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26Sep/12Off

Bookmarks sync bug in iOS 6

Help, my bookmarks are stuck!

The Apple Maps in iOS 6 is nothing. Give them enough time, and they will eventually catch up with reality (and maybe with Google at some point). I do have a rather serious issue with iCloud bookmarks sync, though. Since the release on 19th September, my Safari bookmarks have doubled first (breeding like rabbits!), then stopped syncing. Moreover, I am unable to delete them or add any new bookmarks (the Delete button accepts the tap, but then does exactly nothing). Switching iCloud sync for Safari on and off in Settings does nothing either. iCloud tabs keep working even though Safari has been disabled in iCloud options!

As a technical person I would not just sit and wait until someone else finds a solution: I've started digging myself. First thing I've checked was the Diagnostic Logs (Settings -> General -> About -> Diagnostic & Usage -> Diagnostic & Usage Data).

The culprit is a small lesser daemon

Bingo! This is what I've found:

It seems that a process called webbookmarksd is killed by the kernel every few minutes with SIGSEGV. I bet this is eating a lot of battery, because CPU is wasting its time trying to restart the daemon every time it fails (and then wasting even more battery writing the crashlogs).

The next logical step was visiting Apple Support website, specifically the FAQ about problems with bookmarks (TS4001). Unfortunately, after reading through the FAQ and doing all the steps mentioned there - I'm still stuck with the problem.

What now?

For the time being I have filed a bug report on Apple Developer website and wait for Apple response or a working untethered jailbreak for iOS 6, whichever comes first.

You can read more about the issue on Apple Community Support forum: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4313906?start=0&tstart=0

Solution already exists, no jailbreaking required

As I have initially have guessed, the issue was caused by a broken bookmarks file. Other users who have encountered that problem were able to resolve it with the procedure in this thread: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4333351?start=15&tstart=0.

I have followed the procedure from the thread and it worked - my iPad 2 works just like new, bookmarks are syncing fine and they are no longer stuck:

  1. Disabled iCloud backup and did a standard backup to iTunes
  2. Edited the backup with iBackupBot, replaced the broken bookmarks.db with one from this address: dropbox link
  3. Restored the edited backup with iBackupBot
  4. iPad did not reboot and it was stuck at recovery screen
  5. I put the device into recovery mode again, by holding the power and home buttons. As soon as Apple logo appeared, I released only the power button.
  6. "Connect to iTunes" logo appeared
  7. I did a restore in iTunes now, usingthe same edited backup - it seems iBackupBot did something wrong.
  8. iPad has restored successfully, duplicate bookmarks are gone, no more crashing webbookmarksd
  9. Re-enabled iCloud backup and bookmarks sync

Remember, by following this procedure, you do so at your own risk!

PS. I did the iOS 6 update at the same time on both my iPad 2 and iPhone 3GS, which had iCloud sync working perfectly fine in iOS 5. iPhone 3GS was completely unaffected by this issue, even though the same set of bookmarks was used by both devices.

12Jun/12Off

iOS 6 surprise

Controlled gossip is one of the most powerful marketing tools ever created by a man. Why? Because most of the features of the new iOS 6, such as new maps, Siri on iPad and Facebook integration have been widely discussed over the past few weeks.

Of course nothing is set-in-stone until Apple officially unveils it during one of their famous Keynotes.

This year WWDC conference not only brought new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro (with Retina display, with nearly 3 times as many pixels as Full HD), but also confirmed most of the iOS gossip mentioned earlier:

  • New maps (with turn-by-turn navigation and introduce 3D fly-by view). Google maps are officially gone. In my opinion this was a premature step (of course justified from the lower 3rd party costs point-of-view). Google maps offer much more content than Apple's, with features such as Street View and new 3D maps, these are the most advanced maps publicly available in the world.
  • Facebook integration - works just like Twitter integration in iOS 5: sign in once, and use for all apps.
  • Siri comes to iPad (but to the new iPad only). The voice assistant has also become a bit smarter: now features more data sources (such as sports). You can also tell Siri to launch any app you have on your iDevice.
  • Cover flow comes to all three iTunes stores.

And now the features that were not known before Tim Cook's keynote:

  • Shared Photo Stream - share your photos with other iDevice users
  • Safari improvements - it is now possible to upload photos directly from Safari as you would do on a Mac or PC. iCloud tabs allow viewing websites already opened on other devices  such as Macs, iPads & iPhones. Full screen landscape mode for iPhone provides even more real estate on the iPhone screen.
  • Mail improvements - adding images to a message is now easier. VIP inbox will highlight messages from the most important people.
  • Phone app has received long awaited "Reject with a message". It is possible to "Reject + Remind to call back"
  • "Do not disturb" mode which can silence all notifications and calls in a specific timeframe (let's say 10pm to 7am). In this mode only people on the Favorites list will sound the ring. It is also possible to allow the second call - if someone calls twice in the "Do not disturb" mode, the second call will not be silenced.
  • Facetime is not tied to WiFi anymore and now works on 3G/LTE as well. Many people were complaining about this artificial limitation.
  • Passbook - the center for electronic tickets and passes. It is now possible to manage tickets and boarding passes from one place. QR Codes allow third party devices to scan tickets directly form the iPhone screen.
  • Accessibility improvements

In my eyes, iOS 6 is far from a breakthrough, but offers several features requested by the users and some cosmetic changes. The Apple policy of bringing new features, such as Siri to new models only might be justified by the revenue from selling new iPhones and iPads (and also allows to cut expenses on Siri cluster, because if too many users get access to Siri, they are more than likely to crash it), but makes no sense from end user point of view.

The exact release date has not been disclosed yet, but Apple says "iOS 6 is coming this fall", so we will see it sooner, than later.

You can now ask why the title of this post is "iOS 6 surprise". The answer is "Because iPhone 3GS is still supported, while original iPad is not". It is unusual for Apple to support a device for more than two generations of software. Both the original iPhone and iPhone 3G have only received two software updates, so did the original iPad. iPhone 3GS is still sold and supported, most likely to fill the gap for the budget smartphone; iPhones were always marketed as a high-end device. With Tim Cook at the helm this policy seems to change.

23Apr/12Off

“Item” and 22 other items could not be purchased

"EVE: Templar One" and 22 other items could not be purchased at this time. Please try again later.

If you own an iDevice running iOS 5 or 5.1 you might have seen this window when trying to update or download an app from the App Store:

And if you've seen it, you've probably seen it more than once. So what does this error message really mean?

It means that you have a corrupted sqlite db file. Who would have thought? Unfortunately this is a known bug and has been happening to users all over the world. So far Apple did not fix the issue, but thanks to the internet, some clever folks have found & shared the solution on apple.com community forum.

EDIT:Apple has adressed this bug in IOS 5.1.1

If you are experiencing the problem above, just go to Settings -> General -> Software Update to update your device to iOS 5.1.1

If for whatever reason you can not/don't want to update your device, follow the tutorial below.

The tutorial is based on the forum info, but has some screenshots, which should make it even easier.

Pre-requisites

iOS version <= 5.1 (bug has been fixed by Apple in iOS 5.1.1 and above) - but jailbreak is not required!

The guide

1. Download iExplorer from their creator's website: http://www.macroplant.com/iexplorer/

2. Install iExplorer to your PC or Mac

3. Run iExplorer

4. Connect your iPhone or iPod Touch or iPad to your computer

5. Close iTunes if it starts automatically

6. Click "Mount iDevice" in the iExplorer window. You should now see list of files in the sandbox part of the device storage:

7. Browse to "Media" ->; "Downloads"

8. Find the file "downloads.*.sqlitedb"

9. Delete the file mentioned in 8.

10. Close iExplorer

11. Disconnect the device

12. Press the top "On/off" button and keep it pressed until "Slide to power-off" appears. Once it does, move the slider.

13. Wait for the device to shut down

14. Press the "On/off" button and wait for the device to boot up.

Done! The bug should be gone.

.

Credits

Writing this guide was possible thanks to just_jeepin and ya1950 posts on Apple Support Communities forum.

 

 

3Dec/11Off

Infinity Blade II review

On 1st of December, Chair Entertainment Group has published a sequel to its flagship and critically acclaimed iOS game called Infinity Blade. The second iteration has the same praised sword combat mechanic as the first part, but has been enhanced with more features, so it is no longer a "dodge-slash" game, which many reviewers saw as boring and repeatable.

>> Read more here.

Infinity Blade II
Infinity Blade II
2Nov/11Off

A bug in iOS results in poor battery life

It seems a lot of people is displeased with the battery life of the new iPhone 4S. Unfortunately, the problem is not limited to the new iPhone users: other devices have been impacted by the problem as well. My iPhone 3GS with iOS5 is almost half discharged after a day on standby. I blamed it on the battery age at first, but many other people have started complaining about the same issue.

I did have a similar issue with my iPhone 3G at some point - when one of the processes kept running on the CPU. This issue looks similar, but is related to Location Services. In iOS5 Apple has divided System Services from other apps, and one of them seems to be the problem - the Setting Time Zone service. If you enable the Status Bar Icon, it will constantly show near the battery icon, meaning that something is using Location Services all the time. Disabling the Setting Time Zone service seems to fix the problem.

Location Services on iPad Location Services on iPhone

28Jul/11Off

iPhone rapidly discharges battery

Hanged background process to blame?

I become worried with the battery life of my iPhone over the past four days. Out of a sudden, the battery of my phone would become half-drained just after 12 hours of standby, which would indicate that the battery is dying and needs to be replaced. On the fourth day I did not connect the phone to the charger overnight, and the battery was drained completely by the following morning.

I have connected the phone to its charger and booted it. To my surprise battery life is now back to normal and the phone UI is not sluggish anymore. It seems, that there was some process running continuously in the background. iPhone 3G has no multitasking, so it had to be one of the native iOS background processes. I have not restarted nor completely discharged my phone for over half a year now, so the system uptime was quite long.

What does it mean for iPhone users?

Restart your phone now and then - memory leaks and bugs in the iOS might surface after extended uptime.

Model: iPhone 3G (2 gen.)
OS: iOS 4.2.1 (not jailbroken)

18Jul/11Off

iOS 4.3.4 deployed, jailbreak already available

Apple has adressed the hole in PDF viewer, and an update has been released for the following devices:

  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPhone 4 (GSM)
  • iPod Touch 3gen
  • iPod Touch 4gen
  • iPad
  • iPad 2

There are no other changes in the patch description.

It is also already possible to jailbreak iOS 4.3.4 using Pwnage Tool. Details are available here.

15Jul/11Off

About jailbreak and bias

Cydia front page

Cydia front page

Thanks to @musclenerd (who linked this on twitter) I have recently read this text about how jailbreak is bad, and how jailbreakers are all criminals. To put it simply, I don't like when someone, who has no idea about a topic, writes with such a bias and confidence.

But let's be fair and review all the points mentioned in said text.

  1. "a major company decides to lockout a tiny percentage of its customer base for the greater good of all other users" Of course, every company has the right to ban user from accessing their service, if said user does not follow the license agreement. But is it really for the greater good? Is it a coincidence, that the author of the Mobile Notifier has been hired by Apple? If Apple was so dedicated to eradicate jailbreakers, why hiring one of them? Apple knows, that jailbreaking community is a source of innovation, and a field trial for new, unstable features.
  2. "get underneath the iPhone’s operating system, hack it into something different entirely, and use their iPhone as less of a tool and more of a tinker-toy for their geek hobbyist fantasies." sorry, but as far as I know, modifying phones, cars, tools is peoples own choice. Did they pay for their iPhone? Yes. That gives them right to do anything with it, including microwaving it or dropping from height. Or jailbreaking. Of course, some of these actions will void the warranty, and majority of jailbreakers accept this fact.
    On a sidenote, another major smartphone manufacturer, the HTC company allows their users unrestricted access to tinker with software of their phones. This made the company very successful, and a dedicated community of developers is creating ROM images, programs and tweaks, which increase the base functionality of their phones. See XDAdevelopers.com.
  3. Their agenda is clear: they consider iPhone users who don’t hack their iPhone to be “in jail” and must be freed. This "jail" is nothing more than disallowing the administrator access to iOS (to defend Apple's busines model, but thats another story). Mac's for example don't have such a restriction and users have free access to root account.
  4. "Apple Stores flooded with mainstream users whose iPhones are no longer reliable, usable, or comprehensible" this is the risk of people who jailbreak their device. These people more often than not, know what they are doing, and thus they know about the risk. Jailbreak can almost always be removed by restoring to a stock software package.
  5. "stealing pay-for features like tethering without paying for them" stealing tethering? Didn't the user pay for the data plan? Yes. So it's their right to use that data plan, tethered or not, because they paid the operator for the data transfer. Only a handful of mobile operators in the world put an additional charge for enabling tethering in their terminals. The majority don't care about how their users use the data plan as long as they paid for that plan.

It seems, that the author of the mentioned text fails to understand what jailbreaking is, what is it used for, how the jailbreaking community works, that there is world outside of AT&T, and that there is a percentage of people in the world, who are innovative, creative and know how to improve stock software.

PS. I have been running jailbroken iOS on my previous iPhone (2G) for quite a while, because I had to unlock it (so I could use it outside of US), and to enable features like MMS messaging and a few others.

20Jun/11Off

Do you really need a 3G tablet?

Guide about tethering in tablet PCs on Tabletowo.pl

The year 2011 is undoubtedly the year of tablets. So if you plan to buy one, check this guide out. You might save some $$$ by buying a WiFi tablet and using a mobile phone for internet access. You can read tethering guide in polish on tabletowo.pl. English translation is coming really soon!

EDIT: English translation is available here.

7Jun/11Off

Apple iOS 5 unveiled on WWDC 2011

Yesterday Steve Jobs has presented the brand new iOS 5, which should arrive in iPhones, iPods and iPads this Fall. The new flag OS for Apple mobile devices brings an extensive list of changes, some of which are quite important.

  • Notification system revisited. The iOS notification system with it's disruptive nature and rather cumbersome alert and badges system was quite outdated. The overhaul includes Notification Center, which is very similar to the one found in Android (drag a finger down from the top of the screen, Notification Center will scroll down)
  • PC Free - independence from a PC or Mac. It will now be possible to activate and use an iDevice without the need to connect it to iTunes.
  • Wireless Sync - an old Windows Mobile feature comes to iOS: all iDevices running iOS 5 will sync to iTunes over WiFi connection, so cables are not necessary anymore.
  • iCloud - Free 5 GB of personal storage cloud, along with the ability to view and redownload all Apps and Books owned by the user. This is already working once you update iTunes to 10.3.
  • Calendar and Reminders also received a huge overhaul. It is now possible to make a list of reminders - say shopping list. Or To Do list. You can not only set the iDevice to remind you at given time, but also based on location: reminders can sound based on arrival or departure. Calendar has now the week view.
  • Camera - users can now use volume buttons as shutter - this feature is long overdue!
  • Newsstand - along with iBooks, this is yet another new app, which will bring all the magazines into one place, for your reading pleasure.
  • iMessage - an instant messaging app with contacts and history wirelessly snchronized between all iDevices under one iTunes account.
  • Airplay Mirroring for iPad 2 - if you have an Apple TV, then you don't need the HDMI cable anymore. It will be possible to stream the mirror of the screen wirelessly over to a paired Apple TV.
  • Minor changes to Mail, Game Center, Photos and Safari.