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BlackBerry phones were once the default choice for enterprise, the combination of physical keyboard and secure messaging facility the two key selling-points. Those days are long gone.

The company dismissed the iPhone when it was launched in 2007, claiming that touchscreen phones could never compete with physical keyboards – before doing a U-turn by launching its own touchscreen phone less than a year later. A series of major service outages and a failure to deliver the promised BlackBerry 10 in 2011 sealed the company’s fate as a major player, and it today appears set to completely cede the secure messaging space to Apple.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen effectively admitted in December that the company had a ‘backdoor’ into its supposedly secure messaging system, and the company has now stated that it will this year make only Android phones – a platform not noted for its security credentials. This shortly after Microsoft’s Windows Phone looked even more irrelevant, the company reporting that revenues had halved year-on-year …

While BB10-powered phones remain on sale for the moment, there seems little prospect that BlackBerry would make only Android phones this year before resuming production of BB10 phones later. The BB10 ‘secure’ platform is now living on borrowed time.

While BlackBerry is reportedly working hard to persuade government customers that its Android-powered phones can also be secure, there seems little realistic prospect of the company selling this message to corporate customers. Android’s history is littered with major security flaws.

We’re not talking flaws that affect a small number of apps, or issues that permit only limited access to attackers, but multiple examples of malware that impacts almost every app and allows an attacker to take complete controlof a phone. Against this type of background, and a deliberate policy to build in a backdoor, it seems hard to see how BlackBerry could realistically present Android-powered phones as a secure platform.

apple-security

Apple has a massive advantage over Android manufacturers, controlling both hardware and software and – jailbroken devices aside – deciding what apps are and aren’t allowed to run on iPhones. That level of hardware and software integration provides a unique level of security, for example banking apps which can use Touch ID but have no access to fingerprint data, merely asking the Secure Enclave for a yes/no answer on whether a valid fingerprint has been used.

That doesn’t mean that iOS devices are immune to malware – they aren’t. But significant issues are extremely rare, and on those occasions they do occur, Apple is able to act swiftly to solve the problem.

Apple has also adopted an absolutely unwavering commitment to the principle that user security and privacy overrides the desire governments have for backdoor access. Apple’s attitude is, quite rightly, that if you deliberately build a weakness into a platform for use by the good guys, it’s only a matter of time before it is discovered and exploited by the bad guys.

That commitment is built into Apple’s systems. iOS 8 introduced strong encryption into iPhones and iPads, meaning that even if a law enforcement official comes knocking on Apple’s door with a locked iPhone and a court order demanding that Apple break into it, the company will be unable to do so.

The same is true of iMessages and FaceTime calls. Both use end-to-end encryption, meaning that not even Apple could intercept and decrypt the messages because – as Tim Cook told Charlie Roseback in 2014 – “we don’t have the key.”

Apple has been criticized for this approach by numerous government and law enforcement agencies – among them the United States Attorney General, the FBI, the DOJ, the Homeland Security Committee and CIA and more. Apple has been accused of everything from protecting child abusers to facilitating terrorists. To its credit, Apple has resisted all such pressure, Tim Cook saying last yearthat we should not “give in to scare-mongering.”

9to5Mac readers strongly support Apple’s position, some 93% of you stating that the company is right to stand firm on encryption, with only 3.5% opposed.

If enterprises aren’t satisfied with that, they also have the option of an even more secure platform built on top of iOS by some noted former jailbreakers.

With Windows Phone sliding into irrelevance; the BB10 platform on the way out; BlackBerry admitting to building in a backdoor vulnerability; and its switch to a platform which has a very poor track-record for security, it seems to me that iOS is now the only sensible choice for anyone – enterprise and individual alike – looking for a secure communications platform

The next phase of Apple’s mobile payments initiative could reportedly include a new feature that allows users to send money to one another directly, with negotiations between Apple and major U.S. banks already underway.

Apple has spoken with J.P. Morgan Chase, Capital One, Wells Fargo, and U.S. Bancorp about the system, according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s not clear how far those talks have progressed, and many technical details remain unsettled.

Apple is thought to be considering multiple avenues for implementation, including a partnership with existing P2P transfer network clearXchange. That would allow for a speedier launch, as the bank-backed service is already live for most U.S. mobile banking customers.

While fees were reportedly a sticking point in the initial Apple Pay negotiations, that is unlikely to be a problem this time around as Apple would not charge the banks for participation in this new endeavor.

If the new service does get off the ground, it’s unlikely to do so before next year, and it would launch into a crowded market. PayPal’s Venmo is the most popular option, but numerous others — including Square Cash, whose parent company Square is preparing for an IPO — have been available in this space for years.

OCTOBER 20, 2015 | BY 

Remote assistance is becoming more and more popular to troubleshoot computer issues without the hassle of bringing the problematic machine to a store. Indeed, from the comfort of your own home you can let a Certified Technician remotely log into your PC and have them fix the issues you are facing.

Apple offers a screen sharing service part of its support center that puts you in touch with a remote advisor. The process is secure and requires a unique session key to authenticate into the system that the customer needs to enter at the following URL: https://ara.apple.com

apple-legit

In today’s post we will talk about how we discovered that crooks are abusing this feature and fooling Mac users into trusting them.

As we have been documenting it so many times on this blog, there has been an explosion of tech support scams via malvertising and fraudulent affiliates. All systems are targeted, not just Windows PCs and in fact, fraudulent warnings for Mac are getting extremely common.

Safari_alert

 

These pages are designed to scare people into thinking there is something wrong with their computer. Fraudsters will use all sorts of messages, audio warnings and other artifacts in order to social engineer marks into calling for assistance.

Typically scammers will have the victim browse to LogMeIn or TeamViewer and have them download the remote software necessary to take remote control. However, and especially in this case that involves Apple consumers, this step may seem unnatural, not part of the whole “Apple experience”.

For this reason, the crooks registered a website with a domain name that looks like the real Apple one (ara.apple.com) by calling it ara-apple.com. The site was registered through GoDaddy and resides on IP address 184.168.221.63.

whois

This domain is used for everything from linking to the remote programs the ‘technician’ will use:

programs_download

to processing payments (note how the ‘Secure Payment’ page is using regular, unencrypted HTTP)

secure-notsomuch

We have contacted both the registrar (GoDaddy) and hosting provider (Liquid Web) so that they can take appropriate actions in shutting down these fraudulent websites.

This particular case shows that tech support scammers are resorting to more elaborate ways to social engineer their victims. Perhaps Apple users are even more at risk because they may be less experienced at dealing with these kinds of “errors”.

As always, please be particularly suspicious of alarming pop ups or websites that claim your computer may be infected. Remember that Apple would never use such methods to have you call them or would never call you directly either.

When Apple ceased development of Aperture, a lot of serious photographers were very unhappy about Apple’s attempt to palm them off with Photos instead. Many headed instead to Lightroom, the photo cataloging and editing app Adobe created from the ground up specifically for photographers.

If you’re new to Lightroom, our review covers the process of converting from Aperture – everything from importing your existing photo libraries to where to find equivalent features. This piece is about getting the most out of Lightroom – especially when it comes to speeding up your workflow – via some recommended tweaks and tips.

Let’s start with my recommended settings … 

Recommended settings

When viewing and editing photos, you obviously want to view them at the largest size possible. OS X of course offers a full-screen mode, but Lightroom has a built-in one that I prefer as it doesn’t waste any space with the bar containing the close/minimize/expand buttons.

You’ll find this in Window > Screen Mode > Full Screen. With this setting, the menu bar only appears when you move the pointer to the top, but you can choose to keep the menu bar visible if you prefer.

fullscreen

Next, we come to what I personally consider the single most important Lightroom setting for anyone who shoots in RAW format rather than JPG: XMP files.

Lightroom offers non-destructive editing. That is, you can walk back any changes you make to a photo at any point in the future, be it seconds or months later. That’s great, but by default, the log of all the changes needed to walk them back is stored in the Lightroom catalog (or library) itself. If the catalog gets corrupted, that’s your edits gone. If you reimport the photos on another Mac, that’s your edits gone. So Adobe offers an alternative, known as XMP files.

If you go to Preferences > Catalog Settings and check ‘Automatically write changes into XMP,’ then Lightroom writes the change log into a separate file stored with the photo. This only works with photos shot in RAW format, like Nikon’s .nef format.

xmp-files

These files have the same filename as the photo, but with a .xmp extension.

xmp-folder

If you reimport the photos, Lightroom checks for the presence of a corresponding XMP file and reapplies all the edits. As well as offering peace of mind, this is a really handy feature if you want to import the same photo into more than one catalog. Which brings me to a key decision you need to make …

Single or multiple catalogs?

You can, if you wish, have a single Lightroom catalog for all your photos. At the other extreme, you could have a separate catalog for every shoot – an approach taken by some professional photographers. There are pros & cons to both approaches, and I suggest most people will want to pick an option somewhere between the two.

A single catalog, containing every single photo you’ve ever taken, offers one key benefit: universal search. Provided that you keyword your photos (a topic I’ll come to shortly), you could, for example, search for all photos of your partner. Or all photos taken in New York. Or – if you keyword with the care of a stock photographer – all photos of a model wearing a green dress and using an iPhone.

The downside is that a single catalog soon gets rather unwieldy. If you have a modest number of catalogs, most of us will know which of them contains a particular photo, and you can always import the photo into more than one catalog if desired. Here’s what I do: a small selection of catalogs where it’s obvious where to find a photo. If I’m looking for a photo of The Bean in Chicago, it’s going to be in Travel. If I’m looking for a photo of a dancer, well, you get the idea.

catalogues

So, my view is: if you’re a stock photographer, and never know what a client might ask for, consider a single master catalog. If you’re a wedding photographer, have one catalog per wedding. Everyone else will probably be best using a small number of separate catalogs.

Importing and keywording photos

I mentioned searching for photos by keyword. It’s an enormous help to keyword your photos. For example, in this case I wanted to find my favorite photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. I selected five-stars and put ‘golden gate’ into the text field, and Lightroom instantly shows my two 5-star rated photos of the bridge.

keyword

The secret to keywording is to do it when you import photos. In this way, and with some thought given to when you import, you can automate much of it. For example, if we zoom in on the keywords here:

zoom

I was importing a whole bunch of photos shot in San Francisco, so all the keywords bar ‘Golden Gate bridge’ and ‘travel slideshow’ were entered once, and automatically applied to all the photos during the import. You’ll find this option top-right in the Import panel (you may need to open the panel):

import

All I had to do afterwards was add a few keywords to individual photos here and there.

You’ll notice an additional option here in the form of ‘Develop Settings.’ Very occasionally, you may want to apply a Develop preset (for example, high-contrast black-and-white) to all the photos in a particular shoot. If you do, you can choose it from the dropdown here and then it’s automatically applied during import.

Initial cull & file-naming

It’s been said that the difference between a good photographer and a bad photographer is the number of photos they take. A good photographer shoots sparingly, because they know what they want to achieve, and know how to achieve it. A bad photographer takes a ‘spray and pray’ approach.

I tend to agree, but at the same time, you don’t always know in advance which will be the best shot. For example, I’m a huge fan of the ‘blue hour’ – that time around 30-45 minutes after sunset when the sky has a blue glow and there’s just a touch of color remaining from the remnants of the sunset.

sydney-05

But sometimes the glow doesn’t happen – if it’s too cloudy, for example – and it could start raining between the sunset and the best blue hour moment. So I’ll take a photo every 5-10 minutes as the sun sets, so I have some banked shots just in case. In the above case, though it did get cloudy, the moody sky was rather lovely, so I kept that shot and deleted the previous ones.

This is part of my personal philosophy for photography: I want one photo per scene, not a whole bunch of similars. My one exception to this rule is when deliberately shooting a series of related photos. For example, one time when I was in DC I arranged to meet up with a local dancer to shoot some sunrise photos at the reflecting pool.

series

So, you need an efficient system for culling photos – deleting the ones you don’t want, leaving you with the best. To use my system, you’ll need to make one more setting change: in the Photo menu, check Auto Advance.

auto-advance

So, import your photos, go to the Library tab and double-click the first photo to view it. What I then do is apply a numeric rating to each photo. I won’t bore you with the historical reasons for me using 0, 1, 3 and 5 instead of 0, 1, 2 and 3, but it’s habit now so I stick to it.

As you view the photo, press a number key. My system is:

0 – Delete
1 – Probably delete
3 – Probably keep
5 – Probably a favorite

I say ‘probably’ because you’ll likely need to do more than one pass to be sure. For example, you may think a photo is a keeper until you come to a better version. I am very sparing with 5s, for reasons I’ll get to.

As soon as you press a number key, the auto advance setting means it will immediately move to the next photo. So rating each photo is a very quick and easy process. Once I’ve done my first pass, the first thing I do is actually delete the zeroes. To do this, click the Attribute setting at the top to open up this panel:

0-rating

Set the <=> symbol to =, and then set all the stars to off (you may need to select 1 star and then select it again to toggle it off). Lightroom will now display all the photos you rated zero. Do a quick scan to double-check, then CMD-A to select all and backspace to delete. Lightroom will ask you whether you merely want to remove the photo from the catalog, or delete the file. I’m ruthless, so I delete the file – make your own choice here.

Next, I select all the 1 stars. These are the photos I think I’ll probably delete, but wanted to check that I had better alternatives. What I do here is run through them again, this time rating them as 0 or 3, to delete or keep. Repeat the above step afterwards to delete all the zeroes.

Now I have the photos I want to keep, with my favorites labelled. I now rename the files sequentially. CMD-A to select all, then fn-F2 to rename. I have renaming presets for 1-, 2- and 3-digit filenames, depending on how many photos I’m keeping.

rename

Processing

Now I’m ready to process the photos – or what Lightroom calls developing, after the dark room days (which I am old enough to remember – from my 14th birthday, my bedroom was really a darkroom with a bed in the corner).

Photo editing is a very personal process, but here’s what I do …

I always crop first, as I have some presets that apply a post-crop vignette. I mostly process very quickly and easily by applying one of my own presets, but I do use some built-in ones, and a few third-party ones. My approach is to keep travel photos and portraits looking pretty natural, and to allow myself to get more carried away on fashion shoots.

For a good 90%+ of my photos, though, I use one of five presets that I created (three of them with one variation each).

presets

That makes for very fast editing, and ensures that each shoot has a coherent look, rather than wildly-varying ones. I may tinker a little with the result of the preset, but usually not too much.

If you currently find yourself doing a lot of hand editing on individual photos, my top tip is to really pay attention to what you do to each photo. Chances are, you’re quite repetitive in your choices – and you can then turn what you’ve done to one photo into a preset that you can use for similar ones.

For example, I take a lot of blue-hour shots. With almost all, I want to do exactly the same thing: cool the white balance, to emphasize the blue tone; boost saturation, to bring out the remnants of the sunset and further deepen the blues; increase the black-point, for greater drama. (I also under-expose by one stop, but I do that in-camera.)

If you adopt my approach of observing your editing and creating presets, you will dramatically boost your editing speed.

Speaking of which, while I generally avoid similars, when I am shooting a series – like the dance shoot – I process the first one (probably with a preset) and then sync-develop the rest. Click the edited photo first (important) and then shift-click the last one. That will select them all. Then click the Sync button, bottom-right in the Develop tab.

sync

Note that you’ll typically want to deselect the crop, unless they are tripod shots.

deselect

Sharing photos

I have a number of different export presets, for example, one for this site, which outputs at 1024 pixels wide, another for large prints, another for desktop photos and so on.

I said that I’d come back to why I use the 5 rating sparingly. That’s because no-one wants to see all your trip photos, even if it was with Unicef and included a lot of cute kids. But a handful of your favorites? Sure, people will be up for that.

cambodia

I typically give 5 stars to anything from two to six photos per trip. I used to do a lot of business travel, and I enjoy leisure travel today, so I’ve visited 68 countries to date. My 5-starred travel photos? 93 in all, which is a slideshow people might want to view. 3000 photos, not so much.

I hope this has been helpful. Please do share your own tips in the comments.


After chatting with Tim Cook about Apple and the enterprise at BoxWorks today, Box took the wraps off a new app for business customers using the iPhone camera. Box Capture is an iOS-only app with enterprise-friendly features like security compliance built on Box’s mobile software development tools.

Like the built-in camera app, Capture shoots both photos and videos but with simpler camera without filters and various camera-types in the way. Capture differs though because it’s built on the SDK that Box offers clients for building Box features into their own apps.

Where Box Capture starts really shines is by automating business processes around taking photos and videos. When a Capture user shoots a photo or video for an assignment, the media is sent to Box storage including specific folders for access by team members within the company. Capture highlights metadata like when the photo was shot and where it was taken, and other team members can discuss captured photos and videos using comments.

Box Capture will be available on the App Store starting today.

Check the video: link

 

As usual, our friends over at iFixit have started the teardown process for Apple’s new lineup of products introduced earlier this month and it’s kicking things off with the new 4th generation Apple TV hardware. 

While the new Apple TV, which introduces upgraded hardware alongside a newly revamped software platform dubbed “tvOS”, doesn’t officially go on sale until sometime next month, Apple has already started sending out units to developers interested in building apps for the device ahead of its launch.

Apple-tv-4-heatsinkThere aren’t a whole lot of surprises inside the new hardware, but iFixit did discover why Apple made the device a little thicker than the previous generation. A larger heatsink and power supply to support the enhanced processing power of the new A8 chip inside appears to be the reason behind the increase in size:

The improved Apple TV stands in seeming defiance of Apple’s obsession with making things thinner and lighter. With a beefier heatsink and power supply to support the dual-core A8 SoC, it stands a half-inch taller and more than 50% heavier than its predecessor.

Curiously, the teardown notes that “there’s a distinct lack of cables connecting the power supply to the logic board.” iFixit speculates that “the power is transmitted through the new heat sink screw posts.”

Repairs to the new Apple TV won’t be particularly easy, however, as iFixit notes “almost everything important on the Apple TV is soldered to the logic board, which means replacement or board-level soldering is required to solve port problems.” On the other hand, the battery and Lightning cable on the new remote will be easy to replace, according to iFixit’s findings. But in general iFixit gave the device a high repairability score of 8/10, meaning in their opinion Apple has made a commendable effort to make repairs possible. 

Apple’s “Hey Siri” special event was so completely jammed with major announcements that a lot of little details fell through the cracks — performance differences between the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, battery surprises in the iPad Pro and iPad mini 4, and connectivity omissions in the Apple TV 4, just to name a few.

Every year, once the event’s dust has settled, I dig through all of the information out there to bring you a clearer picture of what to expect from Apple’s latest devices. Here are the things you’ll want to know about the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPad Pro, iPad mini 4, and Apple TV 4…

1) Bluetooth 4.2 Is Everywhere! (Except The New Apple TV. Which Is Weird Because, Well, HomeKit.) As new versions of Bluetooth go, Bluetooth 4.2 sounds like a no-brainer for Apple to support. It’s even more power-efficient than before, offers privacy and security improvements, and promises 2.5X speed increases alongside 10X data capacity increases. The Bluetooth SIG calls it “ideal for the Internet of Things,” such as wirelessly connected home appliances. So it was natural to see Bluetooth 4.2 pop up in the new iPhones and iPads, following its stealthy rollout in the sixth-generation iPod touch this summer. But it’s surprisingly absent from the new Apple TV, which Apple has (until yesterday) publicly touted as a hub for HomeKit accessories; the box only supports Bluetooth 4.0. Perhaps the new 802.11ac support will be enough for HomeKit?

iphone6sfalling

2) The iPhone 6s + 6s Plus May Barely Look Different, But They’ll Feel Heavier. As expected, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are slightly larger in each dimension than before — just enough to make trim-fitting cases bulge — but they’ll be noticeably heavier. While the size changes are each in the 0.1 to 0.2mm range, weight has jumped by nearly 0.5 ounces on the 6s, and 0.7 ounces on the 6s Plus. This could be attributable to the 7000 Series aluminum frame, or to additional 3D Touch components such as the new Taptic Engine.

iphone6sbox

3) Those Beautiful Fish On The iPhone 6s Packaging (And Backgrounds) Have Been Identified. For the first time since the introduction of the iPhone, Apple is using wallpaper-like photography on the iPhones’ packages — colorful fish to complement the varied colors of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. It turns out that they’re selectively-bred betta splendens, aka the Siamese Fighting Fish, with dramatic tails such as halfmoon bettas or double tail bettas. According to a reader tip, Apple’s team may have come to Thailand to film the bettas earlier this year.

iphone6scam

4) About Those iPhone 6s Camera Tweaks. Apple obviously mentioned that the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus sport improved cameras, but it didn’t go into a lot of detail on stage beyond to say that they preserve the prior level of image quality at a 50% higher (12-Megapixel) resolution. Pixel size has notably decreased from 1.5µ to 1.22µ, a non-trivial change that is apparently compensated for with “improved noise reduction.” Consequently, we’ll have to see whether photos look smeared or blurry on a pixel-peeping level to achieve the higher pixel count. But more megapixels will probably be good across the board; Panorama mode now supports up to 63MP, up from 43MP in earlier iPhones. And the front camera’s jump to a 5MP sensor from 1.2MP before is a big deal, as it’s better than expected, and will radically improve the look of selfies. None of the iPads (or earlier iPhones) come close — they’re all stuck at 1.2MP, at best.

A few other things weren’t mentioned on stage. Optical Image Stabilization was a weird and under-described addition to the iPhone 6 Plus over the stock iPhone 6; photographers eventually determined it was primarily assisting the iPhone in taking sharper still images in low light. For the iPhone 6s, it remains a Plus-only feature, but this time, Apple is actively noting that OIS works for video, as well, presumably to reduce shake — as people would have expected in last year’s model. Another interesting detail: 4K videos are being recorded in H.264, and Apple is no longer making reference to H.265 support for any purpose, FaceTime or otherwise. Finally, an iOS 9 feature called “Playback Zoom,” which lets you zoom in on parts of your video after recording, is supposedly supported for the 6s and 6s Plus but not earlier iPhones. I stumbled across the feature when testing iOS 9 on my prior 6 Plus, so I’m not sure why Apple’s limiting it here.

5) One “Worldphone” iPhone? Not Yet: There Are Still American LTE Differences. The good news is that each version of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus supports most of the world’s wireless bands, including fast LTE bands. But there are still at least two separate hardware models for the 6s and 6s Plus, one with CDMA EV-DO Rev. A support (for CDMA carriers such as Verizon), the other with LTE Band 30 support (for AT&T’s newest chunk of wireless spectrum), so you’ll want to choose the version that suits your U.S. carrier. Note that the cellular versions of the iPad mini 4 and iPad Pro come with CDMA Rev. A and B hardware, but don’t offer Band 30 support.

ipadminicam

6) On The Body + Screen Of The iPad mini 4. No surprise here: this version of the iPad mini will be the first to completely break compatibility with prior cases. The fourth-generation model is thinner (6.1mm versus 7.4mm) and lighter (0.65 pounds versus 0.73 pounds), but also taller (203.2mm versus 200mm). Apple has switched the screen to a fully-laminated display with antireflective coating, like the iPad Air 2’s, promising “even more lifelike colors, greater contrast, and sharper, more vivid images.” It’s unclear whether the screen now rivals the iPad Air or iPad Air 2 in color gamut — the last two minis did not — but it’s definitely getting better.

Also worth noting: contrary to expectations, the iPad mini 4 isn’t a full iPad Air 2 replacement. It has an A8 processor instead of an A8X, which means that you get less of a graphics bump (1.6x rather than 2.5x) and CPU bump (1.3x rather than 1.4x) over the A7. Battery life is also going to be a question mark, as it has dropped to a 19.1WHr battery, around 20% below the 23.8WHr battery found in the prior model. On a more positive note, the mini 4’s cameras should be equivalent to the Air 2’s, which will be a welcome improvement.

ipadpro

7) Charging The iPad Pro. Apple spent a nice chunk of time discussing the iPad Pro’s features and design, but didn’t talk much about the battery and charging — will the Pro work with all of the Made for iPad chargers companies have been selling? Surprisingly, the answer is “yes.” The iPad Pro has a 38.5WHr battery, which is actually around 10% smaller than the iPad 3 and iPad 4’s 42.5Whr battery. It comes with Apple’s 12W USB Power Adapter, which given the iPad Pro’s size might lead one to worry about lengthy recharging times. But since the iPad 4 took around 5 hours to recharge with the 12W adapter, expect just under 5-hour recharge time for the iPad Pro — plus compatibility with all of the major iPad charging accessories released over the last 3 years.

ipadprosmartkeyboard

8) iPad Pro Smart Keyboard, Smart Connector + Logitech. Although Apple was pretty aggressive in applying its branding to the new Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro (didn’t they call it “Apple Fabric” at one point?), the keyboard case looks a lot like something Logitech would make: it was releasing fabric-surfaced keyboard cases like the Fabric Skin Keyboard Folio years ago. Even if Logitech gets no credit for inspiring or co-developing the keyboard, it’s being allowed to release the first third-party keyboard with Smart Connector compatibility — the three-dot power and data connector on the iPad Pro’s edge. Logitech’s version looks more professional than Apple’s (above), which has an awkwardly asymmetrical folding design.

As Bluetooth keyboards have recently been getting 1-year battery life off of single charges, my gut feeling is that the Smart Connector wasn’t designed for this particular accessory, but rather for future recharging of the iPad Pro in a more natural landscape orientation. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to keep such a large screen in portrait orientation for charging.

appletv4box

9) A Few Notes On The New Apple TV. It’s the fourth-generation model, but Apple’s calling it “the new Apple TV.” (An eagle-eyed reader noted that meta code on Apple’s web site showed it under the alternate name “Apple TV 2” — would that have been more or less confusing?) In any case, it will come in a black box, unlike the prior generation’s white boxes.

Apple’s official dimensions show the Apple TV as being around 50% taller than before (35mm versus 23mm), but the same footprint (98mm by 98mm). My personal guess is that the extra size may have been needed for its added 802.11ac with MIMO support, demanding bigger antennas, but it’s also over 50% heavier (425g versus 272g), which is surprising given Apple’s feats of thinning and lightening over the years since the prior Apple TV was released.

Little was made of several interesting hardware changes: it will now support Dolby Digital 7.1 (up from 5.1), HDMI 1.4 for faster data/better color/3D, and USB-C — the latter replacing micro-USB, but still for “service only.” Developers found out that it will have 2GB of RAM, which should be plenty for running iPhone 6 Plus-caliber games, but a challenge for modern console-caliber titles. Less positively, Apple has dropped the optical audio port, which is already stirring up angst with some users, and as noted above, the Apple TV won’t have Bluetooth 4.2 — only Bluetooth 4.0. Somewhat worryingly on the software side, Apple doesn’t say that the new Apple TV will support traditional iTunes Music streaming without Apple Music. Let’s hope that’s a temporary oversight. It’s also highly unclear how the 32GB/64GB hardware will handle apps and games, but initial suspicions are that a lot of streaming will be taking place in the background.

appletv4siriremote

10) Apple TV: Don’t Forget The Siri Remote or MFi Controllers. We knew before the event that it was going to be black and larger than the prior Apple Remote, now with a touch surface at the top. It’s actually two-toned, with a black top and silver bottom, measuring 1.5″ by 4.88″ by 0.25″. Interestingly, Apple will include a Lightning to USB cable for charging the Siri Remote, which is sort of odd since a (new) USB-C to Lightning cable would have seemed like a good match for the new rear USB-C port.

siriremotemfi

Apple will be selling a wrist strap called the Remote Loop for the Siri Remote akin to the one Nintendo released for its Wii Remote years ago, designed to keep frenetic gamers from pitching their controllers at their TV screens. It will plug into the Lightning port on the bottom of the Siri Remote, and resemble the iPod touch Loop recently discontinued along with the fifth-generation iPod touch. Additionally, while the new Apple TV supports “MFi-based controllers,” the first official game controller for Apple TV has been announced, Steelseries’ Nimbus, thankfully at a reasonable $50 price. It looks like there’s only one button difference — “menu” swapped for “pause” — between this and earlier MFi Bluetooth controllers, but there may be other differences under the hood. In any case, you won’t be limited to the Siri Remote for gaming, and that’s great news.

If you’re thinking of selling or trading in your current iPhone ahead of the iPhone 6S’s release, you probably know that you’ll need to wipe your device before a buyer can use it free and clear. Prepping an iPhone for resale used to be almost as easy as hitting a “reset” button in the iPhone’s settings menu. But over the past few years, the process has become more complex thanks to new security, wallet, and cloud-dependent features such as Activation Lock, Apple Pay and iTunes in the Cloud. Completely removing all of your personal items from your iPhone — and your iPhone from Apple’s servers — requires extra work.

Today, I’m going to walk you through the process of thoroughly scrubbing your iPhone prior to resale. There are 8 steps to take to make sure your device is cleaned up and ready to sell to its next owner. Here they are…

[1] Erase All Content And Settings. The first, easiest, and best-known step in wiping your iPhone is found within the Settings app at the bottom of the General menu: click on Reset, then “Erase All Content And Settings.” (I’d suggest taking this step only after using iTunes to do two complete, encrypted backups of your iPhone to your computer.)

You will be prompted to enter your iPhone’s passcode, then told that “this will delete all media and data, and erase all settings.” If you press the Erase iPhone button, iOS will ask you for your iCloud account password to “erase this iPhone and remove it from your [iCloud] account.”

You’ll be surprised at how quickly the iPhone is wiped — as soon as you’ve entered your password and hit erase, you’ll get a notification email on your account’s other devices that Find My iPhone was disabled, and it should take only a couple of minutes for the wiped iPhone to display “Hello” and “Slide to Set Up” text. Is the erasure secure? Well, all of the iPhone’s memory is protected using AES-256 encryption, and hitting the Erase iPhone button destroys the encryption key. Several security companies have tried to offer ‘secure erase’ tools that more aggressively scrub the iPhone’s memory, but Apple has shut those tools down as ‘misleading,’ noting that the encryption is effectively unbreakable. Hitting the Reset button leaves the former contents of your device all but completely impossible to recover by a subsequent owner. But you’ll be able to get everything back from your computer’s encrypted iTunes backup, should you need it.

[2] What About Activation Lock + Disable Find My iPhone? As shown above, you can manually disable Find My iPhone by going into the Settings app’s iCloud menu, pressing the Find My iPhone “On” button, flipping the Find My iPhone switch to off, and entering your iCloud password. But if you use the Erase All Content And Settings feature above, this step is automatically handled for you when you enter your iCloud password at the end of the process. Either method will disable your iPhone’s “Activation Lock,” the security system that allows you to locate, remotely wipe, and send signals to an iPhone no longer in your possession. Any purchaser of a used iPhone will expect you to have taken this step (or more wisely, the step above) before selling your device.

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[3] Apple Pay/Credit Card and Touch ID Fingerprint Wiping. If you’re using an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, or newer iPhone, erasing your iPhone will automatically purge whatever credit cards and fingerprints you’ve stored in your iPhone. (Even attempting to disable fingerprint protection for your device will prevent it from storing cards for Apple Pay.) You will probably receive a collection of emails from your banks noting each “Virtual card” that has been “deleted from Apple Pay,” and you may also receive notices of the card’s deletion from your Apple Watch. If you want to manually remove individual cards or fingerprints, the Settings app’s Touch ID & Passcode menu handles prints, and the Passbook & Apple Pay (iOS 8) or Wallet & Apple Pay (iOS 9) menu handles cards. But even if you delete cards for Apple Pay, your iPhone can still store card numbers for Safari web transactions; they can be deleted under Settings > Safari > AutoFill > Credit Cards.

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[4] Carrier Lock + Clearing The ESN/IMEI/MEID. Buyers of used iPhones want to avoid purchasing devices that are either stolen, or still under contract with a cellular company. The status of an iPhone can be checked using a device-specific serial number that’s called an IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number, ESN (Electronic Serial Number), or MEID (Mobile Equipment Identifier). IMEIs have traditionally been used by GSM networks (AT&T/T-Mobile), while ESN/MEIDs are traditionally used by CDMA networks (Verizon/Sprint). Fourteen or fifteen digits long, the number can be found in Settings > General > About > IMEI or MEID.

If you purchased your iPhone without a contract or have fully paid off your contract, the serial number should be free and clear for transfer. Should the phone be locked to a specific carrier, you can contact the carrier to request that it be carrier unlocked prior to selling it, which will dramatically boost its trade-in value at services such as Gazelle. If you bought your iPhone used, or were given the phone by a family member, this free serial number checker can let you know if the serial number is clear, giving you a sense of reported ownership/theft issues with your device. If your phone’s serial number isn’t clear, contact your cellular provider to get the device paid off. And if you’re trying to sell a stolen phone… return it.

[5] iCloud Versus iTunes in the Cloud. In one of its more confusing branding efforts, Apple in 2011 introduced both iCloud — an email, backup, and data synchronizing service — and iTunes in the Cloud, a virtual media locker that allows you to download previously purchased iTunes content for free. Erasing your iPhone removes it from your iCloud account, but doesn’t remove it from your iTunes in the Cloud account. To do that, you’ll need to open iTunes, go to your account (currently next to the Search bar, signing in with a password under Account Info), scroll down to iTunes in the Cloud, and choose Manage Devices. When you see your old iPhone on the list, hit the Remove button. This will free up one of your 10 allocated media sharing spaces, and enable the iPhone to be registered by someone else for iTunes in the Cloud.

I went to do this for my iPhone, purchased in October 2014, and found that the Remove button was grayed out. This was a bug with Apple’s system: the iTunes rule is that “computers and devices can be associated with a different Apple ID once every 90 days,” but my iPhone was in continuous use for 10 months. I had to contact iTunes customer support to get the iPhone manually removed from my account. Three emails and two phone contacts later, it wasn’t 100% resolved, so hopefully your Remove button works properly.

 

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[6] Apple ID: Manage Trusted Devices. Yes, there is yet another place where your iPhone may be linked to an account online: Apple’s identify verification web site at AppleID.apple.com. Once you log into your account, which may be protected with two-factor identification — a password on your Mac, then another one-time password sent to your choice of “trusted devices” — you can click on Password and Security to “Manage your trusted devices” by hitting the “Add or Remove Trusted Devices” button. Your old iPhone will probably be on this list, and you can remove it by hitting the “Remove” button. This will prevent your iPhone from acting as a device to verify your identity for any two-factor authentication process.

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[7] Remove The SIM Card. If you’ve gone through everything above, you’ve done pretty much everything necessary to scrub your iPhone’s onboard data, cloud associations, and carrier contract before resale. There are only a few final physical steps to get it ready to send out to someone. The most critical is to remove your SIM card from the iPhone by using either Apple’s included SIM card tool or a paperclip to pop the side compartment open. Place the card in a safe place for transfer to your next phone.

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[8] Physical Cleanliness. It would be nice (and likely maximize your trade-in/resale price) to have your iPhone looking as close to new as possible. You can use two lightly dampened microfiber cloths to clean the visible exterior surfaces, first gently removing any crusted-on debris, then wiping the glass and metal or plastic down softly. Don’t get the cloths near speaker, microphone, or accessory port holes; leave them alone. After that’s done, assemble the iPhone’s pack-ins, such as its earphones and/or earphone case, wall charger, and USB cable, preferably with the original box. If they’re looking good, you can take photos and list your iPhone on eBay, or skip the photos and sell your iPhone to a company such as Gazelle. My full guide to getting the best deal on trading in your old iPhone is here.

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Multiple recent leaks have indicated that Apple is working on a major new version of the iPad mini. You can expect a more powerful, thinner iPad mini, and it will let you take advantage of all the latest features in iOS 9.

Macotakara and @OnLeaks revealed that the iPad mini 4 will look like a smaller iPad Air 2. Of course, many called the iPad Air a bigger iPad mini, but the current iPad mini 3 is still a bit thicker than the iPad Air 2.

This should change as the iPad mini 4 should be 6.1mm thick (down from 7.5mm), exactly the same thickness as the iPad Air 2. In order to make the tablet thinner, Apple may switch to a fully-laminated display. Other than that, the device will be 3mm longer and the mute/rotation lock switch should disappear.

When it comes to the iPad mini 4’s computing power, 9to5mac found some interesting hints in the beta version of OS X El Capitan. Safari 9’s developer tools show how your website will look like on an iPad mini with a split view.

As a reminder, during the WWDC keynote in June, Apple introduced split-screen multitaskingfor the iPad in iOS 9. But there was an asterisk. While many iPads will get slide-over, letting you temporarily open another app in a drawer menu, only the iPad Air 2 will get true multitasking — if you have an iPad Air 2, you’ll be able to create a split screen and interact with two apps at the same time.

This is due to the iPad Air 2’s A8X chip and its 2GB of RAM. So today’s leak may indicate that the iPad mini will get an updated system-on-a-chip as well as more RAM, making it at least as fast as the iPad Air 2.

The current iPad mini 3 has lagged behind when it comes to specs. Last year, Apple only added a Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Everything else remained identical, from the A7 chip to the camera.

Yet, Apple wants to differentiate the iPad as much as possible from the iPhone in order to boost its tablet sales. That’s why upgrading the iPad mini to support true multi-tasking is a great differentiating factor.

Usually, Apple unveils its new tablet lineup in a dedicated event in October. But rumor has itthat Apple may introduce the new iPads during the iPhone keynote, which should happen on September 9th.

macbook-pro-leadWritten by:
 @macmixing

It would be silly to say that Apple’s latest iteration of the 15-inch 2015 MacBook Pro with Retina Display is the best MacBook yet, because that’s mostly the truth with every new model. Unfortunately, you won’t find a shiny new processor setup this time around, as Apple stuck with the trusty old Haswell configuration, but there are some nice improvements here.

The good news is, there’s a bump in clock speed across the board if that matters to you and we have a new GPU setup thanks to AMD in the high-end model. Even with these modest upgrades, the MacBook Pro I purchased is a beast for content creation…

This year I decided to splurge and pick up the 2.8GHz configuration and 1TB of flash storage, but I felt like it was worth the extra cash considering what I do for a living. I plan on using this thing for the long haul as the last MacBook Pro I had was a late 2013. As expected we have a beautiful Retina display here, with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,800 that’s good for 220 ppi. For full specifications on Apple’s 2015 MacBook Pro lineup, check out the Apple Store online.

There’s also the new Force Touch trackpad which comes along with some cool features, but none of them are particularly useful to me. If you’d like to check out all of the Force Touch features available with the new MacBook Pro, check out our top features article/video here.

Instead of focusing this review on how great (or poor) this MacBook is for everyone, I’m going to tell you how it works for me. I make videos. Most of those videos happen to be in 4K resolution, so it should be no surprise that I’d need something powerful to get the job done when I’m on-the-go. Also, if you’re interested in the carbon fiber skin I’m rocking on this MacBook Pro (shown in the video below), you can find it here.

Check out our 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro review video below:
I actually edited the entire review video above and the original unboxing video on this MacBook. If you’d like to check out that unboxing video with benchmarks and comparisons to the other 15-inch configurations, you can find it here. Premiere Pro CC, After Effects, and Photoshop run like a boss on this thing. If you need something completely capable of any media-related task, I’d highly recommend it. I was able to export my 3:14 unboxing video of this MacBook with After Effects compositions in under 10 minutes.

My last MacBook Pro was clocked at 2.3GHz which is pretty fast, but I can definitely tell the difference in performance. As for benchmarks, Geekbench 3 produced a single core score of 3,894 and a multi core score of 14,807. Over in BlackMagic Disk Speed test we have read speeds as high as 1700 MB/s and write speeds over 1400MB/s.

I’m not a huge gamer, but I did test a couple of titles for those curious out there. In Counter Strike: Global Offensive, I saw a consistent 30-35fps with all settings on maximum and full resolution of the MacBook’s panel, but the game was a bit laggy, bringing down the resolution a bit made it completely playable. I also gave BioShock Infinite a run and it played buttery smooth at the max settings and full resolution available. I’m not a gaming expert, but from my testing this MacBook is more than capable of handing a few good titles.

This MacBook Pro has been a dream so far. It’s a very powerful laptop for my needs, but obviously it’s not for everyone. This specific configuration will set you back roughly $3,200 (or around $2,499without the upgraded CPU and storage). If you’re in search of a 15-inch for everyday use, I’d recommend the base model 15-inch MacBook Pro which comes in at $1,999. Overall, it’s also nice to know that I’ll have a very reliable editing machine when on-the-go and a laptop that can handle pretty much anything I’d throw at it. I plan to keep this MacBook around for a while and it looks like it’ll be able to keep up with me.

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