Multitasking

31 01 2014

Multitasking is the simultaneous execution of more than one task (also named as process).

In the case of electronic devices with a single CPU and human beings only one task is said to be running at any point in time, meaning that the CPU or the brain is actively executing instructions for that task.

But there are sophisticated techniques which let you think it’s multitasking.

Intelligent scheduling is the key to powerful devices.

This is a wide field where innovation within the operating system can save memory, reduce drain of battery energy, and increase performance of tasks which have to be executed by ‘temporarily sleeping’ apps.

Human beings …

People can drive a car while using a phone for a call or they can write an E-Mail while looking on a TV.

Studies validate that people show severe interference when even very simple tasks are performed at the same time. Because the brain cannot fully focus when multitasking, people take longer to complete tasks and are predisposed to error compared to sequential completion.
The brain always restarts and refocuses when switching between tasks and in the interim between each exchange there is no progress whatsoever.

So multitasking of human beings is just a rapid toggling among tasks rather than simultaneous processing. Although the brain is complex and can perform a myriad of tasks, it cannot multitask efficiently.

Electronic devices …

In computing, multitasking is a method where multiple tasks are performed during the same period of time. The tasks share common resources, such as a CPU (Central Processing Unit) and main memory.
With single CPU only one task is said to be running at any point in time, meaning that the CPU is actively executing instructions for that task.

The multitasking feature of operating systems solves the problem by scheduling each task and assigning priorities.

Like human beings the CPU has to ‘restart and refocus’ every time one task is replaced by another task. This is called context switching and modern CPUs can do this hellish fast.

If context switching is done frequently enough the illusion of parallelism of task fulfillments is achieved. Real multitasking can only be done by more than one human being or more than one CPU.

Operating systems follow these strategies for scheduling tasks:

  • Multiprogramming systems
    In multiprogramming systems, the running task keeps running until it performs an operation that requires waiting for an external event (e.g. getting a push notification) or until the computer’s scheduler forcibly swaps the running task out of the CPU. Multiprogramming systems are designed to maximize CPU usage.
  • Time-sharing systems
    In time-sharing systems, the running task is required to relinquish the CPU, either voluntarily or by an external event such as a hardware interrupt. Time sharing systems are designed to allow several programs to execute apparently simultaneously.
  • Real-time systems
    In real-time systems, some waiting tasks are guaranteed to be given the CPU when an external event occurs. Real time systems are designed to control mechanical devices such as industrial robots, which require timely processing.

Over time sophisticated techniques were developed to use CPU and memory efficiently. All the developments in multitasking techniques for mobile devices like the iPad or the iPhone are have to consider that there is not only a CPU and limited memory but also a battery which should keep the device alive at least for one day.

Apple’s iOS devices …

Apple’s operating system iOS 7 provides improved Multitasking although the basic system behavior remained the same compared to the predecessor iOS 6.

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Regarding iOS apps we can distinguish between 5 states of execution an app can take on:

  • Active
    The normal state of “in use” for an app.
  • Inactive
    The app is in the foreground but does not receiving any event
    This happens e.g. if the user has locked the device with the app active.
  • Not Running
    The app has been terminated or has not been launched yet.
  • Background
    The app is no longer on-screen but still visible in the multitasking view and executes tasks.
  • Suspended
    The app is still resident in memory but is not executing tasks.

When you press the home button, the app moves from Active to Background. Most apps usually then go from Background to Suspended within some seconds.

Suspended apps remain in the device’s memory to let them resume mode quickly if you choose them from the Multitasking View. Suspended apps do not use CPU time and energy from the battery.

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Notes

1 People saying that you should close apps because they slow down the device, fill the memory, and drain the battery are simply wrong.
The concept of iOS ensures optimized memory and energy management. Launching a memory-intensive app will force iOS to suspend other apps and move them into the ‘Not Running’ state, that means, remove them completely from memory. Maybe you have noticed this behavior when looking at the time an app needs to relaunch. Sometimes it needs less time because the app launched before didn’t use much memory and so the relaunched app wasn’t removed from memory.

2 iOS doesn’t show the state of an app in the Multitasking View. You cannot see whether it’s suspended or executes background tasks. The Multitasking View only shows you the recently used apps. Apple again made it simple but in the Multitasking View it would be nice to see at least which app is running in the background.

Background App Refresh

Some apps can continue to run for a short period of time and are then set to a suspended state so they are not actively in use, open, or taking up system resources (CPU, battery). They will instantly launch when you tap on their icon within the Multitasking View.

Certain tasks or services can continue to run in the background. To lessen the affect on battery life, normal app background refreshing is scheduled for efficient times, such as when your device is connected to Wi-Fi, plugged into a power source, or being actively used.

You can adjust background activity of apps by going to Settings – General – Background App Refresh.

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When Background App Refresh is on, apps that take advantage of this feature can refresh themselves in the background. For example, an app can check if new content is available and download the updates, or retrieve the updated content in the background when it receives a push notification, so the new content is ready for viewing when you launch the app. Apps can also schedule background refreshing based on your location.

iOS learns patterns based on your use of the device and tries to predict when an app should be updated in the background. It also learns when the device is typically inactive, such as during the night, to reduce update frequency when the device is not used.

If you turn off Background App Refresh (in total or for a specific app), data of all apps resp. specific apps are no longer updated. If you close an app via the Multitasking View, it won’t be able to refresh in the background.

A little helper …

With the release of the iPhone 5S and the iPad Air in fall 2013, Apple introduced the A7 64-Bit processor and the M7 Motion processor which is an innovative step in mobile technology because mobiles are always in motion. The M7 Motion processor is a co-processor to the A7 main processor to offload work from it.

Think of it like this:
Every time the CEO (the A7) is focused on a task and needs help from his assistant (the M7) because the proud owner again jumps for joy while viewing Apple’s Keynote he sends a request to get motion data. Then he can refocus on actions depending on the devices motion.

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Indicators …

In relevant cases users should know about the device’s background activity to understand why the device responds with slightly slower performance.

Location Services
When in use, the location icon appears in the status bar. You may also see a blue, double-height status bar if an app has turn-by-turn navigation on. If an app is using Location Services, such as geofence or turn-by-turn navigation, you can pause the service within the app.

Note
You can view a list of apps that recently used location services in Settings – Location Services.

20131105-192844.jpg

Voice over IP (VoIP)
A double-height status bar will appear when you leave the primary VoIP app, such as Skype, while still on a call. If you’re logged in to a VoIP service, the apps can still receive calls while on background, but won’t display the double-height status bar.

iTunes syncing
When the syncing icon appears in the status bar, the device is tethered or wirelessly syncing with iTunes.

Network activity
When the network-activity icon appears in the status bar, network activity is occurring in the current app. The network-activity indicator will appear only for the following features or activities, when you’re using the corresponding app:

  • Photo Stream uploads and downloads
  • Regular application downloads and updates from App Store
  • Automatic downloads (music, books, and applications)
  • iTunes Match downloads
  • Checking E-Mail
  • iCloud restores

Third-party apps also use the icon to indicate network activity.

Behind the scenes …

Apps, not visible on your screen and running in the background do this usually for about 5 seconds before they are moved to the Suspended state. In some cases, e.g. when downloading a large file with FTP Client Pro, the download process would be interrupted.

To prevent these ‘task crashes’ developers can declare processes as so-called ‘background tasks’. This allows an app to get an extra timeframe to successfully complete it’s task within about 10 minutes.

Some apps are allowed to run indefinitely in the background. They can be categorized as follows:

  • 1 Apps that play audio while in the background, e.g. Apple’s built-in Music or Podcast apps.
  • 2 Apps that track your location, e.g. Apple’s built-in app Maps if you use it for turn-by-turn GPS navigation
  • 3 Apps that listen for incoming Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) calls like Skype
  • 4 Apps that listen to new incoming content and download it, e.g. Apple’s Mail or Newsstand app. These apps not only get a push notification but also download new content immediately.

It’s obvious that battery draining as well as CPU performance is reduced when using these apps. So in contrast to all other apps they should be killed from the Multitasking View if their services are no longer needed.

It would be a useful improvement in later versions of iOS 7 to show users which app is running indefinitely in the background so that the main reason for energy consumption can easily be identified.

Multi-core processors …

The multi-core processors in most current computers and mobile devices enable true multitasking because each core can be performing a separate task at any given time. An example of multitasking is the processing of an email while streaming a video.

In single-core processors, multitasking is actually accomplished by time-sharing processor resources – tasks aren’t actually simultaneous but the operating system shifts quickly between tasks, ideally transparently to the user. The operating system monitors where the user is in these tasks and goes from one to the other without losing information.

Summary …

Real multitasking with one brain or one processor is not possible. iOS is optimized for keeping your device alive by killing processes, cleaning up the memory, and reducing drain of energy to a minimum. You must not take care of app management except apps are intended to run in the background indefinitely.

Related links …

Location-based Services

iGPS

Sensitiveness

Thanks for stopping by.





Apple’s Focusing

27 01 2014

Focusing on a few products is characteristic for successful companies. This doesn’t necessarily mean that other companies following a different strategy are unsuccessful. But focusing on a few products, trying to bring features and services together in a unique environment, and developing new products which seamlessly fit into this environment is the strategy of the most valuable and innovative company in the world, it’s Apple.

Steve Jobs said …

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.
(WWDC 1997)

See this video with another famous quote about focus and simplicity (38 sec)

The actual offer of the company still follows this principle. The brands focus is on providing a superior customer experience by offering solutions from a single source.

  • Hardware
  • Operating systems
  • Software
  • Services
  • Stores

To be successful project to project over a long period, a company has to develop habits that instill a passion for quality in all corners of the organization. This can be achieved by following these rules:

  • 1 Set up clear expectations
    It’s the job of leaders to be clear about the company’s nonnegotiable core values. They are the riverbanks that help guide all employees as they refine and improve on performance and excellence.
  • 2 Collect and analyze data
    Collecting data is more common than ever, particularly with the advent of Web analytics. The metrics to be tracked go above and beyond either web or financial information as well as direct contact to customers.
  • 3 Invest in capacities
    A company stretched thin on resources will never be able to overdeliver, and quality depends somewhat on the ability to exceed expectations. An infrastructure has to be created that anticipates revenue.
  • 4 Celebrate victories
    When a company surveys customers on the quality of service, make sure that everyone, from the top down, knows of the results and receives recognition for the things that are going well.

This all builds the DNA of a successful company. CEOs and all employees in the headquarter as well as in stores must be integrated in the process of engagement.

The product line …

A product line up has to reflect the companies care values and the clearly defined targets. This is why Apple’s product line up is restricted to a handful number of hard- and software products targeted at a perfect user experience. If you look at the Apple Store there are many other products of sought out vendors available to give other companies the chance to participate in the companies success. That attracts others to at least boost the business. An outstanding example is the App Store with more than 1m apps (as of Jan 2014) and more than 200k registered app developers. They all breath life into Apple’s hardware offer. As you can see even Apple’s software offer is restricted to a handful products which just top the user experience off.

Here is a mind map showing the complete product line up of Apple.

20131103-110256.jpg

Please tap on these single images to see parts of the map.

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

The ecosystem …

Analyzing all main products, extracting them, and re-organizing them we get the components of Apple’s ecosystem.

This concept covers

  • Customer relationships
    Apple Store
    Apple Care
    Genius Bar
  • Completeness
    iPhone and iPad for mobile computing
    Macs for professional tasks
    AirPort router for Internet connection
    Apple TV, iTunes, and Airplay for entertainment
  • Simplicity
    Focusing on essential features and seamless usage as the main target of the design philosophy.

There are two operating systems and specs of all hardware components are an integrated part of the development. Keeping hardware and software development together results in the highest possible performance and user experience. Success then is forced by an outstanding design.

Summary …

It’s not the junk market Apple is interested in. Steve Jobs, returning to Apple in 1996, defined the direction with a focus on an entire user experience. Tim Cook is following this strategy and there is no need to move into diversity because this business concept works perfect and competitors are on the way to copy this strategy. There is Samsung working on an own operating system, Microsoft with the XBox and it’s Surface computer, and Google with it’s mobile device Nexus. It’s the only way to stop fragmentation and increase the user experience.

Related links …

Apple’s Strategy and Ad

Designed by Apple in California

Apple’s Ecosystem

Two Ecosystems

Thanks for surfing by.





instaGrok

25 01 2014

instaGrok by instaGrok Inc., USA, is an educational web-based research engine that lets students or anyone else research any topic in an engaging, visual way. instaGrok finds information on the topic and presents it as an interactive mind map (“grok”), showing key facts, concepts and relationships, videos, images and more. Users can pin their favorite materials to their grok and take notes in the built-in journals.

Prior to the launch of the iPad app instaGrok was accessible via any browser. The iPad app is a free version released on Jan 09, 2014 (version 1.0.1).

The concept …

The company tries to retrieve comprehensive information about a topic in a visualized layout with the main topic as the center of a mind map.

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The developer about his concept:

  • Visual interface
    instaGrok presents each topic as an interactive visual interface, allowing the user to quickly grasp important concepts, key facts and relationships.

20140124-062814.jpg

  • Features
    • Key Facts show important facts about the topic (with links to the original content page)
    • Difficulty Slider adjusts the difficulty of the material
    • Quizzes offer fun challenges that reinforce learning and encourage exploration
    • Glossary defines important terms
  • Journals, Pinning, History
    • Integrated journals allow easy note-taking or writing of research reports
    • Pin buttons allow pinning of favorite facts, websites or images to your grok
    • Search history is automatically saved, allowing you to come back to your research activity
  • Classroom version
    In the school setting, an integrated teacher dashboard allows teachers to monitor the progess of each student, view their research activity, and view/comment on students’ journals.

How it works …

Enter a search term in ‘What would you like to know about?’ and tap on GROK.
A visualized summary of retrieved topics appears.
Tap on a topic to see

  • Key Facts
  • Websites
    instaGrok provides an integrated browser. So following a source doesn’t require to move over to Safari.
  • Videos
  • Images
  • Concepts
  • Add Note
    Notes can be added to each topic.

instGrok provides a text editor with lots of formatting features to summarize information about the topic.

20140124-055929.jpg

Here is a video about the usage on a desktop computer

Sad to see that many of the essential features don’t work when using the iPad app.

The cons …

The following features are not available:

  • Items in the ‘History’ cannot be deleted.
  • There is no way to add a pin to the journal.

The UI looks perfect but …

  • The iPad’s status bar is overlapped by the app’s screen.
  • The tab ‘Grok’ disappears in some cases.
  • Changing the view often logs the user out.
  • The UI is quite jumpy when rearranging topics although my cable internet connection is a 40 MBit/sec connection.
  • Apple’s autocorrect feature doesn’t work when writing the journal. It’s quite frustrating to manually correct all those minor typos.
  • Many of the formatting options using drop-down menus are not really useful because the controls are too small for targeted usage on a touch screen.

Summary …

A perfect idea unfortunately with a jumpy UI (iPad 3, iOS 7) and not working features.
It seems to me that the iPad version just retrieves the website where many features are also not available, neither with Safari nor with Google Chrome.

Again an app is hastily stitched together and released without a critical internal control.
Three years after the release of the first iPad and the availability of lots of powerful apps fully adapted to the iPad’s touch screen the developer should do it bit more to satisfy customers.

In total I don’t see teal benefits compared to a powerful mind mapping tool like iThoughts for the iPad with which you can also do it all and do it better because of a perfect adaption to touch screens.

Related links …

How to use instaGrok (YouTube, 6:21)

Reviews of mind mapping tools …

iThoughts for the iPad

Pearltrees

Inspiration

Three In One (about MagicalPad)

BigMind

About mind mapping …

Mind Maps vs Concept Maps

Mind Mapping (1)

Mind Mapping (2)

Mind Mapping (3)

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





iOS Device Backup

23 01 2014

iOS devices, particularly the iPad, are more often used for working on documents with Apple’s iWork suite, storing relevant information in databases, using mind mapping tools for brainstorming, etc.

So the data stored by apps should be backed up to prevent data loss.

Apple’s backup strategy …

Apple offers two versions of complete device backups, via iTunes and via iCloud. Both backups contain all data of your device and, in case of a device’s malfunctioning, can be used to restore the complete device.

Please read again: The complete device.

It’s not possible to extract the data of a single app which was deleted before because of an operation error or in case of a necessary re-installation.

An exception would be if the app supports iCloud and it’s data are stored there. If the app then is re-installed it might get it’s data back from iCloud. This depends on the app and has to be proven before deleting an app with the help of the developers manual or support.

A further exception would be an app supporting cloud access like the mind mapping tool iThoughts. This app supports Dropbox and all the locally managed mind maps should be additionally saved on your Dropbox account to seamlessly get them back if the app was deleted.

Keep in mind that iOS always stores app specific data in app specific folders which means that the data stored on the device get lost if the app is deleted.

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For apps which do not support iCloud or any other cloud storage you have to save data manually by connecting your device to a computer with an installed version of iTunes and save the data from within the File Sharing section of iTunes to your local hard drive.

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That’s the only way to restore data for this kind of apps.
There are some tools available for restoring app specific data as mentioned under ‘Related links’ but these tools are not supported by Apple and so it’s off topic for my blog. It’s always a risk to use such tools. It might work or it might go wrong. So it’s your decision to use them.

Device failure …

If you no longer have access to your device because it’s locked or the operating system malfunctions you have to Recover your device.

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Please refer to my article

Recovery

iTunes or iCloud …

See this mind map to decide whether you should prefer backups via iTunes or iCloud. It’s recommended to use both backup procedures if you use your iOS device for creating valuable content.

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Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Office DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Using a backup password …

Using a password is highly recommended. If you don’t use it sensitive data like E-Mail account information, saved WiFi access credentials, or iTunes account information are not stored in the backup files.

But keep in mind …

If you encrypt an iOS device backup in iTunes and forget your password, you will not be able to restore and your data will be unrecoverable.


If you cannot remember the password and want to start again, you must perform a full software restore and when iTunes prompts you to select the backup from which to restore, choose set up as a new device.

Location of iTunes backups …

The folder where your backup data are stored depends on the computer’s operating system. Make sure the backup folder is included in your periodic backup of your computer.

iTunes stores the backup files here:

Mac
home/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/

Windows Vista, 7, 8
\Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\

Apple’s backup files are XML files. Any manipulation of the folder’s content may destroy the backup.

Summary …

Better sage than sorry. So an iCloud backup should regularly be completed by an iTunes backup.
Sad to say that this is a task which cannot be done if you move into the Post-PC era.

Related links …

Recovery

Troubleshooting

McBackup, backup of contacts

Every app is an iLand

iOS Backup Extractor

Thanks for stopping by.





iGPS

19 01 2014

A location-based system is a system of satellites and earth-based stations that provide geo-spatial positioning with global coverage (GNSS=Global Navigation Satellite System). Small electronic devices with appropriate receivers may determine their location (longitude, latitude, and altitude) to within a few meters using time signals transmitted as electromagnetic waves from satellites and pseudolites.

Pseudolite is an abbreviation of ‘pseudo-satellite’, used to refer to an earth-based station which operates like a real satellite. Pseudolites support satellite-based positioning in case of blocked, jammed or simply missing GPS signals.

GPS satellites are basically clocks broadcasting time. So, finding where a receiver is, is a triangulation problem. The scope of satellite’s time precision is immensely complicated, continuously recalibrated for relativistic effects of Earth’s gravity, and electromagnetic wave propagation delay through the atmosphere. Maths and physics make it work.

A simple 2D method …

To understand how the location of objects can be achieved look at this method which was developed about 500 years ago, the triangulation method.

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The math is relatively simple but the prerequisites definitely do not meet the requirements when walking through the streets with an iPhone. You will not find reference points like lighthouses when climbing up the Everest, moving through the Everglades or driving through Australia’s outback.
And moreover it’s a 2-dimensional static method which doesn’t help to fix the location of an object in 3 dimensions, that means to fix the longitude, latitude, and altitude.

A complex 3D method …

Using many satellites fix all these problems as 3 or 4 of them can be ‘seen’ from every location on the earth. The math to localize objects with satellites is complicated so just look at this image and possibly read the more detailed notes or look on this website and I’m sure you will be back on iNotes4You within a part of a second.

GNSS Positioning Calculation

20131026-090930.jpg

It takes a minimum of 3 satellites to reduce the number of possible positions to 2, which means an x + y fix. It takes a minimum of 4 satellites to get an x, y + z fix.

Notes
A partial fix with 2 satellites would be a circle, and a single satellite would be an uncertain sphere. Locating a device with one or two satellites is not possible. You better ask someone near to you where you are and where the next bakery is.

The ideal constellation is many satellites in view, far apart as possible near the horizon with one directly over head.
Accuracy in the horizonal (x,y plane) unassisted (without A-GPS) can get to 1 m on industrial receivers. Smartphone receivers rarely have access to or show constellation status or accuracy. With kinematic/differential/A-GPS horizontal (x,y) accuracy approaches 5-10 mm (read that again: it might be less than a centimeter!).

The details …

The satellite broadcasts a signal that contains orbital data (from which the position of the satellite can be calculated) and the precise time the signal was transmitted. The orbital data is transmitted in a data message that is superimposed on a code that serves as a timing reference. The satellite uses an atomic clock to maintain synchronization of all the satellites in the constellation.

The receiver compares the time of broadcast encoded in the transmission with the time of reception measured by an internal clock, thereby measuring the time-of-flight to the satellite. Several such measurements can be made at the same time to different satellites, allowing a continual fix to be generated in real time using an adapted version of trilateration.

Each distance measurement places the receiver on a spherical shell at the measured distance from the broadcaster. By taking several such measurements and then looking for a point where they meet, a fix is generated.

Notes
However, in the case of fast-moving receivers, the position of the signal moves as signals are received from several satellites. In addition, the radio signals slow slightly as they pass through the ionosphere, and this slowing varies with the receiver’s angle to the satellite, because that changes the distance through the ionosphere. The basic computation thus attempts to find the shortest directed line tangent to four oblate spherical shells centered on four satellites. Satellite navigation receivers reduce errors by using combinations of signals from multiple satellites and multiple correlators, and then using techniques such as Kalman filtering to combine the noisy, partial, and constantly changing data into a single estimate for position, time, and velocity.

Location services on iOS devices …

Location Services allows location-based apps and websites (including Maps, Camera, Safari, and other Apple and third-party apps) to use information from cellular, Wi-Fi, and Global Positioning System (GPS) networks to determine your approximate location.

20131026-091041.jpg

For example, an app might use your location data and location search query to help you find nearby coffee shops or theaters, or your device may set its time zone automatically based on your current location. To use features such as these, you must enable Location Services on your device and give your permission to each app or website before it can use your location data.

For safety purposes, your iPhone’s location information may be used for emergency calls to aid response efforts regardless of whether you enable Location Services.

Built-In apps using location services …

  • Maps
    showing your actual position in a map
  • Weather
    to show the weather forecast for your actual location
  • Compass
    to additionally show you actual location
  • Find my iPhone
    locating your devices on a map
  • Find Friends
    to show the location of your friends using an iOS device
  • Reminders
    reminds you if you are near a defined location
  • Camera
    assigning the actual location if you make a photo
  • Apple Store
    to show the nearest store
  • iWork
    it’s still a secret for me
  • Safari
    when visiting geolocation-enabled websites for sharing your location with the website to get location-based information, such as showing you the nearest post office or bank ATM.
  • Siri
    to answer location based questions like the weather forecast

The utilities …

Here is a brief overview about the needed components which allow to locate you iOS device. Information about sensors is taken from the iPhone 5S, first released in September 2013.

20131026-091505.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Isn’t it a giant effort to find the nearest bakery?

The battery …

GPS uses more energy of your battery than any other antenna or sensor.

There is no time division like in other communication mechanisms, necessitating powering the antenna for the duration of any communication. Worse, while the GPS is on, the system cannot enter a sleep state.
Mobile devices such as the iPhone and Android devices achieve their battery life largely because they can aggressively and quickly enter into and exit from sleep states.

GPS’s battery draining behavior is most noticeable during the initial acquisition of the satellite’s navigation message: the satellite’s state, ephemeris (position of astronomical objects at a given time), and almanac (stats about astronomical data like time of rising sun). Acquiring satellites can take up from 10 sec to 10 min. During all of this, your device is unable to enter a deep sleep.

A-GPS (Assisted GPS) partially solves this, by sending the navigational message to your mobile device over your cellular data network or even WiFi. As the bandwidth of either of these greatly dwarves the 50bps of the GPS satellites, the time spent powering the GPS antenna or avoiding deep sleep is greatly reduced.

Most mapping software is therefore processor-intense. A well-designed app can make a significant difference here.
For mobiles, it really depends on the device and the app. Apps can be allowed to select the accuracy (how close is that pin to reality) and update frequency (continuously in the background or just major changes).

Summary …

GPS combined with earth-bounded, so-called pseudolites, allows astonishing precision in locating devices.

Retail GPS sensors have more fancier algorithms due to cost, intellectual property and power consumption. Precisely-mapped base-stations are able to send corrections along with constellation state and so increase the speed of location acquisition (when the position and time are known to be good).

The battery drains but the companies sending you location-based ad reached their target and acts like the big brother watching you.

So turn off location services for all apps except for Maps and navigation apps.

Related links …

Apple about Location Services

Sensitiveness, about iPhone sensors

GNSS Positioning Calculation

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





Mindly

17 01 2014

Have you ever tried to create a mind map on the small screen of an iPhone?
It seems to be impossible except there would be an app with a suitable approach to object management.

20140116-121707.jpg

And here it is, it’s Mindly by Jaakko Rantanen, first released in December 2013 with powerful updates in January, April, and July 2014. Since April 2014 Mindly is also available for the iPad.

About mind maps …

Mind mapping is a widely used powerful technique to visualize information. If you look on a mind map you see that one central topic is connected to subtopics with an underlying hierarchical structure. Scientific studies validate that mind mapping improves learning, understanding, planning, and with it the development of personality and knowledge.

Mind maps already have been used hundreds of years ago. See

Roots of visual mapping

for more information.

This impressive overview from Porphyry of Tyre in 3rd century C.E. to the legendary BBC TV series by Tony Buzan in 1974 shows us:

The devices changed from a pen to a computer but the basic idea to connect topics like cells in our brain are connected by nerves remained the same.

With touch screens as the main interface between user and device we came back to the ‘oldfashioned’ technique of using our hands to create information. No mouse, no keyboard, no cables, just fingers and the brain. We are no longer bound to work desks when using a tablet or a smartphone. With this, a problem comes up, the screen size. Fortunately there are prolific developers whose apps are solving life’s dilemma.

Back to Jaakko …

Mind maps are cormorant space eaters and definitely not suitable for editing on an iPhone but the approach of Jaakko solves this problem by using a ‘solar system’-like design of topics. The sun (center of the map) is surrounded by planets (1st level topics) positioned on an orbit. This design is repeatedly used for the sub-topics.

This fascinating mind mapping app places topics in “orbits” around their parent; at the top-level view, the central topic and its first-level “children” appear in the center of the screen. Tapping on one of these first-level topics causes the parent to glide to the upper left corner of the screen, and the next level of information is displayed, this time with the first-level topic centered on screen and its child topics orbiting it.
(Chuck Frey, a reputable member of the mind mapping scene)
See also an interesting interview with the developer under ‘Related links’

There is a striking resemblance to the app Pearltrees (see my review under ‘Related links’).

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Mindly helps to organize your inner universe by

  • structuring thoughts
  • collecting ideas
  • supporting brainstorming
  • planning a project
  • preparing a speech
  • preparing for a meeting
  • writing a quick summary

If your brain prefers visualized information and you want to use your small iPhone, Mindly is the right choice although there are some cons you should know about.

The features of Mindly:

  • Hierarchy of elements
  • Attach notes, image or icon to any element
  • Color schemes for elements
  • Visual clipboard for reorganizing content
  • Export as OPML, HTML, PDF, and TXT by mail and the ‘Open in’ command
  • Printing via Apple’s AirPrint
  • iCIoud support
  • Move+Copy to upper element directly via drag+drop
  • spell checking
  • Using the limited display space of an iPhone with an innovative approach to the layout of mind maps

Let’s start with the file management located in the Home Screen and the map overview.

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Editing maps is mainly done by just two gestures, double tap and drag + drop.
Each topic consists of a caption, a note, and an optional image.

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If you start dragging an object a symbol for the ‘virtual clipboard’ (top right) and the trash (bottom right) appears.

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With colors and icons you can breathe life into your map.

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These are the features for managing files and setting up iCloud synchronization that means, your Mindly maps are synced across all your iOS devices running on the same Apple ID.

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That’s it. User-friendly, simple but nevertheless powerful.

Great job, thanks Jaakko.

The big brother …

To get familiar with Mindly I manually transferred a mind map about the iPhone sensors, earlier created with iThoughts for the iPad to Mindly.

Note
iPhone sensors were described in my article Sensitiveness.

I created all topics in Mindly, exported the images of the original mind map to the camera roll, and assigned them in Mindly. Textual parts (the sensor descriptions) were transferred via the iOS clipboard. All this took me about 10 min not reading any of the helps provided in Mindly.

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Both maps now have identical content regarding text and images and it turned out that the app design forces you to use it. I’m sure it will not sink into obscurity like many other apps you ever downloaded from the App Store. Quite the contrary, you will upgrade to the full version.

The pros and cons …

The pros …

  • Perfect UI adoption to the screen size of the iPhone
  • Seamless usage
  • iCloud support
    maps are synced automatically across all iOS devices running with the same Apple ID
  • Availability of a free version allowing you to create a maximum of 3 maps
    upgradable with an In-App-Purchase
  • Exporting the map is possible by sending an email; the mail contains a PDF version as well as the native format of Mindly (.mindly).
  • Comprehensive help system within the app
  • Fast, friendly, and understandable support from within the app by mail

The cons …

With every update I have to reduce the original list of cons. This is my list as of July 2014 and it’s likely that the remaining cons will not survive this year.

  • Reduced quality of attached images when minimized
  • Fixed topic size so that words might be split in two or more lines
  • Maps can only be exported in OPML, HTML, PDC, and TXT file formats
    Other formats like DOCX with a hierarchical outline of elements or
    proprietary file format of other well-known mind mapping tools are not supported.
  • no access to other cloud providers

At the time there is no iPad version available but in his interview with Chuck Frey the developer confirmed that he is working on it.

Whether some of the mentioned cons are really cons is a legitimate subject for debate. Some people are always looking for more features others prefer
simplicity of design
and
restriction to useful features.
This is completely in the line of Apple’s design strategy and it’s most often the reason why people buy Apple products.


And we should not forget all the kids with iPhones. Instead of gaming all the time they could use Mindly for many tasks related to their education.

So let the developer decide which way is the best to keep the brilliant idea alive.

The app has an amazing concept, works excellent, is easy to use and so you should give it a try. My impression is that there is a highly engaged team behind the scene and we will see powerful updates in the near future.

Summary …

The app is an innovative approach to mind mapping on small screen sizes. It’s not suitable for more professional requirements because of it’s limited export options. Nevertheless it’s a perfect tool for private use if there is no computer or tablet available.

Related links …

About the developer …

Chuck Frey interviewing the developer

Reviews of mind mapping tools …

iThoughts for the iPad

Pearltrees

Inspiration

Three In One (about MagicalPad)

BigMind

About mind mapping …

Mind Maps vs Concept Maps

Mind Mapping (1)

Mind Mapping (2)

Mind Mapping (3)

Thanks for dropping by.





Recovery

15 01 2014

When an iOS device encounters iOS- or app-related trouble, the issue usually can be fixed by

  • Restarting the app
  • Rebooting the device
  • Deleting the app and reinstalling it

But there are also circumstances where these actions don’t help.
Let’s start with the easiest and fastest way of solving a problem on an iOS device.

Reboot an iOS device …

To reboot means to discard all continuity in a running device in order to recreate its status and memory from the beginning.

Why do you have to reboot your device occasionally?

Rebooting is sometimes necessary to recover from an error, re-initialize drivers, or hardware devices. A reboot may also occur automatically if the computer or hardware device encounters an error or is overloaded.

The reason can be a hardware malfunctioning or, more likely, an application which does not manage the memory associated to it correctly by interfering with other parts of the memory reserved for other tasks.

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Think of it like this …

You want to send money to an a count and looked up the account number. Somebody asks you ‘What time do we have the appointment with Mr. Smith?’. After answering, your short-term memory containing the account number is deleted or the account number you are sure it’s right now contains transposed digits.

You have to reboot and load your memory again with the account number.

If you don’t look up the account number again your money transfer will fail. Regarding your device an app may execute an unwanted operation which might freeze it e.g. by running into an endless loop. You tap on a control but the app doesn’t react or delivers wrong information to the brain of your device, the processor.

Recovery Mode …

In some circumstances, though, the problems are more extensive and require putting the device into recovery mode and restoring it.
Recovery mode is also called DFU mode (Device Firmware Update).

DFU Mode is a state where an iOS device can interface with iTunes but does not load the iPhone operating system or boot loader (this is what really differs DFU mode from Recovery Mode).

The primary reason people need to access DFU mode on their iOS device is to change the firmware on the device. This can serve to downgrade to a prior iOS firmware and operating system, or to use a custom firmware that is required for a Jailbreak or SIM unlock.

You may need to perform a recovery-mode restore if you experience any of the following situations on your iOS device.

The device

  • displays the Apple logo with no progress bar or a stopped progress bar for over ten minutes
  • restarts but never displays the Home screen
  • is no longer recognized in iTunes after an update or restore did not complete
  • automatically goes into recovery mode after having an issue while installing an update or performing a regular restore

Reasons for this system behavior can be …

  • Broken connection while updating to a newer version of iOS
    – Computer to which the device is connected fails
    – Broken internet connection
  • Repairs that require you to erase all data on phone
  • Unwanted deletion of the device
  • Corrupted files

How to recover your device …

This brief manual applies to all iOS devices as there are iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad independent of their iOS version. I kept it brief and left out the clear-worded instructions messaged from iTunes and your device. They are all self-explaining.

What you need is your

  • iTunes backup password
    (if you use one)
    To use an iTunes backup password is highly recommended because only in this case the device restore includes all sensitive data like passwords for E-Mail accounts or websites.
  • Phone number
    (if you use a SIM card in your iPad)
  • iTunes account credentials (Apple ID)
    (E-Mail address and password)

How to enter the Recovery Mode …

  • Connect Apple’s USB adapter (cable for charging your device) to your computer with an installed version of iTunes, but do not connect it to your iOS device.
  • Turn off your iOS device by holding down the Sleep/Wake button in the top right corner until the slider ‘Slide to power off’ appears at the top. Slide it.
  • If your phone won’t respond to that, hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button together until the screen goes dark.
  • When the phone is off, hold down the Home button and connect the USB adapter to the dock connector of your iOS device.
  • The iPhone will turn on and display the Apple logo. Keep holding the Home button until the screen shows the iTunes logo/USB adapter.

The iOS device now is in Recovery Mode.

If the red empty battery icon appears onscreen, let the phone charge for a few minutes and then restart this process.

When the phone is in recovery mode, a window will pop up in iTunes saying that the phone is in recovery mode and needs to be restored. You can either restore it to its factory settings or from a recent backup of your data.

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An example …

I set my iPad 3 (64 GB, Used space 21.5 GB, 224 apps) into recovery mode after backing up to iTunes. The total time of a restore was about 3 hours.

About 20 of the 224 apps are frequently used and a greater amount of data is stored in their local folders. The other apps are just for tests and usually manage no data.

You can estimate the time for the total recovery process including the restore of data by taking the two parameters (21.5 GB and 180 min) into account.

(Your used space / 21.5) * 180 = time to recover and restore

The worst cases …

  • If recovery is not possible you have to contact an Apple Store or send your device to the repair service.
  • f you don’t have any backup in iTunes or iCloud resp. just an old one you will loose all your data resp. all changes since your last backup.

Failed attempts to unlock …

If the iOS device has been disabled from too many attempts at entering the passcode lock, then your device will be locked.

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The only way to regain full use is to put the device into recovery mode and restore it via iTunes.

So in this case you must have access to a computer with an installed version of iTunes. There is no way to do it just with an internet connection.

Restore without iTunes …

If you don’t use iTunes, maybe you already moved into the Post-PC era, you can restore your device if it’s connected to a WiFi network.
An iOS device has a built in reset option programmed into the device itself. With the introduction of the iCloud service, you no longer need to connect the device to a computer to restore through the iTunes software.

Restoring an iPhone is useful if you’re going to sell the device or if you want to troubleshoot it after data has been corrupted.

Follow these steps:

A Backing up your iOS device

  • Step 1
    Connect to the Internet through a Wi-Fi connection. A typical iPhone backup can consume a lot of data.
  • Step 2
    Tap on the “Settings” menu item. Select “iCloud” and then “Storage + Backup.”
  • Step 3
    Tap on the button that says “Back Up Now” to cause the iPhone to back up its settings to iCloud, which may take several minutes to an hour or more.

B Resetting your iOS device

  • Step 1
    Tap on the “Settings” menu and then tap on “General.”
  • Step 2
    Scroll to the bottom of the menu and tap “Reset.”
  • Step 3
    Tap the button that says “Erase All Content and Settings.” The iPhone will ask you to confirm this choice. Press the button marked “Erase Phone” to restore your phone to its factory settings.

C Restoring from a backup

  • Step 1
    Start up your iPhone. On a freshly restored iPhone, you are prompted to use the Setup Assistant. Do this in a place where the iPhone is connected to a Wi-Fi signal. This can consume a lot of data.
  • Step 2
    Select “Restore from iCloud Backup.”
  • Step 3
    Enter your iCloud username and password information. Your iPhone will restart and begin downloading your backup from iCloud. You may be asked to choose from up to three backups on iCloud, sorted by date.

Reselling your device …

Before you resell your device follow these steps:

Method 1
You can remove all settings and information from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch by going to Settings – General – Reset and tapping on Erase All Content and Settings.

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If you wish to recover all your settings and data again on a new device, ensure that you have an iCloud or iTunes backup and that it’s up to date.

Newer devices running on iOS 5 and later support hardware encryption. Erasing the device means removing the encryption key that protects the data. This process takes just a few minutes.

Method 2
Use iTunes to restore your iPhone to factory settings.

Plug the phone into a computer running iTunes and wait for it to appear in the ‘Devices’ section of the iTunes sidebar. Select the iPhone from the sidebar and then make sure you’re on the “Summary” tab. Under ‘Version’ select ‘Restore‘. You’ll receive a pop-up dialog informing you that this step will erase your phone and reset it to factory settings. Click Restore to continue.
iTunes will now download the latest firmware for the iPhone, which may take several minutes depending on your connection speed. Once downloaded, iTunes will automatically begin the restore process during which your phone will reboot twice. After the process is completed, the phone will appear in iTunes as a new device and ask you for a device name. Before entering any information, disconnect the phone. It has now been wiped of your personal information and is ready for sale.

Summary …

Restore from a backup or even recovery of a device is usually a process you didn’t need while using your iOS device. Quality of hardware and software ensures that all what happens in the life of a computer doesn’t happen with an iPhone or an iPad.

Anyway your iOS device should regularly backed up to iTunes, or what is much more comfortable, to iCloud. Strongly recommended is the usage of an unlock code as well as a password for iTunes backups. If you don’t use passwords many sensitive settings like E-Mail account settings are not included in a backup. So you have to configure them all if the restore process is finished. That can be a pretty much exhausting task.

Related links …

Apple Forgotten passcode, Disabled device

Apple Unable to update or restore

Apple Genius Bar (Help for major problems)

Thanks for dropping by.








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