Dec 09

Should you buy an iPhone X

There are literally thousands of videos and articles about the iPhone X so I am certainly not going to cover their ground here.

Instead, I am going to try and answer a very simple question… should you buy one.

Well, its the heaviest phone in a while and it feels thicker in the hand. But this is not a return to the days of the brick, its still very easy to hold and you still forget its in your pocket. Instead, the weight and its very very slightly thickened girth give this phone a sense of quality and purpose.

The screen going from the very top to the very bottom of its 5.8 inch body is bright and beautiful and gives you as much workable screen size as the bigger iPhone 8 Plus. And if you have been reading about the notch at the top, I promise you, you stop noticing it within a few minutes of use.

As always they have improved the camera over last years model with improved portrait mode, slower and crisper slow-mo, and more editing affects. You can also shoot video in 4K.

The missing home button takes about a minute to get used to and you’ll find the new gestures almost second nature. The phone actually feels smoother and the experience more fluid because your fingers aren’t moving from screen to tactile button all day.

The full screen and the technical issue of having it read fingerprints lead to FaceID as Apple’s now preferred way of using biometrics.

It is very easy to setup and I found it just as quick as TouchID. Most articles and video bloggers have bemoaned the process of looking at the phone, the phone unlocking and THEN swiping up from the bottom to unlock the phone. I, on the other hand, have found that if I tap the screen and then swipe up, FaceID will – in the split second it takes my finger to swipe upwards – read my face and unlock the phone… all in one fluid movement.

FaceID is powered by some pretty incredible front facing cameras that mean they can be useful for better AR. This means that applications that allow you to choose glasses frames and virtually try them on is now possible. And because we are talking about very precise tracking, the glasses move with your movements and you actually look as though you are wearing them.  Same can be said for hair colour or trying makeup or seeing if a beard will suit you. The positioning of furniture in a room or measuring a doorway without a ape measure. Endless possibilities really.

Of course one of the most talked about advantages of accurate face tracking are Animojis. These cute little faces that very accurately mimic your facial expressions whilst recording your voice makes for a whole new way to communicate with friends and family. Since getting my iPhone X this is the only way I now communicate with my wife…. which can make meal times a bit awkward.

And, to top it all off, the battery life is phenomenal.

So, should you buy one?

Well, no… not really.

A client innocently and genuinely asked me, not long after I started bragging that I had one, what are the advantages. I started rattling off everything I have just said but then I concluded that these weren’t really advantages but rather features.

FaceID isn’t any better than TouchID its just different. The rear facing cameras are just as good in an iPhone 8 and the full screen isn’t a clear advantage over the screens we become used too. Wireless charging is also something that comes on both models but again, isn’t a massive feature above plugging in your iPhone 6 the old fashioned way.

So for now an iPhone 8 will be just fine and save you a bit of money in the bargain.

However, it should be noted that the iPhone X is an example of the future. Some day, soon I guess, all phones will be full screen with FaceID and wireless charging. They will all have a camera that takes the kinds of photos you used to pay hundreds of dollars for.

So if you’d like to get familiar with the future today, get ready for the shift in gesture control and all the marvellous things IA for will do for us,  then the iPhone X is the perfect way to start.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/2985-2/

Nov 26

Getting a better internet speed

We have all been through this and if we make the mistake of asking our ISP for help the answer is always the same… “your line is fine”. And it is true, your line IS fine but the mechanics of the internet, as provided by your ISP, is broken. So here is a way to fix one of the biggest breakdowns.

In the past I have often referred to the DNS as a giant yellow pages… but to be honest it is more like a dictionary. In the same way that you might not know the meaning of the word “Nebbish“ (I had never heard of it either) the internet actually has no idea what “www.ibm.com” means. It is meaningless! But instead of just giving up, the internet goes to its DNS and asks what this funny string of letters means. In a flash your browser is told that “www.ibm.com” actually means 104.98.43.23 and suddenly it understands and takes you there.

And this is precisely when the internet – at least for the user – can go terribly wrong.

You see every ISP offers a DNS service and every DNS service sits on a computer that may or may not be healthy.

The most common symptom of a slow, dead or missing DNS is typing in an address, the little blue line starting to grow and then stops. Seemingly, never to go any further.

Other less common and weirder symptoms might be getting older versions of a web pages or websites opening but certain pages not loading opening at all.

If you are using an ISP delivered DNS they should be brought to task for its flabbiness but while you wait for the ISPs denials, the lies and general cluelessness to dissipate there is something you can do to get it working.

To change the DNS do the following:

On a Mac…

Click on the Apple menu

Choose System Preferences and click on Network.

Your active network connections will have a green light next to them. For each, click on the name (Ethernet or Wi-Fi) and then click on Advanced.

Click on the DNS tab.

Click on the + button and type 8.8.8.8 then click on the + button again and type 8.8.4.4

Click OK and then Apply

On an iPhone/iPad…

Tap on Settings

Tap on Wi-Fi

You should already be connected and there is a little “i” symbol to the right of the network name.

Tap on the “i” and scroll down and tap on Configure DNS

Choose Manual

Remove the DNS server already listed and then click on the green + to add a new network.

Type in 8.8.8.8

Tap on Add server again and type in 8.8.4.4

Tap on Save

It is a pity that we have to even think about stuff like this but the cruel truth is that the ISPs in this country useless particularly at the moment when all they seem to care about is getting you signed up to the NBN so they can deliver another terrible service at a higher price.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/getting-a-better-internet-speed/

Nov 21

The best headphones

Regular readers of this site will, I am sure, already know that I am a big fan of wireless headphones.

That is not to say that I am in love with all wireless headphones and that they are all created equally.

My first foray into this world of wireless music was a set of Plantronics Back to Beat earbuds. Ghastly things that were tethered together by a contraption that lopped around the back of my neck like a rubberised shoelace that somehow always managed to move left or right and bunch up on either my left or right shoulder. The pairing of them to my iPhone was done via holding down a bewildering combination of buttons for just the right amount of time and if you got it wrong you were just as likely to put them into demo mode as you were turning them off. Considering all they had to do was play music through two pea sized apertures the battery life was pathetic and they sat in my ears as comfortably as a pair of Georgian armchairs might.

My next attempt were Bose QuietComfort QC and I will simply not hear a bad word said about them. They are noise cancelling, the are immensely comfortable and the battery lasts longer than some American Sitcoms. They also have a microphone so I can make and accept phone calls while wearing them. However, and this is only true while I am in public, I look ridiculous while I am wearing them because the over-the-ear design means I look like a Cyberman from Dr Who. Something I am reminded of every time I see my silhouette, catch my reflection in the mirror or are asked by a BBC crewman why I am not on set.

Since getting my Apple Watch I have been trying to minimise what comes exercising with me and so I have been looking at the Apple AirPods since their release in 2016. So in October 2017 I took the plunge and bought a pair.

My first thought was rather than look like a Cyberman I might look like someone who has something white dribbling out of his ears. However I can report as these earphones don’t modify your silhouette I am only reminded of them when I see myself in a mirror. Plus, since there have been scores of braver souls than me wearing these in public for most of the year, no one seems to care what I look like.

In a word these little headphones are sensational.

For starters the concept of the organic case  – which by the way is very sensuous in the hand (perhaps I have been in this game a bit too long)- and the charging of same and the headphones within, is beautifully simple.

This smart case also acts as possibly the best way to pair any headphones to your iPhone or iPad. Simply by opening the case in the vicinity of an as yet unknown iPhone will prompt them be paired. Magical.

Once paired, you simply pop them out and sit them in your ears (and without a cord pulling on them they sit in the average ear securely). Within a second they sense they are in an ear and activate with a satisfying “brummm” sound. If only put in one ear it will adjust volume and play in mono but then pop the second one in and it will adjust, sync up and move into stereo… without any effort from you. If, at any stage you take one out, the music will pause until you put it back in your ear.

Then start playing music or a podcast and your are immersed in a beautifully balanced stereo sound.

To activate Siri you simply double tap on one of the earbuds and with her (or him depending on your preference) listening you can make a phone call, ask a question, tell her to increase or decrease volume or pause play back. And speaking of making a phone call… you would be forgiven for thinking that the quality and volume of your voice would be severely compromised by the microphone only extending inches from your ears. In fact the quality for the listener is superb and Siri tends to be super accurate and responsive when using these… a sure sign that she can hear you loud and clear.

It is hard not to recommend the Bose but at nearly half the price and with the added benefit of not making you look like you have just stepped off the set of Dr. Who I think the AirPods are a sensational bargain and a fantastic companion to your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/the-best-headphones/

Oct 17

A serious and very real threat to your WIFI network

 

It has been reported that a vulnerability in every wifi network has been discovered and can be easily exploited and used to devastating affect. This is regardless of how secure your password is, in fact the hacker doesn’t even need to know what your password is, to snoop and steal information and take control.

To illustrate just how dangerous this is Apple  – who are normally rather relaxed about news like this – have already come out and stated that the latest versions of iOS (11), macOS (High Sierra) and tvOS (11) are already patched against this issue. I can only assume that firmware updates for their Airport modems will be coming soon and we will be keeping an eye on this and posting on our website and Facebook page accordingly.

So what does this all mean?

Well the guy who found and reported this issue has stated that all devices need to be patched and the first most important step is upgrading your iPhone, iPad and/or Mac to the latest OS. And this might cause some issues with your older software but whatever they are it is worth it because this is a serious and widespread breach with all kinds of consequences.

In the case of your Mac this might mean a ram upgrade or if it is a late 2009 or older – a new mac which in turn will mean data transfer.

In the case of your iPhone/iPad if it is older than an iPhone 5s you are out of luck but anything else needs to be upgraded to iOS 11 asap.

If you think you need help with any of this please drop us a line. But in any event please don’t ignore this threat because unlike most other exploits this is targeting something as widespread as your water supply without needing to care, if I can continue with the analogy, what kind of taps you have in the bathroom.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/a-serious-and-very-real-threat-to-your-wifi-network/

Oct 05

SOS feature in your iPhone

There is a very good chance that you have never actually opened the Health App on your iPhone and that is OK because detailing every KG lost or gained or graphing every bowel movement for the amusement of your doctor is not for everyone.

However, it does have one feature that is rather important and is vital for what comes next so I encourage you to grab your iPhone and read on.

1. Open your iPhone and tap on the Health app.

2. Tap on Medical ID in the bottom left hand corner and then Edit in the top right hand corner.

3. Ensure that the Show When Locked feature is set to ON and scroll further down the screen.

4. In the spaces provided fill in all the important details, the kind of details you might include in a Medical ID bracelet – the one you’ve always thought might be a good idea but have never gotten around to buying.

5. Tap on Done when finished.

This information can now be viewed by anyone – regardless if your iPhone is locked at the time or not – if they press the power button 5 times in rapid succession.

Now of course it’s worth pointing out that if you don’t want medical professionals (or anyone else) to see this info then please do the following:

  1. Open the Health app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on Medical ID in the bottom left hand corner and then Edit
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and tap on Delete Medical ID

The SOS feature has another very useful function and that is the Emergency SOS feature.

The same rapid pressing of the power button and then sliding the Emergency button to the right will allow the phone to quickly contact the emergency services via 000 and via a text message with your current location in times of need or distress.

It is worth setting up and making your family aware even if it is a feature that is -hopefully – never used.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/sos-feature-in-your-iphone/