Do I need to do the updates? is a common question I get from clients. Well, they are pretty hard to avoid in many instances. Software updates to our devices bring us feature improvements (or new features), security and stability fixes. Due to the fact that I deal primarily with an older client base, new features don’t tend to WOW “Bobby from Southington” that much. However, one new feature that I think is pretty cool is that iOS 13 now offers a light mode and a dark mode. It can even automatically switch between the 2 at night which is very easy on my eyes. The Mac and Windows operating systems had a dark mode previously. Primarily, I think updates are important because they patch holes that attackers can use to penetrate your system. I try to be consistent in the language I use with you. Updates are the little fixes that come out all the time, for example 13.1.2 that just came out for iOS and iPad. Upgrades are the major new versions of the operating system. For Macs and iOS devices — these come out once a year. Windows has been rolling out 2 new versions of Windows per year since 2017 — which is one version too many. I usually put my Windows clients on a delay when possible. In general, I like the idea of setting devices to update automatically. Set it and forget it (no I did not pay for the trademark!).
Updates Can Wreak Havoc
Though Windows 10 has generally been very stable for my clients since it launched in July 2015, there have been more than half dozen new upgrades / new versions of Windows 10 released since then — all called Windows 10. HOW CONFUSING RIGHT? I think that a Windows 10 upgrade has only trashed a client’s computer three times and two of those times were with the same client. Sad, but true. I think their PC was never really meant to be supported by the manufacturer for Windows 10 in the long haul. I am not a commissioned salesperson, but that is why I always recommend letting me order a business class Windows computer for you. My wife has been using a Dell Optiplex desktop — purchased in 2008 — with upgrades to hardware over the years — to this day. It has gotten all the new versions of Windows 10 since 2015. Minor updates can cause problems too. On October 4th, Microsoft pushed out an update for Windows 10 that was supposed to improve Internet Explorer (who uses that anymore?) and printing functions. Unfortunately, it blocked printing for a small but ticked off percentage of Windows users including one of my clients. An update to the update was put out on October 7th to fix this. Are you keeping score at home? Good, because I’m not. 🙂
Be Careful About the New Version of Mac OS Released Yesterday
Mac OS 10.15 – code named Catalina – was released yesterday. I often tell my Mac clients, with compatible Macs (2012 and newer in this case) to upgrade. It doesn’t have to be right away but within the first couple months is fine. I also make myself available to clients to manage the upgrade for them and make a backup of the installer. Things can go wrong and most feel that a 2 hour appointment for this is well worth it. However, for 10.15 I am pumping the brakes and telling you to do the same — IF — you have a lot of software on your computer dating back years. Mac OS 10.15 does not support 32-bit Mac apps. These are usually apps that are more than 5 years old that have not been updated recently. Those apps may be very important to you. If so, hold off on 10.15. Microsoft Office 2016 will be fine. All current Apple apps are fine. However, your case may be the exception. Reach out and ask for help if you think you may have an issue. OS 10.15 will be great, but you may want to give yourself time to work out alternatives.
4K TV Is Coming
Most of the TV’s you have bought over the past 2 years have been 4K TV’s. However, there hasn’t been much 4K live TV content. Netflix and Amazon Prime offer 4K video as does You Tube. I just saw the ad tonight — Comcast will be offering Notre Dame Football games this year on NBC in 4K. To make this happen with Comcast / Xfinity — you need 2 key components: 1) a 4K TV and 2) a cable box that supports 4K.
The Perils of Buying Used Smartphones
The following write up originally started as an e-mail to a client last week concerning a used smart phone issue we were dealing with. I polished it up a bit and realized it was good to share with all of you.
Used smartphones, especially iPhones and high-end Android devices can be a nightmare unless you know who you are getting them from. Take these 2 lessons to heart
1) Ideally they should be UNLOCKED. Locking is a nasty trick that carriers use on their phones to keep you on their service. After the phone is paid off or a contract is fulfilled –they are not automatically unlocked. A customer has to call up and ask for the unlock code and then go through some motions after the fact which are usually pretty easy. People can buy unlocked phones directly from Apple and that does happen in some instances. ** Verizon has always been the one exception with carrier financed phones, since about 2011 they have not locked their smartphones because they had to make a deal with the FCC. As of July 1 that policy changed with Verizon now locking smartphones for 60 days (to prevent theft they say). They have no power to go back and retroactively lock existing phones. Buying a carrier locked smartphone, with no ability to go back and contact the seller to get in unlocked, could mean that you are unable to use it with the carrier of your choice. FYI, Apple says that most iPhone models purchased through their physical stores or apple.com (with the exception of some ATT models) are unlocked.
2) The second concept I want to introduce to you is the idea of “financial locking” or blacklisting. Most customers finance their iPhones and expensive smartphones these days. On Craigslist, Offer Up, or other known sites for peer to peer sales — there will be many deals for “great phones” that seem way too good to be true. Think of an iPhone XS for $200. It is a totally fake deal. I have a good friend who got burned on the buying end of this a few years back. Let’s say the $900 phone has a couple scuffs on the back but is otherwise very operable. He sells it for $200. The buyer thinks they are the luckiest dude on earth!! The seller had insurance on the phone and puts in a claim for a STOLEN phone. The insurance company has the authority to blacklist the phone with all carriers — basically worldwide. The seller is shipped a new phone and the original is blacklisted — it is rendered in operable and cannot be activated. Maybe just maybe it could be used on WiFi only. Another version of the scam goes like this. A young kid (18+ of course) buys a $1000 phone. A maxed out iPhone 11 Pro Max with monthly payments is about $55 to $60 a month. He decides — Oops I’m over my head can’t make the payments. He does not go through the proper channel of having a buyer legally assume the contract on the phone. He sells it for a steal of a price — $200. The buyer is in heaven or so they think. Wow. 2 months later when the seller’s cellular account gets cancelled for non payment — the phone gets blacklisted under the same process. It is a paperweight.
Oh – the perils of buying used smartphones!
As you may nor may not know — Apple released the latest new version of its mobile operating system iOS 13 on Thursday.
However, don’t be in a big rush to manually seek out the update right now. In fact, if you get prompted before 1 PM ET on 9/24 — delay the upgrade.
A revision to the new version iOS 13.1 will be available then. Furthermore at that time the software on the iPad will be known as iPad OS
Bottom line: It’s really good to keep your iPhones and iPads up to date — but why don’t don’t you go to Settings > General > Software Update — some time after 1 PM on 9/24 when you are back home on WiFi. No need to be an early adopter before then if you can at all avoid it. And as always make sure your devices are backed up to iCloud, the computer or both, before installing a major new version of iOS / iPad OS.
I wanted to give you a special review of Apple’s Big Event on Tuesday September 10 and make you aware of their new products and services.
As a reminder, I am ready to be your iPhone upgrade specialist. I can help you order your iPhone 11 model and help you get set up – as I have done for years. I will ensure data isn’t lost in the transfer by doing a FULL ENCRYPTED BACKUP via iTunes and restore to your new iPhone. No shortcuts here.
Apple Arcade: Apple is launching a video game service with unique titles – aimed at all ages. Games can be played across iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV. $4.99 / month for the whole family.
Apple TV Plus: This is Apple’s answer to Netflix and Hulu (for now and may become bigger). Apple will have original shows and movies. There will be add-ons available. This service will not include free access to the thousands upon thoughts of titles available in the iTunes Store already. It launches in November – at a very friendly $4.99 / month for a family subscription.
iPad: Apple’s basic iPad is still $329 and it is getting a bump up in screen size to 10.2 inches. If it’s been 3 or 4 years since your last iPad – you may really want to consider it. It’s better than ever and if needed it supports the Smart Keyboard for the first time.
Apple Watch: The Apple Watch 5 may have been the star of the show. It is getting more sophisticated at tracking our health and helping us improve our lives. An emphasis was really made on older adults in the presentation and how the heart rate monitor and EKG feature can help save lives. Pricing starts at $399, if you don’t mind the rubber strap (I don’t). Apple also wants to make sure that Apple Watch technology is available to all. Therefore they are selling the Apple Watch 3 for $199, a great alternative to the Fit Bit Versa. However, just remember – you will need the Apple Watch 4 and later to get the EKG feature. Perhaps a deal may be available on the Apple Watch 4 – where models are still available.
DRUM ROLL PLEASE — HERE ARE YOUR NEW IPHONES
iPhones: Apple really wowed on their base iPhone – the iPhone 11 – which is a replacement for the iPhone XR. Not only does it have 2 cameras and come in more color options – but they dropped the price from $749 to $699. Way to go Apple! This the iPhone that most customers will be buying and will be the one most appropriate for my clients.
However, there are 2 super premium Pro level iPhones also coming out – the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. They are priced at $999 and $1099 respectively (same as last year. A common thought is – the Pro is for users who want a PRO CAMERA. This is true. I really think if you learn to use one of these Pro iPhones– they can be as good as a $400-500 camera. Truth be told, I can think of 2 other reasons for the Pro. You would want the 11 Pro if you absolutely want the SMALLEST new iPhone. The 11 Pro is 5.8 inches diagonally vs 6.1 inches for the iPhone 11. Also, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the one for you if you want the LARGEST new iPhone – clocking in at 6.5 inches diagonally. Keep in mind, you will pay $300 to $400 more for these size preferences.
Personally, speaking I am doing my best effort to get my pre order in for a regular iPhone 11 this morning. Pre-orders start today and shipments begin on September 20th.
Conclusion: I watched the whole event live. I think it was Apple’s best product / service event since the passing of Steve Jobs in 2011.
My first interaction couldn’t have been smoother.
There has been some chatter out there that Goldman Sachs / Apple Card has a provision (like most credit cards) that requires binding arbitration. However, the customer has X amount of time to opt out of it with Apple Card. I think I have been offered an opt out many times with other institutions and never done it. There have been articles out there in the tech press over the past week urging people to opt out. I gave it some thought.
I think arbitration could be good if someone is defending themselves against a lawsuit, but forcing it can be anti – consumer. I’m not positive but I think there are limitations on people representing themselves in arbitration. It is a private process outside the openness of the justice system.
Most of the the disputes individual consumers may have with a credit card are probably going to be an amount under the state limit for small claims court, ex. the bank would not recognize a $1,000 dispute as fraud. By opting out of binding arbitration, a customer can take that to small claims and represent themselves. So — I decided to opt out.
I opened the Wallet app on my iPhone. I tapped on the Apple Card — I went to chat – Messages opens up. I said what I wanted. An Apple rep transferred me to a Goldman Sachs rep all within the same chat. I was never asked for any personally identifying info. To quote the one hit wonder Silento “They already know who it is.” And it was done within 3 minutes. A good first impression.
*Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of the Apple Card or for anyone to take on revolving lines of credit. With that said, Apple is getting into the credit card game. There has been an Apple Rewards Visa for years (most recently offered through Barclay’s Bank), but with the new Apple Card, the world’s most beloved technology company is taking a much greater degree of control over the process. Let’s start with some basic facts. Credit is being granted to customers through Goldman Sachs. Yes, you read that right. They are not merely an institutional investment bank anymore. Goldman has branched into consumer finance in recent years by offering high yield savings accounts and personal loans through its Marcus brand. The Apple Card card is a Mastercard. Apple designed the physical card, which, apparently has a very nice titanium feel to it. Apple was very involved in the entire process. In fact they are saying the Apple Card is “offered by us, not banks.” Security is the highest priority. There will be no printed number on the card, no expiration date, and no 3 digit code. There will be no signature on the card. You can still use it in stores via the chip readers. On your iPhone, iPad or Mac, you will be able to use the card with any merchant that accepts Apple Pay. So yes, the card will only be relevant for online shopping for those of you who have one or more of those devices. Interest rates range from pretty good for those of you who have high credit scores, to very average for those with lower scores. A check of your Trans Union credit report is required for approval (for those of you who may have a credit freeze in place), but reports have come out that credit scores as low as 620 are getting approved. Never have I read this much “buzz” in my life about a new credit card on the market. Customers will be able to accumulate rewards for purchases with Apple. Let’s see how successful Apple is with this venture. On one hand, I don’t think they want to encourage irresponsible debt, but they are also doing things with this instrument that other banks are not. It’s a unique card. The application has been opened up to a limited audience at this time (via the Wallet app) with general availability coming soon.
I just wanted to make this announcement one more time because it came up in the past week. Verizon is shutting down their legacy CDMA calling network on 1/1/2020. If you are on the Verizon network (including 3rd party providers) and have an iPhone 5s or older or an old flip phone or an older Android phone — you need to upgrade. Please ask for help if needed. This announcement does not affect ATT or T-Mobile customers
How Old Should I Go?
I had conversations with several clients last week about getting new iPhones or smartphones in general. I get asked, which iPhone should I get? Firstly you have to remember that Apple is really not competing on price. They will claim that their devices are just better and offer a premium user experience. If you buy an iPhone, you are buying a computer for your pocket and a device that is priced like a computer. I knew that some of the major carriers were still selling the iPhone 6s, possibly for a price in the $200s or maybe through some hocus pocus for “FREE”. It came to my attention that there may even be some iPhone 6 models for sale as new. WOW. I think its a shame that they are doing this. Here is the thing, even if an iPhone 6s was produced last year or this year, it is a 2015 era phone. It features 4 year old technology. I know what you might say — well, I don’t need all of the newest features so this will probably work great for me. It might! However, remember that Apple does not support iPhones with feature and security updates after about 5 years. Starting this fall, the iPhone 6 will no longer receive the new version of iOS. The iPhone 6s will still receive the new software. Next year, it may not. So if you buy an iPhone 6s now, you may only be buying an iPhone for 1 year.
If you really want an iPhone — the oldest I would go at this point is an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus. That was released in September 2017. It is also the last iPhone that supports the traditional design with the Home Button. All newer iPhones have no home button, you simply swipe on the screen to mimic the home button. Most clients learn this in about 1 day or so. No big deal. So if you buy an iPhone 8 now, you are likely buying an iPhone that will be good for 3 years provided you don’t break it or it doesn’t slow down to a point where you can’t use it enjoyably anymore. In general, I think an iPhone XR would be best (unless you really want the camera superiority of the XS or XS Max and want to pay for it), but an 8 will be just fine. Keep in mind, new models will be coming out in September (based on Apple’s past track record).
There are many great less expensive phones too. I think the new Google Pixel 3a is the best phone you can buy for under $400. https://store.google.com/product/pixel_3a It works on all the major carriers and can also be used on Google’s FI cellular service which starts at $20 per month.
The Moto G7 Power from Motorola is $250 and is also a very powerful phone for the price. If battery life is your thing, this phone is like the Energizer bunny.
The carriers sell several inexpensive Android smartphones between $100 and $200. Some of these phones are OK, while others are not great. It depends on your needs and what you want to do. If its just calling, texting, a little e-mailing, and Google searching — a less expensive Android phone will probably work out just fine. Keep in mind, these Android phones are usually 2 to 3 year phones.
** There is one asterisk I want to put on this conversation** I don’t know if they have changed their policy in the last month or 2, but to the best of my knowledge, ATT has been very nasty about not allowing clients to use all the features of their phones IF THEY DON’T PURCHASE THE PHONE DIRECTLY FROM THEM. iPhones will be fine. But if you buy an Android phone directly from the company that made it or from a 3rd party, they may not be willing to activate LTE calling or WiFi calling. I think that’s just plain wrong. Verizon and T-Mobile customers have less of these issues. A phone is a phone, a network is a network. With that said, I do not have major problems with ATT as a network. Their service is quite adequate across the country.