Maccast 2015.11.08 - Show #547
V Opening
V Opening Music
* Music is Say Anything by Manda and the Marbles
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V News
V Apple’s indoor mapping app
V AppleInsider noticed the Apple app called, Indoor Survey App, on the App Store
* The app was spotted by developed Steve Stroughton-Smith
V It appears to be part of Apple’s Map Connect program
* Apple calls the service “Indoor”
* It allows small businesses to add and manage their businesses and data on Apple Maps
V On Maps Connect Apple says: “” and is limiting to businesses that meet the following criteria:
* Accessible to the general public
* Annual visitors in excess of 1 million per year
* Availability of complete, accurate, and scaled reference maps
* Enabled with Wi-Fi throughout
* Associated app is authorized by venue owner
V The app would be used by participants of the Indoor programs to gather and submit their data
* Drop points on a map of a building to indicate their position as they walk through the area
* The indoor Survey App measures the radio frequency (RF) signal data and combines it with an iPhone's sensor data.
* Apple says it allows for indoor positioning without the need to install special hardware. Like GPS or iBeacons.
* Apple could get data from more businesses without requiring anything more then having them use iPhones to map their business.
V Apple is likely leveraging the technology the got when they acquired WiFiSLAM in 2013.
* They claimed they could identify where you were in a building within about eight feet, combining Wi-Fi triangulation, Bluetooth beacons and other smartphone sensor data.
V More Apple TV stuff as users test it out
V Apple has pushed some App Store updates
* Adding a “Top” section with top paid, free, and grossing apps.
V Added a “Categories” section which currently has just two categories. Games and Entertainment. Not great, but a start.
* Apple recently added a “Shopping” category to the iOS App Store and I could see that working on the Apple TV for things like QVC, Airbnb, Zillow, etc.
V With the new “top” data developer Steven Troughton-Smith noticed that the average selling price for “paid” apps on the new Apple TV seems to be slightly higher than what is seen on the App Store. $2.99 to $9.99 with very few $0.99 titles.
* Could this be a shift in “race to the bottom” or is it just too early for the Apple TV?
* No shortage a “shovelware” apps, like tic-tac-toe, fireplaces, environment generators, aquariums, etc.
V Steven Troughton-Smith also has been experimenting a lot with the tvOS
* Figured out that it seems possible to create folders for Apps
* Unclear how the creation would actually work via the Siri Remote
* Folder behave just like they do on iOS with customizable names
* I think just the ability to have tabs or separate pages of apps (categorized) would work best on a TV interface.
V Smith also developer a hack for the Apple TV to run a web browser using a private API based on Apple's UIWebView class.
* He posted the project on GitHub and a Dutch developer posted a demo video of a version Cult of Mac claimed he “forked” from Smith project.
* Smith commented on Twitter that changing the cursor graphic and click vs. tap does not constitute “forked” and I agree.
* Point is that should Apple open up the API to developers a TV browser would technically be possible. But really, WHY?!
V “Dropgate” has not become a thing
V Remember that Reddit poster who claims to have shattered his Siri remote with a two foot fall onto tile?
* The Internet hasn’t exploded with other claims.
* In fact I could only find one other report YouTube, posted Nov 2nd. and I’m not 100% sure it’s not the same guy.
* There hasn’t been a rash of drop test videos, which is odd too.
* Griffin is making the Survivor Play case for the Siri Remote (USD $19.99, coming soon). It was announced before the Apple TV was even shipping and more focused on protection because of the gaming features. Like a Wiimote case.
* Don’t toss the old remotes, they still can pair and work.
V The missing, but seen, Podcast app
* Many podcast fans immediately noticed there was no “Podcast” app.
* Big oversight especially for Video podcasts
* Even more curious is that Cult of Mac readers have noticed that the demo reel running on Apple TV’s in the Retail Stores, clearly shows a ‘Podcast’ app in the new UI.
* So does this mean there is hope for the App to surface sometime soon in the App Store? Or did someone in Apple creative just make an error when producing the screenshots for the video?
V Why Siri only works in eight countries
* A site called MacPrime says they had a chance to ask managers on the Apple TV team
* According to them, Apple claims it’s because the pronunciations of actor and show names vary so widely from region to region and dialect to dialect.
* They want to ensure that Siri will be able to comprehend and respond appropriately.
* Makes sense. We’ve often heard complaints that Siri has issues with common dictionary words and phrases in countries where regional accents can vary widely.
* The managers said they are hard at work to bring Siri support on Apple TV to more countries, but stopped short at giving any projected dates.
V Hints of Mac Pro update
* The Mac Pro hasn’t seen a hardware update in two years and as we discussed last time many Pro’s are getting antsy.
* MacRumors found a blog post for a guy who found a reference to what looks like new Mac code named "AAPLJ95,1” within OS X El Capitan
* T he code name in this new reference is "AAPLJ95,1”, very close to the “AAPLJ90,1” code name of the current Mac Pro. Plus let’s face it, it’s overdue for a refresh
* It was found in the AppleUSBXHCIPCI.kext file which in one section lists out USB ports. This entry shows a whopping 10 USB 3 ports (not sure what that’s all about).
* The person who discovered it does note that, “The data is identical to that of the late 2015 (iMac17,1 in the same file)” and could be a remnant of the current new iMac, but separate data for the 2015 iMac is also there, so why would they not have removed the “code name”
V What’s on the speculation list for a 7,1 Mac Pro:
* Intel Xeon Broadwell EP processors
* Graphics based on AMD's Fury platform
* Faster flash storage and memory
* Possibly Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C
V New smaller iPhone rumored
* Normally I would immediately dismiss any new rumor that Apple plans to make a new 4-inch iPhone, but the source on this one has to be factored in. KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
* The phone would basically be a significant update to the iPhone 5s and Kuo says would arrive sometime in the first half of 2016.
V Beyond “significant” update and “metal casing” Kuo didn’t offer many details, but other have used that for informed speculation
* Screen size would remain at 4-inches
* Updated to an A9 processor
* Touch ID, not no Force Touch
V In the same note Kuo said he expects the usual refresh to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus to happen in the Fall of 2016
* Featuring updated A10 processor
* He says Apple will keep the RAM in the iPhone 7 at 2GB, but up the 7 Plus to 3GB for better performance.
V The big debate is will Apple lose the home button this go around?
* Recent rumors claim that Apple is developing it’s own touch and display driver integration (TDDI) chips so they could do just that.
* But it might not be going well and we may see the home button stick around for at least one more generation.
V But AppleInsider claims a reliable source has told them Apple might release an iPhone 7 update sooner than the Fall.
* They didn’t say how much sooner
* Prior to the iPhone 4s Apple did generally launch new iPhone in late June or early July
* The report claims Apple might bump up the iPhone launch to stay ahead of sales that typically slow near the end of the current iPhones product cycle.
V For the current model iPhones sales continue to be strong
V Apple also reportedly opened up a subsidiary company in Vietnam to expand sales there
* Established at the end of October and called Apple Vietnam Limited Liability
* The company will directly import and distribute iPhones in Vietnam
* While not the largest country Apple sells into it’s one of their fastest growing markets. Apple tripled sales there in the first half of the year and obviously wants to sell more.
V Apple Watch sales also are rumored to still be going strong for Apple worldwide
* Research firm Canalys says they believe Apple has shipped almost 7 million since the launch
* They also say Apple was the only smart watch vendor to ship more than 300,000 units in Q3 2015.
* If that number is accurate then Apple has shipped more than all other smartwatch vendors’ combined in the past five quarters.
* That figure may be a little higher than some other estimates we’ve seen, but most still seem to think it’s in excess of 5 million at least and that’s not too shabby.
* The Apple Watch just started up sales in India this week too, so that’s another big market to help drive up the next quarter numbers.
V Some want to link Apple to Faraday
* Rumors are swirling about a new electric vehicle company that people claim wants to take on Tesla and this time it’s not Apple
* Or at least maybe it’s not?
* The company is called Faraday Future and was launched 18 months ago in Gardena, California.
* This week news surfaced that they plan to spend $1 billion in a new US factory to start producing vehicles in 2017 and they are looking at sites in California, Georgia, Nevada and Louisiana.
* They also report to have a team of about 400 people with members culled from other car companies including Tesla.
* If a lot of there plans sound mysteriously like those we’ve attached to Apple you’d not be alone in making the connections.
* Some initially speculated that Farady Future may be a front for Apple’s secret car project.
* But not so fast, it looks like Faraday is backed by a Chinese billionaire according to Bloomberg.
* So what’s really interesting is that if Apple is truly getting into this space we might soon have a three man electric car race and none of the companies coming from Detroit, Japan, or Germany. Very interesting.
V And Apple does continue to make hires that indicate they are building a car, or at least really want to
* This week a report that they hired Rónán Ó Braonáin who was most recently Director of Engineering at Reviver.
* Reviver makes digital license plates that can monitor a vehicles location, store maintenance records, and digitally send payments for tolls and parking fees. It’s also able to track current registration status and can quickly feed data to law enforcement during a traffic stop.
* It’s not clear if Apple hired him to add s digital license plates to their car, but I think it’s unlikely.
* Still more evidence that Apple has autos on their mind.
V iPad Pro on sale this week
V Localytics claims the iPad 2, the iPad mini (original), and the iPad Air (original) were the commonly-used models in October.
* More evidence that despite newer models being sold many are sticking with their earlier models. i.e not upgrading.
* Why a new model like the iPad Pro can help bring at least new buyers to the market. Slowing declining sales and perhaps more appropriately, generating more iPad revenue with higher pice point models.
V But when can you get an iPad Pro?
* Last week a rumor suggested that Apple would have units in Store on November 11th.
V Yet another said there were signs that Friday November 13th is the day
* In fact both Sam’s club and Mac Mall both started taking pre-orders with the Friday release date.
* Turns out both rumors were true.
* Apple announced Monday morning that they would begin taking online orders on Wednesday and that iPad Pro sales would begin at Apple Stores, and at select Apple Authorized Resellers “later this week” (which I guess we can assume is Friday?).
* Apple also said the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard would also be available to order on Wednesday, but did not mention if they will release at the same time. I would assume so, but often Apple’s PR wording is deliberate.
* The iPad Pro has a massive 12.9 inch display and comes in 32GB and 128GB Wi-Fi configurations. The 128GB model also has a Wi-Fi + Cellular option. You can get any model in silver, gold and space gray.
* The iPad Pro will launch in 40 countries including the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, and China.
* Pricing starts at $799(US) for the 32GB model, $949(US) for the 128GB, and $1079(US) for the 128GB with Cellular.
* The Apple Pencil is $99(US) and the Smart Keyboard is $169 (US) in charcoal gray
V If you want one launch day your best bet will likely be a pre-order on a trip to the Apple Store
* Either option is probably not a guarantee
* Might be better than on on-line 3rd party reseller order. MacMall doesn't expect orders to ship until November 16 and Staples lists a launch date of November 25.
* It’s possible 3rd party resellers with brick and mortar locations like Target or Best Buy (coming soon) might have them, but it’s not mentioned in Apple’s press release.
V Feedback, commentary, opinions
V Apple TV vs. Mac Mini Media Center
* With the new Apple TV out now and offering some pretty compelling features including “apps” Brian wrote to ask for a comparison.
V What would be the advantages and disadvantages other than cost?
* The main advantage of the Apple TV is simplicity and consistent user experience. Also, set up and maintenance
* It’s iOS vs. Mac OS
V With the Mac Mini it’s going to be a lot more “fiddly”
* On screen control and a consistent 10-foot interface
* You’ll likely be cobbling together lots of applications and the OS X Finder is not set up for the living room.
V The advantage with a Mac Mini used to be flexibility. There still are some flexibility advantages
* Like digital optical out
* But lessened now that things like “Plex” are available
* Browsers like the Kylo Browser
V Can you push airplay to a mac?
* Yes. There are apps like AirServer
V Can you play music from your iPhone and play it to a mac mini like you can an Apple TV?
* Yes. There are apps like AirFoil with Airfoil Speakers for Mac
* Can send audio from Windows PCs too.
* As you noted, you can also just access iTunes, Spotify, Rdio, etc. Directly on the connected Mac mini.
V What about “channels” like NBC, ESPN, HBO Go, Hulu, Netflix, etc.
* Safari and the web on the Apple Tv are mostly it.
* There are some “channels” and content you could add into a system like Plex or XBMC
* Seem to be limited to the stuff that has been made available publicly. Can’t “authorize” to get live, almost live, or back catalog.
* Really I think the new Apple Tv is going to be your best Apple based living room experience for now. Using a Mac Mini would be more for experimenting or tinkering.
V Data in Apple Watch notification icons
* The Loop posted a link to a cool article at a site called Mac Kung Fu
* They lay out why some notification icons on the Watch have a round icon and other have a square one.
* They say that if it’s round it’s because you have the Watch App version of that app installed and that means you can take action on the notification on your watch.
* If the icon is square it’s just a notification that is being “echoed” from your watch and purely informational.
* They also point out that some will see the Apple Mail notification with a “square” icon, meaning you can’t take action on it. Obviously Apple Mail app is installed by default on the watch. They say the reason is that the message is not in your inbox – or not in the mailbox that you configured in the iPhone’s Watch app for notifications.
V Backing out of El Capitan
* Terry wrote to say he’s been having issues with El Capitan and beachballs after about a month of use.
* The OS X 10.11.1 update didn’t bring any relief
* Says it starts with a beachball in Safari that then spill over into all other apps.
V He still has the SuperDuper clone of OS X Yosemite, but now it’s data is a month old, so how to roll back and not lose a month of work?
* Unfortunately that is a somewhat tedious process, but it can be done.
* If you use iCloud Syncing for Bookmarks, Contacts, Calendar, etc. stuff gets easier. Also if all your email is IMAP you have less worries.
* With Photos and iTunes you are probably OK to just copy those folders back as long as you upgrade the apps to the latest versions after rolling back to your Super Duper backup
* Then also move over the Documents folder from a backup of your current system.
* You’ll need to re-install or update any apps that you’ve added or upgraded since the El Cap upgrade.
* You could lose some settings or app preferences, but that is usually not too bad.
V Still before going that far and downgrading you may want to try a couple things.
V Take a look at Activity Monitor. Look at CPU, Memory, and Network to see if anything is spinning out of control
* For me I had an issues with iCloud Photo Library destroying my network
V Also check the ‘Console’ app
* All messages, Diagnostic and Usage
* Look for patterns of errors and expand the info when you have the options
* I found that I had a errant iCloud Keychain process and was able to reset that.
* Boot into Recovery Mode and use Disk Utility to check and possibly repair your disks.
V Getting in to the Genius Bar
V I’ve already expressed some of my frustrations with the on-line appointment booking system
* Apple is now forcing you to go through a “troubleshooting” wizard before you can get to the place where you can simply schedule an appointment
* The process is still good in the Apple Store app, so try that for now.
V But as Jill discovered recently even if you get to the appoints area actually getting one when you want it is proving more and more difficult
* She has nine Apple Stores near her and they had been booked up for several days on all appointments
* Occasionally you get lucky and there's an opening that day, but more and more it’s at least a day, if not days, to get seen.
* Mac appointments seem easier to get than iPad or iPhone ones.
V In my last visit to the Bar the Geniuses seem keenly aware of the issue.
* I was told they are now being asked to take two or three customers at a time and juggle between them
* Sounds bad, but actually in many cases there are long periods during support, like backing up or restoring a device, where this makes sense.
* The trouble is that for most of us by the time we have determined a Genius Bar visit is necessary it’s a “now” situation.
V More and more I’m convinced the best option is to do a “walk-in”.
* Apple has accounted for this and can often squeeze you in.
* The process is also very streamlined.
* They can look and give you an estimated wait time. Usually within the hour or couple of hours.
* I plan around other shopping or errands I might be able to do near the Apple Store
V That’s because they take your name and cell phone number and give you notifications as they get ready for you.
* One when they set the appointment
* One when they are almost ready for you 15-20 minutes out (head back to the store)
* And one when they are ready for you.
V As always have your Mac or device ready to hand over for service or be replaced.
* Backups
* Logged out of Find My iPhone and iCloud
* Willing to hand over password or remove/change the password. (I change it).
* There’s always a possibility they might replace a hard drive (I will sometimes erase ahead of time and install just an OS)
V Apple’s cable quality
* Apple’s branded lightning, power, and other cables are nice an thin and have soft touch but as many of us find they don’t always hold up well.
* Jim sent me an email to say that it seems like now in his family they replace at least 3 sets of Apple headphones, 5 lightning cables and a MacBook power supply every year (and now we have Apple Watch cables every year).
* If I look at almost all my Lightning cables I can say most are at least “scrunched” around the connectors and I’ve had a couple burst and fray.
* I and Jim are generally pretty easy going on our cables, so I don’t se this as a user issue.
* Conspiracy theorists will say Apple does this on purpose to generate revenue, but I’m not sure I buy that.
* I’ve also tried other non-Apple MFi cables from other manufacturers and they too have issues over time.
* The best compromise I’ve found is thicker cables from Anker and Amazon Basics. The trad off is these don’t roll as nicely for travel and the Anker ones have developed some odd “kinking” that make me worry about their longevity as well.
V Since Apple ones tend to have a weak point around the connectors there are a number of hacks and “fixes” you can find.
* Just search Amazon or Google. I’ve bought a set of clip on protectors for around $5.00
* Apply Sugru
* Using the spring from a “click” ballpoint pen. Lifehacker
* The key is really to add something that will prevent it from bending at a strong angle near the connection points.
* Apple’s own “wrapping” solution on it’s chargers is contributing to some of the failures there.
V Closing
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* Smile
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