Lists galore — In the lead-up to an Apple announcement (there’s an ‘Event’ September 9th) all the Apple following sites tend to resort to lists. Macworld in particular – I’m not saying this is bad, they’re usually really interesting: best apps for preschoolers, uni students, best features of he forthcoming iOS 8 for businesses …
Los Angeles drops iPads for schools — Meanwhile, life goes on. In what must be a shock for Apple, Los Angeles Superintendent John Deasy has suspended future use of a contract with Apple. This happened Monday 25th August. The deal was to provide iPads to all students in the the United States’ second-largest school system but scrutiny of the US$1-billion-plus effort had been mounting.
The contract had been approved just over a year ago. The terms meant Apple was expected to provide iPads with Pearson as the subcontractor. School board members were made to understand that the initial US$30-million contract was expected to expand to about US$500 million as the project rolled out over the following year. An additional US$500 million would be used to expand internet access and other infrastructure issues at schools.
The two main reasons Apple is now not in the pipeline is a deemed unsuitability of iPads in this environment (new electronic state tests were hard to read on iPad screens due to their size), but much more disturbingly, Deasy’s process looked, to critics, as if it had been skewed to favour Apple from the start. I’ll follow this with interest.
Californian kill switches — Meanwhile, California has passed a law mandating smartphone kill switches.
That means that smartphones sold in California will soon be required to have a kill switch that lets users remotely lock them and wipe them of data in the event they are lost or stolen.
The demand is the result of a new law, signed into effect on Monday, that applies to all smartphones manufactured after July 1, 2015 sold in the state. The inefficiency of producing phones solely for California means the kill switch is expected to be adopted by phone makers on handsets sold across the US – and around the world.
Apple had, of course, already responded to this request by adding a feature called Activation Lock into its iOS 7 operating system. This already meets all requirements of California’s kill switch law except one: it doesn’t come enabled in new phones out of the box. That’s all that will have to change.
iOS 7 dominates iDevice users — With iOS 8 on the horizon, 91% of Apple users made the switch to iOS 7. This is very impressive, especially when you compare it to the Android world: there are currently five different versions of Android each holding 10% or higher shares of that market.
That means Google’s Android is more fragmented than ever, with three different versions of the platform representing two-thirds of all devices. This makes it hard for developers – which system to develop and test for? And it’s hard for consumers: which apps work on your particular system?
So on the one hand, Android users get the ‘freedom’ to play around with all these different system, while on the other, us iOS users are ‘trapped’ into a system most of us are using, which has a rock-solid testing and deployment process. I’m biased, of course, but it’s pretty obvious to me which one is preferable.
Windows 8 was no dragon slayer for Microsoft — Apple followers have been chortling over the almost constant reports for other tech analysts that Apple has messed up, about to die, missed the boat etc. Of course, all these things might be true, at least one day, but the style of reporting certainly shows a strong pattern. Some put Apple down by championing competitors in the strongest of terms as, finally, real ‘Apple beaters’.
An example is Zach Epstein. He postulated that Microsoft’s Windows 8 would be the Mac and iPad killer all rolled into one. In the Boy Genius Report in 2011, he wrote “Apple paved the way but Microsoft will get there first with Windows 8. A tablet that can be as fluid and user friendly as the iPad but as capable as a Windows laptop. A tablet that can boot in under 10 seconds and fire up a full-scale version of Adobe Dreamweaver a few moments later. A tablet that can be slipped into a dock to instantly become a fully capable touch-enabled laptop computer. This is Microsoft’s vision with Windows 8, and this is what it will deliver.”
Deliver? The same site’s Brad Reed now writes “Why did Windows 8 fail? … We know from well-connected Microsoft reporters and even directly from Microsoft employees that Microsoft knows it stumbled badly with Windows 8. Indeed, the Windows 8 brand has become so toxic that the company’s employees have reportedly dubbed it ‘the new Vista’.” Ouch.
HealthKit attracts medicos … and insurers — Meanwhile, it looks more and more like anything like a so-far imaginary Apple ‘iWatch’ will have a lot to do with medical and other sensory devices. And that’s the real impetus behind Apple’s June launch of HealthKit, which adds APIs and other services to a range of medical sensor makers and their related apps. Do you really want to monitor many aspects of your own body? I don’t – but I might one day. It certainly suits those trying to improve their fitness, but even more so, those with medical conditions … because conceivably this data could be shared with medical practitioners. They could get alerts when your heart rate of blood pressure go up, for example. They’ll call and say ‘Stop watching the rugby!’ Hah. Anyway, insurers seem to be getting into the concept too – these implications are discussed in a Mac Observer podcast.
China’s new OS — Finally, you may have heard that China has been deleting Apple devices from government agencies. Since Chinese tech companies haven’t developed their own operating systems that can compete with OS X, iOS, Windows, or Android, billions of dollars flow out of China, and Chinese security services feel like it exposes the country to espionage from the US National Security Agency (NSA).
So China is trying to develop it’s own OS based on Linux, which is ironic in itself. This is also discussed on the Mac Observer.
At the end of the day, I do recall that the Apple world remains an interesting hotbed of news, information and rumours.