Maccast 2018.02.25 - Show #646
V Opening
V Opening Music
* Music is Say Anything by Manda and the Marbles
V In this episode:
* Apple fixes the Telugu bug
* Nikkei stuck on OLED cuts
* New devices may arrive this Spring
* Apple's the most innovative company of 2017
* Apple Pay Cash expands
* and people are not using the "smarts" in their smart speaker
* That plus inside scoop on iPhone battery replacements, and APFS image bug, how and why to use File Vault 2, and a whole lot more.
V News
V Apple fixes Telugu character bug
* Apple has releases a series of updates for their operating systems to address the Telugu character bug.
* If you missed it this is a bug where sending a certain Indian language character to a messaging app on iOS, macOS, watchOS, or tvOS would cause the app to crash and in some instances stuck in a crashing loop.
* The update is in iOS 11.2.6, WatchOS 4.2.3, tvOS 11.2.6, and macOS 10.13.3
V Some users have reported odd issues with connected AirPods after the 11.2.6 update
* Things like the same channel coming from both AirPods or problems with the controls.
V The fix is to simply unpair and re-pair
* Settings > Bluetooth, select the AirPods and tap "Forget Device".
* Now just pair them again by putting both in the case and opening it near the device.
V AirPlay 2 was pulled out of the latest iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 developer betas
* One of it's key features is the ability to stream audio to multiple Airplay 2 devices at the same time.
* Apple TV has been removed from the Home app
* The feature was for sure buggy and incomplete.
* Some ask what that means for Home Pod multi-room support
* I expect it will return before the release of iOS 11.3
V Apple published a new support document noting that security changes being implemented on May 25 will prevent the first-generation Apple TV and PCs running Windows XP or Vista from using the iTunes Store
* Apple has also begun emailing users with active first-generation Apple TVs to warn them of the upcoming change.
V Nikkei still on about iPhone X cuts
* We already mentioned their report that Apple "cut" orders of OLED panels from Samsung by half. From 40 million units in the first quarter to just 20 million.
* Now they continue the doomsday report saying the cuts could be deeper and has left Samsung scrabbling to find replacement customers.
* As you know I don't buy that the cuts are due to "poor" iPhone X sales. Apple has been extremely positive about iPhone X sales.
* Tim Cook mentioned that iPhone X was the top-selling iPhone model every week since it debuted in November during their last quarterly results call.
* iPhone X was the best selling smartphone in the world in the December quarter according to Canalys
V It's also typical for Apple to cut back production post holiday season, still Nikkei claims the cuts are off estimates first quarter 2018 shipments.
* In addition there have been reports that Apple has been shopping it's OLED business to other suppliers like China's BOE and Sharp.
* Apple could simply be spreading the orders around, something they really like to do.
V Even if there has been a reduction by Apple pinning the bad results for Samsung's OLED business on Apple is ridiculous.
* In fact, Samsung could be partially to blame for their own decline.
* British Research company IHS noted in a report that the number of OLED smartphone panels Samsung internally sources for its own smartphones fell year on year in 2017.
* Samsung was also unable to get OLED panel orders from Chinese vendors like Oppo, Vivo or Xiaomi.
V Iffy reports of iPhone SE 2
* I think there's going to be an update to Apple's popular iPhone SE line soon, but a new report out of China seems a bit too far fetched to me.
* Coming from the site QQ they say Apple is planning an updated model with an A10 processor, 2GB of RAM and 32 and 128GB storage options. OK
* They also say the model with stick with Touch ID vs. FaceID, yup.
* But then things get weird. First with a reported switch to a 4.2-inch display? Why?
* Then they say it will launch at WWDC? What?!! Nope.
* Apple launched the iPhone SE in March of 2016 and I would expect any update to also be announced in March.
* There will be newer specs, but I expect no form factor or design changes.
* I agree that it's be nice to see wireless charging added just for consistency, but I really doubt that will happen.
V Another product we expect to see Apple update this spring is the iPad
* A French website noted this week that Apple registered new tablets with the Eurasian Economic Commission
* Something legally required for any devices with encryption sold in Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia.
* Two products were registered and don't correspond to any existing models.
* We've had rumors for a while of an update coming fro the 9.7-inch iPad. With basically updated specs, but that wouldn't account for two models.
* The iPad mini is also WAY overdue for a refresh, but with the new and larger iPhones I don't think the mini is going to get an update.
* Still it's too early fro updates to the iPad Pro. Those should likely happen in June around WWDC.
* New iPad Pro's are expected to bring FaceID and smaller bezels to the iPad Pro line-up.
V Bloomberg is reporting new AirPods are also in the works
* They say they are expected o be out "later this year" and will feature a new wireless chip with support for ‘Hey Siri’ activation.
* They also claim the future version may include water resistance, " to survive splashes of water and rain"?!!
V KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo backed up the report and also added that Apple is planning it's own brand of " high-end over-ear headphones" with an "all-new design."
* The new headphones are expected to come out in the fourth quarter of this year at the earliest.
V Mac Otakara think Apple's AirPower mat will arrive in March
* There are not a lot of details
* MacRumors thinks Apple will price the AirPower mat at around $199.00 (crazy).
* You'll need the $69 AirPods case to use AirPower with your existing AirPods.
V Apple "most innovative" company of 2017
* They were awarded that honor in Fast Company's 2017 list due to great hardware and software products like AirPods, ARKit, Apple Watch Series 3, and yes even the iPhone X.
* It was a nice bump of from Apple's 4th place rank on last years list.
* Fast Company also cited Apple's work in areas like chip development, camera and imaging technology, and AI as giving them an advantage.
* In a year where it's seems like many on the media have been on an Apple bashing campaign it's nice to be reminded on how much innovation Apple has brought recently and how they are driving competition.
* A great example pointed out in the piece is Apple's dedication to privacy and how that integrates into their technology.
* To do all that "on-device" Apple had to develop their own hardware and software solutions. The secure enclave and improvements to the processors to allow AI processing on device. Also technology like the W1 that drives Apple's AirPods making connecting and range ab reliability unparalleled.
V In a companion interview with Tim Cook he re-iterated that it's the products that drive Apple and not the money or stock price
* "Stock price is a result, not an achievement by itself. For me, it’s about products and people. Did we make the best product, and did we enrich people’s lives?"
* I believe that for it's products, this is still what drives Apple.
* That's not to say though that Apple ignores the shareholders or the stock price.
* Many business choices I think ARE about benefiting that. The choice to price the iPhone X I think was more about pushing up customers expectation for what they will need to pay for Apple's top-of-the-line phone and that ultimately benefits Apple's bottom line, profits, and the stock price. The customer doesn't directly benefit or have their lives enriched by paying more for an iPhone.
V He also points out that Apple doesn't "follow" even when people like to presume they do.
* Home Pod was in development long before other "smart speakers"
* It's WHY it's not a direct competitor to say the "Echo".
* Apple waits until a product is "great" in their minds before shipping it.
* Things they are working on now are planned for release 3-4 years out.
V In a different kind of "innovation" there's a report from Bloomberg that Apple has been in talks with Cobalt mining companies for over a year.
* Why? Because Cobalt is a key component in the making of lithium-ion batteries, something that Apple needs a lot of.
* There are two problems with Cobalt though.
* One is that the supply can be volatile and shortages can severely impact Apple's ability to deliver products
V The other is that not all suppliers are scrupulous when it comes to how the do business.
* Apple being far removed from the supply chain has caused issues in the past when some suppliers were found using child labor.
* By dealing directly with the mining companies Apple can help guarantee a supply and have much better control how they are working with. They also can better control pricing in a volatile market
* Apple is supposedly looking to secure a long-term deal set to span five years or more.
V Apple Pay Cash hits Europe, maybe?
* Friday started showing scattered and unconfirmed reports that Apple Pay Cash was being enabled for some users in various European countries.
* Tim Cook said the feature would be coming to additional countries "this year", but didn't really give any hard dates.
* 9to5 Mac reported getting reports from users in the UK, Ireland, Spain, and also Brazil.
* It's not clear if you will be able to send money internationally.
* Typically Apple Pay Cash can be sent without a fee using a debit card and with a 3percent transaction fee if you use a credit card.
V Smarts speaker owners don't use those smarts
* A survey of 520 US consumers on smart speakers by Loopventures seems to confirm what Apple has stated in regards to the features they chose to give Siri in the HomePod at launch.
* Apple has claimed they looked at how most people use their smart speakers and focused on those features first.
* In the loop ventures survey they found that of the 520 people surveys, just 31% owned a smart speaker.
V So this sample size is pretty small. Of the 161 people who owned a smart speaker:
* Amazon dominated with 55 percent share, Google Home at 23 percent, Microsoft cortana 15 percent, and Home Pod (5 people) at 3 percent.
* Most use their smart speakers for music (about 38 percent), followed by weather (33 percent), and then general questions (31 percent).
* Sports/News, Call/Email/and Text, and Smart Home control were all around 10 - 12 percent.
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V Feedback, commentary, opinions
V Inside battery replacement scoop
* As suspected we have some "insiders" in out community who can share the scoop on getting Apple to reserve a battery for you.
* One reason for mixed reports is that Apple has seemed to only give Apple Care support the ability to reserve a replacement battery starting in mid-January.
* You should be able to use either Apple Care phone or chat support now to reserve a battery on an iPhone 6 or later.
* Use the site or the Apple Support app to set things up.
V The rules for Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs) seem to be a bit different
* Apple requires them to see a device and run a diagnostic prior to ordering parts (on all devices, not just iPhones)
V More on Liquid Contact Indicators (LCIs)
* There are multiple ones on iPhones, not just the one visible from the SIM slot
* Some also required viewing under UV light (Macbook Pros)
V The liquid indicator in the SIM tray does not necessarily place a unit out of warranty or affect the ability to complete a same unit repair.
* Usually as long as there are not other signs of water damage like rust, corrosion, etc.
* The tripping of the internal indicator is a little more severe. With that if it's tripped,, at least AASPs, are required to deny component repair and offer a whole unit replacement at cost.
V Albums in Apple Music
* I mentioned that I think Apple has some work to do when sorting out the metadata around tracks in Apple Music
* I gave their categorization of an artists albums as an example.
* Search for an artist and if you click "All albums" you'll see you get EVERYTHING, including where their tracks have been used in compilations, soundtracks, etc.
* Bruce wrote in to point put that if you click the "Artist" option to go to their profile page and THEN click "albums" you get just that artists albums.
* This is true, but also illustrates the deeper problem I also discussed in the last show.
* ALL an artists "albums" are classified as "Albums". Meaning, singles, special releases, remixed, deluxe albums, etc.
* This is still confusing and antiquated. Also often the artwork for the albums are the same so it's visually hard to distinguish.
* Would be easy enough to add "sub-types" of albums so that main releases are albums and "singles", "deluxe", "remixes", etc. are their own special sub-types.
V iMac Pro updates are confused.
* Here's an odd and annoying little issue that Geoff has brought to my attention.
* The 10.13.3 update came out and after successfully applying it to his iMac he tried updating his iMac Pro
* There he got a "700" error message.
* After Googling he discovered that for the iMac Pro there is a completely separate update you need to download from Apple's Support site.
* Again, with the 10.13.3 Supplemental update Geoff was told by software update on his iMac Pro about the update. He clicked install only waited to only find it stalled out 28 minutes later.
* The problem? Yup, there is a separate install for the iMac Pro.
* So why the heck is the Software Update utility built in to macOS not smart enough to know this and deliver the correct update?
* And yes, because I asked, Geoff started with a clean install of macOS X on his iMac Pro.
V APFS Disk Image bug
* Developer and creator of Carbon Copy Cloner Mike Bombich (Bombic) discovered an issue with APFS formatted "sparse" disk images that could result in data loss.
V A sparse bundle is a file that macOS mounts on the desktop and treats as if it was a physically attached drive with a classic disk volume structure.
* With Sparse bundles you set a "total" size they can grow to, but they will only consume as much data as you store in them
* While testing he what he saw was a APFS sparse bundle reporting that there was plenty of free space, yet the disk the sparse bundle was on was full.
* Still he was allowed to copy an video file from the main volume to the sparse bundle without issue. It even played back fine.
* After unmounting and re-mounting the bundle however the video file on the bundle was, as expected, corrupt.
V So there are two problems:
* Free space on an APFS-formatted sparse disk image doesn't update when the free space on the underlying physical host disk is reduced.
* No errors are reported by from the APFS sparse bundle when it doesn't have the ability to grow. The bits being written seemingly write off into some "void" never to be seen again.
* Bombich sourced the issue to two bugs in macOS’s “diskimages-helper” service and has reported the issues to Apple and hopefully they'll be fixed in a future update.
* TimeMachine makes extensive use of sparsebudles and I have to wonder if these bugs are at least part of the reason why APFS is still not supported for Time Machine volumes.
* Until now the general advice would be to avoid using APFS formatted sparse bundles.
V Using FileVault 2
* I've been going back and forth a lot with Rick on email about enabling and using FileVault 2 on the Mac.
* He's asked a lot of really great questions that I think many of you might have when you're considering using FileVault 2.
V What is FileVault 2 and why would you want to use it?
* It's Apple's whole disk encryption built into macOS (Lion and later).
* It encrypts the entire contents of the hard drive anytime the Mac is not logged into an account with FileVault 2 access.
* Means that someone cannot mount or access the contents of the drive without a valid login, even when the drive is extracted from the Mac.
V How to enable File Vault 2
* Open System Preferences > Security & Privacy.
* Click the "FileVault" tab
* Click the "lock" icon and enter an administrator username and password.
* Click the "Turn On FileVault…" button.
V If you have other user accounts on your Mac, you'll get a dialog to enable them
* Click the "Enable User…" option and enter their password to allow them access.
* If you don't then they'll need an account login with FileVault access in order to access the Mac.
V You'll then choose how you want to be able to unlock your disk and reset your password, in case you ever forget your password:
* OS X Yosemite or later, you can choose to use your iCloud account to unlock your disk and reset your password
* If you're using OS X Mavericks, you can choose to store a FileVault recovery key with Apple by providing the questions and answers to three security questions. Choose answers that you're sure to remember
* If you don't want to use iCloud FileVault recovery, you can create a local recovery key. Keep the letters and numbers of the key somewhere safe.
* Note that with the first two options Apple will have some ability to help you recover your data if you forget your account password. This does also mean that Apple (or someone who hacks your iCloud account or socially engineers Apple support), could access your data.
V How does login work once FileVault is on
* The Mac boots to the login screen (you cannot auto-login)
* That boot is actually into the "recovery partition" which is not encrypted.
* You login as normal and then once authenticated on an account with FileVault access it gives decrypted access to the drive, securely passes on the login credentials and logs you into the Mac.
* Enabling FileVault also enables a special "guest" account with only Safari access to the Mac. This means you can still track and manage the Mac with Find My Mac if someone turns it on and accesses the "Guest" account.
V Will encryption impact performance?
* During the first encryption, yes. It happens in the background though and in most cases will not have a lot of impact.
* Can take several days and the process is not easily stoppable, so just let it run.
* After the first time you shouldn't see much impact
V Can I still use Time Machine, cloned, and online backup?
* Anytime you are booted and logged into your Mac the drive is in an unenctypted state.
* This means that Time Machine, cloned backups, and online backups will run just fine.
V Also means that those backups are NOT encrypted by default.
* For Time Machine you can go into the Time Machine preferences and when you choose the Time Machine volume be sure to click "encrypt backups".
* For external cloned drives check with the clone software maker on their preferred method.
V Other external drives you need to select in the Finder, control+click, and choose 'Encrypt'
* Note that for externals you'll have to enter your credentials for each drive each time you mount it, including during startup.
* You're offsite backup service should be encrypting your data, if not get another backup service.
V If you are logged in your machine is in an unencrypted state
* I would advise making sure you require a password to access the mac when it's asleep.
V System Preferences > Security & Privacy
* Set "Require password after sleep or screen saver begins"
V If you want even MORE security you can click "Advanced…" and set the "Log out after XX minutes of inactivity" option.
* Keep on mind with this option that automated backups, like clones will not run when you're logged out.
V Other advantages:
* Already mentioned tracking with Find My Mac
* You can use Find My Mac to "erase" the drive immediately (it revokes the key). That means no one, including you, can access the data on the drive. Obviously this is a last case "doomsday" option.
* All someone can do at that point is erase the drive and start from scratch.
V Closing
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