iOS 8 & iPhone 6? coming this fall

At WWDC (Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference) yesterday, Apple announced iOS 8, the next iteration of its mobile operating system for iPhones and iPad.  iOS 8’s public release this fall will likely be accompanied by the release of the 4.7″ model of the iPhone 6.  iOS 8 will be able to be installed on the iPhone 4s and newer devices — the iPhone 4 will not be allowed to install iOS 8, thus indicating that Apple is dropping support for devices older than the 4s.

Click here for macrumors’s nice round-up of the new features included iOS 8.

Tutorial: manually backup your iOS device to your computer via iTunes

It is a good idea to backup your iOS device frequently, especially before upgrading software. iCloud backups are great, but they require a steady internet connection, as well as requiring the device to be in a certain state. One can backup to iCloud manually by initiating a backup in Settings > iCloud > Storage and Backup, but the beauty of iCloud backups are that, in the best case senario, they happen automatically. As many clients have found out the hard way, In order for iCloud to backup automatically, your iOS device must be:

  1. plugged into a power source
  2. asleep (turned off, but NOT fully booted down, that is to say, do NOT “slide to power off”)
  3. connected to a Wi-Fi network

Even if you are consistently backing up to iCloud, I suggest that you backup to your computer periodically, especially before a software upgrade.

The following diagrams document how you can easily backup your iOS device to your computer via iTunes.

For those of you who view your iTunes library with the Sidebar left-side menu bar, it will look like this (or you can choose to Show Sidebar in the View menu to follow these directions):

Backing up your iOS device to your computer via iTunes

How to manually backup your iOS device to your computer via iTunes. Click on the image for a full-size (readable) image!

For those of you who do not view your iTunes library with a Sidebar visible, it will look like this (in two steps):

Manual backup no sidebar 1

Manual backup no sidebar 2

How to backup you iOS device to your computer manually with iTunes. Click on the images to view larger (readable) images!

As you can see from the diagrams, there are three steps:

  1. Choose your device either in the left side-bar or on the upper right corner if your sidebar is hidden.
  2. Once you have chosen your device, go to the Summary tab
  3. Choose “Back Up Now” in the Manually Back Up and Restore” settings area.

And, that’s all there is to it! Here’s a video tutorial in case the screen shots above aren’t clear:

 

New iPads, Macs, Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks

Apple had its media event at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco on Tuesday, Oct 22. Here’s a rundown of the new and noteworthy:

iPad Air: the new 5th generation full-sized iPad,

  • Offered in the new colors Space Grey or Silver
  • Slimmer, lighter, and faster than its predecessors, with the A7 64-bit chip
  • Expanded LTE support to cover more high-speed networks across the globe
  • 5MP iSight Camera, new FaceTime HD camera
  • Wi-Fi only: 16GB – $499; 32GB – $599; 64GB – $699; 128GB – $799
  • Wi-Fi + Cellular: 16GB – $629; 32GB – $729; 64GB – $829; 128GB – $929
  • new covers and cases

iPad mini with Retina display: in new colors Space Grey and Silver. We have finally got a great mid-sized 7.9″ tablet with Retina display!

  • Much faster with the A7 64-bit chip: up to 4x faster CPU and 8x faster graphics
  • Expanded LTE support to cover more high-speed networks across the globe
  • 5MP iSight Camera, new FaceTime HD camera
  • Wi-Fi only: 16GB – $399; 32GB – $499; 64GB – $599; 128GB – $699
  • Wi-Fi + Cellular: 16GB – $529; 32GB – $629; 64GB – $729; 128GB – $829
  • iPad Mini original, now reduced in price, $299 for 16GB Wi-Fi model
  • new  covers and cases

Mac OS X 10.9 “Maverics:” Looks like we don’t have an incredibly different system, but one with some new bells and whistles. NOTE: Watch out for compatibility issues — it’s a good idea to make sure all of your critical applications are Maverics-compatible before you upgrade. You don’t want to find out after the fact that your productivity is stunted because you upgraded before a business-critical application was ready. Here is Apple’s info page on Mavericks.

  • Mavericks is a free one-step upgrade to users of Snow Leopard, Lion or Mountain Lion (Mac OS X 10.6-10.8)
  • Machines capable of running Mavericks are:
    • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
    • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
    • Xserve (Early 2009)
    • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
    • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
    • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
    • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • Better battery life for all machines capable of receiving the update
  • Compressed memory, allows better use of memory to run more applications without having the system slow down
  • Graphics: better graphics memory allocation. Image processing improvements.
  • Safari sports new features: shared links, new reader view, website Notifications
  • Notifications: you can respond in the notification pop-up. Also, you can now sign up for website notifications as well.
  • Finder now supports tags to help organize and retrieve documents
  • Multiple displays improvements
  • Maps application now on Mac OS X
  • iBooks application now on Mac OS X
  • iLife updates (iPhoto, Garage Band, iMovie) for Mac OS X, free with new hardware
  • iWork updates (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) for Mac OS X, free with new hardware
  • iCloud keychain: keeping your passwords and credit card information secure and accessible across all your devices
  • Calendar app, now is location aware, has driving times listed from previous appointments, maps app integration, weather.

New MacBook Pro 13″ and 15″: The MacBook Pro line has been refreshed, with some significant new improvements.

  • Now slimmer, faster, lighter, and more powerful
  • New Intel CPUs and Iris Graphics gives up to 90% faster graphics engine and faster, smarter core processing power
  • Improved battery life, up to 8 hrs (15″ rMBP) and 9 hrs (13″ rMBP) of battery life in iTunes video playback
  • Flash memory is now much faster
  • Thunderbolt 2 connectivity is much faster
  • Wi-Fi is improved and much faster, supporting 802.11ac standard
  • 13″ rMBP reduced in price to start at $1,299: 2.4GHz dual core i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Iris graphics.
  • 15″ rMBP reduced in price to start at $1,999: 2.0 GHz quad core i7, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Iris Pro graphics.
  • The entry level machine does not come with a discrete graphics card, which is a step down from previous models. One shouldn’t be getting the entry level machine anyway — if you are paying this much for machine, you should get an appropriate amount of storage and RAM, and a faster processor with a discrete graphics card (I counsel my clients to purchase the maximum available storage and RAM because neither are upgradeable).
  • A well-appointed new 15″ rMBP might be: 2.3GHz quad core i7 with NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M discrete graphics card with 2GB GDDR5 memory, 1TB PCIe-based Flash Storage (SSD), and AppleCare: USD$3,099 plus tax.

MacPro: The new Pro Desktop has been completely revamped, as was announced last month:

  • New design: cylindrical tower, thermal core at the center
  • Faster cores, busses, graphics, and cooling systems.
  • All flash-based storage
  • Lots of ports: 6 Thunderbolt 2, 4 USB 3.0, 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 HDMI 1.4 UltraHD port
  • Lots more features
  • Starting at USD$2,999 plus tax

iWork and iLife updated for iOS, Mac OS X, and iCloud.

  • new iPhoto that allows you to create iBooks on the iPad
  • iMovie redesigned and more powerful, for iOS and Mac OS X
  • Garageband: 32 tracks creation now possible
  • colaboration is now possible in iWork documents via iWork for iCloud, no iCloud account required, and compatible with any browser
  • Pages, Keynote and Numbers redesigned and updated

You can watch the full keynote here. Contact us here for a purchasing consultation to determine what hardware will best suit your needs!

iPad & .doc file viewing and editing

A client upgraded to an iPad2 and wanted recommendations for the best iPad application for viewing and editing .doc/.docx files on her new tablet. Basic .doc/.docx viewing is built into the iOS system, but she needed more advanced editing capabilities, including the use of Track Changes. Advanced .doc/.docx editing is still in its nascent phase–the only way (to my knowledge, please comment if you know otherwise!) to edit MS Office documents on the iPad with Track Changes capabilities are via two cloud-based MS Office implementations. Here’s a rundown of the best MS Office suites for iPad, both local apps and cloud-based solutions:

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1.  CloudOn is a good cloud-based MS Office implementation that allows for Track Changes. It involves a cloud account and an iPad app. It’s a little cumbersome with the required file uploading, etc, and you need to be connected to internet (wifi or 3G). They are currently not accepting new account, but when they do, it will be a good solution if you need advanced editing capabilities. Sign up here to be put on the wait-list for a new account. And download the app from the Apple iTunes AppStore here. [Thanks to Josh Barrett at TabletLegal for the reference to CloudOn.]

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2.  OnLive Desktop. This could be the answer, though it’s also a little cumbersome, and you need to be connected to the internet (wifi or 3G). Download the app from the Apple iTunes AppStore here.
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3. DocumentsToGo Premium
DTGP allows you to view comments (and possibly view tracked changes as well? anyone?), but not create edits with Track Changes. It’s unclear how well it plays with DropBox. I believe you will be able to go to a document in DropBox and choose “Open In” and be able to import it into DocumentsToGo, but after you modify it and save it, it will then be housed in the DocumentsToGo file system, which you will then have to fiddle with either to sync to your desktop or to get back to DropBox. I haven’t been able to test this functionality yet. But, as it stands, DTGP is the best stand-alone non-cloud solution for viewing and editing MS Word documents on the iPad — viewing comments and footnotes included. Download here.
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2. QuickOffice Pro HD
QuickOffice Pro HD offers a more user-friendly interface than DTGP–docs are easier to navigate within, editing is more natural, external keyboard support is better, etc, but it doesn’t do well on the advanced editing. QuickOffice Pro HD cannot deal with Track Changes, and comments and footnotes are a question. This could be a deciding factor. Download here.
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3. Pages for iPad
Pages has one of the best interfaces of the group. This is not surprising, as it is Apple’s own word processor, and it’s iPad implementation is smooth and intuitive, as all native Apple apps are. It does NOT support Track Changes, and comments and footnotes from a .doc document are a question. About Track Changes support, users report that Pages for iPad accepts all changes in a document when you import that document into Page for iPad.  Pages documents can be synced with iCloud’s “Documents in the Cloud” sync service, so a document you edit on your iPad will also show up edited on your computer automatically. DropBox functionality is a question. Download here.
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4. None of The Above. This is perhaps the best option: use DropBox reader for basic viewing of .doc documents, and transition to .txt or .rtf or PDF document formats for iPad editing. Click on the app name for the download link.
For PDFs, consider: 
 4c. iBooks 
For text editing, try:
4d. PlainTextexcellent DropBox syncing, very simple and straightforward interface. Free with ads, which can be turned off for $1.99.
4e. SimpleNotenice collaboration features, still very simple and easy to use, no DropBox file storage, need to syncronize through the web. In-browser editor is good and there are many desktop applications that sync to SimpleNote. Free, with upgrade option.
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Please reply with comments about these apps and how they’ve worked for you!

CloudOn: “your iPad, Microsoft Office, Dropbox”

Here is an interesting article from TabletLegal.com about the web app CloudOn, a cloud-based MS Office suite for the iPad that supports Track Changes in MS Office documents, one of the great missing pieces in iOS:

“Starting today, new cloud service CloudOn brings Microsoft Office files to the iPad in their native formats with all the features and formatting you expect. The files and editing tools look and work the way you expect them too. Yes, you can even view and created tracked changes.”

Could be very useful! We’ll see how much it ends up costing — it’s free now, but who knows…

iPad vs. MacBook Air shootout

A friend of mine is in the process of deciding between an iPad and a MacBook Air. Here are my three cents on the matter!

One of her concerns was that she couldn’t work on documents on the iPad…

Although it is not the iPad’s forte, one will be able to manipulate documents in the iPad, it just won’t be as easy, or the same, as on a computer. You’ll have the ability to open, read, edit, and create new docs, but it will not be in the native word application you are used to on your computer. There will be a “good” mobile application to do it, you’ll be able to type, make comments, and create documents, but the keyboard will be touch-screen (unless you buy the external keyboard for the iPad!). The touchscreen keyboard will be a biger version of the iPhone’s keyboard. So, it will not be as functional as a word processing machine as a computer.

Let’s compare specs (note, “depth” on the iPad is to be contrasted with “height” on the Air):

iPad specs: $729 (wi-fi + 3G, 32GB — minimum reasonable specs, in my opinion), or $829 (wi-fi + 3G, 64GB)

Height:  9.56 inches (242.8 mm)

Width:  7.47 inches (189.7 mm)

Depth:  0.5 inch (13.4 mm)

Weight:  1.6 pounds (0.73 kg) Wi-Fi + 3G model

MacBook Air specs: $1,499 (1.86 GHz base model)

Height:  0.16-0.76 inch (0.4-1.94 cm)

Width:  12.8 inches (32.5 cm)

Depth:  8.94 inches (22.7 cm)

Weight:  3.0 pounds (1.36 kg)

Physical comparison: the MacBook Air is a bit bigger in form factor (11 x 9 inches) as compared to the iPad (7.5 x 9.5 inches), and the Air weighs in at roughly twice as much (3 lbs) as opposed to the iPad at 1.6 lbs.

Functionally, the two are quite different. The Air is a computer, the iPad something less than a computer. This is not to say that the Air trumps all — the iPad comes with connectivity that that Air does not. Out of the box, the iPad gives you Wifi and 3G connectivity (assuming you get the iPad 3G, which it would be silly not to), so you are connected on the road, when you’ll be using it most (probably). The Air requires either a Wifi connection, ethernet connection, or a USB broadband mobile connection (which will run roughly $60/month, plus taxes, and is yet another thing to deal with, subscribe to, set up, etc.) in order to connect to the internet, browse, check email, etc.

The Air is a real computer, with a real keyboard, and it can run the same applications you use every day on your other computer(s). The iPad runs applications similar to those on the iPhone—mini-applications, light applications—although it will have added word processing functionality that the iPhone does not (yet?) have. Apple is designing a new word-processing suite to be able to deal with documents of all types on the iPad. It is a serious question, however, how native they will feel, how seamlessly they will integrate/sync with desktop versions, and how easy the touch-screen keyboard will be to use. That said, the $69 iPad Keyboard (external, a “real” keyboard) will presumably alleviate the keyboard problems, except for the fact that you have another piece of equipment to carry with you.

So, it’s a weighing of functionality, price, size, and feel. I suggest that you get both in your hands at an Apple store before jumping on one, unless it’s absolutely clear which is right for you. If you like the connectivity, think you will use the iPad as an e-reader (to read the NYT?), and to do some emailing and document creation/editing on the road (but not all that that much), then the iPad is probably the one. If it’s road-warrior computing you’re planning on doing, typing a lot, then the Air is probably your best bet.

That’s my take for the moment! Until we get real world reviews from users who are using the word-processing functionality on the iPad, we won’t really know how feasible the iPad is as a mobile work horse for document-manipulation. I’m convinced it’ll be good enough for browsing, reading websites, reading books, and doing simple email (though long typing will be troublesome without the external add-on keyboard I bet, just as it is on the iPhone, but requiring larger pecking motions!).