Archives For Apple

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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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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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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Mbp touchbar top

Following Apple’s media event last week where the company introduced the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, I wrote up the news and some initial impressions for my Seattle Times column: Apple’s latest Mac upgrade news is intriguing and perplexing.

There’s been a lot of kvetching and hand-wringing about this new update from Apple, reaching similar levels of paranoia as during the Dark Years of being an Apple fan. Does this mean Apple is abandoning the Mac? Has Apple forgotten about its professional customers? Is the Touch Bar just a gimmick? And what about the iMac, Mac mini, and Mac Pro?

I sound dismissive, but I’m not. There are some things about the event that are perplexing, such as the 16 GB memory limit in all MacBook Pro configurations, and the lack of any news about the other Macs. I don’t fall on the Apple-is-doomed spectrum (hell, we’ve been through enough of that), but this does seem like an unusual move for the company.

I’ll have more to say soon. In the meantime, read the article and leave your feedback!

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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.

Tc photos v2Sometimes, it feels as if I’m a lone defender of Apple’s Photos app under macOS. Many people find it too different from iPhoto, or think it’s too basic (even though it’s actually quite sophisticated), or… I don’t know, they just don’t like change. Except for Aperture users who were abandoned by Apple—their discontent is understandable.

It’s not just because I wrote a book about Photos and Apple’s photo ecosystem. True, I use Lightroom as my primary photo library manager, but I also make extensive use of Photos and iCloud Photo Library.

And now macOS Sierra is out, with a new version of Photos that brings better searching, Memories, revamped people identification, and more!

Alas, when my publisher Peachpit Press all but vaporized early this year, the possibility to update my Photos book also went up in smoke. That’s too bad, because I really enjoyed writing it, and thought it turned out well.

However, I’m not the only Photos defender. My friend and colleague Jason Snell has just released the second edition of his highly regarded, and best-selling, Photos: A Take Control Crash Course. Jason has been immersed in Photos during the developer preview versions of macOS Sierra and knows it inside and out. The ebook is 74 pages of hard-won information, fully illustrated and written in Jason’s friendly, approachable style. And it’s only $10!

Photos is a key part of both macOS Sierra and iOS 10, so before you order Jason’s book using the link above, consider bundling it—at a discount—with Scholle McFarland’s Sierra: A Take Control Crash Course, Josh Centers’s iOS 10: A Take Control Crash Course, or both!

Buy the Photos, Sierra, and iOS 10 Crash Courses for $28
Buy the Photos and Sierra Crash Courses for $17.50
Buy the Photos and iOS 10 Crash Courses for $17.50

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My latest column for The Seattle Times looks at what’s just around the corner: a few notable features in the macOS Sierra and iOS 10 betas. I’ve been running both (as well as watchOS 3), and am impressed so far. The features I mention in the column are just a sampling, and I focused on how the Mac and iPhone/iPad work together.

I didn’t have space to mention things like the Maps app automatically noting where you parked your car, how convenient the raise-to-wake feature on the iPhone is, or the convenience of replying to texts without leaving the current app (something possible under iOS 9, but expanded in iOS 10).

Read it here: Beta testing: In next macOS, everyday features work more closely across devices.

Also worth noting: Make sure you update to iOS 9.3.5, a quick-fix security update that Apple issued late last week to patch a hole that could enable an attacker to remotely control your device. TidBITS has more info here: iOS 9.3.5 Blocks Remote Jailbreak.

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My esteemed colleague Julio Ojeda-Zapata knows that you should buy an iPad Pro if you’re in the market for a new tablet, but which model? The 12.9-inch model has a beautiful screen and faster performance, while the 9.7-inch model is a bit lighter and offers the True Tone display (and a wider color gamut).

In this TidBITS article, Julio breaks down the differences and spotlights the advantages of each: Comparing iPad Pro Technologies and Intangibles.

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The ol’ eyes just aren’t what they used to be. After getting a new eyeglasses prescription and noticing how my mother’s iPhone text is permanently larger than normal, I decided to write my latest Seattle Times column about the many ways anyone can make their phone screens more legible. That ranges from simply enlarging text in the Display & Brightness settings to activating accessibility features such as text zoom. I also point out a few new options coming in iOS 10, such as adapting the screen’s display to accommodate different types of color blindness.

This just scratches the surface of iOS accessibility features, which are rich and highly regarded. I recommend following Steven Aquino’s work; he has produced lots of great coverage in many venues.

Read my latest Seattle Times column here: iOS aid makes reading on a screen easy.

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Well now, this is interesting. PetaPixel spotted a feature in one of the slides during yesterday’s WWDC keynote that reads: “RAW photo editing.” We don’t yet know the details, but if iOS finally supports raw images, that could be a giant leap for mobile photo workflows. Raw is typically where the iPad has thrown a wrench into the works (as I describe in my book and elsewhere).

iOS 10 is available now to developers, with a public beta coming in July. The update will be available for everyone in the fall when we’ll see new iPhone models. I would bet (and the PetaPixel article brings up) that we’ll see some sort of raw capture on the new iPhones and perhaps the iPad, too.

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