Archive for Apple

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.

 

Advertisements

If I Were Tim Cook, This Is What I Would Do To Fix Apple

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 10, 2019 by itnerd

It is crystal clear that Apple is in trouble. They’ve issued a rare earnings warning along with missing the ship date for AirPower, and they’re offering hefty trade in values to get you to buy one of their latest and greatest iPhones. Plus the quality of their software and hardware is perceived to be in the toilet. And that’s just the stuff that I came up with at 8AM this morning. But the real question is this. Can this be fixed? The answer is yes. And if I were Tim Cook who is the CEO of Apple, this is what I would do:

  1. Admit that you have a problem: Cook told CNBC’s Jim Cramer the other day “I think Apple is not well understood in some of Wall Street.” No. You’re dead wrong Tim. The problem is you don’t see that there’s a problem with Apple. You haven’t asked yourself what is it that you’re doing wrong as a company that is causing you to be in the situation that you’re presently in. Cook really needs to take a good hard look in the mirror and figure out what he needs to do to get Apple back on track. Not only that, he needs to be honest with himself and not drink the Kool Aid, nor should he stay in Apple’s famous reality distortion field while doing so. Because neither of those will help him to put Apple back on the rails.
  2. Do something about the iPhone being so expensive: When I reviewed the iPhone XS I pointed out that the prices that they were asking for it were some people’s mortgage payments. Even the iPhone XR is not exactly cheap. Though Cook doesn’t see it that way in that interview with Jim Cramer. But here’s what Cook is missing. The smartphone market is mature. Groundbreaking new features don’t show up as often, and you’re now able to hang on to your phone for three or four years as opposed to having to flip your phone for a new one every couple of years as there is no compelling reason to replace it. Thus Cook and company would be well advised to cut the price of their iPhone lineup and do it now as that would actually get people to buy their phones. And I am not talking of doing it via those hefty trade in values which are rebates on a full priced phone. I mean that they need to actually cut the price of the phone.
  3. Apple needs a true budget phone: Apple isn’t going to sell a phone in India or China if they don’t have a phone that is affordable. And no Mr. Cook the iPhone XR doesn’t count. They need a phone that is sub $500 CDN if they have any chance of cracking those markets. Call it an iPhone SE-2 or something. Right now they don’t and it’s costing them. That same phone could also be used in more mature markets like North America and Europe to broaden their appeal.
  4. Apple needs to fix their quality issues….. NOW: Whether it is #BatteryGate, #KeyboardGate, the latest version of #BendGate with the iPad Pro, or the numerous bugs in iOS 12 which keep people from accessing WiFi and mobile data, it’s clear that Apple’s software quality has been a dog’s breakfast going back at least two years. And clearly their hardware quality isn’t up to the standards that the late Steve Jobs would have expected from the company. That needs to be fixed now because you can’t charge what Apple does, nor can Apple expect to score the sort of margins that it likes to brag about on their quarterly calls if the products are perceived to be of sub par quality. Thus this needs to be addressed immediately.
  5. Health and services aren’t the magic bullet for Apple if nobody outside the USA can use them: Cook in this interview said “I do think, looking back, in the future, you will answer that question, Apple’s most important contribution to mankind has been in health.” And he pointed to a shift to services with new ones on the way. Which I am guessing is their rumored TV streaming service. But neither health nor services are going to be the magic bullet because those only work when everyone can get their hands on them. It takes Apple forever to roll stuff out outside the USA. Apple Pay is a prime example of that where that has taken years to get to some parts of Europe. Apple Music on the Amazon Echo devices is USA only the last time I checked. And nobody outside the US can use Apple Pay Cash, and the killer feature of the Apple Watch 4 which is the ECG function is nowhere to be seen outside the USA. Now the latter item is understandable as there’s regulatory hurdles to be hopped in every country they want to use it in. But it doesn’t help them to leverage their ecosystem to make money. Apple’s ecosystem has be fully accessible to as many people as possible which means those at Apple has to do a much better job of getting them to as many people as possible as fast as possible.

Do you agree or disagree? Did I miss anything that Apple should be doing to pull themselves out of this mess? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

AirPower Misses 2018 Ship Date….. And It Is Another Sign That Apple Is In Very Deep Trouble

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 2, 2019 by itnerd

During Apple’s September 2017 event, Apple announced AirPower which was supposed to be a Qi compliant charging mat that would allow you to charge multiple devices. Say an iPhone, a set of EarPods and an Apple Watch. Here was the announcement via CNet:

AirPower was supposed to ship in “2018”. However as I type this it is January 2nd 2019 and AirPower hasn’t shipped. Apple refused to acknowledge the product at its September and October events in 2018. They’ve also scrubbed their website of all references of the product. Rumor has it that the core issue is that they can’t solve issues with overheating. But it isn’t known if that’s fact or not as Apple in typical Apple fashion has refused to comment on this, or state if the product will ever be released.

If you’re an Apple fanboy, this is not a good sign. Not because you won’t get your really cool and fancy charging mat. But because this is symptomatic of problems within Apple. Namely:

  • Hardware quality issues: The big example of this is the bent iPad Pros which in many cases come out of the box that way that Apple claims is “normal”. (Sorry but if you pay $1000 for a tablet, that is not normal). But can also be extended to the issues that the i9 MacBook Pros had with thermal throttling among other items such as #BatteryGate. For a company that prides itself on putting out quality products, this has to be concerning.
  • Software quality issues: iOS 12 is a dogs breakfast of a mess with a pile of bugs that Apple is unable to fix including cellular and WiFi issues that plague many iOS users. Not to mention a watchOS update that bricked Apple Watches left and right.  For a company that prides itself on putting out software that is supposed to be better than the guys in Redmond, this has to be concerning.
  • Pricing: Apple over the holidays aggressively offered up incentives for people to buy the latest iPhones. Specifically the iPhone XR. But really, they wanted you to buy any of the new iPhones. Clearly they’re not selling as fast as Apple would like. Maybe the fact that they’re priced so high that nobody can afford them has something to do with that. But we’ll likely have to guess at that as they’ve stopped reporting iPhone sales as a line item in their quarterly reports. I’m guessing they know that the writing is on the wall when it comes to iPhone sales which is a problem for a company who relies on iPhone sales to power their revenue and profit numbers.

It is hard to escape the fact that Apple is clearly in trouble. And the inability of the folks at Apple Park to ship AirPower is just the latest sign of that. What we could be witnessing is the end of the halcyon days of Apple. And as it is was suggested in this tweet, it could be the story of 2019:

The flipside to that is that Apple could stage a stunning comeback (again) and prove me wrong. Let’s watch and see which outcome takes place. But I for one am not holding my breath.

UPDATE: As if on cue, Apple published a letter from CEO Tim Cook pretty much confirming what many had thought. Apple is lowering its revenue and gross margin guidance for Q1 2019 citing a US/China trade war and “fewer iPhone upgrades.” Apple Watch Series 4, iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and AirPods were constrained during the holiday season, leading to an inability to keep up with demand, and customers taking advantage of “significantly reduced pricing for iPhone battery replacements.” In other words #BatteryGate was a factor.

Apple is in deep trouble.

The IT Nerd Award For The Best Accessory Of 2018 Goes To: Apple Watch Series 4 With LTE

Posted in Products with tags on December 17, 2018 by itnerd

H2rBZkT9SrGN4BIcaiznzQ

The Apple Watch has been out since 2015 and has just been regarded as an accessory to those on Team iPhone for the most part. But with the Apple Watch Series 4, things have changed. Apple now has a device that legitimately can save lives and help to make your life better. That sounds a bit over the top, but it’s not. Let me list why that is:

  • The Apple Watch now detects fast and slow heart rates. Both of with are highly dangerous and if you got an alert like this, you should seek medical attention.
  • The ECG feature that is only available on Series 4 Apple Watches in the USA (for now) can detect conditions like Afib which is highly dangerous and requires rapid medical attention.
  • Another feature that is unique to the Series 4 Apple Watch is fall detection. It’s turned on by default for those who are 65 or over. But you might consider turning it on regardless as it will alert emergency services along with the contacts that you define if you’ve fallen and cannot respond because you’re unconscious or the like.
  • It’s fitness game has been seriously improved as it is way better at tracking your activities and you have more activities to choose from.

All of that is now done in a package that looks stylish, and with the larger screens is now easier to read. Plus it is faster and has apps that cover a large number of use cases. Quite simply it’s the best wearable device out there. Sure it’s still only for those on Team iPhone, but it’s so good that those on Team Android may be tempted to switch to Team iPhone to use what I consider to be the best wearable device out there at the moment. The Apple Watch Series 4 is a well deserved winner of the IT Nerd Award for best accessory.

#PSA: If You Want To Replace Your iPhone’s Battery Because Of #BatteryGate Cheaply, You Have Until The End Of The Year

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 30, 2018 by itnerd

For those of you who wanted to get the battery replaced on your iPhone 6 or newer because it was affected by #BatteryGate related issues, you should hurry. The program that allows you to replace the battery for $35 CDN runs out at the end of the year. After that, you will have to pay between $99 to $105 CAD to replace their smartphone’s battery at an Apple Store. By doing so you’ll not only be able to stretch out the life of your phone, but you may see a speed increase as batteries that are in really bad shape will cause the phone’s processor to throttle itself.

To take advantage of this program, you should either take your phone to a Genius Bar appointment in an Apple Store or send it in to Apple for repair. And here’s a top tip, based on the experience that my wife had when she did this, you may have to be persistent about getting the battery replace as the Apple Genius Bar employees may try to talk you out of doing so.

Some Apple Users Locked Out Of Their iCloud Accounts

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 13, 2018 by itnerd

Reports have been coming in over the last few hours of Apple users finding that they are locked out of their iCloud accounts. The only way back in is to do a password reset. Now Apple will lock accounts when someone attempts to access an ID by entering their incorrect password too many times. So it is possible that what might be going on is some sort of brute force attack on iCloud accounts on a scale not previously seen. Or Apple could be having some sort of technical issue. At this point the cause isn’t clear as Apple isn’t really commenting as is typical for them.

How do you know if you are affected? iOS will present an alert in settings that says some Apple ID settings must be updated. Also, you may lose access to services like iMessage, iCloud and Apple Music if you do not verify your identity. If you find that your account is locked, you should follow the instructions here to unlock it. Also, you might want to strongly consider using two factor verification for your iCloud account whether you are affected or not.

How many users are affected? A lot if you go by social media. But an exact number is hard to come by. We’ll have to wait and see if there’s any clarity on that front via a comment from Apple or from some other source.

 

A Hint That Apple’s iPhone Pricing Strategy May Be Failing…. Production Of iPhone XR Reduced In Favor Of The iPhone 8

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 6, 2018 by itnerd

Last week I had a very interesting exchange on Twitter with author Sueanne Pacheco about the pricing strategy of iPhones after I posted my review of the iPhone XS.

By the way, you should buy her book Mrs. Langlois House which is a really great read. But I am digressing. At the time I pointed her towards this AppleInsider article which indicated that Apple was relying on higher selling prices to make money. Which pretty much confirmed what she was saying. As well as my feelings on this subject:

However, this strategy seems to be backfiring on Apple as VentureBeat is indicating that Apple is cutting back on iPhone XR production in favor of iPhone 8 production for this reason:

Just before Apple’s September launch of the iPhone XS, pundits recommended that potential customers wait until the iPhone XR arrived in October to pick a phone — a suggestion that could have boosted sales of the less expensive model. But a new Nikkei Asian Review report suggests the XR is instead seeing “disappointing demand,” leading Apple to scuttle plans to increase XR production. The surprising reason: Users are gravitating toward the more affordable iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

And there is precedent to this:

Apple reportedly made last-minute rush orders for iPhone 7 devices after the iPhone 8 and iPhone X launched at higher price points, suggesting that some consumers aren’t as concerned with the latest technology as they are with more reasonable pricing. The size of that price-sensitive customer base could impair Apple’s ability to keep raising the average selling price of its devices, a strategy it appears to be testing with the more expensive iPhones, iPads, and Macs introduced this fall.

I should also note that Apple stock dropped on the news which took its market cap out of trillion dollar territory. Plus Apple when they reported their quarterly numbers announced that they would not be reporting on the number of iPhones and iPads that they sold anymore. Someone out there will say that Samsung doesn’t do that either, and that’s true. But you have to admit that the timing of that announcement relative to this news is curious.

Now when I reviewed the iPhone XS, I said that my main criticism was price. According to my wife, it costs more than my monthly mortgage payment. Even the XR is insanely expensive despite being the best value for iPhone users who want a new iDevice. Pricing phones at those lofty levels is a risk and you had to figure that this strategy would hit a brick wall at some point because it simply isn’t sustainable over the long term. But I don’t think that the brain trust at Apple Park envisioned that it would hit a brick wall this quickly. Now I get that they are a company that is out to make money. But with the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, they have created the impression that they are simply out to extract as much cash as they possibly can any way that they can. And based on this report, it’s starting to fail them. Thus I would suggest that they need to do a very quick rethink of their pricing strategy. As in right now.