Archives For Handhelds/iPhone/iPad/Palm

Airpods coffee

When Apple announced AirPods, the wireless earbuds, I thought they looked cool, but they didn’t really catch my attention. I already owned a pair of Bluetooth headphones, and regular earbuds have generally worked just fine in my ears.

And then people started to rave about them. As I mention in this week’s Practical Mac column for The Seattle Times, “… I began to see something unusual for modern Apple, with its deep marketing prowess and industry clout: enthusiastic word-of-mouth.”

After using them for a few weeks, I’m sold. They’re great, even with a few limitations (no volume control except via Siri, no quick pairing with the Apple TV). And AirPods offer the best first-encounter experience of any Apple product in recent memory, hands down.

Read the entire review here: AirPods turn out to be rare product that lives up to the hype.

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I appeared on Clockwise again this week, a great 30-minute podcast where four people offer their opinions on four technology topics. I love Clockwise because it’s so easily digestible, and the topics are always interesting.

For this episode, 172: Serial iPhone Killer, we discussed the upcoming Nintendo Switch gaming platform, Twitter security challenges for the White House, the death of the Vine video service, and the changing face of Apple support. I was joined by hosts Jason Snell and Dan Moren, as well as the multi-talented Alex Cox. Go have a listen!

iPhone, 10 Years Ago

January 9, 2017 — Leave a comment

My contribution to this day in history: the first iPhone at Macworld Expo in 2007, in a glass case with a very burly guard next to it.

Ten years ago today, I was in the audience at Macworld Expo for the unveiling of the first iPhone. Steve Jobs’s lead-up to it during the keynote is classic Steve, and yes, it was an exciting moment. My first thought was, “Finally, someone is doing a mobile phone right.” I was happy just to see the phone features, like easily adding a third person to a call and listening to messages via Visual Voicemail without having to navigate a phone tree. Here’s what we wrote at TidBITS at the time: iPhone Seeks to Redefine the Mobile Phone.

My colleague Glenn got a briefing and actually had a few minutes of hands-on time with a prototype (which had a plastic screen at the time), putting him into rarified air for a few months. See iTouched an iPhone.

That said, the price was high at the outset, and I was mostly-happy using a Palm Treo as my mobile device, so I didn’t think I needed an iPhone right away. Within six months of the iPhone being released (it didn’t ship until June of that year), though, I gave in and bought one. I don’t regret it for a second. And it still works:

Iphone still works 10 years

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apple_watch_cc_cover_shadow.pngThe Apple Watch is now a year and a half old, and on its second hardware revision. (Technically, it’s on the third revision, since you can buy a Series 1 model that is identical to the original but with a better processor.) And watchOS 3 brings several enhancements and refinements to Apple’s wearable that show the company was listening to feedback from the first versions.

What better way to take advantage of those than with the latest 1.3 version of my book, Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course! If you bought a previous edition, you can get the update for free. If you don’t yet own it, grab it now while the Take Control Winterfest sale is going on to get 25% off the $10 cover price.

So what’s new in this version? That turns out to be an interesting question.

For this time around, my schedule didn’t allow me to work on this update to release it in the window we wanted, so Take Control enlisted the most prolific wordsmith Joe Kissell to do it in my place. I’ve worked with Joe on many projects over the years, and I couldn’t ask for a steadier hand to tackle the Apple Watch Series 2 and watchOS 3 information. And with Scholle McFarland as editor, I knew I didn’t have to worry about anything.

The update is great, and covers the new hardware, new features in watchOS 3 such as easily swiping to change watch faces and the new Dock, and contains 85 pages of densely-packed information and full-color illustrations.

For more on what’s to be found in the book, and some background on how it came about, check out this interview that Joe and I did with Chuck Joiner for MacVoices.

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Homekit plug light

I dipped my toes into HomeKit recently, and now I’m waist-deep into smart home technology. For my latest Practical Mac column at The Seattle Times, I look at several devices that are making my home better, as well as the effect it’s had on my family and I: Making a smart move with HomeKit smart-home devices.

Setting aside the technical considerations, what’s been most intriguing is how my family and I have responded to these little forays into living in a smart home. I was skeptical at first of the benefit of having lights that could be controlled from my phone — I do still remember how to flip a switch. But the key is in setting up schedules and scenes.

Now, many lights turn on by themselves: our porch light and living-room lights automatically come on at sunset and turn off at 1 a.m. (which is an obvious indicator if I’m still awake that I need to head to bed).

In my home office, the lights and a portable space heater turn on in the morning so my workspace is warm and welcoming when I start working. And if I leave the house on errands or to take a walk, the space heater is automatically turned off when I go past a geofence surrounding my house, so I don’t accidentally leave the heater running all day.

If you like the work I do, please consider signing up for my low-volume newsletter that I use to announce new projects, items, and giveaways that I think my readers would be interested in.

A quick note: The annual WinterFest sale is on, with discounts on lots of great software and Take Control books—including mine! Nisus Writer Pro, Scrivener, TextExpander, PDFpen… all 25% off (or better) for a short time. Go get them here: WinterFest 2016.

Low light iphone 7

Following up my appearance in Adobe Create with tips for holiday low-light shooting, I’m happy to share… another tip for low-light shooting! In a total coincidence, Jackie Dove contacted me the other day wondering if I had any advice for shooting with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. You can read my tip in this article for Tom’s Guide: 6 Pro Tips for Taking Better Pictures With Your iPhone 7 Plus.

I opted to buy the iPhone 7 instead of the Plus, even though the Plus has a cool dual-camera system and Portrait Mode, because I find its size to be just too much for everyday use. But I’m loving my 7 so far.

Ellie holiday downtown

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In my latest Practical Mac column in the Seattle Times, I outline (in a more concise version than what I posted previously) why the perceived MacBook Pro limitations—RAM, price, etc.—didn’t stop me from ordering one to replace my aging 2010 MacBook Pro. I also offer a solution for stopping iCloud calendar spam and note Apple’s apparent abandonment of its AirPort line of wireless routers.

Read it here: MacBook Pro issues didn’t keep me away.

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This topic came up with a friend over the weekend: Now that Apple is making a ceramic Apple Watch, how long before we see a ceramic iPhone? The always-excellent Greg Koenig of Luma Labs explains not only why we likely won’t see one for a while, but also gets across the sheer scale of manufacturing Apple’s current aluminum-based products.

Go read it now: Why Your Next iPhone Won’t Be Ceramic

And while you’re there, pick up one of Luma’s great camera straps.

My barber said, “I have too many clouds,” and I immediately sympathized. iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive…I have files stashed in all of them. What surprised me when I set about to write this week’s column for the Seattle Times, is that I’ve so effortlessly moved so much of my work and personal data to cloud-based services.

iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, released last month, further entwine iCloud’s tendrils into everyday activities. In the column, I talk about how it enables me to control Philips Hue lights in my home from any remote location, unlock a Mac using my Apple Watch just by getting near it, and more.

Read the column here: Forecast: Increasing use of cloud services for just about everything.

If you like the work I do, please consider signing up for my low-volume newsletter that I use to announce new projects, items, and giveaways that I think my readers would be interested in.