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Archive for the ‘iOS’ Category

More than a year ago, Samsung (finally!) delivered Android 7 to the Belgian Galaxy S7 smartphones – and my device is still claiming to be up to date while displaying Android version number 7.0…

Google released the first version of Android 7 in August 2016, and a few weeks ago they released the Android 9 beta… Samsung (like many other vendors) is taking much, even too much, time to support their products.

Much as I like the quality of Samsung hardware (at least when it comes to phones), the lack of software support makes me more and more appreciative of Apple’s efforts. I have been using Apple hardware – mostly Mac computers in all form factors – since 1991, but Mac OS has never been as as closed as iOS, and that was one of the reasons I preferred Android smartphones. I am not disappointed in Android as such, but given the increasing number of threats to mobile devices it is important to get regular and speedy updates. Apparently, for Samsung there were no security updates worth mentioning during in the last six weeks (the latest security update on my S7 was installed on April 9, probably days after its release)… It’s a good thing the S7 is far from worn out, or I might be very tempted to switch to an iPhone.

There is still hope for Android Oreo, by the way: SamMobile announced its “imminent release” a few weeks ago. Without a firm planning, however, S7 users can only continue to hope… and remember that Oreo will probably be the last official upgrade for the S7 !

PS. Yes, My Samsung Galaxy S Plus is still working. But I have no plans to try and upgrade it beyond its current Android 5.1.1 (CyanogenMod 12.1).

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From time to time, I spend some time (sometimes way too much) to check out the applications I’m using. Certainly on mobile devices the available options for a given function can change quickly, and it’s always useful to see if you’re missing out on something a newer application has to offer.

My most important app on any platform is, of course, a password manager. I have already spoken out in favour of the KeePass family of tools. Currently on the iPad Mini I’m using MiniKeePass, which is not very sexy to look at (or to use). But the app can read your database when stored in the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.), and the source code is available on Github – so we are reasonably certain that the app does what it is supposed to do, nothing less and certainly nothing more.

The MiniKeePass settings screen

My search for ‘Keepass‘ on the App Store turned up another candidate: KeePass Touch. Glancing over the specs made me want to try it out. Indeed, the “Touch” part of the name indicates that you can unlock access to the passwords by using Touch ID, and I must admit that I have grown fond of that functionality on multiple mobile devices.

However, a bit of study stopped me from switching from MiniKeePass. Here’s why:

  • KeePass Touch displays ads, that can only be avoided by paying.
  • KeePass Touch claims to be “Open Source”, but I’m guessing the quotes are there for a reason: I wasn’t able to find the source code of this app, nor did I even find any website for the company that publishes the app.
  • As I found out by comparing both apps, MiniKeePass can also be unlocked by Touch ID. That’s perfect for use on my new iPad Pro ;-)

I’m very suspicious of KeePass Touch, since there are no guarantees that your passwords are safe from the eyes of its developers.

I would be very happy if someone made MiniKeePass read and write its files directly from/to Dropbox, Google Drive or a similar cloud service. But even without that I will continue to use MiniKeePass – if only to prove that real Open Source is important to me.

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Since the update to iOS 10.2 my test devices emitted this message: “[Some application] May Slow Down Your iPad“. Specifically: I have seen the message once on each device and for the given app, regardless of the number of reboots.

Image of the warning message

Stackoverflow tells me (indirectly) that the message is caused by the fact that our app is currently built in a 32-bit architecture, and that we should upgrade to 64 bits.

Is that correct? And: is the message shown only once, or could it reappear later on?

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A few days ago I complained about the way the Byline app handled the upgrade to iOS 10 on my iPad. Well, I stopped complaining when I realized that there are in fact 2 (two) versions of the app. As far as I can tell, “Byline (Universal)” aka. version 4.2.2 dates back to 2013 and was built for iOS 7. It’s this version that posed all kinds of problems and essentially failed to to what I wanted on iOS 10.

Since December 2015 Phantom Fish has released a completely new version of Byline, called Byline 5 and sporting version number 5 (of course).

byline5.png

In the app store this is, however, a separate app. That means that people like me, who do not read the update notices of all the apps they have installed, are likely to miss this opportunity to upgrade. And that is a shame, because Byline 5 is quite good – and it looks a lot more modern and at home on iOS 10 than the older universal version!

While I must apologize to Phantom Fish for doubting their ability and willingness to adapt Byline to iOS 10, I should also scold them for failing to add a little test to their old version: it should not be too hard to detect iOS 10 and propose the upgrade to Byline 5 to the user.

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I have always been a big reader. Books and magazines in the days of paper publications, and lots of online and/or digital writings since I discovered the Web. My favourite means for following up on blogs and news sites is the RSS feed. RSSOwl is good enough on the Mac or PC; mobile devices require something else, of course.

rss.png

On the iPad, I have been a longtime user of Byline – longtime meaning “ever since I bought it”. Byline offers a free version that can handle offline reading – just perfect for me, since my daily commute by train passes through areas without significant 4G/3G coverage. And offline is handy as well when you’re on holiday in a foreign country.

However, since the upgrade of iOS to version 10, Byline seems to have trouble. Syncing doesn’t always work – or should I say: “usually does not work”? I have had the app crash several times in a row. Changing the settings is possible, but somehow the app does not take the new settings into account.

Someone wrote that Byline is “almost abandonware”, and the number of updates to the app during the last three years seems to validate that point of view. Yes, there is a new version 5.0.2 since the beginning of September 2016, but my bad experiences with the app date from last and this week… Please, Phantom Fish, can you do better? Because if you don’t, I will have to start researching a replacement, and I haven’t seen many RSS readers that fit my needs – on iOS, at least.

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Just a quick notice about a link that’s worth remembering for all users of the Mac, the iPad or the iPhone: “The Sweet Setup” will recommend the best app for your machine, within a series of broad categories.

sweet-setup.png

The “best” app, of course, very much depends on everyone’s particular taste, and I find myself disagreeing with many of their choices. But – and it’s a big but – what I like very much about this site are the extensive reviews of many apps. These reviews should help you choose your best app, even if that choice does not correspond with theirs. And don’t worry: the author(s) know(s) that different tastes will lead to different choices ;-)

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It’s quite a coincidence, of course. Just a few days ago, I praised the Logitech K810 keyboard; on September 3rd, Logitech introduces a new keyboard called the K480. It looks similar, in terms of key size and layout, but it’s bigger, because it incorporates a ‘cradle’ that will accept a smartphone or a tablet and transform the keyboard into the base of a keyboard-screen combination.

Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 -  A wireless desk keyboard for your computer, tablet and smartphone

Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480
A wireless desk keyboard for your computer, tablet and smartphone

Like the K810, the K480 keyboard connects to three devices; unlike on the K810, you choose the active device using a rotary knob rather than three dedicated keys. I use the K810 to enter text into an ElementaryOS machine, an Android tablet and sometimes even a Mac. The K480 will be able to do the same, and at the same time hold the tablet in a more sensible position in relation to the keyboard – sounds fine to me. And the new K480 is only half the price of the K810! I might just get one and leave it at work, to ease my typing on mobile machines during meetings; a real keyboard always beats the on-screen keys of iOS as well as Android ;-)

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