Tag Archives: network

Apple drops discoveryd in latest OS X beta following months of network issues

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 3.56.16 PM

After many complaints from the developer community about poor networking performance on Yosemite, the latest beta of OS X 10.10.4 has dropped discoveryd in favor of the old process used by previous versions of the Mac operating system. This should address many of the network stability issues introduced with Yosemite and its new networking stack.

The discoveryd process has been subject to much criticism in recent months as it causes users to regularly drop WiFi access and causes network shares to list many times over, due to bugs. Many developers, such as Craig Hockenberry, have complained about the buggy software and workarounds have been found to include substituting the older system (called mDNSResponder) back into Yosemite.

discoveryd would cause random crashes, duplicate names on the network and many other WiFi-relate bugs. In the latest beta, Apple appears to have applied the same fix as the enthusiasts by axing discoveryd completely.

Looking at Activity Monitor on OS X 10.10.4 seed 4, discoveryd is no longer loaded by the system — instead relying on mDNSResponder. The ‘new’ process is really the one Apple used to use pre-Yosemite and did not have these problems.

It is still unclear why the change in the networking stack was ever made given that the old process worked so well and the new process had so many issues. There has been some speculation that the new stack is related to AirDrop and Handoff functionality although testing showed that these features still worked when the system was reverted back to the old process.

Regardless, it will please many to see that Apple has finally addressed these complaints, even if it embarrassingly involves going back to the old system rather than fixing the new code. OS X 10.10.4 will be released to the public in the coming months.

Apple is focusing on performance and stability for iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, so it will be interesting to see whether discoveryd makes a comeback in Apple’s next-generation operating system.

Filed under: AAPL Company, iOS, iOS Devices, Mac, Tech Industry Tagged: Apple, bugs, discoveryd, fixes, flaws, Network, OS X, problems, yosemite

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2013 Apple TV revision gets its first exclusive feature: iOS 8’s Peer-to-Peer AirPlay


When Apple released Apple TV software update 7.0 earlier this month, it came with support for new iOS 8 features including the new Peer-to-Peer AirPlay feature. First announced when Apple unveiled iOS 8 earlier this year, Peer-to-Peer AirPlay allows users on iOS 8 and the upcoming OS X Yosemite release to stream content to an Apple TV without having to connect to the same wireless network. What we didn’t know at the time, however, is that the feature is limited to only the latest Apple TV hardware:

Peer-to-peer AirPlay requires a Mac device (2012 or later) running OS X 10.10 or an iOS device (2012 or later) running iOS 8 and an Apple TV third-generation rev A (model A1469) running Apple TV software 7.0.

Apple updated a support document and its website days after the Apple TV software released to mention the requirement above. While we already knew the latest Apple TV update was limited to third-gen models, it appears Apple will only offer peer-to-peer AirPlay on model A1469. That’s the refreshed third-gen Apple TV it quietly released in March 2013 with upgraded internals, although it’s unclear exactly why the feature is limited to the newest hardware. It also makes for the first feature exclusive to the latest 2013 Apple TV hardware.

If you purchased your third-gen Apple TV before then, you’re likely out of luck for the new Peer-to-Peer sharing feature.  You can learn how to check which model you have here.

Filed under: Apps, iOS Tagged: A1469, AirPlay, Apple, Apple TV, iOS 8, Network, peer-to-peer, requirements, Rev A, third-gen

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Condé Nast’s Epicurious teams up w/ Swirl for in-store iBeacon experience


After announcing it would take advantage of iBeacons deployed by inMarket in grocery stores back in April, today Condé Nast’s Epicurious is announcing a partnership with another iBeacon network to further expand the context-sensitive notifications beamed to its users. Swirl, the same company behind recent beacon deployments in Hudson’s Bay Company and Lord & Taylor, will now deliver location-aware notifications to the Epicurious app via its network of beacons already deployed in retailers:

Starting this week, the in-store digital experiences will be available to users of the Epicurious iPhone app who have opted-in to receiving local content. These in-store experiences are being piloted in select markets, where Epicurious mobile app users will receive culinary and lifestyle content and offers while they shop… Lifestyle brands like Epicurious have the ability to leverage Swirl’s growing network of retail partners to extend their brand experiences with highly relevant content, services and offers that are delivered seamlessly to consumers where and when it is most valuable.

While some retailers have opted to deploy their own iBeacons and accompanying app experience for users, existing apps like Epicurious and others are taking advantage of continually growing beacon networks like those deployed by Swirl and inMarket. As these types of beacon networks continue to grow and partner with more apps, I expect we’ll see more and more retail stores embracing the approach of allowing multiple, third-party apps to offer beacon experiences in-store.

The announcement today didn’t elaborate on which specific stores with Swirl beacons would be sending notifications to the Epicurious app, but Swirl’s current list of retail stores with deployments includes Lord & Taylor, Hudson’s Bay, Alex and Ani, Timberland, and Kenneth Cole stores across North America. 

Epicurious and Swirl Networks Partner to Bring iBeacon-Powered Mobile Experiences to In-Store Shoppers                                    

BOSTON, MA and NEW YORK, NEW YORK; Aug 8, 2014 – Epicurious, a Condé Nast brand, and award-winning lifestyle web and mobile platform, is partnering with Swirl Networks to bring exclusive in-store digital experiences to its broad audience of lifestyle enthusiasts. Swirl is the leading enterprise-class beacon marketing platform, powered by Bluetooth Smart® and Apple’s iBeacon technology. Swirl beacons installed in retail shopping locations throughout North America will be used to trigger delivery of value added lifestyle content and personalized offers to over 9 million Epicurious mobile app users.

Starting this week, the in-store digital experiences will be available to users of the Epicurious iPhone app who have opted-in to receiving local content. These in-store experiences are being piloted in select markets, where Epicurious mobile app users will receive culinary and lifestyle content and offers while they shop.

Swirl’s beacon marketing platform allows leading retailers and publishers to deliver engaging and value-added digital content to consumers’ smartphones while they shop in specific areas of a retail store. Lifestyle brands like Epicurious have the ability to leverage Swirl’s growing network of retail partners to extend their brand experiences with highly relevant content, services and offers that are delivered seamlessly to consumers where and when it is most valuable. With a growing network of Swirl-enabled third party mobile apps, retailers are able to engage and influence a wide audience of in-store shoppers. Mobile app users who opt-in to the service receive digital content and offers automatically based on their specific location and behavior in participating retail stores. Swirl has previously announced retail store beacon deployments at Lord & Taylor, Hudson’s Bay, Alex and Ani, Timberland, and Kenneth Cole stores across North America.

“Epicurious can now make everyday shopping experiences more rewarding by delivering our high quality lifestyle tips, ideas and content directly to consumers at the very moment decisions are being made,” said Carolyn Kremins, SVP and General Manager, Epicurious. “The Swirl platform helps deliver these experiences in contextual and relevant ways while consumers shop. This new capability provides us with the opportunity to create additional value for Epicurious consumers and advertising partners alike.”

“With the vast majority of consumers already using their smartphones while they shop in retail stores, our partnership with Condé Nast will create even greater value for shoppers and retailers,” said Hilmi Ozguc, founder and CEO of Swirl. “Marrying the latest mobile marketing technology with highly relevant content from Condé Nast’s lifestyle brands will help consumers make more informed and inspired purchasing decisions whenever and wherever they shop.” 

Filed under: Apps Tagged: app, Beacon, Condé Nast, Epicurious, Hudson's Bay, iBeacon, iPhone, Network, shopping list, Swirl

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Steve Jobs had plans to make free, shared Wi-Fi the norm to improve iPhone experience


There were lots of hints that Steve Jobs was interested in changing the way we all access the internet on the devices he helped create. Back in 2011 there were reports that Apple considered developing its own network for the original iPhone that could potentially replace traditional carrier services using Wi-Fi spectrum. Before that rumours claimed Jobs was interested in Fon, a WiFi sharing service that encourages users to share wireless internet access with others. Today, Walt Mossberg from ReCode shares another story about Jobs’ interest in a world of shared Wi-Fi, describing a conversation between the two where Jobs shared his vision of making free Wi-Fi the norm:

The first iPhone had a lousy, sluggish, cellular-data network, but it also had a much faster data option: Wi-Fi. It even had a feature (still present, but much less touted) that popped up a list of nearby Wi-Fi networks on the screen, so you could always find one in range… But, he once told me, there was a big problem with that technique, one that he wanted to fix: Most of the Wi-Fi networks that popped up on his screen couldn’t be used, because they were secured with passwords. Jobs said he understood the need for security, but he was determined to figure out a way to make free, safe, Wi-Fi sharing from homes and small local businesses not only possible, but common.

Mossberg also claims that Jobs planned to “get other companies involved, in a sort of consortium” to make his vision a reality. The plan, according to the report, was to get manufacturers building wireless routers to build-in an option for a shared, guest network walled off from the user’s personal home network. “Then, he hoped that the industry would encourage people to share their bandwidth with strangers via these guest networks. That way, a smartphone user could walk around, moving from one Wi-Fi hotspot to another, without logging in — much like people using cellular data move from one cell tower to another.”

The report notes that Apple and others have since built in a guest network option into their wireless routers, but that it’s unclear if that came as part of Jobs’ push for the feature or how far along he actually came in developing his idea.

Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Fon, guest, iPhone, Network, routers, shared, Steve Jobs, wifi, Wireless

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Apple’s high-performance Content Distribution Network reportedly moves forward as deals are made with ISPs

apple tv streaming

Apple is quietly negotiating with some of the largest ISPs in the country in order to roll out their own Content Distribution Network, which would help ensure faster and more reliable downloads for iTunes content, iCloud data, and software (via StreamingMediaBlog). Apple has previously made strides to improve its networking infrastructure, including purchasing hardware to boost performance and creating a team dedicated to improving download speeds. It is also opening new Data Centers at a frenetic pace.

The creation of these deals with Internet Service Providers comes amid a firestorm surrounding net neutrality and peering deals of this type. Apple recently declined to join a group of 100 tech companies backing Net Neutrality in a written statement to the FCC.

Apple typically accounts for 2% of all internet traffic during peak hours in the US, though that number increases dramatically whenever they release a major software update — when iOS 7 was released, Apple’s content accounted for 40% of all traffic.

Apple would be building their own CDN for various reasons. iCloud infamously has had performance issues, but it also helps to put servers closer to users. Even with data centers on both coasts, Apple is still a long way away from most of its customers.

Similarly, a strong network is needed for streaming content like music and movies to devices. The Apple TV is no longer a hobby, and it is built around the concept of streaming content.

Regardless, Apple’s approach would be very different from that of Netflix, which has opted to take their fight against peering deals with Internet Service Providers to the public in the name of net neutrality. Instead of this, it seems that Apple has decided to quietly make peering deals that expand its infrastructure. Perhaps that’s why Apple has not made a strong show of support for net neutrality legislation in the United States.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Apple, CDN, Content, deal, distribution, internet, ISP, negotiation, Network, Provider, service

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Why your iOS device may be a better cable box than the Apple TV

When choosing which cable provider to sign a contract with, you will undoubtably check the channel guide to see which channels are included in the package to which you are about to subscribe. You may even go a bit further and check to see if includes the HD version of your favorite channels. What you likely will not do is check to see how many channels have allowed the cable provider to access their shows from within an app on the App Store.

Despite having a growing number of channels to choose from — 189 channels on average — Nielsen data shows that most homes view just 17 different channels. Using a list of broadcast networks, the 20 most watched cable networks of 2013, and some of the top premium channels, you will find that each and every one of the top 20 networks has an iOS app in the app store. The problem is that many of them may be of no use to you as some of your favorite channels’ content will not be accessible to you at all.

Top Cable Networks

Traditional over-the-air broadcast television

Local television stations, or affiliate stations, usually have apps that are free to use and do not require any sort of subscription to a major cable provider. The easiest way to find these apps is by searching in the App Store using your local stations call letters. With a style that is more like that of a local newspaper, these apps typically offer up local news, sports and weather forecasts. Some have started to simulcast live broadcasts at the times when they air their own produced shows locally.

ABC and FOX Login to Access

If you look at six of the main over-the-air television networks, you will find full episodes of prime time and late night shows you are interested in watching. What you may find surprising is that both ABC and FOX will require you to log on with your cable provider’s credentials in order to unlock premium content. NBC and The CW do not have this requirement and will allow you to catch up on your favorite shows by providing access to full episodes that have recently aired without a cable provider.

CBS, also void of such a restriction to content, has gone more social than the others by syncing with select programs using the microphone as they air. This provides a more communal watching experience as you can log on and share opinions about the CBS show you are watching.

iOS App links for 6 major broadcast networks:

Ad-supported basic cable channels

When it comes to accessing the full content for each of the basic cable channels using apps found in the App Store, you will need to log in with credentials provided by you cable provider. However, not every cable provider will be able to grant you access to the premium content within each network’s app.

Login to Access

Using a list of the top ten networks for 2013 and 20 of the nation’s leading cable providers, each network’s app is accessible by only 12 out of the 20 different cable providers listed. Looking at it the other way around, on average each cable provider can only access content on six of the 10 of the most watched networks’ apps. Either way you have about a 60 percent chance of being able to access the premium content of your favorite network. Comcast was the only provider that could access all 10 networks whereas Time Warner was one of the providers providing access to apps from just six networks.

As you start using multiple channels’ apps more and more, you will begin to see a pattern in the way that some of the channels apps are designed. And no, this is not entirely due to the fact that episode lists, channel guides and special features can only be organized in so many ways. This is because companies like bottle rocket and dreamsocket are responsible for the development of many of the network’s apps. It would be great if more networks worked with such developers and focused more on a consistent experience. I am not going to start watching a bad show just because it has a great app, and I certainly will not stop watching a great show due to the fact that the network it is on built a terrible app.

Cable Providers Access to Network Apps

iOS App links for the top 20 cable networks of 2013:

Premium cable channels

While all premium cable channels require you to have a subscription with a cable provider in order to access content, you will likely be asked to create a personal account with the service as well. Why the extra step is required is a mystery to me, especially since you cannot keep or log on to this account when switching cable providers. After switching from AT&T U-verse to Time Warner, I was forced to create a new accounts for several of the premium channels I subscribe to. All of my old accounts still existed, I just could not access them.

Premium Channels Prior Seasons

What is great about premium cable apps is that you seem to get full access to complete episodes for all of the back seasons of the show. You can even find older series like all six seasons of the Sopranos on HBO as well as all eight seasons of Weeds on Showtime.

iOS App links for 5 leading premium cable channels:

Cable provider apps

Providing a more complete experience, cable providers’ apps share a consolidated program guide that includes a 24/7 listing of all of the network’s programs. Individual networks’ apps only provide you with the time that their prime shows air. Many cable providers now allow you to watch live TV and access an expanding list of on-demand content from each of the network channels included in your subscription. Even content from providers whose apps you could not log on to individually.

The number of episodes and seasons available will vary from network to network. The main advantage of using a network’s app over the cable provider’s app depends on whether or not the network has also added additional content and special features that the cable provider would not necessarily have access to. For the most part, the cable provider’s apps do not include access to webisodes, behind the scenes clips, and other special features included with some networks’ apps.

The most useful feature of the cable providers’ apps is the built in Wi-Fi remote control of your cable box. Access to your DVR list allows you to remotely and add programs to your recording schedule when you are not at home. Unfortunately for both AT&T as well as Time Warner, the two cable providers that I have subscribed to in recent months, I have not been able to access and play back recorded shows stored on my DVR.

Top Cable Providers

iOS App links for 8 leading cable providers:

Sure, there are definitely more direct ways of watching your favorite television program on an iOS device. Locating and activating just 20 different network apps can take some time.  But if you are already paying for cable television, you should look to see if you already have access to the shows you want to watch before buying multiple seasons on either iTunes or Amazon or filling up your DVD queue on Netflix.

If and when Apple decides to update the Apple TV to include a wider selection of the most popular channels, one could look towards what the App Store already has to offer as a sign of things to come.  If that is the case, be prepared to spend some time logging on to each and every channel, and being disappointed because your cable provider does not yet have a deal with your favorite network about 40 percent of the time.

Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:
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Amazon says it has now passed Apple and Hulu in streaming video usage


Amazon has officially passed Hulu and Apple in streaming video usage in the US, according to a press release it sent out today citing recent research from Qwilt. Amazon also announced that video streams from its Prime Instant Video service have tripled since this time last year.

Qwlit’s report shows Amazon experience a 94% traffic volume increase of users consuming video since last year and that includes streams from the service to just US broadband subscribers. The report doesn’t specify, however, what video content exactly is being tracked from Apple. Amazon also experienced growth of almost 300% in certain markets. In March of this year, only Netflix and YouTube were able to capture more online video traffic in the US:

Today, only Netflix and YouTube produce more total online video traffic in the US. Amazon”s traffic volumes, as measured by Qwilt in March of 2014, increased by 94% over the previous 12 months. In some US operator networks, between March 2013 and March 2014, Amazon”s streaming video traffic increase was nearly 300%.

Amazon’s press release today follows the announcement of its new Fire TV set top box that will be a direct competitor to Apple TV, Chromecast, and similar streaming hardware. The $99 hardware– another sign its really getting serious about video streaming services– provides access to Amazon’s Instant Video streaming services in addition to popular services like Hulu and Netflix, as well as Android games and an optional game controller.

Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Amazon, Apple, broadband, Hulu, Netflix, Network, streaming, US, usage, video

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