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Bugs & Fixes: Dealing with iPhone flash, low-quality Netflix, and Outlook junk issues

Ted Landau | Nov. 18, 2013
For today's Bugs & Fixes, I offer potential remedies to a trio of unrelated problems, each one too minor to justify an entire column to itself.

For today's Bugs & Fixes, I offer potential remedies to a trio of unrelated problems, each one too minor to justify an entire column to itself.

Preventing washed-out iPhone flash photos

Ever since getting my iPhone 5s, I've been having trouble with flash photos. Especially in very low-light situations, the result was often a washed-out picture, as you might get if the flash level was set far too bright. As there is no way to manually adjust the flash level, I was unsure how to deal with this.

After checking online, I found a 2010 Apple Support Communities thread that described a similar issue with prior iPhone models. One recommendation was to remove your iPhone's case, assuming you were using one.

I was skeptical. I had used the exact same case with my iPhone 5 and had never had this problem. Still, I gave it a try. To my surprise, removing the case had an immediate and dramatic positive effect on my flash pictures. I can only assume that the iPhone 5s's new True Tone flash and my particular case (a Moshi iGlaze, which I otherwise consider outstanding) do not play well together.

Dealing with a loss of HD-quality Netflix streaming

After installing the latest Apple TV update, I was dismayed to find that, for several TV series I was watching, Netflix streaming video quality had mysteriously deteriorated from its prior "Super HD" level to a distinctly inferior standard definition. Actually, the display was even worse than standard definition. It was grainier and blurrier than anything I had ever seen on Netflix previously, presumably Netflix's "Low" quality level.

I found at least one Apple Support Communities thread confirming the issue. A recommended solution was to restart the Apple TV. That didn't work for me. Instead, as one of my Twitter followers advised, I logged out of Netflix and logged back in. Success. Super HD returned.

It was a short-lived success. The streaming problem returned the next day. So I did some further investigation. Based on reports such as this one, it appears that the problem goes beyond Apple TV and is a general issue with Netflix itself. Essentially, the company may be unable to meet the demand for bandwidth necessary to run Super HD, especially at times of greatest network traffic. I partially confirmed this when I found the same loss of quality running Netflix via my "smart" Blu-ray player. When it appeared that the re-login fix on my ATV had been successful, it may have instead been that I was watching Netflix at a "better" time of day.

The issue is specific to Netflix. I am able to get HD quality from other video sources, such as HBO GO, even when Netflix is failing. Oddly, I never had (or never noticed) this quality loss until after installing the latest Apple TV update--which is what led to my initial speculation. I am certain that I previously succeeded in getting HD quality from Netflix at times of day when I can no longer do so. Perhaps there is more than one cause involved. In any case, it doesn't seem to be something with an end user solution.

 

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