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The Mac Observer

Apple iPhone, Mac, Watch and iPad News, Opinions, Tips and Podcasts


Apple Releases AirPods Firmware 3.7.2

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-24 18:45

Apple released firmware update version 3.7.2 for AirPods Wednesday. There are no patch notes for the update, but the educated guessensus is that it’s a performance and stability release. The release was first spotted by German site Macerkopf.de (via iDownloadblog). You can download the firmware update via your iPhone with your AirPods in their charging case. Your charging case will beed to be plugged into a power source.

Warby Parker Brings Eye Checkup to Your iPhone

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-24 18:42

Mail order eyeglasses company Warby Parker wants to make checking your vision easier, so they just released an app that checks your prescription with your iPhone. The app takes about 20 minutes to test your vision and see if your prescription has changed, which takes a lot less time than scheduling an appointment with an optometrist.

Warby Parker Prescription Check iPhone app checks your vision without an optometrist visit

Warby Parker wants to check your vision with your iPhone

The Prescription Check app uses your iPhone and Mac, and once it’s done sends the results to Warby Parker’s optometrist team. You’ll hear back in about 24 hours if your prescription has changed. If not, you can go ahead and order new glasses. If it has changed, you’ll get a referral to an optometrist for a full eye exam.

The convenience of an in-home eye checkup is great, but it does come with some big restrictions. First, you need to be between 18 and 40 years old, and live in California, Florida, New York, or Virginia. The system works for single-vision glasses only, plus your current lens strength has to fall between 0 and -6.0. Astigmatism values must fall between 0 and -2.0.

If you fit within Warby Parker’s limitations, you’ll need to have an eye prescription that can be used for comparison. The iPhone test tells if your prescription has changed; it isn’t a substitute for an actual eye exam.

Despite its limitations, Warby Parker’s Prescription Check is pretty cool because it makes double checking your prescription before ordering new glasses far more convenient—plus it’s free to use, so you don’t need to pay an optometrist just to find out your prescription hasn’t changed.

It’s also cool because it shows where the technology is headed. As our iPhones become more powerful Warby Parker and other eyeglasses companies may be able to perform more detailed and accurate vision checkups, assuming state and federal regulations aren’t an issue.

You can download the Prescription Check app for free at Apple’s App Store.

Samsung’s Iris Scanning Joke, Crappy Business is Not OK, and PC Design – ACM 412

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-24 18:26

The Telegraph’s 93 Second Primer Steve Jobs’s Career

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-24 18:12, modified at 18:13

London newspaper The Telegraph published a quickie biography of Steve Jobs on Wednesday. The 2,100 piece is titled, “Who was Steve Jobs? Tech trailblazer and co-founder of the Apple empire.”  goes in-depth for a newspaper article, but it’s still a short look into a person like Steve Jobs’s entire life. It’s probably perfect for someone who’s curious about Steve Jobs, but hasn’t delved deep into all things Apple. Accompanying the written piece was a 93 second video that runs  through Steve Jobs’s career with slides, information, and other highlights. Again, there’s little new for hardcore fans, but both the article and the video are excellent primers for anyone who’s been curious about the late Steve Jobs.

Comprehensive Guide to Mac Trackpad Gestures and Force Touch

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-24 16:19

If you have a Magic Trackpad 2 or a built-in Multi-Touch trackpad, you might not be making the most of it. There are several Mac trackpad gestures that you can use to really speed up your workflow, whether you’re surfing the web or moving files around in the Finder. Let’s take a look in this comprehensive guide to Mac trackpad gestures.

Mac Trackpad Gestures

With Mac trackpad gestures, you can speed up your workflow and become a Mac pro

Turning on Mac Trackpad Gestures

Turning on all of the possible Mac trackpad gestures will take a few moments. You’ll need to go to System Preferences -> Trackpad, and navigate through the various tabs enabling what you want to use. All of these are also covered by an Apple support page, but I’ve found it to be a bit out-dated with the changes in macOS Sierra.

Speaking of which, this guide assumes you are running macOS Sierra on a MacBook or MacBook Pro with a Force Touch trackpad, or any Mac with a Magic Trackpad 2.

Mac Trackpad Gestures configured in System Preferences

Start using trackpad gestures by turning them on in System Preferences

The Point & Click Gestures

You probably already know about tap to click and secondary click. You can tap with just one finger, and it will register as a click. Or, click or tap with two fingers, and you get the Windows equivalent of a right-click (a secondary click, in Mac parlance).

Mac Gestures in System Preferences

The Point & Click gestures are pretty straightforward, but there’s one interesting addition you may not have noticed

Here’s an interesting one that might have slipped your attention, though – Look up & data detectors. If you want to quickly get the definition of a word, for instance, you just have to Force Click with one finger (if it’s enabled). This also works with taking actions on dates, addresses, phone numbers, and more.

Mac Gestures Lookup and Data Detectors

By Force Clicking with one finger, you can look up words in the dictionary, add events to your calendar, and more

Up Next: Scrolling and Zooming Around

Page 2 – Gestures for Scrolling and Zooming Around

On the next tab, you’ll find some other great options for Mac trackpad gestures. For example, this is the first place I go when I set up a new Mac, to turn off my personal pet peeve – Scroll direction: Natural. To me, there’s nothing natural about moving my finger down on a page and having said page move upwards.

Mac Gestures Scroll and Zoom System Preferences

In the Scroll & Zoom tab, you can turn off Scroll Direction: Natural, and do other fun stuff

Now, what if you want to zoom in or out on a page or document? Just put two fingers on your trackpad, and pinch inwards or outwards to zoom in or out.

Mac Gestures - pinch to zoom

Pinch in with two fingers to zoom in

Mac Gestures - Zoom Out

Spread your fingers outwards to zoom out

If you’re in a web page or PDF, you can also use a Mac trackpad gesture for smart zooming. If you double-tap with two fingers, you’ll zoom in and back out of that page or document.

Mac Gestures - Smart Zoom

Double-tap with two fingers to smart zoom

Need to rotate a photo or something else in Preview? Just move two fingers around each other in the Preview app with your image loaded. This also works with PDF documents, or just about anything else you can view in Preview.

Mac Trackpad Gestures - Rotate

Move your fingers around each other to rotate objects in Preview

Up Next: Navigating Web Pages and Full-Screen Apps

Page 3 – Navigating Web Pages and Full-Screen Apps

If you want to go forward or backward through your web page history, there’s a gesture for that. Just swipe left or right with two fingers, and you’ll go to the previous or next page.

Mac Trackpad Preferences - Back a Page

Swipe two fingers left to go back a page in your web browser

Mac Trackpad Gestures - Forward a page

Swipe two fingers right to go forward a page in your web history

If you like to go full-screen with your apps and want a quick way to switch between them, you can swipe left or right with four fingers. You’ll quickly swap apps, moving from one to the other.

Mac Trackpad Gestures - Full Screen Apps

Swipe four fingers left to go back through your full-screen apps

Mac Trackpad Gestures - Full Screen Apps

Swipe four fingers right to go forward through your full-screen apps

Next, if you swipe down with four fingers, a feature called app exposé will activate. You’ll see all the windows of the app you’re using. This is very handy if you’re switching back and forth between several documents.

Mac Trackpad Gestures - App Exposé

Swipe down with four fingers to activate App Exposé

Up Next – Gestures for the Desktop and More

Page 4 – Gestures for the Desktop, Notification Center, and Finder

Need to quickly open the Notification Center or show the desktop? Maybe you love the Launchpad and want a quick way to access it. Here are some gestures to do that, and more.

First, let’s open the Notification Center. Swipe from right to left on your trackpad, starting at the far right edge. The Notification Center will pop open for you.

Mac Trackpad Gestures - Notification Center

Swipe with two fingers from the right edge towards the left to open the Notification Center

If you want to show your desktop clear of all your windows, spread your thumb and three fingers apart. Bring them back together again to get your windows back where they were.

Mac Trackpad Gestures - Show Desktop

Show your empty desktop by spreading your thumb and three fingers apart

Now, let’s say you want to move a file from one folder to another using the Finder. This is very easy with a Mac trackpad gesture, since all you have to do is swipe the files with three fingers, and move to the folder where you want to copy them to. This one has to be enabled in Accessibility -> Mouse & Trackpad -> Trackpad Options -> Enable Dragging.

Mac Trackpad Gestures - Three Finger Drag

Drag files using the three-finger drag gesture

Up Next: Gestures for Launchpad and Mission Control

Page 5 – Gestures for Launchpad and Mission Control

To fire up the Launchpad, pinch your thumb and three fingers together. Spread them apart again, and you’ll go back to your normal desktop and windows.

Mac Trackpad Gestures - Launchpad

If you want to quickly activate Launchpad, pinch your thumb and three fingers together on the trackpad

How about some Mission Control love? You guessed it, there’s a Mac trackpad gesture for that. If you swipe all the way up on your trackpad with four fingers, and Mission Control will open. Swipe back down again with four fingers, and you’ll be back to normal.

Mac Trackpad Gestures - Mission Control

Swipe four fingers up from the bottom of the trackpad to activate Mission Control

Fun With Mac Trackpad Gestures

There you have it, the Mac trackpad gestures available on your Magic Trackpad 2 or MacBook with a Force Touch Trackpad. If you learn these and use them, you’ll become a Mac pro in no time, speeding along through your work or pleasure with ease. Want another one? Check out Mac Geek Gab’s tip on closing a Safari tab with a swipe.

Watch the Game of Thrones Season 7 Trailer

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-24 16:11

OK, Game of Thrones fans, war is nigh. HBO released the trailer for Game of Thrones Season 7, which will first air on July 16th, 2017. The show outpaced the books during Season 6, leaving many fans all the hungrier to know what happens. Judging by the trailer, what happens is war, war, battles, dragons, war, and a side of war thrown in just for fun. In fact, the closing line of the trailer is, “The great war is hear,” and if I’m not mistaken, it’s one Jon Snow saying it. But hey, I could be wrong. Enjoy!

What We Know About Apple’s 5G Wi-Fi Testing

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-24 13:44

Apple plans to test next generation 5G Wi-Fi, according to BusinessInsider Yesterday, Apple applied for an experimental license to use 5G technology, specifically using millimeter wave frequencies. Here’s what we know so far.

The tests will happen at two locations: Milpitas, California on Yosemite Drive and Mariani Avenue next to Apple’s 1 Infinite Loop headquarters. The application for the license, which was made public by the FCC, says:

Apple Inc. seeks to assess cellular link performance in direct path and multipath environments between base station transmitters and receivers using this spectrum…These assessments will provide engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers’ future 5G networks.

Apple intends to transmit from two fixed points located at Apple-controlled facilities in Cupertino and Milpitas, CA. These transmissions will be consistent with the parameters and equipment identified in Apple’s accompanying Form 442, and will include the use of a horn antenna with a half-power beamwidth of 20 degrees in the E-plane and H-plane and a downtilt between 20 – 25 degrees. Apple anticipates that it will conduct its experiments for a period not to exceed 12 months.

Millimeter Wave Technology

One of the promises of 5G is that speeds will be faster than current wireless technology. And what that really means is that (Apple) music streaming and Netflix binging will be easier. Millimeter wave means that the radio waves are at a higher frequency than today’s 4G LTE standards.

Graphic showing 5G Wi-Fi and millimeter wave technology.

On the electromagnetic spectrum, millimeter waves are between 30 and 300 gigahertz (GHz). Apple wants to test the 28 and 39 GHz bands. Currently, radar, satellite and certain military systems use this area of the spectrum.

Apple Satellite

That might mean Apple’s tests have less to do with iPhone, and more to do with Apple Maps. Another possibility is satellite internet. Last month The Mac Observer reported that Boeing is working on a plan for 1,000 satellites to provide internet access for customers, and Apple was invited to participate.

At the same time, shorter wavelengths can’t travel as far as longer wavelengths. We’re talking hundreds of meters instead of kilometers. And millimeter waves can’t penetrate walls and other obstacles easily. If the transmitter and receiver aren’t in a direct line of site, there is signal loss.

Concept image of a satellite that could beam down 5G Wi-Fi.

Internet from spaaaace!

Workarounds could include smaller cell towers, called microcells, femtocells and picocells (depending on range). Antenna size is inversely proportional to frequency size, which means that 5G millimeter waves can use smaller antennas and use the spectrum more efficiently.

In any case, Apple is certainly paying attention to future technologies. We probably won’t see ubiquitous 5G Wi-Fi until the early 2020s, although some estimates are more optimistic than others. In the meantime, we’ll have to be content with 4G LTE.

Apple Music Trailer for Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Documentary ‘A Bad Boy Story’

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-24 13:36

Apple Music bought the rights to Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story, a documentary about Sean “Diddy” Combs and his record label, Bad Boy Records. The film was debuted at the Tribecka Film Festival earlier this year, and Apple Music subsequently bought the rights to it. The focus of the film is a reunion show with The Bad Boy Family, the original group of artists that launched with Bad Boy Records. According to the Tribecka Festivail, “the film also looks back to trace the label’s emergence in Harlem and Brooklyn, it’s meteoric rise, the tragic killing of Biggie Smalls, and the lasting influence on music, fashion, marketing and culture.” Note Apple executive Jimmy Iovine’s brief appearance in the trailer. The film debuts exclusively on Apple Music on June 25th, 2017.

Apple Wants you to Know Swift, Smarthome Fatigue – TMO Daily Observations 2017-05-24

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-24 13:23

Apple Launches New Swift Curriculum on iBooks Store for Free

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-24 10:59

Apple is launching a new Swift coding curriculum for students, along with anyone else who wants to learn the coding language. The curriculum is part of Apple’s Everyone Can Code series, and will be available for free on the iBooks Store Wednesday. It’ll also be taught in several community colleges and high schools in the United States this fall.

Apple teams up with community colleges for Swift coding curriculum

Apple brings new Swift training tools to iBooks Store, schools

Swift is an Apple-developed coding language for macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. The Swift coding environment is available for free, as are the related training and educational materials.

Apple says six community colleges will offer its Swift curriculum this fall, and local businesses have committed to offer students mentoring and internships.

“We’ve seen firsthand the impact that coding has on individuals and the US economy as a whole,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “The app economy and software development are among the fastest-growing job sectors in America and we’re thrilled to be providing educators and students with the tools to learn coding.”

Teaming up with schools to teach Swift, as well as offering free training materials to everyone is a smart move for Apple. The more people who are exposed to the language, the larger the pool of potential developers becomes. That (hopefully) translates into a wider range of compelling apps for the Mac, iPhone and iPad, abd ultimately into more customers.

Apple’s new Swift curriculum will be available for download today, and maybe at a school near you this fall.

Live Home 3D Pro for Mac: $24.99

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-24 09:00, modified at 02:34

Live Home 3D Pro for Mac allows you to design residential buildings from the ground up. Sheds, living rooms, homes, or even a skyscraper, according to the company that makes it. We have a deal on it for $24.99. Check the listing for all the features.

macOS: Setting Your Default Printer

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-24 08:52, modified at 08:53

If you’ve got multiple printers in your life, then first of all…well, I’m sorry that you have to deal with multiple printers in your life. I’ve only got one, but considering that I have to troubleshoot them all the time for clients, I think I’ve put in my time! Paid my dues! This is my roundabout way of saying that I kind of hate the things.

One thing you could do to make them slightly less annoying, though, is to choose which one to set as your default. If you print to a particular device way more often than another, it makes sense to do so, considering that the Mac’s usual behavior is to always default to the last one you used when you choose File > Print.

You can choose which printer you use from the Printer in the macOS document Print dialog

That’s the last printer I used. And also the only one I have. AND I was too lazy to get up and turn on the darned thing so it wouldn’t have that “hey, I’m disconnected” lightning-bolt symbol on it. I’m working SO HARD for you guys right now.

Anyhow, it’s easy as pie to set a default printer. Just choose System Preferences from the Apple Menu at the top-left of your screen, and then click on “Printers & Scanners.”

Use Printer & Scanners in System Preferences on your Mac to set a default printer

That screenshot’s not overdone, right? I thought not.

Once “Printers & Scanners” opens, you’ll see a list of your devices on the left, and you can pick which one you want as the default from the drop-down near the bottom of the window.

The Default Printer pop-up menu in Printers & Scanners System Preferences let you choose which printer your Mac always uses

Or if you wanna get all fancy-like, you could instead right- or Control-click on the correct one from your list and pick that option from the contextual menu.

Control-click or Right-click on a printer in the Printers list in Printers & Scanners System Preferences to set a default printer in macOS

I always do it that way for some reason. Looks cooler.

When you’re finished, you can just close the System Preferences window, and when you print something forever after, your Mac will assume that you want to use the device you set as the default. Of course, you can click the drop-down shown in my first screenshot to temporarily switch to a different printer if you need to, but then it’ll always revert back to the default for the next job.

Did printers just become a tiny bit less terrible? No, they actually did not. But at least I’m trying here.

Apple Elevates Inclusion and Diversity to Rank of Vice President

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-23 23:13, modified on 2017-05-24 02:25

Apple quietly elevated the head of Inclusion and Diversity to the level vice president, up from a director’s position. And the company has a corporate heavy weight for the job in the form of its own Denise Young Smith, formerly Vice President of Worldwide Human Resources. 9to5Mac reported that her new title will be Vice President for Inclusion and Diversity, and that she will report directly to CEO Tim Cook.

Denise Young Smith

Apple VP of Inclusion and Diversity

“Our inclusion and diversity efforts are critically important to Apple’s future,” Apple said in a statement. “Denise’s years of experience, expertise and passion will help us make an even greater impact in this area.”

Human Resources

Human resources is vitally important for any company with more than a few employees. I tried to make this point in Tuesday’s Daily Observations with Jeff Gamet and Dave Hamilton, but I was unable to articulate it the way I wanted to during the show.

HR isn’t sexy, and no one talks about it outside of a company. To the outside world, HR managers don’t get the attention that marketing, engineering, design, or even logistics executives get, but they wield enormous power within their organizations. There is intense competition in Silicon Valley for senior HR managers, too.

All of which is to say that Denise Young Smith might not be well known to Apple watchers, but she’s been with the company for 20 years. With her experience at Apple, she can do anything she wants anywhere she wants.

Furthermore, in many companies, diversity managers report to the head of HR or are otherwise part of the HR infrastructure. Ms. Young Smith, however, will be reporting directly to Tim Cook, and that gives us tremendous insight into how seriously both Mr. Cook and Ms. Young Smith take the position of Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity.

Inclusion and Diversity

Inclusion and diversity (ID) has been gaining prominence in corporate circles in recent years, and Ms. Young Smith won’t be the first ID executive reporting to a CEO. But she will be one of the highest profile ID execs working for one of the highest profile CEOs at the highest profile corporation.

All in all that makes this development important. Few will care out here in the world of Apple fans (and Apple haters, too). But Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the broader corporate ranks in the U.S. are paying close attention.

How to Use Instagram Archive to Hide Old Photos

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-23 20:30, modified at 20:37

Mark Zuckerberg really doesn’t want you to delete your precious data. Instead, Facebook-owned Instagram rolled out a new archival feature to hide any photo you no longer want on your profile—without deleting it. The company is gradually rolling out Instagram Archive. Here’s how to Archive photos on Instagram.

Instagram Archive to Hide Photos

Instagram Archive is in testing mode and will expand over the new few months. If you have access to the feature,  start by opening the Instagram app.

Screenshots of what Instagram Archive looks like.

  1. Scroll to a photo you want to Archive and hide.
  2. Tap the three dots on the top right and choose Archive.
  3. Go to your profile and look in the top right corner for a clock icon. It should look familiar because Apple uses a similar icon for Time Machine and viewing the version history of documents.
  4. Tap on the clock, and this will bring you to Instagram Archive. Photos you’ve hidden are now private, and no one else can see them. You can choose to restore them at any time. Hearts and comments are still available to view—by you when it’s Archives and by anyone if you un-Archive it.

This feature works for video posts as well. You can choose to archive and hide photos and videos that didn’t get enough likes (although desperately craving Likes/Hearts/Shares may reveal low self-esteem).

In any case, Instagram Archive is a handy feature for those who want it, while other people can continue to delete old posts if they so choose.

How to Use New 1Password Travel Mode to Protect Your Data

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-23 18:10

The next time you’re traveling across the border, consider using 1Password Travel Mode. It’s an easy method to prevent certain passwords from getting intercepted if your iPhone or Mac is held by border agents. This way, even if you surrender your device’s password, only passwords that you deem safe for travel are accessed by law enforcement. Here’s how to turn it on and start using it.

1Password Travel Mode

I’ll start by noting that the new Travel Mode is only available for those with a 1Password membership. It isn’t enough to buy 1Password and unlock the Pro features. The membership is a monthly subscription and starts at US$2.99 for individual accounts.

AgileBits, the creator of 1Password, explained the new feature in a blog post. Travel Mode goes beyond hiding your vaults, or making them “invisible.” They are actually removed from your device, including the encryption keys. Even if a border agent forces you to unlock 1Password, there is no way they can tell that Travel Mode is enabled.

If you’re an enterprise user with 1Password Teams, the administrator has control over which company secrets your employees travel with. You can turn Travel Mode on and off for each team member.

Before you start, you’ll need to determine which passwords are safe for travel. Examples might include accounts to innocuous websites. If you’re a non-U.S. citizen, you may need to hand over your social media passwords to TSA agents.

Set up Vaults for Travel

Example image to enable Safe for Travel for new 1Password Travel Mode.

  1. To get started, sign into your account on 1Password.com. It’s probably best to create a new travel-safe password vault. You can do this by clicking New Vault on your Home screen on the 1Password website. Name your vault, and give it a description.
  2. To move items to the new vault, open the vault with your passwords and select the ones you want. Click the share button and choose Move/Copy. Click Move next to the travel vault. Do this for all items you want to move.

Using Travel Mode

Image of account profile for 1Password Travel Mode.

  1. Once you have finished setting up your travel vault and moving safe passwords to it, click the pencil icon on the vault. Select Safe for Travel, and click Confirm.
  2. Next, Click your account name in the top right and choose My Profile.
  3. Click Enable Travel Mode.
  4. On the devices you’re traveling with, open and unlock 1Password. Vaults that haven’t been marked as safe for travel will be removed from the app.
  5. When you’re done traveling and safe, return to My Profile and click Disable Travel Mode.

There’s a $399 3D Printer on Kickstarter

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-23 18:05

3D printing is poised to be affordable by a lot more people, and there’s a project on Kickstarter speaking to this trend. It’s called Neva, and it’s a $399 3D printer from established 3D printer manufacturer Dagoma. Actually, there are $299 Early Bird pledge level available as of this writing that will net you a Neva, but the retail price for the device is set at $399. In addition to being inexpensive, it’s designed to be operated with just one button. They’re also made in California, and the bases themselves are 3D printed. The video below is a tad weird in that the narrator tells you lots of things and then says, “but we won’t” tell you that thing. It’s interesting anyway. The project blew past its funding goal of $50,000 in a few hours (earning more than $10,000 in pledges while I wrote this Cool Stuff Found). That speaks to the desire that many people have to be able to 3D print on their own desk.

No PC Maker Can ‘Go After’ Apple MacBooks with Good Design

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-23 16:59

There’s been this thing in recent years where PC makers “go after” Apple’s MacBook/Pro/Air with a nice looking new PC laptop. I’m calling balderdash—the entire premise is flawed. Here’s why.

Huawei's Matebook X

Huawei’s Matebook X

Huawei’s Matebook X

What brought this to mind was the announcement of Chinese firm Huawei’s announcement of the Matebook X. See what they did there with that name? Matebook? It’s like “MacBook,” but it’s “Matebook.” Get it?

Yeah, a blindfolded mole could spot that turd from a thousand yards away.

Here’s Ars Technica‘s look at the device, which is annoyingly an autoplay video. I’m including it because Valentina Palladino does a great job of showing us the Matebook X.


It looks a lot like a MacBook, sort of. If you squint. And maybe borrow that mole’s blindfold.

Fine, I get it. I get the allure of thinking good looking PC designs are “going after” Apple’s MacBook sales. I personally contributed to that trend when I called Microsoft’s under-powered, under-rammed, under-ported, and over-priced Surface Laptops “sexy.” Mind you, they are sexy, but that’s not really the point.

Good Looking Windows Laptops Don’t Threaten Apple’s MacBook

At the end of the day, Huawei’s (relatively) good looking Matebook X is just another OEM Windows laptop. Just like any other. Wait, that’s not quite true. Unlike many PC OEMs, Huawei is banned from the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure market for fear that China could use it to compromise our national security.

So, you know, if you want to buy a laptop made by a company with ties to the Chinese government…feel free.

But again, that’s not the point here. Any given PC company FINALLY coming around to good, thin design is just another company playing catch up. It’s them reaching for the bar Apple set.

By doing so, they might hope to take share from some other hapless OEM, but they aren’t going to lure Apple MacBook customers away*.

OEMs Are Nothing More than OEMs

At the end of each and every day, a PC OEM is just a PC OEM. They don’t do anything special. At all. If one goes away, the market won’t even notice. The legions of other PC OEMs will each grow a tiny bit and the world will move on.

This is precisely the argument I’ve made about Samsung’s delusions of relevance in the smartphone market. When you don’t control the software, there’s nothing special about you, no matter how fervently you wish otherwise. A slick looking PC laptop that reaches for Apple’s bar won’t change anything.

Performance for Pros

There’s one area where this isn’t true, and that’s performance, especially for professional users. We’ve written about how HP was going after Apple’s pro users with attractive desktop PCs. That’s a separate argument from design.

Professional users need power, and if Apple is going to let its professional desktop hardware languish, as it has for almost 4 years, the company will lose customers to Windows. And when they do so, many of those users will choose better looking pro PC hardware over crappy-looking pro PC hardware.

But performance is behind that move in the first place, not design.

Matebook, Schmatebook

From my perspective, Huawei’s Matebook X is about as important to Apple’s laptop business as any other crappy Windows OEM laptop. Anyone lured into buying it because of its looks wasn’t going to buy an Apple laptop in the first place*.


I gave myself an asterisk here because Asia—China in particular—appears to be less prone to operating system loyalty than Western markets. There’s less brand loyalty, too. Apple has experienced this first hand as iPhone copycats have taken share from Apple in China.

Devices like the Matebook X, Surface Laptop, and any other vaguely attractive PC laptop have a higher chance of taking sales that would have otherwise gone to Apple in those markets.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Iris Scanner Already Hacked

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-23 16:27

Well, that didn’t take long. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 flagship smartphone has been out for only a month and its iris scanning biometric security feature has already been hacked. The Chaos Computer Club figured out how to trick the iris recognition technology, and it was surprisingly simple.

Samsung Galaxy S8 iris scanning biometric security feature is simple to hack

Turns out is really easy to hack the Galaxy S8 iris recognition biometric security feature

The Galaxy S8’s iris recognition is touted as a great alternative to tapping out an unlock passcode, and it lets you authenticate for credit card transactions through Samsung Pay—the company’s version of Apple Pay. It’s also apparently great at letting anyone who can snap a photo of your eye into your phone so they can rack up credit card charges through Samsung Pay.

The CCC defeated the Galaxy S8’s iris recognition by snapping a photo of someone’s eye using a smartphone camera in night shot mode—and they didn’t even need to be close to the subject. The image quality from shots taken as far away as 16 feet using a nice digital camera worked just fine, too.

Next, they adjusted the image so the iris was about actual size and output on a laser printer. Ironically, they got the best print quality of Samsung’s own models. The placed a regular contact lens over the iris print, and that was more than enough to trick the S8’s recognition system.

The CCC said, “By far the most expensive part of the iris biometry hack was the purchase of the Galaxy S8 smartphone.”

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 has already been declared the most breakable smartphone ever, and now its biometric security seems pretty weak at best—so it’s hackable and crackable. But at least it looks nice.

CCC spokesperson Dirk Engling offered up some advice for Galaxy S8 owners saying,

If you value the data on your phone—and possibly want to even use it for payment—using the traditional PIN-protection is a safer approach than using body features for authentication.

I did a little online shopping to see how much it costs to hack the S8’s iris recognition, including buying the very phone you’re going to hack. It just seemed right to use the Galaxy S8 to hack the Galaxy S8.

  • Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone (for a selfie of your eye, and to hack) $738
  • Samsung Xpress color laser printer (to print out the iris photograph) $115
  • Contact lens about $3
  • Schadenfreude from bypassing the S8’s biometric security priceless

Of course, if the iPhone 8 includes iris recognition that turns out to be as easy to hack I’ll be eating some serious digital crow. Until then, here’s the CCC’s video showing the hack in action. It’s crazy how simple it is.

iOS 10: Disabling Slack Indexing Might Improve Spotlight Search – Here’s How to Do It

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-23 15:00, modified at 15:01

If you find searching in Spotlight on your iPhone or iPad is a little slow, you may want to consider disabling Slack indexing. Nick Heer of PixelEnvy found that after he tried this, Spotlight seemed to speed up once again.

A couple of things to consider: the first is that some people are experiencing terrible Spotlight performance on their iOS devices. But even within TMO’s small data set of staff, we all have Slack on our iOS devices, but don’t all have this Spotlight slowdown. That means Slack indexing may or may not be the cause of the problem. If you do have the problem, disabling Slack indexing may or may not fix it.

If you are experiencing a Spotlight slowdown and have Slack, and want to disable indexing, here’s how to disable it.

Disable Slack Indexing

Open Settings and go to General > Spotlight Search. Scroll down until you see Slack, and turn the switch off.

Screenshot that shows how to disable Slack in iOS settings.

Switching off Slack

There are some reports suggesting that this bug has been fixed in iOS 10.3.2. If you’re seeing issues with Spotlight, try this and see if it works. If you don’t have Slack installed, then update iOS (which you should always do, anyway).

Soverin Secure Email 1-Year Subscription: $10

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-23 14:11

Our friends at Stack Commerce have put together a deal on a 1 year subscription to Soverin, the email service dedicated to protecting your data and privacy. There’s a lot to sat about Soverin, but the bottom line is that it’s an email service you pay for with money, rather than with your privacy. They make four commitments to their customers: no tracking, no advertising, no lock in, and privacy first. Plus, it’s encrypted. A 1 year subscription through us is $10. There are longer terms available, too. Click through to learn more.

IKEA Says Hello to HomeKit, Apple’s Diversity Boss, Huawei Targets the MacBook – TMO Daily Observations 2017-05-23

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-23 13:46

IKEA is Making HomeKit Smart Lights Affordable for Everyone

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-23 10:22, modified at 11:52

IKEA’s reputation for budget priced furniture carried over into smart lights last year, and now it’s about to do the same for HomeKit, too. The retailer’s low cost TRÅDFRI smart lights are getting HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home support this year at prices that undercut Philips Hue and other smart light products.

IKEA smart lights getting HomeKit support

IKEA adding HomeKit support to its smart lights

The TRÅDFRI smart light starter kit includes a hub and two dimmable white-only lights to get you up and running. Companion apps for controlling the lights will be available, and Alexa Skills are on the way, too. HomeKit is Apple’s smart home device management platform.

IKEA’s TRÅDFRI Gateway starter kit costs US$79.99, which includes the hub, a remote control, and two light bulbs. Philips comparable product, the Hue White Starter Kit is $10 cheaper, but doesn’t include a remote.

Compared to Philips’ other starter kits, however, TRÅDFRI Gateway package is a deal. The Hue White Ambiance kit, which also white-only bulbs, costs $129.95. The Hue White and Color Ambience kit is priced at $199.95.

Pricing for additional IKEA smart bulbs starts at $11.99 and tops out at $19.99, depending on brightness. That undercuts the Philips Hue White Extension Bulb’s $14.95 price point at the low end, and the Hue White Ambience Bulb’s $29.95 at the high end.

IKEA doesn’t, however, offer color bulbs, so if you’re looking for more than dimmable white lights Philips Hue still has the advantage. That said, IKEA’s TRÅDFRI line is an affordable option if you’re looking to get into smart home lighting—and HomeKit—without spending loads of money.

Apple and Nokia Reach Agreement in Patent Licensing Dispute

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-23 09:14, modified at 11:52

Apple and Nokia settled their patent licensing dispute on Monday and are besties again. Apple paid Nokia an undisclosed sum of money and agreed to ongoing payments, and Nokia is “providing certain network infrastructure product and services to Apple.”

Apple Scales of Justice

Apple and Nokia settle their differences in patent licensing dispute

Withings smart scales, heart rate monitors, and other health products will return to Apple stores, too. Nokia owns the Withings brand, and Apple stopped selling the products during the patent licensing dispute.

Now that the two companies are back on good terms, Nokia is giving the just announced deal a thumbs up. Nokia’s Chief Legal Officer Maria Varsellona said,

This is a meaningful agreement between Nokia and Apple. It moves our relationship with Apple from being adversaries in court to business partners working for the benefit of our customers.

Nokia filed patent infringement complaints against Apple in December 2016 after the two failed to come to terms over licensing payments. Apple claimed Nokia was demanding unfairly high licensing fees, and Nokia said it spent years trying to reach an agreement with the iPhone maker.

The patents in question cover technologies used on the iPhone such as antennas, chipsets, and more.

Apple’s statement on the agreement came from chief operating officer Jeff Williams and was less enthusiastic. “We are pleased with this resolution of our dispute and we look forward to expanding our business relationship with Nokia,” he said.

Apple and Nokia are also considering working together on what they’re calling “digital health initiatives.” They aren’t elaborating on what that collaboration may entail.

Supreme Court Just Killed Marshall Texas Patent Troll Business

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-22 18:41, modified at 22:24

A patent battle over flavored water may turn into a win for iPhone and Mac maker Apple, and a big loss for patent trolls. Thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Monday, patent infringement cases must be filed in the jurisdiction where the offending company is incorporated, which will greatly limit the court choices open to patent trolls.

Supreme Court says patent holders have to file infringement cases where the plaintiff is incorporated

Supreme Court ruling limits where patent infringement lawsuits can be filed

Patent trolls have spent the last 27 years shopping around for sympathetic courts, which led to a booming business in Eastern Texas. Non-practicing patent holders, or patent trolls, have been filing cases in Federal court there for years because odds are much higher they’ll win their cases.

Thanks to the court’s rules and sympathetic juries, patent infringement cases are big business in Marshall, Texas. 40 percent of the patent infringement cases are filed in the town, but that’s about to change, and the trolls can blame Heartland and Kraft.

Kraft filed a patent infringement lawsuit in Delaware against Heartland over water flavorings. Heartland’s request to move the case to Indiana where it’s based was denied despite the fact that it doesn’t have a presence in Delaware, according to Reuters. That eventually took the case to the Supreme Court and today’s ruling.

According to the Supreme Court ruling, patent infringement cases must be filed where the defendant is incorporated.

While Apple makes computers and smartphones instead of juice, the ruling could still have a big impact. The long list of patent trolls the company has tangled with over the years tend to file their cases in Eastern Texas where Apple doesn’t have a presence, and now those cases will have to be filed in Delaware. Apple’s headquarters are in Cupertino, but the company is incorporated in Delaware for tax purposes.

Apple isn’t the only big company to incorporate in Delaware. Google, Coca-Cola, Ford, Facebook, Amazon, Kraft, and thousands of other companies have done the same to take advantage of the state’s tax laws. That’s were patent trolls will have to head now, and the Federal Court in that district isn’t as kind to them.

That also means Marshall’s thriving patent litigation industry is about to dry up, and most of the jobs it created will go away. For Delaware’s Federal District Court, the dockets may start filling up with the cases that otherwise would’ve gone to Texas—assuming the patent trolls think they have a fighting chance.

Regardless, it looks like Marshall, Texas, is about to get a lot quieter and big tech companies like Apple and Google may see fewer frivolous patent lawsuits.

Apple Plans to Change Scrolling in Safari

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-22 18:00

Over the weekend, an article from The Register laid out complaints of Google AMP and how it negatively impacts the web. Then, John Gruber of Daring Fireball linked to the article and added his own comments, such as how AMP pages scroll differently than the rest of Safari. The creator of Google AMP then explained the scrolling difference, and how Apple will change scrolling in Safari to be like AMP. But let’s go back to the beginning and explain what it all means.

What is AMP?

In 2015, Google launched the Accelerated Mobile Pages project, or AMP. It’s a special web format web developers and publishers can use to display their web pages and have them load quickly on smartphones.

While it sounds great at first, not many developers like the idea of giving Google control over their content. AMP strips out web analytics and special elements like interactive maps and photo galleries. Because of the way AMP is implemented, it even breaks certain features of Safari.

How AMP Screws With Safari

Google AMP breaks Safari Reader, the “tap status bar to scroll up” function, and Safari’s Find on Page extension. It also messes with Safari’s scrolling on iOS, which was John Gruber’s complaint. But Malte Ubl, the creator of Google AMP, explains:

With respect to scrolling: We (AMP team) filed a bug with Apple about that (we didn’t implement scrolling ourselves, just use a div with overflow). We asked to make the scroll inertia for that case the same as the normal scrolling.

Apple’s response was (surprisingly) to make the default scrolling like the overflow scrolling. So, with the next Safari release all pages will scroll like AMP pages.

Screenshot of Google AMP website. Scrolling in Safari will be modeled after AMP.

Inception: A website in AMP format explaining Google AMP.

Breaking it Down

User Om2 points out in response to Malte Ubl:

In current iOS Safari, webpage scrolling is inconsistent from all other scrolling on the system. This was an intentional decision made long ago. In addition, overflow areas are consistent with the rest of the system, and thus inconsistent with top-level webpage scrolling. This is semi-accidental. In reviewing scroll rates, we concluded that the original reason was no longer a good tradeoff. Thus this change, which removed all the inconsistencies: https://trac.webkit.org/changeset/211197/webkit. Having all scrolling be consistent feels good once you get used to it.

Throughout iOS and macOS, Apple implements inertial scrolling, also called momentum scrolling. It’s when you swipe to scroll up or down, and when you lift up your finger, the page continues to scroll on its own for a short distance. Most—if not all—apps use this, and it’s the reason why using an iPhone feels like such a fast and smooth experience.

If you’re a web developer, you’re probably familiar with the CSS property webkit-overflow-scrolling: touch. This lets you add inertial scrolling to overflow elements. If you add it to a fixed size element, then the content will also have inertial scrolling.

Image of Apple patent that lays out scrolling in Safari.

Apple patent: “Continuous scrolling with acceleration”

The problem is that very few web developers apply inertial scrolling. This is why, when you browse in iOS Safari, the web page will stop when your finger lifts off the screen. You have to put more effort into getting to the top or bottom of the page.

But the good news is that Apple plans to update iOS and bring inertial scrolling to Safari. This will make it consistent with the rest of the system, and should give your thumb less of a workout. We’re not sure when this will happen. MacRumors noted that inertial scrolling isn’t found in the iOS 10.3.3 beta, so it’s possible Apple will wait to bring it to iOS 11.

The Good That Has Come Out of Apple’s Mac Lapses

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-22 17:27

Apple customers have waited for a long time to get new, updated Mac models. Apple kicked off the resurgence in late 2016 with the Touch Bar MacBook Pro, but there remained serious concerns. And that’s a Good Thing™. The development of technology and the approaches by the competition have evoked a strong, clear, intelligent response from the community that amounts to an excellent, thoughtful conversation about what Macs should be all about going forward. Particle Debris page 2 discusses that and ponders more new Mac hardware at WWDC in June.

Apple’s New Switcher Campaign — for iPhone

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-22 17:14

Apple launched a new advertising campaign called Switch to iPhone at apple.com/switch. The campaign trades the white of the company’s original I’m a PC campaign for dark pastels and simple, compelling imagery. The message is that it’s simple to switch to iPhone, which is faster, that your music will sound better, and that moving your photos is easy.

To kick off the campaign, Apple posted four videos to YouTube, embedded below.

Switch to iPhone

The main Switch to iPhone website has lots of information to bolster the switching message. It talks about Apple’s commitment to privacy, why Messages is “so great,” the fact that it’s easy, fast, and the qualities of the camera.

Jump to iPhone

The first spot is called Jump to iPhone, featuring a literal embodiment of that idea that it’s easy to jump from your old phone to an iPhone.


The second piece argues that iPhones are faster.


Apple’s Music spot has a slightly more abstract message that your music sounds better on an iPhone.


The fourth spot addresses one of the biggest sources of angst for anyone switching from one smartphone platform to another (and to a lesser extent, to a new smartphone): moving all those pics you’ve taken. The message of this commercial is that doing so is easy, and that Photos does all the work for you.

More Switch to iPhone Commercials Likely Coming

There are four spots in the series, but there are likely more coming. This has the hallmark of an extended campaign.

Time-Lapse Video of Living Zen Sand Art Coffee Table

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-22 16:00, modified at 16:13

Check out this amazing time-lapse video of the Sisyphus 1, a living zen, kinetic, sand art coffee table. It was crowd funded on Kickstarter in 2016, where it raised US$1.9 million from 1,992 backers. MentalFloss noted Monday that the company—Sisyphus Industries—has a commercial website in development while it finishes ramping up production capability for the device. The premise is captivating. The table has a bed of fine sand under glass. A steel ball is controlled by a mechanism underneath the sand. That mechanism uses magnetism to push the ball in intricate patterns across the sand, drawing amazing patterns in the process. Once a pattern is complete, the table starts on a new pattern (until it’s turned off). It’s lit, too, which you control from a smartphone. I could watch the videos all day long. I can’t even imagine how captivating the real table would be. The video I embedded below is a time-lapse, but there are many more videos on the original Kickstarter project, including one with lots of closeups of the ball rolling in the sand.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Computer Historian and Author David Greelish

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-22 15:46, modified at 15:53

David Greelish on Background Mode.

My Background Mode interview with David Greelish



David Greelish on Background Mode.

David Greelish with his library of computer history books.

Leaked Pics Compare iPhone 8 Size to iPhone 7s and 7s Plus

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-22 15:34

It’s a pretty safe bet we know what the still unconfirmed iPhone 8 will look like when it’s unveiled this fall, and now we have a better idea of how it stacks up size-wise with the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus. Reports so far say the iPhone 8 will be about the same size as the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7s, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing in the leaked phone mold photos.

Leaked photos compare iPhone 8 size to iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus

Leaked photos show iPhone 8 to iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus size comparison

The show the iPhone 8 as just slightly taller than the iPhone 7s, which is also expected to ship this fall. The iPhone 7s will follow Apple’s usual pattern of sticking with the same body as the model it replaces—in this case, the iPhone 7—and upgrading the internal components.

The pics come courtesy of Benjamin Geskin who earlier posted renderings of the iPhone 8 he said were based on Apple’s CAD files. These metal molds fit with the renderings he and other people have made.

Apple’s iPhone 8 will reportedly pack a 5.8-inch OLED screen into a body that’s only a smidgen taller than the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 by ditching the top and bottom bezel. The Home button will go away as well to make room for that bigger display. In its place there’ll be a virtual Home button and Touch ID sensors will be embedded in the display glass.

The iPhone 8 will also sport vertical rear-facing dual cameras, 3d-sensing front-facing cameras, wireless charging support, and a new A11 processor. The new model is expected to be unveiled at a September media event along with the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus.

Apple hasn’t said anything about its iPhone refresh plans, which is standard for the company. Based on the leaks we’ve seen so far, however, it’s a safe bet Apple is launching three phone models this fall, and one will be the suped-up iPhone 8. It’s also a safe bet inventory will be limited at first, so be prepared to wait a few weeks before yours arrives.

Apple’s Driverless Test Car Caught in the Wild

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-22 14:03

Apple’s driverless test car—a Lexus SUV—was caught in the wild by a MacRumors reader. There’s nothing earth-shattering about catching Apple’s autonomous vehicle in the wild—it’s been done before. But, I enjoy these reminders that Apple is going full steam ahead on developing driverless technology. Project Titan leaks have dramatically slowed since Bob Mansfield took it over, but testing obviously continues apace. MacRumor‘s Juli Clover has some additional details on this particular spotting.

Ford’s Interest in Autonomous Cars, iOS 11 Wish List – TMO Daily Observations 2017-05-22

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-22 13:50, modified at 13:52

114 Year Old Car Company Puts Self Driving Car Exec In Charge

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-22 13:35

Ford, which turns 114 on June 16th, is out with the old and in with the new. The company is switching CEOs, and Jim Hackett, the new guy in charge, just happens to be the executive who was in charge of autonomous vehicles at Ford. From The New York Times:

Ford Motor replaced its chief executive, Mark Fields, on Monday and vowed to catch up in the race to build self-driving cars and define a new era in personal mobility. The company said Jim Hackett, who had overseen the Ford subsidiary that works on autonomous vehicles, would immediately take the reins from Mr. Fields.

Mr. Hackett said the board had given him a free hand to transform the nation’s No. 2 automaker, including seeking alliances with Silicon Valley firms, changing its product lineup, and divesting itself of unprofitable global operations.

Driverless cars are the future. It remains to be seen if Apple’s own autonomous vehicle efforts—Project Titan—result in an Apple Car, but the entire auto industry is becoming ever-more focused on driverless cars.

Drive Genius 5 Standard License: $39

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-22 11:52, modified at 19:04

We have a deal for you today on the venerable Mac utility Drive Genius 5. This software helps monitor and manage your storage device and its files with 19 different built-in utilities. It’s $39 [corrected to match the deal] through us, some 60% off.

Nike Unveils VaporMax Flyknit Apple Watch Bands

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-22 11:48

Nike wants your Apple Watch to match your shoes, so the company is launching a new line Nike+ of sport bands. The “Day to Night” line match the company’s Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit running shoes with color coordinated Apple Watch Nike+ bands.

Nike Day to Night VaporMax Flyknit running shoes and matching Apple Watch bands

Nike launches Day to Night matching running shoes and Apple Watch bands

Like the current Apple Watch Nike+ bands, the Day to Night collection is perforated for better breathability. They’re available in four colors to match the Day to Night VaporMax Flyknit line, and you can buy the bands even if you don’t have the matching shoes.

The new Nike Sport Bands will be available June 1st for US$49. They’ll be at the Nike website, along with Nike and Apple retail stores.

RSA Sues Apple Claiming Apple Pay Patent Infringement

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-22 10:30

RSA filed a lawsuit against Apple and Visa over the weekend claiming the iPhone maker’s Apple Pay feature infringes on patents it owns. The company says it holds 13 patents covering Apple Pay technology, and hasn’t been able to get Apple or Visa to pay for licensing.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware and states that RSA’s SecurID patents cover secure one-time financial transaction tokens, biometric identification, and other authentication systems for smartphones. The company drew a fairly detailed image of Apple Pay with its patent list.

RSA hits Apple and Visa with patent infringement lawsuit over Apple Pay

RSA targets Apple Pay with patent infringement lawsuit

Apple Pay is a system that lets users complete credit card transactions with their iPhone, Apple Watch, or iPad while keeping their actual card number secure. Users can hold their device near payment terminals in stores to initiate payment, to tap an on-screen button for online payments.

RSA says it participated in several meetings with Visa in 2010 about collaborating on the cardless payment system, according to the New York Times. Visa signed a 10-year nondisclosure agreement, but walked away from the discussions after its own engineers had been fully briefed on how RSA’s SecurID system worked.

Fast forward to 2013, and Visa starts working on Apple Pay with Apple, American Express, and MasterCard. Apple Pay officially launched in 2014 and iPhone owners have been tapping payment terminals in stores ever since.

Apple apparently wasn’t ever involved in discussions with RSA SecurID, and never responded to the company’s requests to license its payment technology.

RSA, Patents, and Lawsuits

RSA’s lawsuit isn’t a big surprise considering it hasn’t had any luck licensing its secure payment tech to bigger companies. Since that hasn’t worked out so far, the company is working on its own Apple Pay-like device while pursuing its litigation. If its device is something users need to carry in addition to their smartphone, maybe RSA SecurID should stick with lawsuits because consumers won’t want yet another payment system in their pocket.

RSA is owned by Dell, and its SecurID technology is commonly used in systems where two-factor authentication is required. Corporate controlled secure logins, for example, often rely on RSA SecurID key fobs to generate one-use token numbers users need to access their accounts.

RSA is being represented by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which is the same law firm that represented Samsung for part of its patent infringement lawsuit battle with Apple. Odds are RSA’s lawsuit won’t reach the same epic level as the Apple versus Samsung fight has, but odds are there will be some money exchanging hands before the case wraps up.

Fixing Album Art, Cracked iPads, and UPnP Dangers – Mac Geek Gab 658

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-21 12:03, modified on 2017-05-22 13:44

Note: Shownotes are complete!

Chapters/Timestamps/Stuff mentioned:

Data Forensics Company Recovers Notes Data Apple Claims is Deleted

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-19 18:58, modified at 19:02

Files deleted from Apple’s Notes app shouldn’t be recoverable after 30 days, but the security and data forensics company Elcomsoft found they could access records that were deleted months—or even more than a year—ago. That sounds pretty bad, but recovering those files requires some pretty specific elements, including knowing your iCloud login and password.

Elcomsoft recovers Notes files deleted months ago

Elcomsoft discovers long ago deleted Notes files are recoverable

iCloud offers data recovery for files that have been deleted in the lat 30 days. That’s a feature, not a bug, and TMO’s Melissa Holt recently detailed how that works. After 30 days, however, and those files are supposed to really be deleted and unrecoverable.

Elcomsoft found it’s possible to restore long deleted Notes data in some cases, saying, “We discovered that deleted notes are actually left in the cloud way past the 30-day period, even if they no longer appear in the ‘Recently Deleted’ folder.”

How Elcomsoft Notes Data Recovery Works

While restoring Notes files that were deleted more than 30 days ago does pose a privacy threat, it’s not necessarily a gaping hole any hacker can use. Accessing the deleted files requires the Apple ID and password linked to the iCloud account and Elcomsoft’s forensic software, both of which aren’t likely in the hands of a hacker.

The company’s tools can download all Notes data associated with an iCloud account, including those that no longer appear as recently deleted. Once the Notes files are downloaded, they can be viewed and searched without any restrictions.

Behind Elcomsoft’s Motivation

Detailing the flaw in Apple’s Notes recovery feature is, on one hand, a community service because now users and the company are aware of the problem. Apple can work on a server-side patch that truly deletes files that fall outside the recovery feature’s 30-day window, and users can decide if syncing Notes through iCloud is something they want to keep doing.

On the other hand, talking about the issue is essentially a big commercial for Elcomsoft’s data forensic products. These are tools law enforcement agencies use in criminal investigations, and telling the world about the Notes issue is akin to hanging a big neon “buy me” sign over Elcomsoft’s products.

What the Notes Data Recovery Issue Means for You

Despite the foreboding tone that goes along with hearing Notes data can be recovered well after is should really be gone, Elcomsoft’s announcement isn’t likely a big deal for most iCloud account users—unless you’re under criminal investigation and police already have your Apple ID user name and password. That’s not to say don’t worry if there’s nothing you need to hide; your personal data should simply stay private.

Apple will likely patch the issue that shouldn’t have been there, and Elcomsoft’s forensic tools won’t be able to get at those deleted records any more. The fix most likely will happen on Apple’s iCloud servers, so we won’t even have to wait for a security patch for your iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

For the average user, this is an issue that they most likely won’t ever encounter. For TMO’s John Kheit, however, this is no doubt a big dose of personal validation for his argument against cloud services in general.

A Stellar Concept Video for iOS 11 and the Rebirth of the Mac

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-19 18:18, modified on 2017-05-22 17:24

The Particle Debris item of the week isn’t a written article. Instead it’s a concept video, a joint effort by Federico Vittici at MacStories and designer Sam Beckett in the UK. The reason it’s so cool is because it punctuates the hunger we all have for a new iOS on the iPad that leaves the past behind, truly enables and excites. You’ll love these concepts.

There are several chapters in this concept video.

  1. Drag and Drop
  2. The Shelf
  3. App Picker
  4. Pro Features

The Pro Features break with tradition and expose part of the file system. Even though we might think that Apple would never expose the file system this way, it’s tempting to contemplate how Apple might break with tradition and make an exciting, quantum leap into the future.

That kind of capability, combined with the previous three concepts, is just what Apple needs to breathe new life into the sagging iPad sales. The concepts are daring, tantalizing, and immediately make one think about the creative possibilities these features would unleash.

I know Apple can’t just appropriate these concepts. There would be legal entanglements even if they were offered up freely. The point is that Apple has the engineering talent to take the iPad to the next level with its own unique brand of visually exciting features that would have us standing in line for a new iPad…

… at the Apple Store at 0600 in the morning. Wouldn’t that be a sight?

Next Page: The News Debris For The Week Of May 15th. The rebirth of the Mac is coming.

Page 2 – News Debris For The Week Of May 15th

The Rebirth of the Mac is Coming

Apple has taken some heat lately for its Mac lineup. The new iMacs, possibly with Xeon CPUs, are expected until the fall. The new Mac Pro isn’t expected until some time in 2018. This would seem to make it imperative that Apple introduce (if not ship) new notebooks at WWDC next month. Jonny Evans at Computerworld has the scoop. “WWDC: Apple’s Kaby Lake MacBook upgrades coming soon.

2016 MacBook Pro

Why does Apple’s new (2016) MacBook Pro have only USB-C ports? Doc Searls describes that as “passive-aggressive” behavior. Conversely, why doesn’t the new Microsoft Surface Laptop have any at all? The Verge has the answer: “Microsoft doesn’t think USB-C is ready for the mainstream.

Even if you never purchase Apple’s next Mac Pro, Jason Snell explains why it “holds an important place in the lineup.” See: “Championing the Mac Pro.

The truth is, every professional user is the most vertical of niches: a target market of one, with specific needs and desires that need to be fulfilled. Very few of us are lucky enough to have the perfect product emerge from Apple’s factories, so we have to pick and choose and find the closest approximation that we can afford.

That’s the advantage of making professional products not just powerful, but flexible in terms of specs and features. The more flexible the product line, the more fuzzy space there is for professional users to fit inside.

And so. Might we expect a slightly different, more flexible port configuration for the Kaby Lake MacBook Pros?  That would be an amazing, welcome concession to customers. Perhaps the Mac community, having had so long to formulate its thoughts about Apple,  Macs, the competition and their own needs will have an impact on future designs.

In any case, my instincts suggest that it won’t be too long before Apple’s Mac lineup starts to look much better. WWDC will be the litmus test.

One More Debris

Email on the Mac is beleaguered. There have been several misfires in the history of trying to one-up Apple’s Mail app, but none have gone the distance. Whenever I see an article that discusses alternatives to the Mail app, one that’s always mentioned is the trusty Thunderbird.

And now this: “Mozilla to Thunderbird: You can stay here and we may give you cash, but as a couple, it’s over.” No, the app isn’t done for, but it’s being relegated to 2nd tier status.

Once upon a time, a unified code base for Mozilla’s Firefox and Thunderbird sounded great… What’s happened now is a divorce-of-convenience… the Firefox and Thunderbird source code will diverge. It’s over between the two – not with a bang, but a whimper.

Email is one of those things that’s terribly important for some people, but not for many others. It’s not very sexy anymore. And so, we remain stuck with the Mail app, Thunderbird, Outlook and a few others. Things will probably never get any better for email.

And so we limp along with less than stellar solutions. It’s sad.

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the tmo headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.

Stevie Wonder Plays Apple’s Beer Bash, Here’s Tim Cook’s Tweet

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-19 17:54, modified at 19:23

Apple brought Stevie Wonder in to play the company’s Beer Bash this week, and Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted an image of him hugging the artist onstage. The concert capped a week of activities highlighting Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Mr. Wonder, who is blind, has long endorsed Apple because of the company’s extensive accessibility features in macOS and iOS. Apple often brings in big names for its Beer Bash, a long tradition for the company. This is likely to be of the Beer Bashes is held at Infinite Loop, as the company begins moving into Apple Park in the next few weeks. 9to5Mac rounded up some additional tweeted imaged from the event.

Dr. Mac Says He Can Save You an Hour a Day for Life (for Free)

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-19 17:36

Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus has a free course he says will save you an hour a day for the rest of your life. And it’s free. It’s a promotion for his new book, Working Smarter for Mac Users. It’s about beating procrastination and being much more efficient with your Mac.

Working Smarter for Mac Users cover

Working Smarter for Mac Users cover

As the editor of that book, I know and love the content. I also love how Bob is offering tips from it like this free course. Here’s the description:

Course Description

In this free short course (under 15 minutes), I demonstrate three simple techniques that can save you an hour or more a day, EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!

All three techniques are culled from Working Smarter for Mac Users, my new ebook that shows Mac users how to use their Macs better, faster, and more elegantly; banish procrastination; and do more work in less time so they have more time for things they love.

This course is offered free of charge with my compliments; l hope you find it useful.

Here are some links:

Bob’s free course: The free course that can save you an hour or more every day…for the rest of your life

Working Smarter for Mac Users for $19.99: Direct from Bob, Amazon, iTunes

How to shoot with zoom on iPhone 7 Plus (Apple Video)

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-19 17:10

Apple published another new video in its “Shoot with iPhone” series. This one is called “How to shoot with zoom on iPhone 7 Plus.” It offers two methods I don’t know you could use. The first is to single-tap your display for a 2x optical zoom. The second method is to touch and hold your display to scroll through your zoom until you get it where you want it. There are now 20 videos in this series, and they’re great resources for making the most of your iPhone’s camera.

How to shoot a one-handed selfie on iPhone 7 (Apple Video)

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-19 16:52

Apple posted a new video in its “Shoot with iPhone” series called “How to shoot a one-handed selfie on iPhone 7.” It offers the three steps needed to take a quick selfie with your iPhone (works with all iPhones running iOS 10). 1.) Swipe left from the lock screen. 2.) Switch to front-facing camera. 3.) Press either volume button to snap your selfie. There are now 20 videos in this series, and they’re great resources for making the most of your iPhone’s camera.

Dude Makes $70 Hackintosh, and It Worked (Video)

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-19 15:50

Snazzy Labs made a hackintosh—a PC forced to run macOS—and they spent $70 doing it. And here’s the thing: it worked. To be fair, that $70 included buying a 5-year old PC sold by a hospital ($30), a broken SSD that actually works ($5), and a replacement used video card ($35) that usually costs $100 or more. It’s so budget, he called it a crapintosh, a fitting name. But, if he did it, you could do it. More importantly, he found the performance to be really good—better than a 13″ MacBook Pro in some cases. It’s not quiet, it’s ugly, but it worked and worked well, and that’s interesting. He even edited the 4K video we’ve embedded below with this five-year-old, $70 hackintosh.

NFC on iPhone Can Be Unlocked, but Should You Care?

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-19 14:24, modified at 17:43

Apple first embedded an NFC chip in the iPhone 6. Many folks have been disappointed that the capability only works with Apple Pay. When years went by without the NFC chip being unlocked, either officially or in a jailbreak, it began to seem like we’d never be able to use NFC on iPhone for more than Apple Pay. Well, that’s changing, courtesy of a jailbreak tweak.

NFC on iPhone

If you jailbreak your iPhone, its NFC chip will soon be a lot more useful

NFC on iPhone is Another Walled Garden

NFC on iPhone has been a walled garden since it first arrived. We’ve only been able to use it for Apple Pay, and some folks (myself included) were starting to think the hardware was locking out other functionality somehow. It turns out, that’s not the case.

Yes, NFC on iPhone is locked down, but it’s only through software. A popular jailbreak developer, Elias Limneos, has broken through the wall. He successfully made his iPhone respond to NFC-enabled devices other than Apple Pay readers. He even posted a YouTube video of the process, because pictures or it never happened.

Just NFC Tags, for Now

Limneos has enabled his jailbroken iPhone to respond to NFC tags, which is a huge step in the right direction. You can see the jailbreak tweak reading the tag and authenticating it. There’s sure to be more to come, though. Android users are able to pair NFC-enabled cameras and speakers, as well as transmit files between each other.

Eventually, jailbreak developers could use this functionality to open up their iPhones to pay on other NFC platforms than Apple Pay, unlock an RFID door with their iOS devices, or much more. I think, though, that this enhanced functionality of the NFC chip will remain jailbreak-only. I don’t think Apple will open up the technology to more than its payment platform, and for good reason.

The Walled Garden Makes Life Easier and Faster

For the average user, the walled garden behind NFC is probably a good thing. Since the chip is currently only used for Apple Pay, your iPhone responds the same way anytime it senses an NFC device nearby. It displays the Apple Pay interface. Your iPhone doesn’t have to take the time to figure out what that device is and which app to use for it. This is probably the main reason the Apple Pay experience is one of the fastest among all of the NFC payment platforms.

Limiting what the NFC chip can do also makes Apple Pay more secure. You don’t have to worry about someone rigging a different NFC reader to pretend it’s the Apple Pay reader and take your hard-earned cash.

So Why Hack NFC on iPhone in the First Place?

As I said, the walled garden is good for the average user. For the not-so-average iPhone owner, though, more freedom is a good thing. If you’re adventurous enough to jailbreak your iPhone, opening up the NFC chip to use it in new ways is a good reward for your efforts. According to 9to5Mac, Limneous plans to release the hack as a tweak on Cydia in the near future. Others should follow suit with more functionality soon, I’m sure.

[Editor’s note: Jailbroken iPhones are inherently less secure and have been targeted by malware, including criminal and state-sponsored malware. Know what you’re doing before jailbreaking your iOS devices. – Bryan]

Trusting Siri, Apple’s Diabetes Wristband – TMO Daily Observations 2017-05-19

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-19 13:43, modified at 13:44

Ford CarPlay is Here for 2016 Models Via Software Update

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-19 13:31

Ford just announced that CarPlay is coming to all of its 2016 model vehicles via software update. CarPlay requires an iPhone 5 or later, and running iOS 7.1 or later. You can either take your car to the nearest Ford dealer for the Ford CarPlay update, or do it yourself.

Ford CarPlay is here for 2016 models.

Over the Air Ford CarPlay

You can download the Ford CarPlay update yourself from Ford’s owner support website, which says:

Customers can update their software by visiting owner.ford.com to download and install with a USB drive, or by visiting a dealership. Customers with Wi-Fi-enabled vehicles and a Wi-Fi network can set up their vehicle to receive the update automatically.

Older Vehicles

Ford’s 2017 cars already support CarPlay. If you have an older model from 2011 or later with Sync, you can use Siri Hands Free. This won’t give you full CarPlay features but you’ll have some access to Siri.

JSON Feed: Syndication without XML, easier for Humans and Machines

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-19 12:49, modified at 13:41

Long time Apple-industry developers, Brent Simmons and Manton Reece, this week announced and released JSON Feed Version 1. They say it best:

The JSON Feed format is a pragmatic syndication format, like RSS and Atom, but with one big difference: it’s JSON instead of XML.

For most developers, JSON is far easier to read and write than XML. Developers may groan at picking up an XML parser, but decoding JSON is often just a single line of code.

Our hope is that, because of the lightness of JSON and simplicity of the JSON Feed format, developers will be more attracted to developing for the open web.

Sounds good to me. TMO now has a JSON Feed as well. If you’d like to see it in action, this web-based feed reader should start to give you an idea.

Apple Increasing 10.5-inch iPad Pro Production Ahead of Launch

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-19 10:52

Apple is reportedly ramping up production of the rumored 10.5-inch iPad Pro and expects to ship up to 6 million by the end of 2017. The company apparently started in the March/April window with 500,000 units a month, and has now bumped that up to 600,000.

10.5-inch iPad Pro may be introduced at WWDC

10.5-inch iPad Pro production ramps up ahead of WWDC

Insider sources speaking with DigiTimes said production for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro should hit 600,000 a month by July. Apple still hasn’t officially announced the device, but with production underway it’s likely that’ll come soon.

Rumors claim Apple has a 10.5-inch version of the iPad Pro in the works, and it may be unveiled at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference in early June. Earlier rumors pegged the launch event in April, but that came and went without any news from Apple.

The new iPad size is expected to help boost sales, but analysts are still projecting year-over-year sales to drop.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is expected to get some love this year, too. Apple may be planning on starting production in June with a release in the third quarter. This will mark the first upgrade for the 12.9-inch model since it was introduced in September 2015.

We won’t likely hear about a 12.9-inch iPad Pro refresh at WWDC, but we could see the new 10.5-inch model. Reports also say Apple is unveiling new iMac models and a Siri-based Amazon Echo competitor at the event.

If Apple is launching updated iMacs and an iPad, along with entering into the voice assistant appliance market, that’ll make for a rushed keynote—or one that’s really long. Along with those rumored devices, Apple is going to show off the next major versions of macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. That’s a lot to pack into a 60 minute keynote event.

Apple hasn’t said anything about its upcoming product announcements. With WWDC only a few weeks away, we won’t have to wait too long to see which rumors pan out.

Three Mac Apps for Website Developers : $14.99

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-19 09:00, modified at 02:16

We have a bundle of Mac apps for website developers called the Mini Mac Developer Bundle. It includes three apps, skEdit (website builder), Nuggit (text editor), and Code Collector Pro (code snippet manager) for $14.99. That’s 70% off retail.