This is your Yellowgate. It looks worse from an angle (below the fold).
Hopefully, the tint should go away as glue from the factory dries. Image credit: chr0m

Look, fringe issues are common when four million devices hit at once. Hence, this compilation of inevitable teething problems with Apple’s new baby. First up, the display. A bunch of people are writing in a thread on Apple’s Discussion Forums about washed out colors and yellowish tint on the iPhone 4S’s display. This is especially noticeable with lots of whites, such as when browsing the web or reading your email.

A forum user Snowglider reports:

Got a new iPhone 4S this morning, and when I put it next to my old iPhone 4 I discovered the screen was much ‘nicer’ on the old iPhone. When I say nicer, its kind of got a really yellow tint to the screen on the 4S, whites are where you notice it the most for example the email looks far nicer on the iPhone 4 screen. All other colours look quite washed out. Anyone else got this problem?

Not to worry, factory workers did not pee on your screen. It’s a common issue with the devices that have literally just been produced as the glue from the factory which keeps the screen in place dries. Watchful readers could note similar problems with early iPad 2 and iPhone 3G units. As for the recently reported slow 3G speeds on the Sprint network, the carrier has denied the issue. PCMag.com has the official statement:

As always, Sprint is carefully monitoring the performance of the 3G network. We are looking into a small number of reports of slow data speeds when using the iPhone 4S, however there are also reports showing that Sprint’s network is the fastest, such as the Gizmodo report that came out earlier today. Speed tests represent a moment in time and are subject to many variables including weather, time of day, device, and proximity to a tower. Sprint will continue to monitor the feedback we are getting from our customers and will investigate and resolve any issues that may arise.

Next up, some folks are complaining about their brand spanking new iPhone 4S’s battery draining out in just a couple of hours on standby. Now, Apple rates the battery inside the iPhone 4S as having up to 200 hours of standby, a hundred less than the previous model. This surprised some fans, especially considering the iPhone 4S’s extra .05W/hrs battery and an hour-long talk time increase. The most logical explanation for a thirty percent reduction in standby time is Siri or additional background processes with notifications. Judging by this thread on Apple’s support forums, the battery issue may be affecting a tiny portion of early adopters.

Moreover, iLounge found out in their iPhone 4S mega-review that the device also has worse battery life for 3G data and audio/video playback/recording. It fared better in their cellular calling tests and on par with the iPhone 4 for Wi-Fi and FaceTime. If it’s any consolation, Apple offers these handy tips on improving battery life on your iPhone, including:

Be sure to go through at least one charge cycle per month (charging the battery to 100% and then completely running it down).

Then there are the sporadic issues, including the high-pitched noise when connecting your iPhone 4S to a stereo via the headphones jack, microphone issues, frozen screen, frequent lockups, random unresponsiveness, getting stuck while syncing, overheating, camera lens rattle sound and more. Many of those can be attributed to a human factor or inapt users who, for example, complain about Siri missing on their device whereas the feature has to be manually turned on in Settings > General > Siri.

Moving on to Siri. As you know, Apple’s digital assistant is being billed as the killer feature of the iPhone 4S. Indeed, it’s like having a secretary of your own – in your pocket. Siri has inspired a site solely dedicated to the things Siri says (another one here). Heck, Jonathan Mann even sang a duet with Siri. Some answers Siri gives are amusing, such as responding to marriage questions with “My End User License Agreement does not cover marriage”. People are more amused by the silly stuff, like when you say “call me an ambulance” and she responds by acknowledging “From now on, I’ll call you ‘an ambulance'”. More on Siri and other tidbits below the fold.


Siri, fuzzy by design, taps a huge phrases database to come up with amusing replies.

Siri is clever enough to understand context and keep the conversation flowing naturally. Sometimes, however, this very feat can cause problems if you suddenly change the topic of conversation. Luckily, there’s a remedy for that, just tell Siri to “start over”. Also important, Siri does not work in Airplane mode. A network connection is needed because Siri talks to the Apple cloud which takes care of the artificial intelligence algorithms and reasoning engine. The cloud also offloads web-based queries from the phone for faster information retrieval. Due to this cloud-device integration, enthusiasts are unlikely to port Siri fully to other iOS devices, even though developer Steven Troughton-Smith has managed to get the user interface running on the iPhone 4. Apple notes in its Siri FAQ that additional languages will be supported in 2012, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian, and Spanish. For now, Siri understands English in the U.S., U.K. and Australia, plus French and German.


The yellow tinting on the iPhone 4S looks worse at an angle.

Thanks to the iCloud’s vast computing power and data Siri collects each time you ask her a question, your personal secretary gets better over time.

Apple explains:

The more you use Siri, the better it will understand you. It does this by learning about your accent and other characteristics of your voice. Siri uses voice recognition algorithms to categorize your voice into one of the dialects or accents it understands. As more people use Siri and it’s exposed to more variations of a language, its overall recognition of dialects and accents will continue to improve, and Siri will work even better.

Siri also learns about the world you live in by tapping information from your contacts, music library, calendars and reminders, as explained by Ed Wrenbeck, former lead developer of Siri:

For Siri to be really effective, it has to learn a great deal about the user. If it knows where you work and where you live and what kind of places you like to go, it can really start to tailor itself as it becomes an expert on you. This requires a great deal of trust in the institution collecting this data. Siri didn’t have this, but Apple has earned a very high level of trust from its customers.

On the cloud front, Apple created a mess by introducing iCloud accounts and the ability to migrate MobileMe accounts to iCloud. A lot of people complain about Apple ID issues in regards to iCloud, but Apple is unlikely to enable merging of multiple IDs into one.

The company clarified in a support article:

Can I merge multiple Apple IDs into one?
You cannot merge two or more Apple IDs into a single one. You can, however, use one Apple ID for iCloud services and another Apple ID for store purchases (including iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match). See “Using one Apple ID for iCloud and a different Apple ID for Store Purchases” above for details.

You can check the iCloud status on this web page.

On a final note, while Siri is very effective at running errands, we shouldn’t forget it’s a work in progress and beta product. Summing up, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, one of the toughest critics out there, highlighted in his iPhone 4S review paradigm shift Siri brings to the table:

It’s also sort of the antithesis of everything prior in iOS. iOS is explicit and visual. Everything you can do in iOS is something you can see and touch on screen. The limits are visible and obvious. Siri, on the other hand, feels limitless. It’s fuzzy, and fuzzy on purpose. There’s no way to tell what will work and what won’t. You must explore. I found it extremely fun to explore Siri — primarily because so many of the things I tried actually worked. It’s a completely different interface for interacting with your iPhone. You’re not driving or commanding the existing iPhone interface with commands. There is no syntax to memorize. You’re just, well, talking to your iPhone.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s