Re-installing an iPhone App

I was asked a question recently about re-installing an app on an iPhone, which while relatively straightforward does include a few steps which may not be obvious. So, using our favourite TodUhr

Unchecked apps don't sync. Tick that box!

application as an example, here’s how it goes. Note that the general procedure is the same whether you’re using an iPhone 3G/3GS/4 we just need to allow for the fact that the 3G/3GS phones don’t support the application ‘switcher’.

  1. For iPhone 3G/3GS users, switch off the phone then switch it on again. This is just to make sure the app isn’t running when you try to delete it. iPhone 4 users can simply kill the app by double-tapping the Home button then finding the relevant app icon in the task list, pressing and holding the icon, then tapping the little ‘no entry/delete’ symbol top left of the icon.
  2. iPhone 4 users should then tap the Home button once to close the app switcher list.
  3. Now locate the application on your phone and press and hold the icon until it starts ‘wobbling’.
  4. Tap the little ‘x’ symbol that appears at the top left of the icon.
  5. You will see a pop-up message asking if you want to delete the app and all it’s data from your phone. Tap OK.
  6. Press the Home button once to exit the application edit mode.
  7. The next time you sync your iPhone with iTunes, the check-mark next to the application you have just deleted from the phone will also disappear. The app will still be in your iTunes library, however iTunes will assume that because you’ve deleted it from the device that you no longer want to sync it back to the device (hence why iTunes automatically un-checks it).
  8. Making sure your iPhone is connected to your Mac or PC, click on your device in iTunes then click on the Apps tab.
  9. Scroll through the list of apps to be sync’ed with your iPhone until you find the one that you deleted earlier. You should find that the little box to the left of the application name is blank.
  10. Click the box once to make sure it is ‘ticked’.
  11. Now re-sync your iPhone with iTunes and the app should be copied back to your device.

It is possible that the app may be damaged on your device, so this may help by effectively ‘re-installing’ it, and the above steps will be much the same for an iPad/iPad 2/iPod Touch depending on what version of iOS they are running.If the application file (ipa file) in iTunes itself is damaged, then you would need to delete the app from within iTunes and then re-download it. This is necessary because if you attempt to download it without deleting it first, the Buy/Free button in iTunes will simply say ‘Downloaded’ and not let you do anything else. For a paid app I am assuming you won’t get charged a second time for it, but that is something I’ll have to check.

Note that I’ve never experienced a corrupt application file first hand and I am assuming that if this did happen then iTunes or the iPhone itself would tell you there’s a problem.

PS… here’s one other thing you might try to nudge an app into installing/running if there’s a problem with the iPhone. It’s a soft reset which you can do as follows:

  1. Press and hold the Home button.
  2. Keeping the Home button pressed, press the on/off button on the top of the iPhone and keep it held.
  3. After a few seconds the ‘Slide to power off’ message will appear – KEEP BOTH BUTTONS HELD DOWN.
  4. After a few more seconds the iPhone screen will go blank and the Apple logo will appear.
  5. Release both buttons.
  6. The Apple logo will stay on screen for a while as the phone reboots. On my iPhone 3G that takes about 60 seconds.
  7. Eventually you’ll be prompted to enter your unlock code or the Home screen will appear (depending on how your phone is configured).

There’s an Apple article on the technique here.

Apple WWDC 2011 – A feature I’d like to see

Mac OSX Lion

(Image courtesy of modmyi.com)

The air is thick with rumours and predictions. What will be in Lion, iOS5 and iCloud? Everyone is having their say and it makes for interesting reading even if most of the commentators are guessing the same things. Me? I haven’t a clue! I merely read and digest the Apple news and I’m not nearly close enough to the game to figure out what’s going on. That’s why I’m wishing for a coupe of new features for Apple’s desktop OS that I almost certainly won’t see.

The first is aimed at dealing with the new upsurge in Mac malware, and something I’ve mentioned before. A toggle switch to prevent apps from being installed from anywhere other than the Mac App Store (MAS). The idea is really simple. There’s a System Preference that says ‘Only allow app installs from the Mac App Store’ which by default is set to yes. If you try to launch an app or run an mkpg with this switch set to yes, you get a message telling you you can’t run it. The message could be more explicit and warn you about the dangers of unsolicited software but the idea is to stop apps getting installed and run when you didn’t actually go looking for the app to install in the first place. For ‘power users’ who need to frequently install software to test out, or who are perhaps less likely to succumb to a phishing attack, well they can disable this setting and just carry on as before. Everyone’s happy, job done.

And while we’re at it, Safari could have the ‘open safe files’ setting disabled and given similar warnings. Now of course there are subtle variations on how this ‘Only allow app installs from the Mac App Store’ feature would work, but you get the general idea.

On to my second … well I was going to bemoan the fact that there’s no Whole Disk Encryption (WDE) in Snow Leopard, and no news of it appearing in Lion. That’s all changed! Lion will feature FileVault 2 which will support full disk encryption. No more needing PGP for Mac! Here’s the low down on the Apple website – http://www.apple.com/macosx/whats-new/features.html#filevault2

One out of two… it’s a good start.

TodUhr

The first of many?

By the way… I have recently started dabbling in the world of iOS apps. Now it’s a long time since I was a programmer (late 80’s I think) so someone else is taking care of that aspect of things, but there’s a lot more to getting your app into the iTunes App Store, some of which can get quite confusing or just frustrating. I’m aiming to write a few articles about the experience in the hope that it’ll help someone in the future, but if you want to see the fruits of our labours and the little ‘entertaining’? app we created, then pop over to iTunes and look for TodUhr or paste this link http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/toduhr/id439571992?mt=8  in to your browser. Disclosure – the app costs a few pennies or cents depending on where you live… all of which is gratefully received (after Apple takes their 30%) to help cover the $99 developers fee that is Apple’s cost of entry to it’s playground.

Mac Malware – Here’s An Idea

MacDefender (and now a few variants) has been making a name for itself recently. The first piece of Mac malware that’s managed to catch people who weren’t downloading some cracked application or other. By all accounts the victim merely needed to visit one of several websites that had been compromised with malicious code. A pop-up appears saying their computer is infected and they are prompted to download and install some bogus software that demands credit card details before supposedly removing the infection.

MacDefender

MacDefender

Now I’ve been using PCs and Macs for longer than I care to mention and while I like to think that I would never have fallen prey to this ‘scare & pay-up’ tactic, I actually know several friends and family members who would have. They are trusting people. They are people who are well aware of the prevalence of malware on the Windows platform, having typically been Windows users themselves previously. They have heard the mantra of protecting yourself by having good anti-malware software installed, so when they see the warning they think it’s entirely credible… even for a Mac user.

But there’s something else that many of these people do, or rather don’t do and that’s to frequently install 3rd party apps. I know at least 4 Mac users for whom I have installed iWork, Office for Mac or an iLife upgrade and that’s it. That’s all they use. They do email, they shop online, they write a few documents or spreadsheets, they work with photos or movies in iLife and they use iTunes and maybe download an iOS app or two. As for Mac OS X software, they don’t really have a need to step beyond the few apps that Apple gives them and they’re perfectly happy with that. Maybe once or twice I might get a call asking if I could recommend an app such as a family tree program or something, but that’s about it.

I’m pretty certain that I’m not unique. There must be thousands, perhaps millions of Mac users out there who really do have modest requirements or who don’t have the urge to experiment with different apps all the time, and it’s for those people for whom I had an idea…

A System Preference, perhaps under the Accounts preference pane, that says:

‘Only allow software installs from the Mac App Store: Yes/No’ (with the default being set to No).

So what does this do? Well the idea is that it prevents a 3rd party app from being installed and run if it hasn’t come from the Mac App Store. The App Store is curated by Apple, so it’s a trusted source of software that can be installed, and software from any other source gets stopped in it’s tracks. As for the mechanism for how it prevents 3rd party software being used, well that’s down to the clever guys. They could use certificates, some sort of file system checks, etc., I’m sure there are many ways this could be achieved. What’s more, you could even attach a timer to the ‘Yes’ option, with a slider that goes from 5 minutes to ‘indefinitely’ (with appropriate warnings for leaving it set).

By now there’s probably a few people who would be up in arms against this idea, saying it’s half way towards a walled garden for Mac users rather like iOS users, but then that’s exactly the point. It is only half way and it still gives people like me who like to tinker, the option to do so, in the full knowledge that I think I know what I’m doing. For what I suspect is a great many people, it would add that extra level of protection along the lines of – you only ever install software when you have actually gone out looking for software to install.

Now I’m sure that malware writers could get creative, and instead of popping up a warning saying your Mac is infected, they could easily craft a window that instead mimics the built-in Software Update window and says something like ‘iLife 2011-05-25 Security Update. Click here to install’. Indeed that might catch a lot more people after all, who doesn’t have iLife installed? This is where Apple gets creative in finding a way to block these, e.g. by preventing access to the ‘Install 3rd party apps’ option except by approved services (like Software Update) or via the GUI itself. What’s more, it would probably be a good idea to show this setting to any new Mac user to try and prevent a deluge of calls to Apple Care saying “Help, I can’t install something”. Perhaps a message that greets the user saying “Installation of 3rd party software is currently disabled (recommended). Do you wish to change this setting?”.

At the end of the day I’m talking about mindsets here. There are those who like to fiddle, who regularly install apps, who know how things work, etc., and they can switch the option off confident that they can probably use their wits to avoid getting infected. But then there are those who don’t really care for that sort of thing. They are perfectly fine using the apps they have, and installing software is a rare event where they usually ask a friend for help anyway. It’s this second group of people for whom prevention is probably better than cure.

Is this one of my more mad ideas? Have I got it completely wrong? Who knows. What I do know is that the one family member I have who still uses Windows, generates more “Help it’s broken” calls to me than all my Mac-using friends and family added together. Still love ’em to bits though!

PS – If you are worried about MacDefender and want to learn more, Apple has a page dedicated to it here: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4650

iPad + iOS 4.2.1 = Frustration

Sorry but this is a little rant about the latest and greatest version of iOS 4.2.1 on my 32Gb WiFi iPad. You see up to the point just before I upgraded, my iPad was marvellous. Either at home on my WiFi network, or out and about with my Three UK MiFi mobile hotspot, anything requiring internet access was a breeze. Applications like Osfoora and WeatherHD would update almost instantly, web pages would load quickly, even my LogMeIn Ignition worked really well.

But then that fateful day came in November when the much anticipated iOS 4.2.1 update hit the Apple servers. Multi-tasking (of a sort), folders, AirPlay, AirPrint (ok with a helping hand from Printopia in my case), but all really useful stuff. Like many others I’ve heard about including two iPad owning friends, the iOS 4.2.1 update on the iPad wasn’t quite the usiual ‘it just works’ Apple experience. iTunes got part of the way through the update before it decided to ‘hang’. I left it like that for 2.5 hours (yes, two and a half hours!), but no joy. The iPad was in limbo and I eventually had to force quit iTunes and start again. Much later that evening, the iPad was up and running with iOS 4.2.1 and that’s when my WiFi woes started.

No WiFiAt first I thought it was my internet connection at home, but using my MiFi instead of my home broadband produced the same results. The iPad would show itself as being connected to a WiFi network with a strong signal, but web pages would start loading incredibly slowly and apps would take forever to update. Then the connection would drop completely and Mobile Safari would complain of timeouts, apps would tell me I wasn’t connected to the internet and all the while the iPad showed itself as being connected with a strong WiFi signal. Rebooting my router or MiFi made no difference, what’s more my Mac was still working perfectly through the same WiFi connection. Eventually I twigged that restarting the WiFi on the iPad would temporarily fix the problem. Initially this was switching the iPad off then on again, but then I discovered that just recycling the WiFi by turning Airplane mode on for five seconds then off again would do the trick. But the problem would always return, sometimes as soon as five minutes afterwards and sometimes I would get a full 30-45 minutes of working WiFi before it would tail off again and eventually stop.

Searching the internet has revealed that a lot of people are experiencing the exact same problem – intermittent and slow WiFi since upgrading to iOS 4.2.1. Some surveys I’ve seen suggest that it’s as many as 25% of users are having this problem, and it clearly is a problem. Whether it’s related to a particular ‘batch’ of iPads, or some curious combination of circumstances, who knows. I know three other people with iPads and two of them have the same problem, making that 75% of the people I know. I know, it’s a very small sample and for reference one of my friends who has the problem actually had a smooth upgrade without iTunes hanging.

As incredibly frustrating as this is, it wouldn’t be quite so bad if Apple wasn’t being it’s usual taciturn self when it comes to problems. What problems? Having browsed the numerous complaints on the Apple Support Forums, there doesn’t seem to be any acknowledgment at all from Apple that there’s a problem. Even a simple “we’re not saying there’s a fault but we are investigating” would help. In all honesty, I’d be very surprised if Apple weren’t aware of the problem and are doing a little investigation, but engaging your customers a bit better when there’s issues like this would push their already high customer satisfaction ratings up from the low 90’s towards that magical 100%, well ok 99% ‘cos there’s always someone!

Surely that’s something that Steve Jobs and Co would love to do? I know it would make me happy… well happier knowing a fix is on the way.

Here’s a thread about the issue on the Apple Support Forums – HERE

iOS 4.2.1 Airprint Frustration

Strangely enough I didn’t pay much attention to the release of iOS 4.2.1 even though I have a WiFi iPad, an iPhone 4, my old iPhone 3G and an Apple TV (2nd gen). Sure I was aware of the basics like improved speed on the iPhone 3G (I’ve yet to notice it), folders on the iPad, playing video from the iPad on your Apple TV, ‘multitasking’ and of course AirPrint.

So I decided to check out AirPrint and had a quick look at the Apple web site…

“AirPrint makes it simple to print email, photos, web pages, and documents right from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. A few taps is all it takes to go from viewing it onscreen to holding a printed copy. There’s no software to download, no drivers to install, and no cables to connect.”

Well that looks straightforward enough. I guess so long as my printer is switched on and visible on the network (it’s shared by my Mac Pro) then I’ll be good to go. I fired up my iPad, loaded Pages, selected Print and hey presto…. ‘No Printers Found’. What do you mean no printers found? I can see it. The little green light is on. In my System Preferences on the Mac it definitely says it’s shared. What’s going on? Time to Google the answer and discover the truth behind Apple’s rather over-simplified statement. That’s right, seems there’s a key phrase missing from Apple’s web page, so I have ‘amended’ the AirPrint feature point on Apple’s iOS web page for you. Hope it’s a little clearer now…

AirPrint Clarified

There, that's better...

Obviously my Canon ip4000 doesn’t qualify, and given that it prints great photos, letters, etc., I have no intention of replacing it. Maybe there are more AirPrint-enabled printers on the way. Perhaps Apple will push an update in the future that ‘enables’ a greater range of existing printers to be used, who knows. What I do know is that their glib statement about just ‘click & go’ is somewhat misleading. Judging by the large number of queries from people who have been asking why AirPrint doesn’t work for them, it seems like a lot of people were caught out by this. Now I’m an IT person of sorts and I should know better (and do my research more thoroughly), but you can’t expect the average Joe to read that statement and then go off hunting for clarification – they just want to print.

Rumour has it that broader printer support was going to be included but that it got pulled at the last minute. Still, if Apple is able to co-ordinate the release of iOS 4.2.1 worldwide, then you’d think they could adjust a little bit of text in a web page just to make things clear? Well they do… IF you go to the iPad page, click on the AirPrint link, then scroll to the bottom of the page. That’s marketing at it’s best – big up the features in your headline and then hide the gotchas away – behind a door marked ‘Beware of the tiger’!

PS – I am aware that there is a ‘fix’ for this problem that involves downloading three files to your Mac and overwriting a couple of system files, but I’ll wait for the official fix – if it happens.