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.

 

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

2017 Apple Hardware Purchasing Plans

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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.

apple · apple store · el capitan · imac · mac · mac os x · macbook pro

My New Apple iMac 27-inch with 5K Retina Display

Today, I purchased a new Apple iMac 27-inch with 5K Retina display!  This is my first new Mac since I purchased my beloved Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch.

My daughter Kaitlyn and my Dad where with me at the Trumbull, Connecticut Apple Store for the big day.  Thanks, guys!  (Katie also picked up three new iPhone 6/6s cases too.  Thanks, Daddy!)

The following pictures are of my unboxing and initial setup.  I hope you enjoy them.

I love that years later, Apple is still printing “Macintosh Think Different” on their boxes.  “Think Different” was the slogan from their iconic ad campaign from the 1990s.  Today’s Macs don’t look anything like their beige box siblings, and are insanely more powerful, but “Think Different” still inspires me to always do my best.

I will be upgrading my new iMac to 32GB of RAM from the stock 8GB as soon as all of the software setup and Time Machine restores are done.

Waiting is the hardest part of setting up a new Mac.

While I wait, I decided to try and figure out which keyboard I wanted to use with my new iMac.  From top to bottom, the Apple Magic Keyboard (2015), Apple Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard (2005) and the Apple Extended Keyboard II (1990).  Yes, that last one uses Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) connectors.  You can still find ADB-to-USB adapters on eBay.
My MacBook Pro 17-inch – still working hard while my 27-inch iMac is still goofing off while it’s Time Machine restore continues to run while I write this blog post.
Thanks Steve.
apple · apple store · imac · macbook pro

Apple 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina Display

Today is both a sad day and an exciting day.  I’m a little bit sad, because my favorite Mac to date, the Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch is entering retirement after having been my Mac of choice since 2009.

Today is also an exciting day, because in a few short minutes, I’m rounding up the family, Dad and Katie, and we are heading down to the Trumbull Apple Store to purchase my new Mac – the 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display!  I can’t wait!  Now to get my Apple Trumbull t-shirt and hit the road!

apple · mac os x · mac pro · macbook air · macbook pro · macintosh · yosemite

Photos App Rolls Out in Yosemite 10.10.3 Public Beta Seed

Yesterday, Apple released the Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 public beta.  The 10.10.3 public beta also includes the new Apple Photos app for OS X.

If you are currently enrolled in the public beta seed, you will see the new update appear in your Updates tab.

One word of warning: Photos, just like OS X 10.10.3, is pre-release beta software.  That means that there are going to be bugs and you should not install either of these updates on your main, production, Mac that you use daily.  To be a beta tester, you must be prepared to delete everything, applications and data (including family photos).

My recommendation is that you make multiple backups before you install OS X 10.10.3 and Photos on your Mac.  Time Machine, BackBlaze or event a Finder data copy to an external USB hard disk drive or flash drive is a good idea.

The complete list of updates to OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 updates are as follows:

Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 public beta seed can be installed on any Mac that is currently running OS X Yosemite.

apple · imac · mac os x · mac pro · macbook air · macbook pro · yosemite

Apple Releases Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 Update

Earlier this week, Apple slipped out the latest security and enhancement update for OS X Yosemite.

OS X 10.10.2 includes the following enhancements and fixes:
General content
Resolves an issue that might cause Wi-Fi to disconnect
Resolves an issue that might cause web pages to load slowly
Fixes an issue that could cause Spotlight to load remote email content when this preference is disabled in Mail
Improves audio and video sync when using Bluetooth headphones
Adds the ability to browse iCloud Drive in Time Machine
Improves VoiceOver speech performance
Resolves an issue that could cause VoiceOver to echo characters when entering text on a web page
Addresses an issue that could cause the input method to switch languages unexpectedly
Improves stability and security in Safari
For enterprise customers
Improves performance for browsing DFS shares in the Finder
Fixes an issue where certain Calendar invitations could be displayed at the incorrect time
Fixes an issue for Microsoft Exchange accounts where the organizer of a meeting might not be notified when someone accepts an invitation using Calendar
Addresses an issue where Safari could continually prompt for credentials when accessing a site protected by NTLM authentication
Adds the ability to set “Out of Office” reply dates for Microsoft Exchange accounts in Mail
Security Content
For detailed information about the security content of this update, see Apple security updates.
I’ve been testing a prerelease version of this update for about two weeks now and it is looking pretty good.  The Wi-Fi disconnects had been driving me a little more nuts than usual which was masking the slow web page load issue.  (Huh, why aren’t these pages loading faster?  I’ve rebooted all my networking gear…eye roll.)
This update is available now from the Updates tab in the Mac App Store app.  
It’s always a good idea to plug in your MacBook and backup your Mac before installing any new software like OS upgrades and patches with Apple’s Time Machine or with a third-party solution like the fantastic BackBlaze service.
apple · imac · mac · mac os x · mac pro · macbook air · macbook pro · yosemite

Looking Forward To My Trip to Yosemite

Earlier this month at Apple’s WWDC developer’s conference, Craig Federighi, introduced us to the future of the Mac OS – OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

Yosemite User Interface

With Yosemite, the Mac user interface remains familiar to long time Mac users and yet, have a clean new look.  Long time and new Mac users will be able to walk up to the Mac and begin using it very quickly.  OS X Mavericks was a nice upgrade from Mountain Lion, but the user interface across all of Apple’s stock apps and icons looked disjointed.  Some icons didn’t change at all, such as Contacts, and then new apps, like iBooks, used the design language from iOS 7, and used the round orange ball with a white book.  Similarly, apps like the aforementioned Contacts and Reminders apps just looked or functioned terribly.

With Yosemite, Apple goes back under the direction of Jony Ive, and created a new cleaner, flatter, less cluttered design language for Mac OS X (1) and I think it looks really fantastic!

Simulated Yosemite screen running on a MacBook Air

Yosemite screen capture from the Apple WWDC ’14 presentation

As you can see from the above images, take from the Apple website, Mac OS X still looks like Mac OS.  All of the interface elements look like they belong together as a whole.  The dock icons take on three clean shapes: round, square, and rectangles.  (They are suggestions, however, developers can use their own icon design, so for example, Office 2011 3D stylized icons are OK in Yosemite.)

And, for the first time in a long time, Apple will be including a sort of theme for OS X.  You can chose from the standard “light” theme which looks much like the stock Mountain Lion and Mavericks theme with it’s translucent or solid white menu bar or the new dark theme which uses a darker menu bar styling.

Softpedia screen captures of Yosemite’s dark mode

I’m really excited to get my hands on the first public beta later this year and install it on my Mac. (2)

Supported Macs

For Yosemite, Apple has elected to keep the current list of compatible Macintosh hardware as it’s predecessor, Mavericks.  Essentially, any Macintosh that has a release date of “Mid 2007” or later will be able to run Yosemite.  Well.  That’s a pretty generous range of hardware and means that my five year old 17-inch MacBook Pro will still be supported and will be able to run Apple’s latest Mac operating system.

Now there will be a catch, as with everything in life.  Not all of Yosemite’s features will be available on every Mac released since mid-2007.  For example, my MacBook Pro won’t support the new Handoff feature in Yosemite.  That’s because my Mac lacks the Bluetooth LE 4.0 hardware.  That may chance by the time Yosemite is released this fall, but you get the idea.  The take away here is that if you want all of the bells and whistles, you had better be running on the current or previous generation of hardware.

At some point, I’ll need to upgrade to a new MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, but for now, there’s no need since my Pro’s hardware is still in great shape.  The question is, will there be a cool feature in Yosemite that requires a hardware upgrade that will push me to buy a new Mac this year?  The answer is probably not, but when the next MacBook Pro or MacBook Air hardware refresh comes around, it will be time to upgrade. (3)

Upgrade Path

Most customers will be installing Yosemite directly over the top of Mavericks or Mountain Lion.  The software will be delivered over the Internet to your Mac via the Mac App Store.  Just download the update installer (which, can take a long while) and you’re off to the races.

For this upgrade though, I’m thinking about doing a clean install of Mac OS X.  Since getting my MacBook Pro, every OS upgrade has been an “over the top” upgrade.  This time around, I want to do some house cleaning, so I’ll be making a backup of my Macintosh HD with Carbon Copy Cloner, and then creating a bootable DVD of the Mac OS X Yosemite installer (a USB flash drive also works), and then erasing my disk and installing Yosemite “cleanly”.

It will be a little bit of extra work, but I think my Mac will run a little bit faster after clearing out the years of left over garbage that can build up over time.

Conclusion

Over all, Yosemite looks like it will be a great upgrade for both customers and OS X software developers alike.  Apple has made a lot of under the hood changes that will benefit everyone.  Customers running on the newest Apple hardware should see all of the new features, while older Macs will enjoy most of the new features, but maybe not all of them.  (Handoff and AirDrop, at the time of this writing, are still not confirmed to work on all the Macs that Yosemite can be installed on.)

For more information on Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite, check out the Apple OS X Yosemite preview website.


Footnotes

(1) Yes, I keep calling “OS X” by it’s old name, “Mac OS X”.  Some old habits die hard and this is no exception for me.  I really don’t care that Apple is trying to make Mac OS X sound more like iOS by dropping “Mac” or “Macintosh” from their desktop operating system’s name.  I’m a Mac guy, the computer is a Macintosh, and so it’s still Mac OS X for me.

(2) OS X Yosemite is still in prerelease software development cycle know as “beta”, which means it’s up and running, but still has lots and lots of bugs in it.  You’re not going to install buggy beta software on your Mac’s primary partition as your everyday OS are you?  I’m not.

(3) I just really, really don’t want to give up the 17-inch display, even if newer Retain MacBook displays have a higher resolution.