Category Archives: System Software

Apple’s IOS 10 Operating System: Mature and smooth – and it only took ten attempts.

IOS 10 Artwork
IOS 10 Artwork

Well, after ten versions Apple apparently has gotten it right with the IOS 10 operating system. An operating system (OS) – regardless if it’s Apple, Google, Microsoft, or others – is never really finished. It is always a work in progress; features are added, bugs are squashed, compatibility with third party applications (apps) is improved – the list goes on and on.

If the operating system developer had only one hardware device to write OS software for it might be easier to get it right. Writing OS code that works reliably on an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, and Apple TV for current devices, as well as for older devices, is quite a trick. There are thousands of permutations. Getting it right is very difficult, time consuming, and R&D expensive.

Apple is just about the only hardware manufacturer that also writes its own OS software. Samsung, Lenovo, Sharp, HTC, and dozens of others hardware manufacturers depend on OS software written by companies like Google (who makes Android OS software) and Microsoft (who makes Windows OS software) to develop their operating system software. Yes, I’m aware that Google also manufacturers the Google phone and the Chromebook, and that Microsoft manufacturers the Surface laptop. But these are “one-off” machines.

A few quick examples of improvements in IOS 10:

1. A completely redesigned Maps app that is simpler, bolder looking, and easier to use. A major improvement in day-to-day use. Location accuracy is also much better.

2. You can now read voicemail messages as well as listen to them. The voice transcription is pretty accurate and predictable.

3. The Photos app now includes the ability to organize by faces and map locations. Now you can easily find all the photos of your children and your friends. The map locations allows you to see all the photos you took in a specific location (as determined by GPS).

4. Siri is now open to developers so that you can directly tie into services such as Uber.

5. The music app tied to Apple Music is greatly improved in look and feel (see an expanded description below).

6. The Messages app has gone crazy! It has its own App Store. Add stickers, GIF’s, emojis and more.

7. iPhones now support a “raise to wake” feature that lets you see notifications without having to push a button.

8. The ability to remove Apple default (stock) apps like Stock, Weather, and most others. They can be reloaded later if you wish.

One detailed example:

When Apple introduced the “Music” app two years ago it was a mess. Missing options (like sorting lists), difficult navigation going from one area to another, inconsistency of menus are just a few examples. For a company that had just introduced its new 30-million-track service, like Spotify, it was a lame first attempt.

Last year’s IOS 9 update was somewhat better – but still not truly Apple in look or feel.

This year’s IOS 10 update is much better; a simpler, more stark appearing interface is easier to understand and use, with black and white graphics and text, while color is employed sparingly for emphasis. Sorting by artist, album, release date, and more, is available throughout the application. Song lyrics are also available for most tracks. The star rating system has returned to the joy of many long time iTunes users.

On a different subject – creativity:

Apple has been criticized for a lack of creativity since the death of one of its founders – Steve Jobs. I’m not sure that criticism is deserved. Here are three examples of recent product innovations.

1. The Apple Watch (second edition), has met with success from the media, retail, and the user communities. It’s now water-resistant, has a faster processor, improved operating system (3rd generation), longer battery life, and a less expensive starting price.

2. The Apple “W1” Bluetooth audio chip was just released. It is used on the new Apple AirPod wireless headphones, and several of the new Beats (owned by Apple) brand of wireless headphones. The W1 chips offers:

  • a. Extreme battery life – 40 hours of playtime vs 2-4 hours of most other wireless headphones.
  • b. Extreme range (distance) – up to 300 feet vs 33 feet of most other Bluetooth devices.
  • c. Simple pairing (connecting) interface – works with any Apple IOS 10 device by simply connecting to your first device, and then the rest of your devices are auto connected (if you use the same Apple ID on all of your devices).

3. The recently introduced MacBook Pro laptops with a new OLED color touch-bar located above the keyboard that dynamically changes depending on the software app being used.

My bottom line:

Apple is not perfect; not even close. But in many ways, they have innovative design, solid manufacturing, and great (read: loyal) customer support. I admit to being an Apple “fan boy”. 2017 will see the tenth anniversary of the iPhone. It will be interesting to see what improvements and new features will be added to IOS 11. Stay tuned!

Do seniors really need to update to Apple’s newest software?

Apple OS updates
Apple OS updates

You don’t need to update, but it’s almost always a good idea. Updates provide us with a measure of comfort by contributing a number of things:

• Generally, a slightly faster, and more reliable device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Mac).

• Usually a number of new and improved features that make day-to-day use more enjoyable.

• Security updates that help protect our devices from nasty hackers.

• Bug fixes that repair problems discovered before the update.

A better question may be: Why wouldn’t you want to update your device? Here are a few reasons to update:

• It’s free (Apple never charges for updates).

• It’s easy to do (Follow the steps below).

• You will receive bug fixes and new features.

• Get a leg up on your kids and grand kids (beat them by updating first).

Here is how to get started…

1. On an IOS device (e.g. iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)

a. Look at the connector at the bottom of your device – where you plug it in to recharge the battery. If it has the older wider 20 pin connector you cannot upgrade your device to IOS 10. Sorry. If you have the newer, small “Lightning Connector” you can update to IOS 10.

b. Make sure your device is attached to the charging cable and is at least 50% charged.

c. Now go into “Settings” (it looks like a gear). Next press on the word “General”. Finally press on the words “Software Update”. The software should now be downloading, verifying, installing and then restarting the device. Once the restart has begun, you’ll see a black screen, then a white Apple logo, and then a progress bar. This should happen twice and then the update will be complete.

2. On an Apple Watch (updating the Apple Watch from watchOS 2 to watchOS 3)

a. Make sure your iPhone has been updated to IOS 10 (this is required).

b. Connect your iPhone to its battery charger.

c. Connect your Apple Watch to its battery charger.

d. In the Watch app on your iPhone scroll down the screen until you see the “General” icon. Press on the word “General”. Next, press on the words “Software Update”. The software should now be downloading (to the Apple Watch), verifying, installing and then restarting the device. Once the restart has begun, you’ll see a black screen, then a white Apple logo, and then a progress circle. This should happen twice and then the update will be complete.

3. On an Apple TV (Hardware Version 4)

a. Start at the main menu of your Apple TV.

b. Go to the settings menu (the Gear icon).

c. Scroll down until you see the word “System” and then click on it.

d. Now look below and find the words “Software Updates” and then click on it.

e. Now click on the words “Update Software”.

f. If the system needs to be updated, the software download will begin. The Apple will automatically restart upon completion.

4. On a Mac computer (all newer models that use Mac OS 10 or newer)

a. Start at the top left of the screen. Click on the “Apple” icon.

b. The menu will drop down, and you need to click on the “App Store” menu item.

c. Make sure you click on the word “Featured”.

d. You should see the icon for “Mac OS 10 Sierra Update”. Click on this icon to begin downloading and installing the update. This is a large update and will take at least an hour to download and install. You can check on the progress by clicking on the words “Purchased” in the App Store.

Apple has made free user guides for all of the updates. If you have iBooks installed on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Mac you can go to the “Featured” menu and search for the books:

• iPhone Users Guide for IOS 10

• iPad Users Guide for IOS 10

• iPod Touch Users Guide for IOS 10

• Apple Watch Users Guide

• Apple TV Users Guide

• MacBook Essentials

• MacBook Pro Essentials

• MacBook Air Essentials

• iMac Essentials

These free digital books provided by Apple are a great way to learn about the new and improved features. They’re also excellent reference guides for the “How do I…” questions that often come up.

Happy updating!

For Seniors: Updating to Apple’s IOS 9.0 software. Let’s do it safely!

 
 
Apple updates its software and has new product introductions all year round – but the most important ones usually come in the fall.

DO I NEED TO UPDATE MY DEVICE? 

No, for the most part. Certainly the old axiom of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” could apply here, but there are many good reasons to update your IOS software. New features, improved features, better security, bug fixes, new or improved Apple brand apps – and dozens of other things are all valid reasons to update.


I’M AFRAID TO UPDATE – I MIGHT SCREW SOMETHING UP!

Updates are easy – and usually safe – if you follow these steps:

1. Start by closing all open app’s on your device. Do this by double-tapping the home button at the bottom of the screen. You will see minature screens of each open app. Now use your finger tip to slide (swipe up) each open app window to the top of the screen – making it disappear. When you are done you should only have one screen open that can’t be closed.

2. Next restart/reboot your device by holding the power button and the home button down at the same time. In a few seconds your screen will go black – KEEP HOLDING – until you see the white Apple logo – and then let go of both of your fingers on the buttons at the same time.

3. Make sure that your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch are backed up. The best way is to do a full back up useing Apple’s iTunes software (make sure that the iTunes software is the most current version before doing this). The iTunes software is most likely already on your Mac, and can also be downloaded from the Apple support web site if you have a Windows PC. Make sure that the “Encrypt iPhone back up” box is checked before you start the back up. This way all your passwords, user names, PIN’s, health information and other secure stuff gets put in the back up file so that if you need to restore all that information is recovered.

4. After you have completed a back up go into the “Settings” App on your IOS device and scroll to find “General” settings. From there find “Software Update.” Now before starting make sure that your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch has a battery charge of at least 50% or more. Then choose “Start or Download” – allow 30-45 minutes for the software to download, verify, install and then reboot a time or two. You will need to know your Apple ID and password to complete the update.

5. There are many places ( including the Apple web site http://www.apple.com/ios/whats-new/ ) to discover the new and updated features of your updated software.

OK – SO YOU UPDATED YOUR IOS SOFTWARE – WHAT’S NEXT?

Sit back, relax and try out the new features of IOS 9. Try the new and improved “Notes” app. Notice the small (but usually noticiable) increase in speed and battery life. There are many reasons to love Apple. Certainly one is frequent updates that are always FREE. Enjoy!

Apple Watch watchOS 2, beta 4. First impressions…

Custom Apple Watch face
Custom Apple Watch face

By now everyone from Jeb Bush to 50 cent has told you and me what they liked or disliked about the new Apple wearable – the Apple Watch.  Half of those that reported say it is great, the other half say it is a failure.  Somewhere between those two extremes lies the truth.

If history is any indicator, and in MHO it is, in the case of Apple products sucess – then there is much hope for in the Apple Watch.  The first iPhone, iPod, Mac and iPad were all pretty rough in “Version 1.0” of the hardware and the software. A few years later each of these devices were polished, perfected and leaders in their respective class.

Apple announced at the recent World Wide Developers Conference a new “OS” – operating system for the Apple Watch – watch0S 2.  There are well over a dozen new features which are being added to the free software upgrade to be released sometime in September.  These changes add smoothness, stability, speed and usuable features to the Apple Watch.

As an Apple Developer I have first crack at the betas of the new watchOS 2.  Here are a few of my favorite features of the new OS (based on the beta 4 release):

  • New Watch Faces: There are several new watch faces. Cool animated sunrise to sunset videos of London, New York and other top world class cities.  My favorite is the new “photos” face which is comprised of my favorite family and vacation photos.  Each time you look at the face of the watch a different photo appears.  For the first time my wife, who was not originally an Apple Watch fan, felt that maybe this was a good reason to get one.
  • Time Travel: Scroll the crown forward and see what’s on your schedule for tommorow – including what the weather will be like during that event.  Scroll the crown backward and see what happened yesterday. Even news events in the past show up. Awesome!
  • Nightstand Mode: When you retire for the evening attach the charging pod and place your watch on the side.  Now you get a great little alarm clock that gently glows and then disappears until you touch it or your watch alarm goes off.  The Digital Crown and side button are used to “snooze” and turn off alarms.
  • “Native” Apps: Although I cannot test this new feature during the beta phase I have experience in what this feature will do.  The first Apple iPhone used “web apps” which were slow to load and clumsey in execution.  A year later Apple added the ability to the iPhone to use apps that were completely stored on the device allowing them to run much faster and take full advantage of the hardware.  This is what’s about to happen to the Apple Watch. Yea!
  • Reply to eMail:  This will add more usability to the watch.  The reply feature is already enabled in text messages of the current watch.  You can dictate a reply, send an emoji, or pick one of a dozen or more “stock” replies – or add your own.
  • Many more: Other new and imoproved features include the ability of Siri to understand and do more things, activation lock to secure your watch if it gets lost or stolen, more credit/debit cards and store cards (like Kohl’s) in Apple Pay.

Will the changes make a difference in the sale of Apple Watches? Definitely.  Is this the final solution to sluggish sales? Absolutely not.  But looking at a 8 year history for iPhones, a 15 year history for iPods and a 4 year history of iPad’s I would not hesitate to “bet the ranch” on the future of Apple, and the Apple Watch.

I just toasted my computer!  Whew – it’s backed up – or is it?

 

What backup?
What backup?
 
Well the “Beta Bug” just bit me.  Over the weekend I updated my beloved Apple MacBook Air laptop to the latest Beta of Apple’s OS X 10.11 “El Capitan” system software.  Confident that, according to other beta testers, this version was more bug free.

What happened:

It is very easy to update Apple Mac software.  The system can do it automatically, or semi-automatically.  I’m a semi-auto guy.  I like to read about the new and improved this and that before installing an upgrade – especially for system software.

USUALLY things go swiftly and easily and within a few moments the Mac reboots and you then can use the new and improved software.  Not this time.

Things were going a little “wonky” right from the beginning. During the update I got a message on my screen that said that “updates have changed since your last download” (or something close to that).  After the first set of software had downloaded and installed, and the computer rebooted I checked for software updates.  Indeed the main beta update looked like it had gone to the next version – so of course I just-had-to-update-to-the-latest-version.  Just like Paplov’s dog!

The bad news:

After updating for the second time I could not connect to the internet from my Mac!  Yikes!!! Everything I do is on the internet.  All my files are in “the cloud.”  I can’t live without knowing the latest news, sports, weather, etc – all on the internet. Of course email, text, Facebook, YouTube and on and on are on the internet. I did check for internet connection on my iPhone and iPad – yup it was working on them – but not my Mac.

The good news:

Every modern (newer) Apple Mac desktop and laptop comes with a built in “app” (Application) called Time Machine.  When you set up a new Mac the computer asks (begs) you to use Time Machine which makes backups of your computer at least once a day.  You can have the Time Machine backups go to an attached external hard drive or a networked external hard drive.  Hard drives are “almost” free today.  A 2TB (terabyte) external hard drive is about $75.  Cheap, when you consider the time and effort to reconstruct all your files on your computer.  With Time Machine I can restore a single file, or my entire computer from an earlier backup.

Since Time Machine works in the background, I never think about it.  It’s just there – doing its thing 24x7x365. 

This morning I simply restarted my Mac (while holding down on the “Apple” and “R” keys), and the Mac had Time Machine ask me what I wanted to restore.  It started the restore process and gave me a time indicator bar on how long it would take (several hours).

The bottom line:

No matter what kind of device you own – Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Nook, Kindle or Android – there is software available for reliable backups and restores.  As Nike would say… “Just Do it!”  In a computer crisis or meltdown, you will be glad you did.

Backup and Restore
Backup and Restore

Digital Multitasking – A good idea for Seniors?

 

Digital  Multitasking
Digital Multitasking
 

Hip hip hooray for Multitasking – or not?

I was involved in marketing, advertising, and public relations during my 33 year career.  The variety of projects and the responsibilities they carried, required that I multitask to get everything done – on time and below budget.

The ability to do many things at once, often called multitasking, is easy when you are young.  However (IMHO) beyond age fifty multitasking is not so easy; it is tough and often frustrating.  You remember one thing, but forget another – actually get less things done.  There is definitly stress on your brain, as well as your body.

For me “in-line” (one thing after another or singletasking) is the only thing that works with my retired list of things to do.  Make a list, prioritize it, do the tasks one at a time, then check off each item.  I’ve been using this method for the past ten to fifteen years and it works for me.

So what’s up with Apple and multitasking?

Apple is about to become the problem.  In the newest version of IOS 9 (available this fall) Apple has added the ability on a newer iPad to split the screen into two sections.  This gives the user the opportunity to do two things at once – in other words multitask.  I’ve tried the beta version and it is a nice feature.  But once again is the feature worth the consequences of human memory splitting for seniors?  I don’t think so.

There are dozens of new and improved features coming in IOS 9 for iPhones and iPads.  Many of them make the digital devices better and easier for seniors.  I’ll do a full review of those features later this fall.  Mac OS X 11 also makes its debut and it’s better also.

Apple devices work together – that’s good!

Perhaps one of the strongest reasons that I think Apple hardware and software are good for seniors as that all the devices work in a similiar way.  Regardless if you use an iPhone, iPod, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch they all work in similar ways – and were designed to work side by side.

Why do I do this every year? Apple Beta Software – YIKES!

  
For the last several years I’ve belonged to the Apple Developers Group.  This group consists of software developers, media writers, testers-of-all-things-Apple and dozens of other “types” of people who make up the Apple ecosystem for software.

Put me in the “types” labeled “curious.”  This means I’m looney enough to pay for the privilege of getting Apple system software in beta format earlier than you do.  Why?  Because I’m sucked in by reading tech news about all the great new features and improvements “coming soon” in OS X (for Mac computers), IOS (for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch) and now watchOS (for the new Apple Watch).

As always, Apples WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) is held in June in San Francisco and provides developers (and others) with Beta (early prototypes) software for them to use in developing new and improved software apps for the official release of the system software usually in the early fall.

The Good News:

You get a first look at new and improved features – like screen split views on iPad which allows you to run two apps side by side.  Or tap with two fingers on the on-screen keyboard and it becomes a trackpad to easily move your cursor around the page your writing or editing.

Apple’s desire – now that they have public Beta’s (usually available around a month after WWDC) – is to have hundreds of thousands of folks testing their software.  A generally good idea that helps in development and hypes the brand and the products.

The Bad News:

Beta software should really be labled “Buggy Software” because it simply is.  Apple software programmers write thousands of lines of code, and final software must be compatible with the over 1,000,000 software apps that are in Apples App store.  Not an easy job.   

Beta software “bugs” can range from being simply anoying, to actually “bricking” (stop your device from working at all) your Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Apple Watch.

The Bottom Line:

For most people you should “just say no” to beta software – from Apple, or anyone else.  If you MUST be the first on your block to have the latest Apple software then heed these two simple rules:

1.  Use a second device – an old iPad or iPhone or iPod Touch or Mac that is not your primary day-to-day device so that if something catastrophic happens – it won’t happen on a device that you depend on.

2.  Wait for the public Beta that Apple provides by going to: https://beta.apple.com/sp/betaprogram/welcome  and registering.  You will receive software that is sort-of “beta second edition.”  Meaning it’s gone through a couple of cycles of testing before releasing to the general public.

Good luck!