Many of us have railed against the bloated mess that iTunes has become as Apple has shoehorned everything from podcasts to ebooks to movies into an app that was originally designed to simply organize and play songs.
Apple has finally begun stripping things out, moving ebooks to its own app (iBooks). In iTunes 12.7, they removed iOS apps, which wouldn't be so bad except they've entirely eliminated a way to manage iOS apps on your Mac.
In fact, most of the changes in iTunes 12.7 revolve around features Apple removed, including ringtone management and iTunes U. But the kicker is the removal of the iOS App Store and support for app syncing. This means you won’t be able to click a link on a Web site on your Mac to download an iOS app to iTunes, nor will you be able to use iTunes to choose which apps are on your iOS device. You can’t even customize Home screen layouts from within iTunes. All those tasks must now be done on your iOS device. You can still back up your iOS devices to iTunes—but if you have to restore, your apps will be downloaded from the App Store.
This is decidedly not what most of us were advocating when we said we wanted iTunes improved, but there it is.
Review: Apple Watch Series 3
By Ty Davison
, Senior Apple Technician
Since the original Apple Watch debuted, it's been version 4 that I've speculated will be the "must have." I'm going to stick with that, but Series 3 is pretty awesome. Sure, the Watch provides mostly convenience features and probably nothing essential, but it's getting to be a lot of convenience features. At some point, one just has to concede that essential or not, it really is quite worthwhile.
I mean, the original Apple Watch couldn’t do much more than tell time when separated from its companion iPhone. The Apple Watch Series 2 gained a GPS to track your location on its own when you were running or biking. But now the Apple Watch Series 3 includes a cellular chip that allows it to make phone calls, get messages, use Siri, stream tunes from Apple Music to AirPods, and more all while your iPhone sits safely at home. (It uses the same phone number and will cost an extra $10 per month from your carrier.)
The Series 3 also boasts a faster processor that speeds up app performance and allows Siri to talk back you, along with a barometric altimeter to measure relative elevation. And, amazingly, the Series 3 case is the same size as the Series 2, although the back crystal is a hair thicker. Battery life in mixed use remains at up to 18 hours, though you’ll get only an hour of battery life when making phone calls.
The Apple Watch Series 3 has an aluminum body in three finishes: gold, silver, and space gray. For a different look (and potentially a lot more money), you can get Nike+ aluminum models, Hermès stainless steel models, and Apple Watch Edition ceramic models. Apple is also now offering a new Sport Loop band that’s meant to be light, stretchable, and breathable. You can pick from two Series 3 models: one with just a GPS chip like the Series 2 for $329 and one with both GPS and cellular capabilities for $399.
Personally, I use the Apple Watch Series 3 for phone calls, instant messages, getting weather reports, monitoring my heart health and general activity, reviewing my daily calendar, and time-related functions (stopwatch, alarms, timer). Because like the Series 2 it's waterproof down to 50 meters, I've also used as a lap timer for swimming. Occasionally, I've used a third-party app called iTranslate to have the watch translate my spoken English into Spanish or French and speak it back.
Again, none of these things is essential, just really convenient. (I think Series 4 will have some health/biometric features that may make it essential.) But Series 3 has a lot of convenience packed into it, and is definitely worth anyone's consideration.
Apple AirPods: Worth the hype
By Brittany Stenger, Client Relations Manager
As a long-time and devoted Mac and Apple user, I’ve found the one device that I never knew I needed - Apple AirPods.
The first thing I thought when I saw the sleek, wireless headphones from Apple was, “I’ve already lost them.” Even though I had a feeling that my scatterbrained-self might misplace them a time or two, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them to see if they were worth all the hype.
The short answer? Yes. They’re worth every bit of hype.
Bluetooth headphones have existed for years, but they never appealed to me because there was always still some sort of wire involved or they were so large that they would surely mess up any hairstyle I would have attempted to perfect.
The AirPods, though, are much more convenient and easily hidden. In the their first wireless headphone, Apple kept the AirPods very similar to the design of the headphones that they currently ship with each iPhone, iPod, and iPad - which meant that my ears were already used to the size and shape of them.
The set up for the AirPods was incredibly simple and I’ve found that connecting them to multiple devices (my iPhone, iPad, iMac, and MacBook Pro) is a very short process. If your Mac or Apple device has bluetooth capability (which most newer devices do), you’ll be able to set up the AirPods within five minutes of opening the box—or less.
While I’m still exploring all the different ways to utilize this new (and now hard-to-live-without) accessory, one of my favorite features is how easily they detect that you are ready to use them. If I want to listen to a Podcast or song from Apple Music, all I have to do is select the podcast or song I want to hear, take the AirPods out of their case, place one in each ear, and I’ll hear a soft tone that alerts me that they are connected to my phone and ready to go. If I want to pause what I’m listening to, all I have to do is take one of the AirPods out of my ears and the podcast or song I was listening to will automatically pause.
Another great benefit is that the AirPods will pair, or connect, with any Bluetooth device that you have (that includes your iPad, Apple Watch, and other non-Apple devices).
As for battery life, these last for a pretty long time before they need to be charged. I recently discovered that I can also keep an eye on the battery life of the AirPods in the control center on my iPhone—which is really convenient. The case that holds the AirPods also holds a pretty solid battery life and you can see the amount of charge it has left on your iPhone and Apple Watch as well.
Apple says that the AirPods deliver an “industry-leading” 4-5 hours of listening time on one charge and I’ve found that to be true. The charging case (where you need to put the AirPods when you’re done using them so that you don’t lose them) also holds up to 24 hours listening time.
I am one of those “walk and talk” people. I like to walk around the house or yard while I talk. When I receive a phone call on my iPhone, I can easily answer the call using my AirPods and I can switch back to using the speaker on the phone without interrupting the call.
While I don’t currently own an Apple Watch, the AirPods are a great way to listen to your entire streamable music library using Apple Music without being connected to WiFi (which is possible with the new Apple Watch Series 3 and a cellular data plan). I’m sure that once I get my hands (or wrist) on an Apple Watch, I’ll use them with that device as well.
One feature that has begun to be incredibly useful to me is the Double Tap function. When I tap the correct part of the AirPods (which, yes, took a few tries to get down), I can easily connect with Siri to make a phone call, ask for directions, create a reminder, or anything else I’d usually ask Siri to help me with. I can also use the Double Tap feature to continue listening to a song or podcast that I was previously listening to without having to touch my phone. I’ve been able to easily manage these features in Settings on my iPhone.
So far the only negative aspect of these AirPods is that they might be easy to misplace. I try to keep the carrying case in the same spot of my house at all times so that when I’m done listening, I can return the AirPods back to their home base for a quick charge. This just requires a little self-discipline and overall the AirPods are worth creating a new routine.
If you have been waiting patiently for a good set of Bluetooth headphones to hit the market, I highly recommend picking up the Apple AirPods. They are, in my opinion, one of the best products Apple has introduced in a while.
WP2 Wifi encryption broken
Just last night word got out that WP2, the main encryption protocol for virtually all home and business wifi, was cracked.
Apple has said that they have fixes for WatchOS, tvOS, iOS, and macOS in beta. We expect them to release these updates soon.
Until then, the only safe wifi connection is through a Virtual Private Network (VPN), something we recommend anyway. We use and recommend Private Internet Access (PIA). See www.macatoz.com/vpn for a direct link. Contact us for a free help in setting it up.
Sentinel monitoring updated to 6.6.1
In our unending quest toward improvement, we've updated the Sentinel monitoring software to 6.6.1. The new version squashes some bugs, improves how it handles FileVault encrypted drives, and detects new malware variants. There's nothing you as a Sentinel or Sentinel+ member need to do to upgrade to 6.6.1. It's already been done for you. Sit back and reap the benefits!
If you're not a Sentinel or Sentinel+ member and think you might like to be, check out all the features at www.macatoz.com/sentinel, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 503-507-0410. We'd love to help keep your Mac secure and running well.