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Sneak Preview of What’s Coming from Apple This Fall

At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote on June 4th, the company unveiled the first developer versions of all four of its operating systems: macOS 10.14 Mojave, iOS 12, watchOS 5, and tvOS 12. They won’t be available until this fall, likely in September or October, but here is a glimpse of what you can expect.

macOS 10.14 Mojave Adds Dark Mode, Enhances the Finder, and Gains Four iOS Apps

With the update to macOS, which Apple is calling “Mojave” after the southern California desert, the company is beefing up the Finder, adding visual enhancements, and bringing some familiar iOS apps to the Mac. Apple is dropping support for some older Macs, so you’ll need a Mac introduced since 2012 to run Mojave.

Productivity mavens with messy desktops will appreciate a new Finder feature, which, when turned on, automatically gathers all the files on the Desktop into “stacks,” sorting them by file type, date, tag, or other criteria. Click a stack to expand it, much like a Dock stack today.

Apple has replaced Cover Flow view, which combined a large preview area and a file list, with the new Gallery view. Aimed at helping you browse in a folder of images, Gallery view displays a large preview of the selected file above a row of thumbnails for other items in the folder. A right-hand sidebar in Gallery view shows more information about the current file and lets you edit or mark up the file with Quick Actions (which you can create with Automator) without opening the file in an app. Press the space bar to preview a file with Quick Look, and you can apply appropriate Quick Actions to the file as well, all from the Finder.

If you find the white backgrounds in the Mac’s windows too bright, you’ll like Mojave’s new Dark Mode (shown above), which intelligently reverses things to display white text in a largely black interface. Additional eye candy comes from Dynamic Desktops, which can change the appearance of new Apple-provided desktop backgrounds based on the time of day.

For those who take a lot of screenshots, Apple has given the Mac’s long-standing screenshot capabilities a visible interface that simplifies taking still screenshots or recording a movie of your actions. Plus, you can preview, edit, share, or delete a screenshot or movie immediately after creating it.

A new feature called Continuity Camera lets you use your iPhone’s camera in Mac apps, either taking a photo directly into a Mac app or scanning a document as a PDF.

Lastly, although Apple was emphatic that it won’t be replacing macOS with iOS, or merging the two, the company is working to make it easier for developers to create apps that work on both platforms. Independent developers won’t be able to do that until 2019, but Apple is testing the waters by bringing four familiar apps from iOS to the Mac: News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home. They look and work very much like their iPad counterparts, but rely on the mouse or trackpad, and use normal Mac interface elements like resizable windows.

iOS 12 Improves Performance, Provides Time Management Tools, and More

In the WWDC keynote, Apple emphasized that one of its main goals for iOS 12 is to improve performance, especially for older devices. Unlike Mojave, iOS 12 will support all the same devices as iOS 11, so those with an iPhone 5s or original iPad Air may benefit the most from this effort.

To address increasing concerns about how much we, and our kids, are using smartphones, Apple has made some important changes. Perhaps most important is the new Screen Time feature, which shows how often you use your iOS devices and how much time you spend in different apps. It also lets you set daily time limits for specific apps, so you can make sure you don’t spend too much time in Facebook, for instance. Even better, you can set such limits for your children’s devices via Family Sharing.

Do Not Disturb has become a more appealing feature, because you don’t need to worry about accidentally leaving it on for too long—it can now be set to turn off automatically after some time or when you leave a location, such as at the end of a class or when you leave your doctor’s office. (This feature also comes to the Apple Watch with watchOS 5.) Also new is Do Not Disturb During Bedtime, which ensures you won’t see enticing notifications on the Lock screen if you check the time on your iPhone in the middle of the night.

Getting too many notifications? Notification grouping gathers all the notifications from each app together on the Lock screen so it doesn’t fill up, but you can see them all at once when you’re ready. Plus, a new feature called Instant Tuning helps you reduce the number of notifications you see, right from the Lock screen.

If you’ve always wanted to automate repetitive actions in iOS, you’ll love the new Siri Shortcuts feature. You can use it to string together actions in different apps—send a message to your spouse that you’re leaving work, show the traffic conditions on your commute home, and start playing a podcast app—and then invoke them all via Siri with a custom phrase.

Other interesting changes in iOS 12 include these:

Apple has renovated the interfaces of several bundled apps, including iBooks (now called Apple Books), News, Stocks, and Voice Memos (which can now sync recordings with the Mac).

FaceTime is no longer limited to one-on-one conversations and can now include up to 32 people in a single FaceTime conversation. The Mac version of FaceTime gains this capability too.

Photos boasts improved searching, can unearth photos from your library in a new For You tab, and prompts you to share photos with friends who it recognizes in your photos.

Apple is working with colleges and universities to add Wallet support for contactless student ID cards so students can use an iPhone (or Apple Watch) for unlocking doors, paying for meals, and more.

CarPlay allows apps from non-Apple developers to take over the car’s screen so that you can use alternative mapping apps like Google Maps and Waze in a CarPlay-enabled car.

watchOS 5 Improves Workouts, and Adds Walkie-Talkie and Podcasts Apps

Apple has realized that the Apple Watch is popular primarily for fitness and communication, so the company focused on those areas for watchOS 5. Alas, watchOS 5 isn’t available on the original Apple Watch.

On the fitness side, the Apple Watch can now start many workout types automatically when it detects that you’re exercising, and end a workout automatically when it sees that you’ve stopped. It even provides retroactive credit for what you did before the workout was detected. Apple has added new Yoga and Hiking workouts, each with their own metrics, and the running and walking workouts now measure cadence (steps per minute).

For those running outside, the Workout app can also display the rolling mile pace—the pace for the last mile—and can sound an alarm if you’re going slower or faster than a specified pace. And for those who do better with social motivation, watchOS 5 provides 7-day activity competitions.

In terms of communication, watchOS 5’s marquee feature is the new Walkie-Talkie app. Once you and a friend have set it up, you can tap a big yellow button to talk to your friend—and they can reply—just as though you were using old-school walkie-talkies. It works over both Wi-Fi and cellular.

Apple is bringing the Podcasts app to watchOS 5, so you’ll be able to listen to podcasts from your wrist, assuming you have AirPods or a Bluetooth headset. Plus, watchOS 5 makes it possible for other audio apps to store audio on the watch, so it should get easier to listen to audiobooks and the like even when you don’t have your iPhone with you.

Other welcome changes in watchOS 5 include:

The Siri watch face has new options, including sports scores, heart-rate readings after workouts, and commuting times from Maps. Independent apps will also be able to contribute bits of data to appear in the Siri face.

Notifications can be interactive, so you could tap on your wrist to check in for a flight, confirm a restaurant reservation, or extend parking time. As with iOS 12, multiple notifications from the same app will be grouped.

Web links in Messages or email can be previewed on the Apple Watch.

When you raise your wrist to talk to Siri, you no longer have to say “Hey, Siri.”

tvOS 12 Gains Dolby Atmos Support, Zero Sign-on, and a New Aerial Screensaver

Although the Apple TV often receives less attention than Apple’s other platforms, it still gains new capabilities with tvOS 12. Most notable among these is support—on the Apple TV 4K only—for Dolby Atmos audio, which makes audio sound more realistic by going beyond the simple right and left channels to provide 3D sound. You’ll need an Atmos-capable soundbar too, along with Atmos-compliant video content, but Apple will automatically upgrade anything you’ve bought from the iTunes Store to the Atmos version once it’s out.

Two other new features work on both the Apple TV 4K and the fourth-generation Apple TV but require support from both apps and TV providers: Zero Sign-on and Cloud DVR. Zero Sign-on figures out your Internet provider, and if it’s the same as your TV service, automatically detects apps that need authentication and logs you in to them. It will work only with Charter Spectrum at launch, but Apple is negotiating with more providers. Similarly, the new Cloud DVR feature lets you watch TV you’ve recorded via the Apple TV, if your TV provider supports it. In the U.S., that again means Charter Spectrum to start.

Apple put some work into the Apple TV’s gorgeous aerial screensaver, introducing a new view from space using imagery taken by astronauts on the International Space Station. Also, you can tap the Siri Remote touchpad while a screensaver is showing to see where it was taken.

Finally, in conjunction with iOS 12, tvOS can autofill passwords saved on your iOS devices so you don’t have to type them on the awkward onscreen keyboard. And if iOS 12 detects an Apple TV, it automatically adds an Apple TV Remote button to Control Center on your iPhone or iPad. (You can do that now, but you have to add the button manually in Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls.)

Getting Ready for These OS Releases

Apple usually makes new versions of its operating systems available in September or October, in conjunction with new iPhones. That doesn’t mean you should upgrade immediately, and we always recommend that you hold off on upgrades until Apple had had a chance to address the inevitable bugs that come with the initial release of any major upgrade. So sit tight, and we’ll tell you more when the time is right. While I am a developer and can install the new betas now, I will NOT. Initial betas of these operating systems are historically very buggy and can result in data loss and loss of functionality – don’t do it on your one iPhone or Mac!

That said, if these features sound enticing and you have a pre-2012 Mac, an iPhone 5 or earlier, an iPad that predates the iPad Air, or an original Apple Watch, some new hardware may be in your future.

As useful and easy as it is to use a mouse to interact with your computer, most of the time it’s much quicker to simply use key commands with the keyboard to access commonly-used functions. Combinations of the Shift, CTRL, Option (Alt), and ⌘ (Command) modifiers multiply your keyboard real-estate dramatically.

But what do these keys mean, and what does the odd little cloverleaf ⌘ have to do with anything? Shift is obviously a carryover from the typewriter days; physically shifting the mechanism that imprints letters to paper so that capitalized characters are used.

The CTRL key’s origins lie with early teletype machines as a keyboard modifier. The key allowed commands such as ejecting a printed page, clearing the screen or ringing the bell on the terminal.

The Option or “Alt” key is a modifier carried over from keyboards made for early Lisp and MIT computers where it was labeled the “Meta” or ◆ key and allows alternate characters or input. Similar to the function of the shift key.

The command key on an Apple keyboard used to be represented with the typical Apple logo dating to the days of the Apple Lisa keyboard that allowed the user access to all of the available application commands by key combinations. However, during a development meeting for a new piece of software with significantly more commands than other programs, Steve Jobs remarked on how many little Apple icons were on each menu label and exclaimed that the developers were “Taking the Apple logo in vain”, and so the search went out for an alternative.

Susan Kare, Apple’s bitmap artist sought out an appropriate symbol that would fill the void and settled upon a symbol used in Sweden on tourist signs to represent a point of interest. It’s symmetry and simplicity were exactly what was called for. While the symbol, called a Bowen Knot, Gorgon Loop, or St. John’s Arms, depending on where you go, is common in European history; it’s likely the Swedish “point of interest” icon generally refers to the shape of Borgholm Castle, a popular 13-Century ruin and common point of interest in Sweden, iconized and simplified for tourists.

So the next time you’re zipping through your work, take a second to reflect at the history behind the funky cloverleaf next to your space bar and be happy you’re not taking the Apple logo in vain.

I run Apple beta software on my Apple Watch so I probably update the software a bit more often than most Apple Watch users. But I know you Apple Watch users will agree with me that the Apple Watch updates are painfully slow. As long as I am complaining, I don’t know why Apple requires a charged Apple Watch to be on the charger in order to complete the update. It probably is because that 12-hour charge on your Apple Watch might not be enough to cover the slow update.

I can’t do much about the charger part but I can help show you how to speed up the updates. Your Apple Watch communicates with your iPhone via both BlueTooth and Wi-Fi. The Apple Watch prioritizes BlueTooth over Wi-Fi to preserve power. BlueTooth uses less power but it also is a lot slower transferring data than Wi-Fi in almost every case.

If you disable BlueTooth at just the right moment you can force the Apple Watch to use Wi-Fi to do your upgrade. Believe me, it is a LOT faster. Unlike most Apple devices your Apple Watch does not download its own upgrades. You have to think about your Apple Watch as an extension of your iPhone, even if you have the cellular version.

Let’s say you get a notice on your Apple Watch of an update, and you also see that notice on the iPhone. When you go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone you can download the Watch update to your iPhone and it will then update your paired Apple Watch. This is not a tiny file and sending it over BlueTooth to your Apple Watch just takes a really long time. I am sure you have watched that update circle move like maple sap in the dead of winter.

You can speed up this process by utilizing Wi-Fi instead of BlueTooth, but to do this, you will have to turn off BlueTooth at the right moment in the process. Here’s the steps to faster updates for your Apple Watch:

  1. Make sure that your Apple Watch is on its charger and charged to at least 50%. Your iPhone should be close to the Apple Watch. We are assuming from the start that both BlueTooth and Wi-Fi are active on your iPhone and your Apple Watch
  2. Open the Watch app on your iPhone and click on the My Watch tab
  3. Tap on General and then Software Update. If there is an update available you will see the version number, some notes about the new release and a Download and Install button
  4. Pushing on that button may trigger a request for your passcode, go ahead and enter that
  5. As the Watch app prepares to send the update to your Apple Watch you will see a message with “Estimated time remaining” just under the version number
  6. When the rough estimate of time remaining shows (i.e. “about 2 hours remaining”) and not before, it is time to switch to Wi-Fi by temporarily disabling BlueTooth. The timing is important here – don’t disable BlueTooth before you see the estimated time remaining alert.
  7. Open Settings*on your iPhone and choose *BlueTooth from the list
  8. Slide the toggle switch to Off. This shuts off BlueTooth on your iPhone. That means all your BlueTooth devices aren’t going to work while you do this upgrade but it isn’t that long.

  9. Go back to the Software Update screen on the Watch App on your iPhone and you will see a warning to turn BlueTooth back on. Click Cancel to continue. Without BlueTooth your iPhone and Watch will now communicate with the faster Wi-Fi protocol.
  10. Now watch that circle close up! You should see the estimated time decline dramatically. Once, the download has completed – meaning the iPhone has sent it to the Watch you will see the “Estimated Time…” change to “Preparing…”
  11. You will then see it say “Verifying…” and then you will have an active “Install” button. Tap the install button and enter your passcode if requested.
  12. Once the progress wheel appears on your Apple Watch your iPhone is no longer needed. Go back to Settings on your iPhone and slide the BlueTooth toggle back to on.

This work-around is actually pretty easy, the main thing to remember is to turn off BlueTooth on your iPhone at the right time (just after the estimated time appears) and then to remember to turn it back on.

You know that I have a lot of gadgets at my house. So many, that at times Grace gets frustrated with all the home automation stuff. When we have our dog sitter come to stay Grace doesn’t even tell her how to talk to Siri or Alexa. Nevertheless, I have both of those assistants hanging out in my house listening to my every word.

I grabbed one of the first HomePods that we received and set it up in my office at my house. I will definitely be bringing it back to Vermont with me. The HomePod is the best yet both in terms of the sound quality and the integration with my home. I had also tried a Google Home unit some time ago but it was so bad that I sold it on eBay.

Let’s talk music first. I have a lot of ways to interact with my music. I have Sonos everywhere including the Alexa-enabled Play One and with their voice interface with Amazon Alexa it is easy to request music from a variety of sources. In terms of content, at this point I think that Amazon/Sonos has the broadest selection. I can get songs from Pandora, Apple Music or Spotify. I can also get content from Audible and Tune-in.

But I have a pretty large music collection after spending hours/days digitizing all my CDs and spending a lot of money buying from the iTunes store. I also subscribe to Apple Music so I literally have access to more music than I could listen to in my life. So, what sounds the best? HomePod! It is clear to me that the HomePod has better sound quality, deeper bass and clearer sound than the Sonos Play One by a hair and it is not even close when comparing the sound to the tinny Amazon Echo. It is reggae Thursday at my office every Thursday and I just say “Hey Siri, play me some reggae” and she says “sure thing, here’s some reggae just for you”. The play list that results is tailored to me by learning what I like. I can say, “Siri, I really like this song” and she says “okay, I got it” and that helps to fine tune the music the HomePod plays for me. You can even add songs to a playlist or create a playlist by interacting with Siri.

I can tell Siri to pause or stop if I can a call and it is instantaneous which is handy because it is not always party time at the office.

So, with all the technology I have, when I am listening to music in my office it is HomePod now. It is not quite up to the Sonos Play 5s in my bedroom but the sound fills my office perfectly as it automatically adjusts to my room to provide me with optimal sound.

For music I give the nod to HomePod based upon sound quality, intelligence and ease of use. I give the nod to Sonos/Amazon for the breadth of content.

HomePod also serves as your HomeKit server. When I activated my HomePod and got it on my network, I literally had to do nothing to make it take over the HomeKit tasks. It was automatic. While I will probably still keep my AppleTV powered up you do not need an AppleTV or iPad to have remote access to your HomeKit devices.

The integration with HomeKit makes it simple to use. I can simply say “ Hey Siri, turn on the office lights” and she does it. I can also ask her to turn the thermostat up, lock the doors or do any of the tasks that are HomeKit compatible. I also have scenes that mostly work. I say mostly because as a security feature Siri will not unlock your doors so my “good morning” scene requires my iPhone but that security feature is appreciated. I can probably figure out a workaround but I like the security. My other most used scene is “good night”. When I say “hey Siri, good night” she turns off all the lights except the one next to my bed, turns down the thermostat and locks all three doors. She then says “on it!”. I have to say that Siri’s responses are friendlier and hipper than Alexa.

Of course, you can do much of this with Amazon Alexa but it would take multiple commands and Alexa just seems a lot finickier with names of devices. Because HomePod is connected to my network, I can also unlock (with iPhone) and lock my house in Vermont remotely.

Getting information from Siri is pretty much the same as using Siri on your other devices. I find her answers to be more complete than Alexa but again there is more breadth to Alexa’s database. I have heard that Apple has made a bunch of new hires for Siri and I fully expect that Apple is working hard to show Alexa that she is just as smart. Artificial intelligence is just in its infancy and it is pretty exciting to see what it can do. A bit scary, too but unless we start making Terminators we should be okay.

Later this year as Apple continues development of the HomePod you will be able to add a second HomePod to create stereo sound or use Airplay 2 to play the same music (or different music) is separate rooms. This will give Sonos a bit of competition.

HomePod has some other tricks, too. You can receive a call on your iPhone and hand it off to the HomePod for a conference call —we might have to use HomePod in our conference room. When you receive a text, Siri can read it to you on HomePod. You can tell Siri to send texts, make shopping lists, add stuff to your calendar and I am sure this is just the start of Siri’s skills.

After a few weeks with HomePod I can give it my full endorsement. If I had to have just one music device I would choose HomePod for its versatility, sound quality and because of how seamlessly it integrates with my other Apple devices.

Starting today, skiers and snowboarders can use Apple Watch Series 3 to track their activities via new updates to apps available in the App Store. Watch users can now record runs, see vertical descent and other stats, and contribute active calorie measurements directly to the Apple Watch Activity app. See, I have been thinking about you guys up in the north country!

Apple Watch is selling well, in fact, Apple Watch outsold all competing smartwatches combined last year. One in five smartwatches sold was an Apple Watch. We have been selling quite a few Apple Watches at our stores and they do seem to gain functions pretty regularly. I love my Apple Watch and if I was a skier or snowboarder this new feature would be interesting. Emily and Artie might like it since they can be found out on the slopes from time to time.

Developers are taking advantage of the built-in GPS and altimeter in Apple Watch Series 3 as well as custom workout APIs released in watchOS 4.2 to enable tracking of specialized metrics. App updates for Snow, Slopes, Squaw Alpine, Snocru and Ski Tracks now track new metrics on the slopes including:

*Total vertical descent and horizontal distance
*Number of runs
*Average and maximum speeds
*Total time spent
*Calories burned

Apps can auto pause and resume and users will get credit towards their Activity rings; workout information will also be recorded to the Health app on iPhone with user permission. Using Siri, users can start Slopes and Snoww to track their runs using just their voice.

Having the ability to track the details of runs with Apple Watch is an incredible asset for everyone from training athletes to skiers and riders just looking to have fun and stay active, said Jonny Moseley, Olympic Moguls Gold Medalist and Squaw Alpine Mountain Ambassador. The Squaw Alpine app for Apple Watch helps me when I’m out with my family to not only track exactly where my kids are on the mountain, but also compare our performance so I can make sure I’m keeping up with my sons and add some fun competition to our day.

The updated apps are now available on the App Store and require watchOS 4.2 or later.

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