My iPhone 4 Sensor Issue Resolved !

YES FOLKS!  I’ve finally solved the iPhone “blink on, blink off” sensor issue!  After months of tinkering and meandering with thoughts of software vs. hardware issues (see previous posts 1 and 2 ), it turns out that the blinking issue has nothing to do with Apple.  At least not in this case.

To recap, the issue at hand is the appearance of a blank black screen during a phone call.  This would make it nearly impossible to press the virtual speaker button or hit the vitrual keypad during phone calls.  Over time, I felt that this was a software issue after playing around with mockups created with my Arduino electronics kit at home and listening to Steve Jobs give an interview last summer, prompting me to write about this in a previous post.  I then thought that if the various updates of iOS 4.0 to the present 4.3 couldn’t resolve the issue, then it may have been a bad batch of iPhones, relegating this to being a hardware issue.

Now I am not saying that this is the solution for everyone, because it may not be, but I began to notice some strange things as to when the “blackouts” would occur with the phone.  It almost never happened in a darkened room, only in broad daylight or a well lit room.  But the only thing that I could muster from all of that was that it was a sensor issue.  If I kept the “Home” button pressed it would keep the screen on, but that would also do some other unpredictable things.  If I covered the sensor it would do the obvious – create a blank screen.

In retrospect not much had changed in my usage habits from my iPhone 3G to my iPhone 4.  I became a creature of habit, spending a hefty sum of $45 for a leather Sena case for my iPhone 3G.  It was a perfect case that had a very nice clip that would hitch on to my belt with its attachment.  It was a flip case made of soft leather.   I did not want to get rid of it, so when the iPhone 4 came out, I was saddened to see that it would not fit perfectly.  But I found that if I added an old Driver’s license and a workout club card in the back, the iPhone 4 fit perfectly in place.  The sensor was wide open, the ear piece was also wide open.  Everything was perfect.  Or so I thought !

I never used the phone out of the case.  As I said, I became a creature of habit.  I was always thinking about donating the phone or reselling the phone later to somewhere such as http://www.gazelle.com   and I wanted the phone to be in pristine shape when it came time to do so.  So when I visited the Apple store 3 weeks ago, after upgrading the software twice, I approached the Genius Bar expecting nothing but the company line or a test of the phone and the possibility of a new phone replacement.  The Genius Bar employee looked at my phone and asked me to try a phone call to see if it would happen again.  Since the Apple Store is brightly lit, the flaw would be easy to reproduce.  Like clockwork, I made a phone call and the screen went black.  He then asked the simplest question, “Have you ever tried using your phone outside of that case?”  Your kidding right?  Come on!  No Way!  I looked at him with chagrin, and of course I had to say “No!” I then proceeded to take the phone out of the secure leather case and dialed 611.  No vanishing screen.  A perfect phone.  Refusing to believe that this was the case, I then proceeded to make no less than a dozen calls without the case.  My naked iPhone streaked across the airwaves with ne’er a blip on its screen.   I thanked the Genius Bar employee a thousand times, but I have to admit that I had a tough time looking him in the face.  I was really ashamed of the fact that I thought that I could cheaply just switch out my old iPhone with a new one and not have any problems.  I even blogged about the issue vociferously.  I WAS WRONG !!!!

I am now in the process of looking for a new case, but I have made phone calls with my phone in all sorts of lighting conditions and the problem of the sensor has not reoccurred.  What is interesting to note in hindsight is the fact that the lighting had a lot to do with this issue.  As my Genius Bar employee hypothesized, the issue at hand was that the black leather, which was not fully adhered to the phone at the top was casting a shadow over the sensor and the sensor was reading this as skin contact or a darkening of the light and hence it would trigger the screen to go blank.   What a welcome solution.

So there you have it.  In this case at least, using a non-sanctioned iPhone 4 case can lead to sensor problems.  I hope you enjoyed reading my quest for a solution to this problem.  If you have any other suggestions please feel free to post in the comments.

Posted in Iphone 4, Sensor issues | Leave a comment

The best video player for the iPhone is Olimsoft’s Oplayer

I waited for a long time to see VLC show up on the iPhone – 2 years to be precise.  But having downloaded it on its first day of release, I have yet to use it.  Why?  Well, upon reviewing the early users of the program, although the reviews were good, one reviewer placed a very interesting comment, something to the effect of, “not as good as Oplayer…”  One didn’t have to say this twice.  Immediately I took the opportunity to download the Oplayer program followning the VLC download.

The reason for a third party app, which believe me, we have all been waiting for, is due to the fact that Apple’s Quicktime refuses to play anything other than .MV4, .MP4 files or other simple file types.  It will not play .DIVX or .MKV files.  I do not know if licensing is an issue or something else, but it has been a frustrating endeavour listening to the Jailbreakers and Android owners boast about being able to play different codecs.  So it was a hearty surprise when an app called CineXplayer was accepted into the iPad app store.  It allowed the above mentioned codecs to be played by going around Apple’s codec limitation and allowing the .AVI files to be uploaded via iTunes.  I fully expected this to last for only a few days and be removed from the App store, but it wasn’t.  The only problem was that I do not own an iPad.  So it was watchful waiting until the CineXplayer developers released a version for the iPhone and iPod Touch.  The rumor mills were filled with VLC entering the fray and I was thrilled to find out that VLC would be released soon.  I downloaded it the first day.  But it was Oplayer, an App that, until noted in the review, made absolutely no noise in the video environs, that eventually won me over.

I was able to immediately use the Oplayer App but not the VLC application due to the fact that the OPlayer application allowed for OTA (Over the air) downloads immediately.  The VLC application, similar to the CineXplayer on the iPad, requires iTunes to transfer its .AVI files to the device.  Ovideo does not.

Ovideo may not be perfect, but I have not found any significant faults thus far.  It plays Xvid files and other .AVI files wonderfully, while distributing its .MP4 files to the Quicktime player, the native player of the iPhone, thus not duplicating services.

One very interesting thing that Oplayer does is to change the port for each download.  It’s a wonderful security measure, and obviously something that the creators of this software program thought about for a long time.  You may start on port 2456, and not the usual 8080, but after owning the software for a few weeks, you will soon see 5255, but never the same port on the same day.  Again, brilliant security feature.

Standard video plays better than HD video due to the iPhone using Hardware acceleration for its native Quicktime videos but not for standards that it does not natively support. But Oplayer even has a solution for that.  Just like in the Palm days, there is a Skip Frame feature whch may improve performance on HD.

Of note, you can also play .mkv, .3gp, .mov and .rmvb files, not to mention Microsoft’s .wmv files.

Some things that I would like to see in the future are batch downloads, support for the Mac Centric AFP network for Airport and a working meter to tell how much longer the download will take. Other than that I really have no issues with the software.  It does its job very well.

So, if you are looking for an alternative to QuickTime, I think Oplayer is worth a look.  In fact out of all the video players that I own on my iPhone, I would rate this as the best.  The cost is $2.99 as of this writing and it is found in the App Store on iTunes.  The maker of the software is Olimsoft.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thinking about Changing to WordPress…..

Decision is currently underway in regards to changing to WordPress for the iphonedoc blog.  Current site is http://www.theiphonedoc.com There are a lot of possibilities on WordPress and I really like the layout a lot.  I also like the opportunity to do pages, rather than one long stream as is shown in blogger.  The changing of themes seems simple enough, but there is a lot to get used to here.  One really nice thing appears to be the simplicity in moving an entire blog over without problems.  Stay tuned, I am currently cross posting to see which I prefer eventually.

Posted in Blogs | Leave a comment