iOS 9.3.2 Public Beta 1 Has Been Released

Apple rolled out the first public beta of iOS 9.3.2 last night.  iOS 9.3.2 is largely expected to be a maintenance release and not expected to include any new tentpole features such as Night Shift.

If your iOS device is already enrolled in the iOS 9 Public Beta program, you can download the over 1GB installer oner the air using the Software Update feature.

iOS 9.3.2 Public Beta 1 comes on the heals of iOS 9.3.1, which was released on March 31, and iOS 9.3, which was released on March 21.

The Curious Case of the iOS 9.3.1 “Hey, Siri” Contacts, Photos Vulnerability

Late last night, my father of all people, tipped me off to a story making the rounds on the Internet about a security vulnerability with an iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus running iOS 9.3.1.  The reported vulnerability allowed a malicious user to by-pass the iPhone’s lock screen using the hands free “Hey, Siri” command.  When successfully executed, an attacker would be able to see all of the contacts and photos on the device.

Quartz has an article up on their site that starts off with:

“You might want to wait before downloading the latest version of Apple’s operating system for iPhones.

If you own an iPhone 6S or 6S Plus and have upgraded to iOS 9.3.1, other people can access your contacts and photos without entering a passcode to unlock the phone. It’s an elaborate and finicky but nonetheless startling loophole.”

With my iPhone 6s Plus unlocked and running iOS 9.3.1, the “finicky” exploit worked.  However, if I repeated the process with my iPhone locked, the attack was stopped dead in it’s tracks.

This morning I tried to reproduce the attack, I received a notice from Siri that I needed to unlock my iPhone first.  I made this short video that was posted to YouTube this afternoon.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_BrmKI3W9Y]

Oddly, the security settings that AppleInsider.com reported as needing to be turned off to prevent the attack were still enabled on my iPhone.  Curious.

So what happened?

This afternoon, Fortune.com has an article up that the Siri-related problem was corrected by Apple from Apple HQ.

“While initial reports and claims from the bug’s discoverers said that the issue was an iOS 9 glitch, it turns out it was a Siri problem. On Tuesday morning, after seeing the rash of reports on the issue, Apple issued an update to Siri fixing the problem. Therefore, users who were previously subject to the issue are now safe and do not require a software update to get the fix.”

Security and privacy conscious iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus users can go back to their day without further worry.

Apple Releases iOS 9.3, watchOS 2.2 Updates

As part of yesterday’s media event to introduce the new iPhone SE and iPad Pro, Apple released iOS 9.3 and watchOS 2.2.

iOS 9.3 Update

iOS 9.3 add new features to your iOS device and is not just a run-of-the-mill maintenance update.  New in iOS 9.3 is the ability to password protect individual Notes and Night Shift.

Password protection of the Notes app is nice feature especially if you often keep private thoughts mixed in with notes about buying eggs, milk, and bread at the grocery store.  Personally, I don’t often use the Notes app other than to jot down information quickly that I’ll come back to later on and organize.  Still, it is a nice feature to have available.

  
Night Shift is a very nice enhancement because it can use either the schedule you set or the sun down and sun rise information based on where you are in the world, to adjust the colors of your screen.  Under normal conditions, your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch display emits a more harsh blue hue light.  During the day, this does not create any problems.  At night, however, exposing yourself to harsh blue light can make it harder for your to fall asleep if you use your iDevice just before bed.  Night Shift will shift the color tones from the “cold” blue light to “warmer” yellow/orange light that is less likely to disrupt your body’s natural processes for falling asleep.  As you can see below, I have configured my iPhone 6s Plus to activate Night Shift based on the time of day.  Night Shift, however, will only work on the iPhone 5s and later, iPad Pro, iPad Air and later, the iPad mini 2 and later, and the most recent iPod touch.
iOS 9.3 is available now for any iOS device that is capable of running iOS 9, which is pretty much any iOS device that has been released since 2011.  The software and be installed from a Mac or Windows PC, or over the air using Settings > General > Software Update.
For more information on the new features of iOS 9, including those added with the iOS 9.3 update, visit the iOS 9.3 update website.
watchOS 2.2 Update
watchOS 2.2 is primarily as maintenance release for Apple’s iPhone accessory.  I’m not sure who needs to be able to pair more than one Watch with an iPhone, aside from app developers maybe, so I’m having a hard time coming up with who else might need this feature.  (Are day and night watches really a thing?)  I’m all for updates to the Maps app.  The data behind Maps has gotten pretty good and any improvement that keeps from having to pull out my iPhone while trying to walk around Manhattan is a welcomed update for me.
To update to watchOS 2.2, launch the Watch app on your iPhone and goto General > Software Update.  Before you can apply the update, your Apple Watch will need to be charged up to at least 50% and be in range of your iPhone, which, will wireless deploy the update to your Watch.

Apple “Hey, Siri” Special Event Wrap Up

Apple has unleashed new Apple Watches, iPads, an all new Apple TV and, yes, even the new iPhones 6s and iPhone 6s Plus on the world.

If you haven’t had time to sit through the two and a half hour presentation, here’s everything you need to know about Apple’s newest gear.

Welcome and Opening Remarks from Tim Cook

Tim started off by saying that we have “monster updates across multiple product lines” and he wasn’t kidding.  As with the last keynote, the usual “How are we doing?” state-of-the-state slides were cut.

Apple Watch

After stating that Apple Watch customer satisfaction was at 97%, Tim turned over the Apple Watch section to Jeff Williams, Apple’s SVP Operations.  I don’t recall seeing Jeff up on stage so I’m glad they are giving him time in the spotlight.

  • Time Transit and 3rd-part complications in watchOS 2.0
  • Transit information is coming to Apple Maps to help you find public transit
  • 10,000 watchOS apps in the App Store today
  • New gold and rose gold color options for Apple Watch Sport (available now)
  • New Apple Watch stainless with new band options
  • 16 fluoroelastomer Sport bands, including a new (Product) RED band 
  • Hermes bands and new signature watch faces, available at select stores

I like the new watch bands, but was not blown away with the new colors.  I’ll likely buy one ore two more fluoroelastomer bands before I upgrade my Sport edition watch in the future.

The AirStrip third-party demo seems like an amazing convergence of medical and digital technology. Apple is really showcasing their work with partners in the health and fitness fields.

watchOS 2.0, a free upgrade, arrives Wednesday, September 16.

iPad Pro

Turns out the rumors about a larger iPad were true and that device is called the iPad Pro.  The iPad Pro is clearly targeted at business professionals and not the typical iPad owner.  According to Tim Cook, “iPad is the clearest expression of our vision of personal computing.”  “We’re partnering with the world’s leading enterprise companies, IBM and Cisco, to redefine and transform the way people work in the enterprise.”

To introduce the new iPad Pro, Apple played a video with the solar system and the sun. Let’s just
get to it already.  I don’t want to see a simulated product showing a simulated solar system.  My first impression of the iPad Pro (during the video): “It’s nice.  I don’t need it.”

Then then video ended and Tim Cook came out holding the deice and things turned around quickly for me.  My second impression of the iPad Pro (while Cook was holding it): “I bet it’s close in size to a standard format US magazine – I read a lot of content on my iPad Air today.  EW, Time and others, please for the love of God…please…please use retina assets.”

  • 12.9″ diagonal screen more than enough for holding a “printed” magazine page
  • 2732 x 2048 (horizontal), 2x the resolution as the iPad Air/Air 2 standing tall
  • 5.6M pixels being pushed around the display
  • More pixels than a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
  • Variable refresh rate display (dynamic power savings)
  • iPad Pro is powered by the third generation 64-bit A9X chip
  • 1.8x faster than the iPad Air 2 A8X chip, 2x flash storage performance
  • 2.0x fater GPU performance (great for games and pro media apps)
  • Still maintains the iPad’s 10-hour battery life target
  • 4x speaker audio system (one speaker at each corner of the device)
  • iPad Pro is 6.9mm thick compared to iPad Air 2 6.1mm
  • Smart Keyboard case with woven fabric key caps (no screen scratching)
  • Smart Connector carries power and data with a magnetic connection
  • Smart Connector does not rely on Bluetooth or peripheral batteries
  • iPad Pro will be available is white/sliver, white/gold, black/space grey
  • 32GB Wi-Fi $799, 128GB Wi-Fi $949, and 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular $1,079
  • iPad Pro begins shipping this November

I also really like the full size soft keyboard, especially with iOS 9 upper and lower case key caps.

So, how do you get a thinner MacBook or MacBook Air? Ditch the entire bottom half of the notebook.  That’s the iPad Pro.  I think “Road Warriors” (is that still a ‘thing’?) should really
like this for it’s extreme portability.  There was no discussion about an Apple Smart Cover or Smart Case.  I would think that with a full size soft keyboard, you could get by without buying a keyboard accessory to save money.

Can the iPad Pro be a compelling alternative to MacBook, MacBook Air?  Assuming you purchase the mid-tier iPad Pro, a Smart Keyboard and a Pencil, your out the door cost is $1,200 for the 128GB Wi-Fi iPad Pro.

Apple Pencil

Apple Pencil is the stylus that God did’t give you and is a much more refined writing experience over today’s stylus.  I’m guessing that the people at 53, who make that cool Paper app, are really pissed about the new stylus and it’s name.

  • When using Pencil, iPad Pro digitizer is scanning 2x as fast to collect more data
  • Can use both touch and Pencil input at the same time (ruler and pencil example
  • Tracks position, force and tilt of Pencil as you use it
  • Promises low latency to better replicate the feel of writing/drawing on paper.  This is a big one for me since I take notes on iPad Air with Jot stylus
  • Pencil charges off of iPad Pro Lighting port (first Holy $#!+ moment)
  • Pencil working with built in apps looks like Microsoft Surface stylus done right
  • Into video showed hand firmly resting on the display and not interfering with Pencil input.

Improving the experience of note taking on the iPad looks to be greatly enhanced with the new iPad Pro only Pencil stylus.  Overall, it looks like a better experience of using my iPad Air and Bluetooth Jot stylus.

Professional Productivity on iPad Pro

Playing word association with the term “Professional Productivity” does not conjure up images of “Microsoft”.  Adobe is the first word that comes to mind.

Admit it, Microsoft Office on iPad Pro with Pencil and Split Screen is incredibly cool!

Adobe’s up next with their Com page layout software and Photoshop Fix apps.  Photoshop Fix offers real-time dynamic photo re-touching on an iPad.  This took forever on my 1992 Macintosh IIci desktop.  Now I can do that work from a tablet in real-time.

I was glad to see Irene Walsh from 3D4Medical on stage to show off her company’s anatomy app.  That demo looked pretty impressive.

iPad mini 4

  • iPad Air 2 hardware reconfigured into the mini’s format
  • Like iPad Air and iPad mini 3 both have A7
  • iPad mini 4 starts at $399

The iPad mini 4 only received a passing mention during the event.  Aside from putting the iPad Air 2 guts into the iPad mini 3 case, there’t not much new there.

I wonder what this means for iPad Air 9.7-inch line.  Seems like many people are opting for the iPad mini.  iPad Pro is clearly aimed at professionals. Is this a way to boost margins on iPad line? Is Apple just keeping the iPad Air around because people still buy it?  This feels a lot like the MacBook (One) being out, yet Apple still continues to sell the MacBook Air.

Apple TV, Forth Generation, and tvOS

Tim Cook started off the Apple TV potion of the keynote by stating that “The future of TV is apps,” and with the new Apple TV, there will be plenty of apps to go around.  The new Apple TV, as Apple likes to say, will be instantly familiar, but new.   The new Apple TV looks very similar to the second and third generation Apple TVs we have now.  With the new Apple TV, the box will be slightly taller than before.

The software that drives Apple TV has been updated too.  tvOS, a variation on iOS – just like watchOS is also a variant of iOS – has gotten a new flat, clean ascetic.  With the integration of Siri, you are now able to use the new Siri remote for Apple TV to speak commands such has “So me movies with Robert Downey, jr”, “What was the score from last night’s Yankees game”, or “What is the weather forecast for later today?”.  That’s a pretty cool feature…if it works reliably.

With the Siri Remote, better remote control navigation, Bluetooth communication, apps, a redesigned UI and Universal Search the new Apple TV is a worth while upgrade for existing Apple TV owners and people looking to add “smart” features to their TV.  My initial reaction to Apple TV was that Apple has caught up to where everyone else is.  But the story does quite end there. If you squint when you look at Apple TV, you can see where Apple plans to go in the future, so I’m holding out hope that Apple TV and tvOS will have a more compelling reason to buy one over it’s competitors in the future.

To introduce the new Apple TV, Tim brought out Jen Folse from the Apple TV engineering team to demonstrate some of the new features.

The new Apple TV, forth generation features:

  • Redesigned hardware, including the new Siri Remote
  • Redesigned UI/UX: GUI, glass touch interface on remote, Siri voice controls
  • Siri Universal Search for content across iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Showtime
  • HD video screen savers that look so amazing that I want to have them running all the time
  • Apple TV now includes Apps, App Store, and full integration with Apple Music and Beats 1
  • A8, Bluetooth 4, 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO
  • 10mm taller than Apple TV 3rd gen
  • Siri Remote charges via Lightning Cable and is good for 3 mo on a single charge
  • TV volume control, on off TV/receiver control
  • Available in two models: 32GB $149, 64GB $199
  • Apple TV 3 lives on at the existing $69 price point
  • Apple TV 4 ships in late October

tvOS

 Apple TV’s operating system received an official name this year, and it is “tvOS”.

  • New software that drives Apple TV and is based on iOS
  • Think of tvOS in the same way that watchOS is a “derivative” of iOS
  • tvOS uses all of the same foundations as iOS, easy to move iOS apps to tvOS
  • Multiplayer game support, mixing Apple TV remote and iPhone, iPad or iPod touch as extra controllers.
  • Apple TV remote also can interact with apps like a Wii Remote does
  • Support for three additional iOS controllers for a total of four players
  • Universal apps now span iOS for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and tvOS
  • Support for game progress saves, continue playing where you last left off
  • Developers have access to tvOS now – developer.apple.com/tvos

iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus

At about 83 minutes, gets to the part of the presentation we have all been waiting for: iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

With so much packed into this presentation, you will recall that Apple chose to cut out all of the status updates.  Still, Tim Cook still found the time to take a jab at all of the Apple naysayers by pointing out the iPhone has grown 35% year-over-year.  Boom!

The new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will have bodies constructed with Apple’s 7000 series aluminum and come in a new rose gold color in addition to silver, gold and space grey.  Being an “s: year, Apple has chosen to keep the same display sizes: 6s 4.7-inches and the 6s at 5.5-inches.  The bodies are slightly larger than the previous year, however, Apple’s website still shows that iPhone 6-series and iPhone 6s-series phone will be able to fit into existing cases.

So of the new features about the new iPhone that I really like are:

  • iPhone 6S/Plus includes to Multi-Touch interface called 3D Touch
  • Peek and Pop Force Touch gestures for navigating and controlling iPhone
  • Tactile feedback is provided to the display via a Taptic engine
  • New 3D Force gestures for Peek and email are going to be a big time saver for me
  • iPhone 6S/Plus is powered by the new A9 processor
  • Desktop and console grade graphics – games look great on Metal for iOS
  • M9 motion coprocessor has now been moved directly into the A9 CPU
  • Apple gets points for a 12MP iSight camera; 5MP FaceTime camera (screen as flash!)
  • New Live Photos feature works across OS X El Capitan, iOS 9 on iPhone iPad and watchOS 2

In addition to the specs, Apple has made some changes to the hardware line up.

  • iPhone 6S/Plus will keep the same price configurations
  • iPhone 5S is free on contract
  • iPhone 5C is out (say goodbye to the last non-TouchID device)
  • You can now purchase your iPhone directly from Apple on a payment plan called iPhone Upgrade Program, which includes AppleCare+

The iPhone 6S/Plus go on sale Sept 25.  Pre-orders, the only humane way to order on iPhone, will be available with free shipping to your home or in store reservations.

There’s a lot to digest with the Hey, Siri event and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the new hardware and software as soon as possible.

Thoughts Regarding the iOS 9 Public Beta

It’s that special time of year once again where we have been shown all of the wonderful software enhancements that Apple is cooking up for us this fall.  It is also the time when we, the brave nerds, install not quite fully finished software on our iDevices and Macs.  All of this is done in the name of being nerdy.

Actually, what I’m talking about is the pre-release public beta versions of Apple’s upcoming operating systems: iOS 9 and Mac OS X El Capitan 10.11.

Both of these new operating systems are still under development so it’s not fair to judge either of them on their technical merits, stability or performance.  The completed versions of both iOS 9 and El Capitan are due out “this fall.”  What I want to talk about here are some of the user facing enhancements in iOS 9.

Keyboards

Last year, one of the big ticket items in iOS 8 was Apple allowing third-party keyboards to be installed on iOS.  While having alternate keyboards available was fun, I dumped all of them inside a week.

This year, I’m far more interested in the tweak Apple has baked into the iOS 9 public beta: changing keyboard key cap states.  With iOS 8, I could never keep the Shift key state straight in my head: What was the CAPS mode icon state again? Solid white?  Or was that grey?  I can’t remember.  Better keep mashing the Shift key and retyping.  At least half the time while I was banging out a long text in Messages, a tweet in Twitter or a long email in Mail, I would get the state wrong.  So annoying!

In iOS 9, now the key caps change state depending on whether or not Shift is engaged or not.  Below is a sample of iOS 9 Public Beta 1 running on my iPhone 5S (left) and iOS 8.4 running on my iPhone 6 (right).

I think I really like that enhancement.

News and iCloud Drive

After installing iOS 9, you will get two new stock apps: News (as featured in the WWDC June 8 keynote) and iCloud Drive.

News appears to be everything Apple showed in the keynote.  I was really excited about News when is was unveiled during the keynote address.  As I said in my summary post on this year’s WWDC keynote, I think this will be a worthwhile feature for both the iPhone and iPad.  With Apple’s focus on user privacy, I think this could become the go-to alternative for things like Facebook Instant Articles.  The beta apps has lots of great articles from across the spectrum of publishers and topics.  I think the biggest challenge users will face is taking the time to fine tune their news feeds.

iCloud Drive, in my opinion, is a new iOS client app to help round out the features of iCloud document storage that launched as part of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite last year.  With iCloud Drive, you now have access to the folders and documents that you have stored in iCloud.  iCloud Drive works similarly to Microsoft’s OneDrive or Google’s Drive iOS apps.

On the left, you can see the top level folder view for iCloud Drive.  On the right, you see the list view of the contents of the Keynote folder.  It’s pretty basic stuff to be sure, but is also a utilitarian feature that Apple needs to gain parity with Google and Microsoft.

iOS 9 will be released later this year and is expected to run on any iOS device that is already running iOS 8.

For more information about iOS 9, check out Apple’s iOS 9 preview website.

Thoughts on the Apple WWDC 15 Keynote Presentation

Yesterday, Apple kicked off their twenty-sixth WWDC conference with a keynote address from Tim Cook.

If you haven’t already watched the keynote session, you can do so now directly from the WWDC page on Apple.com.

What follows are my thoughts and comments as I watched the presentation early this morning about the exciting new updates coming to OS X, iOS and watchOS.

Opening Remarks

Usually, the formula for an Apple keynote presentation is to welcome everyone and then run through a number of slides talking about how well Apple is doing. This year, Cook announced that 2015 is the twenty-sixth developer’s conference.  In addition to the live stream of the keynote, he also announced that for the first time ever, Apple will be live streaming 30 developer sessions this year to try and accommodate the developers who were not able to buy a ticket to this year’s conference.

In short, Cook said “everything’s great” and then turned the stage over to Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President, Software Engineering to talk about advances in OS X, iOS and the new watchOS.

Mac OS X El Capitan Update

– 55% of active Mac users have upgraded to OS X Yosemite
– Mac OS X 10.11 will be called OS X El Capitan; notice the lack of “10.11” in the product name
– Two major areas of focus for El Capitan: user experience and performance

The user experience performance should be thought of as a refinement of last year’s bold new OS X design language in Yosemite.  The tent pole features that were shown off include the new Informed Search features of Spotlight, refinements of the built-in OS X apps and window and workspace management with Mission Control, the Spaces bar and the new Split View windows control.

Of all of the new updates, I think I will get the most utility out of the new Split View controls.  The windows snapping feature of Windows 7 is one that I use all of the time at work and the one Windows feature that I wished my Mac has built in by default.  (The other was the smoky grey Vista Start bar, but that was addressed last year with the Yosemite dark mode menu.)

Informed Search in Spotlight allows you to use nature language text to help find things on your Mac.  With Informed Search, you can now type in search terms like “Show me all of my photos from last June”.  That’s pretty powerful because it lets us type in what we are looking for an let the computer figure out what we meant rather than us tying to remember some details about how, when or where we may have stored the files on disk.

There was also a brief demo of a new feature coming to Safari wherein that if a video, say an ad, starts auto-playing a video in a tab that you are not looking at, a speaker mute icon will appear in the URL/search navigation bar.  Just click it and the audio is instantly muted.  That will really become a handy feature as more and more websites start auto-playing video ads on their sites.

There isn’t enough time to cover all of the OS X El Capitan features

Apple has to pick and choose what features are going to be high-lighted on stage.  Some interesting features that appeared in the “…and so much more.” slide include:

– New system font – Yes, Apple Watch’s San Francisco font is coming to Mac OS X
– Last search – Sounds like a really nice time saver
– Rename from context menu
– Time to leave reminders
– Redesigned Disk Utility – seems like an odd update; are enhancements to HFS+ coming?
– File copy resume
– Copy file path in Finder

On the OS X performance side of the house, Apple is bringing their Metal graphics engine that debuted on iOS last year “back to the Mac” El Capitan.  Metal will give professional apps and game developers a higher performance graphics layer than the older OpenGL and OpenCL platforms.

Reportedly, all of Apple’s first party apps are being enhanced to take advantage of Metal.  I’m looking forward to the performance boost to things like the quick view feature that let’s you look at a document without having to launch the app first.  Oh, and when you do have to launch apps, Apple is working on making the time you wait for apps to launch must quicker.

The schedule for Mac OS X El Capitan is:

– Developers get a free preview starting right now.
– Public beta testers will get El Capitan next month (July)
– El Capitan general release will ship “this fall”

 iOS 9 Update

– 83% of active iPhone users are running iOS 8 today
– iOS 9’s major focus is “elevating” the foundation:improved battery life, better performance, and security enhancements

Just like with OS X El Capitan, intelligence and informed seraching is coming to iOS 9 and Siri.  Siri can now understand more natural language requests like “show me pictures from …” or create new reminders based on what you are looking at in an app such as Safari.  Siri can even look up phone numbers for incoming calls that aren’t in your contacts by searching your email and making a suggestion.

As with all of these security features, iOS 9 keeps all of your data private.

Craig Federighi discussed personal data privacy in iOS 9

Some other cool features that Federighi showed off, include:

– iOS’ swipe to the left of the first app launcher screen is coming back and has been enhanced to offer contextual suggestions

– Search has been enhanced to include new categories of information

– iOS 9 searching has a new Search API that can be used to search across installed apps and provide deep linking to specific content and take you back to search results

– Apple is building in intelligence into iOS, but they are not data mining; all information stays on device

– Look ups for information is all anonymous, not shared – you are always in control of your data

ZDNet’s iOS 9 beta lock screen

One of the nice features coming to iOS 9 that didn’t get highlighted in the presentation is that Apple is improving iOS security by increasing the number of digits in a PIN from 4 to 6.  By adding just two additional digits to the PIN, iPhones and iPads will become all the more difficult to “hack” using a brute force attach.  ZDNet had a nice little write up about this feature.

Jennifer Bailey talks about how Apple is simplifying the wallet with Apple Pay

To talk about the updates to Apple Pay in iOS 9, Apple brought out VP, Apple Pay, Jennifer Bailey!  I was really surprised to see Apple giving a woman “FaceTime” (sorry about the pun) on the WWDC stage.  It would appear that Apple really is trying to show that it is a diverse company and not just a company run by “old 50-something white dudes”.

In addition to launching Apple Pay in the UK later this year, Bailey went on to talk about the upcoming changes to Apple Pay in iOS 9.  They include:

– Discover Card is coming to Apple Pay this year
– Square is releasing a new NFC Apple Pay reader that will be in stores this fall
– Store loyalty and reward card support is coming to Apple Pay
– Passbook is being renamed to “Wallet”

It’s that last on that I feel is kind of cheap.  Apple clearly has the head start on all of the competing mobile payment systems.  That’s not to say they arrived first – just that they have an early success advantage.  Switching to Wallet from Passbook, to me, makes it sound like Apple is chaing after Google.

Maps, an app that has been steadily improving year-over-year, is also getting updated to include support for public transit information, specifically:

– Adding a new Transit map (buses, trains, subway stations) with departure times
– Step by step walking directions
– Siri is being integrated to the new Maps transit information

I’m glad to see that Apple is adding public transit information to Maps.  Android users have had this information via Google Maps for a long time now.  Apple Maps has had a rough start, but it is clear that Apple is committed to enhancing their mapping service over time.

With iOS 9, Apple is included an all new pre-installed application called “News”.  News will bring “beautiful content from the worlds best world’s greatest sources, personalized for you.”  To help introduce and demonstrate News, Apple brought out the VP Application Product Management, Susan Prescott.

 Let’s just stop for a minute and let it sink in that Apple now has had two high ranking women on the WWDC stage showing off some of their newest software with the world watching.  This is the new-new Apple.

Susan Prescott shows off the all-new News app for iOS 9

I’m really excited about the new News app for iPad and iPhone.  I read the Wall Street Journal on my iPad most days in the WSJ app.  I’ll probably still do that because I have a subscription, but the News app has a lot going for it.  I can see in the future, the News app taking the place of Newsstand in the future.

With News, you tell the app a little about what websites you like to visist and the kinds of articles you like to read on them.  Form there, News will aggregate a feed of news articles, beautifully rendered and laid out for you to read.  The app updates each time you launch it so there will always be fresh content to read and presented in a visually stunning way.

Up until now, I have this on again off again relationship with Facebook.  I’ve recently started using it again after having liked the WSJ and New York Times pages so that I get news added to my Facebook feed.  I’ve never really been happy about liking pages on Facebook because of all the creepy things they are probably doing to collect my data.  With News, all of that is gone!

The high points on New include:

– News updates each time you launch it.  The more you read the better News can be about learning
about what you like to read
– News will ship for both iPad and iPhone
– News will have privacy built in from the start.  There will be no sharing of data with Apple or third-parties about what you are reading
– This is, in my opinion, a direct shot at Facebook instant articles and I’m glad to have an Apple alternative
– When News goes live, there will be 30 New York Times articles published a day for News.
– If all of this reading is anonymous, and there is no data sharing with publishers, who’s footing the bill for the stories?

iPad iOS 9 Enhancements

With iOS 9, Apple shows the iPad more love than it’s seen in the last two releases.  It’s clear that Apple is looking to bolster how their industry-leading tablet is both viewed (it’s not just a really large iPhone) and used (now with more productivity and multitasking enhancements).

iOS 9 brings the Shortcut Bar to the iPad keyboard

iPad gets the new Shortcut Bar as part of the new iOS 9 keyboard of iPad.  Not only does the keyboard give you predictive text for what you might be typing, but now you have access to text tools right in the keyboard.  The new Shortcut Bar provides convenient access cut/copy/paste functions as well as the ability to add bold, italics and underlined text.  You can even add an attachment if the app support it.

If you’re not convinced that Apple is trying to cater to people who want to use the iPad as their only computer, a new two finger gesture allows you to move the insertion point cursor around the screen when you place two fingers over the keyboard and move them around as if you were using the trackpad on a MacBook.  This should be a pretty handy feature for people who become frustrated with how you move the cursor around the screen. I know a lot of people who will be happy to have this feature.  I have to wonder if the new iPad Air 3 will feature a Force Touch screen unlocking even more functionality of the track pad-like feature of iOS 9.

iOS 9 bring Multitasking to the iPad

Adding iOS 9 to an iPad Air 2 you are able to begin using the new Split Screen feature.  Split Screen was first rumored last year to be a part of iOS 8.  With iOS 9, Split Screen is now a reality.

The iPad Air 2 running iOS 9 will be able to use Split Screen

In Split Screen mode, both halves of the screen are running separate applications simultaneously.  You can also grab the slider in the middle of the screen to resize the two windows according to what you are working on.  Regrettably, Screen Split is only available with the iPad Air 2 and will not work with the iPad Air.  Personally, I think that’s a mistake, but no one asked me.

In addition to Split Screen, is Slide Over.  With Slide Over, you swipe in from the right edge of the screen to open a new column that takes up about one-third of the screen.

The iPad Air 2 with a Slide Over pane open

As with Split Screen, both apps are live at the same time.  This feature is really hand if you are working with data in the first two-thirds of the screen and you want to use the last third of the screen to go look something up.  When the Slide Over pane is visible, you will see a Notification Center style tab at the top of the screen. When you pull down on this tab, an app picker appears of the running apps that you can choose to snap in and replace the current app that is in the Slide Over pane.

The iPad Air 2 Slide Over open app selector

Slide Over is not a hardware exclusive feature tied to the iPad Air 2 and will also work on the iPad Air, iPad mini 2 and the iPad mini 3.

Lastly, you can double-click the Home button (or Touch ID button on the new iPad Air 2) to bring up the new iPad Task Switcher.  Unlike the card view used today, running applications are presented on a sort of digital carrousel.

The iPad Air 2 using the new Task Switcher

 While the new Task Switch looks new and refreshed, nothing that we saw in the demo showed any new features.

All the Reset of iOS 9

There’s so much good stuff coming in iOS 9 it’s hard to catalog it all in this single post.  Some of the more important goodies include:

– A new iOS 9 Low Power mode will extend battery life for up to three hours (estimated)

– iOS 9 will only require 1.4GB of free space needed to upgrade – iOS 8 required a whopping 4.6GB of free space to run the upgrade

– HomeKit gadgets can now be securely connected your iPhone over the Internet via iCloud.  Very very cool.

– Wireless CarPlay what a snoozer.  I’d just like to have CarPlay support in my 2015 Honda Accord  EX.  Oh well, maybe in three to four years when my current least is up Apple and Honda will have their collective acts together. (I’m so glad that Honda was a CarPlay launch partner.)

– Swift 2 has gone Open Source – now anyone can use it.  A standards compiler and support for iOS, OS X and Linux will be available later this year.  Notice that Windows is missing from that list.

The release schedule for iOS 9 is:

– Developers get a free preview starting right now.
– Public beta testers will get iOS 9 next month (July)
– iOS 9 general release will ship “this fall”

Lastly, iOS 9 will install and run on all of the current iOS hardware, which is: iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and yes, even the iPod touch 5th generation.

watchOS 2 Update

It’s hard to comprehend that Apple Watch and watchOS 1.0 have only been shipping for about six weeks now and already Apple is pushing forward with enhancements to existing features and native application support with watchOS 2.  (I’ll have my Apple Watch review post up before watchOS 2 ships, I promise.)

Here are some thoughts on what’s coming in watchOS 2 later this year.

– Seeing “watchOS” on a slide makes me immediately think of Palm’s now defunct “webOS”.  Old habits die really hard I guess.

– watchOS 2 will bring native apps to the platform.  These apps can run without an iPhone within range of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

watchOS 2 will being new watch faces to the current list of watch face styles.  Photo Face and Photo Album Face are new watch faces that will allow you to pick a photo to use as your watch face or a Photos album to randomly display pictures from each time you activate the watch face.  Another cool animated watch face will be the new Time-Lapse face.  Apple will pre-build time lapsed “slideshows” of a select set of cities like London and New York that will animate when the watch face is on.

Apple also promised that in watchOS 2, software developers will be able to add their own “widgets” or “complications” to watch faces.  Complications are the little blocks of information on the wathc face like the date, upcoming apponintments, battery level and fitness tracking rings.

Lastly, while you are looking at the watch face, you can scroll the digital crown to see calendar events that happened earlier today or that will be coming up later in the day.

watchOS 2 also adds:

– Night Stand mode: when the Watch is charging and turned on it’s side withwith the digital crown and button facing up the screen will work like an alarm clock.

– Email replies using Siri dictation

– Make and receive FaceTime audio calls directly on the Watch

– Siri voice command support for activating the Workout app – “Start a 30 minute run in the park.”

– Siri voice command to display a specific glance on the Watch face

With watchOS 2, we are really going to see the flood gates open with regard to what developers can access on the Watch – native apps, new complications, system level access to microphone and speakers and the on board sensors – and all new apps to dream up and make available for use.

Lastly, as you might have already guessed, watchOS 2 will be a free upgrade coming “this fall.”

On more thing… Apple Music

I appreciate that Apple is once again using “One more thing…” in their presentations.  It’s a classic move that Steve Jobs would use to whip up the crowd into a frenzy before showing off one last software package, some new hardware or a new Apple service. 

Yesterday, Tim Cook returned to that familiar place to talk about Apple’s upcoming Apple Music service and Beats 1 124/7 live radio station.  Naturally, Apple’s fans when nuts.

Apple’s Jimmie Iovine introduces the new Apple Music streaming service

Tim Cook kicks off the last segment of the WWDC keynote by introducing Apple Music and Jimmy Ivone to tell us about what Apple Music is all about.

Apple Music is a new streaming service, 24hr live radio and fans connecting with to artists

Apple describes Apple Music as:
– A new revolutionary music service
– 24/7 live radio service broadcast around the world
– A new way of connecting fans with artists

With Apple Music, you will have all of your music all in on place.  Your iTunes library meets the full iTunes Music library streamed to your iOS device, Mac, Windows PC and before the year’s out, Google Android devices.

I have to say, when Iovine started talking about a “revolutionary new music service” I’m pretty sure I heard echos of Steve Jobs introducing the original iPhone back in 2007.  (You can watch Jobs introduce the iPhone below.)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hUIxyE2Ns8]

Apple also made a short video featuring Trent Reznor, Artist/Apple Creative, to tell us about the new music service.

Next up, is Beats 1. a live global radio station with Zane Lowe and his team of real DJs working as hosts around the clock from New York, Los Angles and London.  To help introduce Beats 1, Apple played a short video featuring Zane Lowe talking about how Apple put together Beats 1.

All of the music recommendations and playlists from Apple Music and Beats 1 are curated by humans to deliver the best possible listening experience for whatever music you want to listen to.

And last, but not least, is @Connect, which allows artists to upload and share what they are doing directly to their fans.  To help understand how Connect brings fans and artists – big and small – together, Apple brought Drake out to talk about his experience with Connect.  Yet another win for diversity on the Apple stage.

The schedule for Apple Music, which includes Beats 1 and Connect is:

– Rolls out with iOS 8.4 on June 30, with new versions of iTunes for Mac and Windows PC.  Android support coming later this year.

– The first three months of Apple Music are free.  After that, it’s just $9.99/month for an individual subscription.

– For family of up to six people, a sharing subscription is just $14.99/month and each person has their own library, playlists, recommendations, et el.

To close out the keynote presentation, Tim Cook invited The Weekend up on stance to perform a new single.  I’m sure it will be on the iTunes Music Store before long.