Reader offer: Get all 3 Ottm hard wood Watch bands for an incredible price

Thursday July 28, 2016

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Remember our first look at the Ottm hard wood Apple Watch bands a few days ago? Ottm has got in touch and is offering 25 lucky readers the chance to buy all three bands – maple, zebrawood and sandalwood – for just $99 + shipping. This is equivalent to the early bird offer which expired virtually straight away when the original IndieGoGo page opened for business.

This saves $30 on the usual price of buying all three as a bundle, and an amazing $56 on the cost of buying all three separately.

Just click on the link below – but be quick, because this is sure to be popular.

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Amazing tip: Swipe on iOS pop-up menus

Thursday July 28, 2016

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You may have noticed that, on pop-up menus that appear when you tap and hold text while editing on the iPhone or iPad, arrows sometimes appear at the left or right to indicate further options. Tapping these then scrolls the list of options left or right to allow access.

But did you know that you can also swipe left or right across the menu options to reveal these other options, removing the need to tap those fiddly little arrow buttons? Give it a try. It saves a lot of time and effort.

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Unboxing review: Ottm hard wood Apple Watch bands

Tuesday July 26, 2016

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We first mentioned Ottm hard wood bands here on Mac Kung Fu in April this year. Crowdfunded via IndieGoGo, and significantly beating the funding requirement, Ottm offered a choice of three types of wood: Maple (straight grain and light cream color), Zebrawood (striking grain, native to Western Africa) or Sandalwood (deep earthy hues).

I decided to go for all three as part of the incredible $99 early bird deal and they arrived today, just one month after the projected date (note that I live in the UK; as an international backer, I got my delivery somewhat ahead of US backers).

And the straps are just as I anticipated – very nice indeed. In the end Ottm chose a butterfly clasp for each and, although there was talk of swapping the Maple option for Bamboo, it appears that they stuck with the former.

Each strap comes boxed with a pushpin remover, plus two extra links (and one extra pin) in order the expand the size. In fact, I ended-up using the pushpin remover to actually remove two links in order to make the straps fit my (abnormally thin) male wrists. The large size of each individual link meant I couldn’t get the size quite as I’d like, and my Apple Watch sits maybe half an inch higher up my wrist than when using my regular Milanese loop strap. But this is simply the nature of link-based watch straps.

Alas, the clasp of the zebrawood strap is faulty in that it won’t remain closed. I’m hoping to arrange a replacement. Other than that, though, I’m very happy. The straps look terrific and unique. I love the 100% natural vibe they give off, especially considering Apple’s existing range of straps focusses largely on artificial materials.

I’m not sure whether the straps are to become retail products following the IndieGoGo launch. I’ve enquired with Ottm and will report back as soon as I know. In the meantime, check out the photos below.

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Wi-Fi Calling kills iPhone battery life – how to fix it

Saturday July 23, 2016

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I switched to an iPhone SE a few days ago and, while I’m happy with the diminutive device, I’ve been a little worried to see battery life draining incredibly quickly. I would take the device off charge and after an hour of non-use the battery would be down to 90%. A full working day’s standby brought it down to 10%. This was very odd because all the reviews said that iPhone SE had superb battery life, and perhaps even better than the iPhone 6S.

I removed various apps that Settings > Battery reported were eating juice. Gone were the news apps I had installed that fed me news flash notifications. However, battery life was STILL gobbled-up. I eventually realized the bad guy in the picture was the Wi-Fi Calling feature. Back into the Settings app I went, and tapped Phone > Wi-Fi Calling, and disabled it.

It was a miraculous fix. The battery percentage figure now barely changes across an hour of non-use.

A possible workaround
A workaround I haven’t tried for those who still want to use Wi-Fi Calling is to turn off the cellular radio entirely. The reduction in power for the cellular radio will balance out the extra juice required for the Wi-Fi Calling feature. The downside is obvious. If you leave your home or office, and forget to enable cellular, then your phone is entirely without a signal.

Start by ensuring Wi-Fi Calling is turned ON.

Following this, turning off cellular and relying only on Wi-Fi Calling is easy but the required steps probably aren’t what you might expect. Open the Control Center by sliding up from the bottom of the screen, and enable Airplane Mode. Then tap the Wi-Fi button to enable it. Cellular and Bluetooth will remain turned off, but because Wi-Fi is now enabled, Wi-Fi Calling will work just fine. (Note that you can also enable Bluetooth when Airplane Mode is switched on.)

An explanation
So, what’s happening to make Wi-Fi Calling chew-up battery life? Working-out what technology underpins Wi-Fi Calling is annoyingly difficult. Nobody seems to know for sure but I’ve read a few times that Wi-Fi Calling creates a secure Internet tunnel to the cellular provider in order to route calls. This tunnel is active all the time, which is why the battery life is drained. It’s a little like constantly using the web browser, although that’s not quite a perfect analogy because I suspect much less data is transmitted regularly within the secure tunnel. But you get the idea.

If you’re reading this and thinking, damn, I bought my phone for the Wi-Fi Calling feature then you’re not alone. I did too, because cellular reception where I live is essentially non-existent. Who knows, Apple might improve the Wi-Fi Calling implementation in a future release of iOS. We also shouldn’t forget that not only is the technology relatively young but it’s also supported only by a fraction of the world’s cellular providers. This is why, right now, nobody’s making a fuss about how the feature eats battery life. I reckon Wi-Fi Calling will be mainstream in about two year’s time, and articles like the one you’re reading now will be pretty much everywhere.

Personally, I’m now going to enable Wi-Fi Calling only if I need a signal in an area where there are no bars of reception (as happens a lot when visiting out of town places like cafes that have free Wi-Fi). I’d like to see the ability to enable/disable Wi-Fi Calling added to the Control Center so that it’s easy to both switch on and off, and to see when it’s active.

UPDATE: It seems from the comments below that some people are skeptical that Wi-Fi Calling is having a negative effect on battery life. If in doubt, just Google to see many other stories of this happening. Also, see the following Apple Support forum discussion, from which I quote:

I wanted to find some way to quantify the effects of Wi-Fi calling on my phone, so I did some searching in the App Store and found an app (System Status – activity monitor, network info, battery charge & memory manager) that allows me to monitor CPU, Battery, Memory usage of my 6s. It shows that as soon as WiFi calling is triggered (turned on & activated by a poor cellular signal), my CPU usage jumps from the 5-10% range to a minimum of 50% and stays there as long as WiFi calling is active. I have confirmed that it is not the fact that WiFi Calling is switched on, but it must be active (Wi-Fi appears in the status area next to AT&T.) Moving to an area of good cellular signal drops the CPU usage as soon as the phone stops using the feature (even though it’s still enabled in the settings.)

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