Mac Information

Apple Macintosh, iPod, iPad and iPhone news and advice in Dublin, Ireland


OS X Yosemite Coming to the Mac- Here Are the Highlights...

The second part of last week’s event covered the Mac.  
As with iOS, Apple is now launching a new operating system for the Mac once per year.  
The new version is called OS X 10.10 Yosemite and here is a run down of the highlights:

1/ New Design:
The first thing which will strike you is the look of OS X Yosemite- the font used in all of the menus has changed and the Dock and icons are also new.  

Here is an example of the new look for the Dock:

Here is an example for the new folders and files:

Here is how the top left of a Safari window now looks- with a slim, refined set of buttons:

Here is an example of the translucent menus with their new (thin) font:

2/ Notification Centre:
The Notification Centre has been expanded and there will now be a “Today” view, showing all of your events and reminders for the day.  This means that you can glance at your day with one click, without having to launch the Calendar app:

3/ Phone Calls and SMS:
One of the coolest features is the integration between your iPhone and Mac.  If you receive a call when sitting at your Mac, a notice will pop up on your Mac screen asking you if you wish to accept or decline the call.  If you accept, you can speak to the person through your Mac speaker/microphone, without having to take the phone out of your pocket/bag.  Also useful if the phone happens to be charging in another room!

Under iOS 8, any call coming in to your iPhone will ring on your iPhone (!), Mac, iPod touch or iPad.  So you can answer or decline that call on any device.  

As we saw earlier in iOS 8, you can also read and reply to your SMS messages on your iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac.  Up to now you could only do this with the blue iMessages- but under Yosemite you can send green SMS text messages.

4/ Handoff:
With the new handoff feature, when you return to your Mac you can click on a button to carry on what you were just doing on your iPad or iPhone.  So if you were in the middle of an email on your iPhone, clicking the Handoff button will bring that email up on your Mac where you can continue to work on it.  This works both ways- for example, continue to work on a Pages file on your iPad if you have been working on it on your Mac. 

5/ Hotspot:
Hotspot mean that your Mac can connect to your iPhone and use its data connection.  This is great if you are out and about with your laptop- just use the hotspot feature to allow your Mac to connect to the internet through the iPhone.  No fiddling around with settings.

6/ Mail:
In the Mail app under OS X Yosemite, you can edit and fill out PDF forms inside an email message- great when someone sends you an attachment and asks you to mark changes or complete a page.  

This includes signing a PDF, so you can read the PDF and add your signature without having to leave your Mail app.

7/ AirDrop and iCloud Drive:
With the new version of AirDrop, you can send a file between your devices- for example you can take a PDF from your Mac desktop and drop it over to your iPhone.  No more emailing a file to yourself! You can just drag and drop this over to your iPhone or iPad.

As with iOS 8, iCloud Drive comes to Yosemite and you can arrange all of your files in your iCloud Drive from the Finder.  Think of this as Apple’s version of Dropbox- you can make folders and drop your files into them, then head off and access these on your iPod, iPhone or iPad.


A couple of footnotes:

- OS X Yosemite will run on any Mac which can run the current OS X 10.9 Mavericks.  
- As a run of thumb, this is any Mac from about 2008 onwards.
- OS X Yosemite will be a free upgrade.

For a 30 second preview of the look and feel of OS X Yosemite, have a look at this Apple video:

Dr. Simon Spence / 2014.

Apple's New iOS 8 Coming This Autumn- What to Expect...

Last week Apple gave a preview of the next version of iOS 8, the software which runs your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.  Apple releases a new major update once per year and iOS 8 will be the big upgrade for 2014-5.

So what is to come this Autumn…

1/ Messages:
The Messages app is getting an upgrade, and you will be able to see all of your text messages on your Mac, iPhone and iPad, both iMessages and SMS messages.  
Up to now you could only read and send (blue) iMessages on your iPad and iPhone.  But this is changing so that you don’t miss (green) messages from your Blackberry or Android friends.

The new Messages app will also allow you to send short voice messages- you tap the microphone, speak your message and then send that recording through the app:

You will be able to share your location with your text message friends- you might be at an event and wish to show the other person where you are to meet up with them.  You can choose to do this for a temporary period, such as an hour:

2/ New Design:
Some of the changes in iOS 8 will make life a bit easier.  When you receive a text or email on your iPhone it appears at the top of the screen for a few seconds (banner notification).  Under iOS 8, you can tap and send a quick reply, without having to move out of the app you were in.  Right now under iOS 7, you have to move over to Mail or Messages to type a response, interrupting what you were working on.  This quick response feature will mean less moving back and forth between apps:

At present, double-prssing your home button brings up the multitasking screen, showing all of your open apps. Under iOS 8 you will also see a contacts bar at the top of the screen, with your favourite people and recent contacts.  One tap on a face will allow you to call, text or FaceTime that person- a handy way to get to your favourite people more quickly, without having to switch over to your Contacts app first.

iOS 8 will bring a new way to type, with predictive text!  It learns the kinds of phrases you use and will offer suggestions for words which fit into the sentence you are typing:

A new line above the keyboard will offer suggested words which iOS 8 thinks you are about to type next.  Tap one to add it to your message, email etc.  iOS 8 will also recognise the phrases you might use in the Messages as opposed to what you say in Mail- it tries to learn the differences and offer the appropriate words depending on the app you are using.

Apple have also opened up the keyboard to other developers- if you don’t like the iPhone typing method, you can swap the iOS 8 keyboard for another company’s version!  It will just be a matter of installing a new keyboard app.  This could help people who come to the iPhone/iPad but are more familiar with another method of typing, such as on a Blackberry device of Android.

Spotlight searches get an upgrade too- searches will search inside the content on your device (as it does today) but it will also search the web.  Pulling down the icons on your home screen brings up the Spotlight box and under iOS 8 it will find results from internet sites such as Wikipedia:

3/ Family Sharing:
Apple have finally come up with a method to share apps, music, movies between family members.  Up to now each person needed to have their own account and credit card or they attempted to share one Apple ID (which invariably ended in a mess!).  Under Family Sharing, children have an “ask to buy” button which sends a message to their parents’ device.  The parent then has the option to allow the purchase or block it:  

The feature allows allows for shared calendars, locations and photo albums between up to 6 family members.

4/ Photos:
The new iCloud Photos feature under iOS 8 allows you to place all of your photos into iCloud storage, where you can then access any of your photos from your iPhone, iPod or iPad.  
This would mean less syncing between your iPhoto on your Mac and your iOS device.  It will also mean less space being used up on your iPhone or iPad as the photos are stored on the cloud and only downloaded to your device when required.  

Each iCloud account has 5GB of storage, so it is likely that you will need to pay for more storage to take advantage of this feature.  Apple have price tiers for this- an extra 20GB will be $1 per month, 200GB will be $4 per month.  

The Camera app in iOS 8 has new filters and a new Time Lapse video feature.  

5/ iCloud Drive:
The new iCloud Drive will work a lot like Dropbox.  You will be able to browse through all of your files, rearrange them and open them on your iPad or iPhone.  You can also start a Pages, Keynote or Numbers file on your iPhone and then pick up your iPad and carry on editing that document.  

This new file system means you can browse through all of your files in one place, whereas up to now you had to look for them inside the appropriate app, such as only seeing your Pages files inside the Pages app. 


A couple of footnotes:

- iOS 8 will not run on an iPhone 4.  It will only work on a 4s, 5 and 5s, and presumably the new iPhone 6 which is likely to arrive in the Autumn.  
- it will run on any iPad except for the original iPad 1.
- iOS 8 is a free upgrade.

Dr. Simon Spence / 2014.

Apple's new ad- Your Verse

Apple seem to be on a bit of a roll at the moment with its adverts. The two recent pieces are some of the best advertising from Cupertino in the last few years.

Check out the new advert, called Your Verse, which is narrated by Robin Williams:


New Mac Pro

Apple have launched the new Mac Pro, and it is now available to buy on the Apple Store. I’m not sure how many sales we are going to see in our business- it is likely to be a niche product, far more niche that the old PowerMac and Mac Pro lines. At one time all professionals would buy a top line Mac and shun the iMac. But with improvements in chips speeds and these being passed down the line to all machines, the iMac is a consumer and a pro choice. Our own choice is a 27” iMac with a MacBook Air, as the iMac provides all the speed we need and the MacBook Air provides portability.

What the Mac Pro offers is power and external expandability and it will come as welcome news for certain high end video editors.

Check out the advert, as it might be the closest you get to one of these specialist machine:


iPad mini with retina display now available

Apple have started taking orders for the new iPad mini with Retina Display. The new iPad mini with Retina Display can be purchased on the Apple online store, starting at €399.


Here is Apple’s pricing chart, showing the retina models in two types: WiFi only and WiFi plus Cellular data:

WiFi only models:

WiFi and Cellular Data models:


Note that all iPad minis with cellular requires a nano-SIM card.

If you are looking for a cheaper model and are willing to forego the retina screen, you can save about €100. The 16GB non-retina mini (WiFi only) costs €299. A WiFi and cellular model is €419. There are only these two variants for the non-retina display model.

Expect the retina display model to sell out fast- it is getting close to December and we are likely to see shortages as we approach the Christmas buying season.

New iMacs: faster speeds, similar price

Although not an earth-shattering change, Apple updated its range of desktop iMacs this week, and gave the new range faster processors. Prices remain almost the same to the last generation and screen sizes have not changed.
All models come with a generous 8GB of RAM memory and a 1TB hard disk. All iMacs can be customised, with the option to add a Fusion drive, which is part hard disk and part flash storage. This makes the iMac much faster as it automatically frequently used tiles on the faster flash drive. Replacing the 1TB hard drive with a 1TB Fusion drive costs an extra €200 or £160. Doubling the RAM to 16GB also costs €200 (£160).

The ports on the back of the iMac remain the same: SDXC card slot, four USB 3 ports (compatible with USB 2), two Thunderbolt ports, a Mini DisplayPort and an Ethernet port.

Overall this update is relatively minor, but if you have been waiting to purchase a new Mac desktop you will get more speed for your money.

To see the full details, check out the online stores at Apple Ireland or Apple UK.

Just to note- there is also a VESA Mountable version of the iMac available at this link..

iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c- What You Need to Know...

On September 10th Apple announced two new iPhone families, replacing the iPhone 5. The two new ranges are called the iPhone 5s, the top of the range version, and the iPhone 5c, which is slightly cheaper and replaces the year-old iPhone 5.

So what is the point of two iPhone models?
Apple believes that the two models serve two groups of consumers. The new iPhone 5s is more cutting-edge and comes with some extra features. The iPhone 5c is more colourful and very similar to the iPhone 5 (which it has replaced).

iPhone 5s

What is new about the iPhone 5s?
The phone has three internal hardware changes. The first is speed: the 5s comes with the new A7 processor inside and this promises to have double the speed of the phone it replaces (iPhone 5). It also has a new sensor inside (M7 motion coprocessor) which means the phone will act a bit like a Nike Fuelband, or any of the exercise gadgets which track your walking/running. The third, and most noted change, is the “Touch ID” fingerprint sensor on the front. The home button now recognises your finger and this takes over as the method to wake the iPhone, replacing the need to type in a 4-digit passcode. It also works when you buy apps, music, videos, books etc. You place your finger on the sensor instead of having to type your iTunes password.

The other big news is the improved camera. The new model lets you take “bursts” of images so you can capture events with lots of movement. It also allows for high-quality video, which can be slowed down into what Apple call “slo-mo” mode, without losing the quality and definition.

The iPhone 5s comes in thee colours- gold, silver and “space grey”. It also comes in three storage sizes- 16, 32 or 64GB.

iPhone 5c

Is there anything new about the iPhone 5c compared to the iPhone 5?
The main new features are the better battery life and the new colours. The iPhone 5c comes in green, blue, red, yellow or white. The price has dropped by about $100 compared to the iPhone 5 and it is likely that this model will be the big seller due to subsidies from the carriers.
All of the other specs are the same as the iPhone 5- A6 processor, 8 megapixel camera, 4 inch retina display . It comes in two storage sizes- 16 or 32GB.

iOS 7 Control Centre

What about the iPhone 4S:
It is still around! It will be the cheapest model and will probably come free with a contract from your carrier.

What about software?
One of the announcements yesterday was about iOS 7, which is going to be released next Wednesday, Sept 18th. This all be a free download and can be installed on any iPhone 4 or later, iPad 2 or later and on an iPod touch 5. It will also come as the operating system on the new iPhones. One of the big features to come in iOS 7 is FaceTime audio. You will be able to call any other iOS 7 user anywhere in the world for free, using your WiFi or data package.

The biggest change for iOS 7 will be the look and feel. It is bright, colourful and is a very new design compared to your current iOS 6.

Apple also announced that it was going to start bundling a lot more software with the new iPhones. All new models can download Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iPhoto and iMovie for free. Up to now each of these were separate purchases from the App Store.

What about pricing?
The new prices were announced, but they are US-only for the moment. International prices will emerge as Apple start to roll-out the handsets later this month.

Here are the US prices for the iPhones with a 2 year contract:
iPhone 5s:
16GB $199
32GB $299
64GB $399

iPhone 5c:
16GB $99
32GB $199

iPhone 4S:
8GB Free

UK prices for the unlocked model:
iPhone 5s:
16GB £549
32GB £629
64GB £709

iPhone 5c:
16GB £469
32GB £549

iPhone 4S:
8GB £349

What about those cases?
Apple also spent a bit of time highlighting the new cases for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. There are six colours for the iPhone 5s, all made from leather, including a (RED) edition:


For the iPhone 5c, there are six rubber cases with a new open design at the back:


When will the new iPhones be available:
Customers in the US and UK can pre-order an iPhone 5c from Friday 13th September. Then both the iPhone 5s and 5c go on sale from Friday 20th September. Note that you can’t pre-order the iPhone 5s, probably due to limited availability at the start.

Anything else I should know?
The “s” in iPhone 5s and the “c” in iPhone 5c are both lowercase. Just saying.

Expect a busy Sept-Oct from Apple

The months of September and October and going to be big for Apple this year. Given that there have been relatively few announcements for customers in the early part of the year, with WWDC being aimed at developers, September and October promises to reshape the Apple line up.

First, we expect there to be two events between now and Christmas. Although Apple have not officially announced any event yet, it is almost certain that a Sept 10th event will see the unveiling of the new iPhone(s). We also expect the new iOS 7 to ship with the new phones, something which Apple have so far only said will happen in “Fall” 2013.


In terms of hardware, this leaves the iPads, iPods and some Macs, all of which we expect to be updated before Christmas. Our view is that Sept 10th will see two new iPhones (5S and 5C?), plus the launch of iOS 7. This seems to be plenty for a 60-90 min keynote. Then at the later event in October, we will see the annual refresh of the iPods and possibly iPads, ready for the busy Christmas season.

OS X Mavericks may not require any press event. This was previewed in June at WWDC, and so its launch date may just be mentioned at a keynote, or it will be a press release.

As for the Macs, we expect to see refreshed iMacs and MacBook Pros before the end of the year, but these two can happen without any event. There is also the question of the Mac Pro, something Apple have been making noise about ever since Phil Schiller’s sneak preview at WWDC. It could be that they will launch the Mac Pro at one of the events, simply because it makes a statement about Apple design and deserves more than a press release. Apple seem to be taking their step back into pro desktop seriously and so will want to show off this machine at a media event.

Lastly, the Apple TV. Don’t bet any money on this. It is likely that there will continue to be an iterative change to this existing product, but we don’t expect any major new hardware just yet. Unlike with mp3 players or PCs, Apple need to focus firstly on content and lastly on hardware. It is a matter of getting the content providers into place and then we have no doubt that Apple have a new hardware product to match this offering. But for now Eddie Cues torturous job of dragging all networks and content producers to the table continues..