WWDC Part 4: New iPad Pros

Although these days Apple is putting more emphasis on the Mac, particularly for professional use, the company certainly isn’t ignoring pro iPad users. If you’ve been holding off on an iPad Pro purchase, there’s no reason to wait any longer. Apple introduced a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro that’s just a hair taller and wider than the 9.7-inch iPad Pro it replaces, despite having a larger screen that’s 20% larger. The company also enhanced the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with a variety of new hardware capabilities.

All motion on the screens of both iPad Pros will be smoother and more responsive, thanks to a previously unheard of 120 Hz refresh rate. It will make drawing with the Apple Pencil even more fluid. The screens are also brighter, can display more colors, and have low reflectivity. Both models get new cameras that match those in the iPhone 7: a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera with optical image stabilization and True Tone flash, plus a 7-megapixel FaceTime HD camera on the front.

Since professionals care about performance, the new iPad Pros rely on Apple’s new processor, the A10X Fusion chip. Apple claims that the A10X is 30% faster than the A9X used by the previous generation of iPad Pros, and it also delivers 40% faster graphics rendering.

You can buy an iPad Pro with 64 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB of storage, significantly more than last year’s models. The 64 GB 10.5-inch iPad Pro with Wi-Fi costs $649; jumping to 256 GB increases the price to $749, and going to 512 GB raises it to $949. For the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, a 64 GB configuration starts at $799, with 256 GB at $899 and 512 GB at $1099. Add $130 to any configuration to get cellular connectivity as well.

Although the iPad Pros are available starting this month, you can look forward to them becoming significantly more useful when Apple releases iOS 11 in the fall. That’s because iOS 11 promises to bring a number of iPad-specific features, including:

  • A customizable Dock that holds more than six apps
  • A new App Switcher that includes split-screen app combinations
  • A new Files app for managing documents
  • Drag-and-drop capability for moving data between apps
  • Instant Notes, which opens the Notes app with an Apple Pencil tap on the Lock screen
  • Inline drawing with the Apple Pencil in Notes and Mail
  • Handwritten text recognition so you can search what you write

WWDC Part 3: iMacs and Notebooks

For those who have been waiting patiently to buy a new iMac or Mac notebook, now’s the time. Apple refreshed the entire iMac line with Intel’s latest processors, faster storage, higher performance graphics, and brighter, more colorful screens. They all provide a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports for driving external displays and connecting to speedy external storage.

The most-improved award goes to the 21.5-inch iMac with 4K Retina display, which should see the most performance gains from faster CPUs and high-performance Radeon Pro graphics processors. Plus, that model can now take up to 32 GB of RAM, up from 16 GB — it’s far more compelling than before, if you don’t need the larger screen and better performance of the 27-inch model.

You can buy a 21.5-inch non-Retina iMac starting at $1099, a 21.5-inch iMac with 4K Retina display starting at $1299, and a 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display starting at $1799.

Looking for more performance than even a tricked-out 27-inch Retina iMac can provide?. Wait for December, when Apple promises to release the new iMac Pro. It’s a workstation-class machine that retains the form factor of the 27-inch Retina iMac but swaps the brushed aluminum look for a space gray finish. It will be the fastest Mac ever, thanks to 8-core, 10-core, or 18-core Intel Xeon CPUs. Other performance enhancements include a next-generation Radeon Pro Vega graphics chip, up to 128 GB of RAM, a 1 TB SSD upgradeable to 4 TB, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, and 10 Gbps Ethernet. It won’t come cheap, with prices starting at $4999 and rising quickly with build-to-order options.

On the portable front, Apple’s top-of-the-line MacBook Pro notebooks should run a bit more quickly thanks to the addition of Intel’s latest processors running at slightly higher clock speeds. These models also get new graphics processors that improve rendering performance. The 13-inch MacBook Pro still starts at $1299 or $1799 for a model with a Touch Bar and beefier specs. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar starts at $2399.

For those who value portability over all else, the MacBook has become more attractive due to improvements that address its previously underwhelming performance. Along with sprightlier CPUs, it has a new SSD that Apple claims is up to 50% faster, and you can now buy it with 16 GB of RAM, up from the previous limit of 8 GB. It’s still a bit pricey for its performance, with two models priced starting at $1299 and $1599.

If you don’t have much to spend, consider the $999 13-inch MacBook Air. Apple gave it a minor speed bump, replacing the stock 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 processor with a 1.8 GHz version. It remains upgradeable to an Intel Core i7 running at 2.2 GHz.

By the way, if you’ve been jonesing for a full-size wireless keyboard, you’ll be pleased to learn that Apple also just released the new wireless Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad. It’s $129.

WWDC Part 2: iOS 11

At WWDC, Apple gave us a peek at iOS 11, due as a free update this fall (which likely means September). Although it offers numerous changes, iOS 11 won’t seem like a huge revision, since most of the changes are refinements rather than new apps or wholesale rewrites.

Perhaps the most noticeable change is Control Center, the panel that appears when you drag up from the bottom of the Lock screen or Home screen. Apple has redesigned it so that the audio and HomeKit controls fit on one screen, even on the iPhone. In iOS 10, you may have to scroll sideways to see all the controls, which is awkward. The new design also takes advantage of 3D Touch to let you do more than toggle settings on and off.

We’re looking forward to the new Messages, which takes advantage of iCloud to sync messages (including deletions!) between your devices. What’s most important about this is that older messages will be stored only in iCloud so they won’t occupy precious storage space on your device.

Siri will receive new voices that sound more natural, and it will also sync what it knows about you between devices to personalize responses better. Siri is also getting smarter, or at least more observant. Thanks to a technology called Siri Intelligence, Siri will better understand your interests and the context in which you’re speaking. So, if you search for information about Paris, the News app may start recommending articles about France, and if you type “bor” in an app, the iOS keyboard may suggest “Bordeaux” as an auto-completion.

Apple will introduce new formats to the Camera app in iOS 11, which should result in photos and videos that take up much less space. iPhone 7 Plus users will also appreciate improvements in the two-camera Portrait mode. If you like Live Photos, don’t miss new features in Photos for trimming and editing the underlying movies — you can even apply looping and reversing effects.

Although Maps may always be playing catch-up with more established mapping companies, we’re still pleased to see Apple adding features like indoor maps of malls and airports in major cities. It will also inform you of speed limits and offer lane guidance on large roads.

If splitting a restaurant bill is awkward, you’ll be able to use Apple Pay in iOS 11 to send money directly to another person. It goes into an Apple Cash Card found in the Wallet app, and money stored there can be transferred to a bank account or used to pay for Apple Pay purchases.

Last, but certainly least, is a potentially life-saving feature: Do No Disturb While Driving. When enabled, it will detect that you’re riding in a car and shut off all notifications to your iPhone. You’ll be able to set an auto-reply text message in case anyone messages you, which the sender can break through by stating that the message is urgent. You can also turn off Do Not Disturb While Driving if you’re a passenger.

iOS 11 requires a 64-bit device, which means that it won’t be available to the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and fourth-generation iPad, but it will run on all other iOS devices Apple has released since 2013.

WWDC Part 1: HomePod

 
 

Whew! Did you catch Apple's stream yesterday? It was packed full of new announcements, some of which sound INCREDIBLE! We can't wait to see this stuff roll out; it'll be hard to wait. So much was released, we want to just include a little at a time- it's hard to find the time to read a wordy article. 

HomePod

The much-rumored HomePod is Apple’s answer to the popular Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers. In classic Apple fashion, however, the wireless HomePod speaker is focused first on delivering amazing audio quality that competes with the top Wi-Fi speakers available on the market. Setup will be as simple as setting up AirPods; just hold your iPhone next to a HomePod to configure it.

Physically, the HomePod is a 7-inch high cylinder covered in a 3-D acoustic mesh and available in black or white. Inside, it features a 4-inch Apple-designed woofer for deep, clean bass, and an array of seven beam-forming tweeters that provides pure high-frequency acoustics.

The smarts in Apple’s smart speaker come from Apple’s A8 chip, which powered the iPhone 6. Thanks to the A8 chip and a six-microphone array, the HomePod can optimize its audio quality for its position in a room. If you put a pair of HomePods in the same room, they detect each other automatically and balance the audio to deliver an immersive listening experience.

Those microphones also let you control the HomePod via Siri. It’s designed to work with an Apple Music subscription, and Siri will be able to respond to many more music-related queries and commands. You can also ask Siri for weather forecasts, sports scores, traffic reports, stock prices, and even unit conversions. Thanks to the HomePod’s integration with the Apple ecosystem, you’ll also be able to send messages, make reminders, set alarms and timers, and control HomeKit devices. 

 
 

Because it’s Apple, protecting your privacy is paramount, so the HomePod sends nothing to Apple until you say “Hey Siri,” and even then, what you say is both anonymized and encrypted.

When it ships in December for $349, the HomePod will be more expensive than the Amazon Echo or Google Home, neither of which have particularly good sound, but cheaper than many high-quality wireless speakers. We’re looking forward to listening to our music and podcasts on the HomePod, and to seeing how successfully Siri responds to us.

Don't Let Apple Pay Slow You Down

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When it’s an option at a cash register, Apple Pay is faster, easier, and safer than using a credit card. But accessing it from the Wallet app is way too slow! Here’s the trick to pull up Apple Pay quickly. In Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay, under “Allow Access When Locked,” enable Double-Click Home Button. Then, when you want to pay in a checkout line, double-click the Home button from the Lock screen of your iPhone to bring up Wallet instantly. If you have trouble with your thumb unlocking the iPhone instead, use another finger that isn’t registered with Touch ID, and then use your thumb to authenticate once Apple Pay comes up.

 
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Don't Get Burned by Bad Cables

It can be hard to ante up for a quality Lightning or USB-C cable when just a little searching reveals cables that cost only a couple of bucks each. “Surely,” you might think, “the cheap cables might not be as good, but so what if they wear out sooner?”

Points for frugality, but this is one place you don’t want to skimp too far. With some types of cables, the worst that could happen is that the cable would stop working. But with any cable that carries power, like Lightning cables for iOS devices, a short could cause sparks, smoke, and even a fire. This isn’t a crazy concern: there have been numerous reports over the years of fires started by charging smartphones, both iPhones and models from other manufacturers. Apple even has a page that helps you identify counterfeit or uncertified Lightning cables.

If you have a MacBook or MacBook Pro with USB-C ports, fire hasn’t been an issue, but bad cables have been. In 2015 and 2016, Benson Leung, an engineer at Google, made it his mission to identify out-of-spec USB-C cables after a bad USB-C cable fried his Chromebook Pixel laptop. To summarize his findings, stick with cables sold by name-brand manufacturers like Apple, Anker, and Belkin—others may be fine, but you’ll need to do research to be certain. We personally sell Moshi, a product we love as they fit in well with the sleek Apple products, and of course, Apple-branded cables.

With Lightning cables, the same advice applies—buy cables only from well-known manufacturers like the ones mentioned above. You’ll pay a little more, but the cables will not only likely last longer, they’ll be less likely to damage your iPhone or iPad, or burn down your house.

That being said, any cable, if sufficiently mistreated, can short out and cause problems. Follow this advice to protect your devices from cable-related issues:

  • When coiling your cables, avoid wrapping them tightly around something. A tight wrap can cause kinks that will degrade the wires inside.**
  • Don’t create sharp bends in the cable, especially near the connector. Sharp bends can eventually break the insulation and reveal the wires inside.
  • When unplugging your device, pull from the plug instead of the cord. That avoids stress near the connector.
 
 
  • Keep the Lightning connector’s pins clean and away from liquids; crud or a drop of water on the pins could cause a short circuit. USB-C cables are less susceptible to such problems because of their metal jackets, but still be careful.
  • If a cable’s insulation ever breaks such that you can see the wires inside, wrap it with electrical tape right away, and replace it as soon as you can.
 
 

Don’t freak out about cable safety—although there have been problems, hundreds of millions of people have never experienced any trouble at all. But it’s still worth buying quality cables and taking good care of them.

**To help prevent the wear and tear on your laptop chargers, we love the JuiceBoxx! We have these available in store to help extend the life of your chargers.

Do You Suffer From Messy App-age?

Be honest- your Mac's screen is cluttered with windows from all the apps you have open. Sometimes it's handy to view a couple simultaneously, but having too many apps visible can be incredibly distracting. There are a variety of ways to focus on a single app at a time, but here's one of the easiest:

When you click on a window or dock icon to bring it to the foreground, hold down the Option key to hide all the other windows from various apps you have open.

 
 

If you get in the habit of Option-clicking to switch apps/programs regularly, before long you'll find it easier to focus on what you're doing without all the distractions from the other apps. Buckle up: Productivity, here we come! 

Apple Tweaks iPad and iPhone Product Lines

Apple often adjusts its iPad and iPhone lineup in March, and this year’s changes make the selection more attractive and affordable while adding a new way to support the (RED) international charity. Let’s take a closer look at what Apple has done and what it means for you.

New iPad replaces iPad Air 2

The most significant of Apple’s changes is the replacement of the iPad Air 2 with a new 9.7-inch iPad model called simply “iPad.” This latest iPad is extremely similar to the iPad Air 2, and although most of the changes are for the better, Apple cut a few features so as to reduce the price to the lowest ever for a 9.7-inch iPad.

Physically, the new iPad is almost identical to the iPad Air 2, apart from being 1.4 mm thicker, which might cause problems for some current cases. More interesting is that Apple swapped the iPad Air 2’s A8X processor for the faster A9 chip, which should improve performance. The cameras remain mostly the same too, though photos taken with the rear-facing camera should be somewhat better, thanks to two improvements over the iPad Air 2’s camera: auto image stabilization to help avoid blurry images and a hybrid infrared filter to improve color accuracy and sharpness.

On the downside, the new iPad lacks the iPad Air 2’s laminated display and anti-reflective coating, which combined to increase screen clarity, particularly in bright light. You’d have to compare the new iPad against the more expensive iPad mini 4 or the much more expensive 9.7-inch iPad Pro to see if the screen change is a major problem for you.

The big win with the new iPad is price, which has dropped $70: it’s now only $329 for the Wi-Fi–only 32 GB model or $429 for 128 GB. The cellular models cost $459 for 32 GB and $559 for 128 GB. It’s now the least expensive iPad and what Apple expects most new buyers to purchase. It’s available starting March 24th.

Apple reduces iPad mini 4 price, drops iPad mini 2

The new iPad takes over the entry-level iPad spot from the iPad mini because Apple simultaneously dropped both the iPad mini 2, which had been priced at $269, and the 32 GB model of the iPad mini 4, which previously sold for $399. That leaves just the 128 GB iPad mini 4, and Apple slashed $100 off its price to bring it down to $399. Despite the price drop, unless you especially want the iPad mini’s smaller size or better screen, it’s probably worth $30 to move up to the new 128 GB iPad.

Paint the town (RED) with new iPhone 7 models

For more than 10 years, Apple has partnered with the (RED) international charity to raise money for the Global Fund to combat AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. By offering products in the licensed PRODUCT(RED) color and donating a portion of the proceeds, Apple has raised over $130 million for (RED), making it the charity’s largest corporate donor.

On March 24th, Apple will start selling the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus PRODUCT(RED) Special Edition models in 128 GB and 256 GB capacities. They’re functionally identical to the existing iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models and are priced the same too, but they come in what Apple calls “a vibrant red aluminum finish.” It’s a strong color that’s a far cry from Apple’s almost pastel rose gold color choice.

And if you’d like a PRODUCT(RED) iPhone, but have a perfectly serviceable iPhone that you don’t want to replace, Apple now offers silicone and leather cases in the (RED) color—they’re not quite as snazzy as the red aluminum finish, but they’re similarly bright.

iPhone SE now holds twice as much

Last, but far from least, Apple has doubled the storage tiers for the 4-inch iPhone SE, so you can now purchase a 32 GB model for $399 or a 128 GB model for $499. This minor change is welcome for two types of iPhone users.

First, if you’re looking for the least expensive iPhone, the 32 GB iPhone SE at $399 is $150 cheaper than the 32 GB iPhone 6s at $549. And second, some people with smaller hands or pockets don’t like the extra bulk of even the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s/7, much less the 5.5-inch iPhone 6s/7 Plus. For them, the svelte iPhone SE is a perfect size, and it’s helpful that buying it no longer requires living with only 16 GB or 64 GB of storage.

If you have questions about which of these products is right for your needs, give us a call or stop on by!

Tips & Tricks: The Data Edition

Data. It's one thing you don't want to mess around with. It's as unpredictable as the weather. One minute, your hard drive indicates it's on its way to failing, but your information will still show it up... and then... BOOM, a second later, it's gone. It went from a couple hundred dollar fix to over a thousand. Just don't put yourself in that situation. We will tell you minimize your risk of this happening. 

Losing your data and needing to send it to a clean room is fairly preventable. Sometimes, your luck just completely runs out and that's the only option. (Picture this: the backup of your backup of your backup fails, and then the backup of your backup fails, and then your backup fails, and then your hard drive dies. That's pretty bad luck).

But, if you do a regular backup of your machine, and possibly even another backup of your most precious data, if your hard drive ever fails, you can just restore from your backup. How can you start backing up, you ask? Apple makes it easy with Time Machine. Here's how to set it up:

  1. Connect the external hard drive you're planning on using.
  2. Go to the Apple menu at the top left and click on System Preferences
  3. Click the Time Machine icon
  4. Click the Select Backup Disk button
  5. Choose the external hard drive from the menu to set it up. If you click Show Time Machine in menu bar, simply
  6. Go to the icon in the menu bar, and select Back Up Now
  7. Let it run its course, and voilà. You have your data backed up. (Don't forget to eject your hard drive before you unplug it)

We'll keep talking to you until we're blue in the face on the importance of backing up. We don't want to see your precious memories lost, but data is its own animal. And sometimes it's a wild animal backed up into a corner. Don't let yourself be in this situation. We always breathe a sigh of relief when we hear customers are backing up.

Do yourself a favor, come to MacExperience, and we can either sell you an external hard drive and help you set up Time Machine, or schedule a training session and we will share with you the ins and outs of how to be the safest with your data. Help us help you! 

Spring Cleaning for a Nearly Full iPhone or iPad

Running out of space on an iPhone or iPad is frustrating. You can’t take new photos, some things don’t work, and iOS nags you about “managing” your storage. Thanks, Apple—we know our devices are nearly full, but clearing space isn’t necessarily easy!

 
 

What can you do? You have two options: delete apps and cull data from within apps. Before we start down those paths, let’s figure out where to focus. 

Navigate to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage. In the Storage section, tap Manage Storage. You see a screen that shows how much space you’ve used and how much is available, along with a list of apps and how much space they and their data occupy.

 
 

Tap any app to see more details about how much space it occupies, and, if it’s not a built-in Apple app, an option to delete it. If there are apps in this list that you never use, delete them. Start at the top of the list and work your way down. Remember, you can always re-download apps from the App Store app. 

 
 

For Apple apps that can’t be deleted, and other apps you don’t want to delete, this list is useful for identifying where you can trim data quickly. The most likely culprits are video, audio, and photo apps, including Apple’s TV, Music, Podcasts, and Photos. Messages may also appear here, thanks to photos and videos in your conversations.

How you remove data from within an app varies widely, but here are pointers for common Apple apps:

  • For Apple’s Music, TV, and Podcasts apps (but not iBooks), you can delete data from within the Storage screen. Navigate into that app’s listing, and swipe left on any item to reveal a Delete button. iOS shows the data hierarchically, so in Music you can, for instance, delete All Songs, everything by an artist, a particular album, or just a specific song. (You can also delete data within each app, but it’s easier in the Storage screen.)
 
 

With Photos, what you can do depends on your setup:

  • If you aren’t using iCloud Photo Library, photos go in your Camera Roll album and can build up there. Sync them to Photos on your Mac via iTunes, and then delete them from the iOS device. You can sync an album of favorites back if you have space.
  • If you have subscribed to iCloud Photo Library, make sure to turn on Optimize iPhone/iPad Storage in Settings > Photos & Camera. That stores small thumbnails instead of full-sized images. If you’re low on space, Photos automatically uploads full-resolution originals to iCloud and then replaces them with smaller thumbnails on your device. Even thumbnails take up space, though, and there’s no way to reduce that space further.
 
 

In Messages, you have two choices. You can either delete a conversation wholesale (it’ll remain on your Mac) by swiping left on it in the message list, or you can navigate into a conversation, tap the i button, and scroll down to the list of images and attachments. Tap and hold briefly on an image or attachment to bring up buttons for Copy, Delete, and More. Tap Delete to remove just that file, or tap More to select multiple items (tap each one to give it a blue checkmark) and then tap the trash icon in the lower-right to delete them all.

Some apps may download a lot of media as you watch or listen but not delete it later or give you an interface for doing so. In such a case, your only option is to delete and reinstall the app, which recovers space but may result in the loss of some settings.

As a final note, when you’re ready to replace this iPhone or iPad, come on in to MacExperience and consider getting one with more storage!

Got a Frozen Mac?

The frozen Mac—it shouldn’t happen, but it does. If you should be so unlucky as to find your Mac completely locked up and unresponsive to the mouse or keyboard, you may wonder how you can restart it. The trick is to hold the power button down for 5 seconds, which will force your Mac to turn off. Wait another 5 or 10 seconds, and then press the power button again to restart the Mac. On a desktop Mac, look for the power button on the back of the computer. On a Mac laptop, the power button is near the top-right corner of the keyboard. On a 2016 MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, press down on the blank Touch ID button until you feel and hear a click. Remember that it is always better to restart your Mac gracefully by choosing Restart from the Apple menu—this technique is only for when the Mac is frozen.

 
 

How to Enter Emoji on the Mac

The only characters that are easier to type in iOS than on the Mac are emoji, those cartoon-like pictures that were created in Japan just before the turn of the century as a way of sharing pictures on mobile devices. They caught on in the United States in 2011, after Apple built an emoji keyboard into the iPhone with iOS 5 and added them to OS X 10.7 Lion. They’re most often used to pretty up chat messages, but since they’re actually font characters, you can also increase their size and use them like clip art in any Mac app.

Even though emoji have been readily accessible since 2011, many Mac users have never figured out how to enter them, since you can’t just type them on a keyboard. So, if you want to insert a 😀 in a post in Messages or a note in Mail, you need to use the Characters viewer. To bring it up in most Mac apps, choose Edit > Emoji & Symbols or use its keyboard shortcut: Command-Control-Space. When the Characters viewer first appears, it may be compressed (above left); click the square expansion icon to expand it to its full glory (above right).

The compressed view is fine, but the expanded view makes it easier to browse through the full set of emoji and search for particular emoji—you can also make the expanded version larger and see more emoji at once by dragging a corner. With Emoji chosen in the first column of the enlarged view, the second column lists emoji categories, such as Smileys & People, Animals & Nature, Food & Drink, and so on. In the compressed view, you can see the same categories by clicking the icons at the bottom. If you want a particular emoji, search for it by typing in the Search field—try “fruit” or “apple.”

You can insert an emoji from the Characters viewer in three main ways—if one method doesn’t work in a particular app, try another:

  • While the cursor is active in a text area, double-click a character in the viewer.
  • Drag a character out of the viewer and into a text area.
  • Drag a character out of the viewer to the Desktop to create a text clipping with it. Then drag that text clipping anywhere you can type.

Once you insert a character, it appears in the Frequently Used category; in the expanded version of the Characters viewer, you can also click the Add to Favorites button to add the current emoji to the Favorites category.

With many of the emoji of people, the first time you click the emoji, you’ll see a popover that lets you choose a skin tone other than the default, and macOS remembers your selection. If you wish to change an emoji’s skin tone later, click and hold until its popover appears (or use Force Touch, if you’re working with an appropriate trackpad).

One warning: If you send emoji from an Apple device to someone using a non-Apple device or operating system, they may see slightly different emoji than what you sent. The most notable example of this is Apple’s “pistol” emoji, which now looks like a green squirt gun 🔫; whereas, that emoji on other platforms generally looks like a more realistic handgun. The Unicode Consortium publishes a full list of what each emoji looks like on different platforms.

It’s easy to assume that emoji are a fad, or are used only by the young, but in reality, they’re having a profound effect on written communication. While an octogenarian may not understand that a line of dancers 💃💃💃💃💃 is meant to convey enthusiasm, a teen from China who speaks no English might get it. New York Magazine has covered the topic in depth, so give that article a read if you’re curious.

Dongles, Dongles, Dongles

Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models rely on a new kind of connection port: Thunderbolt 3. Unfortunately, while this switch is great from a technical standpoint, it has caused confusion in the Mac world. Let’s sort it all out.

The root of the confusion is the fact that Thunderbolt 3 uses a different physical connector than Thunderbolt 1 and 2. They relied on the physical Mini DisplayPort connector, which made sense since they are commonly used to connect monitors. Thunderbolt 3 instead relies on the reversible USB-C connector that has previously appeared in the Mac world only on the 12-inch MacBook, where it replaces USB-A.

Here’s the key fact to remember: All USB-C devices, cables, adapters, and chargers should work when plugged into a Thunderbolt 3 port, but Thunderbolt 3-specific peripherals will not work when plugged into the USB-C port of a 12-inch MacBook. In short, Thunderbolt 3 is a superset of USB-C.

The only visible difference between a Thunderbolt 3 cable and a USB-C cable is that a Thunderbolt 3 cable is labeled with the same lightning logo used on previous Thunderbolt cables. USB-C-only cables may be labeled with SS+ for SuperSpeed+.

If you buy a new MacBook Pro and want to connect it to older devices that lack Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C ports, you’ll need a special cable, adapter, or dock. Apple makes a number of these, and more are available from numerous independent manufacturers. The two most important adapters to get are Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter and a USB-C to USB-A adapter.

With those handy, you can connect to any Thunderbolt device (including many older Macs and Apple’s Thunderbolt Display) and any USB device. You can also add Apple’s older Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter and Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter to connect to Ethernet networks and FireWire hard drives.

Connecting to other displays requires additional adapters, which are specific to the different video standards. Apple makes adapters for USB-C to HDMI and VGA, but not for USB-C to DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, and DVI, so you’ll have to turn to another manufacturer for displays that rely on those last three standards.

The practical upshot of all this is that if you have a new MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3, you may need to get a couple of adapters to be able to migrate data from an older Mac, connect to your existing accessories, and drive external displays and projectors. (Macworld has a nice guide to all the possibilities.) That’s an unfortunate fact of life right now, but in a few years, once most peripherals support USB-C and new Macs come with Thunderbolt 3, there will be one cable to rule them all.

Stop Unwanted Notifications with Do Not Disturb

If you're not using the wonder that is Do Not Disturb, stop whatever you're doing and read on. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than being woken from a sound sleep by a notification from your iPhone, particularly when it’s something annoying like a robocall. On the Mac, notifications won’t generally wake you up, but they can be distracting when you’re trying to focus. Or, imagine the embarrassment if you get a text message from a snarky buddy while you’re giving a Keynote presentation. Do Not Disturb to the rescue!

In both iOS and macOS, you can engage Do Not Disturb manually at any time. That’s perfect if you want to make sure your iPhone doesn’t make noise in the theater or prevent your Mac from showing notifications while showing your latest work to your boss.

  • In iOS, either go to Settings > Do Not Disturb and toggle the Manual switch, or swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal Control Center and tap the Do Not Disturb button. You can also ask Siri to “Turn on Do Not Disturb.” A crescent moon icon appears in the status bar at the top of the screen when Do Not Disturb is on.

On the Mac, click the Notification Center icon in the top-right corner of the screen, scroll up to reveal the Do Not Disturb controls, and toggle the switch. For a quicker way, Option-click the Notification Center icon. In Sierra, Siri can control Do Not Disturb as well. The Notification Center icon is light gray instead of black when Do No Disturb is on.

You can turn Do Not Disturb off manually (which is a good idea if you’ve disabled it on your iPhone during a doctor’s appointment, for instance). On the Mac, it turns off automatically at midnight.

No one wants to enable Do Not Disturb manually every night. Happily, both iOS and macOS can turn it on automatically on a schedule.

  • In iOS, go to Settings > Do Not Disturb, turn on the Scheduled switch, and tap the From/To times to adjust when it should turn on and off automatically.
  • On the Mac, open System Preferences > Notifications > Do Not Disturb, select the checkbox next to the time fields, and enter from From and To times.

The Mac offers a few welcome options that automatically engage Do Not Disturb when the display is sleeping (usually a no-brainer) and when mirroring the display to a TV or projector (which should prevent notifications during presentations).

In iOS, you can choose which calls can break through Do Not Disturb’s cone of silence. On both platforms, you can allow repeated calls through — if someone wants to get in touch badly enough to try twice in quick succession, it’s probably important.

Nearly everyone should be using Do Not Disturb, so if you haven’t taken advantage of it yet, check it out now, before an errant phone call or iOS notification wakes you in the middle of the night.

What's the Deal with Two-Step Verification?

It seems that we can’t go a week without hearing about some new security breach involving tens of thousands or even millions of passwords. That’s why it’s essential that you use strong passwords of random characters (and manage them in a full-featured password manager like 1Password or LastPass or, for a more basic approach, iCloud Keychain). But many major Internet companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Dropbox offer an option for a higher level of security, called two-step verification.

With a normal account, a bad guy has to get only one thing—your password—to break in. With an account that’s protected by two-step verification, however, breaking in becomes far more difficult. That’s because logging in requires both your normal password and a time-limited one-time password that is generated by a special authentication app or sent to you in an SMS text message or via email. What’s important about these secondary passwords is that they’re valid only for a short time and they can be used only once. You have to enter these secondary passwords only the first time that you log in on a particular device or in a particular Web browser, so they are just an occasional extra step, not a daily inconvenience.

Sites that offer two-step verification will provide setup and usage instructions, but the basics are as follows. You’ll enable two-step verification in the account settings, and then tell the site how you’ll get the one-time password when you want to log in, generally providing your phone number or email address. For services that use an authentication app like Google Authenticator, Authy, or 1Password, you’ll have to scan a QR code on screen or enter a secret key—either way, that seeds the app with a value that enables it to generate a valid one-time password every 30 seconds. Make sure to record any backup codes the site provides; they’re essential if you lose access to your phone or your email.

When it comes time to log in to a service protected by two-step verification, you’ll enter your username and password as you normally would. Then, you’ll be prompted for a one-time password, and the service will either send you one via SMS or email, or require you to look it up in your authenticator app. Since a bad guy who might have obtained your normal password would also have to intercept your text or email messages, or have stolen your mobile phone (and be able to get past its passcode), you’re far, far safer.

Most sites that use two-step verification don’t require that you enter a one-time password on every login, since that would be overkill. It’s also unnecessary to enable two-step verification for every account you might have—there isn’t much liability to someone logging in to your New York Times account since they couldn’t do anything diabolical once in. For more-important accounts—email, social media, cloud services, banking—you absolutely should use two-step verification for added protection so a bad guy can’t impersonate you to your friends, receive email-based password resets for other sites, or access your most important data.

You may also hear the term two-factor authentication, which is even more secure than two-step verification when implemented correctly. That’s because two-factor authentication combines something you know (your password) with something you have (such as a secure token keyfob that generates time-limited one-time passwords) or something that’s true of you (biometric info like a fingerprint or iris scan). It might seem like using your iPhone to get a text message or run an authenticator app qualifies, but if you end up doing everything on a single device that could be compromised, it’s not true two-factor authentication.

Regardless of the terminology, going beyond a single password, no matter how strong, significantly increases your security, and you would be well served to employ such a security technology for your most important accounts. To learn more about why strong passwords are necessary, using password managers, and even more details behind two-step verification and two-factor authentication, check out Take Control of Your Passwords.

Adjust Flashlight Brightness with 3D Touch

The iPhone’s flashlight is one of its most popular low-tech features, but have you ever wished you could make it brighter or dimmer? Now you can, at least on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 models in iOS 10! Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up Control Center, and then 3D Touch (press hard) the Flashlight button to reveal Bright, Medium, and Low Light options. Tap the one you want to get that brightness level. iOS 10 remembers your last setting, so if the level isn’t what you want the next time, you may have to adjust it again.

 
 

Did you know? Your machine could be fixed... for free.

If you have either a 2011 MacBook Pro (15-inch or 17-inch) or a Mid 2012-Early 2013 15 inchMacBook Pro with Retina Display, you could qualify for Apple's Repair Extension Program.

 
macbook_pro_2011.jpg
 

What does this mean for you? If your machine fails to pass certain tests, Apple pays to get your computer repaired.

Symptoms:

  • Distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen
  • No video on the computer screen (or external display) even though the computer is on
  • Computer restarts unexpectedly

Of course, it's possible that your computer could fall in this range and be perfectly fine, but even if you aren't experiencing the symptoms, it's important to note the program expires at the end of the year. Which means, if January 1st rolls around and your machine suddenly starts getting distorted video, you might be out of luck. 

Next steps:

  1. Bring your computer into your closest MacExperience
  2. Your computer will be tested at the counter, if certain parts of the test fail....
  3. You qualify for the program and your computer will get new parts, which means your machine might perform better, and...
  4. It's FREE for you! 

Visit your nearest location today!

What are you thankful for?

  • A place to lay your head at night?
  • A roof?
  • A car that runs?
  • A job?
  • A wife or husband?
  • A son or daughter?
  • Food?
  • Fast food?
  • Bacon?
  • Parents that taught you right from wrong?
  • Disposable diapers?
  • Deodorant?
  • Education?
  • A boss that doesn't bother you?
  • A boss that drives you to become better?
  • A friend that sticks closer than a brother?
  • A brother that will give you the shirt off his back?
  • Ears to hear music?
  • Eyes to see art?
  • The sense of touch to feel a warm embrace?
  • The smell of coffee on a cold morning?
  • Freedom to serve others?
  • Freedom to love others?
  • The internet at your fingertips?
  • That you won't have to mow the lawn until spring?
  • Technology to reconnect with someone?
  • Faith, hope, and love?
  • Grandchildren?

This list could go on– probably forever. Don't let this season go by without letting someone know what you're thankful for, that you're thankful for them. The world will go on. It's time to focus on the good, the positive. At the end of the day, we all want to be surrounded by our loved ones. Be thankful for what you have, and know that the best is yet to come.

 

Find Wasted Space with Storage Management

Between photos, videos, music, and downloads, it’s easy to fill up your Mac’s drive, particularly if it has fast but small flash storage. A MacBook Air might have only 128 GB of drive space, and that goes quickly. Numerous utilities exist to help you find and delete unnecessary files, like GrandPerspective, OmniDiskSweeper, and WhatSize, but in macOS 10.12 Sierra, Apple provides a built-in tool to clean house: the Storage Management window.

Storage Management is hidden inside the System Information app and is most easily accessed by choosing  > About This Mac, clicking the Storage button, and then clicking Manage…but wait! Before you click Manage, look at the About This Mac window’s Storage view.

 
 

Hover over each colored bar to see how much space is taken up by a particular type of data. The white space at the end of the bar is what’s still available. You can’t do much here, but the view gives you a quick overview of your drive usage.

When you click Manage, System Information launches, and the Storage Management window appears. (You can also open System Information manually and choose Window > Storage Management.) In the sidebar at the left, ignore Recommendations and look at the rest of the categories. They will vary a bit between Macs, depending on what apps you use, but they correspond to the colored bars you saw in the About This Mac window’s Storage view.

For app-specific categories, like GarageBand, Mail, and Photos, Storage Management merely tells you how much space the app’s data occupies and provides a button for opening the app. For those apps, you must delete unnecessary data from within the app itself.

More interesting are the Applications, Documents, and iOS Files categories, all of which may contain gigabytes of unnecessary data. iOS Files, for instance, shows any device backups and software updates that are stored on your Mac’s drive. It’s worth keeping the latest backup of devices you still use, but many people have older backups and unnecessary updates kicking around.

The Applications category shown above lists your apps and is sorted by size by default. But try clicking the column header for Kind and scrolling down. You can probably delete any apps tagged as duplicates or older versions. Similarly, click the Last Accessed column header to see which apps you haven’t launched in years. Many of them can probably go too. Plus, you can re-download anything tagged as coming from the App Store, so you can toss those apps if you want.

In Documents, you’ll see three buttons: Large Files, Downloads, and File Browser. Large Files focuses on files over 50 MB in size, Downloads shows you the contents of your Downloads folder (much of which you probably don’t need to keep), and File Browser gives you a column view that’s sorted by file size and shows sizes next to each item. It’s great for trawling through your drive to find see what’s consuming all that space.

In any of these views other than File Browser, hover over any item and you see an X button for deleting the file and a magnifying glass button that reveals the file in the Finder. To delete multiple files at once, just Command-click or Shift-click to select them and then press the Delete key to remove them all at once. Storage Management gives you the combined size of all the selected files and warns you before deleting the files, so you can use this technique to preview how much space a multi-file deletion will save. In File Browser, select one or more files and either drag them to the Trash icon in the Dock, or press Command-Delete.

If your Mac’s drive has is filling up—if it has less than 10 percent free space—consider using the Storage Management window’s tools to search out and delete files that are just wasting space.