March 31, 2012

Applesauce: All Things Apple

Evil-doers try to gather your bank information via iDevice, Tim Cook visits China, and a women literally falls over for a chance to buy an iPad. All this and more in this week´s edition of Applesauce!

Shake It Off

Apple stores are clean, brilliantly beautiful beacons of retail design. Steve Jobs made absolutely certain of this, choosing the stone for every store from one quarry in Italy and employing the use of glass at every turn.

As it turns out, however, not everyone is a fan of clean lines and transparent glass. Birds, for instance, have a longstanding disagreement with glass. As they swoop through the sky, held aloft by feather and hollow bones, they make those earth-bound creatures green with envy over their flight.

And then they run into a clear pane of glass.

I can only imagine Evelyn Paswall will tell a similar story when she takes Apple to court, suing them for one million dollars.

As Paswall tried to enter the Long Island Apple store, she didn´t realize the entire front facade of the store was glass and walked straight into the building, breaking her nose.

83 year old Paswall is seeking $75,000 in medical damages, plus a $25,000 slap on the wrist, just for having a building made of glass.

No self-respecting person wants to make fun of an injured elderly. There are a few things I wonder about, however“¦.

Did she expect the entire front of the building to be wide open? As in, no doors, no walls, no protection from the elements or ne´er-do-wells?

Were there no promotional materials in the front of the store advertising the iPhone 4S, MacBook Air, or iPad? (Every store I´ve ever been to in Texas always has these sort of displays at the front of their stores“¦)

Was this her very first visit to the Apple store? And why was she flying solo, without friend or family to share the moment with?

In response to this matter, Apple has installed white “warning strips” on the front glass walls to make it obvious there are giant panes of glass at the front of the store.

We sincerely wish Ms. Paswell all the best, health, and happiness. The question now is, will she be buying a new iPad with her newly found fortune?

Someone Else´s Song

Speaking of ne´er-do-wells,

Is no Apple device safe from wrongdoing miscreants and their internet hijinks?

English security firm Major Security discovered a bug in the mobile version of Safari, Apple´s web-browser, causing your URL bar to look as if you are visiting an actual, legitimate webpage when in actuality, you are visiting a dirty site, potentially giving away your bank information, health records, and a detailed list of every Google search you´ve ever committed.

Tricks like this aren´t entirely new“¦would-be internet wrong-doers can send you a link via email, Facebook, et al. The link looks like an actual website, but when you arrive to the page the URL isn´t “FreeBrownies.com” like you thought it would. Instead, it may say something like “IKnowWhatYouGoogledLastSummer.com”.

The spoofing flaw found by Major Security goes one step further. The link you click on will take you to “FreeBrownies.com," and will even look like “FreeBrownies.com," but really you be visiting a version of IKWYGLS.com. There, the thieves can steal information, leaving you alone and brownie-less.

Major Security alerted Apple to this flaw the same day they alerted the public, so be on the look out for an iOS update in the near future to address this issue.
Speaking of issues, here's one concerning network connectivity“¦

At Least That´s What You Said

It´s only 4G if you have 4G.

Apple´s new iPad has been released to millions and millions of people all over the world. These proud new customers are able to shoot high-definition pictures and videos, edit said pictures on their crisp and clear high-resolution Retina display, and download videos wirelessly at lightening fast 4G speeds.

Well, users in North America, at least.

Sad news for those down under, as it turns out; Their 4G provider, Telstra, doesn´t operate their 4G on an iPad compatible frequency. American telecommunications companies Verizon and AT&T operate their 4G networks in the upper and lower ends of the 700Mhz spectrum, respectively. Telstra, however, operates on the 1,800 MHz spectrum. The iPad, it seems, only recognizes frequencies from the 700 and 2,100 frequencies, leaving Australia down under.

(That one hurt me as much as it hurt you)

As the hoards of new iPad owning Aussies tried to connect to Telstra's 4G network, they were let down. Now the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wants to take Apple to court over the matter, saying they misled their customers using false advertising. Not only is the ACCC asking for refunds for those customers left out of the 4G fun, they are also seeking to have Apple remove the word “4G” from their promotional material and branding as well as informative stickers to be placed on iPad boxes explaining why 4G doesn´t mean 4G in Australia.

Counsel for Apple said they would give out refunds, but does not expect many customers to request one.

Apple´s counsel has also said they are not prepared to remove any promotional “4G” branding or place stickers on their boxes.

Apple has since added a few qualifications to their website, saying, “4G LTE is supported only on AT&T and Verizon networks in the US and on Bell, Rogers, and Telus networks in Canada. See your carrier for details.”

Less Than You Think

Apple devices are always slim, relatively speaking. Often these devices are more than slim, they are deceptively slim. Think about what takes up room inside your iPhone, iPad, or better yet, MacBook Air. There is a lot that needs to be stuffed inside that sexy, sleek aluminum case. The battery needs to be large enough to last anywhere from 8 hours to an entire day, there needs to be enough space for the memory and chipsets, network antennas, bluetooth devices, cameras and the whole lot. Somehow, as if by some sort of English magic, Jonny Ive and his team have managed to make these components fit with a zen-like existence. Never content with themselves, however, Apple is always looking for ways to rid themselves of cruft, extra holes, extra weight, or extra buttons.

Enter, then, the patent war Apple is currently waging with the Fins from Nokia.

Apple has proposed a new standard for the next generation of SIM card to be used universally. Dubbed the “Nano-SIM," Apple´s proposed prototype doesn´t need to be embedded onto a piece of plastic like the SIM cards of today. Nokia´s not happy about this, arguing their proposed standard is actually smaller than Apple´s.

(That´s right: Two companies are essentially arguing about whose is smaller.)

As both companies fight to convince the European Technologies Standards Institute (or ETSI for those in the know), Apple has said they will offer the technology free to carriers, not asking for a cent in return for licensing . This displeased Nokia, and they said if this were to happen, they would withhold any applicable patents from other companies.

But why would Apple propose a chip that doesn't need to be embedded on a piece of plastic?

As it turns out, Apple´s proposed Nano-SIM can be directly embedded into the guts of the phone, without having to be removed.

Just let that one sink in.

A running tally of every Apple device within 10 feet of me reveals a pattern“¦Each device is closed up nice and tight, without (easy) access to the innards.

Could Apple be preparing themselves to finally circumvent the carriers, offering the iPhone without the need of carrier intervention? Perhaps they want to sell the iPhone directly through their own retail chain, without the need of third party vendors.

Apple likes clean lines and closed boxes, so it doesn´t seem too far out of the question...

Company in My Back

Your favorite CEO took a time out from counting his money to take a brief trip to China.

That line alone was enough to send the media into a frenzy.

Apple didn´t say exactly why Cook was in China, saying only he was visiting with “government officials.”

While he was there, he took a tour of the now infamous Foxconn factories, where many Apple products are made. You remember Foxconn: Hot bed of controversy made famous by headlines of suicidal workers and one loud-mouthed monologuist. Apple has been under some scrutiny lately where working conditions are concerned.

So let us don our guessing caps once more.

Was Mr. Cook there to ensure Apple´s policies on underage workers and reasonable hours were being enforced? Was he there simply for a photo-op or two for good press? Perhaps, (and in adherence with the rule of threes), was he there to have his pick of iPads straight off the line, as if it were some proverbial doughnut from Krispy Kreme®?

We do know while Cook was in China he also stopped by one of the Apple stores in the area to take a look around and be available for another photo-op or two.

All joking aside, this is a great PR move by Apple. Indicative  of a new era at Apple, they aren´t letting this scrutiny go by untended to. Tim Cook´s presence shows they care about their reputation and most importantly, the people hand-crafting their products.

Will Apple buy back all stock and go entirely private? Will they announce every iPhone, iPad, and Mac will be made in the USofA going forward? Will they steal Apollo 11´s F-1 engines from Jeff Bezos in a cruel and corporate game of keep away?

If any of these things happen, you can be sure to read about it here on RedOrbit.com!