Opinion: A New Personal Computing Paradigm

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 24th, 2013, 07:50
Category: iOS, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, Opinion

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By Robert Snow

How soon before most personal computing can be done with a phone? With a 64-bit iPhone, perhaps quite soon. Imagine the phone as your take everywhere computer:

“Never”, you say, the screen’s too small, even a phablet. When you need a better display, just pull out your touchscreen. It would look like an iPad or iPad Mini only thinner, lighter and cheaper. No CPU or storage. It would connect to your phone via Wi-fi and act as a display and touchscreen input device with a camera, microphone and speaker. It would be indistinguishable from an iPad, so long as your phone is nearby and turned on. Apple is almost there with AirPlay.

Let’s say you do a lot of writing, then you would have a screen with hinged keyboard and trackpad. It would look like a MacBook Air only thinner, lighter and cheaper. Again, no CPU or storage. iOS would recognize the device and work more like OS X. This would require some additional code for iOS. Call it “iOS X”. This would require 64 bits, no question.

Go to work where they have BYOD. On your desk, you would have a display, keyboard and mouse that looked just like an iMac. Again, iOS would need to recognize the larger display, keyboard and mouse and scale up. Imagine an iPhone 6s sporting a processor that is truly “Desktop Class”.

A future iPhone and iOS working this way could dominate the enterprise. Security would be awesome. Your desktop computer would cease to be a computer once you leave work with your phone. Laptop or tablet stolen, no security issues. Of course, the phone is secured by Touch ID and a new phone could be issued and restored from an online backup in no time. Only one computing and communications device per employee. Personal computing could not be more personal. No synchronizing devices. Minimal IT support. Lower cost.

Cloud storage and larger onboard memory would be key to this working.No more costs associated with deploying Microsoft Office or maintaining complicated desktop and laptop operating systems.There would still be a market for powerful desktop and laptop computers, but most employees would simply need a phone as their computer and some specialized input/output device mimicking a tablet, laptop or desktop computer. The phone would of course remain an expensive high-end phone. The upgrade cycle would be brilliant, keep your old IO devices and get a new desktop or laptop computer every two years by simply standing in line for the latest and greatest iPhone, subsidized by your carrier. Apple does make most of its profit on phones and this will sell more of them.

Sure, it would cannibalize iPad and Mac sales by growing a market for these IO devices and not just for the enterprise. Kids, grandparents and folks who just don’t need serious computing power could simplify their life by augmenting their colorful consumer phone with one of these devices. Consumer versions that are even cheaper and clad in plastic. If you need a phone right now, get a smart phone and you no longer need a camera, music player or GPS device. Get an iPhone in a year or two and you will no longer need a tablet, a laptop or a desktop computer. Wearable computing, no problem. Dumb down iOS for a tiny screen and just a few buttons.

A post-PC world on steroids.

One more thing: Home entertainment and in-car entertainment.

Same paradigm and one more reason to buy an iPhone.

iPhone 5s’ 64-bit A7 processor shows possible road map for Apple’s future

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 23rd, 2013, 14:55
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, Software

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If nothing else, the iPhone 5s and 5c launches – and the processors within – offer a glimpse of things to come down the line.

More to the point, they show a future without Intel.

Per Jason Perlow’s excellent column over on ZDNet and pointed out the us by reader Robert Snow, the piece brings up the notion that no one really expected to see a 64-bit System on a Chip this soon and that the term “Desktop Class”, which was being thrown around, seems appropriate and not just hype.

The article also points out that the biometric authentication that Apple is incorporating with its new Touch ID system requires a significant amount of CPU horsepower to pull off without being sluggish, as would strong end-to-end VPN encryption, both of which are likely necessary for the iPhone to continue to attract corporate attention. This, also with increased image-processing power that can push gaming console-quality graphics similar to those found on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 show that 64-bit mobile architectures are ready for the prime time.

The piece also makes the strong argument that this is where Apple wants to be with its processors and that perhaps Intel – and its mobile offerings – may be left behind, as ARM’s offerings show a more mature platform that various development environments can converge towards.

Take a gander at the article, see what you make of it and, as always, please let us know what you think in the comments.

German group breaks through iPhone 5s Touch ID fingerprint authentication, releases video of hack

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 23rd, 2013, 11:48
Category: Hack, iPhone, News, security

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It only took three days to hack the iPhone 5s’ Touch ID authentication system.

Per The Mac Observer, the gChaos Computer Club has claimed to have hacked Apple’s newest security feature. The group started by scanning the fingerprint associated with an iPhone at high resolution, and then printing it out for transfer to another material such as latex. Once the material holding the print, complete with ridges and grooves, has finished setting up, the group placed it over someone else’s finger and used it to successfully unlock the iPhone.

The Chaos Computer Club said, “In reality, Apple’s sensor has just a higher resolution compared to the sensors so far. So we only needed to ramp up the resolution of our fake.”

They added that it’s a simple process to lift fingerprints and then convert those into fakes that can be used to bypass security systems. “You leave them everywhere, and it is far too easy to make fake fingers out of lifted prints,” they said.

While the process CCC showed was fairly straight forward, it isn’t exactly a simple process for the average person. It involves successfully collecting a quality fingerprint, scanning it at 2400 DPI or higher, and cleaning up the scanned image and then printing it to an acetate sheet on a laser printer before applying the material that will ultimately hold the fake print.

The group released the following video demonstrating the hack:



Assuming someone steals your iPhone with the intent of hacking around Touch ID it’s actually much easier to simply make you unlock your iPhone instead of duplicating your finger or thumb’s unique patterns. Find My iPhone can also be used to remotely wipe the device and keep anyone from hacking into your personal information.

The bigger problem in this case is that someone else has physical control over your iPhone. When that happens it’s much easier to find ways to hack in — especially since at that point the potential hackers have time on their hands.

Even still, the CCC’s Touch ID demonstration does show that Apple’s Touch ID technology may not be quite as secure as the company implied.

Working around fingerprint security systems is something that people have been doing for years, and Apple doesn’t force iPhone 5s owners to use Touch ID. It’s a convenient alternative to using a four-digit passcode, and is still more difficult to work around.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 5s, 5c handsets now available for Apple Store Personal Pickup

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Date: Monday, September 23rd, 2013, 06:06
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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As of now, you can have the new iPhone models set aside at the Apple Store location for later.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday extended its popular order-online, pick-up-in-store option to the newly launched iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.

The Personal Pickup program, in which customers can choose to order their device online and pick it up at their local Apple store rather than wait for the item to be shipped, has proven popular with consumers. Apple says that in most cases, products ordered for personal pickup can be collected within one hour.

Facing “incredible” demand for the new flagship iPhone 5s and mid-range iPhone 5c, Apple sold more than nine million of the devices in their opening weekend. Shipping times for the handsets from the Apple online store have since slipped to “October,” and the new gold model is reportedly in particularly high demand.

By choosing the Personal Pickup option, customers can cut their wait down to the time it takes to drive to the nearest Apple retail store. Some models can be picked up immediately, with the iPhone 5c showing generally wider availability than the iPhone 5s. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said that the company completely sold out of its launch supply of the new Touch ID-enabled iPhone.

iFixit completes iPhone 5s teardown, finds interesting new changes in current handset

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 20th, 2013, 08:14
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

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The gents at iFixit got busy again.

Granted, they were a little behind the Aussie teardown, but they still found some pretty cool stuff within the new iPhone 5s.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the iFixit teardown revealed the following:

– The confirmation of AuthenTec as the company behind the fingerprint sensor, which was expected since Apple acquired the biometric hardware company last year. The sensor uses a CMOS chip and requires 5 to ten images to create a complete profile of your fingerprint ridges.

– iFixit also noted that the display in the 5s should be familiar to everyone as it is “no bigger, better, or badder than the [iPhone] 5.” In fact, it is the same 326 ppi Retina display assembly.

– iFixit has reported that the teardown is done and has given the iPhone 5s a 6 out of 10 for repairability. It gets a lower score for using pentalobe screws, a battery with a more sticky adhesive and an all-in-one front panel that includes the front glass, digitizer, and LCD.

– Other goodies include the potential identification of the camera module as a Sony component and the sighting of 1GB of RAM.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Gold iPhone 5s sells out via Online Apple Store, other iPhone 5s, 5c models show varying availability

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 20th, 2013, 08:02
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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Sometimes you don’t know how popular a product model is going to be.

Per The Mac Observer, the Online Apple Store quickly ran through its gold iPhone 5s inventory for AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint in the first half hour of availability Friday morning. T-Mobile’s contract-free gold iPhone models are still showing shipping estimates of 1-3 days.

This means the gold iPhone 5s is either the most popular model or the model with the least availability.

You might remember that the gold and white model was initially met with disdainful criticism by tech bloggers, who labeled it a terrible mistake and a sure sign of Apple’s downfall when it was leaked.

Within minutes of being available for order online, however, it was the gold one whose shipping estimates slipped the fastest. In 26 minutes, gold models for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon were all listed as “October.” T-Mobile’s contract-free models were still showing 1-3 days.

Most space gray (the new black) and silver (the new white) models are still showing shipping availability in 1-3 days as of this writing, though the 64GB model on AT&T quickly slipped to 7-10 days.

Apple began taking orders for the iPhone 5s at 12:01 AM PST, and customers can also wait in line at their nearest Apple Store and some third party retailers, with Apple’s retail stores opening at 8:00 AM local across the country.

Carriers have reported having “grotesquely low” inventory of all models, with inventory of anything but space gray being particularly light.

So…if you want the gold iPhone 5s, you’re out of luck for a bit. If you’re comfortable with the other colors, you’re in better shape.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

First iPhone 5s, 5c unboxing videos surface

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 20th, 2013, 08:48
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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The iPhone 5c and 5s unboxing videos have surfaced.

Just hours after Apple launched sales of the iPhone 5s and 5c at its brick-and-mortar Apple Stores, videos showing the some of the devices’ first unboxings have been uploaded to YouTube.

Per AppleInsider, Aussie iPhone customer Ben Pasternak offers one of the first looks at the two devices in two separate clips. The first features what seems to be an rare gold version of the iPhone 5s. Availability of the of the new color is thought to be extremely constrained as reports from those waiting in line have said Apple Stores will only be receiving five to ten units per location.

iPhone 5c unboxing:



iPhone 5s unboxing:



Apple is rolling out sales in 11 countries on Friday, opening its doors to customers starting at 8 a.m. local time. Those unwilling to wait in line can order the device via the Online Apple Store, though delivery times in countries such as Australia and the UK started out at 7 to 10 days.

Aussie-based tech shop iExperts performs initial teardown of iPhone 5s, reports findings

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 19th, 2013, 14:56
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

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The Aussies completed an initial teardown of the iPhone 5s and there are some impressive components inside.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog and Australia-based tech shop iExperts, the guys at iExperts were able to remove the standard pentalobe screws holding the handset together, then used a suction cup to remove the screen. The team noticed that there’s a special cable that connects the Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 5s to the charging port assembly — not sure of the reason, but some speculation has indicated that it’s for grounding the sensor when the iPhone is docked and charging.

The batteries on the new devices have higher capacities than the one on the iPhone 5 (5.45 Whr), with the iPhone 5s coming in at 5.92 Whr and the iPhone 5c at 5.73 Whr. Those batteries, according to iExperts, are made by Apple Japan, something they’ve never seen before on iPhone batteries.

The logic boards for the new iPhones are quite compact in comparison to the one in the iPhone 5, and iExperts noted that the 5s and 5c boards share a similar design. The team also marveled at the “incredible functionality for such little circuitry” found in the Touch ID sensor on the 5s (below).

If you’re one of those people with an iPhone 4, iPod touch, iPod nano (sixth generation) or iPhone 5 that had a power switch failure, you’ll be happy to know that the switch assembly has been changed in the new iPhones.

The iExperts team will be posting more information on the chips located on the logic board later, so bookmark the page for additional information as it becomes available.

iPhone 5s, 5c preorder deliveries delayed for customers in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 19th, 2013, 14:37
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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The new iPhone you want might be delayed depending on your location

Per AppleInsider and the Sydney Morning Herald, just after midnight local time, Apple opened sales of their new flagship iPhone 5s and 5c to customers in parts of Asia and Australia, and orders were immediately met with delays of a week or more, pushing deliveries into the next month.

Apple’s new flagship handsets are now available for purchase from the company’s online store in Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore. iPhone 5c, which has been available for preorder since Sept. 13, shows shipping lead times of 1 to 3 business days in all three countries.

iPhone 5s, which is said to face severe supply constraints, is shown with lead times of 7 to 10 business days in Australia. Hong Kong and Singapore list shipping dates for the handset simply as “October.”

It’s believed that limited supplies may be due to low yields of the new Touch ID fingerprint sensor, prompting Apple to not offer preorders of its latest flagship handset.

Although Apple has not released preorder numbers for the iPhone 5c — much to investors’ chagrin — a spokeswoman for Australian carrier Vodafone, one of Apple’s launch partners, stated that preorders were “going well as expected.” Analysts believe that Apple could sell as many as 8 million of the new handsets over the coming weekend.

Customers in the new iPhones’ other launch countries — Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Puerto Rico, the U.S. and the U.K. — can purchase the devices at an Apple retail store starting at 8:00 am local time on Friday, and the phones are also available from Apple’s carrier partners.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve experienced this delay via your iPhone 5s or 5c preorder, please let us know in the comments.

Four privacy settings you should enable in iOS 7 immediately

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 19th, 2013, 00:11
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, privacy

Data backed up? Check.

iOS 7 installed? Check.

Data restored? Check.

Life is good and time to fire up your favorite iTunes Radio station, right?

Not so fast.

Before diving into the beautiful, parallaxy, candy-colored world that is iOS 7, you need to adjust your privacy settings on your iPhone or iPad. If you like your Privacy, that is. Installing iOS 7 is pretty easy and, even if you don’t back up your data ahead of time, it will usually put everything back right where it belongs.

Simple, right?

Well yes, that’s how iOS 7 is designed to work. But don’t let Apple’s thin Helvetica Neue and and serene, dynamic wallpapers lull you into complacency. A whole number iOS upgrade is a big deal and it resets a bunch of your settings and adds privacy and security settings that you should be aware of.

Apple hides its System Services settings all the way down at the bottom of the Privacy > Location Services panel. If you’ve owned your iPhone for more than a few months you’ll have dozens (possibly over one hundred) apps listed on this screen, making it a very long scroll. If you actually make it to the bottom of the list (most people don’t) you’ll see the fabled System Services setting and the explanation of what that little purple arrow icons means.

Again, the path is Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services:

Privacy settings you should enable in iOS 7 immediately - Jason O'Grady

Learn this screen and commit the meanings of the three little arrow icons to memory. Then notice when they appear in the top right of your iOS menu bar and come back to Settings > Privacy > Location Services to see which apps are using your location data. Audit this screen frequently to disable location access for apps that don’t need it.

Then touch System Services to reveal the most important privacy settings on your iPhone or iPad.

  • Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services

Privacy settings you should enable in iOS 7 immediately - Jason O'Grady

I recommend turning OFF the following:

  • Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Diagnostics & Usage
  • Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Location-Based iAds
  • Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations

Diagnostics & Usage

This setting monitors everything you do on your iPhone and “anonymously” sends it to Apple for “improving iOS.” Whatever. It’s just like when all the major software companies changed their install screens from “send usage data?” to “customer experience program” or some such nonsense. If you leave the “Diagnostics & Usage” option on, you’re giving Apple permission to monitor and record everything you do on your device.

Location-Based iAds

iAds created it’s own privacy uproar in June 2010 when a 45-page update to Apple’s privacy policywhich detailed how your location information could be used to allow the company – and their “partners and licensees” – to “collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device.” The privacy policy has been toned down quite a bit since then and Apple posted a knowledge base article titled “How to opt out of interest-based ads from the iAd network.” I turn this off and am happy with “less relevant” ads being shown.

Frequent Locations

Frequent Locations is equally bad, if not more so. There was a big stir about this when iOS 7 beta 5 was released, and the data it captures about your whereabouts can be downright creepy. For many it brought back memories of the Locationgate fiasco from iOS 4 in April 2011 when a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location known as “Consolidated.db” was discovered on iOS 4 devices — and the computers they’re backed up to. Note that the iPhone 4 (and earlier) do not support the “Frequent Locations” feature in iOS 7.

Advertising

Next navigate to the iOS Advertising Privacy settings (Settings > Privacy > Advertising).

Here, you should do three things:

  1. Turn ON “Limit Ad Tracking”
  2. Touch “Reset Advertising Identifier” (which I wrote about in January 2013), and
  3. Touch “Learn More” and learn about what an “Advertising Identifier” is

Privacy settings you should enable in iOS 7 immediately - Jason O'Grady

Safari

Navigate to the iOS Safari Settings (Settings > Safari) turn on the following:

  • Block Pop-ups
  • Do Not Track*
  • Block Cookies is set to “From third parties and advertisers”
  • Fraudulent Website Warning

*Apple’s one of the few companies that still supports the aging Do Not Track standard in its mobile Web browser. Even if it is considered dead (my ZDNet colleague Ed Bott called it “worse than a miserable failure,”) I turn it on anyway, for the few web servers that actually respect it.

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While you’re at it it doesn’t hurt to touch “Clear History” and “Clear Cookies and Data” now and again.

If you found this article useful or important, please Share and Like it on Facebook, Google+ or your social network of choice. Please help get the word out about these important settings.