New Apple Products

Apple just announced it’s latest upgrades for the iPad, iPhone, Apple TV and Apple Watch. Here is a summary of all their announcements.

Briefly, there is a new bigger iPad called the iPad Pro. It comes with a 12.9 inch screen, optional keyboard (like the Microsoft Surface) and an optional stylus.  It also sports a new screen technology that they call 3D Touch. This technology is showing up in all their products.  Essentially you can move you finger or stylus up and down, sideways and press the screen.  It gives under the pressure of your finger and does different actions depending on the pressure of your finger.  I think of the iPad Pro as a light-weight laptop replacement.  Even Microsoft is making a big deal about running it’s office apps on the iPad Pro.  You can read more about it here.

The new iPhones, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, also come with the 3D Touch screen, a new improved camera that takes 12 megapixel pictures and 4K video. The 3D Touch will change the way you navigate between apps and view content.  You can read more about it here. And here is an in depth review of 3D Touch.

The Apple TV is more of a long game for Apple. the new version comes with a complete App Store, like the App Store for the iPhone and iPad, it includes Siri so you can talk to it and ask it to do stuff, and it has built in motion sensors.  The Apple TV is moving towards being two things:  a game console to compete with Xbox and Playstation, and in the not too distant future, an alternative to cable.  Read more about it here and here.

Finally, the Apple Watch.  Not a whole lot new.  There are new bands and colors.  More importantly, as the Watch develops, there is now support for native Watch apps.  In other words, the Watch will have stand alone apps that do not require an iPhone to be nearby.


Photo Stream Confusion

I wrote last month about options for photo cloud storage and sharing. What I’m finding amongst Apple product users is confusion about how Photo Stream works. Don’t feel bad, it is confusing, and the way Apple organizes your photos doesn’t help.  There are lots of online discussions about the confusion, or about things not working – or maybe, not working the way someone expects.

Here’s my simple guideline – and I hope I understand how it all works!:

(For the purposes of this write-up, I’m assuming that you have Yosemite on your computer and are using Photos and not iPhoto, but iPhoto should work the same.)

Turn on Photo Sharing (through the iCloud settings) on all your devices and all new photos will be in what Apple calls your “Photo Stream”.  Photo Stream can hold up to 1,000 recent photos. Photo Stream works through iCloud and requires all your devices to be logged in to the same iCloud account.

Let’s assume you have an iPhone and a Macbook.  You take a photo with your iPhone.  On your phone the new photo will appear both in your Photo Stream and your Camera Roll. On your MacBook, because your have Photo Stream on, the photo will appear in your Photo Stream, and by default, in All Photos (more on this later).

Here are three scenarios:

1) If you delete a photo from Photo Stream, either on your iPhone or your MacBook it will be deleted from the Photo Stream of the other device as well.  The photo will not be delete from All Photos on your MacBook or from your iPhone Camera Roll.

2) If you delete a photo from Camera Roll on your iPhone, and it is still in your Photo Stream, if will be deleted from the Camera Roll on your iPhone, and Photo Stream on all your devices.  But, if the photo was already imported into All Photos on another device, or any other album, it will not be deleted from All Photos or that album. Is that clear?

3) If you delete a photo from your MacBook, in any album other than Photo Stream, if will not be deleted from your iPhone, and vice versa.

Think of it this way, any photo that is in an album on any device is permanently stored until you manually delete it. Only Photo Stream is temporary.

This raises a question, how did Photo Stream photos become permanent on your MacBook?  I’ll tell you:  Open Photos.  Click Photos in the menu bar. Select Preferences. Select General. See where Importing is checked.  That means that all photos in Photo Stream will be copied into All Photos on your MacBook (or whatever Apple computer you have).

If you want to have more control over what you save on your computer then uncheck this option.  If you do this, then it is up to you to review your Photo Stream photos periodically and drag the ones you want to save to an album in Photos. This is a good way to force you to triage your photos.

I hope this helps. As an exercise, try deleting a single photo from both Photo Stream and an album on your devices and see what happens on the other devices.  It’s a good way to learn.

Apple Music

If you’ve upgraded your iPhone or iPad to iOS 8.4, you may have noticed that the icon for Music (iTunes) changed from basic red background and white note, to white background and a more prismatic note. This is the new Apple Music app.  Open it and you’ll see that it is definitely not iTunes. Rather, it is everything that anyone has thought a music app could be.  It is both beautiful and a mess.

When you first start it up, you’ll be asked to sign up for a free three month trial.  Why not?  Give it a try.  However, you should make sure you don’t forget.  Apple will start charging you in three months.  The easy way to do this is to turn off automatic renewal after you’ve signed up for the trial.  Here’s how:  Tap the red silhouette in the upper left corner -> Select View Apple ID -> Enter your password -> Scroll down and Select Manage -> Under Renewal Options turn off automatic renewal.

With Apple Music, you are first presented with a bunch of floating bubbles where you can select the music you like and don’t like.  The app will continue to learn as you use it. After that, along the bottom of the screen are five choices:  For You, New, Radio, Connect, My Music.

For You presents what seems to be an endless list of music recommendations based on what you like and listen to.

New highlights new releases, top charts, and curated playlists. At the top of the screen there is a drop down menu that starts as All Genres. Tap it and you can narrow down the offering to the type of music you like.

Radio gives you choices of music by genre or artists and works much like Pandora.

My Music is essentially iTunes.  It’s your music library.

And like Spotify, if you tap the search icon in the upper right corner you can search the entire iTunes catalogue for music to listen to.  If you find something you like, just tap the “+” button and it is added to My Music.

I forgot about Connect, and you may too.  It’s supposed to be some sort of social media feature for interacting with musicians (or the people they pay to manage their social media) and other fans. Whatever –

Here is some other reading:

The New York Times guide to music streaming services.

A more detailed look at how to use Apple Music.

How to save music for offline listening.

One last note:  I will not be ditching Spotify anytime soon.  I have a Sonos player at home, and for now, Sonos does not work with Apple Music.  Sonos has stated that they will have this working by the end of the year.

Photos Freakout

Last month I wrote about Apple’s new photo app for OS X called Photos.  It replaces iPhoto.  It is installed with the latest update to Yosemite.  The freakout, OMG moment happens when you first launch Photos and do not see the dozens of events you had in iPhoto.  Don’t worry – the events are there – Apple has the side bar hidden.

To reveal the sidebar and list your events go to View -> Show Sidebar and take a deep breath.

If you’re feeling a bit lost with Photos, here’s a short tutorial on using Photos.

Apple’s New Photo App

If you’ve updated you’re OS X to the latest version, 10.10.3, you may have noticed that iPhoto is no more.  It has been replaced by Photos which is the same name as the Photo app on iPhones and iPads.  This new app has a similar look and feel.  It also has many more sophisticated editing features built in – I find these new editing tools fun and easy to play with.  Re/Code recently published this review of the product.

When you first open the new Photos app it will convert all your photos from iPhoto.  You will not lose anything.  You will also be asked about using the new iCloud Photo Library.  The plus of using this services is that all your photos will be stored on iCloud and can be accessed by all your devices instantaneously. But, it comes with a price – the storage is not free.  If you have a lot of photos and you are using iCloud to backup your mobile devices, and maybe store other documents, you will quickly use up your 5 GB free allotment of space.  It costs about $12 a year for an extra 20 GB of space.

I recommend you read the review, dive in, and have fun looking through all your photos.

A Quick Note on New Apple Products

Apple had a big event for the release of the Apple Watch and the new MacBook (Not Air, Not Pro, just MacBook.)  The Apple Watch is a whole new category, and like the original iPhone, it’s full potential is unknown.  Unless you really like being an early adaptor, I would wait for the next generation before deciding if this is something you want.  If you do get it, however, by all means let me know and let me help you play with it (I mean set it up.)

As for the new MacBook, same deal.  This is a computer that is redefining Apple’s laptop product line.  It looks like a beautiful piece of equipment but it is more expensive and less powerful than a MacBook Air.  I’d wait for the next generation.  If you need a new laptop now go with the MacBook Air. If you need a retina display go with the MacBook Pro.

Quick Tip: Stop Your Mac and iPad from Ringing.

After updating to Apple’s latest OS has your Mac starting ringing every time your iPhone rings?  Mine did.  It was like a chorus throughout my house – first my iPhone rang, then the iPad, then the Macbook. It was like a three alarm fire in my living room.

Here’s how to stop your Mac from ringing:

1. Open FaceTime.

2. Click FaceTime in the Menu Bar.  Select Preferences.

3. In the middle of the Preference screen, uncheck the box next to iPhone Cellular Calls.

4. Close Preferences by clicking the red button.  Exit FaceTime.

On your iPad, to stop it ringing:

1. Open Settings.

2. Scroll down to FaceTime and select.

3. Turn off iPhone Cellular Calls.

That’s it!