Archive for Apple

Perhaps Apple Has Quietly Addressed #KeyboardGate

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 14, 2018 by itnerd

Yesterday, I wrote about the possibility that Apple with it’s new quieter keyboard in their brand new MacBook Pro have addressed the issues around #KeyboardGate without admitting to anything. I also was waiting until iFixit tore one down for confirmation (or not) of that. Well, iFixit did just that and here’s what they found:

Apple has cocooned their butterfly switches in a thin, silicone barrier.

This flexible enclosure is quite obviously an ingress-proofing measure to cover up the mechanism from the daily onslaught of microscopic dust. Not—to our eyes—a silencing measure. In fact, Apple has a patent for this exact tech designed to “prevent and/or alleviate contaminant ingress.”

I’m sure that is going to interest the lawyers that are behind the three #KeyboardGate lawsuits that have been filed so far. I say that because it’s pretty clear what Apple has done here. Which is deal with #KeyboardGate without saying I’m sorry or admitting any wrongdoing. Because that’s so typically them. I also wonder if people who are getting replacement keyboards as part of Apple’s service campaign are getting these new ones.

Though there is a part two to this story from iFixit:

Tune in next week as we put this membrane through its dust-proofing paces, tear down the rest of the device, and speculate whether this really is a feature—or a secret bug fix impacting millions of consumers.

That should prove interesting. I’ll be tuning in. So should you.

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Opinion: Has Apple Quietly Addressed #KeyboardGate With The New MacBook Pro Keyboards?

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

One of the things that I have a lot of commentary on is the keyboards in the new MacBook Pros that were announced yesterday. Apple admits that they are quieter than the previous generation, but they also say that it doesn’t address anything related to #KeyboardGate. But the way I see it, I think they have taken a run at addressing those issues. Quietly. Here’s why I think that.

Apple rarely admits that it does anything wrong. Thus I think that if they did improve the keyboard to make it more reliable, they won’t tell anyone because they’d have to admit that there was a problem which isn’t their style. On top of that it would be an admission that #KeyboardGate goes beyond a “small” percentage of MacBook users as that’s Apple’s usual thing to do when they are forced to deal with a situation where uttering the phrase “you’re holding it wrong” or something similar doesn’t work. In short, they minimize the scope of the problem when blaming the user doesn’t work.

Plus admitting that they screwed up would likely encourage more lawsuits beyond the three they are already facing.

The only ways that we’ll know will be when iFixit does a tear down and lets us know if there is any physical difference in this new keyboard. But the real test will come when these MacBook Pros make it into the hands of users and we continue to see keyboard related issues, or the noise starts to decrease when it comes to #KeyboardGate.

This should be interesting to watch.

 

BREAKING: Apple Releases New MacBook Pros

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 12, 2018 by itnerd

Apple this morning released new MacBook Pro models. Here’s the highlights starting with the 15″ models:

  • 6-core Intel Core i7 and Core i9 processors up to 2.9 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.8 GHz
  • Up to 32GB of DDR4 memory
  • Powerful Radeon Pro discrete graphics with 4GB of video memory in every configuration
  • Up to 4TB of SSD storage
  • True Tone display technology
  • Apple T2 Chip
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID

And then for the 13″ models:

  • Quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors up to 2.7 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.5 GHz and double the eDRAM
  • Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics 655 with 128MB of eDRAM
  • Up to 2TB of SSD storage
  • True Tone display technology
  • Apple T2 Chip
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID

Now a couple of things that I will point out here:

  • You can now FINALLY shove up to 32GB of RAM into one of these notebooks. About time Apple
  • The True Tone display will really make a difference to those in the Photoshop/Lightroom space.
  • The use of the T2 chip which first made an appearance in the iMac Pro suggests that Apple is embracing hardware encryption for the data on the SSD rather than using software encryption. That’s another “about freaking time” sort of thing as hardware encryption has been widely used on the PC side of the fence for years.
  • The use of an i9 processor in the 15″ model is clearly aimed at pro users who really need to crunch numbers or do something that requires a lot of processing power. Though I’ll likely gravitate towards that model as fast processors make everything faster and the bragging rights would be huge.
  • The press release noted “an improved third-generation keyboard for quieter typing. ” Could it be that this is a response to #KeyboardGate?

Starting at $1,799 and $2,399 USD, they’re available today. Though I will be waiting for iFixit to do their usual teardown to answer these questions:

  • Is the RAM upgradable? Likely not. But you have to ask the question as that will allow you to make a decision in terms of whether you can live with 16GB or RAM or do you have to max the machine out with 32GB right from the start.
  • What is different about the keyboard? After all, the main reason why I have not replaced my 2015 model is the keyboard is the fact that the keyboard sucks from a typing perspective. Oh, there’s that #KeyboardGate thing as well. Thus I am curious if this is any better than Apple’s previous attempts at this ultra thin keyboard.
  • Whether the SSD is upgradable or not. It was in the more recent models. But I would not be shocked if Apple went away from that because of the use of the T2 chip. If it isn’t, then you have to make a call if you need 512GB or storage, or you have to jump to a terabyte or more.

So, what do you think of Apple’s latest and greatest? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

UPDATE: I just noticed that Apple has stopped selling the base 2015 MacBook Pro. It was there partially because of price point, and partially because there were those who simply didn’t want to live the #DongleLife. Oh yeah, the keyboard was MUCH better than the ones that are part of #KeyboardGate. Now that this machine is gone, it means that you’re going to have to go to USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 and live the #DongleLife. And you’ll have to make do with the new keyboards too.

UPDATE #2: A CNet article notes that the keyboards are quieter, but the have nothing in them to address #KeyboardGate related issues. Thus buyer beware as you might be getting a laptop that develops a keyboard related problem.

Elcomsoft Claims It Has A Way To Bypass USB Restricted Mode In iOS [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 10, 2018 by itnerd

Less than 24 hours after iOS 11.4.1 appeared with a feature called USB Restricted mode, iPhone hacker Elcomsoft has claimed it can bypass it.

What we discovered is that iOS will reset the USB Restrictive Mode countdown timer even if one connects the iPhone to an untrusted USB accessory, one that has never been paired to the iPhone before (well, in fact the accessories do not require pairing at all). In other words, once the police officer seizes an iPhone, he or she would need to immediately connect that iPhone to a compatible USB accessory to prevent USB Restricted Mode lock after one hour. Importantly, this only helps if the iPhone has still not entered USB Restricted Mode.

The USB accessory that they used to pull this off was Apple’s own $39 Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter. My guess is that this is an oversight by Apple. But the cynic in me says that Apple might have released this feature in iOS 11.4.1 to allow it to see what sort of exploits were possible so that it can address them in the iOS 12 release. Either way, now that this info is public you can be that Apple is addressing this.

UPDATE: I’ve tried this exploit and it works as advertised. However…. To make this a workable exploit for law enforcement for example, they would have to act quickly (as in within the one hour window before USB Restricted Mode enables itself) and have the requisite hardware on hand. Such as the aforementioned Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter for example. Another thing to consider is that USB Restricted Mode can be manually enabled by triggering and then cancelling SOS mode on your iPhone. As a bonus it also forces the phone to require a passcode which disables Touch ID and Face ID. Thus the bottom line is that while this is an exploit that does work, someone would have to really work hard to exploit it.

USB Restricted Mode Makes An Appearance In iOS 11.4.1

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 9, 2018 by itnerd

Apple released a number of OS updates today. One of them was iOS 11.4.1 and there was a big surprise when that appeared. I posted the details on Twitter the moment I discovered it:

 

USB Restricted Mode, which first came to light as a line item that didn’t get talked about during the World Wide Developers Conference is here. I spoke about why that matters here, but let me give you the elevator pitch version. It’s meant to disable USB access so that the Celebrite and GrayShifts of the world can’t break into your phone and extract data. That’s sure to annoy both of those companies. Though the latter claims that it is already “defeated.” I guess we’re about to find out as the adoption rate of iOS is insanely high. Thus this update will be in the hands of users quickly, and this feature will get turned on by those who value their security. I value my security so I’ve got it turned on. So should you. If you need more info on this new feature, Apple has a support document here.

Let the games begin.

UPDATE:

I posted a follow up Tweet in regards to this:

Peace In Our Time: Apple And Samsung Settle Years Long Patent Infringement Dispute

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on June 28, 2018 by itnerd

Samsung and Apple have had a patent infringement dispute that goes back seven years and went something like this:

  • Apple sued Samsung for pretty much copying the iPhone and scored a $1 Billion victory.
  • Samsung appealed, but not before Apple got some Samsung phones banned in the US.
  • Subsequent trials dropped that billion dollar figure to $539 million this past may. But this is more than the $399m figure Samsung had managed to shave off in the past.

Yesterday, both parties settled. No clue how much cash traded hands. Though it is a safe bet that Samsung likely cut a big cheque to make this go away. But all claims in the case be dismissed with prejudice, meaning they cannot be refiled.

Thus after 7 long years, there is peace in our time in the smartphone world. Until the next patent infringement lawsuit.

Why The Response By Apple To #KeyboardGate Is A #Fail

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 24, 2018 by itnerd

Apple late yesterday came out with a program that in their mind addresses #KeyboardGate by offering repairs to those suffering from keyboard problems in their MacBook and MacBook Pro laptop. Not only that, they will reimburse those who have already paid for repairs. Here’s the problem, this doesn’t address the problem and will only make the problem worse for Apple. Here’s why:

  1. They took forever to acknowledge the issue. And when they did, they said that only a small number of users were affected by this. Which anyone who’s looked into this issue will tell you is patently false and Apple knows that. Thus they’ve effectively insulted their user base which in my mind isn’t smart because their user base is loyal and insulting them will stretch that loyalty to the limit. If not destroy it.
  2. They’re likely going to replace these keyboards with the same keyboards. That’s a #fail because if this is a design flaw, which many think it is, a replacement keyboard will not address this. That will also test the loyalty of Apple users. Not to mention cost Apple a pile of money.

The fact is that this program is meant to blunt the multiple lawsuits and bad press. This is not a solution. The real solution is for Apple to acknowledge that this keyboard is a failure and go to one that works. I know they wanted to make their laptops as thin as possible. But this whole episode should show them that it wasn’t a good idea as there have been some really negative consequences to that decision.