The Road to Seven

It’s always a journey. Sometimes it’s not as easy as it should be…

iPhone 7

Over the past six years, I’ve been an iPhone user. I’ve owned an iPhone 4s, an iPhone 5 and an iPhone 6. On Tuesday 2016-09-20, I will be an iPhone 7 Plus owner. They say that getting there is half the fun. Normally, it is. This time, however, there were some unexpected bumps in the road. Before I get to all the fun that comes with a new phone, you need to hear about the journey.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, is this a big deal..? No. Not even a little bit; and this is definitely a first world problem. However, it was a bit maddening and just a whole not confusing.

I woke at 2am on 2016-09-09 and after a problem accessing my AT&T wireless account, and got in to my account’s upgrade options for the three lines of four lines service that I have. It took a great deal of effort to actually order the upgrades for my three lines. I admit that it was mostly my fault.

The biggest problem that I had was that I couldn’t, for some reason, actually get all three phones into 1 upgrade order. I also was having a very hard time processing even one upgrade order. This was largely due to the amount of traffic on the AT&T site and on the Apple web site as well. Both sets of servers were throwing inventory and order information back and forth between each other.

Though I had gotten myself actually in and functioning at about 2:15am CDT, I quickly found out that delivery dates had quickly been pushed back. Matte black iPhone 7 Pluses were showing a delivery date between 2016-09-23 and 2016-09-30. Jet black was showing delivery dates between 2016-10-14 and 2016-10-21. I found that to be completely amazing. Delivery dates for these had been pushed back by a month in less than 15 minutes.

The rose gold iPhone 7 Plus that I ordered as the last upgrade had a delivery date of 2016-09-16. However as of this writing, it has not arrived. I won’t arrive until sometime on 2016-09-19, three calendar days after it was promised. Getting it, even to this point of “in transit” status was a bit of a nail biter, too. Unfortunately, I can’t get any information out of anyone at AT&T as to WHY the order took the route that it did.

Briefly, the series of events went like this:

  1. Order for the Rose Gold, 128GB, iPhone 7 Plus was placed on 2016-09-19 at 2:22:27am
  2. Order Shipping date was listed as 2016-09-15
  3. Order Delivery date was listed as 2016-09-16
  4. I called AT&T at around 2pm CDT on 2016-09-15, as I had not received a shipping notice yet, to check on the order. The customer service rep I spoke with insured me that the order would ship as noted (on 9/15) and would arrive on 2016-09-16, as AT&T had recently switched their standard shipping method from 2-day to 1-day overnight.
  5. On 2016-09-15, Apple announced that all currently available iPhone 7 Plus devices, in all colors and storage sizes, were sold out; and that all iPhone 7’s in Jet Black, in all storage sizes, were sold out. Availability dates for new stock, as of this writing, still have not been announced.
  6. I awoke on 2016-09-16 to check the status of the order. I still had not received a shipping notice or any kind of text update from AT&T. I found that the device’s order status had been changed to BACKORDERED. The device’s shipping date had been changed from 2016-09-15 to 2016-09-16. The DELIVERY date remained the same – 2016-09-16.
  7. I called AT&T on three (3) different occasions on 2016-09-16 inquiring about the status of the one device that was supposed to be delivered on that day, but had been marked backordered. No one… absolutely NO ONE had any information. When I described the situation to the, and they looked into the order, inventory, allocations, etc. the response from everyone was nearly identical – “huh… well, that’s strange. I can’t find any information on why this is backordered.”

    They also could not find any information on when it would ship, nor why the delivery and ship dates hadn’t updated to reflect the new status. Unfortunately for me, my experience with the customer service reps I was connected to got progressively worse as the day wore on. None of them seemed to understand what I wanted or why I was calling, and when I finally was able to help them to understand, they couldn’t answer any of my questions.

  8. In a fit of desperation, I tweeted my case to @AT&T and to @AT&TCares
  9. I got a response about 30 minutes after my initial tweet from @AT&TCares. Literally, as soon as I got that response and notification of it on my iPhone, I got a shipping notification in my inbox for the rose golf iPhone 7 Plus. The shipping status changed from Backordered to Shipped. I had a tracking number.

Unfortunately, I have NO explanation on what happened. The only thing I can come up with, based on my own logistics and manufacturing experience is that someone made a data entry mistake when updating the ERP. It was corrected later via the normal shipping process, which updates the order with the actual shipping date as well as with a tracking number.

I think the thing that bothers me the most about this, is that despite calling three times, no one could get past the customer support script and give me any real information on what was going on with my orders. The biggest concern I had with this over this past weekend was, ‘will what I experienced with orders being placed on backorder without any available to me or to any of the customer service reps I spoke with, going to happen to the other two lines of service I have on my account?’

It’s a good question.

It was one I asked three different customer service reps…AND it was one that none of them could really answer. (though all of them acknowledged that they’d love to know the answer to it too…)

UPDATE
I am pleased to say that the rose gold, 128GB iPhone 7 Plus arrived as promised today 2016-09-19. My daughter is setting it up as I write this. I am also pleased to announce that my order for a matte black, 128GB iPhone 7 Plus has shipped and is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, 2016-09-20.

I will be doing a formal unboxing tomorrow night and will have that passed over to Soft32 ASAP. You can also expect a first impressions article, a few blog posts on the iPhone 7 Plus vs the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s Plus, as well as a review of both the iPhone 7 Plus and iOS 10 this month.

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Yet Another Round of Apple OS Betas

Apple has been busy over the past six to eight weeks…

I admit it – Hello, my name is Chris; and I’m a software junkie.

iosbeta

While this very first step to entering a twelve step program for something that is most likely bad for you, I have to wonder if being a software junkie is really a “bad” thing. My guess is that its not, but if you step back and think about it, its all relative – it depends on what software you’re talking about, what devices you put it on, and most importantly, what state that software is in.

Unstable software on your most important devices isn’t only (potentially) stupid, it can be dangerous. I know more than person who has irreparably bricked their device when trying to install something that wasn’t quite ready for prime time. It’s a risk; and honestly, its likely something that people like me don’t always think through.

Case in point – Apple just released a bunch of updates to nearly every platform they develop on. This isn’t always a good thing. If you remember, a couple of years ago, I had declared iOS 8 a train wreck

Hands on with early iOS 8 Beta Releases
Hands on with iOS 8 Beta 2
iOS 8 Beta 3 – A Train Wreck of a Different Color
iOS Beta 4 – Still not Soup Yet

This experience was SO bad for me, that I didn’t chase after betas of iOS 9, and have left iOS 10 pretty much alone. There are rumors that its as big – if not a bigger change – than iOS 7 was over iOS 6 and earlier versons.

Anyway, if you’re the brave type, you’ll be interested to know that Apple has recently released updates to not only iOS, but to every other platform that it develops for. Recently Apple released Developer Beta 6 and Public Beta 5 of macOS 10.12. They also released Developer Beta 6 and Public Beta 5 of iOS 10. Apple also released Developer Beta 6 of both tvOS 10 and watchOS 3.

While there were some issues with getting many of the developer beta releases, as of this writing, they should be resolved. macOS 10.12 Dev Beta 6 should be build 16A294a. If you’re interested in grabbing any of the betas for your own perusal, you can head over to this link and sign up for as little or as much beta as you want.

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WWDC 2016 Part 2 – Cool New iOS 10 Features

iOS users rejoice! The New Hotness is on its way!

Introduction
wwdc2016iOS 10 is due to be released later this fall with the introduction of the next iPhone, and it’s got some really cool, new features. While I’m not going to go through the entire new feature set, or really into a lot of detail about some of the new stuff that I AM going to touch on, there’s some stuff that I’m certain that everyone will really like to hear about.

Believe it or not, iOS and its UI/ UX has been largely stagnant since the introduction of iOS 7. The interface really hasn’t changed in over three years (since 2013 or so) as of this writing. As such, iOS 10 is offering some really cool enhancements that should make quite an impact to the usability of iPhone. Quite honestly, some of these UI/ UX enhancements should have been implemented a while ago. That is, they’re a long time coming and may be considered overdue by some.

So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at some of the cooler features that will be coming to iOS 10!

Notifications, Control Center and Lock Screen
A lot of work has been done to enhance the way these components work in iOS 10. Control Center has been redesigned to be a more useful and functional set of panels of buttons and tools. You can swipe across Control Center panes to get to needed items, including a useful Media Center view. Support for 3D Touch has also been built into Control Center, but I wasn’t able to find a great deal of information on how that might actually work as of this writing.

Calendar
Your calendar just got a whole lot smarter. Now, iOS will suggest calendar event meeting time and places based on iMessage thread content. Calendar will also suggest times to leave and will over locations suggestions, too. Calendar can do the same with email content, and overall, its ability to handle events based on email content has greatly improved.

Camera RAW
I’ve been waiting on this one for as long as the iPhone has had a “decent” camera. As a serious, amateur photographer, I prefer working with RAW files rather than JPGs or TIFFs. You get better retouching results when you work with data direct from you camera that isn’t compressed. Well, now, iOS 10 allows you to work with camera RAW images, though, at least for now (meaning until Apple and other third party iOS developers), you’ll need to use third party (and likely third party desktop) apps to edit these images.

Music Storage Optimization
If you keep a lot of music on your device – like I do – you’ll be pleased to know that iOS 10 will now automatically remove tracks from your iPhone that you don’t listen to very often in order to make more internal storage available. Storage Optimization will allow you to set a threshold of between 4GB to 32GB of space, keeping all other on board storage for other content.

This Little Light of Mine…
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t used their smartphone’s flash as a flash light. It’s pretty much universal. The iPhone and its users are no different. I use my flash as a flash light at least 2 – 3 times a week.

In iOS 10, if you have an iPhone 6s or later, your 3D Touch capable iPhone will allow you to set the intensity of your flashlight via pressure sensitive touch of the screen. The harder you push, the brighter the light.

iCloud Drive Desktop, Documents
When you pair your iOS 10 based iDevice with a machos Sierra powered Mac, you’ll be able to access the files and objects (meaning documents and folders) stored on your Mac’s desktop through iCloud Drive. Most of your really important stuff is likely sitting on your desktop. Now, you can get to all of that important stuff without creating duplicates or elaborate copy jobs to give you access to the stuff you need the most.

Dude..?!? Where’s my car?
There are some third party apps that keep track of your vehicle for you after you park it; but (unless I’m wrong here…and if I am, please ping me in the Discussion area, below and let me know…) I don’t think Google Maps or any of the other major GPS apps, like HERE Maps, Navigo or Navmii, mark the “final” resting place of your car after a navigation session.

In iOS 10, Apple maps will automatically remember where you parked your car. When it’s time to truck it on back home, Maps will show you where you parked and will lead you back there, if necessary.

Accessibility Enhancements and Apple Watch
I think this is one of the coolest things that is going to happen with iPhone and Apple Watch. Every hour – at the 50 minute mark of the hour – Apple Watch tells you it’s time to stand. This feature is on by default. However, if you can’t stand, this is a bit of a problem. Now, if you’re a wheel chair user, the iOS Activity App will ping you that it’s time to motor on down the hallway instead of standing and walking around. This is a huge development in accessibility for individuals who can’t stand and took a great deal of research on Apple’s part to pull together. It also shows that Apple really cares for and appreciates ALL of its users

Conclusion
Prognosticating what Apple is going to do for “this year’s” iPhone is a very difficult. It’s going to do “this.” It’s going to do “that.” It’s going to have this or that feature set and/ or hardware changes. All of the rumors are usually nothing more than that… Rumors. Figuring out what Apple is going to do is usually a waste of time. I won’t even write that article anymore. I’ve never been right.

However, when it comes to analysis of the first beta of Apple’s latest iOS beta, yeah… that pretty much curls my toes.

There’s some pretty cool stuff coming in iOS 10. When you pair it with the right hardware combinations (I haven’t seen or heard anything yet that will SPECIFICALLY require a new hardware feature; but its early yet…), iOS 10 is rounding out to be a really cool mobile OS.

I’ll have more on it as the beta cycle matures. Right now, it’s a little too raw for me to install on my iPhone 6; but I should have a full analysis/ review on it before it hits with what should be the iPhone 7.

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WWDC 2016 Part 1 – macOS Sierra

A lot came out of the WWDC Keynote…

Apple WWDC16

There was a great deal of information that came out of Apple’s software only keynote address to press and WWDC 2016 developer attendees.  In this article, I’m going to concentrate on macOS Sierra.

macOS Sierra concentrates on a few different things. The ones that really caught my eye include Continuity, iCloud and Mac Fundamentals.

Continuity blends the lines between your devices. Your entire computing experience with you logging into and unlocking your computer. macOS Sierra now allows you to auto unlock your Mac by simply opening up your Mac while wearing your Apple Watch.  Apple Watch users can simply open the lid of their Mac laptop while wearing their Watch, and the Mac auto unlocks. Proximity and time of flight networking technology insures that it really is YOU opening up your Mac laptop.

Apple is also implementing a universal clipboard that works between your Mac, and all of your iDevices.  When you find something on your phone that you might want to use on your Mac, you don’t have to email or text it to yourself.  Now, the data is in your clipboard, and all you have to do is paste it.  One of the things missing here – at least as of this writing because I haven’t had time to play with Sierra yet – is clipboard history: the ability to remember a set, number of items copied to your clipboard.  Sierra may support this, it may not.

iCloud Drive makes documents available across all of your connected Apple devices whether they be Macs or iDevices, it doesn’t matter.  With Sierra and iOS 10, you get not only all of your documents, but your desktop and its contents available too.

iCloud Drive also now includes a feature called Optimized Storage.  Modern computers – laptops especially – come with SSD’s.  Unfortunately, most of those SSD’s are smaller than the spinning disk hard drives that everyone is used to.  Macs come with 128GB, 256GB or 512GB SSD’s; and even with half a terabyte, your drive can fill up quickly. iCloud Drive will now intelligently make room for new files on your Mac by moving older files from your Mac to the cloud, allowing you to access them there, instead.  iCloud Drive now only REALLY keeps the data that you’re working on, locally on your Mac.

Apple Pay now works on the web through Continuity.  When you’re buying something online on your Mac, you can use your iPhone to pay for it through Apple Pay via Continuity.  All you need is your iPhone handy, and you should be good to go.

For Mac Fundamentals, Apple has taken a logical, straight forward approach.  For example, tabbed windows now appear on every app, Apple created and included with Sierra or third party app.  This change comes at the OS level and no additional third party developer support is needed.

Picture in Picture (PiP) support is now also included at the OS level.  That means you can be writing a really great Mac article (like this one…) while also watching a video in a POP window that will travel with you from Space to Space and will work with full screen apps as well.

Siri is also included as part of Mac Fundamentals. Siri has her usual sass, but includes the ability to ask the system complex queries that you can pin to Notification Center. From there you can even drag and drop them into a document.  The seamless integration of it with other new and existing Apple features make the complete package very compelling, if not ungodly expensive…  However, if you ARE all Apple all the time, AND you have a compatible Mac, then you’re really going to love what you can do with all of your Apple gear.

You can see demos on all of this (as well as the rest of the Apple WWDC Keynote) here.

Speaking of compatible Mac hardware, Apple has also released the Mac hardware compatibility list for macOS Sierra.  Those computers include the following:

2009 and later

  • MacBook
  • iMac

2010 and later

  • MacBook Air
  • MacBook Pro
  • Mac mini
  • Mac Pro

While this list seems pretty decent, there are some pretty obvious computers missing from this list.  In the pre-2010 list, it seems that only MacBooks and iMacs get Sierra love.  Missing from that list are ANY kind of MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, Mac minis and Mac Pros.

For me, this means that my wife will be eligible for the upgrade, but my son-in-law with his Late 2008 Aluminum Unibody MacBook, will be left out in the cold. All of the other Macs in the house – my daughter’s Late 2015 13″ MacBook Pro, my Late 2013 15″ MacBook Pro and Mid 2012 13″ MacBook Air – will all get updates.

As of this writing, I’m installing macOS Sierra Developer Beta 1 on the MBA.  I’ll do my best to put it through its paces and then have some kind of write up in the coming weeks.

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Slow (and Boring) News Week..?

I mean… Is it just me, or am I the only one that doesn’t see a lot happening right now..?

I look at the news often.

In fact, I look at specific sites throughout the day to insure that I don’t miss anything. Unfortunately, we seem to have entered a period where absolutely NOTHING fun and interesting seems to be hitting the wire. I mean, I could be totally wrong on this one, but I really don’t think I am.

There really isn’t much of ANYTHING of note or interest going on… Anywhere… At all… and I’m bored out of my mind.

Yes, yes, yes… There are somethings that are going on; but nothing that would make at least what I would consider to be a good news and analysis article on its own. Instead, I’ve decided to combine a few of them here as I have a few things to say; but I won’t have too much to say on them, as honestly, I’ve either partially covered the issue, or I personally don’t think they’re all that news worthy OR all that interesting… However, here’s some of the more interesting of the lot:

Microsoft Ain’t Giving up on Windows 10 Mobile
Really..?

I find this one a little hard to believe. I told everyone what I think of Windows 10 Mobile (it’s a waste of time, money and resources); but for some reason, Microsoft’s Terry Myerson seems hell bent on beating this dead horse, claiming he saw it twitch. Or, just claiming that he’s not giving up.

I have no idea why. It doesn’t make a lick of sense…

I’ve already predicted the death of Windows 10 Mobile (and the Windows Phone platform) and I know I’m not alone in this belief.

I mean, even Mary Jo Foley agrees with me…

MJF-Tweets

It’s hard to believe that Microsoft is apparently ignoring the obvious and that they won’t exit the market. I’d rather see them spend the time, money and resources on something that may actually add value to the market. Any strides they make in mobile will likely get swept under the rug and/ or forgotten before it really has a chance to make any kind of genuine impact.

I also don’t agree at all with Satya Nadella. I don’t think that “business phones are a segment where Windows Phone devices were catching on.”

Nadella’s further statements that, “…the fact your latest soccer app is not available or some social networking app is not available is not much of an issue (in business scenarios)…” is also grossly short sighted, in my opinion. There are little to no third party apps available for Windows Phone on the consumer side. There are even less enterprise focused apps available for the device platform. While, Nadella goes on to say that, “…what matters… is identity management, security [and] protection,” is dead on, even in an enterprise setting, its (device-based) apps that sell a specific platform. Unfortunately, Windows Phone has little to none.

This appears to be a huge mistake on Microsoft’s part. The fact that they don’t have a real tablet-tablet (most Windows based tablets are really nothing more than tablets that run full-blown Windows 8.x or Windows 10… there aren’t any Windows 10 Mobile tablets…) is a huge hole that Microsoft and their hardware partners don’t seem to be interested in filling; and even if they did at this point, it would still be too little, too late.

The platform is dead, Satya and Terry… Get over it and move on.

Reports of Apple’s Demise are Greatly Exaggerated
One… One. That’s it. Just one.

Apple has had one (and only one) quarter in 8 years (or over 32 quarters…) where shipped iPhones dropped from the previous quarter; and the entire financial and tech world is saying that Apple’s growth period is over.

Really…?? Y’all can dope that out after just ONE bad quarter?

Wow.

I bow to your superior analytical skills…

But let’s look at the facts

“Apple shipped 51.1 million units, which isn’t as bad as was expected (the figure to beat was 50.7 million units).” While the figure represents a 32% drop over the previous quarter and a 16% drop over the same quarter last year, Apple still beat the advice it sent to the Street by about 400,000 units. And while sales of the iPhone SE haven’t made up the difference (causing some to think that it’s not a big a hit with consumers – which it may not be… ) it still represents Apple’s 4th best iPhone quarter to date.

iPhone Sales

Sooooo… lemme get this straight – this is the first “bad” quarter in 8 years, because sales are down (and perhaps, down significantly…), but it’s the 4th best iPhone sales quarter EVER… so “repent for the end is near…?”

Really??

Articles like the one(s) I’ve sited in this section really piss me off… They spout and spew all kinds of “statistical” information, but ultimately only reflect a single data point. When you can show a steady, revenue bleeding, cash drop, like the one at Blackberry (click the “ALL” link under the graph), then, yeah… you may have a point.

BB Shares

One quarter, however, where you don’t sell through the roof, doesn’t mean that the party’s over.

Apple Seeds New Betas to Developers and to the Public
Third betas of both OS X 10.11.5 and iOS 9.3.2 have been sent out to both Apple’s developer community and to those consumers who’ve signed up for the Apple Beta program.

Both updates seem to be concentrating on security and performance improvements as well as bug fixes.

Apple vs. FBI
Oy!

Sometimes I really people would just grow up.

Yes, I’m getting a bit salty about all of this. This is another one where I think my 4 year old granddaughter has more maturity than some of the players in this mess…

Feinstein-Burr: Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016
In the wake of all of this, “unlock this phone – no, you can’t make me” hullaballoo, perhaps the biggest reason why non-technical people shouldn’t draft or sponsor legislation rooted in technical issues has come to light.

Now, quite honestly, this is (probably) the biggest piece of crap that I’ve ever really seen come out of Capitol Hill. Senators Diane Feinstein and Richard Burr have drafted the Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016. The bill, in short basically states that if properly ordered to, people must comply with any court order for data; and if that data is “unintelligible” – i.e. encrypted – then it must be decrypted by the party ordered to provide it.

This bill would make consumer controlled encryption, like the kind in the iPhone or in WhatsApp, illegal. It outlaws end-to-end encryption.

This type of logic is the same type of logic used to justify gun control laws in the US – if you’re not doing anything illegal then you don’t need [guns, encryption].

That type of logic is the first step to tyranny, as the language in the draft legislation indicates that the obligation of persons cited in the order must provide “assistance as is necessary.” This language indicates that “the bill goes beyond the current laws that the government has used to try to compel tech firms to help with data access such as the All Writs Act.

Even more disturbing and concerning, the draft bill also includes the requirement that any licensed distributors must also ensure that all “products, services, applications or software” they distribute must provide the same easy access for law enforcement, which means that Apple is responsible for unlocking encrypted data from encrypted apps when the author cannot, will not, or the US has no jurisdiction to compel them to do so. This means that Apple has to vet every app and make sure it has been backdoored or has weak enough security so it can comply with the request.

The bill is so badly written and steeped in privacy and technology issues that the White House has officially declined to publicly support it. At least the current administration is savvy enough to identify a stinker when they see it…

FBI Can’t and Won’t Share iPhone 5c Exploit
This is just sad…

The FBI has officially stated that it can’t and won’t share the method it used to hack into Farook’s iPhone 5c. While they paid over $1.3M for the method, apparently, they didn’t purchase the RIGHTS to the method, and therefore, they can’t disclose it.

AND per their own admission, they also aren’t smart enough to figure it out on their own, either.

And don’t get me started on the usefulness of what they found, either… because they didn’t find a bloody thing.

While some people will say this is also a good thing – they didn’t get instructions or information from any domestic or international terrorist network while planning or committing their crimes – I don’t know if THAT tidbit was enough to justify not only the price, but the whole $**t storm as well. In the end, this seems to be a huge cluster bump. I’m not saying that the FBI did the wrong thing in this issue, but I do think they picked a very poor test case to press this issue with.

Apple Issues Statement on Body Found in Conference Room
Yesterday, a body was found in an Apple conference room at 1 Infinite Loop, and unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of information on the discovery made available to the public.

The Santa Clara Sheriff’s office has confirmed that the body found was male and that no foul play was involved. The cause of death has not been released; and the name of the deceased has not been revealed.

There was a lot of confusion wrapped around this issue with a number of different reports about more than one person involved, some kind of crime or foul play, blood on more than one person and a 911 call. Thankfully, that appears to all have been either refuted or corrected. Unfortunately, everyone is being very tight lipped about the entire situation. It isn’t often that someone passes away at work. The only reason why this is getting any press, is, unfortunately because it happened on an Apple campus.

Apple released the following statement on the issue. While it doesn’t go into any kind of detail on what happened, it does show their support for the victim and his loved ones:

“We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of a young and talented coworker. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends, including the many people he worked with here at Apple. We are working to support them however we can in this difficult time.”

What do you think of all of this? Is the news slow, or is it me? Do you have any comments on any of the items I covered here? Why don’t you join me in the Discussion Area, below, and give me your thoughts on it all.

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Apple Seeds New Betas of iOS 9.3.2 and OS X 10.11.5 to Developers

Bug fixes and performance improvements seem to be the order of the day…

ios-9.3.2-beta-1Well, Wednesday 2016-04-20 seems to have been a big day for Apple Developers. In the wake of Apple announcing WWDC from 2016-06-13 through 17, and announcing the ticket lottery, they’ve also released two new OS betas.

Apple has seeded both iOS 9.3.2 Beta 2 and OS X 10.11.5 Beta 2 to their Developer Community.

iOS 9.3.2 Beta 2 comes nearly a month after the launch of iOS 9.3, which was a major update to the mobile OS as it introduced Night Shift and other features and improvements. iOS 9.3 was released three weeks after a bug fix for iOS 9.3.1.

iOS 9.3.2 is a minor update that will focus on bug fixes and performance improvements since the release of iOS 9.3. Of note – sorta… – is a fix for a major Game Center bug. There aren’t any outward facing changes to iOS 9.3.2 that anyone has been able to identify as of this writing.

I also wouldn’t expect any major new updates to iOS 9.x.x at all at this point. My guess is that with WWDC just around the corner, Apple is going to concentrate all its effort on development of iOS 10. While it’s unclear just what goodies may be found in it, I’m certain that some information will start making its way to the main stream media as we get closer to mid-June. I’m certain I may also have an iOS 10 wish list published by that time as well…

Apple also seeded its second beta of OS X 10.11.5 for its desktop OS, currently code named El Capitan. Beta 2 of this update comes just two weeks after OS X 10.11.5 Beta 1.

OS X 10.11.5 is also likely to focus on security enhancements, performance improvements and bug fixes that have been logged since the release of OS X 10.11.4. Currently, nothing of note has been discovered, so this clearly appears to be a maintenance update.

If you’re running the beta, you can get beta 2 via the Software Update mechanism found in the Mac App Store on your Mac desktop, or in the Apple Developer Center’s download area.

Like iOS, it’s clear with the release of this maintenance update so close to the middle of the year, that the more serious development work is happening for OS X 10.12,that will also, most likely, be announced at WWDC and its keynote address on 2016-06-13.

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Government Cracks the iPhone 5c

The FBI was successful in jailbreaking, uh, I mean, cracking that iPhone 5c they have…

iphone 5c_unlockBefore I get into it, let me say, this is (probably) the best possible outcome of this whole crazy mess.

Early Monday evening, Chicago Time, the Department of Justice announced that its efforts to crack the iPhone 5c used by Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Milik. I’ve tried my best to cover this story while it has been going on. Just to recap:

Back door..?!? We don’ need your stinkin’ backdoor..!
The DoJ to Apple Computer – Byte Me…
The All Writs Act is an All Access Pass
Apple Tells the FBI to go Pound Bits

It’s not been exactly our best moments… with grandstanding and posturing on both sides. However, with the phone cracked and the data “safely” in the hands of the FBI, the DoJ has moved to vacate its court order compelling Apple to provide aid in giving them access to the phone in their ongoing investigation. Now that they’ve got a way in, they don’t need Apple to build them that back door.

Melanie Newman, a DoJ spokesman, provided the following statement via Twitter on their plans:

“It remains a priority for the government to ensure that law enforcement can obtain crucial digital information to protect national security and public safety, either with cooperation from relevant parties, or through the court system when cooperation fails… We will continue to pursue all available options for this mission, including seeking the cooperation of manufacturers and relying upon the creativity of both the public and private sectors.”

Apple has issued a brief statement, as reported by Buzz Feed’s John Paczkowski:

“From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent. As a result of the government’s dismissal, neither of these occurred. This case should never have been brought.

We will continue to help law enforcement with their investigations, as we have done all along, and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated.

Apple believes deeply that people in the States and around the world deserve data protection, security and privacy. Sacrificing one for the other only puts people and countries at greater risk.

This case raised issues which deserve a national conversation about our civil liberties, and our collective security and privacy. Apple remains committed to participating in that discussion.”

There are a number of groups, that are calling for the government to disclose information on the actual exploit that was used to gain access to the iDevice in question, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

However, there are two takeaways here that everyone should be cognizant of, and that are near certainties:

1. The government isn’t going to share the information
If they disclose the method used to access the iDevice, Apple will certainly plug the hole, preventing the government from using it on other iDevices in the future. Besides, they’re probably a little more than miffed at Apple for not giving them what they wanted without putting up a fight.

2. Apple is going to devote a great deal of time hardening iOS
Apple is going to make certain that it goes on a big enough bug hunt that it squashes any and all security holes it finds. Its then going to go and improve the encryption and other security features in iOS to insure that end user data that is supposed to be private, remains private.

So, how is this likely the best outcome, given the above, and other developments?

That’s easy – because no one had to force their hand…

Simply put, the government didn’t have to (really) try to make Apple comply, and Apple didn’t have to refuse. The debate on the case, isn’t far from over, however, as I’m certain that its likely to come to a boil before Apple has a chance to release a version of iOS with “uncrackable” encryption.

What do you think of all of this? Is this the outcome you were hoping for? Are you Team Apple or Team DoJ? Should Apple build the back door the government was initially asking for, or should it harden iOS to the point where no one can get it without the proper password or biometric data?

I’d love to hear from you. Why don’t you sound off in the Discussion area, below and let me know what you think of all of this?

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Back door..?!? We don’ need your stinkin’ backdoor..!

Life is just full of little surprises…

backdoorI really can’t help but chuckle a little bit. Over the past four to six weeks, the FBI and the DoJ have been screaming at Apple through the media about how they MUST help the DoJ break into an iPhone 5c owned by a local government agency but used by Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Milik.

There’s been a great deal of posturing back and forth between the two – Apple has been saying that the government’s requests are really equivalent to making them create cancer. The government has threatened to make Apple turn over its source code and signing keys.

In an interesting development, it was reported on 2016-03-21 that a third party made an offer to show the FBI a method that may get them access to Farook’s iPhone 5c, all without assistance from Apple.

The FBI was so interested in this development that they moved to cancel a court hearing scheduled on 2016-03-22 where additional evidence would be presented by both sides. The same judge who previously ordered Apple to help unlock the encrypted iPhone, US Magistrate Sheri Pym, approved the motion.

The DoJ remains “cautiously optimistic” that this will work. If it does, then they get what they want without having to compel Apple to do it for them. The court has ordered the DoJ to file a status report by 2016-04-05.

Apple’s attorneys are urging caution, saying that the method the DoJ was shown may not help them and both may find themselves back in court in two weeks. It’s also unclear to Apple what vulnerability the FBI has been shown in order to crack the phone. Like everyone else, this was news to them (Apple) as well.

However, if the FBI can’t crack the phone with this new help, they’re going renew their original case with vigor.

If this works, I can see the FBI tying the solution up very quickly into their own, private back door… that is until Apple – or a DIFFERENT third party – discovers or discloses it, and Apple hardens the OS against this particular vulnerability.

At the end of the day, though as in the 1948 film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, I can hear “that guy” saying “it” over and over again – We don’t need any stinkin’ backdoor..!

This is an ongoing story, and as additional information is made available, updates will be posted.

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