Archive for January 11, 2019

Everything You Need To Know About AirPlay 2 Rolling Out To Smart TVs Including Why You Should Care

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 11, 2019 by itnerd

This week at CES, Apple shocked many observers by cutting deals to put AirPlay 2 functionality into a variety of smart TV brands. If you want a complete list of which brands support AirPlay 2, there’s a link on Apple’s website that you can find here which will help you with that. But here’s why this matters. AirPlay 2 offers wireless streaming of content from your Apple device (like your iPhone, iPad or Mac). As in audio streaming and video content. It opens up a whole world of multi-room streaming capabilities that were previously not available on the iPhone or iPad and also ushers in multi-room compatibility for the HomePod. So if you are part of the Apple ecosystem because you have an iPad, or if you have a MacBook Pro, this is a very big deal as you will be able to play your content easily on a variety of smart TVs.

What makes this an even bigger deal is Apple “frenemy” Samsung is also going to include an iTunes client when it rolls out AirPlay 2. And that for now appears to be an exclusive deal. Here’s why that matters:

With the new iTunes Movies and TV Shows app on Samsung Smart TVs, Samsung customers can access their existing iTunes library and browse the iTunes Store to buy or rent from a selection of hundreds of thousands of movies and TV episodes — including the largest selection of 4K HDR movies. iTunes Movies and TV Shows will work seamlessly with Samsung’s Smart TV Services, such as Universal Guide, the New Bixby and Search, to create a consistent experience across Samsung’s platform.

This is all a smart move on Apple’s part as it broadens its ecosystem beyond the Apple TV as smart TVs with AirPlay 2 will also integrate with Siri and HomeKit, meaning you can use your voice to request that a specific show be played on a specific TV, for example. It also sets Apple up well to support their rumored streaming service that may be coming as early as summer of this year.

Now if you look at companies that are getting AirPlay 2 support on their TVs, you’ll note the following brands:

  • LG
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Visio

That’s not a huge list, but a lot of big brand names in the TV space are there. And I suspect that many more brands will join the party because all of the above brands based on my searches of Twitter are getting a ton of positive press from this. Mostly. I say that because there’s a petition out there to get LG to push down its support for AirPlay 2 to TVs from 2016, 2017 & 2018. And I expect similar petitions to pop up from the other brands on this list. But this is not a bad thing as it shows that AirPlay 2 is a much desired feature much like Apple CarPlay in cars.

Conversely, TV brands who aren’t on the AirPlay 2 bandwagon as of yet are getting some degree of flak from users who want this feature yesterday. For example TCL who is a fast growing brand in the TV market is under fire today from users who want AirPlay 2 support, but appear not to be getting it based on this article from MacRumors.com. The reason according to the article is that the company is “currently committed to Roku”. And when Roku who provide the OS for the TCL smart TVs products was asked about it, they said “we don’t have anything to share regarding this now”. And while no other Roku TV partner have said anything either way, it’s being assumed on social media as well as in various forums on the Internet that if they did, it would be similar to what TCL said. Now this could be read a couple of ways. It could be that AirPlay 2 may be coming in the future and neither party is talking about it. Or it could be that AirPlay 2 is not coming. Ever. I am going to go out on a limb and say it is the latter as I have asked Roku in various press briefings about AirPlay support over the years, and I have never got the warm fuzzies that support for AirPlay would ever show up in their products. Be it their stand alone players or partners smart TVs. And seeing as Roku is responsible for the software that goes into their partners TVs, it means that if Roku doesn’t do it, it’s not happening. So if it is true that AirPlay 2 support isn’t coming, then everyone involved in my opinion is leaving a lot of cash on the table because there is clearly an appetite for AirPlay 2 out there that will guide a lot of buying decisions the next time someone wants to buy a TV and they are part of the Apple ecosystem. Hopefully that changes quickly for the better.

So, when can you expect to see AirPlay 2 TVs in stores? Likely this summer and into 2019. It is also likely that many existing TVs will get upgraded with AirPlay 2 support as well. So you might want to ping your TV manufacturer for info on that.

 

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If I Were You, I Would NOT Install Any Of The Patch Tuesday Patches For Windows 7

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 11, 2019 by itnerd

Many Microsoft Windows 7 users are reporting a pair of issues after this week’s Patch Tuesday release. They are serious enough that I would recommend avoiding updating your system until they get sorted. The issues stem from KB4480970, and the security-only update, KB4480960, for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. The updates seem to cause serious network issues for some people. Network shares can no longer be used via SMBv2 in certain environments. That is a major #Fail as SMBv2 is used by a whole lot of people because SMBv1 is very insecure.

The second issue revolves around the fact that Windows 7 PCs all over Hell’s half acre are reporting themselves as being “Not Genuine”. As in you’re running pirated software when you actually aren’t. Microsoft has since confirmed that “some users are reporting the KMS Activation error.” The good news here is that Microsoft is working on a fix and will provide an update when it’s available. But until fixes for either issue are available, I would recommend avoiding Microsoft’s latest updates as clearly their software quality issues which I’ve talked about before extend beyond Windows 10.

 

 

 

Amazon Owned Ring Allowed Employees Access to Customer Camera Feeds

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 11, 2019 by itnerd

The risk with having an IP enabled security camera inside your home is that some hacker might get access to it and see into your home at will. That’s not far fetched as that has happened. But bad as that is, the fact that the people who make said camera can do exactly the same thing is worse. Case in point is Amazon owned Ring. The Intercept is reporting that  Ring employees had unfettered, unnecessary access to customer camera feeds with the only thing being required is a email address.

This apparently stared in 2016 when Ring allowed its Ukraine-based research team to access every video created by Ring cameras around the world. What’s worse is that the videos were not encrypted, could browsed easily and viewed just as easily, and as mentioned above, tied to specific customers via an email address. And what is really, really bad is that this is apparently still going on to this day.

Now Ring had this to say when asked about this:

We take the privacy and security of our customers’ personal information extremely seriously. In order to improve our service, we view and annotate certain Ring videos. These videos are sourced exclusively from publicly shared Ring videos from the Neighbors app (in accordance with our terms of service), and from a small fraction of Ring users who have provided their explicit written consent to allow us to access and utilize their videos for such purposes

So in short, Ring users who opt into the Neighbors system, which allows for sharing of videos to “create safer videos” are unknowingly opting in to potentially having those videos viewed by Ring employees. That’s a #EpicFail. I guess the take home messages are as follows:

  • If you value your privacy, don’t use Ring’s Neighbors system.
  • If you really value your privacy, don’t buy a Ring camera as clearly they do not take privacy seriously regardless of what they say.
  • How many other companies who make IP enabled cameras do this?