Posts tagged Apple’s
Three out of every four iOS users are running iOS 7, but Apple’s redesigned mobile operating system still has its fair share of issues—and fixes for many of them may still be a month away.
At first, there was the lock screen bypass exploit. Then came the iMessage bug. The “screen of death.” Battery issues galore. Now there’s a new vulnerability that allows someone who grabs your phone to quickly disable Apple’s “Find My iPhone” service, which securely tracks the location of all registered iOS and Mac devices. That would effectively hide the device from iCloud’s protective service.
After that, this hypothetical bad guy could also to switch the phone to another iCloud account, gaining the ability to remotely install apps and to siphon some data off the device.
Normally, the iPhone requires a password if you want to deactivate “Find My iPhone.” Now, however, hackers have demonstrated that they can bypass that security step without having to guess, steal or even bypass your Apple ID password.
In the iPhone’s iCloud account settings, in the field where you’d normally enter your Apple ID password to sign in, enter gibberish instead and save. The phone will give you an error noting the incorrect password. Then back out, reopen the same settings page and delete whatever is written in the iCloud account’s “Description” field. Save those settings and you’ll notice Find My iPhone is now toggled off. If you visit iCloud.com or use “Find My iPhone” on another device, you’ll see that Apple can no longer find the original phone.
It’s then possible to de-link the phone from your iCloud account and instead associate it with another one.
The video below, uploaded by YouTube user Bradley Williams, shows iOS 7 users how to pull off the Find My iPhone exploit for themselves:
True, this vulnerability probably doesn’t pose a major threat to most iPhone or iPad users. It requires physical access to the device, and then only works if the user hasn’t set a passcode or enabled the iPhone 5S fingerprint-based Touch ID system. The exploit also doesn’t deactivate Apple’s Activation Lock system, which blocks a thief from erasing and re-activating a stolen phone unless they enter your Apple ID and password.
The exploit is, however, embarrassingly simple. Developers running the beta version of iOS 7.1 say it blocks this exploit and others. But until Apple releases the public version of iOS 7.1, passcodes and/or Touch ID are the best way to protect your iDevices.
Apple has reportedly been working on iOS 7.1 since September. In addition to bug fixes, users should also expect a few visual improvements to specific applications and the overall UI, more natural-sounding Siri voices in more languages, an improved calendar, additional accessibility options, and more.
Apple earlier this week released the fifth beta of iOS 7.1 to developers, but a report from 9to5Mac, citing “reliable sources,” says Apple won’t release iOS 7.1 until March. BGR was the first to report the March release date for iOS 7.1 back in December, but hedged its bets on Thursday by saying the update might arrive in the “coming weeks.”
Lead image by Reuters
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If and when Apple ever comes out with a wearable computer, the term “watch” may not necessarily apply.
According to reports, Apple is going whole hog into health and fitness for its long-rumored wearable device. This morning, a new job listing on Apple’s website called for a “User Studies Exercise Physiologist” who would design, test and run user studies of fitness tracking, including calories burned, metabolic rate, cardiovascular fitness and “measurement/tracking and other key physiological measurements.” That job listing subsequently vanished, although Mark Gurman from 9to5Mac posted a screenshot.
Such physiologists and related sensor and health experts are expected to contribute to an app in the forthcoming version of iOS 8 called “Healthbook,” Gurman reported last week. Apple already has fitness tracking capabilities built into the iPhone 5S via its M7 motion co-processor, and Healthbook will be the software manifestation of Apple’s fitness hardware.
Apple has met with the Food and Drug Administration to discuss mobile medical applications, according to a report in the New York Times. That makes sense if Apple is working on applications that may touch on healthcare issues, as federal laws concerning the gathering, storage and sharing of health information are quite strict. Moving into a field like healthcare is not something a company like Apple would do haphazardly.
It does look like Apple may be acknowledging that smartwatches are not going to recapitulate the capabilities of smartphones any time soon. Today’s smartwatches are generally falling into one of two distinctive categories: communication devices like Pebble, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and the Qualcomm Toq and fitness devices like FitBit and the Nike FuelBand. From the reports so far, it appears that Apple is focusing on the latter category.
U.S. healthcare is a $2.8 trillion industry, counting everything from insurance to pharmaceuticals to doctor and hospital fees and so on. Technologists have long considered health and fitness ripe for “disruption” by lower-cost, information-centric approaches, but most attempts so far have run into the shoals of federal regulations and heavily entrenched, bureaucratic incumbents that have proven amazingly resistant to change.
Apple’s Wearable Challenges
The technology for the all-on-one smartwatch is not really mature enough for Apple to create a device that is both smartphone and wearable fitness tracker. So, Apple has to establish priorities.
First, it needs to uphold the software and hardware design principles that have made it the most profitable computer company in the world. That may mean a curved display that demonstrates Apple’s usual flair. It will certainly mean packing a device with enough power to collect relevant data and deliver simple but intuitive functions. At a minimum, that means Bluetooth, GPS, a variant of the M7 motion processor (likely an ARM-based Cortex processor of some type) and an accelerometer.
Battery life will be crucial; almost certainly, so will wireless charging.
Second will be a platform for developers to build on, the same way they do on iOS in the smartphone and tablet world. Apple will likely have several launch partner apps for its fitness band, with Nike a likely suspect (Apple CEO Tim Cook sits on Nike’s board) as well as apps like RunKeeper (one of the first fitness trackers in the App Store). If Apple makes its fitness tracker a platform to build on top of—like it did with the iPhone—it could go a long way into creating interest for the product.
The third challenge may be the most difficult: getting the American health system to adopt an Apple-made fitness device as a go-to source for health monitoring. Imagine a doctor prescribing a health tracker to a patient to monitor cardiovascular health with all of that information directly shipped back to the doctor’s computer. This is the sort of idea that would lead Apple straight into discussions with the FDA.
Apple hasn’t rushed into the wearable market the way companies like Samsung and Sony have. Apple is taking a classic, pragmatic approach that could ultimately yield not just a consumer-grade fitness tracker, but a life companion device designed to keep you healthy.
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Prior to the 30th anniversary of the original Macintosh on January 24, I wrote about the possibility that Apple might soon merge iOS and OS X, creating a single hybrid operating system for both Macs and mobile devices.
Apple had no direct response to my request for comment, but three company executives—marketing VP Phil Schiller, software engineering VP Craig Federighi, and software technology VP Bud Tribble—indirectly answered some of my questions when they invited Macworld to Apple headquarters to set the record straight, insisting that OS X and iOS will always be separate entities:
“To say [OS X and iOS] should be the same, independent of their purpose? Let’s just converge, for the sake of convergence? [It’s] absolutely a non-goal,” Federighi said. “You don’t want to say the Mac became less good at being a Mac because someone tried to turn it into iOS. At the same time, you don’t want to feel like iOS was designed by [one] company and Mac was designed by [a different] company, and they’re different for reasons of lack of common vision.”
What Apple’s Executives Didn’t Say
That all sounds like a pretty definitive nail in the integration coffin, at least until you think about it a bit.
Over the past decade, the rising popularity of the iPhone and iPad—both powered by a touch-optimized “mobile” version of OS X—led many to believe that Apple would eventually fold its Mac line into the ever-growing iDevice division. But Apple prefers the “cross-pollination of ideas” that exists between OS X and iOS, even though Federighi has led all development efforts for both platforms since the iOS and OS X teams effectively fused in late 2012.
“It’s obvious and easy enough to slap a touchscreen on a piece of hardware, but is that a good experience?” Federighi told Macworld. “We believe, no.”
As I noted previously, many developers and other experts think Apple will eventually release something like an “iPad Pro”—a tablet with a detachable keyboard that could switch easily between iOS and OS X and thus run both iPad apps and Mac programs. (Unsurprisingly, the iPad Pro is already a fixture in the Apple-product rumor mill.)
In the Macworld interview, Apple’s executives unanimously rejected the notion of putting iOS in a Mac. But nobody downplayed or even mentioned the idea of porting a full version OS X to a mobile device—such as, for instance, that aforementioned “professional-leaning” tablet with a detachable keyboard.
“It’s not an either/or,” Schiller said. “It’s a world where you’re going to have a phone, a tablet, a computer, you don’t have to choose. And so what’s more important is how you seamlessly move between them all. It’s not like this is a laptop person and that’s a tablet person. It doesn’t have to be that way.”
Schiller’s right: Tablets have certain advantages over laptops and vice-versa, but that only helps to make the case for the iPad Pro, not against it. To be clear: Schiller is saying Apple would never strip down the Mac to make it more like iOS. But Schiller is leaving the door open to smartphones or tablets that become more than what they already are.
A Natural Evolution For iPad
Remember when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone? He called it “the best iPod we’ve ever made.” And yet, since the arrival of the iPhone, the iPod is no longer Apple’s cash cow; in the company’s most recent quarter, the iPod only accounted for 1.6% of the company’s revenue. Meanwhile, the iPhone is hotter than ever, earning more than 56% of the record $57.6 billion in revenue Apple pulled in last quarter.
Products evolve. The iPod as we know it has become the iPhone, even though though both product lines still exist. So, unless Apple feels particularly sheepish about creating a Microsoft Surface lookalike, there’s no reason Apple couldn’t push the iPad to become “more than just a tablet.” Sure, the iPad started on iOS, but a “professional” version of the iPad running OS X would almost certainly have broad appeal.
An iPad Pro could work from a technical side, since Apple’s mobile devices are already getting to the point where they can handle desktop-level software. In fact, Apple loves to advertise that its iPhone 5S is the world’s first 64-bit smartphone with desktop architecture thanks to its A7 chip, which also powers the iPad Air.
A larger iPad with more interior real estate for processors might be able to handle OS X with a “layer” of iOS that only activates when the tablet’s keyboard is detached. Add a few ports for peripherals (maybe—finally—USB!) and Touch ID for security purposes, and you’ve got the first Macintosh Tablet: A powerful laptop when the keyboard’s attached, and a full-featured iPad when the keyboard’s detached.
The Enterprise Incident
Why would Apple create this product? Simple: To solidify the company’s standing as the preferred tablet for the enterprise—98% of Fortune 500 companies currently deploy iPads—while also appealing to small businesses and local merchants that use affordable mobile solutions like Square for processing customer payments.
Before iOS devices came along, Apple organized its Mac products in a quadrant system, as portables and desktops further divided into professional and consumer categories. Now that the iPhone and iPad are beginning to mature, it would make sense for Apple to begin categorizing iOS products this way, too.
We’re starting to see it with the iPhone, where Apple already has two tiers: The 5S for those who need fast, cutting-edge technology (like professionals), and the 5C as a cheaper option for consumers thanks to older (yet still reliable) technologies.
There’s no reason Apple couldn’t—or shouldn’t—apply the same strategy to the iPad. With very little effort, it could sell a more versatile tablet packed with technologies and features—the ideal iPad Pro—alongside the “classic” iPad with the familiar touchscreen-only experience.
Apple doesn’t need to sell an all-in-one iPad solution, of course. But it would make lots of sense. After all, the iPhone was an all-in-one solution (phone, Internet and music), and look how that worked out.
Lead illustration by Madeleine Weiss for ReadWrite
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The App Store had its best year ever in 2013: Apple on Tuesday said customers spent $10 billion on apps over the last year, which was highlighted by a record-breaking December with over $1 billion in sales. In May, Apple celebrated 50 billion app downloads by rewarding the person who downloaded the 50 billionth app with a $10,000 gift card.
Though Android dwarfs iOS in devices and downloads, Apple rakes in an estimated $5.1 million in revenue from the App Store each day, while Google banks just $1.1 million per day. And Citigroup analyst Mark May believes Google Play pulled in only $1.3 billion in revenue last year—just 13% of Apple’s haul—even though Android accounts for roughly 75% of all app downloads (the App Store’s share was just 18%).
So to clarify: Google has a larger installed base than Apple, it has more products and properties than Apple, and it’s on more smartphones than Apple. So why is Apple’s App Store so much more lucrative than Google Play?
Here’s what the App Store has going for it: More apps, less malware, and more money for developers and advertisers than Android. Developers also seem to prefer iOS because it is significantly less fragmented—78% of iOS users are running the latest version, compared to the little more than half of Android users on all versions of Android Jelly Bean (all versions)—and they can charge more for apps on the App Store. (Apple’s $999 price cap is much more flexible than Google’s $200 limit.)
But Google’s little green robot is catching up. The Play Store is growing faster than the iOS App Store with more published and updated applications each day, and Android’s newer applications are generating a greater percentage of overall revenue than are the latest apps for iPhone and iPad.
Android is also getting cleaned up. Google recently defended its security protocols within Google Play, calling the threats of malware greatly exaggerated, and the company’s plan to de-frag the entire platform could be extremely beneficial for Android, but especially Google Play, if successful. If Android can become more unified, developers can take advantage of shorter update cycles and new APIs without waiting for the installed base to catch up.
With more than a million Android apps, Google Play has already begun stealing away app revenue from Apple’s App Store over the last six months. Given a larger installed base and a greater variety of Android devices, Google and its Play Store have plenty of room to grow.
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Apple is bringing the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C to the largest cellular operator in China early next year.
Apple and China Mobile announced a partnership this weekend that brings Apple’s two newest smartphones to China’s largest network. The iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C will be available for pre-order starting on December 25th. Apple’s two flagship smartphones will hit China Mobile and Apple retail stores in the country on January 17, 2014.
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