Avoiding Star Wars The Last Jedi spoilers

Being only a few days away from The Last Jedi it’ll get harder and harder to avoid spoilers.  

Here’s how I do it

  • Stop using Twitter until you’ve seen it
  • Only use the subscriptions section of YouTube
  • Don't do a search on Instagram
  • Don’t check news sites or apps until you’ve seen it  

 

Making changes

After removing myself from Twitter and Medium I've discovered a new joy in blogging again, it had become more work due to pressure I put on myself to "make it" and the time I spent on social getting mostly annoyed by the actions of Twitter meant that I wasn't enjoying it.

Well, after installing the Squarespace Analytics app and seeing where and how people were finding me it gave me hope that I could build my audience and made me rethink my plans on what to do with the blog.

Now I'm off most social (I'm still on Instagram) I've decided to do a bit of a redesign and refocus, so...

  • A new title bar, cleaner and easy links to my other pages
  • NO MORE GOOGLE ADS, yes they are gone
  • Newsletter was a nice idea but requires too much maintenance and to do the job I want to I simply don't have the time

Now to create some content...

Thanks for reading.

Lee

Spigen Essential Wireless Charger Review

Summary: It’s a do not buy

I needed a wireless charger for my iPhone X and after looking at various brands decided to go for the Spigen. It was cheap at £14 and looked sleek and up for the job. 

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Unfortunately 10 minutes after the unboxing I was already filling out my return on Amazon.  

The provided USB cable is cheap and short, this meant that the pad was always at an angle. Glass backed iPhone + angled pad meant only one thing, it kept sliding off.  

If you use a case you’ll most likely be ok but I’d still spend a little more to get an Anker.  

Why I broke up with Twitter

I’ve been disappointed at the responses that Twitter have been giving over the past few years and slowly but surely they are doing more and more to annoy me.

I’m not going to get political in this post but their inability to act in a way that lines up with my moral compass has gotten too much for me.

I’ve enjoyed interacting with people and without Twitter I most probably wouldn’t have gotten into freelance journalism. It’s not all bad.

But at this point it’s gotten so bad for me that I can’t even use their own app without seeing something upsetting to me.

It also appears that Twitter has no moral compass based on their attitude towards acting to stop certain types of behaviour.

At the moment I’m 5 days in with no Twitter. I’ll report back on how I’m getting on.

Using an iPhone X vs an iPhone 7

Since I’ve stopped using Twitter it’s been hard sharing news updates but here goes - I’ve been using an iPhone X.

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I’m not going to go into the long and boring story of how I’m using one but suffice to say it’s been a mixed bag compared to my iPhone 7.

I want to share some thoughts on switching to an iPhone X from a 7 for those on the fence on whether to update or not.

Note: I’ve been using an iPhone X exclusively for 2 weeks, these are my thoughts in this period.

Face ID vs Touch ID

This is the first point of contention. Touch ID is simply more reliable than Face ID (for me). Yes, I had issues when I had gloves on but with the winter here in the U.K. I’m finding my gloves still come off to unlock the X. I have to swipe up.

In general use it’s pretty great and feels like I’m not using a passcode. I’d say my success rate is around 70% compared to 90% using Touch ID.

It’s definitely a step in the right direction but feels like a generation one product at this point. I’m hoping it can improve via software updates.

The duel lens camera system

It’s a game changer for me. I’ve had experience of it before when I had a plus model and always missed it when moving back to my 7. Having the best camera available to me in a form factor that works for me means I’m really enjoying taking photos with my X.

I use a DSLR but can’t take it with me all the time. Having zoom and portrait modes available to me everywhere is great.

I’ll be posting some samples soon.

In hand feel

Feels very similar to the jet black iPhone 7.

Bit wider than a 7 but been comfortable and not set my RSI off yet.

Heavier than a 7 but a nice solid feel, it doesn’t get tiresome to use.

Gesture driven iOS

It’s strange but feels like the future of iOS and reminds me of webOS (an OS I still yearn for...). Swiping up to go home is natural and app switching, once you get used to it great. Control Center sucks however, like a lot of people have already discussed in various posts and podcasts. It’s hard to reach quickly and the animation just isn’t a finished article yet. When pulling down from the right ‘ear’ it seems to go smoothly then just pop into view. I simply forget it’s there.

I’m sure this is a first attempt and will be changed in iOS 12.

The screen

It’s nice having a large screen in a smaller body. It looks like the future and the OLED used really does allow colours to pop more and blacks are, well black.

It still looks like an iPhone screen, although there is a slight colour shift off axis. This is an OLED thing not an iPhone thing. The only screen I can compare to is a Samsung one on my work provided A5, which is also OLED. The iPhone colour management is different, not necessarily better. I’d say they are both great but the Samsung seems a little more saturated than the one seen on the X.

The size isn’t used to it’s full potential though. Some of Apple’s apps (Reminders/Calendar/Mail) aren’t optimised to use it. Yes, they work and go into the ‘ears’ but with the larger screen and ‘ears’ they could be better. Reminders is the worst offender and the app animations seem broken and although I know it doesn’t get a lot of love, it just seems abandoned at this point.

Third party apps on the whole are doing a good job and all of the ones that I use on a daily basis have been used. If you are a Google user though be prepared for some hurt as Calendar and Inbox (at the time of writing) haven’t been updated.

Naked as Jony intended

I picked up Apple Care Plus for one reason, I hate cases and will most probably need a replacement within a year. At the repair costs Apple are charging it’s a must (even if you are partial to cases).

That price?

I still feel it’s on the expensive side, as I’ve said in previous posts but when I sat down and looked at the cost benefit (for me) selling other products, my freelance gadget fund and products I’m replacing these have paid for it. I initially picked it up to review, I didn’t want to completely dismiss it. As an avid photographer with some RSI issues (that a DSLR doesn’t help me with) I wanted to take a step back, calm down and open myself up to the experience. After two weeks of testing and the camera bringing a smile to my face most times I use it I ultimately decided to keep the X and sell my 7.

For me it’s all about that camera, I can’t handle a Plus (or I would be using one).

Go easy on me on this one...

So, should you upgrade?

  • If you are on a 6S, 7 or 8 and are happy with the camera you have then I would save yourself some money and stick with what you have for another year
  • If like me you can’t handle a plus and want that dual lens camera then it’ll be a good choice as long as you can justify the cost

Note: Animoji is fun but don’t buy a new phone for it :-)

EA haven’t removed micro transactions from Star Wars Battlefront 2

In a move I half expected EA announced that micro transactions are being temporarily removed from Star Wars Battlefront 2. Note the word temporarily.  

This is merely a move to take some of the heat off the game that launches today. Once the launch window is over they will be turned back on.  

This is simply a move to stop people cancelling preorders and flood the press with stories of it all being ok now.  

It’s not!

Please don’t buy this game, it’s the same as it was before this announcement.  

Did I flip flop on the iPhone X?

If you follow me on Twitter you might have noticed I ordered (and then cancelled) my iPhone X order on Friday. To be fair my bank took care of most of the work as it flagged a fraud check. The question I’ve been getting is did I change my mind?


Well, it’s complicated.


Whilst I disagree with the pricing structure I asked myself again what opportunities does it present to me and what problems does it overcome? This was in the recent light of being offered £400 for my existing phone meaning an upgrade to the X would be £599 for me. It has me rethinking as I normally spend about this much per year.


The main draw of the X for me was the camera of the Plus (I love it!) in a smaller body.


The main argument against was Apple charging as much as they have for it whilst taking away the 128GB model. I’d have to get the 64GB version this time around.


So I’m in a moral dilemma, fact of the matter is getting one on launch is going to be impossible now so in the grand scheme of things it’s not important.


Actually in the overall grand scheme of things at the moment whether I get a new phone at some point or keep my existing isn’t that important really...

Taking a break from writing

I wanted to let you all know I’m taking a break from blogging for a few months, I need to type at a keyboard for a few less hours at the moment. 

I’m planning on sharing content in different ways. Initially I’m thinking podcast and YouTube. 

Best way to keep up to date is to follow me on Twitter.  

Why I don’t recommend updating to iOS 11

I’ve been using iOS 11 since the beta and now it’s available to the public I’ve come to the conclusion there’s more downsides than up. Therefore I’m recommending you don’t update to it.

iOS 10 was a solid release, acceptable performance and a pretty consistent user experience. It just works and if you want your iOS device to continue to do this then don’t update.

Inconsistent /glitches

There’s inconsistencies of UI all over the place in iOS 11. Whilst I like the bolder more prominent header text in Apple’s own apps they cause a problem. Comparing two apps side by side shows differing spacing between them.

I’ve also experienced glitches such as data being hidden in the music app on the iPad. I’ve been raising this particular one since beta 1 and it’s in the Public release. Is someone sleeping in QA at Apple or do they just not care?

Performance problems

I get lag, from opening apps to app switching to flicking between home screens. When I’m talking about lag I mean visible stutter that take me out of the experience of using my device.

I’m on an iPhone 7 so not exactly a slow device. It’s like Apple care more about the look than feel.

Ever since iOS 7 performance hasn’t been top notch but it has been a fluid experience when using iOS. iOS 11 introduces more of these performance niggles that ruin the joy of using iOS.

Loss of features

I’ve talked about this quite a bit already but losing 3D Touch to app switch was unacceptable. To take away a feature just to benefit the highest end model of iPhone is border negligent.

Older hardware

Anything older than a latest generation iPad Pro or iPhone 7 and up should not be running iOS 11 period. If I’m seeing these performance issues on both my 10.5” iPad Pro and iPhone 7 it’s not going to be great on anything previous to it.

What to do?

Well, vote by staying on iOS 10. If Apple can see a slow adoption rate to iOS 11 they might actually take a deeper look at their software.

They might start asking why aren’t people upgrading. Hopefully when they probe a little more they will find posts like this one.

What are your thoughts on iOS 11?

What’s up with Apple’s QA team?

I’ve been writing a lot more negatively about Apple since the launch of iOS 11 and the iPhone X announcement. This isn’t like me but I need to get it off my chest and into words, it’s like therapy. 

This time I wanted to talk about my view of current QA (Quality Assurance) at Apple and try to figure out what’s going on. 

Lack of staff

The first most obvious question, do they have enough people? I’ve worked in the industry long enough to know that you need a large QA team to cover the complexities of modern software.

There are a lot of facets to test both from a look and feel perspective. Unless you have a large team something has to give. In my experience the performance of iOS isn’t a priority for Apple, so it’s form over function. This only gets you so far and even on newer hardware iOS stutters. 

This coupled with bugs I’ve raised since beta 1 still not addressed leads me to believe they simply don’t have enough people. 

I want Apple to be proactive not reactive.

Focus on the wrong type of issues

Links up with my previous point but they need some direction. 90% of my bugs raised are performance and UI, which don’t get updates very often. 

Unable to replicate

I get a lot of requests for a system diagnostic even for simple bugs. I’m getting worried something fundamental is broken in iOS if basic behaviour is different between my device and those being tested at Apple.

Trained staff

Are the staff trained to the appropriate level in development? Can they fix code issues or is everything reassigned to the development team? This introduces a bottleneck and puts more pressure on a development team that should be focussed on underlying code efficiencies. 

Testing on older devices

I like to think that Apple QA have access to a lot of older devices and test against all the platforms it supports. This will make sure that performance is acceptable for all devices. This should also mean that the underlying performance should be worked on to help with these efficiencies.

Widening it’s QA team

I feel that with the modern world a lot more companies should embrace the concept of having a portion of your staff working at home full time. Apple moving this way, specifically for it’s QA team would open up in a few ways

  • More experience: You have a larger pool of experienced QA staff to call on
  • Different point of view: You now have access to people in different countries with different values, having a diverse QA team would I believe give a more rounded view of iOS
  • Grow the team: You have a lot of money in the bank, why not expand the QA team, with remote working you can do this

So here’s my pennies worth on where I think the QA team at Apple is, I am probably 100% wrong but as someone on the outside that has worked for various software companies it’s where I feel Apple are right now.

 

 

iOS 11.0.1

Just a week after iOS 11 it’s nice to see Apple giving us 11.0.1 already. Seems it fixes a known MS Office bug but it seems to have more under the hood. 

On my iPhone 7 performance seems better, bit more responsive. Apps also don’t take up to a minute to delete anymore.

Go to settings, general and software update.

 

 

Offering better value for money in the iPhone X

If you’ve been following me on Twitter you’ll know that I’m not the biggest fan of the iPhone X. I feel that pricing it where they have is making some uses move onto payment plans and take out unnecessary credit to get it. It also sets a precedence that if you want the best iPhone available you have to spend over £1000.  

Regardless of what I think Apple doesn’t care about that, it’s a business looking after it’s bottom line. We have to remember that under Tim Cook profits and revenue is soaring and wherever they can make money off us loyal users they will. Between watch bands and dongles it’s pretty obvious that Apple sometimes takes away practically to give itself an avenue to make more money.

I’m still sceptical about the loss of the headphone jack. It sometimes feels like it was just a way to sell AirPods. Regardless we are here to talk about the iPhone X.  

With the introduction of the X, Apple has a line up that starts at £349 and tops out at £1,149. That’s got a lot of bases covered and I think that it’s a great range of iPhones to cater for most needs. 

On paper that range seems ok, but where I feel Apple is taking us for a ride is when we get to looking at value for money. Someone smarter than me could explain why Apple have dropped the 128GB storage option for both the 8 and X. 

128GB is a great middle ground and proved best value for money in my opinion. Most people use iCloud and some kind of streaming music service but not everyone stores their pictures in the cloud. Offering 64GB as a starting point on the 8 and X, which both offer high quality video and pictures isn’t enough and just forces people to spend that extra £150 to get 256GB.

Offering an iPhone with just 64GB at £999 isn’t good value for money. 

This problem could go away with one simple change. Apple should offer you as much free storage as you need to store all of your photos, just like Google. 

Offering this service would be a good initiative to get more users backing up their photos but also take away the need for a lot of us (me included) to spend money on extra storage we might not need. 

What do you think?