Apple news

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
Apple’s September 12 event

Apple’s September 12 event

Apple has finally announced a date for their annual iPhone event in Cupertino. On Tuesday September 12, Apple will make new announcements, most likely regarding the new iPhones, iOS 11 and a few other things to be sure. There may be news about a new Apple watch, the upcoming High Sierra software update, and hopefully a couple of surprises. So, if you’ve been eagerly anticipating more information regarding the new iPhones, you don’t have much longer to wait.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iOS, iPhone, 0 comments
iOS 11 Beta 7 and macOS High Sierra Beta available now

iOS 11 Beta 7 and macOS High Sierra Beta available now

Apple has released the sixth public beta versions of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra to users enrolled in the public beta testing programs. There’s no major changes in these releases, just bug fixes and minor improvements, as we seem to be getting closer to the official release in the coming weeks.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iOS, iPhone, Mac, Software, 0 comments
The new iOS 11 update is great

The new iOS 11 update is great

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been playing around with the iOS 11 beta release on my iPhone 6S. And I have to say, I am very impressed. This update is loaded with a lot of small improvements that all add up to a greatly improved experience. The new Control Center is customizable and I think that it’s incredibly useful now. I love the fact that you can now place different apps in this new Control Center for super quick access. The Lock screen lets you see more stuff than iOS 10 did, and it just feels right. The Photos app added some cool new features and feels a little more responsive somehow. The App Store redesign threw me for a loop initially, but now that I’ve gotten used to it, the changes they made totally make sense to me. Apple Pay in messages is something I could see myself using quite a bit in the future. The QuickType keyboard let’s you choose a shrunken keyboard that is supposed to make it easier for you to type messages one-handed. I don’t know that I’ll ever need that one myself, as I tend to speak my messages if I find myself in a situation where it’s hard for me to type. But I’m glad it’s there.

The iPad is the device which is going to benefit the most from the iOS 11 update. They’ve packed some awesome new features for use specifically with the iPads. Unfortunately, this update will only work with fairly recent models, and does not work with my current iPad. Probably time for an upgrade 😎

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