25 Sep 2012
Each time a new version of iOS launches, a huge number of iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users quickly grab the update. The adoption rate is quite amazing and in fact, it has got better since iOS 5 launched last year due to over the air updates being available.
Chitika has done some analysis of the numbers and found that within the first 48 hours that 25% of iOS devices were running iOS 6. Comparing that to the latest version of Android which is currently Jelly Bean 4.1, we see a HUGE difference in uptake. At the moment Jelly Bean is only on 1.2% of devices and it has been available far longer than 48 hours. In fact, it has been available since early July this year.
So why do iOS users update far quicker than Android users? There are a couple of reasons for this. Let me explain below:
First, Apple control all hardware and software for iOS and the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. This means that there are only a handful of devices available and as Apple have built those few devices they can quickly make compatible versions for all the latest generations which is currently the iPhone 3GS up to the iPhone 5 as well as the iPad 2 and 3. All except the latest generation of the iPhone run the same screen size although the 3GS has a lot lower PPI. But, we are talking about 2 screen sizes and 3 different resolutions which isn’t many (for the iPhone that is).
Second, Apple doesn’t let carriers control the updates. All updates are pushed out by Apple either over the air or via a download in iTunes.
If we quickly compare that to Android:
First, many hardware manufacturers create devices that run the Android operating system. As of May this year there were apparently 3,997 different devices that run the operating system. Each have one of many screen resolutions and sizes which need to be taken in to consideration.
Second, carriers often control the updates for Android devices on their networks. The reason is that they each need to adapt the software to be more compatible as well as bake in changes to make it a “Sprint” device for example. The main group of users who get the latest seems to fall in the line of those that run an official Google Nexus device of the latest or previous generation. Most others get updates, if at all, months later.
Although this is just an unfortunate way of how it works on Android… ie, the diversity of devices and manufacturers and carriers, it does show the benefit of a single operating system running on a handful of devices all updatable on the same day. The downside for Apple of course is that users get little in the way of diversification. You typically get stuck on a similar device that runs the same OS that cannot be customised too much, unless you jailbreak of course.
The Apple model works great for many, think 5 million sales of the iPhone 5 last weekend, while for Android, it works great for those users because they get to customise their device and choose from a plethora of different devices of which one will suit their needs.
What OS do you prefer and why? Does the easiness of the Apple updates… ie, knowing your device will probably get it, make you sway towards Apple? Lets not get in to any fanboy type stuff here. It really is OK for someone to prefer Apple while another prefer Android although I’m still interested to know which OS you prefer and why.
15 Sep 2012
If you run your own website/blog and use Google Analytics to track the data, you should now be seeing in your organic keyword list a label of (not provided) which will likely be at the top of the list accounting for a large percentage of traffic. If you watch your analytics account regularly you might also have noticed that this number seems to be constantly increasing in percentage share of all keyword searches. The image below shows what one particular keyword search shows:
For those of you who use the keyword list to find related topics to write about, it seems that Google is ironing this practice out a little.
The changes began happening on the 18th October 2011 when Google made the switch from http://www.google.com to https://www.google.com for users that are signed in to the service. Notice the https on the latter which means that all searches done are secure when users are logged in which in turn means that the keyword data is not passed on to Google Analytics. A graph showing the effect can be seen in the image below. Note that the flat line seen at the left (oldest date) is completely flat for years before and suddenly starts ramping up on the 18th October 2012 although it seems to take a few days for the effect to kick in.
Also notice that sometime in March that there is another large increase (perhaps double) suddenly. This I cannot track right now, but is possibly related to a particular popular browser forcing all Google users to the https version and thus, obscuring more keyword information.
What can you do with the (not provided) data?
Although you wont be able to see the keyword information as Google doesn’t add this to Analytics for HTTPS searches, what you can still see is a breakdown of what pages were viewed. To do this you can click on the (Not Provided) link found in the organic keyword search information and then see the graph above. Just below the graph are several boxes which one of them is called “Secondary dimension”. Click on this option and type in Landing Page in the little search box and then click on the Landing Page box that appears just below. What you will see next is a list of landing pages each with (Not Provided) to the left of them. If you run a high traffic website where various pages have 1000’s of visits over a few months then you will probably notice that the top set of the pages tends to be in the same order as the ones with keywords (your top pages report). But, with lower traffic sites, or the pages that don’t get viewed much on a high traffic site, you still might find some insight in to what type of content you should be adding to your site.
15 Sep 2012
Google is keeping to its promise by dropping support for Internet Explorer 8 on Google Apps. The reason for this dates back to a blog post made last year when Google stated that only the current version and immediate prior version will be supported of any browser. At the moment that means both IE8 and IE9 are supported. Next month Microsoft will be launching Internet Explorer 10 (26th Oct 2012) which means that supported versions after that on Google Apps will be IE9 or IE10 with support for IE8 dropping out.
Dropping IE8 could cause problems for some users
Dropping a version of a browser isn’t really big news as it only prompts the user to update to a more modern, faster and more secure version of the browser. The problem lies with Windows XP… you see, the latest version of Internet Explorer that will run on that operating system is Internet Explorer 8. At the moment, 42% of Windows users are on XP which means that a large number of them will struggle to access Google Apps. Although Apps will likely work there will be some functions that will not and as time goes on and technology advances there will be more warnings and errors as well as things that simply do not work within apps.
What can XP users do to carry on working with Google Apps?
There are several options. If you use Windows XP at home then one option is to install another browser such as Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari. The latest versions of those will run and will fully support Google Apps on Windows XP.
If you are a corporate user then unfortunately you are at the mercy of your IT team and management above them. Some companies might already have plans in place, specifically those companies that utilise Google Apps. An option here is to also install one of the other browsers, but some companies will not allow you to do that yourself.
Perhaps the easiest option is to use a “new to me” plugin called Google Chrome Frame. Google Chrome Frame is a free plugin that gets installed on older versions of Internet Explorer and allows you to use those older versions of IE while utilising more modern web browser features. As the name suggests, you are running Google Chrome in a frame on Internet Explorer.
In my opinion, the best option is to try install another browser such as Chrome and if that doesn’t work, try use the Google Chrome Frame plugin mentioned above.
As for the lifespan of Windows XP, Microsoft has currently listed the end of life data as April 2014 which means that after that point there will be no more security updates and development work done. Perhaps now is a good time to plan saving for a new computer within the next 18 or so months although I have to admit that I still use Windows XP on some computers and still think it works extremely good. It’s a shame to see it killed off although in 2014 it is far over a decade old which is quite an impressive life span.
14 Sep 2012
I mentioned yesterday that the iPhone 5 was announced recently. Today the pre-orders went active around 8am in the UK. Within just a few hours, the first batch of pre-orders have now sold out. This means that any pre-orders made now will be shipped 2 – 3 weeks after the release date of September 21.
How can you get an iPhone 5 at launch?
Obviously the online Apple store is not an option, so what I would suggest you take one of the following options:
1.)Queue up at the store on the morning of launch. Apple stores tend to have more stock than non-Apple stores, so your best bet is to wait in line. Some who are extreme queue up for days before the event and camp out, but having attended the iPhone 4 launch my self, it took just a few hours in a queue from arriving at the time the shop opened.
2.)You could try the various carriers. A number of them such as Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and O2 will be selling the device although at the moment it isn’t clear when they will be shipping out the new smartphone to users. This might be an option should you want it on contract to lessen the blow of the £529 price tag.
3.)Try an Apple reseller. These stores in the UK are occasionally tucked away in a corner somewhere and queues can be a lot lower. Some even take reservations over the phone if you let them know which model you get.
Other than that, you might be able to pick one up at somewhere like Carphone warehouse although I suggest you hunt around.
As with all, or most, iPhone launches, Apple runs out of stock quite quickly so in the future it’s best to just try and order as soon as pre-orders open up if you want to avoid queues and have the device delivered to your door.
12 Sep 2012
I wrote a couple of weeks back about two-step authentication that was added to Dropbox and how it can make your Dropbox account more secure. Two-step authentication is only part of the challenge though and only protects you from people trying to break in to your account. What happens when one of your Dropbox devices is stolen? Unfortunately the results can be grim depending on how secure you have kept the device that was stolen although there is hope for iOS and Android users. Let me take you through a quick guide on what you can do to make things a little safer and potentially remotely remove files that are stored in Dropbox on that device that was stolen.
First things first, all aspects of security need to be thought about. Remember that if you run Dropbox on a Mac or Windows laptop or desktop computer then ALL files are typically copied locally unless you specify otherwise. This means that if someone gets your computer and you have no password or a week password then the intruder can simply open up your local Dropbox folder and have access.
My first quick recommendation is log in to Dropbox on the web (if you use two-step authentication then make sure you already have your backup password if your phone that gets the authentication code is the one that is stolen). When logged in, click your name at the top right and then on Settings. When the settings have loaded up, go to the Security tab and unlink the device so that it is no longer connected to your account. Unfortunately, this doesn’t include a remote wipe, so if they have access to files then you are simply preventing them from accessing your online Dropbox account and making any changes.
I recommend full-disk encryption
When laptop or desktop devices are stolen I more worry about the data that is stored than the device that is stolen. If I have good enough backups then the computer can be replaced and although annoying and leaving you with a vulnerable feeling, your data is safe. But, if you have no backup and lose your data, that is way more costly.
There is a risk with storing information anywhere. If information isn’t protected correctly then potentially anybody can gain access to it. This is why I recommend you use encryption. I personally use full disk encryption on the Mac although if you just want to keep files in a secure folder, you could potentially just secure that particular folder. For more information on why it is important to secure your device with a password and encrypt the data, take a read of my full disk encryption post. This also includes instructions or links to instructions on how you could secure your data.
Should an encrypted device with a good password be stolen then you can take more comfort in the fact that the intruder will likely just reformat the device and use the hardware. In a lot of cases the intruder is interested in the hardware.
What if your iOS or Android Dropbox device is stolen?
Luckily with iOS the device doesn’t store files locally (typically). By simply using the unlink method mentioned above you can disconnect your stolen iPad or iPhone from Dropbox and when the intruder loads up the app they VERY briefly see a list of folders and files but in less than a second they are taken back to the login/register screen.
The same, I believe, is the case for Android although I have been unable to test as I have no available Android device. Users on the Dropbox forum indicate that Android will also be presented a registration screen when the device is unlocked.
Another option, and one that all iOS users should have active, is Find my iPhone which comes part of icloud.com and is built-in for free on iOS 4+ devices in the mail/calendar settings menu. Activate this and if your device is stolen you can track it, lock it, remotely wipe it or set an alarm on it with a message. My preferred method is to use an 8-digit pin (company restrictions mandate this to get email). I’d first unlink from Dropbox as it’s quick and easy. I’d then remotely lock with a stronger password and track for a while and if no luck with that, I’d initiate a remote wipe.
Either way, if your iOS device running Dropbox is stolen a simply unlink in Dropbox’s web interface will clear the contents for you.
How to prepare now
Although the chances are that you are reading this because of a Dropbox device being stolen, hopefully it can bring some hope in that if you are on Android or iOS then you can simply unlink. But, if you are reading this and your device hasn’t been stolen then go enable two-step authentication now and look at adding passwords to all devices as well as encryption and backups where possible. It’s all about preventing access both virtual through a hack or physical through encryption to ensure that your data doesn’t get in to the wrong hands.