Maccast 04.01.2013 - Show #438
V Opening
V Opening Music
* Music is Say Anything by Manda and the Marbles
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V News
V Ive's influence shows
* During the executive shake up at Apple in October last year, Tim Cook, put Jony Ive in charge of all of Apple's design teams for both hardware and software.
* With Ive controlling both the Industrial Design and the Human Interface teams it was believed Apple would have better control over the integration of the software and the hardware interfaces and interaction
* Now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that insiders at Apple are beginning to notice the effects of some of the changes
* They report that their sources say Ive is appearing regularly at human interface team’s regular review sessions
* They also claim that the human interface team is being briefed about industrial prototypes earlier, where in the past the hardware team would tap their own stealth group of software developers to help with prototypes.
* The report says that Ive is pushing a more "flat design" that is starker and simpler.
V The move isn't too surprising considering we heard reports that Ive was never a fan of the ornamental "skeuomorphic" design elements that were reported pushed by Steve Jobs and supported by iOS lead Scott Forestall
* Examples include the stitching and torn paper edges in the Calendar app and the green felt game table motif in Game Center
* Skeuomorphic design began to be used heavily in Apple's iOS interfaces and started to crossover to Mac OS X, especially in Mountain Lion
* I personally have not been a fan. Especially in game Center where often it's hard to know what is a button or clickable element.
* The expectation is that Apple and Ive will start to slowly undo the skeuomorphic elements, but that it will likely be a gradual and subtle transition
V We may have also received out first hints of Ive's influence and of things to come with the latest updates to Apple's Podcast app
* The "reel-to-reel" tape interface has been removed completely
* Most of the controls have taken on a "flat" look and been moved to the main playback screen. I think it's a lot better and the controls are more accessible, but not overwhelming.
V Two-Factor login added for Apple IDs
* Apple has added the ability to enable 2-factor authentication for accessing your Apple ID account
* Once enabled an extra 4-digit code will be required to gain access to manage your Apple ID account before logging in on the Apple ID website
* The code is sent to approved iOS devices via notification in the Find My iPhone app or via TXT message
V The point of 2-factor is that it requires not just the login credentials, but also physical access to an object (like an iPhone) before allowing account changes to be made.
* Basically your iDevice acts like a physical "key"
* Even if someone got your account credentials they couldn't log in and change your password or access personal information
* The additional 2-fact code is also required to make purchases on any new computer or device.
V When you first set up 2-factor via Apple's Apple ID website it will also supply you with a "recovery key" to print out in case you lose access you your physical device.
* Apple tells you to print out the recovery key and to store it in a secure location
* If you enable 2-factor you will always require access to an approved device or the recovery key. If you lose both then you will not be able to access your account
* Once enable Apple support can also no longer reset your password.
V Apple also updated their app pages on the App Store to indicate when an App has in-app purchases
* This may be a response to a couple of high profile incidents, many out of the UK, where kids racked up large amounts of in-app purchases on supposedly "free" games
* Apple also recently settled a US lawsuit over in-app purchases, so the update may have also been a result of that action.
* New "Offers In-App Purchases" text now appears under the star-ratings and next to the purchase buttons on the store.
* I covered recently how you can use the 'Restrictions' (Parental Controls) to completely lock out in-app purchases
V Low cost iPhone, may keep good margin
* It's been rumored for a while that when Apple announces the next update to the iPhone, possibly early this summer, that they may also reveal a new lower cost iPhone targeted at price conscious consumers and emerging markets
* One of the main arguments against the rumor has been that Apple generally likes to keep a good margin, 30-40 percent, on profits fro sales of it's devices. That could prove hard to maintain when you start competing on price.
* And while not unprecedented, as it's believed Apple has a reduced margin on the iPad mini, at least once source now believes that the low cost iPhone still might be high on margin
* Credit Suisse analysts claimed in a recent report that they believe Apple will target a $329.00 USD unsubsidized price point on it's new lower cost device, but still build in a 38% margin.
V Just how Apple will hit the lower price point and maintain a healthy margin isn't exactly covered
* Lower cost plastic case
* Same retina screen as in current iPhone 5
* Possibly 3G only, not LTE (bad idea in my opinion)
* Rumors continue to point to a 3rd quarter launch of the iPhone 5S
* Digittimes says suppliers are expected to start shipping components for the new device sometime in May
V The iPhone 5S is expected to be mostly internal updates
* Newer faster processor
* Higher mega-pixel camera
* Likely the same 4" screen, but some still hope for a 4.5-4.7"
V Apple says data centers now on 100 percent renewable energy
* Apple announced this last week that it has now achieved 100 percent renewable energy at all of their data centers.
* They say that includes their facilities in North Carolina, Austin, Elk Grove, Cork, and Munich, and on the Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino.
* The facility in Maiden, NC has 100-acre solar farm that is said to be the largest private one in America and was just completed last December. The facility uses that along with bio-gas fuel cells from Bloom Technologies to produce 60 percent of the facilities energy needs on site.
* Apple also claimed that worldwide all their operations currently use 75 percent renewable energy sources and that they are working toward making that 100% in the future
V Apple looking to bring "Truth" to Maps
* Apple continues to improve their widely criticized Maps application
* We've seen things improve very quickly since Tim Cook publicly admitted that Apple had a problem with Maps and would be working hard to resolve the problems
* One thing that I was told my cartographers and Map experts was that the best thing Apple could do to improve maps would be to get real people from the local regions where there are issues to go over the data by hand and vet and correct issues
* This week it looks like they are doing exactly that. Apple recently posted open positions for Maps Ground Truth managers in seven countries.
* The new regions include the US, eastern and western Europe, Japan, Asia-Pacific, the Americas, and the Middle East and Africa
* Previously Apple has hired Maps Ground Truth managers just in Australia, which was one of the first and most public areas where their Maps data came under fire.
V According to the postings the mangers would:
* Test new releases of map code and data around the U.S.
* Collect ground truth data to allow for analysis of the impact of potential map code or data changes relative to known truth
* Utilize local expertise to provide feedback about U.S.-specific mapping details
* Evaluate competing products in-region relative to our maps
* Basically relying on local regional experts on the ground to improve mapping data rather than just using and relying on purchased datasets and satellite data.
V Apple might also be looking to expand it's mapping efforts into inner spaces.
* According to the Wall Street Journal and confirmed by an Apple spokesman Apple acquired the indoor GPS startup WifiSLAM
* Apple declined to comment on the specific of the deal or say why they acquired the company
* The WSJ says the deal was work about $20 million and thinks the deal is a move by Apple to remain competitive in the mapping space against Google.
* Google already offers indoor mapping in certain locations like airports, shopping centers and sports venues.
V WifiSLAM offers a technology and API to developers to allow for mobile apps to detect a phone user’s location in a building using Wi-Fi signals
* The system works in real-time to 2.5m accuracy using only ambient WiFi signals
* The technology is designed for indoor mapping and new types of retail and social networking apps.
* Things like step-by-step indoor navigation, proximity-based social networking, and product-level retail customer engagement.
* It also supposedly could be used to construct in-door mapping solutions.
V iPhone arrives on T-Mobile US soon
* T-Mobile in the US will be finally selling the iPhone 5 on April 12th
* How they do it will be different, only slightly in my opinion, than other carriers
* They will sell you the phone for $100 up front for a 16GB iPhone 5 along with a calling and data plan, but that plan does not require a contact
* After the up-front cost you'll pay $20/mo on top of your phone and data coverage costs for 24 months until you pay off the phone.
* The upfront cost for a 32GB and 64GB iPhone 5 are $200 and $300, respectively.
* So you're net total cost for the 16GB iPhone 5 on T-Mobile will wind up being $580 vs. the $649 unlocked cost from Apple.
V T-Mobile's call and data plan is $50/mo for unlimited talk, text, and data.
* The fine print is that only the first 500MB of that data is on the 4G network.
* For more 4G data, you can pay $10 per month per line for an additional 2GB or $20 per month per line for unlimited 4G data.
* The fallback is basically EDGE speeds
V T-Mobile will also be the first US carrier to support the HD Voice feature of the iPhone 5 and their plans will include 500MB of 4G tethering.
* AT&T announced that they would be supporting HD voice (wideband audio) in the US later this year.
* T-Mobile announced LTE coverage in seven cities so far. Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose, and Washington, D.C. New York is expected to get LTE on T-Mobile this summer.
* Their 4G network is 3G HSPA+ (similar to AT&T) 21Mbps down. T-Mobile supports up to 42Mbps down in some markets but the iPhone 5 doesn't
* An unlocked AT&T iPhone (GSM-based A1428 model) will work on T-Mobile's network according to Macworld.
V Battery issues after iOS 6.1.3 update
* CNET reports that some users are complaining of issues on their iOS devices after running Apple's latest update
* The update was released specifically to address a security issue that allowed an attacker with physical access to the device to bypass the loc screen and gain access to the phone app, contacts, and camera roll.
* A support forum thread has users complaining of reduced battery life after running the update.
* Standard fixes like adjusting wireless and BT settings, resetting, or restoring the device don't seem to make a difference
* Additionally some users are reporting Wi-Fi connectivity issues and battery drain when connecting to Microsoft Exchange servers. Both issues which have been addressed in prior iOS 6 updates.
* I have personally noticed that my iOS devices seem to be getting slightly less battery life after applying the update, but nothing that has caused me significant concern.
* Hopefully if the issues are legit Apple will address them with another update soon.
V Apple drops Samsung for iPad mini displays
* NPD Group’s DisplaySearch said Apple will move their display contracts for the next gen iPad minis away from Samsung
* The Taipei Times reported that the contacts will go to the Taiwanese firm Innolux and China’s Century Display
* Innolux already supplies panels for the full sized iPad and recently announced that it would begin shipping smartphone and tablet displays with touch-on-display technology by the end of this year.
* Digitimes has also claimed that Apple will move away from Samsung for iPad mini displays, but cited LG Display, Sharp, Japan Display and AU Optronics as potential suppliers.
* Digitimes also is reporting that Apple is reducing iPad mini orders for the 2nd quarter so that they can slow current gen production in advance of an update to start shipping in the 3rd quarter.
* The current belief is that Apple will start sell the 2nd generation iPad mini with a high resolution retina display in the Fall.
V Apple Television now 4K, plus other rumors
* I wish I could say it was an April Fool's joke, but unfortunately not
* The latest rumor on Apple's fabled television set coming (again) from Digitimes is that now that phantom TV will be a 4K set.
V What is 4K? It's the latest next gen marketing buzz spec for HD TVs. Also know as Ultra HD or Ultra High Definition. It can mean one of two resolutions 3840 x 2160 pixels or 4096 x 2160 pixels.
* basically it's meant to be 4 times the resolution of the current 1080p (1920x1080 pixels) resolution.
* The Digitimes report also says that Apple's television will have built-in Internet support, and voice and motion control.
V As cool as 4K sounds from a technology standpoint there are several things that make it not really a viable rumor at this point
* 4K was huge at CES this year, but with uber expensive not yet shipping sets and inn huge panel sizes. 80-inches or larger.
* The reason? the Mac Observer talked to reps at CES and they said that experts they spoke with explained that while smaller sizes can be made, but our eyes can't detect the higher image quality.
* 4K sets shipping this year have prices around $35,000 to $40,000 for 55-inch sets.
* While many TV shows and movies are being shot in 4K there isn't any real system in place to distribute that content to consumers.
* BluRay may eventually offer 4K through a new codec, but it has not been ratified
* So where does that leave this rumor? I say firmly in the Apple is probably prototyping and exploring it camp.
* I would almost guarantee that it will NOT release either in late 2013 or early 2014 like the Digitimes report claims.
V Seeming almost as far fetched to me as that PocketGamer claimed this week that Apple allegedly met with developers at the annual Game Developers Conference to discuss a new game controller the company was reportedly working on
* The site claimed that Apple reportedly booked a room at the trade show under a fake name to avoid the press.
* The story seemed far fetched, but there have been rumors of Apple working on a project to bring a physical game controller to market in the past. Last year Anandtech said Apple was working on something.
* The rumor was all but shutdown though by the when the unofficial vetter of all Apple rumors, Jim "The Beard" Dalrymple responded with his simple, 'Nope'.
V And finally the Verge says Apple's long rumored streaming music/radio service may finally have made some forward movement
* According to the site "significant progress" has been made in deals with two of the top labels: Universal and Warner.
* Saying one source told them that there was no doubt that iRadio was coming.
* Apple is supposedly pushing hard for a Summer release of the new service.
* Last month the NYsTimes claimed Apple and the labels were at odds because Apple wanted to pay well below the industry standard royalty rate of 12 cents per 100 spins. About half actually. Pandora pays 12 cents and Spotify a much larger 35 cents.
* The change now is that Spotify's deal is up for renewal soon and they are pushing for better rates. Pandora has also been aggressive in the past, so bringing the iTunes behemoth into the ring could help juice the bidding war and keep competition amongst the players healthy.
* Of all the rumors this week I fell this one is the most likely
V iTunes more than pays it's bills
* We have heard for a while that Apple runs the iTunes store as simply a break even proposition
* The week a piece on All Things D claims that iTunes is now doing a bit more than just breaking even
* They cite the addition of Apple's own Apps sold on it's App Store's as a major contributor to the uptick in iTunes profits.
* The numbers come from Asymco which is estimating that Apple's apps like the iWork and iLife suites, Final Cut Pro, Aperture, etc. contributed about about $3.6 billion in sales in 2012.
* And that's good, because while margins on music, video, and book sales through iTunes remain in the low single digits, software margins are generally in the 50% range
* In the report Asymco believes that with Apple's software iTunes generates as much as 15 percent operating margin on gross revenue.
* So, with 2012 revenue of $13.5 billion that would result in iTunes adding about $2 billion to Apple's bottom line.
* Not bad for a break even business.
V Why we are stuck with in-app purchase
* I think it's no secret that I am not the biggest fan of the "freemium" app model, but I also don't deny why it will be the way of the future for App sales.
* The app analytics firm Distimo released numbers for iPhone apps sales in February that showed 71percent for iPhone sales revenue came from in App purchases made in free apps
* Only 24 percent of app revenues came from direct app sales with the remaining revenue coming in in-app purchases on paid apps
V iMessage DoS attack
* Several Jailbreak developers were targeted by a DoS attack on their iMessage accounts
* The bad thing is that the attack is surprisingly simple to execute, there is little to nothing the victim can do to stop it, and it has nothing to do with Jailbreaking. You can get hit even on a factory clean device if you use Messages.
* The trouble is rooted in a "flaw" in Apple's iMessage service which will happily deliver messages as fast as they are sent without any throttling limits
* The attackers used this fact to flood the victims with iMessages of unicode strings which ultimately rendered the iMessages app useless
* The only recourse was to completely disable iMessages.
* The problem is compounded by the fact that iMessage uses email addresses, so anyone who knows or can find out an email address assigned to your iMessage account could use it to target you with the attack.
V The simple thing for Apple to do would be to:
* 1. Put throttles in place and temporarily block IPs that send messages at rates well above the thresholds.
* 2. Provide a way to block senders and/or only allow iMessages from specific sender or groups. Say, "only people in my AddressBook"
* Yes IP addresses, emails, and numbers can be spoofed, but at least the risk would be reduced.
* Hopefully now that Apple is aware of this serious hole in the seucrity of their iMessage system they will work quickly to patch it.
V Sunday was world backup day
V If you aren't backing up. Start.
* 1. Buy and external USB drive, connect it, enable Time Machine
* 2. Buy and external USB, connect it, purchase and run Super Duper or Carbon Copy Cloner
* 3. Subscribe to a service like Crash Plan, download the software, run and configure it.
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V Feedback, Comments and Commentary
V More sharing between User accounts
* Play feedback from Andrew
V Workaround for Mac Mini HDMI issues
* Last show we had a call from Lisa who has been unable, like many others, to get an external HDMI connected monitor working correctly with her Mac Mini
* The issue is is going from the HDMI out on the Mac mini to HDMI in on the monitor. It results in poor images, flickering, etc.
* Bill wrote in to say he experienced the same issues and ultimately just opted with using a different connection on the monitor. He used the HDMi to DVI adapter and connected the monitor up with it's DVI cable which worked.
* He also was successful in using an HDMI to DVI cable.
* Bill did note that you'll want to be sure your cables meet the VESA and DisplayPort Task Group specifications and showed the DisplayPort logo ensuring they have the correct pinouts. Some cheaper cables reportedly don't.
* I always recommend Monoprice for low cost, but high quality cables.
* I find it unfortunate that the HDMI on the Mac Mini doesn't appear to be working the way it should and Apple will need to address the issue. I do know that some HDMi is encumbered by HDCP DRM and I have to wonder if this isn't contributing to some of the issues.
V Enable 2-factor on your Apple ID
* Go to Apple's ID Management Site
* Click the "Manage your Apple ID" button and log-in
* Click the 'Password and Security' option on the left
V On the right at the top you'll see a new 'Two Step Verification' option
* If you've made any account changes in the past 48 hours, like resetting your password or changing your security questions, you may see a message that you have to wait to enable 2-factor.
* Click the 'Get Started…' link
* Read the message that explains the service and benefits and click 'Continue'
V You'll see a page of warnings, read and click 'Get Started' button
* You will need at least two forms of ID to manage your Apple ID
* Password, Trusted Device, Recovery Key
* You need a trusted device AND the recovery key to reset your password
* Apple will not be able to reset your password once 2-factor is enabled.
V One last screen, to confirm you want 2-factor enabled. It shows the new procedure once 2-factor is turned on.
* Click Continue or 'No Thanks' to bail out.
V Now you'll be walked through adding trusted devices.
* Apple will display iOS compatible devices registered with your Apple ID
* You can also add any SMS capable phone
* Basically it will send a 4-digit code to the device that you will enter into the site to verify you have physical access to the device.
* Codes are NOT shown on the lock screen, so you'll have to unlock the device.
V After your trusted devices are set and you click 'Continue' you'll be given a 14-digit Recovery Code and asked to print it out and store it in a secure location
* It is VERY important you keep this code and don't lose it.
* I would store in multiple locations
* I added the code and a PDF copy to 1Password, which is sync'd to my Dropbox and backed up to multiple places. I also printed out a copy and stored it securely in my house.
* It says 'Do not store it on your computer', you should not in an unencrypted form.
V After all this there is a final confirmation of the Recovery Key which involves entering in your Recovery Key by hand.
* Apple blocks copy and pasting it, I assume as assurance that you printed a physical copy.
* Finally agree to the terms and conditions and Enable Two-Factor Verification
* No turning back after this.
V You now will be sent a code to a trusted device when you attempt to manage your account via the Apple ID management site.
* It give you a choice of the trusted device to send the code to after you enter your login credentials
V Retina Macbook Pro Issues
* I have heard reports from you and 9to5 Mac recently detailed the seemingly extensive issues being reported by some Retina Macbook Pro buyers.
* There is a an over 500-page Apple Support thread with users discussing issues and potential solutions
V The most well known of the issues being the "ghosting" or "residual image" issue on the displays
* Most report this is an issue exclusive to LG manufactured panels, but some also say their Samsung panels also exhibit the phenomenon
V There is a Terminal command you can run to determine which Manufacturer's display you have:
* ioreg -lw0 | grep \"EDID\" | sed "/[^<]*</s///" | xxd -p -r | strings -6
* Of course there is also now a class-action lawsuit over the issue
V Apple issued a Support article on "Avoiding image persistence on Apple displays"
* They claim that the behavior is "normal" for an IPS display when a fixed image is displayed on the screen for long periods of time.
* They recommend using Display sleep set to 15 minutes or less
V If you have a persistent image they say you can "clear" it by running a screen saver for approximately as long as the image was being displayed.
* If you do this be sure that the display sleep time is set to trigger after the time period needed to "wipe" the residual display image
V Unfortunately the image persistence is not the only problem being reported for the Retina Macbook Pro
* Graphics related performance issues that cause frequent freezing and crashing
* Screen flicker
* Fans spinning up to maximum and back down
* Wake from sleep issues
* Significantly reduced battery life
* It's not clear if the issues are isolated or related
* Beyond the one TIL on the image persistence Apple has been quiet about the issues
* Customers going to the Apple Store to complain have been getting repairs or replacements, but many end up with the same issues. Reports of some having 8 or 9 replacements before getting an acceptable model
V A couple weeks ago Apple did release the Macbook Pro Retina SMC 1.1 update
* Addresses graphics problems, PowerNap, and fan speed issues
* Some users report this did not address their issues
* Apple also quietly rev'd the Retina Macbook Pros last month and while they only publicly announced new CPUs, tear-downs show that other internal components like the SSD, I/O Board, Logic Board and even the bottom case were updated to new parts.
* It's unclear at this point if these internal changes address any of the reported issues, but it could be possible
* Beyond reading the threads and looking for possible solutions I would recommend anyone experiencing these issues to contact Applecare or go in to the Genius Bar and have their system repaired or replaced.
* At this point be prepared that this might take multiple sessions.
* Sad to see that Apple is not living up to their normally high repair and support standards on this one.
V Keep iMessage off your lock screen
* Have you ever had a personal iMessage pop up in a notification on your lock screen when your in a public venue, looked, and then realized that maybe you didn't want to share that with anyone who may have casually glanced over?
* I often have my iPhone out on a table while I'm at a user group meeting and have had this happen. Nothing too bad mind you, but do I really want the person next to me reading my personal messages from my wife?
V Luckily it's relatively easy to keep those notifications private yet still know you got a message
* Open Settings on your iOS device.
* Tap Notifications, then Messages
* Scroll down to the Show Preview toggle and tap to slide it OFF
* That's it.
* Now your notification will still pop-up on the lock screen, but only reveal who it's from, not what it says.
* You still may expose an email address if it is an iMessage, but at least they won't be able to snoop in on the conversation.
* If you don't want Message alerts on the lock screen at all you can simply tap to toggle the View in Lock Screen to OFF in the Notification settings.
V Cleaning 'Open With' duplicates
* Since upgrading to Mountain Lion I have been struggling with duplicate Applications showing up hen I right+click a file and use the 'Open With' contextual menu.
* That list is created by something called the Launch Services Database.
* I'm getting duplicates because it's picking up the copies of my apps that are on my SuperDuper clone backup.
V In OS X Lion I thought I was able to avoid that from happening by not having Spotlight index my backup drive
* System Preferences > Spotlight
* Click on the 'Privacy' tab and add the backup volume
V To reset the launch services database you can run a series of Terminal commands:
* /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain user
* killall Finder
V You could add this to an Automator Application
* Use the 'Run Shell Script' action from the 'Utilities' section of the Library
* Shaun "Doc" Boyd, also did a great write up and video over on TUAW covering this. He includes the idea for setting up a BASH shell alias and putting the command into a Alfred workflow
* You can also use a GUI tool like Cocktail
V Closing
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