Nilay Patel for The Verge:
But then I look at the Apple Watch and it's so obviously underpowered. We can sit around and argue about whether speeds and feeds matter, but the grand ambition of the Apple Watch is to be a full-fledged computer on your wrist, and right now it's a very slow computer. If Apple believes the Watch is indeed destined to become that computer, it needs to radically increase the raw power of the Watch's processor, while maintaining its just-almost-acceptable battery life.
No disagreement from me. I had hoped things would get noticeably better with WatchOS 2.0 and native apps, but not really. In fact, Apple's own apps can be annoyingly slow. I'm reminded of this every day when I launch the exercise mode. It's laggy and not very responsive to get going and close out. This is a major core feature and should perform better, in my opinion. Heck, even unlocking the watch first thing in the morning is a less than good user experience.
Still, it's a first generation device. With everything there are design tradeoffs with size and battery life that directly affect horsepower. Generally I think these tradeoffs get much better the second time around.
India blocks cheaper refurbished Apple products
People have been tossing around peak iPhone as smartphones ownership saturate global markets. Global expansion has been a major factor in Apple's iPhone growth over the years. That growth gets harder when upgrades increasingly drives sales vs feature phone conversion. India is largely untapped by Apple, but India's protectionist policies are block Apple's efforts there.
Apple's rivals have mounted a public campaign against the effort, arguing that such a move would trigger a flood of used electronics while defeating the government's Make-in-India program to encourage local manufacturing.
The decision is a setback for Apple, which has just 2 percent of Indian phone shipments but needs to tap new markets as global iPhone sales plateau. The U.S. company is also seeking permission to open its first Indian retail stores, key to driving its brand in a market dominated by local vendors. That decision is pending.
Report: Your phone’s biggest vulnerability is your fingerprint
Russell Brandom for The Verge:
..fingerprints may become one more form of easily leaked data, alongside passwords, credit cards, and social security numbers. We've already seen it happen when the OPM breach compromised the fingerprints of 14 million federal workers. That same credential theft can happen at a smaller scale, as criminals pull fingerprints off furniture or even from high-resolution photos. For a determined attacker, a fingerprint is easier to steal than a password: it's visible on your body at all times, and you give it away every time you touch a flat surface.
Even during the rumor period of the iPhone 5s, (first iPhone to get a finger print sensor) ways to spoof the sensor where making the rounds. Such a spoof if I recall was demonstrated on launch day. So, yeah, it's not bullet proof, but I think that's missing the point.
If people may be missing the forest for the trees if they avoid biometrics because of the very slim chance they might fall into a scenario involving sophisticated hackers or three letter agencies. Even with a database of finger prints and a 3D printer, they still need to have your device.
The alternative is likely less secure for most people for situations that are much more probably. Such as theft or online account breaches from common criminals. Entering your password over and over all day means for most people a simple password or no password at all.
To me, it's sort like preparing for the zombie apocalypse while failing to keep your smoke detectors running. If you bail on biometrics, you need to be prepared to do it the hard way.
Comcast to move data caps to 1 TB per month
Comcast has been rolling out broadband data caps to residential customers. Comcast says it's a trial, but it seems clear what's going on here. The caps have widely been scored as nothing more than a profit center for Comcast. You gotta work hard to be a perennial entry in those most hated companies lists.
The caps are 300 GB per month, which Comcast maintains only a very small percentage of customers exceeded. We managed to be in the camp by mostly due to streaming what I feel like is a modest diet of some kids movies and a handful of TV shows. The caps haven't reached me yet, but I've been thinking about alternative plans. Thankfully that won't have to happen as starting in June the caps will be 1 TB per month.
Jon Brodkin for Arstechnica:
After the June 1 change, fewer customers will need to buy unlimited data--but it will cost them $50 a month to do so instead of $30 or $35. Overage fees will stay the same, $10 for each additional 50GB. Thus far, Comcast has allowed customers to exceed the cap in three "courtesy months" before charging them overage fees.
New iPhone ad celebrates Mother's Day
Continuing the shot on iPhone campaign, the latest iPhone ad shows photos and videos for Mother's Day.
"Celebrating motherhood through the lens of iPhone users around the world."
Apple's CareKit gets new third-party apps
Apple's previously announced CareKit initiative got moving last week with some new third-party apps.
Stephanie M. Lee for Buzzfeed:
A few companies were given a CareKit head start with Apple's blessing and are incorporating elements of the tool into app updates released today. The programs intend to help people manage diabetes (One Drop), track the effects of antidepressant medications (Start), and monitor pregnancies and newborn health and development (Glow Nurture and Baby). The University of Rochester also has one dedicated to Parkinson's disease, and others are in the works from institutions like Texas Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
CareKit complements Apple's other health-related app frameworks with HealthKit and ResearchKit. To me, CareKit seems to sit between the more consumer-focused HealthKit and medical research-focused ResearchKit. CareKit is used by consumers but would likely be most helpful as part of a physician's care plan. The apps are dedicated for specific purposes and ideally doctors could monitor activities for improved care.
1Password 6.4 for iOS enhances Touch ID
1Password 6.4 for iOS is now available and has cool feature for users of Touch ID. The password vault app can now be unlocked by Touch ID after a device reboot. Previously, users were required to enter the full unlock password.
If users prefer the added security of requiring a full password to unlock 1Password, this can be set in the setting.
Other new features with version 6.4 include improve import functionality from 1Password 3 and improvements to the Families and Teams subscription service, in addition to other features.
Dropbox Project Infinite
Dropbox today previewed a new feature they're calling Project Infinite. Essentially it will allow users to see both sync'd and unsync'd files side by side on the desktop.
With Project Infinite, we're addressing a major issue our users have asked us to solve. The amount of information being created and shared has exploded, but most people still work on devices with limited storage capacity. While teams can store terabyte upon terabyte in the cloud, most individuals' laptops can only store a small fraction of that. Getting secure access to all the team's data usually means jumping over to a web browser, a clunky user experience at best.
That pretty much sums things up for me on laptops. With SSD storage, it's obviously impractical to sync everything in a paid account that could reach to 1TB, for example. So, I juggle stuff with selective sync and if I need something I log into the webpage.
This sounds a much better solution. It could possibly be a little confusing, but it appears Dropbox is trying to make the experience seamless. When talking smaller files on fast Internet, it should work well, but otherwise pulling down files on-demand may be a more frustrating experience to the point of essentially doing a selective sync.
Anyway, Project Infinite is currently being tested with select customers. There is no timeline given for a general release.
Apples iPhone upgrade program now available for online sales
Last fall, Apple launched an upgrade program to encourage faster upgrade cycles. Essentially you enter into a monthly installment loan and when you're ready for a new phone, Apple will accept the device as payment for the balance of the loan.
Retail upgrade programs like Apple's can be a convenient way for users to upgrade every year without having to deal with private sales or other trade in schemes. To date, Apple's program required you to go into an Apple retail store to signup for the program. That appears to have changed this week.
Chance Miller for 9 to 5 Mac:
Starting today, if you visit Apple's website and go through the process of buying an iPhone, you'll see a new option alongside the traditional carrier installment, contract, and outright purchase options. At the very top of the list is the iPhone Upgrade Program and its installment pricing. In fact, when you go through the process, the iPhone Upgrade Program is now the default choice.
This sounds great to me since I'm a nerd and like to get new iPhones at launch. I don't however, want to deal with the circus of Apple retail during launch weekends. If I can do this online, that makes Apple's trade in program much more attractive.
Apple's program likely isn't the best deal, however, it's easy. Again for iPhone launches, Apple has historically prioritized direct sales and retailers get limited stocks to ration out.
2016 MacBook gains on MacBook Air benchmarks
I'm not really in the market for a new laptop, but eventually I'll be looking to replace my MacBook Air. When the MacBook was refreshed last week I was curious how the latest Skylake Core M5/M7 processors would compare to the Core i5/i7 found elsewhere in Macs.
Joe Rossignol for Mac Rumors:
Meanwhile, the top-end Skylake-based 1.3GHz Intel Core m7 built-to-order configuration earned average 64-bit single-core and multi-core scores of 3,023 and 6,430 respectively, which is between 9% and 17% faster than the equivalent Broadwell-based 1.3GHz model released in 2015.
That's just shy of the top end 2015 MacBook Air. Likely when the MacBook Air gets refreshed the gap will be larger, but point being at least now the new MacBook is in the ballpark of a current Mac.