Tag Archives: Apple TV

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!

“Say Hello To A Good Buy!” Is Apple Music right for Seniors?

 

Apple Music
Apple Music
 

What! Seniors spending money on a music subscription?

No way!  Just a few years ago I worked at Barnes & Noble in what was then called “the music department.”  Seniors would come in and look over the bins of CD’s for the musical genre they liked and then grumble as the paid $14.99 each for the two or three CD’s that they would purchase and take home.  In the three years that I worked in “the music department,” I noticed that the number of bins containing CD’s was dramatically shrinking as more and more people were turning to digital music.

A lot of seniors love music, but are limited in what available funds they can spend on entertainment like books, magazines, movies – and of course music.  Many times while working at B&N I heard seniors express that they really wanted that new release, or that fourth CD but they “better not.” 

Along comes iTunes…

Apple’s iTunes software, which runs on Mac’s and Windows PC’s, has been around for several years.  It’s a great way to organize your digital music and videos.  Of course you could “RIP” the music CD’s you already owned to iTunes – all perfectly legal – and enjoy them on your computer with a good stereo sound system or “SYNC” them to a mobile device.  That is if you understood how to “RIP” and “SYNC.”  A lot of seniors didn’t “get it.”  

Along comes Pandora….

For seniors, who really embraced digital e-readers (like the Barnes & Noble “Nook,” or the Amazon “Kindle,” they migrated to more advanced digital devices like iPhones, iPads, Samsung/Nooks, and Kindle Fires that include the ability not only to read digital books, but also to listen to digital music and watch digital movies.  One of the first, and still one of the most successful music apps is Pandora.  It has that magic senior word “FREE!” and gives the listener the ability to pick a performer, song, or album and create a “station.”  For example I could have a Moody Blues “station.”  Pandora will play a Moody Blues track every third or fourth song – plus then fill in artists that are very similiar to the Moody Blues.  All for “FREE!” if you don’t mind an advertisement every quarter-hour or so.  I could have dozens of stations to accomodate my eclectic taste in music!

The come and they go…

Over the last five years there have been well over a dozen music services that have come and gone.  Some free, some paid.  All of them trying to find the magic formula that would attract millions of music lovers world wide to come to their mecca of music.  Some of them came from pretty big name brands you know, and some brands you never heard of before – or after.  Undoubtedly the most successful to-date has been an app and music service called Spotify.  There is a free version (ad supported) and a paid version (no ads) of Spotify.

  

Now comes Apple Music…

A few months ago Apple introduced a new music subscription called (naturally) Apple Music.  The service provides access to over 43,000,000 music tracks – and also music videos – all for just $14.99 per month. The monthly charge allows you to share the service with up to six family members (spouses, kids and grandkids included!). It’s just $9.99 per month for an individual subscription.

Here is the good news…

  • Millions of music songs and albums to choose from.  All your favorite artists, and all your loved genres! Easy to create playlists.
  • Music can be streamed over WiFi or cellular and also downloaded for off-line listening.
  • Each family member can have their own music library.
  • Apple Music works on MOST newer iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch, Mac’s and Windows PC’s.  It does not currently work on Android devices but Apple has announced that it will with a forthcoming App.
  • It also works (like magic!) on the latest Apple TV streaming devices (version 4).  The advantages of working on Apple TV is that you can watch music videos on that big new 75″ 4K Ultra High Definition flat panel TV that Santa will try to stuff down your chimney. 

Of course there is a little bad news…

  • If you cancel your subscription all the music goes away (remember you are only renting it).
  • No you cannot “burn” the music to a CD.
  • The Apple Music software is a little clumsy to use for the first few days – until you find your way around the icons.

But it’s $14.99 per month you say…

It amazes me how many people (not only seniors) grumble that they don’t want to pay $14.99 per month (or just $9.99 if you don’t want to share) for a music subscription, but they paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars for the best smartphone, best tablet, best computer or best flat panel TV that money can buy.  They think nothing of spending $7.99 – $14.99 (and up) per month for NetFlix, Hulu or HBO Now.  They will still spend $14.99 each for CD’s – but are reluctant to purchase a music subscription – which can be easily cancelled.

“Just Do it!”…

As Nike would say “Just Do It!” – the first 3 – months are FREE (and is easy to cancel).  Learn more by going to CLICK Here…

A final note…

As a senior (almost 70) and a tech weenie and geezer I think I speak with authority and experience on personal technology for seniors.  I’ve been messing with personal computers since 1978.  Comments – both pro and con are aways welcome.  Thanks for reading my blog.

“Say Hello to a Good Buy!” Should Seniors buy the new Apple TV?

  

The “Buzz”:

The “buzz” you are hearing over the normal roar of the Internet is all about the NEW 4th generation Apple TV.

What the heck is an Apple TV?:

You may be asking “What the heck is an Apple TV?” Well… an Apple TV is a hockey-puck sized box (see the picture above) that you hook up to your digital (flat screen) TV.  It is easy to set up and install with your existing WiFi system and can provide hours of video and audio enjoyment.

Apple has dozens of both free and subscription channels – everything from NetFlix, Hulu, PBS and many more.  The newest models (the ones with all the “buzz”) even have an App store so that you can download more channels and now even games to play on your TV.

Can it replace your cable TV service?

Maybe.  If you live in one of the over 110 lucky CBS affiliate cities (check out this link for a List of CBS All Access affiliate cities) providing the new CBS All Access channel and you like CBS local and national programming, for a whole $5.99 a month you are all set.

Which model should I buy?

OK, as a senior, let’s say that you are now sold on the concept of “digital streaming” with an Apple TV, but which one should you buy?  The new one (4th generation) comes in two different media storage sizes for $149.99 or $199.99.  Take my recommendation and stretch for the $199.99.  The old ones (as of last week) are still available as new $69.99 (usually in stock at Best Buy, Staples, Walmart, Target and others), or refurbished $59.99 (directly from Apple) and both come with a one year warranty and free shipping.

My advice for “Savvy Seniors” that want to get a great value is to buy the Apple 3rd generation Apple TV as refurbished from Apple using this link: http://www.apple.com/shop/browse/home/specialdeals/appletv

Are there other brands you should consider?

Other “digital streaming” boxes include Amazon’s Fire, Google’s Chrome Stick, Roku and others. All have plus’ and minus’.  I’ve owned and used Apple, Roku and Google.  My first choice is Apple (now there is a surprise you are probably saying to yourself). Second would be Roku and then Google. 

I like Apple because of the reliability, ease of hook-up, channel variety, and that I can broadcast any video or audio that is on my Mac, PC, iPhone or iPad directly to the Apple TV wirelessly using Apple’s AirPlay system that is built into almost everything Apple sells.

Here is to happy channel surfing and maybe cable cord cutting!