Hello. And welcome to Jazz Club.

Published stuff

Reviews week! Over at Stuff, I reviewed the iPhone 15 Pro Max, during which I spent far too much time having fun with the USB-C port. I plugged the phone into SSD drives, my TV, a clunky PC keyboard I found in a drawer, and more. And, er, I checked out some other things too.

Helpfully, the device also got an OS update to deal with its overheating problem a couple of days after my review went live. Tsk! Anyway, it’s a great phone – the best of Apple. And the overheating fix meant I got to write about that too.

I also reviewed the Apple Watch Series 9. This was less exciting, primarily because its biggest user-facing feature didn’t join it for the launch. I’m also not thrilled about Apple having messed around with all the gestures. Sure, stop folks being able to swipe between watch faces by default, but not allowing people to bring that feature back via a setting is maddening.

Finally, my column this week is I think Apple should steal these killer Google Pixel 8 Pro features for the iPhone 16. I select four things from Google’s recent keynote that struck me as needing to be mashed into the iPhone with a fork. Features cameo appearances from phone snark, a Ford Fiesta, a terrifying dystopia, and the heat death of the universe, as is perfectly normal for a tech gadgets column.

Over on TapSmart, I’m more serious, mulling over why Dynamic Island won’t be another Touch Bar and looking at the best apps, accessories and tips for iPhone bookworms.

Upcoming stuff

I’m still wading through a pile of iOS 17 interactive widgets for an upcoming piece. Thanks to all the app creators who pitched their products. This initial selection likely won’t be the end, but I had to cut it down to an initial 17.

Spoiler alert: my favourites of all of them are from Longplay. If you’ve not used this app, it presents your music collection as a scrolling feed of cover art and emphasises playing albums rather than tracks. The main interactive widget is like a streamlined version of the app itself. It’s remarkable. And then there’s a second widget for firing off a random album. I wish Apple Music had that. Thinking about it, I now need to try seeing whether Longplay will talk to the Mac version of Music…

Other stuff

Speaking of Home Screen widgets, I find them very weird on both Android and iOS. Android had the lead and then, as far as I can tell, did almost nothing with it. Current widgets on that platform are a mess and woefully inconsistent from a design and interaction standpoint.

Apple, meanwhile, upended the entire system fairly recently, atomising interactivity. And now it’s brought interactivity back. So that’s good. But the system itself has never worked for me reliably.

I can install the same apps on a bunch of devices. The widgets system will then seemingly randomly decide whether or not to allow access to widgets from said apps. Even when they are listed, they might appear as blanks. Sometimes, a device restart fixes this. Or an uninstall/reinstall dance. But this has been going on since the revamped widgets first appeared and, judging by online grumbles elsewhere, it seems like a common problem.

Like everything else, it’s another case where the closed nature of the system makes it impossible for you to figure out any potential solution. The same’s true for iCloud, which when it breaks leaves you with no means to fix it. Worse, devs often can’t do anything either. Just this week, Dan Moren outlined an iCloud issue that should never happen. And back in August, it was doing weird things for me.

Apple is increasingly dependent on services revenue. It forces people to increasingly rely on iCloud. It should be rock solid rather than unreliable and flaky. We should be able to trust it. Right now, I half the time feel like I can trust iCloud as far as I could throw an iCloud server. (Which might have fixed Dan’s problems and my own. Perhaps I should suggest this cunning plan to Apple tech support. It’d be cathartic for them if nothing else.)