Airplane Mode on Wireless Devices

Airplane Mode‘Airplane Mode’ is a common setting included on most modern wireless devices such as mobile phones and tablets.

As well as its obvious in flight usage, required to be activated on many flights due to potential interference with the aircrafts systems, it also has general usage whilst abroad and trying to avoid ludicrously high roaming charges.

Airplane mode will deactivate all connections to the mobile network and the internet.  3G, 4G, GPRS, and Wifi, for example, will all be deactivated.

This leaves many people thinking that they cannot get any connectivity to anything whilst airplane mode is enabled.  So whilst abroad in particular, many people will selectively disable airplane mode whilst using their device to allow them to connect with the free wifi connections that are usually available in hotels as well as cafes, bars etc.

Unfortunately, with the latest devices, apps are likely to be in the background requesting data – for example, as soon as there is an Internet connection the commonly placed Weather widgets, on iPhones, Android and Windows devices are likely to try to determine your location and download the latest weather information available.  This can all happen in a very short space of time – before you have managed to connect to your free wifi.

Although the time between you deactivating airplane mode and connecting to the free wifi may be short, on a two week holiday, doing this multiple times a day, it can all add up – especially when you’re outside the EU where roaming charges aren’t regulated.  Over the past couple of years the EU has regulated roaming charges in the member countries but that just means that they should no longer be extortionate, not that they will be cheap when compared to the rates that you pay at home.

There are many reasons why there could be a more lengthy delay between you connecting to your free wifi, bad connection, dropping connection (and in the meantime connecting to the mobile network), forgetting to reactivate airplane mode just to name a few.

However, I did wonder why people were taking this risk with bills when they didn’t need to.  Then it turns out, that there’s a small bit of information that a lot of people are unaware of.

When activating airplane mode, the presumption is that everything it disables cannot be re-enabled selectively.  This is not true.

Whilst it is true, that you cannot reactivate certain things, such as cellular signal or mobile broadband (this would really defeat the purpose of airplane mode!), you can reactivate your wireless connection without having to deactivate airplane mode.  By doing this, you avoid accidentally connecting to the mobile network and incurring charges.

Now you’ll be able to access the internet, download apps, sent instant messages, check the news and much more without the risk of dropping onto the mobile network and running up charges unknowingly.

Remember, if you’re just using Wifi, keep Airplane Mode activated – you only need to deactivate it if you want to use the mobile network, for example to send texts (excluding iMessages – which are sent over the Internet) or specifically access the mobile broadband network (for example, some mobile operators will only allow you to log in to certain apps or online areas whilst using their mobile network – for security reasons.  Whilst these are usually free, they are highly unlikely to be whilst abroad as a different mobile carrier will likely be providing your service).

An alternative to this, is to of course switch off data roaming on your device, although on most devices this will leave the cellular signal unaffected, so you could ‘pocket dial’ somebody or send a mass text without thinking!  Although it should protect you from any nasty mobile internet bills – which are usually the highest charging element of bills whilst abroad.

Chronicles of Merlin Players Encounter Another Bug

Chronicles of Merlin logoPlayers of the popular iOS game, Chronicles of Merlin have recently become increasingly annoyed about the major ‘Alliance’ bug present in the game, which DPS Computing reported about on Friday.

Now it appears yet another bug has been added to the ‘major bugs’ list that has started to really get on the nerves of players.

This bug, which is gaining notoriety by the day, involves some buildings in the game appearing to be ‘downgraded’ after a previous upgrade.

DPS Computing has investigated this bug and has discovered that it exists for at least some buildings on the game.  The ‘Tower of Trials’ used to train up the games heroes to higher levels, appears to ‘automatically downgrade’ randomly from level 60 to level 59 with no apparent cause.  DPS Computing managed to recreate this error by being in a ‘Level 60 Region’ and upgrading the tower to Level 60.  Then at some point after log out, when a player logs back in they usually discover over the course of the day that the building has been downgraded to level 59.

The frustration for players regarding this bug is likely to grow as sliver, the currency used to buy things in the game, is used to upgrade the building (as well as time having to be waited for the ‘cool down’ period after the upgrade) which simply disappears after the building is downgraded.

Now doubt this will be another bug that the developers will have to seriously look at before the ever growing list of bugs damages the reputation and popularity of the iOS game, which initially found fame as a Facebook game.

DPS Computing would like to note that although the iOS game and Facebook game are released and developed by the same developer they are in fact two different games.

CoM Players Anger Grows Over Major Bugs

Chronicles of Merlin logoPlayers of popular iOS game Chronicles of Merlin are becoming increasingly frustrated with the developers of the game after another release is made but major bugs have still not been rectified in the game.

One of the most complained about bugs is the ‘Alliance’ bug where the game will regularly crash after trying to perform any functions in the Alliance section of the game.  This evidently has caused frustration for many users with some also reporting that it is happening to them in other areas of the game.

Upon closer inspection by DPS Computing we have established that indeed the ‘Alliance’ bug remains in the latest version of the game.  Players have been assured that the developers are looking into this and hope to release a bug fix for it in the near future.

The impact of the ‘Alliance’ bug makes using any of the alliance features in the game very frustrating and with growing user tension it seems like the developers should be pulling out all the stops to fix this bug before it leads to a decline in the number of players.

If you are a Chronicles of Merlin player and have noticed any issues with the game, including the ever more infamous ‘Alliance’ bug, the please let us know in the comments below.

2011 : The Year Of Apple

Apple iPhone 4SAlthough 2011 saw the tragic death of Steve Jobs, a key component to Apples two successful periods, it was a good year financially for the company.

Today it was announced that Apples iOS device sales during last year alone was greater than the total sales of Mac computers for the past 28 years that the company has been in existence.  In 2011 a whopping 156 million iOS devices were sold bringing the cumulative sales figures for iOS devices up to 316 million units.

This compares with 28 years of Mac sales which currently only total 122 million.

After fears last year that some experts were predicting a bleak short term future for Apple, the announcement of these results seems to have helped people renew confidence in the technology giant.

The iPhone is way out in the lead of the most popular iOS device with the cumulative total this year expected to exceed 200 million.  The iPod Touch is in second place, but a long way behind the iPhone at approximately 70 million.  The iPad is a little further behind with approximately 55 million.

Sales of iOS devices now account for approximately 75% of Apples total income with the company raking in just under $110 billion last year.

Popular iPad Apps Plagued By Poor Server Performance

AppleWith the growing popularity and ownership of iPads a major problem is brewing for some of the new app development companies and independent developers – sever performance.

Many new apps have been released over the past few months, a lot of which have been first time releases on the iOS platform for developers.  Some of the most voiced complaints from iPad owners is poor server responsiveness and not being able to connect.

Some new applications have suddenly shot to huge popularity overnight and it seems that some developers cannot keep upgrading and adding new servers as fast as the apps user base grows.

This can potentially have a negative effect on an otherwise popular app as users become tired of slow response between actions and being unable to connect to the apps servers at all during peak times.

DPS Computing recently reported on the problems that Mafia Wars : Shakedown seemed to be experiencing.  Although there has been no official word from developers Zynga on this, it is likely that the cause of the problems are down to server load.

Other apps are facing more intermittent server performance problems where they are unavailable for short periods of time on occasion.  One example of this is the Chronicles of Merlin game app, which is also a popular but fully independant game on social networking site Facebook.  The problem reported with this game today were however, relatively minor.  Players reporting that they could not connect to any of the apps servers for a period of 10 – 15 minutes.

The problems with server performance also seem to be disproportionately affecting developers of free apps.  One possible reason for this is the lack of a revenue stream from app sales likely means that funds for server upgrades are much smaller than developers releasing paid apps.  To compound this, free apps will usually acquire a much bigger user base, much more quickly than their paid counterparts.

Have you been experiencing any problems with any iOS (iPhone or iPad) apps recently?  Let us know!