Sunday, December 27, 2015

"Hey Siri"...[No answer]

One of the cool features of iOS 8/9 is that if your device is plugged in, you can invoke Siri hands-free by saying "Hey Siri".  You can wake up and get the weather without getting out of bed!

But I felt like an idiot when I tried if for the first time and repeated "Hey Siri's" fell on deaf ears.  So much for impressing the wife.

Duh.  The "Hey Siri" feature has to be configured; it's not turned on by default. 

Go into Settings->General->Siri.  Then turn on Hey Siri:

You then go through a few screens so Siri learns your voice and you're good. Yep.  Works a little better if you turn it on...

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Compatible HDMI Switch for Apple TV 4

As described in a prior post, my HDMI Switch was incompatible with the new Apple TV 4. I had to directly connect my TV's HDMI cable to Apple TV before everything worked. As a result, if I wanted to switch from Apple TV to playing a Blu-Ray movie, I had to manually swich/replug the cable. Not good!

Why was my HDMI Switcher, which had worked fine with Apple TV 3, a total fail with Apple TV 4? Researching this, I discovered the HDCP specification has evolved, the current version being HDCP 1.4. I suspected Apple TV 4, a brand-new device, might not play nice with devices not HDCP 1.4 compatible.

Using an excellent HDMI Switch comparison I found, I purchased the Etekcity 3x1 HDMI Switch from Amazon, one of the few that was specifically noted as supporting HDCP 1.4. 

Crossing my fingers, I set up the new Etekcity switch, turned on Apple TV, and...yes! It worked! I had found a compatible HDMI Switch for the picky Apple TV 4. As before, I could now switch between Apple TV and the Blu-Ray player instantly from across the room -- no more messing with cables!

Still, I'm upset with Apple. HDMI devices should be downwardly compatible; i.e. they should be smart enough to adjust and communicate with earlier devices. For whatever reason Apple chose not to do this.

So in addition to paying for a new version of Apple TV, many of us will also have to buy a new HDMI Switch. This adds 15 to 20% more to the cost. Thank you Apple.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Apple TV 4 Setup Fails? Check your HDMI Switcher

I was very excited a few days back when my new Apple TV 4 arrived. I've been a big fan of Apple TV and have had the v3 Apple TV for a couple years now. In fact, I've had Apple TV before I even made the move to a widescreen TV -- it worked with my old Sony Trinitron TV.

I wasn't concerned about the setup for the new Apple TV at all -- child's play. Swap out the old Apple TV, plug in the new power cord, plug in the HDMI cable, and...nothing. Literally nothing: a blank screen, and the "no signal" message, the same screen/message I see when I switch from HDMI 1 to HDMI 2 and I haven't yet turned on Apple TV or the Blu-Ray (the two share the HDMI 2 port).

Hmm. Very odd. I tried hitting the Apple TV remote buttons to turn it on (there's no power button on Apple TV itself, but typically pressing the remote button "wakes it up"). I tried the old standby of unplugging/replugging Apple TV. Nothing.

According to Apple TV4 setup instructions I shouldn't have to do anything. Simply connecting it should bring up the Apple TV setup screen. Alas, a big fail for Apple TV setup. I had depressing thoughts of a visit to the Apple store to remedy this.

But then I thought of something. I do not have a direct connection between my TV and my Apple TV. Instead, my HDMI signal routes through a small box, an HDMI Switcher. This way the one HDMI port on my Samsung TV can be shared by my Blu-Ray and Apple TV without yanking out cables all the time.

I connected the TV's HDMI cable directly to the Apple TV's HDMI port, bypassing the HDMI Switcher. Lo and behold -- I got the Apple TV setup screen. My Apple TV works!

I had found the culprit. My trusty HDMI Switcher, which worked fine with the old Apple TV 3, is incompatible with Apple TV 4. Either the version of HDMI produced by the new Apple TV4, or something in the way it initiates the signal, has changed from v3 and is incompatible with my HDMI Switcher.

Temporarily I have been cast back in the dark ages of cable yanking to switch from Apple TV to Blu-Ray at home. The search is on for an HDMI Switch that is compatible with Apple TV4. I will post when I find such an animal.(Update: an Apple TV 4 compatible HDMI Switch has been found!).

The morale of the story: check your HDMI Switch if your new Apple TV 4 setup fails.
An HDMI Switcher - some are incompatible with Apple TV 4