I got two HomePods last week. Quick reactions:

  • They sound great, especially as a pair.
  • macOS doesn’t handle linked HomePods well. The Sound menu extra shows “Living Room” twice, where as iTunes will show “Living Room” and “Living Room (2)”.
  • They can only play music I bought on iTunes, as opposed to my iTunes library. This means I can play almost nothing on them, unless I re-subscribe to Apple Music.
  • AirPlay from my computer introduces a time-lag. People say there was always a time-lag with AirPlay, but this is not true. When I AirPlay to my AppleTV, the AppleTV gets sync’ed and constantly streams. The problem with AirPlay to HomePod is that no sync occurs, and it seems that whichever app outputting audio establishes a new connection with the HomePods. So it only works for music.
  • The HomePods and my iPhone seem to compete to decide which handles a “Hey Siri” request. That’s fine. HomePod can’t handle phone calls, which it should since macOS can by piping through an iPhone just fine. That would be fine if Apple let the iPhone handle phone calls. But Apple’s algorithm seems to decide to hand over phone call duties to the HomePods, which it ought to know can’t handle them. This is a big step back, as I now have to hold my iPhone’s Siri button manually to make calls instead of saying “Hey Siri call X on speaker”.

In summary, the HomePods sound great, but are positively terrible at everything else. The good news is that all of this can be fixed via software updates. I just hope it will be.

iPhone X

After a few weeks of having the iPhone X (upgraded from an iPhone 7 Plus), some quick remarks:

  • The screen size is perfect. It’s basically the width of an iPhone 7 with more height, and virtually the whole screen surface is used. Far better than the iPhone 7 Plus, which is way too wide. The only reason I had a 7 Plus was battery.
  • The screen itself, which is OLED, seems inferior to me. I can see the lines between pixels up close, and it seems a bit blurry.
  • The battery is about as good as it was on the Plus. I think it’s officially a bit less, but I can’t tell.
  • Wireless charging is terrible. At least with the Belkin charger. You have to set it spot-on, otherwise it doesn’t charge. Hopefully the official Apple charger will be better. I still charge by cable.
  • The camera/sensory array area at the top is not a problem. I see the status-area sides around it as bonus, rather than the camera area as a minus. Not an issue.
  • Getting used to sliding-up for home is not a problem. The only software downside is “closing” apps, which is somewhat un-intuitive.
  • Face ID is terrible. Yes, it’s technologically impressive. But instead of paying by holding my phone to a payment machine, I’m now having to awkwardly double-click the right-button, and then hold my face parallel to the phone and therefore the payment machine. It’s awkward, annoying, and tends to fail when you have people waiting on you. Did I mention that it doesn’t work in the dark? Face ID should be a feature on-top of Touch ID. NOT a replacement.

In conclusion, between the iPhone X and the iPhone 7 Plus… it’s a wash. You get a better screen format, but you lose Touch ID and get a technology that should have been an add-on as opposed to a replacement.

The Time for HTTPS

I’ve just made the Brawer Software site run on the HTTPS protocol. The uBar purchase checkout is by Paddle, so that was always over HTTPS. But the main site was running on HTTP.

To be clear, there is no particular pressing reason to be using https on normal sites with no sensitive information.

But as they tend to do, Apple is showing the way forward. uBar 3.0.4 was the first version to be compiled with Xcode 7 back when El Capitan came out. Unfortunately, Apple had blocked all HTTP requests by default, which bricked the Sparkle update mechanism. So I had to rush a 3.0.4 hotfix and then a 3.0.5 update to fix it, hoping not too many customers had downloaded 3.0.4. Here is the required addition to Info.plist:


That said, making the Brawer Software site run on HTTPS throughout is entirely prophylactic.

The reason I got the actual SSL certificate is that I have been checking out Zendesk to setup a support sub-site, and the only way to get it to use support.brawersoftware.com was to get a certificate.

I opted for a 5 SAN certificate from GoDaddy, covering a bunch of domains.

As for actually getting the site to rewrite all URLs to HTTPS, I used the following in the .htaccess:

#Redirect HTTP to HTTPS
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^brawersoftware.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://brawersoftware.com/$1 [L,R=301] 
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !on
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://brawersoftware.com/$1 [R,L]

I’d like to get the whole Brawer Timepieces site running on HTTPS, but Shopify only allows HTTPS on the checkout (checkout.shopify.com). It would be nice if they made this possible. A quick Google search reveals that people have been requesting it for years (along with multi-language stores and multiple currencies).

Get on it, Shopify!

Update: As of February 2nd 2016, Shopify added SSL support. Well done.