The more I ponder Apple's Beats acquisition, the less sense it makes. Buying big well-known brands that compete with yours is usually a bad idea -- worse when the acquirer owns no foreign brands. Extinguishing the big name, as Microsoft does with Nokia, is marketing murder. There's no place for the Beats brand in the Apple lexicon. The gun is drawn and ready to fire.
What I do see is another sign that Apple has lost its way. Tim Cook is a very able CEO, but as stated previously he is Star Trek's Spock without Captain Kirk (Steve Jobs). Cook's approach to business logistics, while brilliant, unmakes Apple. Beats is an acquisition that is off-key -- out of tune with the culture that made the fruit-logo company great. As such, on this Thursday in May, comes my confession. I was wrong five years ago in post "Why Apple succeeds, and always will". That company is gone.
A number of iPhone and iPad users have fallen foul of a particularly nasty hack, in which they find themselves locked out of their devices unless they pay to have them unlocked.
The extortionist leaves a message claiming to be from the well-known software engineer Oleg Pliss. A message on the screen reads "Device hacked by Oleg Pliss", and encourages the user to pay $100.
Holding a device for ransom is a scary practice. Hackers seize control, and then ask the owner to pay a fee to unlock it. If the victim does not comply with their demand, there is little that can be done to regain access to private data, which may include sensitive information like bank account passwords, photos, work documents and so on. Some people cave in, paying the hackers. Others refuse and end up losing everything on their device.
Some Australian Apple users are reporting they are dealing with a hacker (or group of hackers) that goes by the name Oleg Pliss, that holds their iOS and Mac devices for ransom, demanding a certain fee (initial reports say $100) to relinquish control. Affected Apple devices have been locked through Find My iPhone, a tool that lets users track their enrolled iOS and Mac devices, basically rendering them useless.
Microsoft has talked a big game on becoming a devices and services company, but it was not until Office for iPad launched two months ago that the software giant's change of tune yielded something concrete for consumers, and its own customers, on rival platforms. It is the most important productivity suite to arrive on iPads in 2014 and, perhaps, the most important one since Apple's slate launched in 2010.
Microsoft has been praised for designing Office for iPad with touchscreen use in mind, making Excel, PowerPoint and Word powerful and easy to use on the small iPad displays, even without a keyboard as most Office users are accustomed to. It is clear this is not a quick porting job, and that the development process involved much more work. The Office team has a new blog post which reveals how Office for iPad was created.
Today is a day of celebration for fans of Any.Do -- the todo list and task manager for iOS, Android and Chrome. Some four years after its inception -- and after many, many demands from the service's user base -- Any.Do has, at long, long last, gained a web app. Founders Omer Perchik, Yoni Lindenfeld, and Itay Kahana have successfully avoided a brouhaha from users by finally delivering what they describe as "the number one most requested feature by our users".
Any.Do has proved incredibly successful on mobile platforms -- as well as in Google's web browser -- amassing more than 10 million users. Perchik says: "Web is a huge market we haven't even touched yet. There's a world of people who haven't considered us because they need a full web experience, right on their computer screens" of the launch. "We're conquering mobile, now it's time to break out in a broader market".
Goldilocks knocks on Apple's door looking for the right mobile device. She first picks up iPad Air, which with 9.7-inch screen is too big. Then she tries 4-inch iPhone 5s, but it's too small. Finally she grabs iPad mini, thinking the 7.9-inch display is just right. But unlike the fairy tale, Goldilocks is disappointed. She drops the tablet, goes next door to Samsung's house, and takes the Galaxy Note 3, which at 5.7 inches -- and with stylus -- is just right.
There's a gaping hole in Apple's product line -- and one CEO Tim Cook better quickly fix. Through it sales leak to competitors, but into a category where Apple doesn't compete. Tech-Thoughts analyst Sameer Singh observes about first calendar quarter global handsets: "As of now, we can assume that ~20 percent of all smartphones shipped have screen sizes large enough to become acceptable substitutes for tablet computing tasks".
My three sons share an Apple iPad given to them by Mimi, their grandmother. When she bought it a couple years ago the iPad was top-of-the-line with 64 gigs and a Retina display. The boys run it hard on car trips where it functions as a hotspot and under covers in their bedrooms along with a couple iPhones, iPod Touches, various Kindles and some cheaper seven-inch Android tablets.
In all we have probably a dozen touchscreen devices in the house but most of the action takes place on iPhones or that one iPad. Great for Apple, right? Not really. Apple’s iPad sales are dropping you see and the reason nobody seems to talk about is they don’t wear out.
While Apple and Google are fighting a FUD war for the hearts and minds of K-12 campuses, there's one area of education that neither has been able to penetrate with success: higher ed. Specifically, I'm referring to the conglomerate of colleges and universities across the US (and likely abroad).
That's because for all their love in the media, tablets have yet to prove their weight when it comes to deep research and content manipulation in the classroom. Real student work comes in the form of content creation, not consumption -- an area Google and Apple are endlessly infatuated with.
Transferring files between an iPhone and iPad is easy. If you’re running iOS 7 on both devices you can use the AirDrop feature. Transferring files from an Apple device to a PC (and vice versa) is trickier though, and often involves emailing them, or using a cloud drive.
iStick is a clever solution that functions as a USB flash drive, but comes with a Lightning connector on the opposite end, allowing it to be used with iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. As well as transferring files between devices, you can play music or watch movies directly from the iStick.
It seems that lately, consumers prefer wireless for everything. Sure, wires may look old-school, but I like them. My wired keyboards and mice never run out of juice or have connectivity issues. As great as WiFi is, whenever possible, I try to use ethernet cable too. Despite what some recent DirecTV commercials say, wires are not ugly!
When I use my iPad for creation, I typically use a Bluetooth keyboard with great results. However, the battery on it must be charged, and most of them utilize microUSB. And so, I must remember to pack an extra cable when traveling just in case. Today, accessory-giant Griffin releases the Wired Keyboard for iOS Devices and I am intrigued. Yes, you actually plug a wire into an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.
Despite the presence of iWorks and numerous other productivity suites on iPad, many users were hoping Microsoft would eventually roll out a version of Office for Apple’s tablet. The biggest sticking point was Surface -- Microsoft’s suite is, after all, one of that tablet’s biggest selling points, and providing Office for rival devices could prove risky.
At the end of March, Microsoft responded to the demand by releasing free iPad apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint and tackled the Surface issue beautifully. The apps are excellent, fully touch optimized, and designed from the ground up to run on an iPad. But they require you to have Office 365 to create or edit documents, which isn’t a restriction Surface users have to worry about.
I've never owned an iPhone -- I went from a Treo to BlackBerry and ultimately Android. However, I do own the iPad Air, which is my second-ever Apple tablet (the other being the first-generation iPad). While Android is great, I prefer iOS for my tablet needs; this includes consumption and creation.
Yes, the iPad is mostly a consumption-focused device, but I can successfully write on it by utilizing third-party keyboards. The problem is, many of them are heavy, thick or just plain bad. Finding a high-quality and thin iPad keyboard can be tough. Well, Belkin announces a solution -- the svelte and sexy QODE Thin Type Keyboard Case for iPad Air.
Security news a-go-go once again this week, starting off with a massive security flaw that was discovered in Internet Explorer. The problem affects everything from Internet Explorer 6 to 11, but it was Windows XP users who were particularly at risk due to the fact that Microsoft has ended support for the operating system and is releasing no more security patches. At least that was the case before this problem came to light, causing the company to change its mind and give users one more hit of update goodness.
While Microsoft's latest security whoopsie did leave Microsoft licking its wounds a little, there was cause for celebration for OneDrive for Business users as storage was boosted to 1TB -- and the cloud is becoming ever more important with predictions suggesting 50 billion online devices by 2020. Microsoft was also able celebrate finally having a launch date for the Xbox One in China. In other security news, AOL email service was hacked leading to the leaking of customer data and a new report suggested that just about every website dealing in pirated material is also home to scams and/or malware.
Tablets are über cheap these days. It seems as though just about every electronics company has them flying off the production lines. But even if you manage to pick up a cheap tablet, you still want to keep it protected -- no one wants to end up with a screen that is scratched to the point of being unusable, or a body that's smashed to smithereens. The need to protect is even greater if you have handed over a few hundred dollars / pounds for something from the Apple family, and there are all manner of cases to whet the appetite of those keen to keep things safe.
One such offering is the 360° Case from Everything Tablet (operating in the US and Canada as well as the UK) which features a folio-style wrap-around design. I took a look at the Nexus 7 model and my previously svelte 7 incher was transformed into something resembling a leather-bound personal organizer from the 80s. Such is the price one pays for protection, I guess.
Microsoft’s new Office for iPad apps are very good, and hugely popular. A month after release and Word is still the number one free app in the App Store, with Excel sitting at number 8, and PowerPoint at number 16. If you own an iPad, and are an Office 365 subscriber, they’re pretty much essential downloads.
At launch we were promised additional features were on their way, and today Microsoft introduces the most requested one –- the ability to print Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations.