Tag Archive for ‘Wi-Fi’

Why Apple Is Missing the Boat on Home Wi-Fi ➝

Kirk McElhearn, writing for Intego’s mac security weblog:

A mesh wi-fi system could form part of a broader Apple home network. Imagine if the HomePod, Apple TV, or future Apple in-home devices, acted as a satellite for a wi-fi access point, as well as being a HomeKit hub; this could get more people to buy these media devices, knowing that they would serve more than one purpose.

In addition, the Time Capsule, an AirPort base station with a built-in hard drive, was a great way to ensure that people backed up their Macs. It meant that both desktop Macs and laptops could be automatically backed up without needed to connect an external hard drive. This was not without its quirks, but the technology was seamless. Apple could have extended this backup to iOS devices as well, allowing local backups instead of or in addition to iCloud backups.

I love my Eero setup, but I’d trade it in a heartbeat for an Apple designed and developed mesh Wi-Fi system that allowed Time Capsules, HomePods, and Apple TVs to extend the network.

➝ Source: intego.com

Eero Lays Groundwork for HomeKit Router Support in Latest Firmware Update ➝

Christopher Close, writing for iMore:

It appears that HomeKit router support may be hitting the scene soon, as the latest update to eero Wi-Fi routers is exposing the system to the Home app. The eero firmware update, version 3.18.0 was released earlier today, and while it doesn’t specifically mention HomeKit support, we can confirm that it is showing up for the latest generation eero Wi-Fi system, released late last year.

The update shipped early last week, but I just now had a chance to read this story. I can confirm that my Eero Pro is showing up as an available device when you start the Home app’s “Add Accessory” flow. There isn’t a way to actually add it, though, because the Home app asks for a HomeKit code that doesn’t exist. But it certainly seems like they’re laying the groundwork for a release that’s coming very soon.

➝ Source: imore.com

Amazon Announces Updated Eero Router ➝

Eero was my go to router hardware before they were acquired by Amazon. But unfortunately Amazon had to add a bunch of Alexa cruft to the product, which I’d prefer to keep out of my house. Now, when it’s time for me to purchase a new router setup, I’m not sure what I’ll do. Hopefully my current Eero routers will last a good number of years and maybe there will be some well-designed,rock-solid competition at that point.

➝ Source: theverge.com

What Are We Getting in Return? ➝

Great thoughts from Michael Tsai on Apple’s decision to discontinue their AirPort router line.

Apple Officially Discontinues AirPort Router Line, No Plans for Future Hardware ➝

Imagine an alternate reality where Apple, instead of discontinuing their routers, reinvented home networking. They updated the AirPort Express, Extreme, and Time Capsule with mesh networking capabilities and brought the HomePod and Apple TV into the fold. In addition to the Apple TV and HomePod’s current feature set, they could also be used as your main router or as nodes that contributed to the network.

You could buy as few or as many products from the lineup as you need. If you just want something cheap to get you in the door, buy an AirPort Express. Down the line, you could add an Apple TV in the living room, a HomePod in your kitchen, and a Time Capsule in your office for local backups. And each device added to your setup will improve your network stability and range.

I can understand if Apple’s heart isn’t in it anymore. But the above scenario is exactly the sort of thing that I used to expect from Apple. An Apple that cared deeply about controlling the whole stack and developing products that worked better together. But I guess they’ve come to terms with the idea of building devices that rely on Eero, Netgear, and Linksys for their connectivity.

Apple Airport and Eero ➝

David Sparks:

Remember when the Apple Airport was the best home WiFi solution? I sure do. I had a series of terrible routers and finally spent the money on an Airport. The system tools were easy to use and the WiFi was substantially better in my house. But still not perfect.

Last year I started using the Eero Mesh networking routers (Disclosure: they’re an occasional MPU sponsor) and my home WiFi made one of those leaps in technology that makes all nerds so happy. Everything got much better and my family now has stopped pestering me about dodgy WiFi.

Since moving into our new house this past fall, we’ve had some occasional Wi-Fi hiccups. A few times each week, our Wi-Fi just gives up on us. During those moments, we’re still connected to the network, but we aren’t able to transfer any data. This hasn’t compelled me to tear apart our setup quite yet, but it’s getting close.

I’ve been toying with the idea of just purchasing an Eero system with the expectation that it will solve all of our problems. But I already have a Time Capsule, AirPort Extreme, and an AirPort Express. Our house isn’t that large and I feel like I should be able to solve our Wi-Fi issues by repositioning and reconfiguring our existing setup. And of course, I don’t want to spend nearly $400 on a problem that I might be able to fix by investing a little time into it.

But I suppose, if Eero is as good as everyone says it is, it will be a worthy investment.

Update: I spent the afternoon repositioning my AirPort routers, resetting their firmware, and reconfiguring their settings. I moved our Time Capsule to the other side of the office and am now using our AirPort Extreme to extend our network on the other side of the house — instead of the AirPort Express that we were previously using.

It’s only been a day, but our network seems much more stable now. I’m able to get consistent speeds in our master bedroom, which is located on the opposite side of the house from our main base station. This was where most of our dropouts occurred and was especially irritating when we were trying to quickly toggle HomeKit devices or respond to messages before going to sleep for the night.

With any luck, the hour or two I spent on the project will have fixed our problem and I won’t have to spend a bunch of money on new hardware.

Living on Cellular

My wife and I closed on our new house late last week. There’s still a great deal of unpacking to do, but most of the work that needed to be done — plumbing, tree removal, and electrical — are completed. We couldn’t be happier in the new place, its quickly starting to feel like home.

One utility that we wanted to get taken care of as quickly as possible was our home internet connection. Behind running water, heat, and electricity, internet access is our most important service. The vast majority of our communication and media is delivered through the internet. Living without access, for even a few days, would be a dreadful experience.

Luckily, earlier this year, my wife and I switched to a cellular data plan that allowed us to use Personal Hotspot on our iPhones. This served as a functional stopgap while we waited the four days for Spectrum to send a technician to run a line into our home. Relying on Personal Hotspot for four days turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag, though.

I was able to connect an Apple TV and my iPad at the same time, which let us watch television while I browsed the web and checked Twitter on my tablet. The speed was quite good, too. Our cellular connection was able to sustain download speeds around 30Mbps — much faster than the 5-10Mbps I typically see while I’m at work, which is only about three miles away from the house.

But using Personal Hotspot became a chore. After some period of inactivity, iOS automatically shuts the feature off, even if you’re iPhone is plugged into a power outlet. This means I regularly had to toggle the feature back on in Settings, even if I was only away from my devices for a few minutes to grab a drink or run to the bathroom. You forget how convenient always-on internet connections are until you don’t have them.

And then there are all the modern conveniences that require a home internet connection to function. Plex being the perfect example. My wife and I use Plex to watch all of the content we own, whether it be movies and TV shows on DVDs that we’ve ripped or the iTunes purchased content that we’ve stripped the DRM from, Plex is an essential part of our entertainment setup.

We often watch episodes of Boy Meets World or King of the Hill through Plex before we fall asleep. But Plex doesn’t work without an internet connection. Even if the client you’re using and the Plex server are on the same network. I suppose I could have connected our Mac Mini, which runs Plex, and our Apple TV to my iPhone’s Personal Hotspot. But that’s an awful lot of rigamarole just to get our Ben Savage fix. We usually just ended up watching Property Brothers on Hulu.

The last major annoyance was controlling our HomeKit devices. We have an iDevices Switch in our bedroom connected to a box fan. We run the box fan at night for the white noise and the air flow. Surprisingly, HomeKit devices don’t seem to need access to the internet to function, but in order to control them from our iPhones, we have to be on the same network. That means we had the extra steps of toggling Wi-Fi on, before interacting with the HomeKit switch, and toggling Wi-Fi back off afterward so that we had access to the internet. It doesn’t sound like much, but it probably would have been easier to just get up and slap the button on the side of the switch.

After four days of this dreadful, home-internet-less lifestyle, a Spectrum technician finally came to our house and ran a coaxial line into our office. It took him all of fifteen minutes to install and we were up and running. It was probably the most pleasant experience I’ve had dealing with someone from a cable company. The guy knew what he was doing and placed the line exactly where I told him to.

Now I’ll be able to turn our office closet into the heart of our home network. It will house our modem, Time Capsule, HDHomeRun, and Mac Mini — which acts as our home server. And I couldn’t be happier to have internet access on all of our devices again, without having to fuss about on my iPhone beforehand.

Is It Me, or Did the Power Just Go Off? ➝

It’s been quite a while since my area experienced a power outage. But living in upstate New York, the winter weather often results in downed power lines followed by several hour outages. This is a neat tip from Jason Snell to determine whether the incident is neighborhood-wide or just you.