| Podcast: iPhone 6, Watch, Apple Pay, etc, etc
New iCloud storage plans rolling out
Back in June Apple announced new iCloud storage options with much more attractive pricing. Wednesday the new plans became active and current users are seeing their accounts receive pro-rated credits for the new plans.
Your plan has been upgraded from 25 GB of total storage at $40.00 a year to 25 GB at just $11.99 a year. You will receive a prorated refund of $11.89, which is based on the price reduction and the remaining months on your subscription. On February 11, 2015 this 25 GB plan will automatically renew and you will be charged $11.99.
The new plans offer 20 GB for 0.99/mo, 200 GB for $3.99/mo, 500 GB for $9.99/mo and 1 TB for $19.99/mo. 5 GB is still included for free. These prices are much better than the old which started out at $1.66/mo for just 10GB and only offered up to 50 GB for $8.33/mo. Still these prices aren't as competitive to other cloud with Google Drive and the new Dropbox. Those services offer 1 TB of storage for around $100/year or 8.33/month.
One big reason to consider upgrading is the new iCloud drive and iCloud Photo Library features in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.
Macworld Magazine ends, continues online
On Wednesday a large number of the Macworld staff lost their jobs. The word is the print Magazine is ending while there are plans to continue is some form online. Boutique magazines must be a tough business, but technology news moves at an impossible pace for the conventional magazine format.
The fall is always an exciting time for people who follow Apple and tech in general. Just yesterday I was at an Apple event alongside my partners in crime Dan Moren, Philip Michaels, and Serenity Caldwell. Today we're in a very different place, but the news never stops! I am sure you will be hearing from us soon.
So, they keep them on for the big Apple announcement to get one last big push of content and then fire them. Thatís low.
The big deal here is this wonít be available until early next year. With that out of the way, Iím not quite sold on the looks. I need to see it in person I think before I can get on board with the look and feel. It seems a little thick to me, but again, i need to see it in person.
As far as technical design, user interface, and general user experience, the demo was off the charts. The app spring board is really cool. The whole user interface is modern, playful, and fun. And of course there are many options available with different band styles.
Pricing is $349. I was expecting it to start at $299. That $349 is the entry model, so if you want a little more fancier body certainly expect to pay more and even more for the upscale bands. There are three models with the regular Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition. The Edition is 18-karat gold, the sport is anodized aluminum and the regular watch is stainless steel. There are also two size models in 38mm and 42mm bodies.
The new wheel interface is interesting. Itís a departure from the intimate touch-only design theory of iOS devices, but the watch is still a touch device. The trick is itís simply too small for multi-finger gestures.
So, more to follow on the Apple Watch. Weíll all have a few months to think this one over.
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus
Iíll have to think about this a bit whether I want a phone as large as 5.5-inches. Iím a little concerned about how useable it will be with one hand and fitting in my pocket. It is a bit thinner though, and a different design, so weíll see.
Whatís remarkable is the constant march of improved CPU and GPU performance in each phone generation. The A8 is 25% faster CPU and 50% graphics than the iPhone 5s. And without affecting battery life. Just in general mobile processing power is keeping an impressive pace. The 6 Plus is a native 1080p resolution at 401 pixels per inch. Even if the video is exported to an external display, itís hard to imagine a big future in gaming consoles.
One nice thing about a larger display is thereís an opportunity for a larger battery. The iPhone 6 Plus is to offer 16 days of standby, up from 10 on the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6. 3G talk time is 24 hours on the 6 Plus and 14 on the 6 vs 10 on the 5s. Faster, bigger display, and better battery life. Thatís pretty great.
Each generation of iPhone Iím particularly interested in the camera. I use my iPhone camera a lot and it records a lot of important moments for our family. So, Iím happy to hear the focus performance is improving. Kids donít sit still long for photos. Also improved is the image processing for face and blink/smile detection.This doesnít seem to be a revolutionary improvement but yet another iterative step over the iPhone 5s.
The lineup is a bit interesting. We finally get the 128 GB version. Interestingly Apple drops the 32 GB from the lineup. I would have expected Apple to either tack on another $100 for the 128 GB model or drop the 16 GB. So, for the iPhone 6 we have $199, $299, and $399 for the 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB. The iPhone 6 Plus is the same configurations for $100 more. For me the 64 GB is the sweet spot, so Iím OK with that.
Kind of goofy name, I think, but I guess if it requires and Apple device, then might as well brand it by the company name. This seems pretty interesting concept. The actual credit card info isnít transmitted during purchases. Instead thereís a one-time security code issued for that payment. That would seem a great leap in account security.
There also seems to be a lot of attention on privacy as Apple says it doesnít know about your transactions. This is where Apple differentiates with Googleís wallet system. Appleís goal appears to maximize the value of its platform to attract and retain device customers, not sell ads or marketing information.
It seems to be well supported in the USA with American Express, MasterCard, and Visa that Apple says accounts for 83% of U.S. card purchases. Apple is also working with department stores, retail stores, grocery stores, and fast food restaurants. The key will be whether stores support the appropriate point of sale equipment.
Podcast: iCloud security tips, TheFappening, Apple Event, plus more
Wired on how iCloud accounts may have been hacked
Andy Greenberg for Wired:
If a hacker can obtain a userís iCloud username and password with iBrute, he or she can log in to the victimís iCloud.com account to steal photos. But if attackers instead impersonate the userís device with Elcomsoftís tool, the desktop application allows them to download the entire iPhone or iPad backup as a single folder, says Jonathan Zdziarski, a forensics consult and security researcher. That gives the intruders access to far more data, he says, including videos, application data, contacts, and text messages.
Basically it seems first you need someoneís account email and then bust their password. Using a dedicated/private email address for iCloud, a strong password, and 2-factor verification would seem to make this sort of thing very difficult.
My iCloud security tips
The biggest tip from my setup is I have a dedicated email address for iCloud thatís separate from my iTunes account. This sort of happened by accident, but over the years Iíve come to appreciate the advantages.
One big problem with iCloud security is itís difficult to have a long and complex password on mobile devices. While TouchID makes big strides here, itís still a real pain to keep typing in a quality password. And you do need a quality password for an account holding important things such as your device backup, phone location data, calendars, device kill switch, and of course photo stream. Certainly it would suck if someone got my AppleID, but Iíve got protection from my credit card on fraud. No one has my back on the iCloud stuff. So by having a separate, dedicated, and secret email for iCloud not only does it make it more difficult for someone to get my login info, but I can secure it with a proper password and not be a major inconvenience.
The key here is you donít want to link your iCloud and AppleID as a backups. Also, you want to make sure this is a dedicated email address so no one can scrape it or phish it from you. Donít email anyone with this account and donít use it for a login anywhere else. I highly recommend 1Password for password management and keep the account in there. You can just cut/paste when you do need to use it.
The other stuff is pretty obvious, I think. Utilize 2-step verification. Your password is only as strong as the recovery system, and this is a good counter-measure. Also use 2-step verification on whatever email system youíre using for youíre iCloud account. Also, make use of the Notification Email Address. Send it to a work address or some other address not tied to your Apple accounts. This will at least alert you if someone makes changes to your account. And use the pin lock on your phone and keep track of your phone. Another thing to consider is avoiding free public WiFi, but thatís a tough one, so Iíd say stick with the trusted hotspots and ensure youíre connecting to the correct network.
Beyond that, youíll want to limit what is stored in the cloud. The cloud is super convenient, so one way to deal with privacy and cloud storage is to utilize encrypted disk images. iCloud doesnít support this now, but it looks to with iOS 8 and Yosemite. OS Xís Disk Utility can create sparse bundle images with 256-bit keys that are very convenient and easy to use. In general, you donít want to depend on a cloudís encrypted system because if their security is compromised, an intruder may also have compromised their encryption system. But ultimately, how you use the cloud directly correlates to your risks.
Lastly, Apple can do better. On a recent podcast we talked about the idea Apple needs the ability to see what devices are active on the account. And then have the ability to revoke access via the AppleID system. Dropbox works similar to this. Not only does it give an overview of which devices currently has access, but lets users control that access.
Podcast: Brown M&M, Apple event, wearable, tattoos, Dropbox vs iCloud + More
That FLIR iPhone heat camera can steal PIN numbers
Interesting. Basically you can decipher PIN numbers within a minute or so after it was entered, pending on the key pad.
Apple special event set for September 9
Simple invite of a piece of Appleís logo, 9.9.2014 and the tagline ďWish we could say more.Ē What does it all mean???? Probably nothing.
What is interesting is the event will be at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino. Apple hasnít held an event there for quite a while and perhaps the people at Apple are feeling nostalgic. The Flint Center is where Apple launched the original Mac 30 years ago.
Dropbox changes to a single 1 TB Pro plan
Dropbox announced this week an overhaul of its paid storage options. The company is replacing its old tiers of storage plans with a single 1 TB option. Pricing is $10/mo or $99. On the old plan that would have bought you just 100 GB, so this is a significant boost.
Other new features are available to Pro customers. New sharing options let you assign passwords and expiration dates to shared links. Also you can share folders as view-only.
One really cool feature is the ability to remotely wipe your syncíd data from devices. This is handy if you lose access to your computer and are concerned about your data.
Another change is Dropbox is altering the pack rat file versioning feature. Pack Rat allows customers to restore previous versions of their data. The feature will now only go back 1 year. The company said most customers donít restore files that old, although for a limited time it seems current customers can retain the unlimited version control.
The moves are likely addressing storage offerings from Google and Apple. Google also has a 1 TB plan for around $120 and Apple is planning to offer much more competitive pricing for its retooled iCloud storage. iCloud will offer 200 GB of storage for less than $50, which was half as much as Dropbox was offering 100 GB.
August Smart Lock begins shipping
Last year the August Smart Lock was announced and began pre-orders. What was originally due to ship by end of year slipped repeatedly. Now the August Smart Lock appears ready to ship. In a blog post the company announced limited quantities would begins filling pre-orders over the coming months.
The lock works by fitting over an existing dead-bolt door lock. The mechanism physically moves the lock when commanded via Bluetooth. It's priced at $250 for retail. Pre-orders were available for $200.
I ordered one and a over a year later I'm not too sure why. Yeah, it's neat, but it's pricy for a retrofit lock. As is the case with these startup products, by time they ship fast followers are already to market. There are a number of integrated Bluetooth locks available now for the same price or less.
iPhone 5 Battery Replacement Program
Apple has determined that a very small percentage of iPhone 5 devices may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently. The affected iPhone 5 devices were sold between September 2012 and January 2013 and fall within a limited serial number range.
If your iPhone 5 is experiencing these symptoms and meets the eligibility requirements noted below, Apple will replace your iPhone 5 battery, free of charge.
The program is currently available in US and China, and after August 29th will be available world-wide.
Otterbox announces Alpha Glass screen protector
Otterbox this week launched a new glass screen protector. The company says Alpha Glass offers good protection from scratches and impact, but also good clarity. The product also offers easy bubble free installation.
Lightly coat the glass with the provided alcohol wipe, clean the display with the included microfiber cleaning cloth to remove fingerprints and dust, and align the screen protector with the Alpha Glass application card. Gentle pressure safely secures the screen protector and pushes out any air for bubbleĖfree coverage.
I prefer the glass screen protectors over the plastic films simply for the feel. It feels like the regular touch screen. Generally theyíre a little thicker, so that could cause complications with cases and accessories, but if I do have a screen protector on my phone, itís a glass one.
The Alpha Glass protector is available now stand-alone for $29.95.
OS X Yosemite allows screen sharing over iMessage
Mark Gurman for 9 to 5 Mac:
In June, we noted that Apple is adding a handy new feature to the upcoming OS X Yosemite: the ability for iMessage/Apple ID users to screen share via the Messages app. Screen sharing was a hallmark of early versions of Appleís Mac ďiChatĒ application, but it has always required an Aol Instant Messenger (AIM), Gmail, Jabber, or Yahoo account. With Yosemite, users can have the same screen sharing experience with just an iMessage/FaceTime/or Apple ID account.
This is pretty nifty. There is also the option to have audio chat, which basically turns it into a screencast chat. This can be particularly handy with family tech support situations.
Final Cut Pro suite gets minor updates
Apple Tuesday issued updates for Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Compressor. The changes across the line involve a bug fix related to burning Bluray disks and images. Final Cut Pro specific improvements deal with color correction, minor UX fixes, and improved stability and performance.
The updates are free to current users and bring Final Cut Pro to 10.1.3, Motion to 5.1.2, and Compressor to 4.1.3. Updates are available in the Mac App.
Visual history of Apple designs
A neat slideshow of decades of Apple designs. It starts out with the wood-encased Apple kit and goes through various computers and devices. One of my favorites, the eMate, is missing, Iíve had a version of almost each of these products, especially from the late 80ís on. Not sure what that says about me, but a fun flashback.
Evernote Webclipper for Safari get big update
We have completely redesigned the Web Clipper to provide efficiency at each step. This update includes improved layout and annotation, as well as advanced options like highlighting and notebook selection.
Iím a big Evernote fan and the Webclipper is a reason why. Over the years the clipper has evolved to simply a way to shuttle webpages into Evernote to adding in tools for markup, organizing, and tagging. All these new features let you clip and forget, rather than going back into Evernote to make edits or organize.
Podcast: Looftlighter, Sapphire Glass, Robin Williams, Google Customer Service, plus more
Apple mission statement on its culture of diversity
Apple's report and this video seems to follow well the recent NYT article on Apple University. The video is a nice mission statement for the company's culture, or at least the goal for their culture.
CEO Tim Cook:
At Apple, our 98,000 employees share a passion for products that change peopleís lives, and from the very earliest days we have known that diversity is critical to our success. We believe deeply that inclusion inspires innovation.
At Apple, we believe inclusion and diversity of experience and ideas drive creativity. As a company, we are committed to the advancement of equality and human rights. Narrated by Denise Young-Smith, VP, Human Resources, Apple.
A look at Apple University
Brian X Chen for New York Times:
In a version of the class taught last year, Mr. Nelson showed a slide of ďThe Bull,Ē a series of 11 lithographs of a bull that Picasso created over about a month, starting in late 1945. In the early stages, the bull has a snout, shoulder shanks and hooves, but over the iterations, those details vanish. The last image is a curvy stick figure that is still unmistakably a bull.
ďYou go through more iterations until you can simply deliver your message in a very concise way, and that is true to the Apple brand and everything we do,Ē recalled one person who took the course.
In ďWhat Makes Apple, Apple,Ē another course that Mr. Nelson occasionally teaches, he showed a slide of the remote control for the Google TV, said an employee who took the class last year. The remote has 78 buttons. Then, the employee said, Mr. Nelson displayed a photo of the Apple TV remote, a thin piece of metal with just three buttons.
My understanding was at least some of this professional development was geared at Apple being Apple without Steve Jobs. A shared culture is important to any organization. Understanding why things happened is important, but also important to share this knowledge with people who weren't there when it happened.
I'm curious how things are understood within Apple when there's a high level of compartmentalized secrecy. I wonder if these programs help current employees feel connected to things or if its purely presented within historical context?
iPhone 6 prank
Oh, Jonathan... making fun of random people with a bad knock-off 4.7-inch iPhone 6 running Android with an iOS skin.
Podcast: iPhone announcement date, traffic school, Apple-Samsung lawsuit, plus more
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