Should I Upgrade or Not..? – Part 1

Based on the information at hand, here’s my take on Apple’s announcements from 2017-09-12…

iphone x

Apple announced three new iPhones (six, if you count the different sizes), two new Apple Watches (one with cellular and one without) and two new Apple TV’s the other day (again, if you count the different storage sizes). There’s a TON of debate going on regarding the new devices; and like EVERY OTHER YEAR that Apple announces new iDevices, the same argument starts: is the upgrade worth the cost?

Like EVERY OTHER YEAR, the answer is likely going to be the same – it depends on where you’re upgrading from.

iPhones – the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X
The iPhone 8 offers the following in terms of new tech

• An updated processor – A11 Bionic
It’s got 6 cores – two performance and for efficiency cores making it 25% faster than the iPhone 7
• An updated GPU
It’s got three cores and is 30% faster than the A10 Fusion in the iPhone 7
• An updated Retina HD display
It’s got a True Tone display, making colors more realistic, as it automatically adjusts and readjusts the white balance to match the direct and ambient light around you. Dual domain pixels make it viewable from nearly any angle
• An improved camera
It’s got a 12MP camera (still) with a larger, faster CMOS sensor, a new color filter and optical image stabilization for both photos AND video.
• Wireless (Inductive) Charging
The iPhone now supports Qi charging technology in the iPhone 8/ 8 Plus, iPhone X, and AirPods. The Apple Watch has always supported wireless charging.
• New Storage Capacity
The iPhone 8 and iPhone X now have 256GB sizes.

So in summary,
• It’s faster,
• Has a better screen
• Has a better camera , and
• Has wireless charging

However, this can be said of EVERY new iPhone out there? I mean, isn’t that what you get with EVERY new generation iPhone? Its better, faster stronger..? This year’s camera is better than last year’s camera? I mean, the only thing new here is the implementation of Qi charging… and as every AOSP and Google Pixel fan has pointed out to me, this is something that has existed with Android phones for at LEAST two years… so where’s the new, innovative stuff?

The answer is that you won’t find it on the iPhone 8/ 8 Plus. It’s the “tock” to the iPhone 7/ 7 Plus’ “tick.” You have to remember that Apple isn’t revolutionary in its technology implementations… they’re evolutionary. Their take on this is that they may not be the first to do it, but they are (likely) the ones to do it right.

In most cases, I agree with this; but don’t get me started with Apple and its services offering… iCloud and all that it offers (iCloud Drive, iCloud Backup and synchronization (photos, music, messages, files, etc.) are still screwed up and… that’s a rant for another day. I think that the “improvements” that you’ll see with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are really good, decent improvements. However, I don’t know that these are enough to justify an $700+ upgrade from the iPhone 7 (or even 6s, for that matter) to the iPhone 8.

The iPhone X offers the following in terms of new tech

• Edge to edge Super Retina display
The Home Button is gone. There are a ton of new gestures needed and required because the Home Button has been removed. 3D Touch has been reworked to work the new, OLED screen. The Super Retina displays offers truer, more vivid colors, ginormous resolution, and a 1,000,000 to 1 contrast ratio. This is the best screen on a smartphone, ever.

• TrueDepth Camera & Face ID
The selfie camera has been totally reworked because the Home Button and its Touch ID sensor is gone. The TrueDepth Camera enables a new, neural engine powered camera so that it can map your face to support Face ID and facial identification (for device unlocking as well as Apple Pay authentication).

The TrueDepth Camera drives Face ID and stores the information in the Secure Enclave. Face ID and its setup process maps an analyzes more than 30,000 mapping dots to create a precise depth map of your face. The mapping is supposed to be so accurate, that you can grow a beard, change your hair style (or completely shave it off), wear glasses etc. and you are still you to the TrueDepth Camera. Pictures and realistic masks can’t fool it, thanks to the neural engine and machine learning capabilities of both the camera and the new A11 Bionic processor.

• Improved (digital photo) Camera
It’s got a 12MP camera (still) with a larger, faster CMOS sensor, a new color filter and optical image stabilization for both photos AND video.
• An updated processor – A11 Bionic
It’s got 6 cores – two performance and for efficiency cores making it 25% faster than the iPhone 7
• An updated GPU
It’s got three cores and is 30% faster than the A10 Fusion in the iPhone 7

• Wireless (Inductive) Charging
The iPhone now supports Qi charging technology in the iPhone 8/ 8 Plus, iPhone X, and AirPods. The Apple Watch has always supported wireless charging.
• New Storage Capacity
The iPhone 8 and iPhone X now have 256GB sizes.

So in summary,
• It’s got a new display size and new display type
• The Home Button has been removed to provide more screen real estate
• The front and rear cameras have been totally revamped to support OIS in every mode (still and video) and for machine learning driven, facial recognition (because Touch ID has been removed)
• It’s faster and smarter to support facial recognition and augmented reality, and
• Supports wireless charging

There’s a bit more here, and to be fair, while none of this is NEW – it was pointed out to me by that same Android fan-boy that both Google Pixel and Samsung devices have had OLED displays, facial recognition, bezeless displays and wireless charging – it’s the combination and (more the) implementation of these technologies on this platform that make them (so) new. It’s the type of cameras, it’s the method of facial recognition etc., that makes the iPhone X the coveted hit that it likely will become in the Apple Ecosystem.

However, there are a few issues here that I need to cover…

Device Storage Sizes
The iPhone 7 comes in 32GB and 128GB sizes. Both the iPhone 8/ 8 Plus and the iPhone X come in 64GB and 256GB sizes. To be honest, I think the same thing about the 64GB size as I thought of the 32GB size… it’s completely USELESS.

Last year Apple eliminated the 64GB size from their smartphone offering because (they said) that it didn’t offer enough storage space. Why then would they bring it back for the iPhone 8/ 8 Plus and the iPhone X?

I’ve got a 128GB iPhone 7 Plus. If I want to upgrade to the iPhone 8/ 8 Plus, I’ve either got to totally remove my entire music collection (I don’t have video on my iPhone) and revert to streaming everything; OR pay $150 USD more for twice the space I have.

I’ve got 85.50GB of stuff on my iPhone. 55GB of that is music. 8GB of that is photos and home videos taken with my iPhone cameras. The rest is used by apps and their data. I’ve got 38.50GB of free space.

Apple is forcing me to make a cost based decision that I really don’t want to make. I hate entry level devices, as they nearly ALWAYS leave you wishing you had bought more. However, without a mid-level storage offering of 128GB, its either pay more or shut up (meaning upgrade and get over it, or don’t upgrade and stop crying).

Cost
At the end of the day, for nearly everyone, these decisions are going to be cost motivated. The 256GB iPhone 8/ 8 Plus are $699/$799 and $799/$949 for the 64GB/ 256GB variants, respectively. These aren’t cheap, but they aren’t really out of line with other smartphone offerings at their tier level today. I’ll get to other issues here, in just a sec…

The iPhone X also offers 64GB and 256GB variants. Those are $999 and $1149. These aren’t cheap either, but only the price of the 64GB device has been seen from both Google and Samsung recently. $1150 for a phone – regardless of how “smart” that phone may be… is just a little nuts…

And that brings me to my overall point here… we’re really starting to push up against the envelope of reasonability when it comes to device cost.

Due to the increased device cost, you’re either going to need to buy a data plan with enough bandwidth to address the decreased storage you may have to accept in order to buy into the device; OR you’re going to have to bite the bullet and pay for the more expensive device. Either way you cut it, your carrier is going to get a bigger cut of your paycheck; and for many this may be a huge problem… especially when you’re upgrading more than one device at a time.

I’ve got four devices on my AT&T wireless account. Three of them are on the same upgrade cycle. That represents an additional cost of approximately $40 to $60 additional dollars a month (after any residual device costs of $50 to $100 per device are satisfied at upgrade time), if we upgrade on schedule based on these current device costs… and that’s really crazy.

By the way, those costs are NOT Apple specific. They are based on an upgrade of any “current” device, currently on any kind of installment program to any “new” device available, be they Android, iOS Samsung, LG or Apple, etc.

Availability
The iPhone 8 is available for purchase on 2017-09-15 (or two days from this writing) with delivery on 2017-09-22. The iPhone X is available for purchase on 2017-10-27 with delivery anticipated on or around 2017-11-03 (that may be subject to change, and will likely ONLY be available for a very small amount of iPhone X’s purchased/ ordered on October 27).

In other words, there are likely enough iPhone 8/ 8 Plus’ to go around; but landing an iPhone X of any size will likely offer legitimate bragging rights. Not that you bought the phone – regardless of how “eXclusive” it may truly be – but because the yield rates are reportedly very low, at only 10,000 per day, worldwide. That means that only 450,000 ADDITIONAL units will be manufactured – again world wide – between now and 2017-10-27. Getting one of these any time this year, will be a huge crap shoot. It’s likely that the bulk of orders for the iPhone X will be delivered some time during the early months of 2018.

To Answer the Question
So, to answer the question, “should I upgrade or not?” is going to really require you to think about it. The upgrade from the iPhone 7/ 7 Plus to the iPhone 8 may not be very compelling unless you really want the better camera and wireless charging, to put it very bluntly. The iPhone 8/ 8 Plus going to be very similar to the iPhone 7/ 7 Plus (remember… this is the “tock” update…).

The upgrade to the iPhone X may be the more compelling upgrade, but the cost and the available storage sizes really make the upgrade difficult. Not many are going to want to pay $1150 for a smartphone; and $1000 for a smaller, 64GB device implies that you may have to up the ante on your data plan in order to make it work… so you’re going to pay more for the iPhone X no matter how you slice it.

For me… the jury is still out. I’ve got to a day or two to think about it, but as of this writing… I’m still on the fence. I will likely get one to review, but it may be some time in October before I order it, IF I don’t jump on the band wagon on 2017-09-15. I’ll keep everyone posted.

Come back next time. I’ll have information on the new updated Apple Watch and Apple TV, as announced at the Apple Event on 2017-09-12!

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Substantiated Rumors for iPhone Tuesday

The following iPhone rumors were confirmed by a leaked, final version of iOS 11…

I’m not one for Apple based rumors. Especially since many of them wind up being nothing but hot air. The only ones that end up having any substance to them are ones like those I’m going to relate to you, below. They come from a credible, internal source – Apple itself. And while its possible for Apple to change their minds and change the names and such before Tuesday 9/12… at this point it’s likely too late.

A leaked version of the “Gold Master” of iOS 11 appears to confirm some key features coming to the next version iPhone. The blockbuster leak, first covered by 9to5Mac, confirms the following will be a part of the next version iPhone:

• Facial unlocking called Face ID
• Confirmation of new iPhone model names – iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X
• Wireless charging
• Virtual Home button
• Larger iPhone X screen

Here are the brief details on each;

• Face ID will unlock the device and should be available on the iPhone X for certain. It’s possible this may also be available on the iPhone 8/8 Plus.

• Animojis – 3D, animated emoji’s that use your voice and reflect your facial expressions. This is going to require Face ID to work.

• iOS 11 will have new wallpapers for iPhone 8.

• The iPhone X will have a larger display with a notch at the top which will apparently house the ear speaker and FaceTime camera.

• Apple will release a new Apple Watch that will feature cellular connectivity. An iPhone won’t be required for an internet connection. The watch and the iPhone its connected to will share the same phone number.

• Apple will offer a new version of Airpods that will include a redesigned charging case. The new case will likely be the only thing that changes; and will include a light on the outside of the case indicating the charging status of the wireless headset.

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Waxing iNostalgic – iPhone’s 10th Anniversary

I’ve got very specific memories of using Apple’s early iPhones…

I’ve been an iPhone user for quite a long time. In fact, I covered iPhone 3G Day for Gear Diary’s Judie Lipset Stanford back in the day when I helped her get Gear Diary off the ground as writer number 3 for the site (Judie was writer number 1, Mitchel Oke was writer number 2…). Back then, Gear Diary was really a mobile first site, covering any and all mobile technologies. I wrote a lot for her between 2006 and 2008.

In July of 2008, I stood in line at a local AT&T store and picked up an 8GB iPhone 3G. It was the big boy back in its day, and it was the BOMB… or so I thought. I ended up selling the device just three months later. It wasn’t a hard decision to make, as I recall. At the time, I had had just about enough.

At that time, AT&T had a HUGE wireless coverage problem. At the time, no one seemed to be able to understand that a wireless internet device was only as good as the coverage it needed for internet connectivity. I, however, put two and two together, and made the “3G light bulb” come on for many bloggers. At the time, someone submitted my article to Slashdot, and Gear Diary came down as a result of the entire internet reading the article… apparently, all at the same time. It was very exciting, but very troubling for the site, as we tried to figure out how to keep it from falling over due to the avalanche of traffic.

Ultimately, it was AT&T’s numerous coverage issues that caused me to dump my iPhone 3G. To be honest, I just couldn’t take it any longer. When you’re sitting completely still, and your call drops 8 times in under 30 minutes, something has to change. That kind of connectivity problem didn’t exist with other smartphones at the time. I sold my iPhone 3G and was much, much happier.

However, I recognized and realized that the formula that Apple was working on would eventually gain ground over both Blackberry and PocketPC (Microsoft), the two industry leaders at the time, and had mixed feelings about my sold iPhone soon after. However, I was determined to wait it out.

I came back to iPhone with the iPhone 4S, three full revisions later (the iPhone 3Gs and the iPhone 4 were released prior to the iPhone 4S). By that point, Apple’s ecosystem of apps, music and video content had matured enough that it was a much more compelling smartphone choice; AND more importantly, AT&T had done a great deal of clean up on their network coverage issues. I’ve been a consistent iPhone user since the release of the iPhone 4S, and so has the rest of my family.

With 2017 being the 10th anniversary of Apple’s iconic iPhone, I’m looking forward to the release of whatever they end up designating as their 10th Anniversary model, be that the iPhone 8, the iPhone X. By any name, it’s bound to be an iconic device, and definitely one for the history books.

Stick around, kids. I’ve got some really fun and interesting Apple related updates and reviews coming in the next week or so.

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Is the Apple HomePod a Non-Starter?

Apple’s got a new Siri powered speaker…

I’ve been chewing on this one for since Apple’s WWDC keynote and I just don’t get it.  Apple’s HomePod is a Siri powered speaker that connects to  your iTunes library and your Apple Music Account.  Specifically, according to Apple:

  • HomePod is a powerful speaker that sounds amazing, adapts to wherever it’s playing, and together with Apple Music, gives you effortless access to one of the world’s largest music catalogs. All controlled through natural voice interaction with Siri.1 It takes the listening experience to a whole new level. And that’s just the beginning.
  • Built to bring out the best in Apple Music, HomePod is a key part of an incredibly deep and intuitive music ecosystem that lives everywhere you do.1 With Siri intelligence and access to virtually all the world’s recordings, it’s like having a musicologist who helps you discover every song you’d ever want to hear.

HomePod does more than play music.  It’s very much like the Amazon Echo. It can help with questions and tasks. It can also connect to HomeKit related devices used to control your connected home’s heating, cooling lighting, locks, etc. It can be the center of your home, just like Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa powered Echo and Dot.

The HomePod may be a superior speaker, providing rich, full sound; but it doesn’t have one thing that made the Amazon Echo and Amazon Dot – The Amazon Store.

The Amazon Echo was originally intended to be a way for users to order or reorder items you normally buy from Amazon.  All you have to do is ask Alexa to order you <something> and a few days later, the item(s) show up at your door.  It’s really that easy.  This was the main purpose of the device – to provide Amazon with an easy revenue stream.  The thought was that with a vocal path to your order history and your Amazon account, vocally ordering something from Amazon, without actually viewing your account, the prices, etc. would make you more likely to order or reorder items. It’s not “real” when you don’t necessarily see how much it costs.

This product ordering backbone provided Amazon with a reason for the product. Everything else that it does – play music, read books, control your home’s compatible products, etc. is a byproduct.  However it’s a byproduct that the Apple HomePod doesn’t have.

The Amazon Echo does everything that the Apple HomePod does and is $179.99.  The HomePod is $349.  You can literally get 2 Echo’s for the price of a single HomePod; and you’ll be able to order all the books (and other Amazon provided goodies) until your credit card maxes out.  However, the Echo’s won’t sync their playback as the HomePods will, providing better overall audio quality during playback.  You also can’t order Apple products and accessories with the HomePods.

I’m not entirely certain I get the reason behind the HomePod. The Echo is easy – It’s a verbal gateway to Amazon’s product catalog.  While Siri is more sophisticated and intelligent on the HomePod, she can’t order you any Apple products and have them delivered.

In short, the HomePod is twice as expensive and does (literally) half as much as the Echo does.  While I’m certain that Apple will sell a great deal of them, I don’t see them hanging around in the long term.  This just doesn’t seem like a core Apple product like the iPhone or the iPad.

Am I missing something here; or is the Apple HomePod a total non-starter?  Will it be successful, or is it just a flash in the pan product that Apple released in order to insure that they weren’t missing out on a market that both Amazon and Google were competing in ?

Someone please tell me… I’m really wanting to know, because I don’t think that I get the HomePod and don’t want to – nor can I afford to – buy one.  I don’t have an Echo or Google Home device and wasn’t planning on purchasing either, even though I order products from Amazon all the time.

This is where I need your help.

Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area and give me your take on the Echo, the Home and the HomePod.  I don’t do any home automation, so getting one of these would really be nothing more than an audio speaker that could play music and audio books. It could also keep my granddaughter company.  She talks to Siri all the time and has complete conversations with her for hours at a time on her iPad.  At least with the HomePod, and under iOS, Siri is (supposed to be) a lot more intelligent.

Here’s to hoping the HomePod is a lot more than just a very expensive, very sophisticated wireless speaker… but I have my misgivings.

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The Day that Apple Changed the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apple 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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Slow (and Boring) News Week..?

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

I look at the news often.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I mean, even Mary Jo Foley agrees with me…

MJF-Tweets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow.

I bow to your superior analytical skills…

But let’s look at the facts

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

iPhone Sales

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

Really??

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

BB Shares

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

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

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

Apple vs. FBI
Oy!

Sometimes I really people would just grow up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Olio Releases Model One Firmware Updates 1.1.71

Well… At least they’re making an effort…

DlAmpsIrIf you recall, my review of the Olio Model One wasn’t very flattering. I still think its problematic, and something that most people probably should wait on purchasing. However… they ARE trying; and for that, their grades are improving. Recently, you may recall, they released a firmware update. Well, Olio has released another firmware update, updating their Model One to version 1.1.71.

Version 1.1.70 was released on 2016-01-22. Version 1.1.71 was released on 2016-01-23. Olio again caught a bug, post release, and followed it up with a quick fix. While this shows diligence – to an extent – airing their laundry like this probably isn’t helping them very much… Olio should have kept the information to themselves and just released version 1.1.71 without saying anything. However, the following is a list of updates and fixes that have been released.

  • ALS (Automatic Light Sensor) fixes: All watches should function normally on Auto brightness.
  • Watches rebooting: We have implemented a fix for those of you who saw your watch frequently rebooting.
  • Rapid battery drain: You should now expect a full 12 hours of battery life with Gesture On, and 18+ hours with Gesture Off.
  • Incorrect weather: The weather Complication should no longer display question marks, and the current weather should be accurate.
  • Repeating alarms: Repeating alarms will now get set properly.
  • Images not loading: Watch hands, Bluetooth or battery icons, and other image assets should now load consistently and immediately.

Please remember that the Olio Model one has a passive firmware updating system. You don’t download anything to either your (iPhone or Android) phone. Instead, charge both your watch and your phone, and make sure they are connected via Bluetooth in the Olio Assist app. If your phone app does not say connected, restart Bluetooth on your watch to reconnect. If this does not resolve the connection, please email Olio support and they will assist you.

As mentioned above, unresponsive watches should be fixed with this update. If you your watch turns off on its own, Olio would like you to contact them. They will likely want to take your timepiece back to their San Francisco headquarters for servicing. If it can’t be easily fixed, Olio will replace the watch at no cost to you. Please contact support@oliodevices.com for more information.

Olio has more to offer by the end of January 2016. They are in the process of updating both iOS and Android versions of Olio Assist; and those may already be out by the time this article is published. Please check the appropriate app store for an update if it hasn’t already come down to you.

Olio’s next firmware update will come in mid-February and is currently scheduled to include the following:

  1. Bluetooth enhancements
  2. Navigation in Control Hub (it does currently exist as a notification)
  3. Voice control
  4. The ability to update various watch preferences from the phone apps
  5. Time zones
  6. Silence notification Rule improvements

I’ll have more on all of this at that time, or as I update my Model One. The passive update system is difficult at best, as there’s currently no way to download the firmware update and push it to your phone. Somehow the stars have to align just right before that happens, and there really isn’t any way to set that into motion. It either happens or it doesn’t.

I’ve suggested that Olio needs to provide an “advanced mode” that will allow people to update their watch on their own, but they have so far refused to provide that level of service. While I understand their reasoning why – this stuff is all just supposed to work in the background without any forceful action on the user’s part – it doesn’t “just work.” I’ve had my watch sitting on my desk now for at least two days waiting for this to happen.

So far… Nuthin!

This isn’t supposed to be rocket science; and I’ve followed all of the instructions that I’ve been given. I have no idea why this is such a difficult process. Unfortunately, this is partially escalated due to all of the problems and issues that the Model One has.

If the product were functioning as designed, then there likely wouldn’t be a need for any kind of “advanced mode” that allowed you to download and push a firmware update to the watch.

That may just be me; but I suspect that it isn’t. I’m pretty certain that the issues, problems, frustrations and concerns that I’ve got are ones that are being voiced by every single Model One owner.

If you have any ideas, or additional information on any of this, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me via the discussion area below. I monitor all of my postings here on Soft32, so it’s easy to get in touch with me.

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