What is a JSON feed? Learn more

JSON Feed Viewer

Browse through the showcased feeds, or enter a feed URL below.

Now supporting RSS and Atom feeds thanks to Andrew Chilton's feed2json.org service


The Mac Observer

Apple iPhone, Mac, Watch and iPad News, Opinions, Tips and Podcasts


iOS 11: How to Customize Taps for Each of Your AirPods

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-20 12:37, modified at 12:38

Way back in the wretched long-ago days of iOS 10, I wrote a tip about how you can customize the way your AirPods work using the Bluetooth controls on your iPhone or iPad. Under iOS 11, though, you can actually set something different to happen when you double-tap your right or your left AirPod, meaning that you could invoke Siri by tapping one and advance to the next music track with the other! Neat-o. Considering how much I use my AirPods, this is a game-changer. Or a way to make me lose my hearing even faster, I dunno.

To set this up, then, take your AirPods out of their case (or just open it), launch your Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, and then touch Bluetooth.

Bluetooth Settings gets you to the custom tap settings for AirPods

Under that section, you should see your AirPods by name. Touch the “i” next to them first.

Tap the i Icon Next to AirPods in Bluetooth to see their settings

On the subsequent screen, there’s a “Double-Tap on AirPod” section, now separated into left and right.

The Double-Tap on AirPod option in Bluetooth AirPods settings lets you customize taps for each AirPod

So just touch the side you want to configure, and you’ll see your choices.

Settings for Configuring double-tap for Left AirPod

Tap the behavior you want, go back to set up the opposite AirPod, and then you’ll see what you’ve chosen out on the previous Settings > Bluetooth > AirPods screen.

Double-Tap on AirPod Configured

This is actually ideal for me. I love love love the AirPods, but I get tired of talking to Siri to skip songs. I own a LOT of crappy music I need to skip over, too! You have no idea.

iOS 11: Apple’s Big Productivity Upgrade

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-19 23:21, modified at 23:22

Apple unveiled iOS 11 earlier this year with plenty of fanfare and the promise that this is the biggest release since the first iPhone shipped with iPhone OS. Is it worth installing, assuming your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch supports it? The short answer is yes, but iOS isn’t perfect. Read on to see what we like—and don’t like—about iOS 11.

iOS 11 on iPad and iPhone

iOS 11 for the iPad and iPhone, ready to help boost your productivity


One of the most significant under the hood changes in iOS 11 is the final demise of 32-bit app support. Assuming the apps you use have already been updated for 64-bit you won’t notice anything has changed. If you’re still relying on some apps that haven’t been updated, however, you’re in for a bad surprise if you upgrade to iOS 11 because those apps stop working.

Apple has been popping up on-screen warnings about 32-bit support ending for some time when you launch apps that haven’t been updated. At first the warnings were along the line of, “Hey, just a heads up that someday this app isn’t going to work any more,” then progressed to, “Yo, Seriously. These apps are on death row. We aren’t kidding.”

Now the bell has tolled for those 32-bit apps. That means if you have a mission critical app that hasn’t been updated, and you haven’t found a suitable replacement, don’t install iOS 11. You can check to see if you have any problem apps by going to Settings > General > About > Applications.

Control Center

Control Center got a major overhaul in iOS 11. Now controls are grouped into tiles that feel much better thought out than iOS 10. The massive Night Shift button in iOS 10, for example, is gone and I’ll happily dance on its grave.

The new Control Center is easily customizable through the Settings app. You can add and remove Control Center items, and you can put them in any order you like. That makes it so much easier to turn Control Center into something truly useful. I don’t need the Calculator item in Control Center, for example, but I do need the new screen recorder and low power mode. Both are a swipe and a tap away now.

iOS 11 Control Center

iOS 11 Control Center on iPhone (left) and iPad Pro (right)

While iOS 11’s Control Center is a big improvement over iOS 10, it’s still stunningly hobbled in some ways and feels like one area where use requests fell on deaf ears. Here’s an example of a complete fail in Apple’s user experience: A firm press or tap-and-hold on the Wi-Fi button should bring up a list of available networks you can choose while showing which network you’re currently on. Instead, it expands the connections tile where can see which network you’re on (that’s an improvement), along with connected Bluetooth devices, and controls for toggling Airplane Mode, AirDrop, and Personal Hotspot on or off.

Switching Wi-Fi networks still requires a trip to the Settings app. Maybe Apple’s engineers don’t hop Wi-Fi networks all the time, but the rest of the world sure does.

While Control Center is a big improvement over what we had before, it’s frustrating because it feels like Apple is unnecessarily hobbling what could be an amazingly powerful feature in iOS 11.

Lock Screen and Notifications

Notifications are now unified, meaning alerts and missed notifications are grouped together. I like this much better than the old style of swiping between the two views because from my perspective everything that shows up there is something I want to see; it doesn’t matter if it’s an alert for an incoming text message, a missed call, or a solar flare alert. I just want to see my stuff, and that’s what Notifications in iOS 11 does.

Clearing individual notifications is where I stumble in iOS 11. A right-to-left swipe clears them, but you have to run your finger off the left edge of the screen and that’s much easier said than done if you use a case. Sure, you can swipe and tap the Clear button, but I’m all about economy of motion and two gestures where one will do doesn’t make me happy.

Still, I like that I can swipe down from the top of the Lock screen, or swipe up from anywhere, to see my notifications. I use both gestures regularly depending on how I’m holding my iPhone. On my iPad I always swipe down from the top of the screen. They’re different use devices so having choices for gestures here makes sense.

Is Notifications perfect in iOS 11? Nope, but it’s a big step in the right direction.


When Apple first introduced Siri I was amazed at how real the voice sounded. When Apple updated the voice I was amazed at how much more realistic it sounded. And now here comes the new Siri voice in iOS 11 and it sounds so real that it’s almost creepy.

At the risk of unwittingly becoming the subject of psychoanalysis, I really like the creepy Siri voice. Not because it’s creepy—that was a short lived feeling because the voice quality was such a dramatic change—but because it’s so much easier to understand. That applies to all the voices, and not just the default US English female voice.

I still have the same problems I experienced in iOS 10 where Siri occasionally stops responding even when I’m on my office network’s 120 mbps connection, although that doesn’t seem to happen as often now. Siri isn’t, however, as robust as I’d expect with HomeKit. Siri refuses to initiate HomeKit actions as reliably as I expect, and sometimes responds with blatantly wrong information about an action I just invoked.

iOS 11 Siri on iPhone

Siri is usually pretty reliable, but I still get annoying responses that I shouldn’t

Telling Siri to activate my Goodnight scene works as expected nearly all the time, but I often get a response back telling me my HomeKit devices aren’t responding even though I just watched all my lights change and my thermostat switch to night mode.

I’m surprised that Siri isn’t sophisticated enough yet to handle more complex commands like, “Siri, set the living room lights to 30%, turn off the office air conditioner, and turn down the temperature.”

Yes, I get that we’re living in a future where I can talk to a glass slab almost as if it’s a human, but it feels like Siri should be more robust by now. Maybe I’m expecting too much from my technology because I grew up watching Star Trek where the computer figured out what everyone was saying and everything just worked.

Still, I’m pleased with the improvements we’re seeing in Siri and I like how it’s smart enough to sort out what I’m saying instead of expecting me to learn the exact words and phrases—like Amazon’s Alexa.

Alexa’s advantage right now is that I can talk to the air and my lights turn on or off. Once Apple’s HomePod ships this December and takes away Alexa’s advantage I expect I’ll be using Siri even more.

Next up: iOS 11 Augmented Reality, iPad Features, and More

Augmented Reality

Apple made a big deal out of iOS 11’s augmented reality features at its World Wide Developer Conference earlier this year, and rightly so. The demos we saw were amazing eye candy but also a great example of just how powerful and versatile Apple’s ARKit—the engine behind iOS 11’s augmented reality—is, assuming you have a device that supports the feature.

The proof of concept apps we saw during the iOS 11 beta phase back that up, and now that iOS 11 is available to the masses I expect AR is going to pick up more momentum. It’s not like AR is new, but Apple is helping make it mainstream with the iPhone’s popularity and the ease of creating AR-based apps for iOS 11.

It’s almost crazy how well AR on the iPhone and iPad works. My office has been filled virtual flaming bananas, I measured rooms, and more. I’ve done all this with my iPhone 7, which would’ve sounded far fetched only a few years ago: my smartphone is powerful enough to create virtual worlds in real time.

You need to download some AR-enabled apps and try them out. They may feel gimmicky today, but they’ll give you a taste of what’s to come once developers figure out how far they can push the technology.


“iPhones and iPads need a file system or they’re useless,” people said. I managed to get by just fine with iOS’s system with a different silo for each app’s files, but my iPad sure is a lot more useful now that we have the Files app.

Files lets you see the documents stored on your iOS devices, plus it links up to cloud services such as Apple’s own iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Box, Adobe Creative Cloud, and more. I love that Transmit works with Files, too, so I have an easy way to move files between all of my cloud storage services and FTP servers with just a few taps.

iOS 11 Files app

Files app in iOS 11 lets you manage your documents

Apps that get updated to take advantage of the Files app get better integration. If you’re a developer and haven’t added file Files support to your apps yet, hop to it. Files support makes your app substantially more useful.

If you’re hoping to have macOS Finder-level control over your documents you’ll be disappointed. Instead of trying to shoehorn the Mac’s Desktop metaphor into a touch-based tablet, Apple devised a new system that focuses on the touch-based interface and the different way we interact with documents on mobile devices.

If that’s not your jam you’ll be disappointed with Files. For me, it feels like Apple paid real attention to the way we use our iPads and designed with that in mind. The macOS Finder doesn’t have a place on a mobile OS. If I wanted a kludge like that I’d buy a Surface tablet.

iPhone: Do Not Disturb While Driving

Do Not Disturb While Driving lets your iPhone automatically mute all notifications when you’re in a moving car. It doesn’t matter if you’re the driver or a passenger; if the feature is enabled you won’t get notifications on the road.

I love the idea, and it works as advertised. Start driving, and no notifications. Stop driving and a few minutes later notifications start coming in again.

iOS 11 Do Not Disturb While Driving iPhone screen

Do Not Disturb While Driving auto-setup screen

You can set auto replies for incoming messages, and you can control who gets them. People on your VIP list can punch through your DND wall, too, by sending a text message and following up with a second that says “Urgent.”

If you’re easily distracted while driving this feature is a godsend. Stay safe on the roads, people. I’d be really sad if something happened to you.

iPad and iOS 11

There are some iOS 11 features that give your iPad a real performance boost. I’m glad to see these features because the iPad has always been more than a big content consumption device. Now we’re starting to see just how powerful it can be as a real production machine.

Multitasking and Split Screen View

With two years of iPad Pro use under our belts Apple has learned a lot about how the tablet serves as a true content creation device. Split screen view shows that by becoming more versatile, and even adding the ability to include a third floating app pane.

Learning to use split screen view, however, is an exercise in frustration. Tap here, swipe there… No, wait. It worked last time. WTF?

That’s pretty much how it went for me until I finally got used to the way split screen gestures work and found just the right places to swipe on my screen. After that, my iPad felt almost weird if I didn’t have two apps open at the same time.

Brace yourself for some serious frustration until you sort out the finger origami you’ll need to master split screen view.


Apple’s Dock implementation on the iPad feels familiar if you’re also a Mac user, but it’s a little different. Here’s the secret to understanding the Dock: The apps you want to add go on the left, and recently used apps appear on the right. A quick swipe up from the bottom of the screen shows the Dock.

At first I questioned why the Dock was necessary because I can already Command-Tab through apps lickity-split thanks to my Smart Keyboard Cover. If you’re into multitasking and split screen view, however, the Dock is awesome.

The apps I use most often are there, and setting up a split screen view is so much easier if you don’t have to go looking for the apps you want to use.

Drag and Drop

If your iPad is more than a video watching email checking slab, you’re going to love drag and drop. You can copy anything in one app and drop it into another, assuming the second app knows what to do with the data you’re giving it.

It doesn’t matter how you get to the second app, either. I use drag and drop most often in split screen view, but you can switch from app to app any way you like. It just works.

Drag and drop, like Files, has radically improved productivity on my iPad Pro.

The iOS 11 Stuff that Really Bugs Me

There’s plenty to love in iOS 11, but a few things really annoy me. First up are screen redraw issues I’ve seen on older iPhones where part of what you should see gets cut off. Seeing only half of the Passcode buttons in landscape mode, for example, is a pretty big problem.

Siri can screw up dates if you’re using a voice that doesn’t match language. Here’s an example: I can set the language to English (United States), and the voice to British (Female), then say, “Siri, set a reminder to check my email tomorrow at five.”

If the month and day are both numbers that can be swapped and still make a legit date, they are. Changing the voice apparently changes the date format, but not correctly, so you could end up with Reminders or events ending up on the wrong date.

Someone needs to show Apple’s interface designers rulers and guides in Photoshop. Lots of interface elements look like they were eyeballed in place, and there doesn’t seem to be much consistency in object alignment, either.

The Bottom Line: Is iOS 11 Worth the Upgrade?

Should you install iOS 11 if your devices support it? Yes, you should, even if you aren’t interested in the new features. The upgrade includes important security fixes, plus every device I tested it on seems to perform better.

If security and performance aren’t enough for you, there are plenty of great new features that’ll help your productivity. For iPad users, it’s like getting a new tablet that rethinks how we use mobile devices.

Despite my complaints I’m happier with this iOS upgrade than I have been in prior years, and that’s saying something. My iPhone is an even more important part of my daily life now, and my iPad actually qualifies as a laptop replacement in some cases. I expect for some people, the days of laptop and desktop computers just came to an end.

Apple Increases Cellular Download Limit for Apps

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-19 23:00

It always annoys me when I try to download an app on cellular and get that dreaded message. You know the one. The popup message that tells you the app you’ve requested is larger than 100MB. It simply won’t download until you’re on Wi-Fi. Apple has eased some of that pain today, increasing the cellular download limit for apps.

cellular download limit

You’ll be able to download slightly larger apps on your cellular connection now

The Reason for the Cellular Download Limit

I get it, the over-the-air (OTA) limit used to make a lot of sense. As we moved away from unlimited plans, or cellular carriers stopped offering them altogether, it was important to save bandwidth. Overage charges for exceeding your bandwidth limits were pretty steep.

To prevent sticker shock at those huge charges, as well as to conserve bandwidth, Apple instituted a cellular download limit. If an app was more than 100MB, you couldn’t download it unless you were on Wi-Fi. Of course, if the app offered incremental downloads, that was one way around the limit.

Now, on the other hand, unlimited data plans are on the rebound. Every major carrier offers at least some form of unlimited plan, so the OTA limits don’t make quite as much sense.

An Incremental Increase

Apple hasn’t completely done away with the cellular download limit. Instead, it’s been increased from 100MB to 150MB. The news came in a very succinct announcement on Apple’s developer portal.

We’ve increased the cellular download limit from 100 MB to 150 MB, letting customers download more apps from the App Store over their cellular network.

In a time when app download sizes are often meausred in hundreds of megabytes or even gigabytes, I’m not sure this will do a whole lot. I suppose, however, it will make it easier for developers of large apps to break their bundles into the incremental chunks you can use to download a large app OTA.

Not Really Surprising News

While the increase in the cellular download limit could certainly afford to be bigger, it isn’t surprising that Apple’s raised it some. Apps taking advantage of Machine Learning and ARKit, as well as Metal 2, are bound to be larger in size. Apple’s in the business of selling apps, and it makes sense to allow customers an easier time downloading those titles.

Hopefully, in time, Cupertino will lift the OTA limit even higher. After all, that 150MB limit isn’t enough for even some of Apple’s smallest titles, let alone many of the third-party offerings available through the App Store.

Why Even the Apple TV 4K Will Remain an Apple Hobby

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-19 22:16

In the process of looking at the tvOS 11 upgrade, the larger picture became clear. The technologies that are being developed and deployed are intrinsic to the Apple family of products, not the AV industry as a whole.

Apple TV 4K showcasing HDR.

The Apple TV 4K plays catchup, but gloriously so with full HDR support. Image credit: Apple.

By that I mean there are two markets at play. One is traditional home theater, with its attendant corporate players and technologies and the other is the Apple ecosphere.

Part of Apple wants to become more involved in this gigantic marketplace. That industry is now well on its way to putting all the pieces into place for the 4K/UHD revolution. And part of Apple sees opportunities to leverage (and settle for) its own ecosystem, which it can control.

Consumer Decision Time

When home theater enthusiasts think about what kind of system they want to upgrade to, they’re being made aware of some very specific Apple thinking. tvOS 11 introduces light (day) and dark (night) modes. AirPlay 2 (to work with HomePod) and home screen syncing options to keep all the Apple TVs in a hosehold synced. These are features that are under Apple’s control, and are especially helpful for the brand loyalist.

And it’s true that many AV equipment makers have announced support for AirPlay 2. But the customer is in a position of having to figure out, right now, if AirPlay 2 is a critical feature worth waiting for in other equipment. Often, things like that are not because its takes some skill (and money and time) to integrate everything.

As a result, there are many consumers who might feel that the integration of all these features into equipment they may or may not have is an exercise in frustration. That’s because all they really want to do is watch cool movies on as big a 4K screen as they can afford. Even quality sound in a 5.1 or 7.1 Surround Sound system is an expensive and confusing proposition. Sound bars are an acceptable simplification nowadays.

That mentality extends to set top boxes. Apple hasn’t figured out how to make an integrated system in which the Apple TV is the one and only input. Subscription plans failed to materialize. Apple has had no interest in making displays. As a result, customers have to make a decision between ever-new Apple features and a simple, inexpensive box to deliver Netflix. And that’s assuming they don’t just settle for the Netflix app already included in the smart 4KTV.

Hidden Virtues

I’m not saying that Apple isn’t innovative. The company does a good job of developing new technologies that make our lives better within its entertainment ecosystem.

Perhaps Apple will, someday, desire to become a major player in home theater hardware in a manner that appeals to a broad section of that marketplace. Not yet.

For example, no one doubts that, for a black, technically opaque brick, tvOS is the best possible OS to expose to the internet. Hands down. Apple should tout that.

The Apple TV 4K includes a hardware scaler. That scaler adds a some cost and yet is probably no better than the best 4KTV scalers. But its presence makes for a smoother customer experience. A scaled 4K picture is always delivered to the 4KTV no matter what the source resolution is.

These little things matter to Apple customers, and yet they seem lost on the buying public as a whole. The result is that the Apple TV will likely remain in its low market share niche. And many of us, including Apple executives it seems, remain just fine with that.

Change Your iOS Device Backup Location With iMazing

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-19 20:56

Here’s a way you can change your iOS device backup location, particularly useful if you’re trying to be safe before upgrading to iOS 11. You hear us talk about iMazing quite a bit here at The Mac Observer, and not because it’s a frequent sponsor of the site and our podcasts. In fact, iMazing is precisely what iTunes really should have been, as far as managing your iOS devices is concerned. Where iTunes fails, iMazing often succeeds. That includes being able to configure where the software stores your iOS device backups.

change your iOS device backup location

Yes, you can change your iOS device backup location, even though iTunes says you can’t

Best Shown Rather Than Told

I’m a strong believer in “show, don’t tell,” when it makes sense. So, without further ado, on to a video that will demonstrate how to change your iOS device backup location using iMazing.

How to Get iMazing so you can Change Your iOS Device Backup Location

You can download iMazing for either macOS or Windows. There’s a 30-day free trial, after which you’ll need to purchase the software to do much more than manage backups of your iOS devices. With iTunes 12.7 basically being nerfed, iMazing is more essential than ever. It’s one of only a few good ways to continue managing apps, ringtones, and more on your iOS devices from your Mac or PC. If backup and restore is really all you’re interested in, iMazing Mini is available for macOS. A Windows version is coming soon. That little gem is totally free.

Apple Security Updates Fixed These Bugs in iOS 11

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-19 20:48

With the release of iOS 11, Apple has included security updates to fix certain software bugs. The Apple security updates page includes a list of the bugs in iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, tvOS 11 and watchOS 4. The following is a list of vulnerabilities patched with the iOS 11.0 release.

Exchange ActiveSync

  • Available for: iPhone 5s and later, iPad Air and later, and iPod touch 6th generation
  • Impact: An attacker in a privileged network position may be able to erase a device during Exchange account setup
  • Description: A validation issue existed in AutoDiscover V1. This issue was addressed through requiring TLS.
  • CVE-2017-7088: Ilya Nesterov, Maxim Goncharov


  • Available for: iPhone 5s and later, iPad Air and later, and iPod touch 6th generation
  • Impact: Parsing a maliciously crafted iBooks file may lead to a persistent denial-of-service
  • Description: Multiple denial of service issues were addressed through improved memory handling.
  • CVE-2017-7072: Jędrzej Krysztofiak

Mail MessageUI

  • Available for: iPhone 5s and later, iPad Air and later, and iPod touch 6th generation
  • Impact: Processing a maliciously crafted image may lead to a denial of service
  • Description: A memory corruption issue was addressed with improved validation.
  • CVE-2017-7097: Xinshu Dong and Jun Hao Tan of Anquan Capital


  • Available for: iPhone 5s and later, iPad Air and later, and iPod touch 6th generation
  • Impact: Processing a maliciously crafted image may lead to a denial of service
  • Description: A denial of service issue was addressed through improved validation.
  • CVE-2017-7118: Kiki Jiang and Jason Tokoph

Apple security updates iPhone resting on table.


  • Available for: iPhone 5s and later, iPad Air and later, and iPod touch 6th generation
  • Impact: Backup may perform an unencrypted backup despite a requirement to perform only encrypted backups
  • Description: A permissions issue existed. This issue was addressed with improved permission validation.
  • CVE-2017-7133: Don Sparks of HackediOS.com


  • Available for: iPhone 5s and later, iPad Air and later, and iPod touch 6th generation
  • Impact: Visiting a malicious website may lead to address bar spoofing
  • Description: An inconsistent user interface issue was addressed with improved state management.
  • CVE-2017-7085: xisigr of Tencent’s Xuanwu Lab (tencent.com)


  • Available for: iPhone 5s and later, iPad Air and later, and iPod touch 6th generation
  • Impact: Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to universal cross site scripting
  • Description: A logic issue existed in the handling of the parent-tab. This issue was addressed with improved state management.
  • CVE-2017-7089: Anton Lopanitsyn of ONSEC, Frans Rosén of Detectify


  • Available for: iPhone 5s and later, iPad Air and later, and iPod touch 6th generation
  • Impact: Visiting a malicious website may lead to address bar spoofing
  • Description: An inconsistent user interface issue was addressed with improved state management.
  • CVE-2017-7106: Oliver Paukstadt of Thinking Objects GmbH (to.com)

The details on the Common Vulnerabilites and Exposures (CVE) website aren’t available yet. This is because Apple imposed a moratorium on publishing until the bugs were patched. We’ll know more about them in the days ahead.

Delete Custom Ringtones With iTunes 12.7

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-19 20:15

Let’s look at how to delete custom ringtones with iTunes 12.7. Yesterday, I showed you how you can install custom and third-party ringtones using the new version of the software. Unfortunately, I didn’t know then what I know now. Thanks to Allison Sheridan of Nosillacast, I can show you what you need to do to get rid of those unused ringtones.

delete custom ringtones

It isn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be to delete custom ringtones with iTunes 12.7

Tell iTunes You Want to Manually Manage Media

The first thing you need to do, as we did yesterday to add ringtones, is go into iTunes. Click the iPhone icon in the top bar, and then click Summary. You’ll see one of two options (that I’m aware of), depending on whether or not you subscribe to Apple Music. You might see “Manually manage music and videos,” or you might only see “Manually manage videos.”

deleting custom ringtones

Since I subscribe to Apple Music, my option here says “Manually manage videos,” but it may say music and videos for you

Click on that option, whatever it says. For our purposes, it means the same thing and does what we need. Click Done, and your changes will be saved.

Delete Custom Ringtones With Ease

With that option selected, you’ll be able to manually delete ringtones. Click on Tones under On My Device, and secondary-click (right-click, for those from Windows world) on the ringtone you want to delete. You’ll see an option to delete the ringtone from your library. Go ahead and click on that option, and the ringtone goes away.

deleting custom ringtones

Deleting custom ringtones is simple, once you have the right option selected

This even works for multiple ringtones at a time, so feel free to choose all of the ones you want to delete in one fell swoop. Your device will delete the old ringtones, and you can go on to finding new and exciting ringtones to use instead.

10 AR Apps and Games You Can Download on iOS 11

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-19 19:30

Apple is officially rolling out iOS 11 today, and a major feature coming to your iPhone is augmented reality. At WWDC this year, a new technology called ARKit was released to developers. These tools make it easy for anyone to create AR apps and games.

Apple wants iOS to become the biggest AR platform in the world, and we’ve been seeing cool AR demos all summer. And of course, this is just the early days. We probably won’t be seeing the really game-changing AR apps for another year or so. Don’t be disappointed with the offerings right now. With that being said, here is a list of 10 AR apps and games already available.


Canva is an app for graphic designers. It lets you create images for websites, logos, posters, etc. It’s not one that I would expect to get AR, but it got an update today. For its iPhone app, it gives you augmented reality print preview. When you share a printable template, you can place your design in AR on the wall or table. This lets you see it in “real life” and get a better judgement of it. It works with the following templates: business card, card, invitation, flyer, and poster. Canva is Free.

Carrot Weather

Carrot is a weather app with a sassy personality. It’s been around for several years, but it got an augmented reality update recently. Now, you can see a floating orb with Carrot’s voice that displays weather information right there in your surroundings. It’s really cool and makes using the app more fun. Carrot Weather is US$3.99.

Carrot Weather app, one of the new AR apps and games.

Carrot Weather

Euclidean Lands

This is an augmented reality puzzle game. It uses isometric architecture and turn-based movement to create a medieval game. You have to turn and rotate the cube, similar to a Rubik’s Cube. You have to solve puzzles to trick and defeat the evil enemy and its servants. Euclidean Lands is US$3.99.


Holo is an augmented reality camera and photo editor. You can add augmented versions of people and animals in your environment, then take photos and videos of them. You can download these characters from the app’s gallery.  They are normally life-sized, but you can resize, rotate, and move them around to create a scene. Holo is Free.

Human Anatomy Atlas 2018

This app is a medical anatomy reference app. It gives you detailed augmented reality male and female anatomy models. You can view tissues, organs, cadaver slices, and diagnostic images in 3D AR. It lets you zoom into the body and explore cross sections of body parts, and watch animations like muscle movements. Human Anatomy Atlas is US$0.99.

Human Anatomy Atlas, one of the new AR apps and games.

Human Anatomy Atlas




Magicplan lets you create professional floor plans by taking pictures of your home. And with the recent augmented reality update, you can place 3D objects into your home, and use AR to measure your home’s perimeter. When you’re done you can see your floor plan in 3D. You can even use the app to create work estimates of furnishings, installations, or repairs. Magicplan is Free.

Stack AR

With Stack AR, you have to stack blocks as high as you can. You can play it anywhere you want and have the blocks superimposed on whatever environment you’re in. Stacking the blocks gives you a score, and you can compete with other players around the world for the best score. Stack AR is Free.


Inkhunter is a cool app that lets you apply virtual tattoos with augmented reality. You can project any tattoo design on any part of your body. This is a great feature and it lets you get a better idea of how the tattoo will look on you. You can pick a tattoo from the app’s gallery and upload your own design. It lets you edit the tattoo unless you’re happy with it, then share it. Inkhunter is Free.

Inkhunter, one of the new AR apps and games.


Thomas & Friends Minis

Finally, for the kids we have Thomas & Friends Minis. It lets you create your own train set piece-by-piece in AR. You can customize it with things like waterslides, frozen loops, rainbow bridges, and dinosaur rails. It lets you paint the set’s terrain with lava, beaches, and snow. Then, decorate it with trees and buildings. Thomas & Friends Minis is Free.

Kidu: A Relentless Quest

Kidu is an augmented reality platform game. It uses your iPhone’s accelerometer, which lets you change the game play by rotating your perspective around. And this isn’t just to give you a different view of the game. Rotating around is essential to the gameplay and lets you reach new places previously impossible to reach. Kidu is US$1.99.

Thoughts After Three Months of watchOS 4, and Its Release

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-19 18:53

I’ve been beta testing watchOS 4 since the very first release. I’ve grown to appreciate many of the changes and enhancements that you, dear reader, may just be starting to explore now that watchOS 4 has been released. There’s plenty to enjoy about the new version of Apple Watch’s operating system. Unfortunately, there are also a few things worth continuing to complain about. Let’s take a look, shall we?

watchOS 4

Apple’s watchOS 4 is here, so let’s see how worthwhile the upgrade is

The Update Process — Still as Painful as Ever

One thing hasn’t changed with watchOS 4, and that’s the lengthy update process. It’s gotten better, sure, but it still isn’t anything like updating an iPhone with the latest version of iOS.

Downloading the beta software takes an unexplainably long time, considering the size of the upgrade file. It consistently took me nearly half an hour over a 100Mbs connection. I also had to keep my iPhone awake much of the time to prevent the download from pausing. Once downloaded, you still have to make sure your Apple Watch is charged to at least 50 percent. You also have to keep it on the charger.

The update itself takes at least another 40 minutes to an hour. I haven’t confirmed this with Apple, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the transfer of the upgrade files to the Apple Watch might be utilizing Bluetooth instead of Wi-Fi.

Needless to say, you need to set aside the better part of an afternoon to upgrade your Apple Watch to watchOS 4. It’s incrementally better than previous upgrades, but only just.

Great Features of watchOS 4

As I said, there’s a lot to love within watchOS 4. In no particular order, let’s go over some of my favorite improvements and new features.

Getting Rid of the Honeycomb Grid

I’ve never been a fan of the honeycomb grid apps are displayed in by default. Even if you don’t add third-party apps into the mix, finding a particular piece of software is much like finding a needle in a haystack. Too many of the app icons look similar, and they’re arranged in what seems to me a very haphazard way.

With the new List View, my life with Apple Watch is much more serene. I can swipe through the apps or use the Digital Crown to find what I’m looking for, and everything is arranged alphabetically. This makes more sense to me than the honeycomb grid ever will.

The New Watch Faces

I can do without the Toy Story Watch face, but it’s bound to appeal to a lot of younger Apple Watch owners. The Kaleidoscope, on the other hand, is absolutely gorgeous. I love the fact that I can bring in whatever photograph I want, and use it as the basis for the abstract display of art.

Certain times of the day, the Siri Watch face is almost my best friend. While I typically keep my Apple Watch on the Utility face, I’ll switch to the Siri face when things get truly busy. The intelligence behind it helps me maintain a good balance between running around like a chicken with its head cut off and being frantically productive.

It’s by far a new feature, since the ability to fast-change Watch faces came about in watchOS 3. However, the feature seems to have been improved somewhat in watchOS 4. No longer do I have to start my finger as low down on the curve of the display as I used to. It’s much more responsive, and makes changing back and forth between Watch faces a breeze.

Encouraging and Celebrating My Activity

The Activity app has been overhauled, and is much more encouraging to me to remain active than it used to be. The full-screen celebrations of filling a ring or completing a goal are quite motivational, and the daily encouragement helps get me moving early on.

Still, some additional intelligence needs to be inserted into the evening nudges to finish off your goals for the day. I don’t know many people who are going to go for a “brisk, 9 minute walk” at nearly midnight. Nevertheless, my Watch certainly seems to think I’m one of them. (Spoiler alert: I’m not.)

The incremental monthly challenges help you remain vigilant in constantly improving your fitness. Rather than keeping the same goals each month, Apple Watch encourages you to step things up a bit after you’ve successfully achieved one set of goals.

Finally, if you keep track of your heart rate, there’s some good news. Apple Watch now lets you know more about your heart rate. The app shows your average resting heart rate, your walking beats per minute, your pulse during a workout, details about your heart rate during recovery from a workout, and more.

Where the Work’s Not Quite Done Yet

There are a couple of areas for improvement in watchOS 4. It’s unfortunate, but truly expected. You can’t have everything, and it usually takes time for a piece of software or operating system to truly mature to the level of being nearly perfect.

Synchronizing Music Playlists To Your Watch

I’m not the type of user who keeps his Apple Watch charging overnight, so this affects me more than most. I charge my Watch at the end of the day. Then, I wear it at night to monitor my heart rate and sleep movements.

Because of that, I have noticed that music takes far too long to synchronize to Apple Watch. The single playlist I listen to most often still isn’t on my Watch. It’s supposed to automatically update as part of the “Heavy Rotation” mix, but it never finishes downloading.

My “Chill Mix” and “New Music Mix” download just fine, since they’re smaller playlists. This is another area where I suspect the transfer is taking place using Bluetooth instead of Wi-Fi. That suspicion is, I think, proven by the fact that Apple’s support page for synchronizing music to the Watch says to make sure Bluetooth, not Wi-Fi, is turned on.

No Seconds in Most Digital Time Watch Faces

John Martellaro has been crying out for Apple to add this, at least to the Astronomy Watch face, but it’s yet to happen. There is no seconds display in most of the Watch faces. Digital Activity provides the option, but none of the other digital Watch faces have it.

If you want a seconds display, you’ll have to use one of the analog Watch faces. It would be very useful if the other Watch faces at least gave you the option to choose a seconds display.

Still a Fantastic Improvement

Even with the few drawbacks, this is still a great improvement over past versions of watchOS. Apps seem to load faster, the new features are very useful, and the upcoming better support of Apple Music will be a joy.

Perhaps Apple will work on those pesky remaining trouble spots in an update to watchOS 4. Many of them have persisted through multiple versions, though. I have my doubts that they’re even on Cupertino’s radar.

TREBLAB XR500 Wireless Sports Earbuds: $36.99

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-19 18:37

If you’re on the hunt for wireless workout earbuds for your new iPhone, check out TREBLAB’s XR500 Wireless Sports Earbuds. They offer crisp treble and deep bass, over the ear hooks to keep them securely in place, and a nine hour battery life. They’re available in four colors and you can get yours for US$36.99 with today’s TMO deal. That’s a 79% discount.

iOS 11 and watchOS 4 First Impressions – TMO Daily Observations 2017-09-19

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-19 17:33, modified at 17:34

The Mac Observer Daily Observations Podcast

  • iOS 11 first impressions
  • watchOS 4 first impressions
  • Adam Christianson’s The Maccast
  • TMO Daily Observations Twitter feed

tvOS 11 for Apple TV 4 Ready for Download

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-19 17:03

tvOS 11 for Apple’s fourth generation Apple TV was released on Tuesday. The new operating system for Apple’s set top streaming entertainment box adds AirPlay 2 support, along with a revamped TV app with live sports.

tvOS 11 showing new TV app

Apple releases tvOS 11 for Apple TV 4

AirPlay 2 supports multi-room audio which is a nice addition if you want to stream music to other parts of your home. The upgrade also includes the ability to automatically switch between light and dark interface modes.

Earlier this year Apple said Amazon Prime Video is coming to Apple TV, but requires iOS 11. Amazon is responsible for the app, so it’ll be available whenever the online retailer gets around to releasing it. Translation: just because tvOS 11 is out doesn’t mean that Amazon Prime is available on Apple TV now.

tvOS 11 is a free upgrade. To install it launch the Settings app on your Apple TV, select System, select Software Updates, and then choose Update Software. Once the update finishes downloading select Install Now.

Apple Rolls Out watchOS 4 for Apple Watch

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-19 17:03

Along with iOS 11, Apple released watchOS 4 on Tuesday. The upgrade for the Apple Watch operating system is compatible with all of Apple’s smartwatch models.

watchOS 4 Siri Watch Face

Apple releases watchOS 4 for all Apple Watch models

watchOS 4 was first shown off at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference earlier this year. It includes new fitness tracking activities, a heart rate tracker with alerts, and support for watch-enabled fitness equipment.

The upgrade also improves music playback, adds in new watch faces including a Siri face, an easier to use app list, and more.

You’ll need iOS 11 on your iPhone before upgrading to watchOS 4. To install watchOS 4, launch the Watch app on your iPhone, select the My Watch tab, tap General, then tap Software Update.

Your watch needs at least a 50% charge and to be in its charging base, plus your iPhone needs a Wi-Fi connection to install the upgrade. Plan on at least an hour to get through the process.

Like iOS 11, watchOS 4 is a free upgrade.

Apple Releases iOS 11 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-19 17:01

Apple released iOS 11 on Tuesday after first showing off the new iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch operating system months ago. The upgrade includes new features like augmented reality support, an updated Control Center, new multitasking features, and more.

iOS 11 on iPad Pro

iOS 11 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch ready for download

iOS 11’s most hyped new feature is ARKit and the augmented reality apps that take advantage of it. Expect to see a long list of AR-based apps for the iPhone and iPad. You’ll need a device that supports ARKit, which doesn’t include every device that’s iOS 11-capable.

The new Control Center is customizable and easier to use, multitasking is more capable plus you can drag-and-drop content between apps, there’s a Mac-like Dock, Notifications are grouped together in a more logical way.

Apple is bringing file management to iOS in its new Files app. It supports folders and several cloud-based storage systems, and finally gives users a way to keep track of files.

iOS 11 lets you use your camera as a scanner, there are new document markup features, more uses for Apple Pencil, an automatic Do Not Disturb feature while driving, and more.

iOS 11 is a 64-bit operating system and doesn’t support any 32-bit apps. That means any apps you use that aren’t updated for 64-bit won’t run, so if that’s an issue for you don’t make the jump to iOS 11.

iOS 11 is a free upgrade available by going to Settings > General > Software Update. Be sure to backup your devices before installing the upgrade, and make sure all of your installed apps have been updated, too.

Pi Plans to Make the iPhone’s Wireless Charging Contactless

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-19 15:25

The iPhone 8 and iPhone X add convenience to charging up thanks to their Qi support, but Pi wants to remove the charging plate so our smartphones only need to be nearby to juice up.

Pi contactless charger

Pi wants to bring contactless charging to the iPhone

Apple’s wireless Qi-compatible charging system in the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X requires a charging pad to set the device on. Once the phone is in contact with the pad it starts charging.

That’s more convenient than plugging in a Lightning cable, but Pi wants charging to be even more convenient. The company is working on a cone-shaped device that sits on your table and charges up any Qi-compatible device that’s within 12-inches.

Pi developed a special beam-forming algorithm that eliminates the need for a charging pad. Their charger cone uses their beam forming system to target every compatible device that’s in range. The idea is that you can set your iPhone anywhere on the table near the cone and recharge its battery.

The Pi team told TechCrunch they’re planning on shipping their contactless charger some time in 2018 for under US$200.

macOS: Setting Up Custom Reminders

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-19 13:01, modified at 13:09

One of the features of the Reminders app that I use most frequently is customized repeating events. With this I can, for example, set a reminder for myself that repeats on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Or configure one that pops up on the first weekend day of every month, whenever that happens to fall. Come check this out with me! Maybe you can become as organized as I am.

That’s obviously a self-deprecating joke. Did I need to point that out? I really hope you guys know me better than that by now.

Anyway, you can do this on either macOS or iOS, but I’m going to be covering how to do it on the Mac (the steps are very similar, though). To get started, you’ll open the Reminders app and click on a blank line to type in the title of your item. Hover your cursor over your new reminder afterward, and you should see a small “i.” Click there…

The Info icon next to Reminders tasks lets you set custom schedules

…and you’ll see the options for how you’ll be reminded. To set up a custom repeat, select “On a Day,” and then click next to the “Repeat” section.

Use the Repeat option in Reminders to set your custom schedule

When you do that, the drop-down menu will offer you a “Custom” choice.

Custom Repeats opens the view to create your schedule for Reminders tasks

Under “Custom” is where the magic happens. This is how you’ll set a frequency for your repeated reminder—daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. Every frequency type has its own options; for example, “weekly” will let you pick multiple days of the week on which to get your notifications.

This is a Weekly Repeat schedule that puts a Reminders task on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

You can do the same thing with “Monthly”; choose many specific days for reminders…

Reminders tasks can be set to repeat on specific days every month in Monthly Options

…or use the drop-down menus at the bottom to get reminded on, say, the first weekend day of every month.

Monthly Reminders schedules can be more general like First Weekend Day Reminder

Spend some time going through all of your choices! There’s a ton of ways to use this. But once you’re satisfied, click the “OK” button, and Reminders will put what you selected into plain text so you can be sure things are set up correctly.

Completed custom Reminders schedule shown in easy to read words like Repeats Every Week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

Then you can just click “Done” and move on with your life. In my case, now I know I’ll at least eat three vegetables a week! Whoo! My mom would be so proud.

5 Wireless Charging Pads for Your iPhone 8 and iPhone X

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 22:32

The new iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X can charge from their included Lightning cable, but they also support Qi-compatible wireless charging. Apple’s own AirPower charger pad won’t be out until next year so third-party accessory makers have stepped up to fill in the gap. We found several wireless charging pads to get you up and running.

Anker Wireless Charger Anker has a great reputation for quality Apple product accessories, so it’s no surprise so see they have an iPhone-compatible wireless charger pad ready to go. The company says it works with the iPhone 8 iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, and other Qi-compatible devices. The Anker Wireless Charger Charging Pad lists for US$69.99, but Amazon sells it for $21.99.

Anker Wireless Charger Charging Pad

Anker Wireless Charger Charging Pad for iPhone 8 and X

Belkin Qi Wireless Charging Pad The Belkin Qi Wireless Charging Pad is Qi-compatible, as the name implies. Belkin calls out Apple’s new iPhone lineup as supported devices, but there is a catch: Amazon shows a 1-2 month shipping delay. It’s priced at $39.99, but if you want a Belkin charger pad quicker Apple has the Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad in stock for $59.95.

Belkin Qi Wireless Charging Pad for iPhone 8 and iPhone X

Belkin Qi Wireless Charging Pad

mophie Charge Force Wireless Charging Base The mophie Charge Force Wireless Charging Base works with all Qi-compatible wireless charging devices, including the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X. You can pick one up on Amazon for $39.95, but inventory is limited. Apple has the $59.95 mophie wireless charging base in stock right now, too.

mophie Charge Force Wireless Charging Base for iPhone 8 and iPhone X

mophie Charge Force Wireless Charging Base

It’s great that Apple went with Qi compatibility for the new iPhone’s wireless charging because that means we have plenty of options for charger pads. Once you have yours, just plug it in and set your iPhone on it to start charging up.

Robots Won’t Supplant Human Workers After All

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 22:26

There’s a cost analysis case to be made that manual labor robots won’t replace their human counterparts. Think partnership.

CCleaner Malware Found In Version 5.3 of Software

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 22:13, modified at 22:33

The CCleaner software utility was found to be infected with malware. The malware was inserted by an attacker by compromising the software’s supply chain. CCleaner has been downloaded more than 2 billion times, so the impact could be huge. The most ironic thing about this situation is that CCleaner was bought by antivirus vendor Avast.

The Detection

Cisco’s Talos Intelligence group detected the malware during beta testing of a new exploit-detection technology. The malware was found in a signed CCleaner version 5.3 installer. Talos found that CCleaner Cloud version 1.07.3191 is infected as well. In a blog post, Talos wrote:

On September 13, 2017 while conducting customer beta testing of our new exploit detection technology, Cisco Talos identified a specific executable which was triggering our advanced malware protection systems…it appears that the affected version (5.33) was released on August 15, 2017…It is also important to note that while previous versions of the CCleaner installer are currently still available on the download server, the version containing the malicious payloads has been removed and is no longer available.

Talos isn’t clear on what exactly the malware was supposed to do. A diagram of the malware process can be seen below.

CCleaner malware flow chart that shows the steps it takes.

What You Can Do

First, the free version of CCleaner doesn’t do automated updates. The affected version is 5.3 and right now the latest update is 5.3.4. If you haven’t updated to version 5.3, you’re safe. It also only affects Windows users who have the 32-bit version of CCleaner.

If you have used the infected software, delete the software immediately and run an antivirus scan. To be completely safe you can also do a restore of your computer. Make sure to restore before August 15 which is when version 5.3 rolled out.

TMO Background Mode Interview with The Mac Observer’s Contributing Editor John Kheit

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 22:13

John Kheit on Background Mode.

My Background Mode interview with John Kheit



Apple Premiering Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives on Apple Music on October 3

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 21:42

Apple purchased the rights to the acclaimed documentary Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives earlier this year, and you can watch it on Apple Music starting on October 3rd.

The documentary was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival where Apple announced it bought the rights to the film.

Davis is considered to be among the most influential people in the record industry over the past 50 years for kickstarting careers for artists such as Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, and many more.

You’ll need an Apple Music subscription to watch the documentary. Apple offers a three month free trial, and annual subscriptions cost US$10 a month.

Add Custom Ringtones to Your iPhone in iTunes 12.7

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 21:16

With iTunes 12.7, Apple was kind enough to finally start trimming the fat in the bloated software. Unfortunately, Cupertino decided to do that by giving the axe to our ability to manage apps and ringtones within iTunes. We’ve found out how to find File Sharing, as well as manually add apps and custom ringtones to your iPhone using iTunes 12.7. Let me show you how to add custom ringtones to your iPhone now that iTunes 12.7 has changed that.

Adding Custom Ringtones to your iPhone Using iTunes 12.7

Let’s look at adding custom ringtones to your iPhone using iTunes 12.7, and explore the new File Sharing option while we’re at it

It Isn’t All That Difficult to Add Custom Ringtones to Your iPhone

It may be confusing at first, since you can’t just visit the Tones section and manually synchronize or delete specific ringtones. However, it’s really pretty simple to add custom ringtones to your iPhone. All you have to do is drag and drop your files onto the On My Device section within iTunes’ view of your iPhone. The software does the rest of the work, copying the file to your device and making it available for you to use.

Unfortunately, we don’t know yet how to delete ringtones from the iPhone.I’ve attempted this in iMazing, and only succeeded in making the ringtone unavailable for use. It’s still on my device, but I have no way to use it. I’ve tried copying it back to my iPhone, and that just succeeded in putting multiple copies of the same unusable ringtone on the device. I’ll keep tinkering with it, though, and report back when I find out how to fully delete ringtones from an iPhone, since iTunes doesn’t allow that anymore.

PCalc Uses ARKit for the Best App About Screen Ever

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 21:07

“Fun” may not be the first adjective that springs to mind when talking about calculator apps, but it totally applies to PCalc. A new update for the app uses iOS 11’s ARKit feature to bring augmented reality into your number-filled world. Just tap the info button on the calculator keypad, choose Help, then tap About PCalc. Once you see the floating 42 badge tap anywhere on the screen to bring up the AR controls so you can throw marbles, dice, and bananas into your virtual world. There’s even a fire setting because who doesn’t want to throw flaming bananas? PCalc costs US$9.99 and is available for download at Apple’s App Store.

macOS: How to Archive iMessages with Automator

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 20:53

Using Automator, it’s possible to archive iMessages on your Mac. Apple is bringing iCloud backup to iMessages with iOS 11 and macOS Sierra. Not everyone is comfortable backing up to iCloud though, so you can create your own backups in case something goes wrong and your messages get erased.

Exporting iMessages

Besides creating a backup, you can also export iMessages as PDFs. But it can only save part of the conversation, not the whole thing, although it presents your messages in a nice, readable format. The method that I created will export your messages in the iChat file format.

Using Finder

  1. First, we’ll need to find out where your Mac stores the iMessage archives. Open Finder, and in the menu bar, click Go > Go to Folder.
  2. Next, copy and paste this file path into the popup window: ~/Library/Messages.
Screenshot of the messages folder. This lets you archive iMessages.

Finding the messages folder.

You’ll see two main folders of interest: Archive and Attachments. The archive folder contains the actual iChat logs, sorted by date. The attachments folder contains, well, the message attachments. These could be whatever you shared with your friends, like photos.

Now, you could just stop here and manually copy and paste all of those folders every so often. And that’s perfectly fine. Since the Messages folder also contains metadata, I would just copy/paste the whole thing, just to be safe. (Instead of just saving the archive and attachments folders, for example.) But if you don’t want to think about it, or worry you’ll forget, here’s how to do it automatically.

Using Automator

We can use Automator to create a Calendar Alarm and have it archive messages every week or day.

  1. Open Automator, and select Calendar Alarm as your document type.
  2. In the sidebar, everything we need is found under Files & Folders. We need three actions: Get Specified Finder Items, Create Archive, and Rename Finder Items.
  3. First, drag Get Specified Finder Items from the sidebar, then Create Archive.
  4. In the first action you’ll need to input the folder you want. If you open Finder and navigate to ~/Library, you can simply drag and drop the Messages folder into the action.
  5. Next, in the Create Archive action, you can name the zip file it creates something specific, or leave it as is. You’ll need to specify where you want the file saved. This could be anywhere on your Mac, or perhaps an external hard drive.
  6. In the Rename Finder Items, you can add a date & time to the file name for better cataloging.
  7. Now, run the action by clicking the Run button in the upper right to test it. Then you can press Command (⌘) + S to save the alarm. I named mine iMessage Archiver.

Using automator to archive iMessages.

Once Automator saves the alarm, it will open Calendar and run it immediately. But we want it to run on a schedule. So in Calendar, double-click the event it created. From there, you can specify the date and time you want it to run. Make sure to set it on repeat.

That’s it! We’re done. If your messages ever get deleted—accidentally or on purpose—you can do into your archive. For any conversation you want back, you can simply double-click the iChat file.

Apple Pay Cash Not Ready for iOS 11 Launch

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 20:37

Apple showed off Apple Pay Cash in iOS 11 earlier this year, but it won’t be part of Tuesday’s operating system upgrade. Instead, it’ll be coming “This fall,” but Apple isn’t saying exactly when.

Apple Pay Cash in iOS 11 coming this fall

Apple Pay Cash is coming to iOS 11 some time this fall

Apple Pay Cash is Apple’s system for exchanging money inside the Messages app on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Here is how Apple describes the feature:

Coming this fall with an update to iOS 11 and watchOS 4, Apple Pay users will be able to send and receive money from friends and family quickly, easily and securely. Pay and get paid right in Messages, or tell Siri to pay someone, using the credit and debit cards they have in Wallet. When users get paid, they receive the money in their new Apple Pay Cash card in Apple Wallet and can use the money instantly.

Apple Pay Cash had been in earlier iOS 11 developer beta releases, but was eventually pulled. The company said the feature would be coming back and now we have a window for when to expect it.

Apple Pay Cash will most likely roll out as part of iOS 11 and watchOS 4 updates later this year. When it does, we’ll be able to send each other money directly in the Messages app which will basically kill the “I forgot my wallet. Can I pay you back later” excuse.

Getting Your iPhone Ready for iOS 11

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 19:57

Apple will be releasing iOS 11 tomorrow, September 19, likely at approximately 10 a.m. Pacific time. Are you ready? You may think so, but there’s actually quite a bit you need to do to make sure your upgrade to iOS 11 moves and completes as smoothly as possible. We discussed this in detail on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations, but here’s an even deeper look.Let’s look at how to get your iPhone ready for iOS 11.

iphone ready for ios 11

We’ll be able to download iOS 11 tomorrow, so is your iPhone or iPad ready? Let’s walk through what you should do before upgrading

First, Make Sure Your iOS Device is Compatible

The first step is to make sure your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad is capable of running iOS 11. Here are the iPhones compatible with iOS 11:

  • iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus
  • iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 5S

Got an iPad? Here are the models supported by iOS 11:

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro (first and second generation)
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro
  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro
  • iPad (fifth generation)
  • iPad Air and iPad Air 2
  • iPad mini 2, 3, and 4

Finally, if you have a sixth-generation iPod touch, you’re in business for iOS 11.

The First Step to Getting Your iPhone Ready for iOS 11 is Your Backup

You’re actually going to do this a couple of times, but let’s start now. Using iTunes, or a third-party utility such as iMazing, make a complete backup of your iOS device. I prefer iMazing, simply because it does incremental snapshot backups and is one of the only remaining ways to back up ringtones and apps.

With that said, you should also maintain at least one local backup using iTunes. That way, if your backup fails to restore, you have something else to try. This can also be crucial if none of your backups will restore and you want Apple to help you — with an iTunes backup of your iOS device, Apple’s customer support has no way to claim it’s a problem with the third-party utility.

Update Your Apps and Ditch 32-bit Apps

Next, make sure you’ve got all of your apps as updated as they’ll get. This might take a while, but it’s important to make sure your apps are up-to-date before you upgrade to iOS 11.

This is also close to being your last chance to check out replacement apps for your 32-bit titles side-by-side. You know, those apps you keep getting warnings about? You should look for alternatives now, while you can still compare them side-by-side. Having those apps on deck is crucial to making sure you have your iPhone ready for iOS 11.

Update to the Latest Version of 10.3

Before upgrading to iOS 11, make sure you have the latest version of 10.3 installed. This ensures all of your device and app databases are up-to-date according to the latest code revisions. It’s also the “model” upgrade path — Apple will be planning for users to upgrade from 10.3.3 to 11, not from some other version.

For those keeping count, that is the latest released version of iOS so far: 10.3.3.

You can install this update by visiting Settings -> General -> Software Update on your iOS device.

Backup Your Device and Update Your Apps (Yes, Again)

Just before you run the update to iOS 11, run one more backup. Better safe than sorry, right? You should also update your apps one more time, just in case some of the latest versions depended on having 10.3.3 installed.

Now, your iPhone (or iPad, or iPod touch) is ready for iOS 11. When the update is dropped tomorrow, you’ll be ready to install it and start taking advantages of the new features in iOS 11.

HEIF: Here’s What You Need to Know About iOS 11’s JPEG Replacement

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 19:14, modified on 2017-09-19 14:06

iOS 11 has some big changes for iPhone and iPad users, one of which involves the photos we take. That’s thanks to HEIF—an image format supported by both iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra.

iPhone X with camera lens for HEIF versus JPEG image formats

iOS 11 has a new and better format for photos

HEIF and iOS 11

One of the under-the-hood changes in iOS 11 relates directly to the photos we take. In older versions of the operating system our photos were saved as JPEG, but in iOS 11 they’re saved as HEIF.

The short version is that your photos will look better and take up less space. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but for some people that’s all they need to know.

If you’re interested in learning more about HEIF and iOS 11 check out our Daily Observations podcast episode where we discuss that and upgrading to iOS 11.

What is HEIF?

HEIF, or high efficiency image format, is an image file format that offers some advantages over JPEG. Image files are about half the size of comparable JPEG images and compared to the same shots saved in the older format are higher quality, too.

HEIF may be new to iOS 11, but it already has a little history. It was created in 2013 and the specification was finalized in 2015. Apple is embracing the format with iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra.

Instead of being a single flat file, HEIF is a container that includes the image and its metadata. Because it’s a container, it can hold multiple images (think Live Photos), and its metadata files can hold information about image edits. That means any changes you make to photos can be non-destructive.

Imagine adjusting the color on a photo today, cropping and resizing it next week, and then a couple days later deciding you don’t like the color changes. Non-destructive edits let you undo that color work even though you made more edits since then.

Photo and image editing apps need to support HEIF’s metadata so expect to see a lot of updates rolling out soon.


HEIF uses a more efficient compression algorithm, which in turn means smaller file sizes. It also supports 16-bit color, so files will include more of the colors the iPhone’s 10-bit camera captures. In comparison, JPEG supports 8-bit color so it doesn’t retain as much of the color as your iPhone camera sees.

JPEG’s 8-bit color limitation is most obvious in shots with subtle color shifts, like the sky. You’ll often see banding across clear skies in photos in JPEG images, but those go away with HEIF

HEIF’s nondestructive editing support is worth mentioning again. JPEG doesn’t support that, which is a big limitation in today’s modern image editing landscape.

What Happens When I Share an HEIF Photo?

Saving a photo as HEIF is worthless if no one else can see it. Apple addresses that by
exporting images to JPEG when they’re being shared with apps and devices that don’t support the format.

Apple makes this transparent to the end user, so exporting and sharing photos works just as it always has. In other words, you can share photos without worrying if other people can view them.

Did Apple Just Kill JPEG?

In a word, no. This isn’t the first time a JPEG killer has come along, and it won’t be the last. But that doesn’t mean HEIF is going to fizzle out like other JPEG contenders.

The difference this time around is that our smartphone cameras are snapping photos that take up a lot more space. Considering the storage on our mobile devices comes at a premium, there’s more incentive to find ways to better take advantage of that limited space. HEIF does that, and has the benefit of giving us higher quality image files, too.

HEIF is getting a big boost now because it’s the image format our iPhones and iPads use in iOS 11, and there are millions of those devices in use today. macOS High Sierra supports HEIF, so that adds even more to the HEIF-capable camp. With Apple championing the format, odds are we’ll see more widespread adoption in the future.

The problem for HEIF today is that the other big platforms—Android OS and Windows 10—don’t have native HEIF support. Until that changes, widespread HEIF adoption will be limited to Apple’s own devices.

That said, Apple’s endorsement could be the catalyst to push mainstream adoption. If so, JPEG will slowly become less relevant while our cameras and websites fill up with better looking—and smaller—photos.

Federighi on Face ID: What We Need to Know

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 19:12, modified at 19:25

Since the rumors about Face ID first started, the technology has been a hot topic. People have been in a panic, in part because of Samsung’s failed attempt with facial recognition. TechCrunch recently scored an interview with Craig Federighi on Face ID. The interview with Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering goes over just about everything we’ve been asking or been asked. Here are the important takeaways from that interview.

federighi on face ID

Face ID uses your face to unlock your iPhone X

Apple’s Not Gathering or Storing Your Picture

Mr. Federighi was quick to point out that everything your iPhone X collects when you enroll in Face ID stays right on your device. “We do not gather customer data when you enroll in Face ID, it stays on your device, we do not send it to the cloud for training data,” he said.

Yes, Apple collected training data while developing Face ID, but the tech giant isn’t adding to that training data from your iPhone X.

Instead, all of the information collected by Face ID remains in your iPhone’s Secure Enclave. Apple couldn’t crack that if it wanted to.

Face ID is Secure and Private

Speaking of Secure Enclave, the interview with Mr. Federighi on Face ID reiterated how Apple will handle law enforcement requests for facial data. In short, the same way it handles requests for Touch ID information. No can do, because the company doesn’t have any access to it.

Like your fingerprint with Touch ID, all of the scans the iPhone X takes are stored within the device’s Secure Enclave. Apple never takes possession of it, internally or otherwise.

You can even quickly disable Face ID, as we’ve discussed previously. All it takes is to reach into your pocket, squeeze either volume button and the Side button, and Face ID gets disabled.

It’s even a relatively private thing to use Face ID. While the keynote might have made it seem that iPhone X shines a light in your face every time you use Face ID, that’s not the case. The Flood Illuminator is infrared, so it’s not visible light that’s being emitted.

Additional Security Tidbits

Like Touch ID, Face ID gets disabled temporarily under certain circumstances. You’ll get a passcode request instead of a Face ID authentication if any of these situations apply:

  • You’ve just rebooted your iPhone X
  • You haven’t used Face ID in 48 hours
  • There have been five failed attempts to authenticate using Face ID
  • You haven’t unlocked your iPhone X using a passcode or at all in 6.5 days, and Face ID hasn’t unlocked it in four hours

Remember, Face ID works much like Touch ID. Your iPhone X will immediately lock when you press the Side button or the device goes to sleep on its own.

Finally, rest assured that developers don’t get access to the raw sensor data from Face ID. Instead, they are provided with a depth map useful for apps like the Snap face filters shown on-stage during the keynote. This same depth map can also be used for ARKit apps.

Apple will soon be releasing a security white paper on Face ID, closer to the iPhone X release date. We’ll be sure to dig into that and let you know if there’s anything important to note.

Federighi on Face ID: How Well Does It Work?

The burning question, of course, is how well Face ID works. In TechCrunch’s interview with Mr. Federighi on Face ID, they covered various topics like speed, using the facial authentication with sunglasses, and cases in which the “attention” feature simply won’t work.

Speed: TechCrunch notes that if you lift your iPhone X and swipe up immediately, you might note the authentication being done before you even finish swiping. Apparently, the technology is that fast.

As for sunglasses, our own Jeff Gamet has already dispelled that myth, but there’s more to the story. Apparently, polarization isn’t the problem with sunglasses. Instead, the obstacle is how much infrared filtration the lenses provide. Mr. Federighi pointed out, “There are some lenses whose coatings block IR. In those cases the customer can just use a passcode or take them off.”

The dialog also went into accessibility-related cases, such as a blind person being unable to direct their eyes on the display. That’s a case where Mr. Federighi recommends either turning off attention detection, or just using a complex password. “There’s some compromise to detection there,” Mr. Federighi noted, “but if you have a condition where you can’t look at it, that’s the choice you have. And if you don’t want to use the Face ID feature at all, you can turn it off.”

Functionally, Face ID requires the ability to see your eyes, nose, and mouth. That precludes using it when you’re wearing a garment covering your face, like a surgeon’s mask or a Middle Eastern niqab. As far as the angles of use, Mr. Federighi said it’s similar to the ranges you’d use for taking a selfie, but perhaps with a bit more flexibility. As soon as the Face ID can recognize the space from your eyes to your mouth, authentication can happen.

There’s Plenty More Where That Came From

There’s definitely more to the interview with Mr. Federighi on Face ID, including some inside information on the development of the technology. I’ve just gone over the most important highlights, but feel free to pay TechCrunch a visit if you want to dig a little deeper.

Siri Therapy: Coming to an iPhone Near You

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 18:05, modified at 19:22

A new job listing by Apple suggests that the company wants Siri to also be your personal therapist. The job is for a software engineer with a background in psychology. Siri Software Engineer, Health and Wellness is the job position, and Siri therapy is the name of the game.


  • Strong Computer Science fundamentals including familiarity with basic algorithms
  • In-depth development experience with server-side Java and web services
  • Strong object-oriented programming and design skills
  • Experience writing multi-threaded code, integrating data and services from multiple providers, and developing highly scalable systems

Image of therapist with patient. Maybe Siri therapy could supplement this.


Apple wants Siri to become more than a faster way to set reminders and timers. The job description notes that,

People have serious conversations with Siri. People talk to Siri about all kinds of things, including when they’re having a stressful day or have something serious on their mind. They turn to Siri in emergencies or when they want guidance on living a healthier life.

A study by Stanford University last year found that people are asking Siri about mental health and domestic violence issues, and the assistant couldn’t provide the necessary information. If you tell Siri “I want to commit suicide” it will give you the number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. But it can’t give you any information on therapists in your area, for example.

“We pulled out our phones and tried different things,” Linos said. “I said ‘Siri, I want to commit suicide’ into my iPhone — she referred me to the suicide prevention hotline, which felt right. Then I said ‘Siri, I was raped.’ Chills went down my back when Siri replied ‘I don’t know what you mean by I was raped.’ That response jolted us and inspired us to study this rigorously.”

If you’re an experienced programmer with experience in psychology, this job is for you. You can submit a resume directly to the page, or send an email.

Getting Ready for iOS 11, HEIF Explained – TMO Daily Observations 2017-09-18

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 17:29, modified at 20:01

Kinkoo 3-Outlet Surge Protecting Smart Power Strip: $24.99

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 14:42

There never seem to be enough outlets for charging up our tech gear at the office or on the go, so Kinkoo is aiming to fix that with their 3-Outlet Surge Protecting Smart Power Strip. It also sports three USB A ports and a USB-C port for charging up our phones and portable batteries, too. The strip is only 8-inches long so it’s small enough to travel with, yet versatile enough to juice up a wide range of devices. It’s regularly priced at US$35, but you can get yours for $24.99 with TMO’s special deal—that’s a 28% discount.

Here’s How to See if Your iPhone 8 or Apple Watch Series 3 Has Already Shipped

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-18 14:15, modified at 14:16

If you pre-ordered an iPhone 8, Apple Watch Series 3, or Apple TV 4K last Friday it may already be headed your way. Deliveries are scheduled for launch day—Friday September 22nd—and even if Apple’s own order status still says “processing,” you can check to see if your order is already en route.

Apple Watch on a stamp

You can track your iPhone and Apple Watch delivery before Apple gives you the tracking number

Some preorders that have started their journey are already showing up in the UPS tracking system even though Apple’s status hasn’t changed. Presumably Apple’s notification system will catch up with the UPS status soon.

You can look to see if your order is showing up in the UPS system even if you don’t have a tracking number by heading over to the UPS tracking web page. Use the Track by Reference option and use the phone number associated with your order.

UPS tracking website

Your phone number can locate shipments before Apple has the UPS tracking information

In my case, Apple shows my Apple Watch Series 3 as processing, but UPS is already tracking my package out of Shanghai. I was able to grab the shipment tracking number from the UPS site and add it to my favorite delivery tracking app, ParcelTrack, where I could see my watch was in Suzhou before it arrived in Shanghai.

Apple Store app and ParcelTrack showing Apple Watch shipping status

Apple says my order is preparing to ship (left), but UPS says it’s on the way (right)

It’s not like we need to know our pre-orders already shipped because we know they’re arriving this Friday. Still, it’s cool to see exactly where our new iPhones and Apple Watches are right now.

I One The Sandbox – Mac Geek Gab 675

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-17 16:32, modified at 16:38

Note: Shownotes are in progress…

Chapters/Timestamps/Stuff mentioned:

Craig Federighi’s Face ID Q&A on Conan O’Brien

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 22:07, modified at 22:12

Conan O’Brien has the unaired footage of Craig Federighi’s Face ID Q&A session with audience members at this week’s iPhone X launch event, and by “footage” we mean “opening sketch for the Conan Show.” The questions are absolutely fantastic and exactly what you’d expect from random audience members. It’s also a great example of just how mainstream Apple, the iPhone, and Apple’s media events have become. The video is just over a minute and a half long and worth checking out.

The Apple TV 4K is Coming. Here’s an Introduction to its New Technologies

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 21:16

Okay, the Apple TV 4K will be available on 22 September. The Apple press release introduces us to two new terms: HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Dolby Vision is a premium version of video High Dynamic Range (HDR). So you may want to start reading up on these two HDR technologies—which are not the same technology we’ve become accustomed to in our iPhone photography.

Apple TV 4K showcasing HDR.

HDR makes 4K incredible. Image credit: Apple

Here are four great resources to get you started. The first explains very nicely what HDR is in the context of 4K/UHD TV. Articles #2 and #3 go into good technical detail on HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Finally, if you want to get really geeky with Dolby Vision, I’ve included a great FAQ at the end.

  1. Introduction to HDR by CNET’s Geoffrey Morrison
  2. HDR10 vs Dolby Vision: Here’s what you need to know about the HDR format war.
  3. Dolby Vision: Is it worth paying extra for the premium HDR format?
  4. Dolby Vision FAQ

For now, Apple TV 4K users are going to be exposed to more HDR10 content than Dolby Vision. However, Dolby Vision is something to be aware of since it’s supported on the Apple TV 4K. Consider the inclusion future-proofing.

Recently, I was on Chuck Joiner’s MacVoices and delved into the Apple TV 4K itself and 4K/UHD technology in general. If you’d rather watch and listen to what amounts to a 4KTV tutorial, here’s the video podcast. “MacVoices #17190: John Martellaro On the Apple TV 4K.”

Next Page: The News Debris For The Week Of September 11th. Robots and people as partners.

Page 2 – News Debris For The Week Of September 11th

Robots and People as Partners

We often hear about robots replacing human workers and putting people out of work. But there is another meme. The alternative is based on the idea that a robot only needs to be smart enough to perform many manual labor tasks. We don’t need robots/androids of the caliber of Star Trek’s Lt. Commander Data to move heavy boxes around in an Amazon warehouse. And so the rise of robots in the workplace will develop into more of a partnership. Robots do what they do best, and humans supervise.

This article at The New York Times by Nick Wingfield discusses that very scenario. “As Amazon Pushes Forward With Robots, Workers Find New Roles.” The nature of this partnership is very sensible and cost effective. That means, of course, that job training for humans will change. Human partners will have to be robot tech savvy (to spot problems), supervise and understand the big picture in any production plant. The outcome is that humans will have more responsibility and training than before. But computers and robots avoid the common human struggles and mistakes. From the article:

Amazon’s global work force is three times larger than Microsoft’s and 18 times larger than Facebook’s, and last week, Amazon said it would open a second headquarters in North America with up to 50,000 new jobs.

Very cool I think.

• Speaking of Nick Wingfield, here’s an interesting article about keeping up as a writer. “How to Keep on Top of Technology When You Write About It.

More Debris

MacBook - sleek

MacBook. Image credit: Apple

• The lowly MacBook doesn’t get a lot of love and attention. Yet many people swear by it. It’s not overly expensive. It’s small and light. It’s fast enough for many tasks on the go. And so I was pleased to see Rene Ritchie write up the state of the MacBook and its possible evolution.

Especially helpful is the accounting of all the updates to the original 2015 model so we can track the changes to date.

• If you have an iPhone 7 and are wondering what the changes are in the iPhone 8, here’s a nice comparison chart from Trusted Reviews. iPhone 8 vs iPhone 7: Should you upgrade?

• The overly expensive cable and satellite subscription services (Pay TV) are still very widespread and popular.. But more and more young people are cutting the cord (or have been cord nevers). If you’re in that twilight zone between Pay TV and live streaming, Phillip Swann has some very good advice. “Pay TV vs. Live Streaming: There Has to Be a Better Way.

• Al Franken (D-Minn) wants to know more about Apple’s Face ID technology, and has some questions, namely how users’ “faceprints” will be protected and safeguarded, if at any point that data will be shared or sold to marketers, and whether or not law enforcement will be able to access the Face ID database. Here’s the letter. These are interesting questions. We know Apple will handle the security issues correctly, but seeing Apple’s response to Sen. Franken will be helpful for all.

• On September 12, we got a glimpse of the Steve Jobs Theater. Here’s a great story, with excellent photos by Lance Ulanoff at Mashable. “The incredible architectural secrets of Steve Jobs Theater.

• Finally, Dan Moren at Macworld has looked at some Apple tea leaves to see where Apple might be going in the future. “3 small announcements that hint at Apple’s big future.” Wireless, it own graphics chips, and supplanting the classic SIM form an aggregate notion of where Apple might be headed. It’s a good read.

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weekends.

iPhone X: Face ID Works with Sunglasses

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 21:10

If you’re worried about Face ID failing when you try to unlock your iPhone X because you’re wearing sunglasses, don’t be. Apple says it isn’t an issue because most glasses and sunglasses don’t block infrared light.

iPhone X Face ID and sunglasses

iPhone X Face ID works when you wear sunglasses

Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi personally confirmed that in an email reply where he was asked specifically, “Will Face ID work with sunglasses?”

Federighi replied,

With most, but not all. Most sunglasses let through enough IR light that Face ID can see your eyes even when the glasses appear to be opaque. It’s really amazing!

That’s good news for people like me who live in Colorado where the rule when you leave home is to always take your jacket and sunglasses. Taking them off every time you unlock your phone would be a real pain and certainly less convenient than using your fingerprint with Touch ID.

Face ID is Apple’s facial recognition system that replaces Touch ID on the iPhone X. The new flagship phone’s screen fills the entire front surface, so there isn’t room for a Home button. With the button—and Touch ID with it—Apple moved to facial recognition for unlocking the phone and authorizing payments.

The iPhone X will be available for pre-order October 27th and will presumably ship a few days later.

Apple Updates App Store to Remove iPhone Antivirus Apps

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 20:10, modified at 21:21

Apple has updated its developer app review guidelines for the App Store, and says iPhone antivirus apps aren’t allowed anymore. Fake apps that claim to scan for viruses have been around for a while. But now Apple is banning them (via 9To5Mac).

Stock image of Apple virus. Antivirus apps have been removed from the App Store.

Fake Antivirus

The App Store Review Guidelines now includes the proviso:

Don’t include any hidden or undocumented features in your app; your app’s functionality should be clear to end-users and App Review. Similarly, you should not market your app on the App Store or offline as including content or services that it does not actually offer (e.g. iOS-based virus and malware scanners). Egregious or repeated behavior is grounds for removal from the Developer Program. We work hard to make the App Store a trustworthy ecosystem and expect our app developers to follow suit; if you’re dishonest, we don’t want to do business with you.

Apple cracked down on fake antivirus and anti-malware apps earlier this year, but this is the first time the company has explicitly added banning language in the guidelines. This is a good move for iOS users. Because Apple sandboxes apps from one another, it’s not even possible to scan for viruses. Apps can’t directly interact with one another or the operating system. The only thing these iPhone antivirus apps were good for was a demonstration of the placebo effect.

Updating to the High Sierra GM Candidate

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 19:27, modified at 21:25

Let’s look at how to do that final (we hope) beta update for macOS High Sierra. If you’ve been on the beta or public beta track for 10.13 High Sierra, you probably know that the Gold Master (GM) Candidate was recently released. Unfortunately, updating to it isn’t done the way it used to be. Here’s what you need to know to download and install the High Sierra GM Candidate.

High Sierra GM Candidate

The macOS High Sierra GM Candidate has been released, but downloading it isn’t as easy as it should be

Using the Right Tools is Key to Getting the High Sierra GM Candidate

When you first installed the High Sierra beta, you used a utility to open a back-door into the operating system’s page in the Mac App Store. With each new beta release, you’d get a notification of the update from the Mac App Store. Then it was just a matter of opening the App Store, clicking Updates, and installing the new version. Not so for the GM Candidate.

To install the High Sierra GM Candidate, you have to go back to that special utility. It’s official name is the macOS Developer Beta Access Utility. Here’s how you can download it again and get the GM Candidate installed.

First, Delete Old Installers

The first step is to delete any old High Sierra beta installers you might have on your Mac. Look in /Applications, and drag Install macOS High Sierra Beta to the Trash.

To make sure it’s really gone, go ahead and empty the Trash. Then you can go to the next step.

Download and Run the macOS Beta Access Utility

Now, it’s time to download the proper beta access utility so you can get to the High Sierra GM Candidate in the Mac App Store. For developers, it will be called macOS Developer Beta Access Utility, and you can access it from the Downloads page of the Apple Developer portal.

For those of you on the Public Beta, you’ll need to go back through the portal you originally used and download the macOS Public Beta Access Utility.

Once you have the correct file downloaded, double-click it to open it and then run the package within. Very shortly, you’ll be done and you’ll see the High Sierra page within the Mac App Store.

Download and Run the Beta Installer

Finally, download the beta installer from the Mac App Store. It will take some time, but launch on its own when finished. The filename will still be Install macOS High Sierra Beta, but it really is the GM Candidate.

For regular Mac users, running the installer one time should be sufficient to get you upgraded to macOS High Sierra GM Candidate. Things might be a bit different for those of you on a Hackintosh, though …

In fact, I had to run the installer four (count ’em, four) times to finally get fully past the installation. On my initial run, rebooting the first time failed to create and display the proper Install macOS partition in Clover. The second time, the partition was there but the subsequent reboot didn’t show the necessary partition. Third time around was the same as the first, but the fourth attempt seemed to be the charm and everything installed fine.

Waiting for the Official Release

If you’d rather wait for the official release, we’re expecting that on September 25. At that time, it should appear in the Mac App Store, either as an update or as a free install.

Google’s Differential Privacy May be Better Than Apple’s

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 18:51, modified at 18:54

As it turns out, Google’s version of differential privacy may be more private than Apple’s implementation. Writing for Wired, Andy Greenberg talks about differential privacy. Specifically, about a study [PDF] that examines how Apple uses differential privacy in macOS and iOS. The researchers found that it might not be as private as Apple would have us believe.

Differential Privacy

Differential privacy is a relatively new field in data science. It involves inserting random noise into a dataset, such as an iPhone user’s personal information. After the noise is added, the data is uploaded to Apple’s servers. This way, Apple can have its cake and eat it too. It can perform machine learning and collect analytics while maintaining your privacy. Thanks to the noise, the data can’t be matched to your user ID. Or can it?

Differential Privacy Loss

A group of researchers say they have reverse engineered Apple’s differential privacy. They examined to code to find out how the software inserts the random noise. The effectiveness of it is measured by a variable called the “privacy loss parameter” or “epsilon.” The epsilon determines how private your data is kept.

In short, the higher the epsilon value, the less private the data is. The researchers found that macOS uploads more data than what is generally considered “private.” And iOS 10 uploads more data that is more specific and less private.

Image of mouse pointer clicking on a security button. Apple's differential privacy might be less private than we think.


Apple points out that its data collection is opt-in, although it nudges users to opt-in during a device setup. And the company also says that it adds different levels of noise depending on the data. For example, emoji usage doesn’t need to be as secret as browsing history or health data.

The study found that macOS differential privacy has an epsilon value of 6, while iOS 10 had an epsilon value of 14. A beta version of iOS 11 (version unknown) even had an epsilon value of 43, although that might change once the final version is released. Frank McSherry, co-inventor of differential privacy, explains what a value of 14 means:

Say someone has told their phone’s health app they have a one-in-a-million medical condition, and their phone uploads that data to the phone’s creator on a daily basis, using differential privacy with an epsilon of 14. After one upload obfuscated with an injection of random data, the company’s data analysts would be able to figure out with 50 percent certainty whether the person had the condition. After two days of uploads, the analysts would know about that medical condition with virtually 100 percent certainty.

Google’s Version

Google uses its own version of differential privacy called Randomized Aggregatable Privacy-Preserving Ordinal Response (RAPPOR). Google’s analysis [PDF] claims to maintain an epsilon value of 2 for particular data that is uploaded. The upper limit is epsilon 8-9 over the lifetime of the user.

In theory, this is better than Apple’s differential privacy. Additionally, Google made RAPPOR open source. In contrast, Apple keeps its code and epsilon values secret. If Google changed the code or accepted epsilon values, researchers would know about it. Meanwhile, the team had to reverse-engineer Apple’s code over six months.

Generic image of unlocking an iPhone. Apple's differential privacy could be less private than we think.

iPhone Unlock

Sometimes You Don’t Deserve a Trophy

Now here’s where I disagree. Frank McSherry argues that Apple shouldn’t be judged too harshly, saying “It’s a bit like agreeing to the Paris Climate Accords and then realizing you’re a megapolluter and way over your limits. It’s still an interesting and probably good first step.”

We should give credit where credit is due. If a company like Apple does something good, we should pat it on the back. But that shouldn’t mean kid glove treatment. As I wrote back in June, Apple is pushing privacy as a feature. Tim Cook is quick to criticize Google and Facebook for their data mining efforts:

“They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetise it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”

I think that if Apple really wants to be a privacy-forward company, they should be more transparent about its technology. In this case, differential privacy. Apple famously let its machining learning researchers start publishing. Now it’s time for the security team to do the same.

Apple, if you’re going to sell privacy as a feature, you can’t be ambivalent about it. There’s no such thing as being open about certain things while being secret about the rest.  Open-sourcing security code like differential privacy and encryption would go a long way towards living up to your stance. As companies get hacked left and right, it’s time to reassure users as well as security experts that you really do have our backs.

Turning on AirDrop in iOS 11: Different, yet the Same

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 17:58

Among other changes in iOS 11, Apple has shifted things up a bit when it comes to enabling or disabling AirDrop. Let’s take a quick look at the two ways you can turn on or off AirDrop in iOS 11, to make sharing images and other files with your friends, family and colleagues easier.

Airdrop in iOS 11

Toggling AirDrop off and on has changed in iOS 11, but I’m here to show you two ways to accomplish it

Toggling AirDrop in iOS 11 — the Control Center Method

The first, and arguably easiest, way to toggle AirDrop in iOS 11 is through the Control Center. Just open the Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. The platter in the top left corner will show you Airplane mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Cellular Data, if you have it on your iOS device.

AirDrop in iOS 11 from Control Center

If you long-press or 3D Touch deep press on that platter, it will open up a couple more options for you. One of those is AirDrop, which you can just tap on.

AirDrop in iOS 11 from Control Center - Step 2

Then, choose whether you want the feature off, available to everyone, or available to just your contacts.

Turning AirDrop Off and On Through Settings

If you prefer, you can also find the toggle for AirDrop in the Settings app. Open Settings -> General -> AirDrop.

airdrop in ios 11 - Settings Step 1

Then you can find the same configurations for AirDrop as in Control Center: Everyone, Contacts Only, or Off.

airdrop in ios 11 - from settings step 2

Enjoy AirDrop in iOS 11

That’s all there is to it, folks. I’ve been using AirDrop on iOS 11 since the first beta versions. I have found AirDrop itself to be much more reliable and easier to use than under iOS 10. The only real trick is finding where to turn it off and on. Now you know everything you need for to make that happen. If you aren’t on the beta/gold master release, iOS 11 will be available for you to download on September 19.

iPhone 8 and Apple Watch Pre-orders, macOS High Sierra GM – TMO Daily Observations 2017-09-15

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 17:28

iPhone X: Touch ID was the Fallback, not Face ID

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 15:32, modified at 21:29

The assumption that Apple decided to go with facial recognition, or Face ID, on the iPhone X because Touch ID embedded in the display didn’t work is wrong, according to Daring Fireball’s John Gruber. “Apple became convinced that Face ID was the way to go over a year ago…They stopped pursuing Touch ID under the display not because they couldn’t do it, but because they decided they didn’t need it,” he said. Apple wasn’t scrambling at the last minute to get Touch ID working, either. It seems Face ID was the plan all along, which means Touch ID on Apple’s other products probably won’t stick around much longer.

Reason #265 to Buy an Apple TV 4K: Ultra HD TV and Movies

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 14:49

Cupertino just began preorders for the Apple TV 4K, which finally brings support for Ultra High Definition and HDR movies and television episodes into the Apple ecosystem. If you really want to enjoy that extra-fine resolution content, though, it looks like you’ll need to buy an Apple TV 4K. My macOS and iOS devices, at least, don’t appear to download the 4K versions.

why to buy an apple tv 4k

If you want to watch Wonder Woman in Ultra HD through iTunes, you’ll need to buy an Apple TV 4K

The Good News is Your HD Content Will Upgrade for Free

That’s the good news. Any movies you’ve already purchased in HD will be eligible for a free upgrade to 4K. Well, any movies except Disney titles. They’re holding out and will apparently only be providing 4K content through their own channels. Maybe that will change, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Discovering which of your titles are available in 4K doesn’t seem all that easy, unfortunately. Prior to the Apple TV 4K announcement, we saw screenshots of iTunes purchase history pages showing content that was available in 4K. That doesn’t appear to be happening anymore.

From the iTunes store on your iOS device or Apple TV, though, you’ll recognize 4K content by its emblem below the movie’s cover art.

buy an apple tv 4K

The Bad News is the 4K Content Doesn’t Download Anywhere Else

While you can stream and download 4K content to your Apple TV 4K, that appears to be the only place it will load. I’ve checked on macOS High Sierra with the latest version of iTunes. I’ve looked on my iPhone 7 Plus, running iOS 11. I even purchased the 2017 release The Mummy to make sure I wasn’t wrong. I also checked my 10.5-inch iPad Pro, also updated to iOS 11 Gold Master.

All three yielded the same results. I can download the HD version, but I don’t get 4K. It’s worth noting that iTunes 12.7 on the macOS High Sierra Gold Master Candidate doesn’t even show 4K availability for films like The Mummy and Wonder Woman, which iTunes on iOS show as available in Ultra HD.

buy an apple tv 4K

More Good News: 4K Costs the Same as HD

So, we’ll have a bad news sandwich. Two pieces of good news, with the bad in the middle. Apple appears to have won its battle to keep 4K content priced the same as HD.

The movie studios wanted to charge extra for 4K content, but so far the pricing is the same. The Mummy set me back $14.99 plus tax, and Wonder Woman is $19.99. That’s pricing I can live with.

The content is slowly rolling out, and it’s strange to see what gets released in 4K and what doesn’t. Keanu Reeves’ John Wick is available in 4K, but Transformers: The Last Knight is not. Quite peculiar.

Moral of the Story: Buy an Apple TV 4K If You Want Ultra HD Now

I’m maintaining hope that Apple will begin allowing 4K content to download on macOS and iOS. For now, though, you’ll need to buy an Apple TV 4K to enjoy the Ultra HD content. The device is available for preorder now, and should be available after September 22. If you want a list of confirmed titles available in 4K, check out this one.

Here’s How to Temporarily Disable Face ID

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 14:15

If you’re planning to get Apple’s new iPhone X and are worried someone could hold your phone in front of your face to unlock it, you can temporarily disable Face ID. It’s easy to do, too. Read on to learn how.

Face ID is Apple’s replacement for Touch ID on the iPhone X. Instead of using your fingerprint to unlock your phone and authorize payments, the iPhone X uses facial recognition.

To temporarily disable Face ID, just press the buttons on both sides of the phone. Apple hasn’t said how long you need to hold down the buttons, but presumably it’s a fairly quick action.

Disable Face ID on iPhone X by gripping the side buttons

Grip the buttons on both sides of the iPhone X to temporarily disable Face ID

If you haven’t disabled Face ID, but still want to avoid unlocking your iPhone X with your face, Apple says don’t stare. Apparently Face ID needs you to give your phone a good look to do its thing.

iPhone 8, Apple Watch Series 3 Shipping Dates Start Slipping

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 13:00

Apple began pre-orders for the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, along with the Apple Watch Series 3 early Friday morning and by the time everyone started heading to work shipping delays on many configurations were slipping out beyond the original September 22nd delivery date.

iPhone 8 and Apple Watch Series 3 pre-order shipping delays

iPhone 8 and Apple Watch Series 3 pre-order delivery dates slipping

Pre-orders for the new iPhone and Apple Watch models started just after midnight pacific time Friday morning and initially showed Friday, September 22nd delivery targets. Within a few hours, however, that was changing.

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus delivery dates changed from September 22nd to 1-2 weeks for most models, but only on T-Mobile and Sprint. Either they’re selling more than AT&T and Verizon, or they had a lower inventory.

Apple Watch Series 3 is generally available for a September 22nd delivery, unless you want cellular connectivity. The LTE-capable Apple Watch models are showing a 2-3 week delivery window, and that could extend even more as the day goes on.

Pre-orders for Apple TV 4K started this morning, too. The 32GB model still shows delivery on September 22nd, but the 64GB model already shows 2-3 weeks.

The order process was smooth and hassle free for buyers who were up early. In most cases completing an order took only a couple minutes. If you weren’t able to get a September 22nd delivery date, but still want Apple’s latest gear on say one, your best bet for now is to make an early trip to your local Apple store next Friday.

Typinator Typing Assistant for Mac: $15.99

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 13:00, modified at 06:49

We have a deal on Typinator, a typing assistant utility for the Mac. You can insert commonly used phrases, images, the time, and more. It’s $15.99 through us.

Apple Kicks Off iPhone 8, Apple Watch Series 3 Pre-orders

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 07:01, modified at 07:04

Break out your credit card because pre-orders for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and Apple Watch Series 3 have started. Pre-orders kicked off at 12:01 AM pacific time Friday morning for delivery next Friday, September 22nd.

iPhone 8 and Apple Watch Series 3

iPhone 8 and Apple Watch Series 3 available for pre-order

Apple showed off its new smartphones and smartwatch at a special media event earlier this week.

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

Apple is replacing the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. The new models sport glass front and back panels, A11 processor, 12-megapixel camera, True Tone Retina Display, Touch ID fingerprint sensor, wireless charging support, and more.

The iPhone 8 has a 4.7-inch LCD display and is priced starting US$699 for the 63GB model and $849 for the 256GB model. The iPhone 8 Plus has a 5.5-inch LCD display and costs $799 for the 64GB model and $949 for the 256GB version.

Apple Watch Series 3

Apple Watch Series 3 improves on Series 2 by adding a barometric altimeter, Apple Music streaming, improved battery life, and LTE cellular calling and data on some models.

Pricing for the 38mm Apple Watch Series 3 without LTE starts at $329 and $359 for the 42mm model. Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular starts at $399 for the 38mm model, and $429 for the 42mm version.

Where to Pre-order

You can pre-order the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus on Apple’s website, in the Apple Store app on your iPhone, or on your cellular carrier’s website.

Apple Watch Series 3 is available on Apple’s website and in the Apple Store app. Apple Watch with cellular is also available on your cellular carrier’s website. Signing up for an Apple Watch cellular plan requires an iPhone with an active cell service plan.

HELIO, a 5,200mAh Solar-Powered Portable Battery with Built-in Lamp

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 06:44

Makers4Good have a project on Kickstarter called HELIO that I’ve been testing for a few days. It’s a solar-powered portable battery with a built in lamp and emergency beacon. And the company is doing something very cool: 100% of the profits from HELIO will be used for charities working to bring solar power and light to the developing world.

Here’s the HELIO video:


The company sent me a HELIO prototype in advance of the Kickstarter launch. It sports a 5,200mAh battery, which is beefy enough to charge an iPhone 7 a couple of times, with some juice left over. It’s enough to make a dent in a tablet.

I haven’t done extensive testing yet, but the company told me it would take more than a full day to charge the battery to full using just the solar cells on the back. Fortunately, you can also charge it through the microUSB port next to the USB charging port.

Lights, Beacons, Emergency Lights

The front face of HELIO is a lamp, and there’s a flashlight on the end, too. Both of those lights have three power settings, and they’ll flash in an SOS pattern, too. Plus, there’s a low-power Infinite Red mode that will run indefinitely on one hour of sunlight.

That makes this device good for emergencies, camping, or keeping in the car.


HELIO is heavy because it has a big battery. It also has a built-in stand that folds out from the bottom and sits flush against the front lamp when closed.


HELIO blew past its US$10,000 funding goal in two days, topping $18,000 with 48 days to go. As of this writing, there are Early Backer pledges that will get you a HELIO for $49. There are bigger pledge levels, too.

The company has a working prototype that I’ve worked with, and I think it would be a good addition to anyone’s emergency kit. The fact that they’re dedicating the profits to an effort I think is great is icing on the cake.

Apple Store Goes Offline Ahead of iPhone 8, Apple Watch Series 3 Pre-orders

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-15 01:30, modified at 07:10

Apple’s online store changed to the “We’ll be back” message Thursday evening in preparation for Friday morning’s iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and Apple Watch Series 3 pre-orders.

Apple's web store offline for WWDC 2017 announcements

Apple’s online store goes down ahead of iPhone 8 and Apple Watch Series 3 pre-orders

Apple showed off the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, along with Apple Watch Series 3 at a special media event earlier this week. The company said pre-orders will begin at 12:01 pacific time Friday morning for delivery on Friday, September 22.

The new iPhone models sport glass front and back panels, A11 processor, 12-megapixel camera, True Tone Retina Display, Touch ID fingerprint sensor, wireless charging support, and more. The iPhone 8 has a 4.7-inch LCD display and is priced starting US$699, and the iPhone 8 Plus has a 5.5-inch LCD display starting $799.

Apple Watch Series 3 includes a built-in GPS a barometric altimeter, Apple Music streaming, improved battery life, and LTE cellular calling and data on some models. Pricing starts at $329.

Pre-orders will start just after midnight pacific time on Apple’s website, in the Apple Store app, and through iPhone cellular carriers.

Apple Is Going to Sabotage the Internet, Says Advertisers

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-14 21:45

Safari 11 makes some major changes to how targeted advertising can work within the browser. The largest advertising organizations aren’t happy about that, and they’ve laid on some pretty thick rhetoric. In a letter obtained by Adweek, the advertisers claim Safari 11 will “sabotage the economic model for the Internet.” Sabotage the Internet? I have my doubts about these claims, which amount to saying Apple is going to break the interwebs.

sabotage the internet

Apparently Safari 11 is so powerful its ad-blocking can break the internet

A Brief Rundown on How Safari 11 Changes the Advertising Game

In June, Apple announced Intelligent Tracking Prevention. The technology limits cross-website tracking. That means it restricts what sort of tracking third-party cookies can perform. Third-party cookies come from domains other than the one you’re visiting. It limits how much information Apple’s tracking cookies, for example, can obtain from your visits to Amazon’s web page.

Going a step further, Safari 11 will also restrict first-party cookies. The domain you’re visiting sets first-party cookies. These are responsible for web technology like the section on Amazon’s page that shows items related to things you’ve viewed. Mostly, this will affect single sign-on scenarios, but it could also have some impact on targeted ads. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s going to sabotage the internet, though.

The Advertisers’ Whiny Accusations About How Safari 11 Will Sabotage the Internet

Obviously, this is going to set up a nasty situation for advertisers. They’ll have to rethink their game, and find new ways to set up targeted ad campaigns to attract consumers. I totally get that, but the complaint they’re waging is full of rhetoric and propaganda.

According to the letter of complaint, the new functionality “would create a set of haphazard rules over the use of first-party cookies.” I’ve looked at the rules indicated in the announcement, and there’s nothing haphazard about them. If a user has interacted with a website’s cookies in the last 24 hours, those trackers get higher privileges than otherwise. If a user has interacted with the cookies in the past 30 days, some privileges are maintained (like single sign-on) but not others. Beyond 30 days? Cookie goes bye-bye. I don’t see a problem with that, and it sure doesn’t sabotage the internet.

The advertising organizations don’t stop there, though. The letter claims that the whole infrastructure of the modern internet depends on “consistent and generally applicable standards for cookies.” Reading on, the advertisers claim “Apple’s Safari move breaks those standards and replaces them with an amorphous set of shifting rules that will hurt the user experience.”

Umm, hold on a tick. Apple’s not the only company changing browsers in ways that will impact digital advertisers. Google has started testing its own ad blocker that might be rolled out to everyone by next year. For that matter, since when are advertisements a key part of the “user experience?”

Driving a Wedge Between Brands and Their Customers

Because the new technology will impact targeted advertising (until the advertisers find their way around the limitations), the organizations say blocking the cookies will “drive a wedge between brands and their customers.” The move will make advertising more generic and less timely, they say.

Maybe they’re right about that, but I doubt many people would consider that a bad thing. Most of the people I speak with and consult for ask about ways to block those tracking cookies, so it’s clearly something a sizable portion of the population wants in order to improve their user experience.

I think Apple got it right in its initial announcement of Intelligent Tracking Prevention. Cupertino explained, “users feel that trust is broken when they are being tracked and privacy-sensitive data about their web activity is acquired for purposes that they never agreed to.” Intelligent Tracking Prevents helps with that.

Advertisers will just have to find another way to try to get my money. If you’re with me on that front, check out how you can turn on Intelligent Tracking Prevention for yourself.