John Galea's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

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.

Advertisements

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

Here a tracker there a tracker … Apple Health to the rescue?

Getting all your activity/sleep etc data in one place is challenging. The makers like fitbit etc have no motivation whatsoever to allow you to have devices from different companies. In fact, they use it to trap you into their ecosystem. If you happen to change trackers, do you want to change your scale? Of all the companies I’ve played with Fitbit, Polar, Misfit, and Xiaomi only Fitbit allow you to export your data. And then it dawned on me, in the Apple world there is a bridge to bring this data in one place, Apple Health! So let’s have a look at this …

When you install an app that supports Apple Health, you can control what amount of access it can have to Apple Health, ie what it can read and write. When you uninstall an app you can also choose to remove all data in Apple health from that app. You can easily see what sources currently have read and write access and tailor it as you see fit.
img_1571img_1572

For this to be a savior you need to keep an eye on how well the individual app works with Apple health. I found Garmin connect had some anomalies that were polluting the sleep data. It seems Garmin did not think of the possibility that you might not always sleep with your Garmin device and it used the definition of normal bed time (which is used to mute the device) on those occasions to populate your sleep? WTF.
img_1520img_1531

Fortunately it’s pretty easy to simply remove Garmin Connect’s access to just the sleep data.

Fitbit have chosen for now to completely ignore Apple Health, likely to keep your data in their vault. Fortunately there is an app out there that simply takes your fitbit data and pushes it into Apple health called Health Sync. It works well.

Fitbit do an incredible job of taking data from multiple devices and merging them. You can wear your Flex for part of the day and switch up to a different tracker and it merges them nicely. Apple Health however makes not attempt to do this. It does however allow you to prioritize which data is likely to be more accurate.
img_1573

Additionally you can manually edit and delete entries easily.

Data can be exported from the Apple health app, but I see no way of importing it. This is potentially a challenge if you don’t use the backup/restore method of migrating to a new phone at some point. The exported data comes out in an XML file that is challenging at best to do anything with. Fortunately there is an app called QS Access that will allow you to export exactly what you want to a CSV that in turn can be imported into Excel for graphing and analysis.

So an in all it can be done, but definitely could use some work by Apple …

November 15, 2016 Posted by | Activity Trackers, iPhone Stuff, iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

Mocreo 2500 mAH external battery

I’ve bought a few external batteries in the past and overall been underwhelmed. I was looking for one that was small, and light to allow me to carry it all the time for emergencies. Funny enough, more often when I am carrying the external battery pack it’s been used by colleagues rather than by me 🙂 Probably something to do with my paranoia of running out of battery. This one caught my eye on Amazon as inexpensive, light and thing. So I bought it. The model number is a LAVO-2500 from Mocreo.

6181bnhDWFL._SL1500_

iPhones even as far as the 6 only draw a max of 1A out of the charger. Android phones more often require 2A. This battery pack can only put out 1A max. So it’s of little use on Android devices. Check the output current on your charger before you buy a battery pack like this. Most of the smaller ones cap out at 1A. For the iPhone 6 this device is perfect.

Physically the device includes an integrated microUSB cable that is a little on the flimsy side. It also came with a microUSB to lightning converter. The converter has a bay but it is difficult to get it out and if you put it in the wrong way around it’s an even bigger challenge to get it out. If there is a bad part to the design this is definitely it. In fact, I wish the charger was available with a lightning connector on it.

So I put it to the test. The battery on an iPhone 6 is 1860 mAH. I did two runs. First run went from 56 to 92% in 45 mins. Second run went from 1% to 64% in 78 mins. So in all the combined runs were able to provide a 99% charge in 123 mins. The battery pack was able to keep a pretty constant charge current into the iPhone throughout. The charge curve is very close to the stock chargers which is impressive.
external-charger

Looking at efficiency the 2500 mAH was able to push a virtually full charge into the iPhone 6’s 1860mAH battery which comes out as 74% which is very good.

From completely dead it took around 4 hours to charge. It can only draw 1A on charge so plugging it into a 2A charger doesn’t help this. So this battery pack does not have quick charge circuitry built in as a lot of new phones do, but given the price …

The unit supports passthru meaning you can plug the battery into the wall, and the phone into the battery and both will charge. The current it can take is limited so the phone is given all it wants first and then once full the battery charges.

The pack lacks a flash light that some of these have and would be convenient, and there is no way to tell the charge in the battery pack. There’s only one LED, off when plugged in means fully charged, purple when on pass thru means charging the phone and red means charging the battery.

All in all this an excellent battery pack for every day carrying, at a reasonable price for an iPhone!

August 4, 2016 Posted by | iPhone Stuff, iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

Heart rate variability

I recently tripped across a concept I had never heard of called heart rate variability. It measures the actual distance between heart beats. As much as we think our heart beats at regular intervals it does not. And oddly the more regular the heart beats are, the less healthy we are (according to studies I read). HRV can measure mental/physical stress, and can tell us when we might be over training. Now in all the reading I have done I am not sure I have a firm grasp on what this all means, but I can start with the technology side of things. Once we have the data then we can scratch things (your head … other things :)) to figure out what exactly it means. I won’t address the topic of what is HRV, or how to interpret it, I will address it from a technology point of view. There are lots of articles on HRV written by medical professionals who have a lot more cred than I. So on with the tech …

First off you need an accurate heart rate monitor. Optical ones won’t do. My Scosche for example is not supported. So your looking at a strap. The Wahoo TICKR as well as the Polar H7 both will fit the bill …

I have not found any watches that do HRV (My polar A300, Fibit Blaze don’t). I am sure one somewhere does … So that leaves us with an app. I am on an iPhone for now. I quickly zeroed in on three apps. HRV+ (free), Elite HRV (free), and SweetBeat HRV (paid). Sweatbeat even offer a free onetime HRV evaluation of the data you have uploaded in the price. Both Elite and Sweetbeat upload the data to their server (HRV+ does not).

One of the first thing I noticed is that HRV, like your heart rate can vary quite a bit, so a longer sampling gives you a more accurate reading. How long? Well I worked with all three apps for over a week and found the biggest variation (on average off by 19%) to be on the app that took the HRV for the shortest, which is HRV+ at only a 60 second reading (Vs 2 or 3 minutes). Interpreting the data is key, and HRV+ did nothing but give you the raw data. As such, I would have to say give HRV+ a pass.
IMG_1222

Moving onto Elite HRV I would have to say this app is by far my favorite of the three. It’s free, and who doesn’t like free! It also attempts to help you interpret the data and gives you a simple visual. The raw HRV is there, it quantifies it, compares it and even reminds you if you miss your morning HRV reading. The visual graph should help you determine if your HRV is too low, too high or just right (no references to children s books needed). A track record is really important to the apps ability to help you know where you are at physically/emotionally. You can do HRV readings anytime you want and your history data is kept for you. As a tool goes I think Elite HRV is the best of the three. The one thing that is missing is a web portal to see the results that have been uploaded to the cloud … So if there isn’t a web portal why am I uploading my data? Elite on average was within 10% of Sweetbeat.
IMG_1221

Last but not least is Sweetbeat HRV. I bought this after watching a video from one of the founders that went into the work they had done to correlate Sweetbeat with EKG machines. I was impressed (I drank the Koolaid). Couple this with the fact that Sweetbeat will do a manual analysis of your uploaded HRV and it seemed like a good choice. What is missing is a nice visual showing your HRV like Elite does. Oddly there is a second app from the same company for $6.99 that does give you that called DailyBeat HRV.
IMG_1229
They do show you your HRV throughout the session:
IMG_1228
And a plethora of data on your HRV that if I had no idea what to do with HRV, I REALLY have no idea what to do with this:
IMG_1230

As much difficulty I had getting correlation on HRV (between the apps) the other data that comes out of these apps like RMSSD (Root Mean Square of the Successive Differences) was completely all over the place. Without some believable data what the heck do I do with it?

There is a portal to log onto to see your results but it is basic at best and provides little to no tools to help you do anything with the data over and above what you get on the phone.

So tool wise there you have it. Now all I have to do is figure out what it means? I have noticed it definitely detects when I am run down, not feeling great, slept poorly etc, but do I need an app to tell me that? Maybe I should just go low tech an buy a mood ring 🙂 Maybe as a weekend warrior I just don’t need this level of focus?

Update:
I put together a how to use HRV follow up blog post following this one.

June 29, 2016 Posted by | iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

Tempered glass screen protectors (a mini post)

Over the years I’ve bought a few screen protectors. I have hated most of them. Orange peel textures, bubbles/dirt under them, distortion to the screen, reduced sensitivity to touch etc means as a whole I had given up on them.

Recently a bud of mine Lance bought a tempered glass screen protector and I was hugely impressed. Instead of a film like texture these are thicker and more rigid. They are completely clear, the finger glides over them naturally and there is absolutely no difference in touch responsiveness.

I noticed recently I had somehow aquired a few scratches on my iPhone 6. No idea how. So I bought one from JetDirect on Amazon for my iPhone 6. I actually bought two just in case I messed it up installing it. They were cheap like $10 for the two. It came with a sticky lint remover, a screen cleaner and the protector itself. First up you clean the screen as good as you can. Then polish it with the soft dust free cloth they provide. They give you a sticky lint remover but honestly packing tape works even better. Just go over the screen a couple times removing as much dust etc as you can. Cleanliness is paramount. The slightest piece of dust or hair and you have a mess on your hands. The protector comes with two pieces of tape you put on the front of the screen. This allows you to remove it and reposition it. There’s a thin film on the back of the protector that has to be removed, and is clearly identified on the back. You can lift the corner back up, reposition, reclean if needed and next thing you know you see the protector slowly adhere to the screen. It really is amazing to watch.

Once on the protector provides some additional rigidity to the screen against drops, as well as protection from scratches. It can even hide small scratches on the screen (it did mine). In the even the protector gets scratched it can be removed (tossed out) and replaced with a new one.

The one I bought was off by about 2 mm in size and barely covered the screen. Take some time and read reviews people have posted before buying.

I also bought one for my iPad mini and it was also from JetDirect and fit the iPad perfectly. Getting the screen completely clean took a ton of patience and time (Ok I admit Lance did it). Once in place it is invisible. Really quite amazing. I highly recommend them! Thanks Lance!

June 28, 2016 Posted by | iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

Apple AirPrint for iPads/iPhones

As with everything Apple they have their own way of doing things. Bringing a new disparate architecture device presents challenges. Everything else in my house is Windows so when I bought a iPhone and iPad I had to look into how to make printing working. One would hope that cloud printing would be possible, if it is I don’t see it, at least not without paying for apps. The google apps (Gmail for example) have some cloud printing within them. HP have an ePrint app but it literally creates it’s own app to get at your photos, to browse the web from, read email from etc. It does allow printing from anywhere but isn’t really what I was hoping for.
IMG_1169

The network standard for an iPad/iPhone is called Airplay. My HP 1102W while not officially on the Apple site does support Airplay and my iPhone found it when I was on the home network allowing me to print easily. But what if you have another printer that isn’t actually supported? Well, while not simple by any means, you can add AirPlay support to any printer on a Windows PC using this guide. I did it and got both my printers working on the network. While this does not solve the issue of cloud printing it does however give you a way to do it. That’s about it.

May 19, 2016 Posted by | iPhone Stuff, iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

Whatsapp mini review

Many of us have multiple devices we use on a daily bases. Why companies continue to not understand and exploit this is beyond me. A desktop, a laptop, a tablet, a phone etc and it would be great to be able to have one cross platform app from which to chat with friends over. Google Hangouts is probably one of the best at this. It lets you use however many devices you want. And whatever was the last device to get used is where a notification is sent. BBM is one of the worst in that it can only be installed at one device at a time and you literally have to uninstall and reinstall to move it to a different device. And BBM has been absolutely plagued lately by a constant stream of spam from people asking to connect and businesses too.

So along come Whatapp. It is an interesting concept. You install an app on your phone (iPhone, Blackberry or Windows phone). This device becomes the gateway that all other devices can then send messages through. It’s worth noting that you have to keep your phone, on, and online or Whatsapp breaks.

In addition to your phone you can also use Whatsapp and sign into the web, a PC or Mac (No official iPad support and you can’t use the web app from an iPad either). You log onto the web interface (or start the PC or iPad app) and it brings up a QR code which you then from your phone you authorize. You can authorize as many devices at a time but can only log in to your phone plus one device at a time. Not perfect, but not horrible. You can logout from all computers from the phone but not just one device.

When you install it for the first time it goes through your contacts based on phone numbers and finds the list of people already on whatsapp and adds them to your favorites. Now that sounds like a good idea but it created a plague of people in my favorites. Fortunately there is a delete all favorites button and then add back the folks you really want. I see no way to see which of your friends is actually active on Whatsapp Vs tried it and are no longer using it. Once you start a chat you can see when they were last seen so at least at that point you will know if they are active on Whatsapp.

There is no approval process for adding friends, or allowing someone to send you a message. This would imply spam is quite possible. You can block people from within the phone app.

The default privacy policy is terrible (or should I say no privacy), but fortunately can be easily changed. Your status, profile photo, and Last seen are visible to everyone by default. Yuk. Be sure and change that. (Settings, account, privacy).
IMG_1143

Messages are confirmed when sent (single check mark), confirmed when read (two check marks), and you can see them typing (replying). Whatsapp supports text chats, and voice calls. But there is no voice out calling (as there is in Skype), and no voice in (other than from Whatsapp clients).

You can manually send your location (from the phone app only) to a contact, but I see no way to do live tracking of friends, and no way to request a persons location. A crying shame.

Messages are encrypted if you care.

May 12, 2016 Posted by | iPhone Stuff, iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

Zagg Folio iPad mini case

I hate on screen keyboards. Inevitably they drive me nutz. So when I saw this I was super curious to see how useful it might be. I snagged one used on ebay for a price I could swallow. Physically speaking the case is well designed. The top portion of the case completely envelopes and protects the iPad mini. The top has a hinge to the bottom that has just the right amount of resistance. It can be sat at almost any angle. From this point alone it is quite useful. At certain angles it is a bit tippy as you might expect. Adding weight to the keyboard would have solved this but it also would have made it heavier, so a trade off. The outside has a nice faux leather pattern on the plastic making it super easy to hold onto. Thickness and weight are about as good as it could get. It’s about the same as the iPad itself. They keyboard connects to the iPad through bluetooth. There is a battery in the base of the keyboard. There’s a switch on the front corner of the keyboard as well as a light. The battery is recharged by a microUSB port. Any charger for a non iPad will do. I do find it odd that they used a microUSB port instead of a lightning port that would have let you use your iPad charger. Reconnect times are a bit on the slow time and take a few key presses before it is reconnected. The keyboard goes sleep on it’s own after a period of inactivity so you can leave it on all the time. The keys are nicely recessed so they do not make contact with the screen. Overall the keys are well placed. Any OS be it Windows, Android and even iOS have specific keys unique to them. There’s something to be said about having a keyboard designed uniquely for iOS. Like the home button that actually works. The CMD key etc. There are a few blemishes on what could have been a perfect layout. The keyboard is small, and unless you have small hands don’t buy it. Oddities are expected on a keyboard of this size. Here are the ones I noticed, the number 1 key is smaller than any other key. And the q seems to be where the tab ought to be. The keyboard is even backlit and you can change the brightness (including off) and color of the backlighting. All in all it’s an excellent design, but as expected not something your going to use to bang out long emails or texts but perfect for short use on the go or on holidays.

I did run into an occasional issue where the keyboard would not connect. I’d go into bluetooth settings and it would show the keyboard was connected but no joy. The solution was to turn bluetooth off and back on. Seemed more reliable of the keyboard is turned off Vs gone to sleep.

I have noticed that swiping from the bottom of the screen up is virtually impossible with the keyboard on. I have to rotate the iPad to do this ..

$_57

May 6, 2016 Posted by | iPhone/iPad, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

iPad 2 mini review

Table of contents
Introduction
iPad Models
Physicals and specs
General stuff
Initial setup
Apps
Accessories
Pens (and OneNote)
Mobile Browsing
In car navigation
Kindle
Tethering
iPad/iPhone/Mac integration
Phone calls

Introduction
My digital tablet landscape is a little busy to say the least. My main device day to day is my a T300 chi, but honestly I use it more as a laptop than a tablet. Windows as a tablet even on Windows 10 is hog tied by a poor onscreen keyboard and an operating system that really is not all that touch friendly. even the new Edge browser was poorly designed in my opinion for touch. Look at the size of the forward and back buttons as one trivial example. Windows does some things really well, One note for example is best and the most feature rich on Windows. I take digital notes regularly and the hands down best experience to date is the Asus vivotab note.

But the only in car gps navigation app (on Windows) is Navmii and it is eccentric at best. Web browsing is hands down best on Windows (compared to iOS or Android). Constantly being forced onto mobile web sites is limiting. But most Windows tablets (T300 not included in the comment) have very low resolution. 8″ tablets are very convenient but are limited by the same size that makes them uber portable.

In the Windows space my devices are the T300 Chi, Asus Vivotab note, Dell venue 8 (largely a backup to the Vivotab that had been hugely unreliable), and a T100 (that is largely disabled due to issues between the tablet and keyboard).

In the Android space I have aSamsung Note 8. It is a very versatile tablet. Still one of my favorite tablets. Great for games, great for in car navigation (using CoPilot, and google maps), the pen is second only to the vivotab note (although the OneNote functionality is severely limited on Android) and has a cell radio in it making it very handy. Battery life is not great and charge times are slow. The biggest limitations are low resolution and the limitations of constantly being held back by the mobile browsing experience.

All this is said to set the stage for the iPad … This is my first ever iPad. The iPad is for all purposes a large iPhone. The app space is the same. And so on with the review.

I’ve gone through iOS fairly heavily in my recent post on the iPhone 5s. I will focus on what’s different on an iPad

iPad Models
Sorting through which iPad to choose was relatively straight forward for me. This Wikipedia article shows the generations. The iPad mini 2 is a much improved screen, and much faster processor so that was a no brainer. A little catch is that the WIFI only models do not have GPS which would remove the possibility of using it for in car navigation. And I have found having a built in cell very handy. Lastly comes memory size, to make it dead easy to manage I chose the exact same size as my iPhone so 64G. So this one is an iPad mini 2 LTE, 64G. I bought a refurb from Factory direct.

Physicals and specs
200×134.7×7.5 mm 341g
210.8×135.9×8 mm 340g (Samsung note 8 for comparison)
220.9×133.8×10.95 mm 380g (Asus Vivotab 8 for comparison)
Size and weight wise this is the space I like for uber portability. The limiting factor is one of screen size.

The power button is oddly on the top of the tablet (instead of being halfway on the side).

7.9-inch 2048×1536 resolution screen at 326 dpi (same dpi as an iPhone 5s/6)
800×1280 pixels (~189 dpi) (Samsung Note 8 and Asus Vivotab 8 for comparison)
as you can see the iPad is in a totally league.

Battery is 6471 mAH, more than triple that of an iPhone, and battery life is one of the strong suits for this device.
Mini 2’s come with a 10W charger (5V 2A). I found the mini 2 much more picky with higher current chargers than others, more often barely drawing 5W which sustains but really doesn’t charge much.

The processor on this one is an A7, same generation as an iPhone 5s (an iPhone 6 is the newer A8), you’d have to go all the way to an iPad mini 4 to get to an A8. The speed difference coming from my iPhone 6 is noticeably slower, but that said everything is still pretty darn instantaneous.

General stuff
First off, iOS devices including this one only support one userid on the tablet. So if you were thinking you could have one in the house that everyone can share … sorry not here. This is somewhere between clever (from Apple’s point of view) and dumb (from the users point of view). I guess they want you to buy one per person. Apparently this is something Apple are working on, at least for schools, have to see if the general public gets it too.

The launcher on the iPad seems particularly odd. There is a lot of wasted space between the icons. On an iPhone there is a zoomed and unzoomed mode which changes the number of icons on the screen. No such thing on the iPad. So your stuck with 5×4 in landscape and 4×5 in portrait. So this means the location of icons changes when the screen rotates. Screen rotation works well and is implemented everywhere including the home screen. No idea why Apple left that off of an iPhone.
ipad-mini-witb-gold-wif-201410

My music collection of around 25G sync’d in about 30 mins which would be around 14MB/s so like the 5S not earth shatteringly fast. Fortunately the device is usable while syncing and follow on sync only have to replicate what’s new.

For some odd reason Apple removed the tremendous Wallet app from the iPad. No idea what their thought process (if any) was on that.

Initial setup
An iPad can not be setup from a backup of an iPhone so sadly if this is your first iPad you will have to manually set it up from scratch. Future iPads can be setup using backups but for your first your on your own. Now this is at least partly because of the iPhone Vs iPad apps but still I think Apple could have done something to make this easier and encourage iPhone users to buy an iPad.

Apps
When the iPad first appeared in the market Apple needed to jump start it’s app list, so Apple allowed the iPad to run iPhone apps. This situation sadly still exists. I personally would prefer Apple make developers write for both. So in the app store when you are on a iPad you sometimes can not find an app that you can find on an iPhone (the developer decided to not allow iPads), apps custom written to take advantage of the higher res iPad and apps that were written for an iPhone but will run on an iPad. This last category can manifest itself in a number of ways from not rotating the screen to low resolution on the display (including large onscreen keyboard).

Accessories
There are tons of accessories available for the mini, but really they are the same ones available for the iPhone. There are keyboard cases, flash card readers, and the like. There is even an HDMI adapter for it, but Apples stubbornness to not allow Bluetooth mice makes this option a whole lot less useful since you will still need to touch the screen to select stuff. And try and do RDP without a mouse. There is no USB OTG cable or a cable that would allow you to charge your iPhone from your iPad. A shame. Given the size of the battery this would have been a neat feature.

Pens and OneNote
I tried a couple capacitive pens I have one thin, two fat. The thin one was completely ignored. One fat one was detected but was too sticky on the screen to be usable. The other thick one (that came with a cheap case I bought off Amazon) actually works fine for occasional use. One note on iPad has done something brilliant. You put it in draw mode and then the pen starts doing something. Gestures are then used for scrolling and zooming. So there are no issues with palm detection like there are on Windows 10. Microsoft wrote version of OneNote just for the iPad. It actually works reasonably well. Still missing are things like OCR, handwriting to text, ability to use templates and the like. All the usual things missing on mobile platforms. You still need to go to Windows to get the full OneNote experience, but that said, it’s wonderful to have this cross platform tool. I use it all the time.

As with the iPhone there is no Kodi available for the iPad. You can hack your way through installing it but the process is arduous at best. Unless you can get a friend like Johannes to do it for you 🙂 There are people on Kiji that will do it for you for a fee. The fee seems pretty reasonable given the difficulty and time consuming nature of the task. Particularly so if you don’t already have a Mac.

Mobile Browsing
As with all but Windows tablet, the iPad suffers from constantly being handcuffed by mobile web sites, even when you ask for the desktop websites. This happens on both Safari and Chrome. It really is a plague. Not sure if webmasters know better than their customers or they have no idea how to process the request for the desktop web site but it’s annoying.

In car Navigation
In car navigation is well covered on the iPad (but remember, only the iPad minis with cell have GPS in them). There are three choices that I use, the built in Apple maps, Google maps and Copilot. Copilot license from Android is carried over into iOS and Copilot supports offline maps. The size of the iPad mini is perfect for in car navigation. You will however have to find a car mount for it. I did find the the iPad mini is about the same width as the height of my iPhone 6 so the same holder (if it’s strong enough) can be used for both.

Kindle
Amazon have created an iPad Kindle app. It works fine, and supports downloaded books (the Windows version does not) but oddly does not allow you to buy books on the app. It doesn’t even link to a web page to allow you to buy the book. All in all it is less than a seemless experience. I can imagine there are conflicts with Apple books but still …

Tethering
The iPad can be used to tether (yay they didn’t remove tethering) to another device in one of three ways, WIFI access point, blueooth and USB. It’s wonderful to have bluetooth back because it’s something you can enable on your phone, leave enabled and it uses little power. Then from the remote client you can connect to it when you need it without having to take the phone out. Of course bluetooth tethering is limit to about 1MB/s so everything has it’s price.
IMG_0002

iPad/iPhone/Mac integration
This is one of the main reasons I wanted to play with an iPad, to see how Apple has integrated the devices. Apple call this Continuity. This breaks down into a number of areas. First and foremost is text messaging. Apple use the iMessaging app to in the back end blend your devices. No matter where you are, no matter what device your on you get to see all your iMessage and text messages. This really is a thing of beauty. Now to use it you have to not have disabled iMessaging, but be warned, if you move your phone off iOS to another platform disable iMessage and wait “a while” before you move your SIM to a new phone or your messages from other iOS users will continue to go to iMessage and be lost in the ether. Until some magical timeout, measured in days, occurs. Why sit typing on a small screen text messages or iMessages when you could be at your Mac or iPad! Of course what is missing (intentionally) is a Windows or web client. This is to provide value to the Mac ecosystem. iMessage by the way includes the ability to see the progress of your message, delivered, and read (and when it was read).

The second level of integration is what Apple call hand offs. A number of default apps Safari, iMessage, mail etc all can be handed off between devices. So you can start surfing (for example) on one device and go to another device and pickup where you left off. The implementation of this is a tad clumsy but it does work. On your iPhone or iPad when you double click to see the list of running apps there will an icon for anything that is available to resume on this device.

The third and final level of integration is for phone calls. When a phone call comes in, if your Mac/iPad and iPhone are all on the same wifi network (it only works over WIFI) your call comes in and is magically sent over to your iPad or Mac through FaceTime audio. It really works smoothly. From your iPad you can also make phone calls again through FaceTime. Sadly all this ends if your not on the same WIFI network. When a call comes in on your iPhone there is not even a notification on your iPad.

There’s a number of things missing IMHO. For example it would be great to be able to see the battery level of your iPhone on your iPad. And if you left your iPhone at home it would be nice to remotely forward your phone. Neither of these can even be done on iCloud. And if you have the same app on both wouldn’t it be nice to have back end data syncd? Say progress on a game, or if your tracking a package from UPS for example why do you have to put the tracking number into both devices? These are a couple examples. Moving seamlessly between the two devices would create some real platform synergy.

I really see great value in this kind of work (integration between devices). Apple have gone way farther than Microsoft in this space. Which isn’t hard given Microsoft so far have done next to nothing 🙂

Phone calls
Like on most of these tablets the ability to make and receive phone calls has been removed. Oddly on the phablets like the Samsung Notes they leave it. So that leaves a number of choices, but all of them are handcuffed by the way iOS handles background apps (which is not well). Skype out works but there are no Skype In phone numbers in Canada. BBM has audio but can only be used between two BBM clients. Call quality is very good on BBM audio and free. Why BBM has not monetized this and brought about a BBM out service is beyond me. For a company struggling as Blackberry are this could be a very welcome revenue source. Generic VOIP can be used if you have a VOIP provider. I found Media5-fone and setup it up with my VOIP provider (Anveo). This app is written for iPhones not iPads so it is small and low res. But it’s a dialer to kinda who cares. Apps in the background on an iOS device are always less responsive so incoming calls will take a bit to register on the phone.

Bluetooth keyboards work just fine, and brilliantly Apple turns off the onscreen keyboard once the Bluetooth keyboard is connected. Why can’t Microsoft learn that trick? Bluetooth mice as always with iPhone/iPads are ignored. If Apple would reverse this stubbornness it would open up new use cases for iPads. Sadly it’s been this way for years and doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.

Standby power management is really very good on this device. Probably one of the best I’ve seen to date. I left the iPad on WIFI and the cell network for 49 hours and it went down from 100 to 92. That would come out at .16%/hr or a projected standby life of 26 days. Unbelievable. The numbers were similar on LTE. Indistinguishable really.

Another missing utility (on top of wallet) is Apple Health. Wouldn’t it be nice to look at your health data on a bigger screen instead of your phone? This seems like a perfect opportunity for cross device integration …

So all in all I am thoroughly impressed with the iPad mini. Great size, performance, battery life and integration. I always use to say people that jump into Apples ecosystem have drunk the KoolAid but I think now I know they (and I) have really drank the Apple juice … 🙂

March 2, 2016 Posted by | iPhone Stuff, iPhone/iPad | Leave a comment

Black listed phones (quick post)

A while back the government forced, at the carrier level, enforcement that if a phone that was listed as stolen tried to be used that it be denied service. This is called a black list. The problem is that onus is on the buyer to insure that when purchasing a used/refurbished phone that is not on the black list. I recently bought a refurbished phone from BestBuy auctions, now called 2nd turn. When I tried to get it on the network it simply reported no service. Upon contacting Fido I found to my horror I had been sold a black listed phone, by a reputable organization. Now clearly Fido/Rogers has this new process in place. I can only assume others like Bell/Telus etc do as well. So if you are buying used/refurb’d phones beware. If you were to buy one on Craigslist for example you would have absolutely no recourse. Be sure and check that the phone is on a network before you leave the sale. You can also check the IMEI (the phones serial number) in the database on a site like IMEIData.

February 2, 2016 Posted by | Android, Blackberry 10, iPhone Stuff, iPhone/iPad, Uncategorized | Leave a comment