Bryan M. Wolfe

Bryan considers himself a well-rounded techie, having written articles @makeuseof @knowtechie, @appadvice, and now, @idownloadblog. When he's not sitting at his Mac typing, he's being a single dad and rooting for his alma mater, Penn State, or cheering on the New England Patriots. You can find Bryan on Twitter or by email at

Twitter’s considering removing the Like icon, but not soon

Early Monday, The Telegraph published a compelling story that said Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had made the decision to remove his service's Like button "soon."  The reason: to encourage more positive public debate on Twitter. The company quickly clarified that no change was imminent. Not surprising, even the thought of removing the iconic button hasn't gone down well with many Twitter users. 

Apple iBeacon and similar technology hasn’t caught on despite early promises

It wasn't that long ago when companies like Apple and Google touted products like iBeacon and Eddystone. The technology, which is made up of tiny hardware transmitters, uses Bluetooth low energy (BLE) to interact with nearby smartphones, tablets, and other devices, to perform specific tasks. Unfortunately, beacons haven’t caught on nearly as quickly as once expected, according to VentureBeat.

First introduced at the Worldwide Developers Conference in 2014, iBeacon and similar products, were once off to a promising start. By 2016, for example, 93 percent of MLB stadiums in the United States had beacons, along with 75 percent of all NFL stadiums, 53 percent of NBA arenas, and 47 percent of NHL arenas. The technology is also still being used by large retailers such as Target, Walmart, and Starbucks.

Despite this, beacons haven’t caught on elsewhere.  The reasons cited include compatibility issues, power and range limitations, and the introduction of beacon spam. Some are also concerned about privacy.

Perhaps the biggest reason beacons aren't being implemented at a quicker pace is that they're app dependent.

App dependence was (and is) a major hurdle. It’s tough to convince customers to download a service they’ve never used, even with the promise of discounts — especially considering up to 70 percent haven’t heard of beacons.

Admittingly, before seeing VentureBeat's report, I had forgotten about iBeacon and I'm not the only one. After writing about beacon technology a lot in 2014 and 2015, iDB only covered a few stories about the topic since then, the last being in 2017.

Moving forward, perhaps it's time for companies like Apple and Google to come together and develop a standard that everyone can use, then educate the public on what the technology can do. Otherwise, beacon technology will probably never grow or find long-term success.

What do you think can be done to improve beacon technology?

Apple Watch ECG feature could be enabled outside the US with a software trick

The Apple Watch Series 4’s most anticipated new feature, an electrocardiogram (ECG) app, is expected to launch in the United States first before officially rolling out elsewhere. It seems a simple software change could make the feature accessible, no matter your location, according to 9to5Mac.

Like iTunes and Apple Pay before it, the ability to use the ECG feature is expected to be based on the software region selected on the Apple Watch and iPhone. In other words, if you change these settings on your devices to the U.S. region, the ECG feature should work.

9to5Mac explains:

That the Apple Watch ECG limitation is software-based is already a good sign, since software limitations are inherently easier to bypass when compared to hardware ones. By being based on the region, users will be able to get access to the feature by changing the region on their iPhone and Apple Watch, similar to how other features such as Apple News can be enabled on unsupported countries.

The Apple Watch Series 4 includes electrodes built into the Digital Crown that work with the device’s back crystal to generate an ECG waveform. This information can help determine whether the user is showing signs of atrial fibrillation. To make this claim, Apple needs approval from national health agencies wherever it sells the wearable device such as the U.S.-based Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This process can take a long time, especially in places like Canada and the European Union.

9to5Mac notes Apple could make changes to how it determines location settings for the ECG app before it's released to the public. Therefore, there is no guarantee the software fix will actually work once the feature is launched. Time will tell.

Are you looking forward to using the ECG feature on your Apple Watch?