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Noticed by the French site MacGeneration Apple has finally joined the Fast Identity Online Alliance (FIDO)
FIDO is an open industry association started by PayPal, Lenovo, and a few others to try and develop standards for password-less authentication.
The group now includes members like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and now Apple.
The current version uses a technology called Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) which is an open standard to make two-factor authentication more secure and easier to use.
Basically a physical device or key, like a YubiKey or the Secure Enclave chip in your iPhone, replaces the security code that you would typically need to type.
The systems can also leverage technologies like biometrics for more security
To date all major browsers, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera natively support U2F. Starting with iOS 13.3 Safari will also support FIDO2 compliant security keys.
The long term goal would be to remove the use of passwords all together
The system relies on you have logged in physical access to at least two devices
Say an iPhone and an Apple Watch. Or a Mac and an iPhone.
You attempt to log into a site with your Mac. After you enter your username an authentication request is then sent to your other devices. You would authenticate there, say via FaceID, and approve the login. Then you’d be logged into the site on the Mac.
It’s secure because an attacker to gain access would need to be logged in on bother your Mac and your iPhone to gain access.
And since FIDO is an open standard those physical devices, in theory, could be ANY device that supports the FIDO alliance standards.
Apple leads “hearables” category
And yes, I did cringe a bit saying “hearables”
A report from Counterpoint Research predicts that Apple will sell more than 100 million true wireless “hearables” in 2020
They claim that the market for true wireless headphones grew 53 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 lead by the popularity of Apple’s AirPods
For 2020 they expect Apple to maintain a large lead in the “premium” above USD $100 space with and estimated 70 percent market share.
Apple has already been struggling to keep up with AirPod demand and with the supply chain impacted by the coronavirus may impact the supplies further.
We have heard reports of Apple shifting some component production and manufacturing to facilities outside China
Apple could also be expanding the line up in 2020
According to DigiTimes Apple is working on “AirPod Pro Lite”
They just mention it in passing with no details
Curious where a device like this might fit?
Maybe all models with wireless charging cases starting at $149 for non-Pro design and then a “Pro Lite” design with the silicone tips, but no noise cancellation at $199.00 and then “Pros” at $249?
Maybe an update to the lower cost second generation AirPods?
Apple is also reportedly working on a set of over the ear wireless headphones
Target’s in house inventory system is showing placeholder listings for a number of possible future Apple products
this includes one for “AirPods X Generation” for $399.00
They also show:
Apple TV Gen X for $180.00
iPod Touch Gen X for $400.00
Apple Watch Series X band for $50
While Apple is dominating the “hearables” space they still are struggling on the smart speaker front
Strategy Analytics has a new report
The good news is HomePod shipment did grow in the fourth quarter fo 2019.
Up from 1.6 million in Q4 of 2018 to 2.6 million units in 2019
Still that give Apple just a 4.7 percent share of the market. Amazon and Google dominate with 28 percent and 25 percent of the market respectively.
It’s likely that HomePod sales have been helped by nice discounts offered by retailers
Could be helped further if rumors of a lower priced HomePod turn out to be true.
Apple next iPhone could see delays
With the coronavirus still having a significant impact in China we’re continuing to hear reports that Apple’s product plans fro 2020 could feel an impact
Reports that Apple is shifting iPhone 9 production to Taiwan and India
It’s expected that full production on the update to the iPhone SE 2 could start-up in the next few weeks.
It’s still believed Apple could announce and release the device in the first half of this year.
Some predictions are pegging an event around the end of March, possibly on Tuesday, March 31st.
Probably just an educated guess, based on previous years.
DigiTimes is saying they think the iPhone 12 might not begin production in June which could result in launch delays.
Apple is also not able to send engineers to China to assist with the Engineering Validation Test
Even if they shift some production the Foxconn facilities in China have much more output capability, so it is reasonable to assume that supplies will be impacted one way or another.
That could mean that even if Apple makes an iPhone 12 announcement in September as usual sales could be slowed significantly due to a strained supply of devices.
The curious case of iPhone 5G
Everyone seems to be taking guesses on what the iPhone 12’s 5G capabilities will look like
Reports that Apple and Qualcomm are working together on a custom antenna design
Most reports say things are “fluid”
Ming Chi Kuo no longer sure if Apple will have 2x2 MIMO uplink
Originally he thought the device might support six power amplifiers
Now there may be just one or two
It reduces the theoretical maximum upload speed
May not matter much in the early days of 5G rollouts from carriers.
Qualcomm does have a new 5G chip
Apple was reportedly not interested in the X55 which is what is currently deployed in a number of 5G devices already on the market
There is some belief that Apple is interested in a custom design
If they do go “off the shelf” the X60 has some nice features
more future proof than the X55
Supports mmWave and sub-6 frequency
Capable of up to 7.5Gbps download speeds and 3Gbps upload speeds
More importantly for Apple the X60 is built using a 5nm process so it’s small
Still the chip is just becoming available in the first quarter of 2020, so phones with the new modem are not expected until 2021.
Updates to the iPad Pro
Reports are circulating that we could see an update to the iPad Pro lineup in March
It’s expected to get a new rear camera system with the triple lens design and 3D sensing technology for better AR experiences.
It’s also believed the new iPad Pro would get a processor update. A13X Bionic?
According to DigiTimes production has already started, but of course is slow.
AirTags could be coming
Apple’s Tile like item tracking system could be here soon
Ming-Chi Kuo says Universal Scientific Industrial will begin supplying the system-in-package for the devices that should arrive in the 2nd or 3rd quarter.
The trackers will reportedly be small “tags” that you can attach to items like you keys or you wallet and will use the iPhone 11 series Ultra Wideband technology to help you pinpoint and locate your items if you’ve misplaced them.
The tracking would be added to Apple’s Find My app
Displaying the distance to the device and possibly offering AR to show you the potential location of the item.
There have been rumors of the tracking tags since last year when code and user interface references were discovered in developer builds of iOS 13.
It’s possible AirTags could be debuted along with the iPhone 9 and updated iPad Pros at an Apple event in March
Siri updated with US election info
You can now ask Siri to give you information related to the 2020 US elections
You can ask things like, "When are the California primaries?" and “Who won the Nevada caucus?”
Most of the results seem to be coming from the Associated Press and the Apple News App
The new functionality should work on iOS Device, the Mac, Apple TV, and HomePods
Apple may open up iOS default apps
Bloomberg is reporting that Apple is considering allowing users to select their own default apps for things like Mail and browsing in iOS
You might also be able to set your preferred Music app and the functionality could be extended to the HomePod as well.
This is a big change to the way it’s is now, but Bloomberg reports Apple is considering it because of increased scrutiny over the App Store and rules that some perceive are limiting competition
For Music on iOS you can already request Siri play in a different audio player, but you have to say the name of the service in your request.
Regardless of any complaints against Apple’s rules I think, especially for HomePod, allowing alternatives to be set by the user is just good for device sales and customer satisfaction.
It’s about time.
Many users prefer to use Google apps, like Maps, GMail, and Chrome. You should have the option to let these be the default apps when you click on links to access websites, send emails, and look up directions.
Look Around makes it to three more cities
Congratulations Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
Apple already offers Look around in Houston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City, San Francisco, and Oahu
I love this feature and Apple can’t roll t out fast enough in my opinion
When it’s available there is a binocular icon visible in the Maps interface.
You can also tap on points of interest to get details and information.
Another cool feature that I’m using more is Collections.
You can add places to a list to save them. You can also easily share your collections with others.
In Maps slide up in the info panel to see the “Collections” section.
Tap “New Collection…” to create a new collection
Name it and tap “Create”
When you’re viewing a location in it’s info panel you can tap the “Add to…” button to add to a collection.
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Feedback, commentary, opinions
Feedback from Mac mini as Pro interview
I heard back from a lot of you who seem to agree that the Mac mini as an option for professional use is a good one.
Many of you responded to say it got you thinking about the Mac mini again.
Ian wrote in to say that he was looking at a 21.5-inch 4K iMac and that when spec’d the same as a mini, it’s only about £500 more than the Mac mini
iMac USD $2599.00 vs Mac mini USD $2,700.00
3.2Ghz 6-core 8th-gen Intel Core i7
But the iMac has a Radeon 560X GPU with 4GB RAM. Mini w/ the Sonnet eGPU
Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse
So in this scenario the iMac might be the better deal since it includes the 4K display built in for less.
Here’s the thing. That iMac is maxed out basically, so that’s it.
Mini can be configured with up to 32GB more RAM and up to 2TB SSD (vs 1TB for the iMac)
Only proves my conclusion in that episode. You need to figure out your workflow and needs in terms of form factor and build the system for that to your budget.
Maybe you prefer a 5K monitor, or more storage, or more ports.
the 21.5-inch iMac has just 2 TB3 ports to the Minis 4, and the mini has an HDMI and option for 10GB Ethernet.
Mac threats are increasing, stay diligent
Malwarebytes has put out it’s [2020 State of Malware]() report and it doesn’t look good for Apple or the Mac
Mac threats increased 400 percent from 2018 according to the report.
They do note the increase is potentially skewed because more people also started using Malwarebytes to scan their systems. Some which may have been infected for years.
Still they also saw nearly twice as many detections on Macs vs Windows. 11 per endpoint in 2019 vs 5.8 on Windows
So what kinds of things are Macs being targeted with?
Adware, like NewTab, Genieo, Operator, and Mindspark
Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs), PCVARK, MacKeeper, MacBooster, etc.
Some of the top threats:
NewTab is an adware family that attempts to redirect searches in the web browser for the purpose of earning illicit affiliate revenue, and it is mostly delivered in the form of apps with embedded Safari extensions.
Genieo is one of the oldest pieces of Adware on the Mac, but it’s been tweaked over the years and now crosses the line into malware because it can take advantage of system vulnerabilities to infect your system
Users affected with Genieo will find their search engines replaced and browser hijacked, with sponsored results.
FakeFileOpener. This one hijacks the built-in macOS functionality that will direct your to the Mac App Store when you try to open a file type that the Mac doesn’t recognize.
Instead FakeFileOpener hijacks the request and redirects you to a page that indicates you may be infected with malware, offering malicious downloads to remedy the situation
If you install that software you are further infected.
So what should you do?
It’s worth noting that almost ALL the Mac threats, except for one, involve tricking the user into installing and application that they shouldn’t.
So it’s really easy to prevent infection if your aware of the potential threats.
Educate your friends and family.
Be suspicious of any pop-up that is asking for permission to install software. Read the message thoroughly and if there is any doubt say NO and do more research.
Be careful with “free” utility Apps that promise to clean your Mac, purge memory, boost your download speeds, etc.
There are legitimate tools for this, but especially if the tool is “free”, research it first before installing.
If the website looks suspicious or strange, be suspicious
Some tools that are legit and can help. Clean My Mac X, Onyx, Cocktail, Malwarebytes.
If you see an increase in annoying and suspicious pop-ups run a tool like Malwarebytes
I think it’s worth noting that Apple has done such a great job at securing their platform that even if the number of threats Apple users are facing have gone up we are not seeing anything new in terms of attack vectors
The Mac is more popular so more attackers are looking to exploit its growing user base.
Turn Mac startup chime back on
Back in 2016 for Mac that startup chime to 2016 and later models
The main reason it was removed was because Apple changed when and how it’s notebook models would power on
1. Open the lid of your Mac, even if it's not connected to power.
2. Connect it to a power adapter while its lid is open.
3. Connect it to a power adapter while its lid is closed and it's connected to an external display.
Many users may not want the chime to sound just when opening their notebook, say in a meeting.
Not long after the removal in 2016 it was discovered that the sound was not removed completely, but just disabled.
There was a command you could run to turn it back on, but it was quickly removed in a macOS update.
Now it seems, at least for the time being, there is a new terminal command that will restore their start-up chime. (At least in the latest versions of macOS Catalina)
Here’s how to turn it back on:
Type the command:
`sudo nvram StartupMute=%00`
Hit return and authenticate with your Mac password.
To re-silence the chime use the command:
`sudo nvram StartupMute=%01`
This seems to work with most Mac models that have had their chime silenced.
Enjoy it while you got it. It’s possible, like before, this secret command could be disabled again with a future macOS updated.