One Week with the iPhone X

So I’ve had the iPhone X for around a week now. I wanted a new phone, but I was actually planning on getting the iPhone 8 Plus. Without going into too much detail I didn’t think the iPhone X held significant benefits over the 8 Plus and the 8 is a tried and tested design.

So why did I get the iPhone X? Well, actually, it was because someone I know reserved multiple devices at a local Apple Store and wanted to know if I’d like one of them. So I thought why not!

I ended up with the iPhone X (256GB) Silver model

The following is my assessment of the device after only a week of use. 

Design 

The first impressions I had was wow! My prior phone was a iPhone 6 Plus. I’d always found the phone to not be very grippy. The iPhone X is narrower, in fact it has a similar footprint to the iPhone 7. Its better for gripping and there is additional weight to the device which makes it fit and sit more comfortably in the hand. In all, its much more aesthetic from usability perspective. 

On the negative side is the glass body and the potentially huge repair cost if dropped. As a result I put the device in an Otterbox Signature Case from the Apple Store and complimented it with a Belkin Invisiglass Film. There are thinner cases, but I wanted good protection. As such, with this case, my iPhone X is the same footprint as the iPhone 8 Plus now. The grip is phenomenal with the case on, and I don’t feel like my device is fragile anymore. 

The edge to edge screen is very nice, I certainly don’t miss the ‘chins’ on the old iPhone design in every day use. Do I miss the button? No, not really. In fact after just a week of use I have found myself staring at my iPad waiting for it to just unlock, forgetting I need to put my finger on the button. Sure, Face ID could be improved, but I see this method of unlocking being the way forward for sure. 

User Interface

Due to the removal of the home button, there have been changes in the UI for navigating. The tap of the home button to go, well, home has been removed. Now you swipe up from the bottom to get home. This used to invoke the control centre. 

From a usability perspective, swiping up is very quick and intuitive. What is does mean is your control centre gesture has now changed to a swipe down from the top right corner. In one handed use this is not a good location for it, especially for left handers. 

The widget and spotlight gestures are the same so no comments there. 

ApplePay is now invoked by a double tap to the power button and a glance of your face to authenticate. My personal opinion is that its way less user friendly than pulling the device out of your pocket with your finger on the button and paying that way. There is a greater physical interaction required now. Its not a show stopper, just something to be aware of. 

Closing applications has been made painful. When you get to the app switcher you are no longer able to just swipe up to close an app. You need to press and old on one of the apps to invoke ‘close mode’ then you can swipe up to close the apps. 

Rearranging apps is as easy to do, but getting out of ‘wiggle mode’ isn’t. You now need to hit a ‘done’ button in the top right corner. 

Face ID

One of the most contentious technologies in the iPhone X is Face ID. Humans are always resistant to change, and this is a big change. It is also the first generation of the technology and it isn’t without its flaws. 

In everyday normal use where I am holding the device to look at it, the unlocks are flawless. I’d say its slower authentication than Touch ID in its current state, however, that time is reduced as there is no need to manipulate the device to get your thumb down to the sensor. So in all, its slightly quicker in my opinion. 

I’ve had authentication fail in a number of situations, and its repeatable. If the phone is on a table and I am looking at it, the angle and proximity is pretty important and it tends to fail on me. Similarly, when I am lying in bed, even looking directly at the device it seems to fail. I don’t know why, but I think it maybe something to do with my head sunk into the pillow and this is interfering with its 3D scan of my features. I’ve heard this reported on various podcasts. 

The settings can be changed to reduce the security of Face ID so you don’t have to be looking squarely into the device. I have yet to test this. 

I do love the way that my notifications appear as I look at the device – its pretty smart!

Battery Life

So far, I have found the battery life to be awesome. Using the phone from 7am – 7pm I usually have 50% left. Apparently the device has fast charge. I use the Anker 6 Port USB Hub, I don’t notice it charging any faster that any other iPhone I have. 

I’ve yet to test wireless charging, and I’m going to wait for the official Apple wireless charger that also charges AirPods and the Apple Watch at the same time. 

Potential Issues

Having had a scout of the various forums, I have seen a number of issues that appear to be cropping up on the device. How widespread these issue are is not really known at this point in time. 

The first is a green line that appears vertically on the screen. This issue has also been seen on Samsung phones and is likely an OLED issue. This issue isn’t apparent from day one and is randomly appearing on devices. It is device independent, in other words there is no certain model that seems to be affected. 

Cracking speakers is also being readily reported and I believe mine suffers from this issue. When putting things on speaker phone I think that cracking/distortion is coming from the ear piece speaker. The bottom spears appear to be clear. This maybe solvable by a firmware update. 

There is also reports of the display becoming unresponsive in cold weather. Apple has acknowledged this one and it will be a software fix. 

Conclusion

In all, I’m happy with the device so far. I also thing I’d have been very happy with the 8 Plus. The UI has changed a little but is very quick to adapt to. Face ID is also pretty solid. Combine that with an awesome screen and great battery life and the iPhone X is a good buy. However, If you are wondering which (8 or X) you should buy, there is very little in it in my opinion. However, one driving factor for me is the inconsistency in features across Apple devices. I want to move to wear this is going to in the future so that all my new devices are using Face ID. The rumour is already starting that iPads will be next and I can see macs also getting this tech. I don’t want my devices to be split between Touch ID and Face ID. I keep my devices for a good few years so this was a push to the future for me.

Have you got an iPhone X? What do you think to it? Let me know in the comments below or on the Apple Resource Facebook page or Twitter

Apple Releases iOS 10.2

Apple released iOS 10.2 yesterday to the public, making this the second major release of iOS 10 since it launched on 13th September 2016. 

The update is free and will be distributed over the air to those devices capable of supporting it. It can also be downloaded and installed via iTunes. 

TV App

The update introduces some new features. 

These include a new ‘TV’ app (US only at launch) which is Apple’s TV guide and aims to simplify your television experience. Other updates include:

  • Get recommendations for new movies and TV shows in Watch Now. 
  • Access your iTunes purchases and rentals.
  • Use Up Next to see the movies and shows you’re currently watching and pick up where you left off 

Single Sign-On

Apple also released their Single Sign-On feature which allows cable subscribers to sign in once with their cable sign in details and have access to al of the live content across various apps and multiple devices. From launch Singe Sign-On is available for CenturyLink Prism, DirecTV, Dish, GVTC, GTA, Hawaiian Telcom, Hotwire, Metrocast, Service Electric and Sling TV. 

Emoji

Emoji’s also received an update with new emoji’s. Clown Face, Face Palm, Selfie, Fox, Owl, Bacon, Avocado, Croissant, Medals and new Profession’s and many more – in fact there are more than a hundred new emoji’s.

Photos

There were a number of updates to the Photos app, such as improved stabilisation and faster frame rates for Live Photos. There has been an improvement of the recognition of similar faces in the photo album. 

Design

iOS 10.2 also includes some design updates and improvements, namely to the Music app where the Repeat and Shuffle buttons have been revamped and can be easily found by swiping up on the Now Playing screen. There are new wallpapers as well as new ‘Celebrate’ and ‘Send With Love’ Screen Effects in Messages app. 

Bug Fixes

  • Fixes an issue where Memories might generate a memory from photos of screenshots, whiteboards or receipts 
  • Fixes an issue where the camera would stay zoomed in after switching back from the Camera Roll on iPhone 7 Plus 
  • Fixes an issue that caused the Move sheet to persist after filing a Mail message 
  • Addresses an issue with long press activating copy and paste in Mail 
  • Fixes an issue in which the wrong message would be selected after deleting a Mail conversation 
  • Fixes an issue where the braille table could switch unexpectedly with VoiceOver 
  • Fixes an issue where sometimes Siri enhanced voices were unavailable to VoiceOver 
  • Fixes an issue where VoiceOver users could not re-order items in lists 
  • Fixes an issue where Switch Control was sometimes unable to delete Voicemails 
  • Adds notification support for HomeKit accessories including window coverings, occupancy, motion, door/window, smoke, carbon monoxide, and water leak sensors 
  • Adds notification support for HomeKit accessories when software updates are available to HomeKit accessories 
  • Improves Bluetooth performance and connectivity with 3rd party accessories 
  • Fixes an issue that could cause FaceTime participants to appear out of focus 
  • Fixes an issue that could cause FaceTime calls to appear with incorrect aspect ratio and orientation 
  • Fixes an issue that prevented some Visual Voicemail from completing playback 
  • Fixes a Safari Reader issue that could cause articles to open as empty pages 
  • Fixes an issue that could cause Safari to quit unexpectedly after marking an item as read in Reading List

The security contents of iOS 10.2 can be found HERE.

Review: Powerbeats3 Wireless

I got my hands on the Powerbeats3 Wireless headphones that were released today in the UK. I’m an owner of the Powerbeats2 Wireless headphones, having used them for a couple of years and made the upgrade for a couple of reasons.

The main reason for my upgrade was the addition of the new Apple W1 chip that will feature in the new AirPods when Apple finally release them. The W1 boasts advanced power management and a better Bluetooth experience.

I was getting tired of Bluetooth pairing issues I was experiencing with the Powerbeats2. Something I don’t think is a unique issues with those headphones but a Bluetooth issue in general. The W1 chip promises to solve this issue, and also make it easy to switch between different devices. For me, this is really helpful as I have my earphones paired with an iPhone and two iPads. 

Thanks to the advanced power management of the W1 chip the battery life of the headphones has doubled in this new version to 12hrs. I never ran out of charge with version 2, though sometimes when I had forgotten to charge then I did come close. So, 12 hours should be more than enough.

Unboxing

The box was weighty and felt like good quality in my hands, with the headphones in nice presentation. I don’t remember my Powerbeats2 being so well packaged which maybe a result of Apple taking over Beats. 

 Apple Quality Packaging 
Apple Quality Packaging 

The headphones come with a few ear inserts to choose from which hopefully means you can find a size that will fit your ears correctly. 

 One for any ear...
One for any ear…

It also comes with a rubber case to store the headphones in. I will note that this case is no where near as good as the case that came with the Powerbeats2 headphones. That one was of a more rigid construction and has a zip that went most of the way around.

It also comes with a short USB to mini USB charging cable. I have also noticed another shortcoming compared to version 2, the mini USB rubber plug protector has been removed from version 3. This seems a weird omission given that these are sports headphones, and will likely be used in damp, sweaty and potentially dusty and muddy environments.

Pairing

So was the pairing experience really as Apple said it would be? Simple answer, yes!

All I had to do was turn on my Bluetooth and turn on the headphones and then the below screenshots show the simple two dialogues that popped up, that was it.

Sound

The sound has not changed from the Powerbeats2 unit. I’m not going to dive into the audio as it is such a subjective topic. Personally I like the audio on these headphones. It has a good range of sound, from bass to vocals and sound great when listening in a quiet environment. Like any none noise cancelling headphones their sound quality will be affected by external audio noise.

Conclusions

There have obviously been a few changes between the Powerbeats2 and Powerbeats3 some for the better and some, I personally feel are for the worse. The lack of rubber mini USB protector and a flimsy rubber case are the negatives. On the positive though, the W1 chip and its battery and Bluetooth improvements.

The later far outweigh the negatives. An additional 6hrs battery life and easy connection and transfer of connection make this a worthy upgrade and I’d recommend these headphones wholeheartedly. 

Get your Powerbeats3 Wireless now on Amazon.

 

Why I Won’t be Buying the iPhone 7

No, it isn’t because they removed the headphone jack. 

Actually, its because they’ve made it waterproof. I’ve owned almost every iPhone since they arrived, except iPhone 5, 5S and 6S and every one I’ve owned has only last 18 months or so before I notice a severe degradation of battery life. 

Most recently my iPhone 6 Plus was no longer lasting a full day after about 18 months of use. A quick repair job with a battery and kit from iFixit and my iPhone 6 Plus was as good as new, lasting a day to a day and a half. 

This doesn’t look possible on the iPhone 7 due to seals and adhesives used to make the phone splash/waterproof. I’ll stand corrected when iFixit tear down an iPhone 7 in the next few days. However, I’m going to make a bet that its not user fixable, at least not whilst retaining the waterproofing.

What are your thoughts on iPhone 7? Will you be getting one? 

Why Apple Eliminated the 3.5mm Headphone Jack

It didn’t come as a surprise on the 7th September 2016 when Apple announced that it was removing the 3.5mm headphone jack from the new iPhone 7. It was a long awaited rumor but that hasn’t stopped a widespread internet backlash. 

Not Able to Charge

The main complaint was the inability to charge the phone whilst listening to lightening or 3.5mm headphone jack headphones. Following the announcement this is still a concern for many. Apples Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller doesn’t believe this is an issue and says you can buy the lightening dock that allows you to listen to music whilst charging. 

Looking at the picture below from the Apple Store, this doesn’t solve it Phil, what if I have lightening headphones? That solution puts you in no better position unless you have 3.5mm headphone jack headphones. Not to mention it’s a £39 ($49) solution to something that could surely be solved with a Lightening to 3.5mm headphone jack/lightening charging port combo.

 Apple Lightening Dock
Apple Lightening Dock

 

Death of the 3.5mm Headphone Jack

Despite these issues, the reasoning for removing the 3.5mm headphone jack itself is a valid one. The 3.5mm headphone jack first came to service with the Sony EFM-117J radio which was released in 1964 and became very popular with the release of the Walkman in 1979. That’s a whopping 52years old! It’s an old single use technology that takes up valuable room in an iPhone enclosure whilst we, as customers, demand better battery life, waterproofing and better speakers. Why sacrifice all those benefits including cost for a port that serves a single function? 

The Future of Audio and Other Connectors

There is a lot of focus on the iPhone 7 and lack of headphone jack, I’m sure others will now follow Apple since they have been brave enough to go out in front. 

An interesting thing to consider is what the Airlines will do in response. Consumers will rapidly adopt wireless headphones and lightening enabled ones. So far there is not lightening to 3.5mm headphone jack adaptor. Will the airlines install lightening ports, go wireless or provide lightening to 3.5mm flight adaptors to avoid customer disappointment?

I don’t think this will be the end to port removal, the lightening connector will be next. With the proliferation of wireless charging and wireless headphones this will be another port that Apple can remove to reduce costs, decrease complexity, increase case space and increase waterproof capabilities.

Apple has always been at the forefront of change, whether that’s removal of the floppy drive or DVD drive, they have always been one or two steps ahead of where we know we want to be. Long may that continue! 

2 iOS Tricks That Will Make You a Pro

You may think you know iOS inside and out, but there are still tricks to be found that will make you a pro. 

Custom Vibrations

Wouldn’t it be useful if you could create custom vibration patterns for a certain contact (calls and text) or for certain alerts so you could identify them without needing to touch your iPhone.

Settings -> Sounds -> 'Sounds and Vibration Patterns' section

Under this section you can enter any of the sections and enter the vibration menu. From there you can select ‘Create New Vibration’ and make vibrations to your hearts content!

Shut off Audio on your Device After a Certain Time

Have you ever been listening to music on your iPhone in bed and fallen asleep only to wake a few hours later with the music still playing? Well there is actually a way to shut off audio after a predetermined period of time not only allowing you to continue with restful sleep but also saving your battery life.

Clock App -> 'When Timer Ends' -> Stop Playing

Do you know any other tricks that others might find useful? How have these tricks worked for you? Post a comment so we know.

Review: Anker PowerCore 20100 Ultra High Capacity Portable Battery Pack

In todays modern battery powered mobile world it is very inconvenient to be caught out of charge. Usually when you first get your device it never seems to be an issue but as your device ages the battery never seems to last as long. I have 3 mobile devices and decided it was a good time to buy a mobile battery pack. The first one I bought was mostly dead after one charge of my iPhone 6 Plus. It was time to look for a larger capacity and thats when I found the Anker PowerCore 20100 Ultra High Capacity Portable Battery. I’d bought other Anker products and been really impressed at the quality and thoughtfulness in their design. A list of other Anker products I’d recommend can be found at the bottom of the post. 

Tech Specs

  • Anker in general has some great technology and this product is no different, below are the tech specs from Anker:
  • Ultra-High Capacity: It can charge the iPhone 6 seven times, the Galaxy S6 five times or the iPad mini twice. Recharges in 10 hours with a 2 amp charger, phone chargers (generally 1 amp) may take up to 20 hours.
  • Fast Charging Technology: The trademarked PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technologies combine to deliver the fastest possible charge up to 2.4 amps per port or 4.8 amps overall. Input: 5V / 2A.
  • PowerIQ: Discovers and replicates the charging protocol of the device’s original charger.
  • PowerIQ: Device safely accepts its fastest possible charge speed.
  • VoltageBoost: Detects the cable resistance and adjusts current accordingly to provide the fastest, most steady charge, whatever cable you use. 
  • Certified Safe: Anker’s MultiProtect safety system ensures complete protection for you and your devices.
  • Short Circuit Protection
  • Temperature Control
  • Output Voltage Surge Protection
  • Output Current Stabilizer
  • Power Overload Recovery
  • Battery Cell Protection
  • Auto Shut-off Sleep Mode
  • Input Voltage Surge Protection
  • Output Current Limiter
  • Low Voltage Protection

Other Good Stuff

Anker has a superb warranty, a whole 18 months which shows faith in their products. The device also come with a micro USB charging cable and a travel pouch. The pouch is a nice idea to keep your device safe and looking good.

Note: All other cables needed to charge your devices are sold separately. I’d recommend the lightning/micro USB hot swap Spigen cables

Uses

My PowerCore goes everywhere with my in my bag, it doesn’t take up much room and I don’t notice additional weight. I’ve used it in many different situations but some key ones have been on a transatlantic flight to top up my devices prior to landing. I’ve used it in coffee shops and even at the top of a mountain to keep charge on my mobile phone. The device is rugged, versatile and highly mobile thats to its high capacity. 

Summary

In summary, if you are looking for or considering a mobile power solution then I would highly recommend the Anker PowerCore

Other Anker products I own and I’d recommend include:

  • Anker PowerPort 5: 5 port USB charging hub utilising all of the charging technology mentioned above in a portable hub.
  • Anker PowerDrive 2: 2 port USB charger for the cigarette charger (12V outlet) in your car.


Review: Bose QC25 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Note: Ironically the very day I wrote this review the headphones broke! The right hand ear piece died completely. Apparently this fault isn’t uncommon, having asked a few people in my office. All were clear, as am I, that the Bose support is fantastic. One 5 minute call to Bose and they are sending me a UPS label to send the headphones back and a replacement will be sent out. No hassle or questions given!

If you’ve never used noise cancelling headphones before, or you are seeking your first pair the Bose QC25 headphones will blow you away! I first picked these headphones up on a transatlantic flight back from Houston. I was in economy with the cheap and nasty headphones provided by the airline, the hum of the cabin still clearly audible. I couldn’t use my wireless headphones so I was out of options, until I opened the duty free magazine. I promptly ordered the headphones on the plane and within 5 minutes was in noise cancelling heaven. 

 

The moment I flicked the power switch on the earphones, the noise evaporated. I could now here the plane movies clearly, all the little intricate sounds which were previously masked by the cabin noise. The great thing about the QC25‘s is they come with a battery and with an airline adaptor to connect to the planes sound system. It means you can use them literally right out of the box. The unit takes a single AAA battery and there is a holder for a spare battery in the case, very functional!

Skip ahead 24hrs and I was in the office, the very definition of hell, open plan! Unable to concentrate due to the talking in the office I put on the QC25‘s and again, the noise was gone! I could vaguely here conversations going on around me when there was nothing being played through the headphones. As soon as the music started there was no way I could hear any of my surroundings, bliss!

The Bose QC25‘s are not cheap, but you pay for what you get. Not only that, but if you do use them in the office environment then they will pay themselves back in terms of increased productivity and stress reduction. These really are one of the best investments I have made with respect to technology, I wouldn’t be without them now. Bose has recently released the QC35‘s which are a wireless version of the QC25. However, if we forget the difference in audio quality between wired and wireless the major drawback is that the battery is not useable replaceable. When I pay over £300 for a set of headphones, I don’t want them to have a shelf life governed by a battery. In my opinion, that makes the QC25’s a better purchase at this time. 

What was Published, and Links of Note

Here is a list of articles we published this week. You can keep up to date with Apple Resource by following us on Twitter or Signing Up to our weekly update e-mail.

How to Clear All Apple Watch Notifications in a Swipe and Two Taps

Ever noticed the red dot at the top of your Apple Watch screen and wondered what it means? Or even swiped down to see a load of notifications and you wonder how to clear them all? This article will show you something very few people know!

How to Preserve iOS9 Battery Life: Part One Background App Refresh

If you wish your iOS device battery life was better then this series of posts is for you. It will show you a range of practical tips to help maximise your battery life without making your phone a dumb phone again.

Links of Note

Jawbone Ceases Production of Their Fitness Trackers

If you have a Jawbone fitness tracker then this article might interest you. Hardly surprising but somewhat annoying for owners.

Apple Employees Face Death Threats

An interesting anonymous report by a UK Apple employee showing that its not all rainbows and glitter working for Apple.

The Best TV Tracking App

A good app review and comparison for TV tracker apps. Spoiler alert the best one was Television Time which you can see HERE

How to Preserve iOS 9 Battery Life: Part 1 Background App Refresh

I’ve had my iPhone 6 Plus for about 1.5 years now, initially the battery life was amazing. More recently I’ve noticed that it rapidly drops off, this is in part due to the age of the device but it’s also in part due to several factors that I will cover in a series of posts about preserving iOS 9 battery life. I expect these tips will remain valid even with subsequent iOS versions.

Background App Refresh was a feature introduced in iOS 7 and for the best summary of what it does I refer to an Apple support article:

…Apps can continue to run for a short period of time and are then set to a suspended state so they are not actively in use, open, or taking up system resources. They will instantly launch when you return to them. Certain tasks or services can continue to run in the background. To lessen the effect on battery life, normal app background refreshing is scheduled for efficient times, such as when your device is connected to Wi-Fi, plugged into a power source, or being actively used. When Background App Refresh is on, apps that take advantage of this feature can refresh themselves in the background. For example, an app can check if new content is available and download the updates, or retrieve the updated content in the background when it receives a push notification, so the new content is ready for viewing when you launch the app. Apps can also schedule background refreshing based on your location. If you force an app to quit by dragging it up from the multitasking display, it won’t be able to do its background activities, such as tracking location or responding to VoIP calls, until you relaunch the app. iOS learns patterns based on your use of the device and tries to predict when an app should be updated in the background. It also learns when the device is typically inactive, such as during the night, to reduce update frequency when the device is not in use.

You will read many articles on the internet that tell you disable all Background App Refreshing to save battery life and others that will tell you not to bother at all as it makes no difference. 

Apple Resource’s advice is to go through the list and make a conscious decision as to how much you use each application and how much you’d value it updating whilst in the background. It’s perfectly OK to leave apps that you value and use all the time as active due to the intelligent way Background App Refresh works. What you don’t want is every single app using it if you rarely use them. Although it was first introduced in iOS 7, apps taking advantage of Background App Refresh will have percolated through over time, which is why you may have a shock when you open up the Background App Refresh found at:

Settings -> General -> Background App Refresh 

Leave a comment about how many apps you ended up disabling. As always, follow Apple Resource in Twitter, Facebook or sign up to our monthly newsletter.