Archive for Apple

Migrating My Wife To A 16″ M1 Pro MacBook Pro Was Mostly Painless

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 16, 2022 by itnerd

My wife has been thinking about getting a new MacBook Pro as she typically gets my “hand me downs” when I upgrade. Most recently she got my 2015 15″ MacBook Pro when I moved to the 16″ M1 Pro MacBook Pro that I have now. And other than the thing sometimes sounding like a jet engine at takeoff when she used it, she was fine with it. But two events changed that. The first was this:

That really scared her and got her thinking about a replacement. Which brings me to event number 2. Which is the supply shortage that Apple is facing at the moment. Though this has been documented in a variety of places, I’ll give you the key point. If you’re looking for Mac, and it isn’t in stock at your local Apple Store, you might be waiting months to get it. That really spooked her. So she did something that in 25 years of marriage I have never seen her do. She did a snap purchase of a 16″ MacBook Pro with the following specs:

  • 16GB of RAM
  • 1 TB of storage
  • 10 CPU core, 16 GPU core M1 Pro processor

This was in stock at the Apple Store Yorkdale in North Toronto. Her only other option was the M1 Max variant with 32GB of RAM. But she decided that it was overkill for her needs. Which was mainly Word, Excel, web surfing, and email.

That led to me having the job of transferring her data from the old MacBook Pro to the new one. My original plan was to use a Time Machine backup for that purpose seeing as we both use Time Machine to back up our respective Macs. But that’s where I ran into an issue. During the setup process the new Mac’s setup wizard refused to see the NAS box where the Time Machine backup was. I could type in the DNS name of the NAS, or the IP of the NAS and it would make no difference. I then noticed that in the dialog box that the setup wizard was having me type the address or name of the NAS was referencing “afp://”. AFP is Apple Filing Protocol which is their file sharing protocol. The thing is that AFP according to this Wikipedia article was deprecated in macOS Mavericks on the client side, and Big Sur on the server side. Thus even though I can’t find documentation on this from Apple, I wonder if the setup wizard can’t see a NAS that only supports SMB. If that’s the case, that’s pretty dumb as Apple has said that AFP isn’t a thing anymore and SMB 3.0 which is Microsoft’s file sharing protocol being the default going forward. Apple really needs to bring some clarity to this as people like me abandoned AFP when I got wind that Apple wasn’t supporting it going forward.

This forced me to find a “plan B” to get her data across. That turned out to be using the Migration Assistant to do a peer-to-peer connection over my wireless network to get the data across. Not exactly the fastest method as I knew it would take about 3 to 4 hours to do in her case, but I knew it would work. Especially since both Macs were on Monterey. Though the new Mac required an update to Monterey 12.3.1 before the process could begin. So it was about 30 minutes for that, and three hours to transfer the data. But it worked. And my wife was then able to set up things like turn on iCloud which allowed me to turn on “Find My Mac“, set up Touch ID as well as Unlock with Apple Watch, and most importantly make sure that everything worked and all the data came across. I also ran a program called Silicon to make sure that as many apps as possible were updated to take advantage of Apple Silicon. Most were, though there were some that weren’t because they were Intel only apps with no Apple Silicon versions available, and one where I had to manually upgrade which was Zoom. For the record, Zoom for whatever reason not only doesn’t have a “universal” app that works both on Intel and Apple Silicon, but they make the Apple Silicon version insanely hard to find. Here’s a link to it should you need it. Finally, I had to reactivate Microsoft Office as that deactivates when you use the Migration Assistant. But at the end of all this, my wife has a working M1 Pro MacBook Pro that works.

Now you don’t make a transition like this without having a fall back plan. In this case I have two of them. The first is that I have moved my wife’s original Time Machine Backup to someplace else on the NAS so I can use that in the worst case scenario. Beyond that, I have taken her old MacBook Pro, shut it down and put it in a corner so that she can fall back to it if she has to. I’ve used this method with my clients and I have not once had to revert back to the old machine. A few times however I have had to fire up the old machine to get something that was missed during the data migration. But that tends to happen on the Windows side of the fence as I have never had to do that on a Mac because the Migration Assistant tends to be pretty thorough.

We’re going to give it two weeks and if there are no issues, we’re going to erase that Mac and take it into the Apple Store for recycling. Given its age, we do expect that we’ll also get some money back from it in the form of an Apple Gift Card. That way we don’t have to deal with trying to sell this on Craigslist as the value of Intel Macs aren’t what they used to be because of Apple Silicon. Plus by giving it to Apple, we know that it will be recycled properly.

So that covers my experience of transferring my wife’s data from her old MacBook Pro to her new one. If you have any questions about how I did this, please leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer it ASAP.

My Apple Watch Band Collection – The 2022 Edition

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on May 13, 2022 by itnerd

It’s been a while, as in two years since I’ve done one of these articles about what bands I own and use with my Apple Watch. Thus I decided it was time to fix that. Pun intended. Let’s start with what I put my Apple Watch bands in which is the Twelve South TimePorter:

This has just enough space to hold all my Apple Watch bands that I currently rotate through. Though if I add anything more to the rotation, I will have to find an alternate solution. Anything that I am not currently using gets popped into a box in my den. The big plus to the TimePorter is that you can put an Apple Watch charger in it along with a slim battery pack to allow you to charge on the go. You can even fold it up to a 45 degree angle to use it as a display stand which is a great use case for a hotel room.

Urban Armor Gear Nato Strap for Apple Watch

I really like this band because it goes with the sort of business casual clothing that I wear But at the same time because it is made of high strength nylon and has hardware made of stainless steel, I can use it to work out with. For example in our last road trip to PEI in 2019, it was the only band that I wore as I could hike or cycle with it in the day, and go out to dinner with it at night. And it’s machine washable as well. It also fits my Road ID for Apple Watch which gives me a bit of extra safety when I ride my bike for example. Plus it is super comfortable.

The Watch Strap Company Mesh Loop

When I want a add a bit of style, this is one of the bands that I go to. This Mesh Loop (The Watch Strap Company’s term for the Milanese Loop) uses stainless steel that is very soft and comfortable to wear. And it is very premium feeling and durable. Which is a good thing as The Watch Strap Company gear isn’t exactly cheap. But it’s very much worth it as it really ups my Apple Watch Game when I wear suits or business causal clothing.

Urban Armor Gear Leather Watch Strap For Apple Watch

My wife got one of these leather watch straps from Urban Armor Gear and I was insanely jealous. That’s because it’s high quality Italian leather that feels super comfortable on your wrist and goes with pretty much any style of clothing. It’s also got stainless steel hardware that makes sure your Apple Watch stays on your wrist. That includes a snap that locks everything into place so that there’s no way the watch will come off your wrist. Thus I had to get one to not only up my Apple Watch game, but to also replace two leather bands that were not even close to the level of quality that the Urban Armor Gear band offers.

The Watch Strap Company Link Bracelet

Another band that is on my go to list when I need something more upscale is the Watch Strap Company Link Bracelet. This is another top shelf product from the company that has the look and feel of the Apple Link Bracelet without the Apple price. It’s a very premium feeling product and goes great with everything from suits or business causal clothing.

Nike Sport Band From Apple

A client of mine gave me two Apple Watch bands to thank me for coming to her rescue the day after my wife and I got back from our vacation in PEI. The first one was the Nike Sport Band from Apple which I will wear when I am doing something athletic like hiking or working out in the gym. One big plus is that it also fits my Road ID for Apple Watch which gives me a bit of extra safety should I feel the need to use it with this band.

Nike Sport Loop From Apple

The other band that this client gave me is the Nike Sport Loop from Apple. It has a reflective weave that gives you a bit of extra safety in lower light conditions. Plus sport loops are super comfortable to wear as you can get the exact fit that you need. I have also kind of jerry rigged my Road ID for Apple Watch to work with it. Thus this is my go to band when I ride my bike.

Urban Armor Gear Active Watch Strap

This is another go to band if I need to do something athletic as it will stay on my wrist no matter what I do, but it will feel comfortable the entire time I wear it. After all, if my wife was able to use this band to do an extreme trail running race and have the watch stay on her wrist, anything that I do should be a non-issue. This band is a total winner for Urban Armor Gear.

Apple Black Unity Braided Solo Loop Band

This is a recent addition to my Apple Watch band collection. Once you figure out what your size is, this solo loop is super comfortable. And it can be used while you work out as it is woven which means it breathes pretty well. I can match it to the watch face that came out at the same time as this band, and it’s Apple’s only black solo loop that they offer. At least at the time that they sold this band as it was a limited edition.

International Collection Sport Loop Band

Apple came out with a number of bands to celebrate the Olympics last year. My wife and I got the Canadian one and along with the matching watch band displayed our Canadian pride. This too was a limited edition.

That’s my Apple Watch band collection. One thing that I have to say to those who have Apple Watches and want to have good quality upscale bands is that you should skip the really cheap bands on Amazon. Those ones from personal experience don’t have good quality materials and typically will not last all that long. Bands from companies like Apple, The Watch Strap Company, and Urban Armor Gear are examples of good quality watch bands that should be part of your collection.

What Apple Watch bands do you use? I’d be interested in hearing from women with Apple Watches as seeing as I have put forward a collection for men. Thus I figure that many women would be interested in what women use. But male users should join in on the conversation as well by leaving a comment and sharing their thoughts.

My HomeKit Setup – The 2022 Edition

Posted in Tips with tags , on April 29, 2022 by itnerd

This is an article that I’ve been wanting to do for a while and some of you have been asking for. Which is how I use HomeKit in my condo. Let’s start with what HomeKit is. This is Apple’s home automation platform which is part of iOS/iPadOS and to a limited extent macOS and watchOS that lets users configure, communicate with, and control smart-home appliances using Apple devices. It provides users with a way to automatically discover such devices and configure them. It’s got its flaws, which I will speak to in a bit, but it generally works fine.

First, let me describe my use case for HomeKit. I live in a 1000 square foot condo that has one door to enter and exit. The condo has two bedrooms. We use the master bedroom to sleep in, but we converted the second bedroom to a den for my wife and I to work in. Then we also have a living room and kitchen. The walls are concrete which makes Bluetooth and WiFi penetration a challenge. We decided that the master bedroom would have no smart home devices other than a HomePod Mini to stream audio or play a radio station. Everywhere else was fair game. We also wanted to build security into our HomeKit setup as long time readers will recall that my wife and I had a break in which cost us a MacBook Pro and a lot of jewelry among other items. While we had an IP enabled camera that alerted us to the break in, the police were not able to get there in time to capture the scumbags who broke into our place. So being able to detect when doors open and unauthorized parties are in the condo are a must. We don’t have to worry about windows as we are in a high rise.

With our use case out of the way, let’s get to the tech that powers our HomeKit setup. To fully leverage HomeKit, you will need a home hub which will allow you to control and automate your HomeKit devices from anywhere. It also acts as a connection point for Bluetooth based HomeKit devices as without it, those devices need your iPhone or iPad in range of it so that you can control them. WiFi based HomeKit devices don’t need a hub, but you may not be able to control them outside your home.

A HomeKit Hub can be any of the following:

  • An iPad that never leaves home. (I personally wouldn’t go this route because if the iPad loses power, dies or is stolen, you’re out of luck).
  • An Apple TV 4 or higher
  • A HomePod or HomePod Mini

In my case, I went the HomePod Mini route:

I have three HomePod Mini devices in my home as that was the path of least resistance for me. One in the living room, one in the den, and one in the bedroom. That’s due to the fact that I have three Bluetooth enabled devices that need something to connect to as Bluetooth signals don’t travel far in my condo due to the concrete walls that my condo has. Thus they act as repeaters for Bluetooth signals to cover use cases like mine which has the added bonus of speeding up the amount of time that it takes for a Bluetooth device to respond to commands that you give them. Thus if I could give you a piece of advice, you need to plan your HomeKit rollout to cover the use case of Bluetooth devices and purchase your home hubs based on that.

Another thing to point out about home hubs is that if you have more than one, they are used in an “Active/Standby” configuration. As in if you have two home hubs, one is actively controlling everything. But if something happens to it, the second one will take over. My use case looks like this:

You can’t choose which HomePod Mini is the one that is the “connected” one. Which seems at first glance to be a #Fail. But what I believe that Apple is doing behind the scenes is picking the home hub with the best reception and performance to the router. I’ve observed that it tends to gravitate towards making the living room Home Pod Mini the connected one. I suspect that’s due to the fact that it is connected to an ASUS mesh WiFi node that is in close proximity (as in two feet away) to the Home Pod Mini in question which has direct access to the Internet. That would make that one the logical choice to be the one that runs the show. The HomePod Mini in the den is physically closer in proximity to the ASUS mesh WiFi node that’s in the den versus the one in the living room. But because the node in the den has to connect to the node in the living room to get out to the Internet, it’s not as good of a choice to be the connected Home Pod Mini as it has to make a extra hop to the Internet that the HomePod in the living room doesn’t have to make. And the one in the bedroom is the worst choice of the three as it is a room away from the ASUS mesh WiFi node in the den which is where it connects to the Internet from. All of that means that its reception isn’t as great as the first two HomePod Mini units on top of the fact that it has to make an extra hop to get to the Internet.

Another thing that I should point out is that two of the three HomePod Mini units that I have are plugged into Uninterruptible Power Supplies so that they will stay on even when the power goes out. Which means that assuming that my Rogers Internet connection is still live, I will be able to still see into my condo if I am away from home.

So with the home hubs out of the way, let’s move onto the devices that I have. I’ll start with my door:

This is the Onvis CS1 Security Alarm Contact Sensor. This is on the door to not only let my wife and I know when the door is opened or closed (as it will give us a notification on our iPhones and Apple Watches when a door is opened or closed, not to mention chime when the door is opened), but it also acts as our alarm system when we’re away from home or asleep as we have automations to arm and disarm the alarm. More on our automations later. This is the first Bluetooth only device that I have, and it required us to get a HomePod Mini for the living room so that it could connect to it.

Next up are a pair of HomeKit cameras that we have installed.

We have two Eve Security Cameras which are both powered from an Uninterruptible Power Supply and connect to WiFi so that they stay live even if power goes out. In terms of the WiFi part, I have them bonded ASUS mesh WiFi node that has direct access to the Internet so that they can stream effectively should I need to have a live look inside my condo while I am away from home. One thing that I should note is that these cameras use the 5 GHz WiFi band which means that they are less likely to have interference issues which would be the case if they were on the 2.4 Ghz WiFi band and are fast when it comes to streaming video as well. These are HomeKit only cameras and while they are not cheap (not that you want anything cheap for home security purposes), they work very well even in the dark. They have built in motion sensors to detect movement and will send notifications to our iPhones and Apple Watches should it detect a person. When we’re away from home, I have them set to record anything it detects to iCloud using HomeKit Secure Video which is part of iCloud+. But when we are at home, there’s no recording taking place.

Now over to lighting. I only have a couple of places where I use HomeKit lighting as I feel that I don’t need to have HomeKit enabled lights everywhere. The first place that I use HomeKit light is the living room:

I have a lamp attached to this iHome iSP6X Smart Plug. It works on 2.4 Ghz WiFi and allows me to turn the lights on and off. This bonded ASUS mesh WiFi node that has direct access to the Internet so that it doesn’t roam from node to node which seems to confuse it in such a way that it requires a reboot to get it working again. For the most part, the light gets turned on via an automation in the morning, and gets turned off in the evening via another automation. In short it lives a dull and boring life.

I have a pair of Sylvania Smart+ A19 Full Colour LED Bulbs which I have set up in the Home app to be seen as a single bulb:

The reason for doing this is that it makes it easier to turn the bulbs off and on as well as tweak the colour and brightness as you’re dealing with one set of controls and not two. These are Bluetooth bulbs which meant that I had to get a HomePod Mini for the den as they had problems staying connected to the either of the other two HomePod Minis that I have. I have had some other challenges in terms of them acting weird and stability, so these may not stick around in the long term. But I will give them an honest shot to see if my experience with them improves over the next few weeks. I currently have the brightness set to 80% as that gives the perfect amount of lighting for Zoom or Teams calls.

The final HomeKit device that I have is this:

This TCL 43″ Class 4-Series 4K UHD HDR ROKU Smart TV which is powered by RokuOS got HomeKit compatibility a couple of software updates ago. Though at times, HomeKit support has been problematic. In any case it allows me to turn on and off the TV as well as control inputs. But the extent that I use HomeKit functionality is to turn the TV on and off via some automations that I have as there is no value to doing anything else via HomeKit as the support that this TV has for HomeKit is very limited.

Speaking of automations, I use four of them which I set up in the Home app:

Leave: This is an automation that activates when everyone has left home as it uses location services on our iPhones to determine where everyone is so that it can run the automation. It’s also supposed to use Apple Watches as well to determine the location of everyone, but my wife and I have never seen that work. Thus we assume it’s a bug that Apple needs to fix as according to Apple’s own documentation, that use case is supposed to work. In any case, when everyone leaves home, the following happens:

  • A notification appears on our iPhones and Apple Watches with a request to arm the alarm system.
  • If the TV is on it is turned off.
  • All the cameras are set to “stream and record” so that anything that is detected by the cameras is recorded to iCloud.

It usually activates when we are roughly a block away from home. Or I can activate it using Siri or via the Home app. If I go the Siri route, it will turn on the alarm without the need to click anything.

Arrive: This is the opposite of “Leave” and operates as follows:

  • A notification appears with a request to disarm the alarm system. There’s no way that I can find to do this automatically.
  • All the cameras are set to “stream” so that there is no recording taking place while we are home.

An interesting quirk about these two automations are that I can use Siri to run the Leave automation, but I cannot use Siri to run the Arrive automation unless I unlock my iPhone to do it. Which means I can’t use Siri while I am driving for example to run the automation. This is due to the fact that unlocking a HomeKit compatible doorknob or disarming a HomeKit compatible alarm system requires you to use what Apple calls a “personal device” to do it, such as an iPhone or Apple Watch. Likely because you have to unlock your phone to run the automation, which serves as a form of authentication. In the case of the Apple Watch, the watch locks automatically when you take it off your wrist. Thus to use it you have to put in a passcode after you put it one which is a form of authentication as well. I suppose that I can see why this use case exists as this stops someone using Siri from disarming an alarm system and opening doors via a “Hey Siri” command and breaking into your home.

Good Night: This is an automation that allows us do the following just before going to bed:

  • If the den and living room lights are on, they are turned off.
  • If the TV is on, it is turned off.
  • The alarm system is armed. We do this as we would be alerted if someone tries to break in while we are asleep.

I can activate this via a “Hey Siri” command or via the Home app.

Good Morning: This is what is run when we wake up in the morning. And it only works from a iPhone or Apple Watch for the same reasons that I described above.

  • The den and living room lights are turned on.
  • The alarm system is disarmed.

Now I will admit that my use case is pretty simple. But how simple or complex your use case happens to be will be driven by things like the number of devices and what you’re trying to do. For example if we had multiple windows that we had to monitor or multiple doors to monitor, it would make the setup a lot more complex because there would be more devices in play. My advice is to spend a lot of time experimenting until you find what works for you. I also recommend carefully picking your HomeKit devices as some are really good, and some are not as good.

So that’s my HomeKit setup. If you have any questions or suggestions as to how I can improve it, leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Apple Launches Self Repair Store…. And So Far I Am Not Impressed

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 27, 2022 by itnerd

Last year Apple announced that they would be starting up a self repair program. At the time I said this:

The bottom line is that this is an optics exercise for Apple. If they really wanted to embrace right to repair, they would go further than what was announced. But they haven’t. So don’t be fooled by this announcement. It isn’t what you think it is, and it’s not going to get the results that you think it will.

Since then we’ve heard nothing from Apple. Meanwhile both Samsung and Google have launched self repair programs that simply destroy anything that Apple said that they were going to do. I guess that forced Apple into the position where they had to do something. And today they did:

Apple today announced Self Service Repair is now available, providing repair manuals and genuine Apple parts and tools through the Apple Self Service Repair Store. Self Service Repair is available in the US and will expand to additional countries — beginning in Europe — later this year.

The new online store offers more than 200 individual parts and tools, enabling customers who are experienced with the complexities of repairing electronic devices to complete repairs on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups and iPhone SE (3rd generation), such as the display, battery, and camera. Later this year the program will also include manuals, parts, and tools to perform repairs on Mac computers with Apple silicon.

I went to the Self Repair Store and to be frank, it looks like someone used a template from GoDaddy to create this as it is as far as you can get from Apple’s look and feel without going to another planet. It’s almost as if they don’t want to be associated with this website. Which tells you what you need to know about Apple’s view on self repair.

Apple also did this today:

Also today, Apple published a paper, “Expanding Access to Safe, Reliable, and Secure Service and Repair,” which details Apple’s approach to designing long-lasting products and increasing access to repairs.

This is just spin to make it look like that they are on the good side of right to repair when in reality they haven’t.

I have a bunch of random thoughts on this. For starters, It seems the cost of the repairs via this site are on par with the cost of a repair in the Apple Store – which is odd because you’re repairing it yourself. Thus you think it would be cheaper. But clearly not. I’m guessing that Apple doesn’t want to lose a cent of income here. Second, it seems odd to offer self service on the newest devices first as those are the devices less likely to need to be serviced. An iPhone XS or 11 is more likely to need a new battery than a 2 month old SE or 6 month old 13. I don’t see the logic here unless Apple is doing this to limit the number of repairs. Further to that, digging around the site I found warnings that parts such as a battery and a display require a “System Configuration Tool”. And you need to contact them after the repair to be able to remove the warnings iOS gives about the battery or display being changed. Which implies that you still need Apple’s help after the repair is completed via calling Apple or taking a trip to the Genius Bar. Which doesn’t exactly sound like you’re fully in control of the repair to me.

All of this smells of the same optics exercise that I thought it was when this was first announced. Though an alternate view is that Apple threw this together when Samsung and Google upstaged them with their announcements. Either way I’m not impressed by this launch. And I wonder if Apple will do something to improve this. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

UPDATE: One thing to consider is the credit that you get when you return the parts to Apple. That lowers the repair price a bit.

EU Officials Targeted With NSO Spyware…. Or Not….

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 11, 2022 by itnerd

The title of this story doesn’t seem to make sense. But it will. Trust me. Let’s start with this Reuters story that says this:

Senior officials at the European Commission were targeted last year with spy software designed by an Israeli surveillance firm, according to two EU officials and documentation reviewed by Reuters.

Among them was Didier Reynders, a senior Belgian statesman who has served as the European Justice Commissioner since 2019, according to one of the documents. At least four other commission staffers were also targeted, according to the document and another person familiar with the matter. The two EU officials confirmed that staffers at the commission had been targeted but did not provide details.

The commission became aware of the targeting following messages issued by Apple to thousands of iPhone owners in November telling them they were “targeted by state-sponsored attackers,” the two EU officials said. It was the first time Apple had sent a mass alert to users that they were in government hackers’ crosshairs.

The warnings triggered immediate concern at the commission, the two officials said. In a Nov. 26 email reviewed by Reuters, a senior tech staffer sent a message to colleagues with background about Israeli hacking tools and a request to be on the lookout for additional warnings from Apple.

That’s very bad. And of course, the spyware that we’re talking about was designed by the NSO Group…. Or was it?

Security researchers have said the recipients of the warnings were targeted between February and September 2021 using ForcedEntry, an advanced piece of software that was used by Israeli cyber surveillance vendor NSO Group to help foreign spy agencies remotely and invisibly take control of iPhones. A smaller Israeli spyware vendor named QuaDream also sold a nearly identical tool to government clients, Reuters previously reported.

So it could be either of these companies. I would be forcing the NSO Group to prove without a shadow of a doubt that it wasn’t them. Because given their previous track record, it’s going to be hard to take their word for it at this point. Still, it is a very disturbing story that shows that this spyware, regardless of who is behind it, has been used more widely than previously thought.

My Thoughts On The Reaction To Apple’s Studio Display

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 28, 2022 by itnerd

Until two weeks or so ago, the only option for a display from Apple was the $5000 USD Apple Pro Display XDR that shipped with the Mac Pro in 2019. Of course to use it, you needed a $1000 USD stand, but the fact was that the display existed and was an option for people who wanted a first party option from Apple. But here’s the problem with that display. It was $6000 to get your hands on it. And it was total overkill for 99% of the public. Not to mention that the price put it out of the reach of the average person. Which is why many people wanted a lower cost option from Apple.

Two weeks ago or so ago they got that option in the form of the Studio Display at $1599 USD. And the reviews shall we say have been less than glowing. And I’ve been thinking about why this is the case as I rarely see this level of backlash against Apple, and come to the conclusion that some of this backlash is unwarranted, and some of it is due to how Apple brought this to market.

Let’s start with what Apple did wrong here by going through the specs of the Studio Display:

  • 27″
  • 5K resolution
  • 60Hz
  • P3 Wide Color
  • IPS panel
  • 600 nits brightness
  • 12MP Webcam with Center Stage powered by an A13 Bionic processor
  • Six speakers
  • Three microphones
  • One Thunderbolt 3 connector that delivers 96W of power
  • Three USB-C connectors
  • Option for Nano-Texture anti-glare coating at $300 USD
  • Option for height adjustable stand installed at time of purchase or later at an Apple Store for $400 USD
  • Option for VESA mount installed at time of purchase or later at an Apple Store at no additional charge.

Those are decent specs. More than decent in fact. But at $1599 USD to start? That’s a bit of a problem. The price relative to what you get seems seriously out of step with a lot of sub $1000 displays. I say that because it has no HDR support. Even cheap gaming monitors have some sort of HDR support. More on that in a moment. And reviews of the camera all basically say that it sucks. Though one assumes that this will be fixed through a software update. In fact Apple said so. But we’ll see if they deliver on that front. When it comes to the panel, it’s an IPS panel being used instead of mini-LED. If it were the latter, the $1599 price point would be easier to accept. But at least they included a stand this time. Though having to pay $400 to make it height adjustable seems obscene to me given that every other monitor on Earth has this functionality right out of the box.

Here’s where I won’t ding Apple. This monitor is 60Hz. And a lot of people on the Internet are upset about that as Apple has released iPads, iPhones, and MacBook Pros with ProMotion displays. That’s their variable refresh rate technology which allows a monitor to go from 120Hz down to as low as 24 Hz depending on the device. Thus it seems logical to expect a ProMotion display on a brand new monitor. Right? But here’s some facts. Thunderbolt doesn’t support 120Hz above a resolution of 4K. So there’s no technical way for Apple to bring ProMotion to a 5K monitor. Which meant ProMotion was never going to happen unless Apple went with a 4K panel. Which I am guessing was never going to happen either.

On top of that, the people who are the targets for this monitor are not the average person. It’s someone who wants:

  • A monitor that has the same calibration as their other Apple products (MacBook Pros, iPad Pros, etc.) so that they can work on content in a consistent manner as it supports many reference modes including Apple Display, HDTV Video, NTSC, PAL, SECAM, Digital Cinema, Design and Print, Photography, and Internet and Web sRGB.
  • Video professionals typically work with monitors locked to 60Hz, 30Hz, or 24Hz depending on the project. Thus the lack of ProMotion is a non-factor for them. Ditto for HDR support as anyone who needed HDR in their workflow would have brought a Pro Display XDR by now because it supports Dolby Vision HDR. There aren’t many monitors in the sub $1000 price range, or sub $5000 price range for that matter that support Dolby Vision HDR. In fact, any monitor in that price range with HDR support would be laughed at by a video or photography pro due to whatever HDR support it had if it wasn’t Dolby Vision HDR.

The above likely explains why if you wanted to buy a Studio Display, you currently have to wait at least 8 weeks to get one.

So in short, Apple likely hit the mark with the target audience of this monitor. But that’s not helping them in the PR space where people who were never, ever going to buy this monitor are saying that this monitor is a #Fail. Which means that the monitor is perceived as a #Fail. And perception is reality. The key word is perception. Because the reality is that this monitor is not a #Fail. It’s a good first party solution for the people who can utilize it.

Here’s my last point on this, while there are other monitors that do HDR, or do 120Hz, or have built in webcams finding one that checks the boxes of the Studio Display is going to be a huge challenge as almost nothing does 5K resolution. Nothing out there has the integration with macOS that the Studio Display has. And even if you downscale your ambitions to 4K or even HD like I did when I got this monitor, nothing is going to support the reference modes that the Studio Display has. Thus if you get a third party monitor, you’ll pay less money, but you’ll get less monitor. And you’ll likely be looking at a gaming monitor to get 120Hz and not ProMotion, passable HDR support, and either HD or QHD resolution due to the fact that 4K gaming monitors are currently few and far between. And it won’t have the sound quality that the Studio Display has. And I would question if you would get a usable webcam with it. On the flipside, if Apple came out with this monitor two years ago, or even a year ago, we would not be talking about this monitor as being a #Fail because it would be at worst in line with the competition. And further to that, if Apple came out with this monitor today with HDR, or ProMotion (not that it’s possible, but let’s pretend that it was possible for the sake of this argument), or a camera that worked out of the box, or some combination of those, we would not be talking about this monitor as being a #Fail because it would justify the price.

Apple didn’t exactly help their own cause here by how they brought this monitor to market. But I also think that there’s been an overreaction to this monitor’s perceived shortcomings. So I would say that people who hate this monitor need to take a breath here and relax. But at the same time, Apple needs to think about how to bring a monitor to market that has features that the people who are flipping out about this monitor want, but at the same time meets the $1599 price point, if not lower. Because this clearly is being perceived as a swing and miss by Apple. Even if it isn’t.

Apple 3D Maps Come To Toronto, Montreal And Vancouver

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 25, 2022 by itnerd

Over the years I have criticized Apple for not bringing some of their marquee features and products to Canada. Apple Cash and Apple Card are two examples that come to mind. But last night my opinion on that shifted slightly. Apple put out a press release last night to announce that its revamped Apple Maps experience is now available in the Canadian cities of Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver. The update delivers more detailed maps, complete with custom-designed 3D landmarks. Here’s a few examples from Toronto. Starting with the Hockey Hall of Fame:

Next up is City Hall:

And finally Scotiabank Arena:

I’ve also noticed that in Apple CarPlay, some buildings are also in 3D as well. This Apple Maps update is also available in Montreal and Vancouver. And joins London, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. in having this experience.

Now if Apple would only bring the Apple Card and Apple Cash to Canada, then life for many Apple users in Canada would be complete.

Yesterday Apple Services Suffer ANOTHER Outage… WTF?

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 23, 2022 by itnerd

You have to wonder what is going on at Apple when it comes to their online services as after having an absolutely catastrophic outage on Monday, they have another less severe outage on Tuesday. YouTuber Aaron Zollo was one of the first to report it just before 6PM EST:

And he also was one of the first to give the all clear:

Given how widely used Apple’s services are, Apple needs to start explaining what is going on here. Especially if today we have another outage. And even if that doesn’t happen, Apple still needs to explain this. But I’m not holding my breath as Apple isn’t known for being a transparent company.

iCloud Has Been Down In Whole Or In Part…. And That Includes For Apple Employees #iCloudDown #iCloudOutage

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 21, 2022 by itnerd

Apple is having a very bad day today as just after noon EST iCloud went down. The thing was for at least 45 minutes, Apple’s Status Page was saying everything was fine when in fact it was the exact opposite.

And those complaints were surfacing on Twitter, Down Detector and other places. If you do a search for #iCloudDown or #iCloudOutage on Twitter for example, it won’t be hard for you to find examples of this. But ultimately Apple did admit there were issues. Lots of issues. At one point I counted 23 separate iCloud services that were down. You can click on the Tweet above to see the screenshots that I took and examples of what you would get if you encountered a service that was out.

As I type this, 9 Services are still out. Which is still not good. But better than it has been.

But it’s not just consumers that are dealing with this outage. It appears that Apple Employees are as well:

And this was confirmed with this Tweet:

Apple’s services don’t go down that often. But this is pretty catastrophic. And everyone knows about it. Which means that Apple will have to explain this at some point. The question is, how transparent will they be? I’m guessing not very transparent. But I am free to be surprised.

UPDATE: As of 3:38 PM EST Apple claims that everything is back online.

TELUS Will Offer The New iPhone SE & iPad Air with 5G, Plus Green iPhone 13’s Starting Today

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 18, 2022 by itnerd

TELUS will offer the powerful iPhone SE with compact and durable design, sophisticated alpine green iPhone 13 Pro and stunning green iPhone 13, and the powerful and versatile iPad Air with a new front camera with Center Stage. 

The new iPhone SE features impressive upgrades, including the performance of the A15 Bionic chip, 5G, an all-new camera system, longer battery life and improved durability. 

iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 feature two beautiful new colors, alpine green and green, extending the most advanced iPhone lineup ever with its sleek design, the breakthrough A15 Bionic chip, incredibly durable Ceramic Shield front cover, an advanced 5G experience, and cutting-edge camera systems for stunning photos and videos. 

iPad Air features the Apple-designed M1 chip, delivering a massive leap in performance. Available in a new array of colors, iPad Air also includes the new Ultra Wide front camera with Center Stage, a USB-C port with up to 2x faster transfer speeds, blazing-fast 5G and more, starting at the same affordable price, with a stunning 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display. 

Customers can order the iPhone SE, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max in alpine green, and iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini in green, and iPad Air starting today. 

For complete pricing and availability details, please visit telus.com/apple. The iPhone SE and iPhone 13 lineup will also be available at Koodo on 4G LTE. 

For more details on iPhone SE, iPhone 13 and iPad models, please visit www.apple.com.