Launching Maps from Address Book
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Series: Problems with iOS 6
iOS 6 may bring lots of new features, but it also introduced plenty of bugs.
Article 1 of 10 in series
After a week of non-stop criticism of the new Maps app in iOS 6, Apple CEO Tim Cook has posted a public apology on Apple’s Web site. Adam Engst examines the situation. Show full article
Since the release of iOS 6, the Internet has been overrun with criticisms of Apple’s new Maps app, which replaces the previous Google Maps-driven Maps app with entirely new code and data. Most notably, Apple’s new Maps suffers from incomplete and incorrect data and imagery, and lacks the transit directions that many people relied upon in Google Maps. Even more troubling for some people was the loss of saved locations without warning of any sort — one of our readers was particularly distraught to lose numerous saved locations of sentimental places in her life, built up in Maps over time since her first iPhone.
The criticism reached a sufficient pitch that Apple CEO Tim Cook, much as Steve Jobs did in similar situations, has released a public letter addressing the topic. In the letter, Cook acknowledges the problems, apologizes for the frustration it has caused iOS users, recommends that users try alternative apps and Web-based services, and promises that Apple will improve Maps.
Unsurprisingly, Cook paints Apple’s decision to replace the long-standing Maps app as driven by the desire to add features that weren’t possible with the old app. Hidden behind that statement are competitive agendas that may never be fully known, with Apple reportedly complaining that Google wasn’t bringing features like turn-by-turn directions and vector-based maps to the iPhone version of Maps long after those features had appeared on Android phones. But Apple didn’t have to make the move now either; The Verge reports that Apple’s contract with Google for Google Maps had over a year left. What’s unclear is which company was actually responsible for the Maps app, and whether the contract precluded the addition of new features.
More generally, Apple is congenitally uncomfortable with being reliant on other companies for core capabilities of its products, and that’s especially true with competitors like Google. (Also dropped in iOS 6 was the bundled YouTube app, which had failed to keep pace with YouTube changes, though Google quickly pushed out a new YouTube app for the iPhone.)
So what lessons are there to be learned from the Maps debacle, and what should we think about it? (Thanks to everyone who contributed to the TidBITS Talk discussion about Maps, where many opinions were aired, and which informed some of my thinking on this topic.)
Clearly, Apple screwed up here. Creating a mapping service is unquestionably a Herculean task, and when Google Maps debuted, it certainly suffered from its share of embarrassing errors and omissions. But given how Apple featured Maps in iOS 6 presentations, it seems as though Apple executives failed to realize that the new Maps was not sufficiently mature. That’s the charitable view; the less-charitable might think that Apple knew full well that the new Maps didn’t measure up but felt that its limitations wouldn’t hinder sales of iOS devices. The problems with Maps may not have slowed iPhone 5 sales, but they do make it harder to trust Apple in the future, and those who lost important saved locations feel even more let down.
It’s important to realize that the new Maps doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It can’t be — and shouldn’t be — evaluated solely on its own merits because it enters a world already populated by high-quality mapping services with which users have significant experience. We know what a mapping app can do, and should do, and Apple should have realized that they’d need to meet that basic level before launching. Perhaps there was no way to determine just how inaccurate it would be ahead of time (though Security Editor Rich Mogull found that the pre-release version of Maps had trouble even in Silicon Valley), but the lack of transit directions seems painfully obvious.
Should you use Maps? If you’re just exploring an area remotely, certainly. If data accuracy isn’t of paramount importance, as it is when actually navigating to an unfamiliar area, then Maps is fine. But if you have previously relied on Maps for directions, I encourage you to get an alternative mapping program or Web-based service, either to replace Maps in everyday use or to serve as a backup in case Maps lets you down. In my tests so far, Maps has performed adequately, though its spoken directions aren’t as precise or helpful as Navigon’s (read on).
During that time driving around Silicon Valley, Rich Mogull relied instead on Navigon, which has just added Urban Guidance that considers public transit when calculating pedestrian routes, along with a Last Mile feature that automatically offers walking directions when you park near your destination. Navigon is my favorite GPS navigation app as well, thanks in part to its system for storing maps (where I drive, cellular coverage can be spotty) but breaking them up by location, so I don’t have to waste gigabytes of space on one app. But there are many others, including the free Waze and MapQuest, and the paid MotionX, Garmin StreetPilot, CoPilot, and TomTom. Plus, it seems likely that Google will eventually publish an independent Google Maps app for iOS; I can’t imagine why Google hasn’t done so already, unless the delay is due to behind-the-scenes negotiations with Apple.
Of course, the new Maps can and will improve. Most of the problems revolve around the server side of the equation, and with over 100 million users searching for billions of locations per month, Apple will have unimaginable amounts of data with which to improve the mapping databases that underpin both the visual maps and directions. Could Apple have started collecting that data with the old Maps app, or was that data funneled only to Google? We may never know.
A significant way that Apple can improve Maps is when users report problems; if you tap the lower-right corner of the map display to reveal the settings, there’s a link to Report a Problem; a similar button appears in the detail page for any point of interest. But some people are put out that a company with Apple’s billions of dollars is seemingly relying on user efforts rather than providing better quality data to start. Others have pointed out that it’s fairly clumsy to report problems in iOS, as opposed to within a Web-based interface on a computer.
Speaking of a Web-based version of Maps, Apple does seem to be moving in that direction. Sharing a location from Maps generates a maps.apple.com URL, and while clicking that link currently redirects to Google Maps, I can’t see Apple continuing to give Google that traffic and ad revenue going forward. Perhaps we’ll see a Maps icon in the iCloud Web interface soon.
In the end, I think Apple released this new Maps prematurely, and the company deserves all the lumps it’s receiving. That said, Tim Cook’s apology was generally spot on, and a much-appreciated acknowledgement of problems the company caused through inattention and hubris. Let’s hope that the apology is not just empty words, and the embarrassment causes Apple to refocus on software quality and reexamine policies that exist only to give Apple control rather than improving the experience for everyone in the ecosystem.
Article 2 of 10 in series
After updating to iOS 6, Adam Engst’s iPhone 4’s battery life dropped precipitously, and worse, the problem moved to his new iPhone 5 once he restored the iPhone 4’s settings to it. Read on for his solution, but beware, it was a bit of an ordeal, and you might not like what you have to do.Show full article
Like millions of other people, when Apple released iOS 6 on 19 September 2012, I immediately updated my iPhone 4. I was somewhat distressed the next day to receive the 20-percent battery life remaining notification — at 1 PM on a day when I’d done almost nothing with the iPhone!
My iPhone 4’s battery had been slowly getting worse due to age, but back in April I had replaced the battery with a new one from iFixit and battery life had immediately sprung back to normal. Clearly iOS 6 was involved in some way, but troubleshooting anything in iOS is difficult, and something like poor battery life is especially hard, since it can take hours to determine if a fix has worked. I was busy, and decided to ignore the problem briefly, since I knew I’d be switching to the iPhone 5 when it arrived a day later.
When FedEx delivered my iPhone 5 on Friday, I immediately restored my latest iPhone 4 backup to it, but I couldn’t really use it until I could visit the AT&T store on Saturday to transfer my phone number. The iPhone 4’s battery continued to drain quickly — to the point where I had to charge it in the car on the way to the AT&T store so I’d have enough power to use it in the store. As is always the case at the AT&T store in Ithaca, the staff were friendly and helpful (and the guy who helped us said he had received quite a number of calls about iOS 6 causing problems that required restoring, though battery life issues were not among them).
I walked out with a fully functional iPhone 5 whose setup was identical to my previous iPhone 4... including the battery drain. Over the next few days, I watched the battery drop incredibly quickly, sometimes as much as 10 to 20 percent per hour. Some research on the Internet showed that lots of people were experiencing the problem, though it certainly wasn’t ubiquitous.
After reading a variety of discussions, I came across what turned out to be the key clue. When I tapped Settings > General > About > Diagnostics & Usage > Diagnostics & Usage Data, I saw what must have been hundreds of crash logs for a process called webbookmarksd, starting at the point I enabled connectivity for the iPhone 5. This jogged my memory — corrupt Safari bookmarks syncing to iCloud had previously caused problems for my MacBook (see “Solving iCloud-Related Slowdowns in Lion,” 16 February 2012).
The solution in that case was to delete the corrupt Safari bookmarks locally, such that a new version came down from iCloud, and all was well. When I investigated my Safari bookmarks, I discovered they were a total mess. Since I don’t really use Safari, I’d never worried about the fact that the bookmarks had been imported from multiple other systems years ago and horribly duplicated through who knows what syncing services. Despite this, they’d never caused problems in previous versions of iOS.
To jump ahead of myself, the solution once again was to delete corrupt Safari bookmarks, but what’s easy on a Mac is often difficult or even impossible in iOS. I’ll share my unsuccessful intermediate attempts and some other approaches I didn’t think of in time, and if you’re experiencing similar battery life problems, I encourage you to try the less-destructive approaches before taking the eventual tack I did.
Before you get started, make a local backup of your current Safari bookmarks by choosing File > Export Bookmarks in Safari. That creates a simple HTML file containing your bookmarks; you can edit it in any text editor and reimport it into Safari using File > Import Bookmarks if you want.
My first attempt was to delete bookmarks via iCloud, which I accomplished successfully by deleting all the bookmarks from within Safari’s bookmark interface. That worked for Safari on my MacBook Air and my original iPad, still running iOS 5, but Safari on the iPhone 5 wouldn’t relinquish its bookmarks. I tried deleting these bookmarks manually on the iPhone, but Safari either wouldn’t let me delete at all, claiming that bookmarks were being synchronized, or it simply ignored my taps on the Delete button.
Next up, I followed a piece of advice I’d seen to reset all settings and then restart the iPhone. This starts to be destructive, since resetting all settings deletes all sorts of customized settings in iOS and Apple’s built-in apps. You won’t lose any data — pictures, contacts, music, apps, or the like — but you will spend some time getting your iPhone to work as you expect again. To reset your iPhone, tap Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings. And to force iOS to start fresh with default settings, restart your iPhone by holding down the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons for at least 10 seconds, until the Apple logo appears. Unfortunately, this made no difference for me — Safari’s bookmarks remained stubbornly fixed in place.
Although it seemed that my iPhone’s bookmarks weren’t updating from iCloud, I thought perhaps disconnecting from iCloud might break them free. So I turned off Safari in Settings > iCloud, and agreed that I wanted to delete the bookmarks from my iPhone. That made no difference, so I next deleted the entire iCloud account, figuring that everything should come back when I reconnected to iCloud later. Still no change — those bookmarks persisted no matter what I tried, and even after deleting the iCloud account, Safari claimed that I couldn’t delete them because they were being synchronized.
At this point, although I was certain that the problem wasn’t related to the battery itself, it was easy enough to let it discharge completely and charge overnight to recalibrate. I was correct — that made no difference, but it was good to eliminate as a possibility.
Before I tell you about the next step I took, let me recommend two more things you could try that I didn’t think of in time. In iTunes, select your iPhone in the sidebar and then scroll down to the bottom of the Info view. Under the Advanced heading, there are several checkboxes that enable you to replace information on the iPhone with data from the Mac. If you have disabled iCloud syncing, it’s possible that you’ll be able to select Sync Safari Bookmarks from the Other section, select Bookmarks in the Advanced section, sync again, and eliminate your corrupt bookmarks that way.
Second, though I can’t vouch for this process personally, Shawn Lebbon outlines a somewhat complicated process to replace the corrupt bookmarks with a clean set in an Apple Support Communities thread. Be sure to read the entire thread, and note that you’ll need the $34.95 iBackupBot to perform the necessary surgery. It’s non-trivial, but it may fix the problem without requiring you to reconfigure from scratch.
Anyway, I was sufficiently frustrated by having to charge the iPhone in the middle of the day just to make it to the evening that I had come to terms with the work associated with starting from scratch. Before that, just for giggles, I used iTunes to restore the iPhone to my most recent backup. As expected, that restored the corrupted bookmarks too, so I steeled myself for the last ditch effort — setting up my iPhone 5 as a new iPhone. To do this, I put my iPhone into Device Firmware Update (DFU) mode rather than use normal recovery mode because DFU mode, as I understand it, restores the firmware as well as iOS.
To put your iPhone into DFU mode, turn the iPhone off by holding down the Sleep/Wake button until you get the Slide to Power Off slider, and slide it. Then connect it to your Mac via USB and press both the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons for exactly 10 seconds. At 10 seconds, release the Sleep/Wake button, but continue to hold down the Home button for another 5 seconds, until iTunes alerts you that it has detected an iPhone in recovery mode. The iPhone screen should be black at this point; if it shows the graphic of a USB cable pointing at the iTunes icon, then you’re in normal recovery mode and won’t get clean firmware.
At that point, when you restore your iPhone, choose Set Up As A New iPhone. When it’s done, your iPhone will look just as it did when you took it out of the box, with factory default settings and just the built-in apps. (I immediately verified that my corrupt bookmarks were gone — finally!) You can then go through the various tabs in iTunes to choose the apps and data you want to sync — I suppose you could also download them from iCloud, though that would probably be slower.
However, before you start setting up your clean iPhone, let me suggest another thing to try, which I didn’t think about when I was doing my setup. On one of the many threads on the Apple Support Communities forums about this problem, Nuje recommended restoring the last backup after doing the clean wipe. That might just bring back the corrupt bookmarks, but for Nuje, the battery draining problem did not return and it wasn’t necessary to spend time rebuilding all the settings. If Nuje’s trick doesn’t work, just wipe the iPhone again.
I’m actually not all that bothered by having to rebuild my settings. It’s a little like forgoing Migration Assistant when setting up a new Mac — it’s way more work, but every now and then it’s nice to get a clean start. I’ve migrated the same settings forward from at least three iPhones at this point, dating back to iPhone OS 3 (before Apple renamed it to iOS), and who knows what digital cruft might have been in there.
The important thing is that my iPhone 5’s battery life is back to normal — after I finished syncing my apps, I drove to meet my running group, playing a podcast in the car for 7 or 8 minutes, leaving the iPhone on standby in the glove compartment for an hour, and then listening to the podcast again on the drive home. And you know what? The battery percentage didn’t drop from 100% the entire time. That’s more what I’ve come to expect from my iPhones.
I only wish it hadn’t taken me four days to work through all the possibilities — I expect better from Apple’s updates, especially on the iPhone, where troubleshooting is so much harder than on the Mac.
Article 3 of 10 in series
People are reporting that their iPhones are sucking down massive amounts of data over cellular networks for unknown causes. Apple’s Podcasts app was suspected first, and while it is problematic, it also doesn’t seem to be the entire story. What is chewing up data and racking up big cellular bills?Show full article
My Twitter feed is full of people telling me about mysterious data usage over cellular networks after installing iOS 6 or acquiring an iPhone 5. Adam Engst already penned an article explaining potential causes and solutions for fast battery draining in iOS 6 (see “Solving iOS 6 Battery Drain Problems,” 28 September 2012). This may have some bearing on the unexpected cell data consumption, too, especially given that he tracked his problems to corrupted Safari bookmarks syncing constantly through iCloud, which could happen while away from a Wi-Fi network.
But many of the reports I’ve received are from people whose iPhones are set to use Wi-Fi, and the phones show a Wi-Fi network connection item when woken from sleep. One Twitter buddy, Anthony Hecht, says AT&T told him that when his iPhone is in “idle mode” (standby), it always reverts to cellular, which is wrong. AT&T customer service also told him to turn cellular data off (Settings > General > Cellular Data) whenever it’s idle, which is crazy making. He has seen 9 GB in unexpected mobile use, largely while at home based on his online charge breakdown, in just a week.
Many people attributed this problem to usage by Apple’s Podcasts app, which has been documented to exhibit bad behavior when downloading and streaming over cellular (see “Does Apple’s Podcasts App Suck Cellular Data?,” 17 September 2012). It can download the same podcast file repeatedly. Even after Apple added a switch in Podcasts 1.1 to restrict data use to Wi-Fi, my colleagues can still track cellular downloads with the app, especially if a download or streaming was already in progress when walking away from a Wi-Fi connection.
But several people have also eliminated Podcasts and other podcasting apps as culprits. They can see from their online data usage and from iOS’s tracking of cellular data (or by using DataMan) that the device chews through hundreds of megabytes of cell data over short periods of time, and they don’t know why. Josh Centers is in the middle of a quest to figure this out, and I expect others are as well.
John Herbert seems to have found one particular bad use case when iTunes Match will download over a mobile broadband network even when all the switches to use cellular data with Music and iTunes Match are flipped to Off. His entry on the topic explains how these settings are currently ignored when you start to download items from the cloud or have music downloads in queue.
Verizon has released a “carrier settings update”, which is supposed to deal with technical issues of connecting an iPhone to a given mobile network, and it apparently has to do with an iPhone 5 using the cellular data network instead of Wi-Fi even when connected to a Wi-Fi network. This doesn’t explain AT&T users’ problems nor those of people with earlier iPhone models experiencing the same data consumption.
Over at the Economist’s Babbage blog, I suggested that it’s hard to pin down blame when one can’t currently measure per-app use and thus figure out what’s going on. That was possible with DataMan Pro, which Adam Engst started testing for review before Apple pulled it from the App Store, but for most people trying to figure out what’s happening is completely frustrating — and expensive! This isn’t “CellularDataGate,” but it’s clearly affecting more than just a handful of people, and could involve folks paying tens or even hundreds of dollars in excess data usage because of what might be a bug in iOS 6 or Apple-provided apps.
Article 4 of 10 in series
by Matt Neuburg
The tales of unwanted cell data usage in iOS 6 grow ever more numerous and ever more alarming. Even though we can’t put our finger on a single cause, the problem is plainly all too real, and, for some users, all too costly.Show full article
It’s becoming more and more difficult to ignore the numerous reports that iOS 6 on an iPhone or iPad can use far more cellular data than iOS 5 or earlier systems did. Anecdotal evidence is hardly to be trusted, even when it arrives in large quantity, but surely a massive thread such as this one on the Apple Support Communities cannot consist entirely of people who are mistaken or misapprehending the phenomena. Moreover, some of us here at TidBITS are convinced that we’ve experienced the problem in our own lives.
In this article, which picks up on some themes already broached by Glenn Fleishman in TidBITS (see “What’s Behind Mysterious Cellular Data Usage in iOS 6?,” 29 September 2012) and in a Macworld podcast, I’ll try to distinguish several strands of the issue. But first, let’s agree on just why the issue is an issue. We can all accept, I think, the following two axioms:
Axiom 1 First and foremost, it’s all about money. For my iPhone, I pay $15 for the grandfathered-in minimal 200 MB per month cell data plan from AT&T. The penalties for exceeding this monthly limit ($15 for each subsequent 200 MB) are severe as a proportion of my monthly bill, and the penalties for exceeding it by a lot are really severe. Users are aware of this, and are careful in consequence. For my iPhone to cost me money gratuitously, beyond whatever control I can achieve through such care, is wrong.
Axiom 2 The expectation is that when your device has a Wi-Fi connection, as when it is sitting in your living room and can see your home network, it will use virtually no cellular data; all the data you ask for, such as fetching your mail or viewing a Web page, should come over Wi-Fi. I say “virtually” because some phone activities, such as checking your voicemail by way of the Phone app’s interface rather than dialing your voicemail manually, do require a cellular connection — but they use only a tiny amount of data. This expectation is both reasonable, because if it is violated there is a danger that you can exceed your data cap (see Axiom 1), and deeply ingrained, because that is demonstrably just how iOS 5 and earlier systems behaved.
With that said, it is clear that some of us at TidBITS have recently experienced cellular data usage in excess of our expectations or intentions, and that some users (as shown in the Apple Discussions thread I cited above, as well as in reader comments on Glenn’s article) have experienced cellular data usage massively in excess of their expectations or intentions. So something is going on. I think we can distinguish four broad themes in the gusher of information and speculation about this problem. By concentrating separately on these four themes, I hope to focus your attention on what you can do to stem the flow of unwanted and costly cellular data on your own device, until such time as Apple provides a system-level fix.
How To Measure -- How do you know how much cellular data your device is using? In my opinion, a third-party app can’t tell you; it just doesn’t have access to the needed information. When I started seeing unusual cellular usage on my own device, I installed DataWiz; the interface is delightful, but the numbers proved to be sufficiently different from other forms of measurement that I eventually removed it. Similarly, Adam Engst swears by DataMan, but in the same breath adds all sort of caveats about making sure it’s running; DataMan Pro, which had the power to point the finger at individual processes using cell data, was removed from the App Store by Apple, although Adam and other early purchasers still have it.
In my view, there are only two numbers you should accept as meaningful. One is from the device itself, as reflected in the Settings app. Go to Settings > General > Usage > Cellular Usage. The numbers shown here are cumulative, so in order to know whether there’s been a sudden recent spike you may need to have made a note the last time you checked. But by deliberately pressing Reset Statistics on the first day of your monthly billing cycle, you can get a sense of whether you’re likely to exceed your cap this month. Of course, you have to know what day of the month that is, and it’s a pain to remember to do it; but the Calendar app can help you set a reminder that eases the pain.
The second important number — perhaps the only definitive one — is what your cellular provider says. After all, the real question is not how much data the iPhone thinks it’s using, but whether your provider is likely to charge you for exceeding your cap. You may be able to check your provider’s usage figures in an automated fashion. For example, on my iPhone, I go to Settings > Phone > AT&T Services, and am shown a number I can dial to View My Data and Msg (*3282#). Tapping that number causes a text message from AT&T to arrive in the Messages app, telling me when the next bill cycle starts and how much data I’ve used so far in this cycle.
Inspect Your Settings -- iOS 6 introduces a lot of new settings, squirreled away in various places, enabling you to specify explicitly whether an app should be allowed to use cellular data, or implicitly whether some process should be allowed to communicate over the network at all (the implication being, if it wants to communicate when you’re in the field, it will certainly use cellular if it can). It is worth taking some time to walk recursively through all your settings, looking for those controls. This is a boring and tedious operation, but hey, we’re talking about your money here. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that the implications of a setting may not be obvious.
Before listing some of these miscellaneous settings, I must say something about the master setting at Settings > General > Cellular. There is a master Cellular Data switch at the top here, and I’m certain that it does what it implies: if you switch it to OFF, the cell radio is effectively turned off, and although the phone still works for voice, you absolutely positively can’t use any cell data under any circumstances. You are unlikely to want to use this switch, though, since it hampers your use of the device. For example, you can’t check your voicemail easily. Plus, having this switch turned off caused Find My Friends to fail to track me when I was driving to pick up Adam in North Hollywood last week (and caused his text message to me to traverse the SMS system rather than Apple’s free iMessage system). On the other hand, why was it off? Because my phone is using excessive cell data, and switching this setting to OFF prevents that! So it’s Catch-22.
Here are some other settings to notice. Observe that I have no special information about what they really do or what effect they really have on cell data usage; I’m merely suggesting that they might be worth toggling in order to try to keep cell usage down:
Settings > General > About > Advertising: I’m told that the Limit Ad Tracking switch can affect cellular use, and that to minimize such use you want the switch ON (because this will limit ad tracking, don’t you see).
Settings > General > About > Diagnostics & Usage: Tap Don’t Send to prevent behind-the-scenes communication of diagnostic information back to Apple.
Settings > General > Cellular: Scroll down to see several Use Cellular Data For switches. Clearly if you don’t want these processes using cell data, you should switch them OFF.
Settings > General > Date & Time: Switch Set Automatically to OFF, perhaps, though one hardly suspects time queries of using much data.
Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services: Set all of these to OFF, since any of them might try to “phone home” while you’re out in the field. Pay attention to the pointer icons next to each service, since they tell you which services are actually being used: purple icons indicate recently used services, gray icons appear next to services that have been used in the last 24 hours, and purple outlined icons appear next to services using a geofence.
Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data: Switch Push to OFF if you don’t want these three services trying to shove data at you when you’re out in the field. Personally, I also have Fetch set to Manually, so no communication can take place unintentionally. Even then you’re not finished, though; tap Advanced to move to yet another screen with yet more Push-related settings. Tap each service in turn to set it up. For example, I’ve set iCloud to Manual and my Mail accounts to Manual here as well; I do not understand why this advanced setting exists or how it can be allowed to override my Push and Fetch settings from the earlier screens, but I am taking no chances.
Settings > FaceTime: Set Use Cellular Data to OFF. Clearly a video conversation via FaceTime running over the cell data connection is going to be disastrously expensive.
Settings > Safari: Scroll down to see Use Cellular Data; switch it OFF. Note that this doesn’t claim to prevent Safari from using cellular data; it says merely that it prevents Reading List from syncing data via cellular. I’ll have more to say about this later.
Settings > iTunes & App Stores: Scroll down to see Use Cellular Data; switch it OFF. This actually applies, it appears, only to iTunes Match and automatic download of items newly purchased on other devices.
Settings > Music > Use Cellular Data: This switch appears only if you have iTunes Match turned on. Switch it to OFF to prevent iTunes Match from downloading music via cellular.
Settings > iBooks: Switch Online Audio & Video to OFF. (Not everyone may have the iBooks app.)
Settings > Podcasts: Although we can’t recommend Apple’s Podcasts app, it’s likely that lots of people have it. If so, switch Use Cellular Data to OFF, but note that it applies only to automatic downloads. More on Podcasts later.
There may be other significant settings I’ve failed to list here. The important thing is not the list itself, though, but the process. It takes a lot of hunting and pecking and scrolling to ferret out all these settings! It’s almost as if Apple didn’t want to you to find them, though it’s more likely that no one at Apple has given the problem any thought at all. Plus, some of them seem to duplicate others, so that, for example, you may think you’ve turned off automatic Mail fetching in one place, only to discover that it is still turned on in another. It’s a jungle out there.
The System Might Be Buggy -- We come now to an area that is rather controversial and, more to the point, largely out of your control. It is, however, close to the heart of the matter. There is reason to suspect that iOS 6 may be violating Axiom 2: that is, that it uses cellular data even when you are home and connected to Wi-Fi. And it may be doing this despite any of the settings I listed in the previous section.
For example, one day recently I was using Mobile Safari to watch a YouTube video at home over Wi-Fi, and discovered later (by inspecting my usage, as explained earlier) that about half the data had apparently come over the cell radio. This is definitely not how I expect my phone to behave, and moreover there doesn’t appear to be any setting allowing me to switch off this behavior for Safari. Safari’s Use Cellular Data switch, which I mentioned earlier, claims to be confined to Reading List sharing across iCloud.
However, that switch was in fact ON at the time this YouTube incident occurred. Since then, I’ve switched it to OFF, and the problem has not recurred. (Nor have other members of the TidBITS staff been able to reproduce the problem, even with that setting ON.) Which leads me to the following speculative question: What if the label on this switch is incorrect and it doesn’t apply just to Reading List? In other words, what if setting this switch to ON somehow gives Safari license to use cellular data generally while on Wi-Fi? I’m not suggesting that this would be intentional on Apple’s part, but it could have something to do with the behavior I and others have witnessed.
And that, in turn, brings me to the most speculative point of this article. Please bear in mind that it is speculative! I have no facts and no hard data, and I’m not trying to spread uncertainty or rumor. But the truth is that during the beta-testing period for iOS 6, developers saw in Settings a switch that apparently allowed iOS as a whole to use cellular as a supplement to Wi-Fi even when Wi-Fi was present. So, let’s say, for example, that you’re watching a YouTube video, and that your home DSL, while decent, isn’t fast enough to prevent a pretty long delay before the video can start. iOS might, if this switch were set to ON, reason to itself: “Gosh, I could help this fellow out and start the video sooner by pulling some of the video down over the cell network.”
That switch is no longer present in Settings, so don’t bother looking for it. But what if — and remember, this is pure speculation — what if it was removed because Apple had decided this was such a great feature that they could just safely leave this setting turned ON behind the scenes? In other words, what if iOS 6 now deliberately and automatically uses cell data to supplement Wi-Fi, and you can’t prevent it from doing so?
In any case, even if Apple decided against leaving that switch turned ON when they pulled it, who apart from Apple can say that the code underlying that switch isn’t still present in iOS 6 in such a way that it could become active in certain situations? It is never safe to assume that developers always know how their programs will operate, especially when the heavy lifting is being done behind the scenes by the massive Cocoa Touch framework; and with something as complex as iOS, there are plenty of unexpected behaviors of which developers know nothing and for which they cannot be held responsible.
Some Apps Might Be Evil -- Some apps, by their very nature, can require massive amounts of data transfer. These are exactly the apps that one would wish to be most stringent in their adherence to Axiom 2. If iTunes Match or the Podcasts app downloads an entire gigabyte of data, which can quite easily happen, one might argue that you have only yourself to blame if you deliberately initiate such a download when you’re out in the field; but when you’re home, you expect Wi-Fi to be used exclusively. I have just said, however, that I suspect the system of possibly using cellular even when Wi-Fi is present. Under those circumstances, such an app could be a disaster (that gigabyte of data would cost me something like $60, and we’ve heard reports of 8 GB of data — $240 — being downloaded without the user’s knowledge or intention).
But we can go further. Such apps may come with a Use Cellular Data switch in their settings, and you may have turned this switch to OFF. But what if the app fails to pay attention to that switch? This might be because the app has a bug, or it might be because of the speculative system-level bug I hypothesized in the preceding section. I do know, as a developer, that iOS 6 has a new developer-level feature where, when your app places a request over the network, it can specify whether or not that request may be satisfied using cell data. Well, what if that feature is broken internally at system level, so that I (the developer) believe I am turning cell data off for my app in response to you (the user) setting a switch, but in reality the system is using cell data anyway — and, perhaps, using it even when Wi-Fi is present? You can see that in that case we’d be in a pretty pickle.
There is no doubt that the Podcasts app and iTunes Match are in fact responsible for some of the very large cell data usage of which users are complaining. Recall that, as far as TidBITS is concerned, this entire thread started in an article by Glenn Fleishman (“Does Apple’s Podcasts App Suck Cellular Data?,” 17 September 2012) in which he observed cell data usage that he attributed to the Podcasts app. And this was before iOS 6 had shipped. The Podcasts app, of course, comes from Apple, so who knows what private system-level features (or bugs) it accesses behind the scenes? In any case, the Apple Discussion thread I mentioned earlier gives the impression that you can get massive cellular data use from the Podcasts app no matter how you set that switch.
Adam Engst, who still has DataMan Pro to give him some idea of which processes are using cellular data on any particular occasion, has made some further observations. He can demonstrate, for example, that the Skype app can use up to 2 MB of cellular data per day, just by existing in the background. And it can do that even when you’re on Wi-Fi. It’s not a lot, granted, but 15 to 30 MB of data out of 200 MB per month for just having launched Skype at some point seems excessive.
Another problem is that you don’t really know the meaning of the choices you’re making in an app’s settings. Adam has observed that the Podcasts app can suck down cellular data even when the Use Cellular Data switch is OFF, evidently because that switch applies only to automatic downloads of new podcast episodes, not manually initiated streaming. Assume, for example, that you have the first episode of a podcast downloaded, but not the second. When the first finishes playing, the second may start playing automatically, and even if it doesn’t, you might navigate to it using other audio playing controls, or even play it from the Podcasts app without noticing the little download icon. That’s a good way to use up tens of megabytes without noticing.
Conclusions -- Although not every iOS 6 user is seeing a problem, there’s no doubt in my mind that a problem exists, and that the fix must come from Apple, possibly in conjunction with the phone providers. (Apple even implicitly acknowledged this with a carrier settings update for Verizon Wireless users that prevents the iPhone 5 from using cellular data while on a Wi-Fi network.) iOS 6 does use more cellular data than previous systems did, and it appears to use it in circumstances where previous systems did not.
A couple of days ago I restored my iPhone to a completely clean iOS 6 and went through all the settings I could find and turned everything off that might influence cell data use, except for turning off the master Cellular Data switch. Even though I was home with Wi-Fi the entire time, a couple of hours later, there had been some cell data usage. Even during the two hours it took me to draft this article just now, with my iPhone sitting unused beside me (except when I picked it up to navigate the Settings app so I could describe the location of the various switches), there was some rise in the reported cellular usage. These were not large amounts, but that’s not the point: the point is that the amount should be zero and it isn’t.
But this is not the worst. Reliable-looking experimentation has demonstrated that certain processes such as iTunes Match and the Podcasts app can download huge amounts of data over the cell network, even when you think you’ve told them not to. Glenn’s article referred to this very sane-looking, very scary blog post by John Herbert. Josh Centers has put up a video demonstrating that iCloud can leak cell data at the rate of 1 KB per second, even if every iCloud service is turned off. And, of course, clouds of witness have gathered at the Apple Discussion boards — the one I referred to at the start of this article, and this one, and doubtless many more.
Something must be done, and I have little doubt that it will be. If the posts at Apple Discussions are to be believed, users have not been hesitant to call their cellular providers and complain of unwanted cell data usage. The cellular providers, in turn, are surely talking to Apple. (And so too, I bet, are their lawyers. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a class action lawsuit against Apple with regard to these unwarranted charges.) In the meantime, if you’re having similar problems and can quantify and document them, I remind you that you can tell Apple about it at their iPhone feedback Web page.
Finally, Adam Engst (who, after all, publishes TidBITS and always gets the last word) encourages me to encourage you to request that Apple allow DataMan Pro to be sold in the App Store once more — even though I, Matt, think there’s a snowball’s chance of that happening, since to do what it does, DataMan Pro must surely be using undocumented APIs that the App Store explicitly excludes. Still, Adam has a point. What makes this problem so mysterious, after all, and so difficult to report clearly to Apple, is that most people who are experiencing it cannot identify which apps are at fault. While DataMan Pro may not be perfect, it provides precisely that information.
Article 5 of 10 in series
The iOS 6.0.1 update fixes several connectivity bugs and adds over-the-air update capability to the iPhone 5, which requires a separate updater.Show full article
Apple has released iOS 6.0.1 with fixes for a grab bag of connectivity bugs. While no single fix in the list seems to take aim at correcting the unexplained hoovering of data through cellular networks (for more on this, see Matt Neuburg’s “Mysterious iOS 6 Cellular Data Usage: A Deeper Look,” 24 October 2012), perhaps this collective group of fixes will help to mitigate the problem.
Connectivity issues addressed include improved reliability when connecting to encrypted WPA2 Wi-Fi networks using the iPhone 5 and fifth-generation iPod touch, the addition of a consolidated Use Cellular Data switch for iTunes Match, and resolution for an issue that prevented the iPhone from accessing a cellular network. On Adam Engst’s iPhone 5, however, Wi-Fi (which had been working fine under iOS 6.0) failed to work at all under 6.0.1 until the device was powered down and rebooted.
The update also fixes a problem where horizontal lines could be displayed across the keyboard, a bug affecting Exchange meetings, a bug that prevented the camera flash from operating, and a Passcode Lock bug that could allow Passbook pass details to be viewed from the lock screen. A couple of WebKit security vulnerabilities were also closed. It does not fix a bug that causes previously played audio (such as an iTunes U lecture) to start playing again unexpectedly after iOS uses other audio (such as playing an alarm sound).
iOS 6.0.1 is compatible with the following models: iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, third-generation iPad, iPad 2, fifth-generation iPod touch, and fourth-generation iPod touch. We presume the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad will either ship with iOS 6.0.1, or will update to it immediately.
You can download the 43.3 MB update either via iTunes on a computer or via an over-the-air update on compatible iOS devices — initiate the update in Settings > General > Software Update. However, iPhone 5 owners looking to update wirelessly will first need to download another app called Updater for iPhone 5 before downloading iOS 6.0.1, since the iPhone 5 is unable to install software updates over the air under iOS 6.0. This app, which shows up as iOS Updater on the Home screen, disappears once 6.0.1 is installed.
Article 6 of 10 in series
Another clue pointing to the cause of unusual bandwidth usage in iOS 6 comes from a public radio organization’s sleuthing, but aspects of the mystery still remain.Show full article
The Public Radio Exchange (PRX), a clearinghouse for and producer of public radio programs, helped This American Life and other shows sort out an iOS 6.0-related spike in bandwidth usage by uncovering a bug in a fundamental part of the operating system.
PRX was asked by This American Life for help in figuring out a spike in bandwidth bills in October 2012, and found a similar problem in its own logs. It isolated the behavior to ensure its own streaming apps weren’t at fault. PRX’s analysis shows that apps that rely on iOS frameworks to handle networked audio streaming in iOS 6.0 make multiple overlapping requests for audio that substantially increase the total number of bytes downloaded. The blog entry noted that a 30 MB podcast consumed 100 MB by the completion of a streamed episode, an exact ratio (30 MB taking 100 MB) that we and our readers have seen as well.
PRX writes that the bug disappeared in 6.0.1 and couldn’t be replicated in iOS 5, nor did the group test anything but access via Wi-Fi. Nonetheless, we’re convinced that the problem isn’t limited to streaming media or Wi-Fi. Readers continue to post stories of massive data consumption over 3G, 4G, and LTE without using the Podcasts app or other streaming audio and video apps; that applies while they are within range of a Wi-Fi network in their homes and when they are using programs that allow disabling mobile broadband usage. Twitter users also immediately noted that they continue to have problems even after the iOS 6.0.1 update.
Our previous coverage includes Matt Neuburg’s deep dive, “Mysterious iOS 6 Cellular Data Usage: A Deeper Look” (24 October 2012) and my earlier examination, “What’s Behind Mysterious Cellular Data Usage in iOS 6?” (29 September 2012). Since this article was first published, Adam has written about the reappearance of DataMan Pro, an iOS app that can report on the cellular data usage of individual apps (see “Track Per-App Data Usage in iOS with DataMan Pro,” 20 November 2012).
If you continue to experience mysterious jumps in cellular data consumption and are charged for it by your carrier, we recommend asking customer service to remove the charges, and documenting your usage and any calls you make to the carrier about the issue in case you are required to make a claim later to obtain a refund.
(Hat tip to Michael Panzarino at The Next Web for the link to the story, and his reciprocal link to our previous coverage.)
Article 7 of 10 in series
Apple has finally allowed the DataMan Pro usage tracking app back into the App Store, so if you’re experiencing unexpected amounts of cellular data usage on your iOS device, you can now track down the apps or processes at fault.Show full article
For those just joining this story, ever since the release of iOS 6, some users have seen significantly increased cellular data usage even though their usage patterns haven’t changed. By “significantly increased,” I mean changes in the tens or hundreds of megabytes per month, and for fewer people, as much as gigabytes. Particularly for those who have been happily paying $15 for grandfathered-in 200 MB per month plans, this excessive data usage has come at a steep cost, at least in proportion to what the costs should be.
We’ve been writing about this issue for a while, starting with Glenn Fleishman’s “What’s Behind Mysterious Cellular Data Usage in iOS 6?” (29 September 2012). Next, Matt Neuburg gave the problem an even closer look in in “Mysterious iOS 6 Cellular Data Usage: A Deeper Look” (24 October 2012). Most recently, Glenn wrote about a bug that caused iOS 6.0 to consume excessive amounts of bandwidth (see “Public Radio Group Finds iOS 6.0 Streaming Bandwidth Bug,” 14 November 2012); although it was specific to iOS 6.0 and Wi-Fi, we believe it may be indicative of architectural problems within iOS 6.
Slowing down the sleuthing has been the lack of tools to identify which apps are consuming cellular data. Earlier this year, I was testing an app called DataMan Pro that offered exactly this functionality, but by the time this iOS 6 problem appeared, Apple had pulled DataMan Pro from the App Store, presumably because of the techniques it used to capture per-app usage data. I’ve been in contact with Johnny Ixe of XVision, the developer of DataMan Pro, the entire time, and after much back-and-forth, he has finally managed to get a new version of DataMan Pro through Apple’s approval process. (The first version to reappear in the App Store, version 6.0, lacked the per-app details; the current 6.1 version brings that feature back.)
DataMan Pro sports a utilitarian interface that could benefit from some graphic design enhancements, but it does what it claims to do, and it does so without requiring you to install a profile or send all your data through a proxy server, as some other apps do. Once you install it, the first step is to configure its settings, which you do by tapping the gear icon in the upper left of the Current Usage screen. In the main Settings screen, you set your bill date, and how much data you want to allot yourself each day, week, and month. You can choose how to divvy up your data by day and week, but the month number should generally match the cap on your data plan. You can also set alert thresholds that will fire real-time notifications whenever your usage exceeds a threshold for any of the three data allowance settings. It’s important to make sure Precise Tracking is on, since that’s necessary for DataMan Pro to track usage on a per-app basis. Finally, if you care to track your usage by location, turn on geotagging and choose a level of accuracy; 3 kilometers is best for maintaining battery life. If you don’t care about location tracking, turning it off will save battery life somewhat, though I’ve never noticed DataMan Pro impacting my battery life in a significant way.
Once configured, there’s nothing more to do, apart from making sure that you don’t quit DataMan Pro from the multitasking bar. If you do, for whatever reason, just launch it again right away.
To evaluate your data usage, tap the Today, Week, or Month buttons on the Current Usage screen. Subsequent screens let you drill down further by day, hour, and ten-minute portions of an hour. In each case, the cellular data usage is listed first, in blue, and the Wi-Fi data usage is second, in grey.
At any level of data granularity you can tap the app button in the upper right corner to see a list of apps that used data during that time, sorted by the overall amount used. At the day level, a share button next to the app button lets you view your usage by location or export it as a comma-separated value file (which you retrieve via the Apps list in iTunes). Alas, the export file includes only time-based usage details, not per-app usage details. Once you’re into the hour or minute levels, you can only map your data, not export it, so the share button changes to a map button.
So, if you’re experiencing unanticipated cellular data usage, or you’re just curious about which apps are consuming your data plan, give DataMan Pro a try. It’s far from the prettiest app out there, but for per-app usage tracking, it currently can’t be beat. I can’t promise it will give you data that you can act on; it’s entirely possible that the “apps” it reports as using excessive amounts of data may be parts of iOS over which you as the user have no control whatsoever. But at least we’ll all have more data to report to Apple.
DataMan Pro costs $9.99. I’ve used only the iPhone version of the app; the separate iPad version that has per-app tracking hasn’t yet been approved by Apple, so although you can get it now, it won’t have the per-app tracking capabilities you need until it survives the dash through Apple’s approval gauntlet.
Article 8 of 10 in series
Prepared solely for the iPhone 5 and iPad mini, the iOS 6.0.2 update hopefully improves Wi-Fi connections.Show full article
Released with a typically perfunctory description, Apple has pushed out iOS 6.0.2 for the iPhone 5 and iPad mini to fix “a bug that could impact Wi-Fi.” With such a blank slate to divine from, it’s hard to know what problems iOS 6.0.2 might address. However, there’s a lengthy and vitriolic discussion thread (3,155 posts and 485,390 views) at Apple Support Communities that suggests this fix is meant to patch a problem with the iPhone 5 that gives the appearance of a connection to a Wi-Fi network while receiving no data over Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, another long thread (2,587 posts and 371,438 views) detailing Wi-Fi woes seems to point its finger at iOS 6 itself, given that the problem started at its release and occurs on numerous devices other than the iPhone 5 and iPad mini.
If you have workable Wi-Fi connectivity, we recommend going the over-the-air update route (go to Settings > General > Software Update on the device) as this method downloads only the deltas that are much smaller and faster to install (a 51.4 MB download for the iPhone 5 and a 32.9 MB download for the iPad mini). You can also grab the full image of iOS 6.0.2 through iTunes on your Mac (which downloads a heftier 819 MB).
All that said, some people have experienced significant battery drain after updating to iOS 6.0.2 (see “iOS 6.0.2 May Impact Battery Life,” 19 December 2012), and while toggling Wi-Fi off and back on may help, it’s worth holding off on iOS 6.0.2 unless you’re experiencing Wi-Fi problems that it might fix.
Article 9 of 10 in series
Watch (or listen to) the latest TidBITS staff roundtable to get our not-so-humble opinions about ways that Apple could improve iOS.Show full article
On the one hand, given how magical the iPhone and iPad remain, it almost seems ungrateful to cavil about problems in iOS 6 that we’d like to see Apple address, but on the other, we’re as much Apple’s customers as anyone else, and probably more so than most. And so, constructive criticism is the goal of this 45-minute staff roundtable in which we run through a number of suggestions for ways that Apple could improve iOS for our everyday use, if only they’d listen to feedback (which Matt Neuburg equates, memorably, to the lack of feedback in the toilet industry). A lot of the suggestions fall under the general rubric of making iOS more flexible and acknowledging the fact that some people really do have more significant needs than others, something that Apple seems to have lost track of while focusing on the lowest-common-denominator market. The discussion hit the following main points:
Centralized file system. Apple has long avoided allowing iOS apps to access any sort of central file storage area, forcing each app to maintain separate copies of its documents and relying on the clumsy Open In system for copying documents between apps. Increasingly, Dropbox has become the de facto file system for iOS, with numerous apps integrating support. If Apple wanted to regain control over this space from Dropbox and move away from the per-app file storage approach, we could imagine an iCloud-based service that goes beyond the traditional folder-based filesystem by automatically scanning files for malicious code, presenting only appropriate file types to different apps, and generally updating the conceptual model that we use to think about documents.
Open Siri up to other apps. As we’ve become more accustomed to using Siri, the technology’s limitations become increasingly obvious. Most notably, why can’t we use Siri to work in apps other than Apple’s? Apple could allow iOS apps to register a Siri dictionary of sorts, in much the same way a Mac app can have an AppleScript dictionary, that would lay out what phrases Siri would recognize and what actions those phrases would trigger. We’d also like to see Siri gain some alternative voices.
Extend the home screen. The iOS home screen — technically known as the Springboard — is completely broken. It’s nearly impossible to find any apps after the first screen or two, and many of us have fallen back on Spotlight and Siri to open apps. Worse, unlike Android and Windows Phone, iOS can only display app icons on the home screen, which seems downright quaint in a world where information rules. There’s a site displaying Android home screens that puts iOS to shame, given how gorgeous and useful these screens look. Apple needs to make some serious strides in this area, if iOS is to continue to compete against the alternatives.
Fix the bugs! From what we can tell, iOS 6 is the buggiest version of iOS yet. Matt explains one of the low-level bugs he’s run into, and notes that he has reported more bugs against iOS 6 than all other versions of iOS combined. Our theory is that the problems stem from a lack of communication within teams at Apple, and the hope is that the shakeup that ousted Scott Forstall might improve internal communication. But even still, we’d like to see more resources devoted to testing.
Give us a look under the hood. There’s no question that Apple has done, and should continue to do, a good job of hiding complexity in iOS. But that has come at the cost of technical transparency for those of us who both want more detail and aren’t offended by complexity. For instance, we’d like to be able to find out exactly what is taking space in that “Other” category (which often seems unreasonably large), we’d like to have an Activity Monitor-like app that would show which apps were using a lot of CPU or battery power, we’d like more feedback about and control over the Wi-Fi networks to which we connect, and we desperately want to be able to find out exactly which individual apps are consuming cellular bandwidth (Apple has once again removed DataMan Pro from the App Store — see “Track Per-App Data Usage in iOS with DataMan Pro,” 20 November 2012). We’re fully aware that this goes against Apple’s grain, but hey, as long as we’re wishing for things that would make our iOS lives better, more visibility into the workings would certainly do so.
More-granular parental controls. Apple acknowledges that parents might want some control over how their children use iOS devices, but iOS’s current parental controls aren’t nearly focused enough to be useful. We’d like to see the capability to restrict particular apps by time (no game playing after bedtime) and by overall usage amount (no more than 30 minutes of a particular game per day). Plus, it would be nice to be able to eliminate the possibility of cellular data overuse.
A more-coherent approach for Settings. It has become increasingly difficult to find any given setting in the Settings app, particularly on the iPhone, because there are so many, and if you return to the Settings app from another app, it’s difficult to figure out where you are.
A unified approach to alarms and reminders. With iMessage and iCloud-synced reminders, we’re all being inundated with notifications on multiple devices, with very little acknowledgment that if you’ve seen an alarm on one device, you don’t need to see it on all the others. iMessage even does a little of this, but Apple needs to extend iCloud’s awareness of what device is currently in use appropriately so we aren’t just being nagged non-stop.
Though it may be easier to figure out who is talking by watching the video, you won’t miss anything important if you instead listen to the audio-only version, which you can do by clicking the Listen link above, or by subscribing to the TidBITS podcast to listen during your commute or workout.
Article 10 of 10 in series
iOS 6.1 focuses on bringing LTE support to a gaggle of global carriers, but also adds a few scattered tweaks for all iOS devices. The iOS-based Apple TV Software also gets an update.Show full article
Focused largely on expanding global LTE coverage, Apple has released iOS 6.1 for the iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, and iPod touch with an additional 36 carriers for the iPhone 5 and 23 carriers for LTE-enabled iPads. The big LTE switch is turned on for both the iPhone and iPads in markets such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, and Switzerland, while several Middle Eastern countries (including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates) get LTE just for the iPhone 5. You can find a full list of LTE markets and carriers for specific models of iPhone and iPad at Apple’s Web site.
Beyond LTE connectivity, the update adds the capability to use Siri to purchase movie tickets from Fandango (only in the United States), and it once again enables iTunes Match subscribers to download individual songs from iCloud (a previous iOS update had quietly removed this option). A Reset Advertising Identifier button is also added to the Advertising options (Settings > General > About > Advertising), enabling you to flush your current Advertising Identifier (much like deleting history from a Web browser) so that you’re hopefully served more relevant ads going forward. Of course, you can also turn on the Limit Ad Tracking option here, which not only reins in targeted advertising but can also help minimize cellular use (see more cellular data tips in Matt Neuburg’s “Mysterious iOS 6 Cellular Data Usage: A Deeper Look,” 24 October 2012).
Josh Lowensohn at CNET also notes several smaller changes not mentioned by Apple, including a reworking of the lock screen’s music playback controls. Now when you double-press the home button, the playback controls are pushed up to replace the current time display, giving you a better view of your lock screen wallpaper image. Plus, the controls are further apart, making it less likely that you’ll accidentally skip to the next episode of a podcast when attempting to pause playback, an annoying bit of bad interface in iOS 6.0.x. We’ve also heard one report that iOS 6.1 resolves a troubling bug with streaming media that resulted in streamed videos being downloaded in the background even after switching away from Safari. We fully expect that there are other changes — perhaps lots of them — with which Apple hasn’t seen fit to burden us weak-minded users. If you run across any, let us know in the comments.
As usual, we recommend going the over-the-air update route if you have Wi-Fi connectivity (Settings > General > Software Update) as this method downloads only the deltas that are much smaller and faster to install. The over-the-air deltas for the iPad and iPad mini weigh in at 76 MB and 83 MB respectively (compared to 1.08 GB if downloading the full update through iTunes), while the iPhone over-the-air update is 107 MB (compared to 989.5 MB in iTunes). The update is free, and it can be applied to the iPhone 3GS and later, iPad 2 and later, and fourth-generation iPod touch and later.
Be warned that when you update, some of your settings may be reset to defaults, so it’s worth walking through the Settings app and making sure everything is set the way you want. In particular, TidBITS staffers have noticed iCloud- and iMessage-related settings being reset.
In other iOS news, the Apple TV Software also received an update to version 5.2, which adds Bluetooth keyboard support, the capability to send audio to AirPlay-enabled speakers and devices, and support for iTunes in the Cloud — enabling you to stream purchased music directly through the Apple TV rather than stream it from a computer on your network. On the downside, at least some people are reporting that the iPad version of the iOS Remote app can no longer control the Apple TV; the iPhone version of Remote has no such problem. The update is available for second- and third-generation Apple TV models.