Wednesday, October 19, 2016

In Light of Samsung's Note 7 Fire Troubles, The Timing of Apple's Suit Against A Counterfeiter Could Not Be More Perfect

Source:  Patently Apple via 9to5Mac.

The title to this post says it all. What we want to get into is why it is important that while come accessories are cheaper when you do not buy directly from Apple, at best, they could create unexpected results on how your Apple devices work and, at worst, pose a danger to you. 

Apple launched a lawsuit against a counterfeiter who sold many cables and chargers on Amazon, declaring them as the genuine items.  And for a steep discount than what you would otherwise have to pay for from Apple, it sounds like a great deal.  Except it is not.

These counterfeit items have not gone through Apple's own standards for safety testing for consumer use.  And there lies in the problem.  Uncertified chargers and cables may be more prone to overheating, catching fire, and shock users.  There are plenty of stories you there you can read if you google - people who decided to go with that $2 charger being sold on the street corner kiosk instead of the genuine stuff.

Apple's own chargers, both the 5W and 12W versions, cost $19 each. On Amazon, ones that look like Apple's own can go as low as half that.  Sure you save 10 bucks but what is the risk to you and your home if that thing melts up or worse?

Apple's lawsuit is also about protecting its brand.  I'm sure you know by now that airlines have banned Samsung's dangerous Galaxy Note 7 and that the consumer electronic giant has stopped all production of the iconic device this year.  Apple's suite against Mobile Star is about making sure its own reputation is not damaged should a bunch of faulty accessories from this company start building down homes and causing a spike in ER visits.

And it's not just on Amazon where many of these products are counterfeited and sold.  I've come across other sites and daily deal e-mails from the likes of Groupon that offer great deals on Apple accessories.  I've never bought them because I do worry about these "too good to be real" deals. 

And you should too.  Safety first above all else.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Best To let Macs Be Macs - You Know, With Intel Chips Inside

There is a lot of speculations about what Apple will or will not do with the Mac products as the level of anxiety has risen over the lack of new hardware from Apple.  Rightly so since most of the Macs on the market, the Macbook being the only exception, have been around for more than a year without any new hardware update. 

And for most of us, it does not help when even leading Apple blogs seem to suggest that Apple is no longer focusing on Macs and has shifted even more resources to the development of iOS devices and the faster growing apps and service segments of its business. 

Let me assure you that Apple will not abandon the Macs.  Apple will release new computers when it is ready.  That date will come when the hardware is ready and when marketing and the executive team believes that the time is right.  That is not to say that all the Macs will be updated.  I'm more to be inclined to believe that Macbooks will get the bulk of the attention with the iMac sharing some of the spotlight.  As for the Mac Pro and mini, well, let's keep our fingers crossed. 

With all that said, let's get to the meat of this post.  I want to see Apple stick with Intel chips for the Macs.  This is important because there seems to be a wave of speculations that Apple will abandon Intel chips in the lower end Macs and go with its own in-house developed chips - like the ones that power the iPhone and iPads.

To do this now, it would create unnecessary confusion for customers.  The Apple today is not the same one under Steve Jobs.  Under Tim Cook, Apple has done better as a company that generates immense amount of wealth and accepted a greater role as a socially responsible company (up to you to decide if you agree with them).  But I do feel a certain amount of focus has been diffused as Apple move into new markets.  During Jobs' time as CEO, Apple was a simpler company with fewer products during the beginning of the mobile revolution.  

With more to juggle today, Apple should continue to draw distinctions between iOS devices and Macs.

There may be a day when Apple's internal chip development catches up to or surpasses Intel's own development.  Perhaps, Apple can change course as far as which chip to use in the Macs.  And perhaps at that time, it may not matter as iOS developement has allowed Apple to close the functional gap between iPads and the Macs. 

Furthermore, aside from Apple's own Mac development schedules are concerned, Intel has much to offer the PC industry.  It's chips continue to offer excellent performance as well as a decent balance for what mobile users need.  As it is now, I can live with the 10-hours of battery use on the 2016 Macbook.  Would I love to have 15 or even 20 hours if Apple were to use an A-series chip in the Macbook running Mac OS?  Sure!  But that is just me and for those who performance is not an issue.

But you cannot live on iOS chips if you're a pro level user at this time.  And if Apple does use A-series chips in the lower end Macs and Intel in the Pro-level Macs, that would be just too confusing and create chaos where there was none. 

With what Apple has on the market now, iOS on iPads powered by its own chips and OS X on Macs running Intel chips, it provides customers a clear choice. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Old Apple Watch: A Gift That Can Save A Life

I passed on getting the Apple Watch when it went on sale in April of 2015.  I ended up with one as a gift.  And with the introduction of the Apple Watch Series 2 by Apple on September 7th of this year, it had enough new features that I ended up ordering one for myself.  So with the one that I currently own now, I've decided to pass it on instead of keeping it as a collection of some sort (I have a very small watch collection but I just don't see the Apple Watch in the same light yet - I'll get into that later).  

It was an easy choice to make as to who I was going to pass my AWS1 (Apple Watch Series 1).  First, I wanted to make sure it was someone who was going to take good care of is.  More importantly, I wanted to make sure that the individual was going to make the most of it.

My own Apple Watch experience evolves around the Activity App which records calories burnt, minutes spent on active workout that day, and how many times I've stood up from sitting down.  I'm also very interested in the Apple Watch's role as a pedometer, the metric by which many people I know use to gauge their daily activities (the Move ring of the Activity App shows calories and I still don't know how Apple takes that measurement).

So I found a friend who was an avid walker and, at times, a light jogger.  The Apple Watch was made perfectly for him.  And he works for a company that offers incentives to stay active and often has challenges to various teams to increase their levels of activities.  My Apple Watch will play an instrumental role in helping him stay on top of his activities and, hopefully, help his team win these challenges.

I'm not sure if he'll be into the notification feature.  I generally turn off notifications and sounds for the watch to conserve battery life.  I reckon it will be the same for him as well.  Once the Pokemon Go app for the watch is released, then I think it will be a different story.

I will be without the Apple Watch for a few days - the Apple Watch Edition version I ordered won't be here until the middle of next week.  I'll be heading out for a big run the next day.  I look forward to  playing and testing it out on the road.

So, if you've got an old Apple Watch, pass it along to someone who will make good use of it.  Use it in the way that best emphasizes the great features Apple built into it.  And who knows, the Apple Watch may be a life saver that Apple is trying to make it to be.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

New Way to Name The iPhone - An Apple-Only Opportunity to Change How Mobile Is Updated

Before Apple came out with the iPhone 7 on September 7th last week, their invitation had a play on the "7" and I was sort of sure that Apple would be fooling us about the naming scheme and actually end up calling the iPhone 7 just the iPhone or move onto another naming format.  I was wrong.


Like many others, I still believe the current naming scheme is unsustainable and would really think Apple will go with iPhone 20 thirteen years from now?  

With nearly identical form factors between the iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, and the iPhone 7, it would have been a perfect time for Apple to abandon it.  However, perhaps, next year would be a better time to do just that when Apple do release the next iPhone with a rumored new form factor.  

Here's why.  Apple had just gotten rid of the headphone jack.  Get that out of the way first - for whatever reason Apple truly got rid of it, let it be a distraction this year rather than next year when Apple truly ups its game next year.  It could be the same reason why Apple might wait until next year for the naming scheme.  

Whatever Apple does with the names and the new iPhone (I refuse to call it the iPhone 7S or iPhone 8), the new technology, form, and "wow" factor could be just what's needed for Tim Cook and company to go ahead and change things up for the naming of the iPhone.  It would serve as a distraction for the self-serving tech media.

More importantly, if Apple does it right and use the new naming scheme as an opportunity, it could well redefine how the iPhone and other iOS devices are perceived in the years to come - never having to worry about the dual-year update schedule with the form and really change how people think about updating their iPhones and other mobile devices. 

The new iPhone 7 this year, in and of itself, is a worthy update.  There is no doubt about that especially for folks who are pre-iPhone 6S.  It would have been nice to see early on how Apple wants  to change how the iPhone fits in our daily mobile routine and the upgrade cycle.  

Friday, June 24, 2016

If Fujitsu Can Create A Supercomputer with ARM Chips, Apple Can/Should Create A Superdupercomputer

Call it the superdupercomputer from Apple - or the Mac S as in super or the Super Mac.  See, Fujitsu decided to use ARM chips over SPARC to design its next supercomputer (Source:  Duckduckgo).  The Japanese tech company is looking to use ARMv8 architecture to be the brain behind its next computing machine, dubbed the Post-K, due to exceed the K Supercomputer in 2020. 

So, given that Apple also use the ARM design as the basis for its iOS devices and with rumors that Apple has been spending time and effort to put its A-series chips as a potential replacement of Intel chips for its Mac computers, I wonder if Apple had considered designing its own supercomputer and perhaps even make it easier to link iOS devices and Macs together to share processing power. This would be especially useful and quite possibly necessary as mobile computing becomes smaller and even more portable as wearable devices begin to populate the mobile market.

First, let's speculate a bit about the Apple superdupercomputer (SDC) a bit.  Faster, more efficient, and scalable than anything on the market, the SDC can be build deep within the new Apple campus, allow it to power and process everything that Apple needs for its R&D.  After all, supercomputers are not build to display as many 4K frames of the next hottest computer game.  It's use for research. 

With Apple getting more and more into designing its own tech and making sure it can stay ahead of its competitors, it makes sense for Apple to build and own the SDC.  It create simulations for its car designs, create models, and even test algorithms that can make Siri smarter. 

Imagine banks of Macs or Apple TV-like devices that are faster and more efficient than anything else on the market, not to mention that it requires much less power than anything else on the market and that it operates at a much power temperature. 

And as with tech and features Apple create, they can trickle down from one product to another.  While we do not need a 10.5 petaflops of computing power the Fujitsu Post-K is capable of, just imagine a bank of A-series chips for the home that can process your mobile and home needs.  On top of that, this could be just the key that Apple delivers as far as privacy is concerned and making Siri even smarter and faster.  All the processes and learning is done right in your home and office. 

Forget wanting a separate answer to Google or Amazon's Echo.  A redesigned Apple TV or ARM-based Mac that serves as your home's central nervous system and Siri's own backbone.  And then suppose you can link a box filled with Apple designed chip or another Mac and create a device with more processing power. 

Of course, this is mostly wishful thinking on my part.  I'm sure smarter folks at Apple have through this through and probably dismissed it as impractical and/or create a better solution.   Make no mistake, our homes and offices will need and require this type of computer, one that does not sit necessarily sit on a desk but, perhaps, by the TV.  The Echo, Apple TV, our phones, and other hubs are only the beginning.