Saturday, March 28, 2015

Flexibits Launches Fantastical 2 for Mac

The calendar mavens over at Flexibits have released a major update to their popular calendaring app, Fantastical 2 for Mac!

A short video of Fantastical 2 for Mac in action is available on the Flexibits website.
Designed exclusively for OS X Yosemite, Fantastical 2 for Mac includes features such as a full calendar window (with day, week, month, and year views), an intuitive parsing engine, iCloud reminders support, light theme, time zone support, birthday reminders, and much more.
Fantastical 2 has a beautiful all-new design and includes many OS X Yosemite features, including a Today Widget, Action & Share Extensions, plus Handoff support to provide continuity between Fantastical 2 for Mac, Fantastical 2 for iPhone, and Fantastical 2 for iPad.
Fantastical 2 for Mac’s natural language parsing engine has been updated to be even more friendly and flexible. The parsing engine now understands expressive repeating events such as third Thursday of every month, every weekend, last weekday of the month, and more. Plus, users can now add alerts by ending their natural language input with phrases such as "remind me tomorrow at 3PM", "alert 1 hour before", or "alarm 3PM."
"When Fantastical came out 4 years ago, our goal was to reinvent the calendar app to ease the frustrations of using calendars," said Michael Simmons, CEO & President of Flexibits. "With Fantastical 2, we challenged ourselves to reinvent Fantastical itself."

I think for me, the perfect integration with Mac OS X Yosemite with the ability to use OS X Dictation, Today view, and Handoff to/from my iPhone and iPad together with Flexibits natural language parsing engine are the killer features that make this upgrade well worth the purchase price.

In addition to the super functional Mac toolbar mini window, Flexibits has included a new very handsome looking Today widget.  But the big new visual enhancement for Fantastical for Mac is the new full calendar view.

Fantastical 2 is available now directly from the Mac App Store for $39.99.  As the name implies, this is a completely new version of Fantastical, which means if you have already purchased Fanastical 1 for Mac, you will need to purchase it again.  The enhancements found in Fantastical 2 for Mac are really well worth it.  Plus, you are helping out some great indie Mac developers in the process.

Apple To Enhance iPhone Unlock Security with iOS 8.3 [Updated]

Apple is further enhancing their iPhone unlock security with the upcoming release of iOS 8.3; which is currently in beta testing.

PIN code required when TouchID is not
used to unlock the device in 48 hours
Update

My pal, and fellow 1SRC Palm Podcast host, Jeff Kirvin, has informed me that iOS requires a PIN or passcode if not used for 48 hours right now with iOS 8.2.


I hate it when he's right.  I still think this is a good feature.


In the future, if you have not unlocked your iPhone using Touch ID in the past 48 hours, you be required to reenter your PIN or passcode.  With iOS 8.0 up to and including iOS 8.2, Apple only required that you enter your PIN or passcode after restarting your iPhone.  

The above screen appeared after I left my iPhone 5S running a beta version of iOS 8.3 at home for two days.

I think that while this may generate a few help desk calls when iOS 8.3 is deployed to corporate iOS devices that get left at work or unused over the weekend, it is  a really good move for people who may accidentally lose their device.

Apple has not announced when iOS 8.3 will ship.  The pre-release software is being tested by registered developers (a $99 annual fee is required to join the program) and by select members of the iOS and OS X public beta testers.

Some bloggers believe that iOS 8.3 will ship next month at about the same time the Apple Watch is released.



Monday, March 9, 2015

Apple Releases iOS 8.2, Support for Apple Watch


Today, after Apple's Spring Forward event, the leading smartphone maker release iOS 8.2; which includes Apple Watch support.

The Apple Watch app in iOS 8.2 is waiting for an Apple Watch to pair with

iOS 8.2 is available now as an OTA update for current model iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches that are running or can run iOS 8.x. Here's a list of what's new and improved in iOS 8.2.


In addition to today's iOS 8.2 update, Apple also rolled out an update for Apple TV.

Apple Spring Forward Notes and First Impressions


Apple held their Spring Forward event to showcase HBO Now, the all-new MacBook, and Apple Watch.  If you haven't yet watched today's event, you can stream it from Apple's website or watch it on Apple TV.

The following are my notes and first impressions from today's event.

Apple TV + HBO Now

Apple TV gets a price cut to $69.  This says to me that the hardware refresh I've been waiting for is either late or under resourced.

HBO Now will be available by April 12 for $14.99/mo.  This will get cord cutters excited and I think will help drive Apple TV sales.  I've never been an HBO subscriber but with a month-to-month subscription, I'd jump on to watch shows that I've not been able to watch before and jump out while the show is on break.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay now accepted at 49,000 Coca-Cola vending machines.  I can totally get behind that!

iPhone + Heath Apps

Health + iPhone & Research Kit look really intriguing and can become a powerful diagnostic tool for doctors and patients.

Apple is backing up their commitments to privacy by putting data sharing controls into the hands of patients. Apple does not see the data. Ever.

Google and Android are going to have a difficult time of tying to copy or buy their way into this segment.

Apple MacBook

Holy crap! This redesigned MacBook is beyond thin!

Can you name one company that spends R&D dollars on new keyboard technology?

Force Click will make the right-click obsolete on the Mac.

Next up on Apple’s hit list: vents and fans. Gone!

The new MacBook is powered by the new Intel Core M processor. It runs silently.

New battery technology will give you all-day battery life on a single charge.

802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

USB-C connector replaces all of the “old” cables and connectors. Plus it's reversible.

Will ship in silver, space grey and gold.

Prices start at $1299 and $1599

Minor spec bumps for the MacBook Air and the 13” MacBook Pro

Apple Watch

Tim shows off my Apple Watch...sorta
Digital Touch is cool if not a bit gimmicky. I'd love to use the tap-tap feature with my wife. Alas, she couldn't care less about Apple Watch.

The Activity tracking feature is all of the same stuff that other fitness bands can do, but done in a way that's light years ahead of my Nike+ FuelBand or Jawbone UP.

I also like the “you've been sitting still too long” prompt.

The new feature in most excited about for the Apple Watch? Maximizing my couch potato time controlling Apple TV without having to use the IR remote.

iOS notifications coming into iPhone can be sent to Apple Watch. Looking for granular control here.  Don't want my wrist buzzing all day with spam email.

Sports teams, Facebook, and news updates. Twitter. Instagram. American Airlines.

Apple Pay with Apple Watch looks like a killer feature.

Phone calls go between iPhone and Apple Watch over Bluetooth when you're out or on Wi-Fi when you're at home.

Watch works with iPhone.  Only.   Apple Watch iPhone app is where you go to browse, buy and download apps for Apple Watch.

iOS 8.2 features the iPhone Apple Watch app. Available for download today. (3/9/15)

Apple Watch will have all-day battery life. 18 hours of varying uses

Watch Sport starts at $349

Watch Stainless Steel starts at $549

Watch Edition starts at $10,000

Pre-orders and in-store try outs start 4/10; Apple Watch goes on sale 4/24

Launches in US, UK, China, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hing Kong, Japan

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

FREAK SSL Vulnerability Identified


Yesterday, news broke of a new Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, vulnerability that both Google and Apple have begun working on patches for.

ZDNet described the security problem by saying:
"The FREAK bug disclosed yesterday is the latest in a series of vulnerabilities affecting the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols used to encrypt traffic between an HTTPS website and a browser."
At the root of the problem, it is possible for a hacker to compromise a website that allows their computer to be inserted into what is suppose to be a private communication between your browser and a web server for things like online banking or shopping.  In end, you don't get what you want and the hacker gets your personal information.

ZDNet goes on to say that the National Security Agency, the very same United States government agency spearheading the charge to weaken encryption security, is also vulnerable to this problem.

Here's my favorite part:

"Thousands of sites are vulnerable, including that of the US National Security Agency - the same agency that pushed for weaker export grade encryption, according to Ed Felten, director of Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy.

"There is an important lesson here about the consequences of crypto policy decisions: the NSA's actions in the '90s to weaken exportable cryptography boomeranged on the agency, undermining the security of its own site twenty years later," Felten wrote on his blog yesterday."
Apple is working on updates for Safari for both iOS and Mac OS X and are expected to be deployed as updates next week.

For more, see the full ZDNet.com article.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Photos App Rolls Out in Yosemite 10.10.3 Public Beta Seed

Yesterday, Apple released the Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 public beta.  The 10.10.3 public beta also includes the new Apple Photos app for OS X.


If you are currently enrolled in the public beta seed, you will see the new update appear in your Updates tab.

One word of warning: Photos, just like OS X 10.10.3, is pre-release beta software.  That means that there are going to be bugs and you should not install either of these updates on your main, production, Mac that you use daily.  To be a beta tester, you must be prepared to delete everything, applications and data (including family photos).

My recommendation is that you make multiple backups before you install OS X 10.10.3 and Photos on your Mac.  Time Machine, BackBlaze or event a Finder data copy to an external USB hard disk drive or flash drive is a good idea.

The complete list of updates to OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 updates are as follows:


Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 public beta seed can be installed on any Mac that is currently running OS X Yosemite.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Apple Announces March 9 Event


Apple has sent out notices to members of the media for their March 9 event.  Simply titled "Spring forward." with a note that the event will get under way at 10am PDT (1pm eastern) and be available for steaming at apple.com/live.

Many Apple followers, including myself, believe that this is the event that Apple will use to really show off what the new Apple Watch can really do.  I was impressed by what where were shown back in September, but I believe on March 9 we will learn about the Watch's full capabilities.

We also know that Apple Watch requires iOS 8.2.  With iOS 8.2 we will get all the enhancements for our iPhones to make Apple Watch work. (The first generation Apple Watch requires an iPhone to work.)

[Rampant Rumor Mill Mode: On]

There are some whispers on the Internet that Apple will, in addition to telling us all about the Apple Watch and iOS 8.2, will unveil new hardware also.  If you look around, you will find bloggers or analysts talking about the 12-inch "iPad Pro", an Apple iPad stylus, and event a completely redesigned 12-inch MacBook Air rumored as the "MacBook Stealth."  These things may come to pass, but I don't see it coming during the March 9 event.  March 9 will be all about the amazing things the Apple Watch can do and why you need to get one.

[Rampant Rumor Mill Mode: Off]

What I do expect at the March 9 event, that is decidedly not a rumor is the pricing.  Back in September, Apple told us that the Apple Watch Sport edition will start at $349.

My own back of the envelope speculative pricing has a Sport edition watch going for about $549 when you factor in the larger screen size and maybe 8GB of storage for music.  It could be even more if you can purchase an AppleCare plan.


I originally thought I would get the Apple Watch edition, you know, the one in sterling silver with the cool looking Milanese Loop band.  Again, my completely speculative pricing envelop puts that Watch in the $749 - $1,299 price range, again, when you factor in the larger face, extra memory and AppleCare warrantee.

Don't even get me started on the Apple Watch Edition edition.  That version of the Watch is not intended to be so much as functional as it is really a piece of 18K gold jewelry.  Expect the Apple Watch Edition to start at nothing less than $9,999 and go up from there.

At this point, anyone who follows Apple closely will know that Apple is really serious about the Apple Watch, its function and it's perception that it's jewelry.  And that means that it will be expensive.  I like to purchase the mid-tier and Apple equipment, but this time, remembering back to how hard I was on the last two $80 - $120 watches I purchased years ago, the Apple Watch Sport edition looks like the new "fitness tracker" for me.

Let's see what Apple has in store for us on March 9.