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View Full Version : Adventures with iOS 7 (aka. How I screwed up.)



iMic
2nd November 2013, 12:42 AM
I'm still questioning why I'm posting this myself. Perhaps it's because it's been slowly irritating me over the last few days and I just need to turn it into text to help accept it.

In a nutshell - I screwed up.

I have several contacts overseas. We always try to stay in touch, even if infrequently, we do our best to keep the friendship alive and healthy. Often it requires bending timetables to make it work, with time zone differences and what not, so often I'll give these friends one simple instruction that even the less technically inclined can follow:

"Call me, regardless of time, and I'll wake up when I hear the phone ring. If I don't answer, call until I do."

Which works fine, because I don't mind the odd early start if it means keeping in touch. We use Skype (http://www.skype.com/en/) primarily since it's a widely adopted solution that gets the job done for the most part. We also used to use Viber (http://www.viber.com), which still works, we've just reduced its usage since they're not as keen on it as I am.

So, what did I do to screw up?

I upgraded to iOS 7.

I'm often an early adopter of new software, but when it comes to something as critical as my phone, I tend to hold off unless it's a minor release. So I didn't upgrade until this week, having waited for iOS 7.0.3 to be released, and my phone was exhibiting a couple of issues I couldn't explain (a complete inability to use iOS' Facebook Integration for some reason). So I took the plunge - and iOS 7 was finally installed.

It took me about 30 seconds to realise I may have made a mistake. I wasn't keen on the look of it, but I can look beyond the surface if it means being able to run up-to-date releases of my most frequently used applications. After all, iOS 6 won't be supported forever.

The real dread set in a couple of hours later, when I reopened the Skype app and was presented with the "Signing In" screen. I thought this was odd as I'd signed in earlier that evening and left the application running in the background. I've configured Skype to never sign out - even when in the background - in the Skype Preferences. It comes at the expense of battery life, but I can manage.

So I opened my old Skype account on my MacBook Air and added myself as a contact to see what my friends would be seeing. Sure enough, after about two hours of my phone sitting idle, my contact would go offline. If I manually switched back to the Skype application on my iPhone, I would sign back in and become visible once again.

I switched over to Viber, and it too refreshed as soon as I switched back to it in the application switcher. It was exhibiting the same problems as Skype.

Now, considering I leave my phone on overnight, available to those friends of mine, I can't wake up every two hours in order to wake up my iPhone, relaunch the Skype and Viber applications, then put the phone back to sleep again. It's simply not feasible.

This is where I start to realise that perhaps I've made a bloody awful mistake.



Apple has some creative ways for managing background tasks that offer many benefits to the end user, but with the occasional quirk that the individual application developers have to account for when developing their software. It seemed like maybe I was one of the unfortunate ones here.

I decided to make sure my apps were up to date. Sure enough, they were - Skype itself even claimed to be fully supported under iOS 7 with the latest version. I posted the issue over on the Skype community message board, which would have been a brilliant move if these support forums weren't so fantastically f*#&ing stupid. If I hear "reinstall Skype", "check Preferences" or "restart your phone" once more, the individual behind the post will be receiving an involuntary swift kick somewhere painful.


So, I'm currently experimenting with a potential unaddressed issue in iOS 7 with the new "Background App Refresh" feature. It's being widely reported that this feature is causing some applications to log out after a few hours (http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/09/23/background-app-refresh-in-ios-7-reportedly-causing-login-issues-for-some-apps), and while apparently this shouldn't affect Skype or Viber as they're classed as VoIP applications and don't use Background App Refresh, disabling the feature in the OS has seemingly resulted in a consistent connection. I've been visible as online since 4:30 PM yesterday (it's 12:48 AM now), although I've also used the phone in that time, so the constant use of the phone's other apps could have been causing the Skype application to keep itself active somehow.

The real test will be this evening, when I enable Skype once more and leave it to run overnight. When I wake up tomorrow, if it's still active and running, I think we'll be good to go - but I'm not holding my breath.


It does bother me somewhat though. So many users would depend heavily on VoIP applications like Skype, and to have that functionality not work correctly essentially renders their phone useless for that task. Waiting for a few months and some point-releases is always a good idea for this reason, but it hasn't worked this time. I considered downgrading, graciously taking the punishment of having to restore my phone and tediously start from scratch, but since Apple stopped signing iOS 6.1.3 only a few days after the release of iOS 7, it's impossible to roll back (being an iPhone 4S with an A5 processor, not even typical jailbreak tools work).

I suppose all I can do now is wait and see if my workaround has in fact worked, and if not, hope that the third party developers come up with workarounds of their own in future releases and suck up having to leave a computer on in the meantime for those friends to contact me instead.


In the future though, it has raised questions in my mind about whether I'll happily step up to the next iPhone when the time comes to upgrade. I love technology, and I don't mind getting my hands messy in code, custom builds and third party utilities as long as it means I get a device at the end of it that functions for exactly what I need it for - staying in touch. For that reason, something like the Google Nexus 5 (http://www.google.com/nexus/5/) could be my future handset. Google Android may have its drawbacks, but if I can modify and tweak to my hearts content, to modify it as I see fit or to work around these and any future issues, then I'll be happy. It would be sad to see the iPhone off because I genuinely loved my iPhone 4S, but at the end of the day, if the iPhone doesn't work correctly for my needs and doesn't leave me any options to correct it (like an OS downgrade), I'll have no choice. I suppose you could say it's not personal - it's business.


Anyway, that's my unusually calm and composed rant over.

I do feel better, actually.

Now, fingers crossed Skype and Viber stay connected this time.


Cheers,

~ Mic.

kerr
2nd November 2013, 01:23 AM
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