WWDC 2016 Part 1 – macOS Sierra

A lot came out of the WWDC Keynote…

Apple WWDC16

There was a great deal of information that came out of Apple’s software only keynote address to press and WWDC 2016 developer attendees.  In this article, I’m going to concentrate on macOS Sierra.

macOS Sierra concentrates on a few different things. The ones that really caught my eye include Continuity, iCloud and Mac Fundamentals.

Continuity blends the lines between your devices. Your entire computing experience with you logging into and unlocking your computer. macOS Sierra now allows you to auto unlock your Mac by simply opening up your Mac while wearing your Apple Watch.  Apple Watch users can simply open the lid of their Mac laptop while wearing their Watch, and the Mac auto unlocks. Proximity and time of flight networking technology insures that it really is YOU opening up your Mac laptop.

Apple is also implementing a universal clipboard that works between your Mac, and all of your iDevices.  When you find something on your phone that you might want to use on your Mac, you don’t have to email or text it to yourself.  Now, the data is in your clipboard, and all you have to do is paste it.  One of the things missing here – at least as of this writing because I haven’t had time to play with Sierra yet – is clipboard history: the ability to remember a set, number of items copied to your clipboard.  Sierra may support this, it may not.

iCloud Drive makes documents available across all of your connected Apple devices whether they be Macs or iDevices, it doesn’t matter.  With Sierra and iOS 10, you get not only all of your documents, but your desktop and its contents available too.

iCloud Drive also now includes a feature called Optimized Storage.  Modern computers – laptops especially – come with SSD’s.  Unfortunately, most of those SSD’s are smaller than the spinning disk hard drives that everyone is used to.  Macs come with 128GB, 256GB or 512GB SSD’s; and even with half a terabyte, your drive can fill up quickly. iCloud Drive will now intelligently make room for new files on your Mac by moving older files from your Mac to the cloud, allowing you to access them there, instead.  iCloud Drive now only REALLY keeps the data that you’re working on, locally on your Mac.

Apple Pay now works on the web through Continuity.  When you’re buying something online on your Mac, you can use your iPhone to pay for it through Apple Pay via Continuity.  All you need is your iPhone handy, and you should be good to go.

For Mac Fundamentals, Apple has taken a logical, straight forward approach.  For example, tabbed windows now appear on every app, Apple created and included with Sierra or third party app.  This change comes at the OS level and no additional third party developer support is needed.

Picture in Picture (PiP) support is now also included at the OS level.  That means you can be writing a really great Mac article (like this one…) while also watching a video in a POP window that will travel with you from Space to Space and will work with full screen apps as well.

Siri is also included as part of Mac Fundamentals. Siri has her usual sass, but includes the ability to ask the system complex queries that you can pin to Notification Center. From there you can even drag and drop them into a document.  The seamless integration of it with other new and existing Apple features make the complete package very compelling, if not ungodly expensive…  However, if you ARE all Apple all the time, AND you have a compatible Mac, then you’re really going to love what you can do with all of your Apple gear.

You can see demos on all of this (as well as the rest of the Apple WWDC Keynote) here.

Speaking of compatible Mac hardware, Apple has also released the Mac hardware compatibility list for macOS Sierra.  Those computers include the following:

2009 and later

  • MacBook
  • iMac

2010 and later

  • MacBook Air
  • MacBook Pro
  • Mac mini
  • Mac Pro

While this list seems pretty decent, there are some pretty obvious computers missing from this list.  In the pre-2010 list, it seems that only MacBooks and iMacs get Sierra love.  Missing from that list are ANY kind of MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, Mac minis and Mac Pros.

For me, this means that my wife will be eligible for the upgrade, but my son-in-law with his Late 2008 Aluminum Unibody MacBook, will be left out in the cold. All of the other Macs in the house – my daughter’s Late 2015 13″ MacBook Pro, my Late 2013 15″ MacBook Pro and Mid 2012 13″ MacBook Air – will all get updates.

As of this writing, I’m installing macOS Sierra Developer Beta 1 on the MBA.  I’ll do my best to put it through its paces and then have some kind of write up in the coming weeks.

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OS X 10.10 Yosemite – Continuity is Cool

…but it’s not for everyone.   There are one or two key points that Apple didn’t mention.

The Apple WWDC Keynote provided a great look at Apple’s two very important, upcoming operating system releases – OS X 10.10 Yosemite on the desktop and iOS 8 on their mobile devices.   There are a number of new features that are pretty cool on each, but one feature on the desktop stood out, at least to me, and I wanted to take a few moments to touch base on it.

OS X Yosemite-578-80

Continuity.

If you’ve got a (recent/ compatible) Mac and a (recent/ compatible) iDevice, then Apple is going to give you a cool way of working where you want, when you want on any and all of their devices, regardless of platform.   However, there are a couple of gotchas that Apple really didn’t expound upon during the Keynote.

First and foremost, this is a Mac OS only feature. If you use Windows, even Windows via Boot Camp, you won’t get any kind of Continuity support at all. Continuity is a Yosemite feature, and support for it comes from the Mac OS, and not from the iDevice you’re using. There are also some Mac specific (as well as iDevice specific), hardware requirements that you’ll need to make certain you’ve got covered before the feature will work.

Continuity requires BT-LE or Bluetooth Low Energy in order to work, which is part of the Bluetooth 4 specification.   Not every Bluetooth equipped Mac that can run Yosemite or iDevice running iOS 8 will have this hardware built in; and then not every Bluetooth 4.0 equipped Mac supports BT-LE.   Generally speaking if you have a 2011 or later Mac, and an iPhone 5 or later, you have a chance of getting Continuity to work.   Specifically, Apple is supporting Continuity on the following Macs:
·    MacBook Air (mid-2011 and above)
·    MacBook Pro (mid-2012 and above)
·    Retina MacBook Pro (mid-2012 and above)
·    iMac (late 2012 and above)
·    Mac mini (mid-2011 and above)
·    Mac Pro (2013 and above)
Conversely, as I mentioned, the iDevice you want to use Continuity with will also need to support BT-LE. You’ll find BT-LE compatible iDevice hardware in the iPhone 5 and later devices. You have to have both sides of the hardware equation in order to make the feature work.

Some sites are reporting that you MIGHT be able to get Continuity to work on other Macs running Yosemite if you use a Mac compatible Bluetooth 4.0 dongle that also supports BT-LE; but this is unproven and untested as of this writing. If you’re running Yosemite Beta on an older Mac, you can try it throughout the beta period, but don’t be surprised or disappointed if it doesn’t work.   Currently, it’s recommended to wait until a few months after Yosemite is released. At that point, there may be a hack available if Yosemite doesn’t support Continuity via a dongle out of the box.

Continuity is one of the better features of the new Mac OS. It allows you to work with whatever (supported) app you want on whatever document you want, on any (supported) device. Theoretically, you can start on one device, close it down, and pick up exactly where you left off on any other supported device. The whole sync piece is handled via iCloud.   All you had to do was save the changes before you shut the first device down. It’s really that easy.

There’s a GREAT deal here to like about Yosemite – and Continuity in particular.   Unfortunately, most legacy Macs won’t be able to take advantage of these, or other hardware specific features within the as yet to be released, new OS from Apple.   You’re going to need to have all the right components in order to make it all work together, but it’s nice that anyone with the right equipment or anyone buying new equipment in the ecosystem will be able to take advantage of it all.

Are you a Mac user?   Will you be able to make Continuity work on your legacy Mac? If you’re not a Mac user, is something like Continuity enough to push you over the edge and make you buy into the Apple ecosystem if you’re Mac curious; or is something like Continuity just fluff and frosting and not something that most people are likely to use in the real world? Is the Mac ecosystem just too expensive to buy into regardless of how appealing it might be? Do you think that Apple will actually be able to make Continuity work as designed and as intended with any kind of consistency, or are features like Continuity just pedantic marketing, techno-babble that will turn into vaporware?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this.   Why don’t you join me in the discussion in the Comments section and tell me what you think of all of this.

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It was the WWDC 2014 Day!

Yesterday was the day we find out what Tim got many of us for Christmas..!!

Stijn-WWDC-iPhone

…and I must say I’ve been a very good boy.

Most of the tech world – or at least anyone with any mild interest in what’s up and coming in terms of Apple technology and innovation –yesterday was sitting on pins and needles. The Apple WWDC keynote was set to begin at  10am  Pacific Time, and can be found here.
Most of us will also, likely get some of the new hardware goodies that were announced yesterday for our loved ones, or ourselves, as 2014 Holiday gifts later this calendar year. You may have to continue to behave until then, kids… Santa doesn’t give the good stuff to just anyone.

While I, unfortunately, wasn’t able to Live Blog the speech yesterday as I have for other pubs in the past, I will do my best to recap the results. I will also have first look-styled reviews of both OS X 10.10 and iOS 8.0 as soon as I can get installations of them up and running on my Mac and iPhone 5, respectively; but it will likely be a few days before I can get that to happen, as I’m certain everybody and their brother with any kind of an Apple Developer’s account will be downloading the software as soon as its available.

Stay tuned to Soft32, as I’m certain it’s going to get very exciting around here in the coming weeks.

If anyone has any questions or items you’d like me to give special attention to regarding either OS X 10.10 or iOS 8, please do me a favor and leave me a comment, below. I’ll make sure that I do my best to at least mention it in the review of each OS.

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Apple’s WWDC Starts Today

wwdc13-about-main_2xToday, the rubber meets the road as the wrapper is ripped off of iOS 7 and we see if it’s any more than just a coat of indoor, flat paint.

In mid-May, I pulled together a two part blog series on what I thought were must have changes for iOS 7. It involves much more than just a coat of paint.

Most everyone is saying that Jonny Ive hates skewmorphism, or the implementation of life-like design elements – textures, glitz, gloss, etc. – that makes software look and feel like the real-world elements they imitate. Those that have been watching the rumor mills churn prior to the start of WWDC today (on 10-Jun-13 at 10am PDT), have heard and seen a number of reports indicating that the new OS is much flatter and has what’s being called a “skinny jeans” look with an ultra-thin Helvetica font taking center stage as the default font for the OS.

Many others have said, and I also whole-heartedly agree, that if iOS 7 is nothing more than a new coat of flat, indoor house paint, then Apple is going to have trouble drawing new iConverts to their walled garden of devices.   iDevices are nice, but the user interface needs a refresh, with new and innovative updates that provide an updated sense of ease of use and innovative features.

You can read my iOS7 blog to find out what I think should be done to the OS at a minimum. I won’t repeat it here. Suffice it to say that the rumor mill hasn’t been churning out a lot of leaks or speculation. Everyone seems to be in wait and see mode. Expect a plethora of commentary from industry pundits in the days and weeks to come.

I will have an update tomorrow or Wednesday of this week on what Apple has decided to do with iOS 7. I will also have an in-depth tear-down of the updated mobile OS for Soft32 in the coming weeks. Please watch the site for it as well as a tear-down of  Windows 8.1 after its released by Microsoft at their technical conference at the end of June.

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