September 20, 2016


For those struggling to free up space, particularly on a notebook Mac with relatively little internal flash storage, Optimized Storage sounded great, at least if you don’t mind paying for online storage in iCloud Drive. And while it could be a great boon for such people, it turns out to be a somewhat confusing collection of seemingly unrelated features, burdened by one of the stranger interfaces that Apple has produced in recent years.

Plus, although we haven’t had time to test all the possibilities, I recommend care when it comes to Optimized Storage in general, and extreme caution with one of its settings. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t enable all its features, but that you should understand the possible implications before doing so.

“Optimized Storage” sounds like another one of those things that would be great – in theory. But, in practice, I’d be very careful about using it.

Apple® today announced that macOS™ Sierra, the latest major release of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system, is now available as a free update. macOS Sierra brings Siri® to the Mac® with intelligent and helpful features users know and love from iPhone® and iPad®, along with all-new capabilities designed specifically for use on the desktop. Features like Universal Clipboard, iCloud® Desktop and Documents, Auto Unlock and Apple Pay® on the web help your Mac work even better with other Apple devices. And Photos gets an update with a new Memories feature that automatically creates curated collections of your favorite photos and videos.

I’ve been using Sierra since mid-summer and it’s been very solid, and improving over time. This is a great update for macOS.

Be sure to check out our earlier post on things to do before you install.

Mental Floss:

The movie industry has always pushed the limits of technology to create those incredible visual effects we see on the big screen. Specially designed cameras, state-of-the-art computers, and meticulous animatronics are just a few of the tools at the disposal of directors looking to bring their vision to life. But over the years, some of the most iconic effects have been completed using much more modest means, including a little paint, some simple prosthetics, and … a sock? Check out how some of Hollywood’s most memorable special effects shots were created.

I love these behind the scenes secrets of film productions.

“Apple is committed to running on 100 percent renewable energy, and we’re happy to stand beside other companies that are working toward the same effort,” said Jackson. “We’re excited to share the industry-leading work we’ve been doing to drive renewable energy into the manufacturing supply chain, and look forward to partnering with RE100 to advocate for clean-energy policies around the world.”

Apple has made some incredible strides in the environment over the past decade.

Making a guitar

This is absolutely fascinating.

Apple’s jet black iPhone 7 Plus perfect storm

In yesterday’s Barrons blog:

The most bullish note today is from John Donovan and Steve Mullane of BlueFin Research Partners, who had written on the topic a week ago.

The authors today write that Apple is “frantically asking component suppliers to pull in deliveries in a mad rush to deliver incremental iPhone 7 units by year end,” citing higher-than-expected for the new device.

From the referenced BlueFin report:

Demand for the jet black model has been red hot, with speculators in China paying as much as $2,300 according to our checks. Last week we mentioned an almost TMZ-like reporting environment surrounding the Samsung Note 7 saga. The videos of autombiles catching fire while airports and TSA posting warnings about the Galaxy Note 7 will not fade from consumers memory anytime soon, in our view. AAPL is primed to swoop in and take full advantage and is pressuring the entire component base in an effort to ensure product is at the ready.

Samsung’s stumble, the double camera, and a hot new jet black finish created a perfect storm for Apple.

Ultimate? No. But interesting? Yes. I found a few of these questions to be challenging. And one of the answers was just plain wrong. See if you can spot the error. It’s me being picky, but I think you’ll agree the proffered answer is technically wrong.

Update: There are actually two errors. One was obvious and current, and one goes back a ways. Head over to the comments for the reveal.

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:

Many customers who pre-ordered a Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus received shipping estimates ranging into October and November, but it appears Apple is working hard to overcome supply constraints and get shipments out earlier than expected.

Starting this morning, MacRumors began hearing reports from customers who originally had deliveries scheduled for a month or two out but will now be receiving their devices over the course of the next few days.

No early delivery love for my iPhone 7 Plus, at least not yet. Holding out hope, though. Glad to see this bit of news.

Andrew Leavitt, writing for 17 Orbits:

Starting in 2010 Mobile Me enabled you to hunt down your missing iPhone (or iPad) with the Find My iPhone app. In 2011 OSX Lion added ‘Find My Mac’ to the mix. Beginning this week watchOs 3 enables iCloud to locate your misplaced Apple Watch.


Until now real-time geolocation was only possible if your missing Apple Watch and iPhone were in Bluetooth range or on the same WiFi network. Since the watch does not have its own cellular signal that would seem to limit location tracking to within 10 meters or your home WiFi. Once out of range, however, iCloud now kicks in and reports the watch’s present location by GPS or WiFi triangulation. If the watch is turned off the last known location is reported. Accuracy is enhanced because the Apple Watch can still connect to previously known WiFi on its own (even when phone is physically far away).

Read the post and give it a try. You can track your Apple Watch (along with all your other Apple devices) and play a never ending (until you tap Dismiss) sound on your Apple Watch. Great for finding it when it slid between the couch cushions or when you are challenged, unwillingly, to a morning game of find your gear.

Before you install macOS Sierra

Theoretically, sometime later today, Apple will officially release macOS Sierra. One way to tell is to fire up the Mac App Store. I suspect Apple will make it big and obvious, with macOS Sierra presence right there on the front page. You can also type macOS Sierra in the search field or tap on the Updates tab to see what’s new.

If you are new to macOS Sierra, take a few minutes to look through Apple’s official Sierra home page and, perhaps more importantly, their How to Upgrade page.

From the How to Upgrade page:

Before you upgrade, we recommend that you back up your Mac. You should also have your Apple ID and password handy. Then, if your Mac is running OS X Lion 10.7.5 or later, you can upgrade directly to macOS Sierra.

If you follow no other piece of advice, follow this one. Back up your Mac before you start. A major OS upgrade is never bulletproof. In fact, you might also take a few minutes to read this post from Mac Kung Fu: Help! macOS Sierra won’t install on my Mac!, paying special attention to the section entitled, “Before you install!”

Some sage advice there.

Wondering if your Mac is compatible? Here’s the list:

  • MacBook (Late 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • iMac (Late 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Mid 2010 or newer)

If your Mac is one of these, you’re in. To find out your Mac model, click the Apple menu, then About This Mac.

Best of luck. See you on the other side.

Serenity Caldwell digs into the iOS 10 Maps app, focusing on the new look, search improvements, directions, and finding your parked car. Definitely worth a read.

Jean-Louis Gassée, writing for Monday Note:

For months, tech bloggers declared that the upcoming iPhone 7 would be boring, lacking creativity, a flop waiting to happen. “So unless something crazy happens in the next few months, the iPhone 7 will look and feel a lot like the 6s.”

Steve Kovach, The iPhone 7 is going to be boring, Tech Insider


Unprayed for but a godsend nonetheless, the months of deprecation lowered expectations for the unborn iPhone 7. One could say that the pundits did for Apple what the company should have done on its own: Underpromise as an easy path to overdelivery.

With this response to Steve Kovach:

Yes, something crazy did happen, and it was right under your nose: The widely rumored dual camera. Apple did underpromise and overdeliver, after all…

Great piece by Jean-Louis, covering Steve Jobs’ rollout of the original iPhone, the resulting devastation of the camera market, and other musings.

September 19, 2016

This is absolutely hilarious.

The issue, which I’ve also experienced a few times while testing the iPhone 7, happens after you’ve left the EarPods plugged into the iPhone 7’s Lightning port for a few minutes. Audio continues to play, but the volume control dongle stops working, meaning you can’t adjust the volume, activate Siri, or answer calls.

Photography Life:

If Apple shows that the iPhone is good enough to capture beautiful images through those massive billboard-size “Shot on iPhone” campaigns, why wouldn’t people believe? Such powerful marketing works and we know it does, because the world has already purchased a billion of those iPhones and the iPhone constantly dominates top photography charts in terms of the most used camera capture tool.

So camera manufacturers now have a tough dilemma – unless the world is educated about things like sensor size and optics, they will continue to lose out in selling their lower-end offerings to that same crowd.

To answer the question in the headline – hell yes. Especially the point and shoot segment. As long as smartphones continue to offer not only “good enough” images but, with the latest crop including the iPhone, offering “really good” images, the vast majority of people will not look to buy another camera of any description. The point and shoot market, except for some very niche needs (underwater and adventure, for example), is well on the way to dying off. The DSLR market will continue to shrink but won’t disappear entirely as long as there is a significant (but no longer a majority) of buyers who want even better images or more creativity or more lens options.

As a photographer, I’m excited about what the iPhone 7 brings if only because it will push other manufacturers to do more with less. Of course, there may (will?) be a tipping point where the market is unsustainable for the Nikons and Canons of the world. I hope that day never comes though.

Ken Block’s Gymkhana Nine “Raw Industrial Playground”

I love these Ken Block videos. I can’t imagine being able to drive this well.

Samsung execs on hearing there would be no major design of the iPhone 7:

So the top brass at Samsung Electronics Co., including phone chief D.J. Koh, decided to accelerate the launch of a new phone they were confident would dazzle consumers and capitalize on the opportunity, according to people familiar with the matter. They pushed suppliers to meet tighter deadlines, despite loads of new features, another person with direct knowledge said.

Safe to say that it didn’t work out so good for them. Still it’s hard to tell if the battery problem would have been caught even without the tighter deadlines.

The Verge:

Tweets are holding steady at 140 characters, but a variety of additions to your tweets will no longer count against that limit. As The Verge reported last week, Twitter said today it was rolling out expanded tweets around the world. Media attachments including images, GIFs, videos, and polls will no longer count against the 140-character limit. Neither will links to quoted tweets.

Twitter has a lot of major problems but removing the pain point of this (relatively) minor problem is a nice little perk.


GoPro is calling the new Hero 5 Black “Simply the best GoPro, ever.” They’re not wrong. Waterproof to 33ft out of the box and featuring 4K video, stabilization, voice commands, and more, the Hero 5 Black is a lot of action camera for $400.

The big news on the surface is that the Hero5 Black can survive below the surface… of the water that is. Out of the box and without a casing of any kind, it’s waterproof to 10 meters (~33ft). This thanks to a new one-button design that takes away a lot of seams and looks pretty sleek doing it.

This just might be the GoPro that makes me buy a GoPro.


Apple released iOS 10 last week, and macOS 10.12 Sierra is due this week. We have three Take Control books about Apple’s new operating systems available now so you can have guides by your side as you install the updates and explore the new features. Buy all three books for just $28.

I’m a big fan of the Take Control books. While most of us would never read manuals (even if our machines had them), some folks want to know all the ins and outs of an OS. The Take Control books will give you a wealth of knowledge.

iPhone 7 vs Galaxy S7 in deep water test

This is a pretty cool test. No spoilers, save to say that the phones were dropped several times, at successive depths, until the final drop to 35 feet. Suffice it to say, this is way more water exposure than most folks will subject their phones to, but good to know how they fare.

Stephen Hackett, writing for 512 Pixels:

As my iPhone 7 Plus was restoring from iCloud, I thought I noticed some sound. After picking the device up from my desk, it was clear the sounds are coming from back of the phone, possibly from the CPU. It seems to get worse if the iPhone is under load. It’s loud enough to be heard even if the iPhone is just sitting on the table. I don’t have to put it up to my ear to hear it.

Follow the link if you want to hear the hissing for yourself.

I’ve heard from several other people with similar experiences, and others who are saying past iOS devices have displayed this issue. I’ve handled more devices than most, and haven’t come across this.

I’m not saying this is some widespread problem; I just wanted to share my experience with others who may be having it too.

I’ve never heard of this sort of thing before. The only self-moving part inside the iPhone is the taptic engine, and that wouldn’t make a hissing noise. Is this a big deal? Definitely for Stephen, since he’s got to jump through the hoops to replace his phone.

For the rest of us? I don’t get the sense this is a widespread issue. And if it’s true that this has happened with previous models, sounds like a manufacturing defect, a sporadic issue at best.

As to me? I’ve still got my phone on order, not changing a thing.

There’s a surprising amount to learn about the iOS 10 lock screen. Nice writeup by Dave Chartier.

This is a nice little collection, definitely worth a read. My favorite is to tell Siri:

Show me pictures of my cats

Obviously, you’ll want to replace “my cats” with something that makes sense for you. This was a bit hit-or-miss for me, but I like the direction. Asking Siri to search for cats worked flawlessly for me. Other searches were way off or prompted Siri to turn to the web, which was not what I intended.

But this one also worked flawlessly:

Show me pictures of food

I had no idea I took so many pictures of stuff I like to eat. And now I’m hungry.

This is a small collection of 8 NeXT-era photos, each with a detailed caption. I thought these were worth a look.

My favorite is this one, taken in Palo Alto in 1986.

Here’s that caption:

NeXT design director Eddie Lee said that Steve had a way of “smiling shit at you” when he was getting mad. His head would go down and he’d make this sort of uncomfortable half smile, and you knew you were about to get crushed. Decisions in early team meetings such as this one were fraught with tension because the team was writing its business plan as it went along. One pivotal decision made was to build both the hardware and the software for the NeXT computer, a vastly harder prospect than their original idea to build only software. While still shaping every detail of NeXT in early 1986, Steve also had the incredible foresight to recognize that something amazing was happening with digital animation at Lucasfilm. He capitalized a new spin-off company with $10 million of his own money. They named it Pixar.

He looks so very young.


[H/T Mayur Dhaka]

A few things really struck me while making my way through this teardown of the iPhone 7 Plus.

The iPhone cover/display flips to the side, like opening a book. Good to know this if you ever plan to open yours.

The edge of the iPhone cover is rimmed with a caulk-like adhesive, which acts like a gasket to keep liquids out, aid waterproofing (water-resistancing?)

The iPhone is filled with lots of tri-point screws, similar to the ones used inside the Apple Watch.

Finally, I found this to be an incredibly good looking design, at least to my untrained eye. Good stuff.

September 18, 2016

The all-new Apple Music

I wish Apple would stop trying to do comedy. I really wish they’d stop trying to do comedy with James Corden.

This is Colossal:

On July 2, 1978 the New York Times made a significant technological leap when they scuttled the last of 60 manually-operated linotype machines to usher in the era of digital and photographic typesetting. When working at 100% efficiency with an experienced operator the Linotype machines could produce 14 lines per minute cast on the spot from hot lead. That number would increase to 1,000 lines per minute the very next day using an array of computers and digital storage.

In our “digital age”, we forget (or never knew) about how things used to be done. While there’s no doubt the new method is better, the old method is fascinating.

Apple’s new ads for the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2

I really like the Midnight ad and the music on the other two is great. The usual well done ads from Apple.