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Apple releases fix for its i-links freeze

At last. See: https://apple.slashdot.org/story/16/03/31/1847219/apple-releases-ios-931-with-fix-for-unresponsive-links

But what about android?

After a while, even the Apple Air 2 seems too heavy to perch on your chest comfortably at night, particularly with a case to stop you panicking every time the slippery iPad starts to escape from your grasp.

So when Lenovo began selling its 16G Lenovo Tab A8 A5550 in Switzerland for CHF100, I snapped it up despite the 1280×800 resolution (well below the iPad’s retina offering).

In reality, I bought it for a 93-year-old friend to get his emails, surf the web and hook into Netflix films.

I liked it so much I went back to our local Interdiscount store next day and bought a second one for myself. The deal gave me a case for CHF15 extra. For me I also added CHF20 mini SD card to increase the storage by 32GB.

Why did I like it so much?

In search of the killer app

The 5 megapixels camera might appeal to some, though it’s hardly any more than ordinary these days and doesn’t get much praise from reviewers. Several say it doesn’t perform well in poor light — but I’d say the same about my iPhone 5.

Another appealing feature is facility that enables you to share (send and receive) photos without Wi-Fi or bluetooth enabled.

But tnat’s not a killer app, even for the no-typing millennial generation and it had no immediate attraction for me.

What I liked immediately was:

  • how easy it was to hook up to my router and set up email for my friend
  • the ready-to-go inclusion of all the apps you would normally need, even a free Ms office-compatible editing suite
  • the simple controls almost always onscreen (back arrow, close and current apps)

Not so evil

In contrast to Apple and Microsoft, Google offers non-proprietory browsers, an office app and Skype in addition to Chrome, Docs and Hangout with Facebook as well as Google+.

But I have also come to love the pull-down lists of new notifications on the left of the screen and the quick-controls over settings that’ over on the right.

Better than iPad

For me the Yahoo and Gmail apps work much better on the Android than on the iPad. Perhaps Apple’s heavy bureaucracy weighs down the creativity of developers. They don’t want to get back into revisions once the first effort has been accepted.

Which hacked iOS apps do you have?

Like me, you may have panicked to hear of Applestore apps being infectes by a hijacking virus.

Well, it turns our there's a list of the apps so far known to be infected, mainly Chinese, as a result of downloads from a compromised source in China.

PaloAlto Networks has checked out apps listed by others and found 39 so far, including WinZip.

Palo Alto report

The list page

That's how I found one on my own(ed}apps list: PDFReader. Luckily, it wasn't on my device but was still available for download.

Then I discovered there's no way to delete it completely from my purchases. Apple won't allow you unless you jailbreak your iPad. So someone else in the house could easily download it to their machine. Nothing in the Store indicates it has been compromised.

Not so good, Apple.

 

Where to find free apps

My favourite free app finder is:

  • App Hits (see below)

App Hits

App Hits image

App Hits 4 Sept.

Why? It gives you all the apps, free or paid, iPhone or iPad. The downside is that lots of standards like Adobe come first. But you can reduce the redundancy by choosing your category.
By the way, Calculator for iPad is first in the free list, and Google second. For iPhone it's Find my Phone, qith Google again second.
Among the paid apps, the tops are Swype (a keyboard replacement) for iPhone at $.99, and Photon Flash Player for iPad — one of my recommendations — at $4.99.

But App Hits is not my first port of call. That's Apps Gone Free (below again):

Apps Gone Free

App Hits is not as simple as Apps Gone Free. The downside of AGF is a lot of not very interesting (or appealing) games, at least to me.

But many AGF apps are offered as freebies for only a short time. So I check on Apps Gone Free first. But I don't do much downloading.

Then there's AGF's parent App Advice. This has lots of serious commentary and good advice on competing products in an attractive format.

App Advice

 
 

I'm not a fan of the front page layout — the important stories are jumbled together with the gossip and minor details, but I do like the longer pieces.

The group also puts out a useful aggregator called App Start:

App Start

App Start image

It has a section on the first 10 apps to download, which I find hard to disagree with, except its recommended game. I'd pick Settlers of Qatan, and I use TuneUp Radio rather than Pandora.

Beware of iPad 101, however. It was written for earlier iOS versions and hasn't been updated yet. So gestures such as swiping left at the Home Screen won't bringg up the Control Panel — you have to swipe up from the bottom these days (and good luck with that).

Also rans

Then there's the mixtures like Free Apps:

Offering image

A standard info page

You still have tap on the list to get this informative page, though. And there's no way to exclude Russian and Chinese offerings from the list.

Quite a few of the other aggregators I downloaded to my iPad seem to have gone out of business, or have become non-functional. The world of free apps is cut-throat.

 

What’s wrong with iPad Air 2

That's what you all want to know, right?

It's blazing fast, beautiful, with great resolution and a full-HD camera plus 8Mb photos, reasonably priced and thin. Thin is the most impressive feature to wow your friends, but what actual use is that?

However, you can't say thinity is wrong.

Thumbprint

Fingerprint detection is scary (what if Apple doesn't recognize me?), until you use it. Then you won't want to be without it. Forget entering your password every time you go to the Apple Store.

My tip: use your right thumb instead. Then, if like me you hold your iPad landscape mode with the Home button at the right, it's a no-brainer to put your thumb in the right position over the Home button and be recognized.

So handing over control to a device that has to do something very complicated every time and perfectly is not a defect, since it works.

Control panel

Getting the Control Panel to come up from the bottom is just as difficult as with earlier models. But that's not specific to the Air 2.

Nor is the problem I have with the onscreen keyboard's bottom line, printing m when I want to type space (my big thumbs!).

iOS 8.4

No, my big complaint is with IOS 8.4, which introduced fingerprint iD. My first Air 2 had to go back to Apple. It just blacked out one day in August after three months and wouldn't respond.

A couple of days ago I got a new one in the post. Yes, the usual one-month wait. Already I could hardly live without it.

But it came with iOS 8.3 installed. That would not allow me to restore my previous settings, apps and info from iCloud.

Luckily my iPad3, which seems to have given up charging, had been backed up before turning into a contunually flashing Apple logo.

I had to restore from that backup, as if this was the old device. My previous Air 2 backup was useless. When I reinstalled 8.4 I xould not find my Air 2 original backups any more. Grrr.

Worse, I then had to erase my old Air 2 through Find My iPhone (it was offline any way, wherever it might be in Appleland).

Nevertheless, I still had to manually restore three months of iPadding without help. Do backups ever give you what you want in computerworld?

I reckon that earns Apple a 3 out of 10 for service, i.e. a dismal failing grade, with credit for actually replacing my machine as per the warranty (whch I got from the supplier who offers a four-year guarantee — come on, Apple!)

iPad 3 irritants

As for iPad 3, 64Gb proved early on to be much too small, and I was just waiting until Apple produced something worth the upgrade. At which time, two years later, the unextendable Apple Care warranty had just run out, and it cost me CHF130 to try to get it fixed.

The connector plug was changed. It worked for a day but still wouldn't charge properly.

Faced with the prospect of another CHF130 and the cost of replacing whatever was really wrong with it, I took it home from the shop to wait for the next opportunity – if ever – for a trade-in.

What’s wrong with iPad Air 2

That's what you all want to know, right?

It's blazing fast, beautiful, with great resolution and a full-HD camera plus 8Mb photos, reasonably priced and thin. Thin is the most impressive feature to wow your friends, but what actual use is that?

However, you can't say thinity is wrong.

Thumbprint

Fingerprint detection is scary (what if Apple doesn't recognize me?), until you use it. Then you won't want to be without it. Forget entering your password every time you go to the Apple Store.

My tip: use your right thumb instead. Then, if like me you hold your iPad landscape mode with the Home button at the right, it's a no-brainer to put your thumb in the right position over the Home button and be recognized.

So handing over control to a device that has to do something very complicated every time and perfectly is not a defect, since it works.

Control panel

Getting the Control Panel to come up from the bottom is just as difficult as with earlier models. But that's not specific to the Air 2.

Nor is the problem I have with the onscreen keyboard's bottom line, printing m when I want to type space (my big thumbs!).

iOS 8.4

No, my big complaint is with IOS 8.4, which introduced fingerprint iD. My first Air 2 had to go back to Apple. It just blacked out one day in August after three months and wouldn't respond.

A couple of days ago I got a new one in the post. Yes, the usual one-month wait. Already I could hardly live without it.

But it came with iOS 8.3 installed. That would not allow me to restore my previous settings, apps and info from iCloud.

Luckily my iPad3, which seems to have given up charging, had been backed up before turning into a contunually flashing Apple logo.

I had to restore from that backup, as if this was the old device. My previous Air 2 backup was useless. When I reinstalled 8.4 I xould not find my Air 2 original backups any more. Grrr.

Worse, I then had to erase my old Air 2 through Find My iPhone (it was offline any way, wherever it might be in Appleland).

Nevertheless, I still had to manually restore three months of iPadding without help. Do backups ever give you what you want in computerworld?

I reckon that earns Apple a 3 out of 10 for service, i.e. a dismal failing grade, with credit for actually replacing my machine as per the warranty (whch I got from the supplier who offers a four-year guarantee — come on, Apple!)

iPad 3 irritants

As for iPad 3, 64Gb proved early on to be much too small, and I was just waiting until Apple produced something worth the upgrade. At which time, two years later, the unextendable Apple Care warranty had just run out, and it cost me CHF130 to try to get it fixed.

The connector plug was changed. It worked for a day but still wouldn't charge properly.

Faced with the prospect of another CHF130 and the cost of replacing whatever was really wrong with it, I took it home from the shop to wait for the next opportunity – if ever – for a trade-in.

 

Tips for App(le) Watch makers

Over at appdynamics Peter Kacandes has a good piece on what's smart (instant performance stats) and what's stupid (maps) in apps for Apple Watch. Not surprisingly it is called 'why it is so difficult for devs to Create apps for the Apple Watch'.

The message: completely rethink the user-interface.

 

Recordium – a reporter’s toolbox

What’s a reporter’s worst problem with recording interviews, statements and conferences?

Finding the quote you want to enliven your report, particular when proceedings can go on for over an hour: some organizations believe we judge news conferences by the quantity not quality.

A young journalism student in the U.K. facing just this kind of problem sat down to program an app that could help him in his work.

The result was Recordium, available in free and pro versions for a modest price.

Its obvious help is that you can tag recordings as you go along or make notes.

But that’s not all the assistance it offers to a harried reporter.

You select the eecordings you need and extract them to another file, with or without annotations. You can move your tags and notes to different parts of the file easily. You can back up automatically to iCloud so that you can access files on any Apple device, e.g. record on your iPhone and e dit on yoir iPad or iPod.

Google Accordium and you’ll learn that it can automatically pause when you receive a call on your cellphone, save space by not recording silent passages, and compressing mp3/4 files to save space. You can also save in other formats. I haven’t tried these yet, but the files are amazingly small.

The latest version got some stick from users for no longer saving to Dropbox and for its interface, but I found it intuitive: simply stretch the waveline to zoom in on passages.

The default name for files was the date and time. The edit button brought me to snip or delete, with an obvious arrow to expand or shorten the selection on either side. Then I had the choice to save with or without annotations, or cancel. Simples.

If only it would turn speech into text…

Why are we waiting? One answer

Don't quite know how, but I had over 150 apps waiting to update. And I mean waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

I hunted via the search engines. The most common advice was to restore your old system.

i.e. lose all your updates since whenever.

One guy even boasted he had an old version from some time before.

So I tried that. Thought I'd be clever and back up to the cloud, since I had an earlier version on the computer.

Clicked backup to iCloud, and Backup Now.

Not so clever. The iPad chose to back up to the computer, overwriting my old backup.

Anyway, I hit restore. After the requisite century of computer time (I guess about five minutes), my iPad came back to life.

However, I still had 160+ downloads to take care of.

This time I went to the Purchased section, and tried swiping left and right, as some had recommended, which would supposedly take away of old app and bring in the new.

No response.

Thinking I might delete the item, I pressed on an icon (well, several) until the details in iTunes Store. This time the spinning circle went away and told me to update. Which I did and for a few it worked.

The others just kept spinning. Or sat there with a square blob in the middle of the circle, whatever that means.

Now I've read something that seems to work:

1. Attach your iPad to the computer where you do all your iOS work.

2. When it has recognized your iPad go to the File menu and select Apps from the dropdown list.

3. Across the top bar there should be an Updates tab. The bottom of the screen should show an Update All Apps button. Press it.

4. Wait for the requisite compteter century.

5. Sync the iPad and iTunes.

You'll still have more than a hundred apps 'waiting' to update, but at least they'll be on your machine and ready to use.

I presume Apple will sort it out sometime soon, though the chatrooms suggest it has happened before.

iOS7: read all about it

Ios7Mashable has pulled out all the stops for the release of iOS 7. It tells you what to do before you install it, what are the new features, what the new Software Developers' Kit involves, and promises more over the next week.

So what is new apart from the switch to flat icons (Microsoft was first there), a new font, card-style thumbing through open apps, and 'parallax' viewing of backgrounds to make Mashable declare it the biggest update since 2.0?

The biggest new feature seems to be the Control Centre, allowing you to launch various settings by swiping up. It took me some time (three days) to find out how call up the search facility. Instead of pressing the Home button from the Home screen but swipe down from the screen you are on. I kept opening up the Calendar instead (I was swiping down from too high).

Another, unseen, is the facility to exchange info with other iOS devices nearby. Perhaps that will save me emailing my wife with interesting Web pages. I'll report on this later.

However, Gizmodo reports that with iOS7 your tablet and iPhone will hook up to wi-fi and 3G simultaneously. If you are playing something in iTunes and leave the house, you should not notice any break in the transmission.

ReadWriteWeb has a whole article on the slew of mysteries about iOS7, such as the blue dots and battery-draining automatic updating or refreshing of apps in the background. And there's another on the 'three most annoying' innovations of iOS7.

No doubt the start of a series.

Meanwhile, there's a slew of Apps to update.