Apple Fighting the PR Battle

Apple Will Replace the Battery in Your iPhone 6 or Later Even if It Passes a Genius Bar Diagnostic Test – Mac Rumors:

Apple has since independently confirmed to MacRumors that it will agree to replace an eligible battery for a $29 fee, regardless of whether an official diagnostic test shows that it is still able to retain less than 80 percent of its original capacity. The concession appears to have been made to mollify the anger of customers stoked by headlines suggesting that Apple artificially slows down older iPhones to drive customers to upgrade to newer models.

First, “we’re dropping the replacement price to $29 in late January.”

Next, “nevermind, we’re starting now.”

Now, “ok, if you want to pay $29 you can have a new battery.”

This is a big PR challenge for Apple, and it’s refreshing to see them continue to bend over backwards to make make things right.

My AirPods Case is a Little Rough After One Year

AirPods are one of the best tech purchases I made in 2017, and I stand by my original review where I called them “the best earbuds I’ve ever owned.” Since that original review, I have used my AirPods every single day, and they have joined the very small list of things I carry with me everywhere I go. Keys, wallet, phone, and AirPods.

But while the AirPods themselves are holding up very well, and they work as well as ever, the case itself is starting to show its age. Since I put these in my pocket every day, and because they are in a pocket with metal keys, they have taken a bit of a beating. See the pictures below for where they stand today.

A bit of blue dye from my pants has worn over the body of the case, and there are nicks all over it, mostly from my keys, but also from a few times I dropped the case on concrete. It’s not bad when looking at it in real life, and in truth I haven’t noticed any of these imperfections before today, but once I saw this I could not unsee it.

The good news is that the interior and AirPods themselves are holding up much better.

Pocket lint likes to get caught up in the interior, but simply wiping it away with my finger every few weeks seems to keep it pretty clean. And as for the headphones, they will indeed pick up whatever s in your ears, so keep that in mind, but again, wiping them off every once in a while keeps them from getting gross.

Finally, what matters more than any aesthetic issue is whether they still work, and I’m happy to say they still work wonderfully. The AirPods snap in nicely to their spots and the case’s hinge and magnetic clasp work perfectly.

I don’t think this is a reason not to get AirPods, but it is something I haven’t seen anyone else talking about, and it makes me hope Apple is considering other colors or materials for future versions of these wonderful headphones.

BirchTree State of the Union 2018

As we roll into 20181, I figured this was a good time to share some very basic stats about BirchTree and how things are going. The long story short is that there is nothing crazy happening, and things are heading in the right direction.

  • Total visits to the site were up 16% over 2016 (crossing over 500k for the first time)
  • The BirchTree Podcast is still a niche project by comparison, but it’s doing better than any variant of a podcast that I’ve ever done (and will continue through 2018)
  • Apple News traffic dropped 22% over 2016
  • Sister-site Quick BIN Lookup was a sleeper hit, hitting almost 100k views over the course of the year (up 23x over last year)
  • Today’s Forecast has lots of room to grow in 2018, and I hope to spend some serious time on it in Q1 2018 to make it appeal to more people
  • My iMessage sticker pack Simple Refrigerator Magnets has been downloaded more than Today’s Forecast. The power of free, I suppose.

  1. What I’m calling “the good year” because we’re due for one, damnit! 

Essentially a Disaster

Andrew Martonik has some choice words for the Essential Phone over at Android Central:

Aside from the hardware, every other aspect of my Essential Phone experience has been about frustration. Mostly, it boils down to horrendous software stability and performance. Despite dozens of updates and the anecdotes you may have seen that indicate performance issues have been “fixed,” it most certainly hasn’t. The Essential Phone is handily outperformed by a Moto G5, and that’s just unacceptable — at $699, for sure, but at $499 as well.


The sun is rapidly setting on the Essential Phone launch to the point where no amount of updates or good press can make this phone appealing or sell in the numbers required to make it a success. That window has closed, and it’s time to build up to the next launch — hopefully with software, camera performance and an ecosystem that’s worthy of the hype bestowed on the original.

The Essential Phone looks really cool, but man the software seems like an unholy mess. For the record, the only “custom” software on this phone is supposed to be the camera app. The camera app is supposed to be terrible and the rest of the phone somehow has major issues despite being basically what you get on a Pixel.

Google Can’t Seem to Wait to Kill YouTube on Amazon Fire Devices

 YouTube no longer available on Fire TV as Amazon signals lack of deal with Google – 9to5Google

Amazon has gone ahead and disabled the YouTube app ahead of the impending January 1st deadline. The company is readying users for the shut down by directing them to visit the YouTube site directly through either the Silk browser or Firefox.

Not only is Google killing access to YouTube from all of Amazon’s Fire lineup, but they’re jumping the gun to get it off there as fast as possible. Losing YouTube on the Echo Show was one thing, but losing the main video platform most people use (especially young people) on your entire line of streaming devices is rough.