T-Mobile Binge On free video streaming? How about free system, security, and app updates?

Free video?  I’ll be impressed when a carrier enables free system, security, and application updates for all devices connecting to their network.


Ok.  I get why people are going to think the T-Mobile “free” Binge On video streaming is great.

But, do you know what would be really good for users?

Free OS and App updates over mobile data plans.  Yes.  Really.

Show me a carrier with a data plan that doesn’t burn your quota against downloads and updates from the app stores out there.  A good beginning would include the mobile app stores from Google, Apple, Motorola, Samsung, Microsoft, Blackberry.  When fully deployed, this should extend to any and all devices connected to a mobile hotspot.

The top carriers already have the kind of infrastructure needed to build this.  It would be easy compared to T-Mobile’s streaming video solution.  By combining “CDN” infrastructure with “QoS/MPLS” traffic management features, carriers could allow app stores to deliver device updates in the background at a lower priority than other data streams. Carriers and app store operators would both be able to shift most of the update traffic to non-peak network times, thereby avoiding the need for additional network capacity (at least in most areas outside of LA and NY).

The carriers stand to gain enormously from the increasingly number of connected devices entering the market.  And if the “Internet of Things” (IoT) is to really get off the ground with even a mediocre chance of remaining secure and reliable, then carrier provisions for free OS and security updates should be considered a core requirement.

As for our typical cell phone and tablet usages… here’s a common situation, and an alternative.

scenario one (the status quo):

CUSTOMER:  my phone doesn’t work right, it’s acting weird.

CARRIER REP:  have you updated it?

CUSTOMER:  uhm, how?

CARRIER REP:  uhm, ?  (mutters a lot of gibberish)

scenario two (carrier’s mobile data allows free updates): 

CUSTOMER:  my phone doesn’t work right, it’s acting weird.

CARRIER REP:  have you updated it?

CUSTOMER:  uhm, how?

CARRIER REP:  Uhm, turn it on, and let it connect to the network, and click ok when it offers to update your software.


Given that many people and organizations have strong concerns about the security and reliability of the networks they allow their devices to connect with… the carrier who implements a strong solution for system updates, security updates, and app updates is going have a substantial advantage over those who continue to pretend they have no customer facing responsibilities for this issue.

Advertisements

Apple App Store problems – expired app certificates are causing installed purchases to break.

As described by AppleInsider today (2015 November 12), the Apple App Store is creating problems for users due to expired app certificates.

I unknowingly encountered this yesterday (2015 November 11).  While opening Bento, I was prompted to authenticate with the App Store with a message that “this app was purchased on a different computer.”

Today, I’ve received the “this app is broken or damaged” message when trying to open BBEdit, Coda, and Sketchbook Pro.

Although the error messages were different, each of these apps have one thing in common.  They are older apps which are no longer available for purchase on the app.  Yes, I can “re-download” them from my purchases history… but this does increase my concern about how Apple treats past purchases of apps which are no longer sold or updated by their developers.

An additional annoyance… I’m currently traveling, so re-downloading these apps requires tethering the macbook to a wireless hotspot or phone and consuming a data service which is currently costing $10/GB.

This is not the first time Apple users have experienced problems due to app certificate expirations.  Until Apple solves this problem, this issue should raise concerns for anyone needing long term reliability from their software purchases.  What happens to users and businesses when the next batch of affected apps include password keepers, electronic healthcare apps, or the app which unlocks your home security system?

Apple ID account management – password resets, purchase history, iCloud, etc

Unfortunately Apple still hasn’t provided a “one stop shop” for managing all aspects of an Apple ID and a customer’s relationship with Apple.

Personally, I find myself periodically needing to review or update account related information in up to five different places.  Here’s a summary of what’s in each area and how to get there quickly:

note: this article assumes you already have these accounts are only provides a quick refresher on how to navigate back to various areas to update or verify things.

1.  The Apple ID:  your Apple ID is the root anchor of your relationship with Apple.  There are numerous paths you can navigate to access this information, but the simplest seems to be visiting this URL from a web browser:  appleid.apple.com

From this location, you can manage your password, the email address for your account, and your contact information.  For most websites (where the relationship is much less involved), I usually stuff these data fields with bogus information.  However, I do purchases things from Apple and they use the information here to as part of that purchase process.  So it becomes necessary to enter correct information.

note:  If you’ve grown tired of receiving the Apple emails each week about the latest thing they have for sell, the “Language and Contacts Preferences” is the location to turn those off.  A portion of the URL for these settings is automatically generated during each login session, so I cannot provide a direct link.

2. The iTunes Account:  your iTunes account is intimately linked with your Apple ID, but to manage the additional account information, the best location is within the iTunes desktop application.  (You can also do this from an iOS device, I’ll cover that what’s possible there and how to do it in another article.)

Within the iTunes desktop application, navigate the iTunes Store (from the list of things in the left side navigation bar – usually just below your Library).  Assuming you’re logged in, the upper right corner of the iTunes window should show your Apple ID (email address).

Placing your mouse/cursor at the end of the email address provides a drop down menu.  Select “Account“.

From this area, you can manage:

  • payment information
  • computer authorizations
  • iTunes in the Cloud devices
  • purchase history
  • Ping (if you use that)
  • and some additional Settings

Some of my iTunes transactions are business related, so the purchase history is very helpful for retrieve receipt information for my reporting needs.

Additionally, the “iTunes in the Cloud: View Hidden Purchases” is helpful now that iTunes: Purchased allows you to hide previous items from display.

3. The iCloud Account: Most of iCloud is best managed from an iOS device.  If you login to the web interface at http://www.icloud.com the primary management feature is an option to reset the photo stream.  Click your user name in the upper right corner, and select Advanced from the pop up menu.  For now, Reset Photo Stream is the only option presented.  There is also an URL Link to the Apple ID account management web page described above.

To manage you iCloud Account from an iPad:  start by launching the Settings icon and find the menu option for iCloud.  At the top of the detail view window, select Account (it already should be displaying the email address for your iCloud account).

From here you can manage your iCloud password, your Storage Plan, and (if applicable) your iCloud Payment information.

For most folks, this will be the same payment information as your Apple ID above (you’ll be asked to authenticate with that Apple ID login).  However, some us who had previous .MAC accounts have ended up with two Apple IDs… and won’t necessarily have the same login or payment information as our primary Apple ID.  Although it seems to work ok most of the time, some day “It’s complicated”.

While you’re in the Settings | iCloud menu window, you can also turn various features on or off.  And you can use the Storage & Backup selection to view numerous options.

If you’ve elected to utilize the iCloud backup feature for your iOS device, this is where you find the option to omit various applications from being backed up.  This is particularly helpful if you’re trying to stay within the free 5GB quota.

4. The Apple Store Account:  This is the account for purchasing physical products.  From a web browser, visit this URL:  http://store.apple.com/us/account/home

The primary things to do here are tracking orders and viewing previous order history.  Unlike Amazon, Apple only provides 18 months of order history.  So if you need to reprint invoices for tax receipts or such, don’t delay to long.

These pages also link to the information for your Apple ID.

5. The MobileME Account:  Although I’ve migrated from MobileME to the iCloud service, I still have access to the remainder of my iDisk service subscription.  I’d like to hope that Apple will provide an iCloud equivalent before they completely turn down the MobileMe iDisk service; but I’m not really expecting them to.

Apple has set June 30, 2012 as the last day for the MobileMe services.  I’ve already moved my web hosting and pictures from the service.  And only use iDisk for limited (and short term) things at this point.

Within the MobileMe web interface, move your mouse over your user name (in the upper right hand corner) and click on Account to view settings, options, and account information.  If you still have data, photos, or web pages in MobileMe, it’s time to start finding a new home for them.

Footnote:  When I started writing this note, I thought it would be a short reference containing links to the Account tools for Apple ID, iTunes, and iCloud.  As I verified everything, the note continued to grow and grow.  I really hope someone from Apple is paying attention this problem and working on a solution to simplify how we maintain our relationships with their products and services.

It’s slightly ironic that I need more management interfaces for my Apple account than I need remote controls for my home theatre setup.

iPad app review:

I just tried out the Bamboo Paper app.    I’ve been using PenUltimate ($1.99) for about a year now.  Bamboo is quite similar, but has a way to go before matching the features.

Bamboo has one feature PenUltimate doesn’t:

*pinch/zoom…. that is a pretty slick feature, makes it much easier to zoom in and touch up or correct something.

 PenUltimate features that Bamboo doesn’t have:

  • Portrait or Landscape.
  • File mgt via iTunes.
  • More paper (background) choices.
  • Multiple notebooks.
  • An optional setting to enable a “wrist detection” detection feature.  They’ve coded the app to tell the difference between finger tips and accidental palm/wrist contact with the screen

Conclusions: I’ve learnt enough about iOS Objective C to know the BambooPaper developer is going to have brain-ache trying to match the wrist detection feature.  The fact their app has problems with creating stray lines when initiating a pinch gesture shows they are still having issues working out their usage of the iOS API UIGestureRecognizer.  (Since their emphasis is on selling the stylus, which creates a smaller touch event, I doubt they are very concerned about cleaning up the code to help folks trying to draw with big ol’ sausage fingers).

There’s also a bit of geometry and trigonometry required to make a drawing app work with the screen orientation auto-rotation.  Omitting that from their first release is going to mean a lot of UI rework for the developer.

My recommendation is to wait and see if the developer tidies up the app and adds the missing features (before they lose interest in move on to something else).