Saturday, November 1, 2014

More experiences with Yosemite and ios8

I have been working further with Yosemite and ios8.  I have found some features of interest to me, and learned a bit more about iphoto icloud options, and a bug.

First for the bug.  Now that I have SMS messaging available to me on my macbook pro, I am using it.  I texted a co-worker with some connectivity issue, and my message to his iphone went green, bypassing Apple's messaging infrastructure and going through as an SMS message.  Messages on my macbook pro showed an unread message from this specific message.  So I read the message.  It was marked read.  Then I went about my business and saw that messages showed an unread message.  It was that same message, which I read again.  This kept happening.  For at least a couple of days.  I see it is now marked read, perhaps after a reboot.  Annoying.

Next - iphoto icloud.  When I use iphoto, I have to attach an external drive.  I just do not have room on my internal drive for my iphoto library, which is around 180GB.  Thus I am interested in having my photos in the cloud if possible, hopefully both protecting my photos and removing my need to hook up an external drive to manage my photos.  With ios8 (or is it 8.1?) ios devices are ready for photos in icloud beta.  Apple has information at https://www.apple.com/icloud/photos/
It is not yet available for Yosemite -see more at imore: http://www.imore.com/photos-os-x-yosemite-explained

There are features I am not yet testing, but I am interested in looking at soon.  If you have family members with Apple ID's and you share with them, they could interest you.  You can can now share other icloud item types:

  • Reminder categories
  • Calendars
If you run the OS X Yosemite version or log in to icloud.com, these now have options to share!  I look forward to sharing calendars and reminder categories with my family.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Some notes (and problems) working with ios 8.1 and Yosemite for a little while.

OK!  I was excited - I finally got Yosemite AND ios 8.1!  Full continuity and handoff!

First I switched all of my devices to use iCloud Drive.  Then I had some fun:


  • I texted from my computer to a non-iPhone number!
  • I received a call and answered it on my computer!  A headset is most useful...
  • I received a call during a meeting, and it rang on my iPhone, iPad, and computer!  I used my computer to text back that I was not able to answer as I was running a meeting and (record scratch followed by silence) and audiobook on my iPad started playing!  And, I could not quickly log in, and forgot to swipe up to silence it, and it was already in silent mode and that didn't help.  I turned the sound down to nothing.  Whew!
  • I used handoff to:
    • Finish a text
    • Finish an email
    • go to a webpage on my computer immediately that I was looking at on my ipad and iphone (tried each, and the other way around from my computer)
    • Edit a numbers file
    • Edit and view reminders
    • View contacts (used it to verify a contact I had just added on my computer was indeed on my iPhone)
  • With Yosemite I have used new features:
    • I drew on a picture in my email on my mac - annotating it.  OK I did this many times just because I can!  It is also very useful, for directions.  I circled a place to park on a map.
    • Now that email is more integrated with contacts, I have been cleaning up my contacts lists so I see little pictures of my contacts in my emails on my mac.  Where I have triple copies of a contact, I am working towards only one.
    • I'm trying out notification center as an alternative to Feedly.  I like having both!
    • I used spotlight to search for more.  I regularly look up word definitions using spotlight at this point, for example.  I can cut and paste numbers now, which did not work well before (cutting from spotlight)
    • I air dropped photos from my iPhone to my computer to share them via Google Drive from my computer, after changing the names and putting them in a folder.  This was amazing and fast for the full-size photos.
I keep my phone in vibrate mode nearly all of the time.  I am so used to the vibration, that I can now ignore it, and also feel it when it is not there at times.  The ability to answer phone and texts on my computer is extremely useful to me.

OK, I'm also playing with Apple Pay.  I've used it, and find that when I needed to get the fingerprint ID'ed on my phone while paying, it did not always work.  However, normal unlocking of of my phone is flawless.  What is the problem?  I'm holding it differently during payments and so needed to rescan my thumb for this different angle for paying.  Some cards work, some do not.  I also used having my credit card in my Passbook to check what I was charged for a non Apple Pay charge - and found one that was wrong!  It helped save me $60 by spotting this before I even left the store.  I am a fan of Apple Pay.


I do not have 1password 5 working with iCloud on my mac.  I have the app store version on my mac, and I am asking AgileBits for help.






Shut up and take my money? Homekit hopes

I remember my smart phone experience before iPhone.  I had a Palm Treo.  I was able to do many things I do on my iPhone:

  • Watch movies
  • Listen to music
  • Download useful apps from the internet
  • Synchronize my contacts, read email, todo list(s)
I wanted to do all of these things.  However, they were all hard.  Watching movies caused it to crash, and there was the tiny screen, and even with an SD card, there was not room for much.  Listening to music?  There was a similar set of problems.  Music playlists were a nightmare.  I was thrilled to download applications, but it was not centralized and it was hard.  The rest mostly required a computer at times, at best.  The iPhone made all of these things vastly better, and really is a computer in my pocket.

The area of home automation, frankly, sucks.  Nest was a breath of fresh air in the space.  I was dreaming of a Nest home irrigation management system like rach.io.  I live in California and saving water while keeping my plants from dying is an attractive idea.  What all could be in home automation?
  • Door locks - closest match:  http://august.com/
  • Irrigation management - closest match: https://www.rach.io/
  • Lighting management - one option: Phillips Hue
  • Power - one option: WeMo Home Automation
  • Sensors and alarms:
    • Moisture sensors - closest match: http://www.wallyhome.com/
  • Home security
    • Cameras
    • Door/window open/close/lock management
    • Window covering management
    • Lights management
    • Sound management (maybe should make some sounds if I am away?)
Here is a narration of what I would love in terms of smart home management:
1) Temperature management in the house would take into account different household members having preferences for different temperatures in different locations, even in a small-ish house.
2) All of the options I have, I therefore want the system to have:
  • Know about the sun (or lack of sun), and its effect on temperature.
  • Know about rain and its effect on temperature, and the desirability of using open windows.
  • Know where people are and will likely go in the house.
  • Know how secure I need the house to be at a given time.
  • Have awareness of motion outside the home to decide how much to have windows open.  Be aware of squirrels/cats/racoons or other animals/pests and do not let them in!
  • Open/close windows to heat/cool.
  • Open/close window coverings to heat/cool.
  • Adjust vents/air flow to cool/heat only specific locations.
  • Use air flow to bring cool/hot air from another place in the house to affect where people actually are.  This can be with windows, and can be with the furnace fan.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Summary of Apple announcements 10/16/14

Today Apple had the second of two fall announcement meetings.  Here is my summary of the announcements today which I watched on my iphone via streaming video.  I'm ignoring the discussions of iPhone, Apple watch, Yosemite, and iOS 8, and Apple Pay, with two exceptions:
  • We cannot use Apple Pay without iOS 8.1, not available until Monday Oct 20, 2014
  • We cannot do SMS messages on your computer without iOS 8.1, still not yet available.
So it was primarily about new hardware:
  • iPad Air 2
    • nearly 20% thinner
    • A better display in that it has fused layers and an anti-reflective coating
    • A8X CPU - the best Apple has for mobile computing
    • TouchID
    • barometer
    • Networking
      • 802.11ac fastest available networking
      • 20-band LTE for cellular users, with a "one SIM" option that works with multiple carriers! (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile at this time)
    • Camera - the rear camera appears to be like an iPhone 6 camera in newer better specifications and 8MP.
  • iPad Mini 3
    • They added a gold color option, touchID, and lowered the prices
  • iPad Air, iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini:
    • all still for sale with reduced prices
  • Mac Mini
    • CPU: up to 3Ghz Intel Core i7
    • Storage: Up to 1TB flash storage
    • RAM: up to 16GB RAM
    • GPU: up to Intel Iris Graphics
    • Ports:
      • Audio In, Headphone
      • SDXC
      • 4x USB 3
      • 2x Thunderbolt 2
      • HDMI
      • 1GB Ethernet
      • IR Receiver
    • Wifi: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4
    • OS: Yosemite - no OS X server OS
  • iMac 5K Retina
    • 27" 5120x2880 pixel display
    • CPU: Up to 4.0Ghz quad core Intel Core i7
    • RAM: Up to 32GB
    • Storage: Up to 1TB flash storage
    • GPU: Up to AMD Radeon R9 M295X with 4GB GDDR5 memory
    • Ports:
      • Headphone
      • SDXC
      • 4x USB 3
      • 2x Thunderbolt 2
      • 1GB Ethernet
    • Wifi: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4
    • Comes with Yosemite, Apple wireless keyboard, and Apple Magic Mouse
Update:

I made this much too dry.  It is worth watching minute 28 or so on for a bit even if the rest does not interest you.  They showed continuity in use, and included Steven Colbert as their supreme commander of security.  They also had a video showing the security procedure to get into a building which is worth watching.  The entire demonstration is really worth a look-see.  Humor in a presentation like this is far too rare.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review of prognostications - was I right?

My prognostication report card:  It looks like I was pretty much right, aside from when iPhones would ship.  It will not go to my head.

I think predicting possible problems or supposed problems might be something to think about next time...

Here were my detailed predictions and some comments:
  • MacBook Air [Was wrong about this one.  Just wrong.  They have a retina 5K imac instead?]
    • Bump to retina.  If not now, in 2014.
  • New iPhone 4.7" and 5.5" [Aside from the ship date, I was right]
    • with a better camera, both with TouchID [Very true]
    • NFC [Yes]
    • some new sensors that aren't rumored
      • We have a 2nd motion sensor for low power use, and an barometer.
    • a sideways mode for some iphone built-in apps that is more like iPad [True for iPhone 6 Plus]
    • higher resolution screens [Yes]
    • Shipping by mid-October [ok this was wrong - they shipped in a couple weeks with 10 million sold the first weekend]
  • iWatch [I think I was right on the money]
    • with more fashion than I can imagine
    • fewer sensors than imagined - definitely no glucose monitoring this time around
    • coming out in early 2015
    • comes with more HealthKit discussion
  • Services: [I think I was right]
    • Definitely mobile payments, and NFC seems very likely, rolling out with many major retailers across the US, tied to TouchID

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Getting the most out of Siri in iOS 8

I used and enjoyed Siri in an iPhone 5.  I did not really explore Siri fully, however.  For example, I have a bluetooth car handsfree kit, but using activating Siri always seemed to require touching the actual phone.  I now plug in my iPhone 6 in my car, and use "Hey Siri" to give truly hands-free voice commands to Siri.  Some give graphical data that I cannot look at while I drive.  At the end are helpful audiobook and podcast commands...
  • SMS/iMessage:
    • "read my texts" or "read my messages"
    • When I have messages, Siri gives me the opportunity to reply to each person who has sent me SMS or iMessages
    • You can also ask Siri to text people.  I find it easiest to text people for whom I have a defined relationship (you can define relationships in contacts) such as wife.
    • "Tell her I'll be there in 5 minutes" - replying to Siri after reading a message
  • Phone: 
    • "call my wife, mobile"
    • "Facetime Frank"
    • "Call 480-555-1212"
  • Locations:
    • Is my wife home?
  • Misc:
    • "enable airplane mode", "turn on airplane mode"
    • "Turn on do not disturb"
    • "my wife is Jane Doe"
    • "Who is near me"
    • "Note that I need to buy eggs" - adds a note to the notes app
    • "What's my ETA?"
    • "How many dollars is 45 euros"
    • "Google bendgate"
    • "Launch <app name>" - "launch photos"
    • "What can I ask you?" or "What can Siri do?" *** GOLD *** click on categories to see examples
  • Weather:
    • "What's it like outside?"
    • "Will it be hot today?"
    • "How windy is it out there?"
  • Directions:
    • "Give me directions home"
    • You have to have it in your contacts to ask for it...
    • "What is Bob's address?"
    • "Are we there yet?"
    • "Find coffee near me"
  • Alarm:
    • "Wake me up tomorrow at 6AM"
    • "Do I have an alarm set?" - shows you alarms and if they are set, and lets you turn them on with a swipe
    • "Turn on my 5AM alarm" - I already have one defined for several days per week, and turned that one on!
    • "Set a timer for 5 minutes"
  • Twitter:
    • "Show me my tweets"
    • "Search twitter for SF giants"
    • "What's trending on twitter?"
    • "tweet learning to use hashtag siri for twitter"
  • Sports:
    • "Score for the Giants game today?"  Right now I get asked San Francisco or New York, since both are in season.
    • "What is the Giants' roster?"
  • Stock:
    • Ask Siri, "How's Apple stock doing?"
  • Calendar:
    • "What's on my calendar for tomorrow"
    • "Cancel my noon appointment tomorrow"
    • "When is my next meeting?"
    • I have not yet been successful adding new appoints to Siri that are not 1 hour long.  If you know how, let me know.
    • meet my daughter at noon"
  • Pronunciation:
    • Ask Siri, "Learn to pronounce the name, <name>"
  • Music:
    • "Play album <album name>"
    • "Play artist <artist name>"
    • "Play song <song name>"
    • "Play genre classical"
    • "Play iTunes radio"
  • Podcast and audiobook controls:
    • Ask Siri, "Play podcast <podcast name>" - only when there are unplayed episodes
    • Ask Siri, "Play audio book <audio book name>"
    • "Play podcast" to resume playing a podcast - only do this when that was the last audio thing you were doing.  If you were playing music, it plays your first podcast.
    • "Play audiobook" to resume playing an audiobook - only do this when this was the last audio thing you were doing.  If you were listening to a podcast, for example, this plays your first audiobook.
    • Ask Siri to move in time in your podcast or audiobook:
      •  "Skip three and a half minutes"
      • "Jump ahead four minutes"
      • "rewind four minutes"
      • "Jump back four minutes"
      • "Skip ahead two minutes"
      • "Skip back two minutes"
      • "Fast forward fourty minutes"

Apple Pay, Google Wallet, NFC credit cards, and Chip and Pin credit cards for brick and mortar transactions - which why?

NFC credit cards:
  • I am hearing about credit cards with NFC, which means the cards could be used by taping or waving the card at a point of sale (POS) terminal.  Apparently this is real: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2011/june/money/credit-card-fraud/rfid-credit-cards/index.htm
  • These cards are hard to secure.  I do not recommend them!
  • They go by the name of "blink", "PayPass", "payWave", "ExpressPay", or "Zip" and may have a wireless symbol on them (as seen in the consumer reports site listed above).
  • This is not the same as EMV or chip and pin.
The EMV Chip card initiative:
  •  It is what we are currently switching over to use in the US.  My understanding is that all replacement credit cards in the US from now on will have an embedded chip.
  • If merchants continue to use magnetic strip credit card reads past a certain date, then in the end the merchants take on the fraud liability from magnetic strip credit card usage.
  • This system was first used in parts of Europe in the early 1990's; it is not new to the world.
  • When your card is inserted, you must then type in a PIN code, validating that it is you using the card.  This changes things - restaurants and merchants no longer take your credit card, for example; they must let you type in your PIN while the card is in use.  
  • This initiative is a big deal, because it means almost all merchants will be upgrading their POS terminals.  And while they are upgrading, they have an opportunity to add other features, such as NFC.  There was no similar wide-ranging initiative and incentive to push merchants in the US to upgrade POS terminals previously.
NFC:
  • There is an alliance of credit card companies that has a FAQ - http://www.smartcardalliance.org/publications-nfc-frequently-asked-questions/
  • Android, Microsoft, Blackberry, and Apple all have initiatives to use NFC for payments.  Even some feature phones (non-smart phones) have NFC.  I'll explore only Android and Apple in this post, as they have the majority of the smartphone market share.
Google Wallet Tap and Pay (the name for the NFC feature)
  • They have had it since 2011 - for years!  And yet, read on...
  • Google Wallet Tap and Pay - that's a long name (complaint tongue and cheek)
  • Google has not explained their service well.( http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2014/09/18/why-do-people-think-apple-pay-is-so-innovative-when-an-equivalent-has-been-part-of-android-for-two-years/ )
  • Some carriers (AT&T, Verison, T-mobile) have been interfering with Tap and Pay, so it is only available with some phones from other carriers.  ( http://phandroid.com/2013/09/19/google-wallet-nfc-payments-blocked/ ) There are notably optimistically titled articles stating that now it can work on all carriers!  However, the articles then admit that in fact that is not true. ( http://www.androidcentral.com/google-wallet-tap-and-pay-can-work-any-android-44-device-still-requires-us-sim )  Carriers can control the software and firmware they are willing to carry with most cell phones.
  • Google changed the rules on its users.
    • When Tap and Pay was first released, it was tied to one card, one carrier, with the secure element.
    • Google changed things in April, 2014, when Google implemented HCE (host card emulation), which replaces the secure element by storing information representing the credit card in the cloud.  Google stopped supporting Tap and Pay for OS versions before Kit Kat 4.4 as they cannot support HCE.  
  • To use Google Wallet for NFC securely, a user must use many (too many?) steps:
    • Type in a code to unlock the phone (the phone must be locked)
    • Select the Google Wallet App
    • Type in the Google Wallet App code
    • Select a card
    • then continue with the transaction
  • Information is power:
    • With the Google Wallet transaction system, Google is enacting the transaction on behalf of the user.  Google gets information about your purchases, for whatever purposes Google uses this information for.
    • If Google Wallet were to have become ubiquitous, Google would have had a huge quantity of information about merchants and their sales data.  Merchants do not all want Google to have this proprietary data.  (This was briefly mentioned in http://blog.euromonitor.com/2013/10/google-wallets-in-store-payment-feature-all-but-dead.html )
  • In addition, some have mentioned that the Google play store is not as secure as the "walled garden" of the Apple App store: http://www.infoworld.com/article/2610099/mobile-security/report--android-malware-and-spyware-apps-spike-in-the-google-play-store.html
  • What does Google earn for transactions it conducts?  This is unclear.
  • Other notes:
    • In 2011, Eric Schmidt predicted 1/3 of all POS devices would be able to accept NFC payments: http://nfctimes.com/news/google-s-schmidt-predicts-contactless-terminal-rollout
    • In 2013, Bloomberg reported that Google was missing out on the mobile payments boom: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-06-06/why-google-is-missing-out-on-the-mobile-payments-boom
Apple Pay:
  • It is not yet in place; we have not yet tried it.  Keep that in mind.  When it is activated, it will start only in the US.
  • Apple appears to have worked very hard to gain both broad acceptance and widespread deployment in the US in 2014 and early 2015.  Apple deployed the technology at a time that worked well for this adoption.  
  • It only currently works with iPhone 6 and 6 plus.  This is limiting, but we know that there are more than ten million of these devices out in the world that could use the feature.  (It will work in the future with Apple Watch paired with an iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6, or 6 plus as well).
  • It works with the Apple Passbook app, and TouchID.  It is supposed to be simpler than using a credit card:
    • Hold your phone in place by a NFC terminal while holding TouchID to verify your identity.
  • Apple reports that Apple does not transmit credit card numbers to the merchant, and Apple keeps no information about your transactions.  The transactions are more secure.
  • Apple reportedly earns $0.15 per $100 of transactions.  Even if $20 billion in transactions go through Apple Pay, that is only $30 million dollars to Apple.  I do not see this as a huge money maker at this time, nor a huge drain on the system.
Conclusions:
  • RFID credit cards are insecure.  I would not use them.
  • Chip and pin is coming your way.  ASAP use chip and pin over magnetic stripe.  I would, however, prefer cell-phone enabled transactions as more secure than chip and pin transactions.
  • Google Wallet Tap and Pay:
    • If users follow Google recommendations, I see no evidence that Google Wallet is not fully secure.  They do no longer use the secure element.
    • It is not clear to me what Google does with data about transactions.  This is a worry to some users, and is a big worry to some merchants.
    • Google changed the rules on its users, and devices that were able to use
    • Google was unable to get widespread adoption.  Google was unable to get cooperation from all carriers. 
    • Using Google Pay is not as smooth as using Apple Pay.  Google cannot fully control this.
    • Apple Pay deployment should be a benefit to Google as NFC is more widely deployed.
  • Apple Pay:
    • This appears to be a great time and with great partnerships for Apple to deploy.
    • Apple has taken great care to make transactions as secure, easy, and private as possible.  This appears to be able to keep users, merchants, and partners happy.
  • Both Google Wallet and Apple Pay are more secure than traditional credit cards or chip-and-pin credit cards.