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Apple Plans Pre-Holiday Revamp for iPad, iPhone, Software

Published on August 13, 2013 by in Apple, iPad, iPhone, Mac

Apple to do a pre-holiday revamp

September iPhone Unveiling is Precursor for Holiday Plans

Much excitement surrounds the September introduction of the new iPhone 5S, but Apple has larger plans in store for holiday shoppers.  Apple is also purportedly planning to release revamped versions of the iPad and iPad mini prior to the holiday shopping season.

The new iPad will be thinner and sport a bezel that is not as wide as in previous models.  Its 9.7 inch screen will be encased in a body that is more like that of the current iPad mini; the new design is the first change in over a year.  March 2012 saw the last major change in iPad design when a high-resolution screen was introduced in the new iPad shape.  The company is also expected to introduce a new version of the iPad mini that will feature a high-definition screen.

Apple’s New Versions Aim to Capture Huge Market Share

These new product versions are expected to entice holiday shoppers who have not purchased new Apple products due to the lack of choices available.  With almost 70% of Apple’s last-quarter sales accounted for by iPad and iPhone sales, the release of new versions of these products is expected to help the company recapture some of its stock growth and market share.  These releases are designed and timed to boost stock prices that have slumped for Apple recently due to a lack of new products and slow profit growth.

Software Updates Also Expected

In June, Apple laid out plans to provide software updates and introduce iOS 7.  New iPhones and iPads will be equipped with the new mobile operating system.  iOS 7 includes changes to several basic functions like e-mail and calendar apps, as well as offering new color schemes and icons.

All Eyes on Apple

Analysts have predicted that Apple will garner huge profits during the 2013 holiday shopping season.  Many other companies are not even going to try to compete with them, instead opting to change the release dates of their own products in order to avoid being in Apple’s (admittedly huge) shadow.  All eyes will be on Apple for these new releases.  After the new products hit the market just in time for the holiday season, the company is expecting a boom in their sales numbers that will last approximately six months.


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The Mayan Apocalypse, be sure your data survives – or at least catastrophic hardware failure

I learned many things in the time I spent supporting Macs professionally; one of the most important was about how to protect (often irreplaceable) data.  I also learned that there are two kinds of people in this world: those who’ve already lost data, and those who haven’t lost data yet.  So today, in honor of the Mayan Apocalypse (which could still totally happen, we don’t know!) we’re going to take a look at some of the best ways to back up all of your important stuff.  Every good data backup/recovery plan should include both local and off-site storage; you never know when fire, flood or zombie horde is going to destroy either end of that chain.

The first, most basic backup option is an app that’s totally free and baked right into Mac OS X – Time Machine. This is Apple’s own backup utility, and it’s been included in every OS X release since Leopard (10.5).  Time Machine’s initial backup is essentially a snapshot of your internal hard drive at that given moment, with the exception of anything you’ve told it to ignore as well as the Time Machine volume itself, and ideally saved to an external hard drive.  Once this snapshot is completed, then Time Machine continues to make incremental backups of any changes to data on the drive it’s backing up.  This happens hourly; then the hourlies get compressed into dailies, dailies into weeklies, weeklies into monthlies and so on, until you run out of space on the external drive.  The very best thing, hands-down, about Time Machine is that it’s Apple software and as such is fully supported by AppleCare technicians.  This means that when (notice I didn’t say “if”) you experience Mayan Apocalypse-level data loss, your friendly neighborhood Apple techs can walk you through restoring from your Time Machine backup.

Apple also has one more backup method available, as part of its iCloud service. It requires Lion (10.7) or Mountain Lion (10.8), as well as iOS 5 or later for iPhone 3GS and up, 3rd-gen iPod touch and up, and iPad. It’s a little more a la carte, in the sense that it doesn’t start with the snapshot of your whole hard drive that Time Machine does.  According to Apple’s support article about purchasing more iCloud storage, “iCloud customers are provided with 5 GB of free cloud storage. Purchased music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books, as well as photos in your Photo Stream don’t count against your 5 GB of free storage.”  This is really important information to have, especially when you consider that most of the money people spend with Apple is in the form of media content that Apple won’t replace if you lose it. (“Some iTunes Products, including but not limited to Content rentals, may be downloaded only once and cannot be replaced if lost for any reason. It is your responsibility not to lose, destroy, or damage iTunes Products once downloaded, and you may wish to back them up.”) Potential iCloud customers should also note that its storage tops out at a measly extra 50GB of space for $100/year, which you have to keep paying if you want to retain access to stuff you’ve put in Apple’s cloud.

Other companies offer backup services for Mac users, and lots of them are in the cloud.  We’ve all gone digital these days, it seems, and hard copies of anything just seem kind of passé.  One you can’t avoid hearing about if you listen to any kind of commercial radio is Carbonite.  The company offers unlimited, encrypted online backup of a single Mac for $59/year.  However, if you’re looking to back up more than one Mac in your home, you’ll be looking at spending a minimum of $229/year for a business package.

One company that seems to combine the best of both cloud storage and easy-peasy Time Machine usage is DollyDrive. You’re literally able to purchase space from the company that then functions as a virtual external hard drive that you can point Time Machine at, set it like a Crock Pot and just forget it.  And that 50GB top end for iCloud?  That’s the entry level with DollyDrive, and even paying them month-to-month will only set you back $60 over the course of a year for it.  Their prices drop pretty respectably when you start paying for multiple months in advance.  You can also back up multiple Macs at no extra charge (just make sure you pick a plan with enough room) and for $100 they’ll even ship you a specially-prepared physical hard drive so that you can get your data safe in the cloud before the apocalypse happens.  I mean, come on, what’s not to love about a company that uses the Mayan Apocalypse (or lack thereof) as a selling point for its services?

Last but certainly not least, understand that there is a difference between backups and archives.  An archive is a static collection of data that isn’t going to change anymore, and needs to be able to last for a long time.  A backup is a collection of data that is subject to change, such as pictures being added to a camera roll, emails from your creepy ex being deleted, or spandy-new Justin Bieber songs being added to your iTunes library.  So even if you have a backup you trust, it’s also a good idea to have an off-site archive of your most important information, so that you don’t lose it and so that it can be easily accessed for a long time to come. I found an excellent ZDNet article about how to archive data for the long haul; it’s definitely worth a read.  The long and short of it is that your (often-irrepleaceable) data is valuable but storage is cheap, so buy lots and keep it in a safe place away from your home.  CDs and DVDs in a bank safe deposit box are a good start.  Make sure to choose open source formats wherever possible.  For documents, good-quality hard copies are also a good backup to your backup.

If you employ even some of the suggestions listed here, your data should safe from just about anything except the Mayan Apocalypse.

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App review – Mactracker



Mactracker (free)

Seller – Ian Page

Rated 4+

Version(s) reviewed: 2.2 (mobile); 7.0.1 (desktop)

Requirements:  iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad; iOS 5.0 or later (mobile); OS X 10.7 or later (desktop via Mac App Store); OS X 10.6.8 or later (desktop via direct download from http://www.mactracker.ca)

I used to support Apple products for a living; I’m also a bit of an obsessive completist when it comes to Apple history. As such, I wanted and needed a complete, accurate list of Apple’s hardware and software. Mactracker provides just that sort of list with a fast, intuitive, truly exhaustive enumeration of every Macintosh ever made.  It begins with the 128k Mac and ends with Apple’s present product lineup.

For both the mobile and desktop versions, Ian has laid the information out in several broad classifications, including Desktops, Notebooks, Devices and Software.  Inside those classifications are finer details. For instance, Devices includes Apple TV, Displays, Printers and the Newton, amongst many others.

Tap a category on the mobile app for a list of all the products in that category — as well as beautifully-done icons for each. Tap on an individual product to see a spec sheet that includes details about hardware, software, release dates, support status and just about any other important bit of trivia you might ever need to know about, say, Great-aunt Myrtle’s Bondi Blue iMac.  The same information is present in the desktop, but the interaction is (of course) more point-and-click.  It’s also possible to have spec sheets open for multiple products in the desktop app, and each has its own window.  The mobile app is optimized for iPad, so the tablet layout looks more like the desktop app.

All this information is fascinating and valuable, but ultimately available online for free from all the same resources that Ian has used.  The thing that would have persuaded me to pay actual money for this app — beyond its sheer usefulness — is the fact that the hardware spec sheets include the startup chime for each and every product that had one.  Making a grown-up fangirl remember how she took her first sip of the Kool-Aid is a happy thing indeed.

This app is a godsend for anyone who supports (especially older) Macs or their owners, either professionally or on a “my niece is the Mac expert in the family” basis.

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Why People Love to Hate, Love to Love, and Hate to Love Apple

Published on October 7, 2012 by in Apple, Commentary, Culture

Apple, as it turns out, has become all things to everyone. It is the most reviled company on the planet — daring to control its users by encompassing them in a suffocating walled garden, maliciously squashing its competition through litigation, and embodying the total of the worst of morality in its treatment of its Asian workforce. Apple, for many, is the worst. Those people love to hate Apple.

Of course, Apple is also a company that has navigated itself through the years with a greater vision for the world of technology, and often times humanity in general, always striving to provide its customers with an experience that transcends pushing buttons, connecting to networks, and downloading data, creating a lineup of devices and services that truly make our lives better. Apple, for many, is the best. Those people love to love Apple.

And then there is something else. Something that not many companies, or people, can say they inspire. It’s not a Venn diagram situation — the two above types of people do not overlap to create this person. Rather, it is an entirely separate existence. It is not just the technologically savvy, the long-time lovers of all things digital, the nerdiest of the nerds but also the old-time way-doers, the original solution-makers, the way-it-was-ers, and the on-the-fencers. Apple, for them, is a great burden. Those people hate to love Apple.

They hate to love Apple because it means that the way they wish it was, the way they hoped it would be, is not the way it is. To these people Apple represents something bigger than a Maps app that can’t find a few addresses or a dock connector that is proprietary. To these people, Apple is a signal that what they do, and how they do it, is fading away.

The nerds worry because in their perfect world, everyone is a programmer. There is no user interface. There is no iOS. No Siri. Just some code. And users manipulate that code. Users are in control. Not Apple. But now, to these people, Apple is in complete control. And that’s not fair, or smart, or whatever negative connotation they associate with it.

Then, you have the people whose jobs have been affected by technology from Apple. Newspapermen are almost gone. The record label industry is becoming less and less relevant. Any job that was once paper-centric seems to have a looming threat of digitalization hanging over its head, in large part due to Apple’s devices.

We no longer need a magazine in our mailbox — we have 50 magazines on our iPad. Magazine production facilities close. We no longer need to go to a Best Buy or a Sam Goody to buy the latest CD — we download it directly from the iTunes Store to our iPhone or iPod touch. Best Buy stores and Sam Goody stores close.

The nerds love that Apple has all these amazing capabilities in its devices and yet hate that they can’t do what they want with those advancements. They hate to love Apple. The fading industry people love playing Angry Birds, doing FaceTime with their loved ones, and putting grungy filters on their Instagram photos, and yet their jobs are being replaced by 1’s and 0’s. They hate to love Apple.

The undecideds of the world see the controversies on blogs and the evening news, they hear the rhetoric from the love to haters and the love to lovers and have no idea what to think. They see that Apple looks easy, but think the price is too much. They like the idea of being able to do whatever they want, but hate the idea of having to constantly tinker with their device. They hate to love Apple.

And you know what the brilliant thing is? Apple knows these three types of people better than anyone. And who do you think Apple gears all its efforts toward? That’s right, the people that hate to love them.

In general, you can’t do much about the people that love to hate you. They will have their reasons, many of which are irrational, and almost always, they will refuse to have a civil conversation or debate about the sides of the argument. These people will not change their minds.

Similarly, the people that love to love you will not change their minds. If your Maps app isn’t up to snuff, they’ll be critical perhaps, but understanding. They will buy your iPhone 5 and report as many problems as they encounter, knowing full well that those issues will be fixed, and in the grand scheme of things, the effort is worth it. They will defend you on tech blog comment areas and wait in line for the next big product.

But the people that hate to love you? They are the ones that will hear you out. They don’t like some things, and love others. They will buy an iPhone but sing the praises of a PC (while secretly eyeing the MacBook Air every time they walk past an Apple Store). They will sing the praises of openness, citing Android and Linux, while simultaneously wishing video chat worked as easily for them as it does for iPhone users.

Apple is changing the minds of hate to lovers every day. That’s why Apple is successful. Other technology and consumer electronics companies have no clue, and consequently, focus on the other two groups of people, missing opportunities left and right.

I would submit here that no one in modern history has understood the needs of hate to lovers better than Steve Jobs. And not just from a marketing sense, though he was incredible at that, but from a strategic vision sense. He understood what his company needed to be for the hate to lovers, had an uncanny ability to ignore or deal with the love to haters, and was always able grow the love to lovers. He was able to disseminate a great portion of that ability throughout Apple’s corporate culture which is undoubtedly one of his greatest legacies. And for it, Apple will continue to dominate.

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Refurbished iPads are Great Deals for Consumers

I have been looking for a used iPad for my kids to share (and to stop the fighting for mine).  I looked on the typical sites like Craigslist and was shocked to see how much money some people are asking for a used iPad 2 or the new iPad.  Talk about a product that retains its value!

Beyond the cost of the device, though, there are a few other issues to think about when considering an iPad purchase from a non-retail environment like Craigslist:

  1. There is no way of knowing if there something wrong with the iPad beforehand.
  2. The owner could have the iPad as a result of theft.
  3. The person could be planning on taking your money without giving you the product, maybe even by force.
  4. The iPad could be a fake.

The above concerns inspired me to check other options. Apple has a section of its online store where users can look at refurbished iPads, which come with a full 1-year warranty from Apple. This started to look interesting considering the cost was very similar to what the people on Craigslist were asking for their used iPads.

I found out that the Apple refurbished units are actually a very good deal, because they could actually be considered better than new. A new unit goes through an assembly line whereas a refurbished iPad will get the dedicated attention of a tech who will look over the whole unit and then fix whatever was wrong. They also install a brand new battery and a new outer shell.

Basically you get a new iPad, remanufactured by a real person, for less money than a new one in a retail store.

If you are looking for a used iPad or a less expensive one, take a look at a refurbished version. For a similar price to a used one that you find on Craigslist or nolongerneedit.com you get a practically new one with warranty.

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