The Day that Apple Changed the World

The iPhone is 10 years old, and its introduction changed the world

Apple set the smartphone – and the world – on its ear when it introduced the iPhone to the back in 2007. Steve Jobs mashed the popular iPod Touch together with cellular communications technology and created what he called, “a revolutionary mobile phone and breakthrough internet communication device with desktop class email, web browsing, searching and maps [all combined] into one small and lightweight handheld device.”

That’s exactly what the iPhone is today, too. Still… even ten years later.

The device, however, is much, much more than it was. With more than two million available apps, its changed the way we play, commute and communicate with family, friends and the entire world. It gave birth to the Selfie, to the tweet, and to countless other things social. Its created bajillions of copycat devices, much to Samsung’s chagrin, and is in many ways the most successful consumer device, like, EVER.

So where does it go from here? That, my friends, requires a bit of vision. Many are prognosticating on this topic, and I don’t agree with everyone. Here’s where I think Apple will go with things, even if I don’t care for that particular direction.

Connectivity
Apple wants to be the communications hub of your entire existence. With things like Home Kit, your iDevice – including your iPhone – can communicate with the core infrastructure of your home. As costs come down for third party products – like locks, thermostats, light bulbs, appliances, etc. – imagine being able to control the temperature of your house from anywhere in the world, being able to see if you’re out of milk while on vacation and then being able to place an order for milk, eggs and bread while you’re gone and having them on your doorstep when you return home. While you can sort of do some, if not most of this today, it isn’t always easy… or accurate. It should be with future versions of iPhone.

Imagine being able to accurately communicate with all of your gadgets and appliances without dropped connections or other communications interference. Bluetooth 5 promises to provide communications accuracy as well as increased range and speed of communications with your entire home.

Artificial Intelligence
The biggest issues with the Amazon Echo and with Google Now is that both Amazon and Google require that you give up privacy and access to most if not all of your personal data to make their digital assistants work. Imagine if Apple could accomplish the same thing, while still protecting your privacy.

Apple intends to do this by keeping your data on your device, instead of pushing the request to the cloud where your data is collected, analyzed and aggregated with every other bit and byte. This will be a huge win for Apple if they can deliver. Keeping your data private and creating devices smart enough and fast enough – with enough memory (RAM) to handle local search should be a key initiative for Apple going forward.

Ports
Many folks lost their minds when Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. I am not a huge fan of the missing headphone jack in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. I know a great deal of folks who are still a bit miffed about the whole thing; and Apple seems to be doing the same thing on their computing devices as well.

However, most fall into two categories – those that don’t care and those that can work around it.

Those people that can work around the lack of a headphone jack on their iPhone are those that have accepted the fact that they’re going to need a dongle to continue to use their legacy headphones with their iPhone 7 or 7 Plus. They’ve pulled the dongle that Apple included in the box with the new device, slapped it on the cable of their legacy headset and have decided to leave it there. The only issue most folks bump into here is listening to audio and charging at the same time. There are some splitter cables on the market right now that resolve this issue, but unless this is a big deal for someone, paying $40USD or more for a single dongle isn’t a very popular idea. (yes, Amazon DOES have splitter cables for about $10USD, but they don’t have MFI certification. If you go this route, use the cables with caution. The application of too much or too little power to a lithium ion battery can have explosive results.

The Next Big Thing
Figuring this out isn’t easy, especially when it comes to Apple. There are more rumors about what Apple is going to produce than anything else on the internet, really. Well… perhaps there are more cat videos, but this comes in as a close second.

The biggest problem here, is that no one hardly ever gets it right, until the last minute, and by THAT time, it’s too easy. Nearly anyone can produce an accurate guess at that point. However, figuring out what Apple is going to do with the iPhone ten years from now, isn’t going to be too hard, at least I think so.

Before 2027, Apple will discontinue what we consider to be the iPhone. Apple will likely produce a different device, with a completely different form factor to replace it. It’s likely NOT going to be in the traditional or familiar form factor. It could be a wearable. It could even be an implant, projecting a virtual display that only YOU can see.

Whatever the iPhone turns into, many see it being a wearable of some type. As reported by C|Net, input and output of data from a communications device and the brains of a product will reside with a [more fluid] device, [instead of a traditional smartphone]. I expect to see some REAL innovation in this space over the coming years as there’s no doubt in my mind that communications, could (literally) all be in your head.

What do you think? Do you see enough changes in the smartphone and peripherals market to change the iPhone into a wearable of some kind? What do you think the next big thing is? Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area below, and give me your thoughts?

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Apple Releases iOS 10.2 beta 5 Developers and Public Beta Testers

It’s a test-a-palooza-thon over in Cupertino for iDevice owners

The guys over at Apple have been really busy. In the past four to five days, they’ve released two different beta releases of iOS 10.2. Beta 5 was released to both public beta testers and to their development community on 2016-12-02. I’d say we’re getting close to a final release if the beta cadence is this quick. It’s only been four days since the previous release.

Getting the software is easy. If you’re a developer, you can get the beta bits from the Apple Developer’s Portal. If you’re a public beta tester, you can get the software through Software Update. However, your device must be registered for the beta program in order for the download to actually start.

Specific changes over Beta 4 haven’t been identified as of this writing. However, iOS 10.2 is known to include redrawn emoji and 72 new emoji characters confirming with requirements from Unicode 9.0. Both iOS 10.2 and the latest beta release of tvOS, version 10.1, released on Wednesday 2016-11-30, include Apple’s new, dedicated TV app. iPhone 7 users will also get new wallpapers. Apple’s Videos app is also rumored to include a new widget; and Messages is supposed to add a new “celebration” effect for text messages.

Both iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1 are also supposed to include single sign-on (SSO) for streaming TV. SSO will allow users to enter in their cable or satellite website’s user name and password into their device only ONCE and allow those credentials to be shared throughout the operating system. This will allow apps like HBO Go, Max Go or ShowTime Anytime to all share and use the same login information, only entered once on your device, to authorize the playing of content. Previously, you had to enter in your credentials in every app. Now, with Single Sign-On, once is finally enough. However, each app must support SSO in order for this to work.

I would expect iOS 10.2 to be released during the month of December. With beta releases reaching five, and with the release cadence being as short as a few days, it seems that iOS 10.2 will be with us sooner rather than later.

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Notable Updates for the Week

All this… and it’s only THURSDAY!

There are two big stories that I want to cover quickly, as I really don’t want to stretch these out any longer than they need to be. Both are significant, however, and really do deserve some commentary.

Samsung Officially Discontinues the Note 7
Despite what anyone may think, this one surprised me a bit. I didn’t think that Samsung would kill the Note 7. I really thought that it would go away for a while and then come back as the Note 7.1 or Note 7.5 or something like that, after they figured out where to get batteries that don’t blow up in your pants…but I’m just sayin’…

note7-discontinued

It really costs a lot of money when an entire product is cancelled. It also really says a lot about what Samsung’s Supplier Quality program could and could not do when it came to batteries for this device. But again, I guess that’s just me.

It really seems as though Samsung threw in the towel a little early here.

However, according to TechCrunch, Samsung confirmed the status of the discontinued Note 7 to the Wall Street Journal… and that’s it. Samsung didn’t go into any kind of details or provide any additional information on how or why it stopped producing the device. They just stopped.

I also saw a report on The Verge indicating that Samsung was sending customers fireproof return boxes for their Note 7’s.

On the damage control side of things, I knew that the costs to Samsung would be big; but I got surprised here, again. According to Reuters, the cost of discontinuing production of the Galaxy Note 7 could cost Samsung up to $17B USD.

Yes.

That’s billions with a big, fat capital “B.”

When you couple that with the $19B USD stock hit (yes, again, that’s billions with another big, fat capital, “B”) that Samsung has taken, this whole fiasco has cost Samsung over $36B USB.

Yahoo Removes eMail Forwarding
In a move that’s CLEARLY meant to stop the flow of entrenched users from transferring their email to another service, it was reported, again, by TechCrunch that Yahoo is disabled eMail forwarding in all Yahoo eMail accounts that didn’t PREVIOUSLY have the feature enabled.

email_forwarding_discontinuedeMail forwarding is a pretty easy way to maintain your existing email flow while you transition from one address to another. You setup the forward at your OLD address, and have all of the mail received there, forwarded to your NEW address. You can then start socializing the new address while still insuring that you don’t miss any important email while things are changing over.

This is a common feature, and its one that every service – like GMail, Hot Mail (now Outlook.com) and other popular mail services – provides to users. The move here, to remove this feature is clearly one put in place by Yahoo to stop users from leaving after the announcement in September 2016 of a data breach that effected 500 million user accounts.

According to TechCrunch, Yahoo declined to comment on the removal of the feature and instead pointed users to a section of its help text that indicated:

“This feature is under development. While we work to improve it, we’ve temporarily disabled the ability to turn on Mail Forwarding for new forwarding addresses. If you’ve already enabled Mail Forwarding in the past, your email will continue to forward to the address you previously configured.”

Dear Yahoo – no one is buying your BS.

Mail forwarding has been around for years and it’s not something that should be considered an improvement or in any way “under development.”

All you’re doing is holding email users hostage… and it’s really rude.

Thankfully, I never had a Yahoo email account. I simply just couldn’t stomach the *.yahoo.com domain. I was an English literature major in college. I actually know what a Yahoo is. A definition of the word “yahoo” can be found here. It wasn’t always a good thing, kids…

It’s really a term of insult. Why anyone would name a company after a “crude, brutish, or obscenely coarse person” is beyond me… However, after removing the ability to redirect mail, or even, in some cases, deleting an email account (some users have reported that they couldn’t even delete their accounts…), they appear to be living up to their name sakes.

But would you look at that?! It’s not even the middle of the week (as of this writing) and already Samsung has lost upwards of $40B USD and Yahoo’s value is taking so much that even Verizon is considering backing out of their intent to purchase the company.

Boy… If I were Marissa Mayer… I’d be seriously thinking about jumping with that golden parachute of mine before the Yahoo Board takes it away from her…

But again… that’s just me.

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Buy an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, Lose your Job

Buying an iPhone 7 in certain countries is a shortcut to the unemployment office

I saw this on BGR and thought that it was totally outrageous. However, outrageous is totally from an American point of view – in China, if this report is accurate, this is a huge issue.

Patriotism in China runs deep with their citizens. Nearly everyone there loves their country and they have a huge sense of national pride; and this extends into the corporate world as well as with individual citizens.

So as I mentioned, BGR that some Chinese companies have issued warnings to their employees that purchasing an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus may result in termination of employment. While no specific individual has been singled out as of yet, some companies have issued formal written warnings against the purchase of Apple’s flagship smartphone.

For example, the BBC is reporting that Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site much like Twitter, has issued a stern warning to all of their employees: buy an iPhone and don’t bother coming to work.

iphone7_purchase_warning

There were also a couple of hospitals of note that told their administrative staff,

“Anyone who insists on purchasing one will be removed from candidacy for annual rewards of outstanding performances. And those who could not afford an iPhone 7 cell phone but still bought one will be asked to resign.”

Nearly everyone that I’ve mentioned this to has found this to be completely outrageous. They find it hard to believe that an employer can legally put that kind of consumer purchasing pressure on their employees and get away with it. Apparently, they can in China.

While technically, the sale of the iPhone isn’t banned in China, it is if you want to keep your job. Who knew..?

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No Band for You!

You come back, one year!

microsoft-band

The wearables market isn’t an easy one; and its one that for many, still remains untamed. I spent a great deal of time last year covering the wearables market.

The first device I reviewed in this year long series was the Microsoft Band. In the end, at least before the Apple Watch was released, I considered it to be the go to device that I would have recommended to everyone, largely because (it had)

  • An inexpensive point of entry
  • A cross platform set of apps
  • An easy to use UI and smartphone app

When, a year later, Microsoft released Band 2, I felt vindicated – at least for my initial recommendation – because a second release of Band meant that Microsoft intended to stay in the market, at least for a while.

Yeah… about that…

Microsoft announced earlier this week that it is pulling Band 2 from all of its Stores and won’t be releasing a Band 3 this year.

Later, Microsoft also removed Band’s SDK from their site, which makes sense, since they’re no longer selling the device. They also appear to have disbanded the software team that was tasked with bringing Band in to Windows 10 as a native device and the hardware team responsible for design and engineering of Band hardware.

The one thing that Microsoft is NOT doing, however is dropping Microsoft Health. Microsoft still intends to provide that software and service to users of other fitness bands.

However, Apple Watch users, or those MS Health users looking to switch to Apple Watch, shouldn’t get their hopes up. It’s very unlikely that Apple will provide an API that would permit 3rd party support of Apple Watch with Microsoft Health or any other health monitoring application.

So you can put Microsoft Band into the heap of dead and dying tech revealed recently, including, of course, Blackberry manufactured hardware.

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Blackberry Ceases Phone Manufacturing

The only thing that I’m wondering, is why it took so long…

BlackBerry logo

Over the past five years, I’ve been very bearish on Blackberry and RIM. I’ve covered this extensively when I was Managing Editor at BYTE, the reincarnation of BYTE Magazine. Here’s a quick sample:

I have also covered this topic somewhat on

  • There was no 3rd Party Developer support
  • No available apps
  • No software store
  • No eco system
  • No way to manage, play or obtain digital content

However, I don’t want to spend the next 300 or so words harping on or reiterating what I’ve been saying for the past four to five years. Instead, I want to talk about what Blackberry has to offer the market now:

A fire sale on used office furniture…

If Blackberry is no longer making phones, their mantra of, “the world wants our devices and services because they love our keyboards,” isn’t true. No one seems to care or give a hoot about their keyboards. If they did, then they would have flocked to those devices and the iPhone or the latest Android device wouldn’t be as popular as those devices are.

The truth is no one gives a rat’s patootie about a physical keyboard in 2016. It’s all about apps and a functioning ecosystem, and Blackberry doesn’t have one. So what do they have..??

Messaging services.

Messaging services… which are no longer driving the industry. Messaging services… which now have a number of non-proprietary alternatives which don’t cost an arm and a leg. Messaging services… which now don’t require dedicated hardware or a certified, dedicated IT resource to manage. Messaging services… which now have other encrypted alternatives like Apple’s iMessage or Facebook’s WhatsApp. Messaging services… which at last examination, still ran through a centralized hub in Toronto, and were subject to outages if the messaging network were compromised or was negatively impacted by some kind of hardware failure or internet service interruption.

So yeah… if some, part or all of the above is true, just WHAT does Blackberry have to offer the world..?? As I said – a fire sale on used office furniture.

In truth, Blackberry has very little to offer anyone at this point. Now that their hardware is gone, the only thing they have left is their messaging services and software products, and I have NO idea who would really be interested in those.

While thinking about that point, I immediately went to folks like a state government or the Federal Government; but they can make use of existing mail server platforms like Exchange for email and use, for example, WhatsApp, to send and receive secure messages (though I doubt that the FBI, CIA or NSA will actually USE WhatsApp…). Some may argue, that there isn’t even a need for secure messaging in Washington DC; but I digress… My point is there are cheap, affordable alternatives to Blackberry’s software offerings, on platforms with hardware people actually want to use.

Blackberry’s business plan options now are bleak. According to an article by Roger Cheng, of C|NET and published on MSN Money,

“Even BlackBerry’s final Hail Mary, its embrace of the Android operating system, was the brainchild of veteran phone executive Ron Louks. He assumed that wider access to Android apps, combined with its reputation for security, would turn some heads in the corporate world. It did not. The first Android-powered phone, the BlackBerry Priv, was a high-end premium device that landed with a thud… Louks left BlackBerry in May.

…[Blackberry’s CEO, John] Chen believes BlackBerry will live on, but focused solely on software.”

Software that no one is really going to want…

The world has moved on from Blackberry. Blackberry is a messaging dinosaur that had is day and was driven out to extinction by the meteor that is the both the iPhone and is every Android device…ever. The enterprise has moved on to messaging alternatives that more easily allowed IT mail administrators to manage any device that every Tom, Dick and Harry brought to the office via their company’s BYOD initiative.

The big problem here is that Blackberry is dead. The world – including me – has been predicting and foretelling the world of its demise over the past four to five years. It really seems as though John Chen is the ONLY person in the world that either didn’t get the news or completely ignored it.

It just seems a little silly, really.

If you have Blackberry stock, now is the time to dump it before the fire sale begins; because when that starts… it will already be too late. I don’t know what kind of real value Blackberry intellectual property really has right now, or whom would want to purchase it.

As of this writing, Blackberry’s stock (NASDAQ: BBRY) was at 8.29, down 0.04. Its high over the past year was 9.42, back near the beginning of 2016. It’s all time high was 138.87 near December of 2008. Looking at those graphs, the stock seems to be on life support at best.

The party is clearly over. It’s just the host that doesn’t seem to know…

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Pardon Me, but is that an Exploding Galaxy Note 7?

Samsung appears to be having issues with its Galaxy Note 7

Over the past few days, after you get past the hype of the latest Apple Event announcing Apple Watch 2 and iPhone 7, you KNOW there have to be executives at Samsung that are – at least for once – glad that Apple has all the limelight. The latest news out of Cupertino has, no doubt had them thanking everyone for moving on from the latest news out of Seoul: Exploding Galaxy Note 7’s.

note 7

Last week, stories of exploding batteries have been all over the news. It got so bad that Samsung indicated that they were not only going to halt sales of their flagship phablet, but recall the device as well. To dates, there have been 35 reported cases of exploding or bursting batteries. News of fires and burns as at least one of the 35 was reported to have exploded in someone’s pants pocket.

Low quality battery cells were reported to be responsible for the issue and recall.

Reports of what countries are effected and are not effected have varied, with at least one report indicating that Note 7 customers in China are unaffected due to the battery supplier used for units there.

Samsung is using lithium-ion batteries in the Note 7. Possible causes for the issue appear to be damaged power cells caused by substandard components, chemistry or design. If a lithium-ion battery is compromised by being over charged, by overheating, damage, or age, the inner cells can “outgas” the flammable, electrolyte mixture within the membrane. An undamaged battery membrane will stretch and bulge to contain this material to some extent; but at some point, the membrane will rupture, and the battery will explode.

Depending on where, when and how violently the battery finally ruptures and explodes, the damage can be devastating.

Samsung has issued a statement informing customers in the United States that they will be able to replace their Note 7s with new units as early as next week.

Customers will be given the option of trading their units in for either a new Note 7 or a Galaxy S7/S7 edge and a refund for the difference. All accessories can also be exchanged for their S7 equivalents.

Samsung is also offering a $25 phone bill credit, or a $25 gift card, for the inconvenience. Device owners can call 1-800-SAMSUNG to arrange a mail exchange, or they can return their device to the retail store where they purchased it.

US mobile carriers are offering the following options to Note 7 owners:

  • T-Mobile is letting customers return their Note 7 in any store for a full refund of the purchase price and any accessories you may have bought. You’ll then be given the choice of buying another phone or receiving a new Note 7 when they are put on sale again, if you wish.
  • Sprint customers can return their device to any Sprint location and can pick up a comparable loaner to use in the meantime
  • Verizon says it has stopped selling the Galaxy Note 7 and has waived the restocking fee for the device through the end of September 2016
  • AT&T is working with Samsung to facilitate Note 7 exchanges. They are also allowing customers to return their device for a different smartphone. Refunds for the difference and for accessories purchased directly from them will be offered
  • U.S. Cellular has not yet announced its plans for handling the recall, but I am assuming they will provide offers to effected device owners.

Did you buy a Galaxy Note 7? Has the battery on this device given you any cause for concern? Have you returned the device or have you decided to hold on to it and roll the dice? If you traded yours in, will you wait for a new Note 7, or did you opt for a different device? Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area, below and tell me all about what happened to you?

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Five Most Popular Mobile Software Apps

We’ve done our homework over here and have pulled together the most popular mobile software downloads for you.

Introduction
As a mobile device expert I can tell you one thing for certainty about ALL mobile devices and smartphones- they’re only as good as the mobile software available for them. If you recall, I addressed this in part in an article on what I think will make or break the iPad Pro. To be very honest, its true for all mobile devices – Software. Popular mobile software will make or break any mobile platform.

With software so important to the mobile devices that it runs on, it’s important to insure you have the right apps for your device. I’ve spent some time, pulling together five (5) of the most popular mobile software downloads, regardless of platform and brought them here, in no particular order, for your consideration.

The Top Five Apps

Maps.Me for Android
maps.meGPS apps are perhaps some of the best mobile software around. Maps.Me is an Android software download that provides turn by turn directions anywhere in the world. It supports over 345 countries and islands. Its maps are highly detailed, and contain more information than any other map or GPS app anywhere. It has millions of points of interest including restaurants, gas/ petrol stations, ATM machines, etc. It will work both online and offline, provided you have enough local storage available so you won’t incur any data roaming charges. It’s also fast, and free.


UC Browser
uc browserIf you remember, we reviewed UC Browser a few years ago. If you get the opportunity and if you’re interested in the app, you should give it a read, as it has a really complete breakdown of what the app can and cannot do.

UC Browser is an Android app that will allow you to surf the internet. Its adaptable configuration helps you adjust the way your browsing works under different networking connections and conditions. This helps manage bandwidth usage, and ultimately, data costs. The browser can also preload pages, download files in the background, and has an add-on platform that can extend the functionality of the app.


Kingsoft Office for Android
kingsoft officeOne of the most important apps I have on many of my mobile devices – tablets, laptops, and to an extent, smartphones – is a productivity suite. Kingsoft Office for Android is a free android software download. With it, you can create and edit rich text documents, spreadsheets and presentations. The suite is also fully Microsoft Office compatible.

Having the ability to edit content on the go is an important ability. Its why many of us carry mobile devices. Having this ability on your Android smartphone or tablet may just make life easier or save your bacon when you need to edit something in a pinch.


Whatsapp
whatsappWhatsapp is perhaps the most used mobile application in the world, especially outside the US. With Android mobile software being the most popular type of mobile download, Whatsapp for Android is very popular. With Whatsapp being cross platform, meaning that it’s also very popular on iOS, its literally available and used on nearly every mobile device on the planet.

The app allows you to send and receive instant messages over a secure network. With it you can send text, pictures, audio notes, and video messages at no other cost than the cost of the app.

Let’s talk about that secure network thing. Whatsapp doesn’t function on its own network, it functions on any internet signal. However, it does employ encryption that can’t be broken, meaning that your messages can’t be read by “inquiring minds [that] want to know. Private and secure communications is what Whatsapp is all about.


Mobomarket
MoboMarketYour mobile device doesn’t do too much without the software that runs on it. When it comes to Android, you actually have a choice of stores to buy software from. You can use Google Play. You can use the Amazon Store; or you can use Mobomarket.

MoboMarket for Android is a third-party Android Market App that really focuses on free Android games and apps. MoboMarket has a geo-location based recommendation system, helping you discover the apps that you’re interested in most. Apps updated in MoboMarket are updated in real time, giving you full control of the apps installed on your mobile device.


Conclusion
Android mobile software downloads are something that every Android user wants and needs. Getting the right software for your device is something that everyone wants and needs. With Android being the most popular mobile operating system, powering some of the most popular devices in the world, having the best of the mobile software available is what it’s all about. The apps that I’ve included here are some of the best… some of the most popular mobile software downloads on Soft32. If you’re an Android user (or an iOS user in the case of Whatsapp), you need to check these out and see if these mobile apps are the right ones for you.

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