Jordan Kahn

@JordanKahn

Senior Editor, 9to5Mac – 9to5Google – 9to5Toys

Contact Jordan with news tips and long-winded complaints at Jordan@9to5mac.com.  

Jordan writes about all things Apple as a senior editor for 9to5Mac. He also covers Google for 9to5Google.com and the latest gear and deals on 9to5Toys.com.

Send tips to: Jordan@9to5mac.com Twitter: @JordanKahn FB: https://www.facebook.com/makamachine SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/makamachine

Jordan Kahn's Recommended Gear

March 20, 2013

When Apple unveiled its first Retina MacBook Pro with the 15.4-inch model in June, it came with an all-new, slimmed down design, all-flash architecture, and its flagship Retina display with over 5 million pixels. Apple has built its reputation on quality, craftsmanship, and customer/user experience, but that hasn’t been the case with its latest lineup of MacBooks. What many consumers don’t know is that buying a new Retina MacBook means taking your chances with possibly receiving a unit that is subject to display defects, battery, graphics, and fan-related issues among other major stability problems. These widespread issues have received limited coverage in the press and many consumers claim Apple is failing to sufficiently address the problems by not informing consumers and employees.

Leading the reports of problems is one that causes burn-in or ghosting on the device’s display. The result is a support thread with over 364,769 views and, most recently, a class-action lawsuit in California that alleged Apple is failing to inform consumers of the issue. Users experiencing the problem eventually realized the source of the issue was with LG, one of Apple’s display suppliers for the new Retina MacBooks. Unfortunately, models with Samsung displays aren’t totally free from a myriad of other significant issues.

Apple described the image-retention problems on this user’s display as normal after two visits. The display was eventually replaced with a Samsung but continues to experience other display related problems. 

Problems at the Apple Store

Finally, after 4 LG screened rMBPs I give up!

The problems are severe enough that it’s affecting the buying experience for consumers, driving customers to opt for other devices, and forced me personally to stop recommending the machine. Not only is Apple not addressing the issues publicly, Apple retail employees and 9to5Mac readers confirmed Apple is failing to properly inform retail and repair staff of the problems… expand full story

March 19, 2013

9to5toys 

AppleCareAfter a long battle with Italian regulators over how it advertises AppleCare warranty plans and fines for failing to properly inform consumers of a two-year warranty mandatory by European Union law, today Apple is yet again coming under pressure from authorities in the EU. A report via Dow Jones Business News claimed the EU’s Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding gave a speech today accusing Apple of continuing warranty practices that go against consumer laws in many EU states:

In a speech Tuesday, the EU’s Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding honed in on the Apple case as an example of weak and diverse enforcement of consumer rules within the EU.

“This case and the responses I received since I sent my letter have highlighted rather clearly just why the Commission cannot sit on the side-lines on enforcement issues,” she said. “The approaches to enforcement in these types of cases turn out to be very diversified and inconsistent at a national level. In at least 21 EU Member States Apple is not informing consumers correctly about the legal warranty rights they have. This is simply not good enough.”

Reding spoke about the need for EU authorities to take “a more prominent role in monitoring and coordinating coherent enforcement of EU consumer rules.” Reding also noted that consumers groups in at least Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and Portugal have filed lawsuits that are ongoing against Apple over its warranty practices.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday that Apple has made changes to its warranty policies in Australia after coming under similar pressures, and the company has now quietly extended its program from 12 months to 24 months.

In March 2012, consumer groups from 10 countries requested Apple make changes to its warranty policies after the case in Italy. The Belgian consumer group was one and later filed a complaint with local courts because “Apple remained deaf to the demands.”

expand full story

March 18, 2013

T-Mobile just sent out invites for an upcoming event slated for March 26 in New York, and, judging by the invite itself (above), it appears the carrier will finally announce some official plans for its new no-contract, one-size-fits-all value plans that TMONews happened to learn more about today.

“We’re still a wireless company. We’re just not going to act like one anymore.”

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 4.06.34 PMEarlier reports suggested T-Mobile’s new plans could kick in on March 24, meaning it’s likely the event will focus on its new pricing strategy that eliminates annual contracts and fees normally associated with mobile carriers. Of course, the event also lines up with the 3- to 4-month timeframe executives quoted in January for introducing its new no-subsidy strategy in addition to beginning sales of the iPhone. Three to four months would give us a March or April launch, so it’s a possibility that we might get our first glimpse at T-Mobile’s official plans for the iPhone later this month.

T-Mobile USA announced in December that it had struck an agreement with Apple to begin supporting Apple products in 2013. The carrier’s chief executive, John Legere, later told Reuters the company planned to introduce the iPhone, eliminate cellphone subsidies, and introduce new, flexible pricing plans for customers within 3 to 4 months.

9to5google 

FastCompany today posted an in-depth look at the differences between Apple’s MapKit and Google’s recently launched Google Maps for iOS SDK from the perspective of developers. The lengthy piece gets insight from several iOS app developers with apps that rely on the SDKs and sheds some light on a few things that Apple is doing much better than Google despite a perception from users that Google Maps are superior:

“Google doesn’t currently charge for the Places API, but they do require a valid credit card for access–which gives you a quota of 100,000 daily requests. So you have to wonder if they plan to start charging sooner or later,” McKinlay explains. “That 100,000 limit perhaps sounds reasonable, but each user session can generate many requests–particularly when using the ‘autocomplete’ feature of Tube Tamer–and some types of requests count for 10 times the quota each, so it can get used up pretty quickly.”

While noting that Google wins out with location lookup services, 3D buildings, directions, geocoding, and better hybrid satellite imagery, the developers were also quick to point out downsides of the Google Maps SDK such as quotas for the Places API, an increased app size, and limitations with markers, gradient polylines, and overlays.

Developer of transportation app Tube Tamer, Bryce McKinlay, discussed some of the benefits of using Apple’s MapKit:

“Subjectively, the current version of the [Google] SDK does not perform as well as MapKit,” McKinlay says. “GMSMapView’s frame rate is capped at 30fps, which is lower than typical for iOS and results in a slight but noticeable ‘jitter’ effect when panning and zooming the map. Drawing of labels and POIs sometimes lags behind if you pan quickly, even on a fast device like the iPhone 5.”

“The fact that annotations in MapKit are UIViews also means that animation and other effects can be applied easily using Core Animation, which isn’t currently possible with the Google Maps SDK approach,” McKinlay says. He also points out that MapKit has some other handy features that Google’s SDK currently lacks, like “Follow user location” and “Follow with heading” modes. “MapKit provides a button that automatically moves the map to follow the user’s location, and rotates the map according to the compass heading. This is very helpful for pedestrian navigation. It is possible to implement this manually in Google’s SDK, but it adds extra development time/effort.”

It looks like some developers feel Google has some work to do with their Maps SDK for iOS. While Apple isn’t free of its own issues with MapKit, developers will definitely want to read Fast Company’s entire post before deciding which solution will be best for their app. The developers ultimately end up recommending MapKit over Google’s Maps SDK for the majority of developers.

electrek 
pull-to-refreshThe Wall Street Journal published a piece last night that profiled influential app developer Loren Brichter of Atebits and Tweetie fame. The 28-year-old developer is the man behind several apps that were first to implement or help popularize well-known gestures and UI features that have since become design standards for many popular apps and developers. Perhaps the best example is “pull-to-refresh”—a feature that Brichter built into his Tweetie app before selling to Twitter:

Mr. Brichter got his start in the mobile industry while at Apple from 2006 to 2007 as part of a five-person group working out early kinks in technology that made the iPhone’s graphics hardware and software communicate… In 2008, Mr. Brichter built Tweetie to have a better way to use Twitter and eventually included the “pull-to-refresh” feature. After selling the app to Twitter for what he says was “single digit millions” in 2010, he stayed on at Twitter working remotely on the company’s apps for about a year and a half. He left to keep experimenting.

Other features Brichter helped to popularize include the slide-out panels that we see in apps such as Facebook and a feature described as “cell swipe” that’s popular in Twitter apps for revealing lists of hidden functions by swiping. WSJ was quick to point out that Brichter has filed for a patent on at least the “pull-to-refresh” gesture (now owned by Twitter), but Brichter explained that he allows most developers to implement the features freely: expand full story

March 15, 2013

A1427 (left) vs. A1469 (right) image via AnandTech

While initial speculation was that Apple’s quietly refreshed Apple TV would include an A5X processor, recent tear downs of the device have revealed Apple is actually including new silicon with a single core 32NM ARM Cortex A9 CPU and overall die size reduction of 50 percent. However, new information today revealed even more tweaked components in the new Apple TV that could account for significant power savings, reduced cost, and possibly new low-cost iOS devices from Apple.

A5-vs-new-AppleTV-2013-A5

Chipworks previously performed its usual analysis finding the new A5 chip measures 6.1-by-6.2 mm, compared to the larger 69mm2 previous generation A5, and features several redesigned components. While Apple reassured us the slightly upgraded Apple TV is identical in appearance and user experience for consumers, its tweaked components could have some major implications for future Apple TV products and possibly even other iOS devices.

Apple included a dual-core chip with 1-core disabled in the Apple TV, and Chipworks speculated the move to the redesigned, single-core silicon could signal Apple has plans for an additional single-core device in the future. This has not surprisingly lead to speculation that the device could be Apple’s much-rumored, low-cost iPhone.

With new evidence today of even further power and cost reduction changes in the Apple TV, it’s also possible Apple could lower the price on the device and/or enable further discounts through retailers (you can now find it as low as $85)… expand full story

Samsung officially unveiled its flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone last night at a theatrical, Broadway-style presentation in New York, and analysts are quick to jump in today with opinions on what it means for Apple. AAPL is having a decent morning hitting a high of 442.50 and opinions from analysts seem to be split down the middle regarding whether the S4 has what it takes to cut into Apple’s market share.

Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray doesn’t seem too impressed with the S4 upgrade but noted Samsung’s new S Band is “a quick first pass for Samsung on wearable technology ahead of Apple’s watch. Munster added that he expects Apple to launch its smart watch product by 2014 (via Barron’s):

The Galaxy S4 appears to be largely an incremental update to the S3 including a slightly larger screen (4% larger on diagonal), better camera and processor, and updated software, but largely the same body style and casing. We believe some of the software features are unique, including the tilt to scroll, video pausing based on facial recognition, and hand gesture based interactions, but view these software improvements as minor compared with what Siri was to the iPhone 4S or even Google Now to Android.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek thought the S4 will be “incrementally negative for Apple” but doesn’t view the S4 upgrade as “revolutionary” (via Zdnet): expand full story

9to5toys 

March 14, 2013

Samsung-Galaxy-S4-vs-iPhone-5

Following Apple’s Phil Schiller’s comments on the eve of the Galaxy S4 launch yesterday, Samsung has now finally unveiled the device at its launch event live in New York. While Schiller was quick to point out that the S4 was rumored to ship with an OS that’s almost a year old, Samsung announced today the S4 would launch with the latest Android 4.2.2 at the end of April on 327 carriers in 155 countries.

The device certainly sports some impressive specs (most of which were already rumored or confirmed in leaks), including a 5-inch Super AMOLED 1,920-by-1,080 display with 441 ppi. The S4 isn’t as thin as the iPhone 5 at 7.9MM thick, but it includes some other enticing specs compared to Apple’s latest offering, such as: a 13 megapixel camera, 2GB of RAM, and up to 64GB onboard storage. WSJ compared the two devices specs for spec here. Samsung put on quite a Broadway-style, theatrical presentation, and you can get the blow-by-blow and photos from the event on 9to5Google here.

Yesterday, Apple Worldwide Marketing SVP Schiller gave interviews to several media outlets and pointed to issues with the Android platform. As DaringFireball called an “unforced error,” Schiller said that the Galaxy S4 would contain an old OS:

“And that extends to the news we are hearing this week that the Samsung Galaxy S4 is being rumored to ship with an OS that is nearly a year old,” he said. “Customers will have to wait to get an update.”

and

“When you take an Android device out of the box, you have to sign up to nine accounts with different vendors to get the experience iOS comes with,” he said. “They don’t work seamlessly together.”

As noted above, the S4 will come out with Android 2.2.2 (though it is unlikely it will be upgraded to the next OS as it is introduced in May).

Samsung also announced a number of new camera features, the addition of new sensors including temperature and humidity sensors, and new software features exclusive to the S4. Get all the details on 9to5Google.com expand full story

9to5google 

Following the release of OS X Mountain 10.8.3 build 12D78 to developers earlier this week, Apple today released 10.8.3 to the public with a number of new features and enhancements. One of the more notable new features is the ability to redeem iTunes gift cards using the Mac’s built-in camera within the Mac App Store. It’s a feature that Apple originally introduced with iTunes 11 in November.

Other improvements in today’s release include support for install Windows 8 in Boot Camp and Boot Camp support for Mac’s using 3TB hard drives. Users had previously been using workarounds to utilize Boot Camp on Macs with hard drives larger than the utility’s old 2.2TB limit.

The release also includes Safari 6.0.3 and audio related fixes for Logic Pro and 2011 iMacs:

-The ability to redeem iTunes gift cards in the Mac App Store using Mac’s built-in camera -Boot Camp support for installing Windows 8 -Boot Camp support for Macs with a 3TB hard drive -A Fix for an issue that could cause a file URL to quit apps unexpectedly -A fix for an issue that may cause Logic Pro to become unresponsive when using certain plug-ins -A fix for an issue that causes audio to stutter on 2011 iMacs -Includes Safari 6.0.3

Since Apple unveiled its first Retina MacBook Pro with the 15.4-inch model in June, there have been a growing number of complaints from customers experiencing issues with the product. By far the most reported problem is one that causes a burn-in or ghosting problem on the device’s display. It has resulted in a support thread boasting over 364,769 views. Apple uses two display suppliers for the device, LG and Samsung, and it wasn’t until months later that many started speculating the source of the issue was with LG (as highlighted in the video above). Today, one MacBook Pro user named Beau Hodges has decided to launch a class-action lawsuit against Apple in a federal court in California alleging MacBook Pro customers have no way of telling which MacBooks have an LG display at the time of purchase. Law360 reports the suit is seeking unspecified damages for Retina MacBook Pro customers nationwide:

The electronics giant must know about the differences between the two versions because it spent a considerable amount of time testing the products during research and development and has been inundated with complaints from customers about the LG screen’s problems, according to the suit.

“The performance disparity between the LG version and the Samsung version is particularly troubling given that Apple represents the MacBook Pro with retina display as a single, unitary product, described as the highest quality notebook display on the market,” the complaint said. “None of Apple’s advertisements or representations discloses that it produces the computers with display screens that exhibit different levels of performance and quality.”

Many users report Apple replacing their LG displays with a Samsung-made display following the issues, but Apple has yet to confirm the problem publicly and some users with Samsung-made displays continue to experience graphic-related issues. Some reports indicated that Apple might have addressed issues with the Retina MacBook Pro in a minor refresh to the device last month, but many of the major problems still exist according to some consumers.

Apple today released a software update for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro that attempts to resolve some issues related to graphics, PowerNap, and fans.

Kickoff- Chat and Tasks for Teams: Just launched on the App Store and Mac App Store, Kickoff is a new app from developer Michael Villar that aims to provide the ultimate solution for group chat on the Mac and iOS. Anyone that has attempted to use the group chat apps currently on the market know most come with a flawed experience at best. Most similar services also charge a monthly fee and often fees associated with the number of team members. With the limited time we’ve had with the app, Kickoff appears to be solving many of these problems with no reoccurring payments as well as no limits for file storage or team/user cap.

Other notable features include: A built-in group task manager, drag and drop uploading, Retina support, native keyboard gestures, and integration with quick look, Notification Center, Full-screen view, and dictation. The app is available for the one time cost of $27.99 on the Mac App Store and $6.99 for the iPhone.

CBS-iOS-app-screenshotCBS: Released on the App Store today, the official app from CBS offers full HD episodes of some of the network’s most popular shows including Catch NCIS, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, How I Met Your Mother, Survivor, Elementary, The Young and the Restless, and The Late Show with David Letterman. CBS said some shows will be available through the app 24 hours after they air while others will be “available 8 days after initial broadcast.” The app is available now for free on iPhone and iPad.

The Croods: Today Angry Birds developer Rovio has released the much teased “The Croods” iOS title that acts as an official tie-in for the upcoming animated Dreamworks film of the same name. The free game is available to download on the App Store now for iPhone and iPad.

Alfred 2.0: Available today in version 2.0, the latest update to this extremely popular productivity app brings a completely re-written experience that uses less than 15% of the previous version’s code. The result, according to the developers, is a much faster and easier to use experience that includes a new Workflows framework, new enhanced theme support, improvements to Contacts in search results, and much, much more. 

Paypal-here-for-iPadPayPal Here for iPad: Businesses taking advantage of PayPal’s recently launched ‘PayPal Here’ POS app and card reader will appreciate that the company has today decided to release an official iPad app for the service. The company made the official announcement on its blog noting that the app is initially available only in the US.

  • App designed specifically for the iPad
  • Ability to scan an item’s barcode for faster checkout
  • Wirelessly connect to a cash drawer and printer
  • Track sales activity in “Daily Summary” reporting

Deals:

iPad app, djay, temporarily $4.99 (Reg. $19.99)

iPhone & iPad game, Infinity Blade II, temporarily $2.99 (Reg. $6.99)

iPhone & iPad game, Grand Theft Auto 3, temporarily $1.99 (Reg. $4.99)

electrek 

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