Why is only one AirPod working?

14 May 2020, 00:07

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You might find that one of your AirPods stops working. Sound only plays through one ear.

Here’s some things to try.

How to make both AirPods work
The simplest solution is simply to disconnect your AirPods from your iPhone – which is to say, disassociate them from Bluetooth, and then reassociate them.

  1. To do this on an iPhone, first open the Settings app.
  2. Tap the Bluetooth heading, then Select the AirPods entry in the list and tap the (i) icon at the right of the entry.
  3. Select Forget This Device, and then the same entry in the menu that appears at the bottom.
  4. Next, you need to reconnect the AirPods to your iPhone. This is simple – start by opening the AirPods case lid, and holding the AirPods case near the iPhone.
  5. When the Not Your AirPods screen appears, tap Connect. Then follow the instructions to press and hold the small circular button on the back of the AirPods case, probably for a second or two, until the AirPods show as connected.

How to make a broken AirPod work: Checking the audio balance
Try playing some music and see if the issue is fixed. If this doesn’t work, check to make sure you haven’t adjusted the audio balance by mistake.

  1. Open the Settings app on the iPhone, then tap the Accessibility heading.
  2. Scroll down the list of options, and tap the Audio/Visual heading.
  3. In the screen that appears, ensure the Balance slider is in the middle, and that the Mono Audio switch isn’t activated.

How to make a broken AirPod work: Cleaning
If the steps above don’t work, you should ensure the AirPod isn’t dirty, and that the case doesn’t have debris in it that’s stopping the AirPod from properly charging. A wooden toothpick can be carefully used to scrape away debris from the AirPod itself – not just around the speaker grille, but also around the sensors on either side of the main head if the AirPod, which the AirPod uses to sense when it’s inside an ear. As mentioned, be extremely careful when doing this and use a light touch. It’s easy to cause even more damage!

As for cleaning the AirPods case, canned compressed air with a straw nozzle can be used to blow debris out of the recess in which the AirPod is inserted for charging.

Use a flashlight to look at the bottom of this and ensure the small metal contacts and both present, and not dirty or corroded. If there’s corrosion then you might try a Q-tip lightly coated with isopropyl alcohol to give the contacts a rub – but again, take care. Note that any repair attempts you do here are at your own risk!

Remember that you’ll know if the AirPod is charging when you insert it because the LED light on the case will switch to yellow. (Note: It may stay green if the AirPods have only been used briefly and it’s not necessary to charge them just now.)

AirPod not working: How to get a replacement
If you just can’t get the broken AirPod working, try calling into an Apple Store and discussing the matter with the Apple Genius bar. It’s possible to buy replacement individual AirPods, or a replacement case, although the cost can be quite high. You might consider simply buying new AirPods, especially if the AirPods are more than a year old and have poor battery life anyway.

It’s also possible to find reconditioned and/or third-party replacements on sites like Amazon. This isn’t something I would personally recommend, but you might want to investigate the options.

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How do I update apps on my iPhone?

13 May 2020, 09:59

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Updating apps on the Apple iPhone is automated, so it’s not something you should have to worry about. But if you want to update apps manually, or turn off automatic app updating, here’s how that’s done.

How to update apps manually on the iPhone
Manually updating apps is a little more complicated than you might think, but can be done quickly. Here’s how.

  1. Open the App Store on your iPhone.
  2. Ensure the Today option is selected at the bottom left, then tap the icon at the top right for your user account.
  3. If there are any apps that need to be updated, they’ll be listed on the screen that appears near the bottom. You can tap the Update button alongside them to force the update. If there are not any app updates available, all you’ll see is an Updated Recently listing.

How to turn off automatic app updates on the iPhone
You might want to turn off automatic app updating if you’ve heard there’s a buggy release of an app that’s been made available, and you want to avoid your iPhone receiving that update. Here’s how to turn off automatic app updating.

  1. Open the Settings app, then tap your own username heading right at the top of the list of options.
  2. Tap the iTunes & App Store heading.
  3. In the screen that appears, tap the switch alongside App Updates under the Automatic Downloads heading.

How to update your iPhone’s software
The default setting is that the iPhone software (iOS) updates automatically and you’ll also be automatically prompted to update when required. But if you want to manually update your iPhone software you can do so like this:

  1. Open the Settings app, then tap the General heading.
  2. Tap the Software Update heading.
  3. After the iPhone has checked to see if anything is available, you’ll be told if a new update is ready. If not, you’ll be told that your iPhone software is up-to-date.

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What are haptics on the iPhone?

13 May 2020, 05:33

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One of the cellphone industry buzzwords over recent years has been haptic feedback. What is this, and what does it mean for users?

What is haptic feedback on the iPhone?
Cast your mind back to the earliest cellphone you can think of. It’ll probably be a Nokia model, or maybe a Sony Ericsson. These phones had speakers so you could hear ringtones or perhaps even play music. But they also had vibration motors. These are tiny components fixed to the phone’s circuit board, involving a motor and a slightly off-centre weight. When the motor is activated the weight wobbles quickly, producing a strong vibration effect.

This was used to notify you about incoming calls should the phone be switched to silent mode.

These were elementary haptic feedback devices. Let’s pause for a moment to explain what haptic actually means:

From the Oxford English Dictionary: “Haptic: relating to the sense of touch, in particular relating to the perception and manipulation of objects using the senses of touch and proprioception.”

Apple realised that haptic feedback doesn’t have to be limited to just buzzing when calls are received. From the iPhone 6s onwards, phones have used haptic feedback to correlate with things the user does on-screen (something borrowed from the Apple Watch). For example, if you scroll through a list, the phone will give vaguely-realistic physical feedback as if you’re literally flicking through a list. When you reach the end of that list, there’ll be a thud feeling again to emphasise what’s happened.

Because the haptic feedback occurs in response to taps from the user, Apple calls the hardware responsible the Taptic Engine.

What is the Taptic Engine on my iPhone?
Apple’s Taptic Engine is again a component on the phone’s circuit board that, essentially, vibrates when required. But it’s many generations evolved on from the simple buzzing that your old Nokia or Sony Ericsson phone produced.

The Taptic Engine is resonantly tuned to each iPhone it’s fitted in so that it gives a full sensation of haptic feedback to the user across the entirely of the device. Additionally, the Taptic Engine is said to use more precise linear actuator technology so that it can provide a wider range and more sophisticated range of haptic feedback – everything from a quick pulse of haptics, to the prolonged buzzing that remains the phone’s way of indicating you’ve an incoming call should the phone be on silent.

Haptic feedback is a core component of Apple’s Force Touch and 3D Touch technologies. These involve the user either pushing harder on the screen to make something happen (a technology Apple has now abandoned in its recent iPhone models), or tapping and holding on something so that something different happens (compared to a typical quick tap). The haptic feedback is used to communicate to the user that these hard or long taps have done something, making the actions feel more “real”, and more akin to using a physical switch.

But Apple’s use of the Taptic Engine and haptics isn’t just about a better user experience. It also allowed them to abandon a physically-switched home button. This was a common cause of failure on iPhones, in that the home button would break and render the device essentially unusable. With the iPhone 7, Apple switched to a touch-sensitive pad for the circular home button and used haptics to give the same sensation of a physical click you get from a real button. This is so effective that many users don’t even realise their iPhone no longer has an actual button. And, via the benefit haptics delivered, Apple eventually abandoned the home button entirely with its FaceID models, starting with the iPhone X. This allowed more space for the screen area on the iPhone.

Haptics used to negate the need for a physical home button also help with Apple’s goal of making its devices water proof. If there’s no large home button switch, then that’s one less place for water to get into the iPhone.

How do I adjust haptics on my iPhone?
You can adjust haptics on your iPhone although the level of control will depend on what model you have. If your iPhone has a home button you can adjust the haptic feedback—the level of “click” you feel each time—in the Settings app by clicking the General heading, and then the Home Button heading.

On these phones and indeed all other iPhones you can adjust other aspects of haptics by opening the Settings app, selecting the Accessibility option, then tapping the Touch heading. Then select whichever option is relevant. On my iPhone 8, for example, I see an heading that reads 3D & Haptic Touch. On later phones without 3D Touch you might see simply a heading that reads System Haptics.

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What iPhone model do I have?

13 May 2020, 00:03

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While enthusiasts can identify an iPhone by sight, the rest of us can’t. Here’s how to find out which model of iPhone you have. This can be useful if you want to sell it, or get support from somebody because of a problem.

How to identify your iPhone model
Possibly the quickest way to get all the details is as follows:

  1. Open the Settings app on the iPhone, and then tap About.
  2. Look at the Model Name heading. This will give you the basic details – iPhone 8, for example. This might be all you need.
  3. But look at the Model Number heading. This will be something like MQ6H2B/A. Tap and hold this entry in this list, then tap Copy.
  4. Switch to the Safari web browser, then paste in what you copied earlier in order to search for it. (Tap the address field, and then tap Paste and Search.)
  5. In the search results you should see all details about your phone from vendors that are selling it – from its model name, to its storage, and even to its color scheme (e.g. silver, rose gold etc). You can usually click on one of the results to learn more. Check a couple of results just to compare – some sites might list incorrect details, so it pays to check multiple sites.

How to identify your iPhone model if you don’t have it at hand
There’s no way to find out the iPhone model just by calling it, or by messaging it. However, if you have another Apple device like a Mac or iPad, and all of them are connected to iCloud, then you can look at your iCloud account details to see the model.

For example, on a Mac you can open the System Preferences app, then click the Apple ID icon, and then look at the bottom left to see all your Apple devices. On an iPad, you can open the Settings app, then tap your login photo at the top, and again scroll down to see a list of your Apple devices connected to that iCloud account.

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