Change, especially in iPhones, is Inevitable

There are some people who love change for its own sake. Perhaps they even need it or crave it, not because it improves anything, but just because it’s different. But most people don’t like change.

We accept change, but usually with a cost-benefit analysis attached. If we change this, will it improve the experience or make it worse? If I move from this town to another, will living in the new town be better? Will my new job be better? Is it better for me to pay a lot of money for a new car or should I just keep driving my old car that needs repairs?

We are the same way with our technology. I like my old Blackberry with its physical keyboard; why should I go with a new iPhone with a virtual keyboard on glass? My 3.5” screen smartphone is perfectly adequate. That 4” screen is too big.

And that’s the other thing about change: We get used to the change. A new car feels new and exciting… for a few weeks. But then it becomes routine. A new house is an adventure… until it gets filled with our stuff and we sleep, wake, eat, clean and live in it for weeks.

Again, the same is true for our technology as well. When I was contemplating upgrading from my old iPhone 5 (4” screen) to the iPhone 6 (4.7” screen) or 6 Plus (5.5” screen) , I though the 6 Plus would be too big. All the tech press and reviewers talked about how big it was in the hand and too big for some people. I dithered and dallied, but I finally went for the big phone. And it seemed so big at first.

But now, it’s just the size of my phone. I got used to it. Although when I hold Melanie’s old iPhone 4 in my hand it seems so tiny. I can’t believe I ever used a phone that small. So not only do we get used to the change, but it change our perception of how things used to be.

If there’s one truth about technology, it’s that it’s always changing. Apple announced new iPhones this week and one of the changes is the loss of the headphone port. People are freaking out about it. This is a big change for people.

There is no more personal technology today than our mobile phones and apart from taking photos and sending messages, perhaps the most common use is listening to or watching content on them, usually with headphones. This change goes right into the comfort zone so there needs to be a big benefit to such a big change.

I don’t know if Apple has yet provided a sufficient rationale for how it will benefit users. But the reality is that the iPhone is the most popular phone on the planet. People will buy it by the millions. Adjusting to the loss of the headphone port will take some time. Some people will hate it. Some will go to Android phones to avoid the change (which will be a change in itself). Some competitors will tout the lack of a change in their phones as a reason to buy them.

But people will get used to the change eventually. And in a couple of years, perhaps even as few as one year, hardly anyone will complain about it. Phones without 100-year-old analog ports will be the new normal and seeing a phone with one will seem odd.

It’s just the way human nature is.

iPhone 7? Watch Series 2? Will I Buy One (or Both)?

I sometimes forget that not everyone obsessively follows all news and rumors related to Apple, especially for the new iPhone 7 and Apple Watch series 2, and so I’m surprised at the strong reactions to news that Apple is eliminating the headphone jack on their new phone. I suppose I had my strong visceral reaction against it months ago and have come to terms.1

In all honesty, I hardly every use the headphone jack anyway, preferring Bluetooth headphones and speakers. So when the new iPhone 7 comes along, the loss of the jack doesn’t mean much.

But Apple also needs to do a better job of letting people know that they’re still getting wired headphones in the box with the iPhone 7. I was watching the news and the people on the street kept saying they weren’t interested in the new wireless AirPods (at $159!) so weren’t sure about the iPhone 7.

Wait a minute! Apple is still including headphones with a Lightning port connector instead of a headphone jack, which actually is better. That’s not Apple fan “drinking the Kool-Aid”, but objectively true: The Lightning port provides digital audio without having to go through and analog conversion like the old port did and it provides more options for controlling the phone. And if you aren’t ready to ditch your third-party headphones with the old 1/4-inch jack, they’ve put an adapter in the box, too.
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Why does Apple inflict Split View on us?

Every time I use Apple’s split-screen multitasking on my iPad or iPhone I ask why would they do this to us? I don’t mean letting us use two apps side-by-side, especially on an iPad. That’s wonderful and long overdue. No, I mean why did they only half-bake it?

The user interface for choosing the second app is so bad it’s almost incomprehensible. It’s like no one in Apple ever tested it. As soon as you open the special app picker for the second app, you get a scrolling list of apps that support split view.

Except it’s in no discernible order, whether alphabetical or where it’s installed on the iPad or anything. And there’s no search so you can just type in the name of the app you want. No, you have to scroll and scroll and scroll, looking for the app, hoping you don’t blink as it goes by. I think this could only be worse if the picker scrolled itself at high speed and you had to tap on the app as it went by.

Apple is supposed to be the “every little detail” company, but once in a while you get glitches like this and wonder how it got through.

Apple’s Jackless new iPhones

I’m going out on a limb to predict what I think will be a major new feature in the next iPhone. For months, rumor sites have predicted that the new iPhone will no longer have a headphone jack. At first it seemed far-fetched, but with the intensity of the rumors now, it seems all but inevitable.

Why get rid of one of the oldest and most ubiquitous elements of consumer audio electronics?1 Long story, short: It eliminates a hole in the device that lets in dirt, dust, and water. And like floppy disks in their day, everyone agrees that it’s reached its peak performance, but no one wants to get rid of it.

So far, most of the rumors have assumed that either Apple will provide ear buds that connect to the Lightning port or they will include Bluetooth wireless headphones. The problem with the Lightning port is that you then lose the use of the Lightning port. No more charging while listening! And most people agree that while Bluetooth is okay, it’s nowhere near as reliable and simple to use as wired headphones.

But there’s a third way. What if Apple has created a new wireless audio standard, a new technology that provides simple pairing and rock solid audio quality. Great! Except then you have a new incompatible standard and you have to replace all your headphones, etc. Okay, but what if they also make Bluetooth work better too?

Here’s what I think will happen. Apple will unveil this new wireless audio standard (let’s call it Beats Wireless Audio). They will include earbuds (from their Beats subsidiary) that use this new wireless tech in the box. For those who wish to continue to use Bluetooth wireless headphones (and car audio and portable speakers, etc.), they will include one of the newer versions of Bluetooth that are better than what we have now in the iPhone 6s, but not as good as their new wireless tech. And going out on a limb here, they will make available for sale an adapter that allows the old headphones to attach to the Lightning port.

Then Beats will roll out a whole line of Beats Wireless Audio headsets. What do you think? Check back with me in September and see how I did.

  1. It was invented in the 19th century!

Those iPhone spy photos are not iPhone spy photos

I keep seeing links to photos and even videos of the “iPhone 7” that Apple is undoubtedly going to sell this fall, but which is still unannounced and held in secret. They invariably lend credence to the various rumors that (a) the headphone jack will be removed, (b) the camera bulge will be bigger, (c) there will be a Smart Connector on the back, and so on.

Here’s why this is all bunk. For one thing, Apple is insane about secrecy for upcoming products. I’ve heard stories about the software developers chosen to write software for the then-unannounced iPad, of Apple employees walking into developers’ offices with pre-release hardware with cases chained to their wrists, akin to the nuclear football. The developers were required to have a windowless room with a table inside bolted to the floor in which a locking system of Apple’s specification was installed. The door to the room was to have an electronic security lock on it to which only a certain number of employees have access. The iPad, in a special secure case, would be secured to the table at all times, never to leave the room. No phones or cameras were to be allowed in the room. And so on.

Yes, Apple is insane about security. So where are all these photos and now even videos coming from? What you need to know about China is that you can buy nearly perfect knockoffs of everything, including fake iPhones that look nearly identical to the real thing, right down to the Apple logo on the back, except they run a version of Android that looks sort of like iOS.

I’m convinced that this is what we’re seeing. The manufacturers of fake iPhones have to create mockups of the new iPhone 7 ahead of time in order to get them out the door when the real thing launches. So they’re combing the same rumor sites we are and mocking up their new phones based on those rumors. Then in an ironic twist, the rumor sites “confirm” their rumors based on the mocked-up fakes that were based on their rumors in the first place!

We’ll know what the new iPhone 7 looks like when Apple reveals it. Yes, it’s fun to speculate and look for juicy advance info, but don’t get too worked up over any of the rumors, like the elimination of the headphone jack, until it actually happens. Because it isn’t real yet.

Pokemon Uh-Oh

If you’re one of the hundreds of millions of people playing Pokemon Go on your iPhone and you set it up using your Gmail account, be aware that you now have a huge security vulnerability:

Let me be clear – Pokemon Go and Niantic can now:

* Read all your email
* Send email as you
* Access all your Google drive documents (including deleting them)
* Look at your search history and your Maps navigation history
* Access any private photos you may store in Google Photos
* And a whole lot more

What’s more, given the use of email as an authentication mechanism (think “Forgot password” links) they now have a pretty good chance of gaining access to your accounts on other sites too.

That isn’t to say that something will happen to you, but it could. So you should weigh whether continuing to play the game at this point is worth potentially having this happen to you.

An App for Tracking Your Children’s Ailments

Finally. For years, Melanie and I have bemoaned the lack of an app to help parents track their children’s sicknesses over time, like heir temperatures and what medicine you gave them and when. It’s especially difficult when you’ve been up all night and you have multiple kids sick at once. And then you’ve both been giving out the meds.

It looks like Feevy is the answer.

The app lets you track a child’s temperature on a graph over time, so if you take their temperature every few hours, you can go back over all of your recent readings and see if their temperature is holding steady, trending up, or trending down at a glance. You can also add things like medications that you’ve given them and when, so you make sure not to give them too much in too short a time period, and add notes about how your child is feeling at various intervals.

It lets you sync the data with someone else as well! It’s $2 right now. iPhone and iPad only.

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