|January 2018 Newsletter
Spectre and Meltdown: Fear not
Two new microprocessor vulnerabilities, dubbed Spectre and Meltdown respectively, were discovered recently. These vulnerabilities are security holes that could leave Apple users susceptible to having their devices hacked. Spectre and Meltdown are not Apple specific problems—they're actually flaws in the design of the chips inside computers—so PC and Android users have just as much to worry about with this.
Happily, Apple has already patched Meltdown. In fact Apple did it last month. So if you're running iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, or tvOS 11.2 (AppleWatch is immune), you're okay. Further, if your Mac is running macOS 10.12.6 Sierra or macOS 10.11.6 El Capitan, you also got this patched by last month's Security Update.
We've been saying for awhile now that you can only be secure if you're running one of the three latest versions of macOS (High Sierra, Sierra, or El Capitan), so if you're on an older version, this latest affair is another example of why you should update your Mac. (Note that we do not yet recommend 10.13 High Sierra.) As always, if you need assistance with upgrading an operating system, please contact us.
On the iOS side of things, you should upgrade your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to iOS 11.2. If your device won't run iOS 11, you should buy a new device. As someone who likes to eke every last ounce of value from my purchases, it almost pains me to advise folks to buy a new iPhone or iPad, but in this age of computer hackers, you must be running a secure operating system. If you can't, you need a new device.
Spectre is not yet patched but will be in the next week or two. Because of how Spectre works, the biggest danger is from advertising when you visit web sites. (And you thought you hated online ads before!)
One thing that will help (if not solve the problem) is to install an ad blocker on your web browser. There are a bevy of good ad blockers out there; these days we're partial to UBlock which is open source and which has worked very well in our testing. As an added benefit, installing an ad blocker will make your web pages load faster.
As always, we can be of service in this, please let us know.
Apple Pay Cash
Apple Pay Cash is Apple’s new person-to-person payment service, designed to make it easy for individuals to send and receive money. It’s perfect for repaying a friend who buys concert tickets or a relative who picks up some groceries for you. Or rather, it’s perfect if your friends and relatives use iPhones with iOS 11.2 or later—for green-bubble Android acquaintances, Apple Pay Cash won't work. Here’s how to start using Apple Pay Cash.
First, if you haven’t yet enabled Apple Pay, go to Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay > Add Credit or Debit Card, and follow the prompts to add at least a debit card. You’ll also need two-factor authentication turned on in Settings > Your Name > Password & Security—regardless of Apple Pay, two-factor authentication is essential for security. With Apple Pay enabled, tap Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay > Apple Pay Cash and run through the setup process. You might also be asked to verify your identity after setup—it’s necessary to send or receive more than $500 in total.
When you’re done, you’ll end up with a new Apple Pay Cash card in the Wallet app. It’s a virtual card that stores money you receive and works like any other debit card for payments. If it doesn’t have enough money on it to cover a payment, you can choose any other debit or credit card you’ve added to Apple Pay. You can also add money to it or withdraw money to a linked bank account. You’ll want to use a debit card when adding money or paying beyond your balance with Apple Pay Cash, since then there is no transaction fee. A credit card incurs a 3% fee.
To send or request money via Apple Pay Cash, you use its Messages app, which is installed automatically. While in an iMessage thread (blue bubbles) with the person with whom you want to exchange money, make sure the app drawer is showing (tap the app button if necessary) and then tap the Apple Pay button in the drawer.
A panel appears with a dollar amount, + and – buttons, and buttons for Request and Pay. Use the + and – buttons to set the amount, or tap the dollar amount to show a keypad where you can enter an exact amount, with cents if necessary. Then tap Request or Pay to insert the transaction into the message. It won’t be sent until you tap the black send button, so if you change your mind, you can tap the little x to delete. Lastly, you’ll be prompted to verify the transaction in the usual Apple Pay fashion, which means authenticating with Face ID on the iPhone X or Touch ID on all other iPhones.
You can even use Siri to initiate transfers—“Send my mother $15.” or “Ask my sister for $4.99.” And if you have an Apple Watch with watchOS 4.2 or later, you can also send money from the Messages app, or send or request money via Siri. On the watch, double-press the side button to confirm the transaction.
Frankly, the only downside to Apple Pay Cash is that it works only within the Apple world. But as long as you want to exchange money with Apple-using friends and relatives, it’s fast, easy, reliable, and one less reason to visit the ATM.
Amazon Prime Video finally comes to AppleTV
A $99-per-year Amazon Prime membership provides various perks, including free 2-day shipping from the Amazon online store and streaming access to Amazon’s media libraries. But for Apple TV users, accessing Prime Video content has been frustrating, because there was no Amazon app for the Apple TV.
That has all changed now, and if you have an Amazon Prime membership and an Apple TV, it’s time to download the free new Amazon Prime Video app. It gives you a boatload of additional video content, including Amazon’s original programming (like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which I've heard is very funny). Find it on your fourth-generation Apple TV or Apple TV 4K in the App Store app. If you are still using a third-generation Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video should appear automatically on your Apple TV Home screen.
Notable is that for all the excitement of finally having a Amazon Prime Video app for AppleTV, it's been pretty poorly received in terms of how the app itself both looks and works. Ultimately, all that matters is being able to see the content you want on your AppleTV, but don't expect the Amazon Prime Video app to be without some usability frustrations.
Lower battery replacement prices for iPhone 6 and later
Did you hear about the battery-related controversy swirling around Apple at the end of 2017? There has been much hue and cry about how, starting with iOS 10.2.1, iOS has been slowing down iPhones with old, weak batteries to avoid unexpected shutdowns.
In response, Apple posted A Message to Our Customers about iPhone Batteries and Performance
to explain what was going on. Apple announced that it would reduce the price of out-of-warranty battery replacements for the iPhone 6 and later from $79 to $29 through December 2018
. The company also said that an upcoming iOS update would give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone battery.
The practical upshot of this is that if you have an iPhone 6 or later that suffers from short battery life or unexpected shutdowns, make sure to take advantage of the $29 replacement price this year.
Referrals and recommendations
One of our goals for 2018 is to add another Apple technician so that we can serve you faster.
We're trying to get the word out about our company and the services we offer, and we could use your help. If you know of anyone who's a Mac user or considering becoming a Mac user, we'd appreciate it if you'd pass along our name and contact info.
Another way to help us is to write us a testimonial. If you've enjoyed your experience with us, be it onsite, remote, or through Sentinel, we'd love to have a statement from you saying so (send to email@example.com). We'd love to feature your words on our web site or other outreach materials. Thank you!