Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Apple and TV Shows

I'm really tired of hearing news about Apple trying to acquire various TV shows. I could be totally wrong, but as far as I can tell, they won't do much for Apple. There wasn't much hype surrounding Carpool Karaoke after Apple Music acquired it. Apple has delayed the HomePod and I'm  anxiously waiting for news about AirPower and the next iPhone SE, but my feed is filled with news of Apple trying to expand their media content. I think they need to focus on making the products and services that play media, instead of trying to produce it themselves.

Monday, January 15, 2018

iPod Touch: Refresh or Discontinue?

The iPod Touch is very old at this point. It has gone too long without a refresh that would bring it up to today’s standards. Apple makes an effort to shadow the device with Apple Music and AirPods. They even show the device running older versions of iOS in the promo art, despite the device being capable of iOS 11. It’s $199 for 32 GB is cheap, but given how outdated it is, it may be on its last legs. With kids getting phones at younger ages these days and the advent of tablets, there doesn’t appear to be significant demand for the iPod Touch. If Apple could refresh this up to the iPhone 8 design and keep the price reasonable, they may find a market. But at this point, there is little reason to keep it around. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Mobile Displays in 2018

The iPad Pro has been heavily rumored to have a similar display to that of the iPhone X. If this ends up being true, this will be a big push for having edge to edge displays in a larger array of products. The iPad would have the best use for displaying more content wherever possible. Hopefully, these rumors stay true and we see more of these displays throughout 2018. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Visa Dropping Signature Requirement for Apple Pay

When Apple Pay was first announced, one of its major draws was simplifying the payment process. Part of this was removing the need for a signature, since you use your fingerprint, face, or passcode as verification. This will soon be true for Visa users. If your purchase exceeds $25, you'd normally be asked for a signature, where the cashier is "supposed" to compare it to the one one on the back of your card. Very effective idea guys. Now, this pointless security measure is finally gone. Or, will be gone in April at least. In addition, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express are also removing this requirement. Imagine a world where we don't have to sign receipts anymore. We'll look back at this as a very primitive method of security soon. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Written on MacBook Air

According to The Wall Street Journal, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was written entirely on an air-gapped MacBook Air by Rian Johnson. An air-gapped device is never connected to the internet as a security measure. It’s important to note that the MacBook Air is Apple’s least expensive and most outdated notebook in their current Mac lineup. It was locked in a safe. Johnson stated that his producer was fearful of him leaving it in a coffee shop. For keeping the computer air-gapped, I was surprised he would even think of bringing it outside. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

iPhone 6 Plus Batteries Delayed

iPhone 6 Plus batteries at the reduced price of $29 will be delayed by a few months. Until late March or early February. That’s quite a wait. iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus batteries are at a two week delay, nowhere close to this time range. It seems that the larger battery is a bit harder to produce, and it’s in high demand. Good luck to those who need this battery.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Strange macOS Password Bypass

There is a very minor and non-threatening security flaw in the latest version of macOS that Apple let slip. If you go to System Preferences, find App Store, and attempt to unlock to make changes, you can type any password into the password field. Anything. Thank goodness this is just contained in this section. While it's a security flaw, I should note that the most you can do here is change if apps are updated automatically and how long until an App Store password is required after typing in a password. For many, you probably had to re-lock the padlock to test this out.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Colgate and Apple ResearchKit

Apple ResearchKit is paving the way to help researchers understand human health habits and problems through mass amounts of data. Colgate is joining this by announcing their first app-enabled toothbrush, the Colgate Smart Electronic Toothbrush E1 with Artificial Intelligence. This toothbrush keeps track of people's brushing habits for "faster future innovation." The Colgate Smart Electronic Toothbrush E1 with Artificial Intelligence is available from the Apple Online Store and some Apple Retail Stores for $99.95.

Monday, January 8, 2018

iOS and macOS Updates Issued for Spectre Exploit

If you have the chance tonight, I highly recommend updating your phones for a crucial security fix for the Spectre and Meltdown exploits. These can manipulate the CPU and potentially expose sensitive data. This is iOS 11.2.2 and macOS 10.13.2. While I don't believe everyone is at risk, it's better safe than sorry. For iOS, it's a simple 70 MB download, so it should install fairly quickly. For iOS, just go to Settings > General > System Update and for macOS, open the App Store and find the Updates tab.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Belkin Finally Releasing Wemo Bridge

Over a half of a year ago, we saw Wemo's first official steps toward HomeKit. The Wemo Bridge was the solution. It was slated for a fall 2017 release. We haven't had word on it, until today. Belkin is finally releasing this, allowing Wemo users new and old take advantage of HomeKit and their line of smart devices. It costs $39.99 and will be available from a variety of retailers on January 8.

Update: It is now available from Amazon for $39.99 with Prime [Direct Link].

Note: This page includes affiliate links that may benefit Tech Talk 4 Geeks by clicking on them.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

If USB-C Replaced HDMI...

Something I had the idea of the other day was if HDMI was replaced with USB-C. Why would this be beneficial? Here's my idea of what we could see. The first thing to understand is that with a new port comes a new standard that all adapters would have to comply with. This is a huge opportunity. First, we could have this standard have output devices create a name by default. Usually with TVs, you see ports say "HDMI 1" and so on. You can often customize these later, but they aren't dynamic when you change the device. This way, if you change ports, the TV will recognize it as the device name. Second, USB-C might allow there to be more ports. It's smaller form factor would allow for quite more ports. In addition, because it's reversible, it's easier to plug cables in. This is important because it's frustrating plugging in cables behind a TV when you can't easily see. The ports could also be powered. USB-C is capable of powering while transferring data. Reducing cable clutter behind a TV would be amazing. The TV could tether power, ethernet, data (keyboard and mouse?) and video with just one USB-C cable. Finally, with computers transitioning to USB-C, this would make it easy to connect to any TV. This relied on HDMI for some time, but staying with HDMI on laptops will keep them from getting thinner. While I enjoy HDMI, speaking long-term, I believe we will have to move on eventually. And when we do, I want it to work with all of our devices in a complementary piece of this connection puzzle.

Friday, January 5, 2018

New Belkin Wireless Chargers

Belkin is one of the wireless chargers endorsed by Apple, alongside Mophie. Just before CES 2018, Belkin has announced some new chargers. First off, there are new colors of the Belkin Boost Up Charging Pad, now called the Belkin Boost Up Bold Charging Pad. This version features a better design (in my opinion) and different color options. There's also a version of this that keeps your phone upright, one that uses a suction cup for your car's windshield, and a two-in-one version for charging two devices at once. Most excitingly for me, is their line for businesses. These chargers fit into desks and tables, often meant to be put into hotels, airports, cafes, and more. Hopefully we see more wireless chargers available to the public for free use.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Move to 5G

Anyone who has had to use 3G in 2017 definitely notices the extreme slowdown, especially considering how much data we constantly consume. However, we may soon look at LTE in the same way. AT&T has announced they will likely be the first carrier to deploy 5G in a dozen markets. This isn't their knockoff LTE either. From what I can tell, this is actual 5G. Now, we would still need a phone that supports 5G, so we'll have to keep an eye on how the iPhone responds.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Embedded Smart Outlets

One of the most annoying parts of smart outlets it how bulky they are. Typically, they take up way too much space. However, ConnectSense is debuting a new HomeKit enabled smart outlet. It’s called the Smart In-Wall Outlet. You can replace a normal outlet with this, so there’s less space taken up. Each outlet is controlled independently. They both have power usage statistics and know when something is plugged in. I’ve been waiting for something like this for a while. The only real downside is that it’s pretty much permanent. I use a smart outlet for a Christmas tree and I move the outlet to another appliance for the rest of the year. Despite that, this may be an important device for the new smart home market, where home builders build a house with these devices in mind. The Smart In-Wall Outlet will be available later in 2018.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Older iPhone Battery Replacements

Apple is offering $29 battery replacements for the iPhone 6 and later. However, what if you own a device that’s older? If the device is still supported, it will cost you $79. I figured that was worth noting to clarify that Apple can still repair these models. iFixit will sell these kits for $29 or less, but shipping is charged and you have to do it yourself. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Benefit of HEIF and HEVC

Apple quietly introduced HEIF and HEVC, which essentially cut the amount of storage photos and videos take up without quality loss. HEIF stands for high efficiency image format, and replaces JPEG. HEVC stands for high efficiency video coding. Before these formats, I found loading iCloud videos in my library took forever. Usually, my phone would timeout before loading. Now, they load nearly instantly. I believe this feature is only avaliable when you have an iPhone 8 or later attached to your iCloud account. It’s subtle, but very useful for getting media from the cloud. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Echo Spot

Amazon releases new variations of their devices so often, it's impossible to keep track of all of them. One nifty device I missed was the Echo Spot. Released just in time for the holiday season, the Echo Spot takes the functionality of Alexa and puts it into an alarm clock style. It looks great in my opinion. Its design reminds me a lot of the Nest thermostat. With the right setup, it can take the place of your home phone. I really hope this paves the way for more dedicated smart home devices. Apple once mentioned that Alexa-type devices would work better with a display, so it makes me wonder if Apple would be willing to make devices similar to the Echo Show and Echo Spot (that isn't HomePod). I would want to ask a personal assistant to control my smart devices and alarms. But I'd like that assistant to be Siri, since it's in the Apple ecosystem. Alexa has served me well, but she doesn't know some information that my phone knows. And while I could ask my phone, there's no guarantee that it will be in my room all the time. Echo Spot is available from Amazon for $129.99 [Direct Link].

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

$29 Battery Replacements Now Available

Previously, Apple stated that $29 battery replacements would be available in late January. However, they are available now. If you own an iPhone 6 or newer, then you are eligible [Source: TechCrunch]. Apple does say that supplies are limited due to this immediate availability. Check your local Apple Store for details. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Steve Jobs: The Italian Clothing Brand

Every once in a while, you come across a story like this and you have to read it twice. But then you realize, if it was possible, someone had to do it. Today, we look into how an Italian clothing brand acquired the right to use "Steve Jobs" as its name [Source: The Verge]. Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato had a clothing brand and named it "Steve Jobs" in 2012 since Apple did not have it trademarked. Interesting choice, seeing as the brand had a stunning lack of black turtle necks. But it doesn't stop there. Their logo is a "J" with a bite taken out of the side, with the signature Apple leaf on top. Apple obviously sued, but the brothers won the right to use the name and logo. Apparently, the letter "J" isn't edible. Shocking, I know. But because of that, it would not be mistaken for an apple. Personally, when I look at the Apple logo, I'm not reminded of the fruit the most of the time, just because the logo is so iconic. But that aside, when the context is Steve Jobs, I'm immediately going to think that the clothing brand has some association with Apple. At this point, how could a story that's so bad, it's good, get any better? According to Business Insider Italia, these brothers are working on selling electronics. A bit of a leap from clothing to technology. I'm sure they will be amazing. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Apple's Response to the Battery Lawsuit

Literally an hour before this news story went live, I was thinking about this whole Apple lawsuit. I was just thinking how most of the people against Apple were hoping to get some cash settlement or a new phone and were only in it for just that. But I figured Apple would just replace their batteries, since that would resolve the issue by everyone's logic. An hour later, Apple did basically that. They announced that they would replace batteries of the iPhone 6 and later for just $29 for out-of-warranty customers. That's opposed to the regular $79 fee. In addition, in early 2018, Apple will update iOS to have a battery health screen. This helps users keep track of their battery capacity. I'm certainly looking forward to this. I'm sure there are third-party apps that do this, but I would obviously prefer an Apple-made solution when dealing with my battery life. Everyone has been acting like this was one big scheme by Apple, when in reality, they've been pretty transparent about it. And by doing that, the world freaked out. This isn't some big conspiracy. If you owned any other brand of phone, your battery would drain much faster instead of a slower phone until it bricked because it can't hold enough of a charge to startup. It's the literal nature of a lithium-ion battery. One would have to buy a new phone eventually, and, to be honest, they probably would've bought one anyways. That's my take on it, but if you'd like to read Apple's statement on this, you can do so here.