. I tried it on both my iPhone 8 as well as my iPad 9.7 2018.
On my older Android I had less luck. It paired fine, but always ended up using the built in GPS instead and so refused to connect or stay connected.

The device came with a mini USB cable, but it’s so short as to be useless. It also came with a lighter plug with a longer cable.

Now this niche product does NOT come cheap. $129 at Sail.

December 11, 2018 Posted by | GPS Stuff, iPhone Stuff, iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

Apple iPhone 8

I’m on an iPhone 6 which is getting a little long in the tooth, and I was off contract so I decided to take the plunge. At almost 2 years this is pretty much the LONGEST I’ve kept any phone. A statement of how much I have enjoyed my iPhone. I left Samsung after the debacle that was the S5 and haven’t looked back. Honestly if I had bought an S6 instead of the S5 I may have never ventured back into the iPhone space.

I looked at the iPhone X but it was going to be another $320 so I passed on it. What was I looking for out of the new device? A number of things. Nothing spoils you when it comes to instantaneous quite like an iPhone. And my 6 was getting sluggish. I’ve been using a third party wireless charging case on my iPhone 6 and while it works, it’s clumsy. I also wanted to get hey siri working when not on power which the 6 can’t do. Lastly my battery isn’t exactly new so some improved battery life is always appreciated. So with that in mind on we go …

To say the iPhone 8 looks like every other iPhone is an understatement of epic proportions. Physically the differences are subtle. So if part of your reason to upgrade is status … don’t bother. Outside of the X no one will notice.

Upgrade/Restore Process:
I’ve used the Apple upgrade process in the past and it was painless. This time … not so much. It turns out that the Apple upgrade process requires the new phone to be at the same or newer level of iOS, and this I only figured out after numerous attempts at restores. And to say Apple don’t guide you through this, is being gentle. And I’m irritated so … Apple WTF. My new iPhone was at 11.02 which is over 2.5 months old at this point compared to current. And since the release of the iPhone X the rate of change appears to be more brisk. So here are the steps:
1) Activate new phone as a new device not from backup. I recommend highly that you use a SIM from a different provider than your current provider to insure that the phone is indeed unlocked. As of Dec 1 2017, by law all phones sold in Canada MUST be unlocked. Once activated you can now bring your phone up to date using either iTunes or on the phone itself. This is a long process taking a lot of bandwidth. Your looking easily at over an hour. And you want to do this on WIFI because the update can be as much as 1.5G or more.
2) Reset the new phone
3) Backup your old phone using iTunes. Be sure you know the backup password. And be sure to use an encrypted backup so passwords and Health data come across
4) Activate the new phone again, this time restoring from backup. Again this will take some time. Restoring Gs of music is a slow process. Again your looking at hours

Restore results:
Restore this time around came down into a number of areas. WIFI worked perfectly and all previous settings were kept. All previous apps were installed. Some apps worked straight away, others had to re-authenticate. Apple health worked perfectly. Account settings all came across as well. Apple Pay of course has to be re-setup. But the BIG miss this time around was bluetooth. For some reason each and every bluetooth device had to be re-setup. Sometimes this went well. Others not so much. On my Garmin Fenix I had to delete it from Garmin connect and re add it. Others just had to be re-paired. The Apple watch surprisingly was stubborn and took a long time (10 mins) for first sync once I got it to re-pair.

Overall I have to say, this took A LOT more time than I allocated. Probably close to 4 hours in all. Now the memory of this will soon fade, but geez Louise …

Display size and resolution on the 8 is the exact same as the 6 at 750×1334 pixels, on a 4.7 inch screen. Processors get upgraded from the dual core A8 to the hex (six) core A11. According to Apple it’s got four efficiency cores that are up to 70 percent faster than A10 Fusion, and two performance cores that are up to 25 percent faster. The focus of this new hex core is similar to the octa cores you see on Android devices. Have high speed high power processors for when you need it, and low power low performance for standby. On Android it has made a significant difference, reducing standby power.

The cameras get upgraded to 12/7Mp Vs 8/1.2 on the 6. So this is a pretty significant bump, the front facing selfie camera now being almost as good as the main camera on the 6. Battery wise it’s the same at 1810 mAH. It’s always amusing to see how small the battery on an iPhone is compared to Android phones, yet the iPhones get as good or better battery life. Dimensions are 138.40 x 67.30 x 7.30 vs 138.10 x 67.00 x 6.90 for the 6. So the 8 is actually thicker. Weight is 148g Vs 129 for the 6. So the 8 is actually heavier.

The iPhone 8 continues to use the lightning cable, yay! They have however NOT upgraded it to USB 3. One of the reasons why it takes so long to load up your music, backup, and sync your device. Apple have removed the headphone jack, but included a lightning to normal 3.5mm headphone jack. This does limit you to using the headset or charge, not both. Personally I always use a bluetooth headset to listen to music so I don’t care. My two favorites are Jumbl and Sony MW600.

I’ve noticed the iPhone 8 turns on automatically when you lift the phone up to look at it without you having to press any buttons.

The iPhone 8 still ships with the anemic 5W (5V 1A) charger meaning default charge time is the same as the old iPhone 6, at under 2 hours. I’ve done a whole article on iPhone 8 quick charging which you can read … or to cut to the summary, buy yourself a 2A USB charger and use it instead of the 5W iPhone charger.

The iPhone 8 finally supports wireless charging. But as of now Apple do not include a wireless charging pad with the phone and Apple currently do not even offer one to buy. You can buy third party Qi chargers and they do work. I played with a Seneco and Itian both of which I bought from Amazon. The iPhone is said to support up to 7.5W Qi. I’m not sure if that means input to the coil or output to the phone. There are losses of roughly 50% that is normal in wireless charging. That said, with the two Qi chargers the best I could muster was about 0.6%/hr. This is roughly 60% of the speed of the Apple 5W charger. So it will definitely be a slow charge, taking charge times from under 2 hours to around 4.5 hours. This is best used, for example, when sleeping. Here you can see the speed of charge difference between the iPhones default charger and the wireless charging. By 50 mins the difference is over 15%. And this is without even considering a faster 2A charger.
I found this article on good wireless chargers.

I bought the silver, to me it looks a whole lot more like white. I’m underwhelmed by the color but given it will be under a case anyway not sure that I care.

I moved from Rogers to Bell and have seen a significant improvement in both speed and signal strength almost everywhere. I have seen speeds as high as 80Mb/s down and 30MB/s up. I use to see speeds like this from Rogers but have not seen them in quite a while as LTE has got busier. Of course because of changing carriers I can’t attribute that to the phone, it could just be the change in carriers.

Initial battery tests are showing very similar results to the iPhone 6, with some slight improvements on LTE battery life. I’ll update this once I get more data. I’m kinda surprised the new processors haven’t made much of a difference. In the Android world the Octa core was a profound shift in battery life.

So all in all, the 8 from the 6 is an entirely incremental step, evolutionary in nature. I got all the things I wanted from the upgrade and lost nothing. I had read issues with bluetooth incompatibilities but other than setup issues it has been a non-issue for the devices I use. So in the end, I’m happy, specifically with the speed of the device and the wireless charger. Am I thrilled and blown away? Nope …

December 14, 2017 Posted by | iPhone Stuff, iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

iPhone 8 (and presumably X) quick charging

The iPhone 8 still ships with the ubiquitous 5W (5V 1A) charger. This results in an unimpressive charge from dead speed under 2 hours. Pretty much every other current phone has quick charge modes. Well Apple has them too, they just choose to not ship it with the phone so they can extract additional $$s from the consumer. Cause you certainly can’t say their phones are cheap. So let’s have a look at the new quick charge mode on the iPhone and see if it’s worth it … According to an Apple article what you need to experience quick charge are the following:
1) Apple USB-C to Lightning cable ($35CDN) and one of these adapters:
2 Apple 29W, 61W, or 87W USB-C Power Adapter, or a comparable third-party USB-C power adapter that supports USB Power Delivery (USB-PD). (The Apple 29W is $59CDN)

So the total price of this is $94CDN + taxes and shipping. Of course you can find other USBC-PD adapters on places like Amazon but be super careful and make sure they can put out at least the 29W Apple recommend or you might not get full speed.

Apple went this way to align with their Mac books, or so the argument could be had. Of course amusing is that the iPhone 8 continues with the lightning cable rather than USB C. For your troubles Apple claims “Your iPhone fast charges up to 50 percent in 30 minutes.

I happen to have an iPad 12W charger, which is capable of 2.4A at 5V using a standard USB to lightning cable, so I thought I’d see what it can do, and compare it to what Apple says the fast charge can do. I saw an Article about this but found it missing details.

Ok lets start with some things I have learned. First of all the charging rate slows down after 80%. This is quite common on most new phones. I also found using the 12W charger that the charge rate draws the most current (as measured by a USB amp meter) between 0 and 50%, exactly the range Apple refer to as their quick charge. A picture goes a long way, here is a graph of the current drawn from the 12W charger Vs the Phone’s battery percent.

Anytime the curve is above the 1A mark you have benefited from being on the 12W charger Vs the standard 5W, which as you can see is a good portion of time.

To look at this another way, here is a graph that shows %of phone charge per min vs the % of the phone is charged. Again you can see a couple things from this, first of all the highest rate of charge occurs when the phone is in the 0-50% range. Second you can see the drop off of the charge rate at around 80%. And lastly you can see the chasm difference between the 2A chargers and the stock iPhone 1A charger. The third charger is an Aukey multi port USB charger which also pumps out 2A.

One more view of the data compares the phone charge Vs time between the Apple 12W Vs the default 5W. As you can see in the graph in 30 mins the difference between the two is around 30% more charge into the phone! (And remembering other 5V 2A chargers will be similar).

And here is a pic of the Aukey I used.

Looking at the data I can see that the Apple 12W or a standard 2A USB charger is pretty much as good as the expensive Apple fast charge option for a whole lot less money! Being able to quick charge a device is as important IMHO as it’s battery life. And this is a HUGE step forward for the platform!

BTW I tried the iPhone 8 with a QC 2 adapter and confirm it does NOT support QC 2. And thus a 9V 2A charger is of no use with the iPhone 8.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | iPhone Stuff, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wireless charging

With the iPhone 8 and X now supporting wireless, charging (welcome to the game Apple) more people are looking into their options. I fell in love with wireless charging a while back. I’m still on an iPhone 6 so a long time ago I bought a Qi-infinity Wireless Charging case that allowed me to retrofit wireless charging onto the iPhone 6. They have a clever design that the bottom connector slides down to allow access to the lightning port. It works, although not perfect. The case itself is super rigid and has saved my phone on countless occasions.

Back to the wireless charging … So with this case I decided to compare a couple wireless charges. It’s worth noting, that be careful, a number of the super cheap charge pads are single coil devices. This means it has a very narrow magnetic field. So you
have to be super careful with where you put the phone down. I had an early one of these that I paid $3 for and eventually through it out after more than once thinking it was charging and it wasn’t. Most of the charge pads have a light to show you the power is to the charge pad, and a light to indicate it’s charging the phone wirelessly.

It’s worth noting that wireless charge pads are in general slower to charge your phone that by a wired charger, to do with the inefficiencies of wireless charging. The losses involved. They are ideal for overnight charging where the speed of the charge is of little importance.

The first one I tried was a Docooler G300. This turned out to be the slowest of the charge pads I had to try. It charged the iPhone 6 with this case at a rate of 0.375%/hr or a projected full charge of 4.4 hours. Now the speed and amount of time is of less interest than the relative numbers. Your numbers will vary depending on your phone and charge pad.

The second one to try was an Itian Qi. I really like physical layout of this charge pad because it makes it simple to get the phone on the right spot. This charged at a rate of 0.48%/hr or a projected full charge of 3.5 hours. This would make this one 27% faster than the Docooler.

Last up I tried a Seneo Fast Wireless Charger. This one is also a good design for making it easy to get the phone on the right spot on the charge pad. This one charged the fastest at a rate of 0.54%/hr or a projected full charge of 3.1 hours. This one would then be 44% faster than the Docooler.

By comparison a wired charger for an iPhone 6 can deliver about 1%/hr or a projected charge of about 1.5 hours. So you can see what I mean by wireless chargers being slower. You can even see it in the current drawn. The charge case that I bought says right on it that it delivers a max current into the iPhone of .6A, while the power drawn from the USB to give that 0.6A is about 1.2A. In other words you loose about 50% due to the inefficiency of wireless charging. You can see the current and voltage of a USB port by using a USB amp meter like this:

November 2, 2017 Posted by | Electronic gadget reviews, iPhone Stuff | Leave a comment

Heh SIRI not working

I’m still running an iPhone 6, and for a while I was confused by the fact Heh SIRI would work sometimes and not others. Well it turns out on older iPhones like mine Heh SIRI ONLY works while on a power source to save battery. Now Apple could have saved me a time by simply putting a note next to the switch setting that turns on Heh SIRI to say only while on AC, but they didn’t.

So with that sorted out I now know when it’s on my bed side plugged in, I can ask for weather etc. And when plugged in the car I can use SIRI to navigate stuff. This can basically take the place of things like an Amazon Echo or Google home, for free! This may seem super obvious to those in the know, but if it tripped me up, chances are one or two others may have missed this point too …

Article defining where heh SIRI is supported.

October 24, 2017 Posted by | iPhone Stuff, iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment