Apple Operating Systems (macOS, iOS, watchOS, & tvOS) Catch-All


So I preordered a Watch 4 from Best Buy but they of course didn’t get a single watch for their initial shipment and there is no ETA for when it will arrive. They claim Apple is not communicating on when they will be shipping additional units. (I can cancel my preorder if it’s more than a month. Gee thanks.)

Anyone preorder and get theirs?


That sucks, DocJoe. I did get mine on release day via an Apple Store appointment. I originally ordered a GPS-only version and then wished I had just sucked it up to pay for a cellular version (I'm on the fence over it, but would like to have the option to run w/o taking my phone), but they were super flexible about allowing me to immediately return and exchange for the cell version. I may end up not using it, but better to have the flexibility. (I still regret cheaping out on my iPhone 6 and getting just 16GB.) Even with the exchange, I was in and out in about 20 minutes.

Anyway, this will be random, but some initial thoughts... this one is my first smartwatch of any stripe and it's... cool, but frustrating. I'm giving Apple Music a free month to convince me it's worth switching to from Spotify and the syncing issues I keep getting between devices have not been inspiring. Likewise determining how it decides between when it wants to send audio to a headset directly or when to do so via my iPhone has been confounding, forcing me into manually switching between which device my headset is connected to on multiple occasions in just a few days. In both these cases, it feels like it's just a matter of getting used to its eccentricities while also getting things set up the way I want, and it'll hopefully be fine in the end. That said, Apple's usual insistence on making things "just work" comes at the expense of control and clarity, and it does get irritating.

That said, I do like it and am glad I bought it. I like being able to check texts and email notifications at a glance without going to my phone. In just a couple days, my phone already spends much more time in my pocket or at my desk while I'm in another room. I like being being able to go for a run and cue up a podcast without having to bring it. I like the different watch faces and the options for customizing them. Being able to access routine information with a quick glance at my wrist is aces. It's comfortable to wear and there's a lot of little conveniences that I'm sure to be taking for granted before long. I really like the health and fitness tracking stuff. Mostly, I find it's got a bit steeper of a learning curve than a phone or tablet because interactions are so much different, but I'm guessing that will go away in time.

The cellular Apple Watch also lets you listen to any music in your library, regardless of whether or not it's been synced to the watch.

Technically any model can do that with a network connection. You can sync 2GB of Apple Music or iCloud Library playlists to it regardless, at which point the initial screen for the Music app gets a bit more obvious about whether you're browsing what's on the Watch or the phone.

Yeah, as I get used to the thing and experiment with features to see what makes them work or not, I'm coming to understand what makes it tick, which is often counter to what I'd expect or assume. (One of the headphone things very much fits that scenario of not realizing I was telling Music to browse on my phone and not on my watch. Oops.)

To be less vague (as I was), I only want the cellular on runs so I'm not completely disconnected from the world. Not that any of these things are likely, but if I blew out a knee or got hit by a car or something, it's reassuring to know I can reach out for help in the absence of my phone. It was always my intention to have podcasts/music stored on the watch without the need to stream from the cloud or from the phone.

On the music front, there's just a lot of weirdness about how all that works. It's all been solvable, but I find it clunky and obtuse in certain areas. Like, the Watch depends wholly on the phone (at least when you don't have cellular turned on), so anything you want to have on your watch also has to be on your phone first. That's completely expected, but in practice it created some unexpected scenarios.

- There are things that sync right away and things that don't and it's not always super clear which are which. Both the podcast and music apps have notes (in the Watch app on the phone and nowhere else that I can see) that indicate "Music is downloaded when Apple Watch is connected to power and placed near your iPhone." Not a deal breaker, but it is limiting because the watch has a habit of making that stuff look like its there (it'll show in listings, not always with that helpful cloud icon), but it can't access it without cellular enabled and doesn't really communicate that, "Oh, hey, this won't be here until the next time you connect to power and sync." Again, no biggie... once you understand it.

- Unless I've missed something (still possible), you cannot do a manual media sync from PC to your phone anymore if you have iCloud backups enabled for the phone. I tried for a couple hours yesterday. I had a single, specific album designated to sync and it wouldn't do it until I completely turned off iCloud sync. Once I did that, it worked just like it always used to before I used iCloud for backups. So yeah, you can work around it, and maybe I missed something else, but I find that all-or-nothing approach to what goes on iCloud and what you do from PC really suboptimal.

- There appears to be no way to force a sync between phone and watch or monitor a sync in progress. I mean I get that it's just supposed to happen, and usually it does, eventually (see above)... when it's all working. But when it's not working, it can be very hard to see that it's not working or understand why. You're sitting around like an idiot, staring at your wrist every five minutes to see if it's synced yet when it's possible it's not syncing at all and the reason it's not syncing could be anything from a disabled setting (see next) to the need to connect with power (as above).

- Once you turn on Apple Music and sync your personal music library up to iCloud, you do still have to go into the Music app settings on your phone and manually turn on an option to enable it to look for your uploaded iCloud Music Library (in addition to enabling Apple Music itself). Just a one time thing and not a big deal, but the option isn't there until after you've signed up for Apple Music so it's easy to miss; plus, it's off by default and there's nothing telling you, "Hey, this is why you can't see your stuff." You have to realize something is actually not working (as opposed to just taking time) and go on a hunt.

There have been other things too, and no question some of them are just me being dumb or forgetful, others because systems designed to work together don't all necessarily do so in a transparent way. Again, I do like the watch, but I'm kind of easy. I don't mind taking time to get the processes and ins and outs sorted. I actually kind of like it in a masochistic way. But it's easy to imagine many users, especially those that find tech confounding, getting frustrated and angry. (My dad has a series 3 and I'd bet a thousand dollars there are a bunch of features he just doesn't use because he's never been able to figure them out.)

Edit. Sorry about the wall-o-text!

I'm not sure if the thing about syncing is true. I use iCloud and Apple Music and I'm able to sync ripped movies I own over to my phone. Maybe you can't sync ripped music AND use Apple Music. Have you tried using iTunes Match? It allows you to upload your albums into the cloud and then they become part of your library.

That's the thing, at the time I was trying to do it, I didn't have Apple Music yet, so whatever the deal was that wasn't it. I incorrectly thought iTunes Match as a standalone service was something Apple dumped, so I didn't even think to try that first; not that I would have--probably would have experimented with going to Apple Music anyway. There may very well be some settings switch I could have flipped to make it work, but if there is, I didn't find it. Ah well. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Had another example crop up this morning with the syncing. I had podcast come available before my run, but after I'd unhooked the watch from power, so the watch wants to treat it as a cloud stream and not download it. I had some warm up stuff to do, so I reconnected it to power. That only gave it about 10 minutes, but as there's no way I can find to force the sync, I was at the mercy of whether or not it would in that time. It didn't. Later, as I was getting ready, I reconnected to power and the podcast did download to the phone. I dunno. That's just weird to me. You'd think the app would just have a button to say "download this now" when you're connected to your phone or wifi, but nothing.

On the other hand, running with just my watch, no phone clanging around in my pocket or strapped to my arm, and having a (different) podcast going was absolutely aces (especially when it started raining half way in and I didn't have to worry about my phone getting wet).

So I've put in three or four days of heavy XS Max use and I'm quite happy with it so far. I'm not a tech guy so bear with my zero knowledge observations. There were a few big changes to get used to jumping all the way from a 6 plus.

- Face Id: I really thought I'd miss touch id with all the complaints I've heard about face id but I've had very few instances where it didn't work for me. Probably less than I had with touch id actually. Waking up on the first morning after I got it was the only time it seemed to struggle. Combination of my head being attached to a pillow and holding it too close I think.

I figured the biggest annoyance would be at work where I'm unlocking it while it's laying nearly flat on my desk. Hasn't been the case though. Seems to unlock at a very generous angle so I don't have to lean over every time to unlock it. Just wish there was a setting to go directly to the home screen without swiping up. I assume it's so people don't miss notifications but still.

- The actual loss of the home button seems like the biggest thing to get used to. Took me a night of struggling but I quickly came to the point where I prefer the gestures. Feels nice and snappy. It felt weird going back to my ipad last night.

- Speakers: SO much better than the 6 plus. I always struggled trying to hear anything when using my old phone unless it was in a completely quiet environment. With Xs Max I can be taking a shower and have the fan on and still hear it just fine.

I made my first Shortcut last night. It's called "I'm Running Late" and takes as an input the number of minutes late I say I am leaving, calculates my travel time, adds my travel time to the minutes I'm running late, and texts it to my wife.

I anonymized it so if you use it, you will have to set your home address and recipient of the message.

I even added 'super' late which changes the message to "an hour and x minutes" instead of saying 67 minutes if you'll be later than an hour. There's probably a more elegant way I could've done it, but it was late and seems to work.

Edit: Updated the link above. The first version was inserting a text attachment by mistake. Apologies for the oversight.

I have an update pending for weeks now because wifi is required to download it. Is there anyway I can get around that?

I assume you mean an update for an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch). If that is the case, then you can update through iTunes: iTunes will download the update and install it on your device.

bobbywatson wrote:

I assume you mean an update for an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch). If that is the case, then you can update through iTunes: iTunes will download the update and install it on your device.

Oops. Yeah, it's an IPhone. It's a work phone that is used primarily as a wifi hotspot and has never been connected to ITunes, wifi, or even have an account put on it.

Bluetooth to another phone maybe?
I'd wager you could take it to the Apple store.
Also check that your settings aren't set to wifi downloads only

Just go somewhere that has free wifi and use it?

Does anyone have suggestions for photo backup? I'd just use iCloud but we are a mixed family with iOS, Android, Windows, and OS X (mostly android and windows). My wife has both an iPhone and a pixel.

Currently, I have both Google Photos and Onedrive that sync photos. Google Photos syncs pretty well on iOS but doesn't seem to handle Live photos well (makes them a video). Onedrive seems to handle live photos better (it treats it as a photo) but the sync hasn't been as reliable as Google Photos. I also have an amazon account but haven't used their photo sync app.

Are there any I'm missing? What works best for you?

We're using Amazon Photos in my household since we already have a Prime account. I'm on Android devices but my wife's stuff is all Apple.

Does Amazon do movies? I thought that was extra.

I have a weird one. On My Macbook Pro of 2018 make the keys corresponding to the numeric keypad - so downwards from 7890JKL etc. - just stopped working. First I figured the keyboard is just busted, but in interim of getting it serviced I plugged in a mechanical windows keyboard and it works perfectly. I then dig out my old Mac bluetooth keyboard and it has the same keys not working!

It must be something in OSX that's gone wrong but I can't seem to find anything even close to this online.

Suggestions anyone?

Did you already press the Option key five times to turn off mouse keys?

EvilHomer3k wrote:

Does Amazon do movies? I thought that was extra.

With Prime you get 5 GB for movies. So you certainly can run out of space quickly. I just end up using OneDrive for videos, even though I often have to force it to sync to get them uploaded.

LeapingGnome wrote:

Did you already press the Option key five times to turn off mouse keys?

Now I have and the keys work as they should. I had no clue such a feature existed or how it got turned on.

You spared me a lot of hand-wringing, thanks!