Bernard’s iOS 8 Day One Thoughts


With every iteration of iOS, Apple is inspired by (borrows) innovative ideas from competitors/jailbreakers to make the iOS experience better. iOS 8 is  no different….and that’s a good thing. It’s to the point where the only jailbreak app I’ll really miss is f.lux. iOS 8 is no different and here’s my early thoughts. Oh, I’m running this on my iPhone 5 – I’m guessing if it works for me, it’ll work on the 5c and 5s with no problem. I wouldn’t recommend running it on anything older though (just a hunch)

Installation

There’s the standard Over The Air (OTA) method that most people will use. You may need to have significant space free (I’ve seen elsewhere that some people needed over 5gb free!) on your device for this method. You’ll get the space back once the install is complete though. Another way to do it is to update via iTunes. This is a handy method if you don’t have enough free space and also a quick way to back up your device if you’re not using iCloud.

 

Notifications

Finally, Apple has heard our complaints and improved the features of the notification system.

They’ve added some new gestures that allow you to respond in various ways to incoming messages. Previously, you could only swipe to open a message, but now, you can swipe up to dismiss, pull down to reply, etc. This interactive notification system will be utilized by other apps (including 3rd party), not just iMessage. Now I might have a reason to turn Facebook and Twitter banner alerts back on….

 

Messaging – Now Improved with the Almighty “Details” Button

No idea if iMessage actually WORKS better, but there are some HUGE UX improvements (keep in mind most of these ONLY work for iMessage conversations, not SMS for example):

 

Group Messages

Labeling! Yep, now you can label your group messages! Just click on the “Details” button and if you’re in a thread with multiple people there’ll be an option to add a label at the very top. You can also add people to an existing group conversation here. Even more awesome, you can elect to LEAVE a group conversation now.

Audio Messages

Oh wow, now you can send audio messages from within iMessage. Apple’s finally caught up to WeChat from two years ago….yawn….

Location Sharing

You can share your location for different lengths of time with individuals AND groups now. Pretty useful if you’re on a trip or going to a large event. Again, just click on the “Details” button and you’re given various options. I’ll skip the discussion of privacy ramifications for now….

Mute!

Hallelujah! Apple has finally added a mute/Do Not Disturb mode for messages.

Photo Attachments

One big improvement here….Attachments! Now when you want to find a photo that you’ve previously sent you don’t have to dig through the entire thread. Click on the “Details” button (told you it was awesome) and at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see ALL the photos that were attached to various messages. VERY cool.

Supposedly you can attach comments to photos you send as well as expiration time periods, but I didn’t see that option. The latter would be awesome (not for that, get your mind out of the gutter) for the times when I send a picture to ask a question (I often ask my wife which product she wants me to pick up at the grocery store as an example). I don’t really need to see that photo ever again after say 30 minutes. [UPDATE] I haven’t been able to send any photos at all, so not sure what’s going on with that….

Time Stamp

Bizarrely, you could never see time stamps before, but now you can check to see when a message was sent or received. Just pull (anywhere in the thread) to the left and the time stamps will appear.

Message History

You now have the option to auto-expire your messages. The default is to keep forever, but you can set to one month or a year. Handy to save on space if you’ve got a 16gb model. Audio and video messages are set to autodelete after 2 minutes, but you can change those defaults as well.

Miscellaneous UX Enhancements

Shortcuts

Fairly minor, but kind of cool. Double-click on the Home button, and your most recent contacts show up on top of the screen. You can call or message them by clicking on their icons.

Battery Usage by Application

Now you can easily identify your battery hogs! This information is available in the Settings\General\Usage\Battery Usage page.

Siri

Couple of improvements to Siri: Hands-free “Hey Siri” mode is now an option when your device is plugged in to power. I’m assuming this means that the microphone is always on for this to work. Also, as previously announced, Shazam is now integrated into Siri so you can ask Siri “What song is this?” Or, you could just fire up Shazam or SoundHound and have those apps do the same thing….

Keyboard Improvements

There’s a new feature called QuickType that will contextually (attempt to) predict what word you’re going to use next. They show up in little boxes above the keyboard. With my limited testing, the new feature works pretty well and might spell the end of those played out autocorrect memes. You’re supposed to be able to load 3rd party keyboards too, but I haven’t had a chance to try that yet.

Mail

I wasn’t going to talk about Mail because I don’t typically use it (I’m using Mailbox right now) but they made a couple of improvements, one of which is kind of cool. The first is that they added more shortcut options when you swipe to the left. That feature has been in a dozen other mail apps for a long time. They have added a new notification option that lets you know when someone responds to an email thread…that’s kind of cool. Probably not enough to get me to switch back but, kind of cool.

Sharing Is Caring

This one is pretty big. You can share all your app purchases with family members, even if they have their own AppleID accounts.

Untested Features

Handoff / Continuity – Not available until October and even then not sure if my aged MacBook Pro meets the hardware requirements (I know for sure it doesn’t support Handoff)

Apple Pay – Well, obviously, it will only work with the 6 series

HomeKit and Health App – Both of these features have very specific hardware accessory requirements. I’ve got the new Health app on my phone….but with no fitness tracker, this one’s pretty useless right now.

iCloud Drive – Not going to switch until OSX Yosemite is officially released as iCloud Drive and the existing iCloud service aren’t compatible.

Conclusions

I didn’t have a chance to test everything unfortunately, but so far it’s a great improvement over iOS 7, with a lot of really cool new features. Not a lot that is major, you understand, but really solid updates. I have no issues running the new OS so far on my iPhone 5 so I’d recommend it provisionally – I can’t wait to see if anything is massively broken in the next few weeks.

 

The New New New New iPad

The New New New New iPad

The New New New New iPad (I may have forgotten a “new”) is coming! It was only a matter of time after the new iPhone event, but word on the street is that new iPads will be announced at the OSX Yosemite launch event on October 21.

No details are available (the announcement itself is only a rumor at this point), but it’s likely (very likely) that the new iPads will feature the new A8 chip and Touch ID. I would assume that styling will be in line with the new iPhone 6 series and have similar features in regards to the screen.

Apple finally beefs up iCloud security


In the wake of the recent naughty celebrity photo leak, Apple finally beefs up iCloud security. Apple sent out notifications urging users to enable 2-factor (or two-step) authentication if they haven’t already done so.

What’s 2-Factor Authentication?

2-factor authentication (basically a form of authentication in addition to a password) prevents “hackers” from accessing your secured data/services just by guessing a password. When you log in you need to authenticate your device with a random code. Apple’s had this in place for a while now, but the problem is that it only applied to certain Apple services, mostly services that had financial information. Now they’ve extended the protection to other services like their iCloud photo storage. Had this been in place before, the celebrity leaks would not have been possible in the way they were achieved in the recent scandal.

Should I Enable 2-Factor Authentication?

While the security is far from foolproof, there’s absolutely no reason NOT to enable 2-factor for your AppleID. In fact, you should enable 2-factor authentication for EVERY service that offers it, and there are a lot (DropBox, Google, Twitter and Facebook, just to name some of the big ones). DO IT! DO IT NOW!

In the case of Apple, just log in to the AppleID site, click on the manage button and log in. Then you go to the “Password and Security” section and turn on 2-step verification. Once you’ve done that you can authorize your Apple devices. Then, whenever you need to log on to an Apple service, a random 4-digit code will be sent to one of your authorized devices. Punch in the code and you’re authorized! 2-factor or multifactor authentication works like that for most services. You can also generate application specific passwords for any third party applications that don’t directly support 2-factor authentication. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is, and it’s really a much more secure way to access your data and services.

Size DOES Matter

Size DOES Matter

According to Apple, size does matter! Well, the new iPhone was announced this week and I’m not going to lie, I was CONFLICTED. I love the 4” form factor and really didn’t want a bigger phone. On the other hand, the iPhone Huge (as I call it) was clearly a better phone, at least from a technical standpoint. The preorders started last night online (sold out now) and you can pick up the phones themselves next Friday. Well here is my summary of the two phones, from a physical standpoint, at least.

Design:

Other than the obvious size bump, the physical design changes are fairly subtle. Apple has gone further away from the squarish design of the 4 series and it’s curvier and more rounded on the corners. They also moved the power/sleep button to the right side from the top to make it easier to reach. The ion-strengthened (whatever that really means) glass face (not sapphire as rumored) is slightly curved.

Specs:

iPhone 5s iPhone 6 iPhone 6 Plus
Processor
A7 A8 A8
Screen Size 4” 4.7” 5.5”
Resolution 1136×640 1334×750 1920×1080
Pixel Density 326ppi 326ppi 401ppi
Contrast 800:1 1400:1 1300:1
Height 4.87” 5.44” 6.22”
Width 2.31” 2.64” 3.06”
Depth 0.30” 0.27” 0.28”
Weight 3.95oz 4.55oz 6.07oz

Obviously, they’re bigger in almost every dimension. Both phones are slightly thinner than the 5 series, but more importantly, the two new phones are also heavier than the 5s.

The new chip(s) are supposed to be faster at both core and image processing all while being significantly more energy efficient. The new motion chip adds elevation detection too.

Battery Life

Apple didn’t give exact specs for the new batteries, but are rumored to have a 2,915 mAh battery in the 6 Plus and 1,810 mAh battery in the 6, as compared to the 1,570 mAh battery in the 5S. They did give estimated times for various tasks – as an example the 3G talk time for the 5S is 10 hours, which will potentially reach 14 hours on the 6 and 24 hours on the 6 Plus! Obviously these aren’t real world stats, but still!

Camera & Video

iPhone 6 focus pixels

Main (rear) camera

No bump in the megapixels or aperture (still 8MP f2.2), but both of the new phones include improved iSight sensors which include “focus pixels” which use phase detction focus and is supposed to improve autofocus speed, skin tone, face recognition and macro photography. One of the major differences between the two phones is that the Plus model gains optical image stabilization. Panoramic photos are now at 43 megapixels up from 38.

Secondary (front-facing) camera

No major changes in specs, as the megapixel count remains the same but does get a change from the f2.4 aperture to f2.2 on both phones. Face recognition is supposed to be improved and there’s a new burst mode for all you selfie nuts.

Video

No huge changes, but Apple has added the option of recording at 60fps and 240fps (super slo-mo) and something called cinematic video stabilization in addition to the regular video stabilization.

Odds & Ends

Connectivity: The new models will all support Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) which results in better call quality if your carrier supports it (it’s coming to all carriers eventually). Also announced were enhanced WiFi performance, support for the 802.11ac standard, and WiFi calling, which allows you to make calls over WiFi instead of cellular, kind of like the MicroCells that AT&T sell. This feature will be supported on the 5S once you move up to iOS8 I guess.

Conclusion

Well, Apple really did it this time, announcing not one but TWO new phones that were vastly different in size and slightly different in capabilities. Last year it was an easy choice between getting the iPhone 5S (the choice of right thinking people) and the iPhone 5C (the choice of the other people). THIS year, it’s a lot different. First of all, you can’t get the new version of what you currently have as a 4″ version doesn’t exist. Thankfully, the 4.7″ version is pretty close and not too much of a shock for long-time iPhone users. I mean, the 6 Plus is HUGE. Clearly, I would pick the 4.7″ version, right? But wait….the 6 Plus has a better battery, better pixel density, better camera AND a true landscape mode? $()*@#$&#@. Thanks a lot Apple.

Well, after agonizing over this admittedly small decision, I ended up choosing the 6 Plus. Why? Well, as my brother put it: FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out. Sure the 4.7″ would’ve been the safe choice, but what if the different user experience of the 6 Plus is amazing? What if it outweighs (pun intended) the physical drawbacks (read: “HUGE AND HEAVY BEHEMOTH”)? Well, in approximately 3 weeks I’ll find out.

Rdio Goes Freemium! Finally.

Rdio Goes Freemium

Finally catching up with Spotify, Rdio announced they were switching to a freemium business model, making access to their library completely free on the web. If you want ad-free or offline mobile access to your tunes, they still have a premium service for the same $9.99 monthly charge that they’ve always had.

This move only maintains parity with Spotify, so not sure how much of a boost this will be, but fans of Rdio are sure to be happy.

Check out the Rdio blog post for more deets…..READ MORE

 

Naughty Celebrity Photo Leak from iCloud – The Privacy vs. Technology Sh**storm

Naughty Celebrity Photo Leak from iCloud - The Privacy vs. Technology Sh**storm

If you haven’t heard already, a bunch of “naughty” celebrity photos were leaked over the weekend from an apparent security flaw with Apple’s iCloud service. It got a lot of press because some of these celebrities include internet attention magnets like Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Yvonne Strahovski, and Kirsten Dunst, just to name a few.

The Tech Angle

Apple released a statement today indicating that the leaks were caused not by a security flaw in their code but rather a “very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions” – basically that the attackers used a combination of internet research to find personal information and standard password/account reset mechanisms.

Apple’s suggestion is to enable their two-factor authentication. This added level of security asks you to input a randomly generated code when you access your iCloud data from a new device for example. Which is great. Many services like Google, Dropbox, LastPass offer some form of multi-factor authentication (MFA) now and many financial institutions have been doing that for years.

HOWEVER….as Michael Rose points out in a great article on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW), Apple’s MFA is only triggered by a very specific subset of actions (like logging on to your AppleID management or setting up iTunes or AppStore on a new device). When it comes to your financial information, AppleID is safe….ish. But when it comes to something like photos or bookmarks, access to these types of data do NOT (currently) trigger the MFA requirement and are therefore much more vulnerable. Apple will eventually address this flaw but for now keep this in mind, and delete any photos from your photostream that you might not want made public. And remember that while it was Apple that was hacked this time, it could have been Yahoo, or Microsoft or any other service.

The Privacy/Cultural Angle

OK, this is the tricky part. One the one hand, there are those (possibly the majority) whose first reaction is to blame someone for taking intimate photos of themselves and storing them or sending them electronically. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Forbes and Esquire both have articles that refer to these recent attacks as “sex crimes” or liken it to “stealing of a piece of the soul” and argue against anyone that puts the blame on the victims.

I guess for me personally, I agree to some degree with elements of both arguments. As a red-blooded male, I admire the female body as much as the next guy. However, I have little desire to see private or embarrassing photos of celebrities, but I can understand the titillating appeal for some. It is regrettable that it seems to be human nature to root for the underdog, but once someone has achieved some level of success, we also derive some disturbing enjoyment from tearing them down. This is especially true for celebrities. I guess the anonymity of the Internet strips the humanity from both the viewer and the subject of scandals.

I also agree that the theft, and subsequent broadcast, of these intensely intimate images is inarguably a violation. None of these people expected these images to be made public, and it was absolutely wrong for the individuals involved in the attack to steal and broadcast the images.

On the other hand, and forgive me as I may not be able to explain this clearly, I don’t believe that privacy (or other human rights) should be taken for granted or assumed. I don’t look at private photos of other people because it’s none of my business. But not everyone thinks like that.

I know someone that took revealing pictures of herself for her boyfriend at the time. When they broke up, he told her he’d delete the photos, and for whatever other faults he had, that was the right thing to do. Now I know that many people in similar situations choose to take revenge and publicize such intimate images. It’s not right, but it happens. A lot.

The author of the Esquire article singled out comedian Ricky Gervais as one of the thousands of people publicly stating that the easy way to avoid this problem is to not store potentially embarassing pictures of yourself electronically. I think that this type of statement is overly simplistic, and can come across as blaming the victim of this type of theft rather than the people that clearly broke the law by “hacking” into Apple’s servers.

  • Do you have the right to take naked pictures of yourself? Absolutely.
  • Is it incredibly convenient to take photos with your smartphone? Yup.
  • Is there an inherent risk in storing your private data on an electronic device, especially one that’s connected to the internet? No doubt.

As an adult in a free society you have the right to do a lot of things, just be aware that right or wrong, there might be consequences to the choices you make. That being said, I hope they catch the people responsible for these thefts, but realistically, they will probably never be punished and will instead receive praise in the form of the thousands of people that downloaded copies of the stolen images.

I think people should mind their own business personally, but that’s just me.

 

Dropbox Finally Responds to Google with new 1TB Pro Plan and that’s not all!

 

Dropbox Pro vs Google Drive

Dropbox finally responds to the gauntlet thrown down by Google Drive earlier this year. In an announcement today, they are streamlining their Pro subscription to a single $9.99/month for 1TB offering that matches the current Google Drive deal.

Additionally, they announced that they are enabling passwords for shared links, view-only permissions, time-limited share expirations, AND remote wipe in case your device gets stolen.

All of these features help to bring Dropbox in line with competitors like Box and Google Drive. Isn’t competition great?

You can check out all the new features here…..READ MORE

 

Seagate Drops the Bomb, Announcing 8 TB Hard Drive Behemoth

Seagate Drops the Bomb, Announcing 8 TB Hard Drive Behemoth

Oh snap! Seagate just announced it was shipping an 8TB 3.5-inch hard drive. It’s just for enterprise customers right now (which means NOT CHEAP) but it’s just a matter of time until consumers will be able to get their hands on this new Behemoth…which is what I hope they call the product when they sell it to consumers.

More importantly, this new size class will (eventually) drive down the price of smaller but still hefty drives.

In case you’re wondering, that’s about 800 full length movies (legally acquired movies of course)

 

What Do D&D and Ice-T Have in Common?

Image from ComicBastards.com

What do D&D and Ice-T have in common? No, the rapper turned actor is not a closet table-top gamer. But he IS part of the “All-Star” cast that Audible lined up for the The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories. And what an eclectic cast it is, featuring Felicia Day, Dan Harmon, Greg Grunberg, Tom Felton, Danny Pudi, Sean Astin, Melissa Rauch, Ice-T, Wil Wheaton, Al Yankovic, Michael Chiklis, and David Duchovny. 

I confess, I first heard the trailer on a Spotify ad and I thought for SURE, that this was some joke. Nope, it’s for real! Audible has a BTS video too. The collection consists of 12 stories expanding on the backstory surrounding The Forgotten Realm’s most famous son, Drizzt Do’Urden, with each story being told by one of the cast members. It would’ve been cooler to have a combination of storytellers (Dan Harmon & Danny Pudi, or even better Al Yankovic with Ice-T), but they didn’t ask me for my opinion…

Anyways, do NOT slow your roll – in honor of the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons (I officially feel old), the collection will be FREE for 40 days starting on August 12.

Audible has a BTS video here

DISlike the FB Messenger App? Here’s a trick

DISlike the FB Messenger App? Here’s a trick

DISlike the FB Messenger App? Hate being forced to use a standalone app? Here’s a trick, for now at least, that will keep you chatting happily in the Facebook iOS app without being forced to use the standalone Messenger app. Undoubtedly, FB will be killing this workaround in the next update, but for now:

  1. Start the Messenger app installation process. You can get to this by clicking on the messages tab or just whenever the annoying nag pops up to install the app. Just click on the Install button.
  2. Switch to the App Store app and stop the download

That’s it. I’ve been using the Messenger app for a while and it’s not so bad actually. It hasn’t crashed and I do like that it lets you differentiate between badge updates when there are new status updates and new messages. Other than that, I don’t really notice a difference – it’s at least better than the Foursquare/Swarm app split, which I find more annoying. Lifehacker has an interesting article on the BENEFITS of the standalone app….READ MORE I also did try deleting the Messenger app after it was installed, and it still restored the Messages functionality in the original Facebook app so no worries if you caved in.

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