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AUGUST 2022 NEWSLETTER

Apple’s 2022 Harvest: Four iPhones, Three Apple Watches, and New AirPods Pro

Apple’s September crop has ripened, and the company has once again picked a basket of new and updated hardware for us. At its Far Out event on September 7th, Apple unveiled four iPhone 14 models, three new or updated Apple Watch models, and the second-generation AirPods Pro.

After the announcement, Apple said that iOS 16 and watchOS 9 would become available on September 12th, with iPadOS 16.1 and macOS 13 Ventura to arrive in October. As we’ve said before, wait a week or two before installing iOS 16 and watchOS 9 on essential devices to avoid any last-minute bugs. Regardless of when you upgrade, make a backup right before, in case something goes wrong and you need to erase and restore.

Let’s look at each of the new products.
 

iPhone 14 Models Show Both Evolution and Innovation

With the new iPhones, Apple made a clean split between the regular and Pro models. On the lower end, Apple has the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 and the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus—there is no iPhone 14 mini. On the high end, Apple pulled out all the stops for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, again in those 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch sizes. Design-wise, the models are extremely similar to the iPhone 13, with squared-off sides and only very slight size changes.

For the most part, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus aren’t meant to be technologically exciting, relying on the same A15 Bionic chip as last year’s iPhone 13 models. As it usually does, Apple put more attention into the cameras, switching to a new rear-facing 12-megapixel main camera with a larger aperture for better low-light performance and a new front-facing TrueDepth camera that boasts autofocus for the first time. Apple also introduced a new Photonic Engine that leverages hardware and software to improve mid- and low-light performance for all its cameras. On the video side, a new Action mode provides advanced stabilization for smoother action videos, and Cinematic mode now supports 4K video at 24 fps and 30 fps.



More innovative—and present in both the regular and Pro models—are a pair of technologies we sincerely hope you never have to use. Crash detection relies on a variety of sensors in the iPhone to detect the changes in acceleration, air pressure, and sound that accompany car crashes. In the event of a crash, the iPhone’s Emergency SOS feature offers to call emergency services and notify your emergency contacts.



Even more technologically impressive is Emergency SOS via satellite, which enables very low bandwidth text message communication with emergency services using satellites when there’s no cellular coverage. The feature will help you point your iPhone at fast-moving satellites overhead, and it asks vital questions to distill key facts for emergency responders because even short messages may take over a minute to get through. More commonly, you’ll be able to manually share your location via satellite using Apple’s Find My system when you’re without cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity. All this is coming in November 2022 and will be available only in the US and Canada at first.



Apple's final change to both the regular and Pro models—at least in the US—is a switch to eSIM. None of the iPhone 14 models sold in the US will have SIM slots. Most carriers support eSIM at this point, and when traveling to other countries, US iPhone 14 users will need to find roaming plans that support eSIM instead of buying and installing a local SIM card.

The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max boast more exciting changes. The most obvious change is the switch to an Always-On display, much like recent models of the Apple Watch. You’ll be able to view the new Lock screen imagery and widgets at all times without even touching your iPhone. Thanks to a 1 Hz display refresh rate and intelligent dimming of wallpaper, it won’t hurt battery life. And when you’re actively using the iPhone 14 Pro, the screen will be brighter than ever for easier reading in direct sunlight.



Apple also shrunk the Face ID and TrueDepth camera sensor package that occupies a notch on the regular iPhone 14 models and older iPhones. On the iPhone 14 Pro, it’s now a small black lozenge at the top of the screen that can’t display anything but is integrated into a new feature called the Dynamic Island. Alerts and notifications, and a new dynamic notification type called Live Activities, appear to zoom out of and back into the black lozenge, and Live Activities appear on either side. It’s a clever design trick to make you think that portion of the screen is being used.



The Dynamic Island and Always-On display are made possible in part by Apple’s new A16 Bionic chip, which offers more performance and better efficiency than any other smartphone processor. The A16 Bionic handles the most demanding workflows and graphics-intensive games, and it also powers the iPhone 14 Pro’s computational photography features, performing up to 4 trillion operations per photo.

On that topic, the iPhone 14 Pro introduces even more powerful cameras. The main rear-facing camera is now a 48-megapixel camera with a quad-pixel sensor that combines four pixels into one for most photos, improving low-light capture and reducing file size to the equivalent of a 12-megapixel camera. However, the iPhone 14 Pro can also shoot ProRAW photos with the full 48 megapixels to capture unprecedented detail for later processing. The quad-pixel sensor also enables a 2x optical zoom in addition to the improved telephoto camera’s 3x optical zoom. The new 12-megapixel ultra wide camera provides sharper macro shots, and the new front-facing TrueDepth camera offers better low-light performance and autofocus for improved selfies. Apple also enhanced the Adaptive True Tone flash to change its pattern based on the focal length, distributing the light where it’s most needed. Finally, the iPhone 14 Pro gains the same Action mode and Cinematic mode video improvements found in the other iPhone 14 models. 



All four iPhone 14 models start at 128 GB of storage, and the Pro models offer a 1 TB tier for those shooting a lot of ProRAW photos or video. Here are the 128 GB prices—add $100 for 256 GB, $300 for 512 GB, and $500 for 1 TB:
  • iPhone 14: $799
  • iPhone 14 Plus: $899
  • iPhone 14 Pro: $999
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max: $1099
You can pre-order starting at 5 AM PDT on September 9th, with delivery and in-store availability on September 16th, except for the iPhone 14 Plus, which ships on October 7th. The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus come in five colors: midnight, blue, starlight, purple, and (PRODUCT)RED. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max come in deep purple, silver, gold, and space black. The third-generation iPhone SE ($429), iPhone 12 ($599), iPhone 13 mini ($599), and iPhone 13 ($699) remain for sale as well.

Generally speaking, we wouldn’t recommend upgrading from an iPhone 13 that’s serving you well unless you’re switching to the iPhone 14 Plus to get a larger form factor or to one of the Pro models for the ultimate in camera capabilities. It’s easier to recommend an upgrade from an iPhone 12 model or earlier, given the improved camera capabilities.
 

Apple Watch Line Expands with Apple Watch Ultra

This year, Apple introduced not just one new Apple Watch, but three! The second-generation Apple Watch SE provides a better entry-level option, the Apple Watch Series 8 takes over as the flagship model, and the Apple Watch Ultra brings new capabilities to extreme athletes, adventurers, and the rest of ​​us wannabes.



The second-generation Apple Watch SE doesn’t change much from the first-generation model. It has a 30% larger screen in the same 40mm and 45mm case sizes, it boasts the same S8 chip that powers this year’s Apple Watch Series 8, and it has new motion sensors that enable it to detect car crashes, just like the iPhone 14. But it still lacks the more-capable models’ Always-On display, blood oxygen sensor, ECG capability, and fast charging. It costs $249 for a GPS-only model or $299 for the GPS+Cellular model. The case is aluminum, and you can choose from midnight, starlight, and silver colors. You can order now for delivery on September 16th.



The Apple Watch Series 8 doesn’t change physically from the Series 7, but it gains a temperature sensor that Apple leverages for cycle tracking capabilities. We’re hoping Apple can get FDA approval to use the temperature sensor for other health-related options in the future—wouldn’t it be great if your Apple Watch could warn you that you might be getting sick? The Series 8 also gets the new motion sensors to detect car crashes, and travelers will be able to add a cellular Series 8 to an iPhone’s international roaming plan—likely for an additional fee—if the carrier in question supports it. The aluminum case comes in four colors—midnight, starlight, silver, and Product(RED)—and starts at $399 for GPS-only and $499 for GPS+Cellular. The stainless steel case comes in silver, gold, and graphite and starts at $699. Again, order now for delivery on September 16th.



Most interesting is the new Apple Watch Ultra. It’s a completely new design with a 49mm titanium case and a flat sapphire front crystal embedded in the case to protect against side impacts. At 14.4 millimeters, it’s thicker than the other two models, which are only 10.7 millimeters, so it may look ungainly on people with smaller wrists. It features a new Action button that apps can use for their own purposes, along with a larger Digital Crown and side button to make it easier to control with gloves. The Always-On screen is brighter than ever, making it readable in direct sunlight. The larger size also gives it better battery life, with 36 hours in normal usage and up to 60 hours with an extended battery optimization mode Apple says is still coming.



Apple beefed up other specs in the Apple Watch Ultra as well. A new dual-frequency GPS works better in conditions that can block GPS signals. It includes dual speakers and a three-mic array for better audio output and input, even in windy conditions. If you need help being found in the wilderness, it boasts an 86-decibel siren that can be heard up to 180 meters away. It’s IP6X dust resistant and meets the US military standard MIL-STD 810H for environmental conditions. You can even take it diving down to 100 meters, and with the Oceanic+ app coming in a few months, the Apple Watch Ultra can act as a full dive computer.



On the software side, the Apple Watch Ultra includes a new Wayfinder watch face that displays a compass and has a Night mode that switches to red on black for easier reading in the dark. A redesigned Compass app provides multiple views, a backtrack capability to retrace your steps, and waypoints for easier navigation.

The Apple Watch Ultra offers a choice of three bands: Alpine (nylon with a G-hook clasp), Ocean (a stretch elastomer with extensions to fit over wetsuits), and Trail (a nylon sport loop with a tab for easier adjusting). You can order now for $799, and it will ship on September 23rd.
 

Second-Generation AirPods Pro Improves on Previous Generation

Finally, Apple announced the second-generation AirPods Pro. Both the earbuds and the charging case look essentially the same, with the main subtle external change being that you can now adjust the volume with light swipes up and down on the stems of the AirPods Pro. A new extra small ear tip should make the AirPods Pro fit more people’s ears.

Instead, Apple focused its efforts on the internals of the AirPods Pro. A new H2 chip, coupled with a new low-distortion driver and custom amplifier, promises a better audio experience. The H2 chip also improves the Active Noise Cancellation feature, cutting out up to twice as much ambient noise, and the new Adaptive Transparency mode lets you hear what’s happening around you while simultaneously reducing noise from harsh sounds in the environment. When used with iOS 16, you’ll also be able to use Personalize Spatial Audio to customize what you hear based on the size and shape of your head and ears.


Perhaps most welcome is the additional 1.5 hours of listening time with Active Noise Cancellation that the new AirPods Pro offer. The charging case provides four additional charges for a combined total of 30 hours of listening time, 6 hours more than the previous model. You can now charge the case from an Apple Watch charger, a MagSafe charger, a Qi charger, or a regular Lightning cable. The new case is sweat- and water-resistant, includes a lanyard loop, and can be found when lost more easily thanks to a built-in speaker and support for Precision Finding in the Find My app when used with a compatible iPhone. 

Pricing for the second-generation AirPods Pro remains the same at $249. You can order starting September 9th, and they’ll arrive starting September 23rd.

(Featured image by Apple)


Photos Library Showing Blank Thumbnails or Having Other Issues? Try This Trick to Repair It

The Photos app is usually a solid performer, but it does rely on a database behind the scenes, and corruption is a possibility. If you find that your Photos library is showing blank thumbnails or otherwise acting oddly, see if the Photos Repair Library tool can fix it.

First, if Photos is open, quit it. Then launch Photos again while holding down the Command and Option keys at the same time. In the window that appears, click Repair. The tool might ask for your account password, and depending on the size of your library, the repair could take some time, so don’t interrupt it. If that doesn’t fix the problem, contact us—if all else fails, we can help you recover your original photos from within the Photos Library file.



(Featured image by iStock.com/fizkes)

 

iPhone apps: Identify plants, wildlife, and birds with Seek and Merlin

Now and then, we run across iPhone apps that feel magical, and we want to share two of them: Seek and Merlin. They both use machine learning to help you identify something from the natural world using your iPhone. If you’re at all curious about the plants, wildlife, and birds you encounter outside, you’ll want to download these free apps.
 

Seek from iNaturalist

You’re out for a walk and see a particularly pretty flower or a tree with an unusual leaf shape. In the past, you’d probably wonder what it was and move on, or if you were really motivated to identify it, you might take a photo and consult a master gardener or arborist.

Instead, download the Seek app, created by the team behind iNaturalist, a social network that encourages members to share their photographs of living things to document organisms in time and space. iNaturalist is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, and it maintains a massive database of identified images of plants and wildlife.

To start using Seek, which doesn’t require an account, tap the green camera button on any screen. Then point the camera at something you want to identify and watch as the ID meter at the top of the screen works its way through the taxonomic ranks: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. Once Seek fills all seven dots—indicating that it knows the species—you can tap the camera button again to take a photo and add the organism to your observations. Seek then presents a page with additional information about the organism.



Beyond plants, Seek can identify amphibians, fungi, fish, reptiles, arachnids, birds, insects, mollusks, and mammals. It can be more difficult to get a spider or rodent to hold still while you point the camera at it, but you can also take a regular photo and have Seek identify it instead—just tap Photos at the bottom of the camera screen to select a photo from your library. If Seek recognizes the organism, it lets you add it to your observations, but it often has more trouble getting to the species level with a photo.



If you’re a parent, Seek’s challenges and badges might make the app especially fun to use with your child. A new challenge appears each month and asks you to identify a set of species near your location. You can also try past challenges, though you’ll have the most luck with ones from a similar season.


 

Merlin from Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology

Although Seek can identify birds using its camera, if you’re intrigued to learn more about birds in particular, check out the Merlin app, created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It can identify over 8500 species of birds using images or 685 species by listening to bird songs. Since birds can be difficult to see, much less photograph, Merlin’s capability to identify birds by listening to songs around you is hugely helpful.

To get started with Merlin, tap the Sound ID button on the main screen and then tap the microphone button. The app starts recording, and as it identifies bird songs nearby, it adds them to a list. It’s likely that you’ll hear multiple birds, and as Merlin continues to hear their songs, it highlights the species singing. After you tap the red stop button, Merlin saves your recording. You can then compare Merlin’s recordings with the one you made, and if they match, tap a button to add the bird to your list.



Merlin is also happy to identify a bird from a photo, which you can take from within the app or pull out of your Photos library. (Tip: When viewing your library from within Merlin, search for “bird” to find just the photos you might want to identify.) After you use a two-finger pinch-out gesture to zoom the photo to fit in the box, tap the Next button and confirm the photo’s location and date to see details about the bird. Again, if it’s right, tap the This Is My Bird button to add it to your list.



Just as Seek connects to iNaturalist for additional online capabilities, Merlin can connect to an online eBirdaccount where you can manage your sightings and more. There’s also an eBird app that makes sightings public, provides rankings, and incorporates sightings into cutting-edge research projects.

Whether you’re a parent looking for something to do with your child outdoors, an environmentalist with an abiding interest in the natural world, or just someone who would like to identify a pretty flower or unusual visitor to your birdfeeder, Seek and Merlin are well worth downloading. Both are easy to use and require no upfront commitment, but be warned that you may find them surprisingly addictive!

(Featured image by iStock.com/mbolina)
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We help people with Apple technology. Thank you for working with us to maximize our ability to do this. 
SOFTWARE RECOMMENDATIONS
Always have a current backup of your Apple device prior to upgrading. 

macOS 12.6 Monterey We recommend Monterey for any Mac capable of running it. The 12.6 update was just released. We recommend waiting three days, then installing. As is getting to be usual, it contains important security updates.

If you are upgrading from Mojave (or earlier) to Catalina, Big Sur, or Monterey you should check that your important apps will run. (Apple apps are generally fine.) You may need to upgrade. You can check your apps here: https://roaringapps.com/apps?platform=osx 

macOS versions before Catalina should be upgraded ASAP unless your Mac never goes online. 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 15.7 All iPhones capable of running iOS 15.7 should be upgraded to that version. This would be any iPhone from the 6S and 1st generation SE onward. Phones earlier than that should be replaced. If you're not sure what iOS version you have, you can see your iPhone or iPad's operating system version by going to Settings > General > About > Version. You could also ask Siri, "Which version of iOS do I have?" iOS 16 was just released and is a major upgrade. You should wait to install iOS 16.

iPadOS 15.7 Similar to the iPhone, any iPad running iPadOS 15 should be upgraded to 15.7. iPad incapable of running 15.7 should be replaced. iPadOS 16 will be available in October. 

watchOS 8.7 Older versions of WatchOS 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. Generally, one does not have to worry about AppleWatch software security. You should wait to upgrade to WatchOS 9.   

tvOS 16 Some other versions (tvOS 15.6, 14.7, tvOS 13.4.8, and tvOS 12) also acceptable. Note that earlier models of Apple TV do not run tvOS and are fine for what they do; not all channels, features, or apps will be available. You can see if there's a software update available for your Apple TV by going to Settings > System > Software Updates > Update Software. Generally, one does not have to worry about tvOS security. 
HARDWARE RECOMMENDATIONS
Macintosh
  • MacBook (Early 2015 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Mid-2012 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid-2012 or later)
    • Note that 2016-2019 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. The new 2019 MacBook Pro 16" model uses a new keyboard mechanism and should be fine.
  • Mac mini (Late 2012 or later)
  • iMac (Late 2012 or later)
  • iMac Pro (all models)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer)
These are minimum hardware recommendations based on what is necessary to run a secure operating system (macOS macOS 10.15.7 Catalina). If your Mac does not meet these specifications—that is, it will not run at least Catalina—it needs to be replaced unless you will not be using it online. macOS 10.14 Mojave and earlier are not secure.

macOS 11 Big Sur was released in November 2020; macOS Monterey was released in October 2021. Both have their own set of system requirements. 

If we were buying a Mac today, we would look exclusively at machines that use Apple's M1 or M2 chips. Intel-based Macs are being phased out and however good the pricing might be, we believe those Macs will have a shorter useful life.

iPhone and iPad
  • iPhone 8 or newer. Older iPhones, including the SE (first generation) cannot run iOS 16. 
  • iPad Air 3rd generation or newer
  • iPad mini 5th generation or newer
  • iPad Pro (all models)
  • 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, all iPads Pro and any iPad introduced from 2016 or later will run iPadOS 16. iPads that will not run iPadOS and should be replaced unless they will not be used on the internet. 

Apple Watch
  • Apple Watch Series 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, SE, or Ultra highly recommended.
  • All AppleWatch models are secure and acceptable though Apple Watch Series 0, 1, 2, and 3 will not run the latest version of WatchOS and therefore lack both the speed and features of later Apple Watches.  
Apple TV
  • Apple TV 4K is recommended. Apple TV HD (4th generation) is fine as well.
  • The latest version of the AppleTV Remote is available for stand-alone purchase ($59). It works with Apple TV 4k (1st and 2nd generations) and Apple TV HD. It's a lot better than previous remotes. 
  • 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. 
SECURITY RECOMMENDATIONS
A secure operating system
See Software Recommendations for details. If you're not running a secure operating system, it will be difficult to impossible to protect your data. 

Encryption
We recommend using Apple's built-in whole disk encryption, FileVault. It can be turned on in System Preferences > Security & Privacy. 

Backups
We recommend and use Apple's built-in Time Machine backup system. You'll need an external hard drive so that the data is automatically saved to a second location. Off-site backup remains important in mitigating the risk of fire or theft. We use and recommend Backblaze. At a cost of $6 a month per Mac, Backblaze will encrypt then backup an unlimited amount of data from your Mac. Data has a 30-day retention window, though longer time periods are possible for an additional couple bucks. 

Sentinel, Sentinel+, Sentinel Ultra, Sentinel AM [warning: we are tooting our own horn here]
Sentinel provides professional 24/7 oversight of the health of your Mac. We're monitoring all kinds of things (RAM, hard drive, Time Machine backups, battery, etc.)—150 different data points every hour.  

Sentinel+ adds maintenance and security to Sentinel's 24/7 monitoring. Sentinel+ will handle most software updates so you don't have to and run maintenance routines to keep things tip-top. This is includes basic scanning and quarantine of malware. 

Sentinel Ultra is our top-of-the-line, four-in-one service that includes everything in Sentinel and Sentinel+. Ultra blocks malicious web sites, filters objectionable content, protects against email phishing threats, and even increases the speed of your web surfing. It's proactive security. Ultra represents our best effort and the best tool in our arsenal to keep clients safe on the web. 

Sentinel AM is our anti-malware offering. It's a $5/mo add-on for Sentinel+ or Sentinel Ultra services. 

A secure web browser with ad blocking
Firefox with the free open source content blocker uBlock Origin is our first choice. Safari with AdGuard (and blocking cross-site tracking turned on)  is another fine option.

DuckDuckGo
There's really no good reason to use Google, Bing, or any of the other search engines. Not only does DuckDuckGo return excellent search results, you can use commands in the search bar (like "!g"—that's exclamation point plus the letter g) to search Google anonymously. You can search other search engines anonymously too via DuckDuckGo, and DuckDuckGo won't track you. In the search engine preferences for either Safari or Firefox, you can set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine. 

A Virtual Private Network
A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is an encrypted tunnel between your Mac (or iPhone or iPad) and another computer run by the VPN company. It protects your internet traffic so that anyone who might want to spy on your traffic locally can't. The need for a VPN while traveling is diminishing as an increasing number of web site adopt encryption (https). That said, your Internet Service Provider can legally spy on your web traffic, and little but a VPN is going to prevent that. 

A Password Manager
We consider password managers like 1Password indispensible. Instead of having to remember lengthy passwords or reusing the handful that we can remember, we remember one password to unlock 1Password, and the program takes care of the rest. 1Password can be a little complex to set up, so we typically will help clients with that. Actual use isn't too bad though and is typically within the reach of even basic users.  

A Spam Filter
Apple's built in Junk Mail filter works for most spam assuming your email address isn't widely dispersed on the internet. If you're swamped with spam email, though, SpamSieve can rescue you.

Avoid Social Media
If you're posting to social media like Facebook, you're not just telling your friends something. You're telling Facebook, and Facebook is hardly keeping your information top secret. Want to say something privately to a friend? Use Apple Messages or Apple's FaceTime. Both are end-to-end encrypted, and not even Apple has the keys. 
MacAtoZ LLC provides technical support, upgrade, installation, networking, training and tutoring, and remote support services for Apple products like Macintosh computers, iPhones, iPods, and iPads. 

Ty Davison, Dyneé Medlock, and Kelly Robison, 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 $2 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 SentinelSentinel+, and Sentinel Ultra services offer home users 24/7 Macintosh monitoring, maintenance, security, and web browsing protection. Join today!
Quick Links
MacAtoZ LLC: The main company web site. You can find information about products and services as well as advice here.

Amazon via MacAtoZ: Shop at Amazon via our referral link. Help us to help you. 

Offsite Backup: You should have one, and we recommend Backblaze. Only $7 a month for unlimited data. Get your 15-day free trial here. 

Salem Mac Users Group: Macintosh and Apple gear enthusiasts in Oregon's Mid-Willamette Valley. Now holding Zoom meetings monthly. Visitors welcome! Visit the web site for details.

Apple Consultants Network: If you need help, entrust your computer and your data to professionals. 
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