Apple's Broken Parental Controls

12 Nov, 2017

What's a nice way to give a kid a limited amount of spending freedom, and letting them buy some things without being able to decimate your credit card? iTunes Voucher -- seems reasonable right?

So... redeeming voucher... Enter Apple ID password. Okay. Use camera to enter code. That's helpful. Please enter your credit card security code. Wait, what? Sigh. Fine.

Hand iPad back to kid. "Right, you can buy something now."

"How about this one?"

"Nooo that's too expensive. Find another one."

"What about this?"

"Yes okay, that works. You can click this Buy button here."

"Pa??" iPad thrust back into your hands.

Enter Apple ID password

Sigh. Okay. Why the heck did I bother to add a nice long, secure password for his account?

Ask for your parent's approval. Click Ask... time passes... Nothing happened. Huh? Click Buy again.

Enter Apple ID password.

WTH? Just did that! For. The. Same. Game.

Ask for your parent's approval (they can also authorise on this device). Yes, but that defeats the purpose. The whole point was to let the kid buy a few things himself. Click Ask.

A message arrives on my phone: Your iDevice-obsessed post-toddler wants to purchase lego-something-or-other-game. Are you sure he's not already spending too much time on devices already? Woohoo, finally got the request! Unlock phone. Wait, WTH! Where's the authorisation dialog gone? Settings > Parental controls? Nope nothing there. Search > Parental Controls. Nothing there either. Sigh. Back to the kid's device again. Click Buy... again.

Enter Apple ID password

Whatever. Stupid long passwords.

Ask for your parent's approval. Stab Ask. Kid now looking at you strangely because you're starting to mutter rude words under your breath.

A message arrives on my phone: Your iDevice-obsessed post-toddler wants to purchase lego-something-or-other-game. Yes I know. It's me not the kid -- how's a child supposed to figure this out? Touch the dialog correctly this time.

A message arrives on the kid's iPad: The bossy parental unit has authorised your purchase. Excellent. Hand back device to kid.

"Pa??" iPad thrust back into my hands.

What's the problem now? Oh, the buy button has turned into a get link. Only it doesn't look like a link at all. It's just the text GET. WTH? Where are the UI standards? Isn't this supposed to be a button??

Your purchase is downloading. Finally. Mutter mutter Apple mutter.

...5 mins passes...

"Pa?? I'm bored with this game. Can I try this one?"

"Fine, okay". Click Buy.

Enter Apple ID password




Angry, from Disney's Inside Out

On Feedly

28 Jun, 2013

Rather than burning a significant amount of time rolling my own alternative to the soon-to-be-lamented Google Reader, I've been evaluating the various closed and open source options, finally settling on Feedly.

feedly error screen It's... okay... but the mobile app (at least the iPhone version) isn't... well... particularly mobile. Sure, it looks pretty, and for the always-connected user (those irradiated with 100% 3G coverage), perhaps its shortcomings are a little easier to bear. But I spend a significant chunk of commute-time, sitting on a train, with an internet connection that bounces like the proverbial yoyo. Instead of downloading all articles when there's a good internet connection, Feedly just downloads the current feed (possibly a side effect of the way I use it - I like to go to the individual feeds and read all articles in a section, rather than the mixed articles it presents in the ALL tab). So on a typical commute home, I'm either presented with numerous error screens, or an interminable (so it feels) loading screen.

feedly loading screen To make things worse, the iPhone app seems to forget that it just loaded something (not always, but enough to be annoying). So if I flip from Feedly, to iMessage, and then back again... once again I'm presented with the loading screen. The forgetfulness isn't limited to loading - it also affects articles I've already read (or already marked as read), which Feedly inconveniently forgets and I get the same set of articles again.

feedly flick The interface seems a little inconsistent, as well. As I go through the articles in each feed, when I reach the end of the list, I'm presented with a large, friendly tick and a message telling me to "Tap to mark all articles as read". Which I do. The next feed appears and (after the loading screen) I flick the page up for the next article... except sometimes not. Despite the fact that there are plenty of unread articles, I can't flick to get to the next - I have to use the menu and find the next unread feed myself. Which might make sense if it was the last feed in a list sorted in alphabetical order. But it's not. So it makes no sense to me at all.

So, nice interface, but could use some work. A menu option, to download all articles when I've got a good connection (at home before leaving for work, for example). Remembering which article I was on last time, and not immediately trying to re-download just because the connection bounced in the meantime.

Still... better than Reader nothing...

Update: turns out that Reeder coupled with Feedly in the backend (for the moment) is the ideal solution.

Finding your way

19 Dec, 2012

Google Maps We went to Rome over the weekend. Despite the weather (mild but wet), gelato seemed one of the higher priorities - a task that was more difficult than you might expect, when you want to go to one of the more famous Italian ice cream parlours, and you're relying on the slightly oddly printed tourist maps (with occasional irritatingly positioned advertising boxes). Apple's Maps isn't bad, at a high level, and I like the way it saves prior searches, but in order to see the street names, you need to zoom in far too close to get a good idea of where you're going next (at times).

Giolitti Google Maps doesn't save prior searches (unless you're logged in, I believe), but it offers a number of alternative walking routes (useful for tourist wanderings), and seems to do a better job of highlighting street names. In addition, with data roaming switched off, it didn't stumble after first downloading the maps on Wi-Fi - I don't think Apple Maps was quite as good. I haven't quite dragged it to my front screen to replace Maps yet - but I'm wavering...

On iOS 6 Maps

23 Sep, 2012

iOS 6 map showing Bangkok streets One interesting thing I've noticed with the new Maps app in iOS 6 is that (unlike Google Maps) there's no longer an English translation for streets in Bangkok (or if there is I haven't found how to switch it on yet). I've tried searching for the common English spellings for some streets and it appears to work - but doesn't seem quite as accurate. And if you don't read Thai, when Maps isn't showing you the correct street, you won't be able to tell anyway. So, much as I like the look of Apple's efforts, I think what I really want is a native Google Maps app, with offline map storage...

Update: although it sounds like perhaps iOS Maps will be better for offline navigation anyway.