Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Reasons to Shun Beta Testing iOS 11

[Courtesy of cnet]

Apple on Monday opened testing of iOS 11 to the general public. Signing up and installing the beta takes just a few minutes of your time. However, it's important to remember that a public beta -- regardless of how stable it may seem -- can wreak havoc on your device and, potentially, the data stored on it.  
Instead, the best approach to helping Apple beta test its software is to use a secondary device, such as an old iPad or iPhone or iPod Touch. Still tempted? Here are a few reasons it's a good idea to wait or, at the very least, not install a public beta on your main devices. 

Bugs! Bugs everywhere! 

The quality of early iOS betas has improved drastically over the years, but the software is still labeled as a beta for a reason: it's not done and it's not always going to behave as it should. Some bugs can impact Apple's own apps and services, while others break third-party apps. For example, 9to5Mac recently published the release notes for the second developer beta of iOS 11 and it lists issues with apps from Tweetbot to Square Cash. Things are going to break, and it may be a long time before Apple fixes them. 

Battery life is a drain

One of the last things to improve during the beta process is battery life. Apple implements new features and interface tweaks, and then once it all begins to come together it tackles improving battery life. 

Data loss is real

You always run the chance of losing data when testing beta software. In the past, I've personally lost countless photos and documents when testing a beta version of iOS and iCloud Drive. I had a backup of everything, but it was a stark reminder that beta testing can not only force you to encounter bugs where apps don't work, but also delete files without any warning at all. 

Going back to iOS 10 is a hassle

Once you opt into the beta program and upgrade, you're not stuck on iOS 11, but if you decide you want to downgrade the only way to do so is with a complete factory reset. And any backups created by iOS 11 cannot be restored to iOS 10. In other words, you'll be forced to either reset and set up as a brand new device or restore to the latest iOS 10 backup you have. Neither solution is ideal. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Terrific Dedicated (and Free) Gmail Client

A lot of people use Gmail. It's great, but having to access it via a web browser instead of a dedicated program can sometimes be inconvenient. Browsers take up lots of RAM, for example. And it's annoyingly easy to inadvertently close your mail when closing your browser, even if you didn't really mean to close the Gmail tab. Plus, because you're accessing Gmail via a browser, there's no Gmail icon on your task bar. It's just another browser window or tab. So it's not easy to quickly flip between your email and another open program. 
Kiwi for Gmail is an email program designed solely for Gmail. It works like a normal Windows program rather than a web browser, but the experience is precisely the same. You will hardly know you're not using a browser. Plus, you don't need to configure Gmail settings for IMAP or POP in order to use it. Just log into Gmail via Kiwi in the normal way.

Changing Your Android Home Screen

You can designate any of the screens as the default home screen on Androids. Here's how: Do a pinching sweep on the screen which will make the screen look like below; swipe left or right until you get to the screen you want to make your default home screen; and tap the little home symbol at the top of the page. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Better Vacation Rentals

Forget Airbnb, VRBO, and the other vacation rental sites you've heard of. Check out these better and way cooler ones:

Welcome Beyond: Specializing in unusual houses and small hotels all over the world. Welcome Beyond Website

One Fine Stay:  Specializing in luxury hotel-like service in apartments and houses all over the world. One Fine Stay Website

The Thinking Traveler: Specializing in unique properties, such as your own private beach compound on a Greek Island. The Thinking Traveler Website

Boutique Homes: Specializing in really cool places for chic and thrifty nomads. Boutique Homes Website

Landmark Trust: Specializing in historically significant places in England (e.g., John Keats' home) and some in France, and fees go to preserving these places. Landmark Trust Website

Condor Airlines (Phoenix)

Condor Airlines is the best airline to get to Europe in that you can get first/business class service with lie-flat seats for the same price (or lower) as coach fares charged by most airlines. Starting next May, Condor will begin non-stop service between Phoenix and Frankfurt.