Microsoft Ratchets Fast Ring Up to Ludicrous Speed

The whole release cycle just got beamed to plaid…

fast ringTo be very honest, I pulled out of the Windows Insider Program when I sold my Surface Pro 3. The cluster bump that is Windows 10 has finally gotten to be a bit much for me, but that doesn’t mean that

  1. I won’t be back (I’m really not GONE-gone. I’m just not carrying a personal, Windows machine in my gear bag at this time…)
  2. I’m stopping my coverage of the Windows Platform (cuz that’s just crazy talk..!)

To be honest, I just ordered a new Windows machine for the house, and it should ship on 2017-02-17 (so, next Thursday, as of this writing…)

The question that I have for myself is whether or not I want to put Windows Insider builds on that box or if I just want it to run released versions of Windows. Thankfully, though, Microsoft has made a couple of changes to their “ring” system of releases for Insider Builds that may help make that choice a bit easier to manage.

Earlier today, Microsoft announced that it was making some changes to its release tracks, known as “rings.” Microsoft is adding a “Release Preview” ring to the mix. The Release Preview Ring sounds it’s going to sit just a bit to the right of the Slow Ring. According to Microsoft’s Gabe Aul, Engineering General Manager for Microsoft’s Operating System Group,

” the Release Preview Ring will focus on Insiders that want to stay on the Current Branch – currently based off Build 10586 – but [want to] continue to receive early access to updates, application updates, and driver updates,”

This ring will give users access to prerelease features, functionality apps and drivers before they hit the main stream user, but will be a bit more “conservative” than either the Fast or Slow rings; or better put, “slower” than Slow, but faster than what non-Windows Insiders will see.

The goal here for Microsoft is simple – More Windows Insiders.

Microsoft wants to expand its beta program and get more testers. Their switch from an internal tester to a more external tester focused testing methodology seems to be bringing them the results they were looking for. They have more people in the wild, providing feedback on how Windows works with all of the varying different hardware combinations found in the wild. This level of rapid feedback is something that Microsoft has deemed critical to its new rapid release cadence.

Microsoft is loosening its rules for issuing builds to public testers. Fast Ring Insiders will get features and functionality as soon as it passes internal, automated testing – which by the way, it’s totally unheard of. Says, Microsoft, “going forward, Insiders in the Fast Ring should be prepared for more issues that may block activities important to [them]… and may require significant work arounds [to get past or resolve.] Windows Insiders should be ready to [rebuild their machines] when [they] are significantly blocked.

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Feature Review – Boom 2

If you want to make it sound good, you more Boom, Boom, Boom..

boom2

I’ve been using computers for a very long time. I do just about everything that I enjoy on them. In fact, most everything that I do all week long is on a computer. Mostly… I write, as I’m certain that many of you who follow this blog know and understand.

While I write, I often either watch movies or listen to music. The biggest problem with doing this on a laptop is, of course, audio. Laptop speakers are just so-so, no matter what brand of computer you have. Computer speakers are a dime a dozen; and honestly, Apple doesn’t make any. They may include them inside all of their computers, but I don’t think they’re that great. I think they can use all the help they can get. That’s why I really like Boom 2. Its THE app to have if you want to improve the quality of the sound coming out of either your Mac’s internal speakers or from your third party, desktop speakers… and its really cool.

Boom is a system wide volume booster and equalizer that make everything sound louder, clearer and better. Built from the ground up, Book takes advantage of the latest audio technology in OS X. The latest version several features that offer users a variety of professional audio options that allow them to take complete control of their computer’s audio.

When the app starts for the first time, it auto calibrates itself according to the type of Mac that you have. It has power system wide volume boosting capabilities, and provides advanced, precision equalizer controls, that give you control over every aspect of your Mac’s audio. It was designed for Macs running Yosemite and higher, taking full advantage of both the hardware and the OS’ 64-bit architecture.

The app effects all audio coming from your Mac. It makes the audio coming from your speakers sound louder, richer and fuller. It has advanced controls allowing you to put a professional spin on the sound coming out of your Mac, regardless of whether or not you know anything about sound mixing. Boom guarantees you finer audio control.

To help make your Mac’s audio the best it can be, Boom comes with new audio effects – Ambience, Fidelity, Spatial, Night Mode, and Pitch. These are all effects that can be used to bring out the best in the sound coming out of your Mac.

  • Ambiance helps you feel the music around you. With it active, you can hear notes from every corner of the room, making it feel like a live performance.
  • Fidelity makes the music come alive with crisp, sharp tones.
  • Spatial puts you in the center of your audio, immersing your in realistic sound
  • Night Mode nominalizes the audio to produce sounds that aren’t too loud or too faint. This is the perfect setting for action movies.
  • Pitch allows you to change the actual pitch of the audio that is playing. You can listen to things a full note higher or lower than its actually recorded.

Boom has a cool remote app, too, called Boom 2 Remote, downloadable from the iTunes App Store, and it works with both iPad and iPhone. With the app, you can control the audio on your Mac. You can also manage play of VLC, Spotify, QuickTime and iTunes on your Mac, from across the room.

I’ve got Boom 2 installed on my MacBook Pro, and I have to tell you, I’m really impressed. The audio coming out of my Mac is fuller, deeper and so much more alive that it was before. Its really hard to believe that a desktop app can make the sound coming out of my computer sound so much better, but it has. For the price, this is probably one of the better “upgrades” you can give your non-upgradable Mac.

From my perspective, there’s no reason why any Mac owner shouldn’t be running this. Its one of the best apps I’ve installed in a very long time.

You can download Boom 2 here

Boom 2  Boom 2 Boom 2 Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 11.28.05 AM

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Oh How I Loathe thee, FreedomPop

The MVNO that couldn’t just pulled another boner…

photo (1)Four years ago (WOW! Has it really been THAT long??), I wrote an article on getting free mobile broadband if you lived in the United States. FreedomPop was all the rage back in the day, giving anyone who signed up for their $50 – $100 hotspot hardware access to 500MB per month of free, unrestricted, untrottled bandwidth. Even back in the day, 500MB really didn’t get you anything; but it could be rolled over (for a max of up to 2GB of free data) and was, most importantly, free.

As I said then,

“All you have to do is put a deposit down on either a 4G web stick ($50 bucks) or a 4G hot spot ($100 bucks). The device arrives via FedEx, and all you have to do is either plug it in or let it charge and turn it on. The device jumps on the network, and away you go.”

If you were stuck and you needed to get online to check email or reply to some kind of message, it was a quick way to get things done; and when the service was free… well, it just made sense.

The free deal went the way of the dodo a long time ago. FreedomPop no longer has free coverage or any free deal that I’m able to qualify or sign up for, though they do offer free, additional data that may add to your monthly allotment each month if you complete “special” offers or invite/ refer friends who sign up for the service. Their technology has turned over too. Freedom pop used to run on WiMAX, which was a 4G service that pre-dated the implementation of LTE. That service is now totally gone and the bandwidth it ran on repurposed and reprovisioned. Everything now runs on an LTE network that is effectively resold service from Sprint, Virgin Mobile or someone else that runs on either Verizon Wireless’ or Sprint’s mobile network.

A few years ago, I began working in Omaha and Lincoln, NE. During that time, I wanted to cancel my FreedomPop account, but to be very honest, every time I tried to call FreedomPop to cancel – and I tried a number of different times – I got connected with a customer service representative whose first language was not English. Unfortunately for me, I have a noticeable hearing loss and their accent was so thick, I could not understand them and I ended up hanging up on them. I tried a number of times and honestly spent well over five (5) hours total time trying – over the course of a few weeks – to get my account cancelled. Escalating my needs to a manager or supervisor didn’t resolve the situation either, as they were poor English speakers as well.

In the end, I gave up. I downgraded my account to the lowest tier and just ate the monthly cost.

Now, jump ahead about three years…

I’m a DirecTV customer and have been for about eight (8) years. I am also an AT&T Wireless customer, and since the two merged, AT&T is offering unlimited wireless data plans to customers of both services. Since I qualified, I called AT&T to inquire about it and found that it could save me nearly $400 a MONTH in wireless service charges for four (4) wireless lines, per month.

Yes… you’re reading that right – $400 per MONTH in savings.

It basically gives me one line for free, plus about an additional $75 off my previous monthly bill, AND each LINE has about 22GB of unrestricted, high speed wireless service before that INDIVIDUAL line gets shuttered to a slower speed.

The only problem that I’ve got is that now, AT&T is telling me that the personal hotspot feature of my iPhones won’t work… EVER… or at least, not on this particular wireless plan. This is really only a problem for either my wife and oldest son, as my youngest son may sponge off their mobile broadband connection for his iPod Touch or iPad when they’re out and about; or is a problem for my daughter and granddaughter as my granddaughter may use my daughter’s mobile broadband connection for much the same purposes.

Hence the need for the FreedomPop account at this point.

I dusted off my old hotspot and quickly found that it was no longer usable. FreedomPop offered an upgrade to an LTE hotspot, and it arrived today. That’s where the migraine began…

First, I had to upgrade my account from its 1GB, $10 per month account to a 2GB, $20 per month account just to get the new LTE hotspot device. Then, the hotspot was $90 bucks… and that just got me back ON the internet via the FreedomPop service.

As I said, the hotspot arrived and I spent a bit of time today trying to get it up and running. Like the original hotspot I got, I expected just to be able to pull it out of the box, plug it in, and jump on the Internet…

Yeah… It didn’t go that well.

First the device was a refurb device. I totally wasn’t expecting that. I paid for new hotness. I expected new hotness. Instead, I got old and rebuilt.

Secondly, the device – a Netgear Mingle Mobile Hotspot – appears to be riding the Virgin Mobile network. While Virgin Mobile is a Sprint MVNO, I totally did NOT expect to be riding Virgin Mobile’s service. This will prove to be significant in a moment…

After getting the device out of the box, put together (battery… back cover, etc.) the FreedomPop “quick start guide” – a easily overlooked and flimsy insert in the back of the very small product box – says to do nothing more than to put the battery and back on the device (which I had already done) and turn it on. After that, the FreedomPop hotspot SSID and password would appear on the LCD screen. You use that information to get online, and that should be it.

It wasn’t. My device indicated that it needed to be activated. This was where the fun began.

Since the device wasn’t charged, and it was a microUSB powered device, I plugged it into my Mac to charge. This brought up an install window that ran an app that installed drivers that would allow you to run the device as a tethered mobile modem. I installed the software and restarted my Mac.

After the restart, my Mac found the modem and I clicked the Wi-Fi icon on my Menu Bar and selected the mobile modem. At that point, Safari automatically started and I noticed the Virgin Mobile logo on the hotspot and on the activation web page it opened.
The device indicated that it needed to be activated. When I tried to activate it, it hit 20% in the progress bar window that appeared, and then failed. I tried a few different times both as a mobile modem and as a Wi-Fi hotspot before following the instructions on the activation web site and called Virgin Mobile.

That was a huge mistake. Initially I thought I wanted to call Virgin Mobile over FreedomPop. Again, big mistake. They didn’t know who I was and didn’t care. I got the run around from them for over 30 minutes before hanging up. When I called back, I somehow got the SAME customer service rep. I hung up on him again, completely dumbfounded that of all the customer service reps in the call center, I got him twice in a row… How does that happen??

With my hotspot still not activated, I grabbed the “quick start guide” again and found a FreedomPop phone number and called them. This time, I got someone who spoke better English, but couldn’t speak loudly enough for me to hear them. After turning up the volume on my handset all the way up, and insuring that they had access to my account, the rep indicated that I shouldn’t need to activate my device. It should already be activated. I agreed, but she asked for the IMEI of the device, anyway.

Then she said there was something wrong with the device and put me on hold. While I was on hold, the device miraculously activated and began downloading a firmware update. The update hung in the middle of the process.

Thankfully, I was able to log into the hot spot (FreedomPop instructs you to use the IP address 192.168.0.1 with the default password of “password” to log into the device on their “quick start guide.” The guide is wrong. The correct IP address is 192.168.1.1) and correct the problems. I was able to restart the download of the firmware update and complete it.

However, that took over 428MB (or 20%) of bandwidth off my 2GB allotment. It doesn’t seem right that downloading a firmware update should cost me 20% of my monthly bandwidth allowance… It also kinda sucks because I haven’t even really had a chance to use the hotspot for anything yet and I’m already 20% down.

FreedomPop’s data plans have changed. The table below outlines the original vs. current data plans:

freedompopchart

These aren’t as great a deal as they used to be. Combined with the stellar customer service I got today, this may end up being a very short lived venture…

Are you using FreedomPop? How is the coverage in your area? Are you on a grandfathered data plan, or are you on a current data plan? Do you think you have enough bandwidth every month? Do you have any rollover data? Have you completed any free offers or have you invited friends how have joined FreedomPop so that you can earn free data every month? Have you had any issues dealing with FreedomPop customer service? Has your experiences with the organization been as bad as mine, or are my experiences (hopefully) just isolated incidents? Why not tell me about your experience in the Discussion Area below? I’d love to hear about your interaction with the organization and your quality of service results in your area.

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Windows 10 – Where Are We?

It’s been six(6) months since its initial release.  How is Windows 10 shaping up?

windows-10 were are we

Introduction

My good buddy Ed Bott recently published an article on the state of Windows 10 from an industry perspective and it got me thinking of my OWN experience with Window s10, now that it’s been out for six or so months.

It’s not all sunshine and daisies.  In fact, there’s a lot that needs to be fixed and changed.  Here’s where I think the new OS stands at this point.

The UI

To say that the Windows 10 user interface is an improvement over Windows 8.x is a bit of an understatement.  The UI is a huge improvement and one that nearly everyone who used Windows 8.x is glad to see.  The Start Menu is back, and it’s something that nearly everyone is happy about.  This single most, familiar UI tidbit is something that’s been around in computing since the release of Windows 95 – nearly 21years – and it’s something that nearly every consumer and corporate user has used and identified with as the beginning of their computing experience that they just can’t seem to give it up. Honestly, seeing as everyone nearly lost their minds when Microsoft replaced with the Start Screen, it’s amazing that people were able to use Windows 8.x at all.  I mean, without a place to Start, how do you get work done?

The other, most noticeable change to the UI is the removal and death of Charms and the inclusion of the Action Center.  The Charms were the UI element that you saw when you swiped in from the right edge of the screen with either your finger or with your mouse cursor.  Those have been replaced by the Action Center, which is a general catch all for notifications and other items requiring… well, requiring user action.

The Action Center has been well received, in my opinion. It’s an easy tool to use, and gives you access to the system events you need to act on.  Charms never did anything of value in my opinion, and were very confusing.

The thing that helped Windows 10 out the most is that, in all reality, its UI is more Windows 7 like.  All of the ModernUI elements are gone.  The ModernUI apps have been changed to Universal Apps and have a totally different look and feel to them.  Isn’t it funny what a new coat of paint will do..?

The Update Mechanism

Microsoft seems hell bent on putting older versions of Windows out to pasture.  It’s a problem they created for themselves with the support lifecycle of Windows XP and the absolute failure and public rejection of Windows Vista. An operating system version should never be in active support for 15 years.

As such, Windows 10 is on an auto update trajectory with destiny.

(Provided you have a legitimate, REAL copy…) If you run Windows 7, Microsoft is going to upgrade you to Windows 10 whether you want it or not… whether you like it or not.  …) If you run Windows 8.x, Microsoft is going to upgrade you to Windows 10 whether you want it or not… whether you like it or not.  There is no opt out.  If you run an earlier version of Windows on your PC, other than a version of Windows 10, you’re going to eventually run Windows 10 on that PC.

Period.

Get over it. Stop complaining and just accept it.  Apparently, there’s not much anyone can do.  Microsoft is hell bent on getting all the world’s Windows users off of their older version of Windows and on to Windows 10… and apparently, they don’t  care who they upset or anger in the process; and it doesn’t matter if you have that version of Windows running on hardware that the OEM won’t support with Windows 10.

In and of itself, upgrading and updating hardware that is on and supports Windows 10, is very easy. All the updates are pulled down in the background.  You don’t even have to run Windows Update. It’s now a service that is run for you and all you have to do – at most – is simply restart your computer.

This is the cool part of the update mechanism.  In fact, you don’t even have to restart your PC. Windows will do it for you and then apply all of the outstanding updates it has downloaded.

It’s the most hassle free way to update Windows… provided you actually want or are really able to run Windows 10.

Recovery

I have yet to have Windows 8.x’s or Windows 10’s Recovery mode/ partition – whatever you want to call it – work correctly for me.  And trust me…. this is definitely NOT a PEBKAC issue (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair).  I know my way around Windows; and honestly…

The feature just doesn’t work.

Most often, the feature doesn’t boot into Recovery Mode. It simply reboots the device, which totally defeats the purpose of the recovery partition in the first place.

When the recovery partition does do something else other than just simply reboot the device back into Windows 10, things usually go very, very wrong.  Wrong to the tune of, “I need to download the recovery image from the internet, create a USB boot stick and try to run that to blow the device and start from factory fresh because my device is now hosed,” wrong.

And to be quite honest, I’ve had the same problem with the recovery partition in Windows 8.x AND in Windows 10.  If you’ve been successful with a restore or complete wipe with the recovery partition running off the device’s internal drive and not off a USB stick, I’d love to talk to you about the experience and the process.

Microsoft’s Signature Hardware

I don’t want to over play this too much. I wanted to start off this section by saying something like, “wow! What a train wreck the Surface Pro and Surface Book are,” but that really isn’t very fair.

Make no mistake.  Both of these devices have some very serious problems.  Both of them have graphics driver issues that (at the very least) are at the root of the disappearing ink issue I’ve been barking about for the past year or more.  The problem is so severe, that it’s also effecting the Surface Pro 3 (a problem, that I think many – including Microsoft – are overlooking).

The Surface Book as graphic driver issues but also has sleep and battery related problems. These problems are so severe that in many cases when users try to put the Surface Book to sleep, the device won’t sleep.  When users try to sleep their computer and then put the device in a backpack or laptop bag, they often get what has been dubbed, “hot bag syndrome.” This is when  the computer fails to sleep, continues to run, tries to “cool” itself with ever warming air (due to it being confined to the small, secure space of a laptop section in either a backpack or laptop bag), becomes overheated and the battery then quickly drops its charge to zero (0).

Having both the disappearing ink/ graphics driver issue along with these battery and sleep issues has made the Surface Book nearly unusable for many.  Thankfully, I haven’t  succumbed to any pressure related to making a Surface Book purchase. The device is simply too pricey to begin with.  To have these simple usability issues on top of it all is nearly unforgivable in my opinion.

While this doesn’t make Windows 10 unusable, it kinda does make you wonder why Microsoft is having issues that it can’t seem to fix with its own, native hardware running its flagship OS, and many OEM’s are not.

I think I’ll just leave that one there to fester for a while…

Conclusion

I’m going to make this short.  Windows 10 isn’t bad, but Microsoft has a ways to go yet, in my mind.

The UI is pretty good, and a much better improvement over Windows 10.  I think Microsoft peaked in 2009 with Windows 7; but that’s my opinion. They haven’t always gotten things right, straight out of the gate.  Heck, it took them three versions of Windows before they got THAT right (Windows 3.0 was the first big hit for Windows, and then it took three versions of Windows 3.x – Windows 3.0, 3.1 and Windows 3.11 – before they got THAT right.

Their update mechanism isn’t bad, but they need to stop forcing the upgrade on users who don’t want it or can’t run it because their hardware isn’t rated for it.  If I don’t want Windows 10, please stop forcing it on me and my under rated hardware.

Their recovery mechanism needs a bit of work. I haven’t been able to make it work right.  Unfortunately, with the way Windows problems work, in many ways its always been easier to rebuild a system rather than troubleshooting it. That isn’t always the case now.

Finally, Microsoft needs to stop screwing around and needs to fix the driver problems in their Signature hardware.  If Microsoft can’t get this right, it’s hard to think that OEM’s and other PC manufacturers will.

Have you had issues with Windows 10?  Are you satisfied with the way it runs on your upgraded or native PC?  I’d love to hear how things are working for you.  Why don’t you join me in the Discussion area below, and give me your thoughts on the matter.

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Olio Releases Model One Firmware Updates 1.1.71

Well… At least they’re making an effort…

DlAmpsIrIf you recall, my review of the Olio Model One wasn’t very flattering. I still think its problematic, and something that most people probably should wait on purchasing. However… they ARE trying; and for that, their grades are improving. Recently, you may recall, they released a firmware update. Well, Olio has released another firmware update, updating their Model One to version 1.1.71.

Version 1.1.70 was released on 2016-01-22. Version 1.1.71 was released on 2016-01-23. Olio again caught a bug, post release, and followed it up with a quick fix. While this shows diligence – to an extent – airing their laundry like this probably isn’t helping them very much… Olio should have kept the information to themselves and just released version 1.1.71 without saying anything. However, the following is a list of updates and fixes that have been released.

  • ALS (Automatic Light Sensor) fixes: All watches should function normally on Auto brightness.
  • Watches rebooting: We have implemented a fix for those of you who saw your watch frequently rebooting.
  • Rapid battery drain: You should now expect a full 12 hours of battery life with Gesture On, and 18+ hours with Gesture Off.
  • Incorrect weather: The weather Complication should no longer display question marks, and the current weather should be accurate.
  • Repeating alarms: Repeating alarms will now get set properly.
  • Images not loading: Watch hands, Bluetooth or battery icons, and other image assets should now load consistently and immediately.

Please remember that the Olio Model one has a passive firmware updating system. You don’t download anything to either your (iPhone or Android) phone. Instead, charge both your watch and your phone, and make sure they are connected via Bluetooth in the Olio Assist app. If your phone app does not say connected, restart Bluetooth on your watch to reconnect. If this does not resolve the connection, please email Olio support and they will assist you.

As mentioned above, unresponsive watches should be fixed with this update. If you your watch turns off on its own, Olio would like you to contact them. They will likely want to take your timepiece back to their San Francisco headquarters for servicing. If it can’t be easily fixed, Olio will replace the watch at no cost to you. Please contact support@oliodevices.com for more information.

Olio has more to offer by the end of January 2016. They are in the process of updating both iOS and Android versions of Olio Assist; and those may already be out by the time this article is published. Please check the appropriate app store for an update if it hasn’t already come down to you.

Olio’s next firmware update will come in mid-February and is currently scheduled to include the following:

  1. Bluetooth enhancements
  2. Navigation in Control Hub (it does currently exist as a notification)
  3. Voice control
  4. The ability to update various watch preferences from the phone apps
  5. Time zones
  6. Silence notification Rule improvements

I’ll have more on all of this at that time, or as I update my Model One. The passive update system is difficult at best, as there’s currently no way to download the firmware update and push it to your phone. Somehow the stars have to align just right before that happens, and there really isn’t any way to set that into motion. It either happens or it doesn’t.

I’ve suggested that Olio needs to provide an “advanced mode” that will allow people to update their watch on their own, but they have so far refused to provide that level of service. While I understand their reasoning why – this stuff is all just supposed to work in the background without any forceful action on the user’s part – it doesn’t “just work.” I’ve had my watch sitting on my desk now for at least two days waiting for this to happen.

So far… Nuthin!

This isn’t supposed to be rocket science; and I’ve followed all of the instructions that I’ve been given. I have no idea why this is such a difficult process. Unfortunately, this is partially escalated due to all of the problems and issues that the Model One has.

If the product were functioning as designed, then there likely wouldn’t be a need for any kind of “advanced mode” that allowed you to download and push a firmware update to the watch.

That may just be me; but I suspect that it isn’t. I’m pretty certain that the issues, problems, frustrations and concerns that I’ve got are ones that are being voiced by every single Model One owner.

If you have any ideas, or additional information on any of this, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me via the discussion area below. I monitor all of my postings here on Soft32, so it’s easy to get in touch with me.

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Apple Posts New Beta of OS X 10.11.4

Minor bug fixes seem to be headed to developers in the second seed in as many weeks…

OS X 10.11.4 Beta

Apple seems to be moving forward with its plans to squash bugs in OS X 10.11 El Capitan, as it released beta two (2) – build 15E27e – of OS X 10.11.4 to its developer community on 2015-01-25.  This build contains enhancements to many of Apple’s core OS apps, line Notes, where they added enhancements to password protection and bug fixes. We also got the standard, “OS X 10.11.4 improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac” language as well.

Secure Notes features in OS 10.11.4 will marry up with Secure Notes in iOS 9.3. We’ll also see marrying of Live Photos in Messages and iMessage on the desktop and on your compatible iDevice, respectively.  Live Photos are an iPhone 6s and 6s Plus exclusive.  They could be sent from device to device easily, but on the desktop, users who wanted to view Live Photos needed to use the Photos app.  Support for Live Photos will now come to Messages on the desktop when OS X 10.11.4 is released in the coming months.

Viewing Live Photos in Messages is easy.  All you need to do is double click the image in the Messages timeline.  The window that pops up includes both sound and animation as well as options for opening up the Live Photo for editing and review.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan is Apple’s latest version of its desktop operating system.  Version 10.11.4, beta 2, is the latest developer preview, and its available from Apple’s Developer Portal or the Mac App Store.

 

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Apple Releases OS X El Capitan 10.11.3

The latest version of Apple’s desktop operating system is out

This past week has been a busy one for Apple. Not only did they release a new version of iOS 9 – iOS 9.2.1 – but they also released a new version of OS X El Capitan. Version 10.11.3 is now readily available for download from the Mac App Store, and can be installed by all El Capitan users as of this writing.

os x el capitan

During the beta testing period, no notable defects were identified. The update, which is largely a bug fix and stability release, doesn’t contain anything of note according to Apple’s release notes on the operating system. According to them,

The OS X El Capitan 10.11.3 update improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac.

This update contains bug fixes and security updates, including
Fixes an issue that may prevent some Mac computers from waking from sleep when connected to certain 4K displays.
Third-party .pkg file receipts stored in /var/db/receipts are now retained when upgrading from OS X Yosemite.

The next version of OS X El Capitan, version 10.11.4 is currently in testing. Also marked as a stability and bug fix release, OS X 10.11.4 won’t introduce any new features or functionality. The release is likely targeted for mid to late Spring 2016 and is rumored to be released along side iOS 9.3.

If you’re running OS X 10.11, you should check the Mac App Store for the update and install it at your earliest convenience. I’ve been running the update for the past few days, and it seems stable.

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Apple Releases iOS 9.2.1

Apple released the latest version of iOS 9 into the wild the other day…

Apple-iOS-9
As of this writing, the fifth version  of iOS 9, iOS 9.2.1 has been released into the wild.  Previously, Apple released 9.0.1, 9.0.2, iOS 9.1 and iOS 9.2 after the initial release of iOS 9.0 in the third quarter of last year (2015). iOS 9.2.1 has been  in testing since mid-December 2015 and has seen three beta releases.

As updates and releases go, iOS 9.2.1 isn’t a big one. It’s got bug fixes and security updates in it, including an MDM fix for enterprise customers.  iOS 9.2.1 will be followed in short order by iOS 9.3, which is currently sitting in beta testing with members of Apple’s Developer community.  It should be released in about 6-8 weeks, so some time this coming Spring. Its considered to be a much bigger update, with iOS’s new Night Shift feature as a major deliverable.  Night Shift is intended to change the overall color of the light used by your iOS screens (changing it from blue to yellow).  Cutting down on blue light exposure in the evening hours will help promote better sleep and sleep habits for individuals who use their iDevices moments before trying to close their eyes and go to sleep. IOS 9.3 will also introduce new educational features, too.

If you have an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, iOS 9.3 will also include new Quick Actions and it will introduce updates for apps and features like Apple News, Apple Notes, Apple Health, Siri, CarPlay as well as other updates and features.

IOS 9.2.1 is available now and should be a 170-300MB OTA (over the air) update.

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