Archive for June 3, 2019

TCL Surges to the Top of the North American TV Market Amid US-China Trade Turbulence

Posted in Commentary on June 3, 2019 by itnerd

Chinese brand TCL surged to the top of the North American TV market for the first time ever during the first quarter of 2019, as unit shipments boomed by 112 percent year-over-year.

TCL’s share of North American TV shipments rose to 26.2 percent during the first quarter of 2019, up from 16 percent during the same period in 2018, as reported by the IHS Markit TV Sets Intelligence Service. This put TCL one position ahead of previous market leader Samsung, whose shipment share declined to 21.8 percent, down from 28.0 percent one year earlier. Vizio ranked third in the North American TV shipment ranking, with a 13.7 percent share.

TCL’s strong performance contributed to a record quarter for the North American TV market, with shipments rising nearly 30 percent year-on-year to reach a historic high of 9.3 million units.

Despite TCL’s rise, Samsung maintained a commanding lead in terms of revenue, accounting for a 36.9 percent share, more than double the total of any other company. Samsung’s revenue leadership reflects its focus on TVs with larger sizes and higher price points.

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Shipment growth was boosted by an acceleration of retail price erosion, especially for larger sizes. However, the rise in TV shipments in North America was mostly driven by sets with screen sizes smaller than 55-inches.

The erosion in LCD-TV average selling prices (ASPs) in North America reached a high level of intensity in the first quarter. In fact, the first quarter marked the first time that the average price-per-inch of an LCD-TV fell below $10. The overall average price of a 65-inch LCD TV declined to nearly the same level as during the fourth quarter of 2018, when TV prices dropped because of holiday season sales.

The 55-inch average price was near $500, lower than during the fourth quarter of 2018. Amid this high level of LCD-TV ASP erosion, OLED TV shipments have now fallen year-over-year for the second straight quarter.

Worldwide TV shipments recovered in the first quarter, rebounding from a 1.6 percent decline in the fourth quarter of 2018 to a positive 2.1 percent growth rate compared with a year prior. The surge in shipment growth was almost entirely due to the surprisingly strong shipment growth in North America, despite very strong increase in the fourth quarter of 2018. This strong growth offset another quarter of steep shipment decline in China and Latin America.

In China, the world’s largest TV market, Xiaomi remained in first place for the fourth consecutive quarter, reaching a record shipment share of more than 19 percent in the first quarter. This represents the highest single quarterly market share posted by any Chinese brand in China in more than six years.

Xiaomi achieved this growth through disruptive market pricing and a direct-to-consumer business model that reduces distribution channel costs and passes the savings along to consumers. Xiaomi had the lowest ASP in China of any Chinese TV brand during the first quarter.

 

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So What Did Apple Announce At WWDC 2019?

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 3, 2019 by itnerd

Today was the keynote at the Apple World Wide Developer’s Conference, and as usual there was a lot announced. So let’s get right to it.

  • Tim Cook showed off a new Apple TV+ show called “For All Mankind” to highlight the fact that Apple TV+ is coming later this year. It’s a show that will re imagine the space race and it looks great.
  • tvOS was next up. Multi-user support for music and movies is now part of the OS along with a control center that looks like something like iOS. XBOX 1S and Playstation Dual Shock 4 controller support is coming as well. There’s new undersea screensavers shot in 4K HDR. Time synced lyrics are making an appearance. .
  • watchOS 6 was next. New watchfaces are inbound with more complications for many of the watch faces. But a new feature is taptic chimes which will allow you play a sound on the hour. There’s a new voice memo app, a calculator app which includes tip calculation, and an audiobook app. Apps that are completely independent are coming with API’s for streaming audio and extended API motion data. An app store for Apple Watch is coming and you can access and purchase apps from the watch. When it comes to health and fitness, Apple is adding trending for the activity rings and a few more metrics. There’s a noise app that will monitor noise and it will warn you if sound in your environment can damage your hearing. Finally, for the women out there, there’s now cycle tracking and the information will be replicated to the health app on iOS which has been redesigned.
  • For those who like new Apple Watch bands, Apple has introduced new bands today including a new Pride band.
  • Now over to iOS 13. Apple took a cheap shot at Google as Apple claims to have a 85% adoption rate to Google’s 10% adoption rate when it comes to the latest version. Trolling aside, they claim faster app launches, smaller downloads, smaller updates, and faster Face ID unlocks. Dark Mode is making an appearance as all the cool kids have a Dark Mode. There’s also a swipe style keyboard. Improved sharing functionality with intelligence. Time synced lyrics are making an appearance. Reminders are brand new from the ground up. Maps is being rebuilt from the ground up. The US will be done by the end of 2019 and “select markets” by the end of next year. It will have street view type functionality with some slick looking navigation. There’s going to be more security to stop tracking whether you’re in real life of online. In the case of the latter, Apple will have their own sign in system that promises no tracking. Messages is getting WhatsApp functionality in terms of faces and memoji. Speaking of memoji, there’s way more customizing memoji with new memoji stickers with support for any device with an A9 chip or later. In terms of the camera app, there’s new photo editing functionality as well as portrait lighting effects and this will all work with still and video including the ability to rotate a video. There’s also new automatic ways to organize photos and video in the Photos app. There’s also new security for cameras in HomeKit with iCloud storage. If you have AirPods, Siri can now read messages and allow you to respond hand free as long as the messaging app supports SiriKit. You can share songs via a tap if you both have AirPods. Handoff is coming to HomePod. Live radio is coming too with 100,000 radio stations. HomePod will now recognize individuals. CarPlay is getting a huge update with split screens. Calendars is now available in CarPlay, Album art is back in CarPlay. Siri Shortcuts is improved, and Siri’s voice will sound better and more natural with Neural Text To Speech. Call and text spam is being addressed to.
  • There’s a new OS called iPadOS where Apple has forked off the iPad support into a separate OS. It will have a lot of the iOS functionality that I have already mentioned. But it will also have iPad specific features for multitasking and navigation. New file management is part of the package. Folder sharing and SMB file sharing is on the table along with the ability to plug in a thumb drive. You can also import from a camera directly as well. Desktop class browsing is coming to iPad complete with a download manager. Font support is coming. Editing gestures are coming as well. They are expanding Pencil support with lower latency, more developer tools and the ability to mark up anything. All of this makes me think of what this person said on Twitter:

  • Apple showed off the new Mac Pro which is long overdue and looks really cool as it is a bit of a throwback to the “cheese grater” Mac Pros of a few years ago. It’s fully modular and can be spec’ed with 28 cores and 1.5 TB of RAM. It comes with 8 PCI slots and two 10GB Ethernet ports. It also has multiple graphics options with a variety of AMD graphics options that promise insane speed. Nvidia fans need not apply. There’s an option called After Burner that will play back multiple 8K Prores Raw streams. It even has wheels. None of this means anything if there’s no software support. Thus app companies such as Adobe, Pixar and RED are supporting the new Mac Pro. A new version of Logic was shown off as well taking advantage of the power in the new Mac Pro by demoing an insane amount of tracks playing back. A new Final Cut was shown off running 3 8K streams at once. This will start at $5999 USD available this fall. And there will be a rack version.
  • Along with the new Mac Pro was a new 32″ 6K Retina display with Extreme Dynamic Range support. Thus the Pro Display XDR name. There’s a matte option using nano texturing as well. It can do 1000 nits of brightness indefinitely without heat issues. It peaks at 1600 nits. There’s also 1 1000000:1 contrast ratio. You can hang six of them off a Thunderbolt 3 cable. The stand is engineered to be weightless and you can rotate the display. This will go for $4999 or $5999 for the matte version. This will be available this fall.
  • macOS 10.15 Catalina is next. For starters, iTunes is dead. Long live AppleTV, Apple Podcasts, and Apple Music. For those who sync their iDevice with iTunes, it’s built into the OS as opposed to an app. Podcasts seems at first glance to be just like the iOS version. Ditto for the AppleTV app, but Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision, and 4K HDR support on “recent” Macs. There’s support for using an iPad as a second display for the Mac with Apple Pencil support. You can control your Mac (or iOS device) with your voice. There’s a new app that combines Find My iPhone and Find My Friends called Find My. It will find your Apple gear even when it is asleep using nearby Apple devices. Activation Lock is coming to the Mac if you have a T2 equipped Mac. Photos is updated. Safari is updated. Reminders is redone. Screentime is coming to the Mac too. Apple talked about Project Catalyst (aka Marzipan) which allows a developer to port iPad apps to the Mac and it is available to developers today. That means a developer only has to write an app once.
  • AR got a shoutout with a new RealityKit API which makes developing AR environments easily. Reality Composer can help to build an interactive AR environment. ARKit has been updated with people occlusion which allows one to do do depth, and real time motion capture. All of this was demoed with an AR version of Minecraft.
  • SwiftUI was announced which allows you to use a few lines of Swift code to come up with complex user interfaces. Apple TV, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch are supported.
  • All developer beta versions of all the OSes that were announced are available today. Public betas are available in July. And release versions will be available in the fall as usual.

That covers everything from the keynote. If you want a link to the actual video, I’ll post it here as soon as it is available.

UPDATE: The video of the event can be found here.

Another Unpatched Vulnerablity Exists In macOS Mojave

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 3, 2019 by itnerd

Hot off the heels of this vulnerability that Apple hasn’t seen fit to fix comes another one that I would rate as dangerous and is also not fixed.

new report from ZDNet details that Patrick Wardle who has found numerous other exploits in Apple operating systems over the years details a new exploit that he released details about at the Objective By the Sea conference in Monte Carlo. Specifically how malicious software could manipulate code run by an older installed application to bypass safeguards Apple has put on user data and sensitive components such as the camera and microphone. There’s two things that this vulnerability relies upon:

The new technique is possible because of the Transparency Consent and Control (TCC) system. Wardle says the TCC contains a compatibility database in the form of a file named AllowApplications.plist.

This file lists apps and app versions that are allowed to access various privacy and security features, including synthetic events.

“This is an area where Apple often struggles – comprehensively patching bugs or bug classes,” Wardle told ZDNet. “I thought they had got it right in Mojave, as they appeared initially to just block all synthetic clicks. But as always the devil is in the details,” he said.

And:

According to Wardle, this hidden TCC database contains a bug that can be exploited to grant malicious threat actors access to synthetic events.

macOS is supposed to verify that an app requesting access to synthetic events is in fact on the TCC list. It does this by verifying if the app has been signed and if the file has been tampered with. However, Wardle says that only the first check is performed.

This allows a malicious threat actor who has minimal access to a system to download any of the apps found in the AllowApplications.plist file, append code that interacts with synthetic events, and run it to bypass Apple’s existing ban on synthetic events.

This isn’t addressed at present which means that now that this is out there, attacks are likely inbound. Thus I hope that Apple is paying attention and addressing not only this vulnerability, but the other one that has been out there for a while.

Review: Urban Armor Gear Active Watch Strap

Posted in Products with tags on June 3, 2019 by itnerd

Thanks to the folks at Urban Armor Gear, I’ve found the best Apple Watch strap for those who lead active lifestyles. And it’s called the Urban Armor Gear Active Watch Strap.

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It’s a two piece band made of high strength nylon and it has a large amount of Velcro as well as a lot of stainless steel for the lugs and one section of the band.

57cmjNIiTvaTrC6jJbwoLQ I am going to focus in on the lugs for a second. They have very minimal play and they are on the large side which gives the Apple Watch a bit of a different look.

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Most of the branding on the strap is seen below. The only other branding is on the buckle. And if you are wondering what the ISO 22810 means on the logo that’s on the strap, here’s a quick description from here:

ISO 22810 defines no minimum standard for water resistance; instead, it presents testing criteria for the widest possible practical range for non-dive watches, and also makes it the manufacturer’s responsibility for stating “warranty conditions and precautions to be taken to maintain the quality of the watch over an extended period of time.” Rather than requiring any tests, it provides testing procedures which it is then the manufacturer’s responsibility to define at the production stage “if he wishes to be able to guarantee that they satisfy the requirements of the International Standard.” 

This is a reference to the ability of the Apple Watch Series 4 to survive in 50 meters of water during activities like swimming and the like as described here.

So, when my wife and I got our respective straps from UAG, we wondered how to test them. Our first test was to do a 50 KM training ride our our bikes which would help to prepare us for our upcoming fundraising ride later in June which I have written about previously. The strap felt very secure and stable on our wrists during the two hours on the bike and it was very comfortable. But my wife took it to the next level by taking it to her CrossFit gym and did a full workout involving weights, apparatus, and doing things like burpees and the like. Again, there were no issues as according to her. But again my wife took it to the next level beyond that. She signed up for an obstacle trail race called Rugged Maniac. Here’s how the organizers describe it:

our 3-mile course packed with 20+ epic obstacles designed to both challenge and thrill Maniacs of all fitness levels, from couch potatoes to marathoners.  

What they don’t say is it also has mud that deep enough to suck your shoes off and water deep enough to be interesting. And there was a fire pit too. If there was one test that would really highlight the strengths and weaknesses of this band, this would be it. When she lined up in the start pen, a lot of people thought that she was nuts for wearing an Apple Watch for something like this. Even she was skeptical given that this wasn’t exactly the best environment for an Apple Watch even though it was water resistant. But she ran the three miles in under 84 minutes, and had to overcome stuff like this:HhEWAW1gTL+T1+ld4d090Q

And this:

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And this:

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And here’s what her Apple Watch with the UAG Active Watch Strap looked like at the end of the event:

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The Apple Watch was a mess and it took me over half an hour to clean it. The UAG Active Watch Strap was a mess too. But I solved that by throwing it in the washer. As for the Apple Watch, it was in working order as well. According to my wife the Apple Watch was solid on her wrist the entire time and she never felt it was going to come off her wrist. Clearly if this band can survive this, it will survive anything.

Gripes? In the case of my wife, she did comment that on her slender arms and on her 40mm Apple Watch, the band can look overwhelming. In my case, a reflective option like the Apple Nike band would be welcome. But neither of those are deal breakers in any way as this is a great Apple Watch strap overall.

The Urban Armor Gear Active Watch Strap goes for $83 CDN on their website. It can clearly survive anything we threw at it, which means that it will survive your active lifestyle with ease.