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.

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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?

network testing: using IPFW to add latency or limit bandwidth

If you need to test an iOS app’s network performance, this technique helps make the simulator perform a little more like it is out on a real mobile network.  This is also helpful testing / simulating any other scenario that may involve slow WAN links, dial up connections, Satellite links, etc.

ipfw to add latency or limit bandwidth:

as root, run:

ipfw add pipe 1 ip from any to any out
ipfw add pipe 2 ip from any to any in
ipfw pipe 1 config delay 150 bw 50kbit/s
ipfw pipe 2 config delay 150 bw 200kbit/s

to reset:

ipfw flush