Apple news

GarageBand 10.3 update

GarageBand 10.3 update

Yesterday, Apple released a new GarageBand update. GarageBand is an application which comes bundled with every Mac, iPhone and iPad.
If you’re not familiar with GarageBand, it’s a pretty full-featured application that allows you to create music, podcasts, or background music for your videos.
This update introduces some new sounds, loops, and a few other new features. But probably the most interesting thing is that you can now download artists lessons for free that used to cost $4.99 a piece. To be honest, these are the same short lessons which came out years ago, and they are really basic. But it’ll be interesting to see whether Apple starts creating new content if they find that people are using and enjoying these lessons.

GarageBand is a pretty powerful app that can be used to make professional songs if you know how to use it properly. I can see GarageBand being far more attractive in schools if they include more educational music lessons than what is available now. And the fact that you could potentially work on a song on your Mac, iPhone and iPad is pretty appealing. And if you master GarageBand, you can then move up to Logic Pro X which is far more powerful, but also has a much more steep learning curve. But starting off with GarageBand gives you a great stepping-stone to learning Logic.

So, I’m hoping that Apple will devote a little bit of their vast resources towards improving the educational possibilities of GarageBand over the coming years.
The new update can be downloaded directly from the Mac App Store.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, Mac, Software, 0 comments
Using Messages in iCloud

Using Messages in iCloud

Last week, Apple released updates for the Mac, iPhone and iPad which finally introduced the ability to start using  Messages in iCloud.
Messages in iCloud is a new feature that Apple announced last fall, but didn’t become available to the public until now for some reason. If you enable Messages in iCloud on your devices, it will store all your messages to the cloud, and then sync across all the devices almost instantaneously.

Obviously, this has a couple of big advantages. First, once this is turned on, if you delete a message from one device, it will delete from your other devices on which you have Messages in iCloud enabled. So, you’ll no longer need to delete the same message from 3 different devices for example. And secondly, it clears those messages from your iPhone / iPad so that you can reclaim storage space on your various devices. This is very similar to using the iCloud Photo Library option on your devices.

Personally, I think this is a great feature. But, if you’ve not turned this on yet, there’s one thing you should be aware of that could decide whether you want to turn this on or not:

And that is that if you move your messages to iCloud, it will count against your storage quota on iCloud. If you’re on the iCloud free plan, or 50 GB plan, your messages could end up eating up quite a bit of the space you have available. I often work with people to help them figure out why they are running out of space on their phone, and quite often, Messages is the biggest culprit. People who send a lot of photos and videos to friends and family can easily rack up a few gigabytes of Messages being stored on their phones and iPads. I’ve had a few clients with 30 Gigabytes worth of messages on their iPhone. It can happen very quickly if you send a lot of videos back and forth. If you don’t keep a lot of messages on your phone, or delete them often, then you shouldn’t have to worry about this.

Also, please note that this service does need to be turned on before you can take advantage of it. It doesn’t turn on automatically when you do the update.
So, first, you need to update to macOS 10.13.5 and iOS 11.4. Then you turn on Messages in iCloud in your settings.

Here’s a good article and video from Appleinsider that shows you exactly how to do that.

Alright, well hopefully, that sheds a little light on how this new feature works, and you can now decide whether or not it’s something you want to use yourself.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iCloud, iPhone, Mac, Tips & Tricks, 0 comments
iOS 11.4 was released today

iOS 11.4 was released today

Today, Apple has released the iOS 11.4 update for iPhone and iPad. It has a few new features, but the most anticipated one is the long-awaited arrival of Messages in iCloud. This feature syncs your messages on your iPhones and iPads. So, whenever you delete a message from one device, it is also deleted from your other devices.
It’s important to note that the feature is not available on for your Mac yet. It’s coming for Mac in the upcoming macOS 10.3.5 update, which will hopefully be out very soon.

Other new features include Airplay 2 and HomePod stereo. AirPlay 2 is the first major update to Apple’s wireless audio streaming protocol in years. It primarily adds multi-room audio to iOS devices, when using AirPlay 2 compatible speakers. You can adjust the audio levels on a room-by-room basis, or even play different music in different rooms.
While HomePod stereo allows you to pair and sync two HomePod devices in the same room in order to give them a wider, stereo range.

If you need help to enable Messages in iCloud on your iPhone and iPad, this article explains how to set it up.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iOS, iPhone, 0 comments
Best new Mesh WiFi routers for Mac

Best new Mesh WiFi routers for Mac

Apple recently announced that they are discontinuing the complete line of Airport products. So now is a good time to look at the best options available if you’re looking for a new WiFi system for your home or office. I’ll be covering Mesh WiFi systems specifically in this article.

Airport Wifi systems

The Airport line of products from Apple, which debuted in 1999,  includes the Airport Extreme, Airport Time Capsule, and Airport Express. These great products have been very popular with consumers who own Apple computers over the years. But unfortunately, Apple stopped putting much effort into these devices over the last 5 years. And so, it seemed it was only a matter of time before they would announce that they would no longer keep making them.

It is widely believed that has Apple stopped developing Airport devices mainly because there’s an awful lot of really good routers coming from various companies the last couple of years. It’s very likely that Apple felt that they didn’t really have anything superior to offer compared to what other companies are selling. And so they have decided to bow out gracefully. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that there’s been some major advances in the wireless router market over the last 2-3 years.

Why it might be time for an upgrade
With the rise in popularity of smart home devices and countless streaming media services such as Sonos, Spotify , Netflix, and Amazon Video, whole-house WiFi coverage has become a must for many households. But if you live in a larger home with dense or brick walls, multiple floors, metal and concrete substructures, you may have a hard time filling the house with a strong signal. In the past, you could buy a variety of range extenders to help your router reach further, but often with mixed results.
Internet providers have been slowly introducing the option for much faster speeds the last few years. But if you’re using an old router in your home that’s over 6-7 years old, there’s a good chance that your router is just not capable of providing you with the speeds you’re paying for. In other words, even though you may have signed up for the fastest plan your provider offers, with speeds of 100 Mbps or more, your router from 8 years ago might have been manufactured with a top speed of only 40 Mbps. And so, you could be losing out big there simply because of that.

Mesh WiFi routers have become widely available
The biggest change of the last couple of years has been the arrival of mesh WiFi routers becoming available to consumers. Before 2016, mesh network routers were mostly found on military bases and big businesses, but they are now widely available to home consumers. To be clear, not everyone needs a mesh network in their home. If you live in an apartment or small home, the traditional router which your internet company provides should be just fine. But if you live in a home that’s bigger than 3000 square feet, these systems will help you eradicate areas with poor Wi-Fi coverage. Also, Mesh systems are still fairly expensive, even though the prices are dropping pretty rapidly.
I’m not going to get too in-depth with the technical aspects of Mesh routers systems in this article, but I’ll explain a couple of the main benefits. On a very basic level, mesh networks are set up in such a way that each unit is capable of sending out as strong a signal as the main unit that’s plugged in the modem. So, even if you’re on the completely opposite side of the house to where the internet connection is setup, the signal will be just as strong, or very close to it. Mesh Wifi networks are also much smarter about how to allocate the internet traffic in your home. These routers basically have a little computer inside, and they can analyze which area in your home is using the most bandwidth , and will divert traffic accordingly.
Another big advantage to these modern systems is that they are very easy to set up yourself compared to older systems. All of the ones I’ve set up so far require you to download and install a smart phone application which guides you through the installation process to make it as easy as possible. You also gain access to some cool features such as the ability to see which devices are using your network, the ability to restrict internet access to kids, and much more.

Mesh Wifi routers

My Mesh Wi-Fi systems recommendations
I’m only going to recommend the systems which I have first-hand knowledge of. And by that I mean systems I’ve set-up for clients in the past 18 months. But if you do a Google search, or search for Mesh routers on Amazon, you’ll find plenty of reviews for a wide variety of products.
I’m also only going to mention products by companies which I feel will most likely be around for the next 5 years or more. There’s a lot of new startups who’ve started making Mesh routers, and it’s a little hard to say who’s still going to be around and still provide support a few years from now.

eero Home WiFi System: I really like this system a lot. eero is an American company, and they were one of the first companies to release Mesh routers for home consumers in 2016. Their units are quite small, really easy to set-up with the eero app you install on your phone. I’ve seen fantastic results from this system in some really difficult larger homes, where the internet speed was 10 times faster once the eero system had replaced the router from the internet company. They’re still fairly expensive though, and you can expect to spend somewhere between $250 to $500 depending on your needs. They do have a very informative website at https://eero.com/

Netgear Orbi: This is probably the system that gets the best reviews overall, and I do think it is an excellent product. This one is also very easy to set-up with their phone app, and it guides you through the process seamlessly. The units are larger than the eero and they have a fairly bright light on top of the unit that can change color to let you know if there’s an issue, or if it’s updating. Also, Netgear have been making great routers for a very long time, so that’s definitely a plus. Once again, I’ve seen great results from this system and I highly recommend it.
You can get more info about these routers at http://www.netgear.com/orbi/

Lynksys Velop Tri-band: This system is the only Mesh system currently sold by Apple on their website, and they look very much like the Airport extreme in their design. I have very limited experience with this system, but the only one I’ve set-up worked flawlessly. It has great specs, looks good, and it also getting great reviews all around at the moment. It is also fairly expensive, and you should expect to spend somewhere between $200 to $500 depending on your needs. You can more info at https://www.linksys.com/us/p/P-WHW0303/

There is of course far more options that the three I’ve just listed. But these are the ones I have personal experience with, and would not hesitate to recommend to anyone.
Let me know if there’s another product that you would recommend highly yourself.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, Mac, Recommendations, 0 comments
iMac celebrates 20th anniversary

iMac celebrates 20th anniversary

The computer that saved Apple.
20 years ago today, Steve Jobs introduced the new iMac to the world. The new iMac was a colorful and all-in-one design Mac which looked and worked vastly different than any other computers at the time. The translucent shell and very bright colors immediately made this Mac stand out visually. But the friendly design, combined with the fact that this was a pretty powerful computer for its price, made it an immediate hit with the public.

The original iMac is widely credited with saving Apple from the brink of bankruptcy, since the company was not doing well at all when the iMac was announced. This was the first Apple product to use to “i” prefix which became so common in future Apple products. The “i” in the iMac name stands for “Internet” because the computer was originally designed to make it easy for customers to get on the Internet right out of the box.

Picture of first and latest iMac

The iMac is still going strong.
Apple is a much larger and more successful company in 2018 than it was in 1998. And not surprisingly, the current iMacs are capable of doing so many things that would have nearly imaginable in 1998. But that little candy colored iMac from 1998 is what helped kick-start many of the good things to come from Apple over the next 20 years. And for that, we can be grateful.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iMac, Mac, 0 comments
New security updates

New security updates

Today Apple released the iOS 11.3.1 update, and the macOS 10.13.4 update. The iOS update includes a fix for a display bug that some users experienced with 3rd party replacement screens.

Both of the these are mainly security updates, and just be aware that the macOS update is fairly large and requires a lengthy restart. The download itself is around 1 Gigabyte and it took about 45 minutes for my MacBook Pro to restart after starting the update. So, make sure you will not need your Mac for a while before you do this update.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Mac Security, 0 comments
Apple buys the Texture app

Apple buys the Texture app

A few weeks ago, Apple announced that it was purchasing the Texture app. Texture has been described as a sort of ” Netflix for magazines”, and gives you access to over 200 publications on your iPhone and iPad. Texture has been around since 2012, and for a monthly subscription fee of $9.99, you can read a wide variety of well known magazines such as People, the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, National Geographic, Vogue and many more. But there’s also a very broad section of lesser known publications. Pretty much any magazine that you can find in the magazine section of you local grocery store and most book stores is available in the app. You can view the whole catalog on the Texture website and see if you favorite magazines are included.

I tried the app years ago, but just never used it enough to justify the subscription price. And it also felt very slow at the time. So, I decided to give it another try.
Once you’ve installed the app to your device, you can read the magazines while connected to Wi-Fi, or you can choose to download the publications to your device for offline reading. I’d recommend against downloading too many magazines to your iPhone and iPad unless you have plenty of space on your device. Magazine downloads can add up very quickly and use up a lot of your available space.

Overall, I have to say, I’m very pleasantly surprised by how well the app works nowadays. Even on an older device, such as an iPad 2 from years ago, the app felt very responsive and worked great.
So, if you like to read magazines, this is a great option to catch up on many of your favorites, all in one place and for a very reasonable monthly fee.
You can find the app in the iOS app store and download directly from there.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iPad, iPhone, 0 comments
New Apple updates

New Apple updates

This week, Apple has released updates across multiple devices. The iOS 11.2.6 update fixes some issues on iPhones and iPads. While on other devices, be sure to download macOS 10.13.3 supplemental update, watchOS 4.2.3, and tvOS 11.2.6.

These updates fix security issues and various other bugs which could hamper your devices. Better safe than sorry !

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iPhone, Mac, Mac Security, 0 comments
Apple released macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 and iOS 11.1 today

Apple released macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 and iOS 11.1 today

Today, Apple released two important updates for Mac and iPhone/iPad users. These are the first substantial updates for these two operating systems which came out last month. They introduce very little in the way of new features apart from 70 new emojis. These are mainly security and stability improvements which should be much welcomed for anyone who upgraded to these operating systems. You can download and install these updates from their respective App Store.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iOS, iPhone, Mac, Mac Security, 0 comments
iOS 11 is now available

iOS 11 is now available

The long awaited iOS 11 update is finally available to the public, and it brings some really cool new features to the iPad and iPhone. The iPad definitely benefits the most from this update with big speed improvements, and a host of new functionality that radically improve what you achieve with your iPad. Features such as a new Dock, better app switching and drag and drop functionality. These a game changers for the iPad and makes it a much more powerful device than before.

The iPhone also benefits greatly from some of the new changes such as a much improved and customizable control center, a completely revamped App Store, an improved Siri and a whole lot more. Some of my other new favorite features include : Do Not Disturb while Driving, a new document scanner in Notes, and QuickType keyboard improvements.

All in all, there are hundreds of small changes throughout this new operating system. And there will be new features added in the coming months such as the eagerly anticipated Apple Pay Cash for sending and receiving cash within Messages.
The only negative for some people is the fact that some older apps which are 32bit will  no longer work on iOS 11. If the developers do not release an update, then those apps will never work on iOS 11 and you’ll need to find an alternative app.

So, overall, I’m really impressed with this update and what it brings to the iPhone and iPad, and I would highly recommend that you update your devices when you get a chance. As always, just make sure to have a back-up of your device before you start the update process, just in case something goes wrong.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iOS, iPhone, Software, 0 comments