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The evolution of the MacBook

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Apple brought back the beloved MacBook after the line merged with the MacBook Pro in 2009. At just 2 pounds and only 13.1 mm thick, the new MacBook overtook the MacBook Air as the thinnest and lightest Mac ever. It included a 12-in. Retina display, a redesigned butterfly mechanism keyboard and a Force Touch trackpad.

Apple introduced Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports in favor of the MagSafe adapter and standard USB-A ports for a slimmer form factor and increased power efficiency. Along with a fanless design, the new MacBook was available in a slew of different colors to match the iPhone 6s and iPad Pro lineup — gold, silver, space gray, and later, rose gold. Apple killed off the MacBook in July 2019, ending model overlap with the MacBook Air.

How Ukraine’s MacPaw got its business ready for war

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Vira Tkachenko, CTO at Ukraine software developer MacPaw, spoke remotely to Apple admins at Jamf’s JNUC event. A real-world  example of a woman in a leadership position in tech, she explained how her company planned for business continuity during the war in Ukraine.

It’s an excellent lesson in crisis management and planning for any business leader. Here are some of the insights shared during her session.

Make the complex simple

Planning is critical, Tkachenko explained. MacPaw read the same reports most of us were also seeing pre-war and began to plan before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Those planning meetings generated complex challenges, the solutions for which needed to be as simple to execute as possible.

Vira Tkachenko MacPaw

MacPaw CTO Vira Tkachenko.

“When the emergency happens, people become very emotional,” Tkachenko said. “People find it hard to handle complex tasks.”

With that in mind, the company attempted to create crisis responses that were easy to execute. 

The process of planning is also helpful to senior management, she said. In her own case, while even considering the crisis was emotionally challenging, meeting and discussing potential responses helped her build stronger resilience to lead that response once the war began.

The lesson is simple: If you plan a response to crisis that is overly-complex, you leave your company at a high risk of failure. During wartime, the consequences of any such failure could be severe for customers, staff, and the company itself.

Be realistic

Tkachenko seemed calm as she explained some of the things MacPaw’s crisis planners had to consider. The 500-person company is based in Kyiv, Ukraine, and its apps are installed on around a fifth of the world’s Macs. Most employees use Macs managed by Jamf and I spoke to some of them prior to the outbreak of the conflict. Tkachenko herself told me how impressed she has been by the performance of Apple Silicon Macs.

The teams knew the consequences of any failure to plan posed huge risks. In planning, they focused on the security and stability of services and the physical security of team members.

Some of the risks they anticipated included:

  • Loss of internet and communications infrastructure.
  • Occupation of offices by invaders, making access impossible and data insecure.
  • Cyberattacks against the company and its services.
  • An increase in the frequency of phishing attacks against employees.
  • Attacks on corporate social media.
  • Unauthorized access (using captured or lost devices, for example).
  • Hardware supply chain disruptions, including interruptions in equipment supply and the provision of logistics, including power and transportation.
  • Potential disruption due to sanctions and war zone company status.

Many of these risks were managed by moving infrastructure to the cloud, but the company also put a range of response plans in place. 

Expect the unexpected

What’s also interesting about how MacPaw prepared for the crisis is the extent to which the company tried to design a flexible crisis response. (It is also notable that the company already had Jamf as its MDM provider and most employees were used to remote working during the pandemic.)

For the first weeks of the war, the company had assigned an emergency team of experts tasked with keeping its products and services stable. Those teams had to be highly knowledgeable about the product/service they looked after, and had to locate to a safer zone, either in Ukraine or abroad. Any movement was planned pre-war and staff adopted use of a safe, encrypted alternative communication channel.

Other steps included stockpiling MacBooks to meet future needs, and the wholesale move of office infrastructure to the cloud – this included a move to adopt virtual Mac minis from Mac Stadium for use in building and compiling applications and adoption of cloud-based VPN Pritunl.

The company also experimented with satellite internet access, but found it expensive and hard to set up, and saw low connection speeds and latency issues. This only really improved once Starlink entered Ukraine once war began.

Despite all the planning, Tkachenko warned: “You can’t understand the emergency until it happens.” The company based its plans on an understanding of war based on historical conflicts, “But in reality it’s completely different,” she said.

“We had lots of cases we hadn’t anticipated, so you really can’t plan for everything.”

When the crisis hit

Tkachenko was awakened by air raid sirens across Kyiv at 5 a.m. on the day war began. The company initiated its emergency plan as team members attempted to evacuate. The need to protect its teams motivated MacPaw to build an app other companies might want to use called the Together app; it is available on GitHub.

The application was designed as a check-in system for employees and was designed to ask them where they were, whether they were safe and whether they were able to work. That last point is critical.

When a crisis strikes it’s unreasonable to expect your staff to work as they will be struggling with huge emotional challenges as they worry about their own safety and that of their friends and loved ones. At the same time, they will want to know the company they work for supports them.

The app also flags up instances in which employees with access to critical services or data are at risk, giving the company a chance to revoke such access, a key move to protect customers and services.

MacPaw at JNUC '22 JNUC

MacPaw CTO Vira Tkachenko presenting at JNUC ’22.

The company admitted to facing a slew of unexpected challenges. For example, provisioning computers in a war zone may be a little easier with Jamf, but the logistical task of acquiring and distributing hardware becomes exponentially harder. That’s also true for staff based outside the nation, as challenges then emerge in making purchases remotely.

And at least one Mac went missing from an occupied zone.

You get used to war

In what I see as a tragic admission, Tkachenko told us that you become “accustomed” to war. The company remains in Kyiv and 70% of its employees remain in Ukraine. Some of its staff are serving in the armed forces in some capacity.

What lessons did the company learn? The biggest take away seems to be the need not to neglect planning. This isn’t just because a plan can be put in motion in crisis, but also because the process of creating these blueprints can make leadership more resilient once crisis happens.

A second is to speak with companies that have similar experiences.

A third is to be prepared to go off-script, because unexpected things are really going to happen.

“Changes are swift,” she said. “You must be able to make quick decisions and adapt to circumstances fast. Emergency teams need to be resilient and capable of handling huge pressure.”

MacPaw is still operating. Its products and services have remained secure despite the conflict. It has even managed to publish big software updates and build new products. Developers across Ukraine have remained connected to the wider world of the tech industry.

“It is possible to operate during war,” Tkachenko told the JNUC audience. “Hope to see you next year.”

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2022 Softwaretoolapps, Inc.

iPhone users complain iOS 16 is a battery drain, has other issues

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Two weeks after Apple launched iOS 16, users continue to complain the mobile OS is sucking their battery power far too quickly.

Battery life tends to take an initial hit when new OSes are rolled out because updates to software and apps, as well as the reindexing files, photos, and other functions, taxes the processor, and thus, the battery. But over time, those background updates cease, and battery usage levels typically return to normal levels.

According to the business analytics service Mixpanel, about 13.3% of iPhone users have upgraded to iOS 16 since it was rolled out on Sept. 12. That’s when reports of battery issues started popping up.

“Running on a 13 Pro and I’m getting noticeable battery drain compared to iOS 15.6.1,” said one user commenting on MacRumors’ iOS 16 Battery Drain Thread. “I had to recharge mid-way through the day (I don’t allow my phone to dip below 30% to keep battery health in tip top shape). FYI my battery health is at 99%. And yes, this is iOS 16 production (non beta).”

Another poster wrote yesterday, “This is ridiculous. It’s been how long since 16? My phone still gets hot…and the battery drains a lot faster than before 16. Just got this pop up. And I’m not even doing anything!”

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A MacRumors user posted this image of a notification iOS 16 gave him regarding overheating. The user claimed he was in an air conditioned room at the time.

Apple news site 9to5Mac polled its readers last week and found 63% of iPhone users indicated their battery life is worse after installing iOS 16.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Atlassian takes aim at app sprawl with collaboration-suite subscription service

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Atlassian is rolling out a raft of updates including new smart links and unified administration controls, as well as a new subscription service, for its work- management and collaboration products —Trello, Confluence, Atlas, and Jira Work Management.

The company also announced that Atlas, a teamwork directory that was unveiled at Atlassian ’22 in April of this year, will be generally available from mid-October.

The announcements were made Thursday at the company’s inaugural work management event, Atlassian Presents: Work Life.

Due to the accelerating pace of digital transformation over the last several years, many companies are now struggling to deal with the resulting sprawl of SaaS (software as a service) applications, said Erika Trautman, head of product for work management at Atlassian.

She said that in order to rein in some of the chaos, there’s been a subsequent rise in the push for a “one size fits all solution,” which would see everyone at a company using the same work management tool, with one set of admin controls and a single set of workflows to adopt.

“The problem that we’ve seen though is that fundamentally, these tools fail to scale,” Trautman said, adding that the moment a “one size fits all” solution proves to be inflexible or fails to support your teams in getting their work done, employees will just go and adopt whatever else it is that helps them, leaving companies back at square one.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Apple’s enterprise IT pitch: Management, security, identity

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Apple took a rare public slot at Jamf’s JNUC event to summarize its approach to meeting the needs of enterprise IT while enabling the consumer-simple user experiences every employee-choice scheme tells us people want.

Management, security, and identity – Apple’s approach to enterprise IT

Jeremy Butcher, head of Apple education and enterprise product marketing, spoke to the Jamf JNUC crowd, sharing improvements introduced at WWDC this year that he sees as a good representation of Apple’s work.

For years, Apple’s mission has been to deliver the best possible user experience with as little friction as possible. Ultimately, an employee should be able to open the box, login, automatically be enrolled in enterprise systems, and start using the device.

For the most part, Apple and MDM providers such as Jamf have already achieved this. The tools available to IT empower increasingly complex setups, including the automation of time-consuming tasks, such as monitoring and approving third party software updates.

Securing the user experience

But securing that process isn’t a one-strike game, it’s a succession of multiple evolutions taking place over time and reacting to — or, indeed, at times predicting — security events.

Industry professionals recognize that one of the consequences of the pandemic has been a recognition that traditional perimeter security protections simply aren’t robust enough to handle endpoints in complex deployments. In response, security intelligence is increasingly moving to the device, and given the vagaries of bandwidth, will likely become device- rather than cloud-dependent. We saw evidence of that move with Jamf’s ZecOps acquisition.

When it comes to its platforms, Apple is assembling building blocks to support both the toughest available security and best possible user experience.

Interestingly, Butcher conceded that in some places Apple has “room to improve,” though it is making “great progress” in others. He discussed four key enhancements made at WWDC as evidence of this attempt.

What Apple introduced at WWDC

At WWDC 2022, for example, Apple introduced:

Declarative Device Management: Now available across all Apple’s platforms, devices protected by this technology can monitor themselves, let the MDM system know if a change is applied at the endpoint, and respond more swiftly to changes deployed by IT. The idea is that admins have a much better picture of what is going on with a device and can apply any required policies quickly. It also hints at an approach to security that makes the Mac, iPhone, or iPad more self-aware. Apple calls this tech, “the future of MDM.”

Managed Device Attestation: Announced at WWDC 2022, Managed Device Attestation uses the Secure Enclave inside Apple products; when a device attempts to connect to MDM or other services it must also confirm it is a legitimate request from a legitimate device. The idea here is that the device itself becomes a proof point (or not). It also introduces the concept of continuous authentication, which will become a fundamental pillar of Apple’s future approach to management and security.

SSO for Mac: Apple at WWDC introduced platform SSO (Single Sign On) at the macOS login. This seemingly simple technology is perhaps also the most visible implementation of Apple’s attempt to make set up as simple as possible — open your Mac, login, and, because your password is backed up by an ID provider, you get the best of twin worlds: the additional protection the ID provider brings, alongside the full security architecture of the Mac, including data protection and biometric access, such as Touch ID.

The company also extended user enrollment single sign on at WWDC, enabling users to enroll in an MDM service — including on personal devices — by signing into both their Managed Apple ID and ID provider’s SSL app with a single login. Sign once, and it’s done. Apple also now supports OAuth 2.0 authentication.

Where this is going

A host of additional platform improvements introduced at WWDC also reflect the core tenets of Apple’s approach. Things like the new endpoint security and network extension APIs, federated authentication for Google Workspace, and Rapid Security Response all reflect the company’s focus on management, security, and identity.

At the same time, smart card support for iPhones and iPads and the network requirement when setting up a managed Mac show the company is actively identifying and securing commonly used attack vectors.

Beyond this, Apple’s new IT Training and certifications system is designed to plug the knowledge gaps created as the number of enterprises deploying Macs, iPads and iPhones grows. “We really want to make sure our products are the best, not only for users but also for IT,” Butcher told the audience of Apple admins.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2022 Softwaretoolapps, Inc.

7 secrets for a smarter Android Chrome experience

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Let’s face it: This wishy-washy world wide web of ours can sometimes be an endless-seeming series of nuisances and annoyances.

And while you can take total control of most parts of your Android experience, the web itself is far more wily. From sites where the text is too tiny to ones that bombard you with audio-blaring auto-playing videos (cough, cough, awkward eye darting), wiggling your way around the web can often feel like an exercise in indignance.

Before you gouge your eyes out, though, lemme let you in on a little secret: The Chrome Android browser has some exceptional advanced options for making your experience more agreeable. They’re out-of-the-way adjustments that’ll get around some of the internet’s most nettlesome quirks and get you the info you need with at least 67% less irritation.

And all you’ve gotta do is figure out how to find and enable ’em.

Let’s dive in — and if you’re craving even more advanced Android knowledge, check out my free Android Shortcut Supercourse next to feast on a sprawling smorgasbord of time-saving tricks.

Android Chrome secret No. 1: More legible text

Finding yourself squinting slightly too often whilst wading in the web’s wayward waters? Hey, it’s nothing to be ashamed about. My once-youthful and vibrant peepers are getting a little weary, too.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Jamf touts big boost to enterprise security at JNUC

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Jamf opened its annual JNUC event for Apple admins today with a slew of announcements focused on device management and security, a new Jamf Trust app, further information on its recently announced ZecOps deal and other updates likely to be of interest to Apple IT professionals.

The company also committed to supporting Microsoft Device Compliance on Macs later this year, with support for Google’s context-aware zero trust framework (BeyondCorp) on iOS devices in early 2023.

What drives the Jamf way?

In advance of JNUC, I spoke with Jamf CEO Dean Hager, who explained the philosophy behind what the company is announcing. Ultimately, it’s a continuation of Jamf’s core mission, which is to bring complex enterprise tech integration into the 21st century by ensuring not only that it supports Apple’s tech, but that its implementation is married to the kind of consumer simplicity you expect on Cupertino’s platforms.

“We’ll kick off the event by asking two simple questions: ‘Do your users love their work technology?’” he said. “‘Does your organization trust all the access that is coming in from that technology?’ And it’s our view that you should see a resounding ‘yes’ to both. We believe that through the melding or the combining of management, software and security software, we feel like that combination is what makes that love and trust possible.”

Jamf also confirmed that it now manages 29 million Apple devices worldwide with 69,000 customers — that’s up 15% since earlier this year. Complex simplicity makes a difference.

Here’s what Jamf unveiled at the start of JNUC 2022

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Mozilla: Apple, Google, and Microsoft lock you into their browsers

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Apple, Google, Microsoft and others have essentially locked users into their web browsers through default settings in their OS platforms, giving the platform makers an unfair advantage over competitors, according to a new report by Firefox maker Mozilla.

Mozilla researchers found each platform maker “wants to keep people within its walled garden” by steering mobile and desktop users to Apple Safari, Google Chrome, or Microsoft Edge. “All five major platforms today (Google, Apple, Meta, Amazon, Microsoft) bundle their respective browsers with their operating systems and set them as the operating system default in the prime home screen or dock position,” Mozilla wrote in a 66-page report.

Mozilla claims that while many people report knowing how to install a browser in theory, “lots of people never actually install an alternative browser in practice.”

Browser users also fear that changing will cause them to lose years of data such as passwords, bookmarks, and history, and because OS developers don’t help make porting that data easier, further switching is hindered. “This magnifies the power of the operating system, which can choose either to stifle competition (by doing nothing or even inhibiting switching) or to help consumers (by making porting data easier),” Mozilla argued.

Forcing users into a preselected browser also stifles innovation, Mozilla said. “The lack of browser diversity leaves people exposed when it comes to improved security and privacy. Browsers are powered by a ‘browser engine,’ which significantly impacts the capability of a browser,” Mozilla said.

Apple, Mozilla noted, requires all developers deploying iOS browsers to use Apple’s own Safari WebKit engine. When security issues arise on WebKit, all iOS browser users are equally vulnerable until Apple finds, fixes, and publishes patches. “This is just one reason why a range of browsers, using different browser engines, is desirable,” Mozilla said.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Jamf buys ZecOps to bring high-end security to Apple enterprise

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The Apple-in-the-enterprise story continues to unfold, this week with Jamf’s announced plans to acquire mobile threat detection and response company ZecOps.

Already consumer-simple, Jamf becomes government secure

Jamf will likely reveal more about the motivations behind the deal at its JNUC event for Apple admins, which begins tomorrow. The purchase is the latest move by the Apple-focused enterprise MDM provider to supplement device management with an increasingly effective set of tools to bolster device security.

From here, it seems inevitable the addition of ZecOps tech will give managed Apple devices much greater awareness around the state of endpoint security, while also widening Jamf’s own market.

ZecOps — declared one of the world’s most innovative companies in 2021— is used to protect world-leading enterprises, governments, and individuals, including Bloomberg and the BBC. It famously identified a nasty iOS vulnerability in 2020.

“ZecOps is the only available tool that provides the capability to extract, deliver, and analyze mobile device logs for signs of compromise or malicious activity,” said one customer, described only as “Department of State, a G7 government.”

Securing the enterprise

That’s very much in tune with the times, of course. The pandemic has proven the need to secure endpoints as criminals began targeting users to undermine corporate security systems. ZecOps should extend Jamf’s existing mobile security capabilities by adding advanced threat detection and incident response.

Ideally, devices should be able to act and react when a recognized exploit is made against them. This seems to be the direction of travel, given that ZecOps provides iOS users with the same level of threat defense Mac users already get using Jamf Protect.

It gives iOS devices some insight into detecting the kinds of sophisticated mobile threats that Apple’s Lockdown mode aims to prevent. Not only that, but a user can run both Lockdown mode and ZecOps software at the same time. (You have to install the profiles for ZecOps/Jamf Protect and/or any VPN service you use on the device before enabling Lockdown Mode.)

Mobile devices now account for 59% of global website traffic, and according to the 2022 Verizon Mobile Security Index, close to half (45%) of companies claim to have suffered some compromise in the last 12 months.

The addition of the software means Jamf can help accelerate mobile security investigations from weeks to minutes, leveraging known indicators of compromise at-scale and identifying sophisticated 0- or 1-click attacks on a deeper scale.

Threat detection for the rest of us

Jamf CEO Dean Hager Jamf explained why this matters: “We believe ZecOps has built a differentiated solution that meets a very important need for many organizations — the ability to thoroughly detect and investigate threats that target mobile users so they can confidently use these powerful devices for work,” he said.

“This capability further propels our goal of continuing to bridge the gap between what Apple provides and the enterprise requires.”

What Jamf gains

ZecOps is a sophisticated solution that enables advanced threat-hunting by capturing and analyzing logs from iOS and Android devices at the operating system layer. This critical data can accelerate incident response by enabling automatic or on-demand mobile cyber investigations.

The solution has been designed to handle the vast amount of data held in iOS logs to identify potential zero-day or single- or zero-click attacks. According to Jamf, ZecOps “does the heavy lifting for SOC teams, saving months of work per investigation.” To achieve this it automatically builds a suspicious event timeline and compromise to help show how and when devices are hit.

The idea that tech could have access to the logs on your device may make some users uncomfortable, but the companies stress that the log collection the system does is confined to low-level system and diagnostics data. It does not include personal data such as photos, videos, text messages and call logs.

“We founded ZecOps to catch hidden 0-click and 1-click attacks,” said Zuk Avraham, co-founder and CEO at ZecOps. “By combining with Jamf, we can offer our customers truly powerful mobile threat intelligence and threat hunting capabilities that will keep up with the evolving threat landscape without compromising the user experience.”

Enterprise news for Apple IT

This is just the latest in what now promises to be a run of interesting items involving Apple in the enterprise this fall, as we head toward the Apple Mac and iPad event/press release announcements next month. (At the moment, the speculation is there may be no Apple event.)

Jamf last week confirmed Jamf Pro support for virtual Macs in AWS. It opens the doors to JNUC 2022 in San Diego tomorrow.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2022 Softwaretoolapps, Inc.

GoTo adds co-browsing functionality to its contact center offering

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GoTo has launched a new co-browsing capability within its contact center, giving agents the ability to securely assist their customers within their web browser and provide more effective help via a single communications and support solution.

Most commonly used in customer service scenarios to improve online conversions and experiences, by having co-browsing software in place, agents and customers can collaboratively “browse” a website, web application or mobile app together in real time.

As businesses overwhelmingly look to consolidate their tech stack, by enabling co-browsing from within the GoTo application, customers will have a solution that allows them to fully serve their customers all in one place, GoTo said in a press note.

Customers will also benefit from the all-in-one unified experience that co-browsing offers, reducing tool fatigue and context switching for both employees and customers, the company said. The new capability allows customers to enable data masking, button blocking, and encryption to ensure the co-browsing experience remains secure.

The co-browsing capability can be activated on any browser and device while agents chat with customers through web chat, social media, or SMS, meaning customers can physically see online application forms, be walked though their ecommerce purchase or directly shown how to use an app or product feature.

The announcement further builds on the updates to the company’s cloud contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) systems that were announced in March 2022, a month after the company rebranded from LogMeIn to GoTo. During that initial update, GoTo added a slew of enhanced contact center options to make agents more productive, including advanced analytics, time saving features and additional remote support capabilities.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

3 smart settings for better Google Pixel battery life

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If there’s one feeling all of us phone-carrying cuttlefish can relate to, it’s the sense of anxiety when that dreaded low-battery warning shows up on our screens.

Both Android itself and Google’s Pixel phones, specifically, have gotten much better at managing battery life over the years. But some of the Pixel’s most intelligent systems for safeguarding your stamina are options in your phone’s software — and that means it’s up to you to find ’em.

Google’s Pixel software is absolutely overflowing with those sorts of out-of-sight treasures, so to continue our ongoing Pixel settings explorations, I want to spelunk our way into some of your device’s most advanced options for stretching your battery life to the max.

Make your way through ’em — then make your way over to my free Pixel Academy e-course, if you haven’t already, for seven full days of advanced Pixel sorcery.

The power’s already in your hands. All that’s left is to learn to make the most of it.

Google Pixel battery life booster No. 1: Smarter charging

First up in our Pixel battery life adventure is a way to make your Google-made phone especially optimized and efficient with its charging — which will help make your battery last longer and perform better from a bigger-picture perspective.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Jamf Pro now lets IT admins manage AWS Mac instances

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Jamf has teamed up with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to introduce new tools that let IT admins using Jamf Pro enroll virtual EC2 Macs when they are provisioned via the AWS portal.

It means even virtual Macs can have all the security, policy, and access controls you’d expect from the Mac on your home or office desk when enrolled.

This is news because?

We know AWS is one of the world’s biggest cloud services firms — it has such a major presence that it is seen as a “hypervisor.” Amazon began offering Mac instances in the cloud in 2020 and ramped this offer up with the later addition of M1 Mac minis as a service through AWS.

That already means developers can hire both Intel-based and M1-powered Macs, which many use to build, test, package, and sign off apps built for different Apple platforms. The problem was that when it came to enterprise-specific apps or data, those cloud-based machines lived in a strange gray zone outside of traditional MDM/security policy.

That’s fine for some AWS users, but as the value of personal data and business intelligence continues to grow in a highly digital age, many business leaders needed something more.

What Jamf said

I caught up with Jamf CEO Dean Hager, who shared a few insights into the new deal with AWS. He explained that Jamf and Amazon got together because Amazon found its customers needed this kind of integration. They wanted to be able to apply profiles and install software and keep their virtual Macs as updated and managed as their physical ones — but delivering this wasn’t easy due to the way virtual Mac instances worked.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

How to share Safari Tab Groups on iPhone

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Apple’s latest addition to the litany of tools for project and research collaboration, while inherently limited to Mac, iPhone, and iPad users, might even be of use to pros from time to time.

Apple’s keeping tabs for you

Despite wailing from bookmark reactionaries like myself, Apple seems truly committed to the notion of organizing the web using tabs, rather than traditional bookmarks. It introduced Tab Groups with iOS 15.

These are designed so you can keep dozens of tabs organized and available without needing to have them all open at once. This lets you use your browser in a slightly different way. So, if you were researching components for a major architectural project, you might create Tab Groups for different parts of the project, while also having a third Tab Group within which you gather research for your next vacation.

The useful thing about these groups is that they automatically propagate across all your devices as long as they are all logged into the same iCloud account, which means you can continue working on any device and easily shift to another to complete your tasks.

What’s new in iOS 16 is the capacity to share these Safari Tab groups.

How to share Safari Tab Groups

Lets say you are researching those building materials and need to share the fruits of that research with others on your team — or even with external providers who might help guide your decision. We haven’t yet seen this feature appear on iPads or Macs (those OS updates are due later this fall), but it’s reasonable to think the way we share Safari Tab Groups will be similar on those devices as it is on an iPhone.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

UK’s Ofcom to probe cloud services, messenger apps, and smart devices

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FaceTime, WhatsApp, and Zoom could be in the crosshairs of UK communications regulator Ofcom, which has announced a probe into cloud services, messenger apps, and smart devices. It’s just the latest in a global sequence of regulatory investigations likely to impact Big Tech.

UK is looking into the clouds

The UK regulator says it plans to examine the positions of Amazon, Microsoft, and Google in the UK’s $17 billion cloud services market. These three “hyperscalers” account for the vast majority (81%) of that market.

Enterprises became much more reliant on cloud services during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Gartner predicts 45% of IT spending will be on public cloud by 2026, for example.

The Ofcom investigation will extend to how the cloud is used. “The cloud has become an essential part of how products are delivered to telecoms users, as well as viewers and listeners of TV, radio and audio content,” Ofcom said. “If we find a market is not working well, there can be negative impacts on businesses and ultimately consumers, through higher prices, lower service quality and reduced innovation.”

Regulators in other nations will no doubt monitor the progress of the investigation as they seek to maintain their own level competitive playing fields.

The newly announced study will include a look at digital services such as WhatsApp, Zoom, and FaceTime, as well as the market for smart speakers; the latter will draw many names into the picture, including, no doubt, Apple’s HomePod.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Macs still lead the ACSI survey as PCs go mobile and work goes remote

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The latest American Customer Satisfaction Index data seems to show that Apple’s iconic Mac is losing a little luster in comparison to PCs from other makers, but I’m not entirely convinced.

Got to keep the customer satisfied

You see, the data shows Apple narrowly leads in the PC category (82% v. 79%). It also shows that some of Apple’s larger PC manufacturing competitors are gaining ground. Perhaps. But dig a little more deeply into the survey results and you’ll find the biggest innovation across the industry in the last couple of years (other than the move to Apple Silicon) involves improvements in customer services, specifically in call centers. 

The survey also confirms that tablets and laptops continue to replace desktop PCs. In 2021, 24% of the survey group used desktops compared to 62% on laptops and 14% on tablet devices; in 2022 desktop users accounted for 20% of survey respondents, laptop users 64% and tablet use reached 16%. 

It will be interesting to see whether the incoming M2 and then M3 Macs will help Apple add a point or two to its many-years-long consumer satisfaction leadership in the ACSI survey.

How did manufacturers improve consumer satisfaction? The single biggest improved criteria contributing to the result was the aforementioned call center satisfaction. Not processors, not software, but improved customer communication. As a criterion in the context of our times, that makes complete sense.

Reach out and touch point me

During the pandemic, shortfalls in tech support call handling became huge problems for some manufacturers. In the absence of any in-person help, PC makers had to force themselves to improve their remote communication services, and this led inexorably to better customer response at call centers. They knew they had no other way to make a direct connection with their consumers.

[Also read: Review: Apple’s M2 MacBook Air]

If I’m right, then it’s understandable Apple didn’t see the same level of improvement in customer satisfaction levels across this time.

That’s because it already offered outstanding tech support — both in-person and remote — before the pandemic. While the company did tweak its approach a little since the crisis began, those tweaks could not make best better than it was. But the ACSI survey suggests other PC makers did improve.

That’s a welcome relief for PC users stranded on platforms other than the Mac, I suppose, but it is also noticeable that satisfaction with Microsoft’s software continues to decline, according to the same survey. (Microsoft’s ASCI computer software satisfaction fell from 76 in 2021 to 73 this year.) It’s got to be better to build platforms that don’t generate too many help request calls.

We all by now recognize that Macs consume far less IT support time than other platforms, which translates into real financial benefits in terms of the TCO of these machines. Microsoft’s decline also suggests Apple’s unique selling point around macOS should make for continued gains in market share.

That’s also what the sundry market survey data that’s crossed my desk in the last few weeks suggests. Yes, PC sales have declined, but Apple’s share of those sales continues to grow, and in terms of raw numbers, the company appears to be maintaining while the overall industry shrinks. Given the choice, most employees will continue to choose a Mac, and the latest ACSI survey does nothing but suggest this choice will prevail.

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Copyright © 2022 Softwaretoolapps, Inc.

Android’s underappreciated design revolution | Computerworld

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Over the past couple years, those of us who pay close attention to mobile-tech matters have been watching a whole new paradigm of design shape up right before our overly moist eyeballs.

And you know I have to be talking about something important here, ’cause I’m using big words like “paradigm” and, erm, “eyeballs.”

The subject in question is something core to the Android experience — particularly for anyone who’s palming a Google-made Pixel phone, where the core Android software exists in its most undiluted form.

It’s a little somethin’ called Material You, and having lived with a Pixel through a full year of Android 12 and now the beginning of Android 13, I’m here to tell you it’s one of the most shape-shifting and underappreciated advancements we’ve seen in modern tech — even if hardly anyone seems to be giving it the credit it deserves.

Material You, if you aren’t familiar, is the new design standard Google introduced with Android 12 in 2021 and then fine-tuned further with this year’s Android 13 update. It’s easy to brush it off as another mere revamping of Android’s on-screen appearance — some added shadows here, some extra-rounded elements there, and other such arbitrary-seeming adjustments.

To do so, however, would put you at risk of missing not only one of Android’s most clever and significant enhancements of all time but also one of the coolest and most consequential design innovations to hit any form of technology in recent memory.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Multiple people stabbed at Bible study, police chief injured taking down attacker

Multiple people stabbed at Bible study, police chief injured taking down...

Multiple people were injured during a Bible study session on Saturday afternoon when an alleged member of the congregation stabbed the church's pastor before being stopped by the areas police chief w…