It may not be the battery

iPhone charged

I recently wrote about the battery problems I have been having with my iPhone. A recent incident and a chat in a restaurant has made me rethink the issue. It may not be the age of the battery which is the problem, but the recent iOS software update.

So there I was in the restaurant having taken some photographs of my food (as one does) and the battery life was very low on 5%, so in order to conserve battery life and ensure the phone counted my steps on the way back from the restaurant I turned the phone off. When I turned it back on the battery life was back up to 29% even though I hadn’t charged the phone in between.

So I think in future if I find my battery apparently draining fast, I am going to turn it off and then back on again.

iTunes failed to sync…

Sometimes after synching my iPhone (and occassionally my iPad) with iTunes I find that the sync has failed and various apps have not been updated.

As a result various apps can not be opened in the usual way.

iPhone Home Screen

The usual solution is to resync with iTunes. Sometimes though this isn’t possible, you may not have noticed the error message on the front of the phone.

The various apps that failed to update, will then fail to start, either by tapping it on the home screen, or through the multitasking bar.

iPhone Home Screen

You can tell which apps have failed to update as they will be in shadow and have an empty installation bar. In the above screenshot you can see that Podcasts and Flipboard did not update correctly.

In the past I have had to delete the app and reinstall it. Fine for some apps, but if you are on 3G or have configured the app then this may not be an option. With really large apps, it might not be possible to redownload it on a 3G connection.

As a result you probably think you can’t use the app. I have found a workaround that will work until you get a chance to resync with iTunes.

Search for the app in Spotlight. Swipe right from your first Home screen. Enter text in the search field. In this example I have typed Flip for Flipboard.

I have typed Flip for Flipboard.

This will allow you to run the app, even though you can’t access it through the home screen.

Should point out that if you do a hard reboot of the device, you won’t be able to do this.

Climbing the mountain to see the lion

OS X Mountain Lion

Today sees the release of the next incarnation of the Mac operating system, OS X, Mountain Lion 10.8. It was announced back in February and back then I wrote my initial thoughts based on the announcement. As when Snow Leopard replaces Leopard, Mountain Lion in many ways is an incremental update to Lion.

OS X Mountain Lion is the latest release of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system. Mountain Lion includes over 200 new features to update your Mac into the best computing experience yet. With the new Messages app, you can send text, photos, videos, contacts, web links and documents to anyone using another Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch — you can even start a conversation on one device and continue it on another. The new Share button makes it easy to share files, web pages, photos and videos, as well as tweet straight from the app you’re using. With the Reminders app, you can create to-do lists and alerts that appear in the new Notification Center. With Notes, you can write down all your ideas and even speak your words with Voice Dictation. Play head-to-head games on your Mac with friends on their Macs or iOS devices with Game Center. And with iCloud built in, it’s simple to keep all your mail, contacts, calendars, reminders, notes, to-do lists, music, photos, iWork files, PDFs and more up to date across all your devices.

There are some interesting new features, there is the continued iOSiffication and deeper intergration with iOS devices. Speech to text is now built into the OS, though as with most speech to text you will need a quiet room and I can’t see myself talking to my computer in the office, unless I can shut the door and have the office to myself.

There is also notifications, which if you have been using Growl will realise has a similar functionality, you can configure it to let you know about Twitter responses, and other messages from various applications.

Notifications Center

Finally Safari does what Chrome does and you can use the address field to either enter an URL or a search term. Countless times as I move between Chrome and Safari I have got annoyed with Safari as I type in a search term, only to have a ‘doh’ moment as I realise I have typed it into the address field and not the search. Combining the two has a few issues (for example if you want to search on an URL and not actually go there), but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in my opinion.

One aspect of Chrome I like (especially since I got the Nexus 7) is the syncing of tabs and history, when iOS 6 is released this will come to Safari. iCloud Tabs makes the last websites you looked at accessible on your iPhone, iPad and Mac.

I do like the Share button, this is a feature I do use on the iPad so it will be nice to have it on the desktop. However having said that, with all the Facebook issues I have read about, I won’t be integrating OS X with Facebook anytime soon (nor will I do that when iOS 6 is released. Hopefully third party apps may take advantage of sharing, and embed it into their applications. I am really thinking about Firefox and Chrome at this point.

Reminders also comes to the Mac and I am thinking I might take advantage of that as it does integrate nicely with iOS. The same has happened with Notes, though I don’t think I will be replacing that with Evernote anytime soon. I like in Evernote how I can add image and audio notes as well as text notes.

There is better iCloud integration, but it still doesn’t work as I would like it to, so I can see myself staying with Dropbox for the foreseeable future.

I am not a great user of messaging services, but I think, again with the better integration with iOS that I may take advantage of it.

One downside for me is the size of the install file, at 4.05GB this is one big download and having recently switched from FTTC back to ADSL this was a very slow download…

As I said at the beginning this is very much an incremental upgrade, so I would be really disappointed to pay £100 for this, the price though is just £13.99 which is incredibly cheap for an OS upgrade compared to what we have paid in the past. Also, as it is on the App Store means that for £13.99 you can download and install it on all the Macs you own or control.

Get OS X Mountain Lion 10.8  in the Mac App Store.

My thoughts – Apple announce OS X Mountain Lion 10.8

It was only in July last year that OS X Lion was released, today Apple announced a sneak peek at OS X Mountain Lion, 10.8 the next release of OS X.

The first thing that strikes you is the iOSification of OS X. In Mountain Lion you will find Messages, Reminders, Notes, Notifications, Share Sheets, Twitter integration, Game Centre and AirPlay Mirroring. Looking at the new features you may have mistaken that you were looking at iOS rather than OS X. The Sneak Peek page does say “Inspired by iPad. Re-imagined for Mac.

I do think some of the features in OS X Mountain Lion are much needed if you have and reply on an iOS infrastructure. If your friends and colleagues have iPads and iPhones and you have a Mac, you will have wanted some iOS features on your Mac. With Mountain Lion it looks like we’ll be getting them.

Mountain Lion is all about communication and sharing, it’s about connecting with friends and colleagues and sharing images and content. It’s about making the Mac more like the iPad and the iPhone and merging the experience. The back end means you can still run regular apps you do now, but the essence of the operating system will be familar to those people currently using the iPad.

If you think about it, that does make sense for Apple. Most people using the iPhone are Windows users, the same can be said for most iPad users. In order for them to move to the Mac, they are going to want to have a similar experience and feel moving from iOS to OS X. I know many people who are very happy with the iPhone and the iPad, but either don’t feel comfortable with OS X or are wary of moving to what they view as an alien and very different operating system. You can imagine how these iPhone and iPad users would feel if the Mac they saw in the Apple Store looked and worked like the iOS device in their hand.

This is emphasised in the sneak peek video which emphasises how similar OS X Mountain Lion experiences are to the experiences on the iPhone and the iPad.

From a marketing perspective if you want to convert iPad and iPhone users to Mac then making OS X to be similar to iOS is the way to do it.

So what about these new features for Mountain Lion?

Even though there are other messaging tools out there, such as Skype, the fact that Messages will allow communication with iOS devices has to be a plus, as it is built into the mobile operating system. The problem with Skype is that it requires you to open the Skype app and as that can “drain battery” I guess most people don’t have Skype on as a default and I suspect that the same can be said for other messaging apps. Messages on iOS integrates well with SMS so if you are use to SMS you will feel right at home with Messages. I also like the idea of sending images and video straight from my Mac, I can see it replacing e-mail for a lot of communication.

One of the reasons I’ve not used Reminders on the iPad or the iPhone was the lack of integration with OS X, so I am pleased to see that there may be a simple, yet useful, to do list app that works across all my devices.
For similar reasons I don’t use Notes on the iPad or iPhone either. Somehow I don’t think I will swap, as Evernote has much more flexibility than the Notes app, I like how I can add audio and image notes. For many people though the Notes app will be just what they needed.

I do like the idea of Share Sheets, it is one feature of using iOS that I repeatedly miss in OS X and falling back on copy and paste isn’t that bad I know, but once you get use to that “share” button in iOS you do miss it in OS X. In case you don’t know what Share Sheets means, it’s a simple button that allows you to quickly share links, content, images and stuff to places like Twitter, e-mail or Messages.

What the sneak peek does show is how Apple are betting on Twitter over Facebook. You see Twitter integration mentioned all over the place, but not a mention of Facebook. That issue with Ping and Facebook must still be a real issue!

I use AirPlay a fair bit from my iPad, earlier I wrote about how useful I found it with my Apple TV.

Adding this feature to OS X Mountain Lion will certainly be useful to me, especially with web based video that isn’t available on the iPad. Of course there is an assumption that Flash will be available for OS X Mountain Lion and that isn’t a given. I can quite easily imagine Adobe deciding not to make a version of Flash for Mountain Lion.

My over riding impression of Mountain Lion, combined with my experiences of using Lion on a MacBook is that we are seeing the end of the mouse more than anything. The use of the laptop trackpad and the Magic Trackpad in the Mountain Lion video demonstrates that Apple see the future of the human interaction with a Mac through gestures and a trackpad and not a mouse.

We of course haven’t seen any sign in the sneak peek of Siri for Mountain Lion, and I guess that either may arrive later or this is something that isn’t going to happen and I can’t see that happening; much more likely it will appear in the final release in the summer.

So will you be upgrading? My iMac is still running Snow Leopard due to legacy apps, somehow I don’t see me changing my OS just yet… on the laptop, more than likely as it already has Lion.

Overall what we are going to get with Mountain Lion is an iOSification of the Mac operating system, the upgrade is much more about new apps and a few subtle changes, rather than fundamental changes to the operating system.

Adobe CreatePDF

One of the nice things I remember moving from mainly using Windows to Mac was that OS X had PDF creation built into the operating system. As a result I was no longer reliant on Adobe Acrobat for creating PDFs. Now don’t get me wrong, Adobe Acrobat is a really powerful application and for professional proofing and printing I still use it, however for quickly creating PDFs to send via e-mail or put on the VLE, it was like using an articulated truck to deliver newspapers!

Of course when sending stuff to printers it makes much more sense if they can’t accept InDesign to send them a high quality PDF and the options available in Acrobat are there when you need them.

Of course when you are only “delivering newspapers” then the PDF creation built into OS X is more than adequate and enough for most people.

So it’s interesting to see that Adobe have bought a PDF creation tool, Adobe CreatePDF, to iOS devices.

Adobe CreatePDF brings the same high-quality PDF creation as Adobe Acrobat to your iPad, iPhone and other iOS devices.

Some apps I have used on iOS do allow you to create PDFs, Pages for example allows you to send your Pages document to someone via e-mail as a PDF. However DocumentsToGo which can create Word documents doesn’t allow me to send as PDF via e-mail. Of course of you receive a Word document or similar via e-mail and then want to pass onto someone as PDF, it can be a bit of a hassle to open it in Pages, convert to PDF and then send it. I suspect it may impact on the formatting of the document too.

For these kinds of things I see a use for Adobe CreatePDF, it could be useful for that. You will need a decent internet connection though, as the PDF creation doesn’t happen on the device, the app uses Adobe’s online services to create the PDF, so it sends the document to Adobe’s servers, does all the processing online and sends you back a PDF of your document. They say this is to ensure a high quality PDF, which is why you are buying this app I guess.

I am sure the £6.99 price though will stop a fair few people from buying the app, but Adobe do have a reputation for expensive software, the PC version of Acrobat for example is £301.89 from Amazon. Does £6.99 sound too expensive now?

Update Now!

Have you noticed how some devices continually ask you to update, whilst others seem perfectly happy to stick with the firmware they were delivered with.

Windows can drive you crazy, especially if you use it less often than twice a day it would seem. Turn on the PC and rather than let you get on with stuff, it decides no you can’t get on with the stuff you actually need to do, no it’s much more important to use up the CPU and the RAM (and your Internet connection) to download and install updates. Once it has done that, and you think you can get on with stuff, no it needs to restart. On a bad day it will after restarting decide that you need even more updates… Once that’s done, you start your browser and then Flash, Java and Shockwave all need to be updated. By the time that’s done you’ve probably forgotten why you turned the PC on in the first place.

At work where I have no control over my locked down work PC, it is little better, first thing it does when turned on in the morning is, yes you’ve guessed it, update everything… Generally I turn on the PC and then go and make some coffee.

OS X is a little better, but not by much. The default for OS X is to download updates in he background before telling you what needs to be installed. If you have a small pipe and a bandwidth limit this can cause problems. Before I was lucky enough to get my upgrade to fibre one of the annoying things about OS X updates was the sheer size of them, often in excess of 1GB. On my ADSL connection this could take hours and soak up the entire connection.

iOS updates are just as bad, huge updates for both the iPad and the iPhone. Updating can take a while as files are backed up and apps reinstalled. I have over the last few years downloaded lots of apps, and as a result there are updates for them on a regular basis, at least I have a choice on downloading them. Same with Android, though at least you are given the choice on when you can update.

Of course you an change the defaults and download updates as and when you want to, which I do. I also recognize the importance of updating and especially security updates. It’s just that the default assumption is that the tool and the updating of the tool is considered more important by the tool than the actual reason you have the tool, which is to do stuff.

Back to my first point, I am “forced” to update my computers, iPad and iPhone on a regular basis. Why though does my Canon DSLR not need updating? Can I even update it? Why? Yes it is less complicated than my PC, is that the only reason?

Having said that, my old TV I have had for seven years and never updated it once. My new TV is less than a year old and it has needed updating about three or four times… One of the downsides of have an internet connected TV I guess. Likewise my Blu-Ray player often needs to be updated before I can play a Blu-Ray disc, well it has happened to me twice!

Then there are those updates that actually kill functionality, Sony have been good at this with their firmware updates for the PSP and the PS3. Updating can actually stop you from doing stuff. I remember an upgrade to Microsoft Office that I installed once that killed one of my favourite applications, the original PhotoDraw, that was very annoying.

I guess we are now in an era of updating, a continual process of improvement… But is it always improvement to make things better?