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Mac Heads

Hacker Alert: Your iPhone Could Be Held Hostage

image via picjumbo

Word on the street is that hackers have somehow breached Apple’s iCloud (iOS cloud storage/sync/backup) service in order to “unlock” stolen iPhones to be sold at a huge profit. To make it even more gangster, sources claim that the group has even taken control of users iOS devices via the “Find My iPhone/iPad/Mac” features and remotely locked devices and demanded ransom payments via PayPal  in exchange to have user’s phones unlocked.

The hackers have taken to Social Media  to “show and prove” what they’ve been able to accomplish. A Twitter account linked to the alleged team of Dutch hackers called “Doulci” have posted and image claiming to have processed over 5,700 iOS Devices.

Of course, tight-lipped Apple has refused to comment on the breach, only to deny claims that iClould was hacked BUT say that they “take security very seriously, and suggest users change their Apple ID as soon as possible”, but sources say the hackers hacked iCloud way back in March and have finally decided to go public after Apple refused to admit it was hacked.

Steps You Should Take

A month ago, Heatbleed was on everybody’s lips. Last week, eBay fell to hackers. Now Apple ‘nem have been the latest hacker victim…Say it ain’t so?

It’s a pain in the ass, but to be safe, you probably should change your Apple ID passwords. I’ve stressed this on more than one occasion, but you should either create a complex password/pass phrase and use a Password Manager to ensure you’re keeping track of all the passwords you use online…Don’t say a Brotha didn’t warn you if/when you get got.

I have a gang of iDevices laying around connected to iCloud specifically for finding them just in case they are lost/stolen, so changing passwords and logging back in to all of them is NOT on my “you know what I look forward to doing today?” list.

But, I’ll be damned if some random hackers think they are gonna extort money from me, just so I can use my devices…So guess what’s on my to-do list for today?

Apple, the Apple logo and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.”

No affiliate links were harmed in the making of this post

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Mac Heads

Apple Knows Consumers Want Larger iPhone 6

Apple Knows Consumers Want Larger iPhone 6 via BrothaTech.com
iPhone 6 Concept by Nikola Cirkovic

That headline probably isn’t a huge surprise. Apple fans may want to pretend that it doesn’t need to chase Android down the “phablet” hole. What they may not know is Apple is and has been well aware of the trend since 2012.

In a presentation uncovered during the Apple-Samsung court wars, Apple displayed two slides that showed the only two areas were it could grow in the smartphone market were if it sold a smartphone that was cheaper than $300, and a smartphone larger than its customary 4-inch screen.

People in the U.S. for the most part have accepted the fact that Apple products are more expensive. All the noise for a cheaper iPhone has come from emerging global markets where Android…and BlackBerry for that matter, have been eating Apple’s lunch.

Additionally, Apple has been in the media claiming why it doesn’t make a larger phone…some weird commercials about thumb placement. That reason has been deemed “unacceptable” by the public, and the growth of 5-inch smartphones and phablets powered by Android, and subsequent shrinking of Apple’s mobile market share over the past two years is the proof.

As an Apple fan that has added a 5-inch Android and Windows Phone device to my daily lineup, I hope that Apple has its ear to the ground to what the public wants, and is paying attention to its own research.

Tech blogs and consumers have been begging Apple to go larger and cheaper for years. Maybe the new smartphone cycle of fall 2014 (read: iPhone 6) will be the year Apple finally buckles to the pressure?

What do you think? Will Apple make larger and cheaper devices this year?

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Mac Heads

Apple Unveils New Products – What You Need To Know

I was able to catch the live-streamed Apple event on my iPad using Mobile Safari. Felt like it was the right thing to do since the “meat and potatoes” of the announcement was to let the world know that Apple has band-new, but classicly iterative iPads on the horizon.

But there was more to the event than just iPads, as Apple had some tricks up its sleeve to get people excited about all the new hardware and software that was announced. So here’s my breakdown of just the important stuff I think you need to know that came out of yesterday’s Apple event…You trust me don’t you?

$Free.99

Apple brought up its mildly corny execs on stage to go over all the impovements to its software suites. The iLife, consisting of iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand, all got some nice upgrades including better media organization, as well as more seamless integration between the desktop and mobile versions.

iWork (Numbers, Pages, and Keynote) all got better collaboration tools and iCloud support, and Apple also finally released its latest desktop OS called “Mavericks” that does a better job at maximizing your computer’s hardware (processors, memory, and video card) capabilities. Plus, they added better multi-display support – A feature I was personally waiting on. Oh yeah, they improved some stuff on Safari too…?

Probably, the most important thing to note from all the software announcements is that it’s all available now…and for free! Mac OS X Mavericks and all subsequent updates will be free, instead of the usual $20-30$ price tag, and available for all computers dating back to 2007-2008 and running Mac OS X Snow Leopard. The iLife and iWork suites are free as well ONLY for new device purchases…Not sure if that includes the iPhone 5S/5C that was released last month.

DJ MBP

Beautiful (and expensive) hardware is the name of the game for Apple, and they did not dissappoint with its refresh of the MacBook Pro lineup. They put faster processors and better memory & storage, as well as knocked about $200 bucks off the entry-level price on both the 13″ and 15″ Retina versions to $1299 and $1999 respectively. They dropped the non-Retina 15″ MBP from the lineup, but you can still get a 13″ non-retina joint for $1200. Peep the full lineup of Mac laptops.

PROfessional Trash can

Those Apple fans who were salty that their beloved Mac Pro desktop unit has been untouched for years, can now salivate at the newly designed, and uber spec’ed out Mac Pro. The “unique” design may fool you as this thing has so many geeky features (too many to list out, so you’re gonna have to do your own research). If you decide to plop down 3 stacks (That’s $3,000 for the slang-ly challenged) for this bad boy, I will gurantee you won’t need another desktop for years!

AirPad

All of the above is “Kool and The Gang” but many people tuned in to see what new iPads we were going to be jonin’ on, but line up to buy this holiday season. First and foremost, it looks as it Apple is really starting to move away from the numbering naming system for its tablets, and has dubbed the new version “iPad Air”, due to its thinner and lighter design (it only weights 1lb….equal to a bag of those one-ponder M&M bags…I’ve said too much).

The iPad Air keeps its high-res Retina display, and adds the uber powerful (and pointless…for now) 64-Bit processor found in the iPhone 5S, 5mp rear camera for those don’t care what they look like taking pics with a tablet, and better wireless technology. The Air will be available in white/aluminum and black/space gray later in November starting at $499 for the 16gb non-LTE version. The base-model iPad 2 will still hang around at $399 for those looking to save a few bucks on an tablet from Apple.

The [Mini] Wait Is Over

For those who resisted temptation and did not buy the 1st generation iPad Mini, knowing something better would come along; your ability to see into the obvious future has paid off –  Apple announced the iPad Mini with Retina display starting at $399, with the high-resolution display found on the iPad Air. Additionally, the iPad Mini Retina also has better wireless antennas, and the 64-Bit A7 processor for a better screen to barely read books on in the sunlight…but faster.

You can still cop the iPad Mini ‘Regular’ for $100 bucks less…because you know your parents can’t tell (and probably don’t care) about the difference between a regular and retina display if you’re considering a Mini as a gift. See the full line up of iPads here.

That’s pretty much it for everything that Apple announced yesterday. Everything on the list will be available by the end of the year, so get ready to max out those credit cards  save those funds for the holiday shopping season as Apple may just dominate the stocking stuffers yet again.

If you have some time, you can peep the entire announcement, as well as read my live-tweets during the announcement. You can also drop a comment and let me know what you think of Apple’s latest gadget line-up.

 

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Mac Heads

#AskBrothaTech: Will Today’s iPad Event Be Live Streamed?

Apple iPad Streaming Event Announcement via BrothaTech.com
My Twitter peeps know I keep my ear to the ground when it comes to Apple announcements and events. Yesterday, I did a “What To Expect” post over on Babble that highlights what Apple will be announcing during the live event this afternoon.

So it makes sense that a follower hit me with a follow-up question:

 

In the past, Apple has streamed events live via their site, as well as its Safari web browser and Apple TV set top box. But, the last iPhone announcement was not streamed. So I didn’t have a clue if Apple planned on streaming the upcoming iPad announcement. Before I could pound the pavement and to see what I could dig up, @4renaissance shot me a link with proof that Apple will in fact stream today’s announcement.

So if you’re in front of an Apple TV, using Safari as your browser of choice, or visit Apple’s website, you will be able to check out what Apple has up its sleeve for the next generation iPad and iPad Mini today at 1pm est

Source: @4renaissance via TUAW

If you have more tech questions, be sure to hit me up on Twitter or my contact page and use the hashtag #AskBrothaTech

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Mac Heads

Who Knew Steve Wozniak and Kanye West Were Friends?

Apple Mic signed by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs given to Kanye West
A Babble joint

Oh, the things we do for love. Most might think that the relationship between Kanye West and Kim Kardashian may be a stunt. Which, the two, based on their previous relationships, haven’t given anyone a real reason to think otherwise. Most will say that now they have even dragged their first-born child into the crazy mix by naming her North West.

Say what you want, but there might be a glimmer of hope for their relationship if you’re willing to over-analyze the special gift Kim gave to Kanye West shortly before North West was born.

Before I get into that, I know what you’re thinking, “Why does BrothaTech care about pop culture and these over-the-top celebrities?” Short answer, I don’t; but, as a techie and Apple enthusiast, I can definitely give Kim K. props for arranging to get Steve Wozniak to hand-deliver a pair of Apple Mice signed by the Woz and the late Steve Jobs to Kanye West as a Father’s Day gift.

*slow clap*

Check out my post on Babble to read more

What do you think: Rich people do rich things, or a small (in the relative sense) indication of their true feelings for each other?

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Mac Heads

Get Detailed Info On Any Mac with Mactracker

Mactracker is a handy app that quickly provides detailed information on your Mac…as well as any Mac ever made.Mactracker app icon via BrothaTech.com

For those who don’t know, I repair/upgrade computers as well…preferrably Macs, but I don’t discriminate. When a potential client needs me to upgrade their RAM, Hard Drive, or do various diagnostics, I need to find out some additional information about their computer first.

The beauty of Macs (and I’m being sarcastic) is that you don’t just have a “13-inch MacBook”, Macs have Model Numbers, Model Identifiers, Orders Numbers, and other information that will tell me more  about your specific computer, before I go on a scavenger hunt for parts.

There are sites, support pages, and blog posts written on how to find this information that I regularly refer my clients to. While doing some researching on another potential client, I stumbled across Mactracker, a Mac App that can quickly and easily display pertinent information about your Mac. In addition to basic computer specs, Mactracker can display all sorts of information including (but not limited to):

  • When it was introduced
  • When it was discontinued
  • Inital price
  • Support status
  • Bundled software
  • Maximum OS compatibility
  • Model history breakdown (mini-Wiki)
  • Model promo/marketing tagline

Get Detailed Info On Any Mac with Mactracker via BrothaTech.com

Mactracker even offers a comments field for you to jot notes about your computer. I used this space to briefly document all the updates I performed on my own MacBook Pro. The sweet thing about Mactracker is it just doesn’t provide this information about your computer, it can display information on any computer product that Apple has ever made, from desktop speakers, to printers, to mice, keyboards, and trackpads, to all the mobile devices as well.

As a techie, this app will definitely come in handy for more in-depth repair work and education on new and “Vintage” Apple gear, but I’m sure Mactracker would be useful to any Apple fan, or just somebody who wants to know more about their computer…but can’t find the box.

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Mac Heads

Apple Announces Third-party Charger Trade-in Program – Being Cheap Could Just Get You Killed

Apple Announces Third-party Charger Trade-in Program via BrothaTech

Apple announces a charger trade-in program for all third-party USB power adapters in the wake of recent accidents in China invloving counterfeit chargers.

Chances are, you can buy an inexpensive USB power adapter for your iOS device just about anywhere. Gas station, drug store, strip club. I have a sneaking suspicion that they’re not the official Apple-branded stuff. As long as it works and you’re devices are charged up, right?

Wrong

You might want to start sticking with Official Apple gear, especially when it comes to chargers and releated accessories, now there is a possibility that some third-party (read: counterfeit) chargers have been identified as the cause of one person dying and another landing in a coma for several days.

According to CNET, the first incident involves a 23-year old Chinese woman who was killed after she answered her iPhone that was allegedly connected to third-party USB Charger. The second incident put a Bejing man in a coma for days after he was shocked after plugging his iPhone into a third-party charger.

Of course, the above incidents doesn’t speak to all the companies who make third-party chargers for iOS devices, but you might want to go ahead pay your nearest Apple Retail Store a visit and trade-in your third-party USB charger for an Apple-branded version for $10 bucks, just to be safe. The third-party charger trade-in program doesn’t start until August 16th, so that should give you enough time to round up all the USB chargers laying around your house.

This was not mandatory to my knowledge, but it makes sense for Apple to get out in front of this to err on the side of caution and show that they care about the safety of their customers From the Official USB Power Adapter Takeback Program page:

“Customer safety is a top priority at Apple. That’s why all of our products — including USB power adapters for iPhone, iPad, and iPod — undergo rigorous testing for safety and reliability and are designed to meet government safety standards around the world.”

Smartmove, especially in today’s digital age where news can spread like wildfire. Better to plan ahead versus doing damage control after the fact.

Lesson learned, being cheap frugral may not always be a good thing.

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Mac Heads

[Video] iOS 7 Beta for iPad – Meh

I caved to the peer pressure and installed the iOS 7 Beta not only on my iPhone 5, but my 3rd-Gen iPad as well. I decided to shoot a quick video of the before and after just to give you an idea of the difference between OS 6 and 7.

First, let me say that this is not an in-depth video walk-through. This is an early beta version of the upcoming OS for Apple mobile devices and things could change, so I didn’t want to show you features that may not be there come this fall when the production version is released.

Additionally, the beta version has its quirks. Scratch that, the iPad version is pretty buggy. The iPhone version more stable, but even it has some weird stuff going on. Since this is a beta release and buggy betas come with the territory, there is no need for me to trash something that will never come to market.

Design

Having said that, I will briefly focus on some things that will not change when iOS 7 is official. Based on using it for iPhone and  iPad for the past couple of days, I will say that it is attractive – Like a Sistah walking down the street with a mean strut kind of attractive. You quickly glance, thinking that’s all the visual stimulation you will need. Shortly after, you catch yourself looking again, but longer this time. Before you know it, you’re breaking your neck to examine every detail.

iOS definitely needed some visual appeal to get out of that “natural textures” funk it was in for the past couple of years. Apple definitely delivered with iOS 7. It is colorful and definitely draws your eye in. You can tell that Apple redesigned nearly every inch of the platform: From the settings to the notifications, to the app icons, to the homescreen and background; Apple made sure it was all refreshed.

Functionality

I will admit that I was expecting more from iOS 7 in the functionality department. Outside of a control panel screen that gives you quick access to frequently used settings, WebOS-like multitasking control, and some extra gestures throughout the platform, nothing really jumps out at you that makes the OS more physically usable over its predecessor.

Additionally, I would have liked to see more personalization options. I kinda dig all the “widgets” capabilities found on Android. Apple had no problem “borrowing” other aspects from other platforms…which is cool, I think all platforms could learn a thing or two from each other. I would have loved it if Apple came up with its own screen personalization feature similar to widgets, that gives the user the ability to add their own aspects to the home screen versus just a bunch of pretty app icons.

That is my uber-early impression of iOS 7. We will just have to see what elements Apple adds, enhances, or nixes, when it’s released in the fall.

What do you think of iOS 7 – Will a radical design improvement be enough to keep fans happy and fend off other mobile platforms Android?

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Mac Heads

iOS 7: What You Need To Know

After years of small iterations to its mobile operating system (don’t fix what isn’t broken?), Apple has finally taken the wraps off iOS 7. Many say Apple needed to do something dramatic to counteract the barrage of features being hurled at consumers by Android.

Whether this is Apple’s answer answer to the “stale” look and feel of the current OS, or a clap-back at Android and its cute commercials, iOS 7 is indeed new and fresh. Here is an overview of the new features I think you should take a look at.

Design

Apple has ditched the natural and familiar textures, and opted with a more clean and simplistic look and feel. Fonts are more pronounced, and everything seems brighter. Apple tried its hand at a more “flat” look and feel – Something that Windows Phone pioneered with its design. All of the native Apple icons have been redesigned and the shading has been dropped that originally gave them the appearance of depth.

Control Center

I personally wanted Apple to adopt the “widgets” functionality that Android users have enjoyed. The new Control Center is probably the closest thing to an iOS widget I’m gonna get. In a nutshell, iOS 7 will let users “swipe up” from anywhere in the OS to pull up essential and commonly-used options (Wifi, Bluetooth, brightness, music control, etc) – There’s even a flashlight button – Yay!?

Multitasking

Think of WebOS “Cards” and that’s what the new iOS 7 multitasking reminds me of. Double-tap the home button, and a row of open apps that resemble cards will appear that you can quickly scroll through. “Swipe up” on a card and you will kill the app – Much easier than holding an app to wait for it to “jiggle”. Apple claims that true multitasking, and not just pausing) works for all apps.

Siri

Nothing to see here really besides the addition of more voice choices (male & female) and the addition of Bing, Wikipedia, and Twitter search results. The interface has been redone but “meh” – Imma need Siri to actually #DoBetter before it just looks better. Although, if I could pick a version where at the end of every response she would add “Son” I would be in love.

“Here’s your reminder to tomorrow at 8pm, Son”

Camera/Photos

Everything has been redone in iOS, including the camera and photos app. Most notable is users can now add filters to their images, instead of first sharing them to third-party image apps like Instagram. Additional features include groups of pictures taken around the same time at the same location will be automagically grouped as “Moments”, and all images are quickly shareable with other nearby iOS users via AirDrop functionality – Apple’s answer to Samsung’s cute little “tap phones” trick in commercials NFC sharing.

Security

If you can’t already tell, Apple has jacked implemented popular features from Android, Windows Phone…and Palm (of all people), and as slightly inebriated American Idol Paula Abdul would say, “made it their own”. Probably the one thing that Apple has stepped out in front of is the ability to essentially “brick” your phone to deter thieves.

In other words, if your phone is lifted by these new-school ‘Apple pickers’, they won’t be able to wipe and reactivate your phone without your Apple ID credentials, rendering the device useless. They could sell it to a smartphone “chop-shop” for parts (not sure if that’s a thing) but I guess Apple is betting on the fact that thieves don’t want to go through all that trouble.

iOS In Your Ride

Apple will be partnering with a ton of car manufacturers to bring iOS to your car in 2014. In other words, your phone will be able to “talk” to your car as a hub for information, communications, and entertainment, as it should be. In my opinion, there is NO REASON for a separate, intricate car system, when you already have a powerful device in your pocket or purse.

Outro
As far as overall functionality is concerned, iOS 7 adds more BlackBerry-esque gestures to how you operate the phone…but that’s about it. Google, Samsung (and I guess others?) have been slanging new and innovative functionality at users for the better part of a year.

Apple chose to go hard on a new design to keep fans interested. The good thing about Apple is when iOS 7 does launch in the fall (probably alongside a new iPhone 5S or 6) it will be available for everybody with an iPhone 4 and up, which is over 90% of iPhone users, compared to Android with only 16% of people currently using OS 4.2 “Jellybean”

There is no doubt that iOS needed an overhaul, but what do you think: Did Apple do enough to continue to be “the team to beat”, or will Samsung Android continue to gobble up more a more marketshare with more bang for your buck?

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Mac Heads

Google Now For iOS: Meh – But That’s Good for Google…And Siri

(Image courtesy of Google)

Let’s just say I was pretty excited to find out that the Google Now service is now available for iOS devices (built into the Google Search app). To give you some background info, Google Now learns your habits as result of tracking location throughout the day and keeping track of all your smartphone interactions ( like Google searches) and delivers customized information to you when you need it most.

Need to know the weather before you walk out the house in the morning? Google Now shows you a “card” with the current weather conditions. Need to get a quick recap of the news while you commute? Google Now has a card with the latest stories. There are a total of 29 cards including (but not limited to) news, travel, appointments, sports, traffic that get smarter the more you interact with your phone which, in a way, makes it a true smartphone – It knows what you want to see and gives it to you without asking.

So you can imagine I quickly downloaded the app on my iPhone 5 and zipped through the settings to get everything set up to my liking. After a couple of minutes, I quickly realized that Google Now for iOS is NOT the same as Google Now Android:

Extra steps required

google now for ios search homeAs soon as you open Google Now on Android, you are presented with relevant cards based on your preferences (Accessing Google Now varies across devices). You can also use Google Now as a widget on one of your home screens for quicker access.

With Google Now for iOS, you have to open the Google Search app and then “flick” up from the bottom of the screen to view the cards. Yeah, I’m not over-extending my thumbe usage by completing one extra flick, but the whole point of Google Now is to get information NOW, and the Android version essentially does that better than iOS.

Way more functionality all rolled into one app

You can use Google Now for Android to search the web and find installed apps, compose emails and text messages, add appointments to your calendar…In other words you can essentially use Google Now for Android as the starting point for all your phone interactions.

With Google Now for iOS you can only perform web searches (no finding installed apps, adding reminders or calendar appointments)…Still need to keep Siri around for deeper iOS integration. Let’s face it, Siri is not “what’s hot in the streets” when it comes to understanding what the hell you are telling her to do.

More Cards

With Google Now for iOS, you only get 22 of the 29 cards. The notable holdouts include, Fandango movie information, airline boarding passes, local events and concerts. Yeah, you could use Apple’s Passbook App for those features, but who uses that? #RealTalk

With all the superiority that Android has over iOS when it comes to Google Now,putting out a slightly sub-par service on iOS is still a good thing for Google:

“All your [data] are belong to us”

The ONE thing that SkyNet Google wants more than anything in the whole wide-world is your data. Google Now for Android is only available for devices running OS 4.1 (Jelly Bean). With Android fragmentation, not every phone has the latest OS. So they are limited in the amount of data they can get from mobile users.

Adding Google Now to iOS gives Google more access to data. Just about everyone with an iOS device (iPhones, iPod Touch & iPads) can serve up their data on a silver platter to Google.

“Mo’ Data…”

“Our services are better so our phones must be too?”

Since Apple and Google’s relationship is “complicated”, it’s obvious as to why Google would want to give Android every advantage it can get, without completely alienating iOS users altogether (see “all your [data] are belong to us”). So while it behooves Google to get their apps in the App Store, it’s also reasonable to make their offerings on Android better.

I love Apple hardware, but I’m in Google’s ecosystem all day long. There just may be Apple fans who love Google’s services so much that they are willing to seriously give Android a shot if it means a better experience for them overall.

All that to say Google Now is pretty dope…Way doper than Siri. While I don’t think I’m ready to ditch Apple over one app, I’m sure as hell glad I can get at least a portion of added Google functionality on my iOS device, even if that means being a little jelly (I don’t think grown men say jelly in place of jealous) of my Android counterparts.

Maybe Google Now on iOS will force Apple to stop dragging its feet with Siri if only to try and “one up” Google?

…Competition is ALWAYS good for the consumer.