Tag Archives: Apple

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!

Missing headphone jack? much ado about nothing!

Apple iPhone 7
Apple iPhone 7

Much ado has already been made about the “missing” iPhone 7 3.5mm audio (headphone) jack when Apple introduced the two new iPhone 7’s yesterday.

Apple claimed that the reason they removed the jack was to make room for new technology in future iPhones.  I also suppose that the jack will be missing when Apple introduces new iPads in late 2016 or early 2017.

Sure, Apple saved a few pennies and gained a bit more room by removing the jack, but they spent more than they saved by including a set of earbud headphones with a lightning connector – and also included a little device that lets you continue to use your analog headphones by connecting them to the convertor and then onto your lightning connector.

Most folks would say that a digital headphone sounds crisper and clearer than an analog headphone.  So where is the harm or foul?  You can enjoy your new iPhone 7 with the included digital earbuds – or connect your existing Beats, Sennheiser, Sony, Motorola or other studio headphones to the phone with the included adapter. In addition Apple and Beats (owned by Apple) introduced new wireless headphones that can be used with the iPhone 7’s.  And finally there are dozens of Bluetooth wireless headphones already on the market that will work with the iPhone 7’s.  

Tell me again why you are unhappy?

Early on Friday morning (3 AM EDT) I’ll be placing my order for a new iPhone 7 Plus.  Am I disappointed that it won’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack. Nope!

APPS: What’s on my iPhone/iPad right now.

Favorite IOS Apps
Favorite IOS Apps

A lot of my friends – and a lot of you readers – have asked me what apps do you recommend?  As an Apple “fan-boy” since 1978 I’ve used hundreds of apps on every Apple device imaginable. Over the years my long list of devices have included the Apple ][, Apple ///, Apple Lisa, Apple Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.

Quite frankly there is no such thing as the perfect app.  Every app developer thinks their app is the best.  Few are.  Even great ones like Numerous for the iPhone/iPad which had over 150,000 active users recently died an untimely death due to a lack of customer funding.  The history of computer apps (from an earlier term: applications) is littered with a few standouts and thousands of little purchased and little used want-to-be’s.

To give you an idea how big the market for apps is, consider that Apple has over 1,500,000 apps available for the iPhone, iPad, and the iPod Touch. There are more than 15,000 apps available for the Apple Watch. In less than a year the Apple TV 4 has grown from 40 apps to over 5,000. Apps range in price from free to a thousand dollars or more! The average price for an IOS app for consumer use is $1.99. I’ve never understood how a person who spends hundreds of dollars on a new iPhone or iPad complains about the cost of an app that costs only a couple-of-bucks and has a lifetime of free upgrades.

I’ve compiled a list of my all-time top ten favorite apps for your consideration. Each app I use almost daily and each provides a good mix of features, performance and reliability. Note that some are free, some require a monthly or annual subscription, and a couple are reasonably priced. The list is in no particular order.

All of these apps work on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. Some also work on the Apple Watch, Apple TV and the Apple Mac.

Check out my Top Ten Favorite Apps by clicking here:  Tom’s Favorite Apps

You will be taken to my app page where you can read a brief overview of each App and then click on a link to open the app in the Apple App Store.

Enjoy! Comments and questions are always welcome. Tech support is available from each developers web site.

Here’s Why Image Counts: Tesla 3 vs. Chevy Bolt

 

Tesla 3
Tesla 3
  
Chevy Bolt
Chevy Bolt
 

If you were in the market for a pure electric vehicle and the cost was the same would you buy a Tesla 3 or a Chevy Bolt?  A third of a million Americans just voted with their pocket books and the answer for them was a Tesla 3.

In comparing the two vehicles consider the following:

  • Both cost about $35,000
  • Both are total electric vehicles (no supplemental gas engines)
  • Both are made in the USA
  • Both have an electric range of about 215 miles
  • Each has a different “style” or “look” – I’ll leave which is more attractive to you, the reader
  • The Chevy Bolt will be available in late 2016
  • The Tesla 3 will be available in late 2017

If we are to believe that the two vehicles are so similar (except for that “style/look” thing) why are the following facts so dissimilar:

  • In the first week of ordering availability in late March of 2016 the Tesla 3 garnered over 325,000 pre-orders requiring a deposit of $1,000 each.
  • Since its January 2016 unveiling the Chevy Bolt’s parents (GM) has projected that it will sell 20,000 in the first year.

What?!?  How can that be??? How did the Tesla 3 beat the pants off of Chevy Bolt without any struggle at all?

Tesla basks in same sort of consumer “glow” as Apple.  Its high-end design, engineering, construction, fit and finish and a reputation for overall quality are admired by owners, and non-owners alike.  Consumer Reports magazine reviewed the original Tesla Model S vehicle and gave it the highest marks of ANY car ever reviewed.

The Chevy Bolt looks like it was designed by a committee on both the exterior and the interior.  While this is the company that brought us Corvairs and Vegas, it also brought us inspired vehicles like the Corvette Stingray. 

The Tesla 3 looks like a coordinated effort of a team that believes in synergy of both the exterior and the interior of the vehicle.  The Tesla 3 interior is of a minimalist design and the cockpit dash panel looks like an oversized iPad. 

To be successful in the long term, EV’s (Electric Vehicles) will have to be more than “boxes with wheels” that are re-engineered gas vehicles with batteries.  Only “clean sheet” electric vehicles that are designed from scratch will succeed.  And to totally succeed there will need to be nationwide electric recharging stations that can handle ALL the connectors from different EV’s and not just proprietary ones from one or two manufacturers.

We need to start thinking of personal transportation as “computers with wheels.” Those with out-of-box thinking like Apple and Tesla will most likely be the winners.  Can Detroit make the change?

Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.  Thanks for reading Tom Gordon’s – The iTechGeezer blog.

For Seniors: Should I buy a new computer? NO!!! Here’s what to do…

Just Say No
Just Say No

As an adult child of a technology challenged parent, grandparent, senior uncle or aunt this was a question I was asked more times than I can count.

THE “GOOD OLD DAYS”

In the “good old days” (prior to 2010) of personal computing the Senior was asking if they should they buy a new desktop or laptop. The standard answer in those days was to recommend what we used (Windows or Mac) and brand (probably HP, Dell, Gateway or Apple.) After all if you were happy with what you were using then they should be happy – right? Plus you KNEW that you were going to have to provide tech support for whatever you recommended – right?

THE “BETTER NEW DAYS”

Today (2016) we have many more options than ever.  Smartphones, e-Readers, tablets, smart watches – and of course old style “iron” like desktops and laptops are still available, but are catching dust at your local Best Buy store.  Certainly devices like smartphones and tablets are more portable (mobile) then moving around a desktop computer and monitor or a 4 to 6 pound laptop (yes I know you can buy under 2 pound laptops.)

DISCLAIMER: WHY TRUST MY OPINION?

I’m a little unique as a computer consultant – first I’ll be 70 years “young” in just a few months.  Second, I’ve been messing with PC’s and mobile devices since 1978 (perhaps before you were born.) I’ve spend thousands on PC’s, Mac’s – plus Newtons, Palm Pilots, iPods, and dozens of other mobile devices.  I’ve taught mobile computing classes during my corporate life, community Ed, consulting, and as a “Nook” trainer at two Barnes & Noble stores.

For the last few years I’ve become an Apple “fanboy.”  The deeper I’ve jumped into the Apple “pond” the more sense it’s made to me.  Yes, Apple products are probably more expensive but … the quality design, construction, store service and depth of support from the Apple ecosystem is IMHO superior to PC’s and Droid’s.

SO BACK ON POINT: WHAT SHOULD I BUY?

 If you want to make your mom, dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Betty or Uncle Fred happy; and quite frankly off your back for support? Here are my recommendations:

  • Device: An Apple iPad Air 2 (click here: Apple iPad Air 2) or later. The iPad mini (the Baby Bear) is too small for most Seniors to use and read comfortably on. The iPad Pro (the Father Bear) is too large to hold comfortably on a couch or in bed (not “huggable”).  The “standard” iPad Air 2 (the Mother Bear) is JUST right in terms of size (like holding a book or magazine) and weight (less than one pound.) It’s “very huggable” just the right size to read on the couch, the plane, and in-bed. The ultra-high resolution Retina screen is extremely sharp and clear.  Very easy for Senior eyes to read articles, books, magazines on.  DON’T be tempted to buy the 16GB model – both of you will be unhappy when your favorite Senior calls you late one evening and states… “My iPad says I don’t have any more room to store my photos?”  Buy the 64GB WiFi or WiFi/Cellular model.  It is well worth the difference in price. Also pay for the Apple Care Plus warranty program that even covers breakage (stuff happens!)
  • System Software:  There simply is no better mobile operating system available today than Apple’s IOS.  It is secure, fast, reliable, mature, robust and very easy-to-use.  Annual upgrades and frequent minor upgrades (both FREE) provide a device that is trouble free and also provides a few years of “future proofing.”
  • App’s: The Apple App Store provides millions of low cost or free software apps.  If you look at what most Seniors want to use a “computer” for it is the following: eMail, photos, web surfing, games, Facebook, reading books/magazines, and listening to music or watching a movie – all can be found on included software or on the App Store.
  • Additional Hardware: Your Senior is going to want a keyboard and a cover/case for that new iPad Air 2.  After trying many different brands the one that I would recommend is the Logictech Type+ keyboard case (click here: Logictech Type+). This keyboard is very sturdy, easy-to-type on, and gives good protection to the iPad Air 2. If your Senior needs a new printer then most any HP “e-print” ink-jet printer will work well.  This printer will work with Apple’s “Air Print” feature on the iPad Air 2 for truly wireless, no configuration printing. A good place to start is the HP Deskjet 2540 All-In-One which provides printing, scanning, and copying for a street price of around $75-$80 (click here: HP Deskjet 2540 AIO)
  • Family Sharing: One of the best reasons for buying an Apple device is Family Sharing.  This allows your extended family member to legally share movies, books, music and apps with the rest of your Family at little or no additional cost for almost everything. Learn more here: (click here: Apple Family Sharing) Just remember that all charges for media come to your credit card! (They will pay you back I’m sure!).
  • Combine with an iPhone: Plus, if your Senior is in the market for a new cell phone, then almost everything above also works with a new iPhone.  Thanks to Apple’s iCloud service calendars, emails, to-do reminders, photos, music, backups just works and “syncs” to one another.  No double entry!
  • Training:  There are dozens of options for Seniors to learn how to use their new iPad Air 2.  Apple Stores provide one on one and small group classes.  Many community Adult Ed and Senior Centers provides classes. There are MANY 3rd party “How To” books available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.  Pick paper books (not electronic books) and look for ones with lots of pictures (not lots of text) and may be titled “iPad Air 2 for Seniors” or one of the “Dummies” series books.  Check the published date (inside a few pages) and make sure it is less than two years old.

Finally: Who is going to provide support?

The natural and normal response is YOU.  I mean they ARE your parents, grandparents and aunt and uncle – correct? Well yes, and you probably should.  But the best thing about buying an Apple product is that it comes with Apple Support.  USA based, and FREE – two magic words for Seniors.  They can go into any Apple Store (regardless of where you bought the iPad Air 2) and get help.  They can also call, “chat” or e-mail with Apple hardware and software support. For more information (click here: Apple Support).

Wrapping it up

Save yourself hours of time, effort, grief, anxiety and more!  NO they don’t need a new desktop or laptop!  They need YOU and a new iPad Air 2 that becomes their new “laptop.”  Good luck and happy Senior computing.

Comments, and questions are always welcome.  We appreciate you sharing this blog post with others.  Print it out and give it to your “Senior” family members.

Tom Gordon – the iTechGeezer

    “Digital Drugs” for Seniors:  Is it really possible to Overdose?

      

    In a word – YES.  For some people it’s easy to go crazy over digital technology.  Something new, something more advanced, something to talk to friends and colleagues about.

    If you (or someone you love) gets a “rush” out of having to have the latest smartphone, tablet, television, or gadget you might want to have “the talk.”

    Hardware “drugs”:

    Quite frankly it is almost impossible to keep up with the annual (or more often) cycle of technological hardware and software updates.  It’s getting harder now that manufacturers are adapting a “lease” based scenario – where the consumer gets a new smartphone (for example) every year.  What do the manufacturers do with the “old” device? Trust me that there are plenty of world-wide secondary markets and third world developing markets that are more than happy to purchase your last years device.

    This phenomenon also takes place in other markets.  Automobiles for example.  New look, new features, new safety equipment, gotta have it!  A well organized and implemented “lease” program provides a good used car marketplace.  Don’t believe me?  Ask the owner of any new car dealership – who makes the most gross profit per vehicle – new or used?  If he/she is honest the correct answer is that the used car is the most profitable.

    Software “fixes”:

    In the mobile technology marketplace both Android “Droid” and Apple “IOS” software is inexpensive to begin with, and in the majority of cases FREE to update to the latest and greatest software version loaded with new features and bug fixes.

    Is this a bad thing? No.  We all want more features that “do” more things.  And we certainly want all “bugs” to be eliminated.  But since software “feeds” hardware it becomes a way of forcing us to buy new hardware (since the old hardware may not support the new software features) from time to time.

    Standing on the “soapbox”:

    Here’s how this applies to Seniors.  First, a lot of Seniors will tell you that their mobile smartphone, smart watch, e-reader or tablet is an “extention” of their brain.  Something that remembers, looks up or gives them confidence in what they are doing (email, reading maps, checking financials, et cetra).  Second, for most Seniors we live on a fixed income so that axiom of what the large print (software) gives to us, the small print (hardware) takes away – because of the continuing cost.

    Bottom line:

    Everything in moderation.  As a successful tech “geezer” I love new “tech stuff.”  I try to do my reading, research, and rationalization (the 3R’s) carefully and thoughtfully. Obviously all of the “below” does not apply to me – since I need new stuff to help all of you with.

    For most Seniors the following hardware purchasing cycle should work well:

    • New smartphones: every 2-3 years (look for major changes to the camera, screen resolution, system RAM, amount of on-board file storage)
    • New e-reader or tablet: every 3-4 years (same as for smart phones)
    • New smart watch: every 2-3 years (since this is a fairly new market the hardware will advance quickly)
    • New flat-panel television: every 5 – 7 years (4K or 5K screen resolution, always price drops)

    For most Seniors the following software upgrade and updates cycle will work:

    • Rule #1 – when your software producer says there is a new upgrade/update – wait 7-10 days to allow for “an update to the update.”
    • Rule #2 – most Android and Apple “App Store” updates are free or very low cost.  Updates are almost always a good thing.  New features, security improvements and bug fixes.

    “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.