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  • Silly Apple Things

    July 2nd, 2014

    The other day, I read yet another story about a lingering Apple problem, the inability to merge that dreaded Apple ID with another in your household or business. Certainly the problems are obvious: Licensed content purchased under one Apple ID doesn’t work when you login with another. This is particularly true of movie downloads, since the Hollywood entertainment moguls insist that you cannot be trusted.

    Certainly it makes the process of managing your apps and getting updates all the more complicated if some were purchased with different accounts.

    The Apple ID problem is understandable. You set up a new Mac, iPhone or iPad, and you just cannot remember your login info. So you create a new account. After a few years, you have several. Or perhaps another family member sets up their own account, and soon it gets complicated.

    I cannot tell you how many times I’ve helped a friend or client in just this situation. The setup assistant requests the Apple ID, and I get a questioning look. Is  it written down somewhere? What Apple ID do you use on your other Apple gadget? In the end, they might find one of many, or just start from scratch with a new Apple ID, although I strongly recommend against it.

    True, they could contact Apple and try to recover an older Apple ID, but that’s hit or miss.

    Apple’s solution is no solution. You cannot merge the accounts and simplify your life. For me, I still have an Apple ID representing an email address I haven’t used in over a decade. I keep the domain and the address active for one reason: Apple.

    Now in theory I can understand why Apple might have problems merging Apple IDs. It would require some sort of verification process to confirm you are the same person with multiple accounts, or that the other accounts are being used by another family member. I suppose this would include confirming credit card numbers, addresses and other information Apple uses to make sure you are who you say you are. But they haven’t asked for my social security number — at least not yet.

    Regardless, a couple of years back, Tim Cook was quoted as saying that Apple was looking into a solution. Maybe they were sidetracked fixing Maps, or building the next versions of iOS, OS X or the first iWatch. I wouldn’t know for sure, but it’s a sure thing that the present scattershot method of managing your Apple account or accounts is not workable, not efficient, and only causes trouble for customers. Surely Apple can carve out some time to address this issue.

    I also return to the way junk mail is handled by iCloud’s email system. As I reported this past weekend, it appears that more severe spam — or at least messages that hit a higher threshold for some unknown reason — never hit your Junk box. While that might seem a blessing if there aren’t false positives, how do you handle the mistakes? When messages from the company I use to register domains didn’t reach me, I contacted Apple for a solution. That’s when they revealed that they can actually add an address or domain to a whitelist for you.

    While I did finally receive the messages from the domain registrar that got caught in this quarantine, I have no way of knowing just how many messages never reached my Inbox or any mailbox. I also do not now how many messages I’ve sent from that account didn’t arrive at their destinations. I know the Apple support person didn’t receive the responses I sent to his email address, so go figure.

    At the very least, Apple ought to give customers access to the block lists impacting their accounts online, so they can make a final decision as to whether to release and whitelist a message. I’ve been able to do that with any of the email hosts I’ve used.

    A third issue is whether or not Apple is about to ditch the traditional headphone jack, based on 19th century technology, and use Lighting instead. This is a story that’s been going around for a while, and while I suppose anything is possible, those who are taking this story seriously seem to forget the a serious contradiction.

    So, what do you do when the lightning port is already occupied with another connector, say to a power source, or another outboard accessory? Do accessory makers have to provide a duplicate port to support your headphones? Is Apple really saving that much space getting rid of the headphone port? Really?

    This doesn’t mean there are no advantages to choosing a digital over analog connection for some abstract purpose that will expand the usability of headphones. I suppose there could be products that might leverage Lightning’s exclusive features in ways that traditional analog jacks cannot support. Maybe.

    Now you should know that Apple has never officially commented on expanded use of the Lightning port, or on any plan to remove an old fashioned jack that supports hundreds of millions of headphones, speakers and other accessories for your iOS gear.

    Yes, it’s true that Apple does want to drive technology, and many complained when the 30-pin Dock connector was ditched in favor of Lightning. Some car makers still haven’t gotten the memo, and thus provide the older connectors rather than the new ones. Regardless, that move will clearly pave the way for newer generations of outboard gear despite the inconvenience. Besides, it won’t be too many years before older gear with older connectors isn’t being used very much. Remember when Apple killed floppy and optical drives. Yes, I know there is one legacy MacBook Pro with an optical drive, but its days are numbered.

    One thing is sure: There will always be Apple decisions and changes to complain about. But this is a useful start.

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