Tag Archives: apple

Apple unveils iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Watch

iphone

Apple introduced two new iPhones, its long-awaited Apple Watch and a mobile payment system as part of a marketing blitz aimed at drumming up consumer excitement. Now the question is whether the new gear will live up to the hype.

Speaking from the Flint Performing Arts Center in Apple’s hometown of Cupertino, Calif., Apple marketing chief Philip Schiller kept the audience waiting beyond the event’s scheduled 1 p.m. ET start, a fitting delay for a company that has kept its fans waiting for a new product.

First up was the company’s new larger, thinner iPhone 6, which features an aluminum body and glass front that curves around the sides. (See CNET for complete coverage of Apple’s product launch.)

The base model comes with a 4.7-inch screen and the other, dubbed the iPhone 6 Plus, has a 5.5 inch-screen. The iPhone 6 screen has over 1 million pixels, while the iPhone 6 Plus has over 2 million pixels, Schiller said, emphasizing what he called the the devices’ “stunning display.”

Gesturing toward giant photos of a lizard and a butterfly projected on-stage, Schiller also highlighted the new iPhone’s enhanced camera, which he said includes image-stabilization functionality.

The new phones will be available Sept. 19; pre-orders begin Sept. 12. With a two-year contract, the iPhone 6 will cost $199 for a model with 16 gigabytes of memory, $299 for the 64GB phone and $399 for 128GB. The iPhone 6 Plus is priced at $299 (16GB), $399 (64GB) and $499 (128GB).

“They’re definitely targeting the more professional user and the ‘phablet’ user,” observed CNET Editor-at-Large Tim Stevens.

The technology giant has much riding on the popular reception to its new iPhone, sales of which drive most of the company’s profits and which account for more than half of its revenue. But Apple’s new offerings may be even more important, as the company seeks to entice customers with an expanded lineup of products and services designed to keep them within its technological ecosystem.

To that end, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced the company’s new mobile payments tool, called Apple Pay, which aims to let users make purchases from their iPhone or Apple Watch. He noted that Americans make roughly 200 million payments per day, but called the process “antiquated.” With Apple Pay, consumers can pay for goods without sharing credit card, address and other personal information with a merchant, Cook said.

Apple Pay uses short-distance wireless technology called near-field communication, or NFC, to enable users to make purchases — a system already built in to many Android phones. Apple has teamed with financial industry heavyweights including American Express (AXP), Mastercard (MA) and Visa (V) and says Apple Pay will work at more than 220,000 retailers nationwide. Apple has been working with companies like McDonald’s, Disney, Target, Subway, and Whole Foods to integrate its service as well.

Then, finally putting an end to months of rumors and speculation, Cook presented Apple’s new wearable device, the Apple Watch, describing it as the “next chapter” in the company’s history and a “breakthrough.”

The watch, which is available with six interchangeable bands, comes in stainless steel, aluminum or 18K gold and is priced at $349. Users navigate by tapping and swiping the face, as well as through a crown on the right side of the watch that brings up apps. Apple Watch, which works with the iPhone 5, 5c and 5s, as well as the iPhone 6, will be available early next year.

“Apple Watch is the most personal device we’ve ever created,” Cook said. “It will redefine what people expect from a watch.”

Ian Fogg, senior director for research firm IHS, said Apple wants to validate wearable gadgets in the same way the iPhone in 2007 established a mass market for smartphones.

“However, moving into a new category is a bold, expensive and risky effort,” he added in a client note. “This Apple Watch is a first-generation device, and whether it is successful or not Apple will aim to iterate and make it a must-have companion for every iPhone owner.”

Although Apple has posted solid financial results this year, investors and even some of the company’s famously rabid fans have seemed underwhelmed by recent product launches. The last iPhones and iPads, while commercially successful, have been deemed only incremental advances — pleasing refinements that remain well short of the big leaps forward Apple has made in the course of growing into the most valuable company in the world.

That’s of particular concern for a company that, under co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, was vaunted for its design prowess and ability to discern consumer tastes even before those were fully formed. Apple is also eager to reclaim market share taken in recent years by Samsung and other makers of mobile phones based on Google’s  Android platform.

For Cook, the Apple Watch could prove either a canny move into a lucrative new product segment, or a dead end. The gadget — which fans referred to as the Apple iWatch as rumors intensified in recent months that a device was imminent — is the first developed entirely under Cook’s leadership since he succeeded Jobs as CEO in 2011. For both Apple and other companies making smartwatches, it also represents a key test of consumer interest in a technology that to date has failed to dazzle customers.

A critical challenge for Apple, experts say: Building a device that — like the iPod, iPhone and iPad before it — compellingly fills a need users may not know they have. No surprise, then, that Cook touted HealthKit, a software development tool that integrates health and fitness apps through the Apple Watch while giving consumers control over what health data they choose to share.

Although the company could benefit from expanding into new product segments, in the short-term it remains highly dependent on rolling out devices that push the design envelope and capture the public’s imagination. Indeed, until today Apple hadn’t released a brand new product since launching the iPad four year ago.

In the interim, Apple’s competitors have stormed into a range of areas ripe for innovation, with Google working to develop driverless cars and Facebook pushing the envelope on virtual reality. That has raised concerns that, without Jobs, Apple risks losing the vision that powered its rise.

Perhaps more than any tech provider, Apple is under the gun to innovate. And to be sure it is trying mightily to do that. Along with expanding into the wearable computing segment, Apple is developing Internet-enabled tools people can use to control lights, thermostats and other parts of their home. For enterprises, meanwhile, the company wants to let employers harness the power of “Big Data” from their Apple devices.

“A lot of other companies don’t need to be as bold on a frequent basis as Apple,” Soumen Ganguly, a director at consulting firm Altman Vilandrie & Co., told CNET ahead of Apple’s latest commercial launch. “But people have come to expect it from Apple. They’re only as good as their last great product, and we’re four years away from that.”

A sense that Apple may be losing its bite hasn’t kept investors from bidding up its shares, it’s worth noting — the company’s stock has risen nearly 26 percent this year. The shares edged up $1.65, topping $100, shortly after the presentation began.

If there are questions about Apple’s creative mojo, it is clear from Tuesday’s event that its marketing instincts remain intact. Winding up the event, Cook brought out the band U2 to play a tune and pitch the group’s new album, which the executive said will be available for free download for all iTunes users.

Apple developer site targeted in security attack, still down

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Apple’s Developer Center was taken offline last Thursday, with the company at first claiming extended site maintenance. It is now clear that the Development Center was taken down due to an intrusion by unknown hackers. The site remains down while Apple initiates a security overhaul, admitting that some developers’ personal information may have been compromised during the breach.

“Last Thursday, an intruder attempted to secure personal information of our registered developers from our developer website. Sensitive personal information was encrypted and cannot be accessed, however, we have not been able to rule out the possibility that some developers’ names, mailing addresses, and/or email addresses may have been accessed,” read the official statement from Apple, posted on its iOS Developer Center portal. The same text was also sent via email to developers.

“In the spirit of transparency, we want to inform you of the issue. We took the site down immediately on Thursday and have been working around the clock since then,” the notice continued.

Apple promised swift action to correct any vulnerabilities in the Development Center, saying that it was “overhauling our developer systems, updating our server software, and rebuilding our entire database.” The tech giant also stated that any memberships that were set to expire during the downtime period have been extended and that affected apps will remain in the App Store.

Apple also said that the security breach was limited to developer accounts, with other Apple accounts and iTunes users being unaffected. Credit card data was encrypted, and thus has not been accessed. Unfortunately, there is no word on when the Development Center will reopen.

“The Apple developer site – which allots access to iOS 7, OS X Mavericks and other development kits, helps developers allocate apps to beta testers, and also includes popular developer-only forums,” explained All Things D, noting that extended downtime is a rarity for the site.

While unlikely to affect ordinary users, the recent hack comes at a very bad time for Apple. The company is currently polishing its new operating systems – iOS 7 for iPhone and iPad, as well as OSX Mavericks for Mac – both set for a fall release. Developers have been able to access beta versions of both ahead of their official release dates, and a shut-down Dev Center could slow progress for early-launch apps.

Should you risk jailbreaking your iPhone?

The “evad3rs” team has published its “evasi0n” jailbreak tool (for free) to the iOS community. The team claims that in roughly a week, some 7 million users have used the tool to jailbreak their iOS devices. By any measure, the launch — already up to Version 1.3 to support Apple’s iOS 6.1.1 release on iPhone 4Ses — has been wildly successful.

But is jailbreaking your device something you want to do? Let’s consider a few issues before you dive in.

First, just what is jailbreaking? It’s the process of removing the sandbox protections that Apple places in its iOS products. Its purpose is primarily to enable users to install unreviewed (by Apple) software on their iOS devices. Secondarily, it enables users to access files they normally wouldn’t be permitted to, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for customizing an iOS system. Many technically inclined users find liberation in these things and loathe being locked into a sandboxed device.

There are entire unsupported (again, by Apple) communities where apps can be purchased or simply acquired for free. These communities don’t have the strict curation policies that Apple employs in its App Store, and that is exactly its appeal to the jailbreakers. Indeed, many apps that were rejected by Apple over some policy violation or another have ended up in the jailbreak app communities.

Is it legal? Apparently it is, at least in the U.S. In 2010, the U.S. Copyright Office declared jailbreaking to be an exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But the situation is not exactly cut and dried. See here for more information, but it seems that jailbreaking an iPhone in the U.S. remains legal, while doing the same to an iPad is not. The bottom line is this: if you’re at all concerned about the legality of jailbreaking your device, you’re probably well advised to abstain. And be aware too that Apple maintains that jailbreaking may well void a device’s warranty.

Is it safe? The answer probably has more to do with you than with anything else. Most jailbreaks completely remove iOS’s app sandboxing features, even after the device has been booted up after the jailbreak process itself. At this point, all apps essentially run in a privilege state where they can all read/write pretty much anywhere on the device. This opens up a jailbroken device to possible malware, data exfiltration and so on. Essentially, a jailbroken device has all the file protections of a Windows 3.1 system. It’s a single-user device, and every app can get to everything.

iOS 6.1 Jailbreak: 3 Reasons Why Evasi0n Is So Popular

The iOS 6 jailbreak, Evasi0n, has been downloaded more than 7 million times in less than a week since its release, according to Forbes. But while the popularity of the Evasi0n jailbreak is unique, there are extenuating circumstances that have led to the tool to reach such unprecedented heights.

Extensive Development

Evasi0n was highly anticipated and took more than five months to develop — before Evasi0n’s 100-day development, the longest jailbreak had taken 80 days to complete. The new iPhone 5 and iOS 6 had a number of security features installed that made this jailbreak take even longer to develop than previous versions. Cydia creator Jay Freeman, aka Saurik, explained some of Apple’s security features in an interview with IBTimes.

“Apple has been getting much better at making a secure system, so they’ve been adding various defenses,” Freeman said. “One of them, in particular, is Address Space Layout Randomization. And, in particular, they’ve added it to the kernel. The kernel is the core part of the operating system that maintains all of the devices, and it has to be secure, fundamentally, or else nothing else can be secure. And they added this particular submission to the kernel so they have KASLR [Kernel Address Space Layout Randomization].”

He continued, adding that jailbreakers need to find and exploit an increasing number of mistakes in iOS in order to get a clean jailbreak experience. Finding the flaws in iOS has become increasingly difficult with Apple’s inclusion of security defenses like KASLR. But despite five months in development, at least the added waiting time created increased anticipation and hype for Evasi0n’s release.

Setting A Fixed Release Date

Usually, the release of a jailbreak isn’t as set or advertised online, but, due to the number of users that were waiting for the Evasi0n release, the Evad3rs group that created the jailbreak tool uncharacteristically announced a fixed release date for Evasi0n: Feb. 4.

The increased amount of press the iOS 6 jailbreak received most likely played a role in the inflated number of downloads.

The Growing Number Of iOS Devices

The Verge says there are 500 million devices running iOS 6 right now, which is approximately 60 percent of all iOS devices ever made. With the release of the iPhone 5 in September and the iPad Mini and iPad 4 in October, there are millions of iOS devices that have been added to the market preinstalled with iOS 6, which means they couldn’t have been jailbroken until very recently.

When accounting for the number of users who upgraded to iOS 6 on their iPhone 4 or 4S or their iPad 3s, the number grows even more. While those users may have wanted to jailbreak their device, the absence of the tool made it difficult, which created an even stronger demand.

The high number of downloads may not be as “inflated” as it seems. Seven million downloads is certainly high, but, if the jailbreak came earlier and without so much anticipation, it could have been a couple of weeks before the figure reached 7 million, instead of a couple of days. Freeman spoke about the high number of downloads, saying, “[when the last major jailbreak came out] if you totaled the week, you might get a similarly large amount of people, proportionally at least, depending on how many people owned the devices at the time.”

Regardless, Evasi0n has been immensely popular, which begs the question: Do Apple iOS users want an open operating system?

iTunes 11: Simpler, Faster, Stronger

So here it is: iTunes 11. A lot has changed, but not so much that you’ll feel lost. Here’s what we’ve found after our first poke around inside.Apple understands that people might feel discombobulated by the changes in iTunes 11, so it has put a helpful overlay in place to guide you to the essentials. This is also where you have to make a decision: will you “share details about your library with Apple” or not?

The explanatory web page is thin on details. It mentions getting album artwork, although the “Get album artwork” menu item is still present (in a new location, under File – Library).Look closer at the menus, and you’ll see the Advanced menu has gone. No one needs to think about doing anything “advanced” with iTunes any more.

Visually, the controls look flatter. They don’t look like buttons any more, they look like icons. Like software. The sidebar is hidden by default – hit Command+Option+S to show it again. You can still get around without it, by using the drop-down menu at top left and the big “Store” button at top right.

The new mini player is one of my favorite features in iTunes 11. It’s a work of art, and it does much more. Click the arrow next to your album artwork to call up a context menu with ratings, playlist and Store links. Click the search icon to search your library and switch to another song or album without leaving the mini player at all. The search box finds songs, artists, albums, and playlists, and offers you sensible hyperlinked next steps. It’s fantastic. I used to get so annoyed with the mini player, because I’d constantly be switching back to the main window to find stuff. That’s no longer necessary.

The first view you get of your music is the Albums view. Now speaking as a 40-something, I love this. I still listen to albums, but I have a feeling many people don’t bother to do that any more, and prefer the flexibility of playlists, Genius, and shuffle mode.
Stick with the albums view for a moment, though, because you get this gorgeous expanded view of any album you click on.

It’s very iOS, of course, but it works. I love it, but that’s because albums are still the primary way I listen to music.
In Artists view, you get this fabulous overview of each album.

What’s changed? The columns have gone. All those columns of metadata you could display if you wanted. Actually they are mostly still there (look under the View menu, mainly when looking at the Songs view) but by default, they’re gone.

You get less, but as Jony Ive would say, you get more. There’s less chance that browsing your music collection will start to feel like listening to a spreadsheet, and more chance that you’ll listen to good songs.

The Store has been given a makeover. It looks and feels much more like its iOS 6 counterpart, especially the Apps section. It feels somewhat faster to load. Generally speaking, the changes here are not too dramatic, just cosmetic. There’s still the black intra-Store navigation bar, the breadcrumb links above each title, and lots of side-scrolling lists.

In recent years iTunes has earned quite a lot of criticism, partly for its looks and partly for being overburdened with features.That second criticism still applies. iTunes remains the hub that connects your computer to your iDevices, and that means it has to deal with so much more than just music and podcasts.

What version 11 does achieve, though, is some degree of sensible dividing-up of those many, many features.By clearing the sidebar out of sight, you can concentrate on one thing at a time. Get some music playing, then dive into the Store and go shopping without getting distracted by playlists and stuff. It’s an improvement. It feels better than it did before.

The sleek looks have Ive’s stamp on them, and look sleeker than they have for many years. Remember when OS X was made of stuff that Steve Jobs called “lickable”? Well, iTunes 11 is far, far away from that. It looks electronic. Digital. Not a metaphor for something else, but a statement of function. I much prefer it over the iTunes some of us thought we might get – something like wood-edged horror that lurks on my iPad 2. Ugh.

My favorite thing in iTunes 11, by a huge margin, is the mini player. I can see myself making a lot of use of that. I’ve got a feeling that this is just the beginning of a new era for iTunes, though. There are more changes to come.What do you make of it so far? What do you like and dislike?

iPad Mini rumors ramp up

More rumors about the iPad Mini are cropping up. We’ve previously heard that the iPad Mini may be unveiled in October, but a source tells Fortune that Apple will send press invites next week for an October announcement. In addition, a Japanese Apple blog says a Brazilian factory has begun production of the iPad Mini, and other blogs have been showing purported images of parts, including rear casings and screen covers.

The “sexy” thermostat is back. Nest 2.0, the second generation of the learning thermostat, is 20 percent thinner and compatible with more home systems. It costs about $250 and will be available mid-October. There’s also a software update for anyone who bought the original Nest, which came out less than a year ago.

It’s possible that the Verizon Wi-Fi iPhone 5 bug is also affecting iPhone 5 devices on other carriers. The glitch caused some Verizon iPhone 5 units to eat up valuable data allotments, even when the phone was connected to a Wi-Fi network. Verizon iPhone 5 customers can download a fix, but some AT&T customers are posting complaints about a similar issue on Apple’s support page. iPhone 5 customers can keep an eye on this by resetting usage statistics in Settings, and see if a data is being used while on a Wi-Fi connection.

LinkedIn just got more like Twitter. You can now “follow” a select number of industry leaders on LinkedIn. These users are writing original blog posts just for LinkedIn, and followers can post comments along with links, photos and video.

Facebook refreshed its Help Center, for anyone looking for answers. (And who isn’t, with how often things change!)

Android users can check out a new Google app called Field Trip. It taps into several popular web outlets, including Thrillist and Zagat, and gives recommendations of what’s popular to see and do. Even though the map feature may not be helpful at all, there’s still an opportunity to find a new hangout by perusing listings or pop-up notifications.