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

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:
  • 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.
  • There is an alliance of credit card companies that has a FAQ -
  • 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.( )
  • 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.  ( ) 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. ( )  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 )
  • In addition, some have mentioned that the Google play store is not as secure as the "walled garden" of the Apple App store:
  • 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:
    • In 2013, Bloomberg reported that Google was 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.
  • 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.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Healthkit now and soon

With the release of iOS 8.0.2 today, Healthkit is enabled.  I see just about zero news on the subject.

If you own an iPhone 6/6 Plus, there are sections of automatic data collection and reporting you can activate now.  Open the health app, navigate to Fitness and then select each one, and choose Show on Dashboard for any you wish:

  • Flights Climbed
  • Steps
  • Walking + Running Distance

That's it for now!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Using iOS 8 on an iPhone 6 - the day after

Now that I'm mostly done dealing with trials and tribulations, I am starting to enjoy my iPhone 6 and some iOS 8 features.

First, a joke.  Since continuity is working with my iPad with iOS 8, I used my iPad as a phone and called my wife.  I held the iPad up like I was holding a cell phone to my ear.  As I got strange looks, I joked, "What?  I'm using my iPhone 6 +++!"  I plan to do this with others soon, before it gets old.

Many are saying that extensions are the big thing about iOS 8.  Since I'm still not experimenting with alternative keyboards, I'll share the two biggest places this affects me: 1Password and Evernote

I enabled touchID for 1Password.  Wow.  It is SO much more usable with touchID!  I enabled the safari extension (per this support document: )  I used it by going into a website I log into, clicking the share button, and selecting 1Password.  It works!  This sounds small, but it is big and makes 1Password on the iPhone much more useful, more like on a desktop.

I do need to add that my iPhone is set up to automatically update apps.  This means I moved to 1Password5 without meaning to.  This means I no longer am syncing to my mac 1Password.  Oh dear.  I supposed I can wait a month, but this automatic problem creation is not good.

Web clipping with Evernote worked flawlessly as well from Safari.

I'm using touchID to unlock my phone, and it makes me reach for it more often knowing I don't have to type in my unlock code!  This is not new to iPhone 6, but it is new to me, and I am enjoying it.  It seems to always work for me.

I was on a website on my iPhone, and used continuity to get my iPad on that webpage immediately upon unlock.  This is pretty cool.  It was not working for mail or messages, probably because I'm not using iCloud drive yet.

I used mail draft hiding with a swipe down on the draft - this is GREAT!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Moving over to iPhone 6 - trials and tribulations

Bright and early this morning, I was told I received the first 2 iPhone 6 phones delivered in my town.

The plan:
  • Move off of 2 iPhone 5's into 2 iPhone 6's.
  • Move off of 2 iPhone 4's into the 2 iPhone 5's.
  • Use covers on the old phones to keep them straightened out as to which is which.  Once a recovery is made to an iPhone 6, the cover photo will let me see which is which quickly.
Simple, right?  Here are some complications:
  1. These devices are syncing to a machine with Lion.  Lion does not have iPhoto. We want to preserve the photos on all iPhones, and some have thousands of photos.
  2. We are all using one iCloud ID to do photo sharing.
First I back up each phone.  This consists of:
  1. Backing up to our Lion iTunes server
  2. Backing up photos to a Mavericks iPhoto-based machine
  • So I activate and recover each respective iPhone 6 to the backup of an iPhone 5.  Easy.
  • Then I take my iPhone 4's and iPhone 5's to an AT&T store.  I wait in line for about 30 minutes, and go inside to do a phone swap/SIM card replacement on the iPhone 5's.  One will not activate!  Eventually I am told a story about how sometimes it takes up to two hours to activate.  I grab a card of a person in the store to bypass lines if the phone never activates, and head off to do more syncing.
  • I then recover to the two iPhone 5's.
  • Next up: voicemail.  I have no idea what the voicemail passwords are.  A quick login to the AT&T online portal to reset passwords.  I then set new passwords and get visual voicemail working.
  • Then email...
    • I have a corporate mobile device management system.  It is not working with iPhone 6.  It worked with iPhone 5 and iOS 8.  This precludes corporate email for now for me.
    • I was surprised how much I had to use passwords in some cases, app passwords in others.  This is complicated, but doable.
  • One phone would not activate.  I had to go back to AT&T, get a manager.  They did not want to let me hop the line even though the promised long activation never happened.  However, the manager remembered me from earlier (and I did have a card from the person who had been helping me) and the manager helped me outside the store.  Not letting me back in the store somehow soothed the people still in line at 8PM.  There was some kind of typo in the data entry they had to do.  Once fixed, the iPhone 5 activated just fine immediately.
  • I was then trying to set up our old system of sharing photos.  We all use the same iCloud AppleID.  I use many icloud features, and every one else just shares photos and uses imessage.
    • After a while into this, I was unable to put my icloud account on one iphone.  It just would not work.  I had many symptoms listed in
    • I had other problems.  My wife and I would text a family member, and it looked like it came from my wife when I was texting!  This would not do.  I turned off Messages and Facetime on all of the iPhones and reset networking.  I set it all up from scratch.  It kept happening.  Eventually I did this on an iPad I have with iOS 8 and my computer as well.  THAT FIXED IT!  One of the two had somehow gotten my phone number and my wife's too, as if they were both mine.
    • I had a new problem - Continuity!  A call to one cell phone was a call to ALL cell phones (and my iPad)!  I became convinced that there was no way to make this old system work.  It was an interesting cacophony!
    • To fix: I went to all devices that are not my personal devices and:
      •  turned off the iPhone FaceTime setting "iPhone Cellular calls"
      • Handoff (under General, Handoff & Suggested Apps)
    • I still could not get one family phone to use my iCloud ID to share photos.  We are not ready to turn on family sharing today.  Then I remembered my old iPhone 4 devices we plan not to use!
      • I de-registered them with iCloud, turning off Find my iPhone, and then cloud services all together.
      • I reset their networking, and powered them off.  They are ready to be wiped and sold.
      • I went to to verify... and saw a mess.  I had to re-sync each phone with a computer and rename it, giving it a useful name in Find My iPhone.  I had thought the recovery from backup would do this; it did not.
      • I had to delete a few old items like an old computer or two that had crashed and been replaced.  
  • Now it was finally time to get photos back on devices.  After wrestling my iTunes from an old Lion machine to a Mavericks machine containing my iPhoto backups, I tried to sync over photos.  The Photos area in iTunes for the device just contained a permanent spiral mark that  was like the pinwheel of death.  I waited, did other things (like eat), and came back - it was never going to resolve.  My CPU and disk were not busy in any way.
    • I checked out this article:
    • I backed up each machine, then sync'ed it, and then I could copy photos via iTunes
    • A new problem cropped up: duplicates!  By this time, iCloud had shared a quarter of the 4,000 photos on a couple iPhones.  This effort meant they now had 5,000.  The only way I can think of to fix this is to start over, wipe the phones, do the photo sync first, and THEN set up iCloud.  Whew.
    • Other problems: in turning off iCloud and turning it back on, many other things start to sync and are turned on!  You cannot turn them off fast enough to stop this.  I had to delete Passbook data from other iPhones.
All of this took about.... 17 hours.  I have 4 iPhones, an iPad, and one computer involved.  I have some duplicate photos, and one iPhone 5 I cannot get to share photos via iCloud.  This was not a smooth process.  Advice:
  • Back up each iphone to a computer with Mavericks. Back up photos to iTunes on that machine.
  • Turn off Facetime, Messages, and for good measure iCloud on phones you are retiring or repurposing (once they are backed up).
  • Recover the phone in their entirety, including photos.
  • Clean up any old devices in Find My iPhone before proceeding.
  • Then do settings like email, voicemail, and the like.  If you encrypt your iPhone and iPhone backups, these settings can pass into the new iPhone.  Why not use that advantage?
  • Do iCloud enablement last.  Use the FaceTime and Continuity settings carefully.  If you make a mistake, watch the iCloud settings on the iPhone and delete any data you did not want on the iPhone.
  • Under Settings, General, About, you can rename your device.  This is a helpful tool with iCloud.
  • My iPhone and my wife's have no music on them.  None.  We downloaded via iTunes match - apparently we have to start over.
  • One iPhone 6 is having weird audiobook behavior - it will not restart from headset controls...
  • We have quadruple (or more) photos in... our photo albums.  I cannot say photo stream at this point.  What a mess.
More updates:
  • One repurposed iPhone 5 would not connect via facetime or messages no matter what.  I had a scheduled call with Apple, and they said my old iPhone 4 and the new iPhone 5 were both in apple systems as active with iMessage.  The support person said they cleared it and suggested I had to call AT&T to get them to reset things.  I called AT&T and they said everything was fine and started me through messages troubleshooting.  I said no, Apple sent me there for a reason.  They asked me to recover the iPhone 5 from scratch, and I insisted they get Apple back on the phone.  I quickly got to a senior technician who had me use xcode to dump logs from the phone - very cool! I'm told I'll hear back in a few days once engineering figures out what to do.