Sep 18

iPhone 7

iphone-7-jet-blackThere aren’t any surprises anymore.

I remember when I’d wake up early and jump on the web to see the newest iSomething that had been released the night before. I, along with the rest of the world, had no idea what it would look like and no idea what it could do. It was a real event among us nerds and we looked forward to these keynotes the same way kids hang out for Christmas Day.

Nowadays the beans are spilled even before they have had a chance to warm up so we all knew ahead of time what the iPhone 7 was going to look like and, mostly, what it was going to do. We all knew that the speaker jack was going the way of the floppy disk and baggy trousers and we knew it had dual cameras and a new, practically invisible, antenna. So it was hard to be excited when the curtain was finally pulled back and the iPhone 7 was presented to the world.

No gasps. No cheers. No standing ovations. Just polite applause.

But this isn’t Apple’s fault and now that the wrapping has been removed it shouldn’t detract from the product itself.

For the first time a new body shape did not come with the new digit.

The iPhone 3 had a rounded back and was made of plastic. The iPhone 4 was hard edged and made of metal, the iPhone 5 was taller and the iPhone 6 was thinner, larger and rounded at the edges. By contrast the iPhone 7 is practically identical to the 6S – at least in looks and so if you are looking for differentiator then you will have to look within.

The screen is brighter, the whole phone is lighter, the camera has been – as always – improved out of sight (no pun intended) and it is now water proof. All in all it is what an iPhone 6S always wanted to be when it grew up.

And that is saying a lot because the iPhone 6S is, to my mind, the best iPhone ever made.

Oddly the biggest news surrounding this new iPhone has not been about what it has but rather what it hasn’t, namely the removal of the speaker jack. This move has caused many people to rant and rave about how they cannot listen to music while the phone is charging or how they cannot use those old headphones that they just cannot be parted from.

Well the truth is they can charge and listen to music at the same time by either getting a charger/speaker dock or going wireless which would make sense as this is clearly the way of the future.

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Also, if the beef is “I just bought a new set of headphones with a jack!” the new iPhone comes with an adapter so they are covered. And for those that don’t care and usually put the supplied headphones in a drawer and forget about them… Apple are still supplying corded headphones that plug into the lightning connector, so these can now be put in a draw as well.

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Personally I cannot see what the fuss is about. The phone is mobile by nature, so it seems logical that it be tied to nothing at all. When the Playstation shipped the wireless controller the world cheered and when the remote for the first VCR went from a (very) long cord to infrared everyone wondered why it had taken Panasonic so long to get around to it. But Apple dares to move away from the headphone jack and everyone loses their collective minds!

Personally I have been wireless for a few years and have no intention of returning to the tethered world of tangled cords and a ready made snag line with which to hurl my phone out of my pocket and onto the floor. It all started with a wireless headset for my home amp because I didn’t fancy a cable lying in my dinner or threatening to spill my wine while I was trying to watch a movie with headphones. Then when the Apple Watch came out I had no option but to go wireless if I wanted to listen to music from the Watch while I exercised. Recently I bought  a pair of Bose wireless noise cancelling headphones and they are simply a joy to use. There really is nothing like being able to leave the phone in the bedroom (charging I might add) and listen to music (or take a phone call) while I am cooking or wandering around at the other end of the house.

True music freedom!

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Then of course there is the option to invest in the new AirPods. Very similar – minus the cord of course- to the old EarPods in design but the tech is rather impressive. Firstly they have lasers that power up the units when they detect they have been inserted into the ear, ready to work that way for 5 hours solid. They also have sensors that allow the lightest tap to make phone calls or activate Siri. They come in a small charging case that will keep the units charged for 24 hours and automatically pairs with the your iPhone or Apple Watch as soon as it is opened. What I particularly like is the fact that unlike most other Bluetooth headphones there is no cord at all connecting the left and right ear piece so just like your socks, you’ll need to work at keeping them together somehow.

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Then there is the new home button. In the past the home button has been a mechanical device, giving feed back when used. The new one is purely digital, relying on haptic feed back and vibration to give you the same response. Early reports suggest this feature takes some getting used to so I encourage a test drive at an Apple store before you lay down the credit card. For my part, I have tested it and in my opinion it is no big deal.

With the Home button now a sealed digital unit and the phone jack gone, Apple have now been able to finally make the iPhone water resistant. While I have never damaged a phone by getting it wet (well, there was that one time but it is too embarrassing to talk about) I am really looking forward not having to worry about the possibility anymore.

One other change for the iPhone has been the colour range. Space grey has been replaced by Jet Black (think piano finish) and Black (think Batman’s outfit)

I haven’t seen these in the flesh yet but early reports are suggesting that the Jet Black option is so shiny that it will collect finger prints like a crazed FBI agent and can attract scratches easily. To my mind, if its black you want then, Batman’s outfit is the only way to go.

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Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/iphone-7/

Sep 18

Apple Watch series 2

hero1473326173339The Apple Watch is, as regular readers can attest, a favourite of mine. It helps monitor my health, it has inspired me to get off my rear and exercise and it helps me quickly answer phone calls and texts, and this says nothing for the way it monitors my working day, lets me control gadgets around the home or see how close my wife is to getting home so I can start looking busy.

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Understandably then I was all a flutter at the thought of the next Apple Watch being released. However when the actual upgrade was announced it pleased and left me cold in equal measure. Allow me to explain why by way of listing its top features.

Firstly, it looks identical. The rumours of it being thinner didn’t materialise and it is still a square face as apposed to some of the sexier – but ultimately less user friendly – round Smart Watches being produced by Samsung and others. Personally I am OK with this because I think it is a fine looking watch as is. And anyway, I’d rather it be functional than good looking… at least this is what I have heard my wife saying to her friends when I am working around the house.

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So the looks alone aren’t enough to make me update.

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Secondly, it is waterproof. True, it’s not a diving watch but if I find myself in water deeper than 50 metres I figure I have a lot more to worry about than my Watch leaking. Although many people have reported that they are already swimming and showering with the original Apple Watch, it is now offical. While this was one of the biggest criticisms about the first watch but it has never bothered me because even when I wore a diving watch I wasn’t prone to leaving it on when getting wet.

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So again, a welcomed feature for the distractors but a non-event for me.

Thirdly it has built in GPS. Now while this appears to be a big deal for runners and was, like waterproofing, a big issue upon first release, it isn’t something I have missed. I know where I have walked and I feel no need to share the map with others. But, it must be said again… I am no runner.

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Lastly it has a new faster CPU. This is a very good move and, like all the other items on this list, is a big step in the right direction. Applications running faster and having more features is undoubtedly a great thing but again its not something I feel I need. I am not upset by the responsiveness of my current watch – especially since watchOS 3 now pre-loads apps into memory – so I am not compelled to update for that feature either.

One feature that was not added and some felt ought to have been was a built in simm allowing phone calls without the phone. Personally I am glad this hasn’t happened and don’t see any reason why it ever should. I mean, lets think about it. First it means you’d need yet another simm. Second, when a call came in you aren’t likely to have a lengthy and in-depth  conversation holding your arm in mid air so as to be heard. Inevitably you are going to end up reaching for your phone to finish the call… something you can do now without the added expense and hassle of another simm.

The new watch is called Series 2 but confusingly they also launched a second watch, based on the first model, with the faster CPU but none of the other new features and this one is called Series 1.

Now I must admit this is very confusing for those that bought an Apple Watch 12 months ago because what do we have if not the first in a series?

It looks like Apple has figured out a new way of sorting things into order. It makes me wonder if Apple had been in charge of naming TV shows in the 90’s we may have ended up with Star Trek: The Next – previous – Generation instead of the one we know and love.

No matter, the new Watch addresses most of the criticism that was flung at the, what, series 0?edition and that should be good enough for anyone. Personally if you have been thinking about an Apple Watch, now if the time to get one. You’ll have a great device that is, in every way, better than mine and I love mine. As for me… I am off to get a new band and leave it at that.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/apple-watch-series-2/

Sep 05

iOS10 – coming soon

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Last week we posted a warning about some nasty Malware for iOS that has been discovered in the wild. In the article we said that the best way to avoid that Malware was (and still is) to upgrade to 9.3.5. However, it is worth noting that iOS10 is also immune to this Malware and it has the virtue of being packed with dozens of new features.

On the 7th of Sept Apple will be announcing the iPhone 7 and the only thing certain about this new phone is that it will be coming pre-loaded with iOS10.

And while the iPhone itself is still a surprise (depending on the rumours you subscribe to) iOS10 is well known. Its features were laid bare for all to see back in June and the public beta has been available as a free download for a few months now. If you like the look of what is about to follow it might be fun to download it early and play with all the new features and remain immune to the Malware that is floating around.

But just before we go any further, let me say that while I can attest that it works with no ill affect on MY iPhone 6S (and all the apps I rely on), my daughter’s iPhone 5 and my wife’s iPhone SE the same cannot be said for the galaxy of apps you may have installed on your phone so be careful.

Home Screen

When you install iOS10 the first thing you’ll notice is that simply picking up the phone wakes it up, allowing you to see your notifications without needing to unlock the phone at all.

Incidentally, for all you secret squirrel types… this feature can be turned off.

The second thing you’ll notice is that the  SWIPE TO UNLOCK feature has been replaced with Press home to unlock.

Front of an iPhone

After so many years of swiping to unlock the phone this will take some getting used to and for the first couple of days (or in my case weeks) you’ll be spending a lot of time in the beautifully redesigned Notifications Centre which is now accessible by swiping to the right… but more about that later. And while we are here, you might also notice that if you swipe to the left you get instant access to the camera.

For those with Touch ID installed,  touching the Home button will unlock the phone almost instantly and for others you’ll be invited to enter your code.

When you think about it, it makes sense because most people pressed the home button anyway and then swiped to the right and then entered their code.

Inside the Phone

Once unlocked and inside the phone all looks familiar and untouched.

Swipe down from the top of the screen and you’ll be dropped into the new Notifications Centre. Bold, pleasantly individual, ‘cards’ of information show you everything that is important to you. The weather, your battery status, your next appointment and so on are listed and, with a tap, actionable to obtain more detail.

Scroll all the way to the bottom and you’ll see that you can edit this list so it reflects only what you want to see and what is important.

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Contacts

Next the Contacts app has received some attention and it was here that I first got the feeling that the cold austerity of IOS7 has now been replaced with a more graphical approach without resorting to the Skeuomorphic tendencies of the past.

Instead of thinly drawn icons or just text labels to denote a feature, each action now has a very definite button and space of its own.

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Making the most of Forced Touch

Back to the home screen and for those with force touch installed (iPhone 6, 6S, 6 Plus) pressing hard on various icons gives you far more information and access to features than ever before. Pressing firmly on the  Settings app for example gives you quick access to your Bluetooth, WIFI and Battery Settings.

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Pressing firmly on the Mail icon gives you quick access to creating a New message, your recent recipients or access to your Inbox.

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Using this feature you can now have the torch (sorry but I refuse to refer to it as a flash light) illuminate in Low, Medium or Bright light…

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… and on the Camera app you can quickly take a selfie or record a video.

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iMessage

Without any doubt it is texting (you know, that thing that has replaced talking to one another or sending long emails or God forbid a letter) that has received the lion’s share of features this time around. But it is anything but obvious, in fact if you wanted to ignore all the new features in the Messages app then the only thing you’d be forced to acknowledge is that the SEND button is now an arrow pointing skyward. You’d also be forced to ignore the three new icons that sit to the left of the text field but even then these dissolves into a grey arrow once you start typing. But the  fun hidden behind these little representations is surprisingly engaging.

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The new icons to the left give you quick access to your camera and that is nothing new really, however the icon that looks like a heart with two fingers resting on it allows you to send gestures – ala Apple Watch – from your phone.

It is about now you start to realise this iMessage thing has become a lot more fun and a heap more expressive.

On the left you can hand draw things (I am afraid I am limited to flowers) or you can draw on a selfie and send that.

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On the right you can send kisses, heart beats, broken hearts provided you posses more dexterity than I have.

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The App store icon gives you access to pre-loaded GIF files as well as other downloadable applets that give you even more ways to enhance the modest text.IMG_6755

Now, if you recall that little arrow, the one you use to send a text, if you tap and hold on that arrow you get even more in the form of Screen and Bubble effects.

Type your message, press and hold the arrow and you get this menu:

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Choosing Slam will see the message delivered with an effect that is hard to describe but let us just say it is dramatic. Loud gives the bubble a shaking, alarm clock kind of effect and Gentle does precisely as the name suggests… the message arrives with a small type face and grows gently to full size. For the first time, the word “sorry” can be delivered via a text message with the emotional content it deserves. And finally, Invisible Ink sends the message (or picture) masked in a glittery haze that must be swept away to reveal the message.

Then of course there are Screen effects. Sending your text with these will have it arrive with a full screen of balloons, lasers, fireworks or confetti.

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Lastly, still in iMessage, you can hand write a message using your finger as a stylus.

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Phone

Trying to remember that the iPhone is actually a phone, it would be remiss of me not to tell you that now when a call comes in the iPhone will do its level best to try and guess if this unrecognised number is in fact a telemarketing call or at the very least what part of the country it comes from.

Notes

In Notes not only can you lock a note away from prying eyes, you can now share a note via iCloud. This really is useful if you are sharing a project and need to keep tabs on who is doing what and when.

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Photos

The photos app has been given some serious smarts this time around and they make the mobile photo machine a joy to use.

To begin with, upon its first launch, your library is put through a filter that allows the iPhone to present your photos in new and exciting ways. It will, for example, bring up automatic albums like Memories or Your trips last year or Your Dog, all based on what kind of photo and when and were it was taken.

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Etc

Believe me when I tell you all these features are just the tip of the iceberg and I have run out of time to discuss the Bedtime feature that encourages you to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day….

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… the new stop watch…

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… the new Health app interface that gives you a better and clearer picture of your overall health and your carb intake, your blood pressure or the distance you walked in a day…

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… and this says nothing about the fact that you can now finally delete those default apps that you don’t want taking up space on your iPhone; namely Stocks and Podcasts…

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… and I have completely missed out all the changes made to the Music app with its clean and easier to read interface that makes the Music app a joy to use once again.

And, don’t get me started on the new Maps app that now has public transport information (even in Canberra) as well as a more comfortable look and feel when using it as a turn-by-turn GPS.

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So, if I have inspired you to take up iOS10 – the biggest and most feature rich operating system in years – you can either wait until after Sept 7th or you can download the public beta right now from Apple.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/ios10-coming-soon/

Aug 29

Urgent Upgrade Recommended

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Over the weekend serious malware was discovered in the wild and you need to upgrade your iPhone and iPad to 9.3.5 without delay. This shouldn’t be taken lightly because this exploit is already in the wild and has been described as being extraordinarily sophisticated in its approach and, once installed. is almost impossible to detect and remove.

It has already been used to listen in on phone conversations, steal photos, texts and turn the phone into a microphone.

The payload comes in the form of a dodgy email or text and once you attempt to open the file your phone is toast.

To install the update, do the following:

  1. Ensure that your iPhone/iPad is plugged in and has access to a wifi network.
  2. Tap on Settings
  3. Tap on General
  4. Tap on Software Update
  5. Tap on Download and Install and follow the onscreen instructions

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/urgent-upgrade-recommended/

Aug 21

Google Earth Updater

Update Helper

 

It’s very likely that in the last few days you have seen the above dialog appear on your screen.

You didn’t ask for this update and all of a sudden you are being asked to enter your password!

You have every right to be suspicious but rest assured all the chatter on the net appears to suggest this is 100% legit. Creepy and ill-managed, but legit.

So, what to do?

Well, if you ignore it it will just keep coming back so for now I would install the update and curse google for being google.

On the other hand, if you really really really don’t want to apply the update you can remove the software and apply a few terminal commands (yes, it is that insidious) and the problem will go away.

On the other hand, book a health check and we can remove it for you at the sometime.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/google-earth-updater/

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