XR or XS? And what size?

A friend writes:

XR or XS?

Sure! You should get one of those.  😉

All of the new ones are pretty kickass, and all have benefits. The XS (Apple pronounces it “ten-ess”) and its big brother are great, with two cameras on the back, but the one everyone is talking about is the XR. Comes in cool colors!

I’d look real hard at that one. The XS Max is nice but kind of enormous; I already have enough discomfort with the 8 Plus in a jeans pocket.

If you like two cameras (and I do, a lot) or a somewhat better display with richer blacks, get the XS. If you just want a kick-ass phone with amazing battery life at a good value, get the XR.

Does storage matter? 64 GB XS at $999 vs. 128 XR at $799

Fantastic question: I do like the 256 GB (gigabytes) in my 8 Plus. It’s a wee gluttonous, but I no longer have to worry a whit about my storage when I’m shooting video. Also, the 8 only came in 64 GB or 256 GB, and 64 was too small for me. So, it depends on your current usage, but I prefer at least 128.

Which carrier should I choose for my iPad?

If I have my current phone plan through Sprint [or whomever], is there a reason that I shouldn’t get an iPad through them?

No, no reason at all, if you have been happy with their connection.

By the same token, the iPad is a separate bill, so you have no reason or obligation to go with the same carrier on the iPad as you have on your phone. In San Antonio, I generally recommend AT&T, but y’know, they’re all bloody bastards who have finally caught up to semi-decent technology. There are only fine, subjective distinctions between any of them.

iOS 7, after the folderol

Sympathy

I want to start by sympathizing with iPhone users who have been reluctant to upgrade to iOS 7, and for those who did the upgrade and regret it. They have legitimate issues, ones that can’t be lumped under a sweeping, “Change is hard.”

Many folks have suffered dramatic decreases in battery life. Some found their apps crashing, and older apps not working at all. The new animations are dramatic enough to induce vertigo. If not for those serious problems, more people might have forgiven Apple’s choosing garish colors for their app icons, and going rather overboard in the Kate Moss-ification of their interface design.

Satisfaction

Now I’ll say that I have had an almost totally satisfactory experience with the new OS. Control center saves me a ton of time, Siri feels smarter, I love knowing my phone is locked to my Apple ID, Safari works better, and Camera and Photos saw massive improvements. And the layered-but-simple interface makes the whole experience more fun, more playful.

But I got bit by the iMessages bug, and was annoyed by the fix. And I have weird problems placing the text cursor.

I would entertain the popular beef with Apple’s app icons, but I don’t use many apps by Apple. Only the ones I have to, like Phone and Messages. On my phone, I have gone into Settings > General to Reduce Motion (I wish it were more comprehensive), adjust Text Size larger (I wish more apps accommodated Dynamic Type). I tried Increase Contrast, but I prefer the new translucent effects.

I do appreciate where Apple has taken their design language, and I think they had to push it as far as they did. They had to make a dramatic point about software UI, to challenge the rest of the developing world to break out of the bubbly chains of skeuomorphism. The resulting overall look is unquestionably cleaner and more efficient. It’s also worth saying that 7 beats the current Android and Windows Phone offerings into the ground.

Conclusion

While iOS 7 does represent a marked step forward for mobile technology, those who haven’t upgraded don’t have to just yet. Apple should have an update out soon that fixes the majority of bugs, and until they do, later adopters might stick with ol’ reliable iOS 6. When you do make the switch, there are dozens of articles to help you recover from problems and tune the system to your liking.

But change is inevitable. Developers have actively left iOS 6 behind. Apple is sure to require 7 to interface with whatever new magic they release. And once you’re in it, I really think you’re gonna enjoy it.

Which Kindle Paperwhite?

Friend asks:

Gonna buy a Kindle Paperwhite… 3G? no 3G? Ads? No ads?

I bought the cheapest one, with ads, and have been totally happy.
And I was picky before. I only bought one Kindle prior to that, and it was the generation immediately before the Paperwhite. The cheapest one, not the Touch. It was okay, but lack of readability without light put a serious damper on my hamper.

The Paperwhite is perfect form and function. Steve Jobs was right about buttons, and Bezos took a cue from him.

The ads only show up when you are not using it. How brilliant is that? I give them even more consideration than other ads because they don’t get in my way even a tiny iota.

I think the Kindle Fire is a decent device, but its limitations make it overpriced.

Prepare for iOS 7

iOS 7 should pop up as an available update on September 18, 2013.

The new mobile operating system from Apple promises to be as new, revolutionary even, as the original iPhone. I, for one, am damned excited about it.

So’s ya know, you do NOT have to upgrade to 7 right away. The safe bet is to wait at least a few days, to see if any debilitating quirks squirmed their way through the testing process.

But for all you early adopters…

Let’s do some simple steps to make sure your iPhones, iPads and iPods touch are all ready for Apple’s latest mobile operating system.

Check compatibility

Your device will need to be compatible. Techcrunch has the skinny on that.

Back it up!

On your device, go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup (at the bottom).

Swipe to the bottom of the page, and tap Backup Now.

Backup to iCloud

You can also be more thorough by doing a backup using iTunes.

Since you’re also going to update iTunes on your Mac, make sure Time Machine or your backup scheme of choice are working.

Update

Run Software Update on your Mac, from the Apple menu. That will get you the latest iTunes.

Also, tap the App Store on your mobile gadget. Tap Updates, and then Update All.

All set

Now you’re ready. On your device, go to Settings > General > Software Update, and let the crayon-colored magic begin!

How do I work everywhere?

APC wrote:

I do some word processing on a laptop at home, and then need to do work on some of the same documents on my computer at work. So far, this has led to a jumble of back-and-forth emails and disorganized files. What’s the solution?

My favorite word of the year: Dropbox! Go to Dropbox.com, download the software on both computers. Create an account from one of the computers, and then sign into that same account on the other computer. Anything you put in the folder called Dropbox that’s now in your home folder on your Mac (or in My Documents on a PC), will appear in your Dropbox on alllllll your other computers — and iPhones, and iPads, or Android phones, and pretty much anything that can see m.dropbox.com

For what it’s worth, there are other services like Dropbox out there, including but not limited to SugarSync and Box.net, but through sheer simplicity and elegance, Dropbox has so far garnered most of the love. The iPad app is off. The. Hook.

Thanks for inspiring a blog post!

Posted via email from J2 Tech Blog

Gruber on new AT&T data plan

http://daringfireball.net/2010/06/good_and_bad_regarding_att_data_plans

Apropos of the iPad vs. Mifi discussion I’m having with a lot of people. Tethering on the iPhone or iPad could solve a lot of headache, including one’s landline Internet being down. We’re gonna pay for it, but it should be worth it. I’m quite hoping tethering is not a contractual subscription. Month-to-month I can swallow.

Posted via email from J2 Tech Blog

Theft-prevention for your Mac

Last year, I wrote about some folks in San Antonio who lost a couple of iMacs to theft. The SAPD reports that crime went up last year from 2006, and I have heard, secondhand, from a crime-statistician that there has been a marked increase again in 2008.
It goes without saying that portable computers are even more vulnerable than desktops, and it’s inconvenient to use on them the security cables I mentioned in the previous post.

So here are a few software-plus-service packages that people should know about. One of them you may already be using:

Back to My Mac

Since Leopard came out, the MobileMe-né-.Mac service has offered a feature called Back to My Mac. I’m not going to dwell on this, because it is one of the least reliable things Apple has ever produced, but it is worth mentioning that it did help one user reclaim her stolen MacBook.

Paid services: MacPhoneHome and Undercover

These are really cool services, and quite inexpensive. I really like that they involve one-time fees, with no monitoring charges. The first one, MacPhoneHome, has been around for awhile, along with its cousin PCPhoneHome. They purport success, and the $30 tag is great. But my main man Erick recently uncovered Undercover, which has a phenomenal feature set, and is clearly designed by Mac lovers. I’m sure both of these services would have roughly the same chance of recovering your property — may you never have to find out — but Undercover just feels like a better product.

Dynamic DNS

I also won’t spend much time here either, ‘cos it would have to get technical. Quick definition: Dynamic DNS uses a free service such as dyndns.com to translate an IP address — be it your home or office internet’s ever-changing IP, or whichever connection your laptop happens to be using a the moment — into a hostname, e.g. johnqmacbook.dyndns.org. So I have a program called DNSUpdate continually reporting my MacBook Pro’s external IP address to DynDNS. It’s a system-level process that starts at bootup, so the hope is that, if someone swiped my laptop and fired it up, it would reports its address, and just maybe Johnny Law could work with the relevant internet service provider to track down that last-known location. It’s a long shot, but the other services discussed here partially bet on the same probability.

End User: Breaking the Chains

Published in San Antonio Current, September 19, 2007

Following up on my discussion of the auction of the wireless spectrum: Google had asked the Federal Communications Commission to impose four requirements on whoever won the use of the 700Mhz bandwidth: open applications, open devices, open services, and open networks. Of those, the FCC accepted open devices (e.g. unlocked phones) and open applications (such as Skype).

If you can’t join ’em, sue ’em: The wireless carriers — our great benefactors — are obviously unhappy with any of those requirements; the end of their inflated fees and shackling contracts may be nigh. Verizon has petitioned the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to make the FCC ditch the open-access mandates altogether. Google has expressed disappointment at Verizon’s move; Google’s head of special initiatives, Chris Sacca, blogged, “Once again, it is American consumers who lose from these tactics.”

Apple has reportedly been “studying” the ramification of joining the auction itself. Having finally acquired an iPhone, I can envision all the more clearly a near future for the clever devices — from different manufacturers, all unlocked, and many installed with open-source Linux — roaming a giant gas cloud of wireless internet.

Meanwhile, Google the Instigator has reportedly been collaborating with mobile-device-maker HTC on the rumored Gphone. HTC has already released the HTC Touch, a very sleek Windows Mobile smart phone with specs similar to the iPhone. I would be stunned if Google wants to put the terribly clunky Microsoft operating system on their first branded hardware; I will hope for a very hackable G-flavored Linux.

Speaking of, I’m well pleased by the hackability of the iPhone’s OS — you know, the one that Apple has supposedly blocked from accepting third-party applications? Just in the last couple of weeks, these hacks have come into their own, involving a simple initial “unshackling” or “jailbreaking” procedure. I’ve hacked the heck out of my iPhone with freely available apps, including games (not that I want them sucking on my precious battery), a Flickr uploader, a task list (which the iPhone so far lacks), and a simple word processor. One also gets access to the Ringtones folder to upload any MP3 in one’s collection.

I’m hoping all of this spells the beginning of some real and significant changes to the iPhone’s software. It’s an amazing device — it took my Treo out to the back shed and spanked it till it squealed — but there’s so much unrealized potential.

Finally, my personal chain-breaking story: In July, Palm released a software update for the Treo 700p. I followed the slightly Gordian instructions to install, and it promptly broke the phone’s internet connection. Meh. I had to take the Treo offline and then back online every time I wanted to use the speedy internet, the one I pay an absurd fee for every month. Oh, yeah: The Treo was also still hanging periodically (what the update was supposed to fix) and it synched all my calendar events into the wrong time zone.

Seven hours of tech-support calls later, and I was out of my Verizon contract with no termination fee … and back in another two-year contract with AT&T. Hello, iPhone. Hello, shackles.