Stopping my use of Google services

Opinion, Tech

I’ve been thinking a lot about my data, where it’s sat and which companies I trust or more importantly line up with my morals. Google is one I’ve wrestled with for a while but I’ve decided to delete my account over the next few months. I’ve stopped checking my gmail and signed out of YouTube everywhere but now I need to make some concrete plans to remove myself or stop using it until they change their attitude.

I’ve been following the Center for humane technology for a while but listening to their podcast really got me thinking about how companies are pushing for attention biased on the extreme and negative. YouTube recommendations are terrible at this and being signed out is even worse. I can no longer give Google my views when it can’t take any responsibility for its algorithm. Check out the latest episode of their podcast which is a great resource if you’re interested in why I’m not it’s biggest fan. Content creators I’ve followed for a while are now sucked into this arms race for negative content, which YouTube keeps on rewarding (I’m still glad I stopped trying to build a following there, I couldn’t have done this).

I’ll get off my soap box now, just wanted to share my thoughts on removing or pausing my account, I’m not expecting anyone to follow.

Struggling with FaceID

Opinion, Tech

It’s not a new topic for me but after switching back to my XS from the iPhone 7 I instantly got frustrated with FaceID. I was out and about and with the UK getting some sun (a rare occurrence these days) I was outside. FaceID failed 100% of the time (on iOS 12) and I instantly remembered why I liked using the iPhone 7 so much. I returned the iPhone 7 as I couldn’t justify keeping with the new iPhone launch so close but depending on what gets released this year I may be going back.

I long for the time when we get TouchID back as an under screen fingerprint reader but I have to admit I struggle to see this coming. Unless it’s free with the screen that Apple manufactures in a later iPhone but I feel that FaceID is here to stay.

That’s saddens me as someone that isn’t convinced by the technology. I don’t want to compare to Samsung but there’s something nice about having a device with multiple ways to authenticate.

What do you think? Do you love FaceID? Would you like multiple options?

My hopes for WWDC 2019

Opinion, Tech

We are only a matter of weeks away from WWDC so I wanted to (as it traditional) jot down some thoughts on what I’d like to see from Apple.

IOS

As you know I use iOS as my operating system of choice and use it many times a day be it consuming or creating content. The hardware that I use the most is the iPad Pro 10.5” along with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard cover. Using it day in day out I’ve got an appreciation of what it does and more importantly what I’d like to see improved.

Productivity

There are enough rumours to make me believe that we are indeed getting a new Reminders app and a small (most probably) update to Mail. I use the Apple Mail app for managing my iCloud and Gmail accounts and to be honest it does everything I want it to. I’m not a power user of mail, I hardly use it to be honest these days but seeing Apple put some effort into their own app would be a positive. I’m more intrigued by the reimagined Reminders app and it certainly stands out as an app that needs an update, something I don’t think it’s seen for 5 years since iOS 7. It’s full (in my use) of UI bugs and if you try to use it on the Mac it’s even worse. I’ll be so happy to see it finally getting some love. It’ll be interesting to see how much it’s changed and if it can finally be my go to productivity app of choice.

The TODAY view could do with a bit of a clean up and I still get UI glitches but I’m not sure if that’s Apple or the third party developer.

Dark all the things

Dark mode on iOS will be interesting, most of the apps I use are in dark mode so being able to see the system in this mode will be great. I constantly blow my eyeballs out when I’m in apps at night and open up Messages to reply to something.

Audio enhancements

When I did a podcast I was ok on my own but when I guested I always used my MAC, I’d like some audio enhancements to allow me to record my local audio plus talk to someone on SKYPE for example.

Apple to embrace external keyboards on iPad

It’s bad how little the keyboard is being used in some of the Apple apps, the main offender for me is Photos. Every time I use it I get annoyed that I can’t use the left and right arrow to scroll through images. I’ve raised a radar with Apple but to be honest I can’t see how anyone using the iPad for any length of time and an external keyboard wouldn’t get frustrated with this one.

Ability to shoot in RAW using the in built camera app

Yes third party apps are great but I’d like to at least see a little toggle in the camera app that allows me to toggle RAW. This can be hidden somewhere in the settings not to confuse but it would be a good addition to the app (for me anyways).

Apple Music knows what I’ve downloaded

Every time I set up a new device I have to manually (remember) and download each album that I’ve downloaded in the past. I’d love it to ask me on first start up ‘Do you want to re-download all of your music you did in the last backup’. The iPad interface also needs a bit of work to clear up some of the UI glitches that I still encounter.

WatchOS

Generally I’m happy with watchOS and it’s been improved at a good rate of pace but I’d like to see:

Native sleep tracking

I can’t believe we are on the 6th iteration of the OS and we don’t have native sleep tracking yet. It’s the one question I get from anyone looking to move from a Fitbit.

More options or Third Party Watch Faces

When series 4 launched we got two new ones but it broke some of the older ones, such as changing the bottom complication on Utility to be more rounded. I’m not sure where I stand on third party ones but I’d at least like Apple to put a bit more effort into their own ones.

Dynamic Complications

I try not to use too many complications but it would be nice to have dynamic ones, what I mean is if there isn’t a timer set for example it changes to a secondary one like the current weather.

Keeping my fingers crossed for a big one this year.

Why I deleted YouTube from my devices and stopped using the service

apps, Opinion, Tech

YouTube has become worse for me over the last few years both as a distraction (all on me) and becoming a hive of negativity, humble brags, encouraging people to waste money and fake theories. It was a real eye opener when I used it signed out for a week but worse than that my own suggestions are also polluted with these same videos and awful thumbnails.

YouTube’s algorithm for encouraging this kind of content has gotten out of hand and I don’t want to be part of it. As I’ve written before I’m glad I stopped growing my channel about 7 years ago now I’ve seen what content YouTube encourages you to create. The way to grow is to be extreme!

I thought that I have my subscriptions that I mostly enjoy and as long as I only use it on our TV watching only those things I think I’ll be ok but when the app defaults to recommend and the first thing I see is “how I blew £2000 at (insert store name here)” I’d had enough. The content I watch I can get in podcast form so I’ve just subscribed to the podcast feed in Overcast instead.

I’ve now deleted it off all of my iOS devices, unsubscribed to all channels and deleted my account from our LG TV.

Switching to the iPad full time (an update)

Opinion, Tech

I realised by doing a bit more podcasting I’d neglected to keep everyone updated on my thoughts of switching to the iPad a bit more regularly on my blog. I’m going to try to (remember!) to do this every few months going forward.

First off, let’s talk about the hardware. I’m still using my 10.5” iPad Pro along with Smart Keyboard cover and pencil. I’ve documented a few places now that I’m on my third one this year (all covered by Apple Care +). I’m not worried about reliability and so glad I picked up the warranty, I’d recommend everyone budgeting for it. My only new addition is the Moko case, which is a plastic shell for the back with a Smart Cover attached to cover the front. It’s cheap and works really well, not being a fan of cases this is high praise.

App wise I’m still using the same core set. Marvel Unlimited, Noteability, Ferrite, LumaFusion and Apple Notes.

I still love the flexibility of the iPad. I can switch positions to help with RSI, I can use the keyboard cover when I want to write something longer form and can use the pencil to make notes or doodle.

I’m not feeling the same limitations that some do with this transition and most certainly can do my work on iOS. I’ve settled in well with iOS over the years and now when I use my Mac (for photo backups) I find myself becoming more frustrated with its startup and traditional mouse/keyboard layout, this is something I’ve only noticed in the last year.

So, as an update I’m loving being on iOS and don’t see myself switching back anytime soon.

Removing your smart TV from the internet

Opinion, Tech

I’ve been using my LG Smart TV for a year or so and before that a Sony but never before considered if I should actually leave it connected to the internet or not. In 2019 I’m starting to think more about where my data is being sent and only using cloud services that I trust. In reading through the terms and conditions of my LG it’s so hard to figure out what is and isn’t being done and sent so I decided to remove it completely from being able to talk to the mothership.

After I logged out of Google etc on the TV apps I made sure I had the latest software update and then disabled WiFi. I am thinking of removing the WiFi details completely but for now just turning off WiFi should be enough.

Instead I’m going to be using the Apple TV for everything streaming. It has all the apps I need and I trust Apple.

I may be being paranoid but for me I feel more comfortable with it not transmitting everything I’m doing. Yes, I’ll need to enable for software updates periodically but I won’t be constantly connected.

Don’t use an Apple Store for servicing your products

Opinion, Tech

Over the last year I’ve come to the realisation that I don’t actually like going to the Apple store. I used to go weekly as it was close to work and found browsing for 10 mins to be a pleasant experience but stood in line for an already late running genius appointment I had an epiphany, I dislike getting service at an Apple store these days. It took me a while to realise it but in the last few years it’s become somewhere I dread going.

Today at Apple

At my local store there isn’t a great deal of space and in the last few months what space there was to wait for an appointment has been taken up with today at Apple spaces. I’m not knocking Apple for running courses, it’s great but not all stores have the space for it. I found I was just loitering next to the guy doing the course, not ideal for either of us.

Online and in store are two different businesses

Maybe not technically but it certainly feels like it. Over the last few years I’ve been sent to the Apple Store by online only to be turned away. Most recently I had a problem with my leather loop band and was told online to go to the store to swap it out. On turning up I was told there were no appointments and online shouldn’t have sent me to the store. If online tell you to go in store make sure you don’t or take a record of the conversation. In my experience if it’s online then stay online don’t try to get service in store.

Appointment availability

This is slowly getting worse in my area, if online try to book for you or you do it yourself then it can sometimes be two weeks before you can get something. It’s worth noting if you go early without an appointment you should be ok getting same day if it’s emergency like a smashed screen.

Running tests

Regardless of any tests run online the genius will need to run them again. If you’re even thinking about going in store just go don’t attempt to resolve online first.

Forget it if you have an Apple Watch issue

The stores can’t do much when it comes to the Apple Watch, it’s better to deal with this via online.

My advice – stick to online

After this realisation I decided that I’ll only deal with Apple support online and avoid their stores as much as humanly possible.

I’ve had a few issues with my iPad and series 4 Apple Watch and dealing with online is much easier. Often it follows this process

  • Chat online with their staff
  • A box is sent next day via courier
  • Pack up your device and take it to the courier the same day
  • It’ll go to Apple that same day, be looked at next day and typically you get it the day after that. So about a 3 day turn around, which I think is great

The only exception that would get me to a store is a broken screen.

What are your experiences of using an Apple Store at the moment?