Fixing iPhone apps stuck on “Waiting…”

After the nightmare of restoring my iPhone 5 backup to my new iPhone 6S, I noticed a couple apps were missing. I downloaded and installed them, but an odd thing happened. The icon became dark and it said “Waiting…” beneath the icon. I tried deleting the app and reinstalling but the same thing happened over and over. Sometimes, I would end up with this odd “wireframe” icon for the app. I searched the web and found lots of tips on how to overcome this apparently common problem, but nothing seemed to work. I finally came up with my own solution and here are the steps: Read more

Bluetooth adapter for Apple 30-pin speaker docks

If you are a long-time user of Apple products, their switch to the Lightening connector probably left you with orphaned 30-pin connector devices, like iPhone/iPad powered speaker docks. Well, this handy $15 adapter will turn those into useful Bluetooth speakers! (Even if you still live in the 30-pin world, this would be a great thing to get.)

I just got one and it works great. The only caveat is that the dock must be one that charged your iPhone/iPad, since the adapter requires a power source.

Mpow® Bluetooth A2DP Music Audio Receiver Adapter for Bose Sounddock and 30-Pin iPod iPhone Dock

Pebble watch initial thoughts

I ponied up $115 to Kickstarter on April 23, 2012 for the Pebble ($150 now). It was expected to ship in September. Here we are just about one month shy of a year and the Pebble watch finally sits snugly fastened to my wrist. :-)

It’s definitely on the large side, but not overly so. The picture makes it look way bigger than it really is. It seems very durable and you can swim or take it in the shower. It charges with a magnetically connecting USB cable and the battery should last 5-7 days. It’s also supposed to reduce your phone’s battery life by about 5-10% and I would say that it’s closer to 10%, if not over–not a good thing for the wimpy iPhone 5 battery.

So what does it do? Well, it will display Caller ID, email, SMS, iMessage, calendar alerts, Facebook messages, Twitter, and weather alerts. It also has an alarm and timer. There is no sound, only vibration.

Note that if you’ve got, say, the Message app open, it doesn’t push to the Pebble–only notifications (e.g., banner or lock screen) appear. You can scroll through the text using the side buttons. The ePaper display is very readable even in direct sun and low light–it has a nice backlight.

There are several watch faces you can select from, but I’ve found that I prefer the analog ones. I think I’m always trying to determine how much time I have until a meeting, lunch or some other event, and the analog face gives me that info quickly at a glance.

They are working on the SDK so there should be some cool apps coming in the future.

The main issue I’ve been having is that the connection with the iPhone is not very smooth. First, it doesn’t always automatically reconnect via Bluetooth. The other thing is that when it gets disconnected, you usually have to toggle the notification settings on the iPhone. Otherwise, the notifications won’t get pushed.

The good news is the Pebble crew is aware of these issues and I expect these kinks will be worked out soon with future firmware updates. For now, the trick is to not let it get out of Bluetooth range.

I gotta admit, it’s pretty cool to just glance at your watch to see whose calling, texting or emailing you. If you pocket your phone a lot, this is pretty handy. I’m more than happy that I took a leap of faith in ordering the Pebble.

UPDATES:
2013-03-21 – I’m getting maybe two days of battery life which is well short of the expected 5-7 days. Also, a couple times Siri stopped working and the only thing that seemed to fix it was to reboot the iPhone.

Tunelink Auto, a great Bluetooth FM broadcaster auto adapter (Update: FAIL!)

Tunelink Auto from New Potato Technologies is a very cool device. Basically, it allows you to connect an iOS device via Bluetooth and broadcasts the audio to an FM station. The entire device plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter plug.

The station you use to broadcast can be set using a free app that you download from the Apple App Store. Your mileage will vary greatly depending on whether or not your area has a lot of FM stations. In San Antonio, TX, there are a few open frequencies which work fine. In Los Angeles, it’s difficult to find an open one. The app, has a feature called Speed Tune that uses your location and suggests frequencies to use.

Of course, the audio quality isn’t very good. For better quality, the device also has an 1/8″ stereo output plug so you can also connect to an Aux In or a cassette adapter, if you have one of those. It even has a USB connector so you can use it to charge your iOS device too. It comes with a 30-pin connector USB cable. The Apple Lighting adapter works fine if you’ve got an iPhone 5.

What I really like about this device is that you can set it up so that it automatically connects my iPhone to the device when I start the car and starts playing music from where I left off. When you shut off the car, the player also stops. It’s wonderful! It also plays nice with my car’s built-in Bluetooth phone connection.

I will have to say that my initial experience was less than satisfactory. Most of the time it wouldn’t connect to my iPhone and when it did, it would usually not stay connected. I also couldn’t get it to use any station other than 88.5. I contacted techsupport and they sent me another after I mailed them my old one. This one worked perfectly.

Update:
2013-07-06
Well, my replacement unit from Jan started to get flakey with symptoms like not staying connected, difficulty pairing, etc. I sent it back and got another unit. This one is flakey too. I’m giving up. Based on the review on Amazon I am not alone. It’s got barely over 2 stars and 160 reviews! I’m going to try the Belkin Bluetooth Car Hands-Free Kit (4 stars and 677 reviews). The Griffin Technology BlueTrip also looks interesting. Look for a hands-on review soon. Wish me luck!

Vibration only without using Silent mode hack for the iPhone

Sometimes I want my iPhone to vibrate when I get something like an email, but I don’t want a ringtone to play. Moreover, I don’t want the iPhone to be in Silent mode overall. Unfortunately, there’s not a straight-forward way to do it. If you have ringtone Vibrate option enabled, but set, say, the New Mail sound to None, you’ll get nothing.

Here’s a trick I use to get around this: use a silent ringtone! Here’s the silent ringtone file I made. One full second of glorious silence. I’m giving all rights up on this… ;-) Just load the ringtone onto your iPhone and set the desired sound option to use it. Enjoy!

Old school phone handset rocks on iPhone!

Ok, I know this set-up looks stupidier than heck, but I never realized how much I missed old-style phone handsets. We’ve gotten so far away from that with our flat cellphones. Even newer land-line phones are moving in that direction. However, if you haven’t noticed, your face isn’t flat!

You can comfortably hold the Moshi Moshi Retro POP Handset to your head with your shoulder–try doing THAT with your iPhone!–and the sound is nice and clear. Of course, it’s not for carrying around, but I highly recommend it, if you use your cell phone a lot at your home. Only $30 on Amazon. Works great with my iPhone 4.

Posting to Facebook with a Thumbnail with an iOS Device

When you share a link using Facebook.com, it scans the page and lets you set a thumbnail image for the post. If you are on a webpage that you want to share, you can save a step if you have the Facebook Share Bookmarklet installed on your browser.

Basically, a bookmarklet is just a bookmark that executes JavaScript code instead of going to an URL. On a desktop PC browser, you can install it by just dragging the bookmarklet to your toolbar. However, it’s a little trickier to install on a mobile browser.

Fortunately this page has easy instructions on how to install the Facebook bookmarklet (and other services) on a mobile browser. Basically, you click the link for the bookmarklet you want, save as a bookmark, and then edit the URL to remove some unneeded code. It’s pretty simple.

Sharing from RSS Reader

I consume most of my Internet news from RSS feeds via Google Reader using the Reeder iPad app. Reeder’s Facebook share feature doesn’t add a thumbnail, so I use the ReadItLater service to save posts that I want to share later on Facebook. ReadItLater has a Facebook share feature, but sadly it also doesn’t add a thumbnail. As such, I would use the browser bookmarklet method. Cumbersome, but it worked.

Anyways, I just discovered the iPad app Mr. Reader and its Facebook sharing feature supports the thumbnail! Hooray! Since both are based on Google Reader, it was a painless switch from Reeder to Mr. Reader.

YouTube Video Thumbnails

For whatever reason, the thumbnail often doesn’t appear for sites that embed a YouTube video if you use the bookmarklet method. What you need to do is click on the video to open it up in YouTube. Usually, the iOS YouTube app will open since iOS doesn’t support Flash. If you tap the Share button, the app will compose an email. Change the www. to m. and just copy up to the video ID. Here’s an example: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8d-MTIJ7ZZQ The video will open in the mobile YouTube website and the Facebook Share button there will allow you to specify a thumbnail. It’s a little cumbersome, but not bad. Another way is to just copy the video URL as it appears, open Facebook.com in Safari, and share the link normally.

I hope this makes it easier to share things on Facebook. Have fun!

Added a Kindle 3 to my collection of gadgets

Just got my Kindle 3! The screen is pretty cool. When I first got it, I couldn’t decide if the picture was printed on a covering sticker or actually the screen…it was the screen. It is amazing and the refresh is not annoying at all–this was one of my biggest fears. It’s actually really easy to read even in low light.

I got it because my iPad is just too heavy for long extended use. It’s been giving me a backache no matter how I held it. Propping up with pillows, putting it on my knees, etc. Pain. Pain. Pain. I’m hoping the Kindle, being a fraction of the weight, will be easier on my back.

I’m disappointed that Audible on the Kindle is a little clunky. After all, it is owned by Amazon too. You have to install the Audible Manager software on your PC and then connect your Kindle via USB cable. The interface is basic basic. Lame. No chapters! It tracks progress using “Sections”, but these appear to have no relationship to “Chapters” used on the iPhone app. So if you listen to something on one, it’s hard to figure out the corresponding place on the other. No Whispersync! C’mon Amazon!