This Week @ MacsWest
Teaching, Helping, Learning and Having Fun!
• Monday, November 30, 2015
• Tuesday, December 1, 2015
8:00 AM – How and Why to Buy a Mac: Room C, led by Bill Turvin. The free presentation is open to all SCW residents who are interested in buying a Mac computer
10:00 AM – Mac Basics Class, led by Wally Bock, Room C, until noon; 1st in a series of 4 classes. (You must have signed up online for this class, and have been acknowledged by the instructor as being registered for the class. Walk-ins are not allowed.)
11:30 AM – MacsWest Board Meeting, Palo Verde Room, until 12:30 PM (Note change of venue)
1:00 PM – Q&A Session, hosted by Bill Turvin, Palo Verde Room, until 2:00 PM
• Wednesday,December 2, 2015
10:00 AM – Senior Genius Bar: hosted by various members of the MW Club, Room C, every Wednesday, until 11:30 AM. These one-on-one help sessions are held every Wednesday and deal with Apple devices (Mac computers, iPads, iPhones), the Apple operating systems, and specifically, Apple apps.
• Thursday, December 3, 2015
10:00 AM – Mac Basics Class, led by Wally Bock, Room C, until noon; 2nd in a series of 4 classes. (You must have signed up online for this class, have been acknowledged by the instructor as being registered for the class, and have attended last Tuesday’s class. Walk-ins are not allowed.)
• Friday, December 4, 2015
12:30 PM – C&C4C (Coffee and Cookies For Clubmembers), Palo Verde Room
1:00 PM – MacsWest General Meeting, followed by Yvonne Stone’s presentation: “How to Do a Holiday Letter”
• Saturday, December 5, 2015
Holiday Dinner & Awards Night
Tuesday January 12, 2016
Firefox makes its way to the Apple store
News: Firefox for iOS has Yahoo its default search provider.
Apple Store has opened its doors to Firefox, which will allow iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users to use the new browser.
Until now, iOS users only had access to default browser Safari, Dolphin and Google Chrome, which provided some unique features to iOS users.
Mozilla used the Gecko rendering engine, which is considered one of the reasons why Apple denied Firefox entry into its store, as Apple requires iOS apps to use the WebKit rendering engine.
However, after several years, the company is running the iOS version of its browser on WebKit.
Firefox vice president Nick Nguyen said: "Firefox for iOS lets you take your favorite browser with you wherever you go with the Firefox features you already love including smart and flexible search, intuitive tab management, syncing with Firefox Accounts and Private Browsing."
The browser will allow users to sync their browsing history, tabs and passwords and allow bookmarks from other devices to Firefox for iOS.
It will provide search suggestions that will predict what users are looking for in Firefox, and visual tabs that will allow users to manage multiple tabs on the same screen.
Firefox for iOS will also facilitate Private Browsing which is designed to let users browse without saving history or sharing existing cookies with the sites.
Firefox's ad blocking extension is one of the distinctive features in the desktop version. However, Firefox for iOS will not have ad blocking feature due to Apple's strict rules regarding third party apps.
However, the company's default browser Safari supports Content Blocking extensions in iOS 9.
Apple updates OS X El Capitan to 10.11.1 with fix for Office 2016 crashes
An update to OS X El Capitan released by Apple today promises to improve compatibility with Microsoft Office 2016.
Office 2016 has been crashing a lot on the latest Mac operating system, which was released on September 30. Although Microsoft released an Office update on October 13 that contained "stability improvements," Microsoft told Ars at the time that the update "doesn’t address the issues experienced by Office customers with OS X 10.11 El Capitan."
Microsoft said it was working with Apple to fix the problems, and that work resulted in today's release of OS X 10.11.1.
Apple said the update, which requires a restart and is available on the Mac App Store, also does the following:
- Improves installer reliability when upgrading to OS X El Capitan
- Fixes an issue where outgoing server information may be missing from Mail
- Resolves an issue that prevented display of messages and mailboxes in Mail
- Resolves an issue that prevents certain Audio Unit plug-ins from functioning properly
- Improves VoiceOver reliability
- Adds over 150 new emoji characters with full Unicode 7.0 and 8.0 support
- Resolves an issue that caused JPEG images to appear as a gray or green box in Preview
The now-closed Safari bug, a series of memory corruption problems in WebKit, allowed maliciously crafted websites to perform arbitrary code executions. The Safari bug and a number of the others were also present in Mavericks and Yosemite, the two previous versions of OS X. Mavericks and Yosemite each received updates to fix the problems.
Apple TV Pre-Order, Release Date Announced: How To Order A 64GB Apple TV 4
Tim Cook announced that the Apple TV 4 will be available for pre-order next Monday, Oct. 26 during an appearance onstage at the Wall Street Journal Digital Live conference. The Apple TV 4 will officially go on sale later that week. The 32GB Apple TV will cost $149 while the 64GB will cost $199.
For your money, the new Apple TV 4 has finally been opened to third-party app developers, and will be getting its own dedicated App Store. In addition, the new Apple TV 4 will have Siri integrated directly into the new remote, which has been upgraded to Bluetooth and now features a touch pad for navigating through the Apple TV 4.
To pre-order an Apple TV 4, you will want to keep tabs on this web page at around midnight that Sunday, judging by how Apple has conducted pre-orders in the past. Once the clock turns officially over to Oct. 26, Apple will update that web page with a link to another web page where you will be able to pre-order the new Apple TV 4. In the past, Apple has allowed pre-order forms to be filled out beforehand, like with the recent iPhone 6s for example, but it remains to be seen if they will do that with the Apple TV 4.
One thing is for sure however: You won’t be able to order the new Apple TV off Amazon, or the recently updated Google Chromecast at that either. Amazon made the unusual decision to ban competitors to its video streamer, the Amazon Fire TV, from being sold in its online store earlier this month.
A couple of the new apps that are coming to the Apple TV 4 are Plex and VLC, which are fantastic systems of getting content from your computer hard drive to being displayed on your TV screen. Plex will allow you to stream content from your computer to the Apple TV, while VLC is the Swiss army knife of media players.
Apple updates iMacs with better screens, faster processors
Apple's iMac and its accessories are getting a minor makeover.
On Tuesday, Apple upgraded its iMac computers with better displays and faster processors, and updated its keyboard, mouse and trackpad accessories.
The Mac business might not be as big or as sexy as Apple's mobile business, but it remains an important focus for the company. Apple generates less than 15 percent of its revenue from Macs, but the devices help flesh out its family of products, which are increasingly designed to work together. The company is hoping the additions are enough to keep its fans happy at a time when broader PC sales have slowed.
Apple on Tuesday added its supersharp Retina 5K display to every 27-inch iMac and incorporated a slightly lower-resolution Retina 4K display in the top model of its 21.5-inch Mac line for the first time. Apple also gave its new iMacs more powerful Intel processors and graphics, two Thunderbolt 2 ports and updated storage options.
The 27-inch iMac comes in three models, costing $1,799, $1,999 and $2,299. The 21.5-inch iMac is available in three models starting at $1,099, and the top-of-the-line version with the Retina 4K display starts at $1,499.
The 27-inch iMacs will include Intel's newest, sixth-generation processors, dubbed Skylake, as well as AMD graphics cards. But the 21-inch iMacs will only incorporate the fifth generation of Intel's chips and graphics. That's a boost from their current components but lags behind what other computer makers are releasing.
Before last year's update, the iMac -- an all-in-one desktop computer, with the brains hidden behind a sleek display -- hadn't had a design change in two years. Most of all, its screen resolution hadn't changed much while other devices had been bumped to Apple's Retina Display. The iPhone 4, introduced in 2010, sported the first Retina Display, while the higher-resolution screen hit the iPad tablet and MacBook Pro laptop line in 2012.
Some of the most noticeable changes to Apple's computer products come in the accessories, the Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2. The keyboard and mouse are included in the box with new iMacs, and users can choose to swap in the trackpad instead of the mouse for an additional $40. All three are also sold separately, at $79 for the Magic Mouse 2, $99 for the Magic Keyboard and $129 for the Magic Trackpad 2. That's an increase of $10, $30 and $60 over the prices for the respective predecessor products.
All three feature a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery and can last a month or more on a charge. The new Magic Keyboard is streamlined by 13 percent but remains full-size. Apple tweaked the new trackpad to an off-white color from aluminum and increased the surface area by 29 percent. The Magic Trackpad 2 supports Force Touch, which responds to different amount of pressure as on the new touchpads in the MacBook and MacBook Pro.
Apple announces $199 iPhone 6s & $299 6s Plus with 3D Touch, A9 CPU, rose gold color, coming Sept. 25
Apple's new iPhone 6s series will offer users an entirely new way to interact with their handset, sensing pressure from fingertips to enable entirely new shortcuts in iOS 9. It also boasts an all-new 12-megapixel iSight camera, a souped-up A9 processor that nearly doubles performance over the iPhone 6, and a new rose gold color option.
Calling it "just as profound as the first Multi-Touch," Apple marketing head Phil Schiller touted 3D Touch as an entirely new way to interact with the iPhone.
In a video narrated by design head Jony Ive, Apple showed how users can use 3D Touch to quickly access functions within apps from the home screen, and to quickly view linked content such as an address in a text message.
Preorders will begin this Saturday, Sept. 12, with the new models getting into the hands of consumers on Friday, Sept. 25.
In Wednesday's presentation, Apple's head of software engineering, Craig Federighi, took to the stage to show multiple uses for 3D Touch in a variety of apps. For example, a link in an iMessage could be pressed more forcefully with 3D Touch, allowing the user to preview the link without actually opening Safari.
Quick 3D Touch actions from the home screen include a "Take Selfie" option on the Camera app, selecting "Directions Home" in Maps, or "Update Status" in Facebook Federighi also showed how users can quickly switch between apps with a combination of 3D Touch and edge gestures.
The iPhone 6s brings Apple's Taptic Engine from the Apple TV to the handset. These new vibrations were described by Ive as a "mini-tap" and a "full tap" that will give users tactile feedback when interacting with the iPhone 6s.
The new iPhones are made of a custom 7000 series aluminum, and come in four colors: space grey, silver, gold, and rose gold. The cover glass has also been improved with a dual ion-exchange process.
Inside, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus includes a new third-generation 64-bit A9 chip with a new transistor architecture. Apple says the A9 is 70 percent faster at CPU tasks and 90 percent faster at graphics tasks than the iPhone 6 and its A8 processor.
Apple also spent a considerable amount of time boasting of the camera capabilities of its new iPhone 6s series. It includes a 12-megapixel lens and larger image sensor.
The camera is also capable of capturing 4K-resolution high-definition video featuring 8 million pixels.
With 3D Touch, the iPhone 6s also includes a feature dubbed "Live Photos." Photos will automatically be captured with a short video clip, and pressing on the image forcefully will "extend the captured moment."
Live Photos will be supported by Developer APIs, as well as other Apple devices, including custom watch faces on the Apple Watch with watchOS 2.
The new M9 motion coprocessor is integrated directly into the A9 processor, which means it's always on. LTE and Wi-Fi have also been improved, and are up to twice as fast.
The iPhone 6s also features a second-generation Touch ID sensor that is twice as fast as its predecessor.
There are also new charging docks that match the finishes of the iPhone. Apple also has new leather and silicone colors, including a (Product) RED model.
Apple will continue to sell the iPhone 5s for free, the iPhone 6 for $99, and the iPhone 6 Plus for $199. Installment plans will also be available starting at as low as $19 per month for the iPhone 5s, up to $31 for the iPhone 6s Plus.
Apple Announces The 12.9-Inch iPad Pro, Featuring A9X Processor And Starting At $799
Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro — hailed by the company as the most powerful iPad ever.
The new tablet is the largest the company has made to date, and is largely targeted toward media professionals and those in the enterprise.
Touted by Apple as the "biggest news in iPad since the iPad," the iPad Pro offers a display with a whopping 5.3 million pixels — more than the display on the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. This display allows for a full-screen typing experience, and for users to do things like play musical instruments on their device. For those who don't want a software keyboard, Apple has also unveiled a new physical keyboard called the Smart Keyboard.
(Photo : Apple / Tech Times)
To connect with the keyboard, the device makes use of the new Smart Connector, which is magnetic and capable of carrying both power and data.
The new device also makes use of Apple's new A9X chip, the processor designed specifically for Apple's tablets. The chip, according to Apple, is a pretty substantial 1.8x faster than the previous generation A8X chip — putting it in the same class as many desktop computer processors.
(Photo : Apple / Tech Times)
The iPad Pro also features a four-speaker system, which balances frequencies based on the orientation of the device. It will certainly be interesting to see how this works in real life.
Multitasking is a prominent selling point for the new iPad, and with iOS 9, users can have multiple apps on the display at once — taking advantage of the large screen for productivity. Apple even called on Microsoft's Kirk Koenigsbauer to talk about Microsoft Office on the iPad Pro.
As far as dimensions for the new device, the iPad Pro is 6.9 mm thin, only slightly thicker than the iPad Air 2, and weighs 1.57 pounds, which is only slightly heavier than the original iPad. This is pretty substantial, considering how large the iPad Pro is.
Apart from Apple bringing a Microsoft executive on stage, perhaps the biggest announcement at the Apple Special Event was the Apple Pencil: a high-tech stylus for the device, able to detect things like the angle at which the user is drawing.
Other features include a FaceTime camera, Wi-Fi compatibility, and so on. The iPad Pro comes in three finishes, and starts at $799. It will be available starting in November.
Apple Inc. Reveals New Apple Watch Models And Bands Designed By Hermès
Apple revealed new Apple Watch bands and models Wednesday as part of its "Hey Siri" event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.
Apple revealed new gold and rose gold sports band models, retaining the existing anodized aluminum body. These will be available at the same price as the rest of Sport range, and were announced alongside new sports band colors in more neutral tones. The new models will begin shipping immediately.
New Rose Gold and Gold Apple Watches. Apple
The company also announced an expansion of watch configurations for the space black stainless steel model. Alongside classic leather and black sports bands, the space black stainless steel also will be available with a Product Red sports band.
A partnership with French luxury brand Hermès, resulting in three new hand-stitched leather bands, was also revealed. Each band has a custom Hermès watch face, and will be available in select stores in October.
WatchOS 2, which the company will be shipping Sept. 16, was also demonstrated. Native apps announced include Facebook Messenger, iTranslate, GoPro and Airstrip.
New Apple TV announced with Siri and App Store, coming in October for $149
The long-awaited overhaul to Apple's living room set-top box is here. Today the company is unveiling its latest Apple TV with a revised physical design, faster internals, updated remote, and key new features including a built-in App Store. "It's the golden age of television," said CEO Tim Cook. "Our vision for TV is simple and perhaps a little provocative. We believe the future of television is apps."
The new Apple TV is much more powerful than its predecessor, which is a crucial upgrade for the device’s gaming ambitions. It's powered by a 64-bit A8 processor and supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. "It's just 10 millimeters taller," than the previous device, said Apple's Eddy Cue. As for connections, the new Apple TV carries over the same, simplistic power / HDMI / ethernet setup as the old model. It will launch in late October in two configurations: 32GB for $149 or 64GB for $199.
With the newly built-in app store, Apple and third-party developers will expand Apple TV's software ecosystem and widen its core functionality to put a much bigger emphasis on gaming. "When you consume this way, you realize just how much better it can be," Cook said. This is the next step in Apple's attempt to own the living room, and arrives ahead of the company's own internet TV subscription service, expected to arrive sometime in the next year.
You interact with the new Apple TV using Siri, Apple's personal assistant technology. Similar to other set-top box makers like Roku and Amazon, Apple has embraced voice search as the primary means of finding content to watch. Apple's universal search can browse multiple video services (iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime) for the shows and movies you're looking for. You can search for titles, actors, genres, and even granular criteria like guest spots or cameos on TV shows. Siri can also make content suggestions for general questions like, "What are some new movies that are good to watch with kids?"
Along with the deep voice search capabilities, Apple is bundling a new and vastly improved physical remote with the latest Apple TV. The remote features a touch surface for easier navigation through the device's user interface, which resembles the previous menu system but is now refreshed and much more in line with modern iOS devices. Apple says the new software is called tvOS. As you watch shows and movies, Siri can also provide current weather conditions or keep you updated on sports scores.
But third-party apps are by far the biggest addition to this new Apple TV. The bundled remote can be used to control games running on your TV screen. On stage, Apple showcased a few titles including Crossy Road and Beat Sports, a game made by Harmonix. Apple's gaming push seems tailored around casual players — the same people who've collectively downloaded millions of titles onto their iPhones and iPads.
But apps extend beyond gaming and other sources for video streaming. Apple also brought companies like Gilt on stage to demonstrate how consumers will be able to shop directly on Apple TV. In this way, Apple TV will offer much broader functionality than similar living room devices from Roku or Amazon, which stick largely to entertainment.
But there'll be plenty of that on Apple TV, of course, with Apple also giving stage time to MLB.TV and NHL Game Center; apps can offer push notifications and take you right into a critical moment of a live sports game.
The revamped Apple TV has been rumored for months, and after reportedly delaying a WWDC announcement earlier this year, Apple set today's September 9th event as the new reveal target. Eddy Cue labeled the new Apple TV "a foundation for the future of television," offering another hint of the company's plans for a subscription service down the road.
Apple to Delay Live TV Service to 2016 Due to Stalled Negotiations and Lack of Network Capacity
Apple, Inc. will be delaying its live TV service to 2016 due to several factors, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
Issues with the licensing of TV programming and the lack of computer network capacity are said to be the reasons for the delay.
The source, who doesn't want to be identified because talks are private, told Bloomberg that Apple's negotiations to license programming from TV networks owned by CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox, Inc. is progressing slowly.
The issue with the price is seen as the main reason why talks are stalling.
People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that Apple wants to offer a package of popular channels for just $40 a month.
The package price is way lower compared to the average monthly cable bill in the U.S.
Bloomberg adds that TV networks expect Internet-based services, like Apple's live TV service, to pay them a higher fee. This is because these services are just new to the market and are also asking to gain a share of the viewers.
CNET also adds that Apple is not being helped by the already competitive market being dominated by cable companies and satellite TV providers.
This competition is also a reason why content providers can hold out for better terms.
Unless Apple can convince these TV networks to give them a discounted price to show some of their programs, it's going to be hard to offer to consumers the $40 a month package that they want.
Bloomberg adds that aside from providing the content, Apple is also struggling with creating a computer network that can support a fast, glitch-free, viewing experience in the U.S.
Nick Del Deo, an analyst at Moffettnathanson LLC, told Bloomberg that though Apple has solutions, it would be expensive.
"Apple could send every bit from one central point, but the bandwidth costs would be exorbitant," he said. "Plus, the service would be terrible."
Apple is working with Akamai Technologies, Inc., a company that runs a "content distribution network," and another company that operates small "micro-data centers" to help solve its network capacity issues, according to Bloomberg.
CNET adds that Apple's live TV service is the company's next step in its entertainment strategy, which is a key component of Apple's overall goal.
Apple wants to create a stable of products and services that keep consumers from straying to competitors such as Google.
Apple's New iPod Touch Is Basically a Diet iPhone
Apple introduced a revamped iPod Touch lineup on Wednesday, the product’s first major overhaul since 2012. The new features — a faster processor, a better camera and new fitness tracking capabilities — restore the iPod Touch’s place in Apple’s lineup as an iPhone minus the phone element.
The new iPod Touch, available Wednesday starting at $199, packs the same A8 processor found in the iPhone 6, as well as an eight megapixel rear camera and improved front-facing camera. While the iPod Touch lacks the ability to connect to a cell phone carrier’s wireless network, it does have Wi-Fi, so users can access features like Apple’s new Apple Music streaming service when connected to a local network or hotspot.
The new iPod Touch comes in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB varieties for $199, $249, $299 and $399 respectively. Apple has also added five new colors to the entire iPod lineup.
In many ways, Apple has the iPod to thank for setting it on a path to become the world’s most valuable company. While the iPod received mixed and often cold reviews initially, it soon became synonymous with “.mp3 player,” helped along by the iTunes Music Store’s large selection and ease of use.
But the iPod has long since been eclipsed by the iPhone, which today provides the bulk of Apple’s revenue. Apple no longer identifies the iPod individually in its earnings reports; it’s lumped into an “Other Products” category that’s typically responsible for the smallest chunk of the company’s bottom line. For that reason, it’s always a little surprising when Apple decides to do much of anything with the iPod: It could easily let the product wither away and die, and suffer essentially zero ill consequences for doing so.
Showtime's new cord-cutter channel launches on Apple TV with 30-day free trial
Cable cutters can now access premium network Showtime, home to "Homeland" and "Dexter," via their Apple TV, which launched on Tuesday with a free 30-day trial period.
After the trial ends, Showtime will run subscribers $10.99 per month. The new Showtime streaming channel is available automatically on all second- and third-generation "hockey puck" Apple TV units.
Showtime's streaming-only launch also arrives ahead of the premiere of the third season of "Ray Donovan," starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight, which will air this Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern. It will be followed by the third season premiere of "Masters of Sex," starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, at 10 p.m.
Showtime's new streaming service operates largely the same as HBO Now, which debuted exclusively on the Apple TV in April before making its way to other platforms. But Showtime also undercuts HBO Now's $14.99-per-month price point.
The CBS-owned Showtime first announced last month that it would offer standalone, cable-free subscriptions. It was originally expected to launch July 12, making Tuesday's debut a few days early.
Like HBO, Showtime is known for a combination of original programming and an extensive movie library. Among the channel's most well-known efforts are the thriller "Homeland," crime dramas "Dexter" and "Weeds," and other shows like "Californication" and "United States of Tara."
Apple Pay: A 5-step beginner's guide
Apple CEO Tim Cook has called 2015 “the year of Apple Pay," referring to the company’s highly successful mobile payments system, which was developed across several years.
Step 1: Set up Apple Pay on iPhone
Apple Pay works with iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and an Apple Watch that’s paired with an iPhone 5 or later series device.
Launch the Passbook app (soon to be called Wallet).
Tap Set up Apple Pay
There are a couple of ways to set up Apple Pay for your card.
Add the credit or debit card you already use for iTunes to Passbook by entering the card security code
Use your iSight camera to scan your card in order to enter your card information.
Do it manually. Choose Enter a new Credit or Debit Card
Enter the Name, Card Number, Expiration Date and Security Code from your card. Tap Next.
In some cases, your card will be verified with your bank, which may require you make or receive a call and/or enter a code sent to you via SMS.
Your verified card will appear at the top of Passbook & Apple Pay section of settings.
Step 2: Set up Apple Pay on Apple Watch
Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and select Passbook & Apple Pay. Tap ‘Add a Credit or Debit Card."
To add the card you already use with iTunes just enter the security code.
You can also add a card using the iSight camera on your iPhone or type details manually (as above).
Step 3: Using Apple Pay
In theory, Apple Pay works in any store that accepts NFC payments, usually shown by the ‘Contactless’ (tap and pay) symbol on the payment machine. You can already use it internationally if you have an account with a supporting bank.
You can also use Apple Pay to pay with a single touch within apps – just look for the Buy with Apple Pay icon.
To pay with a phone: Just hold your iPhone near the contactless reader with your finger on Touch ID
To pay with Apple Watch: Double-click the side button and hold the face of your Apple Watch up to the contactless reader. A gentle tap and a beep confirm that your payment information has been sent.
If you have multiple cards, you can browse through all available payment cards in Passbook on your iPhone or Apple Watch.
Step 4: Update and remove
If you want to remove a card from Apple Pay to go to Settings>Passbook & Apple pay, tap the card that you want to remove and then select Remove Card.
You can change the address email, or phone number you use for paying within apps Settings > Passbook & Apple Pay to update your information.
Step 5: Is it safe?
Apple likes to say its system is safer than existing chip-and-pin system, and may have a point. Whenever you use a card to pay, your card number and identity are visible. Apple Pay uses a a unique Device Account Number to replace your actual credit and debit card numbers, so your real identity and card number details are not shared. And if you lose your iOS device, you can use Find My iPhone to suspend Apple Pay or wipe your device.
You can also remove your cards from Apple Pay on iCloud.com. Just sign in, click Settings, choose your device, and remove your cards in the Apple Pay section.
Inside iOS 9: Apple makes it easier to upgrade with automatic overnight updates, smaller files
Thursday, June 11, 2015, 09:04 am PT (12:04 pm ET)
In a bid to drive the already-impressive iOS upgrade rate even higher, Apple has brought a bit of OS X to iOS 9 with a new automatic installation option that will let iPhones and iPads update themselves — at a convenient time for the user.
"We're also changing the way software updates are presented to the user," OS X platform lead Andreas Wendker said during a session at this week's Worldwide Developers Conference. "Users will be given a choice to install right now, or later at night when they might not need access to devices."
This change will bring iOS in line with OS X, which began offering such an option in Mavericks.
On the desktop, selecting "Try Tonight" will automatically install available updates between the hours of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., whenever the computer is not being used. The update process is fully automatic — the computer saves state, restarts itself when necessary, and presents the same state when the user logs on again.
Though further details are not yet available, the new iOS 9 update mechanisms appear to follow the same pattern. A post-update dialog shown on screen at the conference confirms that the update was successfully installed, and gives the user an option to read more information about the changes.
Apple has also reduced the amount of free space required to install updates on the device, from 4.6 gigabytes for iOS 8 to 1.3 gigabytes for iOS 9.
"So we think this is going to keep pushing users to update quickly, and will allow you to keep focusing your energies on the latest version of iOS," Wendker told audience.
Apple moves to six-digit passcode in iOS 9
Apple plans to require six-digit passcodes to unlock its latest mobile devices that use iOS 9, its forthcoming mobile operating system.
Users already have the option in iOS 8 of setting a much longer passcode than four digits, which is the current minimum requirement. Symbols and letters can also be used.
Increasing the minimum number of digits to six means that there will be 1 million possible combinations rather than 10,000, which "will be a lot tougher to crack," Apple wrote on its website.
The move to longer passcodes is not likely to please U.S. authorities, who have expressed fears that stronger security measures, including encryption, may make it more difficult to obtain information for time-sensitive investigations, such as terrorism.
Apple beefed up the encryption in iOS 8, protecting more sensitive data and employing more protections within hardware to make it harder to access.
Security experts have said that the use of a four-digit passcodes in iOS 8 is likely insufficient to protect data despite the protections Apple put in place. Users are better served by longer, unique passwords, but rarely opt for more complicated ones.
The passcode change will apply to devices that have Touch ID, Apple's fingerprint scanner that is built into the latest versions of its hardware.
Touch ID eliminates the sometimes fiddly process of unlocking a phone using the four-digit code, but Apple does require it to be entered after a device is restarted.
iOS devices have other passcode protection features. For example, if a wrong passcode is entered, an iPhone can lock someone out for a minute and for subsequently longer times if wrong passcodes are repeatedly entered.
A device can also be configured to erase itself after 10 wrong attempts.
The move to six digits could make it a lot harder for law enforcement to randomly guess passcodes on an iOS 9 device if it hasn't been configured to wipe its data.
Apple rolls out cheaper Retina iMac, 15-inch MacBook Pro with Force Touch
Apple is upgrading its 15-inch MacBook Pro, while offering a cheaper downgrade for its 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display.
The new 15-inch MacBook Pro has a pressure-sensitive Force Touch trackpad, following the footsteps of the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the new 12-inch MacBook. Users can press hard on the trackpad to perform special commands, such as previewing links, editing file names, exposing an app’s open windows, and dropping a pin in Maps.
Apple is also using a new type of flash storage that is 2.5 times faster than the previous model, and is improving battery life by an hour, bringing it up to 9 hours of web browsing or movie playback. The base model starts at $1,999 with a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of storage.
The other big change to the MacBook Pro is optional: Users can get a discrete AMD Radeon R9 M370X graphics card, for when Intel’s integrated Iris Pro graphics fall short. It’ll cost you though, as it’s only available with the $2,499 model that also has 512 GB of storage and a 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7 processor.
As for the Retina display iMac, Apple is adding a cheaper $1,999 variant with a 3.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, AMD Radeon R9 M290 graphics, and a 1 TB hard drive. The existing model, which has a 3.5 GHz processor, AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics, and a 1 TB fusion drive, is getting a $200 price drop to $2,299.
Why this matters: While these aren’t major product launches for Apple, they do spread some of the company’s big technologies to across more of the product line. Force Touch is now standard on every MacBook except the MacBook Air (and is reportedly on the way to the iPhone), and the Retina display iMac is just a $200 upgrade over the regular 27-inch model. It’s not hard to imagine both technologies being standard across Apple’s lineup in a year or two.
The best cable modem (for most folks)
This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the full article below at TheWirecutter.com.
After researching 57 different cable modems, the $90 ARRIS / Motorola SurfBoard SB6141 DOCSIS 3.0 remains the cable modem we recommend for most people. If instead of renting from your ISP, you buy your own cable modem, you can get a better device and recoup the cost in as little as a year—and then start saving anywhere from $6-$10 each month, depending on your ISP's rental fees. Yes, you can probably find a slightly cheaper cable modem that only works with your ISP. We prefer our pick because its flexibility makes it a better long-term investment if you change service during the lifetime of the device. Unlike the competition, the SurfBoard is compatible with almost all of the fastest Internet plans from seven of the eight biggest cable Internet providers, including Charter, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable. You can move almost wherever you want and be assured that this buy-once, use-for-awhile device will still work. And you get the flexibility to switch providers if there's a better deal in your area.
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