Apple Hosted Its Worldwide Developers Conference Virtually This Year!

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In a move that was unprecedented until the advent of COVID-19, but now is becoming a new standard, Apple moved its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) online for 2020. This is a cool move, since it allows the event to become even more accessible to even more people. And as always, Apple had some exciting news to share about its upcoming developments. Let’s take a quick look, so you can get excited about future Apple products, and then bring them to us when you need hardware support from an Authorized Service Provider!

iOS 14 Is on Its Way

iPhones will get an operating system update later in the year, with three notable changes.

  • Home screen widgets: Taking a page from the Apple Watch apps book, the iPhone will soon have widgets of different shapes and sizes that you can used to populate your home screen in a way that’s more useful to individual users.
  • App library: Tired of swiping through countless pages of apps to look for the ones you only need now and then? Apple has got you covered, as the new library will categorize apps based on categories, so you can find and access them in a more streamlined fashion.
  • Picture-in-picture: as of iOS 14, if you swipe back to the home screen while watching a full-screened video, the video window will automatically float on the screen, so you can continue watching. You’ll also be able to resize the video, including minimizing it into a small button so you can view the entire rest of the screen free of obstruction, if you need to.

Airpods Upgrading to Make Your Work Life More Pleasant

Now that we’re all working at home a lot more, we’ve become really reliant on those convenient AirPods, so it makes sense they’re getting some upgrades. First, the software will let them automatically detect and connect to whichever device is playing audio, instead of making you do it manually.

Additionally, AirPods Pro will soon offer spatial audio tech that can keep track of your head’s location and provide a more immersive, surround sound experience. If you’re tired of tinny sound during the Zoom conferences that have become the new norm, these Airpods should take care of the problem.

Biggest News of All: Apple is Launching Its Own Silicon

Apple has been using its own processor tech for iPhones and iPads for a while now, but up until now had continued to rely on Intel-based processors. The time has apparently come to make the jump and use the proprietary tech for the entire line of computing products.

What does this mean? Basically Apple has ensured that its new processors can handle not just Intel-based applications, but also those from other environments, including Linux. iPhone and iPad apps will now very likely be available on Macs and Macbooks as well, making the Apple experience even smoother and more seamless

As always, Apple continues to lead the way in tech innovation. We are proud to maintain our status as one of their Authorized Service Providers. If you have an Apple device that needs service and still cannot access a Genius Bar in Seattle or the Bay Area, thanks to ongoing lockdown measures, don’t forget to reach out to ComputerCare for help!

Keep Your Phone Clean and Your Health Protected

Cleaning Apple Devices
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If the last few months of COVID-19 developments have taught us anything, it’s that hygiene is way more important than we thought (and we already thought it was important!). In the interest of keeping ourselves and others safe now and in the future, we felt it was a good time to review how we should all be cleaning our devices. We’ve talked about this before, but this time we wanted to focus on Apple products specifically, since we are an Authorized Service Provider, and since Apple products come with their own ins and outs that are a bit different than PC or android devices. 

General Cleaning Dos

For cleaning your Apple devices, you want to use only a soft, lint-free cloth. Avoid abrasive fabrics (e.g., terry cloth washcloths), towels, paper towels, or similar items. Prioritize cleaning with cloths dampened slightly with water only, since there’s no danger of water damaging the finish of the product (although if you are disinfecting, see the steps below). While cleaning avoid excessive wiping or scrubbing, which might cause damage. 

Also, be sure to unplug all external power sources, devices, and cables, so as not to break anything or damage electrical connections while cleaning. On the same note, you want to keep liquids away from the product.

General Cleaning Don’ts

In general, cleaning your Apple devices is fairly easy thanks to their smooth surfaces and high quality materials. You do not need to use strong bleach-based or abrasive cleaners. You also do not need to spray any kind of aerosol or other cleaner directly onto your device, as these may get into the ports and cause damage. Please note that damage from liquids is generally not covered by Apple warranty. 

Disinfect Your Device and Other Accessories

The most important thing here is to turn off and unplug your device before attempting to disinfect anything. Since this process uses a damp cloth, you don’t want to get moisture in any electrical connections. If your device is wireless, remove the battery to avoid any danger of electrocution or damage. Next, take a damp disinfectant wipe (Lysol or Clorox are good brands) that does not contain bleach and gently wipe down the hard, non-porous surface of your device, keyboard, mouse, etc. Follow up with a damp, soft, lint-free cloth, and finally with a dry, soft cloth to make sure the surface is completely dry. If your disinfectant wipe happens to be very wet, make sure to squeeze or wring out the extra moisture. If visible moisture pools on the device, be sure to wipe it up as quickly as possible. 

If you have any questions about the best procedure for cleaning your Apple device (or any other) feel free to call our office for advice. We all want to boost our hygiene practices, but we also don’t want to ruin our electronics in the process!

Your Phone’s Lifespan is Five Years – Here’s How to Keep it Going!

        

Due to the lifespan of cellphone data contracts (generally two years), many people replace their phone every two years. However, if one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2020 is to take better care of the environment, one good step to take is to keep your cellphone for its entire lifespan. In 2015, research found that the average smartphone lasts almost five years (4.7, to be exact), but we all know that in reality the battery slows down, the screen cracks, the accessories disappear. So, if you are determined to keep your cellphone going for four years or beyond, read on.

Keep it Clean

As long as our phones still have buttons and internal hardware, they are in danger of getting pretty gummed up, especially as they live inside of our purses and pockets – not to mention our hands. For the surface, you can use a microfiber cloth and cotton swabs to get off some of the accumulated grime. If really necessary, a little isopropyl alcohol can also help, but be sure to keep it away from the various ports that lead to the inner workings. If you want to keep an eye on those parts, please swing by one of our shops, since we can easily open up your phone and make sure everything is clean and dry inside.

Baby Your Battery

Another challenge of keeping your phone alive for five whole years (basically eternity, in the case of tech devices!) is the issue of battery life. All device batteries are designed with a lifespan of a certain number of charges (somewhere between 300 and 500). That means if you constantly recharge your battery to 100%, you could be dramatically decreasing the battery’s overall longevity. Even if you do kill your battery accidentally, though, you can always get inside the phone and replace it, or if that makes you nervous, you can bring the phone to us for expert service.

Think about the Accessories

One part of keeping your phone alive is keeping track of charging cords, headphones, and even cases. The older your phone gets, the harder it is to replace these things. If you lose the charging cord for a three-year old phone, you might not be able to replace it if newer devices have a different charging port. Then it’s time to say goodbye to a perfectly good phone. However, a good phone repair store has access to more hardware than even the internet does, so you can also call us if you need a replacement accessory to see what we can do.

Treasure Your Screen

Of course the most fragile part of any phone is the touchscreen. While you can replace broken screens, in many cases phone insurance companies simply exchange the whole phone for a replacement, which defeats the purpose of keeping your phone alive to avoid e-waste. We recommend always using a case to safeguard against those times when your phone seems more slippery than a bar of soap. We also recommend taking a broken screen to a qualified phone repair service (like ours!), as we may be able to help you actually replace it, instead of the whole device.

In short, while it’s not completely simple to preserve your phone’s life for four-plus years, it’s also not impossible. And hey, who doesn’t like a good challenge! Help the planet and rock your phone from 2016 in 2020. If you need any help keeping it up to speed, just open a service ticket with us, and we can help you out!

Everyone Has a Smartphone…Should Everyone Have Smartphone Insurance?

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We all know the feeling: standing in a cell phone store with a silver-tongued salesperson wondering if we really do need an insurance plan for our devices. A wave of uncertainty washes over us as we envision drowned phones, lost purses, cracked screens, and other disasters. Maybe we should pay the extra $7-$15 a month for safety…

The real answer is that it all depends. 

Here are some factors to consider, so you can answer that salesperson with confidence.

 

  • Are you ready and able to pay the full cost to replace a top-of-the-line device?

If you lose or damage a phone without insurance, most likely you’ll be obliged to replace it at full cost. The price-point for a device purchased as part of a contract-renewal is much lower than the full cost. Where you paid $150 for a phone under contract, you might pay around $650 for the same device at full-price, and if you happen to have a Samsung Galaxy X9+ or an iPhone X, you might be asked for as much or more than $1000 out-of-pocket

If you can handle the payment, though, don’t bother with insurance. The cost of the plane and the deductible for repair/replacement can be as much as $400, depending on the service needed, so you aren’t saving much in the long run.

 

  • The best insurance is called a cell-phone case.

Sure, a case can’t save you from everything (theft or loss, for instance), but a good one like an Otterbox can protect from almost any kind of damage. Even a cheap plastic case can be enough to soften the blow when your phone inevitably slips out of your hand without warning. 

 

  • Are you okay with a refurbished replacement?

Imagine you use a top-of-the-line device and accidentally crack the screen. You’re signed up for Asurion insurance through your Verizon plan, so you contact them to ask for a covered screen repair. There’s no one in your area who can provide that service, so instead they offer to replace your phone for the cost of the screen damage deductible (~$20-$50). The deal sounds great, but when the replacement device arrives it’s a lower-end refurbished model because Asurion has limited stock of refurbished devices to send to customers. If you’re okay with such accidental downgrades, insurance can be a great choice for you. If you really need the best quality in your devices for business or personal reasons, though, insurance may not be reliable enough. 

 

  • Some renter/homeowner insurance policies cover cellphone replacement.

It’s worth checking to see if your insurance already covers cellphone replacement for loss/theft/damage. Most likely it won’t cover minor accidents, but a combination of a good case and a robust renter/homeowner insurance can provide excellent protection for your device.

And of course, another form of insurance that we highly recommend is making friends with your friendly, local computer and phone repair technicians. Here at ComputerCare we are always happy to chat with you about damage to your devices to see if it’s something we can fix for a reasonable fee, rather than forcing you to pay your deductible for insurance-covered repair or replacement. Contact us today if you have questions about repairing a device.

Part 1: Demystifying Warranties

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Warranty Series Introduction

If you’re investing in a new computer, smartphone, tablet, or other electronic device your hope is that it’s going to last. But what if something goes wrong? Depending on the problem, for some devices it makes sense to get a repair while for others the cost of repair might make replacement a better option. In either case, a warranty can be the only thing that stands between you and an expense you didn’t bargain for.

Of course, the term “warranty” is often used generically. In fact, there are basic warranties, extended warranties and service plans, each with its own limitations, advantages and drawbacks and it’s important to know the difference. To decide whether a basic warranty, extended warranty or service plan makes sense for you, it’s important to first understand what they are and how they work.

Part 1: Standard warranties, extended warranties and service plans: what’s the difference?

What is a basic warranty?
Normally, when you purchase a high-ticket item, the manufacturer makes a commitment to stand behind the product. This is called a manufacturer’s warranty, standard warranty or basic warranty. In short, the manufacturer promises to repair, replace or refund the cost of a defective product for a certain period of time. Although not required by law, basic warranties are included in the purchase price of many devices and products. Of course, every basic warranty is unique, with varying durations and covered defects.

What’s an extended warranty?
Often when you buy a device or other product, the manufacturer might offer you the opportunity to purchase an extended warranty that prolongs the terms of a basic warranty, typically from 1-3 years. Unlike standard warranties, these manufacturer-branded warranty programs – like Apple Care or Samsung Premium Care – cost extra and are sold separately. On the plus side, extended warranties will sometimes include additional protections as well as a longer term. So, for example, you might get limited coverage for accidental damage (like a cracked screen) in addition to protection against failures that are no fault of your own (a failed hard drive, for example). It’s also important to note that some manufacturers offer several flavors of extended warranty depending on the type of product, with varying terms and coverage, or warranties that cater to the specific needs of businesses or consumers.

What is a service plan?
Depending on where you buy your product, you might also be offered the opportunity to buy an extended service plan. These plans are like extended warranties, but are fulfilled by third parties rather than the manufacturer. In most cases, they kick in after the basic warranty expires. They are often cheaper than manufacturers’ extended warranties but might not be as generous in terms of the defects they cover or the repairs they’ll provide. They also might not give much choice in terms of who repairs your product and they may not guarantee to use the same parts as the original product.

All warranty programs are limited by conditions and restrictions. It’s important to understand the basics of how a warranty works in order to make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

Simple answers to common questions about warranties

How long does a warranty last?
It depends. The only way to find out is to check the warranty document to see when it begins and when it expires, as well as any conditions that may void coverage.

What parts and repair problems are covered by warranty?
Again, it depends. Read to see if any parts of the product or certain types of repairs are excluded from the warranty. In some cases, warranties oblige you to pay for labor costs. Also, it’s worth keeping in mind to look for criteria that could prove costly or problematic to comply with, such as a requirement that you ship heavy or large objects to a distant address for service, or that you return the item in the original box. The majority of laptop warranties will cover hardware problems that are not caused by the owner, such as defective keyboards, monitor problems, modem or other issues with internal components. A laptop warranty will also spell out what actions on your part will void the warranty. Something as simple as opening the case and breaking a seal can be enough to void a warranty, even if you just wanted to take a peek inside.

How do I enforce a warranty?
It depends (are you sensing a theme here?). It’s often the manufacturer who provides you with a warranty but it can also come from the seller or even a third party (if it’s an extended service contract). Check the contact information and inquire before buying if you’re still uncertain. But expect to be asked to provide some proof that the product is still within the warranty period (either a receipt or some other proof of purchase).

Who performs warranty repairs?
Large technology vendors such as Apple, Lenovo, HP and Toshiba will perform warranty repairs but also have designated authorized service providers (ASPs). ComputerCare is qualified to service Apple, Lenovo, HP and Toshiba products covered under their warranty. We use the same parts and specifications as the manufacturers. Service conducted by anyone other than the manufacturer or an authorized service provider typically voids the warranty. In the warranty of a laptop or a smartphone the manufacturer will state how repairs will be completed and whether they will use new, used or refurbished parts. The warranty will also provide details on where servicing will take place.

What is a limited or conditioned warranty?
Certain warranties provide coverage only if you keep or use the product as directed. For example, a warranty may cover only personal uses—as opposed to business uses—of the product. As such, it’s important to check that the warranty will meet your needs.

Is an oral warranty binding?
Don’t take a salesperson’s word that the manufacturer will provide free repairs; make sure to get it in writing. If not, you may not be able to get the service that was promised.

Our next installment on warranties will help you determine if you’re a candidate for an extended warranty and what to consider before making the leap.

Take Advantage of Apple’s iPhone Battery Replacement Program

        

Until the end of 2018, Apple has reduced the price of iPhone battery replacements for the iPhone 6 and later models to $29. Even better, if you bought AppleCare+ for your iPhone and it is still within the two-year hardware repair coverage window, then your iPhone battery replacement will be free.

Keep in mind that demand for this service is currently very high, so be sure to call ComputerCare directly before you bring your iPhone in for service. You can reach us at: ComputerCare Santa Clara: (650) 475-5500 and ComputerCare Seattle: (206) 743-8052.

The iPhones models included in the battery replacement program are:

  • iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus

When you bring your iPhone in to have its battery replaced, the first thing we do is run a standard diagnostic test to check the battery life and general health of your iPhone. Even if the results of the test show a healthy battery, Apple is allowing the replacement to go ahead.

MAKING AN APPOINTMENT IS EASY

You have several options. If you live near ComputerCare’s Santa Clara or Seattle locations, you can simply give us a call to see if we have batteries in stock before bringing your iPhone to us. Alternatively, you can start a ticket through our website here. If you don’t live or work near ComputerCare, Apple has made it easy to find a participating service provider through its support page. Remember, even if you successfully make an appointment, the app doesn’t keep track of battery stock information, so it’s best to phone ahead to be on the safe side.

To use the Apple’s appointment tool, go to Contact Apple Support and click on See Your Products. You’ll also need to sign in using your Apple ID.

Then, follow these instructions:

Step 1 – Choose ‘iPhone’

Step 2 – Choose “Battery, Power & Charging”

Step 3 – Choose “Battery Replacement”

Step 4 – Choose “Bring in for Repair”

(or send in for repair if you can wait – usually two weeks)

Step 5 – Confirm your location and carrier details.

The map will show availability and distance.

To schedule an appointment, click on a store and choose a time slot. DON’T FORGET TO CALL TO CONFIRM BATTERY AVAILABILITY. If batteries are in stock, the replacement process takes less than a day.

Last but definitely not least, before you bring your iPhone in for a battery replacement (or any major repair) BACK IT UP via iCloud or iTunes so that you don’t risk losing precious data.

ComputerCare is an Authorized Service Provider for Apple, Lenovo, HP, Toshiba and other brands. We are proud to offer repairs, servicing, upgrades and more on laptops, desktops and mobile devices, whether under warranty or not.

GOT QUESTIONS? Call us at:
ComputerCare Santa Clara, CA: (650) 475-5500
ComputerCare Seattle, WA: (206) 743-8052

iPhone 7 Repair for “No Service” Issue

        

Apple has announced an iPhone repair program for iPhone 7 devices experiencing a specific ‘No Service’ issue. If your iPhone 7 is exhibiting these symptoms, visit the Apple support site for information about the affected models and the service process: https://www.apple.com/support/iphone-7-no-service/

As an Apple Premium Service Provider, ComputerCare is happy to assist you with repairs for eligible devices, free of charge. We have locations in Santa Clara and Seattle, so contact us for an appointment. You can open a trouble ticket here, or call our Santa Clara or Seattle offices for help.

–       Santa Clara – (650) 475-5500

–       Seattle – (206) 743-8052

And remember, before bringing your iPhone in for service, back it up using iTunes or iCloud.

Employee of the Month – Obed Hernandez

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Obed is based at ComputerCare’s Santa Clara office, where he is a valuable part of our accounting team.

We sat down with Obed recently to ask him about his role, and interests away from the office. Here’s an excerpt of our conversation:

CC: Describe your role here at ComputerCare
OH: I am an Accounting Clerk for ComputerCare. Basically, this means that I’m in charge of keeping all of the company’s financial records up to date, I’m also in charge of processing ComputerCare’s business transactions, like accounts payable and receivable, disbursements, expense vouchers and receipts.

CC: What is the most challenging part of your job?
OH: Accounting is all about making sure that every detail is just right. So, when you’ve been working long hours or you’re facing a tight deadline, it can be hard to maintain focus.

CC: Do you have a favorite tech gadget?
OH: Sure. I love smartphones because I appreciate how much easier they make our lives. Doesn’t everyone love their smartphone?!?

CC: We’ve heard that you love Apple Macs. Why is that?
OH: PCs are great, too, but I personally prefer Macs because of their software integration and track record of security.

CC: What do you do outside work?
OH: I love to visit National Parks. Two of my all-time favorites have to be Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. They’re amazing! I also like to travel around the world, and my next trip will be two whole weeks in China!

CC: Finally, what’s one thing about you that people might not know about?
OH: A lot of people know that I love music, but they probably don’t know that I’ve been playing the guitar and the piano since I was four years old.

Congratulations, Obed. You’re one in a million.

ComputerCare is growing! We’re always on the lookout for talented technicians and customer service representatives. If you’re interested in joining our team, connect with us via email: HR@ComputerCare.net or check out our LinkedIn page for current openings.

T-Mobile Offers AppleCare+, Giving Customers Access to Repair Services Through Apple and ASPs

        

As reported in several outlets last week, T-Mobile has just announced the addition of AppleCare to its existing Premium Device Protection and JUMP! upgrade plans, at no additional cost.

This means that any T-Mobile customers who already pay $12 per month for JUMP! or the carrier’s Premium Device Protection plan, can get AppleCare+ for their iPhone or iPad. If you’re a T-Mobile iPhone or iPad customer with one of these plans, you can now have your device repaired under the AppleCare+ program by ComputerCare. If you have a cracked iPhone screen, you may also be eligible for ComputerCare’s same-day iPhone repair service in the Bay Area.

Apple puts the Genius Bar in your Pocket with new Support app

Apple Support App
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Apple has some exciting news for people who use its line of iPhone or iPad products. The company has taken the wraps off a new app, simply called ‘Support.’ The app helps iOS device users find links to support articles, and allows them to schedule appointments with Apple’s authorized service providers, like ComputerCare, and not just at Genius Bars, if they have more serious issues.

The Support app has access to your Apple ID and information about your registered products, making it a snap to find support for the right device. This also makes it possible for the service provider to access warranty information about the specific device, making the whole process faster and more convenient.

For more technical questions, users also have the option to visit Apple’s dedicated Twitter account (@AppleSupport) where they can find product tips, tricks and customer support.

Here’s how Apple describes the new app:

Need help? Apple Support app is your personalized guide to the best options from Apple. Find answers with articles tailored to your products and questions. Call, chat or email with an expert right away, or schedule a callback when it’s convenient. Get a repair at an Apple Store or a nearby Apple Authorized Service Provider. Apple Support is here to help.