Tuesday, November 30, 2010

3rd Party and Safari Video Support Coming to Airplay according to MacRumors...

I was a very disappointed individual last week following the update of the iPhone to iOS 4.2.  Airplay, the major "selling point" of the upgrade lacked the major punch that I was expecting - streaming many different forms of data to the Apple TV.  I was particularly interested in not having to recompile all of my .AVI or .XVID files to .MV4 or .MP4 so that the Apple TV could read them.  Granted I have 65% of my video library encoded in the latter two formats, I have found that converting to .AVI, particularly in Windows is a lot quicker.  The files have decreased in size lately, but are still quite usable.  Many are videos from 10 years ago that I have wanted to store on a large media server for posterity to play whenever I needed.

Today, if the reports are true, and they invariably run the course of believable to crazy, there is a report that Steve Jobs - the CEO of Apple - may indeed allow 3rd party applications -ie. AirVideo, VLC, OPlayer - to share in streaming to the Apple TV.  Currently these apps will only send sound to the device but without video.  The report is in the form of a letter presumably emailed from Mr. Jobs to the sender.

The letter is enclosed, but for a full review, please go to Macrumors.com, particularly the link MacRumors Link to Letter presumed to be from Mr. Steve Jobs

(Letter originally shown at MacRumors.com).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My thoughts on iOS 4.2 thus far......

I had hoped to not be sucked into the Reality Distortion Field,  but it happened.  The Steve Jobs presentation of an iPhone shooting video directly to the AppleTV was too much for me.  With the blogosphere going crazy last week when 4.2 was not released, I grew excited.  But this morning I have begun to have buyers' remorse.  Yes, I know it was a free update, but I have remorse none the less.   It seems that my favorite company is guilty of doing something that Dell has begun doing recently:  Overpromising and Underdelivering.  It is unusual, but it has happened.  As I pressed the buttons of my iPhone in excitement, I soon began to realize that my happiness should never revolve around a gadget.  With that, here are my views on a few of the salient updates:

1.  Codec limitations on streaming.

     This was supposed to be the most insane thing available.  The thing that would make Apple exceed Google in the cool factor arena.  The thing that would just drive sales of this device out the window.  The ability to use 3rd party apps that support codecs outside of .mp4, .mv, .mov finally being allowed to coexist with their Quicktime partners and streamed to the Apple TV.   The easing was found on the iPad first, then on the iPhone and iPodTouch devices over the past 8 weeks.  For a brief moment I thought that hell had frozen over and the chain had finally been broken.  But alas NO!  Using VLC or OVideo, both of which play Xvid and AVI as well as MP4, MV and MOV to stream to the AppleTV will only give you sound but no video.  I don't think that this is an engineering issue since VLC and OVideo were able to do it without a glitch on the phone.  But it gets worse!   Even Apple's own iMovie found on the iPhone will not stream to the AppleTV, nor will any movies stored in the Photo Library.   Now that makes no sense at all !!   And again, I am left feeling completely frustrated by what could have been a major leap in innovation for this company.

2.  SMS Ringtones.

      I know many in healthcare have been clamoring for this.  This is the Pager - Breaker.  Place a good Ringtone on an incoming message from the hospital switchboard or the floor and you're set.  But alas, this was not "the cat's meow."  The ringtones are a set of Hollywood tones that have no meaning to me at all.  There is no ability to draft a beeper sound or any custom tones.

3.  AirPrint.

     Airprint is also a major disappointment.  I was so excited that Apple went this route and opened up printing to almost all printers, but then I read the fine print.  Only available to wireless printers and only a handful.  I have a network printer which an app called e-Print finds very easily, but Apple's Airprint doesn't even recognize it. 

The printing feature is so major that I wonder how many people will remain quiet about it.   Even with the use of an Airport Base Station, Airprint still does not recognize the printer. 

4.  Proximity Sensor Issue.

     Can you believe that this has not been fixed yet?  I was so disappointed by this earlier tonight as I spoke to a Radiologist about a test result.  Not knowing that it had not been fixed, I struggled trying to press the Speaker Phone button, resorting to my "Keep the Home Button Pressed" technique that I wrote about earlier.   This is clearly begining to feel like a Hardware issue,  perhaps from an IC that can or cannot be re programmed.  Is it some logical statement written in the software or a hardware switch issue?  Right now, it's annoying to have spent this much money on a device and have to put up with this.

5.  Notes with new fonts.

     I have no complaints about this one.  I think that this is a great idea.  Although I have found myself using Notemaster a lot more, the simple Notes app still serves its purpose.  Perhaps we could see folders next for this little puppy?

6.   ICS Calendar Invitations.

     Finally more cohesiveness with Microsoft and the ability to import ICS calendars, something that should have been done a long time ago.  But I am happy for this one.

7.   Close all Apps button.

      No, you won't find it anywhere it doesn't exist,  it was just something that I thought would be nice to have.  I don't need to have all of the apps that I opened in a rested state of meiosis all of the time.  It eats up memory.

8.    Facetime from different modes. 
      Facetime from an SMS message is nice.

9.     Find My iPhone.

      I have not installed this yet, but I probably will this weekend.  Seems logical particularly if you have important data on your machine.   However, there is a little voice inside my head that asks, "will this be abused?"  Giving a hacker carte-blanche details of my whereabouts seems a little eery, but if you're at a party or a bar (wink :)), this program is a God send.

These are my initial thoughts on iOS 4.2 thus far.  Slightly disappointed that Apple did not hit the ball out of the ballpark with this one.  DLNA is right around the corner with a much more open Codec selection and already winning the hearts and minds of the living room.    If the new AppleTV is to become anything more than a Netflix conduit, of which there are many to choose from, I think that Apple will need to step up to the plate removing the past restrictions that they have previously imposed.  This codec issue being the most irritating of all.   And there is ample evidence that other companies are listening, if Apple is not.  Take a look at the LG BD590 Blue-ray player     with codec support that includes the following:  DivX®/DivX HD, MPEG2 TS/PS, MPEG1 SS, XVID, MKV, AVI, WMA, MP3, AC3, AAC, JPEG, PNG.   Not to mention a 250gb hard drive and ripping of DVD's to the hard drive; 2.0 usb connectivity, Netflix®, Vudu™, YouTube™, Roxio® CinemaNow, Pandora®, Picasa™, AccuWeather®.  Support for Netcast and DLNA. 

It is time for Apple to shed this crazy QT limitation and let the customers decide what format they want to watch.  As you can tell, this is my biggest pet peeve for iOS 4.2.  I know that an App store is just around the corner for the ATV and that is very exciting, but I would like to have some of the basics taken care of first.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Proximity Sensor Temporary Solution.....

One of the biggest complaints about the iPhone 4 has been the proximity sensor issue, in which the phone goes visually berserk during a phone call as if it cannot decide whether your face is next to the phone or not.  It is a royal pain when you want to hang up the phone or switch to speaker mode or select the menu for the numbers screen.  It has been 5 months since the release of the iPhone and this has not been corrected.  Personally, I think that this should have been sent as an update.

I have found a way to make the screen stay on.  I am using this method now until iOS 4.2 shows up some time in the future as promised.  The solution is this:  Keep your thumb pressed on the HOME button during the phone call when you want to press any of the following buttons - Speaker, Keypad, Mute, FaceTime, Contacts or Add Call.  It seems that whatever software short circuit that exists is corrected with this maneuver.   Until Apple comes out with the updated iOS, this is as good as it gets for now.




Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One solution for Facetime Problems.

For most of us the iPhone 4 is an upgrade from either the iPhone 3G or 3GS.  Unfortunately, this little upgrade appears to be causing a small problem with Facetime.  It turns out that there are about 5 port ranges that need to remain open during a Facetime conversation.  Additionally, a small amount of Port Forwarding takes place in the Router (required for current Facetime usage on wifi).

It seems that if you set up your router to include the 5 port ranges, leaving the ports open, you will not necessarily solve the problem.   Additional Port Forwarding on a manual basis does not help either.  I used a Linksys router for the past few years and I thought that I had to update the software.   I eventually got Facetime to work on my Linksys router, by first of all not changing any of the 5 port ranges recommended by Apple or invoking Port Forwarding.

So what is the solution that I found?  Well, I actually didn't find it.  It was a simple suggestion that was suggested to me by one of the Apple Geniuses at the Genius Bar.  I applied the recommendation on the two phones and voila, Facetime worked like a charm.  If you are going to do this, you will need to know the following information:

1.  The following actions will reset the Wifi connections on your phone, but will leave all telephony and app data alone.
2.  It will not erase your phone, if done correctly.
3.  You will have to put in ALL network passwords to get on Access points or Routers again.
4.  It will not affect Exchange Server data.
5.  It will NOT erase your phone.

What I did was this and in this order:

1.  Go to Settings.
2.  Go to General.
3.  Go to Reset.
4.  Select "Reset Network Settings."

Once you confirm that this is what you want to do, do a soft reset of the phone.   The AT&T logo will take a little longer to come up and your bars should come up also.  You will have to set up your wifi connection on your phone again.  But before doing this, ensure that you turn off your Router and leave it off for about 15 seconds before turning it back on.  You can then turn the router back on and sign in to your network.

The only issue with this is that you will not be able to tell if Facetime will work if both phones are in the same household using the same router.  That will usually always work.  The proof will be when the other person is at a Wifi hotspot and calls in or if you call them on Facetime.  That is the test.

The first inkling that I had of this problem was the fact that I was able to do Wifi Facetime to someone outside of my home only if I was at an Access point outside of the home.  I could only communicate via Facetime with my wife who also has an iPhone while we were both on the same router.  We could not communicate outside of the house.  With the Reset, I am now able to do so. 

My theory is that the mechanism to do Facetime, including getting around ports on the router without having to reset the router were not available until now. The 3G setup is probalby deficient somewhere in making iPhone work.  The settings on the 4G are different, hence the need to fully erase the 3G settings and leave only the 4G settings being sent to the Router.  Since the change was made, we have no dropouts and Facetime is wonderful, even 30-50 miles away at times, which is as far as I've travelled to use it.

Let me know what you think about Facetime and if you have any other solutions to give others.