Thursday, January 31, 2019

Google Also Incentivized Users to Install Their Data Collecting App

This has been a terrible week for data privacy. Which is very ironic considering Data Privacy Day was this week on January 28, 2019. Apple had their FaceTime bug and Facebook paid users to install a data-hungry VPN. It turns out that Google was doing the exact same thing as Facebook, which does not surprise me at all [Source: TechCrunch]. Google had an app called Google Screenwise which gave gift cards to users who shared their internet traffic with Google. Google has apologized for this, but it is harder to take companies like Facebook and Google seriously when they get caught like this. It begs the question, how often do they not get caught? It's important to remember that with Google, you are the product. It's not like Amazon where it's clear where the bulk of a company's income is from. You rarely see Google ever bring up money.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Apple Music Subscribers Can Stream for Free on American Airlines Flights

Apple announced today that Apple Music subscribers will be able to stream music through Apple Music for free starting Friday. Any domestic flight equipped with Viasat satellite technology will offer this. With music being an essential part of any long flight, this is a pretty nice partnership. Today, people aren't used to being put in a situation where they don't have cellular access, so many travelers may find themselves without a downloaded playlist. This offer reminds me a lot of those T-Mobile deals, where you could stream from partnered services without having it impact your data. American Airlines will also offer city-themed playlists through Apple Music beginning on February 1. Overall, this is a pretty nice deal. All the more reason to join Apple Music. I love how Apple even has the marketing for this designed as an airline safety booklet.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Facebook Paid Users to Install a VPN

Facebook has a terrible reputation in the privacy department. They have made themselves very clear that they are hungry for data last year. They didn't help their case by making an Alexa competitor with a camera. Now, it seems that they are at it again. According to TechCrunch, Facebook paid select users $20 a month to use their VPN, under the name "Project Atlas." You have to figure if Facebook can afford to pay each user $20 a month, they make way more in exchange. Users were aged between 13 and 35 years old. This VPN essentially gave Facebook access to some of the most personal data of the users involved. It's very scary when a company starts doing something like this.

Image Credit: TechCrunch

Monday, January 28, 2019

Major FaceTime Bug Causes Apple To Disable Group FaceTime

Group FaceTime has been a long awaited feature for years now. However, a new bug has been discovered that could violate the privacy of people. To do this, all a FaceTime caller needs to do is to call someone using FaceTime, and add their self into the call. This, for whatever reason, causes the other person's audio to be streamed into the call, even though they never accepted the call. Apple has disabled group FaceTime to prevent this from occurring. It's obvious to see how this could be abused very quickly. Apple plans to send out a fix later this week [Source: Axios]. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Improved Search Suggestions Coming to Safari in iOS 12.2

Search suggestions are pretty useful for short search queries. However, for longer queries it can be annoying. Say you wanted to search for "How to sell an iPhone on eBay." As you type, the results would show up as "How to," "How to sell," "How to sell an iPhone," and finally "How to sell an iPhone on eBay." To search what you wanted, you'd have to type all of that out. However, with new search options coming in iOS 12.2, you can tap on the arrow next to the search suggestion to complete your current query. This would help typing out searches in Safari. It's been a feature in many other apps, like YouTube and Google Chrome, so it's nice to finally see the native iOS browser get this treatment.

Image Credit: MacRumors

Saturday, January 26, 2019

New iPod Touch All But Confirmed

Thanks to Steve Troughton-Smith on Twitter, we now have evidence that a new iPod Touch is in the works. Datamining iOS 12.2 shows that a new iPod Touch has been listed. Interestingly enough, the iPod Touch does not seem to feature Touch ID nor Face ID. This begs the question if it will be a notched-iPod without Face ID? I could definitely picture it, as the iPod Touch has never had any alternative to using a passcode for security. If so, this would be a great way for Apple to offer an iPod Touch that's distinct from iPhone, yet much cheaper.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Los Angeles Metro Transit System Will Support Apple Pay

One of my favorite parts about traveling in Japan was the robust transit system. Using my Suica card on my iPhone made it ridiculously easy to pay and travel. It seems that the Los Angeles Metro Transit System will follow a similar route [Source: MacRumors]. Rollout is scheduled for this fall, but we plan to see the TAP cards integrated with Apple Pay. It's undeniable that Apple Pay makes it more convenient to use transit cards, and the more places they're accepted at using Apple Pay, the better for us.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

iOS 12.2 Adds Support for New Smart TVs

Apple recently announced that select popular TVs will be compatible with AirPlay 2 and HomeKit. HomeKit will add this functionality in iOS 12.2, which had its first beta released today. Usually, we can expect the golden master to release a little over a month later. Most of these TVs will be expected in Spring of 2019. It will be interesting to see what controls are introduced in the Home app.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Target REDCard Won't Support Apple Pay

After Target announced that they will finally be accepting Apple Pay in their stores, the question has been brought up if Target's REDCard will be included. Apple Pay currently does not support REDCard. A Target spokesperson told MacRumors that Apple Pay will not be supported by Apple Pay. REDCards give 5% off at Target stores, so this may discourage many from using Apple Pay at Target.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Apple Pay Rolling Out to Several New Retailers

Target has long accepted Apple Pay in their app, but hasn't allowed Apple Pay use in its retail stores. That is finally about to change in the next few weeks. In addition, Apple announced we'll see Apple Pay accepted at Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, and more. This represents a big push for mobile payments. The last big hurdle is finding a way to integrate Apple Pay for dining experiences. There isn't a real way to pay a check with a tip using Apple Pay. If Apple made it possible to accept payments using an iPhone, this could change.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Google Maps Rolls Out Speed Limits and Speed Traps

Google Maps has been rolling out speed limits and speed traps into its directions [Source: Android Police]. Having speed limits is pretty normal in maps apps, but speed traps sounds really interesting. It's a really effective feature to getting users to use your navigation app for more trips. Users will receive an audio warning when approaching a speed trap. Hopefully, we can see better driving habits encouraged by this.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

How to Setup Cellular on an Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 3 introduced cellular connectivity for Apple Watch. Because the Apple Watch is so dependent on your iPhone, you need your iPhone to enable cellular. Your watch will have the same phone number as your iPhone, so any calls you'd normally receive on your iPhone will also be on your Apple Watch, should your watch be out of range from your iPhone. All you need to do is go through the Apple Watch app, tap Cellular on the "My Watch" tab, and follow your carrier's instructions. While Apple advertises a $10/month cellular plans, some carriers may deviate from that. In addition, many carriers have a one time activation fee.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

iPhone SE Suddenly Appears in Apple Online Store

The iPhone SE was discontinued a while back, but it has made a sudden return to the Apple Online Store, at least on clearance. It is being offered at a steal for just $249, down from $349. This is likely due to poor iPhone sales, outcry for a new i Phone SE, and strong demand for lower-priced iPhones. All of this in addition to clearing out some stock. Given that this item is on clearance, it likely won't be here to stay.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Microsoft Recommends Alternatives to Windows 10 Smartphones

It's hard to look back on, but Windows 10 phones used to be the third most popular smartphone platform, behind iOS and Android. Granted, they had such a small amount of the marketshare, 3rd place isn't saying much. They have since been discontinued. However, their support window will end on December 10, 2019. In a support document, Microsoft states that they "recommend that customers move to a supported Android or iOS device." While it's easy to call it a failure now, you can't blame Microsoft for wanting to bridge the same continuity that Apple did between macOS and iOS. With such a large marketshare for Windows, a Windows phone wasn't the craziest idea.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Collection #1 Breach

As we invest more of our time and resources into technology, more is at stake with each digital footstep we take. Unfortunately, we've had one of the biggest data breaches in history today. Troy Hunt, a security researcher who works on the site Have I Been Pwned, broke the news of a data breach he calls Collection #1. This collection has a total of 1,160,253,228 unique combinations of emails and passwords. At this point, I recommend you enter your emails into Have I Been Pwned to see if your email was found on a breached site. Even if your email or password wasn't found on a breached site, you should change your password regardless. This breach is believed to be totaling 87 GB of usernames and de-hashed passwords. Brian Krebs says that there are likely more breaches on the way that could total 1 TB of data.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

iPhone XS and iPhone XR Smart Battery Cases

Apple's long rumored/leaked Smart Battery Cases for iPhone XS and iPhone XR have finally been made available for purchase. These cases are special because they integrate into iOS really well. Their battery is displayed in the widgets section. In addition, Smart Battery Cases are designed with wireless charging in mind. They are available from Apple's site for $129. By the way, they are not fully compatible with the iPhone X due to some minor differences between the iPhone X and iPhone XS.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Best Triple-Lens iPhone Concept I've Seen

With rumors of a triple-lens iPhone, I've seen some questionable concepts. It's hard to make three lenses look good while keeping them close enough together, while keeping the flash. However, Apple Hub on Instagram created a stunning concept for an iPhone with three lenses. The three lenses are put together with a fully symmetric design. But now the flash appears to be absent. Upon closer inspection, you'll see that the flash is integrated into the ring surrounding the cameras. This looks cool by itself, but I'd love to imagine what this would look like in action for photos and as a flashlight. It's such a subtle detail. Hopefully, it would work well as a flash from a photography stance.

A post shared by Apple Hub (@theapplehub) on

Monday, January 14, 2019

How the iPod Touch Could Return

The iPod Touch hasn't been updated since July of 2015. With rumors of a possible revival in the news, how could the iPod Touch return? A lot of people simply say, "Just release a new version." But I think Apple needs to put more consideration into this. Society has changed a lot since the iPod Touch's prime. Everything is data driven and online. With the iPhone, people forgot about the luxury of cellular and simply consider it the gold standard. I remember as a kid, I would look everywhere for a Wi-Fi hotspot. If you don't have Wi-Fi, iCloud contacts get de-synced, you don't receive text messages, and you can't use apps that revolve around an online connection. Pokémon Go is virtually impossible to play without a cellular connection. The answer here is to add cellular connectivity to the iPod Touch. It's been done with the iPad and it would work even better on an iPod Touch. Its portable nature would be perfect for a data-only plan. The only issue I would see is that it would compete too well with the iPhone. Why buy an iPhone when you can just buy a cellular iPod Touch? You get iMessage, FaceTime, FaceTime Audio calls, and data. The way I see it, I don't get calls from spam callers anymore.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

T-Mobile Adds Automatic Spam Protection

We've reached an interesting point where the general reaction to a phone call is to let an unknown caller go to voicemail by default. Spam callers are so prevalent, the philosophy is "if it is important enough, they'll leave a voicemail." T-Mobile may be the first step to change this. They've launched Caller Verified to help combat scam callers. So far, it's only available on Samsung Galaxy Note 9 phones, but it will expand later this year. While this isn't groundbreaking, I think there should be more focus put on protecting consumers from scam callers.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

AirPower Finally Enters Production

After missing its projected launch window and losing the interest of many, AirPower seems to have finally entered the production phase [Source: ChargerLAB]. Luxshare Precision has started production of AirPower. Luxshare Precision also made AirPower and USB-C cables, so we are fairly confident in this rumor. We don't have a definitive release date or price yet. It should be interesting to see how stock fairs. Will it be super hard to get like AirPods? Will stock be well-balanced? Or will it be too plentiful with no one to buy it? It will be interesting to see how the public reacts to the long-awaited release of AirPower.

Friday, January 11, 2019

TCL TVs Will Not Support AirPlay 2

Apple made the surprise announcement this week that AirPlay 2 would be built-in on leading smart TVs. However, it seems that TCL didn't get a memo from Apple as they had no announcement. Today, MacRumors asked a TCL spokesperson if there were any plans to add AirPlay 2 to TCL TVs. They responded by saying they're committed to Roku, which powers their TVs and rivals Apple TV. This isn't surprising. Walk into any Target or Walmart and go to the TV aisle and you will see 4K TVs with significant price drops compared to any other TV. I would not expect them to bundle AirPlay 2 in a TV that cheap. So far, Vizio, Samsung, LG, and Sony have announced support for AirPlay 2. I can imagine we may hear more at WWDC.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Disney Films and iTunes

iTunes now offers 4K movies standard with an HD movie purchase. And with Disney owning roughly a third of the film industry, they've been withholding their 4K movies from iTunes and Google Play in an effort to keep 4K from being standard. They will happily sell you a 4K movie on a BluRay disc or on a different streaming platform. It's unfortunate, but hopefully we'll see Disney embrace 4K as a standard. Keep in mind they own Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Studios, in addition to everything else they make.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

iMac 4K/5K Displays Cannot Display iTunes Movies in 4K

Apple has been selling 4K movies for some time now. It's a pretty good deal considering that it comes standard with HD movies. But despite all of that 4K movies can only be played on an Apple TV 4K with a 4K TV. Apple iMacs have the capability to display movies in 4K, but users can only get up to 1080p. The same goes for any Mac or iPad connected to a 4K display. It seems a bit ridiculous to spend thousands of dollars on an iMac with a 4K/5K display when it can't display iTunes movies in 4K. I can understand that not everyone watches movies on the iMacs, but the functionality is such a simple addition.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

macOS Mojave Accent Color

For decades, the accent color for macOS has been a blue color. This is seen everywhere, in things like colored buttons and selection lists. This was likely because of the Aqua theme introduced with Mac OS X so long ago. However, macOS Mojave lets you pick your own accent color. To do so, open System Preferences and go to General. You can use the radio buttons to pick your own accent color to give your Mac a bit more uniqueness to it.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Current State of Apple TV

I've been waiting for a good tvOS update for about two years now, but to no avail. With the news of AirPlay 2 and HomeKit coming built-in to Samsung, LG, and Vizio Smart TVs, the future of the Apple TV seems bleak. There can be a lot of reasons for this. The Apple TV only offered access to their media stores, which can be circumvented with Movies Anywhere. The tvOS App Store is very lacking, other than media apps. The only thing Apple TV has over Smart TVs is the promise of updates and continuity. My household has three Vizio TVs and each has a different OS, and each works very different. Apple TV brings consistency to its interface. It also has my Up Next from my iOS devices. If Apple went the way of CarPlay with tvOS and brought tvOS to TVs, it could work well. Apple gets publicity and consumers waste one less HDMI port. The Apple TV box seems more like a waste of space that could easily be built into the TV. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

iTunes and AirPlay 2 Coming to Samsung TVs

In a surprise announcement, Samsung and Apple have worked together to bring iTunes TV Shows and iTunes Movies to Samsung's lineup of Smart TVs. They also brought AirPlay 2 support. Combined with Samsung's other apps on their Smart TVs, this basically eliminates any need for an Apple TV. With CES around the corner, we can bet that Apple will give this treatment to other TV brands as well, as suggested by Apple's AirPlay site

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Apple's New Billboard Ad in Las Vegas

CES is next week in Las Vegas. And while Apple will not be making an appearance at the event, they will be there in some form. A new billboard advertisement has gone up for Apple. It states "What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone." It's a reference to "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" and is a great way to advertise the privacy features of the iPhone with so many technology companies in the area. It's a subtle presence that reminds people that no matter which way you slice it, users are not the product of Apple.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Huawei's iPhone Tweet

Twitter often will let you know which client or platform tweeted a specific tweet. Huawei, a popular Chinese smartphone company, tweeted its followers a happy new year recently. However, the tweet gained popularity when it was discovered the tweet was sent using an iPhone. The tweet was deleted and an internal memo regarding the tweet was leaked. As ironic as it is, it's not too big of a deal, but definitely an awkward moment for the company.

Image Credit: Marques Brownlee

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Apple's Slow Realization

With all of the news of Apple's stock price falling, it's important to address the issues of Apple, something I do often as of late. It's obvious why there's a sudden decline. Apple went from the first trillion dollar company to an uncertain, volatile stock symbol. Between Qualcomm, product delays, and the constant chatter of iPhone sales, investors can't sell fast enough. There are other factors I'm likely leaving out, but the iPhone sales are most important. iPhone has been carrying Apple for the past several years. The Mac lineup has been long neglected by Apple, so hearing that the product Apple puts most of its resources into is flopping is not good news. There was a clear lack of innovation. Right now, name one feature that the iPhone XS has that the iPhone X doesn't. Not counting minor upgrades, it's very hard to do. Apple has a lot of cleaning up to do in 2019, so they'd better make it count. They can't afford to wait for 2020 to knock one out of the park.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

AirPower is a Lost Cause

AirPower has officially missed its 2018 release date. I bet most reading this forgot about AirPower until now. And that's just the thing. Most people interested in wireless charging already have a wireless charger. You can get a fully functional one for about $20 on Amazon. But Apple wants to sell you one for probably nearly $200. Most people seem to have lost any interest in this product. Yes, I'd rather have an AirPower that's safe, but that doesn't excuse such an early announcement. If AirPods got delayed, AirPower seemed like a long shot for releasing on time.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

CES 2019

CES is the Consumer Electronics Show, and it happens every year in January. It's definitely something to look forward to in the early slump of the new year. After loads of TV sales during the holiday season, we get to take a look at the next generation of TVs. We also get to see how our smart homes will evolve in the next year. As a friendly notice, CES 2019 will start in one week, on January 8, 2019. It will go until January 11, 2019.