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Pro Apps at tomorrow’s Apple event?

Pro Apps at tomorrow’s Apple event?

There is as expected a lot of noise going around about tomorrow’s Apple event.

Of course there will be new a new iPad – probably both a full size and an iPad mini with Retina. Theres likely to be new MacBooks and I think the long awaited MacPro is bound to get a mention.

OSX Mavericks will also be released.

Personally I am also interested in the app side of things. Updates to iWork for Mac are long overdue and much needed. Rumours have been circulating regarding iLife apps – particularly GarageBand.

But how about Pro apps. You know, to go with the new MacPro and the (new) MacBook Pro models…

I think we’re likely to see a new release of Aperture [1] and perhaps some surprises.


  1. Affiliate link. Thanks in advance  ↩

Thoughts on the Apple iPhone Events for September 2013

Thoughts on the Apple iPhone Events for September 2013

Just before going to bed last night, I checked my RSS feeds to see posts about Apple hosting a second announcement event next week, this time in China:

The invite is the same as the one for the main U.S. event, which leads us to believe whatever is announced in Cupertino the day before will be headed China’s way.

When I awoke this morning, the interest in the Chinese event had continued:

Apple has sent out custom invitations to Chinese media outlets for an event being held in China on September 11th, one full day after Apple’s normal press event on the 10th

Some may notice that these two posts were separted by sleep. Overnight. Yet both posts were issued during the same business day. But that was in America, and I am in Australia, and Australia is in a different timezone.

I make this comment, because the China event is not “one full day after Apple’s normal press event…”. It (the Chinese, presumably abnormal event) is, in fact, only about 9 hours after the Cupertino one. So the question of what will be announced, and which executive(s) will front each event is in itself interesting. I don’t think it will be just teleconference – Apple will have an individual executive at each location.

Subsequently, additional information has come to light about satellite Apple press events to be held in Tokyo and Berlin, as well as Cupertino and Beijing. Clearly things are getting interesting – Apple has not held satellite events in recent years.

So it’s time to look into the crystal ball and think about what might be announced.

Cupertino Core Event

iPhone

Last January I posted my thoughts on the rumoured low-cost iPhone. In that post I gave a 75% probability on the likelihood of such a low cost phone, with two major reasons:

  1. Migration of all on-sale iPhone devices to the Lightning connector.
  2. Migration of all on-sale iPhones to the iPhone 5 screen dimensions.

I predicted that we would end up with three iPhone models in late 2013:

  • The iPhone 5S (in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB[1] models)
  • The iPhone 5 (in 16GB) as a mid-range model[2]
  • The low-cost iPhone (probably in 16GB)

My thoughts are that this roadmap remains the likely outcome from next week’s event(s). We now have a probable name for for the “low-cost” iPhone – the iPhone 5C.

iPhone 5C

C probably stands for “colour” and possibly “China”. But not cheap. It might be low-cost, and will certainly be “cheaper”, but as Rene Ritchie says, there’s likely to be nothing cheap about the lower-cost iPhone:

Apple may not know how to (i.e. be willing to) make cheap products, but over the last decade they’ve proven they can continuously introduce lower cost ones when and as they choose.

The iPhone 5C will have all the key hardware features of the current iPhone 5, but will have a plastic case that has various colour options. I agree with John Gruber’s thoughts that the iPhone 5C will also have all the software features announced for the iPhone 5S:

Apple can withhold cutting edge software features from old devices; they can’t do that for brand-new ones.

I don’t expect any other hardware innovations (aside from the lower cost casing) over the iPhone 5S.

iPhone 5S

We will possibly see a champagne coloured iPhone 5S, in addition to black and white versions.

There will quite possibly be a fingerprint sensor on the 5S, and if this launches as rumoured, I think it will herald a potential major shift in security and usability of smartphones, and presumably later tablets when the next generation of iPad is launched.

I am almost certain we will see a bump in memory, with 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models on offer.

In terms of wireless communications, near field communications (NFC) remains a possibility[3], as does improved WiFi with support for 802.11ac and improved Bluetooth support.

Battery life will likely further improve.

Apple TV

Something is happening in this area, with rumours of multiple deliveries of “set top box with communications feature” from China. I have no idea if this a new version of Apple TV if we know it, a new device or simply rumours leaked to keep Gene Munster and other pundits occupied.

An Apple TV that supports an AppStore and apps will come. I’m just not sure when.

iPad, iPod and Macs

Not at this event. It will be focused on iPhone and iOS7.

iOS7

It’s no secret that iOS 7 is to be released along with the new iPhone, and given the normal iOS beta release history, we may expect to see a Gold Master release immediately following the announcement, and the release to users a week or so later, prior to the release of the new iPhone models.

iOS 7 beta 6 was released on 15 August 2013. I would have thought that we were due for a new release by now, so maybe the current release is stable enough to be ready to go gold. At least for iPhone.

Some rumours suggest that the release of iOS 7 for iPad may be delayed as it may not be as stable on that platform, and so that developers can focus their efforts on a great release for iPhone.

iOS 7 sports many great new features, as well as a flatter design and new app icons[4]. iOS 7 is the biggest change in iOS since the release of the first iPhone, and I am sure that there will be a learning curve as well as strong reactions from many users – both positive and critical.

I am of the opinion that from time-to-time a fundamental, in-your-face change to the look and feel of a system is important to combat the perception of stagnation. The trick is to migrate that change whilst maintaining the core of the user experience and all the good stuff.

I am looking forward to seeing if there are any Siri-esque surprise features to come in iOS 7. I suspect there might be.

Satellite Events

I think that each satellite event will have a senior Apple executive (not a country manger) hosting it. Tim Cook will chair run the show in Cupertino, and do a satellite intro elsewhere. Eddy Cue, Craig Federighi, Phil Schiller and Jeff Williams are likely to play a role at the core event, or host at the remote location.

Each event will recap the products and offerings launched at the Cupertino Core Event, and then will provide something unique to that country/region.

One more thing – simultanous release of the iPhone to even more markets is highly likely.

Beijing

More emphasis here will be placed on the launch of the iPhone 5C, but there will likely be an announcement of a partnership with China Mobile.

Tokyo

Wondering out loud, but given that NTT DoCoMo has lost 3.2 million customers due to the launch of iPhone, perhaps it is time for NTT DoCOMo to relax it’s walled garden approach to a user experience.

Berlin

I have no idea what will happen here. It could be just a play to have live events in each major timezone, especially given that the IFA conference is in town, and there will be a lot of tech media in town already. And Apple may want to steal some media thunder from, say, Samsung[5].

Conclusion

A new iPhone 5S and a lower-cost iPhone 5C, supported by a legacy iPhone 5 in 32GB are likely to be launched, with simultaneous availability in major global markets.

iOS 7 will release quickly, at least for iPhone. I think we’ll see a surprise or two.


  1. My predictions about the memory bumps was wishful thinking, but I think them more than likely…  ↩

  2. I suspect now that the iPhone 5, mid-range model, will probably now be a 32GB model. But that’s just a guess.  ↩

  3. I wish I could call it a probability rather than a possibility.  ↩

  4. Some of which are more popular than others.  ↩

  5. Samsung will launch the Galaxy Note 3 at the IFA event, and have just announced the Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch immediately before the start  ↩

Apple’s Two-Step Verification has a good security backup

Apple’s Two-Step Verification has a good security backup

I was quite excited when I awoke this morning to find news that Apple has released 2 Factor authentication for Apple ID. Apple seems to have done a good thing and built this into a “trusted device” upon which you use a feature in the Find My iPhone app, or receive an SMS each time you try to log-in. Sounds like a great approach, and it doesn’t surprise me that Apple chose not to use the Google Authenticator.

Apple 2 Factor

Following the attempted hack on Evernote, I made a determination that online service I use for personal/private/confidential “stuff” should support 2 factor authentication. Heck, if Facebook could do it, what was stopping Evernote and Apple. Very quickly App.net rolled out 2 factor support, and today was Apple’s turn. This was all part of my (perhaps peremptory decision to return to return to Google, something that following this and the GReadier debacle I am quickly reconsidering.

I went to the Apple ID site to set up two-step verification, and immediately was asked to answer security questions. It’s been a while, and for some reason I didn’t record these in 1Password. Having had more than 1 best pal at school, I went for the backup plan, and had a password reset sent out to my alternate email address.

Of course, I setup new security questions, and then went in and changed my alternate email address to one that is not linked or forwarding to any other email address I have. I took the opportunity to really tighten the hatches.

Next I went back to complete the setup of the two-step verification process, and almost immediately received a block telling me to wait three days. They also mass emailed every linked email address I had.

I guess that I had just changed a lot of security settings, and this raised an alarm at Apple that perhaps I might be hacking, and potentially locking someone else out from their account, a la the Mat Honan saga. So I think that Apple has paid a good bit of attention to the process to ensure that unintended consequences are minimised. Three days gives plenty of time for a real owner to get an email and intervene if necessary.

So at this stage I can’t provide a full review, but one thing that I noted from Katie Floyd’s post is that the two-step verification doesn’t (yet) support iCloud services, such as Documents, Calendar, email, etc. I assume (hope) these will come shortly, but will require a lot of apps to be updated. Today’s initial release was a good test for Apple, as the only app that needed to be updated was Find My iPhone.

Don’t forget to check out my list of web services that support 2 factor authentication.

Week 2 of the Get Stuff Done Promo on the Mac App Store

Week 2 of the Get Stuff Done Promo on the Mac App Store

We have entered week 2 of the Mac App Store’s Get Stuff Done promotion.

Get Stuff Done on the Mac App Store

Get Stuff Done on the Mac App Store

This week’s focus is on the Organise part of productivity, and features apps to reduce clutter in your mind, your house and on your Mac.

I am a big fan of the MindNode Pro app. I used to use MindManager, but I’ve found the OSX and iOS versions of the app to be lacking. Mindnode Pro works smoothly, and integrates iCloud to make the most of sycning between Macs, iPhone and iPad. It’s my current pick for mindmapping.

I also like the extremely useful Daisy Disk, which I use regularly to check out the data on my Mac drives.

I’ve taken advantage of this promotion to grab Gemini to see how it goes in cleaning up duplicate files.

Check out the Mac App Store’s Get Stuff Done promotion if you’re in the market for apps that will assist

500px App Censored from App Store

500px App Censored from App Store

Des Paroz Gallery on 500px
I primarily use two online image hosting services to host my Photo Gallery – 500px and Flickr. I like both services and find that they appeal to slightly different groups of users.

I had actually gone off Flickr for a while, but decided to give it another try (and recommended others do so too) when they did 2 things – introduced a great update to their iPhone app and offered a three month trial/extension to Flickr Pro.

What drew me to 500px was their fantastic universal iOS app, along with hosting of hi-res images and the ability to have galleries at your own domain – mine are at photos.desparoz.com.

I love the fact that people can view my images displayed gorgeously on the web, or on an iPhone, iPad or Android device.

So I was disturbed today to read that Apple has withdrawn the 500px app from the App Store, over potential access to nudity. According to PetaPixel:

If you were planning to install 500px’s popular photo sharing app on your iPhone or iPad today, you’re out of luck. The app was abruptly yanked from the iTunes App Store earlier today over the fact that users can search for photos showing artistic nudity.

This is especially concerning when, as reported by Cult of Mac, it is actually more difficult to access nudity on the 500px app than it is on other popular apps, including Flickr.

What’s interesting about this to me is that 500px’s method of keeping minors from seeing nude images in their official iOS app is a lot more prohibitive than that employed by Flickr, a similar photo-sharing app.

In the 500px app, safe browsing is the default, and you have to change this through the website, not the app. In Flickr, the app allows you to disable the safe browsing lock.

I have two fundamental concerns over this development.

Firstly, why has Apple suddenly taken this action, considering the 500px has been in the App Store since October 2011. It seems to be a unilateral action, especially considering 500px had commited to making and submitting immediate changes.

It also sets a dangerous precedent, and we have to wonder whether apps like those by Flickr and Tumblr will also be yanked.

Secondly, as a committed user of Apple technology, I rely on Apple products for a great user experience – both from the hardware and the software it provides. With relation to the App Store, Apple gives me the promise that it will approve apps that meet basic guidelines on security. I’m ok with iOS sandboxing, as a rule, because my phone needs to work.

But, I do not need Apple to act as a censor, making an unilateral judgement about what content I can and cannot see. Certainly, explicit pornography (such as what might be rated as R 18+ or X 18+ under the Australian censorship system) can justifiably be restricted, but the human body is a wonder of nature, and can be very artistic.

Given that “nudity of moderate impact” can be included in material rated M (Mature) in Australia, I think that Apple should allow any app to have material that goes up to at least this level (or maybe MA 15+, as long as there are appropriate safe browsing modes enabled.

Perhaps what Apple should do is bake in safe mode tools into iOS, and allow individual apps to access these settings. If a safe mode is turned on for the device, individual apps should respect those modes. If they’re turned off, then material up to M or perhaps MA 15+ classification should be allowable.

Apple needs to provide a balance in iOS. Certainly, most users don’t want or need “Wild West” access to every aspect of a system that is part of an important communications device, but at the same time, Apple should not act as a censor. Censorship is a tricky subject, and often leads to a slippery slope. It is the role of democratic government to make considered decisions on behalf of the people, not of companies like Apple to make decisions unilaterally.

Considering the Rumoured Low Cost iPhone

Considering the Rumoured Low Cost iPhone

Current iPhone SelectionRumours are once again circulating that Apple will launch a cheaper version of iPhone during 2013. Originating from Digitimes, these rumours have been picked up and expanded upon by a wide variety of sources. This is in fact not the first time that these rumours have gotten about – very similar rumours of a cheaper iPhone circulated in 2011 and 2012.

Apple in fact does have a cheaper iPhone. Each year Apple introduces a new model, and then moves the current model, in a single option, “down” to be a cheaper version. Typically the previous model to that goes to the very bottom of the current list. A review of the the Apple website shows that there are, as at this writing, 3 iPhone models at 3 price points – the flagship iPhone 5, the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4.

In the past I would’ve been skeptical of these rumours, as I was regarding the rumours of a new iPad in March. Apple’s behaviour regarding refreshes of products is fairly predictable – they tend to do one refresh a year on consumer type products (iPad, iPhone, iPod), and every 12-18 months for their computers. They tend to maintain the price-point for the new models, and bring down the price of the old models that are being used as low end units.

Although they are somewhat predictable, the wild card is they are not afraid to change something when it make sense – for technology, market, supply chain or business reasons. The removal of floppy disks and more recently optical drives from notebook and desktops are oft cited examples. Dropping Fireware for Thunderbolt, and recently the 30-pin iDevice connector for Lightning are also characteristic.

This time around, I think that it is likely that Apple will introduce a cheaper iPhone model (or models). I’ll give it a 75% probability.

There are two reasons – one major and one less so – driving my opinion.

  1. The afore-cited switch to Lightning as the connector means that Apple is supporting two standards – the 30 pin connector for the older iPhone 4 and 4S models, and Lightning for the iPhone 5. This means more parts in spare parts, on retail shelves and of course in the production supply chain. It also splits the customer base, meaning interoperability between individuals and devices, including cars is impacted. In year one, this split is natural, and okay. But in year 2 and beyond, the gap will need to be closed.
  2. The different screen size means Apple and developers need to build allowances for both. I’m less sure about the validity of this reason, as its possible one of the hallmarks of differentitation will be the larger screen size for the premium model, and the smaller size for the budget model. However, my hunch is that the size will be consolidated.

Now its not just a matter of swapping the connector on say the iPhone 4S, as the 30-pin connector takes up a lot of room, comparatively. Changing the connector is likely to involve a fundamental design change.

So my prediction is that we will see the continuation of three models when the iPhone 5S (assuming the naming convention continues) later this year:

  • The iPhone 5S (in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models)
  • The iPhone 5 (in 16GB) as a mid-range model
  • The low-cost iPhone (probably in 16GB)

Note that I am predicting a bump in the memory configurations. This is probably wishful thinking, but its about time.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this all pans out.