Hans D. Baumeister

Hans D. Baumeister

WhatsApp App for iPad - a Warning

If you use an iPad with an excellent keyboard as I do, then a strong desire to use WhatsApp on the iPad rather than on the iPhone with its completely unusable on-screen keyboard is a natural result.

Until recently, WhatsApp was only installable on the iPad using various tricks, as the communication software is supposed to be locked to a particular ID (the mobile number). With the advent of WhatsApp software on the Mac (and on Windows) that connects to the mobile phone via a unique 2-D barcode identifier, a mechanism was created to make an online version of WhatsApp possible.

This online version is accessed - from an iPad or any other internet-connected tablet - via
https://web.whatsapp.com which makes the well-known interface available in the web browser (likely running on HTML5, but I haven't looked). The connection to the phone is made - just like with the software - via a 2-D barcode.

It works quite well, albeit being a bit slow in scrolling and selecting emoticons (on an iPad Air 2). So far so good. Of course, a thought crosses one's mind once the elation has ebbed back to normal levels: "if they can display all my message contents in a web browser, who says they can't read them, too?". I'll have to research that a bit more, I guess for now I'll have to believe that decryption is done on the iPad… hmm…

So if there is software for Mac (and PC), Facebook could have released an iOS iPad app, right? Off to the app store I went. A Facebook-authored app isn't available, but there are apps that bring WhatsApp to the iPad just the same.

I'm willing to bet that all these apps do is provide an iFrame-like mechanism to "beam" the web.whatsapp.com site into an app and add advertising (and an optional in-app purchase to remove it). Do you need that? No, certainly not. These apps do not add any value on top of what Facebook offers in the original http site. I'm sure the other, available apps work in the same way - they all have the exact same interface as the web app, sometimes with different colors (which you can change via CSS).

No value is added for the user, but there is plenty of additional value for the app developer, of course. Take this app as an example: "
iPad Messenger for WhatsApp - Free by Internet Rocks Inc." If you go on the developer website (https://internet-rocks.com/), you will not find a company address ANYWHERE. Not even in the Privacy Policy or the Terms and Conditions. I'm not a lawyer, but I will bet a tenner that this makes these documents quite irrelevant.

Read the section 1.1 of the
Privacy Policy on the website. The app collects data. Lots of it. Stuff that you don't want a company to know that doesn't even disclose their whereabouts on the planet. When you download the app they get even more data about you (such as your email address).

And they don't even have to keep your data to themselves! In section 2.2d you read that they may share your data "with third party advertising networks and analytics companies as described below." They do go on to state that no personally identifiable data is passed to ad networks or advertisers. Do you believe that, reading it in a privacy policy that doesn't even disclose the address of the programmer?

Honestly, I'm shocked this app slipped through Apple's quality check!

There is zero need for this app, as anyone with a halfway modern tablet (HTML5-browser) can use the website provided by WhatsApp.
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Twitter Video Autoplay

Not so long ago, my Twitter feed started to look like a souped-up version of the newspaper in Harry Potter films: going through the feed would show a video running in a tweet. Seeing as in Harry Potter's world - with all the magic in it - they're only able to do this in black and white, I would say we're a step ahead here.

These video feeds will load by default via Wifi AND mobile networks, which you might not appreciate, depending on how much monthly data volume is available on your plan. I stumbled across
this blog entry, unfortunately the location of the setting has changed since January of this year!

To change the setting to Wifi-only, you have to do some digging. To save you some time, here is where you can find the settings in the *current* version of the iOS Twitter app:

  1. Go to the "Me" tab to see your profile.
  2. Next, click on the gear icon at the top middle, this will take you to a menu.
  3. Select "Settings" from that menu
  4. You'll be confronted with another menu, here you want to tap on General -> Data
  5. in this section, you'll find Video autoplay, which will be set to "Use mobile data and Wi-Fi"
  6. tap that and select "Use Wi-Fi only"

talk about a well-hidden option! Almost makes you think Twitter hid this so well on purpose…
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iOS 8 - How to (potentially) fix a slow device

One of the main issues I had when updating my iPad 3 to iOS 8 was a drastic issue with responsiveness. Especially Safari started to become extremely slow, but also switching between apps would keep me counting seconds between bursts of activity.

Surely, iOS 8 couldn’t be that bad of an operating system? Also, an iPad 3 isn’t the slowest of devices, so what gives?

I started researching the topic and came across a post on Apple’s own support board (i.e. where you write your issues into a “case” and other users respond). Apparently, folks had the same issue when upgrading from iOS 6 to 7 on iPads.

The key when experiencing performance issues right after doing an iOS Upgrade is to reset all settings to default. This includes data like WIFI passwords, etc. This may not sound very logical - we’re talking about various login data here, right? But apparently, there are settings from the previous iOS version that play serious havoc with the new version.

I tried it and - lo and behold: my iPad is, once again, as fluid to use as it was under iOS 7!!! Yeah!

Personally, I don’t think doing OS upgrades is a good idea in general - usually, I re-install the device from scratch when a major release comes around. This involves a lot of re-installation of apps and accounts, which makes the idea of a simple upgrade enticing. However, I’m going to stick to my story: when iOS 9 rolls around, I’ll reinstall, not upgrade.

If your iPad or iPhone is having performance issues, give this a try.
Open the Settings app and go to:

General --> Reset --> Reset All Settings

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Update on iOS7 - GUI and Gripes

When iOS 7 first came out, I was quite shocked - as were, I would presume, a substantial part of the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad users. Human beings don’t like change for the most part, and what a change it’s been from iOS 6 to 7.

In the meantime, I’ve managed to digest the shock and am using iOS 7 on my iPhone and the newer of the two iPads. I’m quite convinced that the move to a less bubble-gummy GUI was the right way for Apple to go; I don’t miss any of the saturated colors and graduated buttons of the previous version.

In fact, when I do something with my iPad 1 (primarily used by the kids), I get the “eeck” Effekt from the garish design.

I will say this, though: both on the iPhone 4 and on the iPad 3, both - of course - with quite a bit less CPU horsepower than current devices, iOS 7 really takes a beating, performance-wise. In fact, it seems that without the periodic reboot, performance seems to drag more and more.

This article confirms my experiences:

“Those who haven't picked up either an iPhone 5C or iPhone 5S and who have instead installed iOS 7 on their current iPhone - or iPad - are likely experiencing a downgrade in speed, with hoards of angry iOS users slamming Apple for the slow-down they are experiencing.
The V3 team has installed iOS 7 on a third-generation iPad and an older iPhone 4, and the dip in performance is very noticeable. This is likely due to the updated operating system's fancy new motion effects, design features and reworked applications.”

I’m quite sure, though, that Apple is using propagating specific hardware capabilities of newer devices in “7”, which task older HW to excess. That, too, will convince a decent percentage of users of older hardware to upgrade, which - lets not forget - is what Apple “pays its rent” with.

Oddly enough, the App that shows the most annoying responsiveness - especially on the even-older iPhone 4 - is the Podcast App - this has such lengthy delays that it feels like a satellite-based phone call - you do something on the screen and you’re not sure if the system registered it. Very annoying.

This article contains a large collection of different issues and resolutions for them - unfortunately, none of my issues are covered...
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Will iOS 7 make Steve Jobs turn over in his Grave?

Yikes, WWDC is upon us and, well, a few things were announced - as expected.
iOS 7 was one of them, likely to hit the download arena in Fall. And, well, I was disappointed.
A good overview - albeit full of grammatical errors (probably written late at night, after the 19th coffee, junkfood and too many drinks at a WWDC party) - is available in this Redmond Pie article.

Let me touch on some of the updates to iOS this article presented:

GUI
Wow, does this look like Android or what? Considering Apple used to be a true innovator, not only in Hardware and OS Design, but also in Ergonomics, the “breakthrough” of being able to add more apps to what are called - strangely enough - Folders, just isn’t what I was expecting! Add more apps so that you can find what you’re looking for even less? How about the ability to have iOS sort apps by usage count? That would be extremely simple to implement (just increase a counter every time an app is started or switched to) and would really make things simpler.

Let me give you an example: on my iPad, I frequently use an app by the German rail system Deutsche Bahn, to see if my local connecting train is on time. It’s a very useful app, but for whatever reason, I am unable to find it at all in any of the “folders” I’ve created to sort apps into. It’s just gone. I can only find it by searching for it. Assuming that there isn’t some programmatic glitch that has actually removed the icon from the iPad, it just goes to show how ineffective the folder-concept really is.

Let me take you back about 12 years, back to a time when the smartphone to have was a Treo 650 from Palm. They already did a good job of letting you create tabs (yes, tabs, not annoying “folders”) to sort icons into - and there were several add-on applications that made sorting icons logically even easier. I honestly feel that the methodologies used back then (we’re talking the smartphone stone age!) were a lot more ergonomically sensible that what Apple is currently presenting as the ultimate GUI.

Settings
I’ve ranted about this before - even in iOS6, getting to certain settings (like Bluetooth on/off) was a chore, making you open the Settings app and delve into the depths of layers of screens.

Android has shown the proper way to do this: just put a widget with a whole bunch of buttons to turn things on and off on one of the screens.

The fact that iOS has taken as long as version 7 to even touch on a solution to this is quite a surprise. Having to rumerate through several levels of a settings menu to do simple things like turn on or off the WIFI access point is such a pain in the rear that I would have expected a simple-access solution much, much earlier.
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iPad Mini Cannibalizing iPhone?

Let me propose a concept that, for an Apple fan, is probably bizarre at the very least:

With the iPad mini available in a 3G/4G version, you might consider getting rid of your iPhone (or at least not buying a new one) and opting for a mobile phone with good reception…

Here’s my reasoning: the reason I don’t want to do without my iPhone is not for it’s “phone qualities” (which I think even hardcore Apple fans are likely to hum and ho about). It has to do with all the great apps one needs when on the road, from Google Maps (yep - haven’t upgraded to iOS 6 yet!), Tripadvisor, Email, Message, etc. etc.

Now, as a 40+ mid-lifer, I’m starting to have issues reading the screen (without glasses). The on-screen keyboard is a pain in the butt and the realestate of the display is just too small for a number of applications, including trying to find out where you are in a city and where you’re going.

Should my company iPhone 4 (which is likely one of the first ones to be sold in Europe) fail me, instead of getting a 4S (iPhone 5 is not an option for me), I would likely pick up an iPad Mini instead. To call people, I would use my trusty old Sony-Ericsson Z600, which syncs with the Address Book app via Bluetooth (at least it did with Lion - hopefully that is still available in Mountain Lion).

The result: a bigger screen with a lot more realestate, a device that can be slipped in a pocket and yet held with one hand, with full integration into the Apple iCloud services, with data available anywhere there is reception, using the SIM card I currently use with a MiFi device (with a lot more volume available per month than my iPhone) and a small phone with excellent reception.

Your thoughts?
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