Like many of you, I’m an Apple user in some form. In my case, my telephone as well as a mini iPad.
The iPhone5S (must upgrade to 6!) is an essential in my life.
“Who’s the actress who starred in that film?” IMDB app on my iPhone.
“How long has Switzerland been called Switzerland, and what was it called before?” Wikipedia on my iPhone.
“Which terminal is our flight from today?” Google on my iPhone.
“What hotel are we staying at?” Calendar on my iPhone.
Maybe you’re all the same, and the mobile smartphone has become embedded into our lives as an extra brain function called search and memory.
As well as all that it takes photos, videos, plays music, takes payments, provides you with your bank balance and even makes telephone calls!
What a dramatic transformation of our lives in just ten years (or some might say 75 or more).
Even so, there are still downsides to this technology.
Like the sudden disappearance of an app or the never-ending issue of batteries running out after six hours (how many chargers do you carry with you?).
Nevertheless the advantages overcome the disadvantages, which is why I’ll switch to Apple Pay even after the disaster that occurred this weekend.
The upgrade to iOS8.
Like most good Apple users, when the company releases a new operating system, I immediately upgrade.
That’s why when, last week, Apple sent a note out saying the new iOS8 operating system upgrade was now available, I duly hit the button to accept.
The trouble was that I did that whilst sitting watching TV, multitasking on Wi-Fi.
After a few minutes, the iPhone turned itself off and, as it restarted, gave me the I need iTunes sign.
So I duly trawled off to the Mac in the study and plugged the blighter in.
Then iTunes tells me that there is some problem and it needs to reset the phone.
OK, as it won’t load unless I click ok, I click OK.
But it’s not OK.
After a five minute of turning off and restarting and iTunes telling me restore and update is successful, it comes up with a screen that says: “activate iPhone” with my Apple ID.
This is a security feature introduced with iOS7 so that, if your phone is lost or wiped clear, it cannot work without the last owner turning off the Find my Phone feature.
My iTunes account is just one account so I enter my Apple ID username and password.
iTunes tells me that’s a fail.
I try again.
And again, and again,and again, and again …
I've had the phone from new and only have one iTunes/iCloud account, I believe.
I then start to get a little concerned as I’m about to go away on two weeks of business overseas., it’s a Sunday and that feature called make telephone call appears far more useful than I thought.
I think about it and decide to call Vodafone, my network provider.
After a good ten minutes, they tell me I need to talk to Apple and put me through to Apple Care.
Hello, this is Apple Care. We are closed. Our opening hours are 09:00 until 17:00, Monday to Friday. Please call back then and now bugger off.
I decide to revert to my iPhone4 and then realise that not only can I find any compatible charging cables for it, as Apple change their cables every few years, but even if I could the SIM is different. Between the iPhone4 and iPhone5, Apple shrunk the SIM chip to a flea-size.
I have other phones, but no SIMs that fit those either.
Then my other half says: “Don’t worry darling, we’re going into town, so you can get it sorted out before the theatre”.
Oh yes. I forgot about that. Great.
An hour later, I’m standing in the Apple store’s Genius bar and a nice young man comes over and says: “what can we do for you today sir”.
I explain that I cannot get past this activation screen on the phone.
“Yes, that’s a great security feature isn’t it?”
Yes, I reply, but not when you’re the owner of the phone and cannot remember which of your 12 email addresses and passwords the phone seems to be linked into.
“Ah well, we can’t unlock it unless you can provide a proof of purchase sir”.
So I show him my driving licence and state that one call to Vodafone will prove the phone is mine.
“No, that won’t do sir. We need to see a proof of purchase.”
But here’s my ID and mobile provider saying iit’s me, won’t that do?
“No, that won’t do sir. We need to see a PRINTED proof of purchase.”
What? I reply. But you’re the leading digital firm? You send me everything from your Apple wallets via email? And you want a PRINTED RECEIPT TO PROVE THIS IS MINE?
“Yessir”, he replies.
I leave despondent.
No active phone, an upgrade that screwed it, no alternative phone to use and two weeks of rampant business travel coming up without my dinosaurs’ game?
What am I going to do?
“Sir?” the Apple guy shouts after me.
“There is a Vodafone store around the corner, if that’s any help. They might be able to give you a proof of purchase receipt.”
Wow, tjose Apple guys are good.
So I run around the corner and sure enough, there’s a Vodafone store. Yay!
I walk in and the assistant asks how he can help. After outlining the dilemma, he says sure, he can print out my purchase receipt from a year ago now.
I almost orgasm with relief.
“Ah”, he says.
“Houston we have a problem … or rather, Mr. Skinner, I have a problem”, he says.
Say what? I says.
“We seem to have a software bug that won’t let me print out a receipt for you” – yes, he’s using Windows XP! – “so I’ll have to give you a screen shot of your account if that will do.”
If that’s the best they can do, then that’s the best they can do. Oh, and whilst you’re at it, can you give me a SIM chip that fits an iPhone4S?
The Vodafone guy does that, gives me a screen shot and I dive back to the Apple store to see if that will work.
The Apple guys will now unlock my iPhone or, rather, they will unlock it this once they tell me, and that the phone is linked to another account using the Find my Phone locator in case it is stolen. That is why I could not activate it.
So all in all, you have a great security feature with the iPhone but one that has no workaround. Unless you can physically show Apple you own the phone with a receipt, they will not allow you access.
Now you may say, with Apple Pay, this is great. But what about all the other ways that Apple can authenticate the user – fingerprint, mobile number, security questions, account details, etc – the fact that they only allow one authentication for activation – a username and password – is the weak link in the chain.
Or maybe it’s those iPhone users that link their phone to an email address on iCloud they forgot they had (me!).
Or maybe it’s those iPhone users who are so dumb they think they can recharge their batteries using a microwave: iOS 8: 'Wave' Wireless Microwave Charging Feature for iPad and iPhone is Not Real