iTunes Wi-Fi Sync only seems to work about half the time I try to use it, so a few weeks ago I decided to take another chance on iTunes Match. If you’re unfamiliar with iTunes Match, it’s a $28 annual subscription service that scans your Mac or PC’s iTunes library. Any songs that are matched with existing tracks in Apple’s iTunes catalogue are simply made available in 256kbps AAC, and any songs that aren’t in the iTunes catalogue are uploaded to iCloud. Once the scanning and uploading is complete, your full library of songs is available to stream to up to 10 devices (PCs, Macs, or iOS devices).
The main benefit of this switch has been to eliminate any need to manually sync my iPhone (my main music player) with my MacBook, but a cool secondary benefit has been the ability to stream all of my music directly to my iPad, without having to use up any of my 32 GB iPad’s storage space.
At the beginning of this week Apple released iOS 7.1.2 – the latest version of the iPad and iPhone operating system.
iOS 7.1.2 brings a fix to a well-known security vulnerability related to attachments and the iOS Mail app. Here’s the brief description text for this latest iOS update:
• Improves iBeacon connectivity and stability
• Fixes a bug with data transfer for some 3rd party accessories, including bar code scanners
• Corrects an issue with data protection class of Mail attachments
The update is available to install over the air via the Software Update section in Settings – it’s only about a 28.8 download – and well worth installing just for the security fix.
I took a leap last week and jumped onto iOS 8 beta 2, and although I was really impressed with the new QuickType keyboard and Continuity features, a few of my essential apps still aren’t compatible with the beta. Luckily, I had a double set of backups to return to: one in iCloud and one in iTunes.
I’ve tried iCloud backups before and they work well enough, but they also take up a lot of time. You’ve got to wait for all of your apps to download again, and apps that sync with cloud services (e.g. Evernote) don’t always remember your login credentials after you restore.
So this time around I decided to try restoring from my manual iTunes backup, from the night before I decided to try iOS 8. The downgrade to iOS 7 went off without a hitch, but I was a little spooked to find a very blank iPad upon my first restart. There were two pages of apps, but each screen was nearly empty, and consisted only of the default Apple apps.
Apple released iOS 7.1.1 yesterday, the latest update to the iPad and iPhone operating system. This update to iOS brings bug fixes and some security enhancements. It also has improvements to the Touch ID feature for iPhone – which is expected to come to this year’s iPad models.
Another interesting addition in this update, spotted by MacRumors, is a new label on apps with In-App purchases – in the Top Charts listings pages. It’s a fairly tiny bit of text just underneath the Free button in the apps listing.
Given all the controversy around ‘Freemium’ games with sometimes very large In-App purchases (I’ve seen up to $99) and horror stories of kids running up bills into the thousands of dollars, any extra labeling of these apps is a good idea. I’d love to see the label text be a little larger and more prominent.
iOS 7.1.1 is available now as an over-the air update via Settings > General > Software Update.
This one’s been a pet peeve of mine for as long as iOS 7 has been out. The “Today Summary” section of Notification Center looks quite clean, and I like how it opts to use text over a set of weather icons, but here’s where it can be plain stupid: it doesn’t always show the current temperature.
Sometimes the summary does show info like “a high of 6, a low of –3”, but other times it just shows vague information like “partly cloudy conditions with low visibility”. Unfortunately, the thing about low visibility is that it doesn’t tell me anything about how many layers I should wear before stepping out the door.
This wouldn’t be as bad if I could simply tap on the iPad’s weather report as I do on my iPhone 5S, but I can’t. The iPad doesn’t come bundled with a Weather app, and I can’t link the widget to open any of the excellent third-party weather services on the App Store. This means that the only way to quickly check the weather on an iPad is to use Siri, which displays the proper highs and lows throughout the day. That can work, but Siri has its own issues when it comes to reliablity (sometimes it takes mini vacations and doesn’t respond to anything).
This is one of those details in which the devil lives. It’s an oversight in Apple’s major move from iOS 6 to iOS 7, and it would be oh-so-easy to correct, if only Apple could catch onto it.
A couple days after the release of iOS 7.1 we’re starting to learn more about some of the improvements in the latest version of the iPad’s operating system.
One of these is a new ‘Manual Control’ method when using Siri – which is said to lead to faster and more accurate results when using it. This is easy to use. Instead of pressing and holding the Home button until Siri pops up and then releasing it, you continue to hold the button until you’re finished speaking.
I’ve tried this out a little this morning and Siri does respond a lot faster than before, and the accuracy does seem improved a bit as well.
I spotted this via Chris Meinck’s post over at everythingiCafe.
Have any of you tried this out with Siri yet? If so, what do you think of the results?
iOS 7.1 is out today and you can update your iPad by heading over to Settings -> General -> Software Update. This dot update marks the biggest and bug-fixinest improvement to iOS since the release of iOS 7 last year.
The major features you’ll likely notice immediately are:
- iOS animations are faster, which makes multitasking and returning to the home screen feel much more fluid on my iPad Air (this is a pretty big deal)
- Siri has been given an extra set set of less robotic voices for certain Mandarin, UK English, Australian English, and Japanese
- You can now tap-and-hold the Home button to bring up Siri, dictate your commands, and then release the Home button to signal that you’re done speaking (though you can still wait for Siri to automatically detect that you’re done talking)
- New dialogue and button designs (e.g. the new shut down screen, which you can see by holding the Sleep/Wake switch)
- General stability improvements. The 64-bit iPad Air is definitely more crash prone than my previous 1st-gen iPad mini, and discussions of the beta claim that 7.1 is much better, even at memory management
In my brief taste of the update thus far, Safari tabs do seem like they stay in memory longer than before. I can get to about six or seven tabs (news sites and blogs) before any one of them has to reload. It also feels like switching between apps is a hair faster than before, which does make a surprising difference.
The only headline feature of 7.1 that isn’t available on the iPad is Carplay, which improves hands-free and car control integration … but only on iPhone 5 and up, and then only on certain new 2014 car models.
Well here’s a lovely little iPad rumor to consider this week – iOS 7.1 is said to be set for release any day now. Here’s the reason given by John Gruber at Daring Fireball:
Apple’s first iTunes Festival in the U.S. starts a week from today at SXSW in Austin. Apple is going to stream the performances to iOS devices using an app, but I’ve heard from a little birdie that the app requires iOS 7.1 (which explains why the app isn’t out yet). That means iOS 7.1 should ship any day now.
These shows start next Tuesday, March 11, right here in Austin. So perhaps a iOS 7.1 release on Friday?
iOS 7.1 is rumored to bring fixes for some of the crashing bugs and frequent Springboard resets that have plagued iOS 7 since its release.
I don’t fully understand why the iTunes Festival app requires an iOS update, as it has always offered a live stream plus highlights videos in the past as far as I can recall – but I’ll be quite happy if this rumor proves true and the app helps to push out the iOS 7.1 release.
Yesterday Apple issued the latest update to the iPad and iPhone operating system, iOS 7.0.6. This update is primarily a security patch for a known vulnerability relating to SSL connections.
The update is available now and can be installed over-the-air (as in, directly from the iPad) via the Settings app. You’ll find it under Settings > General > Software Update.
If you’ve been using iOS 7 for any length of time, then you’re likely aware that it’s prone to pretty frequent crashes at random times. This has been the case ever since the late developer betas and certainly since iOS 7 was released to the public.
I think it’s the most buggy release of iOS since iOS 2.0 – and I’ve definitely see plenty of the Springboard reset type soft reboots on my Retina iPad mini on a regular basis.
The good news is it looks like there may be an update on the way to at least partly address the issue, according to Mashable.
“We have a fix in an upcoming software update for a bug that can occasionally cause a home screen crash,” Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller told Mashable.
9to5Mac also reports that feedback from people using the latest iOS 7.1 beta indicates that it is ‘more stable and less prone to crashes’.
Lets hope we see a stability boosting iOS 7 update very soon.
The screenshot above is of the advisory popup dialog you get when you’re about to sign in with your Facebook account in the iPad Settings app – to link your Facebook account more seamlessly throughout iOS.
Here’s the big catch though: the dialog above lets you know that signing in will do this:
Download your Facebook friends to the Contacts app and keep their information up to date.
For me, that’s a deal breaker right away. I don’t want all my Facebook friends chucked into my Contacts app. Partly because the last time I recall using some clever app that brought Facebook friends into my address book it made a huge mess – resulting in contacts with wrong phone numbers and similar issues.
Also, there are a lot of my Facebook friends who I really only ever communicate with via Facebook. Old friends who live half a world away for example. For most of them, I don’t know their phone number or sometimes even their email address. I talk to them via Facebook messages or maybe an occasional Skype call. Contacts to me is a place for family, friends, work colleagues, numbers for frequently used services and so forth.
I know this clearly a ‘first world problem’ type complaint and not worth getting knickers in a twist over, but I wish Facebook would make this optional – as Twitter does with a similar sort of feature. Then those who find this useful could go ahead and bring their Facebook friends into Contacts; and people like me could agree to sign in to Facebook – because I can’t at the moment.
Update: My mistake on this on; I didn’t read the fine print properly. As a few people have pointed out in the comments, you can disable the Contacts sync (and Calendar sync) once you sign in – with just a quick tap on toggle buttons. Apologies for my error on this.