Did Siri or dictation stop working for you on your iOS device? Try this.

Did Siri or dictation stop working for you on your iOS device? Try this.

I noticed a few days ago that both Siri and keyboard dictation stopped working for me.  However, they both would still work in my car (over bluetooth).  This initially led me to believe that maybe my iPhone 6+’s microphone was starting to fail.  I launched Voice Memos, and recorded a new memo, and that worked fine.  Plus, I’d had conversations with family recently, so I knew my mic was still working.  I figured it must have been something in the new 8.3 update, so I did a full-reset and restore in hopes that starting “fresh” would squash the gremlin.  It didn’t work.

This one had me stumped for a few days, and then after some GoogleBinging I remembered that the iPhone (6+, in this case, though this has been true for a while) has multiple microphones, and I distinctly remember Apple mentioning in one of their keynotes that the iPhone 6 /+ will use different microphones to pick up audio, depending on the situation.  I already knew my main mic (for voice calls and memos) worked, but what if Siri and dictation used a different mic?  And how do I test it?  As luck will have it, there is a simple test:

How to test your iPhone’s alternate (secondary) mic:

  1. Launch the Camera app
  2. If necessary, touch the ‘flip camera’ icon to use the FaceTime camera (selfie cam)
  3. Start recording a video of yourself talking
  4. Stop the recording, go to your camera roll, and watch the video
  5. If you don’t hear any talking, or you hear a bunch of static, your alternate mic is BROKEN

My video was full of garbled static… thus, my alternate mic was broken!  Lucky for me, the phone was still under warranty, and AppleCare took care of it.  This perhaps brings me to the moral of the story: if you plan on keeping your devices for longer than a year… get the extended AppleCare!

Just in case it was unclear above, here is how to test your main microphone as well:

  1. Launch Voice Memos
  2. Record a new memo
  3. Watch the read-out as you record, you should see voice ‘waves’ appearing as it records
  4. Stop the recording, play it back, and make sure it sounds good, clear, and without static

Happy debugging!

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The only legitimate iOS 8 privacy concern: iMessage group naming

The only legitimate iOS 8 privacy concern: iMessage group naming

Achtung! Warning! Caveat emptor!  This isn’t a bug, so much as an ill-advised feature.  I’m sure kids will have fun with it, but if you are even somewhat of a responsible adult, this ‘feature’ may get you in trouble.  I personally think its fun, but there is a legitimate gripe to be made in terms of exposing thoughts you may not want exposed.  Read on…

The iOS 8 Messages app (the default texting app that we all use for SMS, iMessages, etc.) allows you to name group conversations that have multiple people in them.  If you are messaging 2 or more friends at once, a ‘group’ is formed.  When scrolling through all the various messaging sessions you may have stored on your phone, group chats are identified by the list of names of the people that are participating in it, which quickly truncates since there simply isn’t much room to display the names of everyone in the thread.  In iOS 8, if you click on the ‘Details’ of the group conversation, it allows you to rename the group to something shorter and more recognizable:

Conveniently rename the group!
Conveniently rename the group!

This is a tremendously helpful feature for when you are trying to keep your various group conversations organized, etc.  But there is a problem.  Whatever you name the group gets broadcasted to everybody in the chat (if they have iOS 8 installed as well)!!!:

2014-11-04_20-13-25

Yikes!!!  Be sure to name your group conversations something flattering, otherwise you will have some ‘splainin to do, Lucy…

On the flip side, your group-mates can rename this group to whatever they want, and not only does it get broadcasted to you (as seen above), it also shows up on your phone Messages list!:

Touché, co-workers!
Touché, co-workers!

As you can imagine, this can lead to some fun games.  Or utter embarrassment.  The choice is yours… just be aware of it!

Hopefully Apple adds the option to make your personalized group names private in the future!