AMITIAE - Monday 4 July 2016

Cassandra: iOS 9.3.2 Knee-Jerk Analysis

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


Sometimes the experts may not be so expert after all. Instead of applying some analysis to a problem, a sledge-hammer is used to crack a nut. Perhaps they end up not solving the problem at all.

Almost as soon as I was in the office this morning, a colleague sent me a couple of messages, beginning with a request for information on how to go back to an earlier version of iOS. She was using the most recent version (9.3.2), but was experiencing some problems that she had not seen before the update.

The main fault was with screen jerkiness as she navigated from page to page and a lack of smoothness when scrolling. As if to prove her case, she sent me a link to a Thai site where, "a lot of people are having the same problem." I am never really confident about the information disseminated here. Much I hear is based on rumour and in some cases, one swallow really does make a summer. If I had a dollar for each time a technician whom I know tells me - for a fact - that things are broken, or iOS cannot do something, I would be a rich man.

My colleague had taken the iPhone 6 in to a carrier office in a mall nearby and the technician had taken one look and "formatted" the iPhone. The problem had not gone away, therefore iOS was at fault. I am running three iPhones and a number of iPads right now with iOS 9.3.2. Not one shows any problem like this at all, so I asked some more questions, starting with what was meant by "format".

Rather than analyse, the technician had simply reinstalled iOS and considered that job done. As the scorched earth methodology had not worked, I suggested that a better way might be to take the device into a local iStudio or one of the service agents and I named three for her. I also suggested she might let me have a look.

While we were still online, I also asked her how she had been connected when the problem had manifested itself and what had she been doing. She named the carrier's wifi and said she had just arrived at the office. A little light went on in the back of my brain.

When she arrived bearing gifts (a strawberry yoghurt smoothy), I had a look at the iPhone which was just out of warranty. Many here say that Apple builds in obsolescence, but as some countries have a 2-year warranty and some also have the 3 year AppleCare, I take that with a pinch of salt. I am also aware of many devices that outlive even those periods. But this is how rumours begin.

She was aware of how to reset the phone: holding down the start and Home buttons until the Apple logo appears on the screen; but the point about her wifi connection and switching locations was irking me. I wondered if the extra processing that was carried out when she arrived at the office (where there are several networks available) was affecting the device, in the same way as on a computer, the cursor may hesitate when background processes (video, internet, downloads) are taking place all at the same time.

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Instead of the normal reset, I held the keys down until the Apple logo came on, then kept holding until the iPhone powered down. I wondered if clearing the caches would clear the problem. It did, although the device was also connected to a different router (same carrier) as our offices are a few hundred metres apart.

While she was in the office I showed her a number of tricks that her phone could do, such as taking a burst of photographs (up to 999), from the best can then be selected; the extensions in Photos; and how to check battery usage, to see which apps are using most power.

These were quite simple points really, but many are not aware of some of the ways to improve their iPhone usage; and my colleague relies on the device, using it more (as an engineer) these days than she does a desktop computer.

She did take it to a service agent later in the day and contacted me this evening. The problem had not manifested itself at all after I had run my magic fingers over it. Another colleague is happy.

But how many more are using their phones with limited capabilities?

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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