Sunday, February 28, 2016

Why It Is Worth Waiting For the Next 12" Macbook Update - Graphics Update in the New Intel Skylake

By all accounts, the 11 month-old 12" Retina Macbook is an engineering and design marvel from Apple.  And by most accounts, the Macbook is an adequate computer that performs to the likely of most owners and reviewers.  However, there are more than a few who found the Macbook to be underpowered at times.  How that is the case varies and certain tasks may not have been the intended use from Apple.  Saying that, with this Macbook now in need and likely close to being updated with new Intel chips, the Skylake chips, the best recommendation is to way.  Not just for the new CPU muscles but also the boost in graphics performance.

According to Intel (by way of Macworld), its integrated graphics processors can hold their own against 80% of discrete graphics cards on the market.  This could not have been the case even a couple of years ago.  And Apple likely has an influence on this advance from Intel.  More and more, consumer class PCs require more processing power for not only daily computing needs but where the future of computing is headed.  VR, anyone?  Artificial intelligence? 4K monitors?

And with rich media continuing to be a part of the computing experience, not to mention multi-tasking, more CPU and graphics power would be greatly appreciated.

For gamers, integrated graphic setups from Intel will not work for the most part in that some compromises are demanded from users to not being able to play the games at all.  A much more powerful Macbook Pro with discrete graphics chips from AMD or Nvidia are needed.  Perhaps, even a Windows machines.  But for games that are couple of years or older, it is possible the Macbook can labor through it, albeit, some requires that the settings be lowered.  

Furthermore, there is the likelihood that with the new chips, the Macbook will have a slightly more improved battery life.

The Macbook was introduced in April of 2015. With Apple holding a press event for Apple Watch and the iPad, many hope that Apple would also refresh the Macbook line, including the 12" Macbook.  

Saturday, February 20, 2016

FBI Used iPhone Wrong and Locked Themselves Out of iPhone Belonging To San Bernardino Terrorists

Apple and the FBI, and, by extension, the rest of the federal government has been locked in an epic battle that will define what privacy in America means. Parsing through the carefully worded statements from both sides and smoke created by the media and tech pundits, the government does want a backdoor or a key to the whole iOS walled garden so they can access user data whenever they want while Apple is fighting to prevent that from happening.

Despite claims to the contrary, making tech companies build backdoors to their devices or platform is the ultimate goal of the government. However, a recent development in the fight between Apple and the FBI shows that the government cannot be trusted to use the technology correctly much less responsibly.

The government has a tough job fighting crime and keeping the public safe in light of the recent events of terror on both sides of the Atlantic. With both the Paris and San Bernandino attacks fresh in minds of the public, the government is making a push to gain a technical advantage over an increasing use of encryption in operation systems and apps that prevent government intrusion.

While Apple believes it stands on the right side of the issue, the bottom line still figure into Apple's opposition as well. Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, has made privacy a theme that Apple takes to heart and why users should buy iPhones and iPads over competing devices where intrusion on almost every level is expected (a claim rightly made or not is still subject to debate).

For the government, in a presidential election year, this seems like the right time to change the dynamics of this discussion over backdoor access, use of encryption, and striking the right balance between privacy and protecting the public from acts of terrorism.

What Tim Cook said about backdoors is correct: if the government has access, any government, criminal syndicate, hacker group, or anyone else regardless of their intent will find their way to these backdoors as well. On a whole, it makes user data vulnerable. It will not only the good guys with good intentions with access but bad guys as well. Any claim that the government will protect the key as closely as Apple or Google should they ultimately be forced to provide the pertinent information to the government is false.

Consider the latest development over the fight regarding the iPhone 5C owned by one of the San Bernardino terrorists: the government mishandled the iPhone by resetting the password to the iPhone resulting in themselves not being able to access the latest data on the mobile device and locking themselves out, leading them to go to Apple. If the government's own experts could not even handle a routine every day task a major of iPhone users are capable of performing, how can Apple expect the government to save guard a backdoor and make sure they do not misuse or mishandle it?

Telcoms Don't Like Whatsapp: What They Don't Like Is Change and Competition

Source:  Bloomberg.

When the mobile phone companies owned every aspect of their customers' experiences, it was a blissful world.  They get to maximize their investment, squeeze every last cent out of their customers, and hardly had any competition.  Along came Silicon Valley, and the struggle continues to this day over the mobile experience which has largely been revolutionary.  So, what else is new when telecoms complained about Whatsapp, a $20 billion buy by Facebook, that continues to be one of the top go-to app for messaging and voice calls.

Here is the real news alert:  telecoms don't like Skype, Facebook, Google Hangout, iMessage, Line, and any dozens of messaging and voice apps that exist.  No longer can companies charge 10 cents per  message or charge users a monthly allotment of texts.  No longer are voice calls metered (most plans anyway).

And here is the shocker to come:  mobile payment.  More control will be wrestled away from telecoms and the users will have more choices over how they pay for apps and products.  And telecoms will continue to devolve into the dump pipes that they deserve to be.

All of this is their own doing.  Had they treated users better and at more reasonable prices, users would not be looking elsewhere for apps and services as much as we do today.

If anything, telecoms should promote competition on their platforms that encourage usage.  Continue to innovate in ways that they can.  The best ways they can.  That is how they can best serve us.  And yes, we may even one day learn to appreciate them.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Apple's Focus On The Experience - A Very Delicate Balancing Act

Just works is the mantra many attributes to Apple and its products and services.  For the most part, it is a very true statement.  But because of the nature of its successes, when something does not just work as advertised, it gets amplified in the media -  traditional and social.

First, it is important to state that with more than 1 billion devices in the wild still being used and who knows how many Macs there are, it's quite obvious that people are using Apple's products and services including, yes, iCloud and other cloud related services. 

Now, it does not mean that Apple's implementation works as well as, say, when Apple introduced the world to the iPod and iTunes. Back then, yeah, it just works.  It was air tight as far as what Apple wanted the iPod and iTunes to do for the user. 

Today, with more services, it is a much harder task to accomplish.  Many still do not care for Apple's native mail app for instance.  While vastly improved, other apps have done a better job.  It's why there are other calendar apps, to-do and reminder apps, and even music and podcast apps.  Personally, I think the podcast app from Apple needs a lot of work still. 

Oh, and let's not forget the dozens if not hundreds of variants of the weather app to choose from.  There are even Siri alternatives.

One might say this is proof that Apple has taken its eyes off the ball.  Another might say that Apple provided just the basics (quick access to information versus other apps that have better and maybe prettier presentation of the same information)  and allow the users to go to the App Store to download the apps of their choices that best meets their needs.

Pre-iCloud was a mess.  You had issues with Contacts missing or you're filled with duplicates.  Or updates either are slow to propagate through out the network and devices or it does not happen at all.  That's mostly gone now.  Fixed. 

One of the most complained apps seems to be the Music app.  A couple Apple pundits (without naming names) have been quite vocal about it to the point of grand display of arrogance feeding off what little influence they have.  However, how do you then explain the 11 million paying customers to Apple's new streaming service?

It's a very delicate balancing act that today's Apple has to perform that the pre-iPhone Apple did not have to worry about. Apple is still in the beginning of the whole cloud and app services.  It is growing new apps and features while trying to maintain an experience equilibrium for new and experienced users as well.  One glaring example of this is the suite of office apps like Pages and Numbers.  Apple can add hundreds of new features at a time like Microsoft does but that could erode the experience of how the apps work and at the same time overwhelm new users who simply want to write or put together a small presentation. 

In my experience, Apple's apps and services still "just works" but with an asterisk.  Apple admitted recently there is a lot of room for improvement and they have made efforts internally to address that.  On the whole, there is a lot of hope things are going to get even better.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Apple Executives Go Onto Jon Gruber's Podcast To Provide Updates on Apple and Answer Questions

Apple is the richest company in the world by valuation and wealth it has on hand in terms of cash, product profolio, and, more importantly, the following that is the envy of just about everyone in the world. So, when two high-profile Apple executives go onto a popular fan/Apple centric podcast instead of CNBC, Bloomberg, BBC, or another national news organization, you have to wonder who Jon Gruber is and why he was selected for this interview that is a must-listen episode even if you're not a fan of his blog, Daring Fireball, or his podcast, The Talk Show.

Here is the link for this week's episode where Gruber interviewed Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi.

I love to get into it more when I listen to the podcast again. It was a very unique experience for Gruber and the listeners. Apple fans are familiar with the top echelon of Apple who brought us so many of today's best consumer products but it is almost always in a setting that is carefully controlled and choreographed. I'm sure Cue and Federighi were coached by Apple's publicity and marketing teams and they know their stuff, but it was still good to hear them address some issues that a few have brought up like Apple's software quality, which recently has been questioned about their unofficial "it just works" motto.

To be sure, what these issues have been brought up by tech pundits and not necessarily the hundreds of millions of users. However, I think there is a slight disconnect at times between how apps work and how they should communicate with users in terms of use. Apple's OS X and iOS has become much more complex since the days of the original iPhone. Users asked for new features and got it.

It does feel that Apple need to look at they balance between giving users options and not overwhelm them while not breaking anything else in the process.

Some of the criticisms are well deserved and I'm sure Apple appreciate it. Others, however, not so much. You'll have to decide that for yourself.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Mobile Tip: Delete the Facebook App To Extend Battery Life On Mobile Devices

Source:  9To5Mac.

This is a great tip from 9to5Mac and while the name implies Apple, iPhone, and all things iOS, it applies to Android devices as well.  Get rid of your Facebook app if you want your battery life to last longer.  And I've stop using the Facebook app on my mobile devices for years and have not suffered the battery debilitating drainage that many millions have reported and suffered from.

When absolutely, I do download it on the quick and do what I need to do and delete the sucker again.  And surprisingly, my friends on Facebook have not disappeared and they continue to exist in the mobile version of Facebook in my browsers. 

And the browser version of Facebook works just fine for addicts.  Think of it this way, you can stay on Facebook longer and satisfy your addiction with the browser version than if you were using the Facebook app.  It's a win-win if you're that hooked. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Be Wary Of The USB-C Cables - The Wrong One Can Destroy Your Devices

Source: CNN.

Never knew it would bee this complicated but you need to be aware of this as USB-C ports and cables become more common. Apparently, not all USB-C cables are the same. 

See, the new USB-C cables should be able to provide power, charge devices, and transfer data. Very convenient. But only off they're wired correctly. 

 A Google engineer was kid enough to sacrifice his Chromebook for is to make this point. Right now, the other mainstream laptop with an USB-C port is the 12" Macbook from Apple. Soon, more will follow including phones, tablets, and other devices that can benefit from USB-C connection to get power or for data transfers.

For now, get brand named versions of the cables. It'll be more expensive than cheaper ones from a Chinese company you've never heard of. But it'll be worth it when your device or laptop contents to work as advertised and not turn into a smoldering piece of plastic and fried electronics. 

Look for special seals of approval.  Even then, best to play it safe.

Sent from my Mobile

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Netflix - Awesome if Co-Owned by Apple and Disney

Apple and Disney are practically famiiy.  This was made possible when Disney bought Apple CEO Steve Jobs' Pixar.  Relationship between the two companies have been cozy since with Disney being president for Apple's video store on iTunes and Disney CEO, Bob Iger, sitting on Apple's board. So, with Apple struggling into the video streaming market, maybe Apple should buy Netflix with Disney or another studio like Fox as a partner.  Apple buying Beats showed that CEO Tim Cook is not adverse to making a buyout to get what Apple needs. 

As for Disney, it already owns a part of Hulu and have linked to possibly buying the Netflix competitor.  But Disney taking a stake in Netflix makes more sense than buying Hulu because if a deal between Disney and Netflix to produce some Marvel titles (Marvel) has already bear fruit.  Furthermore, Netflix will begin showing Disney movies starting in 2016. 

Disney does not have the financial muscle to do it alone. And this is where Apple comes in with its more than $200 billion just ready to make some major M&A damage. With Apple's financial backing and Disney's Hollywood connection, there is no end to the possibilities what these three juggernauts can come up with for overall entertainment values, not to mention cord-cutting options.  We are talking about local broadcasts, ESPN, Disney channels, and more.

For Apple, it provides a platform that has the influence of a major studio when it comes to negotiating with other studios to provide content or broadcast for its streaming service.  It would allow Apple to get much needed licenses easier and quite possibly with an international reach.

I know, I know.  Just a pipe dream, right?  Well, we are talking about a dream team of sort after all.

iPad and WWDC Prediction: Apple Will Upgrade Siri And Users Will Not Be Able to Choose Between ChatGPT or Gemini

At this year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple is set to unveil major upgrades to its virtual assistant Siri. These enhanc...