AMITIAE - Saturday 1 March 2014
Cassandra: Weekend Review - OS X and Other Updates; Feisty Tim Cook; Patents, Good and Bad; NSA and GCHQ Stealing Photos
By Graham K. Rogers
There were, however, several comments that Mail still had problems for some users, despite this being addressed in the update. Mark Gurman discusses this aspect on 9to5Mac. I must admit, this has not been a problem for me at all.
A day after the OS X update, iTunes was also updated, to version 11.1.5 which fixed a problem that may cause the application to quit unexpectedly when a device is connected and improves compatibility with iBooks for Macs on OSX Mavericks.
Another update from Apple this week will only affect a few users for now and none in Thailand. AppleInsider (among others) reported the release of a MacPro firmware update that was to cover a couple of issues: Power Nap fan control; and an issue with low-speed USB devices.
The iOS update last week was something of a surprise: albeit necessary. Earlier rumours had suggested that iOS was to be updated to 7.1 in mid-March and that there would be an update to OS X at the same time, suggesting new hardware was to be the reason. Daniel Eran Dilger on AppleInsider reports that there is expected to be a software update designed to improve fingerprint recognition to fix a "fade" issue that some iPhone 5s users have experienced. I must admit, there are times when the sensor does not work as well as I want it to. The article does include some ways that are being used to circumvent this fading.
Not being updated any more is Snow Leopard. The older version of OS X is no longer being supported, Gregg Keizer reports for ComputerWorld, adding that 1 in 5 Macs are now vulnerable. The article makes the most of Apple's perceived lack of care for its customers with the ultimate insult of comparing Snow Leopard to Windows XP [my source for this was MacDaily News].
The EU have been at Apple on a number of fronts, and this week Christian Zibreg on iDownload reports that the European bureaucrats are aiming their guns this time at in-App purchases, particularly with emphasis on Apple and Google. There are some who seem annoyed by this way for a developer to increase revenue, but I rather like the way I can look at a basic free app and if I like it, can buy more features. That is the good side, but now the EU is looking at the (relatively old) cases in which parents got caught for big bills.
Apple negated all or most of those, and set aside cash to repay others, and then the FTC stepped in with their version of the settlement. Zibreg, who is not overly impressed by the Apple approach, lets his biases show through in the article. I always know who is using my iPhone (me only) and exactly what I buy. I do not see how it is possible to hold Apple (or Google) responsible when parents are lax here.
As this Friday sees the annual AAPL shareholders meeting, Jeff Gamet on The MacObserver reports that there is some speculation about what may transpire, noting that Forbes thinks that Peter Oppenheimer may take the opportunity to announce his retirement
There was more on this - and some background - from Bryan Chaffin on The MacObserver, who includes the comment that this was "the only time I can recall seeing Tim Cook angry". . . . and "When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind," he said, "I don't consider the bloody ROI". Chaffin added, "His body language changed, his face contracted, and he spoke in rapid fire sentences compared to the usual metered and controlled way he speaks." Good.
Of course, the NCPPR put out a press release giving their own version of events, which may not match what others reported. The opening paragraph sets the scene and is not what Apple is about at all.
Some facts and figures from the meeting were put out by Daniel Eran Dilger on AppleInsider, for example, the iPhone 5c and 5s both outsold Apple's previous products in the middle tier and the high end; Apple was first to put a 64-bit architecture in a mobile phone, providing power to run "desktop class" applications (note that, "desktop class" - is this coming to the computers?); Apple TV generated $1 billion in revenue in 2013 (some hobby); Services and Software generated $16 billion in revenue in 2013; research and development spending had increased by 32% in 2013; there are 800 million iOS users, over 16 trillion push notifications so far, with 40 billion every day. And the new campus on the old HP site is progressing well.
In an apparent contradiction of the Sony assertion, and some of the other negatives around of late, an IDC report carried on MacDaily News suggests that Apple will maintain high value, high margins and market share through 2018. The last should calm some Wall Street analysts, but probably won't.
While an attempt by Apple to get this reversed was not successful, the overseer was warned to stick to the matters in question. Now however, Cody Lee on iDownload, reports that Apple has filed an appeal, "asking that the court either overturn the original judgement in Apple's favor, or grant them a new trial in front of a different judge." There is another report on this from Benjamin Mayo on 9to5Mac.
On trolls, Jack Purcher on Patently Apple reports that Apple, along with Google and others are looking to engage the Supreme Court in discussion and perhaps change in the ways that patents can be dealt with in meritless suits.
However, on Friday, there was news that a German court had decided a patent troll by the name of IPCom who were trying to use a patent that was originally granted to Bosch against Apple (and HTC) had the cases dismissed, Florian Mueller reports.
Another patent was granted to Apple recently, Jack Purcher reports on Patently Apple: for self-healing coatings to prevent display artifacts. This involves the use of self-healing and Teflon coatings to protect the backlight from being scratched and thus producing the "artifacts" - display problems that reduce the effect of the output.
Now that Samsung has a fingerprint feature on its newest Galaxy thing (there is also a gold version of course - but not so subtle as Apple's) the reaction from Franken is . . . silence. Yoni Hessler on TUAW examines this - and the lack of comment from other sources who were quick to point out the dangers of Apple's fingerprint technology - despite the point that Samsung is opening the feature to 3rd party developers: something that Apple does not. Jordan Kahn on 9to5 Mac discusses the question of whether this should be made available in iOS8, although in an item from September 2013, Chris Smith reported that Apple was claiming it was not going to share this. One can only hope this is maintained. Imagine the consequences: a letter from Al Franken for one thing.
By a wonderful coincidence, Daniel Eran Dilger on AppleInsider reports on the words of Sundar Pichai - Google's Android chief - who said that "Android is not really "designed to be safe" but rather to provide "freedom."" Dilger has a number of useful data points about the lack of security on the platform. Paging Al Franken; paging Al Franken. . . .
The Apple approach is opposite: security over freedom. Many have complained about Apple's "walled garden" approach, but I would rather be safe. As Dilger points out, that one problem (goto fail) that appeared a week ago generated so much publicity. But all the daily malware and other problems on Android are just ignored, like the 100,000 plus viruses for Windows.
Related to this, Apple has released a 33 page document on iOS Security in which the principles and the systems are outlined.
On the other hand, former director of product marketing at Apple, Bob Borchers, was interviewed recently in Barcelona and said that the iPhone - when it was first released - was all about a user experience. In the main, the technology was not new, but the iPhone interfacing was, Jack Purcher reports on Patently Apple.. As I have written before, holding one of the first models on the day after Steve Jobs announced it, was a rare experience. Like the other journalists in the room, we knew this was a game-changer.
The writer likens this to 1984 and the idea of state control is as abhorrent now as when Orwell wrote this in 1948. A former executive of the NSA is cited: "This is just one of the ways to make controlling people possible. Standard KGB/Stasi tactics."
Also looking at this is Richard Nieva on CNet who includes some quotes from a Yahoo! exec who seems somewhat aghast at the idea of all those users in the GCHQ/NSA spiders web.
It is the bureaucrats - the so-called public servants - who are out of control and has been seen in the UK and the US when politicians are asked to address issues that have arisen from some of these embarrassing releases, the politicians, right up to the Prime Minister and the President, simply do what the bureaucrats tell them to do.
There is also fallout from the acquisition of What's App by Facebook last week. As with many things of this nature, the point of messaging seems to have been lost on many people, despite the obvious popularity and the way that more use this than the telco systems.
Facebook made people sit up and take notice again; but also note they dropped their email system last week too: not that anyone used it. There has also been the long-term use of the Blackberry messaging system, that was its gem, even when sales of phones were dropping. Mind you, when the BBM Messaging app finally arrived on the iPhone, it was a dud. I downloaded, but no one I know uses the system, so it is wasted space. To an extent, these days, so is What's App.
What most people I know use is LINE from Naver and this has caused a ripple this week as it is one of the messaging apps (including Tango and SnapChat) that are now on the radar of larger companies like Microsoft and Google. I groaned when I read the Bloomberg analysis by Sarah Frier and Serena Saitto. Not Microsoft. Not LINE. With the mess that Redmond made of Skype, I would hate a repeat with something I rather like using.
While we are on Microsoft, there was a snort of disgust from Jim Dalrymple this week when it was discovered that the company is packaging web sites as apps for its online store, but without asking the site owners. There seem to be a number of problems with this, including ethics, but I am sure that will be discussed by smarter guys than me in better surroundings. In the meantime, I was inspired to remind iPhone users that it is just a couple of taps to create Web Apps on iOS devices.
Also having troubles at the end of the week - although this is nothing new - was True, when the abbreviated URLs used in Twitter were not being recognised and blank pages loaded. DTAC on 3G had no problems when I tried the same URLS on the iPhone.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.
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