airpods · apfs · apple · beta · ios 10 · ipad · iphone

iOS 10.3 Public Beta 1 Released

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Yesterday, Apple released the iOS 10.3 Public Beta right on the heels of the iOS 10.3 Developer Beta.  The developer beta, was released on Tuesday.

I was a little surprised by this move, as iOS 10.3 includes a feature only a nerd’s nerd would like – the Apple File System (APFS).

APFS was announced last summer at the 2016 Apple developer’s conference, WWDC, as an experimental feature in MacOS Sierra.  APFS could only be used with SSD drives, and could not be on the boot drive.  APFS was also restricted from converting disk drives that used HFS+.  The HFS+ file system, released some 18 years ago, is the file system used on all Macs, iPhones, Watches, and Apple TV.  I was presuming that APFS wouldn’t show up for iOS until the iOS 11 beta program this summer.  It looks like Apple is moving a head, getting ready to bring APFS to iOS devices much sooner than MacOS.  Releasing an update that automatically upgrades HPF+ formatted iOS devices to the new APFS is a good sign that development has gone well and that Apple is looking for feedback ahead of a full production rollout in the future.

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In addition to APFS, the other feature that I am looking forward to playing with is the new Find My AirPods functionality that has been added to the Find My iPhone.app.  This feature will be great to help you track down that missing AirPod that is in your pants pocket, your bag, in between your couch cushions, or behind your bed.  Basically, if your AirPods have a charge and are in range of one of your Apple devices signed into your iCloud account, you will be able to get an approximate location.  (Remember, these things do not have built in GPS radios.)

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There is also a nifty Apple ID option at the top of the Settings list.  The purpose of this new setting is to give you quick access to all of your iCloud account settings and options all in one spot. Can’t remember your Apple ID email address? Need to tweak Family Sharing? Want to update your credit card information.  It’s all right here.

Wanna try out the public beta?  You really need to be ready to deal with some bugs.  That’s the whole point of using pre-release software.  I also suggest that you run beta software on an iPhone or iPad that is not your everyday or work provided device.  The last thing you need is to get stuck in a jam and not be able to make a phone call or do work.  Still interested? Head over to beta.apple.com to learn more.

apfs · ios 10 · iphone

Apple iOS 10.3 Developer Beta 1 Started Today

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Generic iOS 10 Beta update screen. via Apple.com

As expected, hot on the heels of the official release of iOS 10.2.1, Apple opened up the iOS 10.3 beta to registered paid developers today.

According to people who have already installed the new beta release, iOS 10.3 includes the new “Find My Air Pods” feature, hourly weather forecasts via 3D Touch on the Weather app icon (would be really useful today), and navigational improvements to the Mail application.

But what I found really interesting was that Apple is including the new Apple File System, APFS, early.  I wasn’t expecting APFS to make an appearance on iOS until iOS 11, presumably due out later this year.  APFS make it’s first appearance at WWDC 2016 in a preview mode so developers could get experience with it.  The current iOS, and MacOS, file system is known as HFS+, which Wikipedia tells us debuted in 1998.  Yes, your 2016 iPhone 7 is running a file system that was released 18 years ago.  And designed for a Macintosh running a Motorola 68000-series processor.  Ah, memories.

Regardless, I was expecting APFS to make its first, non-beta, appearance on the Mac since it is a smaller pool of users compared to the juggernaut that is the iPhone.  Looks like Apple is forging ahead with APFS on iOS devices first.

No word yet as to when public beta testers will be able to get in on the 10.3 beta.

[Via MacRumors…]

apple · apple tv · apple watch · ios 10 · ipad · iphone · mac · mac os x · macbook pro

Apple Software Update Monday [Updated]

Update: iTunes 12.5.5 was also released today.

Apple gave us four updates for our iDevices and Macs today.

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Earlier this afternoon, MacOS Sierra 10.12.3 arrived offering graphics improvements for the October 2016 edition MacBook Pros.  The Sierra 10.12.3 update closed up a hole in Preview that was mucking with searching scanned PDF files.

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iTunes 12.5.5 was also released for MacOS (and Windows PC) adding “minor app and performance improvements”.

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Also arriving today was 10.2.1, a minor security and bug fix update for iPhone and iPad.  watchOS 3.1.3 tagged along to give Apple Watch owners a small tune up also.

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And, last, but not least, Apple TV got a minor bump up to tvOS 10.1.1 from 10.1.

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All of today’s updates are minor security and bug fixes, with no major features or new functionality added.

Look for the iOS 10.3 beta releases to start arriving any day now.

 

airpods · apple · apple store · imac · ios 10 · ipad · iphone 7 · iphone 7 plus · mac os x · trumbull

First Thoughts on Apple AirPods and Unboxing Photos

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Earlier this week, Apple’s wireless ear buds, AirPods, when on sale in Apple Stores.  After selling out almost immediately, I finally got mine today.  What follows is my story and first impressions about getting my pair of AirPods.

The Story

I first learned about Apple’s new AirPods wireless earbuds like many of you…while watching a recording of Apple’s iPhone 7 event back on September 7th.  I was super excited about them and was looking forward to getting a pair to go with my iPhone 7 Plus. Alas, the AirPods wouldn’t be ready until “October”.  Throw in a “We need a little bit more time to get them exactly right” from Apple PR and you end up with some disappointed customers.

Fast forward to December 13, when Apple dropped a press release stating that the AirPods where now on sale at Apple.com.  Whoa!  I totally missed the press release because, you know, work, and by the time I checked out the online store, AirPods were showing delivery dates three to four weeks out.  Having to do the responsible adult thing this past Monday meant that there was no chance of taking the morning off to get in line at one of my local Apple Stores.  Topping it all off, AirPods are showing delivery dates around mid-February.  2017. Ugh!

But my luck changed today, thanks to iStockNow.com!  Using their inventory status tool, I was energetically checking AirPod stock in Connecticut, New York City, Long Island, and southern Massachusetts.  Yes, I seriously considered driving out of state, taking a train down to Grand Central Station, or taking my car over to Long Island via ferry.

At 3:30pm, I saw that Apple Danbury received some in.  The hour drive, by comparison to getting on a ferry, wasn’t too bad, but driving back home in rush hour traffic would have been the worst.  With AirPods in my bag and my finger hovering over “Buy with Apple Pay” in the Apple Store iOS app, I chose to wait.  I decided to wait a half hour to get back to my iMac, and I told myself that if they were still available for pickup in Danbury, I would buy them and go pick them up after dinner.  When I checked the status, to my surprise, the AirPods were sold out in Danbury, but were “in” at Apple Trumbull.  I hastily changed by order and purchased them online for pick up today.  He shoots! He scores!

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Earlier today, I dropped by Apple Trumbull in Westfield’s Trumbull mall.  The store was busy, as you would expect, but not super packed.  The greeter checked me in, and a few minutes later, Joe was coming over help me finalize my order.  Joe recognized my name from the store’s grand opening event two years ago.  We got to talking and I decided to open my AirPods in the store and set them up.  Joe gave me a quick session on how to pair AirPods with my iPhone 7 Plus (Spoiler Alert: Flip open the AirPods case next to your unlocked iPhone running iOS 10) and how to use them.  There was a lot going on in the store, so I appreciated him taking some extra time with me for a one-on-one.  I also took a few minutes to talk to Mary, the store manager, just to let her know how awesome her staff is.

W1, iCloud, and the Magic of the Secret Sauce

AirPods, are Bluetooth wireless ear buds.  The bud part that goes in your ear is styled after the current EarPod wired ear buds that Apple puts in the box with the iPhone.  I always thought that Apple’s ear buds were comfortable to wear, and the AirPods are no exception.  Pairing Bluetooth devices is a real pain in the neck.  Apple solved this problem by creating the W1 system on a chip.  W1 makes pairing AirPods with your Apple devices effortless if that device is running iOS 10, macOS Sierra, or watchOS 3.  Just hold the AirPod case a few inches away from your unlocked iPhone and flip open the AirPods case.  Boom!

For devices like my 4th generation AppleTV, the pairing process is still super simple, but you must press the round button on the back of the case to initiate the pairing process.  Because all my Apple devices are signed in to iCloud using the same account as my iPhone, all my devices instantly knew about my new AirPods.  That takes so much of the hassle out of trying to use Bluetooth headphones and ear buds with more than one device.  I love my PowerBeats ear buds for working out at the gym, but I almost never bother trying to get them to connect to my iPad Air to watch a TV show or movie.  Thanks to W1 and iCloud, using AirPods with all my iDevices is really easy.

AirPods in Action

There are some cool things you can do with AirPods.  First off, if you pull one of the ear buds out of your ear, whatever you are listening too or watching will instantly pause.  Pop the bud back in, and the music or video automatically resumes.  Double-tapping either one of the AirPods will summon Siri.  You can ask Siri to raise or lower the volume, skip the current track, or read new messages.  Any command that you can issue to Siri from your iPhone, Watch, or Mac will work.  In my few hours of playing with them, I haven’t found a command yet that didn’t work.  My daughter Kate wanted to do some Christmas shopping this evening.  I brought along AirPods so I could listen to some Christmas music while walking around the local Target.  A good song came on, and I pulled out one ear bud and popped it into her ear so we could both listen.  We got an aisle length apart and her AirPod bud was still rocking out without any trouble.  While connected to my iMac (in my finished basement), I could listen to music on my AirPods two floors away in my bedroom.  That’s some really great range!  You can also use one AirPod at a time.  You won’t be listening in stereo, but that’s perfectly fine while talking on the phone or listening to spoken word content in podcasts or audio books.

In just a few hours of using them, I have had a good experience so far.  They sound pretty good.  Obviously, personal preference will come into play here.  I’m not an audiophile, and I like the sound of the wired EarPods.  To me, AirPods sound as good as the wired ear buds.  They are light weight and are comfortable to wear.  I think the best part about AirPods is that there are absolutely no wires to get tangled up in.  I won’t catch the wire around the arm rest on my office chair.  There’s no cable to bunch up behind my neck while walking or running.  And the AirPods in their case is a smaller package them my PowerBeats in their case.  The negatives I can see with the AirPods in my limited amount of testing are the purchase price ($149.00) and the fact that unlike EarPods or Beats headphones, there are no buttons on AirPods.  Volume up, volume down, play/pause, and track skipping can only be done via Siri, from your iPhone, your Watch, or another connected Apple device.  This wasn’t an issue for me.  Each time I double-tapped an ear bud, Siri correctly understood and issued my voice commands.  Even in a busy Target store.  The pause/play feature also worked well just by taking one ear bud out of my ear.  AirPods provide about five hours of continuous use, and are charged when they are placed in their case.  The case charges via a Lightening cable.  A Lightning cable is provided in the box, however, you will need to provide an adapter, like the one that comes in the box with iPhone. This might be a problem for some heavy iPhone users who may need to charge their iPhone and their AirPods/case at the same time.

But let’s cut to the chase.  Everyone I talked to about the AirPods at work, and Meghan, my Apple loving child, thinks I’m crazy for wanting AirPods because I will promptly lose one and be sad.  I baby my Apple equipment.  I can’t imagine a normal day-to-day situation where I would misplace one or both buds.  They sit nicely in my ears.  Shaking my head in a vigorous side-to-side “No!” motion does not cause them to fall out.  Walking around the mall does not cause them to fall out.  Double-tapping them does not cause them to fall out. Lying in bed watching a movie on my iPad wasn’t a problem.  Heck, I even did 30 jumping jacks without any problems.  Every ear is different, so your individual mileage may vary.  When I’m not using them, I plan on putting the buds back in their charging case, so I don’t expect to misplace either of them.  There is no “Find My AirPods” app, so you will need to remember where you put them down.

Unboxing Photos

Summary

Everything told, I’m super excited to have a pair of AirPods, especially considering how constrained supply is right now.  They sound great, the W1 chip makes the Bluetooth pairing process dead simple, and they work as advertised.  In a word, I would call the new Apple AirPods “magical” and I am going to enjoy using them.

 

apple · ios 10 · iphone 7 · iphone 7 plus

Apple iPhone 7 Plus Mini Review

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Welcome to iPhone 7 Plus

Apple launched the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in the United States, Canada, Australia (Hi, Jodi!), the United Kingdom and other locations around the world on September 16.

Let’s just get a couple of things out of the way right from the get go. First, iPhone 7 Plus has, practically, the exact same body as the iPhone 6 Plus and 6S Plus. The next major redesign is expected to be the 2017 model, which will mark the tenth anniversary of iPhone. Secondly, the 3.5mm headphone jack is gone. Done. Stick a fork in it.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, despite their names, are actually the eleventh generation iPhone models. This includes the original iPhone, released in June 2007, and the iPhone SE, released in March of this year.

iPhone 7 Plus Hardware

Exterior Changes and Enhancements

New for the 2016 model year, iPhone 7 Plus comes in two new finishes – the high gloss Jet Black and, my personal favorite, matte Black. Gone is the Space Grey option. Silver (aka White), Gold, and Rose Gold round out the color options. Besides two new color options, there are some other differences you should be aware of.

As for the rest of the exterior of iPhone 7 Plus, the camera bump frame is now part of the back plate. The plastic antenna lines that ran across the back of the iPhone are gone. The antenna lines that do remain are much harder to see as they almost perfectly blend into the case. There is a real possibility that if you aren’t looking for them, you won’t see them on the Jet Black or matte black iPhone models.

iPhone 7 Plus has the exact same dimensions and weight of the iPhone 6S Plus. Sadly, while an iPhone 6S Plus case technically “fits” the iPhone 7 Plus, the cutout for the camera is all wrong and you will have to buy a new case, or cases if you like to switch things up regularly. At least we got a bonus last year with the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6S Plus cases being interchangeable. Looking ahead to next year, I do not expect the cases to interchangeable either due to the rumored exterior casing changes.

Stereo Speakers and the Lighting to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are now outfitted with stereo speakers. To get stereo sound, Apple kept the original speaker at the bottom right of the device and added a new and improved speaker at the top of the phone. The speaker that you hold near your head when making a phone call is also the other have of the stereo speaker pair. To test out the sound quality of the new iPhone, I used both, my iPhone 7 Plus, my iPhone 6S Plus, and my 5K iMac to play The Del-Vikings’ Come Go With Me (Single Version) from their album “20th Century Masters – The Millenium Collection: The Best of The Del Vikings” which was purchased form iTunes.

I started the test by first listening to the song on my 5K iMac with my 20 year old Cambridge Soundworks small desk speakers and sub-woofer. Then, I listend to the first 30 seconds on the iPhone 6S Plus, followed by the same 30 seconds on my iPhone 7 Plus. To my old ears, I personally felt that the iPhone 7 Plus most closely matched the warm, rich sound from iTunes on my iMac. On the iPhone 6S Plus and iPhone 7 Plus, the volume was set to 50%. Just for fun, and to use a song that my kids would know, I repeated the same test with Taylor Swift’s Blank Space from her “1989” album. I still felt that the iPhone 7 Plus offered a better listening experience than the iPhone 6S. Your opinion of the sound quality and my selection of music will vary.

The elimination of the 3.5mm headphone jack has gotten the Internet in tizzy. For me, it’s not a big deal for a few reasons, not least of which, when I listen to music or podcasts on my iPhone I do so with a pair of wireless PowerBeats ear buds. At the office, I have a pair of old Apple ear buds that came with my work issued iPhone 4S. So I have an extra Lightning to 3.5mm adapter at the office. Again, as with the stereo speaker test, the results are subjective, but I found the sound quality of music played back on to the PowerBeats and iPhone 4S era ear buds with the adapter to be the same as that of my iPhone 6S Plus. I did get burned once by not having a 3.5mm jack on my iPhone 7 Plus when I had to drive my wife’s car to work. Her car doesn’t have Bluetooth and iPhones connect to the in-car stereo via a…yup, you guessed it! A 3.5mm aux headphone jack. (I know. We’re living like savages! It is 2016, after all!) So, I listen to FM radio on the way to work and used my adapter on the ride home so I could catch up on my podcast queue.

The Display and the Home Button

During the iPhone 7 launch event that took place on September 7, Apple spent a lot of time talking about the display in the new iPhone. Looking at the same Home screen (the exact same icon arrangement with the exact same wallpaper) I can’t see a difference between them. I am sure that there are technical differences that I do not know to look for or am not trained to detect, but in terms of every day usage, I just don’t see the difference.

I was expecting the iPhone 7-series phones to have the True Tone feature that debuted earlier this year on the (baby) iPad Pro 9.7″. I guess that’s a feature that will have to wait until the 2017 iPhone.

3D Touch is the same as it has always been from the iPhone 6S-series. I encourage everyone who has an iPhone 7-series phone to 3D Touch everything to discover new shortcuts. Apple, distressingly, keeps 3D Touch actions well hidden in the UI and you will need to discover them on your own. Show of hands: Who knew the Stocks app has a 3D Touch action?

iPhone 7 Plus also has a new, solid state, 3D Touch solid state physical Home button. The new Home button is fully integrated Touch ID sensor, which isn’t mechanical like all of the past Home buttons on older iPhones. Instead, to simulate a button press and the “click” feel, the iPhone 7 Plus Taptic engine vibrates. I know the button isn’t moving, but my mind sure think it does. You might need a day or two to get used to it. You can use the new Home Button feedback setting (Settings > General > Home Button) to control how forceful the haptic feedback is. There are three options. I prefer the “2” setting myself.

The Hardware Changes You Cannot See

Mercifully, Apple has finally abandoned the 16GB memory configuration. Hallelujah! The last few years have proven particularly challenging for people like my wife who always get the “cheapest” iPhone and then promptly fill it up photos of the kids and cat memes downloaded from Facebook and Instagram. What space is left after that is filled with a handful of apps. iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus provide some relief.

Starting with iPhone 7 models, Apple has doubled the amount of memory for each of the storage tiers. The new storage options are 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB. This change, which many have felt was long overdue, I think, will give people like my wife a better customer experience overall. I should note here, that if the iPhone 7 Plus was a car, the Jet Black version would be considered the “special edition” as it is only available in the 128GB and 256GB storage configurations. I recently saw an iPhone 7 at Apple Trumbull. It looked nice, but it was covered in finger prints and I could see at least a half dozen scratches in it’s glossy finish on the back. That would drive me insane. I do not regret my matte Black color decision. Not for one second.

iPhone 7 Plus Dual Camera System

A new feature that is only available in the iPhone 7 Plus, and the primary driver for my decision to continue to be a paying member to the “Plus Club”, is the new and improved 12MP cameras. Yes, as in two. The iPhone 7 Plus has the standard 1.8 aperture wide-angle 12MP camera that was included in the iPhone 6S Plus. New this year is the inclusion of a 2.8 aperture telephoto camera. Both cameras work in tandem and give you the option to use a 2x optical zoom or a 10x digital zoom. I am not a “camera guy”. In my initial tests in direct sunlight or a well lit room, photos taken with the iPhone 7 Plus and the iPhone 6S Plus look equally crisp. A picture of my cats in waiting for breakfast in my kitchen in low light looked much better than I was expecting. (I didn’t have my iPhone 6S Plus with me at the time, so I have no comparison photo.) A second photo is took at a wedding this past weekend of my wife and her sisters with very low light was better than I expected, but does get “muddy” when I start to zoom in. Apple is also working on iOS 10.1, which is currently in beta testing, that will add a new digital bokeh photography option. Bokeh photography, in layman’s terms, is that cool style where the subject is in sharp focus while the background is blurred out. Personally, this is the camera feature that I have wanted to be able to do for a long time, but never knew what it was called or how to do it. There is no work as to when iOS 10.1 will be released. If I was a betting man, I would guess that iOS 10.1 will be out before the end of the year.

For people who prefer the smaller iPhone, Apple is now shipping optical image stabilization in the 4.7″ model. Previously, optical image stabilization was a feature that had been reserved for only the larger 5.5″ iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6S Plus. Now all iPhone 7-series owners will get the feature.

Water and Dust Resistance

Lastly, there are three invisible enhancements to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus that you can’t see, but will be glad are there. Starting with the iPhone 7-series, iPhone is now splash, water, and dust resistant. iPhone 7 has received an IP67 rating under IEC standard 60529 (Apple, Inc., , 2016). Your iPhone fell in the pool? Not a problem. Youngster watching video on your iPhone and spills their drink on it? Not a problem. You put your iPhone in a blender and then turned it on? Yeah, sure. You will have a bit problem. iPhone 7 can save your bacon from life’s every day problems involving water. It is not impervious. Just keep in mind that “water resistant” dones’t mean “water proof”. Knowing is half the battle.

iOS 10

iPhone 7 Plus ships with iOS 10 by default. iOS 10 is, in my opinion, a pretty good release. It’s fast and stable. Some of the changes will take some getting used to, like the swipe to unlock gesture going way and the new look and feel of widgets, Notification Center and Control Center. I am still not a fan of the recent iterations of the Music app and the Apple Music service.

In day-to-day usage, I don’t see any major differences with iOS 10 running on my iPhone 7 Plus and my work issued iPhone 6. Many of the differences I have come across so far are the little things on the iPhone 7 Plus. For example, when in Fantastical, when flipping the wheel to set the date and time for events there is Taptic feedback that you would expect if you were turning a well made dial knob. Similarly, when you zoom in or out on a photo, there is a little bit of feedback when you reach the maximum zoom levels (both in and out). Also, using the pull the refresh gesture in Mail there is a bit of feedback too. These little “finishing touches” are not essential to the overall iPhone and iOS 10 experience, but they do add to the fit and finish of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Conclusion

Over all, if you are looking to upgrade to a new iPhone this year, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus offer some excellent features if you are coming from an iPhone 6 or earlier iPhone. The storage upgrades alone are worth it. If you have an iPhone 6 Plus or iPhone 6S, I am not as confident saying hands down you need an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. With iOS 10, a free upgrade for all iPhone 5 and later model iPhones, the decision needs to be much more personal, in that you need to weight the pros and cons of buying a new iPhone. If you are the tech nerd in your group of friends, you probably will want to upgrade. If you like to take great quality photos with your iPhone, you will probably want to upgrade. If you have a Samsung Galaxy Note7, you will absolutely want to upgrade to iPhone 7 Plus – if for no other reasons, iPhone doesn’t explode. If you are happy with your current iPhone, I don’t think that there is a single “gotta have it” feature of the iPhone 7-series that demands that you go out and get one right now. All-in-all, if you need or want a new iPhone, there is a lot to like about the iPhone 7-series.

iPhone Handsets and Release Dates

iPhone (2G) – June 29, 2007
iPhone 3G – July 11, 2008
iPhone 3GS – June 19, 2009
iPhone 4 – June 24, 2010
iPhone 4S – October 4, 2011
iPhone 5 – September 21, 2012
iPhone 5S – September 20, 2013
iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus – September 19, 2014
iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus – September – September 25, 2015
iPhone SE – March 31, 2016
iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus – September 16, 2016

References

Apple, Inc. (2016, September 7). iPhone 7 Tech Specs. Retrieved October 2, 2016, from Apple.com: http://www.apple.com/iphone-7/specs/

apple · ios 10 · ipad · iphone · messages

Forwarding Messages To and From an iPad Using Your iPhone

Earlier today I was presented with an interesting question about Messages on iPad and iPhone. I’ll paraphrase it as: “How can I sent a text from my Wi-Fi iPad to someone using an Android smartphone?”

I thought the answer involved making sure the recipent’s telephone number was used or that the iPad needed to be tethered to an iPhone in hot spot mode. The phone number was strike one and the tethering option was strike two. I was close, but no cigar. Here’s the real answer: Text Message Forwarding from your iPhone.

The Text Message Forwarding feature on an iPhone allows you to compose, send, and receive text messages on your iPad.

To setup Text Message Forwarding:

1. Sign into the same iCloud account on your iPhone and iPad.
2. On your iPhone, go to: Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding
3. Slide the toggle switch next to the iPhone you want to use for message forwarding

Enabling Messages Forwarding feature in iOS 10

 
4. On your iPhone, enter the security code that appears on the iPad screen

Message Forwarding PIN confirmation in iOS 10

That’s it! Once the iPhone and iPad are “paired” for message forwarding, you can send and receive text messages on your iPad with all of your “green bubble” friends.

apple · apple music · apple watch · beats · ios 10 · iphone 7 · iphone 7 plus · iwork

First Impressions from Apple’s Special Event – September 2016

Today was Apple’s annual September “Special Event” to show of the new iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Apple Watch Series 2, and the all new AirPods.  The event was held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California at 10:00am PT.

The following are my first impressions and thoughts as I watched pre-recorded video stream from the Apple website.

This year’s opening video is of Tim Cook joining James Corden for Carpool Karaoke (One Republic – I’ve Lived, Lynryd Skynyrd Sweet Home Alabama).  Corden and Cook were joined by later joined by Pharrell Williams.  I’ve never watched Corden’s show, but it looks interesting based on this video short.  I think this speaks a lot about Apple’s future: Apple Watch, Apple TV and new, original streaming content, and of course, Project Titan.  Maybe I’m reading too much into things, but we don’t see a Mac, iPhone, or iPad in the frame.

Welcome and Updates

Apple Music Update

Carpool Karaoke will be coming to Apple Music early next year.  Did we know that already?  I knew of the partnership, but honestly, where Apple Music is concerned, I am tuned out.

Apple Music now has 17 million paying subscribers.  That’s up 2 million since the last update.

Tim mentioned that there have been 70 exclusives for customers to listen to new music on Apple Music.  I wonder what is going to happen to that number over the coming year now that labels, specifically, Universal Music Group Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge, is slamming the door shut on exclusives?  I had the distinct impression over the last year that Apple, like every other streaming service, was trying to use exclusives as a way to draw subscribers.

It’s been 10 years of the Apple Music Festival. Free steams from Apple devices. I probably should have been watching more.

App Store Update

140 billion app downloads since it’s launch in the summer of 2008.

Apple is still the preferred platform for app developers with 2x the payouts over the Android platform.  I don’t see this changing in the next 3-5 years.  Android is just a mess in terms of software updates and getting the majority of users on a current release.  Tim will get to brag about this for years to come.

Nintendo is coming to iOS in a BIG way!  Tim beams as he brings Super Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto on stage for the introduction.  For me, this is a much, much bigger deal that Niantic’s Pokemon Go coming to iOS.

Super Mario Run will be an iOS App Store exclusive.  This is a major win for Apple.  Super Mario Run will be yet another side scrolling running game.  Even though it is not a port of Super Mario Bros. from the Nintendo consoles, it looks and feels like a sibling.  I am so glad to hear that this game will be a paid up front game and won’t resort to nickel and diming players for coins, time delays, and other scams that other endless runners and “freemium” games resort to.  (I alway felt that this is where Rovio lost it’s way with their Angry Birds games.)

Education Update

Apple’s education initiatives has always been in their DNA.  I’m living proof of that.  Much like the kids using these Apple //s, when I was in the forth grade, I was completely hooked on the Apple //e and Apple.

Apple is putting it’s money where it’s mouth is with free hardware for schools (Apple TV in each classroom), teachers (MacBook Pro and iPad), and most importantly, students (iPads).  The big challenge here is to make sure that there are people in these schools that can put all of that hardware and software to good use.

As someone who has a career in IT because of Apple’s education initiatives back in the 1980s, I’m glad to see the next generation of technology users and creators being given the same opportunities.

Everyone Can Code initiative teaches kids (and adults) how to program in Apple’s new programing language, Swift.  I gave both of my girls iPads that can run iOS 10 and Swift Playgrounds so that they can learn.

iWork Update

iWhat? Oh, iWork.  Does anyone use iWork anymore?  In recent years, I have felt that Apple keeps Pages, Numbers and Keynote around just to have some extra checkmarks on a requirements list somewhere in Apple headquarters.  With inexpensive Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions, there aren’t many reasons to not be using Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  That said, I do think iWork documents can be make to look much more impactful than their Office counterparts.

Susan Presscott, VP of Worldwide Apps Product Marketing comes out to talk more about Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.  Real-time collaboration is coming to all editions of the iWork apps.  Ok, live edits from the Mac, iPad and iPhone are impressive.  But also throwing in iWork on the web – ok, that’s a neat party trick.  I just wish it hadn’t taken so long to get here.  Google’s Docs, Sheets, and Slides and Microsoft’s Office 365 web apps have been able to do this for a while now.

New Products Introduction

Apple Watch Series 2

Apple Watch was launched 18 months ago with a focus on notifications, Apple Pay, and fitness tracking.  Apple is claiming that they are the #2 watch maker by revenue only behind Rolex.  Apple Watch is the #1 fitness tracker.

Jeff Williams, Apple’s COO, comes on stage to reintroduce watchOS 3.0 and it’s key features, including Messages, Breath, and SOS.  If you are into Pokemon Go, you may be excited that the game is coming to Apple Watch.  After watching the demo, I’m still disinclined to download and play the game.

Apple Watch Series 2 has been introduced.  In Watch Series 2, you can wear Watch in the water – swimming, surfing, or kayaking – up to a depth of 50 meters (164.04 feet).  The speaker has been redesigned to eject water out of the speaker canal.  Like walks and run, there will now be two new work outs for indoor pool swims and open water swims.

Apple’s S2 SiP is now has a dual core CPU and a twice as fast GPU which, along with watchOS 3.0 this will really help speed up apps.  There is also a new, brighter display (1000 nits) and a standalone GPS.  To cool thing about Watch Series 2 with it’s built-in GPS is that the GPS will connect very quickly with satellites (we’ll see) and can also show you map data with color coded speed information in the Activity app on your iPhone.  I like to walk and I think these new features will be enough to push me over the line to get a new Watch.

Apple Watch Series 2 will come in the same aluminum and stainless steel options as before and will include a new ceramic version.  Over all, my Apple Watch Sport edition has held up better than I thought it would, but it does have a few hairline scratches on the display and the body has two small nicks.  Maybe the ceramic, which is supposed to be 4x stronger than the stainless steel edition is for me.  If the price is right.

Remember the Nike+ FuelBand?  No? I don’t blame you.  Myself and three other people bought them before Apple Watch existed.  Now, as part of Series 2, you can get Apple Watch Nike+ Edition.  This is the logical conclusion for the FuelBand product, which I liked a lot, actually.  Nike+ will be available in four colors.  While I’m crazy about the bands, at least it is good to know you can swap them after your run.

The new Watch line up will include a “remixed” original Apple Watch, now called Apple Watch Series 1, with the same S2 processor as Series 2.  The price will be $269 for Series 1 and start at $369 for Series 2.  Both Series 1 and 2 Apple Watch models will become available for pre-order on September 9 (this Friday) and watchOS 3.0 will arrive on Tuesday, September 13.  Both Series 1 and 2 will go on sale on September 16, and the Nike+ edition will follow in “Late October”.

While I like the idea of Watch Series 2, at $369, I don’t think that I am going to jump on the launch day band wagon.  I like my Apple Watch, and I have worn it every day since I got it (except for a week in December when I forgot it at home while away on a business trip), I don’t feel that I get $369 worth of value out of it.  Like my iPad Air, I think my Apple Watch Sport edition is good enough for now.

Since there was no mention of the body size changing, I am left wondering whether or not the new Series 1, 2, and Nike+ editions will use the same quick swap lugs as the original Apple Watch Sport and Stainless Steel editions.  I would assume so.  And I think that leaves the door open to me getting a Series 2 Watch down the road if I can still use my existing set of six bands.

Apple iPhone 7 and iOS 10

Tim Cook quickly re-introduces everyone to iOS 10, highlighting Home Kit and updates to Messages.

Tim introduces the new iPhone 7 with a Johnny Ive video.  We got a Johnny Ive narrated video!  Phil Schiller comes out on stage to talk about the new iPhone 7.

Jet Black is the new high gloss color.  Black now replaces Space Grey.  Silver, Gold, and Roes Gold (don’t call it ‘pink’) round out the color options.  Navy Blue? Nah. Sorry Rumor Mill.  I’ve always been a “black” iPhone guy and I don’t think that will change this time around.  Jet Black looks great in photos, but I think the “Just Black” version is in my future…maybe.

(By the way, is anyone else bothered by the fact that in the middle of the iPhone 7 introduction, the MacBook’s spacebar and right Command key are not centered on the Force Touch track pad?  I can’t un-see this now. Sorry.)

The new “Force Touch” Home button seems cool.  I won’t have to worry about getting a mushy Home button like I did on my iPhone 4s.  I will have to leave my final judgement until I get my hands on iPhone 7 before I can make any definitive rulings on this one.

I am excited that iPhone 7 is now water and dust resistant.  Apple has been seen as “losing” against a handful of Android phones on this feature for a while now.  I don’t often worry about water and dust, but I am happy to know that those protections are now part of the enclosure.  Falling in the pool, or the toilet (Come on!  You were all thinking it too!) won’t be a problem any more.

The camera in iPhone has long been the go to camera over point in shoots for years now.  Optical image stabilization as a standard feature in iPhone 7 is a great move by Apple.  Even the flash got an upgrade that throws 50% more light.  I will want to see how much better low light photos are when taken with an iPhone 7 Plus over my current iPhone 6s Plus.  The new Flicker sensor sounds like a fantastic upgrade too.  And I’m sure that the kids are going to love the new 7MP FaceTime HD front facing camera for all of those ridiculous selfie and SnapChat photos.

Did someone just say “two cameras”, “wide angle” and “telephoto”?!  Sign me up for the iPhone 7Plus!

But, wait!  Schiller has more! Shallow depth of field is coming to iPhone!  This is something I have wanted to do for a long time, but didn’t know what the feature was called or how it was done.  Sweet!  All I will need to do now is to select the new “Portrait” setting in the iOS Camera app…coming later this year in a software update for the iPhone 7 Plus.

The Retina Display gets some nice upgrades too, but no True Tone from the iPad Pro 9.7″.  Bummer.

After using the iPad Pro 12.9″ for eight months now, and watching TV shows on it, I am looking forward to having stereo speakers on the iPhone 7 Plus.

Apple EarPods…here we go! Begin Internet melt down!  There is no 3.5mm headphone jack on that iPhone!  Oh, wait!  I already own a pair of PowerBeats wireless Bluetooth ear buds.

900 million Lightning devices in use today.  JBL Lightning ear buds are held up as an example of Lightning ear buds that are available today.  And, Apple will put a pair of Lightning EarPods in the box with iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.  Ok, so far, so good.  AND…Apple is putting a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter in the box with iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.  Nothing extra to buy.  Existing accessories will still work.  Internet crisis averted.  Case closed.

Apple has three reasons for taking away from the 3.5mm jack.  1. Lightning is a digital audio connection.  2. 3.5mm jack is over 100 years old and is taking up space that is needed for new technologies.  It’s time to be “courageous” and move on.  3. Wireless is the future of devices.  I’m ok with all of those reasons.  Oh, yeah, and AirPods.  As in wireless.

AirPods are the wireless “vision” of what ear buds are supposed to be and are powered by a new SiP called the W1.  The AirPods are introduced by a second Johnny Ive narrated video.  I’m pretty excited about the automatic pairing feature of AirPods to connect with all of my Apple devices.

Bluetooth pairing has aways been messy and so has been moving my PowerBeats between my iPad Air and iPhone 6s Plus; so much so that I don’t ever do it.  Now, that problem is solved.  Boom!  One step setup with your iPhone.  One.  Step.  One step.  And with the magic of iCloud, once AirPods are paired with your iPhone, they can seamlessly connect to Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac.  Sweet!  Tangled up ear bud cables just became a thing of the past.

The W1 chip is also coming to the Beats Solo3, PowerBeats3 and the new BeatsX.  I think I’ll put off buying new Beats Solo headphones and try the AirPods first.  They will go on sale in “Late October” for $159.

The new iPhones are going to be powered by the new Apple A10 Fusion SOC chip.  This thing is packing 4 processing cores.  Two super high speed and two “1/5 performance cores” that are going to extend battery life by optimizing on the fly which set of CPU cores to put processes on.  The same trick works for the GPU too.  It’s going to be a while for Samsung to try and copy that.  All of this adds up to an extra 2 hours of battery life on the iPhone 7 and an extra hour of battery life on the iPhone 7 Plus as compared to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.  Not too bad.  I’m assuming those numbers include running on low power mode once the iPhone drops below 20%.  That’s great.  On light use days, I’m already squeaking by on two days of use between charges.

Shocker!!  The 16GB iPhone is GONE!  The new entry level iPhone starts at 32GB, the 64GB gets replaced by the 128GB, and the 128GB is replaced by a new 256GB option.  Wow!  I was not expecting this at all.  I go for the middle Plus model, so that means a very nice, very roomy bump from 64GB to 128GB. The iPhone 7 will start at $649 and the new iPhone 7 Plus will start at $749.  Also, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are getting bumped to 32GB and 128GB models.  Thanks, Apple!

Pre-orders go live for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus this Friday, September 9.  And, if you are super excited for the new iPhone, we will only have to wait one week to get them on September 16!  (And yes, if I can get in line crazy early to get my at 8am, you already know I’m going to do that.)

iOS 10 arrives on Tuesday, September 13, as expected, along side watchOS 3.  Presumably, tvOS will go live on September 13 as well.

Musical Guest

This year’s musical guest is Sia who performed The Greatest.  I’m feeling old because I have no idea who Sia is – and I didn’t really like the song.  Don’t get me wrong.  It wasn’t as bad as the socially awkward U2 performance that gave us the Songs of Innocence train wreck.  But let’s face it, that’s a low bar to get over.

Wrap Up

Lots of new technology is this year’s iPhone line up and I’m pretty excited for it.  Nothing out there running Google’s Android operating system can touch iOS 10 and iPhone 7.  Clearly NOT the exploding Samsung Galaxy 7 Note.

So, to recap, I am getting and iPhone 7 Plus 128GB with iOS 10 and the AirPods.  The new Beats Solo3 and Apple Watch Sport Series 2 are on the wait and see list.

In closing, I would like to quote James Corden from the beginning of the keynote as I think it is most appropriate for a fan boy like myself:

“This is it, bitches!  Get in line!”