Mac Information

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


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..

New OS: OS X Mavericks

Just when you got over the shock of the new iOS 7 for iPhones and iPads, there was a second announcement last week...

Apple previewed OS X Mavericks, the next operating system for your Mac.
[Having run out of big cat names such as Lion, Panther, Cheetah, they have now started to name their Mac operating systems after Californian locations].

OS X Mavericks will arrive this autumn, around the same time as iOS 7, and will cost approx. €10-15 (price not yet confirmed).

Here is a quick summary of some of the changes and new features which Apple announced:

1/ Calendar:
Hate the leather trim in the current OS X Calendar app? You are in luck! The new version of Calendar has a cleaner more simplified look:

Current calendar trim under Mountain Lion:


New look under OS X Mavericks:


Calendar will also integrate maps, so it will give you an estimated travel time to your appointment plus a map of where the event is to be held.


What next for Apple?

Yesterday’s results revealed both good and bad news for Apple. On the good side they reported $43.6 billion in revenue, compared to last year when they reported $39.2 billion for Q2. iPhone sales were up 7% year on year, with iPad sales up a huge 65%- this is the key part of the Q2 story.


On the negative side, profits were down to $9.5 billion compared to $11.6 billion in Q2 2012. That’s quite a big drop, especially when you look at revenue increasing in the quarter. But what seems to be at play here is the success of the iPad mini. Apple say that the mini makes up the majority of all iPad sales and its margin is far lower than the larger iPad. Apple at present seem to be ok about letting their margins dip while share grows. Apple dominates the “tablet” (iPad) market and they have done this by adding the new mini to grab the smaller device market before a competitor can undermine their position. If we look back, the same happened in the iPod market in the 00s when Apple added the iPod mini, followed by the iPod nano. The smaller form appealed to consumers and it became the biggest selling model.

Good news
The good news is the iPad figure. The continuing dominance of the iPad means that Apple’s is still the default tablet. As home customers and increasingly corporate buyers move away from PCs, the iPad is becoming the device of choice. This combined with the figures for iCloud, where Apple now have 300m accounts, means that iOS is a unique environment. iTunes accounted for $2.4 billion in revenue this quarter from sales of music, apps, films and books etc.

mountain-lion 10.8

The Mac too is holding its own, especially in turbulent times. Overall PC sales are down about 14% (according to IDC), so Apple’s relatively flat sales are a good result for the quarter. This is especially true when you consider that the iMac was not in full supply until well into the quarter, with supply problems since its December release.

Bad news
The problem for Apple may lie in what comes next. Cook mentioned that new products were coming in the autumn and this may signal a quiet quarter on the hardware front. Apple’s attention seems to now be on WWDC and software announcements, with iOS 7 and OS X 10.9 expected to be key parts of the June event.

iPhone sales will fall away in Q3 just as they always have in the past, in anticipation of the next model being announced. Customers have become very savvy at this and most people will tell you that buying an iPhone in the summer is a bad idea (unless you are being offered a good deal for the soon-to-be-replaced handset).

iPad sales will also be mixed. Speculation about the next model may drive sales down and yet the start of the education buying season, with students returning to school and university, may help balance the figures. However we still expect this to be the lowest quarter of the year for iPad and iPhone, Apple’s two strongest product categories.

Cook referred to new product announcements in the Autumn but there is still the possibility of a new Mac Pro being announced at WWDC. This is the logical place for such a statement. Apple has shied away from hardware at WWDC in recent years, but the Mac Pro is an inexcusable gap in the Apple Mac lineup.

There may also be some refreshing of processors in the laptop lines, possibly to boost the education season. This could wait until the Autumn, but that way all categories may be refreshed in one go, something that Apple may avoid in an attempt to spread out the good news. It’s is also worth noting that any refresh of Macs always happen after any back to education sales offers. This may mean any changes come late in the quarter.

Overall we expect Q3 to be about strategy- the next version of iOS and OS X setting the pace for the year. Apple have already indicated that revenue will be between $33.5 and $35.5 billion with a gross margin of 36-37%, lower than in Q2. In Q3 of last year sales were at $35 billion and so ben Apple expect a flat year over year set of results.

However this does all lead us to Q4 and more importantly Q1 2014, where new products come on stream. Q1 is Apple’s Christmas quarter and is always a blow-out set of results and we see no reason why this will not continue. Indeed Cook referred to a new product segment in the conference call and that means one thing- a new leg on the Apple table. Apart from a revised iPhone and iPad, and updated Macs and iPods, it looks certain that they will enter a new market before the end of the calendar year. If investors are looking for signs of growth for the end of 2013 and into 2014, Cook presented them with a perfect hint to what’s next for Apple..

New Products for 2013

Now that we are in April it is likely that there will be new products in the next few weeks. We say this for these reasons:

- Apple normally refresh the iPad range at this time of the year, with the iPad 4 being the one exception
- the MacBook Air line was refreshed in June 2012 and so may be ready for a change
- the education buying season starts in early summer and Apple traditionally updates Macs aimed at this market

- the iPods will not be refreshed until the Autumn
- Apple have recently caught up with iMac demand and so a refresh is unlikely until late 2013
- the Mac Pro is crying out for an update, although we would bet this will happen at the WWDC conference this summer
- the iPhone will be updated in the usual timeframe, between June-Sept.

Our Gear- What Mac Information Use…

In case people are interested, here is the gear we have chosen to use in our office. We spend much of our time recommending hardware and software to clients, and so we thought you may be interested in our choices.


iMac 27”
This is two years old at this stage but is still our main Mac. We love the 27” screen and would never go back to the 21” version. We will probably upgrade at the next Apple iMac release.

MacBook Air 11”
We have just ordered a new customised 11” MacBook Air, with a 2.0Ghz i7 chip, 256GB drive and 8GB of RAM. It should be with us this week and we will report back on what we think of this new laptop.

MacBook Pro 15”
This has been our main portable for over 3 years now, and has served us well. However we have not used the DVD drive in a long time, and we find this model to be heavy, certainly compared to a MacBook Air. In recent months the MacBook Pro has become a bit sluggish, and so after the latest WWDC laptop models were released, we decide to make the switch.

Printers and Scanners
We have a HP 2605 laser printer which has worked flawlessly for the last 5 years. Overall, great value for printing letters and other documents. We also own a HP 1022, which was nobbled by HP after the release of Snow Leopard, and the drivers were not updated. A real shame as this was a great, cheaper black and white work-horse.
We rarely print photos of other graphics, so a photo printer is not a main requirement. However we do have an Epson SX515, which is a multifunctional printer and scanner. In the last 6 months we have only used it for scanning. The wireless scanning feature is very useful.

Other bits
Harman Kardon SoundSticks speakers for our iMac, Vodafone office landline broadband (we do not recommend any broadband provider as they are equally awful!), Time Capsule 2TB, lots of Airport Express units to cover the building, Apple TV 2, iPad 2 and iPhone 4S.


Here are the apps we currently use every day: Mail, Safari, iCal, Address Book, 1Password, Pages, iTunes, Rapidweaver, iPhoto, iChat, Twitter.
Here are other apps we like, but use occasionally: Acorn, FileMaker Pro, Dragon Dictate, Parallels, Bookpedia, iBook Author, GrandPerspective

After ten years in business, we feel we have good value for money from our equipment and although some items such as the printers need updating, the items have served us well and we have had very good service from all Macs over the years..

Views of Mac OS X Lion

Since the launch of Mac OS X Lion, there has been a long catalogue of articles and reviews. We have gathered a list of the best of the web, and set out our reading list. We hope this is useful to find out about the new aspects of 10.7:



Mac OS X Lion: Preparation Guide

Apple are due to launch their new operating system, Mac OS 10 X Lion 10.7, before the end of July. But the question is–are you ready?


Mac OS X Lion will run on any new Mac, bought within the last few years. Here is how to check to see if your Mac is compatible with Lion:
1/ go to your Apple menu and choose “About this Mac”
2/ check to see that your processor is an Intel Core 2 Duo or above
3/ check that your memory is above 1 GB
4/ look for the version number and make sure you are running Mac OS X Snow Leopard: 10.6.8


The Mac Information Christmas Guide

Check out our 2010 Christmas Gift Guide, with a look at what we believe to be the best Apple products. We have chosen our favourite Mac, iPods, iPhone and iPad models, which may help you choose the best gadget!

Christmas 2010 iMac Christmas 2010 MacBook Pro Christmas 2010 iPad

Click here for details.

Watch out for Black Friday

Black Friday is a traditional sales day in the US, and over the last few years, some of the discounts available to US shopper have also been available in the UK and Ireland. It traditionally marks the start of the Christmas buying season in the US, following the Thanksgiving holiday.

If you are in the market for a new Mac or accessory, and you can wait until November 26th, then you may get a discount.


Apple launch their annual Back to School offer

Apple have launched their annual “Back to School” offer for students and teachers. This entitles a person in the education sector to buy a Mac at special prices, and then to claim a rebate for buying an iPod at the same time. Given that the rebate is up to 160 euro, this means you can get an iPod touch for a small price.
Apple Back to School Offer 2010
The price of an iPod touch on the education store is 189 euro, so the effect of the rebate is that you can get the 8GB model for 29 euro.


Apple announce new Mac mini range

Apple have announced a new line-up of Mac minis, with a new connection for HDMI, allowing for connection to a TV.
Mac mini
The new Mac mini has two flavours- one for normal Mac use, and one to act as a server. The standard mini comes with 320GB of storage, up form the previous 160GB, and now has a 2.4Ghz Core 2 Duo processor.



How Compu b got it right

The new Compu b store on Grafton Street in Dublin is a shining example of how a retailer can display and sell Apple products. As readers of this site will know, we had been following the opening closely, and in our opinion Compu b have got it right where many other retailers in Dublin failed.

Compu b store in Dublin Ireland

As long time Mac watchers, we remember the “Apple” store on Kildare Street, and even the old Compu b store on the Long Mile road in the early 90s. In recent times we have seen the O2 Experience store on Grafton Street, the 3G stores and most recently, Spectra Photo which was located near the new Compub store. Each of the recent examples took steps to make Apple products available to a wider audience, and yet they held back on stocking a good range of accessories, or having staff who were well versed in the Mac products and repairs.



Apple launch new MacBook Pro range

Apple today announced a new line-up for its MacBook pro range. The new 15 and 17” models come with Core i5 and i7 chips inside and the whole range now contain NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M plus Intel HD graphic cards. Apple claim that the new chips offer a speed boost of close to 50%, and this is the most significant update in the line in over a year.
MacBook Pro
The 13” models continue to use the Core 2 Duo processors, but see improvements in the graphics card. Further details can bee seen on the Apple website here.

Check out our Buy a Mac page here.



Check out the Apple Sale this Friday

If you have any plans to buy Christmas gifts from Apple this year, make sure you take a look at the Apple online store for Ireland or the UK this Friday. Traditionally in the US, there is a Black Friday sale after the Thanksgiving festival, and this is an opportunity to pick up a Mac or iPod at a special discount.

Apple are not known for their sale prices, but this is the one exception in the year, when the special shopping event is adopted by many US retailers. However to be fair to all customers, Apple offer the similar discounts to all of its international online and retail stores. The following teaser has been placed on the Apple online store for Ireland:

Click here for details.

Be sure to check out the site on Friday to see what offers are available.

Tips for Windows Switchers

Given that so many of our clients are switchers from the world of Windows, here are a few tips which people may find useful.

1/ Gather your usernames and passwords- especially your internet logins, such as email settings. You will need to type your usernames and passwords into your new email application, such as Mail or Entourage

2/ To transfer contacts, use the “forward as vCard” feature on your PC to email these from your PC to Mac. This is a simple and easy method to attach contact vCards to an email and then send them to your new Mac. Then drag and drop these vCards into your Apple Address Book (or into Entourage). Microsoft have a few steps on this page. However, only send about 30 at one time as trying to email too many does not work, and some cards will go missing.

3/ For calendars, export your PC calendar as a “vCal” file, which can then be opened in iCal.

4/ If you use a USB stick to transfer .doc files from your PC to your new Mac, these will open in TextEdit in Mac OS X. You can also download and buy iWork ’09 or Office 2008 to open and edit these files, but TextEdit is a free and simple way to open, view and edit Word files.

5/ Check out Mac 101 and Switch 101 on Apple’s website..

Mac Information Christmas Gift Guide

We have put together a series of items which may help with your Christmas gift selection. We have recommended our favourite Mac, iPod and other accessories.
Christmas iPod 2009 in IrelandChristmas iTunes 2009 in Ireland
These ideas are based on products we have bought in 2009 and those we have set up with our clients.

Click here to see the 2009 Christmas Gift Guide.


Apple's Back to School Offer

Apple have started their annual Back to School Offer, which gives students and teachers the chance to buy a Mac at reduced prices, and to receive a rebate when buying an iPod and Mac together.

The offer is available for teachers, lecturers and all students in higher education institutions. If they buy a qualifying Mac before September 8th 2009, they can get a €185 rebate on an iPod touch. .

New MacBooks Pros and laptop realignment

Apple set out a realignment of its laptop range at the WWDC conference this week. The MacBook now only has one model in its range, the last of the white plastic MacBooks. Now all of the aluminium MacBook models are MacBook Pros This makes sense as it gives a clear difference between the MacBook and MacBook Pro ranges.

MacBook Pro.

Mac Information Guide: File Sharing Using MobileMe

Mac Information have put together a PDF guide on sharing files online, using the MobileMe service. The PDF (link below) shows how to set this up, how to configure files with password protection, and how to remove them once you are done..

TIP: Screen Sharing with MobileMe

We have been using MobileMe, and its previous incarnations since .Mac and the early days of iTools (remember that?). The main reason is our personal email address- we would hate to change it at this stage; the idea of giving up MobileMe and losing our address is more than one could bear!

However over the years, the internet services from Apple have evolved. Three of the best examples are the iDisk (which we use all of the time to host previews for clients' websites), Galleries for photos (called "homepage" in the .Mac days), and MobileMe screen sharing. This last item is a gem. We have used it to retrieve files, start processing tasks before we return to the office and generally it keeps us in touch with our office Mac.

Guest access for new Airports

One of the neatest developments this week was the introduction of guest access on the new Airport Extreme and Time Capsules. Up to now, if you had guests staying you would have to give them your password to allow them to go online on your wireless network. This was all very well, but given that most people use the same password for almost all logins, this could mean revealing a bit more than you wished to a guest. Sometimes passwords chosen are personal reflections of the person's likes and dislikes, and revealing a password is like being asked for an intimate secret!.

Apple revamp desktop lineup

New Mac Pros, Mac minis and iMacs

Apple today announced revisions to its entire desktop range, with speed bumps and new chips for its Macs. The Mac Pro, Apple's professional desktop range, gets its first speed bump in over a year, with a new chip, the Nehalem version of Intel's Xeon processors.
New Mac Pros available.

Presswatch: what we liked...

Here are a few sites which we think hit the mark and offered a good comment on the story about Steve Jobs’ health:.

Presswatch: Bloomberg way off the mark...

In all of the coverage of Steve Jobs’ leave of absence, we found one article particularly distasteful. This is a report from Bloomberg, entitled, “Steve Jobs May Have Pancreas Removed After Cancer”. The article is based on the premise that Jobs may have his pancreas removed after the a return of the cancer he suffered from in 2004.

I found the article distasteful on a number of levels. Firstly it is based on pure speculation; there is currently no evidence to suggest a return of Jobs’ pancreatic cancer, and suggesting this is pure guesswork. .

Steve Jobs issues statement about his health

Apple CEO suffering from hormone imbalance

Today Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, issued an open letter to the Apple community, giving details of his ill-health. It sought to reassure the Apple, and wider business community, of his health position. Jobs has admitted that he is suffering from weight loss brought on by a hormone imbalance, but has aimed to dismiss rumours of a return of his cancer..