Apple, Stop Parenting Me – Rant About iOS 14 Auto-Volume Reduction

Apple is a company that tends to believe it knows best what its customers want. Sometimes a company – not specific to Apple – does actually know better than the customer. Apple has been very active in the past years to push customer health and provide hardware, the Apple Watch, and software, the Health app, to facilitate this push in the form of products they can sell. I do not own an Apple Watch, but I genuinely view it as a good thing.

Now, with iOS 14, Apple has gone a bit too far with regards to health monitoring. It now enforces rules I, the customer and user of a device, cannot override. I am talking about the automatic volume reduction when iOS thinks I have been listening to loud audio for too long.

This is not okay!
This is not a situation where a company knows better.

It is actively limiting its product’s usefulness to me, the customer who paid a lot of money for it. I understand the motivation, but I cannot condone the action taken. Apple cannot even know why I turn up the volume to levels it deems inappropriate for a more extended period.

Here are a few examples, some of which already happened to me.

  1. Bluetooth-pairing the phone with my car’s audio system.

    I usually crank the phone’s volume to max to roughly match the other audio sources, like music on a USB stick (yes, I am a cave-man that has music on a stick).

  2. Listening to podcasts while going for a walk or run next to a busy road.

    Imagine my surprise when the voices speaking to me seemed to have disappeared because iOS lowered the volume to a point where the audio was drowned by traffic noise. I thought my phone had died – which has happened often enough thanks to an iOS bug that incorrectly reported battery percentage and dropped from 30% to turning off within 15-20 minutes.

  3. Listening with studio headphones that have a high input resistance (in ohm).

    I recently bought a new pair of headphones, and the quickest way to compare them with my old ones was to plug them into my phone. 80 Ω is not a lot, but enough to have to crank up the volume a bit higher to get a decent fun level. In the end, it is still much quieter compared to my PC soundcard that supports up to 600 Ω headphones.

No. 1 has not yet happened, but I assume it might once the world is rid of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I can/must travel to work a couple of times per month. On longer car rides, I usually listen to podcasts, and as mentioned, I turn up the volume on my phone in those cases. The other two issues have already managed to annoy me, and No. 3 prompted me to write this little rant – although that is the least likely of the three examples to occur regularly. Most of the time, it will be No. 2 when I am out walking or going for a run. The traffic noise is much worse than people talking to me. I am not even listening to music, which is also worse than people talking to me. I prefer Apple to turn down the car noise on the roads instead of my headphones. Until they can do that, stop messing with my volume, please.

(Is this a ploy to get me to buy horribly expensive AirPods Pro with
noise cancellation?)

I can agree that a notification is a good start to educate users. But please do not take any automatic action. At least make it configurable. I am an adult, and I should be able to decide for myself. On top of that, there are legitimate use-cases where a higher "theoretical" volume is required.

Of Affordable Phones, Software Updates and Yearly Upgrades

With the release of the Google Pixel 3a I once again started thinking about what I want in a smartphone. As a reminder, the last time I was pondering the purchase of one I was musing of tall phones, curved displays and notches. I am not in the market for a new phone right now as my iPhone 8 is more than capable of fulfilling my needs. But, with the recent launch of the Pixel 3a I wished that this device had already existed a year ago because it is basically the perfect phone for me. And I also wish Google would get back into the market of less expensive phones with the latest and greatest hardware as was the case with the Nexus line.

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Apple WWDC 2018 Announcements – A few thoughts

As I do every year, I watched the Apple WWDC 2018 keynote, for personal entertainment purposes as well as a genuine interest in what Apple is doing. The same is also true for both Google’s and Microsoft’s developer conferences. This is not a comprehensive summary as done by other Apple news sites and blogs, but rather  a few thoughts on what I’ve seen and how it may or may not affect me.

iOS Update Strategy

Every year, and with good reason, Apple mocks Google’s Android platform for lagging behind in the software update department. This year was no different, as was to be expected, but in addition to that they emphasized the support of devices dating back to 2013. Five-year-old iPhones and iPads! Take that Android.Read More »

Of tall phones, curved displays and notches

This is a rant about modern smartphone design. I’ve had a few ideas in my head for some time, since MWC 2018 in fact, but never bothered to write them down as it was only focused on this notch thing that keeps on spreading. However, recently my sister’s phone died – thanks for the boot loop issues LG (it was my Nexus 5X that I passed on to her) – and so I helped her searching for a suitable replacement.

Although there are plenty smartphone makers out there, our go-to list wasn’t very long. For one, we had ruled out LG from the start. It seems that the Nexus 5X wasn’t the only one with recurring hardware defects. The next ones that didn’t make it to the list were basically all Chinese manufacturers like Huawei, Honor, ZTE or Xiaomi. I understand that they make very good handsets, especially Huawei has upped their game, but I do have my doubts regarding software updates. The last time I had read about the Android update situation sometime last year, these companies didn’t have the best track record (I don’t have the link to the website anymore, sorry). In fact, just throwing it out there, some Android phone manufacturers even lie about the patch level of their firmware.

<Insert your preferred curse>

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(Mountain) Lion automatically wakes from sleep

Since I first got my iMac I always wondered why the machine would suddenly just wake up from Sleep in the middle of the night. I didn’t touch it since at night I prefer to sleep (or else I must be sleepwalking). I initially found a way to fix this but it came up again with the update to Mountain Lion (which just reset the preference).
Go the System Preferences and hit Energy Saver. There you’ll uncheck Wake for Wi-Fi network access (in German: Ruhezustand bei Netzwerkzugriff beenden). I figured that must be the reason because at night my router automatically turns off wireless and just before I get home from work it turns it back on. For me it did the trick.
Here are two images, one from my machine (in German) and one found on Google for an english machine.

Controlling a Mac’s fans (AppleSMC)

Since the iMac found its way onto my desk I’ve been bothered with the heat generated when playing Diablo 3 (or possibly any other game) – just as with the MacBook Pro. The only difference: The MacBook’s fans were howling to stop the torment, the iMac just swallows the pain it seems. Don’t get me wrong, the system is not overheating and temperature is well within its limits. In fact, the CPU doesn’t even really heat up. It’s more the graphics chip and the power supply. But for me as a former PC user who built all the PCs himself and always had a good (and mostly quiet) cooling this is just a bit unusual.Read More »