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In this issue: Apple announces new iMacs; New AirPods from Apple; macOS 10.14.4 Mojave: Let's do this!; Use Emergency Bypass to get important calls and texts; Software recommendations; Hardware recommendations.
April 2019 Newsletter

Apple announces new iMacs

The iMac has long been the core of Apple’s desktop lineup, but it hasn’t received any updates since June 2017. Now, however, Apple has quietly updated the 21.5-inch iMac with Retina 4K display and the 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display while keeping prices the same. The bargain-basement non-Retina 21.5-inch iMac remains for sale, but received no changes.

These updates are targeted at improving performance, so you won’t see any changes to the case, screen, or even networking capabilities. But if faster CPUs, GPUs, and memory are what you want, now’s a good time to buy. We recommend one of the Retina models as we consider the non-Retina version to be underpowered and suspect that it won't have the same longevity as a result. 

The new 21.5-inch iMac boasts speedier 8th-generation Intel quad-core processors and an optional 6-core processor at the top of the line that deliver up to 60% faster performance than previous models. For even greater speed boosts—Apple claims up to 2.4 times faster performance—look to the 27-inch iMac, which now offers 9th-generation 6-core Intel Core i5 processors running at 3.0, 3.1, or 3.7 GHz. If that’s not enough, you can choose an 8-core 3.6 GHz Intel Core i9 processor for the best performance short of an iMac Pro.

Modern computers rely heavily on graphics processors for both silky smooth screen drawing and computationally intensive tasks. By default, both new iMac models have updated versions the previous Radeon Pro graphics chips, but anyone who needs more power can instead choose a blazingly fast Radeon Pro Vega. For the 21.5-inch model, Apple says the Radeon Pro Vega is up to 80% faster; for the 27-inch iMac, it’s up to 50% faster.

Note that both iMacs now use 2666 MHz RAM instead of the previous 2400 MHz RAM. It probably won’t make much of a performance difference, but it’s worth keeping the speed in mind if you’re buying RAM separately from the iMac.

For those ordering an iMac from the online Apple store, if the options you want are in the top-level configuration, start there rather than in the next configuration down. It’s possible to configure two Macs to have the same options for the same price but get a better Radeon Pro graphics processor if you start from the top-level configuration.

For storage, we recommend SSDs over Fusion Drives, as the Fusion Drives have proven unreliable. That said, we recommend either over a performance-destroying internal hard drive, a storage mechanism so slow that I'm picturing a spinning beachball even as I type this.

For those looking for the ultimate power in an iMac Pro, Apple also quietly added options for 256 GB of RAM (for a whopping $5200) and a Radeon Pro Vega 64X GPU ($700) while simultaneously dropping the prices on some other RAM and storage options. 

If you're a client and have any questions or would like to place an order for Apple gear through MacAtoZ, you're welcome to give us a call (503-507-0410) or send us an email (info@macatoz.com). We're not a sales-driven organization, but if it's helpful to you, we're eager to assist.  
 

New AirPods from Apple

If you use Apple’s AirPods, you’re probably a fan. Along with the Apple Watch, AirPods are among our favorite Apple products of recent years. If you haven’t tried them, you may not realize what you’re missing. They pair quickly and reliably with all your Apple devices, provide excellent audio quality, and sit comfortably in most people’s ears (more so than the wired EarPods). The AirPods are Apple’s most popular accessory—the company sold 35 million in 2018.

Apple has now unveiled the second-generation AirPods, the first hardware update since their initial release in December 2016. A new Apple-designed H1 chip designed for headphones provides faster connections, more talk time (up to 3 hours), and the convenience invoking Siri with “Hey Siri.” (With the first-generation AirPods, you can configure a double-tap to bring up Siri—when the AirPods are active, look in Settings > Bluetooth > AirPods.)

The new AirPods still cost $159 with a standard Lightning-based charging case, but Apple has also introduced the Wireless Charging Case, which is bundled with the new AirPods for $199 or available separately for both the first- and second-generation AirPods for $79. The Wireless Charging Case works with any Qi-compatible charging mat. It features a tiny LED indicator light on the front of the case to show the case’s charge status, and if you buy from Apple online, you can now get 19 characters of personalized engraving on the front of the case.

macOS 10.14.4 Mojave: Let's do this! 
As long-time readers know, we're pretty slow to recommend Apple's new Mac operating systems. I don't recall ever giving the "let's go" to a version of macOS before the ".3" revision. And that's obviously the case with 10.14 Mojave as well because Apple's on the point four. 

We've been testing Mojave internally since it shipped, and, as always, there have been bugs, unreliability, and third-party software conflicts. Nothing new, really, and all software—particularly something so large as an operating system—will have those problems. Mojave is no different, and there will undoubtedly be a ".5" soon to come. 

But we're feeling good enough in Mojave to recommend it as an upgrade. As always, you'll want to make sure you have a current backup of your data before proceeding, and you can always call MacAtoZ to do the upgrade for you if you don't feel confident or don't want to bother with it.  

At the same time, if you're currently happy with your Mac running Sierra (10.12) or High Sierra (10.13), both those operating systems remain secure. You needn't feel any particular time pressure to move to Mojave right now if you don't want to. 
 

Use Emergency Bypass to get important calls and texts

Your iPhone's Do Not Disturb mode is awesome. Sometimes, say between the hours of 9 PM and 6 AM, you just don't want to be bothered. Do Not Disturb is perfect for that. 

However, there’s little worse than missing an important call or text because your iPhone was in Do Not Disturb mode or because the Mute switch was engaged. If there are certain people—a spouse, parent, or child—whose calls and texts you always want to break through the cone of silence, iOS has a solution: Emergency Bypass.

When enabled for a particular contact’s ringtone or text tone, Emergency Bypass ensures the sound and vibration will happen regardless of Do Not Disturb or the Mute switch position.

To set up Emergency Bypass on your iPhone, edit the person’s contact card in the Phone or Contacts app, tap Ringtone, and enable Emergency Bypass. You can turn on Emergency Bypass separately for calls in the Ringtone settings and for texts in the Text Tone settings. And remember, you can always set someone’s tone to None and enable a vibration instead to ensure Emergency Bypass doesn’t allow a call to interrupt a movie, play, or concert.
 

Software Recommendations

macOS 10.14.4 Mojave. macOS 10.12.6 Sierra and macOS 10.13.6 are acceptable. Earlier versions should be upgraded ASAP. You can see your Mac's operating system version by going to the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen and choosing "About This Mac." 

iOS 12.2. No other versions are acceptable. Any device that can run iOS 11 should be upgraded to 12.2. You can see your iPhone or iPad's operating system version by going to Settings > General > About > Version.

watchOS 5.2. Older versions acceptable if necessary; upgrade if your devices (iPhone and Apple Watch) support it. You can see your Apple Watch's operating system version by going to Settings > General > About > Version. 

tvOS 12.2. Apple TV models that run tvOS should upgrade to this version. Note that earlier models of Apple TV do not run tvOS and are fine for what they do. You can see if there's a software update available for your Apple TV by going to Settings > System > Software Updates > Update Software.
 

Hardware Recommendations

Macintosh
  • iMac: iMac10,1 (Late 2009) or newer
  • Mac mini: Macmini4,1 (Mid 2010) or newer
  • Mac Pro: MacPro5,1 (Mid 2010) or newer
  • MacBook: MacBook6,1 (Late 2009) or newer
  • MacBook Air: MacBookAir3,1 (Late 2010) or newer
  • MacBook Pro: MacBookPro7,1 (Mid 2010) or newer
    • Note that 2016-2018 MacBook Pro models have a higher than usual keyboard failure rate. Used 2015 models, which use a different style keyboard, may be a more reliable option.
These are minimum hardware recommendations based on what is necessary to run a secure operating system (macOS 10.12.6 Sierra or macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra). 

The following are the macOS 10.14 Mojave system requirements. If your Mac does not meet these specifications, it will need to be replaced by fall of 2020, when High Sierra will no longer be secure.

macOS 10.14 Mojave system requirements
  • MacBook (Early 2015 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Mid-2012 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid-2012 or later)
  • Mac mini (Late 2012 or later)
  • iMac (Late 2012 or later)
  • iMac Pro (all models)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013)
  • Mac Pro (2010 or later with Metal-compatible GPU)
iPhone and iPad
  • iPhone 5S or newer. Older iPhones cannot run iOS 12.2 which is the only secure version of iOS. 
    • iPhone 7 models have a higher than normal failure rate over time. Given the choice, we would recommend iPhone 8 models as a strong alternative to iPhone 7 models. 
  • iPad Air or newer
  • iPad mini 2 or newer
  • iPad Pro or newer
  • iPad 5th generation or newer
The iPad line is made confusing by the multitude of model names and types (Air, mini, Pro, and just plain iPad). Generally speaking, devices introduced in October 2013 and later will run iOS 12.2. Earlier devices will not run iOS 12.2 and should be replaced unless they will not be used on the internet. 

Apple Watch
  • Apple Watch Series 4 is recommended; all versions are secure and acceptable.
Apple TV
  • Apple TV 4K is recommended. Apple TV (4th generation) is fine as well.
  • Older models of Apple TV do not support tvOS and cannot run Apple TV Store apps, though we are unaware of any major security issues. 

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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.

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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.

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