Friday, October 31, 2014

What Happens When Your iPad Is Destroyed By A Space Vehicle? Apple Will Replace It

Apple will replace your damaged iOS device if it was destroyed by a spaceship...with this kind of publicity, it is no wonder that Apple has some of the most loyal and fanatic customer base?

Source:  Cult of Mac.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mobile Payment: Question for MCX guys - What Happens When You Get Hacked And the Bad Guys Empty My Checking Account?

Every few weeks, you hear about this or that retailer getting hacked and millions of credit cards are stolen.  Okay, when that happens, we talk to our bank and change the numbers on the credit card or, worse, have charges reversed if we happen to be unlucky enough to have been a victim of credit card fraud. 

With the consumer-unfriendly CurrentC being developed by good folks at Walmart, Target, CVS, and a few others and slated for 2015, there is one question that has been bugging me beyond these retailers asking for very personal questions like social security numbers and sharing with each other our buying habits that has not been asked.

What happens when, not if, one or more of these retailers and "third parties" they will inevitably blame when the CurrentC system is hacked to our bank accounts?  Do we need new bank account numbers?  Change banks? 

And will will put the stolen money back in when they're emptied by these hackers?  Does anyone know? 


CurrencyC: The Mobile Payment System Supported by CVS Hacked Already

MCX, the retailer group that wants everything but your first-born from you, that is offering their own mobile payment system as an alternative to other forms of payment systems like NFC, is still months if not a whole year away from offering the dubious service.  The system, CurrenyC, is still in beta.  Neverthless, it's never too early to get hacked right?

That's exactly what happened when it informed beta testers and folks interested in the system that there was unauthorized access to their e-mails.  (Source:  Macrumors)

Given the bad press that CurrencyC is getting, I'm going to go ahead and make this prediction:  we're going to see some defections just ahead of the Christmas shopping season starts.

Mobile Payment: Retailers, Here's How To Have A Great Christmas This Year

With all the back and forth over NFC payment (I know there is a lot of attention on Apple Pay but it is more than that - it's NFC implementations like Google Wallet), here is how a retailer can do well this Christmas shopping season.  Open up a couple of checkouts just for shoppers who want to pay with the NFC-enabled mobile devices.

That's right.  It's that simple.  While many in the Apple camp like to boast about how wealthy the iPhone demographic is, Android users savvy enough to use Google Wallet probably are not doing too badly themselves.  In general, those who are likely to take up new tech features probably are smart and wealthier.  If I'm right, this is how retailers not beholden to the Merchant Customer Exchange that forbid its members from offering NFC payment options to potential customers can race ahead of the competition. 

Already, Android and iPhone fans are calling for an united front to boycott CVS and Rite Aid and there are dozens more companies that we can put the financial hurt on this Holidays season.  Savvy retailers who do offer NFC can make it easier for us and use this opportunity to capture our hard-earned money.

Offer us an exclusive checkout lane or two along with your deals, and we'd gladly spend our money at your stores.

GTA Bit Off More Than It Could Chew In Deal With Apple, And Apple Picked the Wrong Partner

Source:  Bloomberg.

The Bloomberg post does shed some light on the failed venture between Apple and bankrupted GT Advanced.  While all such deals carry risks, the amount of risk GTA took on was more than it bargained for.  I believe the part that in the post where Apple told GTA that it required the same terms from other supplies.  GTA simply was not the right company or had the right people to follow through.

It does sound like I'm placing the bulk of the blame on GTA but I think it's Apple that picked the wrong partner for sapphire covers that was obviously meant for the iPhones.  Had this deal worked out, it would have been a selling point for Apple that would further set the iPhone apart from competing devices. 

Having said that, there are few companies out there that can take on this kind of risk and Apple is obviously one of them. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Yosemite's New Spotlight Features Are Awesome And Should Worry Search Guys

Here is a reference post from Appleinsider that is worth looking at on the new and improved Spotlight that comes with OS X 10.10, Yosemite.  I've been using it since it came out last week and I'm loving how fast and powerful it is.


In fact, it kinda made me wonder how inefficient I was before.

Calculator, currency conversions, movie times, and search results as well as easy to understand privacy settings for us paranoid folks.  All done the Apple way which means everything is presented beautifully and easy to use.

I would love to see this translate over the iOS, particularly on the iPad.

What would really make take Spotlight up another level is for Apple to merge Siri with Spotlight on the Mac soon.  What are missing are results likesports scores, weather, and other inquires that we don't quite need to go to the search engines to find.

And yes, while some of the search results do come from search engines, Apple is slowly peeling away the layers of search one result at a time to deprive Google in particular of valuable search revenues.  If users can find what they need in Spotlight without having to go to the Web, that means there will be less tracking for Google and ad revenues.

What's that Chinese saying?  Death by a thousand cuts?  Well, Apple won't quite kill off traditional search this way.  But it is making search engines less and less relevant for a sizable amount of inquiries.

Discovery of NFC Makes Sense: Perfect Use As a Wireless Secured Cash(less) Register

Source:  Macrumors.

iFixit does a teardown of pretty much every Apple hardware that comes out.  And what they found surprised them but it makes sense for Apple to include it?  NFC in the new iPad Air 2.

Consider the importance of Apple Pay as a money printing scheme to pad Apple's Everest-like pile of cash, the iPad Air 2 and probably a future updated iPad mini sporting NFC makes it very important as a means for the tablets to serve as digital payment readers.

Consider this.  You're at a restaurant and the server comes and takes down your order with the iPad.  Then at the end of the mean, the server comes back and makes contact with your iPhone for you to make your payment.

No need for them to take your phone to the back for them to do God knows what with it like they do now the credit card.  And they can't anyway.  And it would be cumbersome for you to have to go to their register to make the payment.

The only thing that matters now is when Apple will enable the NFC on the iPads to serve Apple Pay in this capacity.  And if this works with iPads, there is no reason for Apple to allow retailers to use iPhones as registers too.

This would help tech-savvy businesses expand their payment options for their customers and serve to expand the number of locations that accept Apple Pay.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Apple Pay: Pizza Guys Don't Want My Biz

I like that I can use Apple Pay because of the added security.  Let's just say the temptation for extracurricular activities with customer credit card information won't be there if the tokenized numbers can only be used once.  So, I'm more than happy to go out of my way (within reason) to use Apple Pay.  So, finding out today that pizzas won't be on the menu for lunch today because the major pizza chains, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Papa Johns all do not accept Apple Pay. 

In fact, forget that not only are they not official Apple partners, it does not appear any of their cash registers accept NFC payments at all.  At least not the ones I frequent. 

Moreover, Pizza Hut does not think much about Apple Pay at all and even has "concerns" about it.  The "concern" happens to be that Apple Pay only works for apps and not the larger Web in general - meaning you cannot use it through an old-fashion browser.  It's a good point but it can hardly be called a concern.  Apple likely wants to control how Apple Pay is used and may eventually open it up for general browser use.  But since most mobile users conduct their businesses through apps anyway, it is baffling what PH is worried about.

I see Apple Pay users go where the convenience leads.  While people have different tastes regarding their food, I can see convenience and security being factored into many iPhone users' purchasing decisions. 

I think the real reason for PH not joining up with Apple Pay as an official partner (NFC-enabled registers aside) is access to customer information and being able to track users disguised as loyalty programs.  Apple supposedly is fast-tracking that feature and will try to offer it before the Holidays.  When that happens, I'm sure more retailers will start to set aside their "concerns" about not being able to track you and me and join up.

Note:  We ended up going to Whole Foods for pizza.  When it comes down to convenience and security, I'll those those over an extra couple of bucks anyway.

Source:  Inquisitr.

Rite Aid A Big Loser In Apple Pay Users If Reports Are True

There is a growing number of posts and tweets that Rite Aid as turned off a feature that allow Apple Pay to go through after initial tests on Monday demonstrated that Apple Pay works there.  No official reason has been provided but some suggests that this is because Rite Aid is support a rival payment system that probably give companies that back it, Rite Aid, Walmart, Best Buy, and others, more control over customer data and not having to share a small cut with credit card and banks.

Here's the thing.  There is a CVS right by my house.  Oh, a Walgreen too.  And where I jog, there are other places where  I know accept Apple Pay.  So, what do I if I've just got my iPhone 6 Plus with me and not my wallet (I usually carry $20 with me for emergencies when I'm walking about in my neighborhood) and I need a cold drink? 

Not Rite Aid I can tell you that. 

This is what I predict will happen in the next six months. Some Apple Pay (maybe Google Wallet) holdouts will capitulate, especially those who are facing stiff competition from the likes of Amazon (yeah, I'm talking about you, not-so-Best Buy) as cash-rich Apple users go places where their new favorite payment method is accepted. 

On top of that, retailers will be facing financial pressure either from Holidays shortfall or shareholders to accept Apple Pay from their savvy iPhone shoppers.  There are going to be some who are in denial and will continue to see their business go to rivals who do accept Apple Pay. 

Maybe it'll be a good idea to keep a running tab on who is doing well and who are not based on whether they are Apple Pay partners. 

Source:  Josh Hudnall.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Streaming: CBS Versus Hulu

While everyone is talking about HBO versus Netflix (not as much as I thought), the bigger battle is between CBS's new service verus Hulu.

Hulu has been around 2007. It's a join venture between Disney, NBC, and Fox to pull together various current season TV series, some older series, and an assortment of movies not really worth watching. The thing with Hulu is that many of the shows are also available on these three major broadacast stations, ABC, FOX, and NBC. Hulu provides a centralized hub for these videos and others.

Years ago, the blog chatters have been between Hulu and Netflix but they really target different markets with Netflix offering no current season videos but a vast library of older content, and a growing library of its own original series and movies.

With CBS now offering own CBS All Access for $5.99, the question we have to ask if its worth it? The short and quick answer is absolutely not. While it does offer many if its own content, it excludes many shows and sports like NFL and Big Bang Theory. Oh, and you're going to have to sit through commercials, just like you have to with Hulu. Such double dipping makes no sense.

And with $2 more, you can get Hulu for three times the content with three of the four major networks.

Furthermore, I'm rooting against services like CBS and Hulu. After all, much of the content they offer are already free if you're willing to jump from app to app to watch them. That's what I do now via my mobile devices. If I want to watch the Arrow, I'll use the CW app. The Blacklist on NBC, and Castle and Agents of Shield on the ABC app. In having to save myself $8 a month from having to subscribe to Hulu, it's well worth this first-world "hassle".

And just because you pay Hulu or CBS for access that are free on their their website, episodes are metered in that they are available for a few weeks at a time. Say you start on the Blacklist and watch the first two episodes and got busy. You come back to it a few weeks later, you suddenly find that not only are the first four episodes no longer available for streaming, you have only access to the latest three or four episodes. It makes no sense for paid service to work this way.

Furthermore, if you really want to stream live content, set up a Slingbox and stream them from your tablets.

And reason I would like to see CBS fail is this: consider having to pay $24 for free over-the-air content. And then what happens if CNN, ESPN, or TNT wish to offer their own content? $10 to $15 a channel? It then starts to add up.

I'm hoping eventually, the studios will realize bringing the "cable" model on their own and sell direct to users will not work. They'll have to realize that they cannot charge more just because they are standalone services and not bundled.

Only time will tell but if CBS's new scheme works out. My spidey-sense is tell me it won't.

Sent from my iPad

Friday, October 17, 2014

Key Products Missing From Apple's Media Event Today

There is a lot to talk about today after Apple unveiled new iPads, Mac mini, and a Retina Display iMac. Oh, Apple also updated the OS for the Mac and Apple Pay which will be available on Monday.

We'll get more into that later. What's missing from the Apple event is just as important and worthy bringing up in a post or two.

First, Apple said nothing about the iPod line. Not a word about the iPod touch which had not been upgraded near the end of 2012 with a minor update in June this year.

I'm assuming that means we can forget about the rest of the iPod line as well.

The other thing missing is Apple TV. There had been a lot of chatter that is indirectly related to Apple TV. The most recent is the news that Time Warner will be offering HBO as a standalone service at the start of 2015. That was quickly followed by CBS offering a $7 service that is immediately available (though I think it's pretty lame).

Lastly, where was health and home related updates and accessories? The omission of these two big iOS initiatives are not particularly episode butt it does suggest that Apple will be taking things slower. Think of this as two "hobbies" that are going to take time to mature.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mobile: HBO To Offer Standalone Service for Cordcutters! We Can ThankNetflix

Source: USA Today.
No doubt by now, you know that HBO, a service of Time Warner, is only available with a cable or sat TV sub.  What you should know by now is that HBO will be offered as a standalone service san the cable baggage in 2015.  That means you'll probably pay a disproportionate amount for HBO to stream on your Apple TV, Chrome dongle, or Roku.  It means maybe pay anywhere from $15-20 for the service but you won't have to shell out $100 for a bunch of stuff you don't want to watch.
A couple of things you'll want to note going foward:
First, We can thank Netflix.  Yeah, without it, not only will we not get a bunch of back catalog of TV and movies for dirt cheap but also really get things moving along with respect to competition for your eye balls and wallet. 

Second, look for other studios to monetize their services once HBO has established their presence on non-traditional platforms.  Looking for a comedy channel with just old Friends episodes for $2?  Sure?  I'd pay $5 for an all The Simpsons and Fox animated services access. 

Lastly, bundles will come once more channels are offered to cord-cutters.  It'll be offered with greater flexibility than what cable guys are now offering. And it'll completely up-end how we watch TV. 
Now, $15-20 might be a lot for just one "channel" right?  I predict that HBO might offer tiered services.  For older stuff, maybe it'll be around $10 and current shows will jump up to $15 or more.  And maybe even $20 if you want to not just stream from your Apple TV but also tablet.  This would allow Time Warner to satisfy cable partners and give consumers more choices.  Of course, you can already get older HBO content if you have Amazon Prime.  But that's $100 a year. 
The question now is when in 2015?  January 1st?  March? Summer?  Fall?  What's your time?

Update: there is indication this standalone HBO streaming service will come at the beginning of 2015. We should know more as info gets leaked. The entertainment industry isn't known for keeping secrets. 

- Posted using BlogPress

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mobile: Congress Is Pro-iPhone (Not So Much Android) But What About Its Policies?

Source: The Hill.

According The Hill,  of 108 members of Congress who have responded to The Hill's survey, 71% and 95% of them uses the iPhone and iPad respective.  Of the lot, 9% uses Android and Blackberry is alive and kicking with 28%.

While it's not surprising that Apple has also won the heart and minds of Congress when it comes to their choice of mobile devices, the high number of respondents who use the iPhone is questionable only because it's likely Apple fans in Congress are more likely and willing to turn in the survey.

For instance when Tim Cook was dragged in front of Congress to answer questions relating to Apple legally paying all the taxes it is obligated to, Senator Claire McCaskill (Democrat, Missouri) unabashedly declared her undying love for Apple.  When members of Congress questioned Google executives, no one ever made similar declaration or, at the very least, acknowledge how great Google's search results are.

What's of interest would be the breakdown of operating systems, Chrome OS, Linux, OS X, and Windows that are used by congressional staffers.  In the show The West Wing, White House operatives could often be seen with a Powerbook sitting on their desks.

Interestingly, their love of Apple only goes so far.  So far, the Obama administration has not shown Cupertino much love nor has Democratic senators who use iPhones, iPads, and Macs.  It goes to show just how powerful traditionally based political bases still are.

In recent years, however, tech companies like Apple and Google that have shied away from big lobbying operations in Washington has started beefing up their presence in DC.  It's rather sad that these companies, instead of investing these millions in R&D, are forced to spend them on lawyers and lining the pockets of politicians.

So Why Are People Using Their Laptops Longer Than Ever?

I have been contemplating getting a new laptop for a long time. A new MacBook in fact. It'll be an upgrade from my 2016 MacBook with its...