Apple’s New Plans for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac Unveiled at WWDC 2020

It was a different type of presentation at this year’s WWDC. Gone was the venue packed with thousands of developers and journalists, cheering at the announcements of new features, now relegated to memories for this year because of the coronavirus. Instead, Apple presented a very fast-paced pre-recorded keynote outlining where the company is going with this year’s operating systems. At the same time, Apple announced a big change to macOS, and the biggest change to the Mac in 15 years.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

The Pros and Cons of Apple’s iOS App Store

If you use apps on your iPhone or iPad, other than those included in iOS, you get them from Apple’s App Store. Since Apple’s App Store is the only way to install apps on iOS devices (unlike with macOS where you can obtain apps from the Mac App Store or from developers) you have to use Apple to provide these apps. The App Store has lots of advantages, but also some negatives, and has been controversial lately. In this article, I’ll look at what’s good about the App Store and what needs work.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Why Apple Is Missing the Boat on Home Wi-fi

In April 2018, Apple announced that it was discontinuing its AirPort home wi-fi products. The AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express, and Time Capsule were easy-to-use routers and wi-fi access points that fit perfectly into the Apple ecosystem. The AirPort Express was the first easy way to stream music to devices in your home using AirPlay (initially called AirTunes), because you could connect a stereo or powered speakers to the device. And the Time Capsule contained a hard drive, to use for Time Machine backups. Presumably, sales of these devices weren’t good enough to maintain the product line and its software.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Which iPad Is Best for You?

Ten years ago this month, Apple released the first iPad. Available in one size (9.7″), with three storage options (16, 32, or 64 GB), a Wi-Fi only version was released first, with a Wi-Fi and cellular model following shortly after. At the time, this ground-breaking device was competing with netbooks (remember them?) for primacy in the lightweight/portable device market. It didn’t take long for the iPad, and the tablet in general, to flourish.

Over the years, Apple has iterated the iPad many times, recently releasing the 20th version of the device, the latest iPad Pro.

It used to be easy to choose an iPad. When there were just a couple of models available, all you needed to choose was the color and how much storage you wanted. But things have changed. Nowadays, you have multiple options to choose from, each with varying configurations; it’s not so simple to know right off the bat which iPad is best for you.

If you want an iPad today, there are four different models, each with different feature sets. There are five different sizes, and the base price varies from as low as $329 to as much as $999 (these prices are for Wi-Fi only, with the base storage amount, and without any of the accessories that make the new iPad Pro models interesting). You can choose models that offer Wi-Fi, or both cellular and Wi-Fi, and there are two or three color options, depending on the model.

Based on your needs, how can you tell which iPad you should get? In this article, I’m going to take a look at the different iPad models, and recommend which iPad is best for you, depending on how you plan to use it.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Unlock Apple Interface Mysteries with a New Take Control book

Tc mysteriesApple devices are supposed to be easy to use, and they generally are—at least for basic things. But over the years, as features have multiplied exponentially and hardware has changed dramatically, the user interfaces of Macs, iPhones, and iPads (among other Apple products) have become increasingly inscrutable. This book explores the mysteries of how and why things are the way they are now—and shows you how you can solve your own Apple usability puzzles.

When Apple introduced the Mac in 1984, its novel graphical interface revolutionized the way people thought about computers. Thanks to the Mac’s graphical user interface, people quickly realized a computer could be both powerful and easy to use. That legendary ease of use, which carried on through the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and other products, helped Apple become the huge cultural force it is today.

And yet, millions of people struggle to make sense of their modern Apple devices. (Indeed, that’s the whole reason Take Control Books has existed since 2003!) Users wonder how to accomplish seemingly basic tasks, where to find important menu commands, why the screen is scrolling the “wrong” way, how to type characters that aren’t on the keyboard, what gesture they can use to perform common operations on an iPhone or iPad, and why controls they want to use frequently are hidden. What happened to that ease of use, and why have Apple’s user interfaces become so…mysterious?

Apple Interface Mysteries aims to answer all those questions and many more. Michael E. Cohen, who is a Certified Usability Analyst (really!) as well as the author of numerous books on Apple products, also loves a good mystery. So he has done extensive research into the evolution of Apple’s interfaces in an effort to explain how and why things are the way they are today—and more importantly, how you can find hidden controls and capabilities, solve the puzzles of Apple’s seemingly opaque interfaces, and become a happier user in the process.

After an introduction to basic concepts of usability (such as affordances, or cues that tell you how to use a control), Michael takes you on a fascinating journey through mysteriously complicated Mac interfaces such as menus, keyboards, mice, and the desktop. He then turns his attention to iOS/iPadOS, discussing the unique capabilities and limitations of small-screen, touch-oriented devices, including gestures, hidden buttons, and inscrutable onscreen keyboards. The book concludes with a chapter of “crime fighting tips” that help you unravel new perplexities as you encounter them.

Unlike most of our books, the title of this one doesn’t begin with the words “Take Control of….” That’s because the focus is more on why than on how to, and it makes no attempt to be exhaustive. Rather, it’s an explanation of some of the historical and technological factors that led to Apple’s current user interfaces. But don’t worry, you’ll still learn tons of practical skills—along with lots of tips about hidden or hard-to-discover features.

Get Apple Interface Mysteries now.

What if Apple Delays the iPhone 12?

Major events continue to be cancelled around the world, due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. The first major event was the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, scheduled to be held in late February. Since then, Google and Facebook announced the cancellation of their developer conferences, and other smaller events have been cancelled as well. Yesterday, the London Book Fair was cancelled. And today, the news says that both Apple and Netflix have pulled out of SXSW, the annual everything festival in Austin, Texas, due to start in about a week.

Sporting events have been cancelled, some will be played in empty stadiums, or “behind closed doors,” and it seems unlikely that the Summer Olympics, scheduled to be held on Tokyo, will not either be cancelled or played without spectators.

Apple’s cancellation of their presence at SXSW, where the company was planning to highlight some new Apple TV+ programming, suggests that the company is already planning to cancel their Worldwide Developer Conference in June, though it’s possible, even likely, that the conference goes on, but as a virtual event. Many developers I know have said that they would regret this, because one of the benefits of the San Francisco meet-up is networking with other developers, and the ability to speak with Apple engineers face to face.

The next question is whether Apple will delay the iPhone 12, and whether other companies will push back release of new devices planned for later this year.

Here in the UK, preparation for the pandemic is moving ahead slowly and methodically, without any panic or seeming confusion at the head of government (in stark contrast to a certain country, where it seems that the disease is thought of, at the highest levels, as a “hoax”). This morning, the head of Public Health England was speaking to a parliamentary committee, suggested that the epidemic in this country would last about six months: two to three months as it ramps up, and another two to three months as it winds down. This is assuming that there are not multiple waves of the illness, of course.

With this in mind, and with China most likely not out of the woods, Apple, and other tech companies, will face two problems. The first is their supply chain. Being so heavily dependent on China for manufacturing – in retrospect, people will point out how foolish this eggs-in-one-basket strategy was – it may be impossible for Apple to have enough devices built to meet potential demand. If any one component cannot be sourced in sufficient quantities, phones, computers, or tablets cannot be finished. And the logistics of shipping devices may be complicated if a lot of workers in different countries are off sick.

And as far as consumers are concerned, if people do stay off from work for several weeks, the economy will take a big hit, and it’s likely that many people won’t be able to afford new iPhones at the end of the year, whether they upgrade annually or every two or three years.

As for the Apple upgrade program, which I have used for the past two iPhone models, here in the UK – unlike in the US – you have to go to an Apple store to hand in your old phone and sign up for a new one. If there is an epidemic, there’s no way I’m going to a crowded Apple store in a closed mall to exchange my phone. I’ll continue to pay for the same model until I’ve paid it off in full. Perhaps they’d change that this year – after all, Apple has just closed some stores in Italy, and they certainly don’t want to put their retail employees at risk.

So what if Apple does delay the iPhone 12? I’ve long felt that the annual upgrade cycle for mobile phones is artificial and unnecessary. In the early days, there were big changes from model to model, but now we see tiny incremental changes, mostly affecting the devices’ cameras. What if Apple decided to move to a two-year cycle, starting with the next model? It would certainly change their revenue model, but would it be that negative? They’d have more time to get things right in their operating systems; while macOS and iOS don’t need to be tied to this annual cycle, they are, causing a lot of frustration when new features don’t work well and when new releases are full of bugs.

Apple’s stock would probably take a hit, but it’s shot up so much recently that I think the market would be fine with a more restrained rate of return. Over the past year, before the coronavirus effect, it had nearly doubled. But this could also be a more responsible way to sell these devices: it would cause less exploitation of mineral deposits, result in less waste, and make the company think differently about responsibly selling electronic devices in an era when we need to pull back due to climate change. If there’s one company who could lead in this area, it’s Apple; in part because they want to be a socially responsible company, and in part because they can afford it.

Delaying the iPhone 12 – and perhaps some other device upgrades – could be a reasonable way to face the pandemic that is upon us, and a responsible way to plan for the future.

Apple security in 2019: year in review

Computer security is constantly evolving, as new issues and vulnerabilities are discovered, as new software and devices are deployed, and as hackers figure out new ways to get around barriers.

Some security and privacy threats change over time. Ten years ago, we didn’t have to worry much about Internet of things (IoT) devices or data breaches, let alone hardware and even CPU architecture vulnerabilities like Spectre and Meltdown; we continued to see the emergence of similar discoveries and a continuance of these trends throughout 2019.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the past decade is that some Mac malware continues to disguise itself as Flash Player updates, even though Adobe is abandoning Flash at the end of 2020. Perhaps the fake-Flash malware trend will finally die toward the end of this year; time will tell.

Here is an overview of the main issues that affected Apple products and software in 2019:

  • Vulnerabilities and security updates
  • Malware—more than a dozen unique Mac threats
  • Data breaches
  • Phishing, fraud, and scams
  • Facebook failures
  • Internet of things issues

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Apple’s Cook says global corporate tax system must be overhauled – Reuters

Everyone knows that the global corporate tax system needs to be overhauled, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said on Monday, backing changes to global rules that are currently under consideration.

The growth of internet giants such as Apple has pushed international tax rules to the limit, prompting the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to pursue global reforms over where multinational firms should be taxed.

The reforms being examined center around the booking of profits by multinational firms in low-tax countries such as Ireland where they have bases – and where Cook was speaking on Monday – rather than where most of their customers are.

“I think logically everybody knows it needs to be rehauled, I would certainly be the last person to say that the current system or the past system was the perfect system. I’m hopeful and optimistic that they (the OECD) will find something,” Cook said.

“It’s very complex to know how to tax a multinational… We desperately want it to be fair,” the Apple CEO added after receiving an inaugural award from the Irish state agency responsible for attracting foreign companies recognizing the contribution of multinationals in the country.

I think Tim Cook sees the writing on the wall, and wants to get out in front of it. Apple has long been the poster child for tax avoidance, but Cook knows this has to change.

While it is certainly complex, one thing is obvious: companies with subsidiaries in countries other than their own should pay taxes on earnings in those countries. Apple funnels all (or most) of its earnings to Ireland; Amazon funnels theirs to Luxembourg. I live in the UK, where Apple paid £3.8 million in taxes on £1.2 billion in sales, and Amazon earned £10.9 billion last year, and paid a paltry £220 million in tax. (That’s all taxes, not just corporate income tax, but including, say, payroll taxes.) That’s 0.3% for Apple, and just over 2% for Amazon, for all taxes; I pay 19% on my business’s earnings.

The company should certainly not be taxed for the full value of what they sell; much of that value is made in their home country. But there should be a reasonable way to calculate the wholesale value of an item, such as an iPhone, and what share of the retail price is profit in the local country.

It’s worth noting that Cook is calling for this overhaul after Apple saved $40 billion thanks to the “GOP’s corporate tax handout.”

Source: Apple’s Cook says global corporate tax system must be overhauled – Reuters

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 118: Your Photos Can Tell People Where You Live

Photos you shoot with your iPhone, and with some cameras, store location data. Sharing these photos on social media may pinpoint your location: where you live, or where you work. It’s easy to remove this data. In the news, we talk about listening in on Skype audio, another Apple – FBI spat about accessing data on an iPhone, Google getting rid of cookies, and more.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

The European Union wants all mobile devices on a universal charging standard – TechSpot

As outlined in a recent newsletter posted on the European Parliament’s website, the 2014 Radio Equipment Directive called for a common charger to be developed that would fit all mobile phones, tablets, e-book readers and other portable devices.

The Commission ultimately “encouraged” the industry to adopt change but that hands-off approach has not yet produced the desired results.

The truth is, most decent Android phones have already switched to a unified standard in USB-C. The few remaining stragglers that still use something like micro-USB largely do so for cost-cutting measures. But should such legislation pass, the company with the most at stake would be Apple as its line of iPhones continue to utilize the proprietary Lightning connector.

This is an interesting story. For years, the European Union has been bothered by the issue of multiple cables and chargers needed for different portable devices. For the most part, portable devices, other than those from Apple, depend on micro-USB, that little unevenly-shaped plug you see for portable devices such as Android phones, Kindles, etc. (The most common is a Micro-B plug.) Apple is the exception, with their proprietary lightning connector, which has made Apple a lot of money.

But the EU document discusses “chargers,” not “charging cables.” Is this simply an error on their part? I don’t think they want to normalize the amperage of chargers; I think they are concerned about the cables that get wasted, but also the fact that chargers are provided with most new portable phones and tablets (except those at the low end).

There are a few issues here. First, the lightning connector offers some additional features, so you can, for example, put an iPhone in a dock, or use digital headphones, transfer data using a variety of adapters, etc. And, of course, this is a proprietary Apple technology, so they get licensing fees from any company that makes accessories.

Lately, it’s been clear that Apple is planning to move to USB-C, which has a number of advantages, such as higher data throughput and higher power. Recent iPad Pro models have a USB-C connector. So Apple should welcome this change, but what if the EU wants to standardize on micro-USB? They probably don’t want to, but even if the lightning connector is ditched, I don’t think we’ll see USB-C on all devices. My guess is that it’s a bit more expensive than a micro-USB jack, because of circuitry needed behind it.

Also, USB-C is quite perilous. Different USB-C cables have different capabilities, such as power or data throughput, and it can be quite difficult to know which one you need. And if you have the wrong one, you can actually damage a device.

I have a lot of devices in my home that use micro-USB: my Kindles, batteries for security cameras, chargers for camera batteries (though my Fujifilm X-T3 has a USB jack), and other devices. The fact that I can charge them all using the same cables is practical. Having both micro-USB and USB-C won’t be a problem, and I assume that the EU is only looking at devices like phones.

But the broader question of chargers is probably one that should be addressed. Do we really need to get a charger with each new device? I have lots of Apple chargers in my house, but for people who don’t have extras, should they have to pay another, say, $10 or so when they buy a new phone?

Source: The European Union wants all mobile devices on a universal charging standard – TechSpot