Watch OS5 (available this fall)
June 14, 2018
It looks like new features are coming to the Series 1, Series 2 and Series 3 Apple Watch (this OS update will not run on the original Apple Watch) with Watch OS5 this fall. These updates will include Activity Sharing competitions advanced running features, auto-workout detection (Yay!), a Walkie-Talkie, podcasts and third party apps will now be welcome on the Apple Watch.
Some of the new features included with this Watch OS update are:
- A push-to-talk Walkie-Talkie feature which can be activated between compatible Apple Watch users around the world over Wi-Fi or cellular (excluding China, UAE and Pakistan).
- A Podcast app which will allow Apple Watch users to stream podcasts, sync and automatically update their podcast catalog with the latest episode. Another new feature allows third party music apps, audiobooks and meditation sessions from apps like Pandora and 10% Happier for use offline without their iPhone nearby.
- A new Workout option allowing you to invite and compete with friends in a 7-day fitness competion, earning points for closing Activity Rings, while receiving coaching notifications to help stay engaged.
- Yoga and hiking have been added to the Workout types and runners will see new rolling mile pace, cadence (steps per minute) and custom pace alerts.
- Automatic Workout detection has been added, meaning that if you manually forget to start or stop your workouts (I have done this so many times), you will receive an alert to start the workout and will give the user retroactive credit as well as a reminder to end a workout session after a period of inactivity if the user forgets.
- Siri will offer more predictive and proactive shortcuts based on location, routines, personal health information and commuting time with Maps. The Apple Watch face supports heart rate, maps, sports and some third-party apps, so you will see useful suggestions and a feature I’m happy to see, notifications will be actionable from your watch. Some of the third party apps which will be supported are Nike+ Run Club, Glow Baby and Mbike. Apple Watch will be able to replace Student ID Cards allowing students to access event, laundry and dinners and their dorms by adding their ID card to Wallet.
- Limited support for WebKit which will allow you to view website menus, full Mail messages and click links within the Messages app without using your iPhone.
In keeping with Apple’s announcment of upcoming features this fall, they have released a new watch face to celebrate Pride. The new watch face can be downloaded now from the Face Gallery in the Apple Watch app.
Are You Being Inundated by Automated Scam Calls on Your Mobile Phone?
There have been rising complaints among consumers regarding the noticeable increase in robocalls over the past few years. Robocalls are cheap to make and garner the services making the calls, millions of dollars in return. Remember the federal "Do Not Call List" which was implemented years ago? Although it does block many fraudulent calls, many calls come from overseas who disregard our laws. The Do Not Call List registry received 4.5 million complaints in 2017, but it's not difficult to understand the tenacity of robocallers when you understand how they try to defraud you; interest rates, credit cards, student loans, business loans, IRS (you owe money to the IRS), search listing, travel, pre-approved loans, home security, and utilities.
I remember when I purchased my first mobile phone. Robocalls were never an interruption to my day. Now it is. I receive up to 5 or 6 robocalls per day; sometimes everyday. My favorite are the calls who use what appear to be local phone numbers in the attempt to make me feel more confident in answering the call. Although some phone companies offer blocking services, not all individuals have access to the blocking tools, free or otherwise, necessary to circumvent robocalls. It will be a difficult problem to resolve across phone networks, but it appears that some state legislators are working to cirumvent companies who are basically coming after your personal information. Rule of thumb: don't give your personal information out to anyone. Companies with whom you do business will not call you and ask for personal information, credit card number or logon information.
Related information: "Google Phone Spam Filtering Beta Program" and "Yes, It's Bad, Robocalls and Their Scams, Are Surging"
Fake ad blockers in the Chrome store had over 20 million installs
March 29, 2018
Google removed the impostors from the Web Store after AdGuard revealed their existence.
If you can't find that ad blocker you recently installed from the Chrome Web Store, you might want to do some browser spring cleaning. Google has killed five top-ranking ad blockers after AdGuard published a report revealing they're fake extensions with extra code that harvest info on the websites you visit.
Google Phone Spam Filtering Beta Program
April 12, 2018
In 2016, the Google phone app began alerting users to potential spam calls via Caller ID by flashing a large red banner, indicating the "call may be from a suspected spammer". The Google phone app maintains a thorough directory of businesses, so if a call is received by a business with bad history, the screen alerts the user that the call may be from a suspected spammer. Users can block the number and report the call as a spammer, and conversely, they can mark it as legitimate.
Google is taking additional steps to help users ignore spam calls by automatically sending them to voicemail instead of letting them ring; filtered calls will appear in history and voicemails will show up in the respective tab. In the coming weeks, Nexus, Pixel and Android One devices will gain spam filtering. Users who want to join the beta will be required to provide in-app feedback as with most beta programs and are reminded that the beta Google Phone app is in development, that it may be unstable and have a few problems. Users wanting to participate in the app can do so by going to the Google Play Store listing for the Phone app and scroll down to “Become a tester” in order to join.
Beware of Verizon Wireless Scam
April 3, 2018
Today I got a call that claimed to be from Verizon’s Fraud Department. They claimed that a fraudulent purchase was made on the account out of Florida and that they needed to get my account password. I let the guy talk, as opposed to just hanging up on them (or falling for the scam and providing him with my account information).
Verizon doesn’t do this. They have an SOP and cold-calling their customers isn’t part of it. Same with calls from barely-understandable “Technical Support Department” people telling you that a computer in your house has a virus. It’s all a scam.
Anyway, the moral of this story is to treat calls like this with hostile skepticism. Hang up, pick up the phone and call the company in question directly. Provide the company with the information you secured from the phone call and the number from which they called. You never know who will be helped by this share.
iOS Content Blockers
March 29, 2018
Mobile device browser content blockers are becoming popular as more websites offer up more advertising in the way of ads and tracking, images, scripts, social media buttons and comments making the browsing experience less than enjoyable. Content blocking has become more popular among consumers and are a way of telling publishers and companies who advertise on websites that they want a less intrusive web experience. There are many ad blocker apps available with some differences in terms of options, and many allowing what is called “whitelisting” for those consumers who want to support sites they visit frequently by allowing advertising impressions.
Some ad blockers are free to download and try out, but to get a full list of features which enable the software more effective, you will need to pay via an in-app purchase.
How does an ad blocker work?
People are accidentally setting off Apple’s Emergency SOS alert
March 19, 2018
If you sleep on your Apple Watch the wrong way, you might get a wake-up call from the police. That’s what happened to Jason Rowley, who tweeted about the incident earlier this week. Using his watch as a sleep tracker, he ended up holding down the crown button to trigger an emergency call to the police, who showed up in his bedroom at 1AM. Rowley told us the police were friendly and helpful, and accustomed to WatchOS misdials like this one.