Apple Releases iOS 10.2 Beta 3 to Developers

There’s some noticeable changes in the latest beta release…

ios 10.2Big changes, kids. That’s what can be seen coming in iOS 10.2. Especially, in the US. The most noticeable is that the Videos app has been removed. While you’ll still be able to watch video on your iDevice, you’ll need to use the TV app for that. The Video widget, introduced in iOS 10.1, has also been removed and replaced with the TV widget. In countries outside the US, both the Video app and Video widget are still available for use.

The new functionality – app and widget – includes an “up next” feature which allows you to keep track of shows and movies you’re watching. It saves your place or recommends new TV episodes and movies across multiple devices. In the Settings app, there’s also a new section for the TV app, allowing users to choose whether they use cellular data for playback; and to choose the streaming quality over both Wi-Fi and cellular connections. You also get to choose whether you purchase video in HD or SD from the iTunes Store.

Additional changes to iOS 10.2 Beta 3 include the following:

SOS – The SOS functionality that allowed users to call emergency services by pressing the power button several times on the iPhone has been removed. According to Apple’s release notes, SOS is currently only available in India.

Messages – There’s a new “Send With Love” Screen Effect option in Messages that sends a heart along with a text message.

iOS 10.2 Beta 3 was released on 2016-11-14; and is currently only available to developers. It’s likely a public beta will be available in the coming days. iOS 10.2 has been promised an early December launch, and several features – including single sign on (SSO) for the TV app – are expected during this time frame.

There are a lot of changes going on at Apple. Some of these I understand and agree with, others are leaving me a bit confused. The first was the introduction of the new MacBook Pros. Unfortunately, at this point, I’m not a huge fan. Pro users don’t want thinner and lighter, they want expansion options and ports. The only pro feature that the new MacBook Pro has is price. They’ve priced a LOT of MacBook Pro users out of the MacBook Pro with this particular hardware iteration. One can only hope that Apple will see the error of their ways and price the device DOWN a great deal with the next iteration. My guess is that they WON’T do this, as Apple very rarely, if ever makes products significantly cheaper so more people can re/afford them.

It sure is expensive enough.

The other issue I have is with the true definition of Pro and how it relates to the iPad and its software. The iPad Pro could – and likely would – resolve a lot of “Pro” use if IT had some of the software that productivity professionals were looking for. Creatives would likely embrace the iPad Pro as a still and video editing machine IF the device had the software that they needed. However, as of this writing, even THAT is nowhere to be found.

All we really have is a set of hardware options – the MacBook Pro and the iPad Pro – that seem to be coming closer and closer together without any REAL direction as to why, or where the grand game is going. I have no idea what future hardware direction I really should be going in.

When I compute in my home office, I know I am going to want an external monitor, will want to access local and network based storage; and will want desktop classed tools, peripherals (keyboard and mouse, etc.) to work with. So it seems that a Mac is really the way I want to go.

When I’m out and about, thinner and lighter is usually better; but I don’t want to sacrifice hardware capabilities for portability… and I certainly don’t want to carry dongles or extra or different cables.

With the MacBook Pro that I have, I SHOULD be able to last at least another three years at least, (which would place me at about the 2019/ 2020 date range; but I should have been able to do the same thing with my Early 2011 MacBook Pro, and it died two years ago due to that model’s well publicized system board defects.

So where does this leave me?

That, kids… is the $64,000 question. I have no idea.

It’s clear that if I wasn’t a tech journalist, I’d be stuck with some sort of budget based, Windows laptop. Buying a Mac without a clear way to justify the cost, especially the latest models, just means you have money and not much else. While Apple DOES want to maintain its exclusivity… its boutique standing, if you will… practicality usually sets in at some point. The thing that made the MacBook Pro so popular in the past five to seven years was the fact that while the hardware WAS expensive, it wasn’t out of reach, especially the high end models.

Now, with prices for high end machines approaching the price of a private sale on a decent, used car, many people are going to think a heck of a lot more than twice about purchasing a Mac laptop. In many cases, it just doesn’t make sense; which is problematic when you’ve made the switch from Windows to Mac and you’ve been there for 10 years.

If you’re like me and you’ve switched and your Mac is also your Windows machine (either via Parallels Desktop or VMWare), and you DO in fact buy a new Mac laptop, but can’t buy as big and as bad as before, you’re likely to run into performance issues. At that point, don’t worry. You may need to give up some hard drive/ SSD space and convert your VM to a Boot Camp partition, but you shouldn’t have issues running Windows on your Mac. You may not be able to run both OS’ at the same time, but you can still do it all.

It’s clear that there’s a lot going on at Apple. It’s also clear that both iOS and macOS are in a state of flux, and that the public doesn’t have a very clear roadmap to guide their hardware purchases. As such, you’re going to have to be very careful about what hardware you buy, if any. The last thing you want to do is buy too much, or too little.

Apple certainly isn’t making this any easier on anyone really interested in their hardware.

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Yet Another Round of Apple OS Betas

Apple has been busy over the past six to eight weeks…

I admit it – Hello, my name is Chris; and I’m a software junkie.

iosbeta

While this very first step to entering a twelve step program for something that is most likely bad for you, I have to wonder if being a software junkie is really a “bad” thing. My guess is that its not, but if you step back and think about it, its all relative – it depends on what software you’re talking about, what devices you put it on, and most importantly, what state that software is in.

Unstable software on your most important devices isn’t only (potentially) stupid, it can be dangerous. I know more than person who has irreparably bricked their device when trying to install something that wasn’t quite ready for prime time. It’s a risk; and honestly, its likely something that people like me don’t always think through.

Case in point – Apple just released a bunch of updates to nearly every platform they develop on. This isn’t always a good thing. If you remember, a couple of years ago, I had declared iOS 8 a train wreck

Hands on with early iOS 8 Beta Releases
Hands on with iOS 8 Beta 2
iOS 8 Beta 3 – A Train Wreck of a Different Color
iOS Beta 4 – Still not Soup Yet

This experience was SO bad for me, that I didn’t chase after betas of iOS 9, and have left iOS 10 pretty much alone. There are rumors that its as big – if not a bigger change – than iOS 7 was over iOS 6 and earlier versons.

Anyway, if you’re the brave type, you’ll be interested to know that Apple has recently released updates to not only iOS, but to every other platform that it develops for. Recently Apple released Developer Beta 6 and Public Beta 5 of macOS 10.12. They also released Developer Beta 6 and Public Beta 5 of iOS 10. Apple also released Developer Beta 6 of both tvOS 10 and watchOS 3.

While there were some issues with getting many of the developer beta releases, as of this writing, they should be resolved. macOS 10.12 Dev Beta 6 should be build 16A294a. If you’re interested in grabbing any of the betas for your own perusal, you can head over to this link and sign up for as little or as much beta as you want.

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Apple Releases Sixth Beta’s of its Operating System Suite

That suite includes iOS 9.3, watchOS 2.2 and OS X 10.11.4...

appleBeing in the beta business isn’t always the most glamorous of jobs. On the contrary – it’s often very difficult. In fact, beta testers tend to see not only the good and bad, but the downright ugly.

It’s one of the reasons why, after approximately 20 years of beta testing for both Microsoft (mostly) and Apple (most recently), I’m NOT jumping on that train on any of my production-level equipment. It’s just not worth it any more.

It used to be that when an operating system hit the BETA stage, it was pretty much operational. You could count on that version of (whatever it is) holding its own. While there would obviously be problems, those problems nearly always came with some level of (reasonable) work around that wouldn’t take your PC/ mobile device out of the picture.

That’s not the case now a days. More often than not, you could be taking your PC’s life into your hands if you aren’t careful.

So with this light of caution CLEARLY flashing in our faces, you may be interested to know that Apple has released the sixth beta of iOS 9.3, and OS X 10.11.4, both of which are available to both developers and public beta testers. Apple released watchOS 2.2 Beta 6 to its registered developers only.

This latest round of releases comes just six (6) days after Beta 5 of all three OS’. Prior to that, beta four (4) was released eight (8) days earlier. Everything prior to beta 4 was released on a strict biweekly schedule.

At this point, there are no new features; and while I haven’t had a chance to look at the seed notes for these beta 6 releases, I’d be very surprised if there were any remaining known, open issues. We should be very close to final release.

iOS 9.3 will add such as a Night Shift mode, secure Notes, and extra 3D Touch shortcuts to the mobile operating system, among other things. As of Beta 5, OS navigation via Apple Pencil has been restored to iPad Pro.

OS X 10.11.4 will include the ability to individual encrypt items in Notes and support for Live Photos (from iPhone 6s) in Messages among other things

watchOS 2.2 (when paired with an iPhone running iOS 9.3) will allow users to pair more than one Apple Watch to a single iPhone and also introduces a new look for Maps in Glances.

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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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Apple Releases iOS 7 Beta 5 to Developers

Apple just recently made the latest beta of iOS7 available to developers.

Since the Apple Dev Center went down a number of days ago, I’ve been doing my best to follow the story.  There has been a lot of developments reported as functionality comes back online, (but very little on what’s going on with the security engineer rumored to have caused the outage in the first place.)

As such, during a routine check of the iOS Dev Center, I was recently greeted with a wonderful surprise. iOS7 Beta 5 has been released to developers today (and as early as Noon Central Time).

iOS7 Beta 5

The beta still has a number of known issues with

  • Address Book
  • AirDrop
  • Exchange
  • iCloud
  • etc.

and a number of other areas as well. Beta 4 was a dramatic improvement over Beta 3, but it still has its issues. I’ve reported bugs that are still open at this time.  There are issues that have been resolved according to the release notes, but I’m certain that a number of different issues are still lurking about.

Its clear from the release notes that there will be at least TWO more beta releases before the software RTM’s.  Given the number of active issues, however, my QA manager experience is telling me that it’s unlikely that the currently expected beta 6 and then RTM/GM release will occur. There seems to be a bit more work needed in order to insure that all issues and developer notes are addressed, implemented and understood.

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iOS 7 Beta 3 Improvements or Status Quo?

ios_7_icon-250x249Beta 3 of Apple’s next version of its mobile OS – iOS 7 – was released on 2013-07-08. Let’s take a quick look at how things are progressing

 

 

Introduction

If you recall, I posted a tear down of Apple’s latest mobile operating system – iOS 7 – a few days ago. Beta 1 of the OS was usable, but it was painful. Beta 2 made things a bit better, but the experience was still FAR from what you would expect from a completed system, meaning that Apple still had a great bit of work to do. Apple released the third seed in its iOS 7 development effort on 2013-07-08. Let’s take a quick peek at how things are progressing.

Music App

The Music app has seen a slight redesign from Betas 1 and 2. It has new icons and a rearranged set of controls. Ratings have also been reimplemented. I have almost 10 gigabytes of music on my iPhone. Without a doubt, music takes up the bulk of my onboard storage. Every time I restore my iPhone, it takes quite a bit of time to sync all of my content back to the phone.

I installed iOS 7 Beta 3 Monday 2013-07-08, late in the evening. I went to bed before midnight. When I got up at 4:30am Central the next morning, I expected all of my content to be restored to the device. It wasn’t. I started the sync again and saw content come over to the device. While it didn’t finish the sync before I had to leave for work, about 1/2 of my music had been synchronized to the device. Unfortunately, I found that none of it was actually recognized as being on board. It became clear to me that in order to be able to listen to my music, I’d have to blow the device and set it up as a new iPhone. Thankfully, though that process took a while, it solved the problem.

iOS-7-beta-3-launched-with-problems

Podcasts

Apple’s Podcasts app is now functional. However, I initially had issues with my synched content being recognized by the app. As I stated above, it was for this reason that I had to blow my iPhone again, reinstall iOS 7 Beta 3 and setup my iPhone 5 as a new iPhone.

Calendar

Calendar’s Month View has been updated to include a display artifact to indicate which days have scheduled events. The Calendar app is still a bit touchy. Its force closed on me more than once when trying to go from the default Day View to Month View.

Redesigned Fonts

One of the biggest points made with iOS 7 is its redesigned interface, which includes a thinned out, flat look. Many of the fonts used in Betas 1 and 2 have been replaced in beta 3 with a heavier weighted font. While thinner fonts make for a cleaner interface, heavier fonts provide increased readability. This is a much welcomed change in Beta 3, as the display in the first two betas was difficult to read.

You can see clear evidence of the heavier fonts in Messages, Weather and Notification Center. You should also have an easier time reading the Settings menu as well.

Apple also increased the size of the font used in the status bar, making your carrier name, signal strength, remaining battery life , etc. easier to read.

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