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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Smartphone 101 – Prerequisite 2: Setting up a Sync Relationship with Android Phone

Android+Google Account

There are a BOAT LOAD of different kind of Android devices, from numerous manufacturers running about 35 or so active versions of the Android operating system. As such, there simply isn’t a standardized set of instructions for setting the device up. Android versions may also differ on the SAME device on a DIFFERENT carrier (adding to the confusion… I know.)

These instructions were done on an HTC One (M8) on the Verizon Wireless Network. As such, it’s going to have Verizon specific screens in its setup routine.  If this is your phone, then you have the exact instructions you need to get going. If you have, say, a Samsung Galaxy S4 or other Samsung Android device on Verizon, these instructions will be close, but not spot on. Unfortunately, there isn’t ONE single way to deliver Android; AND the way its implemented differs from device to device, mobile carrier to mobile carrier, so, if something in the instructions doesn’t line up for you and the store you purchased the phone can’t give you immediate assistance, leave a question in the comments.  I’ll answer it ASAP.

1.    Turn on your Android phone for the first time. After it boots and displays various splash and logo screens, it should stop at a welcome screen. This should be the beginning of a setup wizard or other setup app.
Android_ss_0001

2.    The HTC One (M8) uses the Verizon Cloud to back up your phone’s important information. If you want to use Verizon Cloud, click the “Next” button. Otherwise, click the “Skip” button.
Android_ss_0002

3.    Choose the data that you want to backup to Verizon Cloud. By default, all data types are selected.  Click the “Next” button when you’re done.
Android_ss_0003

4.    Choose what wireless networks are used – cellular and Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi only – when backing up data to Verizon Cloud.  Click the appropriate radio button and then click the, “Done with Cloud” button to go to the next step.
Android_ss_0004

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Smartphone 101 – Prerequisite 2: Setting up a Sync Relationship with Windows Phone

Now that you have your email account created and your address book populated, let’s get the data on your smartphone.

OK… we took quite a bit of time the other day getting our email account setup on our service of choice. Any of the ones that I gave you instructions for – Google Apps/Gmail, Outlook.com, iCloud – are decent choices and should serve you well. While you’re going to want to make certain you give yourself the best opportunity for glitch free synchronization (meaning it’s not always wise to mix and match devices and services, or more aptly put, I’d recommend using the service that is natively paired with your device – Gmail+Android, Windows Phone+Outlook.com/Exchange, or iCloud+iPhone), it is possible to mix and match if you absolutely HAVE to. If you must put a Google account on your iPhone, don’t be surprised if your experience isn’t as optimized as it would be if you had either Google services synching to an Android phone or Apple services synching to an iPhone. It works, but there may be a couple of glitches here and there…

So, how do you get the information from your email account over to your smartphone? It’s quite simple, really. You have to tell your smartphone that you have the type of account you have and then let the two communicate via the smartphone’s cellular data connection with the internet. As changes are made to either side – on your smartphone or on your email account – those changes will be made to the remaining side so that you’ll always have the latest information, no matter where you look at the data.

The big thing to remember here is that this is likely one of the first things your phone is going to want to take you through when you turn it on for the very first time. It’s going to want to attach itself to your email account so that you get all of your PIM data (Personal Information Management data – Mail, Calendar, Contacts (or address book) and Tasks) to and from your smartphone as the data changes. It will set up a Push Data connection (the same kind as Blackberry made famous, back in the day…); and as a result, your smartphone will always have the latest data and will be considered a “smart” source of information (hence the name, “smartphone”). Any time you want to know who needs to be where at what time, who you can call if for some reason you don’t get the information or can’t make an appointment, or want to message someone about… you can use your smartphone. (This is why we took the time to get your email account set up correctly…). It also makes all of this information portable, mobile and easy to take with you wherever you go.

Ok, so your phone is going to want to setup its default account (if you have more than one email account, you can set up more than one sync relationship) so that it gets all the info all the time. I’m going to take you through some of the default setup steps for Android, iPhone and Windows Phone. This will help you if you have problems.

However, the screens we’re going to review actually take you through, step-by-step and have a pretty good set of instructions. If I gloss over something that you don’t understand or need more information on, let me know in the comments, and I’ll update the instructions.

Please remember that this process assumes that you’re mixing apples with apples. In other words, you’re using the default email account TYPE with a LIKE phone.

Windows Phone+Outlook.com (or your Microsoft Account)
1. Turn your new Windows Phone on for the first time. The Welcome screen below, will appear after it boots.
wp_ss_0001

2. Sign in to your Microsoft Account on the “Keep Your Life in Sync” screen. If you sign in later, your phone won’t be setup correctly until it has all of this information.
wp_ss_0002

3. Enter in your Microsoft Account email address. This is more than likely a @msn.com, @live.com, @hotmail.com, or @outlook.com email address, but it could be any email address you have, provided you registered it as a Microsoft Account mail address.

4. Type in your password in the password field. When you’re done, either check or uncheck the “Allow Microsoft to send you information and tips about your Windows Phone,” checkbox. While this will subscribe you to their Windows Phone newsletter, it might have some cool tips in it that you didn’t know about. If you’re new to Windows Phone, I’d check it. You can always unsubscribe later.

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Smartphone 101 – I’m supposed to talk into WHICH end??

I was recently approached by a good friend who needs help as a first time smartphone owner. Here are the basics of what you need to know.

I’ve been in mobile devices before they were mobile.  If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the past over the past 18 years it’s what makes a smartphone smart; and it can be summed up in one word, really: Integration.

smartphone-helpSmartphones are only smart because they take information from one part of your life – your address book for example, and allow you to make not only phone (voice) calls with it, but make video calls, send emails, get directions and have your mobile device navigate you to a friend’s house from some place you’ve never been before. It’s smart because it connects the dots between places you never thought even had dots, let alone places.

If you’ve never owned a smartphone before, they can be a bit daunting.  Heck… they can be down-right scary.  Over the next five days, I’m going to put my iOS vs. Android vs. Windows Phone comparisons aside and instead run through a few how-to’s on how to get into a smartphone if you’ve never had one before.  I’m going to cover the following:

Making and Receiving Phone Calls – How to make sure you push the right button or slide the right thingy in the right direction so you can take the call.  If you miss it, you’ll also want to know how to get to your voice mail, how to listen to, respond to and manage voice messages.

Messaging (Texting, Multimedia and email) – How to make sure you send the right notes and the right pictures to the right people, because …well, with great power comes great responsibility.  In the wrong hands, that information can be used for great evil. Believe me, not everyone can handle, “all this…” and I don’t think I want them to, either.

Pictures and Home Video – Let’s face it… You have a smartphone because it’s easier to take and send pictures of the kids with one device. You’re not going to carry your digital point-n-shoot camera or DSLR with you everywhere you go. Your kids, however, will be adorable and cute despite your current state of preparedness. Most smartphones have cameras that are just as good as, or better than, many high-priced point-n-shoot digital cameras; and they take decent video, too. Let’s figure out how to use it and share it with the world.  This section may overlap slightly with Messaging, above.

Music and Movies – You’ve spent years refining your music library. You’ve got movies to occupy the kids during that long car ride to grandma’s house. Let’s figure out how to get your multimedia on your smartphone.  This is going to differ from platform to platform (desktop/laptop PC or Mac) and between Mobile OS to Mobile OS.

Apps – While we’re walking through the ecosystem (I’ll cover that term very briefly in this section), let’s realize that your smartphone is probably more powerful than the PC that took you (or your parents, depending on how old you are) through high school and college. It’s a mini PC that you can take everywhere, and it can do more than you think. Here, I’m going to show you how to get apps on your smartphone.  You figure out how to use them; though I will cover Facebook slightly. It’s integrated into all three Mobile Operating Systems pretty deeply.

Local Search and Navigation – You don’t need a dedicated GPS unit or a phone book any more.  Your smartphone CAN get you there from here, even if you’ve never been there or here before. I’m going to cover Google Maps and Apple Maps in this section.  They’re close enough that the one set of instructions should get you where you wanna go, but I will likely have two sets of screen shots…

If you can get through these basic how-to’s without a bloody nose, you should be good to go.  At that point, you’ll have mastered the basics and should be savvy enough to branch out into other areas on your own.  In fact, if you can get through all of the above, you won’t be a beginner any longer and should consider yourself pretty proficient.

However, if there’s something you want me to cover, hit me up in the comments and let me know what it is.  The only thing I ask is that you let me know what kind of smartphone you have (iPhone, Android or Windows Phone) so I can give you the right kind of instructions. It may also help to know what mobile carrier you have here in the States, and if you’re using pre or post paid service. Depending on which one you use, things may be a bit different…

Hold on to your hats kids. Your world… its about to get a bit bigger.

 

Smartphone 101 – Prerequisite #1: Setting up Your Address Book

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iPhone 4S Battery Problems – A Viable Work Around

While Apple takes another whack at cracking the battery life nut in iOS 5.x, there are a few things users can do in order to keep themselves powered up.

The battery life issues in iOS5 are real. Apple has acknowledged them and they’re actively working on trying to resolve them. Unfortunately, its proving to be a bigger nut to crack than they thought it was going to be. So while Apple tries to dig themselves out of the battery life hole, I thought it might be a good idea to explore a few battery life saving alternatives.


Switch to EDGE Only
When 3G data was introduced to smartphones a few years back, it was discovered that 3G radios consume a LOT more battery power than EDGE based radios. It was also discovered that the device will work VERY hard to pull in and lock onto weak 3G signals, thereby consuming even more battery power. This is a problem, especially if you live in an area that skirts the edge of 3G coverage area.

One of the things that carriers tell their customers who are having battery life issues is to turn off 3G and run on EDGE only. Yes, you will be relegated to much slower speeds, but the extended battery life may be worth the trade off to you, especially if the 3G coverage you have in your area is spotty.

Curb Data Use
If you don’t have a lot of data running over your smartphone’s data connection, you can turn data off completely and you’ll save a lot of battery power. This kinda kills the smart in your smartphone, but again, you’d be surprised at how much power you can save. I do believe that this isn’t realistic, though. If you’re going to do this on a regular basis, then you probably didn’t want a smartphone in the first place. I’d switch to EDGE only first…

Carry a Power/USB Cable
If you’re going to be out and about, then you need to carry an iPod/iPhone cable in your gear bag, backpack, purse, whatever. If you’re going to be in the car for a while, you need to make certain you have a car kit or a power cord for your car. Charge the device when you can and keep the battery fresh at given points throughout the day.

Get an External Battery
Both Mophie and Zagg offer external batteries for your USB powered devices. While they can be a bit pricey, having additional battery power available for your iPhone can be important, if you choose to leave your data services as they are, fully enabled, and find yourself running low on power.

Get a Battery Case
There are a number of different battery cases available for the iPhone. Most offer an additional 10 to 20 hours of additional battery life as well as much needed protection to your iPhone. The only downside to a battery case is that they add a great deal of bulk and some additional weight to the device. You need to make certain you’re ok with a thicker, bulkier device before jumping into one of these. Depending on the model you buy, you can expect to pay $40-$100 USD for the case; but the additional bulk, weight and cost may be worth your while as Apple works on the iOS update that’s supposed to resolve this issue.

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2011 Gift Guide Part 2 – Suggested Gifts

Following the 2011 Gift Guide Part1 – Ok, Great! Now what should I buy? article here are my recommendations for just about every budget level, given our recent thorough discussion about Mobile Device Ecosystems.

It’s true.  The hottest ticket items this 2011 Holiday Season are all mobile – tablets, smartphones, music players, ultra-portable notebooks (the netbook is dead) – and the like will undoubtedly find their way to a gift box near you. Ecosystem aside, there are some really cool gadgets out there right now, and figuring out which basket to put all your eggs in can be confusing.

In order to make your last minute gift buying a bit easier, I’m going to take a quick moment and give you a couple recommendations in a couple different categories.  I hope this helps you in your Holiday gift giving.

Tablets

  • Apple iPad2: Ranging in price from $499 USD to $829 USD, depending on the storage and communications options you choose, the iPad has established itself as the clear leader in this category. This is the gadget that all tablet lovers are going to want this Holiday, as it plays music, movies, TV shows, runs applications, and is a great eReader. So if you’re budget is up to it, this iOS powered iDevice will be a sure winner.

  • Kindle Fire: At $199, this break-even priced Amazon, Android powered tablet has been labeled by some as the only non-iOS based tablet that can challenge the iPad. It streams thousands of movies and TV shows instantly via Amazon Prime, runs Android apps, plays music from Amazon’s MP3 store, comes with 8GB of internal storage, and reads Kindle eBooks without batting an eye. If the iPad is outside of your budget’s comfort zone, give the Kindle Fire some serious consideration, as the tablet’s UI and features are sure to improve in the coming months.

Smartphones

  • Apple iPhone 4/4S: Ranging from $99 USD to $399 USD, Apple’s iPhone 4/4S is the most popular smartphone in the US, and likely around the world.  Siri, available only on the 4S, will remake the way users interface with their iPhones, and is perhaps the biggest draw for new and existing iPhone customers alike. If you’re planning on giving an iPhone for the Holidays, order now, as many carriers, as well as Apple, are reporting lengthy lead times and delivery dates that are quickly nearing the end of December.

  • Droid RAZR: If Apple’s smartphone isn’t your cup of tea or is outside your budget, the Droid RAZR, available on Verizon Wireless in the US, also represents head-turning technology within the Android ecosystem. While a little more expensive than the entry level iPhone, at $299.99 USD, it sports “advanced artificial intelligence,” learning the user’s work habits, and speeding up those tasks it knows you’re going to perform most often.

Ultra-Portable Notebooks

  • Apple MacBook Air: As the only non-iOS/Android powered product in this gift guide, the Apple MacBook Air is both a Windows as well as a Mac based computer. The entry level model comes with 2GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD. This ultra-thin, SSD equipped ultra-notebook ranges in price from $999 to $1599 USD, and may be a bit on the pricy side. However, as current models don’t have DVD drives or Ethernet ports, you’ll need to remember to buy the external SuperDrive as well as the appropriate adapter not only for your desktop monitor, but its Ethernet adapter as well; and this will push the entry level price up by $137 USD.  You may also want to invest in a USB hub or two. Despite all this, however, the Air is proving very popular with consumers and enterprise users alike.

  • Asus Transformer Prime: The $499.99 USD Asus Transformer Prime is technically a tablet, but with its $149.99 Transformer Dock, it instantly becomes a powerful, light weight ultra-notebook, capable of satisfying most of the needs for a computing device in this category.  The best thing about this device is its ability to function as both a tablet and keyboard-based computer.  While the device currently runs Android’s Honeycomb 3.2, its sure to get an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich, ensuring that the device will provide a number of years of usability at roughly half the price of Apple’s MacBook Air.

As far as digital music players are concerned, the only one really left on the market, besides a slew of off-brand players is the Apple iPod.  You can’t go wrong with ANY of these, from the Shuffle to the iPod Touch.  You just need to pick a price point and a model and go with it.  This is a sure winner with anyone.

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Anti-Malware Programs Should be Free

Based on what’s available, you should never HAVE to pay for your anti-malware app.

I’ve been a freelance technology journalist for over 15 years. I’ve written for CMPnet, AOL/CompuServe, UBM TechWeb and for a number of print publications, including a local Chicago paper that is part of the SunTimes family. I’ve looked at a boat load of malware scanners over the years; and its clear, you have to have (and USE) one on your computer. You just do… Unfortunately, there’s really no way around it.

However, just because you have to have and use one, doesn’t mean that you have to pay for it. And you certainly don’t have to pay yearly subscription fees after your initial purchase. There are a number of scanners out there that are really very good, and are free.

Any and all of these are GREAT scanners, and more importantly, they’re all free, and don’t come with any kind of strings attached, such as subscription fees for updated AV definitions. I’ve used all of these at one point or another for both Windows and Mac, and highly recommend all of these. Most scan for viruses, worms, Trojans and the like, and may even help with phishing scams.

If you don’t feel comfortable with a free solution, or prefer the additional or advanced features of a pay or subscription based product, that’s fine. In the end, you just need to find one that seems to work the best for you…and then USE it. Let it run, regardless of WHEN it wants to run its scans. Let its definitions update. The utility can’t protect you if you don’t let it scan your PC and/or let its definitions update itself. Most modern PC’s have multi-core processors. Any performance hit you take is going to be minimal, and should be tolerable. Besides, any performance hit you take is well worth the benefit you receive.

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Navigating the Mobile Landscape: Ecosystems #2

In the Navigating the Mobile Landscape: Ecosystems #1 article we’ve been talking about why Ecosystems and mobile devices.  The big question that many of you are probably asking is, “ok… so what’s the big deal?  Why do I care about this? What differences does it make if my gadget of choice is part of any kind of an ecosystem?” It’s a good question.  And actually, it’s something that I know many pundits and marketing mavens have been tossing around. Most people, the pundits and mavens included, don’t completely get it.

Let’s break it all down…

Why an Ecosystem Matters at All
Mobile devices that do nothing more than PIM and Sync Services are equivalent to PDA’s of unconnected times past (think back to 2002-2005 and Compaq/HP’s iPAQ line of personal organizers) or are equivalent to one of RIM’s various Blackberries.  While that may not be too bad in some people’s eyes, think about the issues that are currently plaguing RIM, connectivity and outdated architecture aside.

As you may recall, we briefly touched on an ecosystem containing the following:

  1. PIM,
  2. Sync Services
  3. Purchasing Options & Methods for
  • Multimedia Content

– Music,
– Movies,
– TV Shows, etc.

  • Apps
  • eBooks
  • Pictures
  • etc.,

While the PIM and Sync Services are common to all mobile devices today, let’s consider the Apple model again, as we examine the above list.  What’s common to everything in that list..?  Simply put – iTunes.

iTunes manages the PIM data and sync services. It provides a purchasing and organization method for all consumer content. Apple also provides tools to help developers create content and register it with iTunes so it can be sold. This ecosystem is so simple to work with many developers can top 6-figure revenue marks in under 12 months, given the right product subject matter and type. This “no-brainer” product development model saw many developers leaving other, well established SDK’s for iOS development over the past few years.

But that’s been Apple’s model – build the complete solution, for consumers as well as developers – make it easy for them to live within the defined boundaries [of the ecosystem] and they will come. As I mentioned before, this is where the real money is, not in the hardware. Compatible hardware is simply enables the sale of consumer content.

What Amazon Did
Amazon did something similar, but they are trying to emulate, to an extent, what Apple has created by plugging the holes Google left in the ecosystem they created.  Google has the PIM and Sync Services; but doesn’t really have a trusted way to sell consumer content.  Amazon has had a way to sell music for years.  They have recently created a way to sell Android Apps. They’ve recently created a way to provide streaming movies and TV shows (via Amazon Prime). Their Kindle software provides a way to read and purchase eBooks.

I’ve been saying this for years – Amazon should concentrate on the sale of consumer content, not on selling hardware – to make their mark.  They actually did better than that, as the Kindle Fire is now poised to take the number 2 sales spot in the tablet market, but NOT because of the hardware. The Kindle Fire may take that spot due to the hardware sales, but it’s got the sales because of the kinds of content it supports, and what users can do with the device.

What Google Didn’t Do
Google may have a flagship phone in the Galaxy Nexus, but Samsung controls it; and they haven’t really enabled the new OS to do anything more than any other Android smartphone. Google doesn’t want to provide any type of specific experience, or control how you experience Android. They’ve built openness into the platform and have only recently chosen to address some of the holes with updates to Google Books, Google Music, etc.

What they haven’t done, though, is truly created the framework of the ecosystem for all of the OEM’s making and selling hardware. As such, there are a number of different launchers, like TouchWiz from Samsung and SenseUI from HTC. There are a number of different Android builds built into a number of different formats from tablets to smartphones to e-readers. The level of fragmentation that they have allowed by permitting OEM’s to choose from 5 different OS revisions (Éclair, FroYo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich) and their acknowledgement of their lack of revision control is staggering. By permitting 5 different OS revisions to be actively used at the same time, creates a great deal of variation and compatibility issues with applications in the Android Market.

While they may have the lion share of the handheld market, Google’s Android is floundering, struggling for direction. It needs Google to step up and define that direction in order to bring solidity and stability to the platform. If they truly want to beat Apple at their own game, this is what they need to do. Period.

Come back next time, and we’ll try to figure out where the heck Microsoft is in all of this.

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