Commentary

Who Me? An iPhone Addict?

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Smartphone addiction is real. Do you check your iPhone before you get out of bed? During family dinners? Right before you go to sleep? Constantly during the day even when you’re on vacation? If you—or your family members—feel that you’re disappearing into your phone too often or at inappropriate times, it may be time to do something about it.

To start, you might want to quantify the problem, and for that, you can turn to a free iPhone app called Moment. Written by developer Kevin Holesh, Moment is designed to track three key pieces of data:

  • How often you pick up your iPhone every day
  • How much time you spend on your iPhone
  • Which apps you use the most

It then uses that information to paint a picture (well, not literally) of your iPhone use. Most people underestimate how much time they spend on their iPhones by about 100% (the average Moment user uses their iPhone for nearly 4 hours per day!). Knowing how much time you spend is the first step toward using your phone intentionally, rather than as a conduit to a constant stream of social media updates (look at the stats shown below), email messages, and quick-hit entertainment.

 
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To get started, use the App Store app to install Moment, and then launch the app. It starts tracking your usage immediately, although once per week you’ll need to take screenshots of Settings > Battery so Moment can figure out how long you use each app. Then ignore Moment for a few days so it can gather some data.

On the main Screen Time screen, Moment shows how much time you’ve spent on your phone today, along with a scrolling bar graph of how much time you spent every day since you installed Moment. Don’t get too hung up on these raw numbers, though, since Moment tracks every second the screen is on. You probably aren’t concerned about time spent reading an ebook or working out with an app that talks you through a routine.

To view both a breakdown by app and a timestamp for each time you picked up your iPhone, tap any day’s entry, and to see how much you use a particular app on average, tap it in the day view. You can answer a Yes/No question about whether you’re happy with how much you use the app, which informs the Time Well Spent aggregate data about which apps people are and are not concerned about.

 
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All that is helpful, but for a more useful overview, tap Insights and then Week. You’ll see graphs of your usage patterns for screen time, waking life, pickups, most used app, and sleep (this depends on your first and last pickups of the day, so take its data with a grain of salt). Tap any graph to see more detail, but wait until you’ve used Moment for a while.

 
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Everything we’ve described so far is free, but Moment offers additional features for a one-time $3.99 in-app purchase. They let you exclude certain apps from the app-use detection, if you don’t want to be dinged for using apps that are necessary or otherwise positive. You can receive quick reminders about your usage, and set daily time limits. There is even a 14-day Phone Bootcamp course that helps you rethink your relationship with your phone.

More interesting for parents is Moment Family, a subscription service ($26.99 for 6 months or $44.99 for 12 months) that allows you to monitor your entire family’s screen time with Moment, set phone-free dinner times, and enforce daily limits.

So if you’re perturbed by the amount of time you spend using your iPhone every day, give Moment a try. On its own, it won’t solve your problem but by showing you exactly how often you turn to your phone—and for what apps—it can help you regain control over your usage patterns. And if others in your family have trouble putting their iPhones down at dinner or to do homework, Moment Family could be the answer.

Install Minor Operating System Updates to Maintain Herd Immunity

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It seems like Apple releases updates to iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS nearly every week these days. It has been only a few months since iOS 11 and macOS 10.13 High Sierra launched, and we’ve already seen ten updates to iOS and seven updates to macOS. Some of these have been to fix bugs, which is great, but quite a few have been prompted by the need for Apple to address security vulnerabilities.

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Have you installed all these updates, or have you been procrastinating, tapping that Later link on the iPhone and rejecting your Mac’s notifications? We’re not criticizing—all too often those prompts come at inconvenient times, although iOS has gotten better about installing during the night, as long as you plug in your iPhone or iPad.

We know, security is dull. Or rather, security is dull as long as it’s present. Things get exciting—and not in a good way—when major vulnerabilities come to light. That’s what happened in November 2017, when it was reported that anyone could gain admin access to any Mac running High Sierra by typing root for the username and leaving the password field blank. That one was so bad that Apple pushed Security Update 2017-001 to every affected Mac and rolled the fix into macOS 10.13.2.

Part of the problem with security vulnerabilities is that they can be astonishingly complex. You may have heard about the Meltdown and Spectre hardware vulnerabilities discovered in January 2018. They affect nearly all modern computers, regardless of operating system, because they take advantage of a design flaw in the microprocessors. Unfortunately, the bad guys—organized crime, government intelligence agencies, and the like—have the resources to understand and exploit these flaws.

But here’s the thing. Security is an arms race, with attackers trying to take advantage of vulnerabilities and operating system companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google proactively working to block them with updates. If enough people install those updates quickly enough, the attackers will move on to the next vulnerability.

The moral of the story? Always install those minor updates. It’s not so much because you will definitely be targeted if you fail to stay up to date, but because if the Apple community as a whole ceases to be vigilant about upgrading, the dark forces on the Internet will start to see macOS and iOS as low-hanging fruit. As long as most people update relatively quickly, it’s not worthwhile for attackers to put a lot of resources into messing with Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

That said, before you install those updates, make sure to update your backups. It’s unusual for anything significant to go wrong during this sort of system upgrade, but having a fresh backup ensures that if anything does go amiss, you can easily get back to where you were before.

Apple Intros iPhone 8, iPhone X, Apple Watch Series 3, & Apple TV 4K

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At its highly anticipated product announcement event at the new Steve Jobs Theater, Apple didn’t disappoint. 

The big news was the revolutionary iPhone X, which eliminates the Home button and unlocks by recognizing your face. Apple also announced the evolutionary iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus; a cellular-capable Apple Watch Series 3; and the Apple TV 4K, which supports 4K HDR video. The company said that iOS 11 and watchOS 4 would ship on September 19th, and later noted that macOS 10.13 High Sierra would arrive September 25th.

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus Add Wireless Charging

Rather than calling the new model the iPhone 7s, Apple jumped to the iPhone 8 name to acknowledge significant hardware changes, notably a mostly glass case designed to allow wireless charging. Otherwise, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus largely follow in the footsteps of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, featuring the same 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens, respectively. They’re almost the same size as the previous models, varying only by fractions of a millimeter in different dimensions, and are water and dust resistant too.

 
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Although the iPhone 8 models still sport a Lightning port (and come with a headphone jack adapter), you’ll charge them by setting them on a charging pad based on the Qi wireless charging standard (Qi is pronounced “chee”). Furniture retailer IKEA has even built such chargers into some of its tables. In 2018, Apple plans to release an AirPower charging mat that will charge an iPhone 8 or iPhone X, Apple Watch Series 3, and AirPods with a new charging case—all with no cables. 

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus screens now support Apple’s True Tone technology, which changes brightness and color based on the ambient light. Plus, their stereo speakers are 25% louder than in the iPhone 7 and have deeper bass.

Under the hood, the iPhone 8 models include a new A11 Bionic chip that Apple claims is the most powerful chip ever in a smartphone. The chip’s performance will particularly benefit games; apps that rely on machine learning; and apps using augmented reality, which can seamlessly place virtual objects in live video of the real world.

Although the basic rear-facing camera in the iPhone 8 is still 12 megapixels, it uses an all-new sensor that captures 83% more light and provides deeper pixels, a new color filter, and optical image stabilization, all while using less power. That adds up to pictures with better color saturation, a wider dynamic range, and lower noise.

Like the iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone 8 Plus sports dual 12-megapixel rear-facing cameras, one with an ƒ/1.8 aperture and the other at ƒ/2.8. Those cameras have the same new sensor, and iPhone 8 Plus owners will be able to try a beta of Apple’s new Portrait Lighting feature, which lets you apply studio-quality lighting to your scene as you compose the shot. You can even change the lighting afterward. 

Both iPhone models boast improved video capture as well, in part due to a new image signal processor that provides faster autofocus in low light conditions. You can now shoot 4K video at 24, 30, or 60 frames per second, up from just 24 fps in the iPhone 7. And, you can capture slo-mo video in 1080p resolution at 120 or 240 fps, whereas the iPhone 7 was limited to 120 fps.

The iPhone 8 costs $699 for a 64 GB model and $849 for a 256 GB model. Available colors are gold, silver, and space gray. Add $100 to either price for the iPhone 8 Plus. Apple will begin taking pre-orders on September 15th, with general availability a week later.

If those prices are a bit steep for you, Apple continues to sell the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and the iPhone SE starting at $349.

iPhone X Introduces Face ID and Super Retina Display

The iPhone 8 may be a small step up from the iPhone 7, but the new iPhone X is a giant leap into the future, setting the standard for the smartphone of tomorrow. Pronounced “iPhone Ten,” Apple’s new flagship iPhone boasts a stunning, edge-to-edge screen that fills almost the entire front face and eliminates the Home button. It shares the iPhone 8’s glass back and support for wireless charging.

 
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Although the iPhone X’s 5.8-inch screen is physically larger than the iPhone 8 Plus’s 5.5-inch screen, losing the bezel means that the iPhone X is just a few millimeters larger than the iPhone 8 and just a bit heavier. The extra size must have given Apple more room for the battery, since the iPhone X is supposed to last 2 hours longer than the iPhone 7 or 8.

You’ll see more on the iPhone X’s OLED display, which Apple dubbed “Super Retina,” since it has more pixels—2436-by-1125 at 458 pixels per inch—than any previous iPhone. In comparison, the iPhone 8 Plus is only 1920-by-1080 at 401 ppi.

With no Home button, you’ll interact with the iPhone X in different ways. You can wake an iPhone X with the Raise to Wake setting or by tapping on its screen. You invoke Siri with “Hey, Siri” or by pressing the new side button. To unlock the iPhone X, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen while looking at the iPhone X, and it uses Apple’s new Face ID technology to recognize your face, much like Touch ID did with your fingerprint in the past. Swiping up from the bottom of the iPhone X screen works across the system for jumping back to the Home screen or (if you pause briefly) opening the app switcher.

Face ID seems like magic, but it relies on the TrueDepth front-facing camera system—that notch on the top of the screen—which includes a 7-megapixel camera, infrared camera, flood illuminator, dot projector, and more. Face ID can recognize your face even in the dark, and it continually adapts to your changing look, so it can handle glasses, hats, beards, and more, all without being fooled by a photo of your face.

 
 

Like the iPhone 8 Plus, the iPhone X sports a pair of rear-facing cameras, but with slightly different specs. One has an ƒ/1.8 aperture, but the other is ƒ/2.4, as opposed to f/2.8 on the iPhone 8 Plus, and lets in 36 percent more light. The iPhone X also offers dual optical stabilization (on both lenses) for better low-light photos and videos.

All this technology doesn’t come cheap—a 64 GB model costs $999, and a 256 GB model is $1149. You can choose between silver and space gray. Regardless, you’ll have to wait a bit longer for the iPhone X because Apple plans to start taking orders on October 27th, with general availability on November 3rd.

Apple Watch Series 3 Adds Cellular

The original Apple Watch couldn’t do much more than tell time when separated from its companion iPhone. The Apple Watch Series 2 gained a GPS to track your location on its own when you were running or biking. But now the Apple Watch Series 3 includes a cellular chip that allows it to make phone calls, get messages, use Siri, stream tunes from Apple Music to AirPods, and more all while your iPhone sits safely at home. It uses the same phone number but will cost an extra $10 per month from your carrier.

 
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To make untethered communication possible, Apple built the cellular antenna into the display and developed a special electronic SIM that’s about one-hundredth the size of an iPhone’s nano SIM. The Series 3 also boasts a faster processor that speeds up app performance and allows Siri to talk back you, along with a barometric altimeter to measure relative elevation.

Amazingly, the Series 3 case is the same size as the Series 2, although the back crystal is a hair thicker. Battery life in mixed use remains at up to 18 hours, though you’ll get only an hour of battery life when making phone calls. 

The Apple Watch Series 3 has an aluminum body in three finishes: gold, silver, and space gray. For a different look (and potentially a lot more money), you can get Nike+ aluminum models, Hermès stainless steel models, and Apple Watch Edition ceramic models. Apple is also now offering a new Sport Loop band that’s meant to be light, stretchable, and breathable.

 
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You can pick from two Series 3 models: one with just a GPS chip like the Series 2 for $329 and one with both GPS and cellular capabilities for $399. Pre-orders start September 15th, with general availability on September 22nd. Apple no longer sells the Series 2 but has dropped the price of a Series 1 to $249.

Apple TV Adds Support for 4K Video

Apple’s set-top box hasn’t seen many changes of late, which makes the new Apple TV 4K all the more welcome for video buffs. The new device now supports two key video technologies: 4K and HDR. 4K video provides about four times as many pixels as are in 1080p video, and HDR (High Dynamic Range) supports more colors. The result is video that looks fabulous, with more detail, deeper colors, and better contrast than ever before.

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To see all that goodness, you’ll need a 4K TV that supports either the Dolby Vision or HDR10 standard—in other words, unless you’ve bought a TV in the last year or two, you’ll probably need a new one. Check the specs carefully!

The third part of the puzzle, after you have a 4K TV and an Apple TV 4K, is 4K HDR content. Apple is working with major movie studios to bring 4K HDR video content to iTunes at the same price as HD movies. You’ll even get an automatic upgrade to 4K HDR versions of iTunes HD movies you’ve purchased, when they become available. Netflix 4K HDR streaming is expected immediately, and Amazon Prime Video should offer 4K HDR video on the Apple TV later this year.

Dealing with all the 4K HDR video requires beefier hardware. The A10 Fusion chip doubles overall performance and quadruples the graphics processing speed over the fourth-generation Apple TV. The Apple TV 4K also sports faster and more modern networking connections: Gigabit Ethernet, simultaneous dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0.

A 32 GB model of the Apple TV 4K costs $179, and a 64 GB model is $199 (stick with the smaller model unless you play large Apple TV games). You can pre-order it on September 15, and it will be generally available a week later. The fourth-generation Apple TV remains on sale for $149. Although Apple said nothing about when tvOS 11 would be available, it seems likely to ship with iOS 11 and watchOS 4 on September 19th.

 

Whew! That’s a lot of new hardware from Apple in one day. If you’re considering buying an iPhone, Apple Watch, or Apple TV, you can now choose from new models with tempting features or time-tested older models at reduced prices. And if you’re confused by all the possibilities, feel free to contact us for advice!

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.

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.

The Age-Old Question: When Should You Do a Software Update?

It’s that time of year again, as the leaves start to turn, the air gets crisp, the grass is covered with frost in the morning, and Apple releases major operating system upgrades. We’ve known this was coming since the company’s announcement in June, but now it’s time to think hard about when you’ll upgrade.

(Note that we say “when” and not “if.” There’s no harm in delaying an upgrade until Apple has had a chance to squash the 1.0 bugs and it’s a convenient time in your schedule. But waiting for too long can put you at risk from security vulnerabilities and prevent you from taking advantage of new integrations between Apple’s devices. Plus, should you have to replace a Mac or iOS device unexpectedly, you may be forced to use the current operating system, which could be awkward if you weren’t ready for the upgrade.)

Let’s dispense with the easiest answer right off. If you have a fourth-generation Apple TV, either let it upgrade itself to tvOS 10 or manually invoke the upgrade from Settings > System > Software Updates. Since tvOS 10 is a relatively minor update and you don’t create work on an Apple TV, upgrading is unlikely to cause any problems. If you’re a major TV junkie and are paranoid about how the upgrade could prevent you from watching your favorite show, just wait a few weeks until other users have reported on their experiences on the Internet.

In some ways, the question of when to upgrade to watchOS 3 has a similar answer. Although watchOS 3 is a major upgrade that radically changes how you interact with the Apple Watch, the improvements are so significant and the downsides so minimal that it’s easy to recommend an immediate upgrade. However, to install watchOS 3, you must have upgraded your iPhone to iOS 10 first. So…

What about iOS 10? Now we need to hedge a little. Although iOS 10 has been getting good reviews from beta testers, if you rely on an app that isn’t compatible, you’ll want to put off your upgrade. Check the App Store listing for your key apps, and if they’ve been updated recently, you’re probably OK. The other thing to remember is that iOS 10 changes the Lock screen behavior, so it may be worth delaying the upgrade until you have some time to poke at the new interface. Messages and Photos also receive a bunch of new features that you may want to play with, but you shouldn’t have any trouble using them before you’ve figured out the new stuff.

As always, the rubber meets the road on the Mac. Like iOS 10, macOS 10.12 Sierra has gotten good reviews from beta testers, but if you rely on your Mac to get your work done, it’s important to ensure that your key apps are compatible. Plus, despite Apple’s public beta, it’s not uncommon for unanticipated problems to surface once the first release of a new operating system for the Mac becomes more broadly available. Unless you’re dying to use the new features in Sierra that integrate with iOS 10 and watchOS 3, we recommend waiting until version 10.12.1 or even 10.12.2 before upgrading. That gives you plenty of time to make sure your apps and workflows will work in Sierra.

Finally, we just want to say that as much as change can be hard, we’re excited about Apple’s new operating systems. Like you, we probably won’t end up using all the new features, but some of them will definitely enhance the experience of being an Apple user.

Going into Airplane Mode: Flying with Technology

Going into Airplane Mode: Flying with Technology

Since 2013, we’ve been able to use handheld electronic devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and Kindle at pretty much all times during airplane flights, including takeoff and landing. That was a big change from previous FAA policy, which banned the use of personal electronic devices below 10,000 feet, forcing passengers to occupy themselves with books and magazines at the start and end of flights.

But now flight attendants ask us to put our devices into “airplane mode.” You probably know how to do this on your iOS device, but if not, here are two ways:

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up Control Center, and tap the Airplane Mode button at the top left.
  2. Open the Settings app and enable the Airplane Mode switch that’s the very first option. When you land, use the same controls to turn it off again.
Airplane-mode

What does airplane mode do? It disables the wireless features of your device to comply with airline regulations. Specifically, it turns off the cellular voice and data features of your iPhone or iPad, and on all iOS devices it turns off both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. However, only the cellular features are important to your airline—you can re-enable both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth at any time. That might be useful if you want to use the airplane’s Wi-Fi network for Internet access (usually for a fee) or Bluetooth to play music over wireless headphones.

To turn these wireless features back on, tap the grayed-out Wi-Fi and Bluetooth buttons in Control Center, or flip their switches in Settings > Wi-Fi and Settings > Bluetooth. Don’t bother turning them on unless you’re going to use them, though, since you’ll save a little battery life by leaving them off for the duration of a long flight.

Why do the airlines care about cellular? It has little to do with airplane safety; the prohibition on their use comes from the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, not the Federal Aviation Administration. The reason is that fast-moving cell phones used high in the air may light up many cell towers at once, which can confuse the mobile phone network.

The technical solution is akin to what the airlines do to provide Internet access now; a device called a “picocell” would be installed on the airplane to provide connectivity with the phone network, and cell phones on the plane would communicate with it instead of individual cell towers on the ground below. Will it happen, though?

The FCC has proposed that it would allow cell phone use on properly equipped planes; however, the thought of fellow passengers having phone conversations during flight fills many people with dread. Many lawmakers in the United States oppose allowing passengers to make and receive phone calls during flight, citing concerns about cabin safety, a worry echoed by the flight attendants union. Even FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has acknowledged this, saying “I get it. I don’t want the person in the seat next to me yapping at 35,000 feet any more than anyone else.” So don’t expect that rule to change.

If you’re allowed to use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, why do the airlines make you stow your MacBook Air during takeoff and landing? It has nothing to do with the technology—the airlines ban laptops during times when there could be an emergency landing because they could, like carry-on luggage or lowered tray tables, impede evacuation.

Must-Have Accessories

Must-Have Accessories
Must-Have Accessories

Did you get a new device this holiday season?  Perhaps it was something that you purchased for yourself - a tablet, a phone, a TV, laptop, etc.  But your question is: now what do I do with this?  How can I accessorize my new favorite device and utilize it for all its worth? Let’s take a look at some of our favorite accessories for your holiday devices.

Cables

Most of your devices came with a cable, but let’s face it, you can never have enough of them. If it’s for your phone, you need one in your bedroom, the car, your purse, next to the computer, and an extra one because you know one of them might grow legs and simply walk away.

Getting extra lightning cables for your iPhone/iPad is a no brainer, but consider trying out the Moshi lightning cable for a little style and have the same one-year-warranty as the Apple brand.

You got the new Apple TV but it didn’t come with a HDMI cable and you need one to make it work. Did you know that when you AirPlay to the AppleTV it doubles your local traffic? Get yourself an ethernet cable to connect your AppleTV directly to your router for the fastest speed.

Battery Pack

Your new iOS device has a nice battery life, but it won’t always be like that. If you plan on going camping, traveling on a plane, or going beyond the range of an outlet, then you’re going to want to get some power on the go. The Moshi Ionbank 5K comes with an integrated Lightning cable to charge your iPhone, and a USB cable to charge itself. The extra USB port on IonBank 5K allows for a second device to charge, whether it be another iPhone or even an Android device.

Protection

Your new device looks pretty sweet and you should keep it that way.  With the i10 Pixel glass you can keep the glass scratch-free as it reaches to the top corners of your phone from the bottom corners. For full phone protection, look at the cases from Moshi.  They range in design from sleek to rugged, and even offer a wallet folio case. These cases keep your devices safe and in style.

Your computer should be protected from scratches as well. The Speck see-thru lets your Apple logo light glow through the case and gives it the protection needed from daily wear and tear, like sliding it into your full backpack.

What about a folio for the businessman/woman to look professional and have protection? The Tucano Palmo and Leggero are a great protective solution with a style that says, "Look out, I look good, I look important, I am successful." If you are looking for a folio that has a keyboard, look no further than the Moshi Versa Cover with keyboard; this bad boy turns heads.

Headphones

You’re probably going to lose these in a pocket, in the wash, in the car, leave them at a friend's house... you get the idea, you're going to lose them. And the headphones that came with you iPhone are average at best. The Moshi Mythro headphones are your answer to the average headphones; they're only $29.95 and according to CNet, they are the best headphones under $50.

Cleaning

No one likes fingerprints on screens, and the germs on your computer aren’t very attractive either. Apple Juice screen and device cleaner provides you with cleanliness, and it smells like apples.

Learning curve

You have the devices but don’t know all the ins and outs of how to utilize them most effectively. Understanding the benefits of iCloud seems beyond your grasp, and how to make a document look like you hired someone to make it is something weighing on your mind.  ME.Training can give you the advantages you’ve been looking for. Sign up for a private class with a trainer and get the undivided attention you deserve.

Overnight French Toast

This is not Joel's Christmas table.
This is not Joel's Christmas table.

One might ask why we have a recipe for overnight french toast for a blog. Well the answer is easy, according to Joel Read the owner of MacExperience, "It's delicious".  To be a little more honest, I was asking Joel what his favorite Christmas morning breakfast was and he said this was near the top of his list.  I asked his wife for the recipe, it looked like the kind of thing that would be easy to make and share with you.

I think what I like most about it, is how easy it will be on Christmas morning.  Turn on the oven and put it in.  All the mess can be cleaned up the night before so we can focus on hanging with the family and not slaving away in the kitchen Christmas morning.

Joel and his family hope that you enjoy your Christmas morning as much as they do every year.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 loaf of French bread, cut into thick slices
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Directions:

Cook butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup until sugar is dissolved; pour into a 9x13 pan. Layer sliced bread on top of syrup mixture in pan. In a bowl mix eggs, milk, vanilla and nutmeg; pour over bread slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 45 minutes.

Spring Forward with New Stuff from Apple

Here is the skinny of what went down at the Apple Live event.

ResearchKit

Now you can do your part to advance medical research from your iPhone.

Apple TV

Price drop from $99 to $69.  It looks like they are trying to be more competitive with the other streaming devices out there.

MacBook

This is an all new machine.  It’s thin, it has retina display, a new keyboard, a new trackpad, and USB-C.  Shipping April 10.

The specs: $1299 / 12 inch Retina display 2304X1440 / 0.14” to 0.52” thin / 2 lbs. / Three colors to choose from, Space Grey, Gold, Silver / 9 hour battery life / 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core M / 8GB Ram / 256GB SSD / USB-C Charging, USB 3.1, Native DisplayPort 1.2 video output. / 480p FaceTime Camera / Stereo speakers / Dual Microphones / Headphone jack out / ForceTouch trackpad Force sensors detect how much pressure you’re applying to give you new capabilities and haptic feedback.

MacBook Pro 13”

Now with ForceTouch Trackpad, Fifth-gen Intel Core processors, faster flash storage, and longer battery life. No price change.

Apple WatchAppleWatch

Available April 24. It’s like having your phone on your wrist.  AppleCare+ available (price TBD)

Apple Watch Sport - $349 for the 38mm Sport, $399 for the 42mm. Two colors.

Apple Watch Regular Addition - $549 – $1,049 for the 38mm. $599 – $1,099 for the 42mm Two colors.

Apple Watch Edition - Limited Quantities starting at $10,000

My opinion

ResearchKit is great.  Let’s find cures together as long as Apple keeps our medical info secure.  There could be a long list of questions, hopefully Apple has addressed them already.

The AppleTV has always been one of my favorite products. If you don’t own anything Apple, it still works.  If you have an iPhone, iPad, or computer, it becomes even cooler.

The MacBook is very cool.  I like the three color options and how thin it is. It’s like an iPad with a keyboard an no touch screen.  A great computer, but it might be like an appliance.  Get AppleCare and insurance (available at MacExperience) for it.

The AppleWatch.  I wouldn’t have one. To me, it’s like a phone on my wrist, but my phone has to near me to use it.  The spy-like features are pretty cool if you want to look like you work for MI-6.   If you get one PLEASE get AppleCare+ for it.

I Love my Leader

Love is a pretty strong word to use about your leader.  We use the word pretty flippantly any more though. We’re quick to use “love” when are talking about a movie, a book, pizza, a car, a cup of coffee, a beer, or our new smartphone.  But we are slower to say “love” about a person.  I guess that is because we don’t know if the other person loves us back.  We know the frosty mug of beer or a movie is not going to love us back, so who cares if we say we love them? So do I love my Leader.  Some of my leaders I genuinely do love.  I love parents, I love my Pastor and the Elders of my church. Those are some of the easier leaders to confess my love for.  But what about my government leaders, police, teachers, or boss.  I’m happy that I live in the USA and I would defend America to the end.  I’m thankful for police that they are here to serve and protect me.  But for the most part, my government leaders and policemen are at a distance.  It’s hard to love them because I don’t feel loved back.  I know that they are concerned for me, but that is about as far as it goes.

Teachers are in closer contact to me.  They see me regularly, so I interact with them, sometimes on a personal level.  But we rarely discuss personal things.  I don’t know what is going on with their lives nor them about me.

Then there is my boss. This guy knows my kids' names and I know his.  He is genuinely invested in my life.  Yes, he asks me to work, and work hard for the company, for him.  But it’s easy for me to do, not because of the paycheck (although I’m thankful for that as well), but because I want him to succeed.  I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of great bosses in the past.  Don't get me wrong, I’ve had a few jerks as well.  But the attention and concern my boss gives to me and to all that are around him, makes me want to give back.  I see how he wants our customers to succeed without being selfish about his own company growth, and that speaks loud to me as a man, not just an employee.

Do I love my leaders?  Not all of them, but the owner of MacExperience, Joel Read… Let’s just say he knows how I feel.

Stoke the Fire with Love and Passion

FireLovePassionLet’s be honest. It’s cold enough to freeze the tail off a brass monkey! You and all your friends have made it known on Instagram, Twitter, and every other social site. I know it’s hard for me to even get out of bed in the morning. Winter is also a time of year when our businesses can suffer. Fewer feet, slower sales, and an overall slump in morale can cause any business to sing the winter blues.

How are you going to heat things up right now? How are you going to shake off the winter blues? Whatever business you’re in, you have ownership in making it successful. You have to take the first step to stoke the fire with the love and passion of what you do.

Like the guy who throws gasoline on a fire, maybe you need to pitch that crazy idea to your boss.

Or the guy that fans the flame, you should make that call to the client who’s been MIA for a few months.

Perhaps you’re the person that adds another log to the fire, and invites that colleague out for a beer and brainstorm.

Now’s the time to get your creative juices flowing and think forward. What are you going to do differently today to make your company warm up in a cold season? Are you going to stoke the fire or let it die from being cold.

Paste Text Without Keeping Its Formatting

When you copy text from some applications, and especially from the web, you tend to copy its formatting, such as the text size, font choice and so on. When you then paste this into other text fields, like in an email, it looks funky or out of place, and can make things hard to read. To paste the text without its original formatting (so it formats in the same way as the rest of what you're pasting into), instead of pressing Command (⌘) +V, press Option+Shift+Command (⌘) +V.

Shortcut Your Most Used Phrases

If you find yourself typing the same things over and over, whether it’s a single Unicode character that doesn’t have a keyboard shortcut, or an entire phrase or chunk of text like an email signature, use the built-in Text Replacement feature in OS X.  

Go to the Text tab of the Keyboard pane of the System preferences and click the +. Put the shortcut you want in the left column and the text you want it to expand in the right.

Keep Your Hands at 10 and 2

Did you know that you can switch between apps with a key command.  Command (⌘) + Tab then release allows the user to switch to the previously used application.  If you are doing research between two applications this simple step is great.  This interface is more flexible than it seems at first. For instance, if you bring the App Switcher up and hover your cursor over an icon then release “Command (⌘)”, it will go to the application you highlighted. App Switcher

Also, when you have an application highlighted, you can do a few other things: press Q to quit an app instantly; press H to hide an app from view; or press the up or down arrows to see the highlighted app’s open windows in Mission Control.

 

One last thing that I find helpful with the App Switcher is that you can scroll back and forth to choose the app you want with your left pinky.  Command (⌘) + Tab goes left to right and Command (⌘) + Tilde ( ~ ) will go right to left once the App Switcher is activated.

My Favorite App for Family Game Night

When I was a kid, we didn’t have all of these fancy smart phones, tablets, personal computers, cable television, or even a VCR.  I had a bicycle, two big brothers, a lake nearby to swim, UHF, a few card games (Euchre was a favorite) and some board games.  

We engaged with one another all of the time, face to face, nothing to hide behind like the internet.  Sure there was limitations to who we could connect with, dad sure wasn’t going to pay for a long distance telephone call to my cousin.  Besides, I wanted to play a game or ride bikes with him, not talk on the phone.

 

Today is a different age, a digital age where we connect via Instagram and Twitter. Where we post, like posts and repost things that make us laugh on Facebook.  Thanks to most cell phone plans, we can now talk to almost anyone without making a collect call (I had to explain what that was to my teenagers).   We engage each other through a series of 1’s and 0’s and our face is seen on a screen we hold in the palm of our hands (pretty cool really). Enough with the stories from yesteryear,  I really wanted to tell you about my favorite app. An app that gets the whole family involved, Sketch Party. Remember Pictionary? Image that for the digital age.  The rules are basically the same and everyone gets to draw twice.  What makes this app so great?!

 

  1. It’s like modern bowling, It keeps the score for you.
  2. Each play is only 2 minutes so the game doesn’t last forever
  3. Like modern bowling, it tells you who's turn it is
  4. The best part… It’s all displayed on your Apple TV.  The iPad is your canvas, but thanks to the Apple TV, everyone guessing doesn’t have to look over a shoulder or through your hand to see what you're drawing.

 

I don’t buy many apps but I’m glad I spent $5 on this one.  We play the game when grandparents and/or friend come over.  But I really look forward to Christmas gatherings this year. We husbands are going to put a smack down on the wives. Loser cleans the kitchen. Who are we kidding, you darn well I’m going to have the kids do it.

SketchParty  Available at the App Store

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EVX56atjHI

 

3 Awesome Cases to Protect Your iPhone

Few things can spoil your day more than a cracked, smashed or scuffed iPhone. In many cases, our beloved iPhones are the most expensive item we carry on our person, retailing between $600 and $850 without a contract. That’s why it’s essential to find a sturdy case to protect your precious smart phone. And since it will be with you nearly everywhere you go, the case should be one you can be comfortable toting in a range of environments.

Fortunately, there are hundreds of options on the market. Of those, though, only a select few have the ability to truly protect your phone in style. Here are three of our favorites:

Griffin Survivor 

Griffin’s Survivor cases are among the most sturdy, protective cases on the market. Manufacturers build them to meet or exceed the U.S. Department of Defense’s 810 standard, and it can withstand a 6-foot fall, an hour of dust and dirt immersion and an hour of wind and rain.

The company is so confident in their product, they’re cool with skipping it across ice and bowling it on asphalt.

The Q Card Case

One of the unfortunate unintended consequences the advent of the smartphone brought: bulging pockets and purses. No one enjoys lugging around a wallet, keys and phone. But the CM4 Q Card Case solves part of that problem, allowing you to combine your wallet and iPhone in one nifty case. In it, you can fit three cards, cash and your iPhone, freeing up much-needed pocket or purse real estate.

As a bonus, the case includes a screen guard that protects your phone from nicks and scratches. The Q Card is available for both iPhone 4/4s and iPhone 5.

Otterbox Defender/Commuter

Well known as rugged but bulky protection solutions, Otterbox cases feature a polycarbonate outer layer and screen protectors that defend the phone from drops and scratches, in addition to silicone inner layers that provide the case further padding. More than 2,000 readers of Lifehacker, the popular productivity blog, recently voted the Otterbox as the best case (see their competition here.)

Want to get your hands on great iPhone cases and accessories? Come visit a MacExperience and see how awesome these are for yourself.

3 Reasons Your Mom Wants an iPad Mini (Even If She Doesn’t Know It Yet)

Mothers Day Header1 This Mother’s Day, get your mom what she actually wants. Flowers are nice and a card is thoughtful, but get her something she will use and enjoy all year long. Get her an iPad Mini from MacExperience. And don’t forget an awesome and stylish case!

1) Texting with iMessage. If your mom is a bit of a Luddite when it comes to her current cell phone plan, she may not have a texting option. With the iPad Mini, she can connect with iMessage over WiFi and now can text without changing her cell phone plan.

2) Screen real estate. You may hear your mom complain about how small screens are on phones, and how she can’t text, hit the right icons or read words on it. Well, with the 7.9-inch screen, she will have plenty of Retina Display real estate with crystal-clear definition and large text.

3) Apps, apps and apps. Facebook is so much more fun on an iPad and iPad mini. Apps like Instagram, Pandora, Netflix and eReaders will definitely make sure you mom gets use out of her iPad Mini.

So skip the flowers, bag the chocolates and keep your hands off of her stove this year. Give your mom the gift she really wants: an iPad Mini.

Visit one of our four retail locations to get one today.