Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

Let me start off by saying, no, I didn’t drink the Apple kool-aid. (seems like whenever i make any comment about a good thing that apple does, i get accused of drinking the kool-aid or being a fan-boy.)
I recently had an issue with my iPad 12.9″ not recognizing the smart keyboard. it all started around beginning of april this year, so, well out of the warranty since I was one of the first to be on the bleeding edge an order the iPad Pro as soon as it was released. At first the problem was just once in a while, but quickly progressed into a nearly daily thing, and of course at the most inopportune times… not there is ever an opportune time for something to fail.The issue appears to be a somewhat common one for the first generation of the iPad Smart Keyboards. I would open up my iPad and flip over the cover to let it stand up ready for typing, only to be met with the annoying onscreen message saying an accessory is not compatible. I know, I know,… how could it not be compatible when it is an Apple accessory specifically made for the iPad? I went thru the typical fixes. Remove the keyboard, reattach. If that didn’t work, try again. If that didn’t work then restart the iPad. Sometimes turning off Bluetooth and all networking with the keyboard detached would do the trick, but not always. It seemed there was no common fix that would work.

As I mentioned, it got worse. Worse to the point I was seeing the message a few times a day, nearly every time I closed up the iPad actually. I gave in and contacted Apple after googling the issue in Apple Support (see this link) and also finding links to a couple of pages that mentioned that Apple had extended the warranty on the Smart Keyboard to 3 years due to connection issues.

Long story a little shorter, I talked to phone support, they determined it needed to be looked at in person and set up an appointment for me at the local Apple Genius Bar. About 2 days later I was there with iPad and keyboard in hand, and a few saved screenshots of the error message with date and time stamps (as included above) just for good measure in case the intermittent problem decided to not play nice with me. (As it turned out, it was replicated in the store while there, but better safe than sorry)

There was no trouble explaining the issue, I wasn’t the first they had seen about this, and after a quick diagnostic to ensure the iPad was not the issue, the Apple Genius Bar support guru put in the request for a new Smart Keyboard which was accepted under the extended warranty and thankfully they had one in the back just for this reason, replacing it then and there on the spot.

Say what you want about Apple and how expensive their devices are, but they do stand behind them when they fail, stepping up and accept their mistakes or flaws, going out of their way to ensure they make the fix as painless as possible. We should all take their actions on this issue as a good example on how to treat customers and how to admit our faux pas, gaffes, blunders, – whatever name you want to try and pretty it up with – and take ownership of them. After all, two air is human, write? to err is human, right?

Now, did someone mention Kool-aid? I’m parched.

barkerp

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Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves” – Albert Einstein.

Paying attention.  It is the most important thing to practice while driving, and often times hard to do, especially on a long drive, or an overly familiar one where your mind tends to wander.  The laws are trying to encourage it, and enforce it, but we all need to ignore the distractions around us, even the pretty girls.  Sorry Albert.

Technology can help with this, if used properly.

I drive a lot for work, going to new places all the time is one of the perks of the business, (if you like driving and exploring this vast country we live in) and quite often I forget to put the address into my car’s Nav system before leaving the office.  It is still a new-ish toy to me and I forget you can’t add an address once the vehicle is moving, so sometimes I rely on my phone to let me know where to go.  Other times I pull over and key in the address and use the Navigation system.
Today was one of those times I figured I’d just use my iPhone, and as it turns out also my Apple Watch, which I didn’t even know was a feature.  Driving along, I stopped long enough to click on the notification on my phone telling me of the meeting and the address and it launched “Maps” showing me where to go and how long, etc. and headed on my merry way.  Not too far along I felt the now familiar tapping on my wrist from my watch.  Assuming it was just a text message or my watch telling me it was time to stand up I didn’t think much of it.  Then again, as I neared my next turn, same thing.

I glanced over at my watch to see a very simple notification telling me of my upcoming turn, and ETA.  Cool.  The interface is simple enough a glance is all you need.  That is not to say the latest update to the Maps App for iOS is not well laid out itself,  but having the info on your wrist is pretty sweet, and less distracting.

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Watch screen capture

iPhone screen capture

As I said, the watch lets you know when a change in direction is coming up, or as may be, a choice in direction is coming up and the app tells you to keep going the direction you are going.  Sometimes those notifications can be extremely annoying when traveling along a highway and constantly being told to keep going where you were heading like some sort of robotic backseat driver “continue on highway for 3 kms”, but I digress.
When I first thought of getting a smartwatch, honestly I did wonder how much I would use it, and how much I was getting one just because it was cool tech and I didn’t have it.  (seeing the keynote about the Apple Watch Series 2 pretty much hooked me)

I had stopped wearing a regular watch around the same time I started carrying a cell phone in my pocket.  Seemed silly to me to wear something that really only provided one purpose.  Well, two if you include the date function, which by the way, if I ever forget what day it is and I’m not retired already or on vacation, put me out to pasture.  But anyway, having a smartwatch actually makes sense for me, since there are many times my phone is either not in my pocket (at the office for one, around the house for another) or it is in my pocket but not convenient to access, for instance when driving, working outside, or on a job site.  Often the notifications are all that is needed, and no or minimal interaction is required.  Driving is a perfect example of this, and anything that can be done to keep attention on the road is a good thing.  The watch OS does a good job of this, and I can’t wait to see how it evolves, along with how many other ways the minimalistic approach of working with a smaller screen changes how we interact with technology.

Not to mention it is just cool tech, and in my opinion, smartwatches will become as standard as the iPhone has become.  Integrated into our lives so completely that in a couple of years we will wonder how we ever got along without them.

Getting back to good old Albert Einstein, who knew he was such a player.

barkerp

ipad proWhenever I get a new toy, I like to see how it works and try to find the flaws so there are no surprises later on. Whether it is a tech toy, or some new tool, or vehicle even, the need to see inside and figure out how it works and what its deficiencies are is always high on my priority list.

My latest toy, my iPad Pro is no exception.  As soon as the Apple Store started taking orders for it, I was logged on credit card in hand since i’d already poured over the specs, watched the keynote when it was announced, and determined I would be buying one.  Delivered to my office on Friday the 13th without having to fight the line ups or crowds in an actual store – to quote an overused TV ad – priceless.  I got to spend the morning on my bike en route to Port Dover as all friday the 13ths should be.

Speaking of fighting, I’ve fought off the urge to physically open it up (so far), but getting under the virtual hood is another thing.  Putting it thru its paces and seeing how it compares to my previous iPad is job one.

Its been a week and so far, the one thing that annoys me most is the lack of the on-screen split keyboard on the iPad Pro.  This is the one device that would really benefit from having a split keyboard, since it’s too wide to try and type on it without first sitting it down on something in order to use the full-size on-screen keyboard. The people who say it’s not necessary because it’s too large to use two-handed and type with your thumbs haven’t tried to do it obviously.  I used my iPad in landscape mode with a split keyboard all the time and this Pro version is narrower in portrait mode than the landscape mode of the iPad.  I don’t find it unwieldy at all, I just can’t reach all the keys using my thumbs and I think it would be easier to have a split keyboard than to get surgery and have my thumbs extended.  And less painful too.

From a hardware perspective, Audio on the Pro surprised me.  I expected it to be better than the mono iPad I had previously, but didn’t realize how good until I was listening to music on it without plugging in speakers like I usually do.  I’ve actually taken to just listening to music on it without external speakers.  Both volume and quality are quite good.  The new audio system in the iPad Pro has four speakers that can be cranked up reportedly three times louder than the max volume of an iPad Air, and I can believe it, but not only that, it adjusts the orientation of the high frequencies according to how you’re holding it.  Sweet.

Speedwise, this thing is noticeably quicker than my old iPad and right on par with my iPhone6 if not quicker I would say.  Hardware has a big effect on speed, but also some of that is probably the latest iOS which seems perfectly at home on here, and I finally get to use some of the great features they built into the latest iOS.

ipad pro split screen

Slide-over (shown opposite), or Split-screen mode (shown below) for instance.  Making multitasking actually work the way it should.  Depending upon the app of course, some still just pause it seems, while others continue to remain live while slide-over is active.

Slide-over lets you respond to texts easily, while showing you more of the history and not just the last message.  Very handy, and easy to use.  Just slide a finger over from the right side of the screen and you will see all the apps you have installed (that work with slide-over), and can select which one to use.  Once selected you can use it in the slide-over window, or continue to drag it towards the center of the screen and split the screen making both apps usable at the same time.

Software wise, MS Office was one group of apps I was looking forward to using on the larger screen.  As it turns out, without a valid subscription to Office 365, I’m not able to do any editing on my iPad Pro.  (notice the “read-only” on the right side of the split screen image.  That was Word letting me know that it is not going to work on the Pro for free.)  I took the time to let the people over at blogs.office.com know, but I’d bet that falls on deaf ears…

ipad pro office blogThis annoyed me, and I suppose I should have looked into this further prior to getting my Pro.  The writing was on the wall, er, well, website…

Word is ready for iPad Pro and looks amazing on the 12.9-inch screen. Read Word documents on iPad Pro for free. To create and edit docs, you need a qualifying Office 365 subscription. Try it for free for 30 days.  On iPhone, iPad Air, and iPad mini, the core Word experience, including viewing, creating and editing documents, is free. Or unlock the full Word experience with a qualifying Office 365 subscription. On iPad Pro, you need Office 365 to create and edit documents.”

 Argh.  It is annoying, but not “this-is-going-back-to-the-store” annoying.
The size is something you need to get used to, but once you do, its tough to go back to a smaller version of the iPad without feeling cramped.  I got the back cover and smart cover for it since it travels with me back and forth to the office, and they don’t add much weight or bulk to the Pro, which is good since it barely fits in my messenger bag as it is.
I ordered the Smart Keyboard when I placed my order for the Pro, but for whatever reason it is not available for 3 weeks, which seems like poor planning on Apple’s part… “You should see this, it works great, its made for it, you’ll definitely want one…. but you can’t have it for 3 weeks” – doh!  I think that accessory will change the way I use the iPad Pro, but will have to wait to see how much.  Right now I’m getting used to using it sans keyboard and have gotten pretty proficient using the onscreen keyboard while it rests in an inclined position on my desk.
With the larger screen and multi-tasking possibilities, the dust on my laptop (my trusty but getting long in the tooth MacBook Air) gets thicker and thicker as I find myself only using my iPad and iPhone of late.  The MBA rarely gets opened, and usually only to back up my idevices.  As much as I’d love to see a big update to the MBA, with the functionality and capabilities of the iPad Pro I’m not sure I’d be getting one even if they did.
This may not be the death knell for the laptop, but the bell is definitely swinging.
-barkerp

So, as mentioned in my last post,  I sent in my iPhone 5 to be fixed.  Day after day of calling the local Apple Store paid off and I managed to get in there when they had a loaner iPhone available for me so I would not be phone-less.

The sending in to repair process is fairly easy, but the first thing to do and most important is to make sure you have a good back up before the whole process starts.  (Do this at home before you get to the store).  Then you will need to turn off Find my iPhone. Then basically they wipe the phone removing all your information and resetting it to factory.  You did a backup, right? (even so, a sense of panic sets in as you click the “erase and reset”)

The next step is for them to install a diagnostic tool that checks all the components of the phone. If anything fails they make note of it, and some things may actually stop them from continuing with the battery/wake sleep replacement and repair.  Basically the phone has to be in good condition prior to it being sent in for repair. After the diagnostic tool completes, the next step is them checking over the phone cosmetically which could take some time.  This is really a CYA thing for Apple and you.  Making sure you don’t get your phone back and come in ranting about how it now has a big scratch on the screen, etc.  Then you fill out a bunch of forms, signed a bunch of stuff, and surrender your phone to them.  Next step is doing the cosmetic inspection of the loaner phone. Which finally they set up with your Sim card in it and you can restore from iCloud, or another backup if you choose. Whole process took about 1.5 hours. Thankfully the Apple guy that was helping me was quite sociable and there was another guy at the table doing the exact same thing with the replacement/repair of his wake/sleep button. So my ambidextrous Apple genius did both at the same time only screwing up once when entering information, but caught it before anything was submitted.

It took a lot longer to restore from iCloud than anything else. But I couldn’t restore using my computer because my iPhone 5 is a 64 gig and the replacement loaner is only 16.  It kind of weird having a loaner phone.  Sort of like wearing someone else’s shoes.  Even if they are the same, they still feel somehow “off”.  It is a 7 to 10 day return period typically, which gives you just enough time to get really frustrated with the lack of storage and the missing apps and data you had to delete just so you could use the loaner.

A week later (i was checking the progress on Apple.com), it was fixed and shipped back.  I followed that along with Fedex, which stated it was delivered to the local Apple store (after a few side-trips along the way – California to Memphis TN to Mississauga to London) so I called the store and was told it was still in transit.  “Um, no, its in your store and signed for at 4:10pm” after that I was told it needed to be unpacked and logged in as received, etc, and I would get notified shortly.  I ended up calling the next morning because I still hadn’t heard and again was told it was in transit, so again I explained that “no, in fact, it was in the store”.  Put on hold, then “what was the name again?” On hold again, and then “oh yes, it’s here.”  It took longer for them to receive and unpack it than it did to get from Memphis to London.  sheesh.

IMG_0283

Strangely enough I actually got the email notification that it was ready for pickup while standing in the store at the genius bar about to wipe the loaner phone.

Anyway, I have it back, repaired and after a very lengthy restore from a combination of iCloud and then connecting to my MBA, it was back to where it was a week ago.  And just in time to throw caution to the wind and install iOS8.  I figure now is the time to potentially screw it up, since it’s all fixed and I have a good back up of it all just in case things go horribly wrong.  But that’s not going to happen, right?  After all Apple doesn’t make mistakes.  *returns to drinking the apple koolaid

barkerp

Well, it seems my luck is holding up as usual. My iPhone 5 started to have problems with the “wake/sleep” button not working. At first I just thought it was a temporary thing, it was so random and intermittent in nature, but it quickly escalated to being nearly even time I try to use it.
A quick google of the issue and much to my surprise (sarcasm) I wasn’t the only one having the problem. Not only that, but there is a “wake/sleep button program” in effect right now.

current programs in effect

current programs in effect

If you go to http://www.apple.com/ca/support/iphone/ and scroll down you will see the “programs” that are currently in effect.  And clicking thru to the site for it lets you put in your iPhone 5 serial number and check to see if you are one of the lucky few.  Guess what? I spun the wheel and won (or is it lost?).  Not only that, but there is another program currently in effect for the battery issue of certain iPhone 5’s.  “Woohoo, spin the wheel again, big money no whammies”… and much to my surprise (yes, more sarcasm) my iPhone is on that list too.  Guess it serves me right for wanting to be on the bleeding edge and getting my iPhone 5 as soon as they came out.

How’s that saying go?  “if it wasn’t for bad luck I’d have none at all“.

So I went into my local Apple store and booked an appointment to see a Genius, and after waiting to see the person I thought would fix my problems, was told yes it is broken but they had no loaner phones available.  I’m not sure about you, but I cannot be without a phone for a week for both personal and work purposes, and I don’t have a spare one lying around I can use as a backup.  My phone is my constant companion and used for so many things in my day-to-day life, that I wouldn’t be able to function and do my job without it.  It is sad its gotten that ingrained in some ways, but I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling that way.

I was told to just keep checking back to see if they have any loaner iPhones available.

I thought I’d go another route and check with Apple.ca, so after a lengthy chat session with a very understanding service rep in which I explained the situation and the problem with sending in my phone to be fixed and then being phone-less, (in which he said “if i could give you my iPhone I would“) it basically came back to being stuck waiting for my local store to have a loaner available.  My main concern was that my iPhone was not going to be fixed before the 2 yr period since I bought it was up and I’d lose the chance to have it fixed free.  He did state that he’d send me the transcript of the convo via email and to get back in touch if it got close to that magic 2 yr date and still was unfixed.  At least that is something, I’m hoping it doesn’t get that far though.

So, for now, I’m one of the many awaiting my turn to get my phone fixed and trying to be patient about it.

All I can say is that when the machines do rise up against us and take over the world, I hope that it is the first generation of devices that does it.  Making them wait for repairs on themselves will serve them right.

-barkerp