Apple delays HomePod until Early 2018

Apple just released a statement about the upcoming HomePod:

We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers. We’ll start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018.

Originally scheduled for December this means Apple will miss the upcoming holidays. The question is why did Apple announce it so early, in June 2017, even with a supposed launch in December. Did they run into issues with the production, the hardware or software itself?

The limitations of Face ID

Rene Ritchie put together a list of things Face ID currently has issues with:

There’s been so much effusion and so much FUD written about Face ID, Apple’s new biometric facial identity sensor — for iPhone X that it’s been hard to sort fact from fiction. Apple did a pretty good job setting expectations at the September event but there’s never enough time to cover everything.

iOS, Bluetooth and car related features

iOS has had various features that relate to using iPhones in cars, like reminders that can trigger when entering or exiting your car. This arrived with iOS 9. Since iOS 10 there are also parking spot reminders to help you find your car. In September, iOS 11 brought you the ability to automatically turn on Do Not Disturb mode on your phone.

The problem with these is: they only work with car stereos that announce themselves as such. If you only have a simple Bluetooth kit that connects to the car via the 3,5 mm AUX input and to the phone via bluetooth, iOS most likely won’t highlight these features.

I’ve personally tried the iClever Himbox HB01* and more recently Anker’s SoundSync Drive*. Both appear to the phone as simple headsets, not a car. As such all of the mentioned features above won’t be surfaced and aren’t accessible to you. I’ve tried contacting iClever and Anker and neither of them actually understood the issue. I haven’t checked again since iOS 11 was released, although I have little hope they actually care.

I understand that Apple tries to cleverly detect if you’re moving around in a car. Android on the other hand for example offers parking reminders even if you don’t connect to any device at all – which may lead to unexpected results, showing you parked at a place even though you arrived at the location with a train or some other means of transportation.

I wish manufacturers like Anker would look into this and work with Apple to support the proper profiles so iOS can detect my car as what it is: a car and thus let me use all the fancy features without having to spend money on a whole new stereo setup – which might be an issue depending on your car and its integration of the radio (Mini, I’m looking at you!). Maybe it’s finally time to invest into a third party CarPlay device though.

watchOS 4.0.1 fixes Apple Watch Wi-Fi (and LTE) issues

When the first reviews of the new Apple Watch Series 3 came out there were a couple of reviewers that ran into issues with their watches trying to use previously saved Wi-Fi networks that use so-called captive portals. You may have seen these portals when using public Wi-Fi hotspots at Starbucks or using in-flight service on your favorite airline. They usually require you to accept their Terms of Service or something similar, which isn’t an issue on a normal device.

If you connected to one of those, say on your iPhone or Mac, they’ll be saved on your other devices as well, to make it easier when you try to connect with them as well later on. The problem is, these Wi-Fi networks are – or were – being synced to watchOS as well. Since the Apple Watch has no interface for you to agree to any ToS, you weren’t able to successfully connect to them. This resulted in the Watch getting stuck half way without a network connection.

For the Apple Watch Series 3 with Cellular this also meant that it wouldn’t let go of it and use LTE to get a connection, resulting in zero service – even though LTE might have been available where you were.

watchOS 4.0.1 which was publicly released today fixes this bug. So if you own an Apple Watch you might want to go to your Watch app on your iPhone and look for software updates and install it. Make sure to connect your Watch to the charging puck and not take it off before it’s done updating.

About wireless charging with the iPhones 8 and other devices

Ben Bajarin has some valid points regarding wireless charging, which is a new thing for the iPhone world. As he Ben notes, the same issue is valid for Android as well.

The problem in a nutshell is that you really have to be careful how to put down and place your device on the wireless charger. I remember having the optional magnetic charging dingus for my Nexus 4 and also back then you had to be careful to hit the exact right spot and actively watch for the charging notification. Sometimes it would slightly slip while attached to the dock and stop charging. You usually wouldn’t notice.

The same is true today, for example when going to a Starbucks that has the wireless chargers integrated into their tables while handing out little adapters to plug into your iPhone or other devices. You have to meticulously put your device down and once again wait for the charging buzz or whatever your device does to tell you it’s charging.

It’s a horrible user experience at this point. It requires you to carefully align your phone and then it’s not necessarily as fast as using a simple cable. Ben notes that the alignment issue might get better when Apple’s own AirPower device ships next year but that remains to be seen. For now, just give me a cable to plug in.

Using gestures in Apple Maps to zoom in and out

Dave Mark writing for The Loop:

I love this tip. Here’s how to do it:
– Bring up Apple Maps.
– Double-tap in the map, but on the second tap, don’t lift your finger. So tap-lift-tap-leave.
– Now [with the finger still down] slide up or down to zoom in and out.

As Dave notes Google Maps supports the same gesture. It actually has supported this for ages and I always found myself trying to do this in Apple Maps. With iOS 11 I was happy to find out it finally works the same. Well, I should rather say works similar, because the directions are flipped on Google Maps: move your finger up to zoom out and down to zoom in.

Backup and Restore: Fusion Drive and the macOS High Sierra Beta

If you’ve been using the macOS High Sierra Beta on a Mac with a Fusion Drive you’ll want to pay attention to Apple’s announcement and instructions:

Beta versions of macOS High Sierra made a change in the disk format of systems by converting them to use the new Apple File System. The initial release of macOS High Sierra will provide support for the new Apple File System as the default boot filesystem on Mac systems with all-Flash built-in storage. If you installed a beta version of macOS High Sierra, the Fusion Drive in your Mac may have been converted to Apple File System. Because this configuration is not supported in the initial release of macOS High Sierra, we recommend that you follow the steps below to revert back to the previous disk format.

In other words, you’ll have to back up your Mac, format your drive, reinstall the final version of High Sierra and restore your data.