The case of the dying iPhone 6

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It’s amazing how fast an iPhone battery deteriorates in only 3 or so years of use.  The photo in this post is from coconutBattery which is an app that I use to monitor the battery for my MacBook Pro.  The added benefit is that I can see the battery performance of an iOS device (it only works with the later ones, I tried it with an original iPad and didn’t get any data back).  Anyway, the phone above belongs to my wife and just this past week the phone would start turning off once it hit 40%.  Puzzled by this I decided to do some Googling to see what the problem could be.  This issue is pretty common with devices on iOS 10, especially the iPhone 6 and 6s.  I tried everything I could to see what was the matter and fix it short of blowing the entire phone away and reinstalling it app by app (its not my phone so I don’t want to do that).

The other thing we just tried today was to install the iOS 11 Beta 6 release.  This solved one problem which was to show the true battery level on the phone.  Now I can see that the battery level is at whatever percent and lets my wife know that she has to charge her phone up so it doesn’t turn off.  As the picture above indicates though, her battery is roughly at 50% of original capacity which translates into 5 hours maybe of web surfing and maybe 2 hours of talk time if she uses the phone.  Thats pretty shitty by any measure especially for an iPhone. Now the thing thats in her favor is that the iPhone event isn’t that far away, maybe a month and hopefully she can hold out until then so we can get an iPhone 7s or an iPhone 8 (depends on what Apple decides to announce in September).

As a stop gap measure we’re trying to remove data from the phone so that she can use my old iPhone 6s that I had for work.  The issue is that the memory on the 6s is half of what she currently has (64 vs 128) so when I try and do a restore iTunes doesn’t like it and decides to just stop doing the restore altogether.  Not very ideal, I wish there was a way to be selective on whats restored and you can do it via third party app but I have no desire to install more bloatware on my MacBook Pro if I can help it.  I’m going to keep plugging away at this issue, probably more this coming weekend during Labor Day since I’ll have some extra time and I’ll crack it by George or we’re getting my wife a new iPhone (well we’re doing that anyway, her phone is kinda OLD and she needs a better camera to capture those precious memories while I’m away).

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Downsizing to a single iPhone

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Lots of firsts this summer and I guess the significant one (besides switching companies) is that I am downsizing to a single phone for work and personal stuff.  In the past I have not wanted to do this for various reasons but the biggest one was mobile device management and the ability to either look at or do weird stuff to my phone centrally.  I recently had my work phone wiped out but it actually wasn’t bad since all it did was uninstall a ton of work apps and deleted my accounts and some of the profiles that were set up as part of Mobile Iron.

My new company does expense reimbursement for my phone instead of just paying for the service, so that presents some interesting challenges:

  • I would have to get a new phone number and add it to my family plan
  • Adding the new number means I have to switch my plan to T-Mobile ONE which isn’t bad but I lose LTE tethering unless I pay an extra $10 a month for it which I’m not really prepared to do
  • Everyone elses plan would also switch over  and I don’t know who uses tethering or not and it seems like a general hassle to do so unless there is major cost savings involved
  • I also lost some of my “card” room since I used to keep all my work cards with the other phone, now I have to find a place to keep my work cards since I don’t want to start using a wallet again

My new company uses Citrix Secure Mail as a way for me to get my mail.  They don’t have time and expense apps or other apps that I had as part of my old firm so that means no profile needs to be installed on my iPhone.  There is no Mobile Iron or anything like that.  If I install one of the company built apps then I will see a new profile being installed on my phone but since I have no intention of doing that I think I’ll be fine downsizing to a single phone.

Using a single phone for home and work isn’t bad, but then again I’ve only done it for a day.  I refused to install any work related stuff on my personal phone until I had more information on what it is they were going to install on my phone to monitor what was on it.  Granted most mobile device solutions by companies state they can’t see anything except their data and that the rest of my data is safe.  One of the sticky points I had in the past was Pulse Secure VPN that my old firm would use to connect to the network so I could do time and expense and other stuff like that.  The Citrix apps seem to not use VPN since I don’t see the icon for VPN on the status bar and I wasn’t forced to install a VPN certificate.

I’m going to experiment with this set up for a few weeks and see how it goes.  The only thing I have against this plan is giving work people my actual cell number which I have avoided in the past.  If they finally get around to letting me use Skype for Business as my work number then I’ll be all set!

Playing with Google Cardboard VR


My wife’s company is pretty cool, they gave her Google Cardboard VR.  There is a single Google Cardboard app on the iOS store thats from Google, all the others I was looking at were pretty neat but since they weren’t from Google I decided not to try them out.  The stock app to do VR with my iPhone was still pretty cool.  I was able to look at a museum, go on a boat and see a virtual whale jump out of the water, and look at objects and get additional info when I clicked the button on top of the cardboard viewer.  I’d take a picture of what it looks like when you look inside the viewer but I was lazy and didn’t feel like taking my phone out of its case and then powering it on, then using my iPad to try and take a picture.  There are plenty of people on YouTube that have probably done this already so there’s no need for me to do it. 😉

VR is definitely cool and I wish there was a viewer made for my iPhone but the coolest ones out so far are the ones out for the Google Pixel phone.  I haven’t tried any of those out but the reviews are pretty good.  Maybe with the iPhone 8 they’ll come out with something similar.  The only trouble I had with the Google Cardboard viewer is the sound button kept on being pressed when I closed the viewer and I would lose the sound of the app I was looking at.  Doing some readjustment fixed it but it was just a minor annoyance.  I think I would buy something that would go with my iPhone that did VR, it would help pass the time while I’m on the road.  What would be cool is to couple this with FaceTime or something so that you can view what someone else was doing on their phone with the rear camera in VR!  I totally could do that with my family when I’m away and see my daughters school events “live”.  Even a video would be fine with me, it would make it feel like I was actually at the event.  That’s probably far into the future but it still would be pretty cool and I would be able to talk to my family about it when I got home or on the phone.

That will have to wait though, I have other techie purchases to make like maybe a desktop computer replacement if it finally dies.  VR is a toy, not a necessity.  Kind of like my Xbox 360 that I never play.

Aukey Ora iPhone Lens 

Just before vacation, my wife gave me a wide angle lens for my iPhone 7.  I had this on my wish list as something to enhance my travel photos.  I also bring my GoPro with me that takes things in wide angle but I have a lot less control over what and how it shoots.  It’s a pretty easy lens to use, all you have to do is clip it on, line it up to the camera lens, and start shooting.  

At first I really didn’t see any differences until I used a point of reference.  I used it this afternoon taking a picture of a mountain shot.  You can clearly see that the wide angle lens takes in more of the scenery than the regular iPhone camera lens.  You gotta struggle with it a bit to put it on and the iPhone has to be naked and not in a case.  I tried using it with a case on but the lens wouldn’t line up properly and the photos came up kind of crummy.  I’ll just have to be more careful with the lens and my iPhone when I use it since neither will have any protection if I drop it by accident.

There is also a macro lens included with the wide angle but I can’t see a reason why I would use it.  What would be useful later would be a telephoto lens so I can take zoomed in shots using optical rather than digital zoom.  I did test it out and the results were pretty good but I have to be really close to the subject to make use of it.

I am definitely liking this lens, it will be a new companion when I’m traveling for work and vacation.  Now to find places where I want to use it.

Aukey Ora Lens

Regular iPhone photo

Wide angle shot using the Aukey lens

Aukey macro lens shot

1st Week with the iPhone 7

I have completed my first week with an iPhone 7 and the phone itself is pretty kick ass. I don’t know why so many people complain about the home button, I like the new one that uses the taptic feedback engine at the bottom of the phone.  It feels just like pressing down on the old home button on the iPhone 6 or 6s.  I haven’t tried all of the new bells and whistles like the 4K video or splashing the thing with water (still probably not going to do it even though they say its splash proof) but the experience is what you would expect from an iPhone.

If you’re running any variation of an iPhone 6, its not going to feel all that different and thats a good thing in my view since its all familiar. Size and shape are the same for me since I only buy the smaller iPhones, I have small hands so I don’t need the one that looks like an iPad Mini because it gets tough to type on it. I think the thing I notice the most is the speed, this thing is speedy compared to an iPhone 6, and when I compare it to my daughters iPhone 4S, it makes the iPhone 4S seem like a flip phone.

I think I spent the most time trying to do a back up and restore from my iPhone 6 to the iPhone 7.  There was some weird voodoo dance that I had to do so that all my data and apps would transfer over correctly (actually I had to delete all the backups of my iPhone 6, do a complete backup that took about 6 hours to complete overnight, and then do a restore to the iPhone 7 which took another 6 hours or so).  The backup and restore process for iPhones is pretty terrible as an experience.  I see a lot of bloggers say “just set it up as new” which is horse crap.  I have over 200 apps on my phone (kinda excessive but I actually do use all of them) and re-downloading all of them and organizing them into folders is a PAIN!  I have gotten the organization down so that everything fits on one screen.  There are tons of apps nested in folders but the point of the exercise was to make it so I don’t have to swipe away from the main screen, just tap into a folder.  Although my new preferred method is to just search or use Siri to launch the app of my choice.

Anyway, as iPhone storage gets larger and larger (this time I opted to stay at 128GB rather than move up to 256GB), the speed in which things backup and restore from iTunes drastically needs to improve.  For someone like me that travels a lot and doesn’t have their home computer with them, this is one of the pet peeves I have that I have to almost give up my phone and run my computer all night or even all day and watch it slowly back up.  Forget about it when I actually have to sync something, I just skip the backup and sync the new content since I don’t want to just sit there waiting.

The only gripe I think I have is the headphone jack being gone.  I have lots of EarPods from the iPhone 6×2, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, plus extras that I purchased since I had a tendency to wash them in the laundry.  I have bluetooth headphones but they kind of hurt my ears and don’t feel as comfortable as the EarPods do.  I also might want to spring for the Bose QC35’s.  I just know I’m going to lose the dongle that came with the 7 so I might as well get the best noise cancelling headphones that I can.  The QC25’s are awesome, they totally shielded me from a crying baby that sat directly behind me recently and I hear the QC35’s are just as good but with bluetooth!  The AirPods look nice as well and I could see myself maybe springing for those, but they aren’t out yet so I’ll have to do some more waiting and will probably watch a few reviews first too.

As for cases, my Otterbox and my wallet case fit the 7 just fine.  I’ve opted to use the wallet case for the 7 like I did for my 6.  There is a cut out for the headphone jack but that doesn’t mean anything really since sound only comes out of one speaker on the bottom on the right side like the 6 did.  The other holes are just for decoration and aesthetics.  This will also be the first personal phone that doesn’t have a screen protector on it!  I know I’m getting brave! I experimented with not having one on the 6s that I use for work and so far (knock on wood) that screen has been just fine and its been through as much abuse as my personal phone.

Overall, the iPhone 7 is much of the same thing I’ve always experienced with iPhones.  They pretty much work as advertised and have a nice smooth experience.  Sure there are limitations here and there but as I get older I just don’t want to tinker with my tech.  I will still get a an iPhone 8, and upgrade the Mrs. to the 8 as well since I’m sure the cameras and stuff are going to be stellar and make our SLR look like a sick dog in terms of picture quality and speed.  The only area that it will still lack is optical zoom capability.  Thats it!  Done for the evening!

Got an iPhone 7 

I got a new phone for work, an iPhone 7.  One of the perks of my job is that I can get a new iPhone every year for the low price of $199.  The problem is that its carrier locked to AT&T, but the cost is offset by selling one of my older iPhones so its essentially free by the time everything is said and done.

I haven’t tried most of the new features or even set it up, I’m still researching ways to make this my personal phone and continue with one of my older phones as my work phone.  I own an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s so its not like I’m hurting for equipment.  I mostly want it for the improved camera tech and the image stabilization.  I’ll probably finalize set up next weekend after I do some more experimentation and I also have to do some backups with my other 2 phones.

I can’t wait to start using this thing daily, its going to be awesome.  I also can’t wait for iPhone 8, that one is definitely going to be my new personal phone and I’ll upgrade my wife’s phone too since she’s sporting an iPhone 6 and she’ll want the upgrade.

 

Google Photo’s is awesome at creating “stuff”

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I’ve been using Google Photo’s since it came out with the new version.  I used to use Picasa occasionally  but it was just a place to view the photos on my hard drive.  I installed Google Photo’s on my iPhone, iPad, and my Mac so that all my photos could be uploaded for safe keeping.  One of the cool parts about it is that Google Photos starts doing neat things with the photos it finds.  The example I have in this post is a panoramic that Google Photo’s put together from 3 separate photos that I took while waiting to take off from Miami.  I’d say it came out pretty sweet.

There are other things that it does like make short videos, turn things black and white, and make collages on its own based on the time the photo was taken or where the photo was taken.  It takes all that meta data from my iPhone that saves things like the location and date/time stamp and uses that to make smart albums.  I think that Apple is trying to do the same thing with Memories but minus some of the other cool functions that Google Photos does.

While Photos from Apple is pretty awesome, there are a lot of storage limitations because I don’t pay for iCloud storage and only use the free options so I can’t back up everything.  I have well over 20,000 photos and around 1,000 videos and all that takes up a lot of storage.  Google Photos is just one means of backing things up but the fact that it does cool stuff with my photos is just some nice bonus stuff.  I also get the option to save the little creations from Google and I take full advantage of that, you never know when I’m going to look back on some of this stuff whenI get older and see how cool some of my pictures came out with a little bit of Google magic.

I’d post more stuff but its hard to do so on WordPress from Google Photos, it doesn’t like the share links that I use.  I had to go around that problem by uploading to Flickr then using their share links after making the photo public.  If I get more cool stuff like this, I’ll post it here or using Twitter to give it more exposure.