One of the biggest enterprise additions to iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 is a significant change to Apple’s MDM (mobile device management) protocol. Earlier MDM changes primarily focused on adding new management, security, or deployment features, extending what MDM could enforce. Declarative management, introduced at the company’s developer conference in June, is the first change that modifies the protocol itself.
While declarative management will make its debut with iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, Apple said it will also be supported in macOS Monterey, though not right away.
Apple MDM today
Before we get to what declarative management is, let’s take a a brief recap of Apple’s MDM protocol as it has previously been implemented.
Apple MDM encompasses a handful of different components: configuration and provisioning profiles, the MDM service, and various MDM commands.
Back in the pre-cloud days, sharing files involved using file transfer protocol applications or else copying files to a disc and then mailing it or walking it over to a colleague (affectionately known as ‘sneakernet’). Emails could also be sent (and many people still use email as their main “file-sharing” option), but size limits on attachments and security concerns discouraged this practice.
Today’s world of file sharing offers nearly endless options. Giants like Dropbox, Box, Google, Microsoft, and Apple, as well as smaller companies like MediaFire and Tresorit, all offer online cloud storage options that include file sharing, synchronization across multiple devices, and collaboration features. Once you have uploaded a file to one of these services, file-sharing is as easy as clicking a “share” button and then sending the link to a colleague via email. While most offer desktop and mobile applications, users can also upload, store, sync, and share files via a web browser.
The services we’ve chosen are listed here in alphabetical order and cover a range of options, from basic services for consumers to enterprise-level services. This is not an exhaustive list of all services, but rather a sampling of the big players and some lesser-known vendors.
To check file transfer times for each, we uploaded a 245MB ZIP file using an internet connection with an average upload speed of 86 megabits/second. (See “How we tested.”)
It’s nearly impossible to talk about Box without mentioning Dropbox (and vice versa), as the two are frequently pitted against each other. Box has always been geared toward businesses and enterprises, while Dropbox used to be largely focused on consumers and SMBs. But both services now include enterprise collaboration features and cloud content management via integrations with Google Workspace, Microsoft 365/Office 365, and many others, along with enterprise-grade security and management options.
There is a free plan for individudals that lets you kick the tires — it offers 10GB of storage, a 250MB file upload limit, and the ability to share these files with limited permissions. The file upload size limit is a bit strict if you are trying to share video files, but the 10GB storage limit is still pretty generous. Additionally, all of Box’s business plans offer a 14-day free trial.
Free account storage space: 10GB
Free account max file size: 250MB
Paid accounts: Personal Pro, 100GB storage, $10/month; Business Starter, 100GB storage, $5/user/month; Business, unlimited storage, $15/user/month; Business Plus, unlimited storage, $25/user/month; Enterprise, unlimited storage, $35/user/month; Enterprise Plus, unlimited storage, custom pricing. (All business plans require at least 3 users. Prices shown are for annual payments.)
Paid account max file size: Personal Pro, 5GB; Business Starter, 2GB; Business, 5GB; Business Plus, 15GB; Enterprise, 50GB, Enterprise Plus, 150GB.
Additional features with business plans: Built-in integrations with Slack (as well as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace), plus 1 additional enterprise app integration; Box Sign (unlimited e-signatures via web app); Box Relay (workflow automation); data loss protection; two-factor authentication; SSO; Active Directory integration; other user management features. Higher-level plans offer additional enterprise app integrations; HIPAA/FedRAMP compliance; document watermarking; AI-powered threat detection; more.
Time to upload 245MB file: 35 seconds
ShareFile, which Citrix acquired in 2011, creates a custom file-sharing site for your business, so you can share files easily with clients, partners, co-workers, and others. For example, your accountant might use ShareFile to securely share tax documents with you. The service offers lots of compelling features and tools for business users, including workflow management, document collaboration, e-signatures, and integration with Outlook and Gmail.
Security is robust, too, with enterprise-grade encryption and customizable permissions settings. The ShareFile dashboard makes it easy to add new users and toggle between personal and shared folders. Full-featured apps are available for Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. There is no free plan, but you can try the Premium version for free for 30 days without having to enter a credit card number. The company also offers a virtual data room for 5 employee users, which offers advanced security, sharing, and control for sensitive data.
Free account storage space: N/A
Free account max file size: N/A
Paid accounts: Standard, unlimited storage, $50/month; Advanced, unlimited storage, $77/month; Premium, unlimited storage, $122/month; Virtual Data Room, 5GB storage, $338/month. All plans are for up to 5 employee users (additional employee user fees are $10–$24/user/month) and unlimited client users. (Prices shown are for annual payments.)
Paid account max file size: Standard, Advanced, and Premium, 100GB; Virtual Data Room, 5GB.
Other paid options include: Feedback and approvals workflow; activity logs; versioning; third-party integrations including Microsoft 365/Office 365 collaboration.
Time to upload 245MB file: 1 minute, 38 seconds
As previously mentioned, Dropbox and Box are big players in the business market, offering enterprise-level security and management features as well as a healthy ecosystem of integrated third-party apps that make the services more robust. Both have continually evolved and improved to the point that, for most organizations, either one is a great option.
In recent years, Dropbox has been adding features aimed at boosting productivity and collaboration, such as the ability to create Microsoft Office or Google Docs/Sheets/Slides files from within Dropbox and a new shared Spaces interface for team collaboration.
To try before you buy, Dropbox’s free Basic plan for individuals offers 2GB of storage. A 30-day free trial is available for all business plans.
Free account storage space: 2GB
Free account max file size: No limit, but must be smaller than your storage space quota.
Paid accounts: Personal plans include Plus (1 user, 2TB storage, $10 per month) and Family (up to 6 users, 2TB shared storage, $17/month). Work plans include Professional (1 user, 3TB storage, $16.60/month); Standard (3+ users, 5TB storage, $12.50/user/month); Advanced (3+ users, unlimited storage, $20/user/month). For enterprise plans, contact Dropbox Sales. (Prices shown are for annual payments.)
Additional features with business plans: 180 days of file recovery and version history, 180-day history for Dropbox Rewind (recover from accidents/ransomware by reversing changes at folder or account level), remote device wipe, two-factor authentication, document watermarking, shared link controls, file locking, branded sharing, priority email support, and live chat support. Higher-level plans offer HIPAA compliance, an admin console, SSO integration, audit logs, more.
Time to upload 245MB file: 56 seconds
If you’re already invested in the Google ecosystem, Google Drive is a no-brainer, since it integrates with Google’s productivity apps, such as Google Docs. Even if you don’t use other Google services, Google Drive is worth considering, as it gives users 15GB of free storage (shared with other Google services). Its rates are also competitive — 200GB costs individuals just $30/year.
With the Backup and Sync desktop client, you can choose which of your Windows or macOS computer folders to continually sync to Google Drive — you don’t have to keep files in a designated folder, as you do with some services. Permissions on shared files can get complicated — we’ve often shared a link with colleagues only to get a response saying that they can’t access the file. But once you can access a file, collaborating on documents in real time through Google’s other productivity apps is as good as it gets.
Beyond the 15GB free plan, Drive is available to individuals through a Google One plan. Businesses can opt for either a Google Workspace plan, which includes Drive, Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and other productivity/collaboration apps, or Workspace Essentials, which includes all of the above except Gmail and Calendar. A 14-day free trial is available for business plans.
Free account storage space: 15GB
Free account max file size: 5TB (with some exceptions)
Paid accounts: Google One plans for individuals: 100GB, $2/month; 200GB, $3/month; 2TB, $10/month; 10TB, $50/month; 20TB, $100/month; 30TB, $150/month. Google Workspace Essentials plans for businesses: 100GB per user/2TB pooled cloud storage, $8/user/month. Google Workspace plans for businesses: Business Starter: 30GB storage per user, $6/user/month; Business Standard: 2TB storage per user, $12/user/month; Business Plus: 5TB storage per user, $18/user/month; Enterprise (300+ users): unlimited storage, contact sales for pricing.
Additional features with business plans: Security and management controls, 24/7 phone and email support, centralized admin console, audit and reporting. Higher-level plans offer advanced endpoint management, data loss prevention, context-aware access, more.
Time to upload 245MB file: 48 seconds
Anyone who owns a Mac, iPhone, or iPad likely already has the free 5GB of online storage via iCloud that comes with the creation of an AppleID, and those users can share folders and documents with other iCloud users. Although Apple does offer an iCloud app for Windows, it’s likely that this mainly benefits Apple users who also use a Windows PC; we don’t really see people who are primarily Windows users signing up for an iCloud account to use the service, particularly because iCloud does not have an Android app. Android device users could access iCloud via the web app, but they would likely use Google’s online cloud storage to back up their photos and videos anyway.
As with other online storage services, users can set up iCloud to automatically back up and sync specific folders from their computer to their iCloud account, such as the Documents folder, Desktop folder, or others. Photos and videos from an iPhone or iPad can also be automatically synchronized. Using this feature can quickly eat up the 5GB of free space, so it’s likely that anyone using iCloud for such purposes would upgrade to a paid account. At $3 per month for 200GB, it’s still a relatively good bargain for the Apple faithful.
While iCloud users can use their personal accounts to share files with colleagues (and those files are encrypted in transit and at rest), this is essentially a consumer service.
Free account storage space: 5GB
Free account max file size: 5GB in theory, as long as it doesn’t exceed storage limits.
Paid accounts: 50GB, $1 per month; 200GB, $3/month; 2TB, $10/month. Apple allows these plans to be shared with family members (up to five other members). Those who subscribe to Apple services such as Apple Music or Apple TV+ may also be able to save money through Apple One bundling.
Paid account max file size 50GB, as long as it doesn’t exceed storage limits.
Additional features with paid plans: Upgrading your storage amount doesn’t give you additional features, unlike with other online storage services.
Apple will need to become more aggressive in how it polices the privacy promises developers make when selling apps in the App Store. What can enterprise users do to protect themselves and their users in the meantime?
What’s the problem?
Some developers continue to abuse the spirit of Apple’s App Store Privacy rules. This extends to posting misleading information on App Privacy Labels, along with outright violation of promises not to track devices. Some developers continue to ignore do-not-track requests to exfiltrate device-tracking information.
TheWashington Post, which recently launched its own digital ads network, has identified multiple instances in which rogue App Store apps fail to maintain a promise of user privacy.
When a user says they don’t want an app to track them, the app should respect that request. But the report cites numerous cases in which the apps continue to harvest the same information, no matter what the user requests. This data may be sold to third-party data tracking firms, or used to provide targeted advertising, the report says. What it doesn’t say is that failure to respect user wishes is a betrayal of trust.
What might help?
The Post has spoken to ex-iCloud engineer, Johnny Lin, who argues that: “When it comes to stopping third-party trackers, App Tracking Transparency is a dud. Worse, giving users the option to tap an ‘Ask App Not To Track’ button may even give users a false sense of privacy.”
That’s a harsh criticism and it seems appropriate to observe that Lin has an interest here. His company develops Lockdown, which blocks “tracing, ads and badware” in all apps, not just Safari. Perhaps Apple should adopt the same approach. But given the months of pushback the company faced when it introduced App Tracking Transparency, at Apple’s scale achieving this will take time. Surveillance capitalism has a lot of money to spend opposing such plans; as it stands users, particularly enterprise users, should take steps to protect themselves.
We do need some education
Another approach is education. Each time we see privacy problems appear, we also seem to experience claims that a number of these rogue apps come in the form of bite-sized entertainment titles aimed at casual gamers and children.
Of course, an app actively grabbing data doesn’t mind if it’s the parent who installed the app, or if it was the parent’s child on a borrowed smartphone.
Users really need to learn to be discerning around apps they use. When it comes to child-based pester power, I’d argue the safest approach will be to use Apple Arcade and let your children play anything they want from there. It’s not ideal, but it is one way to limit risk.
Embrace (but verify) gray IT apps
A third approach that should work is policy development. Enterprises should look closely at the apps used by employees on their devices to ensure they pass security policy.
Use of MDM systems and managed Apple IDs for the enterprise part should increase, while enterprises really should work closely with employees to identify apps they use. Many companies now have a problem with gray IT, apps and services employees use to get work done simply because these systems work better than the tools the company provides. In most cases, prohibition doesn’t work.
A better approach is to identify those apps and vet them against company security policy and transparently explain why some cannot be used. This must be coupled with work to ensure your own apps are at least as easy to use as grey market alternatives. This switched-on approach enhances personal autonomy across your teams far more effectively than autocratic diktats. The idea is that by working together with teams, you end up with a more secure space. You can supplement this with classic MDM solutions.
But what will make the biggest difference is policing. Apple already says it will work with developers who fail to uphold the privacy promise, but perhaps it needs to toughen this approach. I’d argue that it should proactively monitor all apps against the privacy promises they make to ensure they meet those promises.
Those that don’t should be removed.
It’s also not enough to vet only specific apps identified by external parties. If a developer has been found to abuse privacy on one app, then all their apps should be checked.
Educated consumers and security researchers can help with this, using apps such as Little Snitch, Lockdown, Jumbo, Disconnect.me, and an array of others to monitor activity generated by apps. If an app promises privacy it should be held to account, and one way to do so is to use apps like these to monitor privacy leaks, and tell Apple when you identify an app that leaks data without your permission.
This approach — of learning about risks, working with your internal groups (family, employees, children) to manage and minimize risk, and aggressive attempts to identify apps that fail to keep their privacy promise — should help make the environment more challenging for such egregious attacks.
What could happen next
To my mind, privacy fraud is just as bad as any other kind of fraud. Apple already polices its apps for fraudulent behavior and last year rejected 150,000 apps for being spam, copycats, or misleading to users.
Now it needs to do the same for privacy cheats.
Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.
If your employees want to use iPhones and Macs, you really should let them. That’s the main message today coming from a Vanson Bourne survey commissioned by Jamf.
Employee choice remains an HR issue
The international survey asked 2,000 employees and 500 IT decision-makers how they felt about employee choice and the future of work. It found that as many as nine in 10 employees (89%) would take a pay cut to use their choice of device – and suggests that for many, the desire to have that choice may prompt them to seek work elsewhere.
Staff retention post-pandemic is critical. Microsoft recently warned that more than 40% of employees are considering leaving their jobs. In this context, anything that makes it easier to recruit or keep good people should be a key consideration. The Vanson Bourne data suggests choice schemes may help.
The survey also found 70% of respondents said they would be more likely to join a company given technology choice, while 75% are more likely to stay with a company that offers such choice.
An earlier Dice 2021 report confirmed these trends.
Apple grows in the enterprise
Apple’s bid for enterprise IT remains solid, as when given that choice, 62% of employees would opt for Apple, the research said. This likely reflects the company’s consistently high customer-satisfaction ratings.
“Employee experience is impacted by the technology they use more than ever before,” said Jamf CEO Dean Hager. “Giving employees the choice of what technology they work on has incredible value, not only to workers, but to their organizations as well. Establishing a choice program with the right technology partners can help employers attract and retain talent, while boosting employee creativity and productivity.”
The survey considered the platform experiences of Apple and non-Apple devices. It claims Apple users had a better experience with their chosen platform, reporting improvements in productivity (87%), self-sufficiency (87%), and creativity (86%) when using them. Two-thirds (66%) of respondents said that being forced to use a device that they did not choose would negatively impact their perception of the organization.
These trends seem to have caused Apple to become more aggressive in its bid for business from within the enterprise.
Reliable tech for remote teams
Looking to 2022, 62% of employees now expect to work from home and from the office, and just under half (47%) expect that to be how they work into 2025. The need to provide remote support for these teams stretched many early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
MDM solutions such as those from Jamf can help, but it is interesting how Apple’s reputation for reliability supports the effort:
More than half (55%) the IT decision-makers surveyed reported fewer issues managing Apple compared to non-Apple devices.
Most (58%) described Apple devices as easier to secure, compared to 42% who felt the same about non-Apple devices.
This very much reflects a recent Apple-sponsored survey that claimed you’ll save hundreds of dollars deploying Macs across a business in comparison to PCs.
Of course, enterprise leaders must understand that technology deployment is not merely a matter of throwing equipment at people. For best results, consideration must also extend to software compatibility, security protocols and cultural fit.
Emerging solutions for digital community
A sense of community is one of the biggest challenges to deliver in a hybrid/remote environment, which is where solutions such as Teamflow can help. Irish non-profit Grow Remote has created local hubs where remote employees can meet other remote workers to find some sense of community, while some Silicon Valley firms encourage staff to speak with others from beyond their team in virtual coffee chats. While it may be challenging, serendipity through random connection remains possible.
A copy of the Jamf-sponsored report is available here
Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.
Well, gang, it’s that time of year again — time when a magical and revolutionary new iOS update is making its way into the world and everyone’s talking about how Android’s software upgrade standard is an embarrassment in comparison.
Now, look, you know me: I’m not gonna beat around the bush and tell you that the Android upgrade system is optimal — or even anything close to free from flaws. My annual Android Upgrade Report Card strips the situation of its velvety bathrobe and lays bare the cold, sobering truth, even when certain Android device-makers fight nail and tooth to convince us everything’s peachy.
As is almost always the case, though, the reality is far more nuanced than you’d be led to believe. Yes, the vast majority of Android device-makers are flat-out failing when it comes to keeping their devices consistently up to date with the latest Android version. Yes, that’s especially true when it comes to the oft-overlooked year-old flagship phone models, not to mention the sprawling galaxy of midrange and budget-level devices. And yes, even Google, as the sole Android hardware creator doing an all-around admirable job at providing timely and reliable software updates to its devices, could and should be supporting phones for far longer than it is (a shift that signs suggest could finally shape up soon, incidentally).
But still, the situation isn’t nearly as black and white as it appears. And the Apple-to-Android upgrade comparison, as I’ve put it before, is very much a case of comparing apples to oranges.
The two-part tale of Android upgrades
Let’s start with the Android side of the equation, shall we? Most of the attention related to upgrades understandably revolves around Google’s shiny annual Android operating system updates. And you’d better believe those updates matter — not only for the interface enhancements they deliver but also for the under-the-hood improvements they provide in critically important areas areas like privacy, security, and performance.
But with Android, those operating system updates are only half the story. For well over a decade now, Google’s been pulling what were once core operating system elements out of the operating system proper and treating them as standalone apps instead. That means those elements — all of which are still considered part of the single-bundle operating system in the land of iOS — get updated numerous times a month, all throughout the year. And those updates reach every single Android device within a matter of days, regardless of which company made it or how long ago it was released.
A perfect example of that principle in action came up just the other day, when Google announced it was bringing the formerly Android-11-exclusive feature of auto-resetting app permissions to all Android devices running 2015’s Android 6.0 software or higher. That feature provides a huge privacy and security boost, as it makes sure apps you’re no longer actively using can’t keep accessing sensitive forms of data on your phone.
And that’s but one tiny example of the effect we’re talking about here.
Apples vs. oranges
All right — time for the biggest and most rarely acknowledged reality check of all: At this point, nearly every single element that’s considered a significant part of an annual Apple iOS update is handled in an a la carte manner on Android — with multiple monthly updates that impact close to every still-functioning Android phone. In other words, even Android phones from eight years ago get updates numerous times a year that are all virtually equivalent to an entire iOS operating system rollout. Those updates just aren’t packaged neatly or presented cohesively, and most people don’t consider how all of the small-seeming pieces add up.
Need proof? Take a quick gander at Apple’s iOS 15 announcement from Monday. The top features on the page include improvements to the FaceTime video calling experience and the iPhone messaging experience, the launch of a new device-wide text recognition system, and improvements to the iPhone search, browser, mapping, notes, weather, and mobile payment applications. Beyond that, the software features new voice control options, cloud backup options, and scattered enhancements to the iOS health, translation, and accessibility systems.
Well, guess what? Every single one of those areas is handled by a standalone app in Android and updated dozens of times a year in a way that reaches all Android devices almost instantly.
To be fair, this latest iOS update also includes improvements to the iPhone’s notifications system. That’s the sort of change that is still tied to a traditional operating system update on Android. But practically everything else significant in iOS 15 — including the much ballyhooed new series of privacy controls within the Apple Mail app and the Siri voice command system — is the sort of thing we see rolled out on Android year-round, outside of any formal operating system announcements.
That’s certainly true with elements like video calling improvements, with Google Meet and Duo in the Android domain. It’s true with the constantly evolving Google Messages app on Android. And it’s true with the curiously underemphasized Google Lens app for Android text recognition as well as the eponymous Google app for mobile searching and voice commands, the Maps app for on-the-go navigation, and quite literally everything else from the iOS 15 list we went over a second ago.
What’s especially interesting is that with rare exception, there are virtually no limits to how and when those scattered Android updates apply. The nearly-nine-year-old Nexus 4 sitting in my desk drawer still gets every update to every one of those applications every month and receives the same sort of functionality Apple is delivering as part of its iOS 15 update in small deliveries year-round. The app permission expansion is a rare exception, given its reliance on programming interfaces that aren’t present in super-old Android versions, but even that goes all the way back to devices from 2015 (and earlier, really, since plenty of phones from 2013 and 2014 are running Android 6.0, too).
For as good as Apple’s support is, it typically stops entirely after a phone has passed the six-year mark since its release. And what’s almost always overlooked in the glowing headlines about iOS updates is the fact that even devices from a year or two ago frequently don’t get all of the features announced in a new iOS update. In fact, the vast majority of these latest additions and improvements have some manner of cutoff or restriction associated with ’em, even within that six-year window.
So while an older iPhone is still getting the latest update — and while that’s undeniably a very good thing! — it’s also very accurate to say that an equally dated Android device is ultimately getting more current features and updates even more regularly. It’s just framed in a very different and generally less attention-grabbing way.
Again: apples and oranges.
Now, don’t get me wrong: Android software updates have a long way to go. The poky and inconsistent manner in which most device-makers handle operating system rollouts is both ridiculous and unacceptable. But in the land of Android, that’s also only one small part of a much larger software update picture.
And once you start thinking about the broader reality of the situation, you quickly realize that Android has some pretty significant advantages when it comes to older device updating. They’re just advantages that are all too easy to overlook — and ones that don’t fit neatly into Apple’s carefully crafted narrative.
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Nearly 100 million of the world’s 1 billion iPhone users have already installed iOS 15, according to Mixpanel. Here are 20 of the most obscure or exciting features those who have chosen to install Apple’s new mobile OS can now access.
Every enterprise user will benefit when upgrading their iPhone to iOS 15, which provides unlimited iCloud storage for up to three weeks when setting up a new device. Open Settings>General>Transfer or Reset iPhone to use this. Enterprise users also benefit from Apple’s all-new declarative management MDM system.
The capacity to use your camera to scan text really is a game-changer. Open your camera and point it at a street sign, a page in a book, or a magazine. You can also open an image in your Photos library containing text and long press in the text area until the Live Text button appears. You can then copy that text and paste it anywhere you wish.
This works really well with the built-in Translate tool, which will translate text selected in any app, and also lets you work with the translated text. You can scan a road sign, translate it, and paste that translation into an email, or use it to translate a guidebook when travelling. Powerful stuff.
You can monitor what your apps get up to in iOS 15 using a feature called Record App Activity. This consists of a seven-day summary of how often each app accesses your microphone, visits websites, and so on. It’s an excellent tool to identify any napps that may be exfiltrating your data or making use of it beyond what you approve. The feature isn’t on by default, though — enable it in Settings>Privacy>Record App Activity.
Share with Siri
When you come across a URL, image, or Message you want to share with a friend or colleague, you can now say: “Hey Siri, share this with [name of person in your Contacts]” and Siri will do the work for you. It will even send an image of what you want to share if it can’t share the content itself.
Save the receipts
Wallet will now automatically archive all your expired tickets and passes. You can keep them all to remind you of what it once was like to take business trips.
Dark Sky was a brilliant app. Apple acquired the company and many of its features have now been rolled into Apple’s Weather app. One of its best are the accurate and timely predictions of rain or snow where you are; those alerts will now come from the Weather app.
Open the Weather app.
Tap the three-line icon at the bottom right, then tap the menu button top right.
Select Notifications and toggle My Location to On.
No niggling Notifications
Best used alongside Focus, Notification summary makes a huge difference to your ability to maintain attention. This will allow high-priority notificationsto get through, while presenting everything else as a once- or twice-daily notification summary. Enable this in Settings>Notifications>Scheduled Summary>Enable where you can also tweak time and select which notifications to summarize.
A better timer
iOS 15 sees the return of the wheel-based time picker as used in iOS 13 and earlier, but this now also benefits from a hidden number pad.
Change text size for specific apps
This is quite useful if you need to spend a lot of time reading or writing reports: you can change the text size used by specific apps.
Open Settings>Control Center and add the Text Size
Now open the app you want to set text size for.
Open Control Center, select App only and tap the Text Size control.
You can then increase or decrease text size using the slider.
Spotlight from the Lock Screen
Spotlight is now available from the lock screen. When used with Face or Touch ID (to authorize who you are), a swift swipe down is all it takes to reach the search bar where you can search for everything. If you aren’t authorized, you can only search the web.
[Also read: What is iCloud+ (and why should you use it)?]
Notes get shareable, tags, more
If you use shared Notes, you can now see who last edited them. Open a shared note, tap the three-dots, and then choose Show Note activity. Notes and Reminders now support tags, which will help you keep notes and reminders better organized.
Apple Card security gets a boost
If you use Apple Card a new iOS 15 feature called Advanced Fraud Protection creates a three-digit security code that changes periodically for even more secure Apple Card purchases. The downside is you’ll need to check that code each time you want to make a purchase with your card. This protection doesn’t impact recurring purchases or subscriptions.
Drag-&-drop in apps
You can now drag text, images, links, or files, from one app into another. To do so, just tap and hold one item, swipe up to access the Home screen, open the other app — and drop the item into place.
Hate the new tabbed Safari interface? Many users do. But one good thing is a new swipe gesture that means you just need to swipe left or right on a tab to close it. Or just swipe left or right to navigate between open tabs.
Fix your Home (screen)
You can move your Home screens around as easily as you already move your apps. Tap and hold a screen until all the icons begin moving, then tap the small row of dots you’ll now see just above the Dock. All your home screens will appear on screen and you can drag them into your preferred order. Hide screens by checking the box below them in this view, or hit the minus (-) icon to get rid of that screen entirely.
Arrive on time for a change
Need to arrive somewhere at a certain time? Maps now lets you specify arrival or departure times when asking for directions. Just choose the destination, tap Directions and then tap the light blue My Location, Leaving Now items to find the Arrive by option.
Don’t lose your tagged stuff
iOS 15 will tell you if you leave your AirTags behind. Open Find My and in the AirTags section, toggle Notify When Left Behind to on.
Eliminate unwanted marketing
One new iCloud+ feature lets you prevent senders from using invisible pixels in emails to track you. To enable the setting, which is not switched on by default, go to Settings>Mail>Privacy Protection and turn on the Protect Mail Activity option. Many other Mail enhancements are listed here.
You can use Siri offline
Siri can now perform some tasks, even when it is not online. It will launch apps, control media playback, move between Dark and Light mode, set up alarms and timers, read your messages to you, and switch hardware settings such as Bluetooth, AirPlane mode, or Wi-Fi off and on again.
iOS 15 has two useful theft/loss protection tools. It will find iPhones that have been erased, and show a message on the Hello screen warning you when you are looking at a potentially stolen device. This should help make iPhones a less attractive prospect for theft. This is controlled in Settings>Face ID & Passcode>Today View and Search, toggle on (or off) as you wish.
More changes to explore
There are hundreds of smaller changes in iOS 15, even before you reach the big-ticket items such as SharePlay, FaceTime, Messages, Focus, ID cards and keys in Wallet, the capacity to share Health data or set a Digital Legacy.
Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.
If you received an Apple email letting you know you’ve been upgraded to iCloud+ at no additional charge, you’re not alone. So, what is iCloud+? What do you get, and why should you use it?
What is iCloud+?
Announced at WWDC 2021, iCloud+ is a suite of additional services designed to supplement the existing features of Apple’s online iCloud service. Despite its name, it doesn’t cost any more than before but is only available to those on paid plans. The free 5GB tier doesn’t get these additional features. The upgraded service adds useful security enhancements, including iCloud Private Relay (still in beta), Hide My email, and improved support for HomeKit Secure Video.
Announcing the upgrade to paid users, Apple said:
“Great news! We’ve automatically upgraded your iCloud storage plan to iCloud+ at no additional charge. iCloud+ combines everything you already love about iCloud with new features including iCloud Private Relay, Hide My Email, and more HomeKit Secure Video support.”
Why should you use iCloud+?
These new features are designed to help keep users secure. That security extends from protecting Safari browsing sessions all the way to ensuring marketers can’t easily gather information about you. If you care about your privacy, these features should be helpful. They may also have implications for enterprises, while the iCloud Custom domain tool should come in handy for small business users.
So, what do you get? Let’s dive into each component.
What is iCloud Private Relay?
Currently available in beta, iCloud Private Relay is a VPN-like service that protects you when you use Safari to browse online. It uses a dual-hop architecture. That means the service encrypts Safari traffic as it leaves your device, protecting it from being read by others. It encrypts the URL so no one, not your ISP or Apple, can see what site you are visiting. Your IP and the destination are then accessed using an intermediate relay station run by a “third-party trusted partner,” according to Apple.
It works as follows:
Your requests are encrypted and sent through two separate internet relays;
The first Apple-operated relay provides you with an anonymous IP address that maps to your region, but not location.
The second third-party relay decrypts and takes you to the web address.
This dual-hop approach means no one can see who a user is and which sites they choose to visit. Apple only sees the IP address you request from, while third-parties only see the website you request.
Apple has not said who its trusted partners are. It has said the service protects your browsing preferences “without compromising performance” – though some reports differ.
It is interesting that Apple is not offering this feature in China, Belarus, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Uganda, the Philippines, and, it seems, Russia. One can’t help but wonder what it is those nations have against anonymized web browsing.
Spencer Dailey speculates some network operators, such as college campuses, will attempt to prohibit use of this feature. It seems possible that some enterprise networks will seek to forbid it as well, particularly when handling highly confidential data, as the feature undermines some risk-based authentication systems.
To enable iCloud Private Relay go to Settings>Apple ID>iCloud>Private Relay and toggle to on.
What is Hide My Email?
This feature lets you create random emails that forward to your main email address. That lets you sign up for things online without being required to share your actual address. “Hide My Email also enables users to create and delete as many addresses as needed at any time, helping give users control of who is able to contact them,” said Apple.
To use the feature, open Settings and tap the Apple ID section at the top of the main menu. Then tap iCloud.
In the next section, tap Hide my email and then choose Create new address.
Give the address an identifying label (newsletters, for example), tap Next and then tap Done.
A random email address will be created for you, and you will be able to access it in iCloud Settings.
Scroll down the list and you’ll find you can also change the Forward to item to any address you own, including non-Apple addresses.
What is Mail Privacy Protection?
One of the new features in iCloud Mail, Mail Privacy Protection, helps prevent senders from using invisible pixels in mails to collect information about you. These are widely used to determine whether emails have been opened or to identify IP addresses. The protection means your IP address is randomized. While intended to prevent aggressive marketing, there have been concerns that some newsletter publishers may be affected, though this may not actually be the case.
To enable the setting, which is not switched on by default, go to Settings>Mail>Privacy Protection and turn on the Protect Mail Activity option.
What is HomeKit Secure Video?
Announced last year, this feature lets you connect supported home security cameras to your Home app. Security video can be stored in iCloud at no additional cost, which means it is kept highly secure and can be accessed from anywhere using end-to-end encryption with a device logged into your Apple ID.
The system is intelligent enough that if you have an Apple TV or HomePod, that device will try to analyze video footage to detect people, animals, or vehicles that have been filmed by the camera.
The number of cameras you can add to your account is limited to none with a free account, one with a 50GB iCloud account, and five with a 200GB tier. If you want to add an unlimited number of cameras, you’ll need a 2TB iCloud+ account, which is now included within the Premier Apple One subscription.
Apple One is Apple’s all-in-one subscription service that offers access to Apple Music, TV+, Arcade, and iCloud; the Premier tier adds News+ and Fitness+
What is Custom Email Domain?
This useful enhancement lets you personalize your iCloud Mail address with up to five domain names owned by you. You can create up to three email addresses per domain, but you cannot move just one email address to iCloud Mail while leaving another with your ISP. If you use Family Sharing, then up to five family members can also use this domain.
The Smith family might use smithfamily.com as a domain (if it were available), for example.
To use a domain with your iCloud account you must update the MX, TXT and CNAME records held by your domain registrar as detailed in this Apple support document.
Did Apple iCloud Mail web app get updated?
Indeed. Apple has updated the iCloud Mail web app accessed via iCloud.com. Apple has given the app an appearance more consistent with its current OS designs — and email messages you compose now open up in the same window.
Finally, the company has introduced an improved service to recover data from iCloud in the event you lose your password.
Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.
Apple ships the latest iteration of its operating systems for iPads and iPhones today, but some (though not all) of the most enterprise-friendly features won’t be ready on day one.
What you get with iOS 15/iPadOS 15
Despite the extent of this list, you will still be gaining a slew of new features when you do upgrade your operating system(s). Focus, for example, will help you keep your head down to get things done, while the new design of Safari at present seems like great news to anyone else creating browsers for iOS. Maps gives new views, including 3D views, and you’ll get much better sound during FaceTime calls. Photos gets much better at identifying and sharing memories selected from your collection. Live Text, a slew of privacy protecting features, and excellent improvements to Contacts, Notes and Reminders — including support for tags — should give most iPhone and iPad users plenty of useful new tools.
Enterprises will also benefit from a far more powerful MDM system.
What you won’t get with 15
What follows are features that are slated to be made available in a later software update.
One additional caveat is that some features, particularly those that make use of AI, will only be supported on iPhone XS or newer. These include such tools Live Text in photos, for instance. There are also a small number of features that require you have a very recent iPhone.
Perhaps the most exciting improvement we’ll be left waiting for pending introduction of macOS Monterey, Universal Control lets you use a single mouse and keyboard to control up to three devices, so long as they are all logged in to the same Apple ID. You can move your cursor between all the screens and drag-&-drop items between devices, making it far easier to work with multiple devices.
Universal Control won’t be available until the next iteration of macOS ships. It will work with iPad Pro, iPad Air 3 or later, iPad 6 or later, and iPad mini 5 or later. You’ll also need a MacBook Pro (2016 and later), MacBook (2016 and later), MacBook Air (2018 and later), iMac (2017 and later), iMac (5K Retina 27-inch, Late 2015), iMac Pro, Mac mini (2018 and later), or Mac Pro (2019).
Originally announced as being made available as an iOS 15 update, Apple has decided to spend time improving its controversial CSAM plans. Given the company’s recent decision to suspend an app from Russia’s opposition leader from its store just before an election, many continue to feel that the CSAM tools should never see the light of day.
How can Apple prevent mission creep with these? It cannot.
[Also read: A business user’s guide to Apple’s upgrade season]
One of the improvements that didn’t get a great deal of attention when announced, Swift Playgrounds 4 will let you use your iPad to create apps for Apple’s mobile devices that can then be submitted to the App Store. The ability to upload apps to the store will debut as a subsequent software update in 15.
App Privacy Report
Coming later this year, Apple’s improved App Privacy report should give deeper insight into what apps are doing with your privacy by letting you see what sensors and data the app has accessed each week. If you find an app using the camera and has no reason to do so, you’ll be able to suspend access privileges or delete the app. Mail Privacy Protection helps prevent email senders from learning about your Mail activity.
ID cards in Wallet
In some states and some countries, it will be possible to store digital versions of government IDs inside the Wallet app. This feature is supposedly set to launch later this year.
iCloud+ features are coming soon
Existing iCloud accounts will be upgraded to iCloud+ automatically when the service is fully operational later this fall. This means its landmark features, including iCloud Private Relay, custom email domains, and Hide my Email won’t be available on launch.
iCloud Private Relay encrypts Safari traffic as it leaves your device, protecting it from being read by others. It means you can feel a little more secure when using public Wi-Fi or other networks, as your requests are sent through two separate internet relays so no one — including Apple — can see who you are and what sites you visit. The protection isn’t perfect, but is far better than before. You may find some websites may have issues, such as showing content for the wrong region or requiring extra steps to sign in when you use iCloud Private Relay.
Custom email domains let you personalize your iCloud Mail address with a custom domain name. Once you configure iCloud as the email provider for your domain, you can set up as many as three personal aliases for your iCloud email address and invite your family members to use the same domain with their iCloud Mail accounts.
Hide My Email will let users create unique, random email addresses that forward to your personal inbox, so you can send and receive email without sharing your real email address. There’s no limit to how many you can create and you can disable them at will. Hide My Email support in Mail is coming in a software update later this year.
Digital Legacy program
Apple’s Digital Legacy program is an important scheme in that it begins to formalize a process through which you can pass on your personal information to family members and friends in the event you pass away. It does so by letting users define Legacy Contacts who will be given the right to download this information. The one thing you can’t leave behind – and I think it should be possible – is your books, movies and music. The Digital Legacy Program is coming in a later software update.
While ostensibly not an enterprise-focused feature, SharePlay does have some potential. Apple has introduced it as a way for you to share music, TV shows, and anything you can share from your screen with others from within a FaceTime call. It’s a consumer feature, but it’s one developers may be able to make use of in their apps, thanks to a set of APIs the company has made available.
Find your AirPods
Apple has promised that it will make it possible to find lost AirPods Pro and AirPods Max using its huge end-to-end encrypted Find My network. This will guide you to the last known place your AirPods were found, and let you make them chirp to help you find them.
We don’t yet know when all these features will be available, but we can speculate many will be introduced with the release of macOS Monterey later this fall.
One more thing: Every year we see millions of Apple customers attempt to upgrade to the latest iteration of the OS almost as soon as it is introduced. This can lead to slow downloads and a frustrating upgrade experience. It usually makes sense to wait 24 hours or so until things settle down and any unexpected problems with an upgrade reveal themselves.
Apple is expected to release iOS 15/iPadOS 15 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET today.
Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.
At its big September event Tuesday, Apple showed us how powerful chips boosted by software and hardware integration and bespoke machine intelligence can deliver real value to every user.
What Apple introduced
The company seemingly confirmed all the pre-event rumors, introducing iPhones with all-day battery life, accompanied by an unexpected star in the form of an A15-powered iPad mini powerful enough to use for any mobile productivity task.
The company told us iOS 15 will be available on Monday, Sept. 20. The company also introduced a new Apple Watch and a much-improved entry-level iPad.
What Apple said
About the iPhone, Apple said:
“Our customers rely on iPhone every day, which is why we’ve made iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini more powerful, more capable, and more fun to use,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.
“Both phones have beautiful designs, industry-leading performance, and advanced camera systems with impressive computational photography features, all with incredible durability, water resistance, and a big jump in battery life to ensure customers can depend on their iPhone when they need it. All of this, tightly integrated with iOS 15 and with privacy built in, make iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini an unbeatable choice.”
About the iPad mini, Apple said:
“With its ultra-portable design and wide range of uses from everyday tasks to creative and enterprise applications, there’s nothing else like iPad mini,” said Joswiak. “With a new all-screen Liquid Retina display, massive boost in performance, new advanced cameras on the front and back, Center Stage, USB-C, 5G, and support for Apple Pencil, the new iPad mini is a huge leap forward that can be held in the palm of your hand.”
It’s all about the processor
Apple’s A15 Bionic processor underpins the two main announcements most likely to interest enterprise users. The chip means Apple now sells the fastest smartphone that’s ever existed, and also means the iPad mini has more than enough oomph (and a 5G connection) to make it a shoe-in for almost any mobile enterprise. Want to check the manual when fixing a solar grid? This lightweight device has what you need.
“The new iPad mini is a major upgrade and arguably more akin to Apple’s iPad Pro category given its design, support for the A15 Bionic chip and a USB-C connector,” CCS analyst Ben Wood said directly after the event. “The iPad mini represents a significant opportunity for the iPad brand to extend deeper into the numerous industry sectors that Apple is already supporting, such as aviation, healthcare and retail.”
Recently leaked benchmarks had suggested the new chip would give iPhone 13 the power it needs to achieve 10-20% better performance than the iPhone 12 chip.
It turns out this was indeed the case, with Apple pumping up the chip with more cores.
You get nearly 15 billion transistors, a new six-core CPU with two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. That makes the chip “up to 50% faster than the competition, the fastest in any smartphone, and handles demanding tasks smoothly and efficiently, while the new 4-core GPU is up to 30 percent faster than the competition and enables more lifelike visuals and lighting effects in graphics-intensive games,” the company said.
The new 16-core Neural Engine is capable of 15.8 trillion operations per second. That means faster machine learning, fast apps, and a plethora of machine vision enhancements, which empower the device with a camera that’s almost equal to high-end video capture devices.
This bodes really, really, well for the future of the Mac and the iPad Pro as well. The road to M-series chips with multiple cores can only end in the Mac Pro. Most enterprise users might want to think about that.
But processors must do something to be useful
As Brian Roemmele observed after the event, in 1969 the entire world’s computing power was 66,700 operations per second.
The iPhone 13 (and, I guess, the iPad mini, which shares the chip), gives us 15.8 trillion operations per second in devices you can fit in your pocket. My calculator app tells me that means the Apple device you put in your pocket now provides 236 million times the planet’s total computing in 1969.
But power is nothing, if you don’t know what to do with it.
Apple likes to use of the power it creates, which is what it has done with iPhone 13; it makes use of that processing power to deliver all-day battery life and to provide video and photography abilities that compete with professional equipment.
This is the kind of processing power your enterprises’ internal and consumer-facing apps can now exploit, and it’s available on both the iPhone 13 (which, despite some focus on triskaidekaphobia prior to the event is a lucky number in some parts of the world) and the iPad mini.
It is important to consider that much of what Apple told us during its launch event suggests almost every feature on all of its devices are increasingly being augmented by machine intelligence, thanks to its home-brewed, powerful chips.
It delivers all-day battery life by intelligently controlling when power should peak and when it is unnecessary. And, of course, another useful thing Apple chips deliver is CenterStage, which makes for better video meetings — increasingly important in a hybrid office world.
OK, but what about the display?
Apple introduced the display everyone expected. The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max introduce Super Retina XDR with ProMotion display, which supports an adaptive refresh rate from 10Hz to 120Hz. That means fast frame rates when required, better battery life when screen speed is not needed.
Offered in both 6.1-in. and 6.7-in. sizes, the new display leverages a more efficient OLED panel. Apple calls it the brightest display ever on an iPhone with up to 25% higher max outdoor brightness, at 1000 nits. In use, of course, this means better resolution, color, and contrast whatever you do with your device.
Pro Motion on the iPhone is dynamic, and adjusts from 10Hz to 120Hz depending on the content it displays. That means you get fantastic visual performance when you need it but aren’t battering your battery life when you don’t.
The Super Retina XDR OLED displays on the iPhone 13 and 13 mini provide a 28% increase in max outdoor brightness at 800 nits, with higher peak brightness for HDR content like photos and videos at 1200 nits, all while being more power efficient.
The cold truth is that while company critics will always claim Apple should have got these screens out years ago, doing so is, was, and will always be a supply chain issue.
Apple sells a lot of phones and needed a supplier (in this case, Samsung, I think) capable of manufacturing those displays in sufficient quantity and at consistent quality for the tens of millions it intends to sell.
The carriers want to get you hooked on 5G
A final take away.
Prior to the introduction, we know many existing users were trading in their existing iPhones to make a little money toward the new devices.
What makes this more interesting is that while pre-release interest among Android users had declined in contrast to the last model, 18% of them were considering an upgrade to iPhone, while 44% of existing iPhone users were also thinking about the new device. Meanwhile, recent Counterpoint data tells us Apple still holds over 50% of the world’s premium smartphone market, followed by Samsung and Huawei (with both in decline). Apple leads the category in every region.
There has been a great deal of speculation that one thing that has driven iPhone 12’s success is that Apple has been able to achieve some sweet carrier deals as networks battle to promote 5G. Apple’s decision to pimp out the iPad mini with 5G and extend support for the standard across additional nations and regions sits well with this.
Now, it seems the company hopes to ride this wave – which should have a big impact on enterprise purchasing, assuming carrier deals extend to fleet upgrades and purchasing.
The signs are good. Post-announcement, AT&T announced that it intends to give both new and existing AT&T customers the opportunity to get a new iPhone for free.
“They can take advantage of the following iPhone 13 deals with an eligible trade-in, on an unlimited plan and purchased on an instalment plan,” a media advisory shared with me states.
These deals mean you can get an iPhone 13 Pro or mini for no up-front cost, or an iPhone 13 Pro Max or iPhone 13 for $99 up front. Cricket Wireless will offer the iPhone 13 range from starting Sept. 24, the company said.
In the event carriers elsewhere in the UK and globally choose to deliver similarly tempting deals, then most business users have a real opportunity to upgrade.
“Although new camera features, better battery life and other tech specs will grab the headlines, the biggest story is arguably the impressive trade-in prices being offered by Apple and its partners. US buyers trading-in the previous iPhone can get up to $1,000 toward a new model and we expect similar deals in other markets around the world,” said CCS analyst, Ben Wood.
“It’s a major competitive advantage for Apple, and is likely to boost the residual value of iPhones, which are already the highest in the market thanks to Apple’s ruthless product consistency and multiyear software updates.”
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I imagine the A15 processor inside the iPad mini may deliver similar performance to what it can achieve inside the smaller iPhone. We don’t have the benchmark data to prove this assumption yet, but it’s possible — assuming Apple hasn’t downclocked the chip.
The iPad mini basics
Apple told us the new A15 processor in the iPad mini delivers “a 40% jump in performance, and the 5-core GPU delivers an 80% leap in graphics performance compared to the previous generation of iPad mini.”
The previous model used an A12 Bionic chip about as powerful as the entry-level iPad 8, which has also been replaced. A little creative thinking based on adding 40% to existing single-core and multi-core iPad mini benchmarks means the new iPad mini should be just about as capable as the current iPad Air, which was last year’s best Apple tablet.
When that version of the Air shipped, it was faster than the second-generation 11-in. iPad Pro and the 12.9-in. A12Z Bionic iPad Pro.
Stop with the numbers already
I’m going to interrupt this stream of statistics to make a point: The newly-introduced iPad mini is probably as powerful as 2020’s high-end iPad Pro, but weighs less than half as much. (It weighs 0.65 pounds in contrast to the pro, which weighed 1.41 pounds.)
You also get less display (8.3 inches v 12.3 inches), though higher pixel density (326ppi vs 264ppi). But the real compromise is on storage, with a miserly 64GB in the entry-level model. If you do serious work, you will want the 256GB version, which starts at $649.
So, while the wonderful new iPad mini packs as much punch as the pre-pandemic iPad Pro, it doesn’t quite have all the bells and shiny ‘starlight’ (WTF?) whistles of that device. It’s a compelling tablet in its own right that will do what you want it to do. But isn’t quite a pro.
So, what am I saying?
Here’s my take: The decision to put an iPhone chip in the iPad mini clarifies once again that what will differentiate the iPad Pro range from other iPads (including this one) is the inclusion of the more powerful M-series chip, supplemented by memory, latency, and other features that make the pro devices better for long-term professional use.
That means (surprising no one) you have two distinct families of device and, over time, as Apple’s silicon development teams forge their own distinct paths following the fork between M and A you will see wider differences emerge. So we need to look at price.
Right now, the iPad range consists of A-series tablets and M-series Pro devices straddling starting price ranges of between $499-$1,099, increasing if you need additional storage or a cellular connection.
Here’s how the entry-level pricing stacks up:
iPad Pro 12.9-inch: From $1,099.
iPad Pro 11-inch: From $799.
iPad Air 4: From $599.
iPad 9: From $329.
iPad mini 6 $499.
I think these tiers show space that could be populated by an M-series iPad Pro mini at around $849. If you want something portable, but with the power of a pro, you’ll pay for it. But if you just want an iPad, the A-series will do most everything you need.
There is a market for the iPad Pro mini
Having only now introduced the A-series iPad mini, Apple is unlikely to want to blunt its reach with a pro. Everyone seems to want one. But Apple already knows there is a highly professional market for these devices. We know it knows this because it told us so.
Introducing the device at its launch event, Apple CEO Tim Cook described its use as being “secured to the leg of a pilot’s leg in flight or pulled from a doctor’s lab coat during patient treatment.” He referred to pro uses for the tablet in interviews after the event.
The company has referred to three specific pro usage cases:
Photographers on location editing photos grabbed from their camera.
Doctors in remote areas running an ultrasound scan using Butterfly.
Technicians using Splunk AR to access complex schematics on site.
It’s easy to imagine other usages, from warehousing to distribution, manufacturing, field service, and beyond. Many such uses may be served by the iPhone 13 range, but Apple recognizes some enterprises need an ultra-portable tablet more.
“The new iPad mini is a major upgrade and arguably more akin to Apple’s iPad Pro category given its design, support for the A15 Bionic chip and a USB-C connector,” said Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight.
“The iPad mini represents a significant opportunity for the iPad brand to extend deeper into the numerous industry sectors that Apple is already supporting, such as aviation, healthcare and retail.”
Now it’s just a matter of finding out the extent to which demand in those sectors scales higher. If Apple experiences lots of demand from enterprises wanting to make use of the iPad mini, it will have a chance to move mini’s story higher.
An iPad Pro mini would enable the company to push harder into even more specific and demanding enterprise-focused markets. I think that’s what should happen.
Apple has a real opportunity to pivot the big interest it’s about to experience with the A15 iPad mini (this year’s hottest tablet) into ginormous passion for iPad mini Pro.
Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.
One of the absolute worst parts about browsing this dusty ol’ web of ours is when you innocently open up some site — maybe, say, a tech news publication — and a video you didn’t ask for suddenly starts blaring annoying audio into your unexpecting ears. It’s especially obnoxious on a phone, where you’re frequently scrolling on your screen in a semipublic area or whilst someone else slumbers nearby.
We’ve all been there. We all loathe it. And yet, we continue to experience it, with no obvious fix or easy way to avoid the annoyance. (Insert awkward eye-darting here.)
Well, my fellow Android adorer, I’ve got good news for you. Google’s Chrome Android browser actually has an incredibly effective system for sending overly aggressive websites a signal that you don’t appreciate their unprompted audio invasions. In fact, with a single tap of your greasy fingeroo, you can stop a site from making sounds on your phone ever again. And you can take control of all sorts of other site-specific permissions while you’re at it.
Get ready for an illuminating “aha!” moment, ’cause you’re about to meet a convenient Chrome feature that you probably never knew existed.
The on-demand Chrome Android control panel
All right — ready? Here ’tis: Anytime you’re viewing a site within Chrome on Android, you can tap the padlock icon at the top of the screen, to the left of the site’s address, to pop up a power-packed panel that lets you view and adjust all sorts of info about that specific site’s permissions and what it’s able to do.
Now, how much stuff shows up in that panel all depends on what the site in question has attempted to bombard you with so far. If the site hasn’t been playing any audio, for instance, you won’t see the audio permission in that area. But if it has — well, by golly, all you’ve gotta do is tap the corresponding line to uncover a toggle that’ll let you take away that ability in the blink of an eye.
You’ll sometimes see other relevant site-specific settings in that area as well, including a one-tap-away list of exactly how many cookies the site is creating in your Chrome Android engine room.
As a side note, remember: Cookies may get a bad rap these days, but they aren’t inherently always evil. Lots o’ cookies exist for genuinely useful and not at all nefarious reasons, such as keeping you signed into sites, keeping your self-set preferences in place, and providing you with a delicious dairy-free snack. (That last one might be about a different type of cookie, but you get the idea.) And even those that are related to advertising are often far less frightening than they’re made out to be, once you move past the sensational headlines and consider the actual underlying realities.
Still, knowledge matters. And understanding exactly what different sites are doing is a critical part of being a smart and informed internet dweller.
To be clear, these same sorts of controls have always been accessible within the Chrome Android app’s settings. And you can still get to ’em there, if you want. But that area of the browser is pretty out of the way, and the process of adjusting a site’s permissions deep within those musty inner-hallways is significantly less simple:
First, you’ll need to tap the three-dot menu icon in Chrome’s upper-right corner and select “Settings” in the menu that comes up.
After that, you’ll scroll down and select “Site settings,” then find and tap whatever category you want to consider — “Notifications,” “Sound,” “Cookies,” “Cinnamon Rolls,” and so on. (All right, so I made that last one up. But if a site were able to provide cinnamon rolls as part of its permissions, you’d better believe I’d be checking that box.)
Once you tap on a category, you’ll then have to tap an “Add Site Exception” line and manually type in the address of whatever site you want to disallow for that specific permission.
So it can certainly be done. But it’s a heck of a lot more complicated and clunky of a process, especially when you don’t know offhand exactly which permissions different sites might be using.
No matter, though, for now you know the simpler, easier, and more effective way to handle this. Keep that knowledge tucked away in the back of your suspiciously moist mammal-noggin, and you’ll never be annoyed by a site assaulting you with unwanted audio again — never more than once, anyway.
Get even more advanced shortcut knowledge with my new Android Shortcut Supercourse. You’ll learn tons of time-saving tricks for your phone!
This week brought updates that I consider critical for the “Big Three” — my operating system (Windows), my browser (Google Chrome) and my phone (from Apple). All three releases patch major zero-day vulnerabilities on all three platforms.
While I strongly recommend that you patch Chrome and your iPhone as soon as possible, I always recommend that you hold back on updating Windows. That remains true — at least until we see whether there are any trending side effects from the Patch Tuesday updates.
Let’s break down the patching to do right away.
First, prioritize patching Apple devices. Among this week’s patches is one for Pegasus spyware, which can open up access to the camera and microphone as well as text messages, phone calls, and emails. iPhones, in particular, have been targeted. Apple typically pushes these updates overnight if your phone is plugged in and charging (and connected to the Internet). If you want to make sure your iPhone has received the update, click on Settings, then General, then tap Software Update. Typically, after my iPhone updates, some apps may need passwords again. I personally try to save critical ones in the iCloud keychain. Look for patches for iOS 14.8 and iPad OS 14.8, and Security Update 2021-005 for macOS Catalina and Big Sur 11.6.
The Chrome browser update fixes two in-the-wild exploits patched in version 93.0.4577.82 for Windows, Mac and Linux. (For those using the Chrome OS, Bleeping computer reports that some devices have been reporting black screens after trying to log into their Chrome OS accounts.)
And finally, we come to Microsoft. For anyone hoping this month’s updates would “fix” an issue involving the use of group policy to deal with printers for your domain/business users (I wrote about this earlier), welcome to your new normal: The way you used to deploy printers isn’t fixed. What is fixed is yet another remote attack that utilized the print spooler to gain more access to your machines. So we’re going to have to redeploy print drivers using different means.
Clearly, Microsoft doesn’t see (or apparently understand) how disruptive this change has been for business users. Some of this may be that for many firms the impact has been blunted because workers aren’t in in the office and needing to print. But as employees move back into the office, we will have to use new techniques to deploy printers. Group Policy MVP Jeremy Moskowitz has written up the ultimate workaround and guidance for the issue. For users with a directly attached printer, there have apparently been few issues with the PrintNightmare patches. I saw no side effects in August, and I’ve seen none so far in September.
If you’re still running Windows 10 version 2004, be aware that Dec. 14, 2021 marks the end of support for that version of the OS. While Microsoft has been forthcoming about the release date of Windows 11 (Oct. 5), it’s said little about the arrival of Windows 10 21H2. Everyone keeps assuming it’ll be in October, but no one seems to know. (The update process from 2004 to 20H2, or even 21H1, was minor for me; I don’t foresee any problems for those that want to jump to the21H1 feature release.)
We’ve seen some of the expected changes discussed in blogs, but not when they will be released. Given that 21H2 does not appear to be a major release, I don’t anticipate vendors having major issues. In general, it looks to be more of a release for businesses on their way to Windows 11. Given the small number of changes, I expect to give an “all clear to install” within a few months after release.
Microsoft is at the point where it’ll be releasing 21H2, as well as Windows 11, to commercial vendors so they can certify their apps work on both releases. Clearly, it’s getting close to release as Microsoft is once again re-re-re-releasing KB4023057 — the update for Windows 10 Update service components that it releases on something of a quarterly basis. It’s used to ensure that computers not in a domain or business setting are ready for the next feature release, by checking to ensure that the Windows update process is healthy, that there is enough drive space available for updates, that network settings are reset if problems are detected, and that the Windows update history database is reset as needed.
Many users rely on the Wumgr tool to hide this update, as it has been reported to cause some issues with networking on some computers. If the patch has already been installed, there’s no need to uninstall it since the processes have already taken place. I personally like to review my system for health issues regularly, so I make sure that I check the C: drive for space issues. If I get error messages when attempting to install Windows updates, the best way to fixing misbehaving systems is to not use sfc /scannow or DISM commands; I would do a repair install over the top. You won’t lose any data and your computer will be healthier when you are done.
So, as we look ahead to 21H2 and Windows 11, I’m still in testing mode for this week’s Patch Tuesday arrivals — as you should be, too. As always, if you see or hear of any side effects, let us know at Askwoody.com and we’ll follow up on them.
Apple’s 77-minute iPhone 13 event wasn’t the longest such launch in recent memory – the iPhone 7 reveal took 119 minutes. But the company’s executives still had quite a lot to get through on Tuesday. Here’s what should matter most to enterprise users.
We all want the same things
To be fair, the division between enterprise and consumer expectations for technology continues to erode: Workers want to use the same tools at work as they do at home – and these days most employers feel the same way. Software and hardware are expected to put users first and provide well thought-through user interfaces that reduce, rather than increase, user friction.
The days when enterprise solutions could get away with being unwieldy or hard to use are quickly disappearing in the rear-view mirror. And that means to some extent even the consumer-focused features Apple highlighted have some bearing on enterprise IT. Some items particularly stood out.
Those carrier promotions
Take carrier promotions, for example. I noted them here, but these are emerging globally in a promising arrangement that should see telcos reap more benefit from their 5G infrastructure investments while giving the 95% of existing iPhone users who don’t yet have a 5G device a really good reason to upgrade.
Jefferies analyst Kyle McNealy notes:
“One of the most important elements of the iPhone 13 launch from our perspective is the carrier promotions (and effective subsidies) that are coming through even bigger than the strong promotions last year.” He observed “promotions as more aggressive than last year – they’re either a higher dollar value or don’t require a net-new line.”
That’s serendipitous, of course, given analyst Morgan Stanley’s belief that 5G is and remains the thing consumers most wanted from the iPhone, followed by improved cameras and better battery life. Apple met all three wishes.
What this means: Put simply, it means there will be a wider market for 5G services. It also means enterprises can continue to evolve digital transformation plans around use of the standard. Higher trade-in values might even tempt recently upgraded mobile teams.
No satellite, yet
While earlier claims the iPhones would support satellite access proved unfounded, as the n53 band used for these isn’t listed as being supported on Apple’s site, enterprises do get Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) support on both iPhone 13, as on iPhone 12 — and much improved wireless on iPad mini, which is arguably the enterprise star of Apple’s show.
You do need an 802.11ax router to take advantage of what Wi-Fi 6 offers, but if you don’t have access to one the device just uses Wi-Fi that is locally available.
What this means: The combination of 5G and faster Wi-Fi will support a range of mobile teams in numerous deployments.
Surprise: Dual eSIM support
The new iPhones are the first to support dual eSIM. The iPhone 12 had dual-SIM support and worked with both an eSIM and a physical nano-SIM. iPhone 13 still has the physical slot, but can work with two eSIMs for connection without a card.
Apple says: “Carrier-connected iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro models will arrive ready to activate with eSIM and can connect to your cellular voice and data service without a physical SIM card. You will need a Wi-Fi connection for setup.” You can also activate an eSIM on an unconnected device or add an additional line to one that is connected.
What this means: It’s now super-easy to provision remote employees with both personal and work-related numbers. It’s also a bonus for business travelers and anyone who must change networks quickly.
Cameras aren’t just a consumer item
Apple spent no time discussing augmented reality (AR) during the event. That doesn’t mean it isn’t interested – Apple CEO Tim Cook made the point of sharing how important AR is in a subsequent interview. The company is still focused on it, but had nothing to announce.
At the same time, many of the new features in its cameras – particularly Cinematic Mode – are driven by a combination of sensors, software, and machine-learning technologies running on the new A15 Bionic chip. Cook called this “like having a Hollywood rig in your pocket.”
These high-quality cameras will become tools for creative and marketing departments, and companies will use them for asset and social media design, among other things.
What’s also important is that iOS 15, due out on Monday, introduces a range of additional machine vision APIs, some of which may have a bearing on aspects of your business. IDG’s recent Insight study showed 10% of enterprises are using computer vision today, 37% intend to implement it and 44% are investigating future use. Business & Decision, for example, has developed a quality control system for Covid-19 vaccines based on computer vision.
While Apple may be focused on how Hollywood uses its meld of sensors, software, and AI, the reality across most enterprises is that computer vision is a key area for process optimization and business change.
What this means: Apple now offers a stable, powerful solution accompanied by SDKs that may form building blocks for creative use of computer vision in your enterprise. That Apple didn’t discuss AR very much almost certainly implies it has much more it wants to say, probably in spring 2022.
iPad mini, Apple’s stalking horse
The new iPad mini is small, but big. It hosts the same processor used in iPhone 13 (which augurs well for Apple’s Mac and iPad event in October), is available with 5G and support for Apple Pencil 2, and provides 8.3 inches of display in the same footprint as before. It’s a powerful tool that I think will be the choice of many who need a device they can carry everywhere with them. It’s also a tool for which most enterprises will find use cases.
It seems clear that Apple thinks so, too.
When introducing the device, Apple showed footage of the iPad mini in real work situations. And speaking after the launch Cook talked about customers using it in hospitals, classrooms and for mobile work in multiple industries. And 5G/cellular means you can use it to work in a field.
Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said:
“With its ultra-portable design and wide range of uses from everyday tasks to creative and enterprise applications, there’s nothing else like iPad mini. The new iPad mini is a huge leap forward that can be held in the palm of your hand.”
What this means: iPad mini looks like a perfect solution for a myriad of uses and pits the device squarely against devices currently used by field service, engineering, or warehousing teams.
What about the processor?
There was a lot of consternation when Apple declined to give any comparative speed specifics for its A15 chips. Yes, it said how much faster it was in comparison to “leading competitors,” but didn’t unleash a great deal of data to show improvement in comparison to its previous chips.
Naturally, this led conspiracy theorists to postulate that Apple’s processor design teams have somehow hit the limit of what they can achieve. This doesn’t ring true.
What seems more likely is that the 5-nanometer (nm) A15 processor is an evolution of the also 5-nm A14 chip. In this iteration, Apple has focused its teams on graphics performance and battery life, rather than performance, because that’s what consumers wanted to see improved. Why focus on performance when you already offer the fastest mass market mobile chip on the planet?
The next big leap in performance will come with the move to 3-nm process manufacturing, which was originally expected in 2022, but may now arrive later. The 1TB max storage may also be a game changer for some users.
What this means: Better battery life, astonishing graphics (and computer vision AI) and you still run the fastest processor on the block. Most enterprises need to spend more time focusing on developing unique advantages, rather than competing in speeds and feeds, I guess. But I do enjoy speed comparisons.
We all want a phone we can keep using. Apple’s decision to boost battery life is one that matters to everyone, and one of the biggest criticisms its devices historically face. What you get:
iPhone 13: Up to 2.5 hours more battery life than iPhone 12.
iPhone 13 mini: 1.5 hours more than the previous mini.
iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max: 2.5 hours more than their predecessors.
What this means: CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood nailed this: “It looks like Apple has made good progress on battery life, something that is hugely important to consumers spending more and more time glued to their phones. For people upgrading from much older iPhones, the improvement will be dramatic.”
Covid-19 isn’t over
One depressing reality that also emerged post-event is the reality of Covid-19 and its impact on international supply chains. Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty noted that Covid-related travel restrictions slowed Apple’s ability to respond to a series of last-minute production challenges that emerged when building the new Apple Watch Series 7.
“The lack of immediate availability or a concrete Series 7 ship date seems to confirm a slower production ramp, but it is unclear how exactly this will impact shipment timing,” she said.
What this means: It remains vital to monitor and protect supply chains and your human infrastructure heading into autumn. While vaccines may help in some places, they aren’t yet universally available, which suggests most business should expect further impacts.
The sum of the parts is big
Apple has 900 million existing iPhone users who haven’t yet purchased a 5G smartphone. Carrier offers, long battery life, and advanced photography features (among other things) will change that. As Evercore’s Amit Daryanani said:
“The incremental features will make this a compelling product for the 900M+ iPhone users that didn’t purchase the iPhone 12 – ensuring the iPhone cycle sustains into CY22.”
Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.
Apple on Monday issued emergency security updates for iOS, macOS and its other operating systems to plug a hole that Canadian researchers claimed had been planted on a Saudi political activist’s device by NSO Group, an Israeli seller of spyware and surveillance software to governments and their security agencies.
Updates to patch the under-active-exploit vulnerability were released for iOS 14; macOS 11 and 10, aka Big Sur and Catalina, respectively; iPad OS 14; and watchOS 7.
According to Apple, the vulnerability can be exploited by “processing a maliciously crafted PDF,” which “may lead to arbitrary code execution.” The phrase “arbitrary code execution” is Apple’s way of saying that the bug was of the most serious nature; Apple does not rank threat level of vulnerabilities, unlike operating system rivals such as Microsoft and Google.
Apple credited The Citizen Lab for reporting the flaw.
Also on Monday, Citizen Lab, a cybersecurity watchdog organization that operates from the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the University of Toronto, released a report outlining what it found. “While analyzing the phone of a Saudi activist infected with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, we discovered a zero-day zero-click exploit against iMessage,” Citizen Lab researchers wrote.
The exploit, which Citizen Lab dubbed “FORCEDENTRY,” had been used to infect the phone of the activist — and possibly others as far back as February 2021 — with the NGO Group’s “Pegasus” surveillance suite. It, in turn, consists largely of spyware that can document texts and emails sent to and from the device as well as switch on its camera and microphone for secret recording.
Citizen Lab was confident that FORCEDENTRY was associated with Pegasus and thus, NGO Group. According to researchers, the spyware loaded by the zero-click exploit contained coding characteristics, including ones never made public, that Citizen Lab had come across in previous analysis of NGO Group and Pegasus.
“Despite promising their customers the utmost secrecy and confidentiality, NSO Group’s business model contains the seeds of their ongoing unmasking,” Citizen Labs’ researcher wrote in their Monday report. “Selling technology to governments that will use the technology recklessly in violation of international human rights law ultimately facilitates discovery of the spyware by investigatory watchdog organizations.”
Apple device owners can download and install the security-only updates issued Monday by triggering a software update through the device’s OS.
Attention, my fellow Android-owning hominids: Your favorite virtual assistant is learning a few new skills.
Google Assistant is in the midst of getting some significant upgrades on Android — small-seeming features that could have a supersized impact on your workday efficiency. They’re exactly the types of productivity-boosting tidbits I love to uncover on Android, as they’ll make your phone instantly smarter and your life immediately easier.
So what’s the catch, you might be wondering? Well, my curious comrade, there’s just one — and it’s deliciously easy to overcome: These new Assistant abilities are arriving mostly unannounced. (A familiar-feeling tale at this point, wouldn’t ya say?) They oughta be available on any reasonably recent Android phone by now, though. It’s just up to you to find ’em and then figure out how they fit into your personal productivity picture.
So enough with the vague yammering: Let’s break down exactly what these new Android Assistant features are all about and how they could be helpful for you.
New Android Assistant feature No. 1: The delayed action
Our first Android Assistant addition is a welcome new way to automate any type of Assistant-connected action imaginable and then add a delay into that equation.
Sounds a little strange, right? Let me put it into more practical terms. With this new capability in tow, you could do things like:
Configure your phone to rattle off an out-loud update on the weather 20 minutes after the sunrise or sunset in your current location.
Tell your phone to turn on Do Not Disturb and mute all your volumes whenever you activate Assistant and say “Meeting time” — and then undo that and automatically go back to your normal volume state one hour later. (You could even create multiple versions of that, if you really want to get ambitious: “Half-hour meeting,” “One-hour meeting,” “Two-hour meeting,” “Someone please save me,” etc.)
If you have a smart thermostat in your office, home office, or anywhere else you frequent, you could instruct Assistant to adjust the temperature for you 10 minutes after you tell it “Heading to work.”
As you can see, having the option to add a delay into an Assistant automation adds an awful lot of practical potential into the system, and the possibilities are practically endless.
And once you know where to find your new superpower, it’s as easy as can be to get it going:
Activate Assistant on your Android phone — by saying “Hey Google,” by swiping upward from the lower-left or lower-right corner of the screen (on a phone with the current Android gestures system), or by using any other Assistant shortcut that tickles your fancy — and then say “Assistant routines.” If that doesn’t work on your device, smack your face in frustration, vow to buy a different brand of phone on your next purchase, then say “Assistant settings” instead. That should take you to the main Assistant settings screen, where you can then find and tap the option for “Routines” yourself.
However you get there, tap the New button at the top of the Routines screen.
Tap the Add Starter button to add in a voice command and/or time-of-day trigger — what’ll make your automated action occur, in other words.
Once that’s done, tap the Add Action button to add in any combination of actions you want to take place whenever your command gets activated. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the list to find the new “Delay start” option, which will let you add any delay you want into any part of the process.
And in case you were wondering, the sequence above is one of the sound-adjusting “Meeting” commands I mentioned a minute ago, and the music being played at its end is “Celebrate” by Kool & the Gang — for reasons that I hope are obvious.
New Android Assistant feature No. 2: The Daylong Routine
Next up in our Android Assistant addition list is an intriguing little ditty Google’s calling the Daylong Routine. And no, it’s not referring to your curious habit of eating Tic Tacs at a rate of seven mint-scented nibs a minute (though kudos on the dynamite breath).
This option’s presence in the Assistant automation area seems kind of awkwardly tacked on at the moment: When you pull up the Assistant Routines screen and then tap the button to create a new routine (using the same steps we just went over a second ago), the new Daylong Routine feature should show up as a fancy little prompt at the bottom.
Tap the “Yes” in that area, and you’ll then be able to set up a full day’s worth of automated actions on your phone within that single streamlined spot. You can program your entire day, essentially, and have Assistant do all sorts of stuff for you at specific times as the hours tick onward.
You can make as many Daylong Routines as you want, too — so you could have different paths set up for your home and your office, for instance, or different routines for different days of the week. All you’ve gotta do is figure out what recurring chores make sense for Assistant to handle on your behalf and then set ’em all up once.
New Android Assistant feature No. 3: The alarm activation automation
The third and final freshly available Android Assistant addition in our collection is one that’s specifically for the morning hours — or whatever time you find yourself waking up (you unpredictable party animal, you).
Just as of the past several days, Assistant on Android has gained the ability to start an action or a series of actions immediately after you dismiss an alarm on your phone or any other Assistant-connected screen, speaker, or device. That gives you an easy way to have the gadget in question read you weather or news info, update you on your agenda for the day, or maybe even just whisper some gentle reassurances to get your day started right. (Hey, we all need a little tenderness from time to time.)
And by connecting it to the action of dismissing an alarm, you can make sure it happens at the exact right time for when your day actually begins — even if that time might shift around a bit from one day to the next.
This one’s pretty simple to manage, too, once you know where to find it: Once more, mosey your way into the Assistant Routines screen and fire up a new routine. After tapping the Add Starter button, look for the inconspicuously added new “Dismiss an alarm” option.
Tap that bad boy — and by golly, wouldya look at that?
You’ve got all the options you need right in front of you, including the ability to limit the event only to alarm dismissals that occur within certain specified windows of time.
All that’s left is to smack that snooze button and rest easy knowing your trusty virtual Assistant’s got your back — even if she doesn’t have any vertebrae of her own.
Get six full days of advanced Android knowledge with my new Android Shortcut Supercourse. You’ll learn tons of time-saving tricks for your phone!
The first 185-page Apple-v-Epic judgment didn’t please anybody when it arrived on Friday. Apple will be required to permit people to pay for apps and in-app purchases using third party payment services that developers will be entitled to link to.
Epic is appealing the decision, but it’s interesting that while it sued Apple and Google over the 30% fee, it has not started litigation against Nintendo, Microsoft, or Sony — all three of which charge the same fee at their online stores.
What does the ruling mean?
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers’ ruling means that when you pay for a Spotify subscription or some in-app power up you may be given a link that lets you pay through payment systems other than Apple.
I guess developers will get to choose which payment systems to use, but I imagine Apple will still be able to insist on its payment systems being a choice. Developers will have a choice. Some will offer their apps/services at up to 30% less than the equivalent cost via the store; others will try to keep the extra change. Some will not bother offering alternative payment systems; others can’t wait to do so.
What this means in practice
What the judgement has done is set in motion a new kind of competition at the App Store, and if it happens there, it will happen elsewhere. After all, if Apple is required to open for payments competition (even a little), so logically should every other app store provider. Basically, app store payment systems just became a new competitive space, and while that’s bad for Apple’s bottom line in the short-term, it may be able to turn that challenge around.
What can Apple do?
Apple can compete. The judge noted the 70% profit margin generated by App Store sales right now, which is incredibly high and shows why Apple’s existing 30% margin should change. At the same time, Apple’s payment systems are relatively robust and some of the benefits of using them somewhat unsung. That’s going to change.
Apple will simply double down on illustrating the inherent benefits of its own payment systems and work to make the experience of using them better.
What sorts of things might improve?
There are lots of things Apple can do to improve its system. The judgment pointed some of these out, including dispute resolution between developers and customers. Other enhancements might include prompt resolution and a promise to return cash accidentally spent when kids get hooked on in-game purchasing.
The company may consider the customer inducements other payment processors provide and then cherry pick the best of them. Apple can focus on its strengths in usability and customer experience design to help ensure that, when given a choice, consumers continue to select its brand for in app payments.
Will consumers use alternative payments?
While Apple must now permit developers to include links to alternate payment systems in their apps, will consumers use them? I’ve seen several analysts conclude that the actual impact of the judgement against Apple will be minimal. Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives estimates a 3% revenue hit, but predicts: “The vast majority of consumers will continue to use the App Store for in-app purchases.”
Why might this be?
I think the friction of the payment processing services developers choose to deploy will make a difference. I also think many smaller developers (which most are) will simply not bother offering alternative payment systems. For its fee, Apple provides fraud protection, payment processing and payment-related customer support, which means customers and developers have a point of trust.
Not all customers are equal
One big take-away from the details in the ruling is that more than half of all App Store in-app revenue is generated by less than 0.5% of customers.
“In the third quarter of 2017, high spenders, accounting for less than half a percent of all Apple accounts, spent a ‘vast majority of their spend in games via IAP’ and generated 53.7% of all App Store billings for the quarter, paying in excess of $450 each.”
The inference is clear. Developers will need to deliver buying experiences that focus on the needs of that most premium customer segment. That’s not going to be an easy market to please.
Will developers offer alternative payment systems?
As a result of the litigation, we now know thyat around 70% of App Store revenues are generated by games. Games also deliver 98% of in-app purchase revenue. That means games developers are especially likely to offer their own payment processing alternatives.
Developers who achieve the most success will be those who can deliver a more elegant and user-focused payment experience than Apple already does. Consumers will soon identify the also-rans and eventually we’ll see perhaps half a dozen big names in the App Store payments space.
In the absence of scale, proprietary payment systems are unlikely to be able to match the user experiences offered by larger payment providers. In this scenario, it seems inevitable that PayPal, Stripe, and other majors will emerge as Apple’s main competition. Smaller operators will be hard-pressed.
The impact? Developers may find they no longer need to pay 30% (or 15% for most developers) to Apple but will still be forced to pay something to their chosen payments services provider(s). The only real question is how much they need to pay and what kind of service they – and their customers – get in exchange.
Why isn’t Epic happy?
One of Epic’s main aims has been to force Apple to permit sideloading of apps. The games developer has argued users should be able to install apps from outside the App Store, just as Mac users can. The court didn’t agree.
Epic is also unhappy as it has also been required to pay Apple the App Store fees it avoided when it broke its developer agreement to offer sales outside Apple’s system.
The court felt Apple’s App Store model was justified based on security, competition and intellectual property rights. In other words, it will not permit Epic or anyone else to offer alternative stores or stores within a store. All it will permit is a slightly more open approach to payments.
Is Apple a monopoly?
It isn’t seen as one right now. Rogers rejected arguments that Apple is a monopolist, but did warn the company is:
“Near the precipice of substantial market power, or monopoly power, with its considerable market share. Apple is only saved by the fact that its share is not higher, that competitors from related submarkets are making inroads into the mobile gaming submarket, and, perhaps, because plaintiff [Epic] did not focus on this topic.”
Apple must now work hard to ensure it stays on the safe side of that precipice.
What happens now?
The App Store is not going to change immediately. Apple has been given 90 days to comply, Epic has already appealed the ruling, and Apple may file its own appeal. It’s reasonable to expect months of legal wrangling before anything changes.
The judge also said it is logical that some fees are paid at some level. “However, it is also true that, with few exceptions, not every business is entitled to have access to what is effectively shelf space if they cannot afford to pay a commission to the platform host,” she said.
In terms of damage control, we can speculate that Apple could begin supporting these external payment systems early next year when it has already said it will enable such support in Reader apps. That’s not to say it definitely will do so, just that it could.
How can Apple make it all go away?
I don’t think Apple can make Epic happy. At the same time, I believe it can end most of this litigation by proposing a 15% rate for App Store fees and accepting third-party payments as it has been told it must. While there will be a cost, such action would almost certainly end most outstanding litigation and negative publicity.
But doing so will also define the rules of engagement. By coalescing around 15%, Apple may lose revenue, but it will also be telling everyone that in order to compete, developers and payments providers will need to be able to deliver a payment experience on the App Store equal to the one Apple already provides for that same fee or less.
I suspect doing so inside a 15% margin will turn out to be challenging. It certainly challenges Epic, which (the court documents suggest) runs an 88% to 12% revenue share on its own store (which the judge said runs at a loss). That 30% take may be too high, but 12% is too low. Ultimately the only negotiation is around how much it should cost.
One more thing
Apple makes the platform developers use to create the apps they sell. It also makes the tools developers can use to build those apps. The App Store and hardware sales help finance software development today, but Apple will need to find new revenue to make up for any lost because of the mandated App Store payment change.
Apple has some options available.
In the short term, it may choose to raise the at-present nominal annual fee it charges developers for access to its developer tools. It may link that fee to a developer’s revenue, or charge a distribution fee to carry anything other than free apps.
In the longer term, however, I believe Apple will not find the impact of the current court-mandated change to go as deep as many anticipate, with most consumers and developers continuing to use its own payment systems, because they are used to them and already feel trust.
Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.