Apple was at the forefront of technology for many years. But since Steve Jobs died the company has not brought out any radically new products and may have even missed a few opportunities along the way, writes BRIAN PEREIRA of Digital Creed.
I have been a keen observer of Apple for many years and have bought some of its products for personal use. There’s no doubt that Apple changes the status quo in technology with its exemplary products that are far ahead of the competition. However, after Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, we have not seen a radically new product (that’s if you exclude Apple Watch). In the post-Jobs era, Apple has been making incremental changes to its existing product lines. It gave us lighter, sleeker products with new colors like Rose Gold. And it has introduced new features like wireless earphones (AirPods), TouchID (fingerprint ID sensor), USB-C, Siri and the much publicized omission of the headphone jack.
However, Apple missed the boat for a number of innovations that other companies now have. These are:
- Dual rear cameras (Huawei Honor phones)
- Smart homes (Amazon Echo, Google Nest, Philips Hue etc)
- Autonomous vehicles (Tesla)
- Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality (Oculus Rift, Sony Playstation VR, HTC Vibe, Microsoft Hololens)
We know that the next version of the iPhone will have dual rear cameras. But Apple is playing catch-up. Instead, it should really reverse the trend and set the standards.
Having said that, I am grateful to Apple (and its team of engineers) for giving us light laptops with 12-hour battery life. How many other laptops can you find that are so light and run all day long?
I am also thankful for the iPod and the iPhone — that set new standards for the music, movie and telecom industries. In the 1980s, I could never have imagined carrying thousands of songs (and CDs) in my pocket! I mixed C-90 cassette tapes myself, and the maximum I could squeeze in (both sides) was 24 songs! Fraunhofer Institute also gets the credit for creating MP3.
I think the future of technology will be governed by software (not hardware). Intelligent software that preempts actions, prompts, informs, and acts proactively — will be in demand. And natural human interfaces will be the norm. Anyone should be able to use the software with minimum training. We should be able to use it in the most natural ways.
Yet, beneath those simple interfaces lie layers of complexity, hidden away from us. There would be complex algorithms for machine learning, enabled by artificial intelligence. And development could become code-less – a drag-and-drop affair.
That’s the big opportunity for Apple. It needs to become a software company first and then a gadgets maker.
Over the years Apple has made some great software, with simple, intuitive, visually appealing interfaces. Even toddlers can use its software with minimal training. That’s why Apple has a lot of success in the education and creative industries.
So Apple does have the capabilities to make this intelligent software. It can borrow notes from Salesforce, for example. Salesforce is the maker of a popular CRM application. It has now embedded artificial intelligence into all its products. So the applications study customer and transactional data, and using analytics, throws back intelligent suggestions at salespersons and marketers. This makes them a lot more productive. You can read more about it here.
In conclusion, I have to say that the opportunities for Apple lie in intelligent software.
The ‘i’ that prefixes its product names should now stand for ‘intelligent’.
* Brian Pereira has been tracking technology since 1989. He is the former editor of CHIP and InfomationWeek magazines in India. He now blogs at www.digitalcreed.in
Bring your network with you
At last week’s Critical Communications World, Motorola unveiled the LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. It allows rescue personal to set up dedicated LTE networks for communication in an emergency, writes SEAN BACHER.
In the event of an emergency, communications are absolutely critical, but the availability of public phone networks are limited due to weather conditions or congestion.
Motorola realised that this caused a problem when trying to get rescue personnel to those in need and so developed its LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. The product is the smallest and lightest full powered broadband network to date and allows the first person on the scene to set up an LTE network in a matter of minutes, allowing other rescue team members to communicate with each other.
“The LXN 500 weighs six kilograms and comes in a backpack with two batteries. It offers a range of 1km and allows up to 100 connections at the same time. However, in many situations the disaster area may span more than 1km which is why they can be connected to each other in a mesh formation,” says Tunde Williams, Head of Field and Solutions Marketing EMEA, Motorola Solutions.
The LXN 500 solution offers communication through two-way radios, and includes mapping, messaging, push-to-talk, video and imaging features onboard, thus eliminating the need for any additional hardware.
Data collected on the device can then be sent through to a central control room where an operator can deploy additional rescue personnel where needed. Once video is streamed into the control room, realtime analytics and augmented reality can be applied to it to help predict where future problem points may arise. Video images and other multimedia can also be made available for rescuers on the ground.
“Although the LXN 500 was designed for the seamless communications between on ground rescue teams and their respective control rooms, it has made its way into the police force and in places where there is little or no cellular signal such as oil rigs,” says Williams.
He gave a hostage scenario: “In the event of a hostage situation, it is important for the police to relay information in realtime to ensure no one is hurt. However the perpetrators often use their mobile phones to try and foil any rescue attempts. Should the police have the correct partnerships in place they are able to disable cellular towers in the vicinity, preventing any in or outgoing calls on a public network and allowing the police get their job done quickly and more effectively.”
By disabling any public networks in the area, police are also able to eliminate any cellular detonated bombs from going off but still stay in touch with each other he says.
The LXN 500 offers a wide range of mission critical cases and is sure to transform communications and improve safety for first responders and the people they are trying to protect.
Kaspersky moves to Switzerland
As part of its Global Transparency Initiative, Kaspersky Lab is adapting its infrastructure to move a number of core processes from Russia to Switzerland.
This includes customer data storage and processing for most regions, as well as software assembly, including threat detection updates. To ensure full transparency and integrity, Kaspersky Lab is arranging for this activity to be supervised by an independent third party, also based in Switzerland.
Global transparency and collaboration for an ultra-connected world
The Global Transparency Initiative, announced in October 2017, reflects Kaspersky Lab’s ongoing commitment to assuring the integrity and trustworthiness of its products. The new measures are the next steps in the development of the initiative, but they also reflect the company’s commitment to working with others to address the growing challenges of industry fragmentation and a breakdown of trust. Trust is essential in cybersecurity, and Kaspersky Lab understands that trust is not a given; it must be repeatedly earned through transparency and accountability.
The new measures comprise the move of data storage and processing for a number of regions, the relocation of software assembly and the opening of the first Transparency Center.
Relocation of customer data storage and processing
By the end of 2019, Kaspersky Lab will have established a data center in Zurich and in this facility, will store and process all information for users in Europe, North America, Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea, with more countries to follow. This information is shared voluntarily by users with the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) an advanced, cloud-based system that automatically processes cyberthreat-related data.
Relocation of software assembly
Kaspersky Lab will relocate to Zurich its ‘software build conveyer’ — a set of programming tools used to assemble ready to use software out of source code. Before the end of 2018, Kaspersky Lab products and threat detection rule databases (AV databases) will start to be assembled and signed with a digital signature in Switzerland, before being distributed to the endpoints of customers worldwide. The relocation will ensure that all newly assembled software can be verified by an independent organisation and show that software builds and updates received by customers match the source code provided for audit.
Establishment of the first Transparency Center
The source code of Kaspersky Lab products and software updates will be available for review by responsible stakeholders in a dedicated Transparency Center that will also be hosted in Switzerland and is expected to open this year. This approach will further show that generation after generation of Kaspersky Lab products were built and used for one purpose only: protecting the company’s customers from cyberthreats.
Independent supervision and review
Kaspersky Lab is arranging for the data storage and processing, software assembly, and source code to be independently supervised by a third party qualified to conduct technical software reviews. Since transparency and trust are becoming universal requirements across the cybersecurity industry, Kaspersky Lab supports the creation of a new, non-profit organisation to take on this responsibility, not just for the company, but for other partners and members who wish to join.