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In this issue: These may not be the droids you're looking for; Our latest OS recommendations;Tip o' the Day.
November 2016 Newsletter

These may not be the droids you're looking for

Apple finally introduced some new Macs but only laptops. The new MacBook Pros are spiffy, to be sure, but they're also spendy compared to what they replace, making them not exactly a slam dunk of a purchase for some prospective buyers. Sadly, long-overdue iMacs, Mac minis, and Mac Pros were nowhere to be found, and our guess is that we won't see new versions of these Macs until the new year. 

The MacBook Pros, which come in 13" and 15" models, introduce a new Touch Bar along the row where previously the function keys existed. This Touch Bar, as the name implies, is touch sensitive and can be used by various applications to display different keys. It's an innovation that makes more sense ergonomically than a touch screen in a laptop. We believe the Touch Bar will likely be spread across the Mac line going forward. (Expect to see Touch Bar keyboards next year.) The Touch Bar is powerful, too. Like the iPhone or iPad, it will allow you to use a fingerprint to login or to complete an online ApplePay purchase. 

It will be interesting to see if Apple's take on touch with computers—the Touch Bar—or Microsoft's vision of full-screen touch screen PCs will ultimately be considered the more successful. My guess is that Apple's take is the right one, not only for the aforementioned ergonomic reasons, but also because a touch sensitive strip gets Mac users almost all the benefits of touch without the cost of a full-sized touch screen. (Microsoft's recent full-size touch screen desktop computer looks great, but it also starts at $3000. I suspect a Touch Bar configured iMac will be at least $1000 less.)

The new MacBook Pros also replace every old port with four USB-C ports. USB-C is not yet widely supported, but they will be because they are "do everything" ports. You can power your laptop through them, send video to external displays, quickly transfer files, etc. You'll need the appropriate cables or adapters to do these things, of course, but an increasing number of USB-C devices (monitors, drives, etc.) are on the way so the problem of adapters is likely to be a short-term one. 

Overall, we think the new MacBook Pros are outstanding for those looking for a Mac laptop as long as price isn't a barrier. 
 

Our latest OS recommendations

We've now seen some ".1" updates for various operating systems. Time to update?

MacOS Sierra 10.12.1
We continue to recommend you stick with El Capitan (macOS 10.11.6) until Sierra's initial kinks are worked out. The ".1" has done nothing to change our view on this, though Sierra is behaving pretty well in our testing. It's possible we might give the go-ahead on the ".2" revision instead of the more common ".3" recommendation. 

iOS 10.1.1
Despite the learning curve that will follow a move to iOS 10.1, we're okay saying go ahead. Apple has seen a 60+% adoption rate for iOS 10—that's literally hundreds of millions of devices—and Rome isn't burning. Our experience so far has been good, and we've tested on almost all eligible devices. Note that if your iPhone or iPad is incapable of running iOS at least iOS 9.3.5, we strongly recommend a new device for security reasons. 

WatchOS 3.1
Very good update with even better battery life. Highly recommended. 


Tip o' the Day

Several years ago, Xfinity unilaterally decided to turn each home customer's Xfinity router into a Wi-Fi Hot Spot. Many people were understandably less than excited to have their home router become an open Wi-Fi Hotspot, accessible to anyone even if Xfinity promised that no one could get into each user's personal network. 

On the other side of this, one problem that can arise is that your device (iPhone, iPad, Mac) can inadvertently join one of these insecure networks when what you really want is to join a secure network.

Because Apple gear will attempt to connect to open networks before closed ones, if a Xfinity Wi-Fi Hot Spot is nearby you might find yourself on that instead of the encrypted network you intended to join. You may not even realize you are connected to an unfamiliar network until you’ve already done a fair amount of work.

Thankfully, you can avoid this on a Mac by checking the network that you are connected to once you open your computer. If you’ve accidentally joined one of these networks, here's what you do on a Mac: 

Go to System Preferences > Network. Select Wi-Fi from the list on the left then click Advanced... (located in the lower right corner). Under the Wi-Fi tab, look at the list of Preferred Networks. Once you spot the Xfinity network, drag that network down to the bottom of the list. 

This will instruct your Mac to connect to xFinity last and therefore hopefully connect to your preferred network first. Don’t delete the xFinity network, or else it will appear as the preferred network the next time you open up your device.

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