Apple Seeds 5th Beta macOS Sierra 10.12.1

Developers and public beta testers got new bits to play with…

macOS Sierra is one of the biggest updates to Apple’s desktop operating system, likely since the implementation of OS X. Or at least, it will be once the (big) bugs are gone and the new Apple File System gets implemented.

macos sierra

On 2016-10-19, Apple seeded the fifth beta of macOS Sierra 10.12.11 to both developers and public beta testers. Developers can get it from the Apple Developer Center and both developers and public testers can get the bits through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store.

Version 10.12.1 is a bug fix release that smooths out performance hiccups and addresses other issues that have been reported since the operating systems initial release just a short time ago. The release doesn’t provide much in the “new features” department, however. Though support for Apple’s iPhone 7/ 7 Plus’ Portrait Mode, being introduced with iOS 10.1, is included in the desktop OS’ Photos app.

Other than that, I wouldn’t expect too much more.

Apple recently announced a new media event scheduled to take place on 2016-10-27 where it is expected it will introduce a number of new Macs and MacBook Pros to the market. That’s just eight (8) days away from the time of this writing. I would expect both iOS 10.1 and macOS 10.12.1 to be released to the public by that time. It makes sense to have the new OS version hit the streets the same day as the new computers that will run it. So if you’re a Mac, get ready for a new computer, or at least get ready for the upgrade dance again.

I haven’t upgraded my top of the line, 15″ Late 2013 MacBook Pro to macOS Sierra just yet. I’ve got too many mission critical apps on it that I’m afraid won’t function correctly without major upgrades from their developers. I’m also waiting for a number of the bigger issues to shake out, so I don’t have to deal with them. This is usually when the 10.X.1 release is made available, and most will agree that this is the best time to upgrade, especially if you’re on the early adopter schedule, like me. (Though, to be very honest, jumping on at the X.Y.1 release really ISN’T early adoption…)

Are you a Mac? Have you upgraded to macOS Sierra 10.12 yet? Are you running the 10.12.1 beta? What do you think of the software? Why don’t you join me in the Discussion area below and give me your thoughts?

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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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Galaxy Note 7 Grounds SWA 994

It would have been ok, had it been in the smoking section, right??

Yeah… maybe not so much.

Reports streamed in on Wednesday 2016-10-05 about a passenger’s Galaxy Note 7, that despite being powered down, began smoking and popping while passengers were boarding SWA (Southwest Airlines) flight 994 to Baltimore.

galaxy_note_7_grounds_swa_994

The incident occurred at approximately 9:15am, local time. Arson investigators confirmed that the device in question, was a Samsung phone that had overheated, leading to smoke in the cabin, according to local news reports.

Passengers were safely evacuated from the plan, which filled with enough smoke for the crew to initiate that action. The flight was also cancelled.

Passenger Brian Green of New Albany, OH indicated that he was waiting to take off when his recently replaced, Galaxy Note 7 overheated shortly after powering it down. He said it made a popping noise and started to smoke. He took it out of his pocket and threw it to the ground. The device was initially replaced two weeks prior to this incident by AT&T.

Samsung expressed skepticism regarding the replacement status of the device, saying in a statement released to the public, “We are working with the authorities and Southwest now to recover the device and confirm the cause…”

Southwest is urging customers to insure that ALL Galaxy Note 7’s are turned off, before boarding their flight, saying, “Safety is always our top priority.”

Since its release on 2016-08-19, Samsung has officially recalled more than 1M Galaxy Note 7 devices sold worldwide before 2016-09-15 due to “serious fire and bur hazard [risks].” By that time, Samsung had received 92 reports of batteries overheating in the US, resulting in 26 reported burnings and 55 reports of property damage, including fires in cars and a garage according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

If I were Samsung, I’d be worried at this point.

The Galaxy Note series is a very popular device, and its one that has continually gone head to head with the iPhone; and is (likely) the reason why Apple released the 5.5″ iPhone “Plus” version of their popular iPhone smartphone. I wouldn’t want to be the project manager responsible for the Galaxy Note 7, right about now…OR the Supplier Quality guy, either.

If I were either of these guys, I’d be looking for a new gig.

Now in the grand scheme of things, this may end up being nothing more than a strange blip; but at least in the immediate, I’d be a bit concerned if I were Samsung. Their competition with Apple is fierce. The last thing they want anyone to do is think twice when it comes to purchasing ANY of their products. I mean, would you want one of these if there was still a chance that the replacement units had bad batteries..??

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FEATURE REVIEW – iPhone 7 Plus

After the initial out of the box experience, here are my thoughts on the iPhone 7 Plus

Introduction
I’m going to try to make this quick, as I’m currently working on a number of longer articles for Soft32 that I really want to get done in September as opposed to October; but to be honest, this one really can’t wait. If I don’t get it posted, its value and relevance will really fall; and I just can’t have that…

I’ve been an iPhone user on and off since 2008. I originally bought an iPhone 3G (or what could now be called the iPhone 2). It was the second iPhone that Apple released; and back in the day it you had a choice of two (2) colors – white or black. I was at a local AT&T store and while I wanted black, I had to take white, as all of the black phones were sold out. It’s also the last time that I actually stood in a line to buy a phone.

Things have changed a great deal in the last eight years.

I’m running with an iPhone 7 Plus this time around. I’ve had it for about a week; and I’ve developed a few opinions about it. Let’s take a quick sec and run over them… Shall we..??

Size, Finish and Form Factor
Damn, this phone is big.

I remember back in the day – and we’re talking 2004 to 2006 time frame – having a device with a screen larger than four (4) inches (measured diagonally) was a dream to view content with; but was considered a major issue because it completely interfered with one hand operation. The iPhone 7 is 4.7″ diagonally and the 7 Plus is 5.5 inches diagonally.

I found the following picture of all of the iPhones that Apple has ever released. It clearly shows the change in size over the past nine (9) years.

iphone-history

The iPhone 7 can still be used one handed, but requires a larger hand to really make this work without risking some serious and possibly painful, stretching. The iPhone 7 Plus simply can’t be used with one hand. At 5.5″ diagonally, the form factor (often) requires two hands to hold the device, let alone, use it.

I’ve got a serious case of arthritis in my hands, and to be honest, I don’t even think about trying to use the 7 Plus with one hand. For me – and I would think most of the Plus user base – it just isn’t possible.

If there was one thing that hit me when I got into my 7 Plus, it was the size of the device. My wife has the iPhone 6s Plus, and has been using that for a year; and of course I’ve occasionally used it; but it’s a different story when your daily driver is as large as the Plus size devices.

I know I will get used to it, but this is going to take me some time. I need to stop stretching my hands across the device to the upper left corner, trying to reach things. It’s just not going to happen…

With the device’s increased size, I’ve noticed that its rounded edges are a problem. The device is so smooth that it really feels like it wants to fall out of my hands when I’m holding it. If there was one thing that I would change about this device, it would be squaring off the rounded edges, making it a bit similar to the design of the iPhone SE and the iPhone 4/4s/5/5s. It would just make it a lot easier to grip and hold on to.

At the end of the day, the screen size is a huge reason to upgrade, but it makes the device a lot bigger (duh…) and it requires a bit of getting used to, especially for someone with arthritis issues, like me.

I purchased the matte black iPhone 7 Plus. My wife got the jet black iPhone 7 Plus. Both colors are VERY black. This is not charcoal, or a dark space gray. This is black.

My wife’s jet black 7 Plus arrived on 2015-09-27. The best way to describe it is as having a black, glossy, glass finish all the way around. The back looks as though it is covered with the same glass as the front is. It looks beautiful.

The Full 360
Here are some comparison photos of the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6s Plus and the Matte Black, iPhone 7 Plus.

dsc_1317 dsc_1318
From left to right, the front of the iPhone 6, iPhone 7 & iPhone 6s Plus From left to right, the backs of the iPhone 6, iPhone 7 & iPhone 6s Plus
dsc_1319 dsc_1320
From left to right, the bottom of the iPhone 6, iPhone 7 & iPhone 6s Plus From left to right, the left side of the iPhone 6, iPhone 7 & iPhone 6s Plus
dsc_1321 dsc_1324
From left to right, the tops of the iPhone 6, iPhone 7 & iPhone 6s Plus From left to right, the right side of the iPhone 6, iPhone 7 & iPhone 6s Plus

Home Button
This is a huge change in iPhone 7; and aside from the loss of the headphone jack (see below…), is perhaps the biggest, most controversial change in iPhone 7. 7 Plus.

The Home Button is no longer a physical button. The TouchID sensor is hidden under a haptic enabled, Force Touch/ 3D Touch, round, recessed section of the screen. User adjustable, haptic feedback simulates a click or press when you press on it with your fingertip.

The “button” works via capacitive touch. There is no physical, depressive hardware or button mechanism that depresses when you push the button. Like the trackpad on a MacBook or MacBook Pro equipped with a compatible trackpad, the new home button simulates a press when you “push” it.

I’ve noticed that while this is similar to the experience and feeling on the MacBook or MacBook Pro that’s equipped with a Force Touch trackpad, its simply does NOT work the same way. The trackpad “click” feels like you’ve actually clicked a trackpad. The feeling you get from the Home Button on the iPhone 7/ 7 Plus does NOT feel like you’ve pushed the Home Button on an iPhone 6s/ 6s Plus or earlier, and it never will.

While you WILL get used to this change over time, it’s the miniaturization of the haptic engine and the other components in the “button” that make this implementation of this technology different. It works on the trackpads because everything is a bit bigger, there’s more surface area to work with and the vibration from the haptic engine can be applied to a larger area and has a better chance to dissipate a bit to help simulate a depressed click, all without any physical, moving parts.

Because it has no moving parts, AND requires a capacitive connection, you can’t get a press out of the button with a finger nail. You have to have a physical, flesh to button connection. This coupled with the new click feel, is going to require some getting used to.

As a quick aside, iOS 10 also implements a, “press home to unlock,” process. This was done in large part due to complaints that Apple received from users of the iPhone 6s/ 6s Plus who indicated that the performance of the touch sensor on those phones was too good, unlocking the device before they had a chance to read all of the notifications on the lock screen. You can “disable” this somewhat by changing the Home Button behavior in Accessibility Settings.

You’re going to be pressing the Home Button a lot more, so you can either get used to it all, or change the settings to better match the way you work. Your call…

Headphone Jack
First things first… Apple did NOT simply cover up the headphone jack on the iPhone 7/ 7Plus with the new, left side speaker grill. They removed the jack and all the associated hardware from the device completely. Please note that drilling a hole in your iPhone 7/ 7 Plus looking to “activate” the “hidden” jack under the speaker grill is only going to destroy your new iPhone. There is no hidden jack.

Plainly put – drilling a hole in your phone is just a mark of stupidity. Don’t do it. Period. The headphone jack has been removed from the iPhone 7/ 7 Plus, not hidden.

That nasty bit out of the way, the big question is, “how has this affected me?”

The answer is, “not much at all.”

I love music. It’s a key part of my life and a large part of who I am. I’ve got songs – originals and covers – running through my head all day, every day. Literally.

The main place I listen to any audio content is my car; and I’ve been listening to it via lightning connector/ USB cable connected to my car radio for about five (5) years. The only time I’ve ever really used any of the ear buds I’ve received with any of my iPhones – or any smartphone, for that matter – is when I’ve needed to make a phone call while having both hands free (and I wasn’t in my car). I very rarely listen to music at the office, as someone is likely to say something to me, and I’m not going to hear them if I’m plugged in. At home, I play audio through desktop speakers set at the appropriate volume level.

Now, that isn’t to say that I will NEVER use a set of headphones at office. However, when I do, I’ve got that covered. iPhone 7 and 7 Plus both come with a Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter (a $9 accessory). If I want to listen to music at work, I’ll put that adapter on the wired end of the Beats Wireless On-Ear Headphones I bought on Amazon.com.

Yes, they can also work wirelessly; but I never use the wireless connection any longer. I’ve had too many problems. The wired connection is much more reliable. So, again, I’ll just put the adapter on the AUX cord that came with the headset and leave it there.

While lots of folks hate change; this one isn’t bothering me much. At the end of the day, we’re going to do the same thing that we did when headphone jacks moved from 1/4 inch to 3.5mm… we’re going to get an adapter, attach it to our favorite headset, and we’re going to get over the fact that the jack we’re used to is gone.

Camera
There are a great deal of camera improvements in the iPhone 7/ 7 Plus. The table below compares the camera in the last two iterations of Apple’s flagship phone.

Feature

iPhone 7

iPhone 6s

Sensor Size 12MP 12MP
Aperture WA: f1.8, T: f2.8 f2.2
Zoom Optical: 2x, Dig: 10x Digital Only: 5x
OIS Both Plus Only
Lens 6 Element 5 Element
Lens Cover Sapphire Crystal Sapphire Crystal

I’m a decent amateur photographer, and quite honestly, the above features are the ones that I’m really interested in and concerned about when it comes to the camera. These are the core camera features that anyone really interested in the camera will really care about. The faster rating (f1.8 vs f2.2) on the iPhone 7’s rear camera means that it should take better pictures in low light situations. The camera should also be better at capturing sports or other fast action shots.

To be honest, these are all still photo feature related. While the ability to take video is also nice, I don’t do it much. Thankfully for me, though, the video camera feature set between the iPhone 7/ 7 Plus and the iPhone 6s/ 6s Plus hasn’t changed. It’s the same as last year’s model.

Since I’m coming from an iPhone 6 to the iPhone 7, I haven’t really had a chance to take or play with Live Photos. To be blunt and honest, I’m not impressed. Live Photos are three to six second movies that your phone takes. The photo appears as a still until you either press and hold or apply Force Touch to your screen.

Live Photos is turned on by default and are taken in Photo (default) mode. I’ve found them to be some of the worst photos AND videos I’ve ever taken. The still shots in them are mediocre at best and the videos are often blurry. When most stills are in the 175kb to 512kb size range and Live Photos are about 2MB in size, they are really nothing more than a waste of space, I’ve found. Unless you’re in a really well lit, naturally lighted area, I’d stay away from them.

Other photos I’ve taken with the iPhone 7 Plus look really good. Take a look at the table below. I’ve got two photos of the same subject taken with both devices and their Info sheets, below. Both photos are of our new puppy, Maggie, a havanese puppy, about 16 weeks old.

img_0102 img_0102-info
img_5820 img_5820-info

There’s nothing special done to either of these photos. I haven’t applied any filters or retouched them in any way. You can see the photo taken with the iPhone 7 Plus has much more detail and is a much clearer, more focused, sharper picture. That’s what a faster lens with a longer focal length and 4 additional mega pixels will get you. The quality and improvement is unquestionable.

When you look at these two sample photos, it’s clear which is the better one – the one taken with the iPhone 7 Plus. It also clearly illustrates why the camera on a smartphone is perhaps the single biggest reason why people upgrade their phones every 12 to 24 months. Their phone is the camera they carry with them everywhere they go.

When you make quality jumps like f1.8 from f2.2 and 6.6mm from 4.5mm, upgrading your smartphone to get a better camera is easy to understand. While I’d quite honestly rather have my DSLR with me to take pictures, this point and shoot camera on the iPhone 7 Plus is really a good substitute in a much more convenient form factor.

NOTE: I’m going to say just this about the pending Portrait mode and the Gaussian blur effect it performs – the blur needs to be more pronounced than some of the sample photos I’ve seen taken by those individuals running the update on an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. Currently, the effect doesn’t feel strong enough to me. You can see some sample pictures published on c|net, here.

I am NOT currently running the iOS 10.1 beta that has this update, though I have access to the software. I wanted to be able to review my iPhone 7 Plus without the possible issues that may come from early betas of this first major update to iOS 10.

Battery Life
The iPhone 7/ 7 Plus and the iPhone 6s/ 6s Plus are effectively the same size. Each corresponding model in each device series has the same dimensions as the other. However, the inner workings are a bit different and are laid out differently. As I understand it, the batteries in the 7/ 7 Plus is slightly bigger than the batteries in the 6s/ 6s Plus.

Battery specs for the iPhone 7 Plus and the iPhone 6s Plus are below. You’ll notice that the battery ratings for the 6s Plus are slightly better than the 7 Plus. While the battery is slightly bigger, the lower battery life ratings can be accounted for in the updated A10 processor, extra 1GB of RAM (the 7 Plus has a total of 3GB of RAM where the 6s Plus has 2GB of RAM) and the higher resolution display.

Feature

iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone 6s Plus

Improvement 1 hour Longer

N/A

Talk Time – 3G Up to 21 hours on 3G Up to 24 hours on 3G
Standby Up to 16 days Up to 16 days
Internet Use Up to 13 hours on 3G
Up to 13 hours on LTE
Up to 15 hours on Wi-Fi
Up to 12 hours on 3G
Up to 12 hours on LTE
Up to 12 hours on WiFi
Wireless Video Playback Up to 14 hours Up to 14 hours
Wireless Audio Playback Up to 60 hours Up to 80 hours

During the day, I take and make a moderate amount of phone calls. I have some moderate app use. I play a couple hours of games; and I’ve always got at least one smartwatch connected to it – either the Olio Model One or the Apple Watch Series 0. With the iPhone 6, I found that my device’s charge would drop to between 15 to 20% power by the end of the day. I’ve found that with the iPhone 7 Plus, I can make it through the day with well over 55% charge left. That’s about 1/3 more battery life. I find that it also charges back up fairly quickly. I’m usually back up to 95-100% by the time I’m back home from work (a 45 to 60 minute ride).

Conclusion
I have some work to do getting used to the increased device size of the iPhone 7 Plus. I know I’ll get there; but right now, knowing that I have to finish adjusting and have to learn to feel comfortable using two hands to run the device instead of just one will take some time.

The jury is still out for me on the Home Button. We’ll have to wait and see what happens. I’d like to “like” how the device functions since I’m technically stuck with this until at least next year.

I’ve moved on from the loss of the headphone jack. You should too. It’s not that big a deal… really. As long as I have the 3.5mm to Lightning adapter on my Beats headphones audio cord, I’m fine. If not, then I have to go across the street from the office to the Apple Store to get a new one.

The camera is really great, but I need to spend some more time taking pictures with it. It’s a huge improvement over the iPhone 6 that I’ve been using and its enhancements warrant some serious work.

Battery life on the 7 Plus is decent. While its somewhat less than the 6s Plus, its enhanced components can explain that away, and honestly, it’s a lot better knowing that I’ve got extra battery power to get me through the day when I really need it.

The iPhone 7 Plus would have been a good upgrade for me regardless of the metrics or reasons and results of my first week of use. The device has a larger screen, bigger battery, a better camera and an extra 1GB of RAM (for a total of 3GB) than my iPhone 6, so this was a slam dunk based on those older device specs. Everything else I got was just gravy…

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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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Apple Releases macOS Sierra

OSX 10.12 hits the streets with a multitude of new features

siri

Apple has released macOS Sierra – OSX 10.12 – making it available for free to those users and Macs able to run the new OS. This release comes after eight betas and a number of revisions to the GM (gold master) release before its official launch on 2016-09-20.

macOS Sierra can be obtained from the Mac App Store. Apple should be making it available to Yosemite and El Capitan users via their Software Update process before too long. Officially, macOS Sierra supports the following Macs

2009 and Later

  • iMac
  • MacBook

2010 and Later

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

macOS Sierra does a lot to align compatible Macs with updates to iOS, watchOS and tvOS. macOS Sierra focusses on introducing features that specifically work with iPhone and Apple Watch to improve the overall user experience.

Some of the bigger updates to Sierra include the following:

  • Siri for Mac
    Siri allows users to use normal voice commands to conduct searches, find files, look up information and more. You can pin vocal searches to the Notification Center for continual monitoring.
  • Continuity
    New Continuity features allow you to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch or with iPhone.
  • Universal Clipboard
    You can share clipboard contents across iDevices.
  • iCloud Improvements
    You can now sync not only the contents of your Documents folder, but your Desktop as well, to iCloud Drive.
  • Photos
    A new Memories feature in Photos will display collections of pictures and bring back old events on their anniversary. Special learning algorithms also improve facial, object and scene recognition making searching for specific photos a LOT easier.
  • Apple Pay

You can now pay for items you buy on the web with Apple pay. Payments are authenticated through a connected iPhone or Apple watch.

I am currently working on a review of macOS Sierra and hope to have it posted before the end of the month – along with a review of both iOS 10 and the iPhone 7. Hang tight, kids. Its about to get very Apple-ie around here.

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