Featured Review – Voila Screen Capture for Mac

Capture screen shots and video clips with this much needed Mac utility

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I’ve been a freelance writer for over 20 years.  I’m also a software QA guy.  I’ve always had a need for a screen capturing tool.  I either want to take screen shots of the programs I’m reviewing or of the errors in the software that I’m testing.  I’m actually a bit of a screen shot-aholic. Most everything that I do either for my writing gig here at Soft32 or during the day for my software testing job requires me to take screen shots of something.  This is why I really like Voila Screen Capture for Mac.  It’s a really cool utility for your Mac.

Voila is an ‘all-in-one’ screen capture solution that can capture, edit and share anything on your computer’s screen. Users can also video record the screens of their iOS device, like an iPhone or iPad in full resolution. After a screenshot is captured or recorded, the user can then share them on popular websites, send via e-mail or print using the buttons located on the UI. A complete set of tools including different capture methods, full webpage recording as well as easy sharing options make for a comprehensive and complete application that saves time and is easy to use.

Voila captures video with audio in high quality. You can capture the whole screen, or simply a user defined section. You can also capture video on your connected iDevice as well.

Voila captures full and partial screen stills as well.  Voila has a flexible capture option that allows you to grab full or user defined areas of your screen. If needed, you can also capture entire web pages along with important metadata like page title, menus and other page elements.

Once you get your screen grabs, you can also annotate them using different fonts, shapes, blur options and speech bubbles, or callouts. Once you have everything set, Voila can also help you manage your screen shot collections.  You can group similar images and videos together using custom labels.  You can add titles, tags and descriptions so you can catalog and search for just the media object you need.

Voila Screen Capture for Mac is a decent application.  It starts when you start your Mac and sits in the Menu Bar until its needed.  You’re supposed to be able to activate it via a set of user-definable hot keys, but these didn’t work consistently for me.  More often than not, pressing the hot key combinations didn’t do anything at all on my El Capitan powered 15″ MacBook Pro.

Download

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Feature Review – Boom 2

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

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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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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 iOS 9.2.1

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

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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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Here Comes the iPad Pro

A replacement candidate for the Surface Pro 3 has been identified…

iPad-Pro-Smart-Keyboard

Yes, yes, yes… I know.

Many of you expected this and are not surprised at all – the iPad Pro is going to get a chance to be my digital note taker in the office.

When I dumped my Surface Pro 3, I was pretty annoyed. Hell, let’s face it – I was really mad. The Surface Pro 3 has some real issues with Windows 10 and Microsoft OneNote 2013/ 2016.

It’s not pretty…

When I put the Surface Pro 3 head to head with the Surface Pro 4, I came away with some serious concerns and misgivings about where Microsoft was headed with the Surface Pro line (which, by the way, includes the Microsoft’s Surface Book).

Both the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book have problems with drivers, battery life, and in the case of the Surface Book, detaching from the native keyboard. These issues are so severe, in some cases, that people – including the friend I have in the office who lent me his SP4 to put head to head with my SP3 – returned them for replacement or refund. It’s a shame, too, as all three of these ultrabooks are really very nice… you just apparently have to use them for the right tasks, with power available, and without detaching the keyboard (in the case of the Surface Book), or you run into problems.

To be honest, it was the head to head article that I wrote that really pushed things over the edge for me and really prompted me to sell (read: dump) my Surface Pro 3. Windows 10 is problematic on it and OneNote is almost unusable, if you’re not careful.

So, enter the iPad Pro…

The office procured one for me, and I’ll be putting it through its paces. I’ve got the 128GB version on T-Mobile; and I’m using a instead of Apple’s Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro. it’s a matter of preference, really… I’ve played with the Pro’s Smart Keyboard and I didn’t like the way the keys felt; or the way it worked (attached to the iPad and flipped around). I instead asked for the Logitech Create Keyboard, and though it adds a great deal of [overall] thickness to the device, it provides a much better typing and computing experience in my opinion. The keys have nice travel, and I’m able to touch type on it as I would with any other laptop or computer I work with.

The fact that it’s at least $20 USD cheaper than the Apple Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro is just a bonus.

Yes… I have an Apple Pencil scheduled to arrive in the next week or two. The fact that these things are hard to come by (I’ve been calling the local Apple Store a few times a week to inquire about buying one in store) isn’t helping matters. The iPad Pro really wants an Apple Pencil, despite the fact that taking notes in OneNote via the Logitech Create Keyboard works very, very well.

I’ll have a full review of the iPad Pro, the Logitech CREATE Keyboard and the Apple Pencil as soon as I’ve had a chance to spend some time with all of them.

At this point, I’m working on an opinion. If you just can’t wait and need something to chew on, you can go back and read this article on what’s going to make or break the iPad Pro. While it may have been a bit early on in the process for me, I really think the article speaks to some of the major hurdles the device is going to have to get passed in order to be the success that it wants and needs to be, especially in the enterprise.

In the meantime, just hang out…

I’ve got a few other interesting things that I’m working on that many of you might find interesting:

The Conclusion to the Smartwatch Roundup that I’ve been writing for (literally) the last year. While all of the principle players have been reviewed, I’ve got some issues that I’m still trying to work through with the Olio Mode One that have been keeping me much more occupied than I would like…
The review of the Hendocks Horizontal Dock for MacBook Pro 15″ Retina. While there are some issues to work through, I’ve been rather happy with the way things have been going; but I don’t want to ruin the review.
The Release of Windows 10 Mobile. Its rumored to be right around the corner. I’m hoping that the Windows Phone I have gets the upgrade sooner rather than later. If it does, I’ll have a full review, rather than just a news-based article speaking to the release of Microsoft’s mobile OS.

What about you? Did you get any new tech for the Holidays? Am I missing some big piece of gadgetry that I should follow up with an article or two or with a full review? Will wearables continue to be a big player in 2016? Is the iPad Pro JUST a bigger iPad or will it be as ground breaking as Apple hopes it will be?

Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area, below and give me your take on all of these and more? I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say!

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What’s Going to Make or Break the iPad Pro

It might not be what you think…

Introduction

The iPad Pro is now available at an Apple Store near you. With everything that it can do – differently – than your run of the mill iPad, this thing could be huge in the corporate world. However, its going to take a little bit; and not everyone or everything is keen on its (potential) success.

The iPad Pro is the first iPad you can take to work. It has a native keyboard. Previous iPads didn’t come with a native keyboard. They have a smart cover only. If you want some kind of a keyboard, you have to go third party; and then (nearly) all of those keyboards connect to your iPad via Bluetooth.

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The iPad Pro has a native, hardware keyboard cover that that connects to the device via three small contacts on the long edge of the device. The keyboard is backlit, powered by the device, and provides a standardized, tactile experience when typing with it. While third party keyboards are available – like the Logitech CREATE – this is the first iPad keyboard available directly from Apple for their tablet.

There is one big caveat, though – the hardware upgrade cycle on the iPad Pro has to be longer than one year. It needs to be closer to three to five years, or something that more closely and appropriately matches corporate computer leasing cycles – which may be two to three years or longer. The hardware is expensive enough without having to draw to purchase something new each and every year.

Given that, this isn’t what is going to make the iPad Pro great.

The iPad Pro also has a new stylus called the Apple Pencil. This is the first stylus for iPad that Apple has created as a native accessory for the iPad.

I’m certain that Steve Jobs is now rolling over in his grave.

Steve was always adamant that the iPad would never have or need a stylus. In fact, back in 2010 when most mobile devices had plastic sticks for a stylus, Steve Jobs was adamant that the only stylus an iPad user would ever need was their index finger. It worked. It couldn’t get lost, and materially contributed to the productivity and simplicity of the device.

In essence… Steve Jobs gave us the finger. Oh goody…

The Apple Pencil has 2048 different levels of pressure sensitivity. It has a rechargeable battery (where 15 seconds of charge will give you 30 minutes of battery life). Its weighted and doesn’t feel like it will snap in half when you use it. It can be used for creative purposes (drawing, painting, calligraphy, etc.), for technical purposes like schematics and blueprints, as well as for handwriting and notes.

But this isn’t what will make the iPad Pro great.

Honestly, the one thing that will make the iPad Pro great, is the one thing that it really doesn’t have yet.

Apps

Yes, apps; and more importantly, iPad Pro specific apps.

The hardware is in place. The iOS ecosystem exists and functions well. The App Store is in place and sells apps for all iDevices. The one thing that the iPad Pro doesn’t have, though… is iPad Pro specific apps. I’m not talking about the creative side of the world. Things like the Adobe Creative Suite are easy to see in this space. I’m talking about other apps…

There are a few specific issues here that I want to touch on. I’ve been trying to work through this for a few days, so please bear with me. This isn’t something that is a huge get or anything for Apple or any other app developer. However, its going to require a bit of cooperation that currently doesn’t exist. It will need to happen if the iPad Pro is going to be the success that it can and needs to be for Apple to be successful in the enterprise.

But before I get into all of that mess, let’s talk apps. Apps are the key to the iPad Pro being a success in the enterprise. Without them, the iPad Pro remains nothing more, really than just a really big iPad, and nothing more.

Without apps, the iPad Pro is really nothing more than a really big iPad with a stylus that can now get lost. Without apps, the iPad Pro is really nothing more than a big iPad with a stylus that can now get lost AND with an over priced, cloth covered, keyboard cover.

But which apps? Really glad you asked…

Microsoft Office – Outlook, OneNote, Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iOS already exist. It might be nice if Microsoft came out with an iPad Pro specific version that was a bit more powerful, but even if they didn’t, the versions that we have will work; but what we have now should really be considered a baseline or the bare minimum of functionality. They work for any iDevice with any kind of keyboard. Differentiation should really be the mantra here (and keep that close to your thoughts – differentiation…).

CRM Services

Most CRM apps – like Salesforce and Microsoft CRM – are web apps. While those will definitely work on the iPad Pro via Safari or other iOS compatible browser, and are made the more powerful by the 128GB LTE version (because it has access to the web from anywhere where there’s a cell signal), a client based app with some kind of data capture and reporting capabilities (for running basic, client and/ or data specific reports) would be huge win on the iPad Pro platform.

With something like this on a tablet near you, you can manage cases, customer needs and concerns, sales and service requests, etc. With the right data on your machine and the right reporting engine, you can pull together detailed service analyses detailing parts needed or consumed within a specific quarter or on a specific device or machine model you suspect may have reached its end of life. The possibilities are endless with the right app – the right data and the right reporting engine can make all the difference when your trying to upsell service contracts to your top clients.

Microsoft Office and Related Tools

I’ve already talked a bit about Office and a more powerful iPad Pro only version. I’m not going to rehash that. Its fairly obvious. And speaking of Office, there are some enterprise level apps that are currently missing form the Apple side of the fence – Visio and Project are nowhere to be seen, and quite honestly, in order for any Apple hardware to be taken seriously in the enterprise and for them to be any thing else other than a second class enterprise citizen, Microsoft needs to pull together both Visio and Project for both OS X and iOS. While they’re at it, they could also bring some feature parity to OneNote for both OS X and iOS.

The one thing though that is missing from this is SharePoint.

SharePoint right now is a Windows PC only kinda thing. Microsoft doesn’t have any kind of SharePoint client for its own mobile platform (and who can blame them – they don’t have a true tablet and their mobile phone platform is a joke at less than a 3% world-wide market share, but… I digress), let alone one for Mac or Linux. However, if they came up with extensions that would allow Safari or Chrome (for Android) to access SharePoint sites on a company’s intranet.

From there, you could collaborate on Office based documents, share data, etc. In offices that make use of core Microsoft services, having access to SharePoint’s sharing and collaboration based services can make a huge difference to the productivity levels of its mobile management members who spend most of their work days moving from one conference room to another for one meeting to the next.

Networking and File System Utilities

Now… couple all THAT with VPN software, telnet clients and a way to mount local SMB file shares so you can browse and work with files while connected to a wireless network in either your office or while on the road through that VPN.

Your iPad just got a lot more professional looking.

In fact, its likely now more of a notebook replacement – or at least, notebook companion – than you thought it was just a few moments ago.

Now, let’s talk file system for just a second… The beauty of the iPad and nearly every other iDevice is that its light. Its fast. The OS doesn’t get bogged down by a bunch of resource hogging overhead that prevents you from doing what you want or need to do quickly.

This is partially due to the fact that iOS doesn’t work the way that your Mac does. I don’t know if everyone wants a full blown, user accessible, file system exposed. While it may solve some problems, its going to uncover others and create new ones.

The biggest problem with the lack of a file system is that users really can’t manage files locally. If you want to work with any of your data, you have to do it in the cloud, and then those apps that do it, don’t really allow you to organize or use your files the way you can on a desktop PC or notebook. In fact, only specific apps – like Pages, Numbers or Keynote – allow you to see what data you have, and then only those files that they can work with.

With the introduction of the iCloud Drive app in iOS 9.x, you now have a bit more control and access to your data in that cloud-based storage service, but its not the same as working with Finder on your Mac.

Apple needs to close the gap a bit, and then your data and files need to be accessible by any and all apps, not just those that are iCloud enabled. Think of this as iCloud Drive Sync Lite, or iCloud Drive Sync for iOS. I want and need to be able to access my data locally, when I’m offline, and then have the changes sync up.

Further, this lite file sync shouldn’t be limited to iCloud Drive, but should allow hooks for OneDrive and Google Drive. You should be able to get to your cloud based files no matter what file sync system you use. In order to help this happen, and to insure that its secure, its likely that the whole thing will need to be sandboxed. At least that way, if one of your files has a bug, the damage it can do is limited.

Engineering Utilities

I’m not going to go too deep here. However, there are some tools that for some specific vertical markets that are sorely needed.

A buddy of mine is a Cisco VoIP Engineer. He’s looking to the iPad Pro to help him do his job. Things like RTMT (Real Time Monitoring Tool) that allows VoIP engineers to view traffic passing over cable in real time. If there’s a problem with a router a connection or other item, this tool is going to help them narrow it down. Getting access to other corporate resources on the Cisco corporate network with Cisco AnyConnect VPN is also going to allow them to contact others with analytical information so problems can be solved and solutions put in place.

Yes. You’re right. This can be done with a Windows computer.

The need here is that a full size notebook is one more thing that they have to carry. Most Cisco VoIP engineers travel from client site to client site throughout the day. If they can get the same job done with a lighter, more compact tool than a Windows PC, they’re all over it.

The same can be said for other service techs that manage workstations, servers and other enterprise configurations like Active Directory and Azure servers. If you look at other vertical markets – Sales, medical and hospital, insurance…ANY kind of insurance – it all fits.

Support from Apple

So… what does Apple need to do? Well, that’s a really good question.

A lot of it relates to policy they’ve put in place to help them make money and other policy, but it comes down to a few different things.

Differentiation
Remember when I mentioned differentiation? Yeah. The iPad Pro is a different beast. The A9X processor is a desktop class processor. It can do a lot more than just play video, run an eBook reader or a web browser. It can crunch numbers and do complex graphic displays. Its great for games, but its also great for running presentations while on the go.

Its apps need to reflect its enhanced capabilities. The iPad Pro is more than just a big iPad. Its apps need to call out that difference, and need to do so loudly. The device is expensive. Apple needs to help users justify the cost.

The iPad Pro needs its own app classification. While it may run apps for any other iDevice, there should be some apps that run only on the iPad Pro – enhanced versions of MS Office for iOS, Visio for iOS, Project for iOS, etc.

On the creative side, there should be some drawing and graphic apps that contain iPad Pro only features and functions. One of the easiest ways to do that is to require the use of the Apple Pencil, for example. The point is that the apps that I use may run just fine on any other iPad out there, but should do something different… something special… on the iPad Pro. Users will pay a premium for this device. They need to feel as though they’re getting something for their premium dollar.

The other thing that Apple needs to do is develop a different software model for Professional apps. On the enterprise side, there are a number of apps out there that follow the old Shareware model where an app functions with full functionality for a set period of time after its installation. This gives users a chance to evaluate apps to see if they meet their expectations and needs. You can’t do this under the current App Store. Unfortunately, that needs to change on the enterprise side of the app world. We need to try before we buy, not buy before we try.

Apple’s Cut
To put it bluntly, Apple’s 30% cut might need to be reexamined here. Most enterprise apps are going to cost a heck of a lot more than $10 bucks. This works for Apple on the consumer side for a number of reasons. Mostly because when the App Store hit the market, it was the only thing of its kind. Developers don’t like it but don’t complain too loudly because they make the 30% up in volume.

You aren’t going to see that volume on the enterprise side of things. Not too many people use Project, Visio outside of a work situation. Regular folks won’t need Salesforce or Microsoft CRM. Apple’s going to have to figure out a way of getting their cut without gouging enterprise app developers. Enterprise app devs aren’t going to make the cut up on volume.

Apple may also need to reexamine its ban on subscriptions and in-app catalogs. Again, it works on the consumer side because devs can make up the cut on volume. Volume doesn’t really exist on the enterprise app side.

Conclusion

This seems pretty cut and dry to me. The iPad Pro, even with its new accessories – an electronic, rechargeable, pressure sensitive stylus and a native, device powered keyboard – at the end of the day is just a really big iPad with expensive (some may say overpriced) native accessories.

And they may be right…

If it wasn’t for the apps.

Apps, which ones come out and for which verticals, how they’re implemented and how broadly they appeal to both enterprise users and consumer users who want to do a little enterprise cross over, will be what makes or breaks the iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro needs things like CRM software, an enhanced and differentiated version of Microsoft Office (including Visio and Project) for the iPad Pro, if its going to have a chance at success. Its going to need specialized vertical apps that address very specific needs for Sales individuals, engineering and service individuals, insurance and medical professionals, etc.

More than that, app developers are going to need help from Apple in the form of incentives, and reworked or reimagined demo, beta and shareware app classifications in order to help sell enterprise apps that will undoubtedly cost a great deal more than a copy of Boom Beach or other popular game app.

Finally, Apple’s going to have to find a different way to get their cut of the App Pie. Charging 30% doesn’t sit well with consumer market app developers. The only reason why they haven’t left the App Store is due to volume. They know their going to get volume sales so they don’t complain, at least not too loudly. Volume sales shouldn’t be expected on the enterprise side, especially when you’re talking about vertical markets.

What do you think? Is the iPad Pro the ticket to Apple’s cut of the enterprise pie? Is it the apps more than any thing else with the iPad Pro that will make it a success or am I all wet behind the ears? Why don’t you sound off in the discussion area below and give me your thoughts on it all?

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Feature Review – OS X 10.11 – El Capitan

Introduction

os_x_el_capitan_roundup

Security!

Stability!!

Give me these or give me, well… give me another operating system!

Out of the darkness and the despair, the cry of the people went up; and the benevolent wizards in the magic land called Cupertino heard them. They toiled long and hard. They worked day and night. They sent forth version after (public beta) version of their magic spells until finally on 2015-09-30, shortly after the final rendering that was heralded by the appearance of the blood moon… it was completed.

El Capitan… OS X 10.11… and the Wizards of Cupertino saw that it was good… and so, wishing to protect their progeny, they sent it forth…

If you have a Mac running OS X 10.10.x, then you can run Yosemite. Is it the operating system for you? Will it run well, even on a Late 2008 or Early 2009 MacBook? Does it offer the kind of performance boot and security enhancements that you’ve been looking for? Is it safe for you to upgrade, knowing that some apps might not be ready yet?

We’re going to take a look at these questions and others as we look at El Capitan and its natural progression and growth from Yosemite into, what Apple (and all the Wizards of Cupertino) hope will be the best version of their desktop OS yet.

Let’s see if we can wade through the hype (and yeah… my BS…) and take a look and see what El Capitan brings to the table. Is it worth putting on your Mac? Let’s find out…

Experience

It started with Yosemite; and Apple said it when they announced OS X El Capitan – they’ve called the name of the mountain; and given everyone a natural progression of what Yosemite was. El Capitan is what comes next.

I’m making a big deal about the name of the new OS and the name of the mountain that’s depicted as the default desktop wall paper in both OS X 10.10 and 10.11. The mountain is in the park; and the park’s most notable and biggest attraction is the mountain. By drawing this analogy between the mountain and both operating systems, Apple is basically telling you that OS 10.11 is a natural progression of OS X 10.10. And that’s basically true… at least from what I’ve been able to see of the new OS during the time that I’ve been able to use it.

Changes to OS X in El Capitan can really be divided into two different categories – Experience and Performance. El Capitan is a gives you even simpler, smarter ways to do the things you do the most with your Mac – Like working in multiple apps at the same time, searching for information, keeping tabs on your favorite websites, or checking email, or taking notes.

And there are some changes. All of them add value to the OS X experience. Some of them create issues and problems for users. I’ll touch on some of those later.

However, what you should take from this “tock” styled update, is that the El Capitan experience is familiar and something that nearly every Yosemite user is going to feel comfortable with; and (should be) instantly productive in (again, provided your core apps aren’t broken under El Capitan. I have more on that below…

Performance

Improvements under the hood make your Mac snappier and more efficient in all kinds of everyday tasks — from opening PDFs to accessing your email. And with Metal for Mac, you get faster and more fluid graphics performance in games, high-performance apps, and many other places.

In OS X El Capitan we’ve made all kinds of things run faster — like accessing email and launching or switching between apps. It’s these little things that make your Mac feel faster and more responsive. And we’ve brought Metal to Mac, so you experience more fluid performance in games, high-performance apps, and key system-level graphics operations.

Now things you do every day — like launching and switching apps, opening PDFs, and accessing email — are faster and snappier. OS X El Capitan makes your Mac feel more fluid and responsive.

  • Up to 1.4x faster app launch
  • Up to 2x faster app switching
  • Up to 2x faster display of first mail messages
  • Up to 4x faster pdf opening in preview

    Metal

One of the biggest developments and improvements in OS X 10.11 is Metal. Metal is a new graphics core technology. It gives games and apps near-direct access to the graphics processor on your Mac, allowing for enhanced performance and a richer graphical experience. Metal speeds system-level graphics rendering by up to 50%, as well as making it up to 40%more efficient on resources, compared with Yosemite, on equivalently speced Macs.

In a nut shell, Metal allows your Mac’s CPU and its graphics processor to work more effectively together, boosting high-performance apps. The most obvious benefit of Metal will be to games, but any high performance app – like Photoshop, iMovie, or any other graphic or video intensive app – will benefit from its up to 10x performance boost

Core Application Issues

When I say “core application” I really don’t mean apps that Apple has written, like any of the iWork components or Mail or iTunes. What I’m really talking about is Office 2016 for Mac. When El Capitan was released, it was released AFTER Office 2016 for Mac hit the streets. If you upgraded Yosemite to El Capitan with Office 2016 for Mac installed, you were – unfortunately and unknowingly – in for a very serious problem.

Office 2016 for Mac doesn’t run on El Capitan 10.11.0.

Since I started writing this review AND since the release of OS X 10.11.1, both Apple and Microsoft have released updates to the OS and to the suite to resolve the issues. However, it got dicey there for a while…

Features & Improvements

Security Updates

OS X 10.11 builds on the security model in Yosemite and takes it to the next level. Security is a big part of the El Capitan Update over OS X 10.10. Here, I’m going to touch on three of the biggest updates that Apple has made to its flagship OS’ security underpinnings.

System Integrity Protection (SIP)

Over the years, Macs have enjoyed a bit of anonymity. Hackers and malware writers didn’t target them because, quite honestly, they didn’t have the user base for most of these bad guys to bother with. That’s changing now.

In earlier versions of OS X, Apple introduced things like Sandboxing and Gate Keeper to help protect users from malignant code. Sandboxing requires programs to run in a defined memory segment, without the ability to write code to other parts of the computer. Gate Keeper effectively limits application installs from everywhere but trusted sources. In El Capitan, Apple is hardening its security model with System Integrity Protection (or SIP for short).

SIP prevents programs or users with insufficient security credentials to writing any files to /System, /bin, /usr (except /usr/local), and /sbin. This prevents malignant programs from In other words, it provides a type of root-level protection to the Mac similar to what the iPhone and iPad have benefited from for years.

Code injection and runtime attachments are no longer permitted, though expert users who really want to will still be able to access the system as deeply can still make system level changes that will allow them to do so. If you run apps like or TotalFinder, you’re going to find that they either do not work now, or you have to either fully or in part, disable SIP.

You can find instructions on disabling SIP here.

Some apps like Bartender, only need SIP disabled during install. After that, SIP can be reenabled.

System Integrity Protection helps keep your computer secure by preventing unwanted and malicious, privilege escalations.

App Transport Security

Web apps are gaining in popularity. Apps like Outlook.com and Gmail are hugely popular, and that TYPE of app are only going to become more prevalent. In order to insure that the data transmissions between your computer and the web server that the app is actually running on are secure, Apple added Application Transport Security to OS X. In El Capitan, that’s TLS 1.2, but as stronger transports become available, ATS will push everyone towards them as well. This type of security is insanely important in that without this secure layer, not only will productivity apps like Gmail and Outlook transmit data in the open for nearly everyone with a packet sniffer to see, but shopping apps that use the same secure transports will also pass insecure payment and credit card data back and forth.

Security protocols like this help make the future of online activity – whether that’s mail, or productivity (like Google Apps or Microsoft Office Online) or shopping apps safe to use

Privacy

El Capitan helps make computing more secure by protecting your privacy. Apple inverts the current cloud computing model by bringing the cloud down to your Mac, and not the more traditional model, which is the other way around. The easiest way to see a tangible example of this, is Spotlight.

When you search for data through Spotlight, you simply type a question and the search results are brought to your desktop. In a more traditional search model, you go to a web site – say Google or Bing – and search for something. You… go to the data, putting your security and your privacy at risk. In the Mac model, this is reversed. The data, comes to you, as it should be.

The best thing here is that when you use an Apple Online service, your personal data and the data you searched for and retrieved isn’t shared with any online service. You just get your results. This lowers the risk of your personal and/ or private data being inappropriately or inadvertently shared with other individuals or other companies. How well this works over time in terms of service quality and what you can and cannot search for based on what’s shared and retrieved, remains to be completely seen.

Feature Updates

El Capitan makes several updates to many of OS X’s key features. I’m going to highlight some of the more visible and more important feature updates in OS X 10.11.

Split View

Everyone is used to running multiple apps on their computer or laptop screens. I mean, we’ve been doing this really since 1990 blah-blah-blah and Windows 3.x. You get from one open app to the other by using ALT-Tab. Its very easy.

On the Mac side of the world, it’s the same way. We’ve been able to swap bits between apps since 1984 and Finder 1.0, if you really want to get down to brass tacks. You get from one app to another by using Command-Tab. Its also very easy here.

The big problem is that some times, all the other apps you might have open are nothing more than noise. Yes, you can try to Tile your open windows, but in many cases, if you don’t watch it, you can wind up with every open app window sitting next to every OTHER app window on your computer screen. When all you wanted was two apps side by side, this is hugely annoying.

Split View 01

In El Capitan, Apple takes a queue from Microsoft’s Snap feature and has given us Split View. With Split View, you can automatically fill your computer screen with two apps of choice. To get to Split View, you can either get there from Mission Control or from a full screen app. If you already have an app running full screen, you can drag another Split View compatible app to its desktop thumbnail at the top of the Mission Control Screen. Both apps will appear in Split View.

The other way is to click and hold the green full screen button with your mouse. The left half of the screen will become shaded in blue. Release your mouse button to open the current window on the left half of your screen. Any other compatible, non-minimized apps will show up on the other half of the screen as thumbnails. Simply click the other app you want to use in Split view.

Microsoft does this on the Windows side with Snap. You can get there in a similar fashion, and popping content back and forth between apps is just as easy via Windows Snap as it is with OS X Split View.

Mission Control

Mission Control 01

A streamlined Mission Control makes it easier to see and organize everything you have open on your Mac. With a single swipe, all the windows on your desktop arrange themselves in a single layer, with nothing stacked or hidden. Mission Control places your windows in the same relative location, so you can spot the one you’re looking for more quickly. And when you have lots of windows competing for real estate, it’s now even simpler to make more room for them. Just drag any window to the top of your screen, and drop it into a new desktop space. It’s never been this easy to spread out your work.

Mission Control 02

 

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Apple Releases iOS 9.0.2

Apple continues to swat at bugs with its latest iOS release

ios9

Wednesday 2015-09-30 saw the release of iOS 9.0.2, Apple’s latest update to its mobile operating system.  Released a week after iOS 9.0.1, this latest update comes just two weeks after the initial release of iOS 9.

IOS 9.0.2 is another minor update – a bug fix, really – and also addresses other performance enhancements.  The following were called out in the release notes for this update:

  • Fixes a screen lock vulnerability that allowed Siri to be used to bypass the lock screen to access photos and contacts on a locked device
  • Fixes an issue with the setting to turn on or off app cellular data usage
  • Resolves an issue that prevented iMessage activation for some users
  • Resolves an issue where an iCloud backup could be interrupted after starting a manual backup
  • Fixes an issue where the screen could incorrectly rotate when receiving notifications
  • Improves the stability of Podcasts

IOS 9 focuses on productivity and performance, with some major updates to both Siri and Spotlight.  Notable among its new productivity enhancing features is a split-screen multi-tasking view that allows more modern devices, like the iPad Pro, to share and pass information back and forth between apps (like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other productivity apps)  iOS 9.1, also due later this year, and anticipated during the month of November with the general availability release of the iPad Pro, is meant to focus on productivity for the new enterprise capable tablet and the AppleTV.

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