Video: Can Apple cut into Google’s education tech lead?
Apple, once a company that dared to think different when its products just worked, continues to erode itself to the point where it’s just the shell of its former self.
Case in point: Look at how the top spot in the Apple Store is up for sale to whoever is willing to pay for it. Here I am searching for a specific app — in this case, the Twitter app — and the top result is an “ad” for LinkedIn.
Search for the LinkedIn app and, well, rather oddly, an ad for the LinkedIn app appeared right above the entry for the LinkedIn app. I presume that the folks at LinkedIn bought this ad to prevent someone else horning in on that spot (like LinkedIn did with Twitter).
As you can imagine, when it comes to popular apps, that top spot is highly desirable.
And remember, each time I’m searching here, I’m searching for a specific app, not using a broad search term.
I know that I’ve probably being annoyed here by something minor — and as an iOS user there’s no doubt that I have bigger things to get worked up about — but, quite honestly, this is the sort of nonsense that I once would have put money down on Apple not doing.
If a user is searching for an app, show them the app. Showing them a totally different app — as with the case for the LinkedIn app instead of the Twitter app — does nothing more than annoy and throw a speed bump in the way of getting stuff done.
I pay big bucks for Apple hardware. I also pay for apps, of which Apple gets a massive cut. And based on its latest financials, the company is far from hard up. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. The company is rolling in cash.
So, why do this?
Here’s the weird thing: This is exactly the sort of thing I’d expect to see on Android, given Google’s propensity for ads. But I just checked the Play Store, and these shenanigans don’t seem to be happening there.
Toward the end of 2015, when Microsoft’s Windows 10 nags went from mild prompting to aggressive harassment, I wrote the following:
Even Apple has resorted to nags. A company that was once renowned for the beauty and simplicity of its platforms and applications has succumbed to the temptation of using their platform to deliver marketing messages. I’ve seen nags to upgrade to El Capitan, nags to give Safari a chance, nags to sign up for Apple Music, and even nags to buy a new iPhone 6s.
Give me a break!
I find the nags that OS X spits out using the notifications center particularly irksome because they pop up where I’m expecting important information to appear. Stuff like emails and messages. Not invitations to try out Safari. I’ve got no interest in Safari, and I only ever use it to watch streamed Apple events or download Google Chrome. But I presume I’m going to get nagged about it on a regular basis until someone at Apple sees sense.
It seems that no one at Apple has yet seen sense.
It’s also like I was able to predict the hell to come:
If I were an optimist I’d tell you that this is a phase that will pass, but I’m more at the realist/pessimist end of the scale, and so I think that this is the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to get worse over the coming months and years.
I also wrote some thoughts on how to be less naggy, all of which I still stand behind:
Keep the nags to a minimum!
Think iOS is buggy? You’re not alone, and the bugs are now so commonplace that Apple didn’t even spot the cameo appearance of one in its latest ad for the iPhone X.
The bug, which was spotted by the eagle-eyes of Benjamin Mayo of 9to5Mac, involves the text of an iMessage briefly appearing outside of the notification bubble on the lock screen.
What’s doubly embarrassing for Apple is that Mayo says that he reported this bug “months ago” and Apple closed the bug report.
Here’s the ad (the bug is briefly visible at the 50 seconds mark):
Here’s a closeup of the bug in action:
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this is a small thing. Compared to some of the bugs that iOS has suffered as of late (and for that matter, some of the bugs it still has), this is nothing. But it’s significant for a number of reasons:
A report earlier this year claimed that Apple was postponing some of the major features it had planned for iOS 12 in order to concentrate on fixing bugs in the code. That might be for the best, but it’s an indictment of Apple that it let things get into such a mess in the first place.
Just over the last few weeks of the year, we saw both macOS and iOS hit by several high profile bugs. And what’s worse is that the fixes that Apple pushed out themselves caused further problems.
And this is just a selection of the bugs that users have had to contend with over the past few months. I’ve written at length about how it feels like the quality of software coming out of Apple has deteriorated significantly in recent years.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, bugs happen. It’s a fact of life. But over the past few years we’ve seen a serious decline in the quality and cleanliness of the code coming out of Apple. And while it’s easy to make excuses for the many — many — visual bugs in iOS, it’s also hard to escape the fact that a lack of care over the small things leads to bigger and more serious problems.
Here’s what I wrote back in December of 2017:
“Apple owes a lot of its current success to its dedicated fanbase, the people who would respond to Windows or Android issues with ‘you should buy Apple, because that stuff just works.’ Shattering that illusion for those people won’t be good in the long term, which is why I think Apple needs to take a long, hard look at itself in the run up to 2018 and work out what’s been going wrong and come up with ways to prevent problems from happening in the future.”
That time is now.
Android user loyalty is higher than iOS users, according to new research from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP). The study also says Android and iOS loyalty has remained steady since early 2016, and has now reached the highest levels yet.
Android loyalty was 89 to 91 percent, and iOS loyalty was 85 to 88 percent from January 2016 through December 2017, according to the study. Android didn’t always hold the top mobile phone operating system spot, but saw the tides change in 2014.
“Android user loyalty now slightly exceeds that of iOS users,” Josh Lowitz, partner and co-founder of CIRP, said in a statement. “Over time, Android loyalty gradually increased, as it achieved parity in availability of apps, music and video, and as the user experience on the two platforms became more similar. Android users also benefit from a wide range of phones from different manufacturers, so they can switch hardware without learning a new operating system.”
With loyalty now steadying, Apple and Google will now have to focus on switching people to their side.
“Loyalty for both Android and iOS increased in 2015 and into 2016, when it leveled off for both operating systems,” Mike Levin, partner and co-founder of CIRP, said in a statement. “Loyalty is also as high as we’ve ever seen, really from 85-90% at any given point. With only two mobile operating systems at this point, it appears users now pick one, learn it, invest in apps and storage, and stick with it. Now, Apple and Google need to figure out how to sell products and services to these loyal customer bases.”
CIRP’s research is based on quarterly surveys with a sample of 500 subjects in each. CIRP says loyalty was measured as the percentage of customers that remain with each operating system when activating a new phone over a year period.
The research notes: “We know Android has a larger base of users than iOS, and because of that larger base, the absolute number of users that switch to iOS from Android is as large or larger than the absolute number of users that switch to Android from iOS.”
I’m not a huge fan of using a case on my smartphone. I feel like they add too much bulk, and hide the phone’s design. I realize how foolish this sounds, especially with the cost of phones rising – I’m an accidental drop away from an expensive repair.
Shortly before the iPhone X launched I received a couple of iPhone X cases from Mujjo. Since then, I’ve switched between the wallet case and the standard leather case. And while I can’t say I’m totally sold on the idea of using a case full time, I can say Mujjos’ cases make it a compelling option.
At first glance, Mujjo’s $43 Full Leather Case can be easily confused with Apple’s own leather cases. The only real difference is the lack of an Apple logo centered on the back. Instead, you’ll find “Mujjo” embossed along the bottom.
The inside of the case is lined with a soft fabric that doesn’t scratch the sides and back of the iPhone X.
On the left side of the case is a cutout for the mute switch, with integrated buttons for the volume up and down keys. Another button sits on the right side. The buttons themselves are easy to press and don’t get in the way or make it harder to turn up the volume, for example.
The bottom of the cause has a rounded cutout, leaving plenty of room for the speaker and charging cord.
For the $48 Full Leather Wallet Case, Mujjo tool the same basic design of the Full Leather Case and added a pocket on the back of the case that’s big enough to hold two or three of your most important documents. Things like an ID, credit or debit card and an insurance card fit in the card slot.
I carried my driver’s license and debit card in this case for a few weeks and never felt like the card slot was stretching or losing its grip on my cards.
What I appreciate about either case is the overall feel to it. The leather provides is easy to hold, adding some reassurance you won’t drop your phone, but if an accident does happen, you’re protected.
If you don’t care much about the Apple logo on the back of your phone and want a case that’s made with the same attention to detail, and it costs a little less, I can’t recommend either of these Mujjo cases enough.
Video: How to customize Control Center in iOS 11
Apple has introduced a new programming interface for Safari’s privacy feature, Intelligent Tracking Prevention, to assist social networks, social-media widgets, and embedded videos.
Apple rolled out ITP in iOS 11 to block marketers from tracking users across sites by imposing time-based limits on cookies and partitioning them. The feature puts a 24-hour limit on third-party cookies and deletes a site’s cookies unless the user visits the site within 30 days.
While it improves Safari users’ privacy, as Apple WebKit developer John Wilander explained in a post on Thursday, ITP broke valid features of social networks such as commenting fields, Like buttons and video content that are embedded on third-party websites.
Due to the way ITP treats cookies, if a person hasn’t used Facebook in the past 24 hours, Safari would prevent them from commenting and liking content on third-party sites. This block happens because the third-party content doesn’t have access to its first-party cookies.
“ITP will detect that such multi-page embeds gives socialexample.org the ability to track the user cross-site and therefore deny embedded content from socialexample.org access to its first-party cookies, providing only partitioned cookies,” explained Wilander.
“This breaks the user’s ability to comment and like content unless they have interacted with socialexample.org as a first-party site in the past 24 hours.”
The same issue affects integrated third-party payment providers, embedded third-party videos, embedded documents, and other social widgets.
Shortly after Apple rolled out ITP with iOS 11, Facebook warned developers of this impact on its social plugins, analytics and login.
“Anyone using Safari who does not visit facebook.com on a daily basis will be required to go through an additional confirmation screen to use Facebook’s Social Plugins such as Like, Comment or Share. Those who don’t visit facebook.com for more than 30 days in Safari may have to relog in with their username and password to use these features or use Facebook Login.”
Apple’s answer to the problem is the Storage Access application programming interface (API) for ITP, which allows “third-party embeds to request access to their first-party cookies when the user interacts with them“, for example, by tapping or clicking a button.
It will mean a Facebook iframe has access to the same cookies as Facebook and allows the third-party embed to authenticate when the user clicks. Wilander notes this solution is specifically not about giving third-party iframes access to the site that is embedding content.
Wilander warned that WebKit developers will add friction to the Storage Access API if it’s abused. Currently users aren’t promoted when an iframe calls the API, but it could change this if it detects abuse.
Ad industry pleads for Apple to change tack with Safari’s new privacy feature.
Here’s what you need to do to make sure your upgrade goes smoothly and that you don’t lose any data.
Video: Business boost for Microsoft’s Windows 10 target
Microsoft has released a new app for wirelessly transferring videos and photos from mobile devices to the Windows 10 Microsoft Photos app.
The photo-transfer app, dubbed Photos Companion, is purely for sending photos and videos from an Android or iOS device to Microsoft’s built-in Photos app on Windows 10.
The transfer service is based around QR codes and Wi-Fi and works so long as the Windows 10 PC is on the same network as the Android or iOS device you want to move photos or videos from.
The QR code is used to connect the mobile app with the Photos app on Windows 10. Users select the photos they want to transfer from the companion app and then use settings in the Photos app to begin transferring them over Wi-Fi.
While anyone can download the Photo Companion app, developers at Microsoft Garage and Photos teams built the app with classrooms that rely on Windows 10 in mind.
Last year Microsoft staff visited classrooms in the US and Europe to ask teachers to try its Windows 10 Photos app.
Microsoft found that students were great at telling stories through video, but they had difficulties transferring content from multiple smartphones to a single PC where media projects are created.
“The biggest hurdle many classrooms faced was getting the content students had captured with their phones onto their project PCs,” Microsoft explains. Using and finding cables meanwhile can be time-consuming.
And while a cloud file-sharing service could do the job, in a school scenario that option might be blocked due to network constraints whereas Wi-Fi access between devices was good. So the Garage and Photos team opted for a Wi-Fi based direct transfer system.
“Our solution was to build an app that would support direct wireless transfer between any phone or mobile device and the Photos app on any Windows 10 PC. This would enable students to transfer media to their own computers or to a shared, project PC without worrying about network speeds or mobile data charges,” the Microsoft Garage team explains.
Of course, as the team notes, people outside school environments may also find the direct transfer system useful, so Microsoft released it for all.
Microsoft notes that the mobile transfer features are available in the Windows 10 Photos version 2018.18011.13110.0 or higher.
Microsoft’s take on Apple’s AirDrop is shaping up nicely ahead of the next major Windows 10 release.
Microsoft’s new Edge app quickly reaches a million downloads, but the company needs more Edge PC users.
Windows 10 is now the most widely-used version of Windows worldwide, according to analytics firm StatCounter.
Apple on Tuesday released the second developer beta of iOS 11.3, including battery health monitoring features and recommendation if a battery needs to be replaced. The new update, promised by Apple, falls after criticism over its revelation it slows down older iPhones to prolong battery life without telling customers.
The iOS 11.3 beta 2 update is now available to registered developers, and it gives users ability to see if Apple’s performance management feature that reduces performance to prevent unexpected shutdowns is enabled. If so, users can choose to turn it off. This can be found in can be found in Settings > Battery > Battery Health (Beta).
The performance management feature only enables after an unexpected shutdown occurs on a device with a diminishing battery, Apple said. It applies to iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus.
After a user updates to iOS 11.3, Apple said it will initially have performance management disabled, and it will reenable if the iPhone experiences an unexpected shutdown. If users disable performance management, they can’t turn it back on until another unexpected shutdown occurs.
Apple began its performance management practice when it released iOS 10.2.1 last year to stop the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone SE from shutting down from troubling power circumstances like cold weather, low battery charge, or battery aging. Until iOS 11.3, the battery information wasn’t directly available to the user.
It’s not clear when iOS 11.3 will be available to the public to download.
For newer iPhones, Apple wrote in a support document:
iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models use a more advanced hardware and software design that provides a more accurate estimation of both power needs and the battery’s power capability to maximize overall system performance. This allows a different performance management system that more precisely allows iOS to anticipate and avoid an unexpected shutdown. As a result, the impacts of performance management may be less noticeable on iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.
In the update, Apple included maximum battery capacity measurement compared to when it was new, and peak performance capability to know if you’re getting the most out of the battery. Apple said in normal conditions, a battery is designed to retain up to 80 percent of its original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles.
To replace an out-of-warranty battery, Apple will charge $29 (down from $79) to anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced, starting in late January. The program will be available worldwide through December 2018, as Apple hopes to make up for the confusion.
On Tuesday, Apple responded to questions from a top-ranking Republican senator about the replacement program. In a letter dated Feb. 2, Apple said it had “strong demand” for replacement iPhone batteries, and it’s considering issuing rebates to consumers who paid full price for replacement batteries before its discount program began.
Amazon offers great deals on unlocked phones when you accept its ads and special offers. Starting tomorrow, these ad extras will no longer be an option.
New York City is trading in its Nokia Windows Phone devices for new Apple iPhones and officers are pleased with the transition.
Another day, another patch to install. This time, it’s iOS 11.2.2 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Apple describes the patch as follows:
iOS 11.2.2 includes security improvements to Safari and WebKit to mitigate the effects of Spectre (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715).
Apple says it “recommends” the update “for all users.”
To download the update, go to Settings > General > Software Update (the preferred way, and this way the patch is only about 75MB), or connect your iPhone to a computer running iTunes and then carry out the update (this is slower and downloads the entire iOS 11.2.2 package, which is several gigabytes, as opposed to just the smaller update).
Google on Monday launched three experimental photography apps for iOS and Android to test experimental technology like object recognition, person segmentation, stylization algorithms, efficient image encoding, and decoding technologies.
Google is calling the three apps, Storyboard, Selfissimo!, and Scrubbies, part of “appsperiments” inspired by Google’s Motion Stills app.
The first app Storyboard for Android transforms videos into single-page comic layouts. The app allows users to shoot video, and then it will automatically select what it believes are interesting frames, lays them out, and applies visual effects.
Selfissimo! for Android and iOS is an automated selfie photographer that snaps a black and white photo each time you pose. Once you tap the screen to begin a photoshoot, the app encourages you to strike a post and captures a photo when you stop moving.
Lastly, Scrubbies for iOS allows users to manipulate the speed and direction of video playback to produce video loops that highlight actions, capture funny faces, and replay moments. Scrubbing with one finger plays the video. Scrubbing with two fingers captures the playback so you can save or share it.
The new photo features could presumably make it into Google’s future stable consumer app releases in the future. Google’s other experimental app, Motion Stills for Android and iOS, allow users to turn Live Photos into smooth GIFs for sharing on the web.
On Monday, Google also released AR stickers for Pixel 2 owners that allow users to drop augmented reality characters onto photos and video. The new feature was released as part of Android 8.1.
Google names most popular and best Android apps of the year.
Unless apps come clean about the personal data they collect, Google will slap them with Safe Browsing warnings.
Microsoft Windows is making gains in the K-12 education market in both the US and the rest of the world according to new numbers from Futuresource Consulting.
In the US, Microsoft’s gains are coming mainly at Apple’s expense, not Google’s. According to Futuresource’s data for Q3 2017, shipments of mobile devices (notebook, Chromebook, tablet) running Windows in the K-12 space was 22.3 percent of the total market, up from 18.4 percent in Q2 2017.
Futuresource’s data includes K-12 institutional purchases only, not “bring your own” devices. And the firm measures shipments, not installed base.
During that same period, iOS device shipments dropped to 12.3 percent from 18.4 percent, and mac OS device shipments from 4.8 percent to 4.7 percent. Chrome OS (Chromebook) device shipments continued to grow, hitting 59.8 percent of the US market, up from 57.8 percent.
Windows’ growth here isn’t just on cheaper PCs. Microsoft officials said Windows devices’ growth in the US education market was 4.3 percent for devices under $300 and 8.2 percent for devices over $300 over the past year.
In the rest of the world, Windows continued to be the dominant education platform with 66.5 percent of device shipments to the education market in Q3 2017, up from 57.1 percent in Q2 2017. Chromebook shipments, comparatively, dropped to 14.4 percent from 24.4 percent. Apple’s iOS device shipments also dropped to 6.1 percent, from 8.3 percent between Q2 and Q3 2017.
Microsoft has been increasing its focus in the education space for the past couple of years, emphasizing its OneNote and Minecraft offerings. Microsoft also has made a concerted effort to try to make Windows easier for schools to deploy and manage, and has begun marketing with some of its PC maker partners Windows 10 S devices to educators and students.
As Futuresource notes, many of the Chromebooks initially deployed in 2014/2015 will be due for replacement in 2018. Futuresource also notes that 90 percent of Chromebook global sales remain in the US, though international sales for the devices are growing in Northern Europe and some other areas.
Microsoft will continue to provide security updates to Windows 10 Enterprise and Education users still on 1511. Here’s how and why.
Chromebooks account for a small percentage of the PC market, but shipments are on the rise. Will this continue, or will Microsoft’s Windows 10 S ecosystem halt the advance of Chrome OS?