WWDC 2016 Part 1 – macOS Sierra

A lot came out of the WWDC Keynote…

Apple WWDC16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2009 and later

  • MacBook
  • iMac

2010 and later

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

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

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

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

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Uninstall QuickTime for Windows – QUICK!

That is, if you want to remain virus free…

Uninstall QuickTime for Windows

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been a bit absent from Soft32.com, not because I wanted to and not because there wasn’t cool stuff to write about, but because real life intruded.  It’s always an interesting time when real life gets in the way, especially for those of us that have routines.  Thankfully, though, I didn’t have THIS problem to deal with – more malware.

However, if you’re an iDevice user on the Windows side of things, you’ll remember that iTunes historically always wanted you to install QuickTime for Windows. It used to play all video out of iTunes via QuickTime.

That, my friends, has changed.

Apple is no longer using QuickTime for Windows to play video in iTunes and apparently, has also stopped issuing security patches for it as well. Unfortunately, Apple didn’t tell anyone about this.  This was picked up and reported by Trend Micro and their Zero Day Intuitive; and has been making quite the stir ever since.

Trend Micro released the following statement on the issue:

“Apple is deprecating QuickTime for Microsoft Windows. They will no longer be issuing security updates for the product on the Windows Platform and recommend users uninstall it… Our Zero Day Initiative has just released two advisories ZDI-16-241 and ZDI-16-242 detailing two new, critical vulnerabilities affecting QuickTime for Windows. These advisories are being released in accordance with the Zero Day Initiative’s Disclosure Policy for when a vendor does not issue a security patch for a disclosed vulnerability. And because Apple is no longer providing security updates for QuickTime on Windows, these vulnerabilities are never going to be patched. We’re not aware of any active attacks against these vulnerabilities currently. But the only way to protect your Windows systems from potential attacks against these or other vulnerabilities in Apple QuickTime now is to uninstall it.”

While nearly everyone should have seen a number of third party reports to this effect, there’s no information on Quick Time for Windows’ demise coming from Apple.  They just seem to have flushed it, and moved on.

Those Mac users in the audience don’t have anything to worry about. Apple doesn’t seem to be deprecating or ending support of Quick Time for Mac, just the Windows variety.

It is highly recommended to everyone who uses Quick Time for Windows, to remove it from their Windows PC’s immediately.

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Government Cracks the iPhone 5c

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is just full of little surprises…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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iOS 8 – What it Needs to Be

The iPhone 6 will more than likely accompany iOS 8. Here’s my annual list of requirements for the latest version of Apple’s mobile OS and its associated hardware.

ios8

As you all know, I’ve been involved in consumer computing since the dawn of the PC. As far as mobile computing is concerned, I feel I’ve been involved with it since the dawn of time as well. Heck, I owned every Compaq iPAQ from the 3100 to the 5000 series, including the 6300-6400 series Pocket PC phones.  Yes.  It’s true…

Hello, my name is Christopher and I’m a mobile device-aholic.

Truth be told, I’m simply a gadget and button junkie who likes to take it with him.  All the time. Everyday. Out loud.  Most of you also know that the iPhone holds a special place in my mobile kit. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that lately, especially in light of the HTC One (M8) review that I wrote for Soft32.  There’s more that’s out there than just the same sized iPhone with relatively the same hardware specs and capabilities that have been in use since the iPhone 4/4S (with a few minor hardware upgrade bumps).

Now, truth be told – I’m very invested in the Apple’s iDevice ecosystem.  From a hardware perspective, I have an iPad, an iPhone and a MacBook Pro. I’ve purchased apps for all of them. More importantly, I have content that I’ve purchased from the iTunes Store in the form of movies and TV shows, music and apps that work with all of them.  I have some stuff in the Google Play and Amazon content stores, but in truth, they are eclipsed by the amount of content I’ve purchased in iTunes. As such, I’ve realized that I’m likely never leaving the Apple ecosystem. It doesn’t make sense to. I have too much content to move or convert; and then I have no idea how to remove DRM from iTunes-based video… I don’t think I even want to try… I’ve simply spent too much time and money on acquiring and organizing the content to worry about trying to get it into another ecosystem.  In the end, I realize that I’ve gotten tangled in the vines of Apple’s walled garden…

If you find yourself in the same boat, don’t despair.  It doesn’t mean that we must simply settle for anything and everything that Apple gives us. We don’t. As a member of Apple’s desktop AND mobile development programs, I file bugs on issues that I see in both iOS and OS X all the time.  Apple regularly looks at that information and at the topics in their support forums before they start planning any release or update to either operating system. In fact, there are several examples of Apple putting out both mobile and desktop releases to specifically address bugs or issues that have been identified in both types of forums.  Apple also (occasionally) looks to the tech press for suggestions and/or escalation of issues that they may have overlooked.

With the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 anticipated to be introduced in about a month at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, nearly everyone is all abuzz about what the changes or improvements are or should be.  As I’ve had this on my mind lately, I thought I’d chime in and give everyone MY two cents worth…

1. iCloud – More at a Lower Price
A few weeks ago, Google made drastic changes to its Google Drive pricing and storage plans.  Previously, I was paying $20/month for 400GB of space. It was more than I needed.  Google grandfathered that storage and pricing plan and upgraded me. Now, for literally half the price ($10/month), Google is providing 1.0TB of space. The only reason why I haven’t put most of my digital photos into Drive is because my internet provider has a monthly bandwidth watchdog; and even though I have the highest tiered data plan they offer (I have Internet only, as you may remember) Cox still sends hate mail when that cap is exceeded every month, suggesting I purchase a larger plan. I would if I could, but I can’t.

Anyway, iCloud… Apple’s free plan only provides 5GB of space.  If you have a full, 8GB iDevice, you won’t be able to back it up to iCloud without purchasing additional space.  Apple still only provides 50GB max space in iCloud, and for that, they want $100 a year (roughly $8.33/ month).  However, for about that much, Google provides 20 times more space.  The time has come for Apple to provide more space at a comparable price, and WWDC would be a decent time to announce that. While they could do it at any time – because you shouldn’t need an OS update to take advantage of the additional space – if they do make a comparable change, they will likely wait until June to announce it.

2. At the end of the day, though, Apple could jump ahead of the curve.  While Google’s storage and plan offerings are insanely large for insanely little, both Amazon and Microsoft are way more expensive.  Microsoft currently doesn’t offer 1TB of space, though they are planning on providing it to their business customers only at $2.50 per user, per month.  Amazon provides 1TB of space for $500/ year, or about $42/ month.  Dropbox Pro provides 100GB for $10/ month (or 1/10th of what Google provides, at the same price).

3. Better Data Management – iCloud/iDevice File Management
Currently, the only way to get non-media related content (documents and such) into iCloud is to save them in an iCloud enabled app.  You can’t copy content directly into iCloud. There’s no synchronized folder like there is with Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.  Apple needs to get it together and provide this kind of file synchronization.

It would also be nice if Apple gave us some control over the data in the file store on an iOS device. I don’t think we need access to the entire file system, but for those files that you have synchronized to accessible on a device, it would be nice if you could organize them within that folder structure with the device. That’s just me…but I’m pretty certain many users would also appreciate having some level of file management capabilities for iCloud on the device.

4. Change Default Apps
Some people prefer Google Maps to Apple Maps (even though the latter is getting much better with each iOS iteration and release). Some people use 3rd party calendar or contact apps.  Some people use Chrome instead of Safari on their iDevice. It would be nice if Apple gave us a way to change which apps handled which data types so we could use the apps we prefer instead of Apple’s default apps. While Apple’s apps aren’t bad, there are better apps available in the App Store, and it would be nice to be able to use those instead of Apple’s standard apps.

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Apple to Release Larger iPhone, Discontinue iPhone 5c

There are lots of rumors hitting the airwaves about Apple’s new iPhone plans…

iphone-6-concept-render

I watched the Ashton Kutcher “Jobs” movie last night, and while I won’t go into a review of that film here, even with its disappointments, it DID do one thing pretty well – it gave many an insight on what Steve Jobs may have been like at the office…what kind of person he may have been to work with…sorta. The movie, unfortunately, left you wanting a great more than it was willing to deliver.

HOWEVER, if there’s one thing that I do know – did know – even before watching that movie, it’s to understand that regardless of what it did or didn’t show us about Steve Jobs as a person, the iPhone 5c would never have seen the light of day if he was still here.  It’s a shadow of what the iPhone 5s is, and it just wouldn’t have made the cut.

green-iphone5cAccording to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Apple is planning on discontinuing the iPhone 5c this year, due in no small part to its dismal sales and demand for the device.  That, and save its colored, plastic backing and lack of Touch Sensor (and a couple other key, internal components) the device is nearly identical to the iPhone 5s. I say good riddance.  From a technical perspective, the device was about 1/2 of the iPhone 5s. Technically, buying an iPhone 5 would have been a better deal. From a product perspective, in my opinion, the device did nothing but cannibalize sales of the iPhone 5s. The 5c may have had a subsidized price of about $100 bucks, but older iPhones – the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4s – I think would have been a better consumer choice if you were looking for an entry into the iOS ecosystem but didn’t have a large budget. Either way, the device is rumored to be discontinued with the release of the iPhone 6…

The iPhone 6 is currently rumored to be announced as early as June of this year.  The big feature for it is thinner and wider. Current rumors include an iPhone 6 (and for lack of a better name) iPhone 6c with a 5+ inch screen and 4.5 inch screen, respectively.  Both devices are rumored to also contain 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

As far as the implementation or desire of these features in the actual device, I know that Apple is going to be very picky about screen size. They have a firm belief that a smartphone should be easily operated with one hand, so the screen can’t be too wide.  I happen to agree.  While most people use two hands to operate their phones, being able to do that with one hand is an important distinction.  The device likely won’t get too much wider than it currently is.  However, the screen could get a little wider, and it wouldn’t hurt too much. Any more than say, another 1/4 to 1/2 inch wider, though and you’re going to risk a sprained thumb…

As with all Apple rumors, this is pure speculation; and while fun to ponder, these rumors are really nothing more than fodder to make your garden grow. Predicting what Apple will actually release is an art, and one that many, if not most to all, don’t excel in, including investor analysts.  Sometimes, they can be the worst of the prognosticating lot, as they have to deliver for the investors they try to prognosticate for. Dollah-dollah bills, y’all…

As far as what else the device may contain, or what else it may do, I have no idea. Apple released the original innovation for the device between 2001 and 2007 (iPod to iPod Touch to iPhone).  Everything that’s happened to the device since then has been evolutionary instead of revolutionary.  Where they can or will go with the device going forward probably won’t come with such a giant step from device model to device model.

Even after almost 2 years with an iPhone 5, there’s nothing really WRONG with my iDevice. I have no real reason to upgrade it other than AT&T says I can, and I may want <this new, incremental feature> or <that new, incremental feature>.  If you want the big, “I gotta have <this new feature>” experience from an upgrade, then you may want to wait more than 2 years.  Based on what’s going on with the iPhone, it may be that I wait until the iPhone 6s (or whatever THAT’S called) before I think about upgrading.

Now that Q1 2014 is firmly out of the gate, you can expect to see more iDevice rumors as well as iOS 7.x or iOS 8 rumors beginning to churn prior to the annual iDevice event everyone is expecting later this year.  What future versions of iOS will do, along with the implementation of any new hardware components, remains to be seen.  So far, iOS 7 is working pretty well. Aside from the security based, lock screen bugs that have come up with the last 2 major releases of iOS, I don’t hear many people clamoring for the implementation of this, that or the other feature.  I also haven’t heard anything definitive coming out of the iOS development community on what Apple will or should implement in future releases of iOS 7.x, let alone, iOS 8.

Now, depending on what Apple decides to do with the iWatch – if and when it releases that piece of highly anticipated wearable technology – I can see a number of different hardware and software based tweaks that might or will be implemented with both the iPhone as well as the iPad.  If it could do most of what the Pebble Steel will do, most of what the Galaxy Gear does,  as well as incorporating what the Fitbit Force, and Nike Fuel Band SE and others do NATIVELY, that device could work with a new, updated and REVOLUTIONARY iPhone very well; and that’s something that I’d like to see and would likely buy as soon as it was released.

What about you?  Do you want a wide(er) screened iPhone?  Are you glad to see the iPhone 5c be set out to pasture?  Are you interested in the iWatch or any other wearable tech?  Why don’t you join us in the discussion area below and tell us what you think.

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Upgrade Fever – Smartphones and Tablets and Laptops

Oh my..?   Yeah, I’ve noticed you only catch it if you want it…

Ever since the release of the first iPhone in 2007, there seems to be an annual hullaballoo that’s expected to take the world by storm. Every August or September, we’re expected to sit in front of our computers, drooling on our F5 keys as we wait for the guy at the other end of the keynote to update his live blog so we can see the latest version of Widgets on Parade.

Apple does it every year, and it’s become the gateway into the Holiday buying season.   Every major electronics manufacturer from Apple to Samsung has some sort of great product whose-whats-it that’s designed to create upgrade fever with that manufacturer’s fans. They also hope to win over nearly everyone else, too.

There’s one thing that I’ve noticed over the past few years, especially with Apple and the iPad.   It’s important to note too – especially right now – just 8 or so calendar days from Black  Friday  (or the day where most retailers sell enough stuff to take them and their balance sheets into the black for the year) because it may really dictate where you put your dollars:

You don’t have to catch upgrade fever.

I’ll say it again – You don’t have to upgrade your iPhone if you don’t want to. There are a few reasons why.   Most of them are common sense, but they may get lost in all of the excitement surrounding the new hardware release.   Let’s take a quick look, though.

The hardware is less than a year old

I think it’s actually amazing. I really do. Apple is a great example here, because they’ve been able to not only do this successfully, but do it consistently as well, to the point where their stock price will fluctuate if the iDevice announcement is delayed or doesn’t happen when the press expects it to.

But let’s take a quick look at not only the iPad Air, but the iPhone 5S/5C.   The iPad 4 and the iPhone 5 are just now out of factory warranty, if you got one on or near launch/release day 2012. I got my iPhone 5 on 2012-10-22. That means that as of this writing, my iPhone 5 is not quite 13 months old…and there’s not a bloody thing wrong with it.

Let’s leave aside the fact that I treat my gadgets very well and all of them are in pristine condition.   I’m likely the exception, there. However, unless you’re drop kicking your phone or tablet across the room at any and every opportunity, there’s very little chance that you’ve worn out the hardware. While this isn’t 1950 blah-blah-blah, things don’t wear out THAT quickly. Unless your very hard on your device, then it likely hasn’t gotten enough wear on it to justify the purchase of a new device to replace it based on use.

In fact, a whole new industry based on certified used devices or device resale has been created based on Apple’s annual product cycle.   Businesses like Gazelle, Amazon’s Used Device Purchase Service came about because of Apple’s rapid hardware update cycle.   Even Apple and the wireless carriers got into the game.   However, you need to understand that you’re going to take a bit of a hit on is resale value. The “depreciation” after only a year is a lot more with these companies than you might experience if you sold the device privately.

However, simply based on your device’s age and its condition, it’s still very usable. Getting rid of it just because the new version is now available isn’t always the smartest financial decision either.   Which brings me to my next point…

Only the guy on the uninsured motorcycle is actually made of money

Let’s face it – iDevices are expensive. The high-end cellular iPad costs nearly as much as an entry level MacBook Air.   An entry level iPad costs as much as a mid-range notebook or desktop. These things aren’t cheap.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford a new iPad every year. I’m not even certain I would want to buy a new one that often. Given the (potential) high cost of entry, keeping up with an annual, hardware refresh cycle isn’t realistic…unless of course you’re “financially independent.”   At the end of the day, I know I’m not that uninsured guy riding a motor cycle, littering the highway with $20’s.   Whether I wanted to or not, the point is moot. Buying a new iPad every year isn’t in the cards for me; or most people, for that matter.

Your Use Case probably hasn’t changed

When I bought my iPad, I bought it for a few specific reasons – I want to watch movies. I want to watch TV shows and I want to read eBooks.   These are “lean back” activities that I will likely do for quite some time with that device. In short, my needs haven’t changed and likely won’t for quite some time.

As the needs haven’t changed, I haven’t found the need or justification to upgrade my device.

Conclusion

I purchased an iPad 1 in December of 2010, and it’s been working very well since I put it into service. That device is perfect for what I want to do with it, and I likely won’t need to replace it unless and until it breaks or my use case changes.   The iPad 2 is still available for purchase at $399 USD.   It’s got almost twice the processing power as the original iPad, and is also thinner and lighter. If you have a similar use case in mind and want to buy “new,” an iPad 2 is likely your best iDevice of choice. If you’re going to do more with it – perhaps light computing or image editing – then an iPad Air or iPad 4 might be a better choice.

However, just because its older, doesn’t mean that it can’t do exactly what you need it to do.   This is true for nearly any and every electronic device available for purchase in any market today. Figure out what you want to do, and then find the best device to meet that need.   If your needs are like mine, then you may not have to have the newest device out there. In many cases, the original one you purchased can still meet the needs.

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