Archive for the 'iPhone' Category
I saw this article about AT&T’s plans for the upcoming South by Southwest (SXSW) event and how they are planning to have ample capacity this year to avoid the embarrassment of last year. In AT&T’s defense, this event (music, film and internet people) concentrates a lot of the iphone toting people into a small area. Without an active plan to address that AT&T (and any carrier) would fail 100% of the time. But since AT&T has also had and continues to have major issues in big cities across the county on their 3G network, the event last year was more of a lightning rod for existing issues rather than anything new.
But it got me to thinking about my AT&T service in the last couple of months and while it may be a little earlier and a little unscientific, I believe that my service has gotten much better. I no longer am seeing a lot of dropped calls. Nor am I seeing a lot of situations where I can not make a call. That does not mean that I never have an issue, but it seems to have gotten better.
Plus I have not had the need to switch my phone to EDGE to avoid the 3G network being congested recently for my data apps either.
I know AT&T put up three towers in the area recently. So maybe that has helped? Or maybe AT&T has done some other tuning things to help with the local issues at the Reston Town Center? But for whatever reason, I think things are better.
I will have to check the call drop logs to see for sure. But maybe they are finally turning a corner.No comments
Corporate hypocrisy is terribly commonplace these days. So the fact that another huge, oligopolistic, company is at it again might not even be worthy of me passing gas much less taking the time to continue writing about it.
But I finally realized a couple of things about AT&T and their lack of service that made me realize why I am so ticked at them….
1) AT&T requires absolutely every iPhone user to purchase a data plan. There is no choice. $30 bucks every month for 2 years. Period.
2) The data plan is unlimited. It says so on the AT&T website. Don’t believe me?No comments
“…AT&T was working on improving service to the strained New York and San Francisco services. AT&T may soon introduce pricing tiers that would penalize high-bandwidth users.”
Good that they are working on improving service in NYC and San Fran. I hope they can make things better quicker than the 9 months AT&T told me it would take to put a new cell tower up for my area at the Reston Town Center.
Penalizing high bandwidth users is an interesting idea and approach. I know from my monthly bill that I used 1,340,989 KB of data last month (1.34GB). My wife used 784MB. My son (original iphone/edge) used just 11MB.
The month before I used 1.433GB. The month before that 1.285GB. So I am likely always the biggest consumer of data on my family plan of three iPhones and my average is fairly consistent around 1.3 to 1.4 GB. Am I a “high bandwidth user” ? I thought that my data cap was 5GB and for the $30 a month I am paying, I was entitled to up to 5GB which I have never hit.
But I bet my wife is likely more of an average iPhone 3G user and she does about 700MB a month. I likely use more BW because I stream Radio Paradise in my car a lot. And even though it is just 64kbps, if you do an hour of streaming, that totals 28MB an hour. So 10 hours of streaming is 280MB which starts to get close to the difference between an average user and me….a bit above average.
My fear is that AT&T is talking about me when they refer to high-bandwidth users. They will want to cap me. So instead of capping me at 1GB a month and lowering my data subscription fee, the fee will stay the same and the cap will be implemented. I will then have the option to pay $60 a month for that 5GB I currently have along with maybe a 3GB tier for $45 or so.
Why do I think this? I think AT&T mispriced the data portion of the iPhone plan at $30/mo. ATT offers “Laptop” data plans for $60 a month (USB modem) which also have a cap of 5GB a month. How could two plans both with 5GB caps be different prices? The answer is that AT&T mis-guessed on how much data iPhone users would actually use. The data plans offered by the carriers for each device/phone are based on how that device will most likely be used. Old WAP browsers had very low usage and the carrier knew that. Laptops can have a lot more usage. Blackberry’s are somewhere in between…but if you use your Blackberry with a corporate account, the data plan charges are more expensive as the carriers know those corporate users do a lot more email than silly AOL/Yahoo/MSN email users. So back to the iPhone and AT&T bad guesses…now that we are using the iPhone a lot more (app store, voip, streaming music, streaming video, etc) they want to change the price.
But they can’t just change the price. Or can they? We all have contracts. And Apple may have a contract too for the $30 price point. But maybe the contract does not state the limt? If it doesn’t, AT&T will keep the price but reduce the limit and make new plans available for higher tiers. Or they will change the whole pricing for data on the iPhone and open up an opportunity for iPhone users to get out of their 2 year contracts without the ETF fee.
But would people with iPhones drop their AT&T service if given an opportunity? I happen to love my iPhone and could not think of going back to a freakin’ MOTO RAZR. But I might switch to T-Mobile. Of course if AT&T waits too long and Apple does a deal with the red devil (VZW), then all bets are off. Maybe VZ would have tiered pricing for data too? Will be interesting. But wouldn’t some competition (and extra towers) be wonderful for us poor iphone folk :-)1 comment
Recently, I posted a couple of times about AT&T’s poor network in the Reston Town Center area. Well the issue is spreading.
Now the tower by my house is starting to show strain. My house is located 2 miles south of the town center and exactly 2,102 feet from the cell tower at the Fox Mill shopping center (actually in the parking lot of the fire station). I always have 5 bars. And I have never had much issue with my iPhone when I am at my house. But in the last 5 days or maybe a week now, I have noticed dropped calls, the inability to make calls, and missed voice calls (you get a voicemail but nothing in the missed call list). All of this while at my house, stationary.
For example, last night (Tuesday) I was talking to my tax guy at 3:32pm. The call lasted 6 minutes before I got the below CALL FAIL. Sitting in my living room, 5 bars, not moving much at all. I dialed back at 3:39 and we completed our conversation during the next 4 minutes.
On Sunday, I was on the phone with a customer support center getting help installing a new thermostat at 2:46pm. I was on hold for about 7 minutes before I got to a person. I was just beginning to tell the person what the issue was when I got dropped with a CALL FAIL. 9 minutes on the phone. Stationary in my kitchen. 2102 feet from a tower. 5 bars.1 comment
So AT&T is pissed at Verizon for the TV ads Verizon is running which make fun of AT&T’s lame network. So they sued Verizon. But they lost their fight in court. So what now?
Spread a little FUD.(see video below)
1. Whose got the fastest network? Well AT&T does!
Why? Their HSUPA speeds are actually slightly faster than Verizon’s WCDMA data speeds (5Mbps vs 3Mbps approx). The technical specifications do not lie. But how much faster? Not much that will make much difference to anyone. Latency on both networks likely affects browsing speed more than anything (500ms average!). And isn’t the ability to actually use the data network kind of the first issue. AT&T’s data network is way overloaded and/or broken in many big cities including my own here in Reson, VA.
If AT&T’s network actually worked, then they would be killing Verizon. But as it stands, AT&T is way behind on network planning and everyone knows it. Bad AT&T. Spend less on Ads and more on towers.
2. Talk and Surf at the same time? Yup, GSM standards provide this capability. But how many times do you really need it? Not very often. And I doubt anyone on Verizon even realizes they can’t do it. Very minor point unless you are on conference calls for hours at a time on your cell and need to check your latest email on your cell.
3. Most popular Smart Phones? Well, the iPhone is popular. That is one phone. What is the other phone?
3b. (not 4) Access to 100,000 apps? Yup. iPhone once again. It’s like AT&T is taking credit for Apple’s App Store. Silly. And it is like they think they can make a list of 100 things they are better at even though it is the same thing….”This is a great car. Will get you to your office and back. Even has wheels!”
4. Name that starts with “V”. Funny guys. I get it, humor.
Truth is that AT&T missed the point. Their customers understand the issues especially those with iPhones. Verizon’s 3G network is freakin’ huge. And the coverage is always better than AT&T. Sure they both have coverage in the big cities. But once you get a little out of the way, Verizon still has coverage where AT&T drops to nothing most of the time. Maybe you are lucky and get EDGE coverage, but mostly I find AT&T just does not have any footprint period. Such was the case on my camping trip last weekend. People with VZ phones had full bars. ATT, nothing.
And on top of the big footprint for 3G data and voice and even older technologies, Verizon also has a huge advantage in their network. IT WORKS! Sure AT&T has footprint in the big cities. But it is not reliable. My iPhone has shown call drop rates as high as 20% a day for a week straigtht as recently as September when the guys at the Apple Store ran some tests on the phone and showed me the results. Wow! That sucks something terrible for plain old phone service.
So instead of this bullshit, AT&T, why not fix your shit?No comments
The Reston Town Center in Reston, VA is a very upscale shopping and business area located near Dulles Airport about 20 miles outside of our nation’s capital. The mall is home to a number of high end stores including Apple, Bebe, Banana Republic, and many fine resturaunts. In addition, the area is home to numerous fortune 500 businesses including Microsoft, Oracle, Google Sallie Mae, Fannie Mae, and many more. And the town center is also home to a number of 20+ story high rise condo’s priced in the million dollar and up range.
Certainly the Reston Town Center is not a low population, far out suburb. This is a major metropolitan city on its own.
Yet for a week now AT&T has had zero coverage on its 3G network. No voice. No voicemail. No data. Period. My wife noticed it first (around 11/3) as she works in the area every day. Then I noticed it a couple of days later on Sunday 11/8 when I went to a store in the area. I tried to use data to find the phone number of my dog’s vet. I couldn’t. So I tried calling my wife. Nothing. The phone (an iPhone) showed 5 bars but it had no ability to do anything on the network.
Then I noticed that the bars would drop to zero and come back with the E (edge) symbol. Then it would go to NO SERVICE. And then a minute later back to 3G but still no ability to use the phone. Nothing including turning off the phone would help.
On Tuesday I was at theÂ town center and again having issues so I went to the Apple Store to test one of their phones in the store. Before I could even get to a phone, the Apple Store Greeter guy asked if I needed any help. I explained the issue and he immediately said they were aware of the issue with AT&T. No one in the Apple Store could use the network or was able to make calls at that location! Wow. Bad.
I happen to know someone who works for AT&T and I sent him some info about the issue and he said he escalated it internally. But days have gone by and still no resolution. So today, about a week after it seems to have started (according to the report from AT&T which has notes of first reports on 11/7) I went to the AT&T store at the Reston Town Center. The guy at the counter immediately acknowledged the issue and looked up the problem on an internal status website. He confirmed that it was listed as an issue on his site and had been a problem for over a week even though the status on his site said it was first reported on 11/11 (yesterday). He then told me to contact customer service to report the issue (why did they not report it?).
So I went home and called AT&T customer service (I could not call them from the town center, that was for sure) and found that they had the issue listed as “closed”! They were very nice and promised to re-open the issue. Then the call center person told me to restart my phone and even remove my SIM daily until the problem was fixed. What this hoo haa had to do with the tower at the town center being down I have no idea. Yes, I tried it. No it did nothing.
One interesting thing is that she did mention a new cell tower was going up about 3 miles from that area. Coupled with this report from another site, I wonder if the behavior I am seeing at the town center is equipment failure or simply an overloaded cell. Seems that New York people see this odd switching between 3G and E constantly and it is well known that AT&T is severely overloaded in NYC. Who knows.
But I guess in the end I got $70 out of Ma Bell and that made me feel a little better. But I wonder how long it will take the largest cellular company in the United States of America to be able to provide voice service for their customers who pay them north of $150 a month to place and receive phone calls?
UPDATE 11/13/2009: Was back in the area today in the morning around 9:30am. Everything looked like it was working. Called a few people on the drive up and the call lasted all the way through the trouble area. Data was working too. Went to lunch at the town center around 11:45am and everything still worked great. Maybe AT&T had actually solved the issue. My AT&T contact even said that he had confirmed the issue was solved and they thought he (and I) were crazy to be still reporting the issue.
At 12:30pm everything came to a halt just like it has everyday for the last week+. My phone said NO SERVICE. I could not make calls. No data. Nothing. I switched to EDGE and was able to make a call and leave a vmail for about 45 seconds before I was dropped. And this call was made while sitting in the Barnes and Noble parking lot in my Jeep Wrangler with the engine off. No reception issues there, right?
Some screenshots below if it could possibly get AT&T to admit that maybe, just maybe, the problem may not yet be solved. One could only hope. Check out the one shot with the small circle instead of 3G or E (edge)…that is the GPRS network symbol. Man, that is grim. Makes me wonder why AT&T is so upset with Verizon that they are suing them about their latest TV ads. If Verizon has that much larger of a 3G network and if it even works half as good as the small footprint of 3G that AT&T has, Verizon should be tooting their own horn. You betcha.
Shot with an iPhone 3GS and editted with iMovie HD. I wish I had had shot more of the cutting of the shape of the wood, but this will have to wait till the next time. Click below for the video.
*** Be WARNED. If you try this and fry your iPod/iPhone, don’t come crying to me! **
** Do this at your own risk **
My family has an ever growing iPod/iPhone collection. It is actually sad in a way, but it is what it is. We currently have three iPhones – First gen, 3G and 3GS. And we have a first gen iPod Touch.
When we go on vacation or a trip to visit my parents, we bring along a charger but the issue is that with four devices, someone is always needing a charge at the same time as someone else.
So I started playing around with USB hubs. Given that a simple 4 port USB hub that has an external power supply can supply 500mA to each USB port, I figured I could easily charge four devices. Not so as I would quickly find out. Most iPods and iPhones will not simply charge when they are connected to a USB port UNLESS that USB port is directly or indirectly connected to a computer.
From what now seems like endless experimentation, I have found a solution. To trick the iPhone/iPod into thinking it is connected to something it can charge from, you simply short the USB Data+ and Data- pins together. So basically if you provide 5V and GND on pins 1 and 4 and short the middle two pins, many iPods/iPhones will charge. I have tested the following:
iPhone 3GS – charges
iPhone 3G – charges
iPhone First Gen – charges
iPod 30G 5th Gen – charges
iPod Nano 3rd gen (the sort of square one and the first with video) – DOES NOT CHARGE
iPod Shuffle (2nd gen square shape with buttons) – DOES NOT CHARGE
So if you have a newer iPod or iPhone, chances are that my method will work for you. And if you have an old hub (USB 1.1 is just fine) that allows for external power (and you have the power adapter), you might give this a whirl… (click any image to enlarge)
1) Open up the hub.
2) Find the circuit traces for the middle two pins on the USB ports (Data+ and Data-). Using a dremel, screwdriver or whatever, cut through the traces so that these pins are isolated from the USB hub circuitry. ( Note: the USB hub will never work as a hub again)
I think the reason this works is that the USB charging spec has a way for a USB port to tell a device that it can charge or that it is a charger. While there are several ways to do this and the chip inside the device seems to have some sort of role as well, one of the ways is simply shorting the Data- and Data+ together. I discovered this by accident but later have confirmed on some forums that this may be the reason this works. And perhaps earlier iPods did not sense this while later units did.
One other note… it seems that to charge the last gen iPod Nano (first with video) and the iPod shuffle (2nd gen square shape with buttons) and everything else in the iPod/iPhone line you need to put USB Data+ and Data- at some voltage….many people on the forums claim 2.5V for each or 2.0V for one and 2.8V for the other, etc will work. And from my testing that seems to be the case. So if you want to really have a universal charger for every iPod and iPhone, you would have to go to the trouble to solder in a simple voltage divider into the USB hub. A pair of 330Kohm resistors, in series between 5V and GND would do it. Then solder the junction where the resistors meet (2.5V) to USB Data+ and Data-. That would do it. And I may do this someday, but for now, since the newer iPod/iPhone units seem to like a simply short, and since I am lazy, well, that is the way I will leave it.
And a final note…in my testing I found that the iPhone 3GS drained about 600mA while it was doing a “lot of work” like charging a fairly dead battery (20% life left), streaming a 64kbps radio stream over 3G and with the brightness full up. So while the hub will provide 500mA, it may not be enough to keep the device going non-stop under these conditions. For a solution to that issue, you would have to design your own power supply or buy one I guess. a 1A supply should be enough and that is what Apple’s own power supply is rated for….although I never saw it providing that much in my testing.
Addition: I can now say that a simple voltage divider which gives about 2.5V on the Data+ and Data- pins will get the iPod Nano to charge (the suqareish nano and first that supported video). But strangely, the iPod shuffle 2nd gen will still not charge. Hmmm.
*** Be WARNED. If you try this and fry your iPod/iPhone, don’t come crying to me! **
** Do this at your own risk **6 comments
Recently I ranted about how Apple has changed their dock connector numerous times to render old accessories useless. And while some of it seems to be necessary as I explained, other changes seem like greed.
Anyway, in my continuing saga to understand how to do simple things like get “line out” to work, I spent 6 hours over two weekends figuring out how to simply charge my iPhone 3G in the car. And this issue also affects the 3GS and most of the newest iPod Touch 2G and likely the latest Nano.
Basically, you can not simply use a standard Apple USB cable (30 pin dock connector on one end, USB on the other) to charge one of these things anymore unless it is connected to a computer. So take a standard car cigarette lighter adapter with a USB connector on it. These are commonly available for a couple of bucks and very convenient as they can charge more and more things that simply take 5V on a USB connector – blackberry’s, GPS, Jawbone headsets and more. But it won’t work with an iPhone.
Why? Well it seems a bit complicated to me, but I think I understand it. Basically the iPhone needs to know if it is connected to a computer’s USB port (limit of 500mA) or a regular wall charger (some are limited to an amp or even more). This way it “knows” how much current it can draw from the connector.
Now there are a lot of discussions in the forums about using a voltage divider network (two resistors between V+ and GND) to create +2.8V and another two resistors to create +2.0V for the USB Data- and Data+ pins, respectively. If these voltages are set on the DATA- and DATA+ pins, the iPhone will charge. And I found this to be true. In fact, the Apple wall charger has exactly those voltages on those pins which is likely where everyone got the idea.
But from playing around with it, I found that you could set both of these pins to the same voltage as long as it was above maybe 2.0V which makes it a little easier for the voltage divider network….now you just need one set of resistors – maybe 33K and 33K to give you +2.5V on Data- and Data+.
But I later found through more experimenting that simply shorting Data+ and Data- together (no voltage…just a solder joint), would cause the iPhone 3G, 3GS, last gen Nano, iPhone 2G, iPod 5G and likely many more to charge. I tested them all. They all work.
So again, all you seem to need is a standard USB port which supplies 5V on pin 1, GND on pin 4 and pins 2 and 3 (Data+ and Data-) soldered together.
I took a cheap USB charger like this one which runs $3 on sale. I opened it up, soldered the middle two connectors on the USB jack together, and viola!
So if you have an old charger laying around and your iPhone says “not compatible” you may be able to make it work. Keep in mind though that some old chargers output 12VDC (not 5VDC). These will not work with the newer iPhones/iPods because they no longer have the ability to charge from a “firewire” 12VDC input anymore. But if you are sure you have 5VDC and it still won’t charge, try soldering the middle two USB pins together and you should be happy.2 comments
Yes, it is definitely worth upgrading! I had mine installed around 1:15pm on Wed. :-)
Copy/Paste is something I don’t use that much day-to-day. BUT when I need it, it was basically something I could not do without it….like copying a long URL to mail to someone. Still I can’t understand why it does not work inside of a calendar task…like to copy an events street address so I can paste into maps. With that said, I would also say, why can’t I justÂ CLICK on a address in the calendar event and have it open maps! Duh.
Tethering works now. So does MMS. I think the hackers will force ATT to offer tethering sooner than later. You just need to go to the website and click on the carrier update profile. Done. I don’t use it that much, but when I do need it, I like to have it available. I wish Apple/ATT had simply allowed me to make the iphone into a 3G hotspot (wifi to 3G). That would have been simpler for some of the things I need to do. Also, to enable tethering you have to click through 4 or 5 menus on the phone which is a pain. And you can’t sort of leave it on all the time because when you plug it in to your Mac to sync, it starts tethering right away. Maybe I just let it do that (it will sync while tethered) but I would imagine that means more connections for ATT each time someone (with tethering on) sync’s their phone to their computer for a sync or just to charge the battery. Not smart.
A feature that no one has written about but I discovered yesterday is that I can now sync my contacts via ActiveSync (MSFT Exchange) while also maintaining a local address book which is sync’d to iTunes! This means that I can have my gmail contacts in a separate address book from my local ones and get to both. Before I either had to remove the local ones or they all got merged together which was a pain (or maybe it forced me to delete them….I can’t remember, but it did not work in 2.x).
The global search stuff for the entire phone is good. But the search inside of MAIL is huge! And it will search the server for me too. And it is quick!
The voice recorder will come in handy. I had one before (free) but it was not ideal in a few small ways. The new one is perfect.
The small changes to the camera app are nice too. You can now take a picture and see the result for more than 0.00005 milliseconds. And you can even look at older images without leaving the app entirely. This is a big help. The camera still sucks mind you.No comments