Archive for Apple

Review: Apple iPhone 14 Pro

Posted in Products with tags on September 24, 2022 by itnerd

It’s iPhone season and this is my review of Apple’s latest and greatest iPhone ever. Yes that’s sarcasm, or perhaps cynicism as Apple has only managed to marginally move the needle on this this year’s crop of iPhones. In fact, by the time that this review is over, you may not want to upgrade.

The iPhone 14 lineup this year is different than most years. What is the same is that Apple has four phones for you to choose from in two sizes. You can get the iPhone 14 in a 6.1″ size, the iPhone 14 Plus in a 6.7″ size, the iPhone 14 Pro in a 6.1″ size and the iPhone 14 Pro Max in a 6.7″ size. Gone is the iPhone Mini as it apparently didn’t sell all that well. In any case, you should completely ignore the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus as those are essentially a repackaged iPhone 13 with some software updates. That’s because they’ve taken the A15 Bionic processor that was in the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, added some software tweaks and called it job done. Not a whole lot else has changed. Instead, if you want a new iPhone, my recommendation is to focus on the 14 Pro and Pro Max as that’s where Apple has spent a lot of its time and effort.

Let’s start with what you get in the box:

This is the iPhone 14 Pro in space black. More on the colour in a bit. Underneath the phone you see this:

You get the usual pack that has some documentation, a SIM eject tool as I am in Canada and unlike the US, I still get a physical SIM slot, and a white Apple sticker. I also get a USB-C to Lightning cable. And this is where I will start to criticize Apple. They’ve stuck with Lightning instead of moving USB-C. This despite the fact that this phone is capable of creating 90 MB ProRAW photos and gigabytes of ProRES video. This is an issue as Lightning runs at USB 2.0 speeds which is 480Mbps or 60MB/s. In other words it is slow which makes you say WTF as it could take an insanely long time to pull a ProRES video off an iPhone via Lighting. As in an hour or two. Seriously Apple, you need to put USB-C at the very least in the next iPhone and if you want extra brownie points, have it do Thunderbolt 3 or 4 speeds as well because it is 2022 and not 2012 and you need to get with the times. Now Apple likely doesn’t want to do this because Lightning gives them control and a some extra cash via their MFi Program. Which is great for them. But what’s great for us is that the EU will force Apple to USB-C next year. Thus I will call it now. The iPhone 15 will have USB-C, though I suspect that they will do something to implement it the “Apple Way”.

And for those who are wondering, I am so over the fact that the phone doesn’t come with a charging brick.

As for the space black colour, here’s a comparison with my iPhone 12 Pro:

The iPhone 12 Pro is on the right in the graphite colour. Space black is darker but it’s not absolutely black like the desk mat that these phones are on. But it is a welcome change. The sides are made of surgical grade stainless steel, and they are a major fingerprint magnet as has been the case since Apple went to this design. The back is matte glass, and is not a fingerprint magnet. If fingerprints bother you, I’d advise that you get a case. Here are three options for you on to choose from. And a screen protector would be a good idea as well. I use this one for the record.

As for other design elements, it looks like the iPhone 13. And the iPhone 12. As in there’s zero discernible changes on the design front. In fact, I have been walking around for a week with my 14 Pro and nobody has noticed that it’s the newest iPhone around. I guess if you want to fly under the radar with your new iPhone, this phone will accomplish that. But if Apple wanted to get some attention with their latest iPhone, it’s not going to happen here.

The two design elements that have changed start with Apple’s implementation of an always on display. In typical Apple fashion, they couldn’t just have the screen dim down and show a minimal amount of information like pretty much every Android phone out there. Instead, they went above and beyond and added a few party tricks. By that I mean that pictures on your lock screen will maintain the same skin tones and still be largely visible when the screen dims. And in bright lighting conditions, the phone’s screen will be plenty bright which makes me wonder how much power that this feature is sucking back when in use as OLED screens even at minimal refresh rates are not power efficient. It also makes me wonder why Apple didn’t have some sort of option to allow the user to control that. Alternately it will dynamically adjust the brightness down in dim lighting conditions. But Apple didn’t stop there. If you have an Apple Watch and you walk away from the phone, the screen will turn off once the watch gets out of Bluetooth range. Or if you put the phone in your pocket, the screen will turn off. All of this sounds interesting. But the thing is that it took some time for me to adjust to that as since 2012 which is when I got my first iPhone, I have been conditioned that when I see something on my iPhone screen, the phone on and I need to hit the sleep/wake button to turn it off. And that’s true for my wife as well as she’s tried to turn off my iPhone as she thought it was on a couple of times. And I’ve heard this from other people with this phone or the Pro Max variant. So clearly there’s going to be time needed to get used to this feature. One thing that is missing from this feature is the ability to put it into some sort of “nightstand mode” like the Apple Watch where it will very dimly display the time alone when the phone is on a charger. In my mind, that’s a bit of a swing and a miss by Apple. But conversely if you’re in a sleep focus mode, the display turns off entirely. I am guessing that Apple’s use case is that it is one thing to have an Apple Watch display lit at night as that is not likely to bother you, but it’s a bridge too far for the iPhone. Though I suspect that this might change if enough people complain. Another thing that Apple might have to change is the fact that notifications will cause the screen to go to full brightness which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

The second design change is the “dynamic island”. I’m going to go off on a tangent and ask why anyone at Apple thought that this was the best name for this feature? You know that a bunch of people got into a room and they wrote up a bunch of names on a whiteboard in order to pick the best one. Why did this one win? It honestly sounds like the name of a reality TV show where either someone will find love or people will be voted off the island. Surely a multi-trillion dollar company could have done better than this?

Back to the phone review. What Apple has done is eliminated the notch that has been in every iPhone since the iPhone X and turned it into a pill shaped cutout where all the Face ID hardware and the front facing camera live. But they then took the extra step of creating an entire software feature around it that allows you to task switch between apps and see information as well as interact with items that are in the “dynamic island”. Plus some notifications like Face ID being in use by an application or the orange and green dots for audio and video usage live there too. Effectively, Apple took a feature that people would criticize and made it something that people would be blown away by.

Mission accomplished.

Let me illustrate how the “dynamic island” works with this video.

One thing that I would like to point out is that the “dynamic island” visible in screen recordings. They didn’t bother to do that with the notch in the MacBook Pros that came out last year. Thus I guess that this will be their design language going forward and we can expect to see iPads, and MacBooks with the “dynamic island” soon. But there is one downside to the “dynamic island”. It cuts into full screen video. The notch didn’t do that and some will see this as a regression as a result. Another thing to point out is that you have to press and hold to surface the widget and simply tap the “dynamic island” to bring up the full app. That seems backwards to me.

And i’m calling it now. Every single Android phone will copy this feature.

The screen is different as well. This year besides ProMotion which is Apple’s adaptive refresh rate technology that ramps the screen from 1 Hz to 120 Hz to save battery power, it’s brighter as well topping out at 2000 nits. This is a total win as in bright sunlight the iPhone is extremely readable. And just in general, the screen is bright, clear, and easy to read. And that’s above and beyond my previous iPhone.

One last thing in the design area. Apple removed the SIM tray if you are in the US which slightly alters the design of the iPhone 14 Pro, and forces iPhone customers over to eSIM technology. Everyone else on the planet gets a SIM tray and eSIMs are optional. You can find out the pros and cons of that here. But I suspect that this will spread elsewhere as early as next year.

Now that the design is out of the way, let’s talk specs. Every iPhone this year gets 6 GB of RAM, but only the 14 Pro and Pro Max variants get Apple’s 16 Bionic processor. This processor is built on TSMC‘s 4 nanometer manufacturing process and it features a 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine. It has many improvements over the A15 Bionic from the iPhone 13 Pro (or iPhone 14), such as a new display engine which helps with the new always on display feature, new image signal processor, and more power efficiency. But if you’re expecting it to destroy the A15, it won’t based on these Geekbench 5 results:

A16 BionicSnapdragon 8 Gen 1A15 Bionic
Geekbench 5 (single-core / multicore)1891 / 54691214 / 33611733 / 4718

To be clear, Apple continues to humiliate Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 with ease. But the A16 is only a marginal gain over the A15, and you are unlikely to see the speed difference during daily usage. My guess is that the key differences are going to be found in the energy usage and heat it generates as it is manufactured on a 4 nanometer process.

Now over the camera which Apple spent a lot of time talking about during their presentation. Specifically:

  • 48MP quad-pixel main sensor that bins down to 12MP
  • 12MP ultrawide sensor that’s twice as large as the one on theiPhone 13 Pro.
  • The telephoto lens is still 3x which is unchanged
  • You now get 0.5x, 1x and 2x, and the telephoto’s 3x zoom

As part of this camera upgrade, Apple have now come out with the “Photonic Engine” which is not only another questionable name for a feature, but it sounds like something straight out of Star Trek.

<Scene fades in from black showing the bridge of the Starship Enterprise with tense music playing. The red alert siren is audible>

  • Sulu: “Captain! Two Romulan warbirds just decloaked off our port bow!”
  • Kirk: “Chekov! Arm all weapons! Scotty! Prepare to engage the Photonic Engine and get us out of here!”
  • Scotty: “Aye Captain!”
  • Chekov: “Aye Captain!”

Seriously, could they not have come up a better name? After all, this is not a company that’s short of cash so surely their marcom group could have come up with something better than “Photonic Engine”? In any case. The “Photonic Engine” is a new computational photography model that improves mid and low light photos by incorporating Apple’s Deep Fusion technology earlier in the pipeline before the frames get compressed. The “Photonic Engine” promises to enhance dynamic range to bring out detail even in low-light pictures. Let’s test that by taking the iPhone 14 Pro and pitting it against the iPhone 13. Here’s a pair of photos that were taking with dark mode enabled. Starting with the iPhone 13:

Then the iPhone 14 Pro:

Is the iPhone 14 Pro better? Well, you see more detail and it does look brighter. For example if you look at the tree on the left you see the bark of the tree better in the iPhone 14 Pro. But it’s not a quantum leap above the iPhone 13. So the answer is yes the iPhone 14 Pro is better. But the differences are not huge. But they are there.

Let’s look at a low light photo without dark mode, starting with the iPhone 13:

And now the iPhone 14 Pro:

Again, you see more detail and it does look brighter in the iPhone 14 Pro photo. But again, it’s not a huge leap forward.

Now there’s an improved macro mode on the iPhone 14 Pro in play and here’s what it looks like:

The detail level is great in this photo and there’s the right amount of bokeh in the photo. And from the party tricks department comes the ability to look up some objects that you take photos of:

You’ll see the words “Look Up – Plant in the screenshot above. If you click on that you will get this:

That way you know what you’re taking pictures of and you can act like you’re a botanist. It apparently works with animals too, though I didn’t test that. But in any case, this is the power of having a neural engine on a smartphone.

Another improvement is the enhanced cinematic mode. Last year it was 1080P. This year it is in 4K and here’s an example of what you get via a video with yours truly looking as “Gangsta” as possible:

Cinematic Mode mostly works as it enables when it detects me and turns off when I exit the video. I am sure you’ll be able to do some interesting things with it.

Next up is Action Mode which is the only new feature name that Apple came up with that makes sense. It stabilizes video at 2.8K which is a bit of #fail as this is a 4K world. But in the next year or two, I am sure that this will be a feature that works with 4K. But since I review what is on the table in front of me so to speak, here’s a video that illustrates what you get without and with Action Mode:

The only thing that you have to keep in mind with Action Mode is that it requires a lot of light to work well and it will warn you when you don’t have enough light. And if you are in a location that has a borderline level of light, the results may not be that great. Though it does have options that are kind of buried in the Settings app to allow for low light usage at the cost of the level of stabilization that you get.

Earlier I touched on the fact that you get more zoom levels with the iPhone 14 Pro. Specifically that you get 0.5x, 1x and 2x, and 3x zoom which are all optical zoom levels. I tested these zoom levels and compared them to the iPhone 13 which doesn’t have all of these zoom levels which means that you get digital zoom and a less optical photo. First the iPhone 14 Pro:

Followed by the iPhone 13:

Clearly the iPhone 14 Pro photos are better. But Apple really needs to give users a broader zoom range seeing as some Android phones will do 10x optical zoom.

Finally on the camera front, you have the option of shooting pictures in ProRAW format to get all 48 MP rather than photos that are binned down to 12 MP. And returning from previous iPhones, you get the option of shooting video in ProRES format as well.

The next thing that I will cover is battery life. The short answer is that I can make it through a day on a single charge. Which is typically from about 7AM to around 10PM. The long answer can be found in this screen shots.

This is a day where I worked from home mostly and only went out once to deal with a pair of clients who were close to my home. Thus it was plugged into my car a couple of times for 20 minutes or so total. As you can see it had no problem making it through the day having used about 50% of my battery. Which implies that I could have expected plus or minus 10 hours if I emptied the battery which isn’t bad.

This day I was working exclusively from home, but I didn’t charge it once. I used 75% of my battery and I suspect that I could get to 10 hours if I emptied the battery. Now I might get better battery life if I turn off the always on display though. And apparently the haptic feedback from the keyboard plays a part in this too as Apple suggests that this feature eats some battery life. But I’m leaving them on as I like the always on display and the haptic feedback.

Now let me deal with three final items. The first is the obligatory speed test for 5G. Here it is on the TELUS network:

The Qualcomm’s X65 Modem that Apple is using really delivers the goods here. And that’s not the only improvement as this modem promises better power efficiency. Which is welcome as 5G isn’t exactly power friendly. In terms of other wireless, you get WiFi 6, which is odd because WiFi 6E is a thing, as well as Bluetooth 5.3. The latter allows the phone to consume less power, or produce better audio, or have slightly faster data transmission with a compatible device. Which is handy as the new Apple Watches and AirPods Pro both support Bluetooth 5.3. In terms of GPS, the iPhone 14 Pro can receive signals from GPS satellites operating on both the legacy L1 frequency and modernized L5 frequency. L5 satellites broadcast a higher power signal that can better travel through obstacles like buildings and trees when compared to L1 signals. With a combination of the two signals iPhone 14 Pro models should have improved location accuracy in apps like Maps.

Next are two new safety features. The iPhone 14 Pro comes with crash detection which will detect if you’ve been in a car crash, and if you don’t respond it will call emergency services. I didn’t test that and I hope I never do. But this YouTuber did test it and apparently it works as designed. Second is the Emergency SOS via Satellite. Emergency SOS via Satellite can help you connect with emergency services when no other means of reaching emergency services are available. If you call or text emergency services and can’t connect because you’re outside the range of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage, your iPhone tries to connect you via satellite to the help that you need. And Apple has built an entire user interface to help you make contact via satellite along with a quiz that you need to take to allow the feature to transmit your exact needs to emergency services. This feature launches in November and will be free for two years. After that….. Who knows? Apple didn’t say. But seeing as Apple has partnered with Globalstar to deliver these services, and they charge a minimum of $20 USD a month for these services, I am going to guess that it will cost between $20 or $40 USD a month and may likely become part of an iCloud+ plan. Though I suspect that Apple really wants you to buy a new iPhone in two years time.

Pricing in Canada goes something like this:

  • 128 GB: $1399
  • 256 GB: $1549
  • 512 GB: $1819
  • 1TB: $2089

Top Tip: If you plan on using ProRES or ProRAW, skip the 128GB model. ProRES only works on a “Pro” iPhone that is 256 GB or above. And ProRAW photos take up as much as 90 MB of space per photo. Meaning that you need a lot of storage to make that work if taking 48MP photos is your thing.

So, would I recommend the iPhone 14 Pro. That depends on what you’re coming from:

  • If you have no iPhone and you have some cash burning a hole in your pocket, get the iPhone 14 Pro. Apple spent more time and more effort on this phone versus the iPhone 14 making this the one to get. And if you want a bigger screen, there’s always the Pro Max model.
  • If you have an iPhone 13 Pro or 12 Pro and you want to upgrade, I am not sure that there’s enough here to justify the upgrade. Yes the new and improved features are interesting, but they aren’t groundbreaking for the most part and they may not be enough to make buyers say “I must get this phone.”
  • If you have an iPhone 11 Pro or earlier, this is worth upgrading to as there is enough of a feature set delta from your existing phone to make it worth your while to upgrade.

Here’s my bottom line. While there are improvements, and they are all solid improvements, they’re not quantum leaps forward. That makes it difficult for me to say that you should drop what you’re doing to run to the Apple Store to buy one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid phone that you will like if you buy one. What I am saying is that this is a more incremental upgrade which will make you think about whether you should upgrade to it or not.

Apple Promised A Lot With Their Medications Functionality In iOS 16 And watchOS 9…. But They Didn’t Deliver It Outside The US

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 14, 2022 by itnerd

During the WWDC (World Wide Developer Conference) keynote in June. Apple announced that watchOS 9 and iOS 16 would have new functionality to track your medications called Medications. This is how Apple described it during the keynote:

So the Medications app will check for drug interactions via a database lookup, as well as allow you scan your prescription bottle to allow you to accurately enter your medications into the Medications app. It sounds great and when iOS 16 was released on Monday, I decided to try it out. That’s when I discovered that what Apple promised in the keynote wasn’t what Apple delivered to me in the Great White North known as Canada.

I take a medication called Cequa which is the trade name for Cyclosporine which is an anti-inflammatory eye drop to treat the side effects of wearing the special contact lenses that I use to make up for the fact that I have an eye disease called Keratoconus which without said special contact lenses makes it difficult for me to see. I wanted to set up an entry for this drug where I would be reminded about taking this medication when I got up in the morning, and before going to bed. But when adding this drug, there was no ability to search for this drug. In fact the search function that Apple showed in the keynote was completely absent.

That’s #fail number one.

Second, there was no ability to scan the prescription label using your camera as Apple demonstrated in the video above.

That’s #fail number two.

Finally since my wife has a pharmacology and toxicology degree which gives her the ability to speak to drug to drug interactions, she gave me the name of a pair of drugs guaranteed to interact with each other. The drugs in question were Zoloft and Monoamine oxidase inhibitors. No prompts like the ones that were illustrated in the keynote video appeared when I entered them into the medications app.

#Fail number three. That’s three strikes and Apple is out to borrow a baseball analogy.

This bugged me so much that I went hunting for a reason why this functionality was missing. I found my answer in the press release of iOS 16:

In the US, users can simply point their iPhone camera at a label to add a medication, read about the medications they’re taking, and receive an alert if there are potential critical interactions with their medications.

Only US users get this feature is how I read that statement. I have to assume that this was done for regulatory reasons. Similar to when the ECG functionality was launched in the Apple Watch Series 4 which took a long time before Health Canada signed off on it and it was available here. Not to mention other places on the planet. But before you think that this is a “why doesn’t Canada get nice things” rant by The IT Nerd, it isn’t. I pinged an associate in the UK and he doesn’t have this functionality either. And he’s not happy about that either. The flip side of that is that it implies that Apple could bring this to other countries assuming they hop through the regulatory hoops to do so.

Apple with this functionality has really has come up with something that could legitimately save lives. But apparently this is only available to US users. Thus I am hoping that Apple is working towards rolling this in other countries. Though it would be nice if Apple speaks to that. But I suspect that they won’t as that’s not who Apple is.

Over to you Apple.

watchOS 9 Has An Bug Where Two Finger Tap To Speak The Time Sounds Robotic

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 13, 2022 by itnerd

So after installing watchOS 9 I decided to do a number of tests to uncover all the new and cool things that Apple’s latest version of watchOS has. During that I stumbled upon this with the two finger tap to speak function. If you’re not familiar with that, you can place two fingers on the display and the Apple Watch will speak the time to you. But it’s not supposed to sound like this:

The voice sounds in credibly robotic. It supposed to sound like the Siri voice or the Mickey Mouse voice if you have that watch face enabled. I asked my wife to try the same thing on her Apple Watch and she got the same result. For fun, I downloaded the Mickey Mouse watch face and that worked as expected.

I poked around for a bit and got to “Settings” –> “Siri” — “Siri Voice” and saw this:

It looks like that as part of watchOS 9, it redownloads the Siri voice that is in use. I don’t know why it was doing that, but that’s it was doing confirmed by clicking on “Siri Voice”:

The circle on the right indicates it was waiting to download. So I put my watch on WiFi and let it download. Then I tried this experiment again. That didn’t work. I then rebooted my Apple Watch. That didn’t fix it. What was weird was that the Siri voice was working just fine the entire time.

Thus I have to assume that this is a bug. But in the interest of science, I’d love to know if you try this feature on your Apple Watch with watchOS 9, do you get the same result? Also, if you managed to fix this, I’d like to know how you did it. Please drop a note in the comments below with your feedback.

UPDATE: I was directed to a Reddit thread that illustrates that I am not the only person who has this issue.

watchOS 9 And HomePod OS 16 Are Being Released Today…. Here’s How You Can Safely Upgrade To Them

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 12, 2022 by itnerd

Besides iOS 16 hitting the streets today, Apple is releasing watchOS 9 to the public today. It is a major release that includes new watch faces, more workout functionality, medication logging, and better sleep tracking among other features. You can get a full list of features here.

watchOS 9 will run on the following devices:

  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch Series 7

So what do you need to do to prepare for watchOS 9? Well, there’s not a whole lot that you need to do. For example when it comes to backing up which is what I normally suggest that you do before doing an operating system upgrade, this is largely taken care of for you according to this Apple Support article which states that every time your iPhone is backed up to iCloud or iTunes, the Apple Watch data gets backed up too. So since I recommended in my previous article that you back up your iPhone before iOS 16, and you absolutely need iOS 16 to be installed before watchOS 9 shows up in the Apple Watch app, then you are covered for the most part. The only other thing I would suggest is that you should ensure that the apps on the iOS 16 iDevice are up to date as that will update the associated Apple Watch app. That way you can ensure that everything works fine post upgrade. Finally, as for the upgrade itself, it is important that you closely follow these directions from Apple as updating an Apple Watch is currently not a trivial process which if done wrong has the potential of bricking your Apple Watch.

Now over to HomePod OS 16. Again there’s really not much to do here. From previous experience, the HomePod will update independently of what version of iOS is on your iPhone. Thus I would follow these instructions to update your HomePod (or in my case, four HomePod Minis). There’s no backup required but I will note that this may take up to 10 minutes to finish. So pack your patience accordingly and just let the HomePod do its thing.

iOS 16 Releases Today…. Here’s How You Can Safely Upgrade To It

Posted in Tips with tags on September 12, 2022 by itnerd

At 1PM EST today, Apple will release iOS 16. As long as you have a supported device, it will bring you new features and improvements to your iDevice experience. If you want to see a full feature set, click here.

Speaking of supported devices, here’s what iOS 16 will run on:

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 
  • iPhone 12 mini 
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max 
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone SE (3rd Generation)
  • iPhone SE (2nd Generation)

If your phone isn’t on this list, then it’s not supported.

If you are wondering why there are no iPads on the list, that’s because Apple has spun off the iPads into a separate OS called iPadOS which is due out in October along with macOS Ventura.

Now, since this is a major upgrade there is always a chance, no matter how remote that something can go sideways. To make sure that you’re not caught out by something unexpected, here’s what you can do:

1. Update your Apps: Make sure that all your apps are up to date before upgrading by opening the App Store app and seeing if any updates are required. This is important because it is possible that the changes that Apple has made on areas like privacy and performance could break an app that you rely on. Thus I find that it is always a good idea to check for updates and install them before a new version of iOS hits the streets.

2. Dump any uneeded photos, videos or apps: iOS updates tend to need a fair amount of free space to allow for a successful installation. Thus if you have anything less than 10GB of free space, consider deleting unused apps or photos/videos. In terms of the photos and videos you want to keep, you can move them to the cloud or a computer so that they’re safely stored without taking up space on your iPhone. I personally use iCloud myself, but Google Photos is another option.

3. Backup your iDevice: If you value the data on your iDevice, backing it up is a must. You have two options for backing up your iDevice: iCloud or iTunes. Follow this guide to backing up your iPhone.

At this point you should be good to go to upgrade to iOS 16. Key word being SHOULD. Upgrading an operating system isn’t a trivial process. But if you take these steps beforehand, you should reduce the risk of any issues that you might encounter.

My Thoughts On Yesterday’s #AppleEvent

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 8, 2022 by itnerd

Yesterday, Apple announced new Apple Watch models, a second generation AirPod Pro, and new iPhones to the world. And this year I decided to wait a few hours and share my thoughts after I have had time to digest the announcement. So let’s start with the Apple Watches:

  • Apple Watch Series 8: Let me get this out of the way. This is yet another iterative upgrade from Apple which isn’t a bad thing as the smartwatch market is far from saturated. Thus Apple doesn’t need to really push performance or throw a bunch of sensors into a new Apple Watch model to get attention. With that in mind, the new temperature sensor is the only new thing that they did add. This is tied to an ovulation predictor that they built into watchOS 9 specifically for this model. And Apple did go out of their way to say that any women’s health data is private and Apple can’t see it. Which I believe is a clear message that they are sending those on either side of the abortion debate in the US. The other things that stand out are a brighter screen and a new crash detection feature where it will call emergency services if you are in a car crash, along with international roaming for the Apple Watch if your carrier supports it. As far as I can tell, Canadian carriers don’t support it which is a bit of bummer. What Apple didn’t improve upon is the 18 hour battery life which really is a bummer as other smartwatches are capable of getting days of battery life. But they are introducing a low power mode to the Apple Watch Series 4 or above via watchOS 9 which ships next week. When that hits the streets, I will be testing it and letting you know what I think of it.
  • Apple Watch Ultra: Apple has released a watch for those who do things like triathlons, marathons, and “extreme” sports. Called the Apple Watch Ultra, it promises 36 hour battery life and all sorts of extra functionality to cater to this market. Not to mention extra waterproofing and durability features. This is a brilliant move by Apple as they’re clearly going after Garmin and Suunto who pretty much own this market. And I think it’s a success based on the fact that the last time I checked, you have to wait seven weeks to get one in contrast that with three to four weeks for the Series 8. Thus I think both those companies should be very, very scared. I hope at some point that Apple brings down some of the features of this watch to the more consumer focused Apple Watch. Specifically the battery life. But I would not at all be surprised if they didn’t.
  • AirPods Pro: This is another one of those iterative updates from Apple as they’ve added better FindMy support, better noise cancelling and transparency features, better sound, and longer battery life along with the ability to charge via MagSafe and the Apple Charging Puck for the Apple Watch. While I am sure that some people who already own AirPods Pro may upgrade, this iteration of the AirPods Pro isn’t a must get for those people. Instead it’s likely aimed at pulling people away from getting a pair of Sony or Bose earbuds.
  • iPhone 14: Much as the rumours predicted, Apple recycled the A15 processor from last year’s iPhone 13 Pro and dropped it in here. But the camera hardware has been seriously upgraded to give this phone gimbal like stability and better low light performance. It also adds the crash detection feature from the Apple Watch. But the two things that got my attention are the Emergency SOS via satellite feature which allows the iPhone 14 to connect directly to satellites for communication purposes in emergency situations when WiFi and cellular are not available. This will be free for two years however pricing after that was not disclosed. The cynic in me says that Apple is using that as a hook for you to buy a new iPhone in two years time. There’s also better cooling which should stop the overheating problems (which you will see in the form of the screen dimming). But Apple didn’t really go into the weeds on that. The other thing that caught my attention is that Apple has gone “all in” on eSIM and ditched the SIM tray in this phone. But only in the US. I wish they did this elsewhere as on top of likely improving water resistance, it will mitigate SIM swapping scams. Finally, if you were a fan of the iPhone Mini, it’s dead. Replaced by the iPhone 14 Plus which is a 6.7″ phone that likely has amazing battery life. The biggest #Fail from Apple is that the iPhone 14 still has Lightning and hasn’t made the move to USB-C. And it isn’t clear if the Lightning port is any faster as that was a major sore point for anyone who tried to use ProRES video on their iPhone and had to wait an hour or two for video to transfer over.
  • iPhone 14 Pro: Now if you’re in the market for an iPhone, the pro version is likely the one that you want to get. Besides having the new A16 processor which promises a performance boost, and all the features of the iPhone 14, it also has a 2000 nit display which is insane as there are desktop screens that don’t go that bright. Plus the iPhone finally has an always on display. Welcome to 2017 Apple. But the big news is that Apple has taken the notch, made it a pill shaped cutout, and built a software feature around the cutout called “dynamic island” which has notifications and other information surface from the cutout making it part of the user interface. I have to admit this is genius on the part of Apple as they’ve taken a hardware function that might have been the source of blowback from some and turned it into something that people will talk about in a positive way. Well played Apple. Apple added a 48-megapixel Wide camera with a quad-pixel sensor. But the photo is binned down to 12-megapixel. But if you use ProRAW you can get access to the full 48-megapixel photo. That should give better low light performance. The biggest #Fail from Apple is that the iPhone 14 Pro still has Lightning and hasn’t made the move to USB-C. And it isn’t clear if the Lightning port is any faster as that was a major sore point for anyone who tried to use ProRES video on their iPhone and had to wait an hour or two for video to transfer over.

That’s my view of yesterday’s Apple Event. If you want to see the 100 minute event, you can watch the recording on YouTube below. What are your thoughts on the Apple Event? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.

The Hysteria Around Apple’s Patching Of Two Vulnerabilities Is Unwarranted

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 21, 2022 by itnerd

On Wednesday, Apple released updates for iOS and macOS. And on Thursday they released an update for Safari. And if you look at the security information for these iOS, macOS, and Safari updates, they apparently fix two vulnerabilities that may have been exploited by unknown (to us) threat actors.

Cue the hysteria.

CNN for example called this an emergency update. BBC News did the same thing. And so did many other media outlets. All of whom suggesting that their iPhones have been hacked or something similar. That caused my phone to ring off the hook and my inbox to fill up with clients and friends of clients asking me if their iPhone or Mac has been hacked or is under threat.

News flash: You’re perfectly safe if you apply these updates to your iPhone, iPad and Mac. And as a rule, you should always apply updates to your iDevices when they become available.

But why is the media losing their minds over this? I don’t know for sure. But let me be clear about this. This is not new. Apple has fixed vulnerabilities where “Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited” in the past. In fact, from memory Apple may have done this three or four times this year. None of those other times have created this level of hysteria. So why is this time so different? Maybe it was a slow news day? Also, I would like to point out that Apple is hyper aggressive about fixing this sort of stuff. Even going to the lengths of suing the NSO Group to stop them from using iOS exploits. That sounds to me like a company who is serious about stopping exploits.

And let me point out that this past week, it came to light that TikTok which is used by millions world wide has an actual key logger in its app which literally logs every keystroke that you type. And nobody, including the media seems freaked out about that.

So, why is there so much hysteria around these Apple updates? No clue. But people need to relax about this. Simply install this and other updates that Apple releases, practice safe computer habits, and move on with your life. Nobody really needs to invest any time in thinking about this.

If You Got Your iPhone Stolen, Chances Are That You Will Be A Target Of Phishing Or Threats…. Here’s How To Deal With That Unfortunate Situation

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 20, 2022 by itnerd

Thefts of iPhones have always been a problem. But what has made it less lucrative for thieves is a feature that Apple implemented years ago called Activation Lock. In short, the way Activation Lock works is that among other things, this feature locks the phone to you and your Apple ID so that if it is stolen, it cannot be reused by an unsuspecting buyer as they would need your Apple ID and the password associated with it to set it up as new.

Well thieves clearly have clued in on this and are trying to work around it so that they can flip stolen iPhones for cash. So now they’re resorting to phishing and threats to get your Apple ID and password. Here’s how the phishing part of this works:

  • Your iPhone gets stolen
  • Days or weeks later you get contacted by the thief with a phishing email or text that encourages you to enter your Apple ID and password to locate your phone.
  • If you’re not paying attention, you do that and now the thief has everything they need to set up your phone as new and sell it.

An example of this can be found in this India Today report that does an excellent job of laying out a real life example of this phishing exercise.

But lately I have heard of a new method of trying to get your Apple ID. The thief threatens you with the release of your personal information that’s on the stolen iPhone if you don’t hand over your Apple ID.

Here’s the facts on this. What the thief has done is erase the iPhone in an attempt to set it up as new. Thus your personal information is already gone which means that what they are saying is a total lie. The attempt to set it up as new failed because it is activation locked. So since the thief wants to flip the phone for some cash, they contact you to convince you via threats to give up your Apple ID.

Why are iPhone thieves resorting to these methods? The answer is that the iPhone is worth way less if the thief has to strip it for parts. And some of those parts are difficult to reuse because of the way Apple locks them to the phone. Therefore to maximize the cash that they can score from the theft of the phone, they have to keep it whole and it has to be fully functional. Which means that to make sure that the thief doesn’t get a good payday, you need to be on your toes if your phone is stolen and rebuff any attempt by someone to get you to hand over your Apple ID. That means ignoring any emails or text messages either encouraging you or threatening you in any way if you don’t release your Apple ID.

So what should you do if your iPhone is stolen? Apple has some tips on that you should follow if this happens to you. And this advice is also largely true for iPads and Apple Watches as well as newer MacBooks as they have the Activation Lock feature as well. Which means that while you’re the unfortunate victim of a theft, as long as you follow this advice and don’t hand over your Apple ID to the thief, you’re not going to give the thief a good payday.

FCC To Apple And Google: Delete TikTok From Your App Stores

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on June 29, 2022 by itnerd

Last week I posted a story about a report that data from US users of TikTok was being seen in China. This despite the fact that TikTok has always claimed that this is not the case. This has now escalated to the point where FCC commissioner Brendan Carr posted this on Twitter:

I encourage you to click on the Tweet to read the letter in full. But in short, he wants TikTok gone from Apple’s App Store and Google Play for violating the terms of service and for being a data-gathering tool for the Chinese authorities. The letter gives both Apple and Google until July 8th to respond. As I type this, neither has responded and it isn’t clear what will happen if they don’t respond or pull the app. But TikTok has responded and said this:

We know we’re among the most scrutinized platforms from a security standpoint, and we aim to remove any doubt about the security of US user data. That’s why we hire experts in their fields, continually work to validate our security standards, and bring in reputable, independent third parties to test our defenses.

You’ll note that they did not directly address the accusations that were made by Carr.

My feeling is that this is about to come to a head. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this because my feeling is that this is about to blow up into something resembling the scale that we saw when Donald Trump tried to force a sale of TikTok to a US company or be banned.

Another Reason Not To Buy The M2 13″ MacBook Pro… The SSD Is SLOW

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 26, 2022 by itnerd

Frequent readers of this blog know that I wrote a story about why nobody should buy the 13″ M2 MacBook Pro. Besides everything that I mentioned in that article, there’s a brand new reason that people who have gotten their hands on this computer from Apple have found.

The SSD’s are slower than the ones in the M1 13″ MacBook Pro.

YouTube channels such as Max Tech and Created Tech tested the 256GB model with Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test and found the SSD’s are about 30% slower than the M1 versions. This is due 256GB model is equipped with only a single NAND flash storage chip. The M1 version had two NAND chips that were likely 128GB each. This creates a RAID like setup that resulted in better performance. The only reason why I can think that Apple did this to save a few bucks so that they can have higher margins on the computer. And what makes that worse is that Apple raised the price this time around. What’s even more interesting is that reviewers who got the new computer early didn’t note this. But they were apparently supplied with 1TB models. That implies that either they have a pair of 512GB NAND chips or any speed differences were glossed over because Apple doesn’t hand over computers for review to just anyone. They only hand over computers to reviewers that are friendly to Apple.

The bottom line is this, the 13″ MacBook Pro was a bad deal before. It’s a worse deal after this revelation. My advice is to avoid this model altogether. And in a bonus piece of advice, I would also suggest waiting for the first reviews by Max Tech and Created Tech of the M2 MacBook Air to see if Apple pulled the same stunt. Because it wouldn’t surprise me if they did. Which means that you need to be aware of that if you plan on putting down your hard earned money on one.