Pushy Notifications in Apple News

I like Apple News and it's the primary way I find out what fresh hell has engulfed the world. I follow quite a few channels and topics but am very strict on which can send me notifications. Right now, it's just one channel.

Unfortunately, Apple News has a frustrating behavior when it comes to push notifications that can rival some of the worst offenders of notification spam. At some point, Apple News will announce, by push notification, that it has enabled notifications for a channel.

pushy-notification.jpg

Rather than ask if I want to enable notifications for a particular channel, Apple News does so automatically—it doesn't even ask or tell you how to opt out. Worse still, there is no logic to when this happens. I've had this happen months after following a new channel, and even repeatedly occur even if I already turned off notifications.

Enabling notifications for channels without the user's explicit permission is extremely user-hostile and I can't understand the reason for it. I wouldn't mind a gentle nudge to ask if I want to receive notifications every now and again, but this method is far too heavy-handed.

Be Aware of the Updated Button Combinations for iPhone 8 and iPhone X

Apple has changed the button combinations for both Emergency SOS and a force restart on the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. This gave me quite a fright when I needed to restart my iPhone X, only to trigger Emergency SOS by mistake.

On the iPhone 7 (and earlier), Emergency SOS is triggered by pressing the Power button five times. On the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, it's now triggered by holding down either Volume button and the Power button at the same time.

Sound familiar? The button combination to restart an iPhone 7 is holding down the Volume down button and Power buttons. Out of habit, that's what I did. At least I know how loud the siren is for Emergency SOS.

The button combination to restart an iPhone 8 or iPhone X is now a little more complicated, as Apple's support article on the subject explains:

On an iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Press and quickly release the Volume Down button. Then, press and hold the Side button until you see the Apple logo.

New iPhone 8 and iPhone X owners, keep that in mind.

iPhone X Availability

I was initially undecided about buying an iPhone X, so I chose not to wake up at some ungodly hour to place a preorder. If and when I decided I wanted one, I was willing to wait several weeks until shipping times became more favorable and stock more plentiful.

I happened to check the Apple Store app earlier today and, while delivery times for all models were showing as 3-4 weeks, some models were available for same-day pickup at my local Apple Store (World Trade Center). I was able to buy and collect exact model I wanted (256GB Silver) this morning, the day after launch1. My wife even placed an order a couple hours later for a different model (256GB Black) and was still able to collect it this afternoon.

This isn't an isolated experience and I've heard about Apple Stores in different parts of the country all having decent stock levels. At the store I collected my phone from, I overheard a member of staff say that they had received so many iPhones for launch day that they didn't even sell them all—today's stock is mostly leftovers.

If you didn't preorder the iPhone X but want to get one soon, try your local Apple Store using the Apple Store app. It seems Apple is making a huge effort to keep stores well-stocked.

  1. Some people I know who did wake up to place a preorder still haven't received their phones.

The KeySmart Pro

KeySmart Pro

I'm not the type of person who carries a prison warden-style set of keys. I've been using the KeySmart key organizer for over a year and it's helped keep pocket clutter to a minimum. It reduces a set of keys into something resembling a Swiss Army knife and is far less bulky than than a regular keychain. It's like the difference between carrying a roll of pennies or a bunch of loose change in your pocket.

I've been using their newest model, the KeySmart Pro (pictured above), for the past couple months and highly recommend it. It adds some useful features, most notable of which is its Tile functionality. The KeySmart Pro also includes an LED flashlight and a Micro USB port to charge the device. Unlike regular Tiles, this one is rechargeable.

Tile app

The additional functionality does make the Pro model bulkier than the original KeySmart as it has a plastic shell to encase the electronic components, but it's hardly noticeable. Without any keys attached, it's extremely lightweight.

The KeySmart Pro is a great idea executed well. Many Tile users are likely to have one on their keychain (I used to have one attached to my KeySmart) so combining both together makes perfect sense.

The iTunes Store's Border Is Opening

Last year, I wrote about my experience of changing the country of my iTunes account. A major drawback to this process had been that purchases I made in the U.K. stores (App Store, Mac App Store, and iTunes Store) no longer appeared in my purchase history. I could still download apps I had already bought for free but I had to go through the purchase process again1. Unfortunately, I couldn't do the same with iTunes Store content as past purchases no longer appeared in iTunes in the Cloud.

It now seems that Apple is taking steps to remedy this. I discovered last week that my entire App Store purchase history was now showing. What's more, viewing a previously purchased app in the App Store now shows the download icon, not the price, so it's much easier to identify apps I had already purchased in the U.K. store.

It's a similar story with my iTunes Store purchases, though not everything is there. I estimate about half of my purchased movies and TV shows are now available through iTunes in the Cloud, so I can again download them straight to my iOS devices. It's odd that only some of my purchases are available, but it's a start. Hopefully more of my purchases will appear over time.

  1. It's a frustrating process because you even have to approve the purchase and hope that it's definitely an app you purchased before. If it is, the App Store displays a message saying the app will be downloaded for free. If not, you're charged for it. On more than one occasion I've accidentally bought an app I thought I had.