Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Monday, May 26, 2014
By Tim Bradshaw in San Francisco
Apple is readying a new software platform that would turn the iPhone into a remote control for lights, security systems and other household appliances, as part of a move into the "internet of things".
Apple plans to take on rivals Google and Samsung and make a "big play" in the world of smart home technology at its Worldwide Developer Conference on June 2 in San Francisco, according to people familiar with the matter.
This will reinforce the view, held by some in Silicon Valley, that Jetsons-style home automation is the next frontier in technology as growth in smartphone sales begins to slow in developed markets.
Apple’s coming move follows Google’s $3.2bn acquisition in January of Nest Labs, makers of internet-connected thermostats and smoke alarms, and Samsung’s recent debut of its Smart Home range of refrigerators, washing machines and TVs that can be controlled from its smartphones and watches.
Apple’s integrated system will make it easier to set up and control new "smart home" devices. For example, a home’s lights might automatically come on when the owner enters the house, using their iPhone to wirelessly signal their arrival. Such a system was outlined in an Apple patent filing, published in November last year.
The connected-home system will give Apple customers more reasons to buy several devices in its iOS family, by using the iPhone or iPad in conjunction with its Apple TV box, an upgraded version of which is expected to be released later this year, to control other domestic devices.
Apple has been talking to a select group of other device makers whose smart home products will be certified to work with its forthcoming new system and then be sold in its retail stores.
The scheme will be similar to Apple’s existing "Made for iPhone" label, given to compatible headphones, speakers and other accessories, but with a new brand and logo. Apple may also provide additional checks and assurances that certified products are not vulnerable to hackers.
The Cupertino-based company was likely to emphasise the privacy protections built into its smart home system, one person familiar with Apple’s plans told the FT, given heightened sensitivity about technology companies’ access to personal information amid revelations about US intelligence agencies’ online surveillance programmes.
Apple considers privacy a key advantage over Google, the person said, since Google relies on targeted advertising as its main source of income. In a regulatory filing last week, Google said it was preparing for a "multi-device future" where "we and other companies could be serving ads and other content on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches".
An Apple spokesperson declined to comment. The company has been known to change its plans for WWDC at the very last minute.
As it hunts for new sources of growth, Apple has in the past year launched CarPlay, which lets drivers show iPhone apps on a screen in their vehicle’s dashboard, and iBeacon, an indoor positioning system used by retailers, event venues and marketers to send messages based on location.
CarPlay, iBeacon and the older AirPlay system, for beaming music to wireless speakers, all use Bluetooth technology to connect the iOS operating system to other nearby devices that are not made by Apple.
A similar set of technologies will soon be extended to other parts of the home such as security systems, lighting and appliances – perhaps with the addition of a new component, near-field communication. Analysts expect NFC to be built into the next iPhone, as part of Apple’s rumoured plans for a new payments service.
Apple’s retail stores will also play a key role in its plans for the internet of things. Its new retail chief, Angela Ahrendts, joined from fashion brand Burberry at the beginning of May with a broad mandate to overhaul its high-street and online presence.
Apple stores already sell several smart home products in the $50 to $250 price range, including Nest thermostats, Dropcam wireless cameras, Philips Hue lightbulbs and Belkin WeMo switches, each of which is controlled by a separate iPhone app.
As the smart home market is still in its very early days, Apple may face challenges in convincing consumers and technologists to use its platform. But Apple’s longstanding promise that its products "just work" when used together, thanks to its tight integration of hardware, software and cloud services, could give the iPhone maker an advantage over its rivals.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Many people don't realize that when they install an app onto their iDevice that by default, it's data is added to their iCloud backup. I didn't realize this until very recently and I've had an iPhone since November 2012!
Every iDevice user gets 5 GB of free iCloud storage from Apple. This is not 5 GB per iDevice but 5 GB per Apple ID. If you have an iPad and an iPhone, like I do, where you are using the same Apple ID, the cloud storage is shared. The problem with this default backup setting, is that unbeknownst to you, your storage could be eaten up with app data that doesn't need to be backed up.
The data from Evernote, Kindle, your social media apps (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and Maps—to name just four—is already all in the cloud and does not need to be backed up to your iCloud too.
To see what is actually being backed up to your iCloud, go to Settings > General > Usage. On this screen, you will see Storage along with the amount of space you have available on your iDevice (not your iCloud) and the space you have used. Here, you will also see every app you have installed along with the amount of space they are taking on your iDevice.
Scroll to the bottom of this screen and click on Manage Storage (right above Battery Usage). On this screen, you can see all your Backups along with the total size of the backup, the size of each iDevice backup, Documents & Data and Mail.
From this screen, choose which iDevice you are currently using. Under my Manage Storage, I see Mark's iPhone and Mark's iPad. If you only have one iDevice with this Apple ID, you will only see one device listed.At the very bottom of the screen, you will see x.x GB available of y.y GB on iCloud (mine says 4.3 GB of 5.0 GB).
Next, click on the Backup.
On the next screen, you will see Your iDevice, when your latest backup was, and the Backup Size.
Below this, under Backup Options, you will see every app that is installed on your iDevice. Note: you may have to click on "Show All Apps" to see, well, all apps.
Another note: back on your Manage Storage screen, make sure that the only iDevices listed here are active iDevices. When I first looked at this, I saw three iDevices and my backup was at 4.5 GB. I had given my wife my 4S (which she signed into with her own Apple ID) but I never deleted the backup. It was over 1.1 GB.What you back up to the iCloud is up to you. For me, the only apps that I have turned on are Pages, Numbers, iMove, and Find iPhone. The other apps' data is either already in the cloud (online) or the apps don't have any data to be backed up.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Todd Bernhard 5.13.14
Apple has never shied away from copying a competitor's feature, if it's a good one. Indeed, a good one that Windows offers is the ability to run a couple of apps simultaneously in separate windows. There are many times when I am writing a blog post, such as this, on my iPad and I need to browse the web for a photo or text to quote. Switching between apps is cumbersome. Microsoft found a way around it, and they have been using that distinction in advertising. It's a valid differentiator. However, that may change soon, according to 9to5mac.
Apple is expected to introduce a new version of iOS at their Worldwide Developers Conference, in June. WWDC would be the perfect time to announce this split-screen personality, as developers will likely need to rewrite their app to accommodate the smaller resolution. One approach is to switch to iPhone mode and run the two apps side by side on an iPad. That would require little to no effort on the behalf of developers. But it would not be as elegant as it should be. I would expect Apple to craft a specification that developers could use to make their apps splittable.
There have long been rumors of an iPad Pro, which would be a more professional iPad, perhaps with a 12" screen and a keyboard similar to the Windows Surface. This is where the iPad would bump up against Apple's MacBook Air. If that happens, multi-windowing would be even more important. While the split-screen may be a temporary marketing advantage for Microsoft, the real advantage for Apple is being able to see competitors' approaches and then cherry picking the best features and making them their own. As long as they don't violate any patents!