Archive for Apple

How To Solve Battery Drain Problems On Your Apple Watch

Posted in Tips with tags on June 21, 2017 by itnerd

A few days ago, I noticed that the battery life on my Apple Watch took a significant nosedive. Instead of lasting about two days between charges, it would be requiring a recharge at about 9PM at night. Given that I wake up at 6AM, that wasn’t good. Clearly there was a problem, but I needed to figure out if it was software or hardware as if if it is the latter, I would have to make an appointment with the Genius Bar at my local Apple Store. Here’s how I went about isolating the problem:

  1. Reboot the Apple Watch: It sounds simple, and it is. Sometimes a simple reboot will work. So what I did was I rebooted by pressing and holding the side button and crown at the same time until the screen went blank and the white Apple logo appeared. I did it first thing in the morning so I knew that I was starting out with a fully charged Apple Watch. Then every couple of hours I would note how much battery life I had left by swiping up from the bottom to see control center. I also noted how much battery life I had left at the end of the day. In my case, by the end I would usually have something between 60% and 70% battery life depending on what I was doing that day. For example, if I was out for a ride on my bike, I would be closer to the 60% mark in terms of battery life. In my case, rebooting didn’t work as I was still noticing excessive draining of the battery. Thus, on to step 2.
  2. Un-pair the Apple Watch from your iPhone and re-pair: What this process does is basically reset your Apple Watch from a software perspective. The reason why you would want to do this is that maybe there’s some piece of software that is draining the battery excessively. Thus by doing this, you get the option of starting out with a virgin Apple Watch from a software perspective. Then you can add back all your Apple Watch apps until you find the one that is causing your problem. Or you can simply add them all back and see if things stabilize. I would recommend that you try the former for best results. Though I will admit that it is time consuming. Apple has a document for un-pairing your Apple Watch from your iPhone here. Now you can pair your Apple Watch using these instructions from Apple and I would recommend setting it up as a new watch rather than using a backup so that you avoid the possibility that you are reintroducing a problem that was part of a backup. In my case, doing this process seems to have worked. At least so far. I will continue to monitor this to ensure that it stays “fixed.” Warning: You’ll need around an hour to do this and if you have any credit or debit cards added to the Apple Watch to use with Apple Pay, you’ll need to add those back as well.
  3. Make an appointment with the Genius Bar: Let’s pretend that neither of the above solved my issue. At this point I have eliminated most of the possible software causes and I am left with a hardware issue. That means a trip to the Genius Bar. When you go, you need to make sure that you tell the Genius that you’ve done the above and be prepared to explain it in detail. That way your time at the Genius Bar is minimized and they can either repair or more likely replace the Apple Watch in short order (assuming it is under warranty or AppleCare).

Do you have any other tips for solving battery drain problems with the Apple Watch? If so, please leave a comment below and share your tips.

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Shady iOS Developer Using App Store Search Ads To Scam People On An Epic Scale

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 12, 2017 by itnerd

A rather shocking report has come to light over the weekend of a scam app charging people a staggering $400 per month through an in-app purchase disguised as a free trial. Oh yeah, the app does nothing and was approved by Apple who supposedly has tight controls on what get approved in the App store. Now if you read through this story, it’s quite shocking that this was even approved by Apple in the first place. Here’s why:

I scrolled down the list in the Productivity category and saw apps from well-known companies like Dropbox, Evernote, and Microsoft. That was to be expected. But what’s this? The #10 Top Grossing Productivity app (as of June 7th, 2017) was an app called “Mobile protection :Clean & Security VPN”.

Given the terrible title of this app (inconsistent capitalization, misplaced colon, and grammatically nonsensical “Clean & Security VPN?”), I was sure this was a bug in the rankings algorithm. So I check Sensor Tower for an estimate of the app’s revenue, which showed… $80,000 per month?? That couldn’t possibly be right. Now I was really curious.

I tap into the app details to see that the developer is “Ngan Vo Thi Thuy”. Wait so, this is a VPN service offered by an independent developer who didn’t even bother to incorporate a company? That’s a huge red flag. For those of you who don’t know why this is bad, a VPN basically routes all your internet traffic through a third party server. So in this case, a random person who couldn’t piece together a grammatically correct title, who also didn’t bother to incorporate a company, wants access to all your internet traffic.

What’s even worse is that in the description for the app, it is apparently “full of features.”

#EpicFail

So one has to wonder how many people have forked over $80K a month, of which Apple nets a 30% cut, for this scam app? One has to also wonder how many apps like this Apple has approved either through greed, which I would hope isn’t the case, or lack of care and attention, which is more likely the case? All I know is that Apple needs to address this and address this now. Otherwise, they’ll start looking like Google Play which is a app store that they’ve criticized for this sort of thing in the past.

Apple To Force Users To Two Factor Authentication & Away From Two Step Verification

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 8, 2017 by itnerd

Later this year when iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra hits the streets, you may notice one significant change the second you install those operating systems. You will likely be moved away from Two Step Verification and be forced to use the more secure Two Factor Authentication. This surfaced in the World Wide Developer conference this past week and is documented here.

Now you’re likely wondering what the difference is. I’ll quote the article that I linked to for the key differences:

There are a couple of differences between Apple’s two-step verification and its 2FA system. The main difference is that with the older service, users are given a recovery key that they need to keep in case they have to reset their password. That’s not required for 2FA.

“Because your password alone is no longer enough to access your account, two-factor authentication dramatically improves the security of your Apple ID and all the personal information you store with Apple,” the company’s explanation says.

“Once signed in, you won’t be asked for a verification code on that device again unless you sign out completely, erase the device, or need to change your password for security reasons. When you sign in on the web, you can choose to trust your browser, so you won’t be asked for a verification code the next time you sign in from that computer.”

So, how do you know which one you have? If you log into an Apple service, say iCloud for example, and you get a notification or text message with a code for you to enter, you have Two Step Verification. If however you get a pop up informing you that someone from a specific location is trying to access an Apple service with your Apple ID, then you have Two Factor Authentication. You want to be on the latter. But if you’re on the former, here’s how you can switch over now. First you need to turn off Two Step Verification:

  1. Go to applied.apple.com
  2. Type in your Apple ID and password and log in.
  3. Click Edit at the far-right of the Security section.
  4. Click on Turn off two-step verification.

Now turning on Two Factor Authentication is a bit more involved. Apple has a very good guide that will walk you through the process. Even though you’ll be automatically upgraded to Two Factor Authentication when you install iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, I’d upgrade now to ensure that you are as secure as possible with your existing operating systems on your whatever Apple devices that you have.

Apple Did Not Mention One Cool Product Release At WWDC 2017 Yesterday

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 6, 2017 by itnerd

You’re likely wondering what managed to miss in the huge pile of announcements that they announced yesterday at the World Wide Developer Conference keynote that took place yesterday. Well, I don’t think they missed it as such. I think they beloved that it wasn’t significant.

I beg to differ.

The product in question was a new Magic Keyboard with an integrated number pad. Up until now, you had to go the third party route to get a proper keyboard that was wireless and with a number pad. Apple finally seems to have gotten with the program and is now offering one of its own. For many people, this will be a big deal.

Thanks Apple.

So, What Did Apple Announce At WWDC 2017?

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 5, 2017 by itnerd

Today was the keynote for the annual Apple World Wide Developer Conference (aka WWDC), and it was expected that iOS 11, macOS 10.13, tvOS 11 and watchOS 4 would be announced as that fits the pattern of previous WWDC keynotes. But rumors of new MacBook Pros, new iPads, and maybe even a Siri based Amazon Echo competitor have been floating around for weeks. So, what did Apple Actually announce? Here’s a list of the key announcements that will matter to you…. I suggest you have a coffee handy as I go through them:

  • On the tvOS front, not a whole lot was announced. Amazon Prime Video is coming to the TV app and all Apple TVs later this year. But no new version of tvOS was announced. Having said that, more news on this front was promised “later this year” which I would guess would be September or October from previous experience.
  • watchOS 4 was announced today. There’s a new Siri watch face as well as a complication on the top-left corner. The watch face dynamically updates with reminders, traffic, sunset times, HomeKit controls, and more, all using Siri proactive intelligence. There are new watch faces that include characters from the Disney movie Toy Story. Apple is also introducing new monthly Activity challenges for those of you (like me) who like the Apple Watch to drive their fitness activities. Plus they’ve enhanced the Workout app for Apple Watch as well. For those of you who like music, Apple is redesigning the Music app on Apple Watch to include album art and playlist images along with support for multiple playlists. For example, you can pick a playlist that automatically starts with your Workout. When you’re in a Workout, you can swipe to the left and control the music directly in the app. Oh, there’s going to be a flashlight in the control center just like iOS and screen auto-rotate. Finally, there’s a new vertical dock to make accessing your favorite apps easier.
  • The next major version of macOS is called macOS High Sierra. This is going to be one of those names where the jokes will write themselves. In any case, the keky enhancements include Safari now having autoplay blocking which detects sites that autoplay video and blocks playback. Safari also has Intelligent Tracking Prevention. It uses machine learning to identify trackers, segregate the cross-site scripting data. Now this isn’t about ad blocking. It’s about privacy. The Photos app has new organizational and editing tools including a new imports view in chronological order that can be filtered. Apple File System (APFS) which was promised in macOS Sierra is finally coming to High Sierra. I will believe it when it actually ships. macOS High Sierra is building in hardware and software acceleration for H.265 encoding for video. HEVC hardware acceleration for newer Macs. macOS High Sierra is available as a developer beta today. Public beta will be available in late June. A Free upgrade in the Fall. You can check this Wikipedia page to see all the things that High Sierra could possibly mean.
  • New iMac models were announced today which surprised me. They include the latest Intel Kaby Lake processors. Other features include Up to 32GB RAM on 21.5-inch iMac. Up to 64GB on RAM on 27-inch iMac. Fusion Drives are standard on all 27-inch iMac configurations and high-end 21.5-inch iMac. Up to 50% faster SSDs with up to 2TB storage. Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 (integrated) and discrete graphics in 21.5-inch iMac include AMD Radeon Pro 555 & 560 GPUs with up to 4GB VRAM. Finally, there’s a much brighter screen and two Thunderbolt 3 ports on the back. Pricing in USD goes something like this: 21.5-inch iMac starts at $1,099. 4K 21.5-inch iMac starts at $1,299. 5K 27-inch iMac starts at $1,799. The machine will be VR friendly.
  • Another thing that I never saw coming is that the iMac Pro was announced which may be a replacement for the Mac Pro which is in desperate need of a redo. You can configure it with up to 18-cores of Xeon processing glory, Radeon Vega graphics. Up 128GB ECC RAM and up to 16GB of VRAM. Up to 400 Gbps of memory bandwidth. Up to 11 Teraflops of single-precision computation. Up to 22 Teraflops of half-precision computation. iMac Pro starts at $4,999 USD and will be available in December.
  • The MacBook and MacBook Pro got some Intel Kaby Lake love as well, along with Up to 50% faster SSDs and faster standard graphics on new 15-inch MacBook Pro. Pricing in USD goes something like this: 12-inch MacBook starts at $1,299. 13-inch MacBook Pro with function keys starts at $1,299 or $1,799 with Touch Bar. 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar starts at $2,399. These will start shipping TODAY.
  • Almost as an afterthought, the MacBook Air is apparently going to get a “bump” in speed as well. The new MacBook Air is also shipping today.
  • iOS 11 was announced.  iMessage is getting a redesigned app drawer that makes it easier to use apps and stickers. Plus iMessage is also getting optimized device storage and smaller and faster backups on iOS and macOS with messages stored and synced in the cloud across devices. Apple is introducing Apple Pay person to person payments in iOS 11, integrated into Messages as a Messages app. Plus Siri will be smarter and sound more natural thanks to deep learning and on device learning that will be encrypted. Siri will translate (in beta form) English to Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, with more language combinations to follow. There’s also going to be an improved Photos app and a revamp of Control Center. The iOS 11 developer preview is available today. Public beta will be available in late June.
  • Speaking of making Siri smarter, Apple is releasing a new set of APIs to make it easier for developers to incorporate machine learning into their apps. Deep neural networks, support vector machines, and other models. On-device processing with data privacy across iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS.
  • From the “Finally!” category, Apple Maps is getting lane guidance and speed limit display which Apple Maps really needed to bring it to close to to feature parity with Google Maps. Apple Maps is also getting detailed floor plans for major airports, and floor plans for shopping malls in in Boston, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, and several other major cities.
  • Apple is introducing an optional “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature in iOS 11 to prevent distracted driving. Yes, that’s the actual name of the feature. Minus 10 points for lack of creativity.
  • HomeKit is getting a bit of a boost in the form of AirPlay 2 which supports multi-room audio. Plus there’s a “Shared Up Next” feature for AirPlay 2 where multiple users can create a playlist for a party.
  • Apple Music will be getting MusicKit which will allow developers to get access to Apple Music. There will also be social integration to see what your friends are listening to, complete with profiles and shared playlists.
  • The App Store app on iOS 11 is getting a complete redesign starting with a new Today tab to discover apps and read stories about the developers who created them, and a dedicated Games tab and Apps tab for apps that aren’t games.
  • Augmented reality creation is coming to developers with ARKit. Which means we’ll see AR in apps soon”ish”.
  • There’s an all new iPad Pro that was announced today with a 10.5 inch screen with a thinner bezel while still weighing under 1 pound. The screen is a True Tone display, with a wide color gamut, ultra-low reflective properties, with up to 600 nits brightness, 120Hz refresh rates, and HDR video. It’s getting a  A10X Fusion chip which is a six-core CPU with three high-performance cores and three high-efficiency cores. Plus a GPU that is 40% faster than before. It comes with USB 3, 12-megapixel rear-facing iSight camera and 7-megapixel front-facing FaceTime camera. The same updates are coming to the 12.9 inch iPad Pro. Both 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro will start with 64GB of base storage. 10.5-inch iPad Pro will start at $649. 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $799. 256GB and 512GB storage capacities available for both models. All prices USD. You can order them today and they’ll ship next week.
  • iPad Pros are getting iOS features that are unique to them. Specifically the dock, drag and drop, a redesigned app switcher, and an enhanced QuickType keyboard. Apple has also introduced a new iPad app called Files which allows you to brows the file system on the iPad and supports third-party cloud storage providers such as Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive.
  • Tim Cook in the keynote actually used the words “one last thing to talk to you about” which is a version of Steve Jobs catchphrase “there’s one more thing.” Cute. But in any case, the one last thing was “a breakthrough home speaker.” After seriously dissing Sonos and Amazon Echo speakers, Apple then announced the HomePod which rolls up with an A8 chip, seven tweeters, precision acoustic horns with directional control and an Apple designed woofer. The speaker has the ability look at its surroundings and use beamforming to direct sound and give you the best music experience. HomePod is designed to work with Apple Music and supports Siri commands for playing music via a six microphone array. Besides music, it will do the usual sorts of things that Hey Siri can do. Expect to drop $349 in December for one. But only in the US, UK and Australia to start (What? No Canada at launch? WTF Apple?).

That’s it. And it was a lot. Is there one thing that catches your eye? If so, please leave a comment below with your thoughts.

UPDATE: The video of the keynote has been posted here.

Apple Released A Pile Of Updates Yesterday… All Of Them Are Security Related

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 16, 2017 by itnerd

Yesterday, Apple released updates for macOS (10.12.5), iOS (10.3.2), tvOS (10.2.1), and watchOS (3.2.2), not to mention iTunes and iCloud for Windows. In other words, pretty much every iDevice and iService got an update of some sort. Now no new functionality was added in any of these updates, and only a tiny amount of bugs were fixed that almost made it not Apple’s while to release these updates.

So why bother? The answer is security. If you take a look at this page and click on each update, you’ll see that Apple’s goal was to fix a bunch of security related issues. If you add them all up, you’ll get 67 security fixes. That’s not a trivial number. But it is indicative of the times that we live in as nothing is immune from being pwned. I’d recommend updating all your iDevices and iServices ASAP as it is certain that now that these security issues are public, the forces of evil will be exploiting them shortly.

Cost To Unlock An iPhone If You’re The FBI: $900K USD

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 8, 2017 by itnerd

It’s now come to light that the FBI paid $900K USD to a group of iPhone hackers (likely Cellebrite) to unlock the iPhone that belonged to the San Bernardino shooter according to Senator Diane Feinstein had inadvertently given out the number during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with FBI Director James Comey. Let me supply you with the visual evidence below. Feinstein’s oops moment comes at the 2 hour and 55 minute mark:

//www.c-span.org/video/standalone/?427708-1

What’s interesting about this is that they paid $900K to get absolutely nothing as nothing of value was found on the phone. And started a legal war with Apple in the process because Apple refused to unlock the phone. Not to mention that The Associated Press, Vice Media, and USA Today have taken the FBI to court over the the fact that the law enforcement agency isn’t serving up details on this topic. Thus I have to wonder if this was all worth it in the end.