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The Mac Observer

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


The Day Steve Jobs Launched the iPod and Changed Apple Forever

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 22:27

The iPod showed Apple that it could be more than just a conventional computer company, and that changed everything.

Today, Apple quietly announced that the iPod nano and iPod shuffle have been discontinued:

Today, we are simplifying our iPod lineup with two models of iPod touch now with double the capacity starting at just $199 and we are discontinuing the iPod shuffle and iPod nano.

iPad nano and shuffle

Gone. Into the history books. Image credit: Apple

I supposed a few people will be greatly annoyed. Others won’t care. iPod sales are so embarrassingly low now, Apple hasn’t reported the sales numbers for years. The iPhone is the new music player. (And for some, the iPod touch—which endures for now.)

But I have a story to tell.

The Unveiling

It was early October, 2001. I was at home in Colorado when my boss called. He was his usual blunt but friendly self. “Make arrangements to be on campus for an event on October 23rd. This is important.”

So I called Apple travel and set up a flight and hotel for the day before. There was an aura of mystery and urgency in my boss’s voice, and I was excited. I showed up on time at Town Hall at Infinite Loop. I would not be disappointed.

There are videos of the Apple event, so I won’t go into a lot of detail. There were lots of charts and figures and discussion about the music industry.  What I remember most, however, was the first time I was in the same room with Steve Jobs. He was in his prime. He was in control. The first iMacs had shipped, and the product was an amazing success. He was very, very confident.

Steve Jobs unveils the first iPod.

From the event video. Image credit: Apple

As Mr. Jobs began to spin is magical story about music, it became more and more clear that this was no boondoggle. It wasn’t a distraction from Apple’s core competency of Macs. Mr. Jobs, who was very much involved? obsessed? in love with music as a key component of the modern culture, made his case to us.

By the time he was done, it seemed perfectly natural for Apple to make a music player. Its design blew everything else out of the water. It was beautiful. It was well engineered. It was to be coveted. Apple had worked with a partner to build a near miraculous miniature 5 GB hard disk inside. “A thousand songs in your pocket,” he said with a grin and some charm. It synced nicely with music you’d ripped into iTunes. (The iTunes store would come along later in 2003.) We were in awe.

By the time Mr. Jobs was done, it was clear why my boss had required me to be present. At that very moment, as Mr. Jobs slid the iPod out of his jeans pocket, there was never any doubt in my mind that Mr. Jobs was launching Apple into a new adventure. Apple would never again be just a boutique computer company. Apple was about to launch the digital hub revolution that would integrate music, photos and videos to a single structure that would weave itself into our lives. And with large doses of taste and giddiness that only Apple engineers could conjure up.

It’s said that without the iPod, the iPhone wouldn’t have been possible, and I believe that. Apple, under Steve Jobs, came to realize that it could bring a new perspective and set of integrated electronics to our lives. Sony started on that path, but never quite got there the way Apple did.

The iPod might be the most important product ever produced because it cast Apple from being a so-called toy computer company into an integral part of our modern tech culture via the avenue of a powerful medium: music. It forever changed Apple. And the world.

I’m sitting here with my iPhone 7, eagerly thinking about what may come in September. I’m not very sad that the iPod is fading from our lives. That’s how the industry goes. I’m looking forward to what Apple can do next. But I won’t forget what came before and the role the iPod played.

The One about Star Wars Stormtroopers Inspiring Jony Ive’s Apple Earpod Design

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 22:25, modified at 22:27

Did you hear the one about how Sir Jony Ive was inspired by Star Wars Stormtroopers when he was designing Apple’s now-iconic earbuds? That’s the story according to Star Wars rebooter J.J. Abrams. The tidbit is just one of the many interesting things in a Wall Street Journal profile of Jony Ive (via The Verge).

Darth Vader enjoys his Apple Earpods

Darth Vader enjoys his Apple Earpods

This particular tidbit is merely mentioned in the profile as an aside, and wasn’t corroborated by Sir Jony in the form of a quote. But it’s easy to see how it might be true. The look and feel of Star Wars Stormtroopers is certainly iconic, and all that white everywhere could certainly fit into Apple marketing.

The broader profile focuses mostly on Apple Park, and it includes interviews with Sir Jony’s BFF Marc Newson, the above-mentioned J.J. Abrams, Laurene Powell Jobs, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and others. It’s a very interesting read, and I recommend it.

Trent Reznor on Apple, Music, Tech, and Nine Inch Nails

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 21:25

Apple Music exeuctive Trent Reznor recently granted a rare(ish) interview to Vulture magazine. Topics covered included Apple, Apple Music, streaming music, tech “stars,” and Nine Inch Nails. It’s a very interesting interview, and Mr. Reznor talks about how the idea of tech rock stars is “bull$%&@,” how the modern culture doesn’t value artists properly (including the music industry), and how having access to all of the music ever made has both good sides and down sides. I’m a big fan of Mr. Reznor (YMMV), and very much enjoyed reading this interview.

Apple Store App Updated to Allow Purchases Using Touch ID and Better Local iPhone Availability

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 20:05, modified at 20:06

Apple updated the Apple Store app on Thursday with two new features. Version 4.3 allows users to use Touch ID to make Apple Store purchases with their Apple ID (i.e. your iTunes account). It also makes it easier for users to find out if the iPhone they want is at their local Apple Store.

Apple Store 4.3 Release Notes:

  • It’s now easier than ever to see if the iPhone you want is available at an Apple Store near you
  • You can use Touch ID to securely and conveniently pay for your order with your Apple ID, as well as make changes to account settings

The main difference for payments is that the Apple Store app used to require users to enter their password every time when using credit cards attached to their iTunes account to make a purchase. The new feature retains the ability to use those stored credit cards, but allows users to authenticate using Touch ID, as shown in the screenshot below.

Apple Store purchase using Touch ID

Apple Store purchase using Touch ID

How to Use the iOS 11 iPad App Switcher

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 19:28

To help ease your transition into some of the new features in iOS 11, I’ll show you how they work. This time I’ll be looking at the new iOS 11 iPad app switcher. I’m used to the new way of switching and force-quitting apps in iOS 11 on the iPad, now. I really like it. I think you will, too. I’m pretty new to the who Side-by-Side multitasking business, but that’s coming along nicely, too.

iOS 11 iPad app switcher

The new app switcher for iOS 11 on the iPad takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s quite handy

Two Ways to Access the App Switcher

There are two ways you can access the screen you use to switch to or force-quit running apps. You can either double-tap the Home button, or swipe up from the bottom of the display. You may find yourself having to swipe roughly halfway up the screen in landscape mode. The first few inches of swiping just brings up the Dock.

iOS 11 iPad app switcher in landscape mode

The new iOS 11 iPad app switcher, in landscape mode

Both of these methods will open up the Control Center on the right, as well as the iOS 11 iPad app switcher on the left. Portrait mode is similar, just narrower.

iOS 11 iPad app switcher in portrait mode

The iOS 11 iPad app switcher looks similar to its landscape companion, but narrower

Using the iOS 11 iPad App Switcher

The operating system tiles the apps, with a preview of what’s going on inside them. This way, you can quickly glance to look for the screen you want, and tap on it. If you want to force-quit the app, simply swipe the tile upwards and it will go away. Before you yell at me about how you’re not supposed to force-quit apps on iOS, have a read of Dave Hamilton’s opinion on the matter. I’m with him.

Once you get the hang of it, this new method is really just as good, if not better, than the old system of switching apps. You get a view of the apps you’re running, and the Control Center on the same screen. It’s much easier to manage the under-the-hood aspects of your iOS tablet that way, and I’m continuously becoming more appreciative of the thought that Apple puts into designing its user interface.

The problem, I think, is that it’s a change. People tend not to like change. The new iOS 11 iPad app switcher—once you’re used to it—is much more efficient. It beats having two gestures or actions to bring up the Control Center and your running apps.

Making Apple Watch a Cell Phone, TSA’s New Electronics Screening – TMO Daily Observations 2017-07-27

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 18:19

Apple Wants to Responsibly Manage 1 Million Acres of Forest (Video)

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 18:09, modified at 18:10

Apple has a new video in its series of Earth Day cartoons explaining the company’s environmentally-oriented accomplishments. The new one—Can an apple grow a forest?—talks about how a dinner meeting with Senior VP Lisa Jackson led to the decision to buy or grow a forest. The result, according to the video, was an effort to put 1 million acres of forest under responsible management by 2020. “At this point, more than  99% of the papers and fibers we use are responsibly sourced or recycled,” Connie Yang, product and packing design, said. Which is remarkable—all the more so when you’re talking about the world’s most profitable company.

New Mac Exploits From CIA Vault 7 Published by WikiLeaks

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 17:33, modified at 19:08

Wikileaks published two more Mac exploits from the so-called CIA Vault 7 under the name Project Imperial. The new exploits—Achilles and SeaPea—affect older versions of OS X, Snow Leopard and Lion.

We first learned about the stunning leak of computer exploits used by the CIA in March, when WikiLeaks released some 8,761 documents. These included both iOS and Mac exploits, though so far they’ve been limited in scope.


The first exploit, called Achilles, lets an attacker trojan an OS X disk image (.dmg) installer with one or more specified executables for a one-time execution. In the user guide included in the leaked documents, the infected DMG file could be presented as a valid piece of software.

When the user copies it over to their Applications folder, the trojan executes whatever the attacker wants. After execution, all traces of Achilles files will be removed securely from the app. Achilles was tested on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

Image of OS X Snow Leopard box, which is what the latest exploits from CIA Vault 7 run on.


The second exploit is called SeaPea, and it’s a rootkit that lets the attacker launch tools, hide files and directories, socket connections, and/or processes. This exploit was tested on Macs running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and OS X 10.7 Lion. It also needs root access in order to be installed. However, SeaPea can be removed from the Mac if the hard drive is reformatted or upgraded to the next version of OS X.

Are You Safe?

Short answer: yes, if you’re running a more modern version of OS X or macOS. It doesn’t sound as if these exploits will work on modern Macs.

To that end, that is the most important thing you can do to protect your systems. Always upgrade to the latest operating system, because you’ll get fresh security patches.

Build 20 Apps with the Complete iOS 11 and Swift Developer Course: $19

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 16:19

Check out the Complete iOS 11 and Swift Developer Course. It features 249 lectures and 34 hours of training content, and you’ll build 20 different apps during the course. You’ll also work with iOS 11, Swift 4, ARKit, MLKit, MusicKit, and the new Depth Photo API. You can get the full course through us for $19.

TSA Expands Laptop Separate Screening to Electronics Bigger than Cell Phones

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 15:39, modified at 15:42

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration new procedure to keep us safe in the skies means any electronic device larger than a cell phone has to come out of your carry-on bag, just like you’re already doing with your laptop.

Electronics bigger than iPhones now subject to laptop-style separate screening

TSA adds tablets, ebook readers, handheld games, more to separate screening

According to the TSA, running iPads and other tablets through X-ray scanners in their own bin, like laptops, gives them a better look at the devices. The TSA said in a statement,

TSA officers will begin to ask travelers to remove electronics larger than a cell phone from their carry-on bags and place them in a bin with nothing on top or below, similar to how laptops have been screened for years. This simple step helps TSA officers obtain a clearer X-ray image.

The procedure was tested in ten airports around the country and now the TSA is ready to roll it out everywhere. The new policy will go in place at all airports “during the weeks and months ahead.”

TSA Precheck travelers are exempt from the new policy, so they’ll be able to pass through security checkpoints with their laptops, tablets, ebook readers, and handheld game consoles in their bags. It costs US$85 to sign up for TSA Precheck, but some credit cards and loyalty programs offer discounts.

Placing each electronic device in its own x-ray bin will speed up the screening process, according to the TSA. That sounds like a recipe for longer lines and slower screening, especially during heavy travel times like holidays—and another reason why TSA Precheck is important for frequent fliers.

A-ha’s Take On Me Recreated with ARKit is Frakking Awesome

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 14:25

Loads of cool videos showing how compelling iOS 11’s ARKit is are popping up and the latest comes from Trixi Studios. They recreated the hand sketched style from the 1980’s A-ha “Take On Me” music video, but instead of working with a series of drawings they let ARKit do the heavy lifting. The result is a real-time version of the video you can walk through and watch as other people switch from themselves into drawings. It’s yet another example of the huge potential in ARKit.

Foxconn Confirms TV Display Factory Coming to Wisconsin

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 13:44

Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn is going to build a factory in Wisconsin to make large LCD panels for televisions. The factory will employ about 3,000 people, although they won’t be making anything for Apple.

Foxconn plans first U.S. factory for Wisconsin

Foxconn’s ready to build its first U.S. factory, but not for Apple

Foxconn CEO Terry Gou made the announcement at an event at the White House. The Trump administration thinks the facility could eventually employ 13,000 people, according to Recode.

Gou also said Apple is open to the possibility of investing in the factory. If that happens, we can expect to see displays more suitable for iPads and iPhones coming out of the factory, too.

Foxconn’s announcement comes only days after Donald Trump said Apple is going to build three factories in the United States. “I spoke to [Mr. Cook],” he said. “He’s promised me three big plants—big, big, big.”

Apple hasn’t commented on the statement. It’s possible Mr. Trump was confused and mistook an Apple manufacturing parter with Apple building its own plant—or Apple may really have plans to build three factories of its own in the country.

Regardless, Foxconn is building a factory in Wisconsin that won’t make products for Apple—at least not for now.

SPONSOR: DRmare Lossless M4V Converter for Mac

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 12:09

I’m happy to thank DRmare for sponsoring TMO this week with DRmare M4V Converter for Mac. I’ve talked extensively on Mac Geek Gab and here on TMO about how DRM-removal software, used properly and legally, can help you free up your content and encourage you to actually buy the movies you want to have.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) can make it difficult for you to watch and access your movies when and where you want, and DRmare can make it so your iTunes purchases are available in any media player you choose, including your Plex library, VLC, Infuse, WALTR, and more.

DRmare makes it easy. Simply pick a movie, choose your options, and go!

As a leading-edge iTunes DRM removal tool, DRmare M4V Converter is developed with the latest DRM decryption algorithm which promises high-level performance. Generally speaking, it can run at 30X speed which means it is the fastest iTunes video converter you can currently find in the market. And, unlike the traditional video recording method that would cause quality loss used by other iTunes video tools, DRmare M4V Converter produces lossless video quality without touching the original video and audio tracks, working in a similar way as Requiem, the best known iTunes DRM removal freeware.

I’ve tested DRmare here this week, and it worked flawlessly at stripping the DRM from a purchased iTunes movie without losing any obvious quality or features. DRmare preserves your full AC3 5.1 surround sound, closed captions and, perhaps most importantly, all subtitles, too!

Usage is easy. Just launch DRmare, tell it which movie to convert, and let it do it’s thing. Based on our testing it works with the latest macOS Sierra 10.12.6 and iTunes

The main screen of DRmare M4V Converter is split into 3 parts: the top menu, the bottom menu and the conversion area in the middle. It is easy for everyone to convert any iTunes movie or TV episode to DRM-free formats for any device.


  • Well-designed user interface.
  • Supports iTunes movie purchases and rentals, though please be aware of the legalities in your local area.
  • Good file formats supported.
  • Provide lossless output video quality.
  • Keep closed captions, AC3 5.1 audio.
  • Very impressive conversion speed.
  • Work perfectly with the latest iTunes.


  • Some profiles are outdated.
DRmare device-specific optimization

In addition to lossless conversion, DRmare lets you convert for specific device sizes, too.

DRmare M4V Converter supports multiple output formats like MP4, M4V, AVI, MKV, MOV, MPG, TS, TRP, MP3 and many popular devices, such as iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Android, Windows phones, tablets, game consoles, smart TVs, and more. You can freely and flexibly customize the subtitles, audio tracks, video bit rate, codec, and size to make your new videos look more personalized.

DRmare M4V Video Converter integrates DRM removal and video conversion functions for iTunes movies and TV shows and offers a convenient solution to unlock iTunes videos’ DRM protection. This means as an iTunes user you can get full control of the media you have legally purchased.

Check out DRmare M4V Converter for Mac. You can try it for free, and when you’re ready you can purchase through their FastSpring-enabled eCommerce site.

If you are interested in sponsoring TMO, please email us and we’ll get you more details.

Stickbox is an iPhone Case with a Built-in Selfie Stick

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-26 22:18, modified at 22:19

Check out the Stickbox, an iPhone case with a built-in selfie stick. I just took a vacation where I took a ton of photos, and I’d loved to have had one of these for the trip. The selfie stick itself folds into a rectangle that fits in a recessed panel on the back of the case. A hinge on the end allows you to fold your iPhone out for taking pic. There’s a Bluetooth trigger built into the handle for triggering your camera, and the case has a kickstand mode, too. Hey, the whole thing is a clever idea. Originally funded on Kickstarter in 2016, Stickbox is available in Black, White, and Rose through the company’s site and on Amazon for $39.99.

Peering into the Real Future of AI, AR, VR, and Self-Driving Cars – ACM 421

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-26 21:53

Apple Context Machine iTunes Art

Sources referenced in this episode:

‘Scheduled’ Helps You Remember to Send Messages

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-26 20:52

If you keep forgetting to send important messages, this tip is for you. Let’s say, for example, that you keep forgetting your sister’s birthday. Or, you realize in the middle of the night that you need to text or email your boss about some great idea you’ve just had. You could write it down on a sticky note, but those are always getting lost. Luckily, there’s an app that can help you remember to send messages when you need to.

remember to send messages with scheduled

When you need help to remember to send messages, this app is there for you

Quit Forgetting Important Texts — Let Scheduled Help

The app is called Scheduled, and it’s absolutely brilliant. You just open the app, choose who you want to send the message to later, and then compose your text. Pick when you want it sent, and Scheduled will give you a notification at that time. You never have to worry about whether you’ll remember to send messages again.

When the time comes to send your message, Scheduled can’t automatically do that for you. That’s a limitation of iOS right now, but the app does the next best thing. You tell it how you want to send your message, and then Scheduled fills in all the important details. All you have to do is tap send, and your message is off to the races.

remember to send messages with Scheduled

If you don’t want to send a message right away and can’t risk forgetting, use Scheduled to set it for later

More Than Just Text Messaging

Scheduled supports Messages, obviously, but that isn’t all. The app can also help you send messages using Facebook’s Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter, Line, Slack, as well as calling someone up. The developers are always adding new services, so there may be more that I just haven’t found yet.

Free With Limitations

You can download Scheduled for free, but it will have some limitations. For instance, you won’t be able to import contact or Facebook birthdays with the free version, and can’t schedule more than three messages at a time. If all you need is help to remember to send messages once in a while, you can definitely benefit from the free version.

If you upgrade to the Premium version, which is dirt cheap, a whole new world of possibilities opens up to you. You’ll be able to schedule more than three messages at a time, and you’ll gain an archive of all of the texts that Scheduled has helped you send. The Premium version also supports importing birthdays from your Contacts app and from Facebook.

Remember to send messages with Scheduled

Scheduled can even help you remember to send messages wishing your friends and family happy birthday

The only thing it can’t do is let you draw on your pictures because, well, it’s a text message app. It’s not a photo message app.

Remember to Send Messages With Scheduled’s Help

To start using Scheduled, just download it on the App Store. It’s one of my most-used apps, simply because I get so focused on work and tinkering with my computers that I’d forget to brush my teeth without reminders. I used to set those to send out important text messages, but I’ve found that Scheduled is much more useful and efficient than using the Reminders app.

Apple Watch Series 3 Will Have the Most Requested New Feature

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-26 19:35

The Apple Watch has an iconic design, and the Apple Watch Series 3 will likely retain it but offer an important new feature.

Apple Watch series 2

Apple Watch Series 3 will likely retain the iconic design of its predecessors, like the Series 2.

There has been, shall we say, an energetic discussion amongst the TMO editors about the evolution of the Apple Watch physical design. The reason for that is twofold.

First, the Apple Watch design, its thickness, mass and button layout is iconic. To constantly change the design would greatly annoy those who favor the original design and have invested in an Apple Watch, Series 0, 1 or 2 for the long haul.

Secondly, there is more pressure on Apple to advance the functionality of the Apple Watch than to make it thinner. Advancing the features means more miniaturization and the retention of a healthy sized battery to support new capabilities.

Apple Watch Series 3 Killer Feature

Amidst that background, The International Business Times believes that Quanta will be building the Apple Watch Series 3 and that it may well launch alongside the iPhone 7s/8 iPhones in the fall. This is the strategy that Apple used in 2016 with the Apple Watch 2 and the iPhone 7.

So if the appearance of the Apple Watch isn’t going to change much, why release a new model? The answer may lie in what users consider the most important new feature to have. This report shows the results of feedback from 1.500 Apple Watch owners. The result is that the Apple Watch needs to have its own cell phone system.

This is important for several reasons, but notably affords the possibility of phone calls and critical emergency communications when the iPhone is not available or left behind.

Heretofore, the current Apple Watches haven’t had the battery capacity or physical space for its own mobile phone subsystem. But it’s looking like this fall could bring us that feature. No less than KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that… amongst others.

One issue with this new feature would be the likely requirement for the Apple Watch 3 to have its own carrier plan. But I would bet that most major carriers would offer a supplemental add-on to the partner iPhone’s already existing plan. I’m thinking Apple would probably push for that.

It’s Time

Not only does Apple move its technology relentlessly forward, but this feature fits in nicely with the plan to eventually make the Apple Watch independent of the iPhone. That would boost sales considerably, even as reports suggest that the Apple Watch is starting to dominate the competition.

If we also consider Apple’s initiatives with health and fitness management and the prospect of Apple Watches being able to monitor blood glucose, the growth and dominance of the Apple Watch is assured.

It’s looking increasingly smart for Apple to update the Apple Watch in a year that will have us all gaga over the 10th anniversary iPhones.

What We Know About Adobe’s Leaked ‘Nimbus’ Cloud Editor

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-26 18:12, modified at 18:19

Last year Adobe gave a sneak peak of a new cloud-based editing app called Nimbus. Instead of having photos and edits sync between devices via the cloud, all of the editing would be done in the cloud. This would make it easier to edit photos using multiple devices.

Recently, French website MacG downloaded a version of the app that Adobe accidentally leaked. Although the company quickly retracted it, we can see some screenshots and get an idea of how the cloud editor works.

Welcome interface to the Nimbus cloud editor.

Welcome interface. Image credit: MacG.


CumuloNimbus Cloud Editor

A cumulonimbus cloud, also known as a thunderhead, is a huge type of storm cloud. Similarly, Adobe plans to take the photo editing world by storm with its cloud-based system. A notable detail is that Nimbus users will have 1TB of cloud storage, compared to the 20GB that Creative Cloud users receive.

Additionally, Adobe plans to make it easier to search for stock images:

Adobe highlights the search engine that is able to automatically recognize the content of images. No need to manually tag each of its shots. The development version does not include French, but the English searches give good results.

Interface of Nimbus cloud editor.

Nimbus interface. Image credit: MacG.

Nimbus Tools

Nimbus isn’t meant to replace Lightroom or Photoshop. Instead it’s meant to be used in addition to these tools. Nimbus will include some of the same tools though:

  • Basic tools (light, color, effects, details, optics, geometry)
  • Refraction
  • Correct
  • Brush
  • Linear gradient
  • Radial gradient
  • Options (copy / paste settings, view original, return to original, display histogram, single panel mode, edit in Photoshop).

It’s unclear when Nimbus will finally roll out, but at least we have a better idea of its capabilities.

Apple Releases Safari Technology Preview 36 with 27 Bug Fixes and Improvements

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-26 18:05, modified at 18:06

Safari Technology Preview

Safari Technology Preview

Apple released Safari Technology Preview 36 (Safari TP36) on Wednesday. Safari’s tech preview releases are aimed at developers, and are similar to the developer betas for macOS and iOS. This release includes some 27 different bug fixes and other improvements.

Areas targeted in this release include: JavaScript, CSS, WebRTC, Web Driver, Rendering, Media, Web Inspector, WebAssembly, and Bug Fixes.

Developers (or others wanting to living on the browser bleeding edge) can download Safari TP36 from the WebKit.org website.

Flash Finally Dies, Apple’s Hearing Aid MFi Program – TMO Daily Observations 2017-07-26

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-26 17:56

The Mac Observer Daily Observations Podcast

Are You Taking Siri-on-your-Mac Siri-ously?

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-26 15:56, modified on 2017-07-27 07:52

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #237

I was surprised to discover that many Mac users have no idea that Siri—Apple’s intelligent personal assistant—has been available on their Macs since the release of macOS Sierra nearly a year ago. If you’re among them, may I suggest it’s about time you acquaint yourself with the joys of using Siri-on-your-Mac?

Let’s start by making sure Siri is enabled on your Mac and assign it a keyboard shortcut by launching System Preferences and clicking the Siri icon. Now, check the Enable Siri check box if necessary, and choose a language, voice (I’m partial to the British Female Siri voice), microphone, and keyboard shortcut.

Enable Siri in the Siri System Preferences pane, and then choose your options from its menus, radio buttons, and checkboxes.

Enable Siri in the Siri System Preferences pane, and then choose your options from its menus, radio buttons, and checkboxes.

I like the default keyboard shortcut, “Hold Command + Space.” It’s easy to remember since the shortcut for a Spotlight search is “Command + Space.” So, to summon Siri, I just hold down those keys for a second or two. In other words, a short press of both keys brings up Spotlight; a longer press of both brings up Siri. That is sweet.

What Can Siri-on-my-Mac Do for Me?

Of course, Siri-on-your-Mac does most of what Siri-on-your-iDevice does, but it also does a few Mac-exclusive tricks. So, for example, Siri-on-your-Mac understands requests like:.

Show the all of the JPEG's in my Downloads folder

Show the all of the JPEG’s in my Downloads folder

Show me tweets by Bryan Chaffin.

Show me tweets by Bryan Chaffin.

How much free space do I have on my Mac?

How much free space do I have on my Mac?

Plus, of course, Siri understands how to launch apps, and find and open a specific document or folder.

Here’s another cool feature: You can save important information you get from Siri—like Twitter feeds, sports team schedules, files related to specific projects, and more—right in Notification Center, where you can access them quickly and easily. To add an item to your Notification Center, just click the little + at the top of the Siri results window. The coolest part is that these results update automatically, so what you see in Notification Center is always up to date.

What Else can Siri-on-my-Mac Do?

You can also ask Siri to search the Internet for information, and then drag the info—which can be a picture, text, a URL, or almost anything else—from the Siri results window to your Desktop or directly into a document.

You can even drag a picture (or anything draggable) from your Siri results windoid into a document.

You can even drag a picture (or anything draggable) from your Siri results windoid into a document.

And, of course, Siri-on-your-Mac does all those wonderful things you know and love about Siri-on-your-iDevice, including requesting a song, artist, genre, or music from a particular year or decade; get driving, walking, or public transit directions to almost anywhere; creating a Reminder or Calendar event; and providing the date, time, and weather conditions for your current (or any other) location.

Finally, like Siri-on-your-iDevice (as long as the device is running iOS 10 or later), you can edit your Siri queries after the fact with the keyboard, which is often faster and easier than trying to correct a mistake by voice.

So, if you haven’t tried Siri-on-your-Mac, what are you waiting for?

P. S. This just in—Apple has released a funny (IMHO) ad about Siri that features Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson:

PDF Expert 2.2 for Mac: $29.99

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-26 15:51

Our deal on PDF Expert 2.2 for Mac, a PDF-editing tool from Readdle, is back. This was the 2015 App of the Year Runner Up in the Mac App Store, and it allows you to edit text, images, links, and outlines in PDFs. You can also fill out forms, annotate, and more. We have it for 50% retail at $29.99.

Apple Ordered to Pay $506M in University of Wisconsin-Madison Patent Infringement Case

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-26 15:11

Apple has been ordered to pay the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, or WARF, US$506 million for infringing on one of the organization’s patents with the iPhone’s A-series processor design. That’s a little over double what a jury awarded WARF last fall.

Money and justice scales in Apple patent infringement lawsuit

University of Wisconsin-Madison awarded $506M in Apple patent infringement lawsuit

WARF is the group that manages patent licensing for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Apple found itself on the losing end of an infringement lawsuit from the group in October 2015 when a jury ruled the A7, A8, and A8X processors were using technology covered by a patent the school holds.

Apple argued it wasn’t infringing on the school’s patent and also tried to get it invalidated. The company ultimately failed on both and found itself facing a $234 million fine.

Now U.S. District Court Judge William Conley has added another $272 million saying WARF should get additional damages along with interest because Apple continued to infringe on the patent until in expired in December 2016.

WARF won’t, however, get that money right away because Apple can appeal the ruling. Since that’s exactly what Apple is doing, the Judge said he’ll wait to rule on a second infringement case WARF filed targeting the A9 and A9X processors.

Apple hasn’t commented on WARF’s win.

[Thanks to Law360 for the heads up]

macOS: Use Terminal to Send Help Viewer to the Back

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-26 13:15, modified at 13:29

You know what’s annoying? This.

Mac Help Window blocking other apps on the Desktop

No, not the Help Viewer itself! I love the Mac’s built-in support info, actually, which you can get to by choosing “Help” from the menus at the top of any program.

The Help menu is accessible in most all Mac apps

If you have a question or a problem, that’s always a great place to start, and it’s often more convenient than even doing a Web search. There is one tiny thing that’s always irritated me, though, and that’s the fact that the Help Viewer window pictured in my first screenshot always sits on top of everything else. Even if you switch programs, it’ll stay in front until you close it. Frustrating, especially when you’re attempting to try out a solution that the help pages suggest!

There is, though, a way to change this behavior through the Terminal. To do so, copy the following command…

defaults write com.apple.helpviewer DevMode -bool YES

…and paste it into the Terminal program, which lives in your Applications > Utilities folder, like so:

Terminal Window showing the command to let the Mac Help Viewer window sit behind other apps

When the command is pasted in, press Return, and then the Help Viewer window will behave just like most of the other windows on your Mac—if you click on another window or program, it’ll move to the background.

Mac Help Viewer Window Behind other apps

You can’t tell, but that really is the help window back there. I promise.

Finally, if you decide you want to put things back the way they were, just go back to Terminal, replace the “YES” with “NO” in the command, and press Return:

defaults write com.apple.helpviewer DevMode -bool NO

Silly Help Viewer. You’ll go where I want you to be, even if I have to use Terminal to force you to.

Will the Evolution of Artificial Intelligence Harm Humans? Depends

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-25 22:49, modified on 2017-07-27 04:11

We tend to speak about Artificial Intelligence (AI) in terms of the pinnacle of its potential evolution, and that’s a problem.

AI concept

This article I found showcases one current debate about the potential for AI doing evil. “Elon Musk fires back at Mark Zuckerberg in debate about the future: ‘His understanding of the subject is limited’.

On Sunday afternoon, while smoking some meats in his back garden, Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO, questioned why Musk, the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and OpenAI, was being so negative about AI.

What they’re debating is the future potential for AIs that can, for all practical purposes, duplicate and then go far beyond the capabilities of the human mind. And, in addition, possess the ability to interact with humans beings for good or evil.

We’re NOT There Yet

Of course, AIs today are very limited. We discover those limitations when we realize that AI demos typically only address one or two specific tasks. Like playing chess. Or driving a car on the roadways—in traffic. Our interactions with Siri provide confirmation every day of that AI’s limits.

So what’s the debate really about? I think those who worry, like Elon Musk, ponder two certain things.

  • Computer hardware and AI development will continue until we do reach the holy grail of, essentially, artificial superminds.
  • There won’t be any way to control who gets to use advanced AI technologies. That is to say, look at how another technology, the Internet, has already been used for evil purposes.

Just as Apple has built a sophisticated web browser, called Safari, that serves us well and trued to protect us, there’s no way to perfectly protect the user when dedicated minds, the hackers, try to subvert the good uses of Safari for financial gain or other purposes.

Moreover, even though Apple has, for example, joined the Partnership on AI consortium, there’s no guarantee that the knowledge or ethics developed there will be constrained only for good purposes, all over the planet Earth.

AI Limits

So then the question boils down to the limits of human capabilities. I don’t think anyone doubts that we’ll get smart enough to build an entity like Star Trek’s Lt. Commander Data. See NASA’s page on the science of Star Trek:

At a conference on cybernetics several years ago, the president of the association was asked what is the ultimate goal of his field of technology. He replied, ‘Lieutenant Commander Data.’ Creating Star Trek’s Mr. Data would be a historic feat of cybernetics, and it’s very controversial in computer science whether it can be done.

So how long will this take? If it takes us another 100 years to build a Lt. Commander Data, unforeseen events, war, climate change, and cultural changes could prevent that kind of evolution from ever happening. On the other hand, if we develop AI technology too fast, without adequate controls, we could end up as we did with nuclear weapons. A lot of power that we struggle to keep under control.

In the end, I think both Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Musk have equally good points. In Mr. Zuckerberg’s favor, AI technology will do a lot to help us out in the short term, limited in scope as it is. However, in the long run, Mr. Musk has a great point. Namely, our species hasn’t been able to control its worst instincts on the current day internet. What will we have to do as a species to avoid the worst possible fate of massive AI evil inflicted on ourselves.

That’s what we’re in the process of finding out.

Trump Claims 3 Apple Manufacturing Plants Will Come to U.S.

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-25 22:07, modified on 2017-07-26 13:30

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, President Trump claimed that three Apple manufacturing plants will be built in the United States. As Apple declined to comment, we have to take Mr. Trump at his word that this will happen. He didn’t disclose a location or a timeframe for when this would happen either.

Designed and Built in California?

“I spoke to [Mr. Cook], he’s promised me three big plants—big, big, big,” Mr. Trump said as part of a discussion about business-tax reform and business investment. “I said you know, Tim, unless you start building your plants in this country, I won’t consider my administration an economic success. He called me, and he said they are going forward.”

This isn’t the first time that Mr. Trump has urged Apple to move more of its manufacturing back to the United States. During the presidential campaign, he wanted Apple to help bring more jobs in the U.S., a promise that the President hasn’t yet fulfilled.

Workers in Apple manufacturing plants built iPhones.

Workers in a Foxconn plant.

Apple’s Contributions

Right now, Apple has two million jobs in the U.S., which includes Apple employees, suppliers, and app developers, while directly employing 80,000 American citizens. In May, Apple announced plans to create a US$1 billion dollar fund to invest in U.S. companies for advanced manufacturing.

Some Mac computers have been made in the U.S. for several years now. Flex Ltd. builds Macs in Austin, Texas, while Quanta Computer Inc. builds them in Fremont, California. There is even talk of Foxconn building a manufacturing plant in the U.S., possibly in Wisconsin.

iOS 11 Contacts App Icon gets a Little Gender Flexibility

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-25 21:27

iOS 11 Developer Beta 4, and now Public Beta 3, changed the Contacts icon from a notebook with the silhouette of a man to a man and a woman. That’s a subtle detail, but one that people are noticing. The tech world has a strong cis male bias—so much so that women, transgender, and anyone that doesn’t embrace the good-old-boys-club attitude are often ridiculed and harassed—that needs some serious shaking up, so sometimes those little things can be a big deal.

Find 1Password’s Hidden Log of Past Generated Passwords [Update]

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-25 20:08, modified at 21:37

Did you know 1Password keeps a hidden log of every password it has generated? I recently found this incredibly helpful in recovering a Bitcoin wallet I thought permanently lost, and I want to show others where it is.

The Issue

Here’s one scenario where this feature could be vitally useful. You generated a password using your 1Password browser plugin, as shown in the screenshot below.

Generating a Password for a Site with 1Password

Generating a Password for a Site with 1Password

Now, that’s great. You have a good password and 1Password autofills it in your form, and you’re good to go. Or so you think. It turns out you didn’t actually save the password in either 1Password or iCloud Keychain. Either you forgot to OK saving it or the form was constructed in such a way that 1Password or iCloud Keychain didn’t recognize as a new password and didn’t ask to save it.

Most of the time this isn’t a huge issue because most online services allow you to reset your password one way or another. But not all of them do, and Blockchain.info’s online Bitcoin wallet is a good example. That service is set up specifically to prevent password resets without the use of a 12-word recovery phrase. If you don’t have that recovery phrase and lose your password, you’re SOL. Period.

1Password Password Log

Enter 1Password’s password log, which you can find in the main window of 1Password. It’s in the sidebar under Categories labeled simply Passwords. The problem is that it looks just like your list of Logins, but it isn’t.

Instead, it’s a sortable list of every password the app has generated for you. In this screenshot, for instance, you’ll see every single password ever created for BackBeat Media. AgileBits’ Dan Peterson, Lead Designer for 1Password, told me about it at Macstock 2017, and it helped me get into that Blockchain.info Bitcoin wallet I thought I’d lost.

1Password Password Log

1Password Password Log

The key to this list is that it’s separate from your database of 1Password logins. Note, for instance, that there’s no username or other info in this entry. Instead, it’s labeled with the URL of the site where I generated it, along with the URL where it was generated. It’s a list of generated passwords that is automatically saved at the point of generation.

The list is sortable alphabetically, date modified, date created, title, and several other options. If you’ve lost a password that was generated by 1Password, look for it here.

Adobe Officially Kills Flash, Support Ends in 2020

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-25 19:49

I’ve said it before, but this time Adobe is making it official: Flash is dead. Adobe just announced the official demise of its once-dominant multimedia platform, which will ride off into the sunset for the last time by the end of 2020.

Adobe says Flash was deprecated over time by new open standards like HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly. Web features that used to require plug-ins are built into browsers, making Flash a relic from the past that’s been tenuously hanging on for years. With Flash playing such a small role in our online browsing experience, it doesn’t make sense to continue dumping resources into the platform.

Adobe ending all Flash support in 2020

Adobe officially kills Flash

That’s the friendly way of saying Flash lost relevance when web browsing shifted to mobile devices, but its days were numbered even before that. Flash is plagued with security problems, was never designed with touch interfaces in mind, and has been far too processor and resource heavy to efficiently run on mobile devices.

The rise of HTML5 and CSS3 helped drive more nails into Flash’s coffin, as did the shift away from including the platform as part of standard operating system installations. When mainstream web browsers started blocking Flash content—including Safari and Google Chrome—that sealed the platform’s fate. Add to that YouTube and Facebook transitioning away from Flash, and you have the perfect death cocktail.

When Adobe conceded a couple years ago that HTML5 was the new standard, it was only a matter of time before an official end of life announcement was made.

Flash is Dead, but You Aren’t Screwed Yet

Adobe’s proclamation that Flash is dead doesn’t, however, mean holdout websites that haven’t transitioned away from the platform yet are out of luck. Adobe plans to provide security updates and bug fixes, as well as add new features as necessary, until the end of 2020.

The company is also working with some big names in the tech space to help make the final transition away from Flash easier. Adobe said in a statement,

In collaboration with several of our technology partners—including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla—Adobe is planning to end-of-life Flash. Specifically, we will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats.

That doesn’t mean your Flash-dependent website will stop working on January 1, 2021, although it might as well. There won’t be any support or updates from Adobe, and site visitors won’t be able to download Flash player. In other words, the excuse that you can’t switch away from Flash won’t fly any more.

Here’s what I said about Flash in 2015, and it still holds true today:

At this point, Flash is a liability anywhere it’s installed. If you don’t need it, don’t install it on your computer. If you do need it, ask yourself why, because it’s possible there’s an alternate solution available. If there isn’t, then it’s time for the companies giving you Flash-only services to change their content delivery systems.

There was a time when Flash was a revolutionary tool that transformed the web from static text and images into a powerful multimedia experience. That was a long time ago, and now even Adobe is making it clear: Flash is dead; long live HTML5.

Apple Releases iOS 11 Public Beta 3

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-25 18:15

Apple released iOS 11 Public Beta 3 on Tuesday. The release comes the day after the company seeded iOS 11 Developer Beta 4 to developers. Apple doesn’t include detailed release notes with the public beta releases, but each release includes bug fixes, tweaks, and new approaches for features in iOS 11.

iOS 11 public beta 3 available for iPhone and iPad

iOS 11 public beta 3 available for iPhone and iPad

New features in iOS 11 include powerful augmented reality support, Siri improvements, a redesigned Control Center, a new Photos app, drag-and-drop between apps, and more.

iOS 11 Public Beta 3

You can enroll your iPhone or iPad at the Apple Beta Software Program. Once you’ve done so, you can download the releases through iTunes or through Software Update on your device. If you’ve already enrolled an iOS device, you’ll find the update in Software Update or iTunes.

iOS 11 Public Beta 3 is a 335.2MB download as an over-the-air (OTA) update on iPad Pro (9.7-inch).

Drop your experiences with this update in the comments below.

Apple Releases macOS High Sierra Public Beta 3

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-25 18:03, modified at 18:07

Apple released macOS High Sierra Public Beta 3 on Tuesday. The release comes the day after the company seeded Developer Beta 4 to developers. Apple doesn’t include detailed release notes with the public beta releases, but each release includes bug fixes, tweaks, and new approaches in implementing the many new features in macOS High Sierra.

macOS High Sierra beta

macOS High Sierra Public Beta 3

Speaking of which, macOS High Sierra includes improvements to Mail and Safari, more efficient file transfer performance, improved security, augmented and virtual reality support, new Siri voices, HEVC video support, and more.

You can enroll your Mac at the Apple Beta Software Program. Once you’ve done so, you can download the releases from the Mac App Store (MAS). If you’ve already enrolled your Mac, you’ll find the update in Software Update on the MAS.

Drop your experiences with this update in the comments below.

Selling Your Roomba Data, WebCrypto Explained – TMO Daily Observations 2017-07-25

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-25 17:25

The Mac Observer Daily Observations Podcast

Final Draft 10: $127.49 with Coupon Code

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-25 16:50

We have a deal on Final Draft 10, screenwriting software for Mac and Windows. Features include Story Map, Beat Board, collaborative capabilities, and much more. We have it for $149.99 in our deal site, which is already 40% off, but we also have a 15% coupon code for you that brings it down to $127.49. Enter coupon code FINALDRAFT15 at checkout to get the discount.

Apple TV Universal Search Adds Discovery Life, More

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-25 15:22, modified at 15:23

Apple TV’s Universal Search feature is inching closer to being an actual universal search now that Discovery Life GO, as well as a few other content providers, are on board.

Apple TV showing TV app and Universal Search

Apple TV Universal Search adds more channels

Universal Search lets you hunt for shows across all providers—or at least all supported providers—instead of opening individual apps. It’s a great concept, but one that’s hobbled by providers who aren’t supporting the feature.

The list of just added content providers includes:

  • AHC GO
  • Destination America GO
  • Discovery Life GO
  • Filmstruck
  • Shudder
  • Sundance Now
  • Velocity GO

Seeing more content providers supporting Universal Search is great. Maybe someday Netflix will see that, too, and finally offer true Universal Search support, too.

You can check out the full list of providers supporting Universal Search at Apple’s website.

iClever IC-HS20 Gaming Headset Hands-on Review

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-25 14:07, modified at 14:16

I had the opportunity to review the iClever IC-HS20 Gaming Headset. The thing looked so cool I jumped at the chance even though I prefer to go wireless. The headset was advertised as providing a 7.1 surround sound experience with terrific audio qualities. The manufacturer also spoke of an amazing microphone for gaming enthusiasts. Even though I’m not a gamer, I regularly use microphones for Skype and Google Hangouts, so it was really a no-brainer to try out this model. Let’s dive in and see how this headset stacks up against the competition.

iClever IC-HS20 Gaming Headset

The iClever IC-HS20 Gaming Headset, complete with its stand

About the iClever IC-HS20 Gaming Headset

As I implied, this is a wired headset, and it uses a USB connection. That means it won’t work with your iPhone or iPad, but it will function perfectly with your PC, Mac, or most gaming consoles. It’s an on-the-ear headset with a boom microphone, and LED lights to add some pizazz. Someone told me that the blue LED in the boom microphone made me look a bit like a stylized Locutus of Borg, if you get the reference. Pretty cool.

iClever IC-HS20 Gaming headset

You be the judge: does the iClever IC-HS20 Gaming Headset make me look a bit like Locutus of Borg?

The headphones feature 50mm drivers, and offer a simulated 7.1 surround sound experience. You can tune the surround sound with the downloadable software package, but only if you’re using Windows. I’m not, so I didn’t play with that.

iClever IC-HS20 Gaming Headset

The LEDs in the earcups change color periodically

The USB cable is more than 90 inches long. You’ll have no problem plugging into your gaming console and then sitting back a ways from your big-screen television. The included headset stand is great for showing off your IC-HS20 when you aren’t using it.

What You Get

  • The iClever IC-HS20 Gaming Headset
  • Headset stand
  • User manual
  • Warranty card

The Sound Quality

Whether you’re gaming or listening to music, the IC-HS20 Gaming Headset offers very good sound quality. This isn’t a Beats model, mind you, but the audio performance is definitely on par with those over-the-ear headphones.

Highs, lows, and mids are quite good and the clarity is excellent, at low to moderate volumes. As you pump up the volume, the sound stays crisp and clear with almost no distortion at max. I wouldn’t recommend listening to this headset at maximum volume for long, though, because it is powerful enough to damage your hearing.

While this headset isn’t quite as stellar as Blue’s Ella, as reviewed by Bryan Chaffin, it’s in a completely different economic ballpark. Within its own economic niche, the iClever IC-HS20 Gaming Headset leads the pack in sound quality.

The Built-In Microphone

Whether you’re gaming or just using the microphone for Skype or other voice-over-internet needs, you’ll want to know how well the microphone stands up. This headset features a retractable boom microphone. The boom is flexible, so you can orient the microphone however you prefer.

The only problem I had with the microphone was when I’d try using the headset to watch movies late at night. The blue LED at the end of the mic can’t be turned off. It might distract you from your viewing pleasure. It certainly did me, but then I found I could rotate the boom away from my line of sight. This did improve the experience greatly.

The question is, how good is the microphone? For the price point this model comes in at, it’s quite good. If you extend the microphone and place it in front of your mouth, people on the other end of the conversation will be able to hear you quite clearly. On the other hand, if you forget and leave it retracted, your listeners might find you muffled. One negative aspect, though, is that quiet environments will make it clear that this is a budget microphone – there’s a good deal of white noise to contend with.

The Price Point for the iClever IC-HS20 Gaming Headset

I’ve hinted at the price point already, so let’s lay it on you. At the time of this writing, the iClever IC-HS20 Gaming Headset was on sale at Amazon for just under US $28.

That’s quite possibly the lowest price I’ve seen for a full-featured gaming headset, and the sound quality suggests a much higher asking price.

Comfortable Wear

I’ve worn the iClever IC-HS20 Gaming Headset for hours on end, without any real ear fatigue. The heavily padded earmuffs fit nicely, and don’t press too hard even against stud earrings. The headband is soft and padded, providing excellent separation between the aluminum band holding the headset together. The USB cable is long enough to keep it easily out of your way, and sturdy enough to prevent breaking or crimping.

The Bottom Line

This is currently my go-to headset for use at my computer, whether I’m listening to music, watching a video, or chatting online. I don’t, however, use the microphone that’s built into the headset. I’m able to get much better voice quality using another microphone. So, I typically use the iClever IC-HS20 Gaming Headset for listening and another microphone for my broadcasts.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive headset with great sound quality and good voice pickup, this is definitely for you. Don’t let my use of another microphone scare you off – I have atypical needs when it comes to my voice quality. For gaming or chatting over a VoIP solution, this headset works out quite well.

macOS: Turning on Your Firmware Password

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-25 12:58, modified at 14:16

For personal data security in case your Mac gets lost or stolen, nothing beats FileVault. Seriously, nothing. In fact, if you don’t have this nifty built-in disk encryption on, you should configure it right now. Seriously, go. GO!

Are you back? Good. I feel better. And you will, too, if your Mac ends up in the hands of a thief.

In any case, there is something else you could do for a bit of extra security if you’re über-paranoid—you could turn on your Mac’s firmware password. This’ll prevent someone from booting your Mac off anything other than your startup disk, which means that a thief couldn’t easily wipe your drive to sell your device; if you have Automatic Login off within System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Options as well, this’ll make it difficult to do much of anything with your hardware. I think of this not as security, really, but as a big ol’ middle finger to anyone who takes my computer. Good luck selling it, bub, if no one can log in! Mwahahahaha.

So to set this up and give your own middle finger to any thieves, first restart your Mac, then hold down the keyboard shortcut Command-R right after you hear the startup sound. (You can let go as soon as you see the Apple logo appear.) This’ll put you into what Apple calls macOS Recovery and what I call Recovery Mode. Hey, that’s what they used to call it, and I don’t like change.

Within Recovery Mode (ahem), you can do all sorts of useful stuff, like reinstalling your operating system or restoring from Time Machine. But the Firmware Password Utility option will be up under the “Utilities” menu at the top of the screen.

Mac Firmware Password Utility

Excuse the crappy photos, guys. You can’t take a screenshot in Recovery Mode.

Anyway, once you’ve chosen “Firmware Password Utility,” you’ll be given the choice to turn on this protection.

Turn On Firmware Password in the macOS Firmware Password Utility

Click “Turn On Firmware Password,” and you can do just that by entering your desired password twice.

The Mac Firmware Password UtilityEnter Password makes you enter a new password

OK, so here’s the caveat. You can’t forget this password. If you do, your only option will be to take your Mac to Apple or an authorized service provider for unlocking, and that’s no good. I know we all want to annoy the heck out of thieves, but if you’re the type who’s likely to forget this info, then maybe you should be satisfied with FileVault, all right? Or you could just have the password tattooed on you, Memento-style. Whatever works.

If you’ve decided to go ahead, then, type in the password twice and click “Set Password.” Afterward, your Mac will congratulate you for your hard work.

Firmware Password Utility shows password protection Enabled

And you can test this right away by trying to start back up in Recovery Mode, which will activate the firmware password protection we just enabled.

Lock Icon showing you need to enter the firmware password to boot your Mac in Recovery Mode

Ha! No one can unlock my Mac except me! Come get me, thieves!

…I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Please don’t take my Mac. I need it to browse Reddit.

Construction Site Progress at 5th Avenue Apple Store in NYC

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-24 22:15, modified at 22:34

I happened to be by the 5th Avenue Apple store yesterday (what a zoo) and had a chance to photograph progress of the new store build.  You may recall, the underground 5th Avenue Apple store has been closed for renovation/reconstruction, and the glass cube above the basement store has been taken down. (Jump to the bottom of the article for an Apple Maps view I annotated for context.)

Shot from the west; you can see the southern fountain is gutted.

Shot from the west; you can see the southern fountain is gutted.

Temporary entrance to temporary Apple Store

Temporary entrance to temporary Apple Store at the old FAO Schwarz toy store

As you can see in the photos, Apple put a tarp over where the glass cube used to stand.  The company also seems to have gutted the fountain displays that sat to the north and south of the glass cube.

Shot from the north west, and a bit higher showing the top of the tarp.

Shot from the north west, and a bit higher showing the top of the tarp.

It’s not clear why the fountains were gutted or whether Apple plans to build something in its place. It’s not likely Cartier would allow any structure much more than a fountain to be built there as it would block its store from view.

From the west; the gutted northern fountain in front of Cartier.

From the west; the gutted northern fountain in front of Cartier.

Anyway, I’m not sure what is going on with the fountains, but hope you enjoy the shots of the progress. Let us know in the comments what you think might be happening at the site.

From the north; shot of the fountain and cube tarp.

From the north; shot of the fountain and cube tarp.

Shot from the north; the black tarp covers where the glass cube used to stand, and behind that you see the temporary apple store front where the old FAO Schwarz toy store used to reside.

Shot from the north; the black tarp covers where the glass cube used to stand, and behind that you see the temporary apple store front where the old FAO Schwarz toy store used to reside.

Closer shot of the tarp covering what used to be the entrance at the glass cube.

Closer shot of the tarp covering what used to be the entrance at the glass cube.

Shot from the south

Shot from the south

Apple Maps satellite view of Apple 5th Ave — annotated for context

Apple Maps satellite view of Apple 5th Ave when the famous glass “Cube” was still in place — annotated for context

Learn More About Folder Notifications With 3D Touch

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-24 22:03

It’s possible, with 3D Touch, to find out about those folder notifications, like which apps have been pinged. This is an amazing find for me, since I’m a folder fanatic. I group my apps together, because there’s only so much room on a Home screen. Here’s the problem. Those notification numbers climb and we need a way to find out which apps are begging for attention.

3D Touch folder notifications

Learn more about those folder notifications with the help of 3D Touch

3D Touch Shows More About Folder Notifications

When you notice that your folders are showing numbers, it’s actually easy to find out which of the apps that folder has notifications. If you use 3D Touch and deep press on the folder, you’ll get a popup window that shows you which of the apps have those pesky notifications, and how many each one has.

From there, you can tap on an app name. You’ll be taken straight to that app, and can deal with your notifications. It’s definitely more efficient than opening the folder, browsing through all of your apps to find out which ones have notifications, and then tapping the right one.

It’s refreshing to find new 3D Touch options, especially since we know that Apple is taking at least one of them away from us in iOS 11. Watch this tip in action by way of Apple’s tweet about the feature.

Bonus Tip – Change the Folder Name

As an extra quick tip, that same 3D Touch action will also let you change the folder’s name. You can use that one even if none of the apps in that folder have notifications.

On Working For, Then Leaving Apple

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-24 20:15

For some, the obsession is to work for Apple; for some others who’ve done that, the goal is to move on.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Author, Photographer and Pilot Maria Langer

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-24 19:24

Bob LeVitus Doesn’t Want You Buying the Paperback of Working Smarter for Mac Users

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-24 19:12, modified on 2017-07-25 08:19

So my old friend Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus made a paperback version of Working Smarter for Mac Users, but he doesn’t want you to buy it. Weird, right? He has his reasons, though, and he made a video (with some cheesy help from yours truly) explaining why. Check it out. And if you haven’t already checked out Working Smarter for Mac Users, you should. I edited this book, and it’s amazeballs. It’s chock full of both Mac productivity tips and Dr. Mac’s techniques for overcoming procrastination. But unlike other productivity systems I’ve read, Bob’s focus is less about “do these things” than it is, “here are different things to try, and here’s how to think about them so you can pick what works for you.” It’s on Amazon ($19.99 Kindle, $29.99 Paperback), iBooks ($19.99), or direct from Bob (where’s a coupon code at the bottom of the page). In the meanwhile, enjoy Bob’s video!

macOS High Sierra Developer Beta 4 Rolls Out

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-24 18:47, modified at 18:48

Along with iOS 11 developer beta 4, Apple released macOS High Sierra developer beta 4 on Monday.

macOS High Sierra beta

Apple releases macOS High Sierra developer beta 4

macOS High Sierra includes improvements to Mail and Safari, more efficient file transfer performance, improved security, augmented and virtual reality support, new Siri voices, HEVC video support, and more.

Downloading and installing the developer beta requires and Apple Developer account and a compatible Mac. Since High Sierra is still very much a beta product, don’t install it on mission-critical machines.

The next public beta will likely drop in the next few days.

Apple Chip Supply Speeds Up, While Non-Apple Supply Slows Down

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-24 18:43

This is it. The calm before the storm. The pause before you sneeze. The tech world is collectively holding its breath in anticipation of the next iPhone. Whether it will be called the iPhone 8, the iPhone Pro, or even iPhone X, Apple is dominating the world’s chip supply for its next flagship. Apple’s chip supply chain started picking up orders in June, while supply for non-Apple companies remained low. and isn’t expected to rise until the fourth quarter.

Image of workers in chip supply manufacturing.

Global Chip Supply

According to DigiTimes, demand for supplies from other manufacturers usually starts in April and wanes in August, but this year it seems like companies are holding back until they see what Apple reveals this fall. From the report:

In addition, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has seen its non-Apple customers express more interest in the foundry’s 12nm node manufacturing, an enhanced version of its 16nm process technology, than its 10nm process…The upcoming iPhone series is set to feature Apple’s A-series chips built using TSMC’s 10nm process technology.

Analysts expect strong iPhone 8 sales that will sustain demand for TSMC’s 10nm chips through the first quarter of 2018.

Apple Releases iOS 11 Developer Beta 4 for iPhone, iPad

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-24 18:27, modified at 18:28

Apple released iOS 11 developer beta 4 on Monday for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The update fixes several bugs, updates some app icons, and fixes compatibility issues with some third-party apps.

iOS 11, watchOS 4, tvOS 11, macOS High Sierra developer preview updates

Apple releases iOS 11 developer preview beta 4

iOS 11 was first shown off during Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in early June. The new iPhone and iPad operating system includes powerful augmented reality support, Siri improvements, a redesigned Control Center, a new Photos app, drag-and-drop between apps, and more.

You’ll need an Apple Developer Connection account to download the developer beta along with a compatible device. iOS 11 is still a beta for good cause: some features are broken, others have stability issues or don’t always perform as expected, data could be lost, and crashes should be expected.

The public beta updates tend to follow a few days after the developer releases, so expect to see that soon.

iOS 11 developer beta 4 is a free download for developers. The official release this fall will be a free download for everyone.

Siri, Just a Poor Assistant – an Homage to Queen [Video]

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-24 17:57

Siri, reciting a snippet of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody after being asked, “Hey, Siri. I see a little silhouetto of a man.” A tip o’ the hat to Guy Serle, who first alerted me to this on Twitter.


Net Neutrality Explained – TMO Daily Observations 2017-07-24

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-24 17:26

The Mac Observer Daily Observations Podcast

10-Ft MFi-Certified Lightning Cable 3-Pack: $16.99

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-24 15:55, modified on 2017-07-25 08:22

Our deal for a 3-pack of 10-foot MFi-Certified Lightning cables for $16.99 is back. Easy peasy.

JCPenney Credit Card Adds Apple Pay Support

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-24 15:48

Attention JCPenney shoppers: the department store retailer just added Apple Pay support to the JCPenney credit card. The JCPenney Rewards program is part of the deal, too, so you can earn points on your purchases.

Apple Pay now supported by JCPenney credit card

JCPenney store credit card adds Apple Pay support

Apple Pay is Apple’s mobile payment system that uses your iPhone for credit card transactions instead of an old-school plastic card. The payment transaction platform is also available on the iPad and Mac, and is more secure than using your actual credit card.

JCPenney hired Ron Johnson, the man who spearheaded Apple’s own stores, to help stem declining sales and bring the company back to health in 2011. The retailer wasn’t comfortable with the changes he made, so he was fired and the company went back to the same old ways that hadn’t been working before he came on board.

The retailer is no doubt hoping Apple Pay support for its own credit card will help draw in new customers. Apple Pay support for purchases made in the JCPenney app on the iPhone and iPad is coming soon, too.

Apple Buying Gear to Make its Own OLED Panels

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-24 14:52, modified at 14:53

Apple seems to be working to cut its reliance on Samsung for OLED panels even before they start showing up in new iPhones. The Cupertino company reportedly purchased chemical vapor deposition machines to make its own OLED panels in Taiwan.

Samsung and LG are fighting to win OLED screen contracts from Apple

Apple ramping up to make its own OLED iPhone displays

Currently, Samsung and LG are the go-to manufacturers for OLED panels in large quantities. Both companies are said to be banking on supplying Apple and are building new factories to ramp up their OLED output.

Apple has relied only on LCD panels for the iPhone and iPad, but reports claim that’s about to change. The iPhone 8, rumored to be coming this fall, is said to be the first iPhone model to use OLED instead of LCD. The new model will also pack an iPhone 7 Plus-size screen into a body that’s only slightly larger than the iPhone 7, will have a virtual instead of physical home button, include a 3D-sensing front-facing camera, dual rear-facing cameras, and more.

Chemical vapor deposition, or CVD, machines are used in the production of OLED panels. ET News said Apple purchased its machines from Sunic Systems, according to DigiTimes.

Don’t look for Apple’s own OLED displays in iPhones this fall because it takes time to ramp up production. The company reportedly has a two-year deal with Samsung for at least 70 million OLED panels in 2017 and more the following year.

Apple presumably expects its own OLED production will be up to speed in time to scale back its reliance on Samsung in 2019.

Siri Co-stars in New Ad with Dwayne Johnson

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-24 12:42, modified on 2017-07-26 16:37

Dwayne Johnson is one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood, but that didn’t stop him from partnering with Apple on an epic commercial featuring the iPhone voice assistant Siri. The nearly four minute spot takes The Rock and Siri on an epic journey he calls the “biggest, coolest, craziest, dopest, most over the top, funnest” movie ever. The spot is called The Rock X Siri: Dominate the Day and you can watch it on Apple’s YouTube channel now. Ironically, asking Siri to show you the movie only brings up a list of Dwayne Johnson flicks.[Update: Bob LeVitus talks about this ad in his newest column.]