Upgrading an HTC One (M8) to Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Why Verizon makes life so difficult is beyond me…

android marshmallow

About 12 years ago, I wrote a couple of reviews for pocketnow  related to very early PocketPC phones – the Samsung i700 and the hands free kit that went with it.  The i700 itself was about $500 – $600 depending on the length of the contract that your got with the phone. The hands free kit (read: car it), which in today’s much more advanced Bluetooth enabled world would be handled by your car radio and some kind of universal mounting kit, made it safe and easy to make and place calls on the go. It was $200. (I paid a combined total of $700, which translates to $987 in today’s dollars when you factor in inflation.)

The point in heading down memory lane is that back in the day, when anyone at Verizon Wireless saw a PocketPC phone coming, the store associates ran the other way. None of them understood it, and knew that their company made working with the devices very difficult.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed much…

If you remember, I spent a great deal of time with the HTC One (M8) about two years ago.  Thankfully, I was able to keep the M8 on an “extended loan;” and I’ve been covering Android using this device ever since.  If you’re interested, you can see the unboxing video I did of the device, here.

The M8 came with Kit Kat (Android 4.4.2). It got an upgrade to Lollipop (Android 5.0 and Android 5.0.1) in 2015.  The upgrade for Marshmallow (Android 6.0) for the M8 was announced in late 2015. It was actually expected in December 2015, but was (obviously) delayed.  The device finally got its upgrade on 2016-03-07; and in order for me to get it on this device, I had to jump through some pretty big and complicated hoops.

In the process, I learned some very interesting things about Verizon.  I’ll get to all of them as I run through this; but suffice it to say… I’m very glad they are no longer my carrier of choice.  If I had to do crap like this for every smartphone OS update, I’d probably dump them all over again.

Anyway, here’s what I learned:

  1. There’s no direct download for the upgrade
    The upgrade for Marshmallow for this phone is OTA (over the air) only. You used to be able to download device updates to a PC and then flip a couple of settings on the phone, connect it to your PC via USB cable and then push the device to the phone.  Not so much anymore…
  2. You MUST have an Active SIM
    The HTC One (M8), unlike many traditional Verizon Wireless devices, actually has a SIM card.  However, that SIM card is tied to one number and one number ONLY (it can’t be recycled like AT&T or T-Mobile SIM’s can after 3-6 months of inactivity), and its tied to ONE specific device. Period.Over and above that, I found that if you want any kind of device update from VzW, you have to have an active SIM card, which means that you have to have an active account, with that device on that account; or have to have had an active account, and a SIM card that is still able to communicate with VzW Towers as a “valid” SIM card.If your SIM card/ device has been out of service for more than 3 months, you’re kinda hosed. An active Wi-Fi connection and internet access is not enough to pull down the upgrade to the device.

Given these restrictions, the only way I was able to upgrade my M8 to Android 6.0 Marshmallow is to try to activate the device.

Long story short, I opened and closed a VzW account for that phone over a 24 hour period.  After getting the SIM recognized by the local Verizon towers, the upgrade and its associated pre-requisites were quickly installed on my M8.

Please note that I had three updates waiting for me after my device was back on the VzW network. One of them was an Android 5.01 related update.  It should have been installed months ago and didn’t due to my SIM card going inactive.

I’ll have a write up on Android 6.0 Marshmallow next month. At this point, I’m still playing with the device, trying to figure out the ins and outs of the update (and I’m also still arguing with Verizon about getting the $84 bill vacated for less than 24 hours of active service without ANY data, TXT or voice call usage).

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Windows 10 Mobile Released

Windows10-Mobile-wallpaper-img5

 

 

There’s at least some good news for those that have Windows Phones…

The last couple of days has been kinda brutal on Windows Phone. With Nokia essentially killing all of its Windows Phone apps, including HERE Maps, it’s been a rough week.

That is, until now… well… maybe.

If you have one of the following Windows Mobile devices, you need to stop everything and take a trip over to this link on your Windows Phone. When you do, Internet Explorer Mobile will open to a page for Upgrade Advisor. Tapping Get App will take you to the same page in the Windows Phone Store where you can download the app to your phone.

Upgrade Advisor is an app that will check to see if there’s a Windows 10 Mobile upgrade available for your device. Currently eligible devices include the following:

 

 

Lumia Devices:

  • 1520
  • 930
  • 640
  • 640XL
  • 730
  • 735
  • 830
  • 532
  • 535
  • 540
  • 635 1GB
  • 636 1GB
  • 638 1GB
  • 430
  • 435

BLU Devices

  • Win HD w510u
  • Win HD LTE
  • x150q

MCJ Devices

  • Madosma Q501

You should know that only supported devices will get a free upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile. Due to performance issues, not every existing Windows Phone 8 device will get the upgrade. According to Microsoft, “many older devices are not able to successfully upgrade without an impact on the customer experience.”

If you upgrade your device, and you don’t like the results, the experience; or if you feel the performance is bad, you can download the Windows Device Recovery Tool (Direct Download Link) and put Windows Phone 8 back on the device. The Windows Device Recovery Tool has been updated to support all of the noted devices, if they weren’t supported already.

WDRT 3.1.6

According to some support forums that I’ve seen, the following functionality is either missing or deprecated on upgraded devices:

  • Me Tile no longer supported
  • Me Card no longer supported.
  • Cortana can no longer search for
    • apps
    • settings
    • email
    • text messages
    • contacts
    • QR Codes
    • can no longer open apps through voice commands.
  • “Hey Cortana” is no longer available on some upgraded devices.
  • Group tiles can no longer be used to receive social networking status updates.
  • Indoor Maps are no longer available for some locations.
  • Certain enterprise features, including Data Protection Under Lock, are not available. Please contact your Microsoft Volume Licensing representative for more information.
  • At time of Windows 10 Mobile’s release Outlook Mail app cannot open .EML attachments.
  • Outlook Calendar app does not support Tasks.
  • The MDM functionality to prevent saving and sharing Office documents is not supported.

I am currently in the process of upgrading my BLU Win HD LTE device and will have an article posted on the actual upgrade, upgrade experience and anything of note that I find while playing with it afterwards.

Stay tuned for more coverage!

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Do I have the AceDeceiver Malware?

Most – if not all – iPhone users, can relax…

AceDeceiver-Malware

There’s but a great deal of hub-bub over the latest revelation that non-jailbroken iPhones can be breached with a man in the middle attack (MitM) that comes to iDevices via flaws in Apples DRM system, FairPlay.

Apple’s FairPlay DRM (digital rights management) system insures that only authorized users can get access to purchased content (apps, music, movies, etc.) through a given AppleID. However, this MitM attack allows hackers to install malware on iOS devices without a user’s knowledge or consent, bypassing Apple security measures.

According to PaloAlto Networks,“In the FairPlay MITM attack, attackers purchase an app from App Store then intercept and save the authorization code. They then developed PC software that simulates the iTunes client behaviors, and tricks iOS devices to believe the app was purchased by the victim.”

While this has previously been used just to pirate iDevice apps in the past, this is the first time this particular attack has been used to install and spread malware.  Victims first download a Windows program called Aisi Helper which is supposed to provide jailbreaking, system back up and device management and cleaning services.  Once installed, it installs malicious apps to any and all iDevices that are ever connected to the PC.

From that point forward, the malicious app redirects App Store requests to a malicious store, where your AppleID and password WILL be phished.  So, what does this mean for YOU, the iPhone user right now?

Honestly, not much; and there are two really big reasons why:

  1. Currently, this effects users in China
    … and that’s about it right now. So unless, you’re an iPhone user, in China, at least for the moment, you’re safe.
  2. This is currently a Windows only Attack
    So, if you’re a Mac, you’ve got nothing to worry about. It all starts on the desktop, as I noted above.  If you’re using a Windows PC, then be vigilant; but again, unless you’re a Windows user that actually uses a Chinese localized version of Windows (and actually resides IN China), then you don’t’ have anything to worry about.
  3. If you’re OTA Only
    …Then don’t sweat it at all. If you NEVER connect your iPhone to a Windows machine, like…EVER… then you’re perfectly safe.  Apple’s on device security measures have already covered for this, and you have nothing to worry about.

So, what can you do to protect yourself, if you’ve been to China recently, use a Windows PC, and think maybe you might-could, possibly be infected??  That’s really easy.

  1. Don’t Jailbreak your iPhone
    I know, I know, I know… I said earlier that this attack hit NON-jailbroken iDevices. The whole thing starts, though on the desktop through the program Aisi Helper. While you may not be interested in its jailbreaking services, it can be used to backup, and clean cruft from your iDevice.Here’s a piece of advice – the only thing you need to use to back up your iDevice is iTunes. Period. If you don’t connect to iTunes on your computer through a USB cable and are OTA only, then use iCloud to back up your device. If you think you need to reset your, iDevice, then use only Apple provided tools (iTunes or the Reset functionality in your iDevice’s Settings).  Using third party tools for any of this is just an invitation to trouble
  2. Uninstall the Desktop Software
    If you have Aisi Helper on your PC, uninstall it. Period.  Don’t ever install any third party tool to backup, clean, or manage content on your iDevice, unless you REALLY trust the developer. And then, it’s really, REALLY risky.
  3. Run a Virus Scan
    After its gone, run a full virus scan with the tool of your choice, and then  make sure you quarantine and then remove any threats that are found.

This development is interesting, and monitoring for it on your iDevice and outside of China (where it’s the only place this is currently a threat) isn’t a bad idea.  However, at this point, for everyone else, this isn’t too big of a deal.  The biggest thing you have to keep in mind though, is that jailbreaking your iDevice is risky, no matter how much you might hate Apple’s walled garden.

While you may not be able to do everything you might want to do with your iDevice in terms of customization and side loading applications, with the threat of malware that steals your personal information that can lead to identity theft, the cool factor and the value in breaking free largely lose their appeal.

What do you think? Is jailbreaking still a thing?  Does it really offer you the options you’re looking for?  Is it too risky?  Do you have a jailbroken iDevice?  Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below, and let me know?

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Nokia Kills HERE Maps for Windows Phone

Now, you truly can’t get there from HERE…

here_maps

In a move that likely has many wondering how long Satya Nadella will allow Windows 10 Mobile to continue to exist, it seems that one of the main staples of the platform, HERE Maps will no longer be developed for Windows 10 Mobile or for Windows Phone, for that matter.

When Microsoft failed to purchase Nokia’s HERE software assets along with Nokia’s hardware business, Nokia decided to sell the asset(s) to an automotive consortium. When that happened, the software disappeared from the Windows Store. The app returned a while after, but apparently, the software is set to make a permanent exist from the platform entire.

Recently, HERE announced that it will be removing ALL of its apps from the Windows Store, including HERE Maps before the end of March 2016.

“In the last few months, we made the HERE apps compatible with Windows 10 by using a workaround that will no longer be effective after June 30, 2016. To continue offering the HERE apps for Windows 10 would require us to redevelop the apps from the ground up, a scenario that led to the business decision to remove our apps from the Windows 10 store.

This means the HERE apps will no longer work on devices running Windows 10 mobile after June 30, 2016. To prepare for this change, we have also decided to remove the HERE apps from the Windows 10 store on March 29, 2016.”

While HERE Maps will continue to work on Windows Phone 8 devices without any kind of disruption, post 2016-03-29, HERE has said that it won’t update the software OR the Maps on that platform at all, except for “critical bug fixes.”

According to HERE, the software is deeply integrated into the Windows Phone OS; and during the development of Windows 10 Mobile, platform changes were made. They felt that the required effort to make the software work on Windows 10 Mobile wasn’t worth the development and testing costs.

While I have a Windows Phone 8 device – a BLU Win HD LTE – that is supposed to be upgradable to Windows 10, this is a bit problematic. One of the biggest draws for Windows Phone/ Windows 10 Mobile is HERE Drive (part of HERE Maps). Without this flagship application, reasons for using devices on the Windows 10 Mobile or Windows Phone 8 platform have substantially decreased. Honestly, with the lack of apps out there for Windows Mobile/ Windows Phone, now that Maps is gone, there really isn’t much use for the platform at all.

Period.

What do you think of this development? Is this the [final] nail in the Windows Phone coffin? Does the platform have any kind of future at all? Why don’t you sound off in the comments section below and let me know what you think?

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The DoJ to Apple Computer – Byte Me…

Apparently, the FBI didn’t appreciate being told to go pound bits…

The battle between the FBI and Apple regarding a certain iPhone 5c got a bit nasty last week. Frankly, I’m not surprised. I really didn’t expect the FBI to go gentle into that goodnight just because Apple said, “no.”

fbivsapple

In fact, it got a lot nastier.

Last week, according to ComputerWorld, the government filed a brief where it hinted that it may demand the Apple hand over the source code to iOS 9 and the key used to sign the OS, so they can do what Apple is refusing to do on their own.

After the government filed its brief, Apple’s Bruce Sewell said the following

We received the brief [last week] and honestly we’re still absorbing it but we wanted to get a couple of points out for you guys as you’re working your way through it.

First, the tone of the brief reads like an indictment. We’ve all heard Director Comey and Attorney General Lynch thank Apple for its consistent help in working with law enforcement. Director Comey’s own statement that “there are no demons here.” Well, you certainly wouldn’t conclude it from this brief. In 30 years of practice I don’t think I’ve seen a legal brief that was more intended to smear the other side with false accusations and innuendo, and less intended to focus on the real merits of the case.

For the first time we see an allegation that Apple has deliberately made changes to block law enforcement requests for access. This should be deeply offensive to everyone that reads it. An unsupported, unsubstantiated effort to vilify Apple rather than confront the issues in the case.

Or the ridiculous section on China where an AUSA, an officer of the court, uses unidentified Internet sources to raise the specter that Apple has a different and sinister relationship with China. Of course that is not true, and the speculation is based on no substance at all.

To do this in a brief before a magistrate judge just shows the desperation that the Department of Justice now feels. We would never respond in kind, but imagine Apple asking a court if the FBI could be trusted “because there is this real question about whether J. Edgar Hoover ordered the assassination of Kennedy — see ConspiracyTheory.com as our supporting evidence.”

We add security features to protect our customers from hackers and criminals. And the FBI should be supporting us in this because it keeps everyone safe. To suggest otherwise is demeaning. It cheapens the debate and it tries to mask the real and serious issues. I can only conclude that the DoJ is so desperate at this point that it has thrown all decorum to the winds….

We know there are great people in the DoJ and the FBI. We work shoulder to shoulder with them all the time. That’s why this cheap shot brief surprises us so much. We help when we’re asked to. We’re honest about what we can and cannot do. Let’s at least treat one another with respect and get this case before the American people in a responsible way. We are going before court to exercise our legal rights. Everyone should beware because it seems like disagreeing with the Department of Justice means you must be evil and anti-American. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Sewell is right to be a little shocked and confused on this. The government is starting to get a bit perturbed by all of this; and it’s starting to show on their end. I especially appreciate Sewell’s puzzled notion about disagreeing with the government. Just because they disagree doesn’t mean that Apple is evil and anti-American. At the very least, it just means they disagree.

It’s really the government in this case who is hurling threats and getting nasty. Which is a bit surprising… Honestly, if the government could do everything that they said they would do after receiving the iOS source code and OS signing key (should Apple actually agree to part with it) then why are they “requesting” Apple’s assistance? Requesting the OS and signing key means they can handle it by themselves. Demanding Apple assist them means they can’t; and this really seems like an empty threat.

In a related post on Twitter, my very good friend, Chris Pirillo tweeted a URL to perhaps one of the best summarization of the entire Apple v FBI case I’ve ever seen. While done as satire, its surprisingly accurate and very factual. If you’re still curious about all the facts in the case, this is a good video to watch and is entirely worth the time spent watching it from start to finish.

To further end on an additional jovial note, I saw this last week and nearly spit the contents of my mouth all over my monitors, I was laughing so hard.

While I am certain Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is serious about seeking a warrant for Time Cook’s arrest IF and WHEN they request Apple to unlock and phone and Apple refuses, he’s going to have a very difficult time enforcing a warrant from Polk County Florida in Cupertino, California, especially when its likely no “crime” has been committed.

Saying, “no” to a court order is part of the process. You can appeal the order. Sheriff Judd saying he’d arrest Tim Cook for non-compliance is just this guy trying to capture his 15 minutes of fame…and quite honestly, it clearly demonstrates his lack of understanding in the case at hand.

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Apple Plans to make us Loopy

Apple Plans to make us “Loopy” with Press Event Scheduled for 2016-03-21

…and by “loopy” I mean, “keeping us in the loop…” Yeah. Let’s go with that…

Loop you in

You know, sometimes it makes me laugh.

The entire world extends a great deal of effort trying to guess exactly what Apple has up its sleeves. Very few people actually get it right, if at all; yet at least twice a year, everyone seems to want to do their Punxsutawney Phil impression and tries to guess what Apple is going to announce at their press events.

The ballet that ensues is often interesting, but is just as often incorrect.

This year is no different than any other. People have been spreading rumors around the next Apple press event, finally announced on 2016-03-10 with the title, “Let us loop you in.” The event is scheduled for 10am Pacific Time on 2016-03-21.

I’ve looked high and low, and I’ve found that the following is generally accepted to be the best guesses as to what Apple will ultimately introduce to the world at that time. I’ve divided this up into a couple of lists, as some new information has been circulated as of midday 2016-03-10 that may make this event rather interesting.

What’s Consistent

  1. iPhone SE
    Having the 4″ and similar build and form factor of the iPhone 5/5s, the iPhone SE is expected to be a replacement of the (now entry level ) iPhone 5s. The device is said to have a metal case, a curved edge design similar to the iPhone 6s, with the A9 processor, and NFC support for Apple Pay (which would also imply touch ID, but I haven’t found conformation of that just yet). Either way, 3D Touch is not said to be included.
  2. 9.7″ iPad Pro
    Initially, people thought this might be the iPad Air 3. Recent rumors indicate that this will instead be a smaller version of the Pro line, with all of its features and everything that makes an iPad Pro an iPad Pro (magnetic Smart Connector, A9X processor, quad-speakers and support for Apple Pencil)

What’s Possible

  1. MacBook/ MacBook Pro Updates
    Intel released its Skylake processor a while ago, and Apple has yet to update any of its notebooks with support for the new processor architecture yet. I’ve seen a few sites indicate that this update is likely possible as a side comment with perhaps 1-2 very quick slides on the subject at most. Unless they make drastic changes to the product lines, in which case, all bets are off.
  2. New Bands for Apple Watch
    Expect existing bands to be offered in new colors. There may also be new product(s) in this line announced (so, like, entirely new bands). Two of the most anticipated new bands include a nylon band and a Space Black Milanese Loop (a non-Apple brand has been available on Amazon for a while now).

Apple will be live streaming the event via its website and AppleTV. It’s also possible for you to get (near live) updates via Twitter or other websites around the internet.

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Verizon and T-Mobile Rolling out Marshmallow to HTC One M8 Users

I’ve been looking for it since December…

verizon and t-mobile

Back in December of last year (2015), HTC released Android 6.0 Marshmallow for its One M9 and M8 products. I began looking for it to hit my Verizon powered One M8 in January (as originally promised) but up to now, it hasn’t hit. I began to think that may have something to do with the fact that the VzW SIM I have in my One M8 is expired.

Thankfully, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

On Thursday,2016-03-03, Mo Versi, HTC’s VP of Product Management, announced that Marshmallow would be coming to M8 owners on the Verizon and T-Mobile networks on 2016-03-07.

HTC’s 2014 flagship the HTC One (M8) will begin its OTA rollout Monday 07, March 2016. Most OTA upgrades are staggered and delivered in waves, so while this update is limited to both the largest and third largest mobile carrier in the US, don’t be surprised if it takes a week or two for your device to actually receive the update notification and bits.

For those that get this or any other major OS update – REGARDLESS of platform – the best thing you can do for yourself is to blow the device and reinstall the new OS from scratch.

Most device upgrades – despite the extensive testing done by both the OEM and the mobile carrier – don’t always go well. Nine times out of ten, it leaves legacy information and configuration files on the device that negatively impact or effect how well the device functions, post upgrade. The only way to insure that you have everything working right – AFTER – the initial upgrade finishes, is to insure that everything is backed up and then perform a factory (or hard) reset on the device, and then do NOT restore that backup, but instead set the device up as a new device (or as if you had just gotten it from your carrier as brand new).

While some may see this as a defeat of the purpose of the backup you took just before the upgrade – and in some ways it is – what you’re really doing is making certain that your devices runs the new OS without any misconfigurations.

In short, don’t fear the hard reset.

Back in the days of Windows Mobile in the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s I found myself doing that all the time. Really more often than I wanted to because, well, Windows Mobile was a total piece of crap. The thing never worked right, and often would function differently each and every time you either upgraded or rebuilt your device from the ground up. While things aren’t that drastic now a days – mobile device OS’ are much more sophisticated and better engineered in the 15-20 years since I started all of this stuff – being able to rebuild everything without worrying about or getting too attached to anything, is the best way to go.

Most devices have some level of configuration backup – what apps you installed, a cloud driven file system for all your data – email contacts and calendar all synchronized, etc. – so getting back to where you were BEFORE the hard reset is much easier than it used to be.

After I get the update, and have performed my hard reset, I will post a brief article on how the Marshmallow implementation looks and functions on my Verizon powered HTC One M8.

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Apple Releases Sixth Beta’s of its Operating System Suite

That suite includes iOS 9.3, watchOS 2.2 and OS X 10.11.4...

appleBeing in the beta business isn’t always the most glamorous of jobs. On the contrary – it’s often very difficult. In fact, beta testers tend to see not only the good and bad, but the downright ugly.

It’s one of the reasons why, after approximately 20 years of beta testing for both Microsoft (mostly) and Apple (most recently), I’m NOT jumping on that train on any of my production-level equipment. It’s just not worth it any more.

It used to be that when an operating system hit the BETA stage, it was pretty much operational. You could count on that version of (whatever it is) holding its own. While there would obviously be problems, those problems nearly always came with some level of (reasonable) work around that wouldn’t take your PC/ mobile device out of the picture.

That’s not the case now a days. More often than not, you could be taking your PC’s life into your hands if you aren’t careful.

So with this light of caution CLEARLY flashing in our faces, you may be interested to know that Apple has released the sixth beta of iOS 9.3, and OS X 10.11.4, both of which are available to both developers and public beta testers. Apple released watchOS 2.2 Beta 6 to its registered developers only.

This latest round of releases comes just six (6) days after Beta 5 of all three OS’. Prior to that, beta four (4) was released eight (8) days earlier. Everything prior to beta 4 was released on a strict biweekly schedule.

At this point, there are no new features; and while I haven’t had a chance to look at the seed notes for these beta 6 releases, I’d be very surprised if there were any remaining known, open issues. We should be very close to final release.

iOS 9.3 will add such as a Night Shift mode, secure Notes, and extra 3D Touch shortcuts to the mobile operating system, among other things. As of Beta 5, OS navigation via Apple Pencil has been restored to iPad Pro.

OS X 10.11.4 will include the ability to individual encrypt items in Notes and support for Live Photos (from iPhone 6s) in Messages among other things

watchOS 2.2 (when paired with an iPhone running iOS 9.3) will allow users to pair more than one Apple Watch to a single iPhone and also introduces a new look for Maps in Glances.

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