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Issue #645: December 1-7, 2019

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Q: Ever since I updated my iPhone to IOS 12 I have had contacts disappearing regularly and the contact app crashing while I am creating a new contact. Often when I create a contact, I add notes, a profile pic, address etc. Often when I view the contact seconds later some or all of the data no longer appears. This has happened for several months on both my iPhone XS and my iPhone 11. It seems related to entering the data via voice texting. If I enter the data via the keyboard it seems to save much more reliably. I also encounter problems with the Google Translate app when entering the data via voice texting. Often times the input window will not clear when the X is pressed if the data was input using voice texting. Do you know any way of resolving this issue? I am not certain that these problems are caused by voice texting but there seems to be a correlation. I always update the IOS as soon as updates are available and this problem has remained over many many versions. Thank You.

 – Brad B.
Odessa, Texas

A: Something similar happened to Spouse Peripheral, albeit with a different model of iPhone. The culprit turned out to be iCloud. When she first told her phone to store her contacts in iCloud, every last one of them disappeared. She panicked, of course, but they all came back a little while later. She has had a couple of occasions when she has tried to access her contacts to send a text or make a call, only to discover all her contacts are missing, but they always come back.

I can only guess what’s going on based on the available information. It looks to me like once you store your contacts in iCloud, that’s the only place your phone wants to get them when you use them. That suddenly makes the availability of contacts contingent on the availability of a network connection, and even that connection’s speed. Again, this is just a guess, because it would make a lot more sense for iOS to cache a local copy on the device, and only update it from iCloud periodically. However, this would seem to explain what happens to you when you enter a new contact. When you’re done, your phone sends it to iCloud, and you don’t see it again until/unless your phone can get it back from iCloud. You should be able to test this theory by temporarily turning off the option to store your contacts in iCloud. If the problem goes away, there’s your cause. However, since using iCloud to store data is a somewhat desirable feature, I don’t have the first clue what to suggest as a course of action to mitigate the problems you’re having.

I can tell you with a fair degree of confidence that your perceived problems with what you are calling “voice texting” are not actual problems. The name of that feature is “dictation” by the way. All that dictation does is interpret voice input (often incorrectly – Thanks, Steve) and place the resulting text into whatever text field is currently active. Once the text is there, it is handled exactly the same way regardless of the source (keyboard, dictation, cut/paste, etc.).

The only advice I have for fixing your other issues is to take heart. The last several iOS releases have arguably been disastrous for Apple. Each one has been rife with problems that required multiple follow-up releases just to patch the new problems inadvertently introduced. This is still going on, so perhaps some of your issues will be addressed in the near future.

• •

 Geek Tips: iOS Dictation

 As long as we’re talking about iOS and using the built-in dictation ability, here are some tips for getting the most out of it.

You can add punctuation by speaking it while dictating. For example, if you say, “Hey comma Geek exclamation mark This is really cool period” Assuming your phone interpreted you correctly, you will see “Hey, Geek! This is really cool.” This also works for other punctuation, such as colon, semicolon, dash/hyphen, etc. Here are some other formatting commands, that each do exactly what they sound like:

  • Quote / end quote
  • New line
  • New paragraph
  • Open parentheses / Close parentheses
  • Cap (Capitalize the next word)
  • Caps on / Caps off (Capitalize every word)
  • All Caps (makes the next word all capital letters)
  • Smiley / Frowny / Winky
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