I previously wrote how iCloud automatic backups were killing my internet connection and thought I’d provide an update, but first I want to discuss my experience with Apple support.

People who know me know I’m a huge advocate of Apple and their products. So, when something goes wrong, it is a bit disappointing. When I was troubleshooting the issues I was having with my iCloud backups I noticed that my iCloud storage was shrinking at a rapid pace.

phone backups
The amount of space my phone says I was using for backups.

It appeared that every time iCloud tried to back up and failed, the data that was backed up prior to the failure stayed in iCloud and there was no way for me to access it or delete it. Even after turning off iCloud backups, there was still over 50 GB of backup data that I could not remove.

When looking at the settings on my phone, it showed how much backup space I was using. According to the phone, I was using 8.8 GB of space on backups. This seemed correct and about what I was seeing before the trouble started. However, if I looked at the iCloud settings on my Mac or in iCloud.com, I would see something completely different. There, I would see over 50 GB of space being used for backups. This is obviously incorrect. Each time I attempted a backup and it failed, the number would grow.

iCloud backup storage
The amount of space iCloud said I was using for backups.

I contacted Apple about this, and while all the employees that helped me were very nice, none actually comprehended the issue and could provide me with a way to delete this backup data. I tried explaining the issue to several different techs, but none could give me an adequate answer. Finally, after a week of going back and forth via email with an Apple tech, I gave up and just told them to close the case. This was not going to get fixed because 1. They really didn’t understand the issue and 2. It was being caused by iCloud backups failing, which they also couldn’t solve. I was extremely disappointed by the support I received but there was nothing I could do at this point. I even had to upgrade my iCloud storage to 200 GB just so I wouldn’t get the space warnings on the 50 GB tier.

Fast forward a couple of months to the release of the iOS 10 Public Betas. I installed the beta because I’m a nerd and love to have the latest and greatest. After the third or fourth beta, I noticed that the 50+ GB of backup data no longer existed in iCloud. Everything started showing correctly on my phone, my Mac, and iCloud.com. Furthermore, backups were running without killing my internet connection. In fact, I am now able to stream media, backup my Mac data to CrashPlan and perform an iCloud backup all at the same time without an issue. I also noticed that my iPad, which backs up a lot less frequently, is backing up without issue now as well. Something with the way iCloud backups work must have changed with iOS 10. I’m really hoping that this continues through the public release and that backups continue to work. Otherwise, my phone will be stuck backing up at work only again.

For the past few months I’ve been experiencing intermittent connection issues with my home internet. The internet would stop working completely, on every device in the house, for a period of 10-15 minutes a couple of times a day. After a few months of experiencing this, I decided to finally start investigating. It was this past weekend when I finally noticed that about a minute after I plugged my iPhone into a charger, any charger, the internet would quit working. I was able to consistently recreate the issue. If I unplugged the phone right away, the internet would come back right away.

I figured out it was due to iCloud’s automatic backup when plugged in and on a known wireless network. So, when the phone starts to backup, the internet connection dies for all other devices while the backup is taking place, or tries to take place. Most of the time, iCloud backups on my home network fail 1. I did some searching on the internet to see if others have had similar issues and found a couple of posts, but no real solution. For a few days I thought I had fixed it by resetting the network settings on the phone. It looked like the small, but annoying problem, was finally resolved. Or so I thought.

While working from home yesterday, the problem returned. Plugged in the phone and the internet would stop working. Unplug it and internet is back. I’m not sure what the exact problem is. Is it a problem with the modem? The router? iOS? Last night I decided to update to the latest iOS 9.3 beta to see if backups become more reliable. So far, it does not look good. The phone was not able to backup to iCloud overnight. I will have to test more at home tonight to see if my connection dies the next time it tries to backup. I’m not sure what else to try at this point, besides disabling iCloud backups, but I’m not giving up yet. Suggestions welcome 2.

EDIT: Check out my update on iCloud backups killing my internet connection. iOS10 seems to have fixed the issue.

  1. Most successful backups I see are being made on my work’s network when my phone is plugged in during the day
  2. [email protected] or @shep on Twitter

One of the things I’ve often wanted in some of my music apps is the ability to put them to sleep using the built in sleep timer. I’ve been waiting for Apple to release a public API to harness the timer in the Clock app. It appears they have, just not many developers know about it or use it. One of the best music apps, Pandora, does. From their FAQ:

How do I put Pandora to sleep after a certain interval of time?

To do this, exit Pandora and enter the native iPhone “Clock” app. Touch the “Timer” option in the lower left corner. Set the amount of time you want Pandora to play, then set the “When Timer Ends” option to “Sleep iPod” and touch the green “Start” button. Choose the desired Pandora station and leave it playing. Pandora will shut off when the specified interval is up.

I tested some other apps to see if they harnessed this API as well and it appears they don’t. Last.fm will shut off when the timer is done but then it will start right back up. Same thing with the Sirius XM app. The AOL Radio app hasn’t been updated in forever so I didn’t even try that one (which is a shame, it is a good app). I’m not sure why more developers aren’t using this. Do they even know about it? It should be noted that I tried searching for the API in the docs and could not find it but this was the first time I’ve ever even looked at the docs so I wasn’t sure what I was looking for.

I received my iPhone 4 today, a day earlier than expected, and wanted to give my quick thoughts. There will be plenty of tech reviews surfacing over the next week, but here is a personal perspective from someone who owned an iPhone 3g.

The first thing I noticed when handling the phone is how solid it felt. It feels like a solid slab of glass in your hand. Don’t let that confuse you though. That doesn’t mean it feels like it is fragile. On the contrary, it feels much stronger than my 3g. It just feels great in my hands. The second thing I noticed about the phone was how beautiful the screen is. Seriously, this is the best screen I’ve ever seen on such a small device. The text is extremely crisp and everything seems to just pop off the screen. It truly is magnificent. The last thing I noticed is just how fast it is. It is so much faster at launching apps, downloading data, and searching than my 3g ever was. Now that I have this and look back at the 3g I wonder how I ever managed. It seriously feels like going from dial-up to broadband. That is the best comparison for device speed I can come up with. Things are instant to load and update. Just these three updates have made this phone feel like the greatest piece of technology to fit in the palm of my hand.

Of course there are tons of new features that I have yet to get into, especially with iOS4, but I’ll let all the tech sites handle those reviews. Just know that the updates, such as multitasking and fast app switching, as well as the 512mb of RAM and 1 ghz processor make this phone a great device and Apple has made me fall in love all over again.

Apple is known for designing products that elicit strong emotions. They rebranded the personal computer and made it colorful and fun. Last night I began thinking about how they are playing towards your emotions with the iPhone 4 and how they do it better than anybody else, especially for a product that is essentially a cell phone.

The driving force behind me thinking about this is the video for the new iPhone 4 feature Facetime. The other night I showed my parents the video and as they watched smiles formed across their faces and stayed there through the entire video. I showed the video to my sister this evening and she felt strong emotions toward the scene where the husband/future-father was seeing a sonogram live via a cell-phone. Her reaction was of sadness. I think we could all find a situation in the video where we could replace the actors with ourselves quite easily. The music, a Louis Armstrong tune, is even perfect for the video’s theme. It does not distract you from the images that flow across the screen but greatly enhances the emotions you feel while watching them. Even when you take a look at the more technical video of the iPhone 4 you feel strong emotions. You are drawn to the beauty of the device and the excitement from the people in the video transfer to the viewer. The iPhone 4 marketing material is warm, inviting, and emotional.

This is the exact opposite of every other smartphone commercial out there. When you see the Palm Pre commercial you’re greeted with a creepy looking woman that looks like that might be a Borg Queen. When you look at any of the Droid commercials you’re presented with cold, hard, emotionless machinery. I don’t know who thought that these smartphones should only be seen as a tool and not something that should be part of our daily lives, but whoever they are, they need to be fired. Apple’s people did it right.