Tales form the Orchard: What to expect from Apple’s September 12 ‘Gather round’ event

 

 

By Christian de Looper of Digital Trends

It’s that time of year again. Apple has sent out invitations for its annual September event, where we’ll likely see a new set of iPhone devices, a new Apple Watch, and possibly a range of other devices too. The event itself is set to take place on September 12 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, though no matter where you live you should be able to live-stream it for yourself.

What exactly will Apple announce? We’ve been following rumors surrounding all the upcoming products for the past year, and we’ve rounded them up into this short, handy guide. Here’s everything we expect to see at Apple’s “Gather Round” event.

THREE IPHONES

Last year, Apple unveiled the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus. This year, rumors suggest it will announce three different models again. Apple is expected to fully adopt the edge-to-edge design seen on the iPhone X for all models of the iPhone (including the notch). Thankfully, they won’t all cost $1,000. Apple will reportedly release two successors to the iPhone X, dubbed the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, and they will be sized at 5.8 inches and 6.5 inches. Apple will also release a 6.1-inch model, which is expected to be the cheapest of the lot. It will also have an edge-to-edge display with a notch, but the main difference will stem from the use of a LCD screen instead of OLED used on the other two.

The new iPhone XS devices are expected to arrive in a new gold color model, alongside an updated processor, eSIM support, a potential Lightning to USB Type-C cable, and more. The prices are rumored to range from $650 to $1,000.

APPLE WATCH SERIES 4

Just like it did last year, Apple is expected to release a new Apple Watch alongside the new series of iPhones. The Apple Watch Series 4 will retain many of the features of the Apple Watch Series 3, but it’s expected to include a display that’s larger by as much as 15 percent — making it an edge-to-edge display, like that on the iPhone X.

Other rumors about the watch indicate Apple may do away with the Wi-Fi model altogether — leaving only the LTE model (you will likely still be able to use Wi-Fi without paying for LTE with this model). It may also feature a UV sensor, and will run Apple’s latest version of watchOS 5.0.

MACBOOK AIR

Apple has long been expected to release a new low-cost MacBook, and rumors indicate the company will introduce a refresh of the MacBook Air. The new device is expected to feature Intel’s 8th-generation processors, along with a larger display. The updated computer will reportedly get a 13-inch Retina display, and will likely feature modern ports, like USB-C.

Not much else is known about the new laptop, except for the fact that it will most likely come at a starting price of around $1,000. It’s also not totally certain the new MacBook Air will be released at this September event. Instead, it could show up in October.

MAC MINI

Apple may also be planning a long-awaited refresh of the Mac Mini — and it’s about time, considering the computer was last updated in 2014. There will likely be quite a few performance upgrades. Apple will probably adopt Intel’s eighth-generation chips for the computer, and may do away with outdated hard drives in favor of only solid-state options. On top of that, while Apple may not completely revamp the design, it will likely at least update the port selection on the computer to include a few USB-C ports.

When it comes to pricing, the new Mac Mini may start in the $1,000 price range, and will range up from there. Like the MacBook Air, however, there’s no certainty that the Mac Mini will show up at the September 12 event — it may well instead be released later in the year.

IPAD PRO 2018

Another rumor to have popped up in recent days is that Apple will update the iPad Pro. It’ll be more than just a spec-bump too — rumors indicate Apple will give the iPad Pro the iPhone X treatment, with slimmer bezels around the screen, as well an updated A-series processor, and perhaps even a little more RAM.

With the new design, there may be no more home button, which means Face ID may replace Touch ID. That may be a double-edged sword, though, as rumors suggest Face ID might only work in vertical mode — meaning you won’t be able to dock the iPad to a keyboard and unlock it with your face. Apple may move the Smart Connector to the bottom of the iPad, so manufacturers may need to build new keyboards.

AIRPOWER

Apple officially announced the AirPower charger almost a full year ago, but the charger has yet to be released. When it is, AirPower will be able to charge up to three devices at a time — meaning in the evening you can plop down your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods to charger — and they’ll be good to go in the morning. It’s using unique technology that will be able to identify the products and provide the correct amount of energy needed.

While we’re not completely certain AirPower will see the light of day at Apple’s upcoming event, we certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see it.

OPERATING SYSTEM RELEASES

Alongside new hardware, Apple will also release new software to the public. A few of those releases are all but definite. There’s iOS 12, which will be released likely on September 12 itself. You can check out our hands-on review for all the details on what’s new.

Next up is watchOS 5, which is also likely to be pushed to Apple Watch users on September 12 or soon after. The new operating system boasts a few improvements to watchOS and how it works, including better health and fitness tracking, Walkie Talkie mode, Siri Shortcuts, and more. On top of that, Siri will be better at listening to your needs — you’ll no longer need to say “Hey Siri” to activate her. Instead, simply hold your wrist up to your mouth, and Siri should be listening.

Last but not last is macOS, which is being updated to macOS Mojave. It’s expected that the new macOS will be released alongside new Apple computers — meaning it’s not a certainty that the new operating system will be released at this event. Still, if it is, macOS users will enjoy a number of new features, including a new Dark Mode, a revamped App Store, and Stacks, which are automatically arranged groups of files on the desktop.

 

What are you looking forward to the most from Apple’s upcoming Media Event? Sound off in the comments below!!

How to: Use AirPlay

Minimum Requirements and Basic Information

 

by Sam Costello of Lifewire

For many years, the music, videos, and photos stored in our iTunes libraries and on our computers were stuck on those devices (barring complex file-sharing arrangements). For Apple products, that has all changed with the advent of AirPlay (formerly known as AirTunes).

AirPlay lets you stream all kinds of content from your computer or iOS device to other computers, speakers, and TVs.
It’s a pretty neat, and powerful technology that’s only going to get more useful as more products support it.

You don’t have to wait for that day to come, though. If you want to start using AirPlay today, read on for tips on how to use it with many existing devices and apps.

AirPlay Requirements

You’ll need compatible devices in order to use AirPlay.

  • A Mac or PC
  • An iOS device running iOS 4.2 or later
  • iTunes 10.2 or later (some earlier versions support AirTunes or more limited AirPlay implementations)
  • Any iPad model
  • iPhone 3GS or higher
  • 3rd generation iPod touch or newer
  • Any Apple TV model
  • AirPort Express
  • Compatible third-party apps
  • Compatible third-party hardware like speakers or stereo receivers

Remote App
If you have an iOS device, you’ll probably want to download Apple’s free Remote app from the App Store. Remote allows you to use your iOS device as a remote (are you surprised?) to control your computer’s iTunes library and what devices it streams content to, which saves running back and forth to your computer each time you want to change something. Pretty handy!
Basic AirPlay Use

When you have a version of iTunes that supports AirPlay and at least one other compatible device, you’ll see the AirPlay icon, a rectangle with a triangle pushing into it from the bottom.

Depending on what version of iTunes you have, the AirPlay icon will appear in different locations. In iTunes 11+, the AirPlay icon is in the top left, next to the play/forward/backward buttons. In iTunes 10+, you’ll find it in the bottom right-hand corner of the iTunes window.

This allows you to select a device to stream audio or video to via AirPlay. While earlier versions of AirTunes required you to set iTunes to seek out these devices, that’s no longer necessary – iTunes now automatically detects them.

As long as your computer and the device you want to connect to are on the same Wi-Fi network, you’ll see the names you’ve given the devices in the menu that appears when you click the AirPlay icon.

Use this menu to select the AirPlay device you want the music or video to play through (you can select more than one device at the same time), and then begin playing music or video and you’ll hear it playing through the device you selected.
See how to enable AirPlay for iPhone for a walkthrough.

AirPlay With AirPort Express

One of the easiest ways to take advantage of AirPlay is with the AirPort Express. This is around $100 USD and plugs directly into a wall socket.

AirPort Express connects to your Wi-Fi or Ethernet network and lets you connect speakers, stereos, and printers to it. With it serving as the AirPlay receiver, you can then stream content to any device attached to it.

Simply set up the AirPort Express and then choose it from the AirPlay menu in iTunes to stream content to it.
Supported Content

The AirPort Express supports streaming audio only, no video or photos. It also allows wireless printer sharing, so your printer no longer needs a cable attached to your computer to work.

Requirements

  • iTunes 10.2 or later
  • At least one AirPort Express running firmware 7.4.2 or newer (you can use multiple AirPort Expresses in the house)
  • Speakers (or printer) to plug into the AirPort Express

AirPlay and Apple TV

Another simple way to use AirPlay in the home is via the Apple TV, the tiny set-top box that connects your HDTV to your iTunes library and the iTunes Store.

The Apple TV and AirPlay is a powerful combination indeed: it supports music, video, photos, and content streamed from apps.

This means that with the tap of a button, you can take the video you’re watching on your iPad and send it to your HDTV via the Apple TV.

If you’re sending content from your computer to the Apple TV, use the method already described. If you’re using an app that displays the AirPlay icon (most common in web browsers and audio and video apps), use the AirPlay icon to select the Apple TV as the device to stream that content to.

Tip: If the Apple TV doesn’t show up in the AirPlay menu, make sure AirPlay is enabled on it by going to the Apple TV’s Settings menu and then enabling it from the AirPlay menu.

Supported Content

  • Audio streamed from iTunes or iOS devices
  • Video streamed from iTunes or iOS devices
  • Video from iOS apps (e.g. YouTube app or video embedded in web pages)
  • Photos from computers or iOS devices
  • Mirroring a device’s screen on the TV

Requirements

  • Apple TV: 2nd generation Apple TV and newer for video and photos, or 1st generation Apple TV for audio only
  • iTunes 10.2 or higher
  • iOS device running iOS 4.3 or higher to stream content from third-party apps, or iOS 4.2 or higher to stream from built-in iOS apps
  • An HDTV

AirPlay and Apps

 

A growing number of iOS apps support AirPlay, too. While the apps that supported AirPlay were initially limited to those built by Apple and included in iOS, since iOS 4.3, third-party apps have been able to take advantage of AirPlay.

Just look for the AirPlay icon in the app. Support is most often found in audio or video apps, but it may also be found on videos embedded in web pages.

Tap the AirPlay icon to select the destination you want to stream content to from your iOS device.
Supported Content

  • Audio
  • Video
  • Photos

Built-in iOS Apps That Support AirPlay

  • Music
  • iPod
  • Videos
  • Photos
  • YouTube
  • Safari

Requirements

  • AirPort Express, Apple TV, or compatible speakers
  • iOS device running iOS 4.3 or higher to stream content from third-party apps, or iOS 4.2 or higher to stream from built-in iOS apps
  • App that supports AirPlay
  • AirPlay With Speakers

AirPlay With Speakers

There are stereo receivers and speakers from third-party manufacturers that offer built-in AirPlay support.

Some come with compatibility built in and others require aftermarket upgrades. Either way, with these components, you won’t need an AirPort Express or Apple TV to send content to; you’ll be able to send it directly to your stereo from iTunes or compatible apps.

Like with the AirPort Express or Apple TV, set up your speakers (and consult the included manual for directions on using AirPlay) and then select them from the AirPlay menu in iTunes or your apps to stream audio to them.

Supported Content

  • Audio

Requirements

  • iTunes 10.2 or later
  • Compatible speakers
  • iOS device running iOS 4.3 or higher to stream content from third-party apps, or iOS 4.2 or higher to stream from built-in iOS apps
  • App that supports AirPlay

 

Do you have a favorite AirPlay Hack? Tell us about it in the comments below!

App of the Week: TickTick

TickTick helps get your to-do list finished [50 Essential iOS Apps #33]

 

By Ian Fuchs of CultofMac

When Apple rolled out iOS 5 way back in 2011, one of the software’s highlights was a new app — Reminders — to help you keep track of tasks.

Since that time, Reminders hasn’t evolved much. However, the type of task manager people are looking for has changed dramatically. TickTick offers greater control, more granularity, and is an all-around better to-do list app.

What is TickTick?

TickTick is a task manager app for iOS and Mac. The app features tagging for organization, user-created lists, flexible due date options, recurring tasks, and even allows for nested to-do items.

Why it’s great

Unlike the stock Reminders app, nested tasks in TickTick are great for complex projects. Instead of huge lists of tasks, or project-based categorization, task level to-dos allow you to make sure each step of a large project is completed before marking it complete. By using these subtasks, you can also quickly get a visual understanding of how much is left to do.

Another great feature of TickTick is Siri support (this requires a premium subscription). Adding a task by voice can be done in one of two ways. The main way is by asking to create a reminder in TickTick. The other way is to use the stock Reminders app and allow TickTick to intelligently import from Apple’s app. To make it even better, TickTick can automatically remove any tasks from Reminders after import, allowing it to fully replace the stock app.

The final great feature of the service is collaborative lists. Using these allows a group to share a task list in TickTick, add descriptions or notes, and complete various tasks. Tasks can also be assigned to others through the app, making it great for individuals and multiperson projects alike.

Who the TickTick to-do app is for

If you find yourself wanting a more robust to-do list/task manager app, you need to try TickTick. It’s intuitive, cross-device and works well for individuals and groups.

Bottom line: TickTick is the best task manager.

Where the iOS Reminders app falls short, TickTick excels. With robust, pro-level features and a simple interface, it’s the best task manager app for iOS.

Price: Free (unlock premium features for $2.99/month)

Download from: App Store

 

Do you have a favorite task manager? Tell us about it in the comments below!

App of the Week: Companion

Meet Companion, a travel app that claims it will keep you safe.

 

 

By Christopher Elliott of Fortune.com

Can a smartphone really keep you safe? On the face of it, the answer is, of course not. A phone can’t protect you from violent crime any more than a PC or a tablet computer. But information is power, as they say, and the combination of a smartphone’s data, location technology and innovation can keep you out of some kinds of trouble.

That’s the idea behind Companion, an iOS app that allows solo travelers to connect with family, friends or public safety departments who can track them on their trip and get alerts if they run into trouble. It’s part of a growing category of apps that promise to keep you safer when you’re on the road, including LiveSafe and Rave Guardian.

Companion became one of the most downloaded iPhone apps early after it’s initial release. Although the company wouldn’t disclose exact numbers, a representative told FORTUNE that it has more than a million users.

It’s no surprise. A slew of articles in the tech press have breathlessly described Companion as an “incredible” new app that lives up to its billing of keeping you safer on the go.

Here’s how it works

Say you’re walking back home after dark through a questionable neighborhood. The app allows you to designate one of your smartphone contacts as a “companion,” letting that person know where you are and where you’re going.

The Companion app tracks you as you head home, asking you if you’re “OK” from time to time. If you don’t acknowledge the prompt by tapping a button, the app will notify your companion that you could be in trouble.

The app can also tell if you’re walking or have broken into a jog, and it can detect if your headphones have been removed from the jack. Any of these events can trigger a notification, sending a message to your designated friend or to law enforcement.
“We are able to detect when you may be in a sketchy situation and automatically alert your companions with our real-time alert system,” the company says on its site.

But the app has garnered some decidedly mixed reviews.

“I feel ten times safer walking home [with Companion],” raved one iTunes store reviewer. “I constantly get approached by strange men and the ‘I feel nervous’ button is an awesome idea.”

Another customer complained that she selected a companion — her husband — and then tried to send him notifications. She received a return receipt, but he never received them. She called the app “dangerous and deceptive.”

Overall, the app has three out of a possible five stars.

Who’s getting saved?

I asked the company if it could connect me with any satisfied users — people who found themselves in an unsafe situation and were helped by Companion. Normally, software developers keep a list of end-users who are willing to share their stories with the press.

“We have no concrete examples of someone being saved by our app,” Lexie Ernst, the co-founder of Companion, told me. “However, we have heard many people say that they love using Companion with their kids who walk alone to a bus stop early in the morning, with their family/friends studying or traveling abroad, and even people using it with their elderly parents or grandparents. Overall, it’s a great way to keep in touch!”

Perhaps Companion’s promise to turn your iPhone into a “safety device” is slightly overstated, but one thing is certain: The app appeared on the scene at the right time. No amount of smartphone technology, or wearable devices and new features, can really protect us from a determined criminal — at least not yet.

Download Companion for iOS here.

 

What do you think of this kind of App? Useful or no? Sound off in the comments below!

How to: prepare for the iOS 12 public beta

 

 

By Matthew Potuck of 9to5Mac

Apple has shared that it will open up its public beta program for iOS 12 (along with macOS Mojave and tvOS 12) this month. Are you considering running the latest software on your iPhone or iPad? Follow along for how to get ready to join the iOS 12 public beta.

We don’t know exactly when Apple will launch the iOS 12 public beta, but based on previous years, it could be early next week. While it can be exciting to pickup the latest features and updates ahead of this fall’s general release, there are some considerations before installing beta software on your iPhone (or other device).

How to prepare for the iOS 12 public beta

 

Expectations

Before installing the iOS 12 public beta, it can be easy to focus on all the great features and changes that the software will bring. However, it’s also important think about the downsides and weigh the trade-offs.

Being pre-release software, the public beta will naturally include bugs that means apps and features won’t always be reliable. That being said, the first and second iOS 12 developer betas have been relatively stable.

Here’s a few of the issues we’ve noticed at 9to5Mac so far:
• GPS showing inaccurate location
• CarPlay crashing when viewing backup and side camera
• Reminders app crashing
• Increased battery drain

If you can, install the public beta on a secondary iPhone (or iPad). Otherwise, just make sure you’re okay taking some risks if you’re going to go for it on a primary device.

Backing up

If you do decide to run the public beta, backing up your iPhone is especially important. If you’ve been using iCloud to back up with iOS 11, these will be replaced by iOS 12 iCloud backups once you move to the public beta. If at any point you want to revert to iOS 11, you won’t be able to restore from an iOS 12 iCloud backup.

Be sure to make an iTunes backup with your Mac or PC with your iPhone prior to installing iOS 12. This will allow you to restore your data in the event you’d like to downgrade to iOS 11.

Keep in mind that while this is one of the best solutions to protecting your data when running the public beta, there may be some missing data depending on how long a timeframe there is between your last pre-beta backup and when you revert from iOS 12 back to iOS 11.

The best idea to cover your bases is to download and save any important information manually, both before installing the beta and before downgrading from iOS 12 (if you do).

Smörgåsbord

If you’re eager to try out the other public betas, Apple will be launching tvOS 12, macOS 10.14 Mojave alongside iOS 12 access. Like last year, Apple will be reserving watchOS 5 for the developer beta only.

Check out the videos below covering all that’s new with iOS 12, macOS Mojave and more.

 

Are you planning to try any of Apple’s Public Betas of their new software? Sound off in the comments below.

Tales from the Orchard: Apple confirms WWDC 2018 keynote livestream

At WWDC 2018, Apple will show us the future of iOS and its other platforms.

 

Didn’t get manage to grab a ticket to WWDC 2018?

Don’t worry. Apple will still give you a front row seat to the keynote on June 4th.

Apple confirmed this afternoon that it will provide a live stream of the WWDC 2018 keynote on its website, the WWDC app, as well as on Apple TV. Even if you’re not a registered developer, you’ll still be able to watch.

Press invites for the June 4 keynote were sent out today. Cult of Mac is on this year’s guest list, so we’ll be live blogging all of the action from ground zero at the San Jose convention center. Apple didn’t provide a live stream of its event in March but did upload the video of it later in the day.

 

What to expect at WWDC 2018

WWDC 2018 is expected to include the unveiling of iOS 12, macOS 10.14, tvOS 12 and watchOS 5. Other rumors have suggested that Apple may unveil new hardware such as new MacBook Pros, or possibly an iPhone SE 2.

Developers that aren’t able to make it to WWDC 2018 will also be able to watch the engineering sessions later online and through the WWDC 2018 app.

What do you hope to see at WWDC 18? Sound off in the comments below!!

Tales from the Orchard: What would Steve Jobs think of today’s Apple?

 

Originally posted on ZDNet

Steve Jobs was never one to leave anyone in any doubt as to what was on his mind, and thanks to hundreds of hours of keynotes, speeches, and interviews, we can get an insight into what he might think about the current state of the company he founded.

 

Still no next big thing

“One more thing…” — Steve Jobs

No quote excited Apple fans than this one. Those three simple words launched a number of world-changing Apple products.

 

Lack of focus

“Focusing is about saying ‘No.'” — Steve Jobs

The iPhone started out as a simple idea — a device that reinvented the smartphone. All a buyer needed to do was decide how much storage capacity they needed — 4, 8, or 16 gigabytes — and they were an iPhone owner.

Jump forward a decade and buyers are faced with eight different iPhones in numerous storage capacities and finishes.

 

AirPods

 

“The problem with Bluetooth headphones is that it’s not just recharging your iPod, you have to recharge your headphones too. People hate it. There are quality issues — the bandwidth isn’t high enough, and even if it does get there some day, people don’t want to recharge their headphones.” — Steve Jobs

While there’s little doubt that Bluetooth is now more than capable of delivering crystal clear audio, Apple’s solution to how to charge the AirPods would have no doubt upset Jobs. Not only do AirPod owners need to pop the AirPods into a case to charge, they also have to remember to charge up the case itself!

Dongles, dongles, and more dongles

 

“I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” — Steve Jobs

Apple is clearly on a mission to simplify its Mac lineup, and one way it wants to do that is by eliminating as many ports as possible and standardizing on a single port where possible, as it has done with the new MacBook Pro.

Problem is, while one port might work for the iPhone and iPad, when it comes to a computer it’s a real pain, and it forces many users to carry with them an array of different dongles and accessories (such as this Satechi Type-C USB 3.0 3-in-1 combo hub) in order to be able to get work done.

Dumb solutions to simple problems

 

“You’ve baked a really lovely cake, but then you’ve used dog s— for frosting.” — Steve Jobs

Apple employs some of the smartest people on the planet, and the company is capable of doing wonderful things.

But it’s also come out with some howlers. For example, the battery case for the iPhone that has a charging indicator on the inside where you can’t see it. Or a rechargeable mouse that has the charging port on the bottom. Or a rechargeable pencil that has a tiny cap that’s easily lost.

These are just the sort of design howlers that you don’t expect from Apple.

Bogged down iOS

 

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” — Steve Jobs

When the iPhone was unveiled a decade ago the operating system (then called iPhone OS, the iOS name didn’t appear until 2010) was sleek and simple. Everything was a couple of taps away and the user interface was intuitive and a snap to use.

Fast-forward a decade and things have changed dramatically. While iOS 11 retains some of the look and feel of the early iPhone OS, Apple has bolted on, shoehorned in, and otherwise added to the mobile operating system so much that the once elegant and streamlined platform has become a kludgy and awkward mess.

Notification panels and popups litter the interface, gaining access to often-needed features now require users to memorize a number of different gestures, and the Settings app is now a mess to rival the Windows Control Panel at its worst.

Siri is still so dumb

 

“Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.” — Steve Jobs

Apple acquired the technology behind its Siri voice assistant back in 2010 and integrated the technology into the iPhone 4S in late 2011, and since then it has spread from the iPhone to the iPad and the Mac.

But over that time Siri has gone from being “Wow!” to “Meh.” Put Siri in a room with Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Now and you quickly discover just how dumb and gimmicky Siri actually is. The voice recognition is poor, and the range of things you can do, and the flexibility to ask questions in a natural way, is very basic compared to other voice assistant offerings.

Apple’s massive R&D budget

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” — Steve Jobs

Apple’s R&D budget has increased over tenfold since the iPhone was released in 2007, and yet the company hasn’t come up with anything that comes close to the success of the iPhone.

Apple Pencil

 

“Who wants a stylus. You have to get ’em and put ’em away, and you lose ’em. Yuck. Nobody wants a stylus.” — Steve Jobs

I know many would argue that the Apple Pencil is more than a stylus, but many of problems with the stylus — finding it, putting it away, and losing it — haven’t really been solved by Apple.

The iPad’s rapid decline

 

“What we want to do is we want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes.” — Steve Jobs

The iPad was Apple’s plan to disrupt the tablet market and put a stepping-stone between the iPhone and the Mac. And it looked like it would work. But in seven years sales have gone from showing strong growth initially to hitting a peak a few years back to now a rapid decline.

It could be said that the problem with the iPad is that consumers and enterprise buyers have lost interest in tablets, and that it’s only natural that sales would tank. But in that case how has Apple managed to keep Mac sales strong in the face of horrible PC sales, or managed to return the iPhone to growth?

Evolution over revolution

 

“I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I’ve done that sort of thing in my life, but I’ve always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes.” — Steve Jobs

Over the past few years we’ve seen a lot of incremental, evolutionary updates from Apple, ranging across hardware and software, but there’s been little in the way of revolutionary changes. Certainly nothing that compares with those big gambles that Apple took while it was under the leadership of Jobs.

Following, instead of leading

 

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” — Steve Jobs

Apple used to look forward, but now the company feels like it is increasingly looking sideways at what its competitors are up to, in particular the premier Android device maker, Samsung.

Samsung has a “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” attitude when it comes to hardware, and over the past few years we’ve seen Apple take a similar approach, especially with the iPhone. Some of these moves have been successful (for example, it’s clear that there was indeed a pent-up demand for larger and more expensive iPhones) while others have flopped (the iPhone 5C springs irresistibly to mind here).

 

Share your favorite Steve Jobs comments in the comments below!

Tales from the Orchard:Apple’s iOS 11.4 update with ‘USB Restricted Mode’ may defeat tools like GrayKey

The iOS 11.4 beta contains a new feature called USB Restricted Mode, designed to defeat physical data access by third parties — possibly with forensic firms like Grayshift and Cellebrite in mind.

 

“To improve security, for a locked iOS device to communicate with USB accessories you must connect an accessory via Lightning connector to the device while unlocked — or enter your device passcode while connected — at least once a week,” reads Apple documentation highlighted by security firm ElcomSoft. The feature actually made an appearance in iOS 11.3 betas, but like AirPlay 2 was removed from the finished code.

The change blocks use of the Lightning port for anything but charging if a device is left untouched for seven days. An iPhone or iPad will even refuse to sync with computer running iTunes until iOS is unlocked with a passcode.

USB Restricted Mode may be intended to impose a seven-day window on when digital forensics specialists like Grayshift can break into a device, at least using any simple techniques. Those firms will often employ a “lockdown” record from a suspect’s computer to create a local backup of iPhone data, skipping passcode entry.

iOS 11 already has some restrictions on lockdown records, namely automatic expiration, and full-disk encryption that renders them useless if a device is rebooted. The 11.3 update shrank the life of iTunes pairing records to seven days.

ElcomSoft suggested that connecting a device to a paired accessory or computer could extend the Restricted Mode window, and centrally-managed hardware may already have that mode disabled.

“If the phone was seized while it was still powered on, and kept powered on in the meanwhile, than the chance of successfully connecting the phone to a computer for the purpose of making a local backup will depend on whether or not the expert has access to a non-expired lockdown file (pairing record),” ElcomSoft elaborated. “If, however, the phone is delivered in a powered-off state, and the passcode is not known, the chance of successful extraction is slim at best.”

The exact details of the hacking techniques used by Cellebrite and Grayshift’s GrayKey have been kept secret, so it’s possible they may still work after iOS 11.4 is released. The companies could however resort to more extreme methods to get at data, such as removing the flash memory from the devices, copying them, and using the copies to attack the password.

 

What do think of Apple’s move to thwart hackers and the FBI? Sound off in the comments below!

Tips & Tricks: The Easy Trick That Will Help You Organize Your iPhone Apps Faster

 

 

By Emily Petsko of MentalFloss.com

With millions of apps to choose from, your smartphone’s home screen might get a little cluttered from time to time. Holding and dragging apps one by one to organize them can seem like more of a chore than it’s worth, but fortunately, there’s an easier way to do it.

As spotted by Finer Tech, iOS 11 lets you lump multiple apps together to move at the same time. With one hand, tap and hold an app until it enters “jiggle mode” and move it away from its current location. With your other hand (or other finger, if you’re particularly coordinated), tap the apps you’d like to move with it, and they’ll instantly be grouped together.

If you’re hoping to trick yourself into using your social media apps less by moving them all to page three (as some experts recommend), this hack will save you a few minutes of dragging and dropping.

This video provides a handy demonstration of how it’s done:

While you’re at it, you might as well uninstall any apps you haven’t touched since you downloaded them, as they can be a drain on both memory and battery.

What’s your favorite way of organizing your apps? Sound off in the in the comments below!

Tips & Tricks: 11 Tips for Working on the iPad

 

 

BY FEDERICO VITICCI of MacStories

In a recent episode of Connected, we rounded up some of our favorite “iOS little wonders” and Myke was surprised by one of my picks: the ability to launch individual notes on iOS through shared links. The ensuing discussion inspired me to assemble a list of tips and tricks to improve how you can work on an iPad with iOS 11.

Even though I covered or mentioned some of these suggestions in my iOS 11 review or podcast segments before, I realized that it would useful to explain them in detail again for those who missed them. From keyboard recommendations and shortcuts to gestures and Siri, I’ve tried to remember all the little tricks I use to get work done on my iPad Pro on a daily basis.

After several years of being iPad-only for the majority of my work, I often take some of these features for granted. And admittedly, Apple doesn’t always do a great job at teaching users about these lesser known details, which have become especially important after the productivity-focused iPad update in iOS 11. I hope this collection can be useful for those who haven’t yet explored the fascinating world of iPad productivity.

Let’s dig in.

#1 Create Launchers for Notes

As I mentioned above, you can take advantage of Notes’ built-in collaboration capabilities (introduced in iOS 10) to create custom launchers that open individual notes directly.

Apple’s Notes app doesn’t offer a way to copy local URLs that reference a specific note. Thanks to note sharing though, you can create your own “URL scheme launcher” for Notes simply by sharing a note with yourself and using its iCloud.com URL as a personal note launcher.

Let’s say you have a note that you open multiple times a day. You’d like an easier way to open this note, such as a widget built using Launcher or a workflow. Open the note, tap the Add People button, then scroll the extension list until you see Copy Link. Tap it, then in the contacts dialog that appears enter either your iCloud email address or phone number.

Tap Copy Link in the top right, and you’ll have a link that can reopen the note directly. The note has been uploaded to iCloud.com to generate this link, but it’s only shared with yourself, so only you can see it. At this point, you can paste the note’s link in Launcher, Launch Center Pro, Workflow, or any other iOS automation app to turn it into a shortcut to reopen the note.

I use this system for dozens of notes that I frequently open in the Notes app. The only downside is that every time you tap on a note launcher, you’ll see a message that says ‘Retrieving’ – that means your device is checking with iCloud’s servers to see if the note on your device can actually be opened because it’s a shared one. In my experience, this dialog disappears in less than a second, and self-shared note links always work reliably. If you’re a heavy user of the Notes app and find yourself constantly opening the same notes, I recommend setting up some of these launchers.

#2 Trim Spotlight App Results

Whether you access it by hitting ⌘Space on a keyboard, swiping down on the Home screen, or via a dedicated physical key, iOS’ Spotlight search can be a powerful tool…once you’ve taken the time to trim down its list of included results.

I love Spotlight and use it a lot, but it requires time to be optimally configured to ensure its results are not polluted by unnecessary app data.

With iOS 9, Spotlight gained the ability to display results for documents and data contained in third-party apps. You can tap these results (or navigate them with the ↑/↓ arrow keys on a keyboard) to open them directly in the main app. The problem with Apple’s approach is that once an app is installed, its Spotlight integration is enabled by default.

If you find yourself searching for information with Spotlight and thinking that some of the results you see could be omitted, you can disable them and retain the ability to launch the app via Spotlight. To do this, go to Settings ⇾ Siri & Search, scroll to the app you want to disable for Spotlight results, and deactivate the ‘Siri & Search Suggestions’ toggle.

Once turned off, a second toggle called ‘Show App’ will appear; leave this one enabled to keep the ability to launch the app by typing its name in Spotlight.

 

 

#3 Take Edit and Share Screenshots Faster

I’ve repeated this process for all the apps I just want to launch via Spotlight and my experience has dramatically improved. Now when I type something in Spotlight because I’m looking for a document or message, only important apps I care about are allowed to display their contents in search results. It takes a while to disable search and Siri suggestions for every unimportant app, but it’s worth the time.

Lastly, here are some other useful Spotlight tips:

• If you’re using an external keyboard, you can press Return to immediately open the first (and most relevant) result brought up by Spotlight. This is perfect for turning Spotlight into a fast app launcher.
• You can use ↑-Return and ↓-Return to navigate between the first items of each Spotlight section (such as results from different apps).
• You can highlight different app icons on the same row by navigating them with the ← and → arrow keys.
• If the changes you make have no effect on the Spotlight results displayed by third-party apps, restart your iPad. Sometimes a hard reboot is necessary for Spotlight’s cache to clear.

Among various iPad-focused productivity enhancements, iOS 11 brought fantastic new screenshot features to quickly edit, share, and discard screenshots. What you may not know, however, is that you can make this workflow even faster on the iPad thanks to multitasking-aware cropping and keyboard shortcuts.

Unlike its iPhone counterpart, the iPad’s screenshot editing UI can recognize the edges of multiple app windows in a screenshot that was taken while in Split View or Slide Over mode. This means that if you take a screenshot while multitasking, then tap on the preview to edit it right away, the crop tool will automatically snap to the edges of a floating app in Slide Over or multiple apps in Split View, letting you easily crop just one app to share as a standalone image.

This special multitasking crop mode only works from the new screenshot editor of iOS 11; if you save a screenshot to the Photos app then edit it there, the crop tool will no longer recognize multiple apps captured on screen.

Furthermore, while iPad users have long been able to capture a screenshot by pressing the ⇧⌘3 hotkey, iOS 11 introduces ⇧⌘4.

This new shortcut takes a screenshot and immediately jumps into the editing UI, removing the need to tap on the floating thumbnail preview to open a screenshot.

Finally, the screenshot’s thumbnail preview is fully compliant with drag and drop and app extensions. After taking a screenshot (or multiple ones in a row), you can tap & hold the screenshot preview and drag it around to drop it into other apps such as Mail or Gladys. If you don’t want to use drag and drop, you can long-press the screenshot preview until the system share sheet appears. I do this all the time to instantly process screenshots with the Workflow extension.

#4 Consider a Smart Keyboard Alternative

 

For most people, Apple’s Smart Keyboard is a good (albeit slightly expensive) option to complement typing on the iPad with a physical keyboard. Its big advantage, of course, is that it uses the Smart Connector in lieu of Bluetooth, so you never have to worry about pairing and battery life. It’s also thin and light, making it an ideal choice if you plan on typing on an iPad that you’re frequently carrying around.

For all its nice perks, however, the Smart Keyboard also has some serious drawbacks – particularly for users who need to type on a large iPad Pro that usually sits on a desk.

Most notably, the Smart Keyboard is not backlit: unless you’re an extremely proficient touch typist, typing in dark environments will be a challenge as you won’t see the keycaps’ labels. The Smart Keyboard’s other big problem is its lack of additional function keys to activate system features or simulate physical buttons. When you use a Smart Keyboard, you’re more likely to be forced to reach out to the screen with your hand because iOS’ native keyboard shortcuts only support a subset of system functionalities.

Which brings me to my keyboard recommendation: if you want to use an iPad as a laptop replacement with lots of typing involved, you should consider a Smart Keyboard alternative. Whether it’s a Smart Connector-enabled keyboard (such as Logitech’s Slim Combo line), a keyboard case setup, or an external Bluetooth keyboard paired with an iPad stand, my suggestion is to get your hands1 on a backlit keyboard that offers good battery life, multiple levels of backlight illumination, and an extra row of physical function keys mapped to iOS system features and media controls.

For the past few months, I’ve been using a Brydge keyboard with my 12.9″ iPad Pro. This keyboard, besides being backlit and similar to a 2015 MacBook Pro keyboard in style and feel, comes with physical Siri and Home button keys that can be pressed to open the assistant and exit apps, respectively. The Siri key is effective when combined with Type to Siri (more on this below) and the Home key can even be double-tapped and long-pressed to enter the multitasking switcher or summon Siri.

Furthermore, the keyboard’s function row contains keys to control media playback and brightness (for both the system and the keyboard itself), show the software keyboard (useful to manually switch to the emoji picker), and lock the iPad. I’ve really enjoyed working on longform pieces with this keyboard – it’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to the dream of a real iPad laptop.

Brydge keyboards, unfortunately, are notoriously affected by quality problems that result in defective units that “drop” keystrokes. I know because I’ve been in that situation twice: I had to send my first two Brydge keyboards back to Amazon because it was impossible to type on them. I got lucky the third time. If you get a Brydge keyboard but it’s not working properly, and if you like the form factor, return it and repeat the cycle until you get a fully functioning one. Trust me – it’s worth it.

In addition to the Brydge keyboard, there are two other iPad keyboard setups I’ve tested over the years that I can safely recommend: Logitech SLim Logitech Slim Combo keyboard case. It’s bulky and made of plastic, but the case features an adjustable kickstand and has a Pencil holder at the top. The big advantage of the Slim Combo is that it uses the Smart Connector, just like Apple’s Smart Keyboard. The keyboard, which is backlit, replaces the Siri key with a dedicated Spotlight key. I used this keyboard for months before I moved to the Brydge.

Apple Magic Keyboard + Canopy+Smart Cover Even though it’s not backlit, I like the feel and reliability of Apple’s Magic Keyboard. I also appreciate that I can charge it with a Lightning connector instead of micro-USB like other Bluetooth keyboards. Studio Neat’s Canopy is my favorite solution to carry the Magic Keyboard around and prop the iPad up at a good viewing angle. When you don’t need to use the Magic Keyboard anymore, you can close the Canopy and go back to using the iPad with a Smart Cover attached. This setup is how I wrote my iOS 11 review last year, and I recommend it if you already own a Magic Keyboard.

While Apple should do a better job at integrating external keyboard controls with iOS’ system navigation (for instance, you still can’t control Split View and Control Center with the keyboard), using a good keyboard with iOS 11 can considerably improve your iPad workflow. Whatever you end up choosing, I suggest getting a keyboard that features additional function keys and is backlit. And if you decide to try the Brydge lottery: good luck.

#5 Use Favorites in Files App

As I argued in my review of iOS 11, the new Files app is the natural culmination of a new concept of file management that combines the traditional Finder model with an app-centric approach. While Files has a long way to go – in terms of stability, customization, and advanced integrations – I believe Apple has correctly identified the best path forward with this new app.

The ‘Favorites’ feature of Files’ sidebar is a great example of how it aims to combine classic folder-based navigation with apps. The Favorites section of the sidebar lets you pin frequently used folders for quick access. However, rather than being limited to iCloud Drive, you can mix and match favorite locations from iCloud and third-party file providers that show up under the ‘Locations’ area of the Files app.

I take advantage of Favorites in a couple of ways. In the Files app, I’ve enabled Dropbox, DEVONthink, iCab, and Working Copy as file providers. This allows me to browse the contents of the apps from Files and therefore manage their documents with the system’s drag and drop framework (which is available for every location in Files). More importantly, because third-party file providers are treated as native locations just like iCloud Drive, my Favorites section now contains folders from multiple sources. In addition to a handful of iCloud Drive folders, I have quick access to a shared folder in Dropbox, a repository in Working Copy, and a group from DEVONthink. This helps me use Files as a centralized location for all my documents, which I can retrieve with a couple of taps.

For the past few weeks, I’ve also started saving documents that I need to act upon and then delete in a temporary “inbox” in Files that is pinned at the top of my Favorites. If there are any PDF receipts of screenshots I need to process and discard, I can open the first folder in my Favorites to get instant access to those items.

I named this folder ‘* Temp Files’ so that it’s automatically sorted at the top of my iCloud Drive’s main view. This way, the folder is also displayed at the very top of Files’ extension when saving documents from other apps. If I need to save a PDF displayed in Safari, I can invoke the ‘Save to Files’ extension, save the document in the ‘* Temp Files’ folder, and act on it later once I’m back in the Files app.

#6 Get URLs of Mail Messages

 

Did you know that iOS, just like macOS, supports referencing individual messages in Mail with a message:// protocol? And that this feature, which first appeared in Mac OS X Leopard’s Mail in 2007, can only be controlled by iPad users on iOS thanks to drag and drop and third-party apps?

If you’re on an iPad and use Apple Mail, try this: pick up a message from Mail’s inbox and drop it into a note in Apple Notes. You’ll notice that the message gets saved as a link, which you can tap to instantly reopen the message in Mail.

The beautiful aspect of these Mail links is that they keep working even if the message they reference is archived or moved to another folder. Mail’s message links are ideal for task managers and note-taking apps where you may want to save email messages as todos for later.

Unfortunately, unlike macOS and its AppleScript support in Mail, there’s no easy way to copy these Mail message links on the iPad. If you use drag and drop with Notes, you can long-press the link to open a menu that lets you copy the URL you can paste elsewhere.

Alternatively, you can use the shelf app Gladys to save an entire email message and only export its URL component to other apps on your device.

By now, even though Apple never officially documented support for message:// URLs on iOS, a few third-party developers have figured out how to take advantage of those links to integrate their apps with Mail. In my opinion, Things offers the best implementation of the feature: when you drop a Mail message in the app, it is saved with its subject line and a tappable link that reopens the message in Mail.

I wish Apple provided an official API for apps to integrate with Mail; until that happens, individual message links are a good workaround to turn emails into tasks and notes in other apps.

#7 Install Custom Fonts

 

Whenever I share screenshots of my Numbers spreadsheets or Pages documents, readers ask how I was able to install San Francisco Mono on iOS. The simple truth is: iOS, unlike macOS, doesn’t offer a built-in solution for manual font installation, but it can be done through third-party apps and custom profiles. Even better: custom fonts you install on your iPad will be available in any app that uses iOS’ native font selection controls.

The app I’ve been using to install custom fonts on iOS for years now is AnyFont. After copying multiple font files into AnyFont with the ‘Copy To…’ menu in the share sheet, you can select them, confirm that you want to install them, then follow the onscreen instructions to install a custom profile in the Settings app that contains the fonts you want to use. It’s a guided process that requires absolutely no coding or other advanced skills. Once the fonts are installed, you’ll be able to select them in any standard font picker on iOS. You can try this in apps such as Numbers, Pages, Pixelmator, OmniGraffle, or Drafts. As long as the app features a native font picker, you’ll see your custom fonts.

I keep dozens of custom typefaces on my iPad and I’ve installed them all using AnyFont. It couldn’t be easier, and I like how this system lets me personalize my typing experience depending on the app I’m using. If you have a library of fonts that you want to move to AnyFont (or an alternative such as FondFont), I recommend keeping them in a folder synced with Files through iCloud Drive for convenient access on iOS.

#8 Use Text Replacements

 

Once you have your iPad set up with an external keyboard you’re comfortable with, it’s time to start using text replacements. This feature is supported by the default software keyboard too and is typically used for simple abbreviations, but I’ve grown to use it a lot with my Brydge keyboard as a lightweight TextExpander replacement that works in any app.

Besides obvious shortcuts for my name and address, I’ve set up text replacements for a variety of text strings I usually type or search for on my iPad:

• File names for documents or folders (in the Files app) I frequently find via Spotlight;
• Templates for email messages or tweets I send on a regular basis;
• Emoji I frequently type;
• Unicode characters that would otherwise require a dedicated app on iOS (such as the keyboard command characters in this story);
• Tag and project shortcodes for my task manager;
• Entire sentences that are expanded in Type to Siri to control HomeKit devices or save data into SiriKit-compatible apps.

I’ve become so accustomed to writing and working with apps on my iPad using text replacements, iOS feels broken when I use a device that isn’t logged into my iCloud account and doesn’t have my shortcuts. The functionality of Apple’s text replacements pales in comparison to what you can achieve with TextExpander, but their system-wide integration lets you save time in places where TextExpander will never be available.

#9 Tap and Holding Safari

 

There are several interesting and useful shortcuts hidden behind tap & hold gestures in Safari for iOS. It can be tricky to commit them all to muscle memory, so here’s a list of my favorite long-press shortcuts in Safari.

• Bookmarks. Tap & hold to quickly add a new bookmark or add the current webpage to Reading List.
• Plus button. Reopen recently closed tabs.
• Tabs icon. Brings up a menu to close all tabs or the current tab only, plus options to create a new tab or a new private tab.
• Address bar. By default, a long-press here brings up a Copy button to copy the current URL. With a URL or text in the clipboard, you’ll also see options for ‘Paste and Go’ or ‘Paste and Search’, respectively.
• ←/→ arrows. Preview browser history in a contextual menu.
• Safari Reader (text icon on the left side of the address bar). Display settings to always use Safari Reader on the selected website or for all websites.
• Refresh icon. Open menu to request a desktop version of the website or reload the webpage without content blockers.
• Links inside webpages. Tap & hold and wait for the link to lift up to start drag and drop; alternatively, let go of the link after it’s lifted up and you’ll open a standard contextual menu.

#10 Type to Siri

 

I’ve written about Type to Siri at length in an iPad Diaries column, but I want to repeat my recommendation here as I believe the feature dramatically alters Siri’s role on the iPad. With iOS 11, Siri gained support for an Accessibility option called Type to Siri that lets you text, rather than talk with, the system’s built-in assistant. The feature can be enabled in Settings ⇾ General ⇾ Accessibility ⇾ Siri, and it retains all the functionality you’re used to having in Siri, only in text form.

If you work from an iPad connected to an external keyboard, I think you should give Type to Siri a try – especially if your keyboard has a dedicated Siri key that directly opens the assistant’s UI. Besides obvious commands such as simple calculations or currency conversions, you can leverage Type to Siri and combine it with text replacements to perform advanced actions such as saving data into SiriKit apps or controlling HomeKit devices. For example, I set up text replacements as “sentence templates” for Siri to create a task in a specific list in Things; I have a shortcut to set my air purifier to 20% speed; I even created an abbreviation to save a note in Drafts’ inbox without opening the app – perfect for random thoughts that I don’t want to forget.

Normally, interacting with Siri or asking it to save information in third-party apps is a laborious and time-consuming process that feels like an interruption. With Type to Siri and text replacements on the iPad, however, Siri feels more integrated with the system and lends itself to being invoked more often and performing more advanced actions. Type to Siri made me reconsider Siri’s role as a productivity-focused enhancement that complements my iPad workflow.

#11 Open Documents from the Home Screen

 

Despite being one of the highlights of Craig Federighi’s iOS 11 demo from WWDC 2017, I often receive emails and tweets from readers who either just discovered this feature or aren’t sure about how it works.

In iOS 11, document-based apps can show you recently opened documents on the Home screen when you long-press their icons. The same gesture that would initiate drag and drop for other icons on the Home screen displays a “widget” for apps that work with documents.

This means that apps such as Bear or Trello will not show you recent files; document-based apps like Numbers, MindNode, or PDF Viewer, however, because they implement the native file browser in iOS 11, will bring up a menu of recently opened files on the Home screen.

The menu is useful in a couple of ways. Just like a widget, it can be expanded to show you more documents in additional rows. Then, you can either tap a document to reopen it in the app, or you can pick it up and use drag and drop to export it to another app.

Drag and drop is particularly useful in this instance if you find yourself sharing the same document over and over with the same app or the same people and want to save a little bit of time when doing so. Instead of navigating into the app that contains the document to find it, you can just press the icon, pick up the document from the Home screen (or even the dock) and drag away. If the file is stored in a cloud service, it’ll be automatically downloaded and sent as an offline copy when you drop it.

The impact of iOS 11 on my everyday iPad usage has been profound. While not without its fair share of problems, I don’t miss the days of iOS 10 and I have fully embraced the changes brought by iOS 11 to multitasking, file management, and inter-app communication. iOS 11 is a powerful new foundation for the iPad platform, and one that I’m still optimizing to my needs.

If you already work on the iPad as your main computer, or if you’re planning on doing so in the near future, I hope these tips will help you save a little bit of time every day.

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