September 2014 Apple Event Summary

Apple had a monumental, although not very surprising, event on Tuesday. Apple unveiled 2 iPhones with all new screen sizes, a brand new payment system and the much anticipated watch. This will be known as one of the milestone Apple events and is intact the first major new product announcement since the death of Steve Jobs. Tim Cook made the standard keynote his own by skipping the standard updates on sales and retails that are a staple of every Apple keynote and jumped right into the new products. This was the biggest product launch in Tim Cook’s tenure and you could tell he couldn’t be more excited about it.

iPhones:

iPhone6-34FR-SpGry_iPhone6plus-34FL-SpGry_Homescreen-PRINT
Apple’s first announcement was the most expected product, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The new iPhones both feature an all new, rounded designs with a new glass iPhone6-6-Plusdisplay that seamlessly meets the aluminum body. As expected, the new iPhones come in 2 brand new screen sizes the iPhone 6 with a slightly larger 4.7 inch screen and the iPhone 6 Plus with a 5.5 inch screen to compete with the very popular large screen Android Phablets.

Retina HD Display:
The new iPhones are not only bigger, but they also are higher resolution with the new Retina HD display technology that offer higher contrast and all around improved viewing experience. The iPhone 6 is only sightly larger than the 5s while the iPhone 6 Plus is an entire inch larger.

Screen Size Resolution
iPhone 5s  4 inch 1,136 x 640
iPhone 6 4.7 inch 1334×750
iPhone 6 Plus 5.5 Inch 1920×1080

Thickness:
The new iPhones are an all-new, rounded design that are also thinner than their predecessor. The iPhone 6 is the thinest iPhone ever at 6.9 mm and the iPhone 6 Plus is still thinner than all prior iPhones.

Thickness
iPhone 5S 7.6 mm
iPhone 6 6.9 mm
iPhone 6 Plus 7.1 mm thin

Camera:
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have an improved camera, although it is still 8 Megapixels, the sensors are improve which are supposed to make more of a quality difference than megapixels.

  • Smart pixels- Phase detection for fast auto focus and easy to change what is in focus in video
  • Faster Auto focus
  • Faster face detection for Focus
  • Optical image stabilization in iPhone 6 Plus only
  • Improved Video
    • 1080p Video at  30 and 60 Frames Per Seconds
    • Slowmo video up to 240 FPS
    • Cinematic video stabilization
    • Timelapse video in iOS 8
    • Focus pixels- faster auto focus in video
  • Improved Front-facing FaceTime Camera
    • Increased Aperture- Better low light performance
    • New sensor
    • Improved face detection
    • Bust mode of FaceTime camera
    • Singleshot HDR
    • HDR Video

Other New Features:
In addition to the new displays and new form factors, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have plenty of other great new features of the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

  • A8 Processor- New 64 bit processor offering up to 25% improved CPU Performance and 50% improved GPU performance over the iPhone 5S
  • M8 Motion Co-Processor- Adds the ability to track activity such as biking, running and can now track flights of stairs with the new barometer in the iPhone 6
  • 50% more energy efficient- Battery life is equal or better than the iPhone 5S
  • Apps optimized for larger screens including 2-up display in Mail and Messages
  • Keyboard on the iPhone 6 Plus- adds dedicated buttons for functions such as copy, paste, bold and undo
  • Reachability– Double tapping (not pressing) on the Touch ID Sensor will bring the top of the screen down for  easy access when using the iPhone 6/6 Plus with one hand
  • Advanced Wireless- 150 MBS LTE and 802.11 AC WiFi (3 times faster)
  • VoLTE (Voice over LTE)- Phone calls can be made via LTE network
  • WiFi Calling:  Calls can be places over WiFi and seamlessly transitioned to VOLTE when out of WiFi network- T-Mobile first carrier supporting in the US
  • NFC (Near Field Communication): Near field communication will be built into the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus for Apple Pay; Connects to nearby receivers for transactions such as payments and possibly data transfers

Pricing and Availability: 
Pricing is the standard iPhone pricing scheme, with some minor changes to the previous lineup.  The 32 GB model was replaced with a 64 GB model for the same price and a 128 iPhone was introduced at the old 64 GB price point.

The iPhone were available for pre-order Friday September 12th and will begin shipping to users on September 19th.

16 GB 64 GB 128 GB
iPhone 6 $199 $299 $399
iPhone 6 Plus $299 $399 $499
16 GB 32 GB
iPhone 5S $99 $149

iPhone 5C (8 GB): Free

iOS 8: 
Apple reviewed some key features of iOS 8 and announced it would be available as a free download on September 17th. iOS8

Improved Messages app: Adds audio and video messaging
Heath app for tracking health and fitness
Extensibility throughout iOS 8; Featured in Notification Center

Touch ID API: Third party apps can now use the Touch ID sensor to authenticate

 

Apple Pay:
Apple Pay is the new payments system that makes it easier and more secure to make purchases in retail stores. It uses Near field communication built into the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus along with the Touch ID sensor for authentication to make payments, fast, easy and secure.  Applepay

To make a purchase at a participating location all one needs to do is hold their iPhone to the NFC sensor at the point of sale and tap the touch ID sensor, they don’t even need to unlock their phone.

  • Launching in US with Mastercard, American Express and Visa
  • Credit cards can be added from iTunes Account or scanned in by iPhone camera
  • All information is encrypted and secured on the new Secure Element of the phone.
  • You can see all credit cards in Passbook
  • Card numbers are an never stored or shared
  • Payments use a one time payment numbers and dynamic security code
  • Find my iPhone can suspend payments on the device; No need to cancel credit card
  • Privacy- Apple doesn’t know what you bought, how much you pay or where you bought it
  • Cashier doesn’t see name or card number
  • Partnered with some of the largest retailers including the Apple Store, Staples, Target and McDonalds (Including drive-through)
  • Online Purchases are also simplified on iOS Devices
  • One touch checkout using Touch ID
  • Autofills Shipping and billing address
  • One time payment number
  • Building into shopping app
  • Apple Pay API for all developers
  • Apple Pay will be a free update to iOS 8 in October

Apple Watch:
The final major announcement of the event is arguably the biggest. It was also the first use of Steve Jobs’ signature “One More Thing” line since he passed away. The Apple Watch is the much anticipated wearable technology that serves both as a fitness tracker and smart watch in one. There will be 3 models that start at $349 and will be available in early 2015. Here are some of the details of this brand new product category from Apple. AppleWatch

  • Extremely Accurate Clock by plus or minus 50 milliseconds
  • Requires iPhone for operation; Not a Stand alone device- Kind of disappointing
  • Digital Crown dial used for interacting with content- Also serves as a home button
  • Watch can sense raising your arise to turns on the screen
  • Digital touch for “intimate interactions”
  • Haptic feedback built-in to watch for vibrations for feedback
  • Magsafe charger for no exposed sensors
  • 6 Straps that can be easily replaced
  • 3 Product Lines:
    • Apple Watch- Stainless Steel and Alluminium
    • Sports Watch-Durable model for workouts
    • Apple Watch Edition- 18k Gold
  • Pan through apps with swipe; Tap to launch app
    Thousands of custom watch faces
  • Glances: easy widgets with info; Can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom
  • Quick word- text notifications can be parsed for quick responses, dictated or voice memos
  • Custom Emotions
  • Siri– By pressing and holding the digital crown button to
  • Photos– Digital crown to zoom and tap; Swippe through
  • Maps- Navigate by swipe or zoom out get directions with dictation;
  • Haptic feedback for navigation
  • Digitaltouch- call, text and email from watch or send vibration patterns or drawings from watch or even s
  • end heartbeat

 

Health and fitness
Fitness App

  • Monitor activity
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Uses GPS and monitor in iPhone to track distance
  • Move ring- Tracks calories burnt- ring closes when you meet activity goal
  • Exercise ring- tracks activity completes when you complete 30 mins of activity
  • Stand ring- tracks how long standing and completes when you stand 12 minutes within 12 hour period

Workout App

  • Set specific goals for workout
  • Tracks workout activity
  • Gives summary of activity
  • Sets custom goals
  • Gets to know you like a personal Trainer

Watchkit:

  • Allows developers to create rich experiences on Apple Watch
  • Can also create home screen apps, glances and notifications
  • Can integrate with third party apps

U2:
The event was capped off with a performance by U2 and them giving away their newest album for free to all 500 million iTunes users. This album is exclusive to Apple until October 17th and is available in the iTunes Music store on the devices of one’s choice.

iPod Classic:
This announcement was not made at the event but shortly after, the iPod Classic was removed from the Apple Online store. This was the closest product on the market to the original 2001 iPod and could mean the end of the iPod as we know it.

New Predictions: 
So what’s next? This set of announcements have brought up speculation of what’s next from Apple and how these new technologies can be integrated in Apple’s other products. Here’s what I think is next for Apple:

  • The next generation of iPads will have Retina HD displays
  • The new iPads will be called “iPad Air HD”  and “iPad Mini Retina HD”
  • End of the iName- None of the new product lines announced used the familiar “i” names; Looks like Apple will move away from them in the future
    • iPhoto is already being replaced by the new “Photos” app later this year
  • No More “S” line- Now with the 6 Plus line, the S series might be too much of a mouthful; Next phones may be the iPhone 7

What to Expect from Today’s Apple Event- September 9, 2014

Today Apple will hold a press event and is not only expected to announce the new generation of iPhones, but likely their first new product category since they announced the iPad in 2010. Apple will take the stage today at 10 AM PST at the Flint Center at De Anza Community College. The Flint Center is a significant venue in Apple’s history, because it is where they announced the first Macintosh in 1984 and could be a sign that Apple plans to make another major milestone announcement.

If Apple keeps with tradition, we should expect new iPhones, iPods and the release of iOS 8 which they previewed  at WWDC back in June. Realistically, we probably won’t see a new iPod except for maybe an iPod Touch, the focus will be on the iPhone, iOS and the highly anticipated wearable.

So the question is, what is Apple going to unveil today and what will be left out of what may be the largest Apple announcement in recent history. Here’s what I think we will see on Tuesday, and maybe as important, what we won’t see.

iOS 8:
iOS 8 was already previewed at WWDC back in June, but Apple typically demos the key features again in the fall and show a more final version of operating system. iOS 8 has many new features including improved photo management, continuity across Apple devices and a new health app, called Healthbook. Apple will most likely release the golden master to developers today and announce the public release, which will probably be in a week or two.

iPhone 6:
The main focus of the event will most likely be the new iPhone, which we presume will be called the iPhone 6.

Screen:
The blockbuster feature we are expecting from the iPhone 6 is at least one, if not 2 larger screen size options. Rumors suggest both a 4.7 inch and a 5.5 inch screen, the latter will most likely come out a little later. Both new screen sizes are larger than the existing 4 inch screen featured on the iPhone 5S, and will compete directly with the large screen phones Android from Samsung and other manufacturers.

iPhone but is expected to mirror the iPad Mini and iPad Mini with similar, if not identical, internals leaving the screen size he only difference between the two devices.

Specs:
Like the previous iPhones, I expect a modest specs boost over it’s predecessor. Generally, a new iPhone can expect to have a next generation processor, graphics processor and now motion co-processor.

The camera will also have improved quality boost.  However, I would not be surprise if Apple left the megapixels the same in favor of increased microns. Apple’s stance has remained megapixels are not the most significant factor in increasing picture quality and has focused more on microns and aperture in recent years. This strategy has paid off with the iPhone 5S being rated one of the top rated smartphone cameras.

Durability:
Somewhat related to the new display, is the new highly-durable glass used on the new iPhone screen. A recent study showed that 50% of college students have cracked their phone screen.

Cracked  screens are a plague on smartphone users and go against Apple’s sense of design. This could be a major differentiation for the iPhone, and make it stand out from the competition. Of course, there’s no guarantees even with the most durable glass and we will have to wait until it is in the hands of regular users to truly test it’s durability in daily use.

NFC:
Near field communication in an iPhone has been predicted for at least the past 2 years. Now, there has been strong rumors of payment integration in the new iPhone and NFC . It is unclear whether this is going to be built into Passbook or a new app specifically for payments. My hope is this would be built into the Passbook app since it could use more real world applications, but a dedicated payments app may make some sense as well.

Apple previously used iBeacon which used Bluetooth LE for such applications, however NFC may be a better choice for payments, since it is being built into some credit card terminals at retail locations.

Design:
The new iPhone is expected to be more rounded around the bezel as well as the back. The mock ups look as though they have kept much of the aesthetic of previous iPhones but with a fresher design.

Storage:
The entry-level iPhone has generally offered 16 GB of storage for $199 with 2-year contract, with the highest capacity iPhone topping out at 64 GB for $499 with 2-year contract. I think Apple will at the very least add an option for 128 GB of storage for at least the larger screen iPhone if not both iPhone sizes. It would also be nice, although not very likely, to increase the entry level capacity to 32 GB of storage.  This may just be wishful thinking from iPhone users who always need more storage on their devices.

Naming:
The Big question is what naming convention will Apple use to differentiate the two screen sizes? We are expecting the new phone to be call the iPhone 6 but what about the larger screen phone? The most rumored naming scheme is the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus; There is also talk of iPhone 6 Pro and iPhone 6 Air to mirror the iPad line. I’m not really fond of any of the rumored names but, there’s a chance they will use a naming scheme that has yet to be leaked and will surprise us all.

iPhone 4S, 5C and 5S:
So what will happen to the three existing iPhones on the market? Presumably the iPhone 6 will start at $199, the iPhone 5S will replace the iPhone 5C at the $99 price point and the 5C will be free with 2-year contract. This will rid the market of any device using the legacy 30-pin adapter in favor of the new Lightning Adapter that Apple launched with the iPhone 5.

iWatch:

The much anticipated Apple wearable is likely going to be announced at this event as well. It is expected to be a fitness band and smart watch in one. It integrates with the new Healthbook app in iOS 8 and can possibly make payments through NFC. In addition to the health aspects, the iWatch will display notifications from iOS devices and possible control iOS devices through Siri. There aren’t too many details leaked but, this is expected to be the major new product category Apple will unveil today.

 

What we Won’t See:

There have been a few rumored announcements that I don’t think we will see:

  • iPads
  • Macs
  • Mac OSX Yosemite Release

I think these will all be done at a later event, most likely in October, when Apple generally makes announcements on those product lines.

 

Be sure to check back on Gdovin.net for a full summary of the event and what was announced for complete announcement coverage.

Why Data Backup is Important

When I talk to people about their computers, I always try to bring up the topic of backup and a surprising number of people simply don’t backup their data. Data backup is the simplest and most cost-effective method for one to recover their lost data. Backup really isn’t that hard, all it takes is some planning and of course, a little money. I personally think that cost is the the single factor hindering people from backing up their data. People often say there’s nothing they would miss if it was gone, but think of all the documents, and pictures that could be gone in a blink of an eye.

Backup might seem unnecessary and expensive, but is far cheaper, than paying for data recovery one time. Data recovery services can cost anywhere between $300 and $2,000 with no guarantee of data recovery.  It is important to keep in mind that approximately 13% of hard drives fail every year and when they do, it’s expensive and time consuming to recover data from them.

Every hard drive will fail, and often without warning. It is a fact of life and the only way to be prepared is to have a backup . Yes, there is some expense involved with most backup methods, however, it gives one peace of mind that they will not lose their data in the event of a hard drive failure. Even in less dramatic circumstances, like accidentally deleting a file it takes a lot of time and effort to get it back.

There are numerous ways to backup one’s data, the most important thing is that they do it! The most basic method is to backup to an external hard drive, both Windows and Mac OSX have automatic backup built-into their respective operating system. In addition to being the simplest method of backup, it is probably the least expensive, only requiring an external hard drive.  So how big of a hard drive does one need? It is best practice to have use an external hard drive that is 1.5-2 times the size of one’s primary hard drive. For example, if one has a 500 GB internal hard drive, they should use a 1.5- 2 TB external drive as most backup systems keep multiple versions of each file. Local backup is a great in the case of a simple hard drive failure, however, if there is a disaster such as  theft, fire or flood, those external drives are often right next to one’s computer so it is just as vulnerable as the original hard drive.

Online backup services such as Carbonite or my personal favorite, Crashplan protect one’s data from disaster by backup up one’s files to the cloud automatically.  So if disaster strikes, all of one’s files are safe in the cloud. Backup services typically charge around $50-$60 annually per machine usually, so it can be more expensive than the one time expense of an external drive. Crashplan does offer a free plan for up to 2 GB of data which may be enough for the causal user. Crashplan also allows users to backup to friend’s computers for free as well, giving users the most amount of choice of backup options.

However, there are many advantages to backing up online such as the ability to access all one’s files remotely from any device by logging into their account and complete data protection that local backup doesn’t provide.   Online backup is growing as more work turns to the cloud, however some may have privacy concerns with putting all their data in the cloud. It is important to keep in mind that most backup services use some level of encryption to protect data. Another concern is online backup relies on a network connection so those with slower internet connection may take much longer to backup their data and to restore data in the event of data loss.

So which is the best backup? Personally, I use both I have a local back-up and cloud backup to get the best of both worlds and a stronger backup. In fact, Crashplan’s application can do both cloud and local backup. However, no matter what method one choses, the important thing is that they backup their data.

Also, don’t forget mobile devices. All mobile platforms offer some type of backup, iOS has automatic backup to iCloud and Android devices can backup to Google.  Mobile devices play a bigger part in our daily lives each passing day and are probably more at risk than a computer hard drive. Smartphones and tablets can be dropped, lost, stolen much more easily than a computer by size alone. In the event of data loss, it is much more difficult to recover data from the solid state memory used in smartphones and tablets than it is from traditional hard drives. Not having a backup of your digital life is like leaving your most valuable things on your front lawn, unprotected.

Personal Update- 3/29/14

It has been a really, really long time since I wrote one of these personal updates. It’s been eight months since I wrote my last update. There hasn’t been too much news, I’ve been up to a fair amount since my last update.

I am still looking for a full time job and working at Staples. In addition, I have continued to write four times a month for Best Computer Science Degrees, and have recently focused on job profiles. I’ve also started working on a new project that I will go into more detail about probably on my next post.

I’ve made a few purchases since my last update. First and foremost is the iPhone 5S, this was a huge upgrade from my ailing iPhone 4.  The speed boost and improved camera alone were major upgrades, not to mention the many new features of the 5s. I have to say that be biggest improvement is the fingerprint reader which I makes unlocking my phone effortless. I don’t think I will upgrade my there is an iPad that features a fingerprint reader. iOS 7, and subsequently iOS 7.1,  was also another major update that really improved my iPhone experience. The new design breathed new life into iOS and made it even more powerful than before.

I am also trying to be more health conscious so in September, I bought the Fitbit Flex and then  replaced it shortly after with the new Fitbit Force when it was released. I am able to track my steps, calories and distance walked each day as well as sleep. It is a great way to track my daily activity and motivate me to move more. I am also tracking my caloric intake using MyFitnessPal which syncs with my Fitbit to give me a full picture of the calories I burn and consume each day.

I also bought The Google Chromecast and it is fantastic! Even though I already have a Roku streaming box, the Chromecast is great for playing videos off my devices wirelessly to my TV and will eventually will allow me to project Google Chrome tabs from my mobile devices to my TV as well. The Chromecast currently allows one to share Chrome tabs from their Chrome browser on their computer to their Chromecast, using a browser extension.  I think its a great little device and is a must have for anyone who likes to stream content over the web. I also got a refurbished, second-generation Nexus 7 as a deal on E-Bay. I previously owned the first generation Nexus 7 but, decided to give Android and the 7-inch tablet form-factor another chance. I use it mostly on breaks at work and to learn more about the Android platform.  My final purchase was a second 4 TB external Hard drive to backup my existing 4 TB drive. I use Crashplan for my online backup however if I were to lose my large files they would be a major pain to restore over the web. So I got the drive on clearance from Staples and have it set to clone my 4 TB hard drive every day. I plan to go into further detail about my backup method in an upcoming blog post.

Speaking of blog posts, I am planning to write much more frequently on here. I have a fairly long list of ideas and plan to get back to writing posts fairly regularly. That’s about all for now, as I said I am going to work on writing a lot more.

 

2013 Holiday Gift Guide

The Holiday season is upon us once again. It is a time for family, food and of course, gift giving.  2013 was full of amazing new technology products, which can be overwhelming for the casual gift-giver. This year I am limiting my holiday gift guide to five great products I own and use personally. These products are ones that I own and use myself and highly recommend them for holiday gifts.

1. Google Chromecast:
At the low price of $35, Google’s Chromecast allows users to stream content from their computers, smartphone and tablets to their televisions. The Chromecast is a simply HDMI attachment one can plug into their TV and draws it’s power via USB, which many televisions have built in. However, for those without a USB port on their television set, the Chromecast also includes an outlet adapter for wall power.

Chromecast can stream content from a growing number of applications including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Youtube, Pandora, and many other apps listed on the Chromecast website. Users can also “cast a tab” from their Google Chrome browser on their Mac or PC via a browser extension; and will eventually be able to do this from their smartphone and tablet. Chromecast is a great device for entertainment and for projecting content from one’s devices to the big screen. At it’s price, it appears to be a low-price alternative to set-top boxes such as the Roku and Apple TV. However, they can operate as stand-alone devices, while the Chromecast is dependent on a computer, smartphone or tablet.
2. Fitbit Flex/Force:
The Fitbit provides a way to track one’s activity including steps, calories burn, distance walked and even how one slept. The products themselves are a simple wristband, the Flex features a simple dots display, while the newer Force has a full LED display with a watch. The Fitbit Force syncs via bluetooth low-energy most newer smartphones and to one’s computer via an included adapter.

The Flex costs $99, while for the Force sells for $129. In my opinion, the Force is worth the price increase, simply for the watch and the display. However the Flex is also a great product for those who want to get fit and track their progress.

3. Crashplan Backup Subscription:
Backing up one’s data is essential to protecting oneself from data loss. As I have mentioned in previous posts, online backup is the ultimate backup because even if a disaster strikes one home or office, the data is safe. Crashplan is my favorite backup service and it makes it easy to give the gift of backup to one’s friend and family. Unlimited backup for one computer is $60 per year and unlike some of it’s competitors, includes backup of external hard drives.
4. Sinjimoru Docks:
Docks make it easy to plug-in, sync and display one’s device, however, many  docks, especially those made by Apple, do not work with devices in a case. Sinjimoru makes elegant aluminum docks for a many devices. They are a bit pricey, with their iPhone dock going for around $25, and the iPad for $40, not including the required cables. However, they do provide an elegant, case-friendly docking station for one’s devices.

5. Mophie Juice Pack

For anyone who travels a lot or are unable to charge their devices throughout the day, portable power is a must. The Mophie Juice Packs have been a portable power staple since the first iPhone was released an continue to be one of the best power cases on the market. The Juice Packs start at $79.95 for the lowest power case, providing 80% extra battery life. The highest power juice pack costs $119, which can provide up to 120% extra battery life.  Mophie makes Juice packs not only for the iPhone but for the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy phones and iPads too.

The Future of TouchID

One of the biggest new features of the new iPhone 5S, is the TouchID fingerprint reader built into the home button. TouchID lets users unlock their phones and make purchases in the iTunes store by scanning their fingerprint, instead of using a password.  However, this is just the beginning of what TouchID could do, since mobile security is becoming an increasingly important issue.  Expanding the capabilities of the TouchID could make the iPhone a great choice in the enterprise, military and government where security is of the utmost importance. TouchID does not send one’s fingerprints to Apple servers or to the cloud, but keeps it encrypted directly on an encrypted section of the A7 chip keeping prints safe. TouchID can accept up to 5 fingerprints whether they are multiple fingers or multiple trusted users. It is very likely that the next generation of Android phones will also sport a fingerprint scanner as well since security and privacy are such hot button issues recently.  As for Apple, there are so many things that could be done with the fingerprint reader later on for additional security and added benefit to the user. Here are just some of the potential features that can truly unlock the potential of the Touch ID system.

1. Open API to Developers
Probably the best opportunity, at least for third-party developers, is for Apple to create open APIs for developers to utilize the fingerprint reader in their apps. This could allow developers to use the fingerprint scanner to secure their apps and the data inside. It could also unlock all sorts of other capabilities that can keep app data safe and make the iPhone a strong contender for the enterprise. In addition, apps like LastPass, Google Authenticator and other apps that contain sensitive information can add an extra layer of security by using the fingerprint scanner. It could assure the data contained in the app is secure and one visible by the intended user.  There is one caveat to this, by opening the API it may could make the fingerprint data less security if any developer can access that data.

2. Fingerprint Password Keychain:
iOS 7 can now sync Safari’s saved keychain of passwords across devices using iCloud for automatic website logins. This is convient, however, as recent events have shown, passwords saved by one’s web browser are not secure. Encypting the keychain with a master password, like LastPass does, or even better require a fingerprint on the new iPhone would protect saved passwords. Fingerprint scanning provides security for the saved passwords without compromising the connivence of saved passwords.

3. Wireless Fingerprint Reader for Computers:
Apple could really take a step into the enterprise world by allowing the iPhone to serve as a wireless fingerprint reader for one’s computer and other devices. This would be helpful to extend the convenient security features of the iPhone 5S to one’s computer and let users login to the computer and automatically fill passwords with the press of their finger. There are plenty of USB fingerprint readers and other solutions already, but if Apple were to make an elegant, wireless solution for users to use their existing iPhone wirelessly, it could be quite a powerful tool.

TouchID provides a very secure way for users to fill in security information, but the question still is how reliable will the new sensor be in recognizing fingerprints, since most fingerprint reader currently on the market are not very reliable. Only time will tell but with improved software Apple can use the TouchID reader to leverage their way further into enterprise and government users’ hands and dramatically increase their market share.

iPhone 5S and 5C Event Summary

Apple’s “Brighten Your Day” iPhone event went as expected and had all the heavily rumored major announcements that were predicted. As expected there were no all new products announced at this even such as the Smartwatch which will likely be announced later.  The announcements may not have been the most revoutionary products but, these enhancements provide a strong feature set to hold us over.

iOS 7-
The first announcement, following the retail update and stats, wasn’t really much of an announcement, but more a review of iOS 7 which was previewed back in June at WWDC. VP of iOS and OSX Software, Craig Federighi, demonstrated some of the new features and all new design of iOS 7. He also demonstrated the improvements to Siri including Twitter search and all new ringtones and alert tones. The most important thing from this segment is that iOS 7 will be released on September 18th for free for:
iPad 2 and Later
iPad Mini
iPod Touch 5th Generation
Apple will also launch their streaming music service, iTunes Radio, on the 18th for free ad-supported streaming radio on all iOS 7 devices and in iTunes. The final iOS software announcement was that iWork, Apple’s mobile office suite along with iPhoto and iMovie will be free for all new devices activated after September 1st. This mirrors the bundling strategy used on Apple’s desktop and laptop computers and provides users a great value added since each App typically cost between $5 and $10 in the App Store. It also allows users to edit documents, presentations, spreadsheets, photos and videos on their phone out of the box which no phone really offers.  Noticeably absent from those offering, was the remaining piece of the iLife Suite, GarageBand, which presumably will remain $5 on the App Store. This is slightly disappointing for those who may want to use their iOS devices to create music, but may be due to the fact there are royalties that must be paid for the loops included in GarageBand.

iPhone 5C-
The first iPhone announcement was the multi-colored, budget friendly iPhone 5C. The internal components are virtually the same with the as the iPhone 5, featuring the last-generation A6 processor. The iPhone 5C does, however, have increased battery life and new and a new antenna system that cover more LTE wireless bands. The 5C forgo the anodized aluminum case of its predecessor for polycarbonate plastic cases in 5 different colors:  Blue, White, Pink, Yellow and Green. The iPhone 5C will be $99 for the 16 GB and $199 for the 32 GB model with a 2 year contract. It is available for pre-order this Friday, September 13th and will ship September 20th.

iPhone 5S
The big announcement of the day the new flagship phone, the iPhone 5S, as expected. The iPhone 5S, like previous “S” models, is based on the existing iPhone 5 design with improved specs. One of the few noticeable differences from the iPhone 5 is the color choices, the 5S comes in Silver, similar to the previous White model, Gold, and Space Gray, somewhat similar to the previous black model.  There is also a steel ring around the home button, which will be explained later on. The iPhone 5S will deliver speeds up twice as faster as the iPhone 5 with the all new A7 processor which is also the first 64 bit smartphone chip. There is also the M7 chip which tracks motion in the phone and unlocks functionality for a whole new generation of fitness tracking applications.

The 5S has the same 8 Megapixel camera, but don’t be fooled, the image sensor is 15% larger and now sports a 5 element lens that shoots at a 2.2 Apeture for significantly better low light and overall performance. The new camera system also takes advantage of the power of the A7 processor with dynamic tone mapping and autofocus matrixes to improve the color and focus of images, providing DSLR-level features.  The 5S camera also takes multiple images every time the shutter is pressed and automatically chooses the best image or can even combined multiple takes for the optimal image.  In addition, users can now take up to 10 pictures per second in burst mode and motion blur will be a thing of the past with built-in auto image stabilization. The final feature of the new camera system is the TrueTone flash that has 2 LED flashes, one warm light, one cool to best match the environment and produces the most accurate color.

Probably the biggest new feature of the iPhone 5S is the TouchID fingerprint reader built into the home button. User can simply securely lock their phone, and instead of typing in a code each time they want to unlock their phone, they can just touch their home button. The phone can recognize up to 5 fingers or 5 trusted users and not only can TouchID unlock the phone but can also be used to make purchases from the iTunes Store.  Fingerprint readers are typically temperamental at times but the TouchID reader can read a fingerprint at any angle so hopefully it can provide a better experience than existing biometric solutions, but no one will know until they get their hands on the iPhone 5S.

The battery life is going to be the same if not better than the iPhone 5, providing up to 10 hours of battery life when surfing  the internet on LTE. Pricing remains the same as previous models with the 16 GB model starting at $199 and topping off with the 64 GB model for $399.  There is no preorder available for the 5S, but it will also be available for purchase on September 20th.

The iPhone 5S was really the biggest and most important announcement this event, in my opinion. The 5C is important in that it provides a powerful entry-level iPhone, but technically doesn’t deliver anything new since its the guts of the iPhone 5 stuffed in a cheaper, multicolor  plastic shell. The iPhone 4S will surprisingly remain available as well, for free with a new contract. I would have expected with Apple releasing two new iPhones this year, that they would eliminate the remaining 30-pin devices in favor of the newer, thinner lightning adapter.

There were also a few announcements that weren’t made at the presentation but were announced shortly after. First, the iPod Touch and iPod Nano, which were notably absent from this event, are now available in Space Gray in addition to the existing color choices. Apple also released the first official iPhone docks for both the 5C and 5S, since the iPhone 4S. In less exciting news, the service fee for phone replacements under AppleCare rose from $49 to $79.  Finally, Apple quietly discontinued the Cards app that allowed users to mail greeting cards with pictures from their phones. It is expected however, that much of the functionality will move to the soon to be free iPhoto.

Overall, it was a great event, although nothing unpredicted happened, the announcements are all very exciting.  The new hardware combine with the new iOS 7 software will breathe new live into the iPhone and will serve to further expand Apple’s mobile market share.

September 10th Apple Event Predictions

Apple has finally confirmed they will hold and event on September 10th for the much anticipated new iPhones among other new products. There is much speculation regarding what is going to be announced; from iPhones with a fingerprint reader, to multicolor iPhones, to refreshed Apple TVs, to an all new Apple smart watch. There’s also talk of new iPads, new Macbookss and plenty other products, however I believe the focus will clearly be on the iPhone and most likely products and services around it such as iOS 7, iCloud and yes, possibly the smart watch. These are the things I expect us to see announced this Tuesday by Tim Cook and Company.

What We Will Probably See:
iPhone 5S: The iPhone 5S, or as some are now expecting the iPhone 6, is expected to be based on the existing iPhone 5 design with improved processor, a fingerprint reader and hopefully improved battery life and camera. There are also rumors that seem less plausible, like it will be gold, but I’m not convinced, although multiple color options beyond the the standard black and white are very possible.

iPhone 5C: The iPhone 5C is believed to be the low-cost iPhone with multiple color options and possibly plastic cases. These are expected to provide a low cost phone option for those who want a smartphone without the $200 price tag. This is expand Apple’s market share, especially in developing countries, and with customers who want a smartphone, but don’t need the latest and greatest features.

iOS7: iOS 7 was previewed in June at WWDC and I expect to see another demo of the key features of iOS 7 next week. In addition to showing an almost finished, if not finished version of iOS 7, I expect an announcement of a release date which will likely be within a week or two of the event.

What We Probably Won’t See: 

Mac OS X Mavericks: Like iOS 7, we’ve already seen Mavericks, the next iteration of Mac OS X, at WWDC.  Unlike iOS 7, I don’t think we will see more than a mention of Mavericks at this event, as it is geared primarily towards the iPhones and iOS devices. There is expected to be  a Macbook event in October, and that would probably be a more likely time to review Mavericks.

iPods: September has long been when Apple unveiled their new iPods, however I think that may not happen this year. We haven’t seen or heard many if any rumors and I think that if there were any new iPods waiting in the wings, something would have leaked out. The only rumor regarding the iPods I have seen, were that the iPod Classic being discontinued. The only iPod announcement that even seems feasible is an iPod Touch in keeping with the iOS theme.

Apple TV: The Apple TV is somewhat feasible, as it does run a version of iOS and ties in with the entertainment functionality of the iOS devices. However, I think that it is more likely that this will be done at another event later on allowing this event to focus primarily on the iPhone.

iPads: While the iPad is an iOS device and would make sense to be announced with the new iPhones, it is widely predicted that the iPad will not be refreshed until October, which is when Apple released the new iPads last year.

MacBooks: The MacBooks are also due for an upgrade but like the iPads, the next update isn’t expected until October.

Smartwatch: It is widely expected that Apple will follow in Samsung’s footsteps and release a Smartwatch. They have already recruited several people from other companies for the project, however, it isn’t something I would expect to see this event and may even have its own special event.

As usual,  after the event there will be a summary of the announcements with analysis posted on Gdovin.net.

Personal Update- July 21, 2013

Diploma

It’s been over six months since I wrote an update and a lot has gone on since then! I spent my final semester of college doing a full-time internship with Allied Pixel. It was a fantastic learning opportunity, and gave me a chance to use a lot of professional equipment I wouldn’t normally have access to. My internship also allowed me to see the business side of the production business and how that affects the project and the company as a whole. I have posted all my internship journals, which go into detail what I did every day of my internship. The other class I took was Senior Seminar which was focused on preparing to enter the job market and finding a post-graduation job. While interning, I also continued to work at Staples on the weekends.

I was honored as a Dean’s Scholar this semester by the Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I was also named the National Broadcasting Society Student Member of the Year at the National Conference in March.  I then graduated from Kutztown University on May 18th my Bachelors of Science in Electronic Media.

I am continuing to work at Staples while I look for a full-time position in my field. I have been looking for positions in video production, web development, social media, technical support and writing. I have also started Freelance writing four times a month, for Best Computer Science degrees about technology careers.  I have also been blogging a lot here on my personal blog about recent technological developments and plan to continue to build on my over 400 posts!

I did make one major purchase, I finally decided to buy a DSLR and got the Canon Rebel T4i for a great deal! I plan to use it for video primarily as well as some photography. I am still learning how to use it but I plan to post some  on Flickr and/or Youtube. I have also been working on learning code on CodeAcademy with HTML 5, although I already know some HTML, and then plan to learn CSS next!

When to Repair a Computer Vs. When to Replace It

 

TechRecyclingBinIn my previous article, I explained how to make an ailing computer last longer, however it’s not always feasible to save an old computer. At times, it is difficult to determine whether it is and is not worthwhile to repair a computer instead of replacing the machine all together. Computer repairs can become very expensive, unless one is able to do the repairs ones self, and the parts alone are very expensive. There are a number of scenarios where it is better to repair a machine, but then there are times where the repairs would be far more costly than an equivalent new machine. Some repairs are very simple and many times can be done by the user, especially software issues. Extended warranties, although costly at times, can cover the cost of typically expensivly repairs such as motherboard replacement.  Unless one is a computer repair expert, who can take computers apart and put them back together in their sleep, there are certain repairs that have to be done by a professional computer technician and can be very expensive. Below are lists of scenarios that are best remediated by repairs and some that are best resolved by flat-out replacing the machine.

 

When to Repair:

 

1. Software Issues: Software issues can typically be troubleshot or if all else fails, the program can be uninstalled and reinstalled to resolve most issues. If reinstalling the program does not resolve the issues,there may be an underlying issue with the operating system.

2. Minor or Easy to Replace Hardware issues: These would be failures with hardware such as RAM, Hard drives, disk drives and batteries which on most computers are easy to access and affordable to replace. Many of these can be done by the end users or can be done affordably by any computer repair shop. This is also a good opportunity to consider upgrading, for higher performance if the computer can handle higher performance hardware.

3. When Covered Under  Warranty: If the computer is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, and if the issue is covered by the warranty, or if one bought an extended warranty with their computer, then contact the warranty provider to help troubleshoot the issues being experienced.  Depending on the warranty’s coverage, if parts need to be replaced, the warranty should cover the parts and/or the labor to make the system functional at no additional cost. It is worth noting however, that many times the machine needs to be shipped out so be sure to backup all essential data in case the hard drive needs to be replaced or if the computer needs to be reformatted.

4. Virus/Malware: Many computer issues are cause by a virus or some sort of malware, which in many cases can be removed or can be wiped out by doing a full system restore. While virus removal may make buying a new, cheaper computer may make it seem worthwhile to just replace a computer, the physical hardware is still fine. Worst case scenario, reformatting the hard drive and performing a system restore will eliminate any issue.

When to Replace:

1. Major Part Replacement on Older Machines Out of Warranty: Unless one comfortable totally dissembling a computer and replacing the parts on their own, replacing parts like the motherboard or laptop screens can be extremely expensive. This is due to the fact that the parts are far more expensive than hardware like hard drives, which are mostly interchangeable. The actual replacement process can also be labor intensive, making it an expensive endeavor. Replacing these more expensive parts may be worthwhile if the machine is a couple years old, but if the machine is over three or four years old, it may be wise to consider simply replacing the machine.

2. Major Physical Damage: If the computer case or body is completely broken, and is not covered by a warranty that would cover accidental damages, the computer should be replaced. Desktops may be able to have the internal components  moved to a new case, provided all the internal hardware is still functional.  If the hard drive is still intact, data may be recovered by putting it in an external enclosure or connecting it to a SATA to USB adapter.  Data can then be copy any data to another computer, thumb drive or another external hard drive. If one wants to continue to use the hard drive as an external hard drive, it is highly recommended to run a hard drive test on any drive that has been in an accident to assure data integrity.

3. If the Computer is Older than 5 years Old: After five year, unless the computer is under an extended warranty or can be easily fixed, it may not be worthwhile to invest too much money in that computer. System restores and minor hardware issue may be able to keep a machine going for a while. However, when a computer gets that old, it’s not worth investing hundreds in a machine that can easily breakdown again soon.

4. When Repairs Cost Almost as Much as a New, Equivalent Computer: If repairing an old computer will cost over 66% the purchase price of a new, equivalent machine, it is best to just replace the machine. Although the repairs may save money in the short term; in the long term, a new computer will deliver much higher performance and can be more energy efficient. As Moore’s Law states, computing power doubles every two years, meaning if a machine is four years old, that would give you quadruple the computing power and many times, for less money.

It is worth mentioning that if one is looking for a new computer, the cheapest computer is not always best. One must be sure it has all the necessary features and has enough power to accommodate one’s increasing needs in the future. One good rule of thumb, is to look at computers approximately in the same price as one’s current computer. Although just about any new computer will be faster than a computer that is several years old, this rule should provide one with a similar class of computer. If one wants to upgrade to a higher class of computer, they can spend more, but for those who want a newer computer similar to their old machine, this rule will help.

Finally, for those who decide to replace their computer, be sure to take the old computer to a location that properly recycles old electronics. Also if the hard drive is still functional, run a hard drive eraser like DBAN to securly erase sensitive information and prevent it from getting into unwanted hands.

 

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