Blind Bargains

The Weekly Apple Rundown: Apple Pay It Forward Edition


The Weekly Apple Rundown: Apple Pay It Forward Edition

It is a darn good thing I'm not held to a hard deadline on this series. No really, it is, as putting this week's look at Tim and Jony's exploits into focus was a continuing saga with more happening every day ... y'know, like a little franchise from a galaxy far, far away. More on how that reference fits in this week's stories later on.

Firstly, I want to highlight two items at the top of the heap. I may have said here, and on a few dozen podcasts over the last five years, that I am a huge fan of the iMore team. Rene wrote a post last week and it is well worth the read, entitled: "Accessibility is for everyone"
the article is a great reminder that access is a non-exclusive word. It has many meanings and the article outlines that the "one size fits all" viewpoint falls short at some point for someone with a unique set of challenges that may include, but is not limited to, a single disability. Also, shout out this week to the gang at AppleVis for making the tracking of problems in iOS and OSX easier.

Okay, now on to the carloads of news. As in iCar. Or is Apple really working on a self-driving electric CarPlay-enabled vehicle that comes with a "Find my iCar" app? Well, some came out early last week with pails of water to dash out the fiery hopes of the Apple Dream Car.
Then, major media outlets looking for hits or just acting upon the "source familiar with the matter" line popped up shortly after with various levels of real and possibly imagined evidence to the contrary. There was Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and 9To5Mac posting some news that might just point to the existence of some type of four-wheeled project in development

However, later in the week, this story involving a lawsuit really began to put rubber on the proverbial road for a car.
Which in turn brought the speculation link bait post... Analyst Predicts Apple To Buy Tesla For $75 Billion

The thing to remember is that big companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google are doing "moonshot" long term research projects all the time. Last month Microsoft's HoloLens was unveiled and it was in the planning stages for more than half a decade within the Xbox division. Google has been experimenting with self-navigating tech for about as long. Facebook, with Oculus Rift, is betting big on VR. And, perhaps one day Apple will join them with the head-mounted iPhone.

What we do know is that Apple is on a talent hiring spree. This past week saw the hiring of a long-time Macworld tech journalist and a famous BBC DJ. Rumors abound that these new hires, and the already staffed Board member Dr. Dre, are going to aid the retooled Beats Music. This might even mean that iTunes Radio sees the door, not unlike the dead iTunes LP format, in favor of a new Spotify killer premium music service..
Or, as some now speculate, Beats could be another Trojan horse in Apple's long-standing desire to control the music industry.
This week's Mac Break Weekly focused on those problems and they summarized Tim Cook's comments at the security summit held by the White House recently. Tim was one of the only major CEOs to attend this event thereby making his remarks all the more quotable.
CEO Cook also attended the Goldman Sachs Conference and was seen on Instagram in several celebrity selfies from last weekend's Grammies. When does this guy ever rest?

Apple Pay was in the news almost as much as Tim and that possible Apple Car. Here are some highlights....

US government to accept Apple Pay for 'many' transactions starting in September
Why it matters that the federal government will accept Apple Pay
Jet Blue to accept Apple Pay for in flight services
iPhone users can now reload their Starbucks Card with Apple Pay
Apple Pay reportedly faces uphill battle in China as talks with UnionPay stall

Now the real die hard tin foil iHat conspiracists might have you believe that all this car malarkey and Tim Cook spotting press is to hide the flaws and under delivered promises that is the first gen Apple Watch. There is some actual meat to this, as many point to the softening of the media message and lowered expectations with articles noting that Apple had to nix some features of the watch. However, the Apple watch is said to support diabetic glucose monitoring at launch.

Plus there are those who have deciphered the 3rd-party Watch Kit and Watch OS who believe that there will be plenty on hand for those who slap that iDevice on their wrist this April.
Regardless, the Apple Watch landed its first glossy magazine cover. Plus, Apple readies five million timepieces for the big day and Apple met with Mexican regulators to iron things out for the unit's release in that territory, as worldwide launch numbers tend to impress Apple shareholders. Just look at how much higher the iPhone 6 numbers are now that the iPhone launches in more than just the US.
The question most pundits seemed to ponder this week revolved around how many of that five million first wave would be the Sport, the Stainless Steel model or the Gold edition? Because, say it with me, "Gold is best!".

Turning to Windows, no not on a VM, last week saw the release of iTunes updates that makes v12 somewhat more friendly to the screen reader user. Not so friendly though is the free iCloud-based iWork when using with a Windows screen reader. No word on if Safari for Windows will ever make a comeback at press time by the way.
However, if you use Microsoft Office and you happen to also use your iCloud storage on iOS devices, this week was a good one as you aren't locked into One Drive or Dropbox anymore for syncing files.

From the follow-up department comes a story that Apple may not have been crying "Wolf!" about that iBooks antitrust monitoring thing after all.
But, um, that 2011 Macbook Pro thing? Yeah, as owners amassed for a class action move, Apple now offers a free repair program to stem the tide.
Except don't take your old Macbook to one of those Apple Mini Stores because those, like Radio Shacks, aren't long for this world.
Nor should you purchase those off brand cases for your iDevice of choice. Seems that Apple is putting the hammer down on aftermarket makers who happen to base their designs of products off leaks and fuzzy camera pics of upcoming Apple franchises.

Moving to software, now you can join those cool kids in testing iOS betas without having to go through the painful process, and the $100, to become a Developer. Just think of all the cursing and hilarity that will come this Summer Convention season with those who are silly enough to put iOS 9 in beta form on their daily production devices out of a need to um... well... anyway prepare to mute people en masse when this thing goes beta for iOS 8 in March as a precursor to the pending v9 release.

Did I say beta? Well Apple confirmed that iPhotos is indeed the new hotness and Aperture will get the "Final Cut" treatment when the new Photos app goes gold.
Plus, for those who develop apps for the Mac Store, you can't go gold until you meet the ARC memory management requirements. May is the deadline and, in case you were wondering why all your apps are updating on iOS this month, February is the deadline to have your apps up to 64 bit status or you won't be able to update your products via that store of apps channel.

Here are some other articles the inspiring Developer out there might find of interest.
“Silver” brings Apple’s Swift language to the .NET and Java worlds
Can an iPhone Match the Xbox 360?

Apple promotes 'Pay Once and Play' games in App Store

Apple increases the maximum size of iOS app binaries for the first time ever

iPhone And iPad Users Can Now Download iOS Apps From Pinterest

App Store reviewers rejecting games for depicting guns or violence in screenshots - report

Apple reverses decision barring marijuana apps from the App Store, now requires location-based restrictions

Android Lollipop more stable than iOS 8

Report: iOS 9 will focus mainly on stability and performance

A few weeks ago Microsoft moved to acquire a very popular Apple App Maker Sunrise. They weren't the first to pick up a well-known app creator as Google famously did this back in the day when they purchased the Apple Mail alternative company Sparrow. Now whenever this happens, it is only a matter of time before the other shoe drops and that company's wares get folded into the larger company. For Sparrow, after a really long time, that moment is now.
Take heart Sparrow users that whatever form the apps take next, Apple devices have better dictation on board than Google or microsoft. Speaking of Siri, seems her voice gets an upgrade soon in iOS 8.3.

Dr. Carter has audio fun of his own, in his latest podcast, with a look at Rogue Amoeba's Audio Hijack. There's no doubt that Audio Hijack can improve the world of sound for many. Additionally, so can the app named simply "Workflow". Social media was a buzz of activity about this when it was learned that the app's latest updates made it fairly Voiceover friendly. Here's a quick audio tour. And ten good examples of just what else the program can do.

Michael Doise, a Voiceover friendly guy himself, notes that The Magic Tap isn't so Magical Also, Alex Hall updated a great guide for improving app friendliness with Voiceover.

Security took a big step last week with support for two factor authentication finally arriving for iMessage and Face Time. The process for adding it to your Apple ID isn't too complicated either.
And once you have that up and running, you could use these Ten ways to pester and delight your friends on iMessage, er, purely for testing purposes of course.
Or, you could send a group of people an iMessage if tormenting just one friend or loved one isn't enough for you.
Finally, here is a common answer to one of the most asked questions on social media feeds:
iOS Help: Why can't I send or receive regular SMS text messages on my iPhone 6 or 6+

While we are talking security, check out these two articles.
Smartphone Theft Plummets In Major Cities Thanks To 'Kill Switches'
Hackers break Apple’s Lightning connector making it easier to debug kernel bugs for future jailbreaks

As we come to the end of the week, and this article, we can't ignore the big New Yorker article that featured a peek into Jony Ive's design team. It's a whale of an article, however of note for those Pa'Ta"wans and Jedis out there, the factoid that most commonly surfaced on the internet was how Mr. Ive is responsible for the new-styled lightsabers seen in the "Star Wars" The Force Awakens" trailer.
The media influences do not stop there as word broke out that an entire episode of ABC's Modern Family" will take place on an OSX desktop. Say what you want about trends and fads, it is good to know that your first gen iPod can still be connected to a modern version of iTunes some 14 years down the line.
The battery on that thing probably doesn't last more than 14 minutes though I'll wager!

Did I miss something? Got a resource of note for the rundown? Email me at joe@blindbargains.com or drop your thoughts into the comments section below!(

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Joe Steinkamp is no stranger to the world of technology, having been a user of video magnification and blindness related electronic devices since 1979. Joe has worked in radio, retail management and Vocational Rehabilitation for blind and low vision individuals in Texas. He has been writing about the A.T. Industry for 15 years and podcasting about it for almost a decade.


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