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

iOS 10.3 Public Beta 1 Released

apple_ios_10_3_pub_beta1_20170126

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.

ios_10_3_pub_beta1_find_my_airpods

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.)

apple_ios_10_3_pub_beta_icloud_settings

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.

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.

apple_macosx_sierra_10_12_3_20170123

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.

apple_itunes_1255_20170123

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

apple_ios_10-2-1_20170123

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.

apple_watchos_3_1_3_20170123.png

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

apple_tvos_10_1_1_20170123

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.

 

airport · apple watch · appletv · imac · ipad · iphone · macbook pro

2017 Apple Hardware Purchasing Plans

apple_product_family_2015

Just a few days ago, I was talking about my accidental trip into the Amazon ecosystem.  Today, I want to evaluate where I am going with Apple hardware.  What follows is what I think I will be my Apple hardware purchasing plans for 2017 with a little bit of commentary thrown in for fun.

2017 iPhone

Rumors about the 2017 iPhone have been circulating since before the iPhone 7 launch.  What we do know is that the 2017 iPhone, regardless of whether Apple acknowledges it in any meaningful way, will be the tenth anniversary iPhone.  We know that the 2017 iPhone will have a new system on a chip, probably called the A11.  Maybe more RAM.  Personally, I would like to see the return of the squared off sides, like the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 series, but I don’t think that will happen.  What I do think will happen is that we will get a curved iPhone display just like the one used on the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.  With all of this in mind, I do plan on buying a new 2017 iPhone Plus.  We don’t know if the 2017 iPhone will be an ‘S’ year or not.  I feel that if Apple gives us a dramatic form factor redesign in 2017, they should call it the iPhone 8.  If there is more than one ‘large’ model, I will likely get the largest screen/best camera model.

Purchasing Probability – Yes, please!

2017 iPad

I use my iPad Air (October 2013) and 12.9-inch iPad Pro (November 2015) every day and I love them.  For me, the iPad has taken a central role in my daily computing.  Reading the news?  Surfing my favorite websites?  Catching up on Twitter?  Reading ebooks?  Watching TV shows and movies? Checking and replying to email? Yup.  All of this gets done on my iPads.  The iPad Pro covers work-work and ebook reading for class.  The iPad Air takes care of my personal needs.  In 2017, I am hopeful that Apple will release new iPad Pros.  Screen sizes are up for debate.  I don’t expect to replace my work-issued iPad Pro.  Cost is the main reason here.  I would hope that Apple releases an updated 12.9-inch iPad Pro that brings it up to parity with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.  The way I use my iPad Air, it is still working well for me.  I do not expect to upgrade my personal 9.7-inch iPad in 2017.  I do think that 2017, with iOS 11, will be the last year for my beloved Air.  Check back with me in 2018 to see if there is a new 9.7-inch iPad in my future.

Purchasing Probability – Not likely.

Macintosh

The Macintosh is still an important product for me.  Maybe because I have bene an Apple user and fan for so long.  Maybe because I prefer Mac OS over Windows and Linux  I know I am in the minority here, but it’s the way I feel.

In 2016, I purchased a new 5k iMac and I love it!  I chose to go with the 2TB Fusion drive and a 3.3GHz Intel Core i5 CPU.  Thankfully, Apple still allows customers to upgrade the RAM on the iMac, so I stuffed it full of 8GB DIMMs and maxed it out with 32GB of RAM.  There’s no SSD – they are still too expensive for a 1.0TB or larger drive – and I didn’t get a Core i7 CPU either.  And that’s fine.  I think my iMac is super-fast, considering my upgrade from a 2009 17-inch MacBook Pro.  So, I don’t plan on getting a new iMac in 2017.

I’m on the fence about the 2016 MacBook Pro.  I miss having a MacBook for the times I want to do work away from my iMac and home office.  Still, the frustration with the MacBook Pro’s inconsistent battery life, 16GB memory limit, and the use of an older Intel Core CPU are tugging on logical side of my brain, and is disrupting the famous Apple reality distortion field.  See the Ars Technical 13-inch MacBook Pro review for more details.

On the go writing with Microsoft Word and surfing with Safari can easily be done with my iPad Pro.  BBEdit on the Mac and Coda on the iPad Pro are a good match.  But not having OmniGraffle (or Visio), XCode, or Eclipse on the iPad hurts a bit.  I know I can spend another $100 to get OmniGraffle for iOS, but if I am being honest, I don’t use it enough to justify the cost.  I don’t expect there to be new MacBook Pro notebooks in 2017, so I am leaning toward a 2016 MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar and Touch ID.  I would get the 16GB RAM upgrade, however, the aforementioned battery issues, are keeping me from spending the money to upgrade to a 512GB SSD and an i7 CPU.  So, no new iMac and there is still a 50/50 chance for a new MacBook Pro.

I feel sorry for Mac Pro and Mac mini fans.  They are long overdue for some new hardware. Hopefully, 2017 will be their year.

Purchasing Probability – Looking favorable for a 13-inch, Space Grey MacBook Pro.

Apple Watch

The Watch is a good product.  I’m glad I have it over a Fitbit or a Nike+ Fuelband.  I owned both, but I feel that the Apple Watch offers more utility then those other devices.  I love having important to me notifications on my wrist.  I should exercise more, and hey, who shouldn’t, but in day-to-day usage, I just don’t use the fitness features of the Watch over tracking my walks.  With that said, I don’t see myself upgrading to a Series 2 Watch anytime soon.  My original, aka Series 0, Watch Sport model with watchOS 3 is good enough for me.

Purchasing Probability – Not likely.

Apple TV

I do not expect that Apple will refresh the Apple TV in 2017.  I have a 32GB fourth generation Apple TV.  I use it often to watch Netflix and some movies and TV shows purchased from iTunes.  But I don’t use it every day.  I am not a big apps user.  I don’t expect to buy a new Apple TV.  I would buy a new Siri Remote if Apple released one, but I don’t expect any new remote to appear in 2017.

Purchasing Probability – Not likely.

Apple Accessories

In 2016, Apple exited the monitor business.  In place of the Cinema Displays, Apple co-designed a new 5K display with LG called the UltraFine 5K Display.  My iMac doesn’t have USB-C, so I don’t see myself buying a second monitor.  In all honesty, I like the cleanliness of a single monitor on my desk.

Apple is also rumored to be out of the router and Wi-Fi business.  As I recently wrote, this means the end of the line for AirPort networking equipment.  I just purchased my last refurbished AirPort Express.  I wish Apple would stay in this business, because they are very reliable and very easy to setup.

With Apple exiting both of those businesses, I don’t see myself buying the LG display or another AirPort.  If I find myself needing a second monitor in 2017, I need a second monitor or new networking equipment, I see myself getting the Dell UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K UP2715K and an eero mesh Wi-Fi network 3-pack.

My iMac came with a new Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2.  I don’t expect to replace them in 2017.  Mostly because I still like using my Apple Wireless Keyboard (2006) and my Apple Extended II keyboard (1995).  I have gotten better with typing on the Magic Keyboard, but I prefer the key travel of it’s larger format cousins.  I would get a new wireless Magic Keyboard if it included all of the function keys of the Bluetooth Apple Wireless Keyboard (2006), but we all know that Jony Ive won’t allow such a monstrosity to be created.  Maybe if the Magic Keyboard was released with the same amount of key travel and included the Touch Bar and Touch ID I might spring for it.  After all, I’m not above spending $200 for a great Apple keyboard.

Purchasing Probability – Unlikely, without the release of an iMac compatible Touch Bar and Touch ID Magic Keyboard.

Closing Thoughts

So, there are my plans for Apple hardware in 2017.  I don’t think that there are going to be any surprises for me.  New releases of Mac OS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS are surely going to be welcomed and will delight customers.  I think I am most excited about a new iPhone.  I feel that a new MacBook Pro would be helpful with my school work, primarily with my upcoming programming classes this year.  I wish I had the option of upgrading to 32GB of memory, but there are still issues to be worked out there.


Image credit: MacWorld.com, 2015.

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

9469c-01_alan_airpods

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!

9ac5e-01_see_you_soon

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 · 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 · ios 9 · ipad · iphone · ipod touch

iOS 9.3.2 Public Beta 1 Has Been Released

Apple rolled out the first public beta of iOS 9.3.2 last night.  iOS 9.3.2 is largely expected to be a maintenance release and not expected to include any new tentpole features such as Night Shift.

If your iOS device is already enrolled in the iOS 9 Public Beta program, you can download the over 1GB installer oner the air using the Software Update feature.

iOS 9.3.2 Public Beta 1 comes on the heals of iOS 9.3.1, which was released on March 31, and iOS 9.3, which was released on March 21.