Apple Swaps Yosemite’s discoveryd for Mavericks’ mDNSResponder DNS Service

Lately, the Mac nerd community has really become fed up with the networking shenanigans around the new Domain Name Service (DNS) networking protocol, discoveryd.

discoveryd, plays a part in how your Mac can find other devices, like Apple TVs and Apple AirPort networking gear, on your home network, other Wi-Fi networks you might connect to and Internet websites among other things.  As to the trouble discoveryd has been causing, well, you should read Craig Hockenberry’s blog post on it [strong language warning].  He’s far more knowledgeable about what goes on inside your Mac than I am.

Some of you may know that I’m a member of the OS X Public Beta program (and for iOS also).  In the most recent OS X 10.10.4 developer and public beta (build 14E26a) Apple replaced the discoveryd DNS service with the mDNSResponder DNS service that was used in OS X Mavericks and earlier.

Here’s a screen shot of my MacBook Pro running the previous beta build of OS 10.10.4:

As you can see, the discoveryd service is alive and talking to my home network.

After I installed OS X 10.10.4 Public Beta build 14E26a, you can see that mDNSResponder is back on the beat making sure OS X networking is obeying all the posted traffic signs.

Just for good measure, after installing the latest beta build, and as discussed in Hockenberry’s blog post, I powered down both of my third generation Apple TVs and my Apple AirPort Extreme and Express, rebooted my cable modem, and then, one-by-one, turned everything back on in the following order:

Cable Modem, Apple AirPort Extreme, Apple AirPort Express, MacBook Pro, Apple TV 1 and then Apple TV 2.

Since then, I’ve seen a marked improvement in my home network’s performance.  Hopefully, mDNSResponder will be sticking around on OS X for a while and makes it into the official general release version of OS X soon.

Flexibits Launches Fantastical 2 for Mac

The calendar mavens over at Flexibits have released a major update to their popular calendaring app, Fantastical 2 for Mac!
A short video of Fantastical 2 for Mac in action is available on the Flexibits website.

Designed exclusively for OS X Yosemite, Fantastical 2 for Mac includes features such as a full calendar window (with day, week, month, and year views), an intuitive parsing engine, iCloud reminders support, light theme, time zone support, birthday reminders, and much more.

Fantastical 2 has a beautiful all-new design and includes many OS X Yosemite features, including a Today Widget, Action & Share Extensions, plus Handoff support to provide continuity between Fantastical 2 for Mac, Fantastical 2 for iPhone, and Fantastical 2 for iPad.

Fantastical 2 for Mac’s natural language parsing engine has been updated to be even more friendly and flexible. The parsing engine now understands expressive repeating events such as third Thursday of every month, every weekend, last weekday of the month, and more. Plus, users can now add alerts by ending their natural language input with phrases such as “remind me tomorrow at 3PM”, “alert 1 hour before”, or “alarm 3PM.”

“When Fantastical came out 4 years ago, our goal was to reinvent the calendar app to ease the frustrations of using calendars,” said Michael Simmons, CEO & President of Flexibits. “With Fantastical 2, we challenged ourselves to reinvent Fantastical itself.”

I think for me, the perfect integration with Mac OS X Yosemite with the ability to use OS X Dictation, Today view, and Handoff to/from my iPhone and iPad together with Flexibits natural language parsing engine are the killer features that make this upgrade well worth the purchase price.
In addition to the super functional Mac toolbar mini window, Flexibits has included a new very handsome looking Today widget.  But the big new visual enhancement for Fantastical for Mac is the new full calendar view.
Fantastical 2 is available now directly from the Mac App Store for $39.99.  As the name implies, this is a completely new version of Fantastical, which means if you have already purchased Fanastical 1 for Mac, you will need to purchase it again.  The enhancements found in Fantastical 2 for Mac are really well worth it.  Plus, you are helping out some great indie Mac developers in the process.

Photos App Rolls Out in Yosemite 10.10.3 Public Beta Seed

Yesterday, Apple released the Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 public beta.  The 10.10.3 public beta also includes the new Apple Photos app for OS X.

If you are currently enrolled in the public beta seed, you will see the new update appear in your Updates tab.

One word of warning: Photos, just like OS X 10.10.3, is pre-release beta software.  That means that there are going to be bugs and you should not install either of these updates on your main, production, Mac that you use daily.  To be a beta tester, you must be prepared to delete everything, applications and data (including family photos).

My recommendation is that you make multiple backups before you install OS X 10.10.3 and Photos on your Mac.  Time Machine, BackBlaze or event a Finder data copy to an external USB hard disk drive or flash drive is a good idea.

The complete list of updates to OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 updates are as follows:

Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 public beta seed can be installed on any Mac that is currently running OS X Yosemite.

Apple Releases Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 Update

Earlier this week, Apple slipped out the latest security and enhancement update for OS X Yosemite.

OS X 10.10.2 includes the following enhancements and fixes:
General content
Resolves an issue that might cause Wi-Fi to disconnect
Resolves an issue that might cause web pages to load slowly
Fixes an issue that could cause Spotlight to load remote email content when this preference is disabled in Mail
Improves audio and video sync when using Bluetooth headphones
Adds the ability to browse iCloud Drive in Time Machine
Improves VoiceOver speech performance
Resolves an issue that could cause VoiceOver to echo characters when entering text on a web page
Addresses an issue that could cause the input method to switch languages unexpectedly
Improves stability and security in Safari
For enterprise customers
Improves performance for browsing DFS shares in the Finder
Fixes an issue where certain Calendar invitations could be displayed at the incorrect time
Fixes an issue for Microsoft Exchange accounts where the organizer of a meeting might not be notified when someone accepts an invitation using Calendar
Addresses an issue where Safari could continually prompt for credentials when accessing a site protected by NTLM authentication
Adds the ability to set “Out of Office” reply dates for Microsoft Exchange accounts in Mail
Security Content
For detailed information about the security content of this update, see Apple security updates.
I’ve been testing a prerelease version of this update for about two weeks now and it is looking pretty good.  The Wi-Fi disconnects had been driving me a little more nuts than usual which was masking the slow web page load issue.  (Huh, why aren’t these pages loading faster?  I’ve rebooted all my networking gear…eye roll.)
This update is available now from the Updates tab in the Mac App Store app.  
It’s always a good idea to plug in your MacBook and backup your Mac before installing any new software like OS upgrades and patches with Apple’s Time Machine or with a third-party solution like the fantastic BackBlaze service.

Apple Publishes OS X “Critical” Security Update

Earlier today, Apple published a “critical” OS X security update that closes a potential vulnerability in the Network Time Protocol service.

As is typical of Apple and other software vendors, the specifics of the vulnerability are not mentioned in the App Store Updates tab.  At the time we saw the update appear on our Macs, the Apple Security Updates web page had not yet been updated with the patch details.

The Network Time Protocol patch weighs in at 1.4MB and is available now via the OS X Yosemite App Store Updates tab.

Apple Releases Yosemite Public Beta 2, iTunes 12 Beta, and iWork Updates

This past Thursday was pretty busy for Apple.  Continuing toward the presumed late October launch of Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite, the Fruit company released the second public beta of Yosemite alongside a new iTunes 12 beta.

Yosemite Public Beta 2 and iTunes 12 Beta

The Yosemite and iTunes betas brings the changes that have recently been released to Apple’s registered (and paying) application developers to the free public test drive of the next version of Mac OS.  The software, as is all other Apple software at this point, is shipped as a software update from the Mac App Store.  The installation process took about 30 minutes on my mid-2009 MacBook Pro.  The new version of iTunes was a relatively quick install.

Taking a quick look around after installing Yosemite, there didn’t appear to be all that much changed from Public Beta 1.  Many of the changes at this point will be internal meaning that applications have most, if not all of their features and are going to become more stable.  I did notice that my external USB hard disk had a new flattened icon that I like better than the original orange icon.

The iTunes 12 beta has a new, cleaner look to it.  I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I like the older interface with the sidebar or the new interface.  Knowing myself, I think it’s just a reaction to having to learn where things are or a new way of doing them.  I’m pretty sure I’m just being a cranky old man about the UI enhancements in iTunes.

iWork App Updates

In addition to the new beta software, Apple also rolled out new versions of their iWork applications for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad.  I didn’t notice any outward appearance changes to Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.  According to the update description, Apple only stated that the new apps “contain stability improvements and bug fixes.”

Head over to the Mac App Store and the iOS App Store to download and install the free updates now.

Still Time To Join the OS X Yosemite Public Beta

If you are an Apple fan and have always wanted to try the latest, but maybe not exactly done, software – now’s your chance!

After 14 long years, Apple has launched a public beta for the next version of the Mac OS, OS X 10.10 Yosemite.  As the word ‘beta’ implies, this software is still very much under development and next exactly ready for prime time.  But if you have a second Mac, or know how to dual-boot your Mac to another partition, then this your chance to jump in the pool and test things out.  If you find something that’s not working or has a rough edge, you can report it to Apple.

This is not for the faint of heart or the first time Mac user.  If you want to learn more about what’s involved with being a beta tester, you should read yesterday’s SPF post first.

Apple’s accepting the first one million Mac owner requests to join the program.

Still interested?  Head over to the Yosemite beta sign up page to get started.

Sage Advice From ComputerWold About Running the Yosemite Beta

Mac OS X 10.0 Beta disc via ComputerWorld

 ComputerWorld, this morning, published some tips for Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite beta testers.  You should keep these tips in mind, especially since if you are a first time beta tester.

“First and foremost, keep in mind that this isn’t the official release of the software; Apple is still testing and tweaking Yosemite. That means it may not function as expected. Some features may be completely absent or could differ from what Apple showed off during its WWDC keynote in June — and some features may look very different in the final release.”

Head over to ComputerWorld to read the full article.

[Via ComputerWorld.com…]

Looking Forward To My Trip to Yosemite

Earlier this month at Apple’s WWDC developer’s conference, Craig Federighi, introduced us to the future of the Mac OS – OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

Yosemite User Interface

With Yosemite, the Mac user interface remains familiar to long time Mac users and yet, have a clean new look.  Long time and new Mac users will be able to walk up to the Mac and begin using it very quickly.  OS X Mavericks was a nice upgrade from Mountain Lion, but the user interface across all of Apple’s stock apps and icons looked disjointed.  Some icons didn’t change at all, such as Contacts, and then new apps, like iBooks, used the design language from iOS 7, and used the round orange ball with a white book.  Similarly, apps like the aforementioned Contacts and Reminders apps just looked or functioned terribly.

With Yosemite, Apple goes back under the direction of Jony Ive, and created a new cleaner, flatter, less cluttered design language for Mac OS X (1) and I think it looks really fantastic!

Simulated Yosemite screen running on a MacBook Air

Yosemite screen capture from the Apple WWDC ’14 presentation

As you can see from the above images, take from the Apple website, Mac OS X still looks like Mac OS.  All of the interface elements look like they belong together as a whole.  The dock icons take on three clean shapes: round, square, and rectangles.  (They are suggestions, however, developers can use their own icon design, so for example, Office 2011 3D stylized icons are OK in Yosemite.)

And, for the first time in a long time, Apple will be including a sort of theme for OS X.  You can chose from the standard “light” theme which looks much like the stock Mountain Lion and Mavericks theme with it’s translucent or solid white menu bar or the new dark theme which uses a darker menu bar styling.

Softpedia screen captures of Yosemite’s dark mode

I’m really excited to get my hands on the first public beta later this year and install it on my Mac. (2)

Supported Macs

For Yosemite, Apple has elected to keep the current list of compatible Macintosh hardware as it’s predecessor, Mavericks.  Essentially, any Macintosh that has a release date of “Mid 2007” or later will be able to run Yosemite.  Well.  That’s a pretty generous range of hardware and means that my five year old 17-inch MacBook Pro will still be supported and will be able to run Apple’s latest Mac operating system.

Now there will be a catch, as with everything in life.  Not all of Yosemite’s features will be available on every Mac released since mid-2007.  For example, my MacBook Pro won’t support the new Handoff feature in Yosemite.  That’s because my Mac lacks the Bluetooth LE 4.0 hardware.  That may chance by the time Yosemite is released this fall, but you get the idea.  The take away here is that if you want all of the bells and whistles, you had better be running on the current or previous generation of hardware.

At some point, I’ll need to upgrade to a new MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, but for now, there’s no need since my Pro’s hardware is still in great shape.  The question is, will there be a cool feature in Yosemite that requires a hardware upgrade that will push me to buy a new Mac this year?  The answer is probably not, but when the next MacBook Pro or MacBook Air hardware refresh comes around, it will be time to upgrade. (3)

Upgrade Path

Most customers will be installing Yosemite directly over the top of Mavericks or Mountain Lion.  The software will be delivered over the Internet to your Mac via the Mac App Store.  Just download the update installer (which, can take a long while) and you’re off to the races.

For this upgrade though, I’m thinking about doing a clean install of Mac OS X.  Since getting my MacBook Pro, every OS upgrade has been an “over the top” upgrade.  This time around, I want to do some house cleaning, so I’ll be making a backup of my Macintosh HD with Carbon Copy Cloner, and then creating a bootable DVD of the Mac OS X Yosemite installer (a USB flash drive also works), and then erasing my disk and installing Yosemite “cleanly”.

It will be a little bit of extra work, but I think my Mac will run a little bit faster after clearing out the years of left over garbage that can build up over time.

Conclusion

Over all, Yosemite looks like it will be a great upgrade for both customers and OS X software developers alike.  Apple has made a lot of under the hood changes that will benefit everyone.  Customers running on the newest Apple hardware should see all of the new features, while older Macs will enjoy most of the new features, but maybe not all of them.  (Handoff and AirDrop, at the time of this writing, are still not confirmed to work on all the Macs that Yosemite can be installed on.)

For more information on Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite, check out the Apple OS X Yosemite preview website.


Footnotes

(1) Yes, I keep calling “OS X” by it’s old name, “Mac OS X”.  Some old habits die hard and this is no exception for me.  I really don’t care that Apple is trying to make Mac OS X sound more like iOS by dropping “Mac” or “Macintosh” from their desktop operating system’s name.  I’m a Mac guy, the computer is a Macintosh, and so it’s still Mac OS X for me.

(2) OS X Yosemite is still in prerelease software development cycle know as “beta”, which means it’s up and running, but still has lots and lots of bugs in it.  You’re not going to install buggy beta software on your Mac’s primary partition as your everyday OS are you?  I’m not.

(3) I just really, really don’t want to give up the 17-inch display, even if newer Retain MacBook displays have a higher resolution.