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In this issue: Apple updates iPad and iPhone product lines; Malware attacks on Macs up 744% in 2016; April SMUG presentation: HomeKit; Latest system updates in testing.
April 2017 Newsletter

Apple updates iPad and iPhone product lines

Apple often adjusts its iPad and iPhone lineup in March, and this year’s changes make the selection more attractive and affordable while adding a new way to support the (RED) international charity. 

New iPad replaces iPad Air 2
The most significant of Apple’s changes is the replacement of the iPad Air 2 with a new 9.7-inch iPad model called simply “iPad.” As if that won't be confusing. (Internally, this new "iPad" is known the iPad 5th Generation.) Very similar to the iPad Air 2, this latest iPad cuts a few features to reduce the price to the lowest ever for a 9.7-inch iPad.

Physically, the new iPad is almost identical to the iPad Air 2, apart from being 1.4 mm thicker (which might cause problems for some existing cases). Inside, Apple swapped the iPad Air 2’s A8X processor for the faster A9 chip, which should improve performance. The cameras remain mostly the same, though photos taken with the rear-facing camera should be somewhat better, thanks to two improvements: auto image stabilization to help avoid blurry images and a hybrid infrared filter to improve color accuracy and sharpness.

On the downside, the new iPad lacks the iPad Air 2’s laminated display and anti-reflective coating, which combined to increase screen clarity, particularly in bright light. You’d have to compare the new iPad against the more expensive iPad mini 4 or the much more expensive 9.7-inch iPad Pro to see if the screen change is a major problem for you.

The big win with the new iPad is price, which has dropped $70: it’s now only $329 for the Wi-Fi–only 32 GB model or $429 for 128 GB. The cellular models cost $459 for 32 GB and $559 for 128 GB. It’s now the least expensive iPad and what Apple expects most new buyers to purchase.

Apple reduces iPad mini 4 price, drops iPad mini 2
The new iPad takes over the entry-level iPad spot from the iPad mini because Apple simultaneously dropped both the iPad mini 2, which had been priced at $269, and the 32 GB model of the iPad mini 4, which previously sold for $399. That leaves just the 128 GB iPad mini 4, and Apple slashed $100 off its price to bring it down to $399. Despite the price drop, unless you especially want the iPad mini’s smaller size or better screen, it’s probably worth $30 to move up to the new 128 GB iPad.

Paint the town (RED) with new iPhone 7 models
For more than 10 years, Apple has partnered with the international (RED) charity to raise money for the Global Fund to combat AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. By offering products in the licensed PRODUCT(RED) color and donating a portion of the proceeds, Apple has raised over $130 million for (RED), making it the charity’s largest corporate donor.

On March 24th, Apple began selling the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus PRODUCT(RED) Special Edition models in 128 GB and 256 GB capacities. They’re functionally identical to the existing iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models, and are priced the same too, but they come in what Apple calls “a vibrant red aluminum finish.” It’s a strong color that’s a far cry from Apple’s almost pastel rose gold color choice, and frankly, I think it's one of the most gorgeous iPhone colors ever.

And if you’d like a PRODUCT(RED) iPhone, but have a perfectly serviceable iPhone right now that you don’t want to replace, Apple now has silicone and leather cases in the (RED) color—they’re not quite as snazzy as the red aluminum finish, but they’re similarly bright.
 
iPhone SE now holds twice as much

Last, but far from least, Apple has doubled the storage tiers for the 4-inch iPhone SE, so you can now purchase a 32 GB model for $399 or a 128 GB model for $499. This minor change is welcome for two types of iPhone users.

First, if you’re looking for the least expensive iPhone, the 32 GB iPhone SE at $399 is $150 cheaper than the 32 GB iPhone 6s at $549. And second, some people with smaller hands or pockets don’t like the extra bulk of even the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s/7, much less the 5.5-inch iPhone 6s/7 Plus. For them, the svelte iPhone SE is a perfect size, and it’s helpful that buying it no longer requires living with only 16 GB or 64 GB of storage.
 

Malware attacks on Macs up 744% in 2016

According to a report by McAfee Labs (an antivirus software company and not unbiased as a result), Mac malware attacks were up 744% in 2016. This tends to match what we're seeing in the field. Mac malware is prevalent, and we receive Sentinel Monitoring warnings almost daily about a client with a new infection.

The good news is that Mac malware remains almost entirely made up of adware, which is a relatively benign form. This matches what we're seeing in our client base as well: Lots of adware, annoying but not harmful. 

There are some more serious types out there, but they're incredibly rare for people who don't download and install software from unknown web sites. Our best advice for now is to be careful about what you install and have a solution like Sentinel to watch over your Mac in case something gets through. 

April SMUG Presentation: HomeKit

Ty Davison, MacAtoZ's Senior Apple Tech, will be presenting at the Salem Macintosh Users Group (SMUG) general meeting on Tuesday, April 11 at 6:45 PM. The meeting is held at Comfort Suites in Salem.  

The topic for the evening will be Apple's HomeKit, their platform for securely automating things around your house like lights, thermostats, and door locks. We've implemented some HomeKit stuff at the office and we'll be doing a FaceTime remote during the presentation so that people can see exactly how HomeKit works. 

SMUG costs just $25 per year per family, so it's highly affordable, but all visitors are welcome if you just want to come and check things out. 

Latest system updates in testing

We've got all the latest Apple system updates in testing right now. We'll have more information and upgrade recommendations in the next newsletter.

What we can say for now is that if you update to macOS 10.12.4 or iOS 10.3, Apple's going to bug you about turning on Two Factor Authentication until you succumb or are driven mad. We'll have details on how to handle Two Factor once we're in a position to recommend the updates. 

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MacAtoZ LLC provides technical support, upgrade, installation, networking, training and tutoring, web design and hosting, and remote support services for Apple products like Macintosh computers, iPhones, iPods, and iPads.

Ty Davison and Dyneé Medlock, our Apple technicians, are the only Apple-certified, Apple Consultants Network members serving both residential and small business clients in Oregon's mid-Willamette Valley.

MacAtoZ has been providing computer services for clients in the Salem area since 2006 (and since 1999 as SiteRev.com). Our technicians are certified by Apple and carry $1 million in business liability insurance. We frequently present and are well-known at the Salem Macintosh Users Group (SMUG). You can count on us.

Our Sentinel and Sentinel+ services offer home users 24/7 Macintosh monitoring, maintenance, and security. Join today!

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