In tech news this week

Our take on a few of the big tech news stories from the week of 9/15/15. 

By Laura Haight
Originally published in the Upstate Business Journal as the Digital Maven column

Several worthy news stories from the technology world came out last week. I’m reading them so you don’t have to. Here’s my take on a few.

Not wowed by the Apple | Credit card security update | Win10 forced download

IS THERE A BIT OF A BRUISE ON THE APPLE?

Last week’s Apple “event” was a yawner for me. Much of what Apple had to offer seemed to be either style points (Rose Gold?) or a Apple follow up to a competitor’s product (iPad Pro).

Taken by itself, the Apple Pro is an impressive device with the potential to revitalize the tablet market, that has lagged significantly. Tablet sales dropped 5.9 percent in the first quarter of this year over the same quarter in 2014. Apple still leads the pack but that’s not saying much and its iPad sales have been falling for five consecutive quarters. But the Pro doesn’t stand alone; it is clearly a direct competitor to Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3.

Brian Blau, research director at Gartner told Fortune to succeed, the new Pro “has to enable core productivity, communications, portability and also have the necessary apps and services meant for enterprise use for the device to gain broader acceptance.”

Much is made in the reviews about the Apple Pencil and the coming integration with Microsoft and Adobe applications. The Pencil? Really? I have no less than four styli on my desk: most will work with one program only, none works very well, and all have the major problem recognizing where my wrist is resting. The same problems exist with the Surface Pen.

Is the iPad Pro the new Mac Book Air? That might give it a reason to be, although comparably equipped, the Pro is actually more expensive than the Air, which is to say, it is pretty expensive. But if tablets and 2-in-1s aim to replace the more traditional laptops (which were the replacements for desktops), they are going to need the three things this Pro doesn’t have: a real file system, a full operating system, and the capacity for multiple users to have independent profiles on the device.

Credit card security update | Win10 forced download

DOES YOUR CREDIT CARD HAVE A CHIP IN IT?

Chances are you have received a new credit card with a visible computer chip in the mail recently. This is part of a major transition to EMV Cards (EuroPay, Mastercard, Visa) implemented by the credit card payment industry to enforce stronger security and reduce liability. The new cards are significantly safer when used at a retailer (there is no additional security when used in online purchases).

However, despite the fact that this transition has been in the works for several years, only 22 percent of retailers say they are ready with EMV-compliant card readers, according to Software Advice, a market research firm. 

And what happens if they aren’t? A shift in liability that will, for the first time, make the local retailer responsible for credit card fraud expenses. If you’re a business, you should be concerned because hackers will most certainly continue to target the weak links - the old magnetic swipe terminals. If you’re a consumer, you might be interested in knowing that the Software Advice survey found that 23 percent of businesses felt the transition to EMV was “unnecessary.” That’s your security they’re talking about. And if you’ve replaced your debit/credit cards as many times in the past two or three years as I have, you know that is hardly unnecessary.

Come Oct. 1, tell your retailers that your card security matters to you and support those who take it seriously. If some of your cards haven’t been replaced yet, call your credit card company and request one.

Not wowed by the Apple  | Win10 forced download

WINDOWS 10: WHETHER YOU WANT IT OR NOT

Everyone may not be ready for Windows 10. There are still quite of few of you who aren’t ready to give up XP - 16.3 percent of PC users - despite it being unsupported, unpatched and insecure. 

But ready or not, Microsoft has started downloading Windows 10 to Windows 7 and 8 computers even if you specifically declined to upgrade. Microsoft says this is a proactive  move to make sure Windows 10 is ready when you want it. But users say its intrusive.

It’s coming via Windows Update and it’s a big download. Users are finding available bandwidth dropping and have tracked it down to this 6GB download running in the background. What can you do? Not much right now, but one thing you shouldn’t do is turn off the Windows Updates. Keeping your software secure and your data protected is Job One.

Not wowed by the Apple | Credit card security update