Unboxing the iPhone 7 Plus

In the following video, I unbox the all new, 128GB, matte black, iPhone 7 Plus

The iPhone 7 Plus is the hottest smartphone on the planet right now. The device is sold out; and while Apple and their manufacturing partners may be hard at work trying to replenish stock levels, there isn’t an unspoken 7 Plus available on the planet right now.

I was lucky enough to get one and my matte black iPhone 7 Plus arrived on 2016-09-20, two years to the day, after I unboxed the iPhone 6. It was a nostalgic moment for me.

In this almost eight minute unboxing video, I unbox the 128GB matte black iPhone 7 Plus and do a quick physical comparison to the 64GB iPhone 6s Plus.

I’ll be doing a first impressions document as well as a review on this in the next few days, so stick around for more iPhone 7 content.

Also, if you have something you’d like me to cover, or if you have questions about the device, leave them in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to get to them in one of these upcoming posts.

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Apple Releases macOS Sierra

OSX 10.12 hits the streets with a multitude of new features

siri

Apple has released macOS Sierra – OSX 10.12 – making it available for free to those users and Macs able to run the new OS. This release comes after eight betas and a number of revisions to the GM (gold master) release before its official launch on 2016-09-20.

macOS Sierra can be obtained from the Mac App Store. Apple should be making it available to Yosemite and El Capitan users via their Software Update process before too long. Officially, macOS Sierra supports the following Macs

2009 and Later

  • iMac
  • MacBook

2010 and Later

  • MacBook Air
  • MacBook Pro
  • Mac mini
  • Mac Pro

macOS Sierra does a lot to align compatible Macs with updates to iOS, watchOS and tvOS. macOS Sierra focusses on introducing features that specifically work with iPhone and Apple Watch to improve the overall user experience.

Some of the bigger updates to Sierra include the following:

  • Siri for Mac
    Siri allows users to use normal voice commands to conduct searches, find files, look up information and more. You can pin vocal searches to the Notification Center for continual monitoring.
  • Continuity
    New Continuity features allow you to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch or with iPhone.
  • Universal Clipboard
    You can share clipboard contents across iDevices.
  • iCloud Improvements
    You can now sync not only the contents of your Documents folder, but your Desktop as well, to iCloud Drive.
  • Photos
    A new Memories feature in Photos will display collections of pictures and bring back old events on their anniversary. Special learning algorithms also improve facial, object and scene recognition making searching for specific photos a LOT easier.
  • Apple Pay

You can now pay for items you buy on the web with Apple pay. Payments are authenticated through a connected iPhone or Apple watch.

I am currently working on a review of macOS Sierra and hope to have it posted before the end of the month – along with a review of both iOS 10 and the iPhone 7. Hang tight, kids. Its about to get very Apple-ie around here.

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The Road to Seven

It’s always a journey. Sometimes it’s not as easy as it should be…

iPhone 7

Over the past six years, I’ve been an iPhone user. I’ve owned an iPhone 4s, an iPhone 5 and an iPhone 6. On Tuesday 2016-09-20, I will be an iPhone 7 Plus owner. They say that getting there is half the fun. Normally, it is. This time, however, there were some unexpected bumps in the road. Before I get to all the fun that comes with a new phone, you need to hear about the journey.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, is this a big deal..? No. Not even a little bit; and this is definitely a first world problem. However, it was a bit maddening and just a whole not confusing.

I woke at 2am on 2016-09-09 and after a problem accessing my AT&T wireless account, and got in to my account’s upgrade options for the three lines of four lines service that I have. It took a great deal of effort to actually order the upgrades for my three lines. I admit that it was mostly my fault.

The biggest problem that I had was that I couldn’t, for some reason, actually get all three phones into 1 upgrade order. I also was having a very hard time processing even one upgrade order. This was largely due to the amount of traffic on the AT&T site and on the Apple web site as well. Both sets of servers were throwing inventory and order information back and forth between each other.

Though I had gotten myself actually in and functioning at about 2:15am CDT, I quickly found out that delivery dates had quickly been pushed back. Matte black iPhone 7 Pluses were showing a delivery date between 2016-09-23 and 2016-09-30. Jet black was showing delivery dates between 2016-10-14 and 2016-10-21. I found that to be completely amazing. Delivery dates for these had been pushed back by a month in less than 15 minutes.

The rose gold iPhone 7 Plus that I ordered as the last upgrade had a delivery date of 2016-09-16. However as of this writing, it has not arrived. I won’t arrive until sometime on 2016-09-19, three calendar days after it was promised. Getting it, even to this point of “in transit” status was a bit of a nail biter, too. Unfortunately, I can’t get any information out of anyone at AT&T as to WHY the order took the route that it did.

Briefly, the series of events went like this:

  1. Order for the Rose Gold, 128GB, iPhone 7 Plus was placed on 2016-09-19 at 2:22:27am
  2. Order Shipping date was listed as 2016-09-15
  3. Order Delivery date was listed as 2016-09-16
  4. I called AT&T at around 2pm CDT on 2016-09-15, as I had not received a shipping notice yet, to check on the order. The customer service rep I spoke with insured me that the order would ship as noted (on 9/15) and would arrive on 2016-09-16, as AT&T had recently switched their standard shipping method from 2-day to 1-day overnight.
  5. On 2016-09-15, Apple announced that all currently available iPhone 7 Plus devices, in all colors and storage sizes, were sold out; and that all iPhone 7’s in Jet Black, in all storage sizes, were sold out. Availability dates for new stock, as of this writing, still have not been announced.
  6. I awoke on 2016-09-16 to check the status of the order. I still had not received a shipping notice or any kind of text update from AT&T. I found that the device’s order status had been changed to BACKORDERED. The device’s shipping date had been changed from 2016-09-15 to 2016-09-16. The DELIVERY date remained the same – 2016-09-16.
  7. I called AT&T on three (3) different occasions on 2016-09-16 inquiring about the status of the one device that was supposed to be delivered on that day, but had been marked backordered. No one… absolutely NO ONE had any information. When I described the situation to the, and they looked into the order, inventory, allocations, etc. the response from everyone was nearly identical – “huh… well, that’s strange. I can’t find any information on why this is backordered.”

    They also could not find any information on when it would ship, nor why the delivery and ship dates hadn’t updated to reflect the new status. Unfortunately for me, my experience with the customer service reps I was connected to got progressively worse as the day wore on. None of them seemed to understand what I wanted or why I was calling, and when I finally was able to help them to understand, they couldn’t answer any of my questions.

  8. In a fit of desperation, I tweeted my case to @AT&T and to @AT&TCares
  9. I got a response about 30 minutes after my initial tweet from @AT&TCares. Literally, as soon as I got that response and notification of it on my iPhone, I got a shipping notification in my inbox for the rose golf iPhone 7 Plus. The shipping status changed from Backordered to Shipped. I had a tracking number.

Unfortunately, I have NO explanation on what happened. The only thing I can come up with, based on my own logistics and manufacturing experience is that someone made a data entry mistake when updating the ERP. It was corrected later via the normal shipping process, which updates the order with the actual shipping date as well as with a tracking number.

I think the thing that bothers me the most about this, is that despite calling three times, no one could get past the customer support script and give me any real information on what was going on with my orders. The biggest concern I had with this over this past weekend was, ‘will what I experienced with orders being placed on backorder without any available to me or to any of the customer service reps I spoke with, going to happen to the other two lines of service I have on my account?’

It’s a good question.

It was one I asked three different customer service reps…AND it was one that none of them could really answer. (though all of them acknowledged that they’d love to know the answer to it too…)

UPDATE
I am pleased to say that the rose gold, 128GB iPhone 7 Plus arrived as promised today 2016-09-19. My daughter is setting it up as I write this. I am also pleased to announce that my order for a matte black, 128GB iPhone 7 Plus has shipped and is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, 2016-09-20.

I will be doing a formal unboxing tomorrow night and will have that passed over to Soft32 ASAP. You can also expect a first impressions article, a few blog posts on the iPhone 7 Plus vs the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s Plus, as well as a review of both the iPhone 7 Plus and iOS 10 this month.

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Connectify

Easily create and connect all of your wireless devices with this handy networking utility

connectify-hotspotI can remember back in the 1990’s when computing was just in its infancy. Back then, no one hardly ever got online. If you did, it was with a dialup connection, and then you likely had AOL, CompuServe, MSN or some other online service. Normally, what you did was dial up, get in, get what you needed and then IMMEDIATELY get off. If you didn’t, you likely ended up using (nearly) all of your monthly connect time, and after that, it got really expensive.

Computing today is TOTALLY different. People are connected all the time. Quite honestly now-a-days, NOT getting online often seems to be a waste of time unless you have specific computing tasks to do – writing a report, tweaking a presentation you already have on your hard drive, or working on a spreadsheet. Most other modern computing activities require some kind of internet connectivity. It’s simply a given.

When it comes to finding an available, trusted internet connection in today’s malware ridden, maze of untrusted networks isn’t easy. This is why apps like Connectify are so important. It’s a networking and hotspot tool for Windows.

connectify

With Connectify, you can easily create a Wi-Fi hotspot that will allow you to connect all of your wireless devices to the internet, while on the go. Connectify isn’t just the world’s most powerful hotspot app, it’s the easiest, to use. All you have to do is give your Hotspot a name and password. After that, you’re ready to go.

You can share any internet connection as a Wi-Fi hotspot. It doesn’t matter if that’s an existing Wi-Fi connection, a wired Ethernet connection, or even a 4G LTE network. However, doing THAT will require you to upgrade to Connectify’s Pro or Max version.

Some of the coolest parts of the app, however, don’t have much to do with actually creating a network signal. Some of the cool stuff comes from some of the ancillary functionality that’s included in the app. Connectify will monitory your network usage, by device. You can track down that friend who’s using all your bandwidth. Connectify’s newest feature gives you real-time graphs of your data usage at a glance.

Get access to the internet is a necessity for many people today. Much of what we use computers for today involves some kind of network functionality or connectivity from sharing files across devices to checking email, or sharing photos. Insuring you have the connectivity you need WHEN and WHERE you need it can sometimes be problematic, especially when you don’t have a data plan for every device you own. With Connectify, those troubles are greatly lessened.

The app is a huge boon to those that need internet on devices that for some reason don’t or won’t connect to some Wi-Fi networks but will connect to others. Keeping track of how much bandwidth you’ve burned and who’s the bandwidth hog on your network used to be mysteries, but now, with included utilities, you can easily figure out both of those things.

Connectify comes in four different flavors – free/ 30 day trial version, Hotspot Pro, Hotspot Max and Hotspot Max Bundle. Each version is subscription based, however, and unless you buy the lifetime version, you’re going to be renewing your license next year. If you like Connectify and feel that its bringing value to your online experience, do yourself a favor and buy the lifetime version of whatever flavor you’re interested in. The lifetime license isn’t all that much more expensive, and once you start your fourth year of use, you break even on the purchase.

download Connectify

 

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BullGuard Internet Security

Keep your PC safe with this must have internet security suite.

ThankYouDogIf there’s one thing that I know and know WELL, it’s that anyone and everyone can get a computer virus or piece of malware. It’s becoming too easy not to pick up a bug, no matter how computer savvy or experienced you are. If you use a Windows PC, as nearly everyone in the universe does, it becomes even more difficult, as most of the viruses in the wild are targeted and attack Windows PC’s specifically. This is the number one reason why I really like apps like BullGuard Internet Security. It’s a suite of security apps that can keep your Windows PC clean as well as protect it from a number of different threats.

BullGuard Internet Security is an all-in-one security suite that guards you, your kids and your PC against ever-evolving malware and cybercrime. The app protects you, your computer and your family from all online threats – identity theft, credit card fraud, hackers, viruses, spyware and much more – thanks to its broad range of features covering nearly every possibility. With BullGuard Internet Security and it’s at-a-glance update system, you will never worry about your digital safety again.

bullguard internet security

BullGuard Internet Security provides the following, holistic, protection:

Total Protection – its real time scanner can stop intruding malware in its tracks, including viruses, worms, Trojan horses and adware so you can compute without worry. The latest enhancements include better protection against advanced rootkits that can steal control of your computer as well as from ransomware so you’ll never have control of your life stolen from you.

Unwanted Apps – Adware sucks. BullGuard Internet Security stops adware cold in its tracks, protecting your data, your browser settings and search engine preferences.

Advanced Backup – BullGuard Internet Security includes 5GB of free online storage so you can keep all of your data, photos, music and home video off site and safe. You can backup data directly from folders with one click. If you want, you can view data on your computer or even your smartphone. If you have a Dropbox account, you can back up your data directly to it.

Firewall – stop unwanted intrusions from accessing your computer and other resources connected to it.

Spamfilter – stop unwanted junk email and email scams, phishing attempts, viruses and foreign language email from flooding your inbox.

Keeping your computer safe is important. Finding the right application or suite of applications to do it isn’t always easy. To be very honest, there’s a lot of crap out there. However, BullGuard Internet Security is one of the best security suites available on the internet today.

Other suites are often overpriced, bloated or difficult to work with. BullGuard Internet Security is fast, easy to use and provides protection for up to three computers in your home. It can protect your PC from adware, viruses, spam and malware. It can protect your PC from unwanted intrusions.

While its licensing is subscription based, that business model is the industry standard, and for three computers, that breaks down to just $20 per PC per year…and honestly, that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

download Bullguard Internet Security

 

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Pardon Me, but is that an Exploding Galaxy Note 7?

Samsung appears to be having issues with its Galaxy Note 7

Over the past few days, after you get past the hype of the latest Apple Event announcing Apple Watch 2 and iPhone 7, you KNOW there have to be executives at Samsung that are – at least for once – glad that Apple has all the limelight. The latest news out of Cupertino has, no doubt had them thanking everyone for moving on from the latest news out of Seoul: Exploding Galaxy Note 7’s.

note 7

Last week, stories of exploding batteries have been all over the news. It got so bad that Samsung indicated that they were not only going to halt sales of their flagship phablet, but recall the device as well. To dates, there have been 35 reported cases of exploding or bursting batteries. News of fires and burns as at least one of the 35 was reported to have exploded in someone’s pants pocket.

Low quality battery cells were reported to be responsible for the issue and recall.

Reports of what countries are effected and are not effected have varied, with at least one report indicating that Note 7 customers in China are unaffected due to the battery supplier used for units there.

Samsung is using lithium-ion batteries in the Note 7. Possible causes for the issue appear to be damaged power cells caused by substandard components, chemistry or design. If a lithium-ion battery is compromised by being over charged, by overheating, damage, or age, the inner cells can “outgas” the flammable, electrolyte mixture within the membrane. An undamaged battery membrane will stretch and bulge to contain this material to some extent; but at some point, the membrane will rupture, and the battery will explode.

Depending on where, when and how violently the battery finally ruptures and explodes, the damage can be devastating.

Samsung has issued a statement informing customers in the United States that they will be able to replace their Note 7s with new units as early as next week.

Customers will be given the option of trading their units in for either a new Note 7 or a Galaxy S7/S7 edge and a refund for the difference. All accessories can also be exchanged for their S7 equivalents.

Samsung is also offering a $25 phone bill credit, or a $25 gift card, for the inconvenience. Device owners can call 1-800-SAMSUNG to arrange a mail exchange, or they can return their device to the retail store where they purchased it.

US mobile carriers are offering the following options to Note 7 owners:

  • T-Mobile is letting customers return their Note 7 in any store for a full refund of the purchase price and any accessories you may have bought. You’ll then be given the choice of buying another phone or receiving a new Note 7 when they are put on sale again, if you wish.
  • Sprint customers can return their device to any Sprint location and can pick up a comparable loaner to use in the meantime
  • Verizon says it has stopped selling the Galaxy Note 7 and has waived the restocking fee for the device through the end of September 2016
  • AT&T is working with Samsung to facilitate Note 7 exchanges. They are also allowing customers to return their device for a different smartphone. Refunds for the difference and for accessories purchased directly from them will be offered
  • U.S. Cellular has not yet announced its plans for handling the recall, but I am assuming they will provide offers to effected device owners.

Did you buy a Galaxy Note 7? Has the battery on this device given you any cause for concern? Have you returned the device or have you decided to hold on to it and roll the dice? If you traded yours in, will you wait for a new Note 7, or did you opt for a different device? Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area, below and tell me all about what happened to you?

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IPhone 7 Rumor Roundup

Apple intends to announce the next generation iPhone at an event on 2016-09-07…

iphone 7

I’ve been doing this for several years now – Apple prognostication, I mean. I must say… I mostly suck at it.

In fact, most everyone does. Well, except for Ming Chi Kuo. He’s an analyst for KGI Securities and he has the best record for predicting what Apple will actually introduce; and even HE isn’t infallible. So, take everything you read about what Apple will actually introduce – including what I’ve included here – with a grain of salt…

So, as I said, Apple is likely to announce iPhone 7 (or whatever they decide to call it…) on 2016-09-07. For the last two years, we’ve gotten two different size iPhones: the 4.7 inch iPhone 6/6s and the 5.5 inch iPhone 6/ 6s Plus. Everyone, Kuo included, is expecting that to continue with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

Given this, the follow are the most commonly rumored and agreed upon new features by anyone that’s attempted even basic iDevice prognostication:

  • Increased screen resolutions
    • 1920×1080 (1080p) for the 4.7-inch and
    • 2560×1440 (2K) for the 5.5-inch.
  • DCI-P3 wide color gamut with True Tone support. (OLED??)
  • 3GB of memory
  • 32GB of entry level storage, 256GB max storage, likely on the 5.5 inch Plus model
  • Apple A10 system-on-a-chip
  • Increased water resistance.
  • Dual-lens camera for better low-light and depth-of-field. (Plus only)
  • Space blue color option
  • Gloss black color option
  • Additional Stereo speaker (and removed 3.5mm headphone jack, despite what Woz wants)

There may also be other iDevice announcements at the September 7th event, but honestly, I – and I think most everyone – is most interested and concerned with what happens with the iPhone. However, you can expect updates on iPhone as well as AppleTV, Apple Watch and iPad.

I’ll likely have something on the event after its concluded, reviewing everything that Apple is planning on doing. Stay tuned…!

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iPhone Leprosy, or Touch Disease

If you have an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, you need to check this out…

Just in time for you to trade in your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, a new iPhone hardware issue involving the 2014 model cellular iDevice has hit the news wire – Touch Disease.

Touch Disease is a hardware defect effecting both iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices and is identified by a malfunction in the touch screen where user touch input is not read or not interpreted correctly and therefore ignored by the device. Symptoms of the defect are usually preceded by a grey flickering band at the top of the screen, just under the iSight camera and speaker, regardless of device orientation. This symptom can be sporadic and may respond to torqueing or pressing on the device.

touch disease

Replacing the touch screen does not resolve the issue.

According to Apple Insider, the issue may be related to the 2015 “Bend-gate” issue where the larger and thinner smartphones were warping due to inappropriate and in proportionate pressure or force being applied to the screen and to the device case, causing it to bend. This was most often seen by users who carried their device in their back pocket, and then sat down, causing the device to warp and bend in appropriately.

The relation of Touch Disease to Bend-gate is likely in eventual cracking or breaking of solder joints breaking on the device’s touch controller chips. Your device’s touch screen ignores input because the electrical connections to it its controller chips have been interrupted.

This is further exacerbated due to the fact that Apple didn’t use any underfil (sticky stuff) to keep the touch screen control chips securely attached to the PCB. Instead of using a metal shield to further keep the chips in place and to help prevent device bending, Apple chose to go with a sticker (literally… a STICKER) instead.

There are a couple/ three fixes available for this, if your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus device has Touch Disease:

1. Device Replacement – If you have Apple Care, and you can demonstrate the issue for any Apple Genius, they will likely just swap the device out for you. However, the new device you get is still likely Touch Disease susceptible, so you may have to change the way you carry and use the device or it’s going to happen again. This is likely the quickest way to solving your problem; and its likely free
2. Logic Board Replacement – This takes longer, but will also resolve the problem, provided your case isn’t bent or warped, in which case, you’d be better off with a complete device replacement. This is likely covered under Apple Care (and will likely be what Apple does to all effected units it refurbs); but will probably only happen to you if you go somewhere else OTHER than an Apple Store to resolve the issue or if you don’t have Apple Care.
3. Solder Reflow – Repair shops can simply apply enough heat to the existing, broken solder joints and get the solder to reconnect the chips to the PCB. However, this will likely invalidate any warranty you have.
4. Purchase a New iPhone – Many uses without Apple care or Assurion warranty coverage are finding that the only real way to resolve the issue for them is to buy another device.

I was able to see on Mashable that non-Apple Care covered repairs could cost you anywhere between $85 to $250 bucks. New devices are going to be much higher than that depending on where you buy.

This issue does not affect the iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, as it uses a less bendable, 7000 series aluminum case.

Has your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus exhibited signs of iPhone Leprosy, or Touch Disease? Did you have an issue with Bend-gate? Do you carry your device in either a front pants or rear pants pocket? Have you noticed that your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus exhibits a slight bend or warp to its casing? I’d love to hear from you if you’ve had any of these things happen to you. Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area below, and tell me about it?

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