iOS 5.1 Update Now Available

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iOS5 is now available for updating on your iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. It offers several new features, and it's a recommended upgrade.

Here's what you get:

  1. Japanese language support for Siri
  2. Photos can now be deleted from Photo Stream
  3. Camera shortcut now always visible on Lock Screen for iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (4th generation)
  4. Camera face detection now highlights all detected faces
  5. Redesigned Camera app for iPad
  6. Genius Mixes and Genius playlists for iTunes Match subscribers
  7. Audio for TV shows and movies on iPad optimized to sound louder and clearer
  8. Podcast controls for playback speed and a 30 second rewind for iPad
  9. Updated AT&T network indicator
  10. Addresses bugs affecting battery life
  11. Fixes an issue that occasionally caused audio to drop for outgoing calls

We had no trouble updating via Over The Air, but we have heard some reports of folks trying to do this update via iTunes at this time.




Streaming on the iPad and iPhone - Lots of Options, Still Not Enough.

Online TV isn't  à la carte, but it sure is getting close. Even though I do pay for cable (Comcast) I still subscribe to several other online streaming services. I don't know why - I like having the option I guess. I've always been somewhat of a collector of TV stuff. I used to save the TV Guide every week when I was a little kid. I did have other books, but I liked having a stack 4 feet tall by the end of the year. But I digress.


My Monthly Subscriptions:

  • Comcast Cable w/ HBO
  • Netflix
  • Hulu Plus
  • Dish Network w/ Starz, HBO, and Cinemax
  • TiVo

These alone provide tens of thousands of choices.

On top of that, I have apps that allow streaming from NBC, HBO GO, Cinemax GO, Epix, EyeTV, TNT, PBS, TBS, NBC, TWIT, Encore, Starz, MoviePlex, XFINITY (similar to offerings on Dish), Crackle, and a couple more.

To bring some of it under control, I use the AOL TV and Fanhattan apps on the iPad. They don't list whats on on all of these services, but they hit some of the majors - at least enough to give me a show to watch and easy access to it.

With all of these services I bet you think I'm a movie junkie or TV show junkie. I used to be when I was younger, but now I'm pretty happy to watch ESPN and The Peoples Court. And little sprinkling of Survivor, Modern Family, Fear Factor, How Stuffs Made, Big Bang Theory, and ESPN U.

Unfortunately at this time ESPN isn't streaming to my iPhone or iPad since I am a Comcast customer - this is only for a select few cable companies. The good news is that Comcast is on the list and should be offering some live streaming (at least with Disney owned networks) soon.

Hopefully Comcast will make some headway with agreements for streaming all or most of their channels within your own home, and essentially my iPad or iPhone will become a second television set. Cox Cable, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FIOS and others are already doing this. Since Comcast is behind the curve on this one, to make up for their lack of in-home streaming I currently use an EyeTV device and application to make this happen, but it's just 'ok', and doesn't provide me with the higher quality streams I would like or my premium digital channels.

Another issue is that not all of these services (I'm talking to you HULU Plus) make ALL of their content available to the app. I missed Fear Factor the other night and immediately went to Hulu Plus to watch it on my iPad. What? Streaming ONLY on the WEB (and they don't mean the iPad web)! How dare you Hulu.  I quickly resolved this issue by launching the NBC App on my iPad, and sure enough, I was able to stream it just fine. I wish all of these licensing issues and power struggles would go away. A guy can dream.

The good news is that while these services may not be providing an elegant all in one solution, they are providing something. Take for example Showtime or The Movie Channel -- I haven't seen any such offerings from them. They have an app on the App store, but it seems to be merely promotional, only offering 'clips'. This is why they are second tier channels -- and will continue to be until they get with the program ( to speak).

So, to recap -- I subscribe to too much TV which I don't have the time to watch. That's really the main reason I do - convenience. I want it when I want it, no matter where I am. If I can fit in an episode of Modern Family while I'm waiting for my wife in the car -- that's exactly why I pay this subscription convenience fee. Several of my online friends seem to be cutting the cord - and that is exactly why all of  the cable companies are making you stay subscribed so that you can have access to their streaming content.  No pay - no shows. I am going to cut the cord this summer -- at least for cable TV and read an iBook.

Restore Data, Pictures, and more from iOS Applications

As iOS 5 approaches,  I would like to start fresh and no longer sync my iPhone & iPad to my iMac as my primary, and use my notebook instead. As I was looking for ways to do this without losing data, as some apps don't sync to the cloud, I need some methods to recover data from applications.

For example, I routinely scan in receipts using 'JotNot Pro', a wonderful scanning utility for the iPhone. I typically scan receipts, upload them to Evernote, and also save a local copy. The local copy is what I want to transfer over after my clean install so I will still have that data inside of the application in case I need to look something up and can't get online.

In fact, JotNot Pro is just one, there are several applications that I want to grab that data from -- Nike +, numerous high scores and saves from games, etc. As I've been working on a way to do this, I think I found a few cool utilities with the help of an easy to follow article from iSource.

Note: Before you start, if you have encrypted backups enabled, you may want to consider creating at least one unencrypted backup to get the full use of the utilities below. Use your own discretion on this, but your mileage may vary if you are working with encrypted backups.


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iPhone/iPod Touch Backup Extractor - This application lets you extract the data from your backups that are created each time you sync to iTunes. You can extract the data for each application with this app.

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iExplorer - This little app lets you browse your iOS device as if it was a USB Flash drive. You can scan through all of the files and folders and copy what you need.

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Picturescue - This app scans the backups from all of the iOS devices you have synced to iTunes and lets you extract the photos from them. Perfect for when you have lost your phone or it has been broken. Easy to use interface, and it works as advertised, but it is not FREE.  However, if you want your precious memories back, can you really put a price on that? For $4.99, this app is a steal and worth every penny. Note -- if you do encrypted backups, this is not going to work. That's why you do encrypted backups.. So some nefarious person that has stolen you iPhone can't do this.

I've made all of these 'must have' apps for that 'just in case' scenario. You know -- Just in case I lose my phone, just in case it breaks, or just in case I want to do a clean install. As a suite, they have enabled me to accomplish my main goal -- backup up the data and being able to restore specific pieces of information into a clean install. It's not for the novice, but then again, it's not rocket science...

Q&A from Apple Regarding iPhone Tracking

Apple Q&A on Location Data

CUPERTINO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Apple would like to respond to the questions we have recently received about the gathering and use of location information by our devices.

1. Why is Apple tracking the location of my iPhone?
Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.

2. Then why is everyone so concerned about this?
Providing mobile users with fast and accurate location information while preserving their security and privacy has raised some very complex technical issues which are hard to communicate in a soundbite. Users are confused, partly because the creators of this new technology (including Apple) have not provided enough education about these issues to date.

3. Why is my iPhone logging my location?
The iPhone is not logging your location. Rather, it’s maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone, to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested. Calculating a phone’s location using just GPS satellite data can take up to several minutes. iPhone can reduce this time to just a few seconds by using Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data to quickly find GPS satellites, and even triangulate its location using just Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data when GPS is not available (such as indoors or in basements). These calculations are performed live on the iPhone using a crowd-sourced database of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data that is generated by tens of millions of iPhones sending the geo-tagged locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple.

4. Is this crowd-sourced database stored on the iPhone?
The entire crowd-sourced database is too big to store on an iPhone, so we download an appropriate subset (cache) onto each iPhone. This cache is protected but not encrypted, and is backed up in iTunes whenever you back up your iPhone. The backup is encrypted or not, depending on the user settings in iTunes. The location data that researchers are seeing on the iPhone is not the past or present location of the iPhone, but rather the locations of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers surrounding the iPhone’s location, which can be more than one hundred miles away from the iPhone. We plan to cease backing up this cache in a software update coming soon (see Software Update section below).

5. Can Apple locate me based on my geo-tagged Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data?
No. This data is sent to Apple in an anonymous and encrypted form. Apple cannot identify the source of this data.

6. People have identified up to a year’s worth of location data being stored on the iPhone. Why does my iPhone need so much data in order to assist it in finding my location today?
This data is not the iPhone’s location data—it is a subset (cache) of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database which is downloaded from Apple into the iPhone to assist the iPhone in rapidly and accurately calculating location. The reason the iPhone stores so much data is a bug we uncovered and plan to fix shortly (see Software Update section below). We don’t think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days of this data.

7. When I turn off Location Services, why does my iPhone sometimes continue updating its Wi-Fi and cell tower data from Apple’s crowd-sourced database?
It shouldn’t. This is a bug, which we plan to fix shortly (see Software Update section below).

8. What other location data is Apple collecting from the iPhone besides crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data?
Apple is now collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database with the goal of providing iPhone users an improved traffic service in the next couple of years.

9. Does Apple currently provide any data collected from iPhones to third parties?
We provide anonymous crash logs from users that have opted in to third-party developers to help them debug their apps. Our iAds advertising system can use location as a factor in targeting ads. Location is not shared with any third party or ad unless the user explicitly approves giving the current location to the current ad (for example, to request the ad locate the Target store nearest them).

10. Does Apple believe that personal information security and privacy are important?
Yes, we strongly do. For example, iPhone was the first to ask users to give their permission for each and every app that wanted to use location. Apple will continue to be one of the leaders in strengthening personal information security and privacy.

Software Update

Sometime in the next few weeks Apple will release a free iOS software update that:

  • reduces the size of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database cached on the iPhone,
  • ceases backing up this cache, and
  • deletes this cache entirely when Location Services is turned off.

In the next major iOS software release the cache will also be encrypted on the iPhone.

iOS 4.3 Released Early!

Apple released the latest edition of their portable device operating system, iOS 4.3. It brings minor updates and bug fixes compared to the 4.2 update, but you will certainly want to upgrade to it. They have not released it for the Verizon iPhone 4 yet, but I can only imagine that it will be coming out shortly. 

Highlights include enhanced 'Airplay' performance and features. You can now stream content from your iOS device to your Apple TV, and also stream videos from your photo app. 

Safari browsing should be sped up a little since it is now using the Nitro JavaScript engine, so interactive sites will appear much faster. 

The iTunes Home Sharing update allows you to play your entire iTunes library from anywhere in the house. If it's on your Mac or PC, you can now watch or listen to it on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. This has been missing for quite awhile and I'm glad to see it available. 

If you have the iPhone 4, you can now use the personal Wi-Fi hotspot if you choose to pay AT&T or Verizon the extra cost for it. It allows you to share your iPhone 4 internet connection with up to 3 wireless devices or 5 total devices if three are wireless and the other two can be USB or Bluetooth. 

Many of these features rely on you having the latest iTunes 10.2.1, so be sure you upgrade to it before you install iOS 4.3 so you can take advantage of all of the features.