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March 2018 â€¢ Macworld 3
Apple’s latest results iPhone and iPad sales are surprisingly flat, but Apple still soars to record revenue in first quarter. Michael Simon reports
f iPhone X is slumping, it’s sure not affecting Apple’s bottom line. In the quarter ending December 31, 2017, Apple reported a record revenue of $88.3 billion, a 13 percent increase over last year’s $78.4 billion (which was also a record). Additionally, Apple posted an all-time record quarterly earnings per diluted share of $3.89. And that’s with one less week of sales over last year’s first quarter.
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Leading the way was the iPhone, but not due to unit sales. Apple moved 77.3 million iPhones in the three-month holiday quarter, about a million less than last year, but revenue grew by more than $7 billion to $61.6 billion. While Apple didn’t break out the different models of iPhone, it’s clear that the higher price of iPhone X contributed to the gains. Tim Cook said the redesigned handset “surpassed our expectations and has been our top-selling iPhone every week since it shipped in November.” Apple sold 5.1 million Macs and 13.2 million iPads during the period, versus 5.5 million and 13.1 million over the previous period. Apple’s stock jumped more than 3 percent on the news. Despite somewhat weak sales, the iPhone X was seemingly a stronger performer overseas, with all of its operating segments posting year-over-year revenue growth. In the all-important Greater China region, revenue grew 11 percent, and Japan was particularly strong with 26 percent growth. Another big seller over the holiday quarter was Apple Watch and AirPods. While Apple doesn’t specifically release numbers for these products, revenue in the “Other Products” category (of which they are a part) surged more than 35 percent to $5.5 billion. Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said revenue from wearables was up 70 percent year over year, with the product category contributing more revenue than any other product besides iPhone. Additionally, Cook said sales of Apple Watch were up 50 percent for the fourth consecutive
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quarter, and Series 3 sales were more than twice that of Series 2 a year ago. In January, Apple topped 1.3 billion active devices for the first time, a 30 percent jump in two years. The influx of new users helped push its Services revenue to $8.5 billion, an increase of 18 percent over the 2017 but slightly down from the previous quarter. For the second quarter, Apple projects revenue between $60 billion and $62 billion, the first quarter the includes sales of HomePod, Apple’s first smart speaker. That would represent an increase of roughly 15 percent over last quarter’s $52.9 billion.
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Apple releases iOS 11.2.5 with HomePod support watchOS 4.2.2 and tvOS 11.2.5 have also been released, addressing minor bugs, writes Jason Cross
t’s time to update all your Apple gear! A relative minor point release update has just been released for iOS, tvOS, and watchOS. When you get the time, you should update all your iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, and Apple Watches.
What’s new in iOS 11.2.5 You won’t find dramatic changes or really big new features in iOS 11.2.5, but it does add support for
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HomePod (coming February 9th) and the ability for Siri to play audio news. That last one is a little odd, because the feature went live last week and worked fine on earlier versions of iOS. Here’s what Apple lists in the release notes:
HomePod support • Setup and automatically transfer your Apple ID, Apple Music, Siri and Wi-Fi settings to HomePod.
Siri News • Siri can now read the news, just ask, “Hey Siri, play the news”. You can also ask for specific news categories including Sports, Business or Music.
Other improvements and fixes • Addresses an issue that could cause the Phone app to display incomplete information in the call list • Fixes an issue that caused Mail notifications from some Exchange accounts to disappear from the Lock screen when unlocking iPhone X with Face ID • Addresses an issue that could cause Messages conversations to temporarily be listed out of order • Fixes an issue in CarPlay where Now Playing controls become unresponsive after multiple track changes • Adds ability for VoiceOver to announce playback destinations and AirPod battery level To update your iPhone or iPad, open Settings, go to General, then Software Update.
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tvOS 11.2.5 You won’t find big new features in tvOS 11.2.5. It’s just the standard ‘bug fixes and performance improvements’. You can update your Apple TV by opening Settings and going to Software Update.
watchOS 4.2.2 As with tvOS, the latest release of watchOS focuses on improvements and bug fixes and has no outwardly visible changes. Still, bug fixes are good and you should probably grab this update. To update your Apple Watch, you’ll need to have at least 50 percent charge, have the watch on its charger, and within range of the iPhone to which it is synced. Then, on the iPhone, open the Watch app, select General, then Software Update.
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What we learned from Apple’s record results Jason Snell takes a deeper look into Apple’s record quarter
hree months ago, Apple boldly asserted that the holiday quarter of 2017, its first financial quarter of this fiscal year, would be the company’s biggest in history. They weren’t wrong. In fact, Apple’s holiday quarter generated $88.3 billion in revenue, blowing past even the high side of Apple’s estimates. By just about any way you measure it, this was a great quarter for Apple. But of course, the devil’s in
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the details, whether it’s line items in the corporate reports or in tidbits revealed during the company’s regular phone call with analysts. So here’s a look at four tidbits we learned about Apple’s big quarter.
The long and short of it Apple’s previous holiday quarter (which was in fiscal year 2017, but calendar year 2016) saw solid results, with slight sales growth. But as many observers pointed out at the time, Apple was buoyed by a slightly longer quarter. The holiday quarter for calendar 2016 was 14 weeks long, meaning that the slight growth was really a slight decline if you considered the weekly averages. That quirk of the calendar worked to Apple’s benefit last year, goosing its results. But it also meant that for the holiday quarter of 2017, the bar would be that much higher – the company’s sales would have to beat a longer time period to show quarterly growth. It turned out to be quite good timing for Apple, because the company did beat last year’s numbers in most areas. In one area, however, it didn’t: iPhone unit sales. Apple CEO Tim Cook declared the quarter’s sales “the highest number ever for a 13-week quarter,” and pointed out that “Average weekly iPhone sales were up six percent compared to the December quarter last year.” In other words, Apple sold more phones per day than last holiday quarter... but last quarter had seven more days. And Apple wants to make sure that you know it.
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Quarterly iPhone sales were slightly down yearover-year, but only because the quarter was shorter
The iPhone X strategy seems to have worked If you see a story that says iPhone sales in the holiday quarter were disappointing, check to see if they mention the number of weeks in the quarter, or if they cite overheated analyst estimates. Because the numbers make it clear that this is a strong validation of Apple’s somewhat risky strategy to restructure the contents of its most popular product line. In terms of sheer numbers, Apple sold 850,000 iPhones per day on average during 91 days in late 2017, compared to 798,000 iPhones per day during 98 days in late 2016, meaning that unit sales went ‘down’ by increasing by 6.5 percent.
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But look a little deeper: In terms of revenue, the iPhone generated $61.6 billion, compared to $54.4 billion in the year-ago quarter. That’s a 13 percent revenue increase... or a 22 percent increase if you correct for the week disparity. How to explain this? Pretty simple: The iPhone X strategy, to release an even higher-end iPhone above the “standard” iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models, worked. The average selling price of a holiday-quarter iPhone jumped by $100. “Since the launch of iPhone X it has been the most popular iPhone every week since, and that is even through today actually, through January,” said Cook. (Keep in mind that iPhone X only started shipping in November, so it could only impact the quarterly results for a portion of the time.) In addition, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus appear to have continued to sell well. “In urban China and the US, the top five smartphones last quarter were all iPhones,” Cook said. Sales were not, apparently, slowed down by the late shipment of the iPhone X. Some people bought the iPhone 8, other people bought the iPhone X, and Apple cashes the checks.
A record number of active users One of the huge bits of information in the conference call with analysts was Cook’s reveal that Apple now has an installed base of 1.3 billion devices, which is “an all-time high for all of our major products” and a 30 percent growth in two years. So, there are more iPads, iPhones, and Macs currently in use than ever before. How does
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iPhone average selling price went way up thanks to iPhone X
that work? One reason – and Cook didn’t shy away from mentioning it – is the long product life of Apple products, and the resale market. When Apple sells a new iPhone, the old iPhone it’s replacing often goes to someone else. “The reliability of iPhone is fantastic,” Cook said. “The previously-owned market has expanded in units over the years. And you see in many cases carriers and retailers having very vibrant programs around trading an iPhone in, and because iPhone has the largest residual rate on it, it acts as a buffer for the customer to buy a new one, and it winds up with another customer somewhere else that is perfectly fine with having a previously owned iPhone. And so I view all of that to be incredibly
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positive. [The] more people on iPhones, the better.” While Apple doesn’t necessarily make money directly from the sale of a used iPhone, it benefits by having more people in its ecosystem, as evidenced by the continued growth in Apple’s Services category. That person on a used iPhone still buys apps, rents movies, and maybe even subscribes to Apple Music.
Analysts still think they can trick Tim Cook Piper Jaffray’s Mike Olson apparently drew the short straw at the Analyst Club meeting this quarter, so he got to be the one to vainly attempt to get Tim Cook to spill secrets about future Apple products, which Apple, never, ever does. “I know you don’t talk about future products, which is often the preface to questions about future products, and I’ll give it a shot,” Olson said. “When you think conceptually about the path for iPhone X-style devices going forward, is there any reason the road map wouldn’t consist of multiple devices, as we’ve seen with past iPhone upgrades?” Good try, Olson. And to be fair, Cook threw him a bone – by restating something that was said at the iPhone X launch last autumn. “As we said when we launched it, we were setting up the next decade,” Cook said. “So you can you can bet that we’re pulling that string.” You heard it here, folks: There will be future iPhones and they’ll build on the iPhone X. Aren’t you glad you asked, Mike?
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Apple HomePod RATING:
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he HomePod is Apple’s smart speaker that’s controlled using Siri and designed primarily for high-quality music playback. It’s taken its sweet time to arrive, but arrive it has and our ears have decided that it was worth the wait. Naturally, this isn’t merely an AirPlay speaker. With Siri built in, you can use it for many other tasks – just as you can with Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. From checking the weather and sports scores to setting reminders, alarms
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and timers, Siri is a pretty capable assistant. It can also control all your HomeKit devices, such as lights, heating and switches. As you’d expect, the HomePod is very much an Apple product. It’s designed to work within the Apple ecosystem and it does this exceptionally well. And if you’re already well established in this world, the HomePod is a great addition.
Design Whether in grey or white, the HomePod is a beautifully designed speaker. It’s larger in all dimensions than the Echo 2, a little smaller than the Harman Kardon Allure and roughly the same as the Sonos One. If you heard it before you saw it, you’d be surprised at just how compact it is. We love the seamless fabric which surrounds the HomePod, feels spongy to the touch and looks as if it’s been 3D printed. On top is a glossy plastic disc which lights up when Siri talks and hides touch sensitive volume controls. Tap the centre to play/pause, double tap to skip to the next track and triple tap to skip back to the previous one. Tap and hold to invoke Siri. It’s all completely intuitive, especially if you’re already used to controlling music playback with a button on your headphone cord. The captive power cable is slightly unusual, but aside from the worry it can’t be easily fixed if it gets damaged, it’s not a deal breaker. It’s not hugely long but should be long enough to reach a nearby power socket.
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Setup is quick and easy. As with recent iPads, you just hold your iPhone near the HomePod and it appears on the screen. A few taps later and it’s ready to go: Wi-Fi passwords, Apple ID and preferences are all sent wirelessly from your phone.
Which music services does HomePod support? If you don’t have an Apple Music subscription and haven’t already used the three-month free trial you’ll see the option to try it out. Otherwise, it’s £9.99 per month or you can choose to get your music from another source. Siri can also play music you’ve purchased from iTunes or music stored in your iCloud Music Library. There’s also Beats 1 radio, which doesn’t require an Apple Music subscription, plus the
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thousands of podcasts available from Apple. If you already have a Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, Deezer or Amazon Music subscription (or another service) you can play this through the HomePod via your iPhone using AirPlay. You can then ask Siri to control playback, such as pausing or skipping to the next track. What you can’t do when playing music this way is to ask Siri to play a specific album, song or playlist. Until there’s proper integration with another streaming service, Siri won’t be as useful as with Apple Music where you can say “Hey Siri, add this song to my favourites” or “Hey Siri, play party music from the 1980s”. Apple wants HomePod owners to use Apple Music, which should come as no surprise to anyone. Amazon and Google both make their devices work best with their own streaming services, too. Of course, you can play any audio you like through the HomePod as long as it’s via AirPlay. That means you can select the HomePod when you’re watching Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube or even when making a phone call – the built-in mics let it act as a hands-free speakerphone (and the quality and experience is very good). If you have a supported Apple TV, you can choose the HomePod as the audio output, again via AirPlay.
What’s missing? The HomePod doesn’t have an aux in (or out) and there’s no Bluetooth. So it lacks the flexibility of some other smart speakers. While anyone in the
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household can ask Siri to play music, set a timer or do other tasks, they won’t be able to play music from, say, Spotify on their Android phone. There’s no voice recognition in the sense that Siri doesn’t know who’s making requests. Once you set up a HomePod, it pulls information from the Apple ID you used. Siri therefore knows contacts from only one account, making the ability to send text messages and make phone calls useful only to one person. You can change the Apple ID associated with the HomePod, but this isn’t something you can do on the fly: you can’t ask Siri to “switch to Miriam’s account”. You can share to-do lists and calendars, though, but only one person can use the HomePod to check what the traffic is like to “work”. Everyone else will have to specify the location when asking, so there are workarounds for some things. Apple is late to the smart speaker game, so rivals already have a range of devices, including those with screens, such as Amazon’s Echo Spot. It’s possible Apple will broaden the range of HomePods in a similar way to offer both cheaper, smaller devices as well as a potential Echo Show equivalent where it could take advantage of its FaceTime video calling service. Later in 2018, you’ll be able to use a pair of HomePods to create stereo sound. Alternatively, you’ll be able to place them in multiple rooms around the house and either play music in sync or tell Siri to play a track on a specific HomePod. For now, there is but one HomePod.
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What can Siri do on the HomePod? If you’ve used Siri a lot on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll already know what to expect from the HomePod as the assistant has – as far as we can tell – the same capabilities. Most people will use Siri to ask for music and control playback, but you can also ask for the news headlines (a new feature added to iOS recently, too), a weather forecast, unit conversion, general information (“How tall is the Shard?”) and more. In the UK, the HomePod will default to the BBC headlines, but when you first ask for the news, Siri will tell ask if you want to switch to Sky or LBC. With Apple Music, Siri can tell you the name of the song, album and who played the bass on that track. Some information is pulled from web sources including Wikipedia while other data comes ;from Apple Music itself.
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The HomePod works as a home hub, too. This means it can control your HomeKit devices and also allow you to control them remotely from your iPhone. If you don’t own any HomeKit devices you’re in the fortunate position of being able to buy only those which support it. Many early adopters of smart home gadgets will find their lights, switches, thermostats and sensors aren’t HomeKit compatible which means Siri won’t be able to control them. HomeKit-compatible devices can also be more expensive than those which don’t support it. You can ask Siri to send a text message or call someone. And if you need to use another service, say WhatsApp, you simply say “Send John a message on WhatsApp” or even “Send Matt a WhatsApp saying ‘Do you want to meet for dinner at 7.30?’”. For reminders, Siri will add your request to your Reminders app on your phone. Unlike Alexa, it won’t give an audible reminder from the HomePod at the time you set: you’ll just get a notification on your iPhone. Apple needs to work on Siri’s speech, though. Its pronunciation and intonation aren’t nearly as good as the Google Assistant or Alexa: it sounds more robotic and less lifelike than its rivals. A while back, Apple opened up Siri to app developers so they could allow users to control aspects with the assistant. The launch of the HomePod could prompt some to add Siri to their apps which could bring ‘native’ control for music
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services such as Spotify. It remains to be seen whether that will happen or not, though.
Performance You’re probably most interested in sound quality, as this is a speaker after all. The good news is that it’s the best sounding smart speaker we’ve heard. By a clear margin. It’s room-filling loud, with no distortion at all even at high volume. Bass is excellent, and much louder and deeper than you’d ever expect from something this small. As it’s circular, the main woofer sits horizontally inside and fires upwards. At the bottom, an array of seven tweeters ensure mids and highs are projected in all directions. And their location means sound will also be reflected off the surface you’ve put the HomePod on.
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Cleverly, an on-board Apple A8 chip uses the array of six microphones to listen to the environment and adjust the sound automatically to optimise it for the HomePod’s location. This happens automatically and invisibly, so it isn’t possible to hear a ‘with’ and ‘without’ processing to check for audible differences. Nevertheless, the HomePod does indeed sound great pretty much wherever you put it: on a shelf, a side table or on the kitchen worktop. Bass is also monitored and controlled by the A8 chip to ensure distortion is kept in check. While mids and highs sound the same on various surfaces and in different locations, bass does seem to be affected. When placed on a thick wooden kitchen worktop with ceramic tiles, the HomePod’s bass sounded much more muted than when it was sat on a small table in the lounge, further from a wall. In the latter location, bass was considerably louder.
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Regardless of position, the motor-driven woofer delivers bass frequencies which many rival smart speakers simply cannot produce. The Amazon Echo, for example, struggles with tracks such as Fractal’s Itvara and bass is largely absent. Not so on the HomePod. In our lounge, it coped effortlessly with the sub-bass with power that you’d associate with a much larger speaker. We’ve listened to just about every genre and the HomePod does a great job with all. If you want to demo the HomePod, pick a simple track with strong vocals and a deep bass line. Diana Krall’s Peel me a grape, for example, sounds utterly crisp and clean where every nuance of her voice and piano can be heard. The accompanying double-bass is similarly strong, but without overpowering the sound of the bassist’s fingers plucking each string. On busier, more complex tracks the HomePod’s processing still manages to create a soundstage in which instruments have decent separation and vocals are clear. The live version of The Eagles’ Hotel California is particularly enjoyable with the bright notes from Don Felder’s 12-string guitar ringing out. On occasion, treble is a little harsh. Play Calvin Harris’ This is what you came for and the electronic cymbals are a little crashy, and Rhianna’s voice quite piercing – exacerbated at higher volumes of course. However, that’s the exception and for the vast majority of tracks the HomePod simply sounds great.
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Siri performance A smart speaker must be able to hear you when music is playing loudly, and thanks to some nifty beamforming technology, the mics can pick up your voice across the room. Siri responds quickly when you call, and if your command is quick – “Hey Siri, turn it up” – it won’t even pause the music. If you’re actively using your iPhone, Siri will respond on that rather than the HomePod, but in general, it’s the HomePod that responds first. Sometimes, Siri will pop up on the phone, then immediately hand off to the HomePod. It’s impressive how it can hear you over the music, but a couple of times during our testing the HomePod failed to respond when speaking at a moderate
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level in a quiet room. It could be down to a conflict between the iPhone and HomePod, but we’re hoping it’s just a wrinkle that will be ironed out soon.
Macworld’s buying advice Even as a first-generation product, the HomePod feels polished in its design, the way it sounds and how it operates. However, Siri’s voice is a little too robotic compared to its rivals and you’re limited to Apple’s music services for deep integration with Siri. The HomePod can control your smart home gadgets, but only if they’re compatible with HomeKit. All of which means that if you’re happy to live in Apple’s ecosystem the HomePod is a great purchase. Jim Martin
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Apple hasn’t given much away about its plans for the Mac Pro, but we have an inkling of what to expect. Karen Haslam reports
he last time Apple updated the Mac Pro it made a big deal about how it was revolutionary and proof that Apple could still innovate. That Mac Pro is now four years old and Apple hasn’t been able to upgrade it since because, in the words of Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineer, Craig Federighi: “We designed ourselves into a thermal corner”. This revelation was made at a briefing with a select few journalists in April 2017. At the meeting Apple admitted that it had made a bit
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of a mess of the Mac Pro and explained that it was “completely rethinking” the design and its approach. Creatives cheered, or at least those ones who were still listening.
What went wrong with the Mac Pro The 2013 Mac Pro was built around a thermal core that cooled a 12-core Xeon processor, a 256GB flash drive, up to 64GB RAM, and two GPUs, all squeezed into a tube that was 9.9x6.6in. While some joked about its resemblance to a trash can, the 2013 Mac Pro certainly did have all the looks. But when Apple had made its design choices it had made some assumptions about the path that future workstation technologies would take, and unfortunately, while the design of the Mac Pro did a great job keeping it cool, thanks to the thermal core, the internal design just couldn’t accommodate the processors and GPUs that were to arrive over the years that followed, and as a result Apple was unable to update the Mac Pro in its current form. This might have been forgivable but for the fact that those people who did purchase a Mac Pro couldn’t update their models either. Much better processors and GPUs have arrived since the ones that Apple used in the 2013 Mac Pro, but no Mac Pro user was able to take advantage of these. One of the biggest criticisms of the Mac Pro when it launched back in 2013 was the fact that it was not user upgradable. The old ‘cheese grater’ Mac Pro (pictured below) had been popular because
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Firstgeneration Mac Pro
it could be upgraded with faster graphics cards, better CPUs, extra storage space thanks to the internal drive bays and PCI Express expansion slots. With the 2013 Mac Pro Apple tried to tell pros that the Thunderbolt 2 ports provided on the Mac Pro would give them all the upgradeability they needed. Pros laughed at the idea and wondered how they would find the desk space. As a result, in the four years since the introduction of the trash can Mac Pro many Pros have been creating their own ‘hackintoshes’ with the CPUs and graphics cards they need. Those pros who aren’t desperate to run macOS (or Mac OS X) have just switched to the Windows of Linux workstations that have left Apple’s Mac Pro for dust.
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Apple’s plans for the new Mac Pro There were only two things Apple could do. Either it had to pull out of the workstation space all together and face the onslaught of bad press about turning its back on the creatives who made the company popular in the first place, or it needed admit to its failings and go back to the drawing board and start again with the Mac Pro. The company announced that it would be doing the latter at a briefing with a select few journalists in April 2017. Apple told journalists that it was “completely rethinking” the design of the Mac Pro. But what do we know of this “completely redesigned, next-generation Mac Pro architected for pro customers who need the highest-end, highthroughput system in a modular design, as well as a new high-end pro display,” as Apple’s VP of marketing Phil Schiller described it? It would seem that when it made its announcement in April 2017, the company wasn’t far along in its reinvention of the Mac Pro. Nor was there any prototype to show off at WWDC in June 2017, and no more information given at that event, other than a reiteration of the promise that something is in the pipeline. However, while Apple has revealed very little about the new Mac Pro, in December 2017 the company released the other new pro machine that it promised at the same April 2017 briefing. The iMac Pro offers some clues as to what we can expect from the new Mac Pro when it arrives. In addition the comments made by Schiller and the two other
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Apple VPs present at the briefing in April give us some insight as to just how much of a revamp Apple is conducting. Apparently it’s a ‘radical revamp’ if you were wondering. The most important aspect of the redesign is that Apple’s not going to back itself into a thermal corner again (surely someone else has made that joke). Schiller said: “We want to architect it so that we can keep it fresh with regular improvements, and we’re committed to making it our highest-end, high-throughput desktop system, designed for our demanding pro customers.” So that’s great; Apple won’t take another four years (probably by the time it launches, five years) to update the Mac Pro with the next round of processors and GPUs… But what about user upgradeability. That’s that the pros have been crying out for.
Upgradeability Apple does promise that it will be a modular system. This suggests that the Apple workstation will have easily replaceable parts that use standardized interfaces. Apple being Apple, the fear is that the company will use proprietary connectors, meaning that the computer can only be upgraded with parts that it approves. We can only hope that this won’t be the case. There is some indication that Apple is going to allow users to upgrade the new Mac Pro: the current iMacs are upgradable, at least to a point: It’s possible to access and update some components in
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the standard iMacs, although the RAM in the iMac Pro is less accessible than the RAM in the standard 27in iMac, Apple recommends that if you want to do so then you should probably ask an expert.
Design It seems likely that, in order to meet the demands of a modular system, the new Mac Pro will be larger than the current ‘trash can’-style Mac Pro. We don’t think that it will revert to the old cheese grater-style Mac Pro though, if anything, we expect that the
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new design will fall somewhere between the two. However, some concept designs have appeared that imagine how the Mac Pro might look is Apple looked to the Mac mini for inspiration. Illustrators at German magazine Curved have come up with some impressive concept designs for a more modular Mac Pro. The concepts mimic the Mac mini design, but illustrate a way in which users could access and replace the processor, graphics card and other components. We love the designs, but think itâ€™s unlikely that Apple would unify the Mac mini and the Mac Pro design in this way, plus it doesnâ€™t really allow for thermal cooling, the issue Apple has with the current Mac Pro. That said, there is no need for Apple to make a Mac Pro that is as large as the old-old aluminium
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Credit: Pascal Eggert
Mac Pro. The old machine needed space for a 3.5in drive bay, internal storage bays, and optical drive bays. The new machine will just need room for the SSD cards, GPU, a CPU socket to feed multiple cores, four RAM slots, and a motherboard. In addition to that some Thunderbolt 3 pros and, the pros will be hoping, some PCIe expansion slots. All that should fit neatly inside a relatively small case. An older concept illustration, from January 2017 – so before Apple revealed that it has plans for the Mac Pro – came up with an idea for a Mac Pro that would be slightly bigger than the current model, though not as large as the older version. In that case, the Mac Pro was reimagined by graphic designer Pascal Eggert. At the time he told Cult of Mac: “At it’s core this is really just a very quick asset I made to try out new render software, but I also wanted to find out just how
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Credit: Pascal Eggert
big or ugly a Mac Pro would have to be to fit standard components.” He said that, according to his calculations, the smallest the Mac Pro could be was 150x270x330mm.
Cooling Cooling is obviously the key with the Mac Pro design. Apple said that it had decided on the components of the 2013 Mac Pro before it set upon the black cylindrical design, rather than trying to squeeze the components into something with an inflexible design. We expect that the company will also take the same care over the design of the new Mac Pro: ensuing that the machine is built around the components, and in such a way to accommodate
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iMac Proâ€™s cooling system
future components, rather than the design coming first and the components being squeezed in. Fundamental to the design will be the thermal core, as was the case last time. Apple spoke about the thermal cooling of the new iMac Pro at WWDC in June 2017, which emphasises just how important it is. We can take a look at the design of the iMac Pro and the way it is cooled to at least get an idea of how effectively Apple will address the issue of cooling in the Mac Pro.
Noise Related to the way the Mac Pro keeps itself cool is the noise it makes, and this was one of the things
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Apple did get right with the Mac Pro in 2013. The current Mac Pro remains silent even during the most demanding operations, meaning it is ideal for audio workflows and music production. It’s the reason why some audio professionals are still choosing the Mac Pro over the MacBook Pro, which can get pretty noisy when it’s working hard. You can expect Apple to place similar emphasis on keeping the noise down with the new Mac Pro.
Processor Since Apple introduced the 2013 Mac Pro there have been a number of new generations of processors from Intel that Apple hasn’t been able to take advantage of. When the Mac Pro was first unveiled in 2012 it used Intel’s Xeon E5 V2 Romley processors, a processor generation from 2011. Since then Intel has introduced Xeon’s under the code names of Grantley (Xeon E5 V3), and now Purely, with Skylake (V5) and Cannonlake (V6) branded variants. Those Cannonlake Xeons may not arrive until 2019 though, which might coincide nicely with the launch of the Mac Pro. Although, Apple may not be so keen on waiting for Intel to make the new chips available. The current Mac Pro offers 6, 8, or 12-core versions. The iMac Pro offers 8, 10, 14 and 18-core Intel Xeon W processor options. Given that nextgeneration Xeons are heading towards 28, or even 32 cores, it is a fair bet to suppose that the new Mac Pro will offer more than 18 cores as an option.
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The clock speed is likely to start from 3.8GHz and go higher. Another possibility: the system could be based on the next-generation Ryzen (or Threadripper) CPUs from AMD. Also, look out for the next generation EFI BIOS, which will address some of the limitations of BIOS including making better use of features in 64-bit operating systems and supporting more than 2TB of storage.
Graphics The 2013 Mac Pro uses Dual AMD FirePro D500 or D700 graphics processors. Since this
Current Mac Pro
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was a product name created for the Mac Pro, it’s necessary to do a little sleuthing to find an equivalent that could be used for the next Mac Pro. The D700 matches the AMD FirePro W9000, which at the time was AMD’s best performing workstation GPU. AMD has since introduced the Radeon Pro as a successor to the FirePro line up and Apple is already using the Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics processor in the iMac Pro. But when it comes to predicting what the next big thing will be after the Radeon Pro Vega we’d need a crystal ball and since we don’t have one we’ll have to wait. That said, maybe what really matters is whether pro users will be able to update their Mac Pro to take advantage of the latest and greatest graphics cards when they launch. If Apple allows this then it matters less what’s inside the Mac Pro at launch. High-end users will be looking for GDDR5 graphics cards that support DirectX 12 and OpenGL 4.5. Expect at least 10GB on-package highbandwidth memory. This might not come from AMD – Apple could look elsewhere for the GPU in the Mac Pro, especially after issues with faulty AMD graphics cards in the first batch of 2013 Mac Pros meant that Apple had to offer replacements to some users.
RAM Officially the 2013 Mac Pro handled up to 64GB RAM spread over four slots (four 16GB RAM
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modules). However, it is possible to upgrade it to take 128GB RAM with third party solutions. Given that the iMac Pro is configurable to take up to 128GB of DDR4 memory, it would be very peculiar if the Mac Pro didn’t offer that option this time round. There is also the possibility that it could be configurable to 256GB RAM. We’d hope that Apple continues to make is easy to install more RAM when required.
Storage There have been requests that Apple should provide some bays for internal hard drives in the new Mac Pro. This might seem a bit backwards, but while flash memory is still expensive, the most cost effective option for anyone working with large file sizes is going to be a hard disk. Perhaps Apple will offer a Fusion Drive as a build to order option, although such a scenario is unlikely due to the amount of space it would need to allocate if hard drive options were to be included. As for solid-state storage, this was the only option on the 2013 Mac Pro and while the machine shipped with 256GB as standard, it was possible to
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opt for 512GB or 1TB build to order options. Given that the iMac Pro offers 1-, 2- or 4TB of fast flash storage the new Mac Pro will surely top that.
Ports The current Mac Pro sports six Thunderbolt 2 ports. The new Mac Pro is obviously crying out for an upgrade to Thunderbolt 3 which has the added benefit of doubling up as USB Type-C. What Mac Pro users have been asking for since the 2013 Mac Pro arrived is PCI slots though. If Apple shipped a Mac Pro with PCI slots (a feature the prior Mac Pro had) this would allow users to easily add faster SSDs and better video cards. Of course this may be less necessary than it was when the only ports on offer were Thunderbolt 2, because Thunderbolt 3 is being widely adopted by the rest of the PC industry due to the integration of USB Type-C. This should pave the way for a diverse and competitive accessory ecosystem. Another feature that’s arrived with the iMac Pro is 10 gigabit Ethernet, we have no doubt that we’ll be seeing this with the new Mac Pro too.
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Verdict Just how will the Mac Pro differ from the iMac Pro? We think one key way will be Apple’s desire to make this a modular system, allowing users to perform their own upgrades to keep the model fresh for years to come. We are quite confident that Apple won’t fall into the same trap as it did with the 2013 Mac Pro – Apple is sure to design it with future upgrades in mind so that its own upgrade cycle for the machine doesn’t slip. We would hope not to see the Mac Pro miss out on generations and generations of graphics processors and CPUs just because Apple couldn’t fit them inside. “We want to architect it so we can keep it fresh with regular improvements,” said Apple’s Phil Schiller and we’re pretty sure it will be attempting to do exactly that.
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Guide to the HomePod Yes, you can use it with Spotify, writes Michael Simon
omePod (£319 from fave.co/2rRVNWv) may be the first new Apple device since Apple Watch nearly three years ago, but for many of us, it’s not the oh-my-god-I-need-tohave-it gadget we wanted it to be. Unless you’re specifically looking for a way to play Apple Music in your house, you’re probably on the fence about whether to buy one. If that’s the case, here are 11 things you might want to consider before placing your order.
1. You’ll need iOS 11.2.5 Before you consider buying a HomePod, you’ll need to make sure you have the proper hardware:
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• iPhone 5s or later • iPad Pro (all models) • iPad (5th generation) • iPad Air or later • iPad mini 2 or later • iPod touch (6th generation) If you are an Android user who loves Apple Music, you’re out of luck unless you want to buy an iPod touch (£199 from fave.co/2noRjBR) with your HomePod.
2. The coolest Siri features require an Apple Music subscription Apple has touted HomePod as “the ultimate music authority”, but there’s a catch: You need an Apple Music subscription (£9.99 per month for an individual membership, £14.99 per month for a family, and £4.99 for a student) to get the most out of it. And it’s not just for its boundless library either. Without an Apple Music subscription, you won’t be able to control your music with Siri, personalize your music selections, or even ask it to play a specific song.
3. You can use it to play Spotify songs While you won’t get any of the voice control features baked into Apple Music, you can technically use your HomePod to play songs from Spotify, Amazon Music, or any other service. Select HomePod as an AirPlay speaker from your phone or iPad as long as both devices are on the same
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You can play Spotify songs with HomePod, but not the cool way
Wi-Fi network (sadly, it won’t work as a Bluetooth speaker). Whether that’s worth £319 is up to you.
4. Messages tied to main user When you set up HomePod, like any other Apple device, you’ll be asked to enter your iCloud address. Choose wisely, because this is the main account that the HomePod will be hooked up to. That means any messages you send, notes you take, or reminders you set will be tied to this account, not to mention the main Apple Music subscription. Since HomePod is a household device, there might be some discussions over which person is deemed the ‘head’ of HomePod.
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5. HomePod has touch controls HomePod’s top screen isn’t just a fancy way to see Siri in action, it’s also a way to control the HomePod itself. If you don’t want to talk to it every time you want to raise the volume or change tracks, here are the ways you can physically control it: Tap: Play/Pause Double-tap: Next track Triple-tap: Previous track Tap or hold plus: Volume up Tap or hold minus: Volume down Touch and hold: Summon Siri
6. Privacy is a major selling point An unsung feature of Apple’s HomePod is privacy, especially for people who are wary of letting always-on Wi-Fi-connected microphones into their homes. Like Google Home and Amazon Echo, Apple promises that HomePod only starts listening after you wake it with, “Hey Siri”, but privacy on HomePod goes beyond that. For one, your conversations are encrypted, and they’re also anonymous, meaning that anything that gets sent to Apple’s servers for processing won’t be tied to an iCloud account. That’s not the case with Google Home or Amazon Echo. Plus, if the main user whose iCloud account is tied to HomePod isn’t home (or rather, isn’t connected to the home Wi-Fi network), HomePod won’t deliver personal notifications, so texts and reminders won’t be shared with other people in your home.
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7. HomePod can’t distinguish between voices On our phones, Apple identifies specific waveforms to recognize your voice and keep other people from accidentally summoning Siri. That’s not the case with HomePod. Anyone in your home will be able to activate it by saying “Hey Siri” to get answers to general knowledge questions, news, sports results, and even stream music from their own phones to HomePod. But if you’re worried about your messages being read whenever your friends come to visit, out next fact will ease your mind.
8. You can stop Siri from listening While there’s technically not a mute button on the top of HomePod, you will be able to stop Siri from
Unless you buy a second HomePod, only one user will be in control
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activating whenever it hears its wake phrase. You will be able to turn off Siri on HomePod by saying, “Hey Siri, Stop listening”. Then you’ll only need to tap and hold the top screen to turn it back on again.
9. HomePod is very power efficient Even though it’s technically always on, HomePod uses very little power when it’s plugged into an outlet. When not in use, it draws an average of 1.71W when connected to a standard 115V outlet. Equally impressive is the 8.74W of power it consumes when playing music. That’s less than a standard LED light bulb, which typically draws around 9.5W.
10. Siri on HomePod will defer to your iPhone When you ask Siri a question and your phone is within earshot, HomePod won’t respond. According to Digital Trends, “The assistant is smart enough to know when you’re calling for it when your phone is in your hand, and the HomePod will not answer.”
11. HomePod doesn’t do calendar notifications One of the best uses for an Amazon Echo or Google Home is the daily briefing, where it will provide a brief overview of your day. It seems unlikely that HomePod will be able do that since Apple hasn’t given it access to the iCloud Calendar notifications. That’s likely due to privacy reasons and could change in the future, but for now you’ll still need to use your phone to check your appointments.
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How Apple can establish its new video service A lot needs to happen before you can start streaming original programmes to your Apple device, reveals Jason Snell
t’s clear that Apple is building a video service. That much was obvious the moment it hired veteran entertainment executives Zack van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht. But you can’t flip a switch and create a streaming service – not even if you’re Apple. (You could buy one, but Apple has apparently chosen to build, not buy, at least for now.) What has to happen between now and the day we all sit down and watch the first episode of van
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Amburg and Erlicht’s first major acquisition to play through our Apple TVs or on our iPads and iPhones?
Make the deals Apple hired van Amburg and Erlicht away from Sony because they’re well-respected executives with great connections. (Apple has since hired several other impressive execs from production companies and Amazon and the BBC.) After a quiet period as the team was assembled, Apple has become involved in the bidding on numerous major TV projects. Macworld has compiled a list of all the Apple deals sealed so far, but they include high-profile pacts with well-known producers, writers, and stars. Reports suggest Apple’s content budget for 2018 is as much as $1 billion, and it could grow at a rapid rate. TV takes a long, long time to make. Apple is short-circuiting part of the usual development process by ordering its shows ‘straight to series’. Traditionally in television a sample episode, called a pilot, would be produced before an entire season would be ordered. Bypassing the pilot isn’t quite the same as buying a show sight unseen – presumably Apple has seen pitch documents and potentially even a few scripts, and will give input on casting and other creative decisions along the way – but the company saves several months by bypassing the pilot process and buying entire seasons of series up front. So production on these shows is starting to crank up, with stars like Reese Witherspoon,
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Credit: Matt Sayles/Associated Press
Apple has ordered a series starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston, and Octavia Spencer, and creators like Ronald D. Moore, Steven Spielberg, and Bryan Fuller signed up. (Apple’s also apparently bidding with HBO for the next J.J. Abrams project.) The question is, where will they go when they arrive?
Build a customer base Any new video subscription service starts with zero customers and has to build from there – unless they can find a way to get a leg up, like Netflix (with its pre-existing DVD business) and Amazon (with its existing Prime service) did. I have a hard time believing Apple won’t charge extra for its video service, but it’s possible that it could repurpose existing Apple Music subscriptions.
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It seems more likely that Apple would start off with a free trial offer, as it did with Apple Music, with the hope of building its customer base that way. And of course, every Apple device is part of Apple’s customer base – so if everyone who owns an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or Mac got instant access to Apple’s new shows (for a limited time), that would be a quick way to build a subscriber file. The other way to build a customer base quickly would be to buy out one or more existing streaming services. Again, the hiring of van Amburg and Erlicht suggests Apple’s decided against this for now, but it’s not impossible that it could swoop in and buy a smaller service out before it launches.
Build a streaming infrastructure Sending HD video to millions of customers requires a pretty sophisticated streaming infrastructure. While iCloud has certainly had its shaky moments from time to time, Apple is a tech company that’s been learning about this stuff for a while now, and iTunes streams an awful lot of video already. Contrast that with a service like CBS All Access, which had some major problems with its contentdelivery network, or CDN, during an early episode of Star Trek: Discovery. It takes a lot of technical expertise to run a streaming service, which is one reason Disney invested so heavily in BAMTech, a spin-off from Major League Baseball widely thought to be a leader in streaming tech. One type of content Apple hasn’t yet been linked to is live sports, which seems to be the hardest job
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in streaming. Pre-recorded shows such as Game of Thrones can be preloaded across a CDN in advance of release, thereby spreading the network load – but live sports have to be transmitted in real time, and under a huge load, the streams still fail. Ask anyone who tried to watch the national football championship on ESPN earlier this month.
Find a means of distribution Netflix got its streaming service embedded in just about every Internet-capable device in existence. Amazon’s done much the same. Apple, of course, comes with its own home-field advantage: the TV app on every iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV out there. Problem solved. Will Apple offer its video service on other devices? It’s possible, but it sure seems unlikely. The point of Apple’s video service is to expand services revenue – but it’s also to accrue more value toward Apple’s hardware offerings.
Get the product out there It seems unlikely that any of the series Apple has already bought will be ready before late this year. It takes time to assemble a writing and production staff, write, cast, shoot, and edit. Autumn 2018 seems like the earliest an Apple TV service could premiere, and even that feels like pushing it. But it’s definitely happening. An Apple video service is in our future, with a bunch of shows from people you know, who have created stuff you’ve loved in the past. Will the shows Apple is buying
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Could Apple offer its streaming video service outside of its own devices? It’s possible, but it seems unlikely
now be good enough to drive subscriptions to yet another video streaming service, when there’s already a lot of subscription fatigue out there? These are questions for late 2018, or quite possibly for 2019. But the shows themselves are on their way.
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Help Desk Glenn Fleishman answers your most vexing Mac problems
WHY DOES A SAFARI COOKIE REAPPEAR AFTER YOU DELETE IT? Safari for macOS lets you view the kind of data cached locally by websites in your browser. Select Safari > Preferences > Privacy, and then click Manage Website Data, and you can see the kind of data stored by every site. It can include Cache, Local Storage, Databases, Cookies, and much more. You can select items to remove them, or even go nuclear and click Remove All. Those are different categories of local storage, but they’re all managed by the Web site with
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the permission and mediation of the browser. Cookies is the most likely one to see, as cookies contain a login token used to keep a session going as you navigate among pages, or tracking data used by advertisers. Macworld reader David is having a problem with this, however. When he selects an item and then clicks Remove, he sometimes sees the entry disappear and then instantly reappear. He’s checked that any web pages associated with the site in question are closed. I tested this with the same site he did: The Guardian newspaper, theguardian.com, which I know to be a reliable editorial outlet and have never heard of any jiggery-pokery going on with its site. And I experienced the same action: the entry disappeared and reappeared. I waited a moment, clicked Remove again, and this time the deletion ‘stuck’ – the entry didn’t reappear. While I might be concerned about maliciously respawning evercookies if this were a site I didn’t know and trust, especially one that had a whiff of the off-brand or unreliable about it, that’s exceedingly unlikely with the Guardian or any mainstream editorial outlet. Evercookies hide user tracking information using loopholes in how a browser communicates with a server, and after normal cookies and caches are deleted, recreates the cookie and places it back. More likely this is a user-interface glitch: the click that should delete the entry is registering as accepted and the interface duly deletes the
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The Manage Website Data list shows which Web sites have asked your browser to cache data for them
entry in question. But the underlying data isn’t properly updated, so the list refreshes showing the entry again. I have a relatively fast newer iMac, and my Manage Website Data list takes about 10 to 15 seconds to fill in any entries. On a slower Mac on which Safari has visited any reasonable number of sites, I expect it may take a lot longer to fill in the list and to update when Remove is clicked.
DOES A HARD DRIVE HAVE TO BE SOLELY DEDICATED FOR TIME MACHINE USE? Macworld reader David wonders whether a drive used for Time Machine backups can also store other
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files, or whether that could cause problems. The good news is that you don’t have to devote an entire drive to Time Machine backups, although you may certainly choose to do so. macOS writes all the archived files related to Time Machine to locations within a folder called Backups.backupdb. Everything else on the drive gets ignored. However, as a drive fills up, Time Machine starts deleting the oldest snapshots, which are retained starting seven days after an initial hourly backup as weekly snapshots. Depending on how large your archives are and how much capacity the drive has, you may want to leave as much space free for Time Machine backups as possible.
WARNING: IF YOU TURN OFF ICLOUD PHOTO LIBRARY IN IOS, YOU MAY UNINTENTIONALLY DELETE OPTIMIZED IMAGES I would never claim iCloud Photo Library is easy to understand. Among the most-asked questions to Help Desk are those relating to how the syncand-central-storage system for images and video works. Macworld reader Keiti seems to have run afoul of how iCloud Photo Library manages images and videos, and may have missed a prompt that explained what was about to happen. Keiti writes: My iCloud storage was full and I did not purchase any extra storage. In order not to get the notifications, I decided to turn off iCloud Photo Library. But after that, about 1,000 photos out of
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2,000 photos just disappeared from my iPhone. Are they still somewhere hidden on my device or are they gone for good? They shouldn’t be gone forever: they should remain in iCloud Photo Library, and be available via iCloud.com and by enabling or re-enabling iCloud Photo Library on your iPhone or any other device. You may need to temporarily purchase additional iCloud storage, which you can do for a single month and then downgrade, to make sure you can retrieve and sync all the files you need. What likely happened here is that the iCloud Photo Library was set (in Settings > account name > iCloud > Photos) to Optimize iPhone Storage. As a result, when your iPhone storage became full, iOS deletes full-resolution images and videos that are already synced with iCloud Photo Library – which is all of them except perhaps recently shot media – and replaces them with preview thumbnails. When you tap the iCloud Photo Library switch to off, you should receive a prompt that offers an explanation, and has two choices: Remove from iPhone or Download Photos & Video. I’m guessing Keiti missed that prompt, or tapped Remove from iPhone assuming images and videos captured on the iPhone would remain. But Apple is quite literal. This scenario doesn’t delete media from iCloud Photo Library, as I note above, so you can recover those images and videos: • Connect an iOS device with enough storage to download all the media, and enable iCloud Photo
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Library with Download and Keep Originals set in the Settings area for Photos above. Then, when you disable iCloud Photo Library, tap Download Photos & Video to ensure that all images are retained. • On a Mac logged into the same iCloud account, use Photos > iCloud to enable iCloud Photo Library and choose the option Download Originals to This Mac. That will retrieve all your media from iCloud, at which point you can disconnect the Mac from iCloud Photo Library.
SET UP A NEW iPHONE BY RESTORING IT FROM AN OLDER DEVICE Macworld readers are likely quite used to restoring their iOS devices. Sometimes, you’ll need to bring your iPhone or iPad in or ship it off for repair, and
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Apple has to reset or replace it. Other times, you might hit a glitch – a rapidly draining battery is a common one – where the ‘best’ remedy is backing up and restoring. But Macworld reader Jim writes in with what I think is a common scenario for which there’s an extra step that isn’t exactly obvious: when you want effectively to transfer the contents of an older iOS device with a newer replacement, but the newer iOS hardware is already set up and running, just not with your stuff. Jim teaches pensioners on Apple equipment at the retirement home at which he lives, and he says his comrades often have an older iOS device they use, and have been given a newer hand-medown from their children or grandchildren. They
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just want to transfer an iCloud backup. Fortunately, it’s straightforward. First, Make sure you have a fresh back up of the older device, whether that’s through iCloud (Settings > account name > iCloud > iCloud Backup, and tap Back Up Now) or iTunes (connect via USB, select device icon, click Back Up Now). With iTunes, you can confirm the backup was made by looking in iTunes > Preferences > Devices and looking for the device name and the date and time of the last backup. Next, when that’s complete, turn to the new device. Make sure that if the new device has been used to take pictures, record audio, or make any other unique media files or documents, that those have been copied or synced so they will be available to retrieve after erasing the device. (If you’re using iCloud Photo Library, for instance, all photos and videos should be synced to iCloud, and will simply sync back after the device is restored from the older iOS hardware.) If you’re absolutely sure you have copied, synced, or don’t need data stored on the new device, you can now erase it. • Turn off Find My iPhone/iPad before proceeding. • If you want to erase via iTunes and USB, follow Apple’s detailed instructions at fave.co/2nvehXV. • If you would prefer to erase directly via the devices, tap Settings > General > Reset, enter your password or Apple ID password if prompted, and then wait for it to finish.
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Now, you can perform a restore from the backup you made of the older device. If it’s an iPhone or a cellular iPad, swap the SIM from the old to new device before performing the restore.
With iTunes • Power up the newer iOS device, and proceed through setup until you’re asking on the Apps & Data screen how you want to set up the device. Choose Restore from iTunes Backup. • Connect the iPhone or iPad over USB to the computer on which you performed an iTunes backup. • Click Restore Backup. > Choose the backup you just made. • Follow the remaining prompts until the restore is complete.
With an iCloud backup • Power up the newer iOS device, and proceed through setup until you’re asking on the Apps & Data screen how you want to set up the device. Choose Restore from iCloud Backup. • Sign into the same iCloud account you used to perform the backup above. • Choose the backup you made from the list that appears. • Follow the remaining prompts until the restore is complete.
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Which iMac should you buy? If you’re in the market for a new iMac, Macworld staff look at each model to help you find the right model
he iMac is a direct descendant of the very first Mac, and it’s often the computer that longtime users think about when they think about the Macintosh. The iMac’s all-in-one design is popular and iconic. The iMac is great for both novices and demanding users. It can handle general-purpose
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and heavy-duty tasks equally well. It’s ideal for someone who needs to buy a complete computer setup (keyboard, mouse or trackpad, and display) and wants to maximize workspace efficiency. The current iMac line-up was released in June 2017 during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, and the iMac Pro was released in December 2017. If you’re in the market for an iMac, this guide will help you make the right choice. Apple has two versions of the iMac: the standard iMac and the iMac with Retina display.
iMac Apple has two versions of the iMac. Let’s go over the standard model first, followed by the iMac with Retina display. What is it? The iMac is Apple’s iconic all-in-one computer. Made of aluminium, the iMac has a builtin display and looks stately as it sits on a desk. It also offers top-notch performance. Who’s it for? The iMac is great for both novices and demanding users. It can handle general-purpose and heavy-duty tasks equally well. It’s ideal for someone who needs to buy a complete computer setup (keyboard, mouse or trackpad, and display) and wants to maximize workspace efficiency. What are the specifications? One standard iMac model is currently available with a 21.5in 1920x1080-resolution display. It has a 1TB hard
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drive. (Apple no longer makes a 27in iMac with a standard display – more on that later). The entry-level 21.5in £1,049 iMac (from fave.co/2sPpkfr) has a 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor and Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 integrated graphics. The hard drive in the 21.5in iMac models is a 5,400rpm drive. You can’t upgrade the 21.5in iMac yourself after you buy it, so consider paying an extra £180 at the outset for a memory upgrade to 16GB. If you want to add more RAM later, you need to bring the iMac in to an Apple store. The 21.5in iMac also offers a Fusion Drive or a flash storage upgrade. The iMac comes with Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2. If you order online from the Apple Store, however, you can switch the keyboard to a version with a numeric keypad, and switch the mouse to a wired Apple Mouse or a Magic Trackpad 2 (£50). You
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can opt to get both a Magic Mouse 2 and a Magic Trackpad 2 for £129 extra. The iMac does not have an optical drive. If you want to read or burn CDs and DVDs, you need to buy an external USB optical drive. How do I connect stuff? Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are built-in. All iMacs have four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a gigabit ethernet port, and an SDXC card slot. If you want to connect a FireWire device, you’ll need to use a Thunderbolt-to-FireWire Adaptor (£29 from fave.co/2t32ULC). USB 2.0 devices can connect to the iMac’s USB 3.0 ports. How fast is it? The iMacs are among Apple’s fastest computers, however, the £1,049 iMac is Apple’s slowest iMac. Also, if the iMac has a hard drive, it’s a performance bottleneck. If you can upgrade to a Fusion Drive or flash storage, you’ll gain a significant performance boost. The £1,049 version has an attractive price, but you make huge sacrifices in performance. Macworld’s buying advice: For new Mac owners, the £1,049 iMac is a good alternative to the Mac mini, providing a nice performance increase. If performance is your top priority, consider a Fusion Drive upgrade. On a 21.5in iMac, the 8GB of RAM should be fine, but buying the RAM upgrade at the point of purchase could help you avoid some hassle in the future.
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iMac with Retina display What is it? The iMac with Retina display is like Apple’s standard iMac, but with an ultra highresolution display. Who’s it for? The Retina iMac is designed for professionals who work with high-resolution videos, photos, or images. Or it’s for the demanding user who wants the best image quality for everyday use. What are the specifications? Apple calls its two 21.5in models the 21.5in iMac with Retina 4K display. These iMacs have a 4096x2304 resolution screen. The £1,249 model (from fave.co/2sPn6wE) has a 3GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive, and 2GB Radeon Pro 555 graphics. The £1,449 model (from fave.co/2t3csqa) has a 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB Fusion Drive, and 4GB Radeon Pro 560 graphics. Apple’s 27in iMacs (called the 27in iMac with Retina 5K display) come with a 5120x2880resolution Retina display. Apple offers three models of the 27in Retina iMac. The £1,749 model
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(from fave.co/2t3ejvb) has a 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, a 1TB Fusion Drive, and 4GB Radeon Pro 570 graphics. The £1,949 model (from fave.co/2t3raxh) has a 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, a 1TB Fusion Drive and 4GB Radeon Pro 575 graphics. The £2,249 (from fave.co/2sP565x) model has a 3.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, a 2TB Fusion Drive, and 8GB Radeon Pro 580 graphics. Users can upgrade the RAM on the 27in iMac easily. The machine has four RAM slots, accessible through the back. Apple installs the standard 8GB as a pair of 4GB memory modules, so you can add more RAM after you buy the system. Or if you prefer, you can upgrade the RAM at the point of purchase to 16GB (£180) or 32GB (£540). How do I connect stuff? Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are built-in. All Retina iMacs have four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a gigabit ethernet port, and an SDXC card slot. If you want to connect a FireWire device, you’ll need to use a Thunderbolt-to-FireWire Adaptor (£29 from fave.co/2t32ULC). USB 2.0 devices can connect to the iMac’s USB 3.0 ports. How fast is it? The Retina iMacs are among Apple’s fastest computers when it comes to singlecore performance. When it comes to multi-core speed, the Mac Pros with more than four cores are faster machines. You can improve the multicore performance by opting for the 4.2GHz Core
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i7 upgrade in the £1,949 and £2,249 in the 27in models, or the 3.6GHz Core i7 upgrade in the 21.5in model – you’ll pay more, but it may be worth it to your for the performance boost. Macworld’s buying advice: The allure of the Retina display is strong; you’ll love the way it looks. You may not love the way the price looks, however. If you are hesitant about the price, it won’t take long to get over it, once you’ve used the Retina iMac for a couple of weeks.
iMac Pro Who’s it for? The iMac Pro is the computer for people who work on the most demanding tasks. It’s targeted at creative professionals, scientists, and software developers.
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What are the specifications? It features a 27in Retina 5K 5120x2880 P3 display and comes in several configurations, including: £4,899 from fave.co/2Bhr9Zz: 3.2GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor, 32GB 2,666MHz ECC memory, 1TB SSD storage, 16GB Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics £6,879 from fave.co/2D0cCTy: 3GHz 10-core Intel Xeon W processor, 64GB 2,666MHz DDR4 ECC memory, 1TB SSD, 16GB Radeon Pro Vega 64 graphics £9,759 from fave.co/2D0cCTy:2.5GHz 14-core Intel Xeon W processor, 128GB 2,666MHz DDR4 ECC memory, 2TB SSD, 16GB Radeon Pro Vega 64 graphics £12,279 from fave.co/2D0cCTy: 2.3GHz 18-core Intel Xeon W processor, 128GB 2,666MHz DDR4 ECC memory, 4TB SSD, 16GB Radeon Pro Vega 64 The RAM on the iMac isn’t user upgradeable, but Apple says it will upgrade your iMac Pro at the Apple Store like the standard model. So if you’re buying one you probably want to spring for the extra money up front rather than pay more later. The iMac Pro comes in an exclusive aluminium space gray case with a matching space gray Magic Keyboard with numeric keyboard and Magic Mouse 2 (or Magic Trackpad 2 for an additional £50). And Apple is supplying a one-of-a-kind black Lightning cable in the box as well for charging purposes. Apple is debuting the T2 chip with the iMac Pro, a
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step up from the T1 in the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. The chip is responsible for controlling a variety of components and tasks including the FaceTime HD camera, putting less stress on the CPU. Earlier rumours suggested the chip could be responsible for hands-free Siri on the iMac, but Apple has yet announce such a feature. How do I connect stuff? Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are included for wireless connectivity. The back of the iMac Pro has four USB 3 ports, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, a 10 gigabit ethernet jack, and a SDXC card slot. How fast is it? The machine is a multi-processing beast, designed to work with pro-level apps that demand multiple processing cores. Apple
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has issued different configurations of the iMac Pro to select users, including mechanical and aerospace engineer Craig A. Hunter, director and photographer Vincent Laforet, and YouTubers Marques Brownlee and Jonathan Morrison, and all of them say the speed is very impressive. In last issue’s review of the iMac Pro, we confirmed that the new Mac is at its best with software that can take advantage of processors with multiple cores. And the iMac Pro’s graphics performance is spectacular, thanks to the Radeon Pro Vega. If you use software that’s geared for singlecore performance (which includes many general consumer apps), you won’t see a marked increase. In fact, we found that the iMac Pro is similar in single-core performance to a 2014 Core i7 5K iMac. You’re better off with a new 5K iMac in this case. Macworld’s buying advice: If you use multi-core software and want the fastest processing speed available, this is the Mac to get. There is a new Mac Pro in the works, though you might be waiting until the end of 2018 before you can buy it.
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Mac backup software Looking to keep your data safe? Kenny Hemphill reveals the best Mac backup apps and online services out there
o many of us, backing up a Mac means setting up Time Machine and forgetting about it until we need to recover data. But, while Time Machine is a great resource, it’s not perfect, and relying on it alone to keep your data safe is a mistake that could have disastrous consequences. An ideal strategy consists of at least two separate backup schedules, with at least one of those backing up to a drive that’s stored off-
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site. At the very least, if you use Time Machine to back up to an external hard drive or network device, you should also have another tool running regular backups to a different drive. That means buying a backup application and using it, before you lose data. There are a number of different options when it comes to choosing backup software. Some apps are focused on creating clones of your hard drive and offer incremental backup as an extra feature. Others are focused solely on making backing up your Mac regularly as easy as possible. A third category, represented in our round-up by ChronoSync, allows you to synchronise folders on your Mac with another drive or computer on a regular basis. Some FTP management applications also allow you to synchronise folders with FTP or WebDAV servers. Finally, there are online services that will store your data on their servers, providing a secure offsite backup. When you initially sign up for an online service, the first backup will take a while, possibly several days. But once you’ve completed that, each subsequent run only copies files that have changes and so will take much less time and bandwidth. Most of these services also allow you to control how much bandwidth they use so you should never find that they get in the way of you working. Of the apps and services we look at here, Get Backup Pro is a simple and inexpensive backup tool, while ChronoSync, Carbon Copy Cloner and
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SuperDuper allow you to run incremental backups, through they’re each focused on other tasks. The three online backup tools, Backblaze, Carbonite and IDrive all have merits and of those three, Backblaze edges it. However, overall, for a combination of ease of use, features and the ability to combine local backups with backup to the cloud, the outstanding choice is Acronis True Image 2018.
1. Acronis True Image 2018 Price: £36.99 from fave.co/2BMbgLI Acronis is well known in the Windows world, but less so to Mac users. True Image 18 is its personal backup solution and it supports backing up your data to a local disk, Acronis’ own cloud-based service, or a network-attached storage device. The latter makes it good option for anyone with a NAS that doesn’t support Apple’s Time Machine.
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You’ll need to set up an account with Acronis to use the cloud service, but if you’d rather give True image a spin without creating an account, you can use the free trial to back up to a local drive or network disk. True Image 2018 supports APFS drives, so if you’re running High Sierra you won’t run into difficulties. There is a caveat that may rule out True Image for some: It doesn’t allow you to back up Bootcamp partitions, or indeed specify any partition on your drive to back up. True Image creates images in a proprietary format when you back up to a local drive, so you’ll need to use its restore tools to access your data. Cloud backups are saved on a per file basis. Acronis True Image is very straightforward to use. The first time you open it, your Mac is selected as the source. Click the Destination button to choose whether to back up to Acronis Cloud, a local drive or a NAS box. If you don’t want to create an image of your entire Mac, click on the source box to choose files and folders to back up. From here, you can also back up external disks, a mobile device to your Mac or your social media accounts to Acronis Cloud. Click on the settings icon and you can schedule regular backups, exclude files, encrypt backups or delete old backups. Pricing starts at £34.99, which puts it in the middle of the tools tested here. But if you want to use Acronis Cloud, you’ll pay a yearly subscription ranging from £34.99 for 250GB to £69.99 for
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1TB. Yearly plans include the cost of the software. Acronis True Image combines the best of local and online backup tools and while there are cheaper options in both categories, that flexibility means it is worth the extra cost.
2. Get Backup Pro Price: £18.16 from fave.co/2Bi7xog Get Backup Pro’s main attraction is its flexibility. It can back up your entire hard drive or only the folders you specify. You use it to create bootable clones of your Mac’s startup drive, and to synchronise files and folders on different drives. Backups can be compressed to save space and you can choose whether to back up to a disk image or on a per file basis. Scheduled backups take place in the background and Get Backup Pro shuts itself down once it’s finished. And if the worst happens
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and you can’t restart your Mac after a crash, you can restore to any Mac, even if it doesn’t have Get Backup Pro installed. Get Backup Pro doesn’t have its own cloud service, so if you want to backup online as well as locally, you’ll need to do that with a third-party tool. It will, however, back up to network volumes and even DVD media. You can choose to automatically mount network volumes when a backup schedule starts, but you can’t specify files and folders to back up to a network disk: you must back up everything. You can choose to encrypt backups and even the level of encryption, from AES-128, AES-256, Blowfish, or Triple DES. And, if you want to back up data from specific apps, Get Backup Pro allows you to create scheduled backups using templates for apps like iTunes, Mail, Photos and Contacts. There’s also a template for the Documents folder. Get Backup Pro’s interface splits the application into four sections: Backup; Archive; Clone; and Synchronise. Backups are called projects. So, to start, you select the action you want from the tabs at the top of the left sidebar and create a new projects. From there, depending on the action you’ve chosen, you’ll have different options to choose from. Clicking the cog at the bottom of the sidebar reveals the configuration settings from where you can specify the destination, any files that are to be excluded and how and when the backup routine should run.
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Perhaps Get Backup Pro’s greatest strength is its simplicity. Press the ‘+’ in the sidebar to create a new project, then as soon as you’ve named it the settings window opens. Once you chosen options from there and confirmed them, all that’s left to do is add files. You can do that by dragging folders into the application’s main window, by pressing a button labelled ‘files+’, or by choosing a template. It’s all very intuitive. If you need to start a backup manually, there’s a big playhead button at the bottom of the main window; click it and the selected backup will start. Add to that the fact that it’s just over £18 in the UK, and Get Backup Pro is a very good choice indeed.
3. ChronoSync Price: $50 (around £36) from fave.co/2BNgEyi Don’t be fooled by its name. While ChronoSync has its roots in file synchronization and still focuses on that, it’s a robust, feature-filled and highly configurable backup tool too. As you’d expect, you can manually run backups or schedule them and you can back up to a local hard drive or NAS box. ChronoSync also supports backing up to Google Cloud and Amazon S3 storage. You can use it to back up one remote location to another using SFTP and even set the location to be an iPhone or iPad using the optional InterConneX app. If you want to back up files and folders to another Mac, you can do that too.
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Backups are incremental, but ChronoSync doesn’t just check the contents of a file for changes. If metadata has altered since the last backup, that will be reflected too. And backed-up files are copied to a temporary file and checked for integrity before the file on the destination volume is replaced with the new version. ChronoSync can create two types of bootable clone: standard and mirrored. The former creates a bootable system on the destination volume, leaving other files on the volume intact. Mirror replaces the entire contents of the destination volume with files from the source. Each time ChronoSync runs a backup, it moves the previous one to an archive folder – meaning if you need to restore a file from a version other than the most recent, you can. You configure how many archives are kept on a number of files or length
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of time basis, or a combination on the two. And archives can be compressed to save space. Restoring from an archive doesn’t have the same visual pizzazz as it does in Time Machine, but thanks to the Archive panel, it’s relatively painless. ChronoSync’s interface is chock-full of options and that in itself may be enough to put you off if all you want it is a simple backup tool: Get Backup Pro or Acronis True Image are more straightforward options. However, if you need both synchronization across multiple Macs and backup, it’s worth persevering.
4. Backblaze Price: $50 (around £36) per year from fave.co/2Bkid5U Backblaze is an online service that allows you to back up your Mac to its servers automatically or
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according to a schedule you set. Once you create an account and select your plan (there’s a 30-day free trial, too), you download the Mac app and get started. Backblaze is focused on simplicity, so it automatically chooses what to back up. That includes the contents of your Documents, Pictures, Movies and Music folders, but excludes your Applications folder. Backblaze also excludes some file types from being backed up, including .dmg disk images – that restriction can be switched off, however. Backups are kept for 30 days, so you can restore from any that ran during that time. And, as you would expect, backups are incremental so only files that have changed since it last ran are copied. Data is encrypted and you can optionally add a six-digit passcode to provide an additional layer of security. Be prepared to be patient the first time you run Backblaze – it has to copy everything to its servers, which can take several days. But after that, it’s relatively speedy and runs in the background. Bandwidth is throttled automatically when necessary, but you can intervene and set a limit if you want. There’s no limit to the size of a single file, but you can set one if you’d prefer. And backups can include USB sticks and external hard drives, as long as they’re plugged in at least once a month. There’s not an overall limit on the data you can back up to your account. When it comes to restoring your data, you have three options: you can restore via Backblaze’s web interface or you can have files sent to you on a USB
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stick or hard drive for an additional fee. And there’s a 100 percent refund if you return the USB stick or hard drive within 30 days, though you’ll have to pay shipping and taxes. You can view individual files and choose which ones to download. And you can view and share backed up files on an iPhone or iPad with the Backblaze mobile app. The Locate your Computer service tracks your Mac’s location to help you find it if it’s stolen and, if it’s still running backups, tell you its current IP address and show you recently backed-up data. Backblaze’s user interface comprises a menu bar item and a System Preferences pane. However, that pane is more like a fully fledged application, with options to exclude files, add folders and disks to the backup, and throttle bandwidth. It’s simple and very Mac-like. If you only need to back up one Mac, and particularly if you want to back up external disks, Backblaze’s simplicity and price give it the edge over Carbonite and IDrive.
5. iDrive Price: 5GB free from fave.co/2BhJx4w IDrive is another online backup service. However, it differs from both Backblaze and Carbonite in a number of ways. First, it has a free tier – you can back up 5GB without paying anything. After that, though, it’s more expensive than either of its competitors featured here.
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Currently, the annual charge for the Personal tier is $52.12 (around £37) for the first year and $70 (around £50)/year after that, but that only allows you to backup 2TB of data, while Backblaze and Carbonite allow unlimited data. However, that 2TB can be spread across multiple computers, whereas Backblaze and Carbonite limit you to one computer. Also, if you prefer to restore by having data physically shipped to you, IDrive provides that for free for the first restore each year – though if you’re outside the US you’ll have to pay for the shipping. Like Backblaze, IDrive also allows you to back up external hard drives. Even with external drives backing up, it’s unlikely most people will breach the 2TB limit – bearing in mind that you’re not backing up applications or system files. However, IDrive doesn’t delete files when it runs a new backup. That means you can roll back
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as far as you want when you come to restore, but it also means you’ll fill up that 2TB more quickly. Features like Rewind and Snapshots let you restore from earlier versions of files or snapshots of the complete data set. And all data is encrypted, with the option to set your own private encryption key. The IDrive mobile app allows you not just to view and download files to a mobile device but to back up images, calendar events and contacts from your iPhone or iPad as well – though that may be redundant if you use iCloud Photos. IDrive’s user interface makes using it very straightforward. Your Desktop, Documents, Music and Pictures folders are automatically selected for backup, along with the contents of ~/Library/Mail. To add other folders, click ‘Change’ at the bottom of the window – that’s not exactly intuitive. You can add videos to the backup, but locating them in IDrive’s interface takes a great deal of doing. Both scheduling and restoring are straightforward, however. As is choosing a local drive as the destination for a backup in place of IDrive’s servers. IDrive’s free tier and the ability to spread your data allocation in the paid tiers across multiple computers makes it attractive. Overall, though, it’s expensive for a single machine.
6. Carbon Copy Cloner 5 Price: £29.70 from fave.co/2BOnxiL Carbon Copy Cloner is primarily a tool for creating bootable clones of your Mac’s startup drive, hence
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its name. However, it has evolved to become a great deal more than that and now offers features that are a match for the best backup tools. You can back up your Mac, or files and folders on it, to a local drive or one on a network. Backups can be scheduled to run at set times or triggered by events, such as plugging in a drive. And, as you would expect, backups are incremental, replacing only the files on the destination that have changed on the source since the last time. Backup sets are managed using what Carbon Copy Cloner calls ‘Tasks’. A task could be cloning your entire hard drive or, for example, backing up your iTunes library or Documents folder. Tasks can be scheduled individually or grouped and run simultaneously. You can even easy chain tasks to create a sophisticated backup routine. Tasks can be viewed in the Task History window and you can filter by task name, source, destination or run date. The SafetyNet feature keeps copies of previous backups when files are overwritten,
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allowing you to access older versions. And if you run out of room, CCC is smart enough to delete the oldest files and continue the backup. Carbon Copy Cloner’s interface is very well laid out. Its main window focuses on three things: source volume, destination volume, and schedule. Tips, in the form of yellow ‘sticky notes’ can be switched on or off and allow you to see what every element in the interface does. The Cloning Coach guides you step by step through the process of creating backups and alerts you to potential problems with your strategy. And the guided restore does the same when you come to restore data from a backup. Carbon Copy Cloner is, for the most part, very easy to use, and if the hand holding becomes an irritant, you can switch off the tips feature. When it comes to restoring individual files and folders, however, it’s less obvious than some of its competitors. The quickest way to restore is to mount the cloned volume and drag and drop files in the Finder. You can also create a task to copy files. As a tool for both cloning disks and backing up data, Carbon Copy Cloner is first rate. For pure backup, however, Acronis True Image is a better bet.
7. Carbonite Safe Price: $59.99 per year (Basic) from fave.co/2BMcIh8 Carbonite is very similar to Backblaze in that it allows you to back up your Mac to remote servers
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and recover files when you need to. Like Backblaze, you sign up for an account and download a Mac application, and it automatically selects files to download. Also like Backblaze, Carbonite doesn’t back up applications or system files. One key difference is that Carbonite’s basic plan doesn’t automatically back up the contents of your Movies folder either – although you can select videos manually to be backed up. Neither does Carbonite back up the contents of external drives. Files are protected with 128-bit encryption, but there’s no option to add your own password. Restoring data is done online, using the Carbonite application – the option to ship media containing your data is only available within the US. And you can restore from any backup run within the last 30 days, allowing you to roll back to earlier versions of files. The Carbonite mobile app allows you to view and download files to an iPhone or iPad.
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Carbonite is very simple to use. In fact, it almost feels too simple. Download the app, install it and launch it, and Carbonite starts backing up your Documents and Pictures folders straight away. In the left-hand sidebar, there’s a list of volumes and the main user folders (Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Movies and Music). By clicking on those you can select files to be backed up or excluded. Carbonite’s welcome email warns that your initial backup could take several days. But that’s the norm for online backup services, and as it runs in the background and is careful not to occupy too much bandwidth or computer resource, it’s barely noticeable. Subsequent backups are much quicker. We did notice that Carbonite’s user interface hadn’t been optimized for Retina displays, which is odd, five years after their introduction. Restoring files is just as easy. If you want to restore a complete backup, click the Restore option in the sidebar and choose whether to download files to a folder or put them back where they were originally. To restore individual files and folders, navigate to them using the folders in the sidebar and choose the download option. Carbonite starts at $59.99 (around £43) per year for a single computer, but if you want to back up external drives and back up videos automatically, that jumps to $99.99 (around £71). That makes it expensive compared to its nearest competitors.
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8. SuperDuper! Price: £22.30 from fave.co/2BKk2dn Like Carbon Copy Cloner, SuperDuper allows you to make bootable clones of your Mac’s hard drive to an external disk or disk image. What makes SuperDuper useful as a backup tool, however, is the Smart Updates feature. This updates the clone at a frequency you specify on an incremental basis: that is, it only copies files that have changes since the last time you backed up. That allows you to keep the clone updated with the minimum of fuss or interruption to your work. If you use Time Machine for regular backups, SuperDuper can clone and Smart Update Time Machine backups. You can’t easily choose which files and folders to back up – the available choices in SuperDuper’s menus are ‘all files’ or all ‘user files’. However, you can dig deeper into its options and build your own backup scripts by pointing and clicking. The latest version adds support for snapshots on APFS drives. Snapshots are automatically created by macOS High Sierra to save the state of the drive before you install a software update – that way, if something goes wrong with the update, you can roll back to the snapshot. SuperDuper’s Restore section allows you to access those snapshots at the click of a menu and recover your Mac to whichever recent snapshot you choose. And if you use an APFS volume as the destination for your clone, you can use snapshots
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on the clone, too. That means, for example, if you install an update then Smart Update runs and updates the clone to reflect the software install, you can roll the clone back to just before it updated, if something goes wrong. SuperDuper is a good option if you already use Time Machine to run regular backups. If you run SuperDuper alongside it, you have a ‘belt and braces’ backup strategy. If you need to recover individual files, you can use Time Machine, but if disaster strikes and your hard drive is unusable, you have an up-to-date clone ready to boot from, thanks to SuperDuper. In use, SuperDuper isn’t as user-friendly as CarbonCopyCloner – it doesn’t, for example, guide you step by step. However, it makes keeping an up-to-date clone of your system reasonably straightforward and does a good job. If you like the idea of the snapshots feature and are comfortable with its interface, this is a good choice.
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Latest Mac games Andrew Hayward looks at this month’s best new releases
f it’s still cold and miserable outside where you live, then why not find a fun new game to play on your Mac? We’ve some critically acclaimed indie games and other compelling curiosities in the mix. Subnautica is one of the highlights, as it drops you into a gorgeous underwater paradise… that is unfortunately filled with vicious alien creatures. Meanwhile, Celeste and Iconoclasts are both modern-day gems that look like retro classics, and there’s plenty more in the pages ahead.
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1. Subnautica Price: £19.49 from Steam (fave.co/2BLuSzz) If you crash-landed on a mysterious ocean planet, without dry land or other humans in sight, what would you? You’d probably freak out, but after that, you’d better figure out how to stay alive. That’s your prompt in Subnautica, a survival game that challenges you to explore the depths below and try to stay alive amidst a thriving ecosystem filled with strange alien threats. You’ll scavenge for resources beneath the water as you try to stay safe in this unfamiliar space, and Subnautica has drawn praise for its dazzling environments and exploration. Think of it as a nonblocky, totally-underwater Minecraft with its own unique feel and approach.
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2. Celeste Price: £14.99 from Steam (fave.co/2BhBbdb) Tough-as-nails platform-hopping action with a side of emotional storytelling? That’s the concoction you’ll find in Celeste. It’s from the makers of Towerfall, and it’s earning incredible praise from critics, including some 10 out of 10 ratings. Celeste drops you into the hiking boots of Madeline, a young woman who attempts to climb up Celeste Mountain while dealing with inner strife along the way. It’s an incredibly challenging game of jumping and dashing around hazards (like Super Meat Boy), with pitch-perfect controls helping you see through the challenge, while the story frankly explores feelings of depression and anxiety. That’s an uncommon, but seemingly very special combination.
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3. Rusty Lake Paradise Price: £2.89 from Steam (fave.co/2BkqoPE) It might be called Rusty Lake Paradise, but this game’s hand-drawn locale is anything but idyllic. The 10 biblical plagues have beset the island, with frogs and flies abound and water turned into blood. What is hero Jakob Eilander, home after the death of his mother, to do? Well, it’s an adventure game, so you’ll probably have a bunch of puzzles to solve. Rusty Lake Paradise is the third main entry in the Rusty Lake series, so you’re better off starting with the earlier games, but it makes a strong impact as a very strange, visionary experience.
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4. InnerSpace Price: £39.99 from Steam (fave.co/2BOKzpT) InnerSpace is certainly one of the most beautiful games released this month. It’s a surreal flight game about exploring a series of ‘inside-out’, gravity-reversed planets, which basically means soaring around dizzying terrain and soaking in the sights. There’s a little bit more than just sightseeing, though: the InnerSpace is dying, and in its last days, you’re tasked with helping an archeologist recover its relics. Along the way, you’ll unlock parts to build new kinds of airframes that help you explore fresh terrain. It looks like a great pick for cooling down at the end of a long day, or after playing something a bit more intense.
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5. Iconoclasts Price: £17.49 from Steam (fave.co/2BiXoHV) Created by one indie developer across several years, Iconoclasts is another retro-throwback gem that fuses Metroid-like levels and blasting with puzzle-solving and RPG-like storytelling. It also seems to pack a surprising amount of polish, given its origins, as you take control of a young mechanic who wants to help everyone – and learns some tough lessons along the way. While the trailers show off a lot of combat and action, the actual balance of the game includes a lot more puzzle-solving than you might expect, giving Iconoclasts a different kind of tone than your typical 2D affair.
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6. Slay The Spire Price: £11.99 from Steam (fave.co/2BMyth0) Slay the Spire actually launched late in 2017 in Steam Early Access, but it’s been gaining momentum in recent weeks as the game is updated and polished before the full version release. Why is there so much buzz around this game? Well, it’s a mix of deck-building card-battlers and challenging ‘roguelike’ dungeon crawlers. Essentially, it’s Darkest Dungeon or FTL meets Hearthstone. You’ll go from encounter to encounter as you scale the tower, and when it’s time to battle, you’ll use your deck of cards to dispatch foes. Or you’ll die trying, but there’s reward in your gradual climb, and every run offers a new layout of threats to tackle.
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7. The Red Strings Club Price: £11.39 from Steam (fave.co/2BMHdDz) Given its pairing of a cyberpunk world and bartending gameplay, you might see The Red Strings Club and immediately draw the comparison to the compelling VA-11 Hall-A. In fact, no other game that we know of manages to combine all of those things into one experience. Sounds strange, right? The Red Strings Club is certainly a distinctive game, blending adventure game-like storytelling with rich dialogue with fabulous pixel graphics. Commanding a bartender, a hacker, and a malfunctioning android, you’ll uncover and try to thwart a major tech company conspiracy while savouring the conversations and little moments along the way.
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8. Warring States: Tactics Price: £19.49 from Steam (fave.co/2BKnSmN) Set during the titular period (475-221 BCE) in Ancient China, Warring States: Tactics is a turnbased strategy game that spotlights battles between the various feudal states. Commanding the forces of Qin, you’ll fight across the hexbased battlefields as you attack, utilize tactical manoeuvres, bash through castle walls, and try to emerge victorious in the end. It packs in 15 singleplayer story missions along with a dozen maps for online/local multiplayer or AI skirmishes. It’s pretty well under the radar, but Steam user reviews largely call it a diamond in the rough, with the full version just releasing following an Early Access period.
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9. Tesla vs Lovecraft Price: £10.99 from Steam (fave.co/2BilcLU) Developer 10tons has a knack for top-down shooters, wherein you look at the action from straight above and then blast the heck out of wave upon wave of enemies – and Tesla vs Lovecraft is their latest creation. As the title suggests, this arcade-style experience has quite the interesting premise. Here, you’ll take the role of legendary inventor Nikola Tesla, who finds a surprising threat in the monsters created by horror author H.P. Lovecraft. To mow them down, you’ll hop into your own Tesla-Mech robot – armed with Tesla-Miniguns, of course – and show them that technology trumps wicked fantasy. That’s the plan, at least, but you’ll surely have fun trying.
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10. Mobile Empire Price: £7.19 from Steam (fave.co/2BNnJyS) Mobile Empire is a smartphone-maker simulation, challenging you to guide an upstart company in 2001 into a tech juggernaut over the years. You’ll design handsets starting in those early days and progress through the eras, stretching all the way up until 2035. All the while, you’ll direct employees, maximize profits, and attempt to crush your competitors. That sounds great, although it comes with a caveat: Steam reviewers suggest the original Chinese game has been haphazardly translated into English… and not all of it was translated. Luckily, Steam will let you get a refund if you play less than two hours and request it within two weeks of purchase, so keep that in mind.
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How to: Use Apple Pay Cash in the UK Set to launch in the UK soon, Jason Cross explains how to make person-to-person payments on an iPhone or Apple Watch
pple Pay Cash has now launched in the US and looks set to launch in the UK soon, lets you pay your mates over iMessage, or by using Siri. Here’s everything you need to know.
Requirements For starters, both the money sender and receiver need to be running iOS 11.2 or later. Apple Pay Cash was added in iOS 11.2 beta 2, and is in the final
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release as well. According to Apple’s support page, you’ll need to meet the following requirements: • A compatible device with iOS 11.2 or later. • Two-factor authentication for your Apple ID. • An eligible credit or debit card in Wallet, so you can send money. • Be at least 18 years old.
Setting up Apple Pay Cash Before you can send or receive money, you’ll need to set up the Apple Pay Cash card. It’s essentially a special prepaid card with some financial services provided top Apple by Green Dot Bank. First, you may need to head into the Settings menu and make sure Apple Pay Cash is enabled. Go to Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay and look for the Apple Pay Cash toggle at the top of the screen. Then, head into the Wallet app, tap on the Apple Pay Cash card, then tap on Set Up Apple Pay Cash. You’ll have to agree to some terms and conditions, but that’s it. This process will set off automatically if someone sends you money before you get a chance to set it up.
How to send money with your iPhone or iPad Sending money with Apple Pay Cash is incredibly simple. It’s just an iMessage app. Launch Messages and then start a new message, or open an existing one. Tap the Apps button and then the Apple Pay button. Press the ‘+’ or ‘-’ buttons to adjust the amount, or tap
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Show Keypad to enter an exact amount. Tap Pay. If you want to add a message here, you can. Tap the send button. You’ll get a summary screen that you’ll need to approve with either Touch ID or Face ID. That’s all there is to it. The money will be sent immediately, and will be available on the recipient’s Apple Pay Cash card.
Send money with your Apple Watch Open Messages on your Apple Watch and either start a new message or open an existing one. Scroll down past the message and tap on the Apple Pay button. Turn the digital grown to adjust the dollar amount. If you need to be more exact, tap the dollar amount to show the decimal places, then tap the value after the decimal and rotate the digital crown to adjust. Tap Pay. You’ll be prompted to double-click the side button to confirm.
Ask for money You can ask your friend to send you money, too. When they get the request, they can tap it, and the payment amount will be filled out automatically (they can adjust it if they want). Open Messages, go to a conversation, and tap the Apple Pay iMessage app like you would when sending money. Enter the amount, and instead of tapping Pay tap the Request button. There’s no Request button on Apple Watch, but you can use Siri with a phrase like, “Ask Jason for £15 for pizza.”
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Cancel payment If you sent money to someone and they haven’t yet accepted it, you can cancel payment. Go to Messages and tap on the payment, or find the payment in the Transaction History of your Apple Pay Cash card in the Wallet app or Settings. Tap the transaction and look for the status field. Tap Cancel Payment. If you don’t see that option, they’ve already accepted the payment. It may take up to a day for the payment to show up back on your account. After the first transaction, most users will have Apple Pay Cash set to automatically accept payments (that’s the default), so you probably won’t have much opportunity to cancel.
Using Siri You can use Siri to both send and request money. Try saying “Send Jane £14 for pizza” or “Apple Pay Greg £12 for pizza.” Or to request money, maybe, “Ask Glenda for £18 for pizza.”
About that Apple Pay Cash card When you receive money, it goes onto your Apple Pay Cash card. That money is then used by default whenever you send anyone else money with Apple Pay Cash. If you don’t have enough in there, you can pay the balance with a debit or credit card. You can also use money on your Apple Pay Cash card to pay for things using Apple Pay. Apps and in-app purchases, retail, online, it’s just another source of money to use within Apple Pay. Just
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tap on your payment card whenever an Apple Pay summary pops up on screen for you to confirm, or if you’re buying something at retail, switch to the Apple Pay Cash card before tapping to the terminal. The maximum balance you can have on the card is $20,000. You can only send or receive up to $3,000 per message, and $10,000 within a sevenday period. The UK limit has yet to be announced. Adding money to your Apple Pay Cash card or transferring it to your bank account You can add money to your Apple Pay Cash card, although you will automatically add any missing balance from a debit or credit card when paying someone. Just open the Apple Pay Cash card in the Wallet app or the Wallet & Apple Pay settings menu. Then tap on the Info tab. Then tap Add Money. Enter the amount you’d like to add, tap Add, and confirm. Taking money off your Apple Pay Cash card is just a little more complicated. You’ll need to add a bank account. In the Apple Pay Cash card info (in Settings or the Wallet app), go to the Info tab. Tap Transfer to Bank. The first time you do this, you’ll have to tap Add Bank Account and enter your bank’s sort code and your account number. Enter an amount, tap Transfer, then confirm with Touch ID or Face ID.
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If you want to transfer money from your Apple Pay Cash virtual card to your bank, you’ll need to enter an account number.
Cost of using Apple Pay Cash If you use a debit card, Apple Pay Cash is free. But if you use a credit card, there’s a 3 percent credit card transaction fee every time you use your card to add to your Apple Pay Cash balance.
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Apple should take a new approach to launches It could be time for Apple to move beyond annual release cycles, argues Dan Moren
e’ll fix it in post. It’s a long-standing joke in the podcast community – when somebody fluffs a line or stutters during recording, we just kick the can down the road and repair it in editing. (For programmes that actually do editing, anyway.)
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But lately it’s started to seem like a more common occurrence across the tech industry, and even Apple’s jumped aboard the train. We’ve seen a number of places where Apple announced a particular feature shipping in a product – whether it be a new hardware device or a major software update – only to eventually release the product without said feature, promising it in a subsequent software update. The most recent example is the HomePod, which will lack support for multiroom audio, stereo pairing, and AirPlay 2 when it ships next month. But before that, we had iOS 11’s promised Messages in iCloud, Apple Pay Cash and, again, AirPlay 2. These sorts of things do happen, of course, and while you can chart examples back into earlier eras, the high number and profile of these situations recently has me looking back to what might be the root of the issue.
Underpromise, overdeliver Part of the problem with these technologies seems to be that they’ve just been harder than anticipated. From what little I’ve heard, AirPlay 2, for example, has been a big challenge that has necessitated going back to the drawing board. Even though it was announced at WWDC last June, it’s only recently appeared in developer versions of iOS. Underpromising and overdelivering is usually something Apple is pretty good at. Part of the company’s driving force has always been a dedication to targeting what it believes to be the
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most necessary features, and concentrating on those. Take, for example, the first iPhone, which shipped without third-party apps, as well as without key features like cut-and-paste. The problem comes when Apple goes in reverse, overpromising on features and then not being able to deliver them promptly. In some instances, the company cops to this, as it did when it had to push back the ship date of the HomePod because it needed more time. But sometimes those delays just happen, and Apple doesn’t explicitly acknowledge them, as with the Messages on iCloud feature that was much touted during the company’s keynote last year, only to vanish from Apple’s website after the release of iOS 11. (Reports suggest that it’s made its way into the first iOS 11.3 beta.) At that point, it starts to feel a little more like the company is a bit out of its depth.
The wheel keeps on turning If I had to lay these challenges at the feet of one particular factor, I think it might have a lot to do with Apple’s current yearly update schedule. You don’t have to look very closely to see that a lot of Apple’s eggs are in one, maybe two baskets: the June WWDC keynote, where it announces plans for its major software updates for the year
Messages on iCloud could finally be released to the general public in iOS 11.3
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as well as often some hardware, and the September event, where it reveals a new iPhone and more often than not some new or revamped devices as well. That’s a lot of pressure, especially on the software side. Managing two different major platform releases – not to mention ancillary platforms like watchOS and tvOS – is a tall order, and doing it every year only compounds that. Bugs are still being worked out and features finally added even as the next update is already being prepared. In and of itself that’s not unusual for software development, but the scale of the operating systems and of the number of devices they apply to can’t be discounted. Expectations play a big part into the everturning wheel, as well. Users, developers, pundits, and the market all expect to see big announcements out of Apple in June and September. That puts even more pressure on the company to deliver on that schedule. And though Apple famously backed out of Macworld Expo so it didn’t have to be beholden someone else’s out timetable, the company has ended up tethered to the very timetable that it created for itself. It also means that if we don’t see a major new feature or enhancement at WWDC, we know that we’ll likely be waiting another year before there’s a chance of new features – in essence the clock resets and starts over. This adherence to a once-a-year revamp of Apple’s software platforms certainly seems difficult to sustain as it stands now. Perhaps it might help
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We’ve all come to expect big announcements at WWDC. Could that be working against Apple?
were the company to shift to an update schedule with smaller, but more frequent updates. Or maybe it simply needs to be more reasonable about not overpromising on features it can’t deliver on schedule. Either way it certainly feels like the company is biting off more than it can chew. And while that’s frustrating for users in the short term, I worry that in the longer term, it might point to Apple’s plate being overly full.
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Published on Feb 26, 2018