Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

10 ways Apple really has changed the (tech) world

Apple is both a creator of and a beacon for the technology future we now live in

10 ways Apple really has changed the (tech) world
From the beginning, Apple liked to proclaim how it was inventing the future with products that would change the world. That visionary impulse often comes across as stubbornness, with Apple ignoring what the pundits say — and it often comes across as overwrought, when Apple puts on its “it’s all amazing and revolutionary” dog-and-pony shows. Even when co-founder Steve Jobs wasn’t at Apple, that attitude has prevailed.

Yet no tech company in the past 35 years has done as much user-facing innovation as Apple. Never mind that most people don’t use Macs or iPads. Even when it doesn’t win the market, Apple defines the market time and again.

Here are the 10 most significant products Apple has created, ones that really have changed the world.

Macintosh: Defining the computer for the rest of us
Steve Jobs didn’t create the Mac, but he did create the mythos around it and recognized that it heralded a new, better way to use computers. Ironically, the horribly expensive Mac became the emblem of computing for the masses, a human device for real people who had seen computers as unfathomable tools used only by engineers and scientists.

Microsoft took the core principles of the Mac’s graphical, direct-manipulation interface, itself inspired by work at Xerox PARC, and brought them to Windows, delivering the promise of the Mac to the masses for real. Today, the approach pioneered by the Mac is simply how computers work.

OS X: No operating system does it better
At the core of the Mac today is OS X, Apple’s Unix-based operating system that remains the leader in intuitiveness and ease of use, yet offers sophisticated capabilities from data detectors to malware detection that actually work. The tight integration and intentionality of the OS and Apple’s bundled apps create a superior experience, even if many users don’t use much of what they could.

We forget that OS X was not the original Mac OS. In its 15 years of existence, OS X has pulled off the neat trick of evolving significantly while working as you’d expect. Each version arrives fresh and familiar. Microsoft certainly hasn’t had that happy result in its Windows versions over that same period, with two wins and two flops.

iPod: The music world, reinvented
After Steve Jobs’ 12-year journey in the wilderness of Next and Pixar, he returned to a near-dead Apple — and came up with the iPod. MP3 players already existed, but none really mattered. Portable CD players and the industry’s portability granddaddy, the Sony Walkman, still ruled.

In 2001, the iPod changed all that, thanks to a better user experience. It also changed the music industry: Songs now mattered, not albums, and with the iTunes Store, Apple shifted the distribution of music from physical stores to downloads. The music business — and music listening — in 2014 bears little resemblance to that of 2001.

The iPod also changed Apple, converting the computer company into a consumer technology company, which is the source of its strength today.

iPhone: The end of the cell phone, the beginning of mobile computing
When the iPhone debuted in 2007, InfoWorld’s Tom Yager derided it as a $1,975 iPod, due to its required data plan. A year later, Apple debuted the App Store, and the iPhone was no longer an iPod that could make calls. Apple smartly created several rich apps — iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, Keynote, Numbers — that to this day are unrivaled as mobile apps and show that a smartphone isn’t a cellphone that supports email, as the once-dominant BlackBerry had been, but a computer in its own right. Apple had this vision back in 1993 with its Newton MessagePad, which clearly presages the iPhone of 2007.

Today, Android rules much of the smartphone world; like Windows used the Mac as inspiration, Android used the iPhone.

App Store: A digital store for a digital world
Remember when software was a digital thing on an analog disk? It was back before there was an app for that.

The App Store did more than distribute bits as bits: It introduced the notions of curated content (which developers hate but has kept iOS largely malware-free), and it made possible the notion that you buy apps that can run on multiple devices you own — a major break from traditional licenses. Apple understood early on that in a digital world, endpoints are federated, and the software industry needs to think beyond physical installations. Now, an app store is just the way it’s done, including at Google and Microsoft.

iPad: The PC, reinvented — and the TV, reinvented
There were tablets, or at least slates, on the original Star Trek TV series in the 1960s. In the modern PC era, there’ve been Windows tablets since at least the XP days, but all were flops.

The iPad changed that, becoming the first tablet that people wanted, and spawning a copycat industry (some copies pre-dated the iPad itself, based on rumors). But no one does it as well as the iPad.

Tablets now sell as many units as PCs do, and the iPad was the fastest-adopted mass technology in human history. Tablets can be your mobile PC, but they’re as likely to (also) be your personal TV, among other things. Amazing.

Touch: The gestures we all use came from Apple
It doesn’t matter what devices or operating systems you run, when it comes to touch gestures, they all work very much the same way — at core, Apple’s way. Apple has vigorously protected some gestures through patents, but the basic gestures it introduced on the iPhone are practically universal. They’ve become like mouse movements, used by everyone.

That universality has quickly let the gesture approach to computing take off, as both developers and users can focus less on learning the UI and more on, well, using it. Most of Apple’s impact has been on mobile devices, but its adaption of touch to computers via touch-enabled mice and trackpads probably means when touch PCs finally get popular, they’ll use Apple’s gestures, too.

Autodiscovery networking: Connecting a connected world
IT has long hated Apple networking technology because it’s chatty, inefficient, and not concerned about IT control. But if you want things to connect in the world of people, you count on Apple technology.

Want to share files or music on a Mac? It’s automatic, thanks to built-in discovery protocols. Want to print from an iPad or iPhone? Select a printer and let AirPrint do the work, no drivers needed. Want play music at someone’s house? Turn on AirPlay. (If they have an AirPlay-enabled device.) Video and presentations are likewise a snap. File sharing is follow these lines via AirDrop in ad hoc networks. And Handoff is a step in this direction for app interactions.

Apple knows the secret: It’s about connecting, not networking.

iBeacons: Contextual technology for the real world
Apple’s location-aware sensors are only a year old, so it’s too soon to call them a revolution, but I think they’re well poised to be.

It’s not the hardware that’s key, but the APIs and hooks in iOS that let an iPhone or iPad — and future devices — combine location information with both local and cloud data to open a new world for users. I’m sure that iBeacons, motion coprocessors, HealthKit, CloudKit, CarPlay, and other contextual technology are part of an Apple 3.0 that has just begun to emerge.

 

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Apple now emailing users when iCloud accessed via Web

It’s one of several security improvements expected from the company following its involvement in last week’s celebrity photo theft

In the wake of last week’s theft of celebrity photos, Apple has started beefing up security for its iCloud service. The move, part of improvements also promised by Apple CEO Tim Cook last week, comes just a day before one of the company’s biggest events of the year.
icloud security logout

On the Web, iCloud’s advanced account settings allow you to log out all currently logged in sessions.

As first reported by MacRumors, Apple will now send iCloud users an email whenever they (or someone purporting to be them) log into iCloud.com via a Web browser. This seems to happen even if the browser and computer in question are ones that a user has previously logged in with. Apple’s email advises users to change their Apple ID password if they believe someone else is accessing their account. (As an additional tool, iCloud’s Web interface does provide the ability to log out every currently logged in browser in its Account Settings > Advanced.)

Granted, in my brief test, the email arrived ten minutes after I logged in, which could still give an interloper plenty of time to do some damage. Currently iCloud’s Web interface does not have the option to require two-step authentication when logging into your account.
icloud security login

Apple now sends you an email, notifying you when someone has logged into your iCloud account via the Web.

Given the broad publicity over this security issue, it seems likely Apple will take at least some time at Tuesday’s event to respond and potentially discuss what measures are being taken to ensure the security of its users. No doubt the company hopes that this incident won’t overshadow what most assume to be the launch of the next iPhone.


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8 iPad Apps That Are Complex, Powerful and Advanced

Most people don’t think of the iPad as a high-end computing device. These eight apps prove otherwise.

The iPad isn’t known as a high-end computing device. Most users will buy the iPad Air because of the games and consumer apps like Skype and Evernote. However, there are many advanced apps that use a wealth of back-end data, provide a high-quality video stream, and can handle processing tasks normally reserved for a Windows or Mac computer. Here’s a look at eight robust apps with uses as varied as home security, computer-assisted design and stock trading.

Vivint: Advanced Home Security
Vivint is a security and connected home service, and the Vivint app for iPad is one of the most advanced offerings around. It’s not just a “viewer” with simple lock and unlock controls: The app also lets you adjust your home temperature, view live security camera feeds, arm and disarm the security system and control lighting. You can also see a history of all connected home events — each time the front door was opened, for example — and you can lock all doors or shut off all lights in one click. The app itself is free, but security systems and video and connected home system pricing varies.

Wolfram Alpha: Math and Science at Your Fingertips
Having quick access to a wealth of knowledge isn’t always a good fit for the iPad. After all, the device has a limited amount of memory for local storage, and its mobile processor is designed for email and Web browsing. The Wolfram Alpha app ($2.99) proves you can do real work on a tablet. Thanks to an extensive back end (Wolfram has thousands of servers processing requests), you can search for answers related to mathematics, thermodynamics, physics, chemistry and much more using a simple search field. There’s a browsing component as well; you can use the Examples sidebar to create queries and search the vast research archive.

NGRAIN: 3-D Augmented Reality Player
This app, free for NGRAIN Augmented Reality users, provides a 3-D augmented reality overlay on top of a physical object. It might be used to explain how to fix a part in a vehicle or overlay a medical drawing over a piece of human anatomy. The app uses millions of data points, or voxels, that are fed to the iPad in real-time. Each voxel can contain measurements, such as the temperature of the object or size. The diesel pump shown at left consists of 376 parts and 1.2 million polygons — yet NGRAIN manages to reduce this massive CAD image down to about 7MB to work on the iPad.

New Relic: Track Website Transactions
This app gives you access to the New Relic service (free), which tracks website transactions and back-end application activity in real time. Importantly, the app is not a simplified viewer. An ecommerce retailer can monitor about 85,000 transactions per minute, for example, and not just a simple subset of those transactions. The app has the same color-coded charts as the Web-based New Relic app to help make those massive data sets easier to comprehend.

Bloomberg: Visualization Tool for Financial Data
Another highly complex app that does a good job of making the information accessible, the Bloomberg visualizer (free) shows data for equity indexes, bonds, futures, commodities and currencies, along with breaking news and info about the debt crisis. You can also track your personal holdings and use tools such as Leaders & Laggers to help you with investments. The app also lets you browse video and audio clips. The home page gives you a quick snapshot of performers using color-coded queues for stock prices.

MLB at Bat: Everything a Baseball Fan Could Ever Want
For diehard baseball fans, especially those who want to track offseason activities, this Major League Baseball app shows how data-driven the iPad can be. There are full stats available, including those for pitching, batting and fielding — all of which the MLB recently added. You can listen to real-time audio for current games and see real-time indicators for each pitch and hit. MLB At Bat recently added classic game videos and highlights. Finally, stats are searchable by player, team or keyword. Price depends on a user’s subscription plan.

Weatherbug Elite: Check Weather, Avoid Lightning Strikes
The complexity of an app is often based on how much data it collects. Many weather apps just use data from the National Weather Service. Weatherbug Elite, meanwhile, culls from the NWS but also from a sensor network that tracks weather conditions and lightning. The app also lets you avoid lightning: Set your location and the app can send minute-by-minute reports on lightning strikes near you. This is in addition to the usual forecasts, maps and other weather data. The Elite version ($2.99) recently increased forecast algorithms from seven to 10 days.

Dish Anywhere: Watch Live TV, Manage Recordings
While some video players give you only basic options to watch a show, the Dish Anywhere app (free to Dish subscribers) includes a full remote control, the ability to search quickly for upcoming and recorded shows, schedule your recordings and adjust any conflicts and — of course — watch live television. Even the search function is advanced: You can query by show title, actor, network channel, keyword or genre. Dish Anywhere has a 5-star rating on iTunes after about 800 votes.


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19 Apple rumors that were just wrong

Some of the rumors about Apple over the years were just ridiculous.

Everybody loves to read about the latest Apple rumors, and while they sometimes provide us a little bit of insight into future Apple products, they are more often than not patently false. Sometimes, they’re even wildly and comically absurd.

Below are some of the more intriguing and notable Apple rumors we’ve seen in the past 10 years or so. While some may still come true (an Apple HDTV) some were downright laughable from the get-go (Apple to buy Twitter).
So, without further ado, here’s a trip down Apple Rumor memory lane.

Apple and Jay-Z to form their own record label
Say what?! Believe it or not, there was a rumor back in early 2008 that rapper Jay-Z and Apple were going to form a new record label. The rumor gained enough traction that it even appeared on outlets like CNN and CNBC. Early reports even went so far as to claim that Beyonce was set to join the label once her contract with Sony expired.
Not surprisingly, this rumor never came to fruition.

Apple to buy Waze
Apple’s foray into mobile Mapping with iOS 6 was famously fraught with problems. Since then, Apple has improved its Maps app and has even acquired a number of Mapping based companies. During the first half of 2013, rumors emerged that Apple was in negotiations to purchase Waze, a popular mapping and navigation app with a number of clever and fun social features.
As it turns out, Waze was eventually acquired by Google in June of 2013 for a reported $1.1 billion.

Apple to buy Disney
This rumor had a rather long shelf life, perhaps enabled by the fact that Steve Jobs for many years was the largest individual shareholder of Disney stock. And, oh yes, did we mention that he also sat on Disney’s board of directors? While a proposed Apple buyout of or merger with Disney was intriguing, if only because of the parties involved, such a deal never made much business sense and obviously never came to be.

Apple to launch a branded HDTV
This is a rumor that has persisted for quite a number of years and has taken on many different shapes and sizes. One second we hear Apple will be releasing a 55-inch OLED HDTV, and the next we hear that Apple may be releasing 55 and 65-inch models of a 4K TV sometime in late 2014. While the specifics of Apple’s alleged HDTV plans are always changing, the one thing that has remained the same is that Apple retail stores still remain HDTV-less.

Blu-ray coming to the Mac
Steve Jobs calling Blu-ray licensing a “big bag of hurt” didn’t stop a bevy of rumors from pointing to future Macs coming with Blu-ray support. This rumor especially gained traction once HD-DVD went the way of the dodo and Blu-ray licensing became a whole lot less complex. Nevertheless, it’s now 2013 and with optical drives on the Mac now being edged out completely, don’t count on this rumor ever coming true.

Special-edition yellow Beatles iPod pre-loaded with music
The Beatles catalogue of music arrived on iTunes in November of 2010. Long a favorite band of Steve Jobs, the absence of any Beatles music on iTunes was rather conspicuous beforehand. Over the course of a few years, there was no shortage of rumors indicating that the Beatles would be coming to iTunes. What’s more, there was even a rumor that Apple was going to commemorate the news with a special edition yellow iPod (yellow submarine-themed) pre-loaded with every Beatles song. While the Beatles did eventually find their way onto iTunes, this mythical yellow iPod never saw the light of day.

Apple to buy Twitter
Back in 2009 when Twitter was all the rage in Silicon Valley, rumors began circulating that Apple was interested in purchasing the company for upwards of $700 million. Never mind the fact that Twitter would be an absurdly odd fit within Apple and that Apple has never spent that much money on a lone company. Of course, logic often has no place when it comes to Apple rumors, so this one died just as quickly as it spread.

Justin Long was fired from ‘I’m a Mac’ ads
Apple’s famed “Get a Mac” ads — you know, the ones featuring Justin Long as a Mac and John Hodgman as a PC — had a nice three-year run from 2006 through 2009. But back in 2006, reports surfaced that Apple had fired Justin Long. The reason? Consumers felt the Long character was a tad too smug. The funny thing is Long himself was made aware of the rumor and squashed it via his own website, declaring “I’m literally setting my alarm right now to wake up for a Mac shoot tomorrow.” All told, more than 60 “Get a Mac” ads were released, all featuring Justin Long.

Apple to shift AX processor production from Samsung to TSMC
Every year, without fail, we’re treated to new reports claiming that Apple has moved away from Samsung and has instead tapped Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to manufacture its AX processors. We saw such rumors with the A5, A6 and the A7. With Apple clearly trying to distance itself from Samsung as much as possible, this rumor certainly makes sense, but has yet to materialize. Indeed, teardowns of the iPhone 5s reveal that Apple’s A7 processor is made by Samsung.

PowerBook G5
Rumors that Apple would be releasing a G5 PowerBook first emerged in 2003 following the release of the G5 Power Mac. Weeks passed. Months passed. And all the while, no G5 PowerBook was announced. While Apple executives intimated at various points that it was a product they would like to release in the future, they remained beholden to the G4 and were reportedly stifled by engineering challenges in keeping the G5 processor cool enough to run in a notebook-sized device.

Apple to buy Universal Music Group
Many Apple rumors center on alleged acquisitions, which is somewhat odd given that Apple, as opposed to companies like Google and Microsoft, is much more selective when it comes to corporate acquisitions.

All that said, word spread in 2003 that Apple was looking into acquiring the Universal Music Group record label. At the time, sources from both CNET and the LA Times reported that Apple had engaged in “very preliminary” discussions regarding such a deal. Much like the Jay-Z rumor, however, there wouldn’t be much for Apple to gain in managing its own record label. To be fair, this rumor did make a bit more sense because it preceded the launch of the iTunes Music Store.

iPad 3 to include advanced tactile feedback
This was a somewhat bizarre rumor that emerged in March of 2012, ahead of the iPad 3 launch. The rumor claimed that the iPad 3 would feature a new screen technology with advanced haptic feedback that could mimic the feel of various textures like wood and cloth.

A 4.8-inch iPhone, dubbed iPhone Math
In early 2013, Digitimes reported via the China Times that Apple was planning to release an iPhone with a 4.8-inch screen. Dubbed the iPhone Math, this rumored device was also going to sport a 12-megapixel camera. Not too long after, Digitimes retracted its initial report, though it did maintain that Apple is still developing larger-screened iPhone prototypes.

Apple to discontinue the iPod Classic and the iPod Shuffle
In a touchscreen world, there isn’t much room for devices like the iPod Classic or the iPod Shuffle. So when rumors emerged in 2011 that both products were poised to be discontinued, it certainly seemed more credible than the average Apple rumor. It’s now nearly 2014, and though the iPod Classic and iPod Shuffle don’t contribute a heck of a lot to Apple’s bottom line, they’re still available for sale and prominently featured on Apple’s website.

Apple to release netbook
This was a particularly odd rumor given that Apple executives never missed an opportunity to bash the shortcomings of what was once a popular consumer device. Throughout the first half of 2009, word spread that Apple was looking into releasing a 9.7-inch netbook with a touchscreen. The rumored pricepoint for this device? $800. A few months later, Apple did in fact release a 9.7-inch screened device – the iPad.

Apple to make a bid for Hulu
This rumor emerged in June of 2011, from Bloomberg no less, claiming Apple was considering making a bid to acquire Hulu. Today, one can watch Hulu via the Apple TV, but that’s about the extent of any relationship between the two.

iPhone to support NFC
With a number of NFC-related patents to its name, not to mention a number of interesting NFC-related hires, reports of an NFC-enabled iPhone have persisted for quite some time now. As the rumor narrative went, Apple will enable mobile payments via NFC functionality. With Touch ID now out and in use, Apple still likely has mobile payments on its radar, but may not use NFC to implement it after all.

Apple to acquire Barnes & Noble, TiVo, Palm, Nintendo, etc.
With so many Apple acquisition rumors, we figured it made sense to lump some of them together. Over the past few years, there have been all sorts of rumors involving alleged Apple acquisitions. From Palm to Sony and all sorts of companies in between, you’d think that the rumor mill would have learned long ago that Apple typically purchases smaller companies, like Authentec, that have a product or technology that it wants to integrate into a shipping product. Acquisitions that fall outside of Apple’s product wheelhouse simply aren’t in the company’s DNA.

The iPhone Nano
Thankfully, we don’t hear many iPhone Nano rumors anymore these days, but quite a few made it out of the Apple rumor mill back in 2007. Of course, some of these rumors were more the result of analysts’ wishful thinking than any actual evidence. Almost laughably, a JP Morgan analyst once noted that Apple was planning to release a smaller version of the iPhone, complete with a “circular touch pad control.”


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Microsoft Office 365 lands in US iPhone App Store

Office Mobile is only available for iPhone, iPad users can use Office Web Apps for now, Microsoft said

Microsoft released a version of its office suite for iPhones in the U.S. that is only available for Office 365 subscribers.

Microsoft released the Microsoft Office Mobile suite for iPhones Friday. The software is compatible with iPhone 4, 4S and 5, and the iPod Touch (5th generation) and requires iOS 6.1 or later, according to the iTunes release notes.

Mobile Office allows users to access, view and edit Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint documents, according to the release notes. Because charts, animations and SmartArt graphics and shapes are supported, documents look like their originals, Microsoft said, adding that formatting and content remain intact when edits are made.

iPhone users can access Office documents that are stored on SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro and Sharepoint.

“Office Mobile is cloud-connected. The documents you’ve recently viewed on your computer are readily available on your phone in the recent documents panel,” Microsoft said. It is also possible to view and edit documents attached to email settings.

Documents can also be edited offline. Changes will be saved online when the device reconnects with the network, Microsoft said.

When opening a Word document from SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro on an iPhone, “it automatically resumes at the place where you left off reading, even if you last viewed the document on your PC or tablet.”

While the app is free, an Office 365 subscription is required to use it, Microsoft said. The subscription version, called Office 365 Home Premium, costs US$99.99 per household annually. The app will also work with a 365 trial account, Microsoft said, adding that using the Office Mobile app for Windows Phone does not require a subscription.

The app is only available in the U.S. for now. “Office Mobile for iPhone will be available in 29 languages covering 135 markets.A The international rollout will occur over approximately 4-5 days,” Microsoft said in a blog post.

The app is not available in an optimized version for the iPad. “Like all iPhone apps, Office Mobile can work on iPad, either small or ‘2X’ scaled up, but you’ll have a more satisfying experience using Office Web Apps,” Microsoft said.

Office for iPad is reportedly scheduled for release in October 2014.

 


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Microsoft’s beef with Apple over SkyDrive for iOS is justified

Apple and Microsoft must have missed sniping at each other, because this is petty.

It’s been a while since Apple and Microsoft took cheap shots at each other. I guess they got bored. One news outlet reports Apple is being difficult about approving the newest version of SkyDrive for iOS.

The Next Web reports that the two are at loggerheads over a new version of SkyDrive, which has a paid storage option because Microsoft doesn’t pay Apple a 30% cut of subscription revenue generated by paid storage services.

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A main sticking point is that Microsoft does not want to pay Apple the 30% cut, which runs in perpetuity regardless of whether users continue to use an iOS device or not, because the billing is done through their Apple account.

So if a user signed up for the enhanced-capacity drive on their iOS device and then moved to a non-iOS phone (say, a Windows Phone), Apple would still collect 30% of their fee for storage even though they aren’t using the iOS device any more. Microsoft is understandably not keen on this.

The problem is not limited to just SkyDrive. AllThingsD reports that this fee is also applied to Office 365 subscriptions sold through Microsoft Office for iOS, which Microsoft has all but acknowledged will be launched sometime next year.

A spokesperson for Microsoft responded to a query with this comment:

“Similar to the experiences of some other companies, we are experiencing a delay in approval of our updated SkyDrive for iOS. We are in contact with Apple regarding the matter and hope to come to a resolution. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.”

Apple, as usual, isn’t talking.

This problem could easily spread to other apps. Third-party developers that use SkyDrive would also be hit with the 30% fee, and they aren’t going to like that perpetual fee, either.

How this plays out will be very interesting. Microsoft could practice what it preaches and offer policies for the Windows Store similar to what it wants from Apple. This would be a key point of differentiation and potentially competitive.

If Apple continues to play hardball and extends the same courtesy to DropBox and other cloud storage apps, Apple could be the one shut out and shunned. Will it happen? Who knows? Tim Cook does not strike me as unreasonable, and now that this is out and in the media, the pressure may come down on Apple.

Now the real test for Microsoft will be how it behaves when the shoe is on the other foot.


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Tablet smackdown: iPad vs Surface RT in the enterprise

IPads are already making their way into businesses via bring-your-own-device efforts with Microsoft Surface RT tablets hoping to follow suit as employees lobby for their favorite devices. But which one makes more sense from an IT perspective?

Read Network World’s other tech arguments.

The two products are roughly similar in price ($500), run touch-centric operating systems, are highly portable and weigh about a pound and a half.

The two most significant differences are that Surface RT comes with both a keyboard and a version of Microsoft Office – Office 2013 Home & Student 2013 RT – which expand the potential corporate utility of the devices.

Third-party keyboards are available for iPads as are third-party versions of Office-compatible productivity suites but they represent more work for IT. A rumor says Microsoft is working on a client that will allow accessing Office from an iPad through Microsoft’s service Office 365.

Office on Surface RT has its limitations. It lacks Outlook but includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, and the Surface RT version requires a business license in order to be used for work. Still, having it installed out of the box is a leg up and gives workers the opportunity to tap into the productivity suite. The keyboard is a big plus.

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When it comes to numbers of applications iPad has far more than Surface RT, and neither one has the number of business applications that support traditional Windows operating systems. Surface RT is a Windows operating system that can’t run traditional Windows apps except for the Office suite specifically crafted for the platform.

Instead, Surface RT has its own class of applications called Windows Store apps, mainly because they can only be bought from the Window Store. They are tailored for touch tablets and must be vetted by Microsoft before they get into the store’s inventory.

They can be developed using XAML, with code-behind in C++, C#, or Visual Basic, and Microsoft has a provision for sideloading custom business apps to Surface RT without submitting them first to Microsoft. Even so, that’s a lot of work to get apps natively on the devices.

Both iPads and Surfaces support virtual desktops, which goes a long way toward making traditional apps available on them. Hosted virtual desktops (HVD) can be costly, Gartner says in a report called “Bring Your Own Device: New Opportunities, New Challenges”. Its research found that “shifting to an HVD model increases the onetime costs per device by more than $600.” Plus proper licensing of iPads for business use is complicated, the report says.

Managing Surface RT is possible via Windows cloud-based management Intune and Exchange ActiveSync for messaging. IPad also supports Exchange ActiveSync. Third-party mobile device management platforms can configure and update iPads as well as monitor compliance with corporate policies. They can also wipe or lock lost and stolen machines. OS X server can do all this as well.

Surface RT comes with security features iPad doesn’t. These include both hardware-based secure boot that checks that the system hasn’t been tampered with and also trusted boot that fires up anti-malware before anything else. That way malware can’t disable the anti-malware before it gets the chance to do its job. The same hardware security module can act as a smartcard for authentication, and Surface RT has full disk encryption.

The iPad has disk encryption but lacks the secure boot features of Surface RT. Its secure boot chain is based on read-only memory and its hardware security module doesn’t do double duty as a smartcard.

NOTE: There is another version of Surface that runs on x86 processors and supports any application that Windows 7 supports. It’s not available until next year, but is actually a tablet-sized full Windows laptop with all the touch capabilities of Surface RT.

That device would beat iPad hands-down if it cost the same, but it is likely to cost hundreds of dollars more than Surface RT.


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5 Things Microsoft Surface Must Do to Beat the iPad

5 Things Microsoft Surface Must Do to Beat the iPad
The Windows ship is leaking in a dozen places, pierced beneath the waterline by very pointy iPads. Where the Mac never really made a dent in Microsoft’s PC hegemony, the iPad is doing so: it’s being handed to children as a first computer, appearing in schools, and running point-of-sale systems for small businesses. If you consider the iPad a PC, then Apple’s the No. 1 PC maker, according to research firm Canalys.

That makes the iPad public enemy number one for Microsoft if it intends to maintain its PC leadership, and the new Surface tablet is Microsoft’s primary weapon. Surface comes in two versions. The Windows RT version matches the iPad on price, but has relatively few apps; all the same, this will be the model at which most consumers look. The more-expensive Windows 8 “Surface Pro” version will run existing business software.

I hate calling things a “such-and-such killer,” but Microsoft needs to at least slow the iPad penetration of iPads in business and claim a part of the consumer market. How can the company do that? Here are five paths to take.

Developers, developers, developers. Windows RT has fewer than 3,000 apps. The iPad has 250,000. Microsoft needs to beg, borrow, or steal to pump up the app count for RT. Fortunately, the company has plenty of experience with this – it’s managed to nurture more than 100,000 apps for Windows Phone even with that platform stuck in single-digit market share. Bring that experience to bear with the Surface and apps should ramp up nicely.

Bring Xbox to Windows RT. XBox is Microsoft’s most beloved consumer brand. And unlike the PS Vita and Nintendo DS, the Surface has enough horsepower to run pretty good approximations of Xbox games. Microsoft needs to bring as much of the Xbox experience as possible to the Surface. Once again, the company has done a pretty good job of this with Windows Phone, and it can do an even better job with the more powerful hardware here.

Reclaim Ground With Small Businesses. Small businesses are increasingly moving to iPad-based point-of-sale, order-taking and management systems. This major disruption has been brought on by Square and its ilk, and it’s cannibalizing the stodgy old world of retail business systems. Square’s Jack Dorsey has hinted at a Windows Phone app coming, but Square isn’t the be-all and end-all of small business systems. Microsoft needs to seize the day with custom Surface packages with hardware and software priced competitively to iPad solutions for different small business categories such as retail, real estate, and transportation.

Be Enterprise’s Best Friend. IT managers love a good relationship, and Apple has been cozying up to formerly PC-only shops, explaining to them how they can replace virus-prone, heavy PCs with light, secure iPads. Microsoft still has the infrastructure to take this back. Make sure that Surface RT can be managed with the same tools as enterprise Windows 8 installations, and then promote it as something that has all of the advantages of the iPad with more familiarity for Windows-friendly IT departments. If Microsoft wants to lean on SkyDrive, it needs to be enterprise-ready and secure enough for financial and legal firms.
Make Other Tablets Look Like Toys. Microsoft Office is the Surface’s greatest strength. It must integrate perfectly with the Office used on desktops, both from a user perspective (with even complex formatting intact, and features like version-tracking working properly) and from an infrastructure perspective (working with secure servers, domains, and policies.) Microsoft Office is, for better or worse, the backbone of American commerce. If Microsoft can make the Surface look like the only truly serious tablet, then it has a solid chance.

 


 

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10 Tips and Tricks for iOS 6

Learn how a few special secret buried in iOS 6, as well as a couple of the most important features of Apple’s new operating system.

Maybe you’ve installed Apple’s iOS 6, the newest operating system for iPhones, iPad, and iPod touch, but do you know about all the tricks that are inside and how to use them?

Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 6, may have sparked a fury of Internet hate for the new Maps app, and I certainly won’t wag my finger at anyone who misses Google’s engine behind the Maps app, but plenty more goodies are tucked away in iOS 6 that you shouldn’t miss.

Here are ten of the best features and how to use them.
1. Swipe up to reply to incoming calls with a text message. Maybe you heard that when a call comes in, you can now reply with a text message instead of just declining the call. But these options don’t appear automatically. You have to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal them.

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2. Customize your text replies to declined calls. The feature that lets you turn down phone calls but reply with text message allows you to use a canned message for added convenience. A few options appear when you swipe up, as mentioned in the first tip. To change what they pre-written texts say, go to

Settings > Phone > Reply with Message.

You can now customize your one-touch replies.

3. Learn how to work the Do Not Disturb option. A new feature called Do Not Disturb appears in the settings, but it’s nothing more than an on/off switch. Where can you set the hours for quiet time, or make it so that calls from emergency contacts come through? Oddly, these choices fall under the Notifications area. Go to

Settings > Notifications > Do Not Disturb.

The Scheduled button lets you define the hours when you don’t want to be disturbed. The Allow Calls From button just below it launches a new screen where you can exclude people from your do-not-disturb list.

4. Attach photos and videos to email in the Mail app. Formerly, using the mail app was occasionally a pain. You’d compose a message, remember that you wanted to send the recipient a photo, too, and realized you couldn’t actually attach anything to the draft. Now you can. In an email draft, press a hold anywhere in the body. In landscape mode (holding the phone horizontally), list of options will appear, including one to insert a photo or video. If you’re in portrait or vertical mode, just press the arrow button that appears until you see the right choice.

5. Read in full-screen mode. News articles, blogs, and other text-heavy pages, when viewed on an iPhone especially, cause squinting and more pinching, zooming, panning than most people feel comfortable doing. When Safari detects a text-heavy page in iOS 6, it supplies a button called Reader at the top right of the URL bar, which reformats the page in a full-screen and easier-to-read layout. You’ll also notice a “share out” or “send to” button (curved arrow) in Safari with a lot of great option beneath it also worth exploring. They’re mostly not new to iOS 6, but they do appear in a newly designed interface.

6. Pass your iPad or iPhone to friends without worrying they’ll get nosy. I admit that I’ve hesitated in the past before passing my mobile devices around to friends to let them look at photos or something that made me giggle on Facebook. The larger the group of friends, the more suspicious I am that someone might take liberties with my device when I’m not looking. The same is true, I’m sure, for parents who let their kids play with their iPhone or iPad. Guided Access, new to iOS 6, lets you lock down your device so that only the app you open can be used, and no other functionality works until you enter a unique four-digit passcode. It’s a little tricky to find and set up.

First, go to

Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access.

Toggle the switch to on and set a passcode. When you want to use Guided Access, just open the app of choice, and triple tap the home button. Be sure to hit the start button at the top right. But wait, there’s more (see the next tip).

7. Disable buttons in apps (in Guided Access). When you enable Guided Access in an app—which locks users from going into any other app or areas of the phone—you can also disable parts of the screen. For example, if you turn on Guided Access in the Photos app, you can also use your finger to circle parts of the screen you want to disable, such as the top row of buttons so that one can look through your other albums. Just be sure to hit the Start button in the top right corner before handing over your device!

8. Share Photo Stream. Apple’s syncing service, iCloud, handles images with speed and good responsiveness. But it was never easy to share your pictures until iOS 6 came along. To share your Photo Stream images, go to the Camera app and press Photo Stream. Then hit the plus button in the upper left, which will open a screen where you can fill information about how to share your Photo Stream, whether with a select few individuals, or by making it public on your iCloud account.

9. Learn what the new Privacy button means (and use it). A new Privacy button under Settings comes with little explanation. Tap it, and you might not know what information it’s even telling you because there are no instructions or explainers. Here’s what it does: Privacy shows you apps that can talk to other apps, and whether they are. For example, my Twitter app talks to my Flipboard app. I enabled that integration, and I’m okay with it. But if I didn’t remember allowing it, or wanted to shut it off, I can do so in the Privacy area with one quick motion. This feature gives you very good ability to quick ability to turn off any app-to-app sharing that you don’t want and you might have forgotten existed. So if you don’t want Facebook to know where you are, check the Location Services section of your Privacy buttons, and you can flip the switch off lickety-split.

10. Customize native Facebook alerts. A big new feature in iOS 6 was the direct folding in of Facebook functionality, meaning you can share to Facebook a picture from your Camera app or a link from Safari without ever opening the Facebook app itself. It works similar to the baked-in Twitter functionality that was new to iOS 5. What many users may overlook, however, is the ability to customize your Facebook chat and message alerts, separate from the Facebook app as well. They’re found under

Settings > Facebook > Settings.

Of course, you can also add Facebook alerts to your Notification Center, but that feature isn’t new (it’s under Settings > Notifications, and then scroll down until you find Facebook in your list of apps).

Top 5 cities for big data jobs

San Francisco tops Modis list, followed by McLean, Va., Boston, St. Louis and Toronto

Corporate data stores are growing exponentially, nearly every tech vendor is positioning their products to help handle the influx of data, and IT departments are scrambling to find the right people to collect, analyze and interpret data in a way that’s meaningful to the business. On the employment front, the big data deluge is creating a hiring boom across North America. Modis, an IT staffing firm, identified five cities in particular where big data is driving job growth.

San Francisco tops the Modis list, followed by McLean, Va., Boston, St. Louis and Toronto. The roles that companies in these cities are fighting to fill include data scientist, data analyst, business intelligence professional and data modeling/data modeler.

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Business intelligence and data analysis have been core enterprise disciplines for a long time, but they’re becoming more important to businesses as data volumes rise, says Laura Kelley, a Modis vice president in Houston. “We’re in a new era in terms of how large the databases are, the amount of data we’re collecting, and how we’re using it. It’s much more strategic than it’s ever been.”

Big data professionals can be particularly difficult to find since many roles require a complicated blend of business, analytic, statistical and computer skills — which is not something a candidate acquires overnight. In addition, “clients are looking for people with a certain level of experience, who have worked in a big data environment. There aren’t a lot of them in the market,” Kelley says.

 

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Looking at recruiting trends across its offices, Modis finds there’s not one industry that’s doing the most big-data hiring. Rather, the cities have in common a concentration of large enterprises across myriad industries.

San Francisco, for instance, is home to large companies in the retail, insurance, healthcare, and e-commerce sectors.

McLean, Va., has both a strong commercial sector and government presence. “There are many data center operations in this area, both commercial and government related, that require talent to support the high volume of that data,” Modis explains in its report. “In addition, there is no larger consumer of IT products and services in the world than the US federal government.”

Banking and bio/pharmaceutical industries helped put Boston on the big data hiring map. “Both industries deal with large amounts of data that are detailed and complex in nature. That data then needs to be analyzed and placed in reports, dashboards and spreadsheets by data scientist and analysts,” Modis writes.

In St. Louis, universities and healthcare companies lead the big data hiring boom, followed by pharmaceutical and bioresearch firms that need to fill data analyst and scientist roles.

Lastly, in Toronto, financial institutions are fueling a need for business intelligence pros who can help organizations get a more precise and complete picture of the business and customers, Modis finds.

In the big picture, companies often have to compromise and prioritize their wish list — technical expertise, industry experience or quantitative statistical analysis skills, for experience — to find available big-data candidates.

“What is this person going to be doing? Do you need the technical skills? Or is the quantitative/statistical expertise more important? Is this person going to be doing data modeling or making business decisions?” Kelley says. “In an ideal world, companies want all of it. But it’s not an ideal world.”

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