• apple,  ipad,  iphone,  iwork,  keynote,  mac,  mac os x,  numbers,  pages,  yosemite

    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.

  • apple,  imac,  mac,  mac os x,  mac pro,  macbook air,  macbook pro,  yosemite

    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.

  • airmail,  exchange server,  mac,  mac os x,  outlook

    Bloop Airmail 1.3.2 Comes in for a Landing

    Indie Mac developer Bloop S.R.L. has released version 1.3.2 of their email client, Airmail.

    Airmail 1.3.2 packs quite a punch when you look at new features and enhancements.  In total, the new version of Airmail ships with 15 new features, 26 enhancements, and 7 bug fixes.

    Airmail, as you may have already guessed, is a well designed third-party email client for virtually every email service under the sun.  Airmail has built in support for popular services such as Microsoft Outlook.com (formerly known as Hotmail.com), Google Gmail, Yahoo! web mail, Apple iCloud, and IMAP and POP3 servers.

    Among the new features is a new Microsoft Exchange Server engine – critical if you use your Mac at work – and integration with Omni Group’s Ominifocus.

    On the improvements front, Bloop has enhanced features such as unified inbox, message rendering improvements, Exchange Server auto discovery, enhancements for Kerio email servers, calendar attachments, Evernote HTML support and more.

    As an email client, Airmail looks great!  The application window is broken up into three areas: Mail accounts and mailbox folder tree in the left pane, inbox message list in the center, and the message pane all the way on the right.

    In my brief time playing with Airmail today, I definitely liked what I saw and Airmail could slip in to replace Apple Mail as my default desktop email client.  I’m pretty picky with my email clients.  As it turns out, I prefer Microsoft Outlook for Windows the best and use Outlook 2011:Mac on my MacBook Pro.  The bar is set high, but it’s not impossible to change my mind.  With Microsoft Exchange Server support, if you don’t have Office installed and you need to connect to Microsoft’s email server, Airmail is a low cost alternative that has the essentials for your email needs.

    Airmail is available for purchase now from the Mac App Store for the reasonable price of $1.99.  Airmail requires Mac OS X 10.7 Lion or later.

  • apple,  mac,  mac os x,  microsoft,  office,  office365

    Microsoft Brings OneNote to OS X

    Earlier today, Microsoft released OneNote for Macintosh OS X 10.9 Mavericks.

    To use OneNote, you need a free Microsoft account.  If you have a OneDrive account, formerly known as SkyDrive, or a subscription to the company’s Office 365 Home Premium, you’re good to go.
    To install OneNote for Macintosh, you need to be running the aforementioned OS X Mavericks.  You also need 235MB of disk space.  OneDrive is compatible with OneNote 2010 and later for Windows, and the pre-existing OneNote and OneDrive for iOS devices.
    OneNote for OS X with OneNote 2013 in the Background
    I’m excited about OneNote coming to the Macintosh because I can see myself using it for personal digital notes.  (In the corporate environment I work in, there is virtually no one using OneNote for Windows.)
    I really hope that OneNote for OS X, with it’s features mirroring the Windows functionality, is a sign of things to come.  As someone who’s been using Office for Windows and Mac OS X over the last 20 years, it has been really frustrating to have two products that are only the same in name only.  Hopefully, we will finally see a Microsoft that lets Office be Office, and not an expensive Windows-only add on.
    According to Microsoft, OneNote is “free for a limited time,” however, there is no mention of when this offer will expire.  OneNote is available now from the Mac App Store.
  • mac,  mac os x,  mac os x server,  mavericks,  upgrade

    Apple Rolls Out OS X 10.9.2 Update, Includes SSL Fix

    Earlier today, Apple released the Mavericks OS X 10.9.2 update that closes the SSL security bug that was patched last week on iOS devices.

    FaceTime & iMessage Learn New Tricks
    With the release of Mac OS X 10.9.2 Mavericks, Apple has taught FaceTime how to make audio only calls and call waiting for video and the aforementioned audio calls.  With the 10.9.2 update, iMessages finally received a nice little update that allows you to block messages from individual senders.
    General Fixes and Enhancements
    In addition to fixing the “goto fail” that everyone has been worried about over the last few days, Apple also included a number of fixes and enhancements across the board.
    Ever since the release of Mavericks, many customers have been unhappy with the bugs in the OS X Mail application, specifically when used with a Gmail account.  Apple continues to make those corrections in this release with six fixes directly related to Mail.
    This release also brings fixes to networking features, including improved support for SMB2 shares, VPN connections, and OS X Server NetBoot services.
    Lastly, there was a website compatibility update for the AutoFill feature of Safari.
    Apple also gets a Smartphone Fanatics “Wait, what?!” award for including a fix for a Windows XP shared printer problem. Huh?  Windows XP is Microsoft’s 13-year old desktop operating system which they have been trying to desperately trying to kill of since the release of Windows 7.  (Microsoft released Windows XP on Aug 24. 2001.  The last day for extended support for Windows XP is scheduled for Apr 8, 2014.  Windows 7 was released on Oct 22, 2009.  We won’t event talk about Windows Vista.  Seriously.)
    You can read the full release notes for Mac OS X 10.9.2 Mavericks and the related security fixes release notes on the Apple support website.
    Mavericks 10.9.2 is a free update for anyone who is already running a previous edition of Mac OS X 10.9.  The update can be installed from the Mac App Store > Updates tab.  You will need to reboot your Mac as part of the upgrade process.  I recommend that MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro owners plug-in their notebooks before attempting the upgrade.
  • apple,  ios,  ipad,  ipad mini,  iphone,  ipod touch,  mac,  mac os x,  mac os x server,  macbook air,  macbook pro

    Apple Continues SSL Security Fixes, OS X Patch Coming “Soon”

    Apple is continuing their push to deploy patches for their iOS and OS X operating systems to plug a hole in the way their devices handle SSL security.

    Late on Friday evening, an update appeared on my third-generation Apple TVs presumably to address the same SSL patch.  After applying the update, both of Apple TVs now show as having OS version 6.0.2 (6646.81.1) installed.

    In a statement to the Reuters news agency yesterday, Apple indicated that there would also be an updated made available for desktop and laptop computers running Mac OS X software.

    “We are aware of this issue,” said Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller,  “and already have a software fix that will be released very soon.”

    The defect in the security software could allow unauthorized access to documents, email, and other personal information stored on iOS devices and Mac OS X computers.  The revelation that these publicly unscheduled software updates shows how serious the SSL software defect really is and how responsive Apple is to ensuring their customer’s safety.

    Apple’s second and third-generation Apple TVs run a version of the company’s iOS software.  As previously noted, Apple deployed over-the-air updates to iOS 7.0.6 to current model iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners, while iPhone 3GS and iPod touch fourth-generation owners received iOS 6.1.6.

    There also has been talk that these security vulnerabilities and/or weaknesses had be intentionally left in iOS and Mac OS X as a kind of “back door” for government agencies to use to snoop on American citizens.  I for one believe Apple CEO Tim Cook’s statements from earlier this year when he said that Apple has not worked with U.S. government to compromise the computer security of their customers.  I think the speed at which Apple has made these patches and rolled them out to customers confirms that.

    Apple’s latest security patch information can be found on the Apple support website.

    [Via Reuters.com…]

  • apple,  mac,  mac os x

    Apple Releases OS X 10.9.1 Mavericks Update

    Yesterday, Apple rolled out the first update for Mac OS X Mavericks.

    The 10.9.1 update, a 243MB download, should be welcomed as an early Christmas present for anyone who uses the build in Mail application with Gmail.  It was widely reported after the initial release of Mavericks that there were issues keeping email in sync between the client and the Google servers.  This update should address the Gmail issues.  (I don’t use the Apple Mail application, so I can’t really comment on the issues Gmail users were reporting.)

    In addition to the Mail update, Mavericks 10.9.1 also updates Safari to version 7.0.1.  The latest version of Safari fixes an issue where Safari could become unresponsive when filling out web forms and improves the credit card autofill feature’s compatibility with websites.  (I have been using the credit card autofill features this Christmas season and it’s been working well.)

    This latest Mavericks update will install on any Macintosh that is capable of running OS X 10.9, including some models going all the way back to 2007.

    A full list of changes, fixes, and enhancements can be found on the Apple website.

    If you haven’t already done, so, you can download and install the Mac OS X 10.9.1 update on your Macintosh by going to the App Store icon and clicking on the Updates tab.

  • apple,  mac,  mac mini,  mac os x,  macbook air,  macbook pro,  mavericks

    Apple Release Updates for Mavericks Mail, iBooks

    Yesterday, Apple released an update for their OS X 10.9 Mavericks Mail and iBooks applications.

    The update to the Mail application is a welcomed relief to customers who use the Mail appellation with Google’s Gmail email service.  With the introduction of OS X 10.9 Mavericks on Oct. 22, customers have been reporting a number of usability bugs with the Mail application.

    iBooks received a minor update to squash a few bugs an to improve stability.

    Both updates are available in the Mac OS X App Store’s updates section.

  • apple,  mac,  mac os x,  mavericks,  western digital

    WD Investigating Data Loss Issue with OS X 10.9: Mavericks

    Over the weekend, hard drive manufacture Western Digital, sent out an email advisory to some customers alerting them to a data loss problem according to ZDNet.

    Western Digital is “urgently investigating” customer reports “and examining a possible connection with its own software, notably the WD Drive Manager, WD Raid Manager and WD SmartWare software applications.”

    Western Digital customers using these applications on their Macs running Mavericks are urged to uninstall the suspect applications to mitigate the risk of data loss.

    Read the full story on ZDNet.com.