Thursday, September 11, 2014

Apple September Announcement Recap / Why you should switch to iPhone

Why You Should Switch to iPhone

Although it may seem small to the big bloggers, TechGeekJay has passed 25000 page views - it is a milestone.  As I pass that mark, Apple has released the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, respectively, a larger phone, and a tablet-phone (no I won't use that ph-word).  Here's a rundown of what Apple announced yesterday, and how I see it playing out.  If you don't have an iPhone, I have a list of reasons why, if you care about those reasons, you may want to switch.
  1. The new iPhones sport a host of technological improvements:
    • NFC (Near-Field Communications) offers radio-wave technology for nearby events.  Especially, this is to enable the new Apple Pay service.
    • Faster - crazy fast, apparently on the second generation A8 64-bit processor, there are twice as many transistors as on the A7, and it is smaller.  That is crazy.  And yes, more means a lot - more transistors in less space means better energy efficiency, faster processing, and more capabilities.
    • Better screen, what they now call HD Retina display.
    • More LTE antennas, means a lot of things.  First of all, it works with more carriers throughout the world, and second of all, they use new technologies like:
      • Faster throughput over existing LTE signals
      • VoLTE - If you are not familiar with how LTE worked before, it uses LTE for high-speed data communications, but your voice was sent over old 3G signals on the same cell tower.  This means on some carriers (namely Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile in the USA), you couldn't have simultaneous voice and data (can't talk while surfing), and it also means that 3G signals take up more energy than LTE to transmit/receive, so it uses up battery faster.  VoLTE means your voice conversations also take place over the LTE frequencies, so you can do more (yes, those of use with AT&T have been enjoying that for years), at a lower power consumption.
      • WiFi Calling - First with T-Mobile, and then with other carriers, this will revolutionize phone coverage for all of us.  Before, WiFi calling meant if you are on WiFi, and don't have a cell signal, you can make a call (with a calling app like Vonage, MagicJack, Skype, etc.) - but if you walk outside range of the WiFi, you're dropped.  Now, the new iPhone 6 uses a new technology to seamlessly transitions calls between Cellular and WiFi, using whatever is available to provide uninterrupted service.
    • Apple Pay - Lots of people have been touting NFC as a means of paying by waving a device at the cash register.  However, that does not address fundamental issues with the way people pay now, namely security and authentication.  In true Apple fashion, they have rethought (rethunk?) the process from the ground up - and come up with a secure rework of the entire Credit/Debit Card system, and put electronic payments into that framework (of course, with AmEx, Visa and MasterCard on board, plus a whole list of major retailers).  Let me run down why this is so revolutionary, because it may not be obvious at first:
      • First, is the card number.  This is one critical piece, if thieves have, they have a huge first step in being able to use your payment method.  Apple Pay does not use your card number, in fact it is not stored in the phone, nor is it transmitted to merchants for payment.  How do they do this then?  They create unique, dynamic transaction information that is unique for each transaction, so even if thieves do get ahold of those numbers, they can't do anything with them.
      • Security code, again is a thing of the past.
      • Magnetic Strip - as Tim Cook said, is 50-year-old technology, and prone to all kinds of issues.  Gone.
      • Name - another key thing thieves want, is the cardholder's name.  This is also not shared with the merchant at the time of purchase, so your privacy is protected.
      • Authorization - in order to authorize the payment, you scan your fingerprint.  Even if someone does steal your phone, they won't be able to pay with it.  And remember, your card information isn't even directly on the phone.  What is on the phone, is stored encrypted in a special chip that is segregated from the rest.
      • In order to register your card with your phone, you have to scan it, then go to the issuing bank and have them signify that you are the cardholder.  So, even a lost card cannot be scanned and used in this way.
  2. iOS 8
    • iOS 8 is the new mobile operating system.  To say that it sports a list of x00 new features is meaningless.  i-Device users know that iOS 7 was a huge, major rework.  Normal users won't notice this for a while, but I would argue that iOS 8 is a huger majorer rework!  But that rework is under the hood - imagine if you will, if you buy a new car that looks a lot like last year's car, but it has a completely redesigned engine and transmission.  That's iOS 8.
    • What's so new and groundbreaking?  Most if it is targeted at developers:
      • Extensions.  This allows developers to write custom apps that are not just apps, but extend what your device can do.  Custom keyboards, custom notifications (including interaction within the notification), custom file targets (new destinations you can copy files to), photo editing extensions, and more - these mean developers can develop custom plug-ins to extend the built-in functionality of typing, editing photos, saving files, and more.  This is not at all new - Android has had it, and other systems.  However, the way Apple does it is secure, and most importantly secures your privacy.  You can use these Extensions and prevent them from unauthorized access to your private information - in fact, the keyboard extensions don't have access to what you type, so they can't log passwords or sensitive information - and you can restrict their access to the Internet so they can't send data back to a site.
      • Opt-Out of Group Chat.  This, alone, if I were to single out any feature, makes upgrading to iOS 8 worth it.  But not only that, you can set a chat group on do-not-disturb, opt out completely, create a group from the chat, and send text messages to a group.  The chat interface has been redesigned, so there is a Details button now, that gives you an overview of all media in the chat - at a glance, you can see all photos, sounds, etc. in the conversation, and interact with them.
      • Chat cleanup - you know how your free space keeps going down?  Now, photos, sounds, videos, and all those large attachments people send you in Messages will go away after a while, unless you tap Keep.
      • Simple gadgets in Messages to record and send audio or video selfies.
      • Quick access to frequent contacts by double-tapping home button.
      • Interactive Notifications, so you can reply to text messages from your lock screen, remove notifications from the lock screen (so they don't keep buzzing you), and more.  Developers can write their own interactions as well.
      • A new Programming Language.  Apple has used "Objective-C" as the programming language to develop Mac and iOS apps for almost 30 years now.  They have spent the last few years taking modern language developments, and fashioned a new language, Swift, so that developers can quickly develop new apps quickly, reliably, and with whole new ways of developing that reduces development time while improving stability and reliability.  Having had exposure to about 15 different programming languages, and having worked with Swift for a month, this is hands down the best language I have ever worked with.
  3. Apple Watch
    • I have not worn a watch for many years, and would consider myself a non-watch-wearer, because I have no desire to wear one.  However, the integration of Apple Watch with the iPhone is epic, and the ability to use Apple Pay with the watch is truly astounding.  I want one.  I don't need one.
    • Again, not first to market - but BEST to market.  Apple took its time, looked at Pebble, Galaxy Gear, and others, and noted what worked, what didn't work - and what needed to work together.  They have made a smart watch that I actually want for once.
    • With Watch Kit (the developer offering) coming out, the Watch can only get better.
    • Some people wanted round faces - I'm sure that's coming, but hey, this is a first go-round.  The fact that you can swap out options and accessories means you can customize your own watch with ease, and probably never see another one just like it in your life.

My Take

  • Extensability
    • I see this as providing a long-term growth accelerator.  There will be, in the next year or two, an explosion in capability within the Apple universe (yes, like there wasn't already!).
    • Coupled with Swift, we will also see a new class of app developers who can pick it up more easily.
  • Apple Pay
    • Just what we needed!  Don't just do NFC payments, but rethink it - because my jitters over the past few years when people talk about Apple doing NFC payments are solely around having someone standing next to you, with a NFC scanner, while you pay for something - and if they hadn't rethought it, it would have been Identity Theft Heaven (or ITH).  I see this, more than anything, revolutionizing the antiquated credit/debit card system.
  •  Big Phones
    • Apple now has entered the large phone market - and with a bang.  Haven't I said before, they are not the first to market, but the best to market?  This will eat into Samsung and HTC sales.
  • Apple Watch

Why Should You Switch to iPhone?

If you care about any of the following aspects, I believe this is why you should switch:
  • Virus and Malware Protection - Apple has achieved massive percentages of in-use devices on the latest updates, and this is so important.
  • Security and Privacy - although many of us are cynical in this day and age, we are more and more vulnerable to surveillance and identity theft than ever before.  Apple has done more than any one company (or any 10) to fight that - with hardware security, a closed and monitored app environment, and thought out every last detail of everything they enter into.  If you care about your credit cards - transition to this form of mobile payments.
  • Digital Interoperability - almost everything in life nowadays works with Apple devices - including light bulbs, appliances, sprinkler systems, door locks, cars, appliances, and more.  But that aside, if you do give in and buy Apple TV, Airport Time Capsule, Mac computers, and more - it all works seamlessly to provide a robust and modern vision of digital life, one that enhances your lifestyle and enables you to more efficiently accomplish your pursuits.
  • Phone Size - if you are one of those tablet/phone combo people, you no longer have that to complain about.  Get the 6 Plus.  Me, I'm sticking with a more reasonable 6, going on order tomorrow.

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