iOS 7 Auto App Update

How the iOS 7 auto app update feature is a ticking data loss timebomb

When Apple announced that iOS 7 would support automatic background updating of apps I was thrilled, but that initial excitement has given way to fears that it could lead to data loss.

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The idea is simple. No more having to worry about keeping all my iOS apps up-to-date thanks to a new set-it-and-forget-it setting in the OS, and then just let iOS handle it all invisibly in the background. You get all the benefits of running the latest apps without having to lift a finger.
Until things go wrong that it.
While in my experience a good 99.9 percent of iOS app updates go without a hitch, I have had things go wrong. Two apps I use have in the past had problems with new updates wreaking the data stored on my device, forcing me to recover data from a backup. Those two apps are the password manager SplashID and Pocket Informant organizer. These two apps create and store a lot of information on the iPhone and iPad, and major updates involve making changes to that stored data. And any time major changes are made to data, there's a chance that things can go wrong.
Fortunately, both times I had problems I didn't lose any data. That's because I take data backup seriously, and have several copies of my data stored in a variety of locations. In other words, I make regular sacrifices of time and money to the relevant backup gods.
To their credit, the app makers understand that things can, and sometimes do, go wrong, and even go as far as to advise users to backup their data, and offer ways to do it manually. Here is one such warning as issued by SplashID as part of a recent update.
iOS 7 auto app update is a ticking data timebomb
Problem is, if I'd allowed iOS 7 to update my apps automatically I wouldn't have seen that message and might not have known about the problem until I wanted to use the app, by which time it could be too late to do anything about it.
The problem is that Apple doesn't offer iPhone and iPad owners a way to selectively backup and restore their data. iCloud backup is useful, but its use is primarily limited to downloading data to either new devices or ones that have been wiped. Currently there's no way for users to download specific files. If the data used by a single app is hosed then you could wipe your handset and recover all the data from iCloud, but this is a major undertaking.
Another problem with iCloud is that users quickly exceed the free 5GB of storage offered by Apple and need to pay for extra storage. While I don't think that iCloud should be totally free, offering users enough complimentary storage to backup an entire device should be something Apple should consider offering.
Same goes for the iTunes backup, which is also all-or-nothing.
Until Apple offers either users or app developers a better way to protect data, I'll be keeping the auto app update features switched off. My data is worth ore to me than the convenience of auto app update.
You can disable the auto update feature by tapping on Settings and then iTunes & App Store, scrolling down to the Automatic Downloads section and flipping the Updates switch to off

Windows 7 Outpacing Windows 8 adoption

Latest NetMarketshare figures suggest Windows 7 is outpacing Windows 8's adoption, despite a rapid reduction in Windows XP usage over the past quarter.
Over the past month, Windows 8's share has increased by 0.61 percentage points, rising to 8.02 percent of the total share. Whereas, on the other hand, Windows 7's share increased by 0.8 percentage points, rising to 46.3 percent of the market. 
To put this into context, Apple's latest desktop operating system OS X 10.8 operating system grew by 0.27 percentage points to a mere 3.7 percent of the overall share. But this figure accounts for just shy of half of Windows 8's overall growth for August.
Meanwhile, Windows XP, which is set to lose Microsoft support for patches and updates in April 2014, lost a hearty chunk of share, dipping 2.25 percentage points to 31.4 percent of the overall market.
It comes at a time when Intel, as the dominant chipmaker in the PC market, may struggle in its second-half earnings, according to Sterne Agee analyst Vijay Rakesh. He warned in a note to analysts on Monday that "back to school PC demand has been virtually absent," which typically drums up mid-year sales of PCs and other devices ahead of the lucrative December holiday sales period. A drop in PC sales for the quarter will no doubt have a negative impact on the software platform market.
Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 07.07.01
Desktop top operating system share trend (Image: NetMarketshare)
NetMarketshare figures are generated from analyzing the desktop and mobile device versions of a global installed base of nearly 1.5 billion PCs. A single percentage point change represents many millions of devices.
A change to the analytics firm's formula for measuring usage took effect in or around July, in which the firm began deducting hidden pages from its usage share statistics. This affected Windows XP's figures in particular over recent months, which saw a near-5 percent drop in usage shareover August. However, the sudden drop in Windows XP's usage was more likely attributable to the fact the aging operating system cannot run latest versions of Internet Explorer, which would have lowered the overall hidden page impact.
With browsers in mind, Internet Explorer remains the most dominant browser on the market, with a near-equal split between Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) with declining share of 21.3 percent, and Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) with a rising 19.5 percent share of the market.
Chrome 29 stands in third place behind the Microsoft browsers with 12.8 percent of the share, just over five weeks after it was first released in mid-late August. Meanwhile, the latest version of Firefox 24 stands at just 2.2 percent, while Firefox 23 remains in the top five browsers with 11.6 percent of the share. 
Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 07.09.07
Desktop top browser share trend (Image: NetMarketshare)

Best Android Smartphones October 2013 edition

Best Android smartphones (October 2013 edition)

Image 1 of 13
(Image: ZDNet)


Looking to replace your aging Android companion with something newer and with a little more "oomph"? Here are five excellent Android-powered smartphones from Google, Motorola, and Samsung.
No matter whether you are looking for a consumer handset or something that will be suited to a BYOD role, you're bound to find something of interest here.
The handsets are arranged in no particular order. My current favorite continues to be the Nexus 4. It's a powerful package that delivers what I believe to be the best, purest Android experience possible. Unfortunately, it now seems discontinued while we await for the Nexus 5. That's a shame.
However, I have to admit that some of the features present on the Samsung Galaxy S4 make it a great choice for the BYOD crowd. 

Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX: A potential BYOD keeper

Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX: A potential BYOD keeper

Amazon has improved its latest Kindle Fire tablets lineup by making them lighter and revamping the Android-based Fire OS 3.0 so it's much faster and responsive. The big question is whether consumers will tote the Kindle Fire HDX to work and their employers will welcome the tablet.
One of the more interesting items with the Kindle Fire HDX launch was that Amazon went out of its way to highlight the tablets’ enterprise chops. Keep in mind that many tablet makers have touted enterprise features---notably Samsung---on the theory that consumers will take the devices to work. And while those tablets are at work it makes sense to make management as easy as possible for the information technology team.

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Special report: The Bring Your Own Device phenomenon is reshaping the way IT is purchased, managed, delivered, and secured. We look at what it means, how to handle it, and where it's going in the future.
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I played with the 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX for a few days and found the latest version of the tablet greatly improved over its predecessors. The biggest difference---aside from the screen resolution that has been pointed out repeatedly---was the software build. The Kindle Fire HDX is just snappier and menus on the left are a nice addition. The Fire OS no longer feels like an Android overlay. Meanwhile, the hardware is improved with a price that's right.
Also: Windows 8.1 tablets vs. Amazon's Kindle Fire HD: Enterprise face-off | What's what with Amazon's Fire OS 3.x | Kindle Fire HDX: When can you get one and how much will it cost? | Kindle Fire HDX coming to the cubicle with the Microsoft Surface in its sights | Amazon debuts revamped Kindle Fire HDX range, Fire OS 3.0 (pictures) | Amazon Kindle Fire wants in at the workplace with Fire OS 3.0 | Amazon distancing itself from Apple's playbook with Kindle Fire HDX | CNET hands on: Kindle Fire HDX
What was also clear is that my iPad toting 10-year-old also liked the Kindle Fire HDX. The Kindle Fire HD last year didn't garner as much interest. Why is that point notable in a bring your own device overview? In a BYOD world, if tablet makers don't have consumers they won't get the enterprise. Period. Sure, there may be some cases---Microsoft's Office on tablets almost ensures corporate uptake of Windows 8 devices---but the way to corporations these days is through employees.
Indeed, Amazon's Kindle Fire was the No. 2 tablet being used for work in the U.S., according to Forrester Research. The Kindle Fire tied the Samsung Galaxy for work use in the U.S. and was No. 3 globally in work tablets. The catch: Samsung Galaxy is actually targeted at the enterprise. Apple's iPad is No. 1 among workers. While Forrester rates the Kindle Fire's BYOD potential highly it's worth noting that Good Technology hasn't seen similar developments on its network.
Now Amazon's plan is to offer enterprises enough management tools so corporations accept the Kindle HDX in the workplace. Forrester called the Kindle Fire a stealth BYOD play and Amazon is obviously ditching the quiet shtick and courting the enterprise. Samsung has a similar strategy with its Knox software on the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note. Apple also added iOS 7 updates that also help the enterprise.

The biggest different from the approaches with Amazon and Samsung are that they are more vocal about wooing the enterprise. Apple always touts enterprise wins, but has been relatively quiet with its corporate ambitions.
For instance, Amazon noted in a release that it would offer the following via a software update in mid-November:
  • Wi-Fi with WPA2 support for secure access to corporate data and SharePoint.
  • An updated email app that hooks up to Exchange easier. 
  • Wireless printer access. 
  • OfficeSuite built in. 
  • VPN native access. 
  • Hardware encryption.
  • And device management hooks to mobile device management packages.
Those features line up with the most popular enterprise mobility deployments, according to Citrix

Meanwhile, Amazon has bolstered its productivity app lineup with staples such as GoToMeeting and Documents To Go. If Amazon can get enterprise traction without doing much of anything, the thinking goes that a little enterprise love could really help out.
What's unclear is whether IT shops will adopt the Kindle in bulk. The jury is out on that one. Certainly, Amazon's hooks to MDM packages will help the Kindle Fire cause. And corporations are already used to Amazon via Amazon Web Services. In other words, there is a lot of familiarity with Amazon in the workplace so no one will cringe if a Kindle Fire shows up at work.

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The one monkey wrench to ponder is that the Kindle Fire HDX won't integrate as well with Google Apps. Google's Android partners will offer those hooks for enterprises that use Google Apps a lot. The lack of a smartphone could also hurt Amazon's BYOD aspirations. Rest assured, Samsung will sell Galaxy smartphones and tablets to corporations in bulk. Microsoft will aim for similar deals.
One certainty is that Android is going to get more footing in the enterprise as Amazon, Samsung and Google all aim for corporate accounts with a weakened BlackBerry, a device unknown in Microsoft and Apple's singular iOS efforts. What's comical is that Android's cause in the enterprise may wind up being fueled by three different flavors of the mobile operating system.
Bottom line: It's likely that the Kindle Fire HDX is going to see more traction at an enterprise near you via BYOD.

Dell gets serious about tablets and 2-in-1s

Dell gets serious about tablets and 2-in-1s

Earlier this week I wrote about the Dell XPS 12, which is one of the best hybrid devices currently available.
Today Dell announced a series of tablets, convertibles and refreshed Ultrabooks--under both the Venue and XPS brands--that illustrate how serious the company is about this emerging category.
Dell Venue 8 Pro (Image: Dell)
The most interesting of these are a pair of Windows 8.1 tablets including the first 8-inch model and an 11-inch one with a range of features designed to appeal to both consumers and businesses. Both can also accept pen input using an optional Dell Active Stylus.
The Venue 8 Pro has a 1,280x800 IPS display and the Bay Trail Atom quad-core processor announced at Intel’s annual conference last month. At 400 grams and 8.9mm thick, it is arguably the smallest tablet available that delivers full Windows 8, along with a copy of Office 2013 Home & Student (the Acer Iconia W3 weighs 500 grams and is 11.4mm thick). The Venue 8 Pro, equipped with 2GB of memory and 32GB of storage, will be available starting October 18, for $300.
The ambitious Venue 11 Pro is, like the Asus Transformer Book Trio, an attempt at a 3-in-1 that can bridge the worlds of the tablet, laptop and desktop. It has a 10.8-inch Full HD IPS display and a choice of either the Bay Trail Atom processor or fourth-generation (Haswell) Core i3 and i5--some of which come equipped with Intel’s vPro technology for businesses.
Dell Venue 11 Pro (Image: Dell)
Like its smaller sibling, the Venue 11 Pro works with an optional stylus. Dell rates the Venue 11 Pro at a competitive 10 hours of battery life, but it also has a removable battery--an unusual feature in a tablet--which means you can swap in a second one for extended use. What sets the Venue 11 Pro apart is a line of accessories including a Slim Keyboard that doubles as a cover--like Microsoft Surface--a more substantial Mobile Keyboard with an extra battery built in (up to 16 hours combined, Dell says), and a Desktop Dock with outputs for two displays and two USB 3.0 ports.
The Venue 11 Pro will start at $500 with an Atom Z3770 quad-core, 2GB of memory and 32GB of storage. It can also be configured with Intel’s Haswell-YPentium and Core i3 and i5 processors, which in this case use as little as 6 watts (some upcoming chips will consume even less) in typical tablet usage scenarios. You can also get it with up to 8GB of memory and drives with capacities up to 256GB. The Venue 11 Pro will be available starting in November.

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In my previous post, I mentioned that Dell will be releasing an XPS 11 convertible. Now it has announced the details on what it is billing as the world’s thinnest (11-15mm thick) and most compact 2-in-1, weighing in at only 2.5 pounds. Unlike the XPS 13, this one uses the hinge that folds backwards 360 degrees like the Lenovo Yoga, but with a wrinkle: the 11.6-inch display has a Quad HD resolution. Dell says this is the first 2-in-1 of its size with a 2,560x1,440 display; the larger XPS 13 tops out at 1,920x1,080. Although the design is different, the XPS uses the same high-quality materials—machined aluminum and carbon fiber—that make the XPS 13 feel sturdy and look stylish. Unfortunately the keyboard is different, but you can’t have everything in a system this small.
Dell XPS 11 (Image: Dell)
Like the Venue 11 Pro, the XPS 11 will offer Intel’s Haswell-Y low-voltage processors. It will be available in November starting at $1,000 with a Core i3-4020Y processor, 4GB of memory and an 80GB solid-state drive.
Dell also announced two Android –based tablets, the Venue 7 and 8, designed to reach down into lower prices. These are based on the older Atom Clover Trail dual-core processor. TheVenue 7 has a 7.0 inch IPS display (1,280x800), Atom Z2560, 2GB of memory and 16GB of storage. The Venue 8 has an 8.0 inch IPS Display with the same resolution, a faster Atom Z2580, 2GB of memory and either 16- or 32GB of storage. In comparison to the Nexus 7, the Venue tablets are slightly thicker but about the same weight, which means they are very easy to carry around or hold in your hand for long periods. The Dell Venue models also come with a microSD card slot—something you don’t get on the Nexus 7—but they run an older version of Android (Jelly Bean 4.2.2). The Venue 7 and 8 will be available starting October 18 for $150 and $180, respectively. Intel has vowed that it will compete in the fast-growing market for low-cost Android tablets, and these models are the proof.
Dell Venue 8 (Image: Dell)
Dell rounded out the announcements with two new XPS laptops. The XPS 13 refresh adds a 13.3-inch Full HD display (a touchscreen is optional) and fourth-generation Core processors that boost performance and provide better battery life. But it has about the same footprint as an 11-inch model, according to Dell, and weighs less than 3 pounds. It will start at $1,000 with a Core i3 processor, 4GB of memory and a 128GB SSD and will be available in November.
The XPS 15 has a 15.6-inch display with an optional Quad HD+ (3,200x1,800) resolution but is only 8-18mm thick and weighs 4.4 pounds. Starting at $1,500, the XPS 15 is more than twice the price of an average laptop but it also boasts some serious specs. The base configuration has a Full HD display, and a Core i5-4200H processor with Intel HD 4400 graphics and 8GB of memory, but you can also configure it with the faster Core i7-4702HQ, more memory and Nvidia GeForce GT 750M discrete graphics with its own 2GB of memory. The XPS 15 also pairs a 32GB SSD with a 500GB hard drive (larger drives are an option) to boost performance. It will be available starting October 18.
The one thing Dell won’t be offering is Windows RT. The company recently discontinued its XPS 10 tablet—the only remaining Windows RT device aside from Microsoft Surface—and Dell executives said they have no plans to develop or sell additional Windows RT devices.