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Tuesday
May102011

Older iOS Devices Outselling Newer Android Devices

John Paczkowski at All Things D posted an interesting article today.  It seems Apple's older iOS devices are outselling newer Android devices.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley says his retail checks show continued strong demand for the iPhone 3GS at AT&T and iPad 1 at Verizon, even as the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 continue to fly off the shelves. At AT&T, for example, the iPhone 3GS is outselling newer Android phones like the HTC Inspire and Motorola Atrix.

The article speculates that—just as Apple is already the winner at the high end of the market—they are poised to possibly be the winner at the low end of the market too.

Wednesday
May042011

Excellent Reason to Encrypt iOS Backups

iTunes offers the ability to encrypt your iOS backups that are stored on your computer.  Turning this feature on or off is done via a simple checkbox on the iOS device's summary page in iTunes.

(click image to expand)

Encrypting the iOS backup on your computer helps protect your personal data in the event someone gets their hands on your computer or hard drive.  But, according to Josh Sunshine at gigaom.com, there's another excellent reason to encrypt your iOS device backups:

There are other, non-security related reasons to encrypt your backups, too. If you restore a new iOS device from a backup of an old one, usually passwords such as mail account passwords aren’t stored, and you’ll have to enter them again on the new device. However, if your backup was encrypted, the passwords will be kept, making the transition to a new device that much easier.

Now that is terrific news!  Every time I've upgraded to the latest iPhone I've had to reenter all of my email passwords.  It's nice to know that checking a little box can not only provide better security on my computer, but also prevent excessive hassle when upgrading to the latest and greatest iOS device!

Wednesday
May042011

Apple Releases iOS Update

Apple has released iOS version 4.3.3 for the GSM iPhone 4, GSM iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch (3rd & 4th generation), iPad and iPad 2.  In addition to bug fixes, the latest iOS version also changes the way the crowd-sourced location cache is handled: 

  • Reduces the size of the cache  
  • No longer backs the cache up to iTunes
  • Deletes the cache entirely when Location Services is turned off

A separate iOS version 4.2.8 is also available for the CDMA iPhone 4.

Both updates are available through iTunes when you connect your iOS device and click Check for Update.

I have installed the update without issue.  Total time to install and sync my iPhone 4 was approximately 13 minutes.

 

Thursday
Apr282011

Most iPhone/Android Comparisons Flawed

In an article at The Loop, Jim Dalrymple argues that you can't compare the iPhone to Android.

Here is the first giant flaw — you may have noticed in the headline of this story. You cannot compare Android to an iPhone. That’s comparing an operating system to a hardware device.

The man has a point.  He correctly points out that you wouldn't compare a single model of Mercedes against all cars that GM makes.  The same is true for the iPhone/Android comparison.

Dalrymple points out that it is more appropriate to compare operating systems.

Now, let’s take a look at the operating systems in the U.S. According to reports released this month by comScore, if you factor in all of the devices that use iOS including iPhones, iPads and iPodtouches, Apple reached 37.9 million people. Android, according to the data, reached 23.8 million on phones and tablets.

That’s a 59 percent lead for iOS over Android.

Logical and true.

Thursday
Apr282011

Mobile Sales: iPhone Gains, Android Slips

Market research company The NPD Group has announced their analysis of mobile phone market share in the United States.

In the first quarter (Q1) of this year Apple's mobile phone sales reached 14 percent of the U.S. market. Apple outranked HTC, Motorola and RIM as the third-largest handset brand in the U.S., behind Samsung at 23 percent and LG at 18 percent. After launching on Verizon's network in February, Apple's iPhone 4 further solidified its position as the top-selling mobile phone in the U.S., while iPhone 3GS, Motorola Droid X, HTC EVO 4G, and HTC Droid Incredible rounded out NPD's top-five mobile phone handset ranking.

The report goes on to state that Apple's launch of the iPhone 4 on Verizon's network is what allowed the iPhone to expand its market share, previously held back by AT&T exclusivity.

At the same time, Andoird OS lost ground in market share, falling to 50 percent of smartphone unit sales compared to 53 percent during the previous quarter.

Wednesday
Apr272011

Apple Q&A On Location Data

Apple Inc. has published their response to the growing controversy over the recording of iPhone user location.

Why is Apple tracking the location of my iPhone? 
Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.

Apple goes on to explain why there is a need for a location database.

Why is my iPhone logging my location? 
The iPhone is not logging your location. Rather, it’s maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone, to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested. Calculating a phone’s location using just GPS satellite data can take up to several minutes. iPhone can reduce this time to just a few seconds by using Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data to quickly find GPS satellites, and even triangulate its location using just Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data when GPS is not available (such as indoors or in basements). These calculations are performed live on the iPhone using a crowd-sourced database of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data that is generated by tens of millions of iPhones sending the geo-tagged locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple.

The document also explains that a software bug is responsible for the location database cache file being updated when a user has turned off Location Services in their iPhone settings.  Apple states they will be releasing a software update in the next few weeks that will address this, plus a couple of other issues.

  • reduces the size of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database cached on the iPhone,
  • ceases backing up this cache, and
  • deletes this cache entirely when Location Services is turned off. 

Apple ends the document stating that, in the next major iOS update, the cache will also be encrypted on the iPhone.

Sunday
Apr242011

BlackBerry PlayBook: No iPad Competitor

Galen Gruman at InfoWorld has reviewed the BlackBerry PlayBook, Research in Motion's new 7" tablet. In what might be the most negative product review I've ever read, Gruman doesn't pull any punches in his assessment of the device.

After spending a couple of days with the final product, it's clear that the PlayBook is a useless device whose development is unfinished.  Not only can it not compete with the Apple iPad, it can't compete with the second-best tablet, Motorola Xoom, nor even the marginal Android tablets such as the Galaxy Tab that use the smartphone version of Android OS rather than the Honeycomb tablet version. In fact, if my choice were between a PlayBook and a Windows 7 tablet -- my benchmark for unusability -- I think I'd rather go sans tablet.

Ouch!

But wait... like Android OS, the PlayBook supports Flash, so it has to be better than an iPad, right? Um, no!

On the bright side, the PlayBook supports Flash, with no need to download a player as on Android. But Flash objects are often slow to load, and some would not function. That's an issue Flash also has on Android, as my colleague Neil McAllister discovered in his extensive Flash tests. It's becoming increasingly clear to me that Flash and mobile don't mix.

Hmm, I seem to recall someone else saying that Flash and mobile don't mix. Who was that? Oh yeah, it was Apple CEO Steve Jobs in his April 10, 2010 open letter titled Thoughts on Flash.

Thursday
Apr212011

Apple's Cloud-Based Music Service?

Here's video shot during the construction phase of Apple's new $1 billion data center in North Carolina.

 

The data center is reportedly finished and was rumored to go online in the spring.  To date, Apple hasn't explained what the data center will be used for.  Speculation has revolved around a cloud-based music and/or video service.  That speculation seems more and more likely as time passes.

All Things Digital is reporting that Apple is close to finalizing agreements with the four big music labels regarding cloud-based music storage.

"And sources tell me that Apple has already procured deals from at least two of the big four labels (Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony and EMI) within the last two months. One source tells me Apple content boss Eddy Cue will be in New York tomorrow to try to finalize remaining deals."

If true, Apple could have a significant advantage over rival Amazon's recently debuted cloud-based music service.  Reports indicate Amazon has yet to reach any agreements with the music labels.

Similar to Amazon's service, Apple's service will reportedly allow users to upload their existing music library to the cloud and then access that music on multiple devices.  This will likely include music that users have ripped from CDs.  The All Things Digital article reports that music executives are claiming Apple's service could be a more "robust service" with a better user interface thanks to proper licensing.

One thing we can expect:  A cloud-based music service from Apple will surely feature industry-leading design and excellent integration with iTunes, OS X, and iOS!  I'm betting that Steve Jobs and company will have a few surprises up their sleeve.  We might even see a nice "one more thing" moment.  Apple fans are due for one of those!

Thursday
Apr212011

iPhone 4 Tracking Brouhaha

Yesterday, a pair of security researchers (Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden) announced the discovery that the iPhone 4 and iPad 3G are regularly recording the position of the device to a hidden consolidated.db cache file.  Their "discovery" spawned a whirlwind of controversy, including this morning's news of a letter sent to Apple CEO Steve Jobs by Senator Al Franken (D-MN).

Today, network security and forensics expert Alex Levinson stepped forward to explain that the hidden consolidated.db cache file is neither new nor secret.  In fact, the existence of the file was mentioned in iOS Forensic Analysis: for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, a book to which Levinson was a contributor.  The book was released on December 5, 2010.

For me, it's much ado about nothing.  Anyone carrying any sort of mobile phone can be tracked by their mobile provider.  I guess if I was engaged in criminal activity or I was cheating on my spouse, I might have more reason to be concerned.  But the moment I started carrying a mobile device that relies on cellular towers or WiFi hotspots, and features a GPS chip to determine its position, it was pretty easy to figure out that my movements could be tracked.

By the way, Android OS device owners should take note that their devices are tracking position into a similar cache file.  Though, it appears the Android OS does not keep a very long record.

Wednesday
Apr202011

PureGear Shell and Holster for iPhone 4

I don't like to carry my iPhone 4 in my pocket.  I prefer to use a case or holster that clips to my belt.  Until recently, I was using a Marware CEO Sleeve.  Last week, while attaching the CEO Sleeve to my belt, the clip broke.  (Thankfully, the CEO Sleeve -with iPhone 4 in it- came off in my hand instead of hitting the floor.)  I contacted Marware and they were happy to replace the CEO Sleeve under warranty.  Only problem: they no longer offer it in black.  They sent me a 'vanilla' one instead.  Not my cup of tea.

Thus began the search to find a replacement gadget to carry and protect my iPhone 4.  During this search, a friend suggested a case and holster that another (mutual) friend had found at a Verizon store.  I visited a Verizon store the next day and ended up purchasing a PureGear Shell and Holster with Kickstand for iPhone 4 model number AIP4HOC.

The Holster and Shell

PureGear put some thought into this design.  There are two separate parts, the Holster and the Shell.

Holster & Shell, Front (click image to expand)

Holster & Shell, Back (click image to expand)

The Holster and Shell are constructed of rubberized plastic.  The material has a nice tactile feel and it is quite strong.  There are other cases/shells on the market that could offer more protection, but they all seem to be bulkier and, frankly, not nearly as attractive.

Nesting the Two Parts

The iPhone 4 slides into the Shell and then the Shell/iPhone combo slides (iPhone face first) into the Holster.

The Two Parts, Nested (click image to expand)

Clipped to my belt, the package is nice and compact.  There's no fumbling to remove the iPhone from the Holster, it slides right out.  Putting the iPhone back is just as easy.  It snicks into place and all seems very secure.

The Kickstand

The long rectangular section on the back of the Shell is the nifty Kickstand.  It slides open and locks in place behind a little tab.

Kickstand in Portrait Orientation (click image to expand)

I didn't think I'd use the Kickstand feature very often.  I have to admit, it's a nice feature to have.  It can also be used in landscape orientation.

Kickstand in Landscape Orientation (click image to expand)

The Kickstand is perfect for propping up the iPhone 4 while you browse the web or watch a movie.

Enjoy your Favorite Movie (click image to expand)

Adjustable Belt Clip

The Holster features a ratcheting belt clip with 12 positions over a 180-degree arc.  The belt clip will accommodate fairly thick belts and belts up to about 1.5-inches wide.

Ratcheting Belt Clip (click image to expand)

Generous Opening for Camera

PureGear also got it right with the opening in the Shell for the iPhone's camera and flash.  Some other cases are known to create glare in photos due to the flash reflecting off of the case's plastic edges.  PureGear made the opening a bit more generous and that eliminates the glare problem.

Opening for Camera (click image to expand)

If you look closely at the camera and flash opening, you'll notice a millimeter or so of air gap between the inside back of the Shell and the back of the iPhone 4.  This air gap should help prevent damage to the back of the iPhone 4 from small bits of sand or grit.

Fits Both Models

The PureGear Shell fits both the Verizon iPhone 4 and the AT&T iPhone 4 (AT&T model pictured).

Summary

PureGear has created a nice balance between protection, bulk, appearance and function.  The rubberized texture helps you avoid accidentally dropping your iPhone 4, and the Kickstand feature is a very nice bonus.  The PureGear Shell and Holster with Kickstand for iPhone 4 earns my highest recommendation.

Where to Buy

The PureGear AIP4HOC is available at Verizon stores for about $30.  However, the AIP4HOC is available through Amazon at a significant savings (link below).