Always Connected: Part 2

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how we live in a world where all our devices are connected to the internet 24/7.  At the time, my devices were not connected 24/7, since I didn’t have an iPhone.  But, as I wrote last week, I have an iPhone now (and I decided to stop turning the WiFi off constantly on my iPad) so my tech habits have changed quite a bit now that I’m always connected.  Here are my thoughts.

First off, for those of you holding your breath from two weeks ago, the Writing Aid widget does work correctly now.  It’s really nice that (for the most part) I no longer have to worry about widgets not updating as they should.  Some widgets still seem to get a little bit outdated, but at least now I know that it’s the widget’s fault instead of a connectivity issue.

Syncing is also working better, but still not quite perfectly.  I had hoped that my iCloud reminders would just sync correctly now, but it still doesn’t seem to refresh often enough.  Lots of times I check off several reminders on my iPad, only to check my iPhone a few hours later and see that they’re still there.  Checking one off on the iPhone seems to trigger a sync, and then the rest of them update, but still, that’s really clunky.  One of the things I’ve always hated about iCloud is it never tells you when it’s done syncing, and there’s no way to manually trigger a sync.  I guess this adds to the whole idea of “it just works” and “I don’t have to do anything,” but it leads to problems like this.  In contrast, Dropbox and Evernote both have nice status bars telling you exactly what has and hasn’t uploaded yet.  I wish iCloud had that.

It’s really nice to be able to send SMS messages from my iPad using Continuity.  I don’t see myself making many calls from my iPad, but I guess it could be useful.  Speaking of messages, I’ve been impressed at how well those sync over iCloud.  I leave my iPad on Do Not Disturb (only when locked) so it doesn’t ring constantly throughout the day.  I was afraid that I would get a text on both my iPhone and iPad, answer it on the iPhone, and then an hour later open up my iPad and see the notification.  I knew that if the iPad was offline, it would never get the notification in the first place, but I didn’t know that the notifications were smart enough to dismiss themselves if I read the message on another device (it does makes sense that Apple thought of this; it’d be a nightmare otherwise).  This seems to work for email and Twitter as well, so that’s great.

Not to be overlooked is the fact that I’m no longer flipping the WiFi on and off on my iPad, which in hindsight was really annoying.  It doesn’t even seem to use that much extra battery when I leave the WiFi on anyway.  Go figure.

In conclusion, I’m really enjoying my new always connected lifestyle.  It’s crazy that we live in a world where we can access almost anything, almost anytime, with almost no effort.  Now if my reception wasn’t so spotty in big buildings on campus, I’d really be happy.  ••

Always Connected: Part 1

Most people live in a world where their devices are online 24/7.  My life is slightly different.  I don’t have an iPhone, just an iPod touch, so I don’t have an internet connection everywhere.  To be fair, I have WiFi at home, church, and school, so that covers most of my life, but not all of it.  My iPad works the same way.  It’s just a WiFi model, and most of the time, I don’t even leave the WiFi on.  Even though I use my iPad fairly frequently, I end up turning the WiFi off when I’m not using it to save battery.  Long story short, most of the time my devices are not connected to the internet.

This has interesting ramifications.  A while back, I downloaded an app called Writing Aid.  It’s a dictionary app, with an nice, simple design, but the real reason I downloaded it was for the word of the day widget.  I’m a huge fan of Today View widgets in iOS 8, and a word of the day seemed the perfect fit for this category.  However, the widget doesn’t always refresh correctly.  I’ve seen other people review the app without talking about these issues, so I’m guessing the problem comes from my lack of connectivity.  On an iPhone, the widget can just refresh every 24 hours, since it always has internet.  What seems to happen on my device is that when 24 hours are up, it tries to update, but can’t.  When this happens, it seems to just give up for that day and try again the next.  This is a pain for me, but most people simply don’t have this problem, since almost everyone has an iPhone these days.

As you can see, our society doesn’t just operate while always connected, it has come to expect that we operate while always connected.  I seem to be the outlier here.

But not for long.

Yes, I have ordered an iPhone (on eBay, more on that experience in a future post), and it should be here very soon.  Now that I too will be always connected, I expect that my habits will change quite a bit.  In a few weeks, I will write Part 2 of this post and detail how that all plays out.  Now I just have to figure out how much I can get out of my old iPod on eBay…  ••

How Family Sharing Will Ease Your iOS Lifestyle

Everyone in my family owns at least one iOS device (most own two).  In order to keep us from having to buy the same apps and songs multiple times, we all share an Apple ID (the account used to purchase things from the iTunes and App Stores).  This has its benefits.  For example, if someone in my family recommends an app to me, I go and look it up on the app store.  The app shows up as “already purchased” in our account (because it is, just not by me), and this makes it easier to find, since I know someone else has downloaded it.  However, there can also be downsides to sharing an account.  I’m the only one in my family that uses iCloud to sync my calendar and reminders.  This is fortunate, since anyone else who wanted their reminders to sync would have theirs dumped in with mine (a less than ideal situation).  Fortunately, iOS 8 may offer a solution.

iOS 8 will include a new feature called “Family Sharing.”  This isn’t a way to separate one Apple ID into multiple users, rather it’s a way to link multiple Apple IDs into one group.  Basically, the idea is that each person has their own Apple ID.  This is used both for purchasing and for other things such as iCloud.  However, when multiple Apple IDs are in a Family Sharing group, anyone can download anything purchased by any other person in the group, without paying for it again (as long as you’re using the same credit card across accounts).  I’m not sure my family will actually use this feature, since as I’ve said, I’m the only one who uses iCloud, so as it is, we don’t have much of a problem.  However, I know people who do have separate Apple IDs, and they have to pay for apps more than once if more than one person wants to use them.

Unfortunately, Family Sharing does not actually allow you to have multiple users on one iOS device.  As TechHive.com put it (in this article), “Apple still seems content with assuming that ‘multiple users’ means ‘one iOS device per person.’”  Like a lot of much-clamored-for iOS features, I don’t think multiple users makes sense at all on the iPhone.  However, this would be a great feature for iPads.  It’s sort of a shame Apple isn’t adding this.

On the whole, however, I think family sharing is a great idea.  As Apple themselves put it (as the iOS 7.1 tagline), “The most advanced mobile OS keeps advancing.”  I for one am very excited for iOS 8, and I’m happy that Apple continues to understand (most) of the wants and needs of their customers.  ••