After this morning’s excitement following the release of the Retina iPad mini, I found myself in downtown San Francisco today and thought I’d swing by the Apple Store to see how crazy the new mini’s sales were. When I got there, it was strangely quiet, “quiet” being a relative term when used to describe the Union Square store which is almost always full of tourists, business travelers, and just about anyone else you can think of.
The latest version of the iOS Pebble app finally hit the AppStore Monday, implementing changes that were announced last week in an online announcement by Pebble. The Pebble Smartwatch app hit version 1.3.0 and adds support for additional app notifications in iOS 7. Previously, notifications were limited to mainly email, text messages, and Caller ID. Now, the device can display notifications from just about any app including Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, etc. The update also improves on a number of features, such as Caller ID, which would typically just show the caller’s number even though it was supposed to grab names from your Contacts. Watch apps that pull information from the web to display information such as weather, stock information, and the like, are supposed to work better as well. And of course, several bugs were squashed such as the watch continuing to vibrate even when you picked up on the call it was notifying you about. Determining which apps send notifications to your watch is managed by iOS 7′s Notification Center. The new app will show you instructions on how to do this once you’ve updated the watch’s firmware. These features are supported in iOS 7 for the iPhone 4S and higher.
Without any kind of fanfare, or even a spooky little girl to tip us off, Apple snuck the new Retina iPad mini into the online store shortly after midnight PST. No sign of even the store being down as I alluded to earlier. It remains to be seen whether the devices actually hit retail shelves when the stores open later today, but you can certainly order one, with the longest wait times listed as 5-10 days. Currently if you select the Personal Pickup option, it looks like none of the stores have availability, but they may just be because it won’t show until opening hours.
Early on Thursday, Apple released Mail Update for Mavericks 1.0 and iBooks Update 1.0.1. iBook got the usual “security and stability improvements”, which isn’t much, but it did add a .1 to the version number. Mail, on the other hand, only inched from version 7.0 build (1816) to 7.0 build (1822). While the number treatment makes this seem like a minor patch to Mail, it will probably be a big deal to anyone who has been wrestling with Mavericks’ Mail program and their Gmail accounts.
According to MacRumors, Apple is rolling out a repair policy for iPhone 5S and 5C display replacements and other repairs, where they will be done within the store’s own repair facilities, rather than replacing the entire phone. This is part of a move by Apple to reduce repair costs on new iPhones. This may reduce costs for Apple, but not so much for iPhone owners. Currently, without an AppleCare plan for your iPhone, you can get the screen replaced for $150. With AppleCare, a replacement will run you $80. (more…)
Nothing too exciting here. This seems to be a minor update to Apple’s signature music software. Where version 11.1.2 brought Mavericks compatibility, support for Arabic and Hebrew, and moved all your digital books into the new iBooks app, this update brings the following:
Resolves an issue where the equalizer may not
work as expected and improves performance when switching views in
large iTunes libraries.
This update also
includes additional minor bug fixes.
performance and stability.
You can get the update by going to Apple’s downloads page, or it should be ready and waiting for you the next time you launch the App Store app.
It’s November 1st, and that means new hardware, if you’re an iPad fan. The iPad Air, announced recently in Apple’s October 22nd event, hit the online stores early this morning, and are no doubt hitting Apple’s retail shelves to be available when the stores open today. Prices in the United States start at $499 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi only iPad Air. You can read more details about the worldwide availability, price information, and other retailers at MacRumors’ site.
I’m publishing this guest blog by Dr. Christopher Laincz, because I couldn’t agree more with his opinions. If you don’t agree, be sure to read the pro-PC counter-point article by his colleague Mark Eyerly and sound off in the comments below.
I find myself in a strange town, and I want a cup of coffee. I see a Starbucks and some local dive. I choose Starbucks.
Here’s why: When you walk into Starbucks, you know exactly what you’re getting; and, they’ll customize it to your taste. If they make an error, they fix it immediately. I expect a good experience right from the start.
On the other hand, the local dive might prove great, but it might serve bug-infested sludge.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “risking a dollar or so on the local dive’s coffee is no big deal.” Sure. But when it comes to computers, it’s much riskier. You could easily spend $1,500 on some crappy PC. Perhaps for an extra $500, you could take home a (beautiful and better-designed) Mac with similar specs.
Why do I spend more on a Mac? Because Macs are better. In fact, the quality-adjusted price actually makes the Mac the better deal. PCs can be made in any Joe’s garage – and too frequently are – hence the hardware quality is a crapshoot. The Windows environment is fraught with holes and issues. Ever try to get service help for your PC? Ugh.
Furthermore, I do not need or appreciate my computer warning me at every turn about this risk or that issue. Just fix it, dammit! I’m busy with my own work. I don’t have time to invest in searching for the answers to every PC/Windows security or design flaw that crops up.
This isn’t a problem I encounter on my Mac. Apple takes care of maintenance and quality-control, so I am willing to pay for that. Buy a PC, and the maintenance and quality-control risks are on you. You may have paid less for the hardware up front, but over time you’ll pay with time, money and frustration to keep the thing functioning and not destroying your own tireless efforts.
Mac products stay way ahead of the Windows environment in terms of innovation and user-friendliness. I blame the PC/Windows marriage from hell.
The Justice Department brought an anti-trust suit against Microsoft for abusing its market power to kill off Netscape (which it did successfully). One of the punitive options in front of the Justice Department was to break Microsoft up into two companies: operating system (Windows) and software (MS Office).
Had the Justice Department gone with that option, the software would have been thrown into a more competitive environment. But it didn’t, and as a result the Office Suite has not evolved much.
Some complain that Apple excludes other products from seamless integration with its own. Sure, that may be true, but for me it isn’t a problem.
After falling in love with my 4-year-old MacBook Pro (which I’m using right now), I got a Mac desktop for my home, another for the office, and I just added the iPhone.
Apple has finally released its $69.99 Lion (OS X 10.7) flash drive, but is it really worth $40 on top of the cost of the Lion upgrade? Well, yes and no. If you need to perform a clean install, perhaps due to a faulty system, or if you are an IT professional, it is essential to be able to do a clean install of Lion from some kind of external disk. If you are not particularly tech savvy, the Apple flash drive provides you with a no-worry solution, but at a premium. However, if you are willing to follow a few simple steps, you can create your own Lion flash boot drive. To start, you will need two things, an empty 4 GB flash drive (8 GB is recommended if you want to add utilities) and the Lion update download package from the Mac App Store. It is important that you create your boot drive BEFORE you run the updater, or make a backup of it on another drive. Once you run it, the updater will delete itself from your hard drive. The process involves opening the installer package and digging into the guts to find the appropriate files to copy to the flash drive so you can boot from it. You can find complete instructions on the SubRosaSoft blog here. If possible, try to get a flash drive with a fast read time. Any flash drive should be faster than a DVD, but the faster the drive, the less time it takes to boot into the installer. Personally, I choose the Patriot Xporter XT Rage 8 GB high-speed flash drive, which is rated at 27 MB/s read time, but is reported to achieve higher practical speeds. It is currently on Amazon for $16.99, a savings of $23 compared to Apple’s.
A second, easier, option has been provided by Guillaume Gète, a programmer in Paris, who has created an app called Lion DiskMaker. Lion DiskMaker is a small application programmed with AppleScript that you can use with Mac OS X 10.6 or 10.7 to burn a DVD or build a bootable USB key from Mac OS X Lion’s Installation program. As soon as you launch the application, it checks the presence of Mac OS X Lion Installer in your Mac’s Applications folder, or tries to find one using Spotlight. Then, it offers options to build a DVD or create bootable install disk. USB and FireWire drives are supported, as well as SD-Cards. You can download the program from Guillaume’s web site here. The program is free, but if you find it useful, you can make a donation (which I recommend). I gave it a try and it works great!
I feel much better knowing I have a separate installer, especially since I have done upgrades on my current Mac from 10.4 to 10.5 and finally to 10.6. It is probably about time for me to do a clean install to shake out any possible software quirks. By the way, if you are nervous about whether your current software will play nice with Lion, check out the web site RoaringApps.com which has an ongoing list of software and its compatibility with Lion.