PCalc is the powerful choice for scientists, engineers, students, programmers, or indeed anybody looking for a feature rich calculator. It includes an optional RPN mode and multi-line display, a choice of button layouts, an extensive set of unit conversions and constants, a paper tape, multiple undo and redo, engineering and scientific notation, as well as support for hexadecimal, octal, and binary calculations.
Includes an Apple Watch app, so you can calculate on your wrist!
We are now officially half way through 2022, which is hard to believe. As I indicated last month, I did not listen to nearly as books as I did in May. The reason for this is that I am working on my next book about Apple’s latest operating systems.
Even though I am working on that during most of my free time I still do have some opportunities to listen to audiobook. During June I listened to 13 books total, of which only one is new. That sole new book is the one I would like to highlight. The title is “Sparring Partners” by John Grisham:
Best-selling author John Grisham explores fascinating questions of justice and the law in these three novellas. In “Homecoming”, Jake Brigance (of A Time to Kill fame) makes the dicey choice to help a former colleague who absconded with a fortune. “Strawberry Moon” follows young death-row inmate Cody Wallace in his weighty final hours. And the title story introduces Diantha Bradshaw, the loyal associate charged with saving a failing family law firm from the feuding brothers tearing it apart. In each novella, the stakes aren’t just legal but intensely personal as well, with bonds of blood and friendship on the line. Whether he’s portraying the desperation behind Cody’s simple but heartrending final wish or forcing Diantha to examine the true cost of corruption, Grisham is a master of making legal and criminal issues feel intensely personal. Sparring Partners gives us a triple helping of Grisham at his best.
Sparring Partners was a good book, and given the there are three novellas it does not take super long to finish any of them, so you can listen to them in spurts.
I am not sure how many books I will listen to next month, but I suspect it may not be that many either.
All throughout history, technology has improved. There are some technologies that have had significant impacts on society, whether the impact is an overall positive or negative one depends on ones perspective. One thing that cannot really be argued is that smartphones have had a significant impact on modern society and have become a necessary item in today’s society.
Smart Phones are a bit older than you might realize, in fact the first “smartphone” was actually developed by IBM in 1994, but, needless to say it was a bit before its time. Fast forward eight years to 2002 when the first Palm Treo was released, the Treo 180. The Palm Treo line of smartphones wee some of the first ones that people have heard of. The Treo 180 was the first cell phone to incorporate some of the features which would later become commonplace. These features included a full QWERTY keyboard. The Treo 180 did not not have much connectivity. It only had an single Infrared port, which was used to connect the device to a computer, or you could use the USB port to connect, which was probably a better option overall.
While the Treo was first, it was quickly followed by devices running WindowsCE, like the Palm Treo 750 and the Blackberry Pearl, by Research in Motion (RIM), introduced in 2006. While smartphones were popular amongst enterprise users, BlackBerry was the most popular smartphone company with its focus squarely on enterprise. Beyond its reach with enterprises, Blackberry became quite popular amongst the general population. No matter how popular the Treo and BlackBerry phones would be, they had not had any breakout hits that would become must have items.
It actually took a company, whom nobody would have expected, to completely reimagine the smartphone. The reimagining would not only revolutionize the smartphone industry, but it would also revolutionize the entire technology industry. The device would put the company on a solid financial footing and subsequently make it one of the most profitable companies in history. That company is, of course, Apple. The product that started its meteoric rise was the iPhone.
The name iPhone is one that is easily recognized all over the world. I am not sure if it is just as well known as Coca-Cola, but it is definitely up there. The original iPhone was introduced by Steve Jobs at MacWorld Expo on January 9th, 2007. You can read my entire recap on the iPhone’s introduction.
I could do an in-depth history of the iPhone, but that is not what this post is about. Instead, it is about the original iPhone, 15 years later. It might be worthwhile to re-read my first post in this series about the introduction of the iPhone. Before we dive into the iPhone, let us briefly look at my cell phone history before that.
My Cell Phone History
I have used an iPhone since 2007. Prior to that I had used three different cell phones. These were the iconic Nokia 3310, a candy bar-style phone with a monochrome screen and a standard cell phone non-QWERTY keyboard, a Samsung T637, another candy bar-style phone, with the same non-QWERTY keyboard, but this one had a color screen, and a Razr V3. The Razr V3 was a clamshell phone, but also only had a non-QWERTY keyboard, but also had a color screen. The Razr V3 was so popular that it sold 130 million units during its lifetime, becoming the single most popular clamshell phone, a record which it still holds today.
I used the Nokia 3310 for approximately 3 years, the same for the Samsung T637, and I used the Razr V3 for about 2 years. Overall, this was three cell phones in seven years, or about 28 months each, which is close to the average that most use their cell phones before replacing them.
Now, this all changed with my next phone, the iPhone, so let us look at that next by starting with my Launch Day/Pickup day experience.
Launch Day/Pickup Day
If you have been reading the blog for a while you may recognize the fact that I tend to try and get new iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches on the day that they are released. For the most part, I have been able to do so. One product that I did not get on launch day was the original iPhone, but it was not much after the launch that I got one.
It was not that I was not interested in the phone, I absolutely was. However, I had not made up my mind as to whether or not to get one. Because of my indecision I did not go on launch day, June 29th, 2007. I actually went to the Apple store on the following day, June 30th, 2007. I was actually glad I did not go on launch day because from what the Apple Store employee told me, it was super busy.
I actually got up early to go to the Apple Store and wait. The Apple store that I go to now is much closer than the one I had to go to at that time, it was the only close Apple store. So, I made the drive. I arrived a few hours before the store opened, just to be on the safe side because I was not sure how many people may have been in line. When I got there I was not the first person in line, but the line was not that long. In fact, I ended up being the fourth person in line that day.
The original iPhone came in two storage sizes, a 4GB model and an 8GB version. I opted for the 4GB model. I got this model for two reasons. The first was cost, which was $499, and after tax it came out to about $537. The second reason was that adding the iPhone would increase my cellular plan because an unlimited data plan was required.
Unlike today where the iPhone is on almost every carrier, the original iPhone was only available on AT&T. I had actually switched to AT&T a couple years before, so I did not have to worry about switching carriers and transferring phone numbers.
Let us now turn to the iPhone by stating to look at the design of the original iPhone.
One of the aspects of the original iPhone that is iconic, is the design. The original iPhone had rounded corners, with a flat back that goes into the rounded corners. The back of the original iPhone was a combination of plastic and brushed aluminum. The plastic was black and was only covering the antenna to be allow the antennas to connect to the cell towers without any attenuation.
This general shape has, for the most part, remained consistent and is the basis for all modern smartphones since 2007. There have been different materials used, and various different thicknesses of the devices, but overall, it has remained very similar to the original. This was such a radical change that there have been only a few improvements to the overall design in the intervening 15 years. If you were to travel back and show someone an iPhone SE from 2022 they would easily be able to recognize it as such, just a more modern version, and with a larger screen.
The biggest change would be what features the original iPhone had on it.
The original iPhone had only a few physical capabilities and connections. These features included:
30-pin Dock Connector
A headphone jack
As you might expect, the original iPhone camera is no where near the quality of cameras when compared to today’s iPhones. Yet, back in 2007 the camera was an upgrade to other cell phones like the Razr v3.
The headphone jack was very helpful if you wanted to listen to something without annoying others around you. You could use any headphones you wanted, but you could also use the included Apple headphones with microphone set. These headphones allowed you to control the playback of music by clicking on the volume up and down on the headphones.
Now that we have covered the features, let us look at what is arguably more important, the software.
The form factor and physical features of the iPhone were not the only aspect that was radically different. What was even more radical was the entire software stack. The approach that Apple took with the software on the iPhone was different. Instead of building something entirely new, they took some of the foundations of OS X and then built an entirely new user interface and set of interactions on top of that base.
The original software for the iPhone was not called an operating system, as we do so today. Instead, it was being referred to as “firmware”, which is essentially the operating system for most devices. In reality, the two names are interchangeable, but back then Apple always referred to it as the firmware. The name of the firmware was called iPhoneOS. Regardless of what you name it, when you powered up the iPhone there were only sixteen applications for the entire system. The original list of applications were:
Maps (powered by Google)
All of these apps, with the exclusion of YouTube are still on the iPhone today. Some have changed a bit, SMS is now Messages, Maps is now powered by Apple’s own product, iPod has been replaced by Music, and Settings has been renamed to System Preferences, but the remainders are all on the iPhone to this day.
I could easily go into each of the apps on the original iPhone, but I will not do, with the exception of a single app. The app I want to focus on is Safari.
At the original iPhone introduction Steve Jobs made sure to reiterate that the iPhone was a “breakthrough internet communicator”. This was not just because it was a phone, but because it included a web browser. That browser was Safari. The version of Safari included on the iPhone was not the slimmed down version of Safari, but the full version of Safari. This meant that you could view actual webpages and not a stripped down version of the pages. This was a fundamental shift in the way that people consumed the internet while on the go.
Before you could actually do anything though, you would need to activate the iPhone, so let us look at that now.
Syncing and Activating
Before you could actually use the iPhone you needed to activate the iPhone. This was done by plugging in the iPhone using the provided USB-A to 30-pin Dock connector to your Mac or PC. When you did this, iTunes would open. At this point, iTunes would walk you through connecting the iPhone and activating it with AT&T. Once it was activated you could then begin to use the phone or synchronize media to it.
The original iPhone was a lot like an iPod, where it would need to be synchronized with a Mac or PC to be able to transfer media to the iPhone. The items that you could transfer included music, movies, podcasts, and even ringtones.
The original iPhone did have the iTunes Store on it. So you could purchase music, videos, and ringtones right on your iPhone. When you would next synchronize your iPhone with your Mac or PC your purchases would be transferred back to your computer for safe keeping.
Once you had synchronized your device, you could start to use it. In order to access your iPhone, you would have to perform an iconic gesture, Swipe to Unlock. It is arguable but the iPhone’s Swipe to Unlock gesture was there for two reasons. One, because it looked cool, and second was to stop you from accidentally performing a task on the iPhone inadvertently. The primary interaction point of the iPhone was, and remains, the screen. So, let us look at that now.
The original iPhone came with a glass front. The glass was a special type of glass, called Gorilla Glass. Gorilla Glass was designed by Corning to be tougher than regular glass and bit more scratch resistant. While glass is what we are all used to, the original iPhone prototypes had plastic screens. But while Steve Jobs was using the prototypes, the screen began to scratch when it came into contact with keys, so he told the team it needed to change. If you had a first-generation iPod nano you might be well aware of what can happen to a plastic screen, it scratches a lot easier.
The screen was a 3.5-inch diagonal screen with a resolution of 163 pixels per inch. This meant that the screen was non-retina, but this was a substantially larger screen than any other one on the market and would be great, particularly in widescreen, for playing videos on the screen.
Let us now look at another interaction item, the keyboard.
The most notable feature that the iPhone ushered in, and that other manufactures would quickly adopt, was the elimination of the physical keyboard. Instead, the entire front of the iPhone was all glass. The benefit of the all-glass front is that the keyboard could be shown or hidden as needed. This was a genuine shift from the physical keyboards on any smart phones at the time. There were definitely some who were resistant to using a software keyboard, but the utility of being able to use the entire screen, and not having half the screen taken up by an immovable keyboard, outweighed the physical keyboard.
There was one feature that Apple included with the original iPhone that aided people with typing on glass.. That feature was autocorrect. Autocorrect had been available on the Mac of a long time. I remember that as I was typing away on the iPhone that it would fix most of the typos that I had. What I did not know at the time, but came to realize later, was that the iPhone keyboard would actually enlarge the target area for each key based on predicting what the system thought you wanted to type next. So, if you got close enough it would send that you actually tapped on the proper key. This was a nice little touch to the entire system.
One of the most useful features of the iPhone was the always on connectivity, no matter where you were, so let us turn to Wi-Fi and Cellular next.
Wi-Fi and Cellular
It was only a few years before the iPhone, on July 21st, 1999 to be precise, where Apple introduced the first iBook with an Airport Wireless card. The inclusion of the AirPort Wireless card meant that you would not need to be plugged into ethernet in order to be able to connect to the internet, provided you had access to a wireless network In those short eight years, wireless networks had become quite commonplace. In 2007, there were only three wireless standards, 802.11b (2.4GHz), 802.11a (5GHz), and 802.11g (2.4GHz).
The original iPhone only supported the 2.4GHz networks, so 802.11b and 802.11g. At 54 megabits per second, the Wi-Fi speeds of 802.11g, the faster of the two supported networks, were plenty fast for the time. Honestly, either of the two wireless standards would definitely outpace the cellular service at the time. Speaking of cellular, let us move to that.
We have become very accustom to being able to use an iPhone on almost any carrier almost anywhere in the world. That was definitely not the case 15 years ago with the original iPhone. There was only a single carrier, AT&T, and the iPhone initially launched only in the U.S. This agreement was an exclusive contract, meaning that you had to be an AT&T customer in order to use an iPhone.
The iPhone came with 2G cellular connectivity. The maximum speed possibles with 2G is 384 kbit/s, which in today’s world is laughable, although depending on where you are it may seem like your speeds are that slow. Even though today the speeds would not be sustainable, having the ability to always be connected to a cellular network no matter where you were was a new and novel experience for many users.
As you might expect, the iPhone was not free and would require a purchase. Let us see what the original iPhone cost.
The original iPhone came in two storage sizes, 4GB and 8GB. The 4GB model was $499, and the 8GB model was $599. Those were the prices for the device and they required a 2-year contract. There were some people who switched. AT&T took a big risk partnering with Apple, but it definitely paid off for them given how many people switched.
Part of the contract that you agreed to included an additional fee of $20 per month for unlimited 2G data. That means that you could use 1GB of data and it would only cost $20 per month. I am sure there were some that were hesitant about having to pay a fee, but I did not hesitate to pay it. Not just because I wanted the iPhone, but the idea of being able to download things no matter where I was at was very appealing.
It is hard to go back and think about how things were at the time, as compared to today, but sometimes it is a worthwhile exercise to partake in, just to try and remember how things used to be before the modern times. One of the things that the original iPhone could not do, but would eventually be able to do, was download apps. Let us look at third-party apps on the iPhone.
Third-Party Apps (Or Lack there of)
The original iPhone shipped with only built-in apps and no official way for third-parties to build applications for the platform. Apple did offer a solution. According to Steve Jobs at the announcement, it was a “sweet solution”. That solution was web apps. While there were some that did build web apps designed for the iPhone, there were not many. Despite the fact that there was no official software development kit, that would not arrive until the next year, that did not deter people from trying to reverse engineer the software to be able to run their own apps.
Updating the iPhone
Beyond the physical device and its completely new design, there was another aspect to the entire system that Apple changed, and that was regarding software updates. Prior to the iPhone a cell phone manufacturer would create an update to a phone and it was up to the carrier’s discretion as to when to create updates. However, that is not how the iPhone was updated. Instead, Apple was in control of when the iPhone would get an update.
There may be many things that Android users can righty claim that they had first. However, there is no doubt that all smartphone users can thank Apple for. Let us now look at some critiques and criticism at the time of the launch.
The original iPhone was received mostly positively. The device was such a sea change that many, myself included, were merely enamored with what the original iPhone could do. When Apple announced the iPhone, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs had stated that they had hoped to sell one million iPhones by the end of September 2007, and to have 10 million iPhones sold by the end of 2008. 10 Million units for any product is considered a success. It took Apple a mere 74 days to sell its one million iPhone, see the Apple PR item at https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2007/09/10Apple-Sells-One-Millionth-iPhone/.
Just over 2 months from the iPhone going on sale, Apple made a decision to reduce the pricing of the 8GB iPhone model from $599 to $399. At the same time, they removed the 4GB model from sale. As an owner of the 4GB model I was a bit surprised that my less than three-month old iPhone was now completely obsoleted and no longer available for sale. But, overall, it did not bother me. I was happy with the iPhone as it was.
The price drop was not the last change for the original iPhone. In February 2008, Apple released a 16GB version of the iPhone for the same price as the original 4GB model, $499. By the time the original iPhone was replaced it had sold 6.1 million units. Needless to say, Apple easily hit their 10 million iPhone mark before the end of calendar year 2008.
The iPhone was not universally seen as a great device, there were some that did think there were some issues with it. Let us look back at those next.
Critiques and Criticisms
When the iPhone was first released, not everybody was completely enamored with it. There were some that thought that it had no future and it was a folly for Apple to get into the cellphone market.
There were two main criticisms. The first, and biggest, critique was that the iPhone only supported 2G cellular, even though 3G connectivity was available. On one hand, this was legit criticism yet, in the overall scheme it was not. This is because in June of 2007 there were only 200 million 3G subscribers in the entire world, or 6.7% of the nearly 3 billion cellular phones in use at that time.
According to Comscore, in June 2007, for the entirety of the United States, there was only 16.7% of the population that was covered by 3G. See https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press-Releases/2008/09/US-Adoption-of-3G-Mobile-Devices. Therefore, in my opinion, Apple made the right tradeoff. Even in 2008, a year after the launch of the iPhone, 3G penetration was just over 28.4% in the United States. That means not even 1/3 of subscribers had the opportunity to get 3G.
The second criticism was the pricing. Today, we are used to paying for phones either all up-front or over the course of 12 to 24 months. However, that was not always the case. When cell phones were originally coming into fashion, and especially during the mid to late 2000s, it was very common for one to get an a phone with a heavy subsidy. This typically came in the form of contracts where the cell phone carrier would spread out the overall cost of the device over the length of the contract. This is what people had become accustomed to and the price tag of $499, or $599 seemed a bit high.
While there was no direct subsidy for the original iPhone, one would be coming with its successor, but that is a whole separate story.
Using the Original iPhone Today
Sadly, the primary feature of the iPhone, the phone, can no longer be used because 2G cellular networks, which the device was based on, are no longer in service. Even the 3G networks, the successor to 2G, are being shut down. Even though it can no longer be used as a phone, if you plug in an iPhone into a modern Mac, it will still appear in Finder. You can still synchronize music, movies, tv shows, and apps to it. So, you could actually use the original iPhone as a 4GB iPod to this day. No, it will not support any streaming services, but if you synchronize music to it, it will work. I am not sure how much longer Apple will continue to support these older devices on modern operating systems, but as of this writing they are still supported on macOS 12.4.
While I may not use my original iPhone every day, I do use my iPhone every singe day for multiple hours each day. I am constantly listening to music, audiobook, or podcasts on it. Beyond this, I am using various social media apps multiple times a day and do not even bat at an eye when switching between Wi-Fi and using 5G. Yes, I do notice the speed differences, but the fact that I can get just about anything at my fingertips is still an amazing thing to behold.
The original iPhone will always hold a special place in my life. I distinctly remember the drive to the Apple Store, waiting in line, and subsequently setting up the iPhone, performing the initial synchronization, and even using the iPhone. It makes me smile even today when I think back at how I felt on June 30th, 2007 when I first started using the iPhone. 15 years later, I know I often take for granted the fact that I have been able to purchase a new iPhone each year. Furthermore, I also seem to forget just how incredible it is that 15 years later I am using a phone that was a radical shift in the technology world.
I do not have my original 4GB iPhone, and this saddens me a bit. Despite this, I did buy another refurbished 4GB original iPhone. Even though I only had 4GB of storage on my iPhone, it was still a fantastic device. There are many who might claim that some technology or product is “revolutionary”. Often these people are mistaken. However, in the case of the iPhone when people said the iPhone was going to change everything were absolutely correct and how it changed everything cannot be understated.
The original iPhone was the start of a significant shift in technology and it has shaped significant aspects of today’s modern society. The iPhone had pushed the entire technology industry to shift in major ways. The iPhone showed that there was an appetite for a smart phone with always on cellular connectivity, and it would not only be the techies who would buy it , but the general public would as well.
I know for me the iPhone is probably the one piece of technology that has had the most profound impact on everything that I do today. It was the device that started the app revolution, but more importantly spurred the cellular providers to keep increasing capacity to accommodate subscribers. I do not know where we would be if the iPhone was not the massive success that it has turned out to be.
It has been 15 years since the original iPhone got into the hands of consumers. I would love to see Apple bring back a special edition iPhone, maybe for the 25th anniversary, that has the same shape and design as the original iPhone, but bigger with the latest internals. I doubt that Apple would do that, because they do not look back at the past, only the future. But, it would be an interesting thing to see.
Today Apple had their World Wide Developer Conference 2022 Keynote. As expected they announced the new versions of most operating systems, iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 16, and watchOS 9. Beyond this, they also announced two new Macs, with the successor to the M1 chip. Let us look at the hardware first.
MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro
Both the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro received refreshes with a whole new chip, called the M2 system-on-a-chip
M2 System on a Chip
The M2 uses a 2nd generation 5 nanometer process, which allows for even better power efficiency. This means that you can get even more performance for the same energy. In fact, according to Apple, the M2 has 25% more transistors, and can transfer memory at 100 gigabytes per second.
The new M2 processors allow for 25% higher graphics performance over M1, with up to 10 GPU cores, and an overall performance increase of 18%. The M2 also has a new generation of Secure Enclave and Neural engine, which provides 40% more operations per second than M1, at 15.8 trillion operations on the M2. There is also a dedicated media encode and decode portion on the chip with support for Apple’s ProRes, H.264, and even support for external 6K displays.
The last big change for the M2 is the maximum amount of memory, it is now 24GB instead of 16. This is a 50% increase and a big change for those who want or need a lot of memory for their workflows.
The MacBook Pro retains the same design as the previous model, just with the new M2 chip. The price for the 13-inch MacBook Pro is $1299, and $1199 for education. The MacBook Air though, is a different story.
The MacBook Air has received a whole new design, continues to be fanless. There are still only two ports, but both of them are Thunderbolt 4. However, there is now MagSafe as well. This means that you can charge and keep the two Thunderbolt ports open for other uses.
Included in the box with the M2 MacBook Air is a 35-watt Dual USB-C charger. This means that you can charge another device at the same time. The MacBook Air also supports fast charging, which can give you up to 50% charge in 30 minutes, but this does require a separate 67-watt charger, which you can select at the time that you order your MacBook Air, or you can purchase separately.
MagSafe is not the only change. There is also a new 1080p Camera System that will allow you to look even better during video conference, or when using FaceTime. One other feature with the M2 MacBook Air is that the bezels around the screen have been reduced. This makes the screen itself even larger screen at 13.6-inches. The reduced bezels does mean there is a notch similar to that on the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros.
The MacBook Air comes in four colors, Silver, Space Gray, Starlight, and Midnight. The prices start at $1199 for the M2 MacBook Air. The M1 MacBook Air is still available starting at $999.
The M2 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Pro will be available in July. Now, let us move onto some of the new features of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS, starting with watchOS.
The Apple Watch is designed to focus on health and fitness, and watchOS 9 continues this with some new features, like Atrial Fibrillation history, a new Medications App, and enhanced workout statistics.
The Apple Watch is capable of detecting Atrial Fibrillation, or AFib, and then alerting you so you can get the medical attention you need. Now, instead of just alerting you, you can see a full history in the Health app, as well as a pattern for possible days, times, and other factors that may point to a pattern. You can share this information with your doctor, if you so choose.
The new medications app will allow you to enter in the medications your are taking, and how often they should be taken. The app can then provide you with notifications and reminders to take your medicine. Beyond this, when you add a medication the app can suggest any possible interactions that you may have with other medications that you are taking. This way, you can be aware of them and consult with your primary care physician.
The Apple Watch is designed to allow you to keep track of your workouts and how you are performing. While you are on a run, you can now view additional metrics like heart rate, and specifically if you are in your target heart-rate range.
There are also four new Watch Faces, Astronomy, Lunar Calendar, PlayTime, and Metropolitan. These watch faces, along with the others, can now support rich complications which will allow even more customizations by developers.
The final big feature with watchOS 9 is regarding Sleep. You will now be able to get some additional insights into sleep, specifically how well you slept in each of the three types of sleep, REM, Core Sleep, and Deep Sleep. You will be able to see graphs of how much of each type of sleep you got over the night.
WatchOS will be compatible with Apple Watch Series 4 and newer, as well as Apple Watch SE.
iOS has a slew of new features available for it as well. The biggest of these is an entirely redesigned Lock Screen. The Lock Screen will now allow you to put various widgets right on your Lock Screen. This can be battery levels, weather, or any other third-party widgets that are available through your apps. You can have multiple Lock Screens that can integrate with Focus Modes so you can have different apps and show just what you want for each different screen.
There are two new features in Messages, inline editing a message and marking a conversation as unread, so you can easily fix a typo in a message. You can also mark a thread as unread, so you can get back to it later.
Another big feature with iOS 16 is a new feature to Continuity, in particular you are able to use your iPhone as a camera on your Mac. This will work not just in Apple’s apps, but all video conferencing software, like Zoom, Teams, and WebEx.
Mail has gotten a few changes, including scheduled sending, undo sending, and follow up suggestions, including the ability to remind you on a specific date and time to follow up on a Mail message.
There is another feature for Families, in particular Family iCloud Library. This means that you can add individual photos, add by default, or based on date. Any edits will be automatically synchronized to everyone, including favorites, captions, and keywords too.
iOS 16 will be on iPhone SE (2nd Generation or newer), and any iPhone introduced in 2017 or later, so iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X or newer.
macOS is a mature operating system, but there are still some new features, including ones already covered, like Continuity Camera, Handoff for FaceTime, Family Photos Library, changes to Messages, and Mail changes.
Spotlight has some new changes including enhanced image search, by finding images in Photos, Messages, Notes, Finder, or even the web. You can also use Spotlight to start a timer or create an alarm. iOS and iPadOS also get these changes as well.
The biggest change to macOS is a new feature called Stage Manager. Stage Manager will allow you to easily group up to four apps together in a group. You can then easily move apps together and all of the apps will be put off to the left, so you can stay focused on the task at hand, but will allow you to easily get to any other app quickly.
macOS Ventura will be available on iMac, iMac Pro, MacBook, and MacBook Pro 2017 and later, Mac mini and MacBook Air 2018 and newer, the 2019 Mac Pro and later, and 2022 Mac Studio and later.
The iPad has received a lot of the features that have been already mentioned, like scheduled mail, mail follow up, Family Sharing iCloud Library, and message editing. The biggest addition is one that is also on the Mac, Stage Manager.
Stage Manager on the iPad allows you to easily switch apps, however, you can now also more easily pair apps together by dragging them with the current app. This is well beyond SplitView, because the iPad can now have overlapping windows with the ability to resize windows, individually. This means that you will be able to position the windows where you would like, so you can easily switch between the apps and rearrange as needed. Stage Manager is a mode that you can toggle as needed through Control Center on iPadOS 16.
When you are using an iPad with an M1 chip, you may want to have more screen real estate, this is now possible with improved display support. There are two different options. The first is to change the display size, to provide more space. When you do this, you can get more information on the screen at once.
The second option is to connect an external monitor. When you do this, you can use it as a second monitor and you can easily move apps between the external monitor and the iPad Pro.
Beyond Stage Manager, the iPad now has the Weather app which is designed using SwiftUI specifically for the iPad and adapts as necessary.
iPadOS 16 will be available on iPad mini (5th generation or later), iPad (5th generation or later), iPad Air (3rd generation or later), and all iPad Pro models.
This year’s operating systems, iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS Ventura, and watchOS 9 all add a variety of new features. Developer betas are available today with public betas arriving sometime in July, with the final releases in the fall. The items outlined above are just scratching the surface of all of the new features, so be sure to check out the links above, or even the Apple Newsroom source links below.
All of the links below are for Apple Newsroom articles
It is now early June and Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference is on Monday. Typically, I would do a predictions, but given that WWDC is primarily about software, and it is anybody’s guess as to what Apple will announce. So, because of that instead of predictions, I will provide my wish list for what I would like to see from iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 13, tvOS 16, and watchOS 9.
Widgets were introduced in iOS 14 for the iPhone, and widgets were added to iPadOS with iOS 15, including an extra large Widget type. It would be nice to see Widgets come to the desktop of macOS.
Along with being available on macOS, I also think it would be great if there could be a tad bit of interactivity, not the pseudo-interactivity that Widgets have now. It may only be through standard controls, like Button, and Picker, but even that would be a significant improvement
macOS is a mature operating system and it is not easy to think what additional features macOS could have added to it. But there is one, Widgets on the desktop of macOS, which is covered above.
As for the name for macOS 13 that is a bit more difficult. There are five possible names,
Mammoth – Only if it is a monumental release
A second feature, which would be nice would be a completely redesigned System preferences screen. Possibly with new an entirely new preference pane style, or at bare minimum, a resizable window.
The iPad in its current state is living a double-life, one of hardware and another of software. First, the hardware is fantastic. The entire iPad line of products, from the smallest, the 8.3-inch iPad mini, to the largest, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, are able to easily handle anything that is thrown at them. The iPad Pro has an M1 with 8GB of memory, and even the base model iPad even has 3GB of memory.
Yet, the software is woefully inadequate. I am not going to say that the iPad has been ignored, although for many years it was clear that Apple was not sure of its direction, but it does seem like iPadOS has not been getting enough attention. Apple has not been pushing the limits of what the iPad can do.
When the person who uses the iPad to its maximum and pushes the boundaries, decides to leave the iPad Pro behind and instead embrace macOS, it should be a clear sign that the current state of iPadOS is not where it should be.
I would like to see significant changes to iPadOS myself. I had thought about trying to use the iPad for some of the tasks that I use my MacBook Pro for, but the limitations of iPadOS precluded me from doing so. Part of the problem, I suspect, is that the apps that I am used to using on my MacBook Pro are not available, in any form, on the iPad.
HomeKit is Apple’s framework that allows you to control and manage your smart devices in your home. The Home app has the ability for you to identify favorites. One thing that would be nice to have would be the ability to put your favorites in whatever order you want. With iOS 15 this is not possible. The order is entirely arbitrary and does not make any sense.
Removing a favorite and re-adding it does not change the order and there is no way to manually adjust the order. It would be a great addition to be able to set the order for favorites would go a long way to adding some flexibility.
There are a couple of things I would like to see on the Apple Watch. These are the same things that I wanted last year, but we did not get them. Therefore, I am copying and pasting my exact wish list items from last year.
When you charge an Apple Watch once the Watch is fully charged a notification will be sent to the paired iPhone. What I would like to see is this enhanced a bit so that the notification will be sent to other nearby devices, like a Mac or an iPad, provided that the devices are logged into the same iCloud account. Like the listing of shared iCloud folders, this is a small feature that would add a nice touch.
The second change is third-party custom watch faces. I think allowing developers to create custom watch faces, and having users install them, is sorely needed. The Apple Watch has a wide variety of watch faces, however, even with all of the customizations that are available, not all watch faces suit the needs of all users. I am not sure if Apple will ever do this, but I am sure that there is a market for this.
I think we will see some improvements to SwiftUI. What specific improvements might be tricky to determine, given that SwiftUI is not open source. However, SwiftUI is still a somewhat nascent framework and there is still some features that could be added.
One area that could be significantly improved is layout. In particular, providing equal width buttons. If I have three buttons that I want to have equal widths, there is no simple way of doing this.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for any programmer is determining whether something can be done with a particular framework. Apple’s documentation, while it has improved, is still woefully inadequate, particularly in relation to SwiftUI. Instead of consulting Apple’s own documentation, I tend to just do a search for how to do something in SwiftUI, because Apple’s documentation won’t answer it.
It is not necessary just a particular approach, but whether a particular View (Stack, List, HStack, etc…) can accept a particular modifier or not. There are times I just try to add a modifier to a view and see if it can do anything. Sometimes, it works, other times it does not.
There is my wish list for iOS 16, iPadOS 16, tvOS 16, watchOS 9, and macOS 13. Apple’s WWDC keynote is on Monday at 10am Pacific Time. Apple’s State of the Union will follow at 1:00pm Pacific Time. As is the case with other Apple keynotes, I will post a recap sometime on Monday, after the keynote.
A full third of the year has now passed and we have reached meteorological summer, it is time to provide my reading list for May 2022. For the month of May 2022 I read a total of 23 titles, 2 of which are new, or about 8.70% being first time listens for me.
The title I want to highlight this month is “Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population
I think next three months will be lighter on books I will listen to due to personal projects going on throughout the summer.
There are actually two parts to the full course, the “Apple Device Support” course and the “Apple Deployment and Management” course. The Device Support course is approximately 14 hours in length and will cover tools, services, and the best practices used to support an organization’s iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Once you have completed the course you can attempt the exam to earn the Apple Certified Support Professional certification, with the exam ID of 9L0-3021-ENU.
The Apple Deployment and Management course is approximately 13 hours long and will cover the ways to configure, manage, and secure Apple’s products while using a mobile device management, or MDM, service using Apple’s Business Manager or Apple School Manager. Once you have completed this course and pass the exam, you can earn the Apple Certified IT Professional certification, with the exam ID of 9L0-3019-ENU.
There are a couple of things to note about these. First, the “Certified Support Professional” is required before attempting the “Certified IT Professional” certificate.
Second, the exams are online exams and administered by Pearson OnVue. When you do take the exam, it will cost $149 each. So, that is something to keep in mind. According to Apple’s documents, if you do not pass the exam on the first try, you can retake it again after 14 days, with a maximum of four attempts to pass the exam.
Each exam is 110 questions, of which you need to get 80%, or 88 questions, correct in order to pass. You have 120 minutes to complete the questions.
This is a great addition for those looking to get some training on Apple’s products with documents directly from Apple. The ability to learn at your own pace is a great thing for providing significant flexibility for those wanting to learn.
If you have been reading my site for a while, you might realize that I like video games. One thing you might not realize is that I also like Legos. You might expect that if you combine the two that I would be the target market, and you would be absolutely correct.
Over the last 18 years of blogging I have written some reviews of Lego games, including Lego Dimensions and a list of my favorite games for 2017 . When I went back and looked, I thought I had done reviews of more of the games, but for some reason it turns out that I have not, but I absolutely played a lot of Lego video games over the years. Some of these include Lego City Undercover (on both Xbox and Wii U), Lego Marvel, Lego Harry Potter, Lego Indiana Jones, and, of course, all of the Lego Star Wars games. With Star Wars and Lego being two of the things that I like, I thought I would write a review of the “Lego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga” video game, so let us look at various aspects of the game.
Before we get into the game we need to take a brief look at the source material, the Star Wars film franchise.
Star Wars Films
You are likely aware that there are nine films that focus on the main characters within the Star Wars franchise. In fact, these nine films are three trilogies, the “Original” trilogy, the “Prequel” trilogy, and the “Sequel” trilogy. All of these comprise what is called “The Skywalker Saga”. There are other anthology films, but these are not included in the game. The complete list of films in the “Lego Star Wars: the Skywalker Saga” are:
The Phantom Menace
Attack of the Clones
Revenge of the Sith
A New Hope
The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
The Force Awakens
The Last Jedi
The Rise of Skywalker
Throughout the game you will be able to play all nine films and use a variety of different characters. Some of these will be from the films that you can easily recognize, while others may be a bit more obscure. Before we dive into the game itself, let us look at its actual release.
Game Release and Delays
It is quite common for games these days to have an initial release date and end up being delayed. But the Skywalker Saga is an outlier, even for the norm. The game was initially announced at E3 in 2019. An initial release date for the game was set in May of 2020 with an expected release in October of 2020. However, events in August of 2020, it was announced that due to COVID-19 the game would be delayed with an expected release date being set to Spring 2021.
Fast forward to April 2nd, 2021, and TT Games announced via Twitter that the game would be delayed indefinitely. The reason provided was to allow more time to work out the bugs since the game was supposed to be the largest and biggest Lego game to date. In January of 2022, TT Games announced that the Skywalker Saga would launch on April 5th, 2022. The game did in fact launch on April 5th, 2022.
I am one who enjoys all sorts of Lego games and this was absolutely no exception. I had pre-ordered the game in December 2020. I opted to get the “Deluxe” version, which included the character pack as well as a Luke Skywalker mini-fig. This pre-order length is the longest that I have experienced, and I have been gaming for a long time. The number and length of delays were worth it though. This was one of the most stable, although no perfect, Lego video games that I have played to date.
About the Game
The Skywalker Saga is an ambitious game. As the name states, it covers the entirety of the Skywalker Saga, which is all nine of the films, from “The Phantom Menace” to “Rise of Skywalker”. You might initially think that would have to start at the first film, “The Phantom Menace”, but that is not the case. In fact, there are you can start at any first movies of each of the trilogies. This means that you can begin at The Phantom Menace, A New Hope, or The Force Awakens, depending on your mood.
For my play through I opted to start with The Phantom Menace. Within each film, you are not able skip ahead to another film, you actually have to play through the trilogy in order. Next, let us look at the game play.
Within Skywalker Saga that are actually two different modes of being able to play through a particular level, Story Mode and Free Play. Story mode is a locked mode in which you will need to use the provided characters to complete the level. Free Play mode is very similar to Story mode, except you can choose any character that you have unlocked and can switch freely between them in order to accomplish the tasks required.
Each class of character has its own unique abilities. Here are some benefits for each class:
Jedi – Jedi mind tricks, Jedi powers
Heroes – Hero Terminals, Grappling Hooks
Scavenger – Special Tools
Scoundrel – Special Targeting
Bounty Hunters – Enemy detection, grenades, and some can temporarily hover
There are a number of features within Skywalker Saga that features that you have come to expect from Lego games. Chief amongst these is collecting of studs. Studs are circular lego pieces that will provide you will various amounts depending on the color. The colors and their stud values are:
Silver – 10 studs
Gold – 100 studs
Blue – 1000 studs
Purple – 10000 studs
Studs are used for a variety of things throughout the game. Some of these include purchasing upgrades, ships, characters, or even during quests. There are only a few quests that actually require you to pay for something using studs. If I recall correctly, the most expensive thing paid for during a quest was 10,000 studs.
“True Jedi” is a status where you collect a requisite amount of studs in each level. The amount varies level to level. For some levels it can be easily accomplished during story mode without any multipliers, while others are more easily accomplished with stud multipliers enabled.
Each of the nine movies has six levels to go through. These levels are re-creations of the movies with some additional elements. If you have seen the movies you will definitely recognize the various parts of each movie and which parts the game is recreating.
Within each level there are some tasks that you need to accomplish. There are five mini-kits that you need to locate and obtain. These mini-kits are used to unlock various Micro ships. Some of the mini kits can be obtained while playing through the story using the characters provided to you, meanwhile there are others that will require you to use other unlocked characters in order to obtain these other mini kits and can only be obtained during free play.
Along with the mini kits there are also three challenges per level. Some of these you will inevitably get by accident, while others will require you to make a concerted effort to obtain them. There are 135 total challenges to accomplish, three for each of the 45 levels. Challenges are not identified in anyway, except for at the end of the level. For these challenges, you may want to find the information on the internet.
Throughout the Skywalker Saga there are 1166 Kyber Bricks that you must obtain in order to get 100% completion. Within each of the levels of the nine films there are six Kyber Brick. These are awarded for each of the following:
Obtaining “True Jedi” status
One for each of the three level challenges
Collecting all five minikits
That means that within the nine films there are 270 Kyber Bricks that are possible just for going through the levels and completing all of the challenges and obtaining True Jedi and collecting the minikits.
Kyber Bricks are used to make purchases that will help upgrade different character classes.
Character class upgrades will allow you to make improvements to various character classes. Some of these upgrades are for the “Base” class, which applies to all characters, while others are class specific. These upgrades cost a combination of Kyber Bricks and studs. As each of the upgrade levels goes up, it will cost both more in Kyber Bricks and studs. Studs are more easily obtainable.
Now that we have covered a few different aspects of the game play, let us turn to the Galaxy.
In the Skywalker Saga you can go to any of the planets across the Star Wars galaxy at any time. You do not need to finish any levels to access the planets. On each of the planets you will have a variety of mini puzzles to accomplish and characters to obtain. There are 25 different planets with at least two specific areas that you can travel to, and likely more. One of these is the “Space” around the planet and another is on land. Many of the places that you can land will be familiar and are places you have played during story mode. The total number of areas you can travel to is 55, and even some of these have areas that you are not directly accessible, except by taking a taxi (free) between areas on the planet.
Throughout the Star Wars galaxy there are a number of different quests that you can perform. The list includes:
140 Side Missions
All of these items can be accomplished whenever you would like. As is the case with many other aspects of Lego Star Wars Skywalker Saga, some of these will be easy, while others will be challenging.
As a note, the challenges listed above are different from the level challenges and are galaxy-wide challenges.
Throughout the Galaxy there are 19 datacards that can be collected. Each Datacard will allow you to unlock a special extra, like stud multipliers, or a special GONK companion. These are round in various worlds and will each cost studs to unlock. The stud multipliers are particularly expensive to purchase, but their cost will be made up somewhat quickly particularly if you have more than one multiplier enabled.
Rumors within Skywalker Saga are a way of learning information. This information may be quest specific, but it may also be just general information. You can purchase any rumor, in the Holographic in-game menu. The types of rumors you can purchase are for any of the side quests, galaxy-wide challenges, level challenges, or even minikit information. Rumors are not free and will cost you some studs to obtain. Here are a couple of screenshots showing the process.
No Xbox game is complete without at least some achievements. There are 45 achievements that can be triggered by completing actions. It is not likely that you will get all of them very quickly, in fact it will take a while. But, as you play it is inevitable that you will trigger at least some of them just through the natural course of the game.
Bugs and Glitches
No game is ever going to be 100% perfect, and the Skywalker Saga is no exception. However, compared to other Lego video games that I have played, this one did have fewer noticeable bugs, with the exception of those outlined below. One thing in particular that I did notice is that none of the achievements failed to trigger for me. All of them popped as expected, which has not been my experience in the past. Even though it was the most stable, there were still some bugs.
I ran into a few issues while playing the game. This includes not being able to advance in some levels, some levels not being able to be played in “Free Play”, and my favorite, is having the game glitch so bad that I could not get out of a loop where I dropped through the floor, was caught, and placed right back to the same place. This was annoying because I could not even move or switch characters so I could get out of the loop. Here is the video showing that glitch.
The second bug that I came across was in the level “C-3P-Oh No!”, in “The Rise of Skywalker”, where “Free Play” would not actually be work. Instead, it enters story mode. This bug only occurred when flying to the level and trying to select Free Play. If you use the Holographic level selection screen and select Free Play it worked as expected. Below is a video showing the bug.
Here is a video of a last bug that I encountered. This one is just a bug, it did not affect game play. One of the many quests is to collect various characters for someone else and this is just a bug where the camera angle obscures the actual collection of the character. It did not affect game play.
Beyond the bugs mentioned above, there is one thing that can be annoying. There are 1166 Kyber bricks to collect in order to get 100% completion. While I can appreciate a large game, having to do the same thing over and over does get monotonous after a while. If you are going to attempt to get 100% on the game, be prepared to spend a significant amount of time obtaining all of the items, collectibles, characters, and completing all of the levels and challenges.
A second annoyance that I encountered is regarding characters. Before we dive into that, we need to cover another feature. One aspect to the Lego games is the ability to unlock stud multipliers. There are five possible multipliers within the Skywalker Saga. These are the 2x, 4x, 6x, 8x, and 10x multipliers. These can be used in conduction to allow you to get a lot of studs fairly quickly.
With all of multipliers enabled you actually get 3,840 times the value of each studs that you collect. What this means is that for a silver (10) stud collected on the screen, you actually receive 38,400 studs. If you collect a 10000 stud, that means that you collect 38,400,000 studs. This can add up quickly and can be very helpful to obtain True Jedi status. Now, back to the characters.
Regarding the characters, it is not that there are too many characters, although there are certainly quite a lot of them, the issue is that you have to “purchase” each one of them individually within the game. What would be nice to see is a way of being able to purchase all available ones in a single go.
I can see where having this feature early in the game could easily go awry and have someone inadvertently purchase all of the available characters and then no longer have the studs to do perform other tasks. In order to avoid this, it could possibly be that the option would not appear until after you have unlocked all of the stud multipliers. This way, even if someone accidentally does this, it will not take long for someone to acquire the studs again.
The same would also apply to ships, although there are significantly fewer of them, but it could be helpful to that option for those as well. However, this approach would not make sense regarding upgrading character classes because upgrading character classes does require a bit of thought depending on what functions you need at the time.
The last annoyance is actually regarding some of the battles. For some of the battles, like when you are facing Count Dooku on the ship, your character has a particular perspective. While I understand the need for this, it can be quite annoying, particularly if you are attempting to get a Kyber Brick or complete a challenge. This is because you cannot change the perspective, and in this particular instance, even switching characters does not allow for freely looking around, the perspective remains the same no matter what character you are using.
As with any game you end up learning things as you play the game. Lego Skywalker Saga is no different and I thought I would provide you some tips that may come in handy for when you play.
Unlock the stud multipliers as soon as possible. As outlined above, the sooner these are unlocked the quicker you can collect studs.
Along with stud multiplier, the stud magnet is a good thing to unlock as well. This may be something you want to unlock after you unlock the 2x and 4x stud multipliers.
Be sure to upgrade character classes as you go, there are some additional capabilities which may be useful in the game.
Be sure to explore the capital ships. They contain some goodies.
Make use of the mission tracking capabilities and do not be afraid of hopping from planet to planet.
Do no expect to be able to do everything in order, it is just not possible.
Talk to non-player characters no matter where you are. You can learn quite a bit from these characters.
Lego Star Wars: Skywalker Saga does go through all of the nine films and does a pretty good job of recreating the experience of the films. While the game does have some bugs, at least as of this writing which is less than two months after it launched, it has far fewer bugs that previous Lego games. This makes the game quite a bit more enjoyable to play.
Even though the game is enjoyable overall, it might start to feel like Groundhog Day when you are doing the same things over and over. It may be advisable to break up tasks and do various things throughout the galaxy. The game is ambitious and a giant galaxy. That being said, you will likely want to consult some walkthrough and hints to figure out how to achieve some tasks throughout the game play.
If you have a significant amount of time that you want to use playing a game, you could possibly put it towards Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. There is a lot that the game has to offer. I have not calculated how long I have spent playing the game, but it is a significant amount of time. I looked at the amount of time that I spent on the game and it took me just under 129 hours total to reach 100% in the game. Therefore, if you do pick it up you will absolutely get your money’s worth when playing, unlike some other games.
This is another article in that series. This one will cover the original Apple TV.
Apple TV Introduction
Typically, when Apple introduces a new product they do not pre-announce it. However, there is are exceptions to this. The only exceptions is when Apple introduces a new product line, that requires certification by regulation agencies, like the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC. The reason for this is that Apple would rather control the introduction and information as opposed to having it be released by another agency.
Apple initially announced the Apple TV, then called the iTV, in September of 2006. You can watch the introduction video below.
On March 21st, 2007 Apple began shipping the Apple TV. So let us look back at the 1st generation Apple TV.
Apple TV (1st Generation)
Of course at its release it was not called the 1st generation Apple TV, it was just the Apple TV. The original Apple TV was a smaller and thinner version of another Apple product, the Mac mini.
In fact, the physical size of the Apple TV was 7.7 inches by 7.7 inches by about 1.1 inches tall. This would fit nicely in a stereo cabinet with other devices.
The original Apple TV had two different connection types, HDMI and component video. The reason for both is that not all TVs at the time had HDMI connections, but many at least had component.
The Apple TV was limited to either 480p or 720p when playing video. However, the interface could be shown at 1080p.
The Apple TV also had an ethernet jack as well, only a 10/100 Mbps connection. This was enough bandwidth to easily stream from a computer to the Apple TV. Ethernet was not on the only connection you could use.
I know I tended to use Wireless more often than the wired connection. The Apple TV could connect to 802.11a/b/g/n. Even 802.11g would be fast enough for streaming 720p video, and since 802.11n was faster, it was definitely able to handle it. However, there was one area the speed would be even more beneficial, and that was the primary use case, syncing.
Syncing with iTunes
The Apple TV was effectively a giant iPod. This meant that you could connect the Apple TV to iTunes and synchronize data over to it. The Apple TV would appear in iTunes and you could then choose the movies, podcasts, or TV shows to synchronize.
Storage and Pricing
The Apple TV came in two storage sizes, a 40GB or a 160GB model. Both of these were 5400RPM 2.5-inch laptop hard drives. The 40GB model cost $299 and the 160GB model cost $399.
The first-generation Apple TV contained a low-power Intel processor. This made sense because the Apple TV was developed early into Apple’s transition to Intel processor. Specifically it has a 1.0 GHz Intel Pentium M. It had 256MB of RAM with an integrated Nvidia GeForce Go graphics card with 64 Megabytes of dedicated video RAM.
The way that you interacted with the Apple TV was by using a white plastic remote. This was the same remote that was included with iMacs at the time. You could also use an aluminum remote as well.
These remotes have a four way directional pad with a click button in the middle.
Apple also introduced an iOS app that would allow you to connect your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to use the Apple TV. Sometimes it was easier to use the iOS iTunes Remote, particularly when you needed to enter in a password.
Even though the Apple TV started shipping in March, it was not until May 5th, 2007 that I actually picked up an Apple TV. The model I got was the 40GB model. This was because it was cheaper at $299 and it was the most I was willing to spend at the time.
The Apple TV was a spur of the moment type of purchase and not one that I had really planned on making. I distinctly remember where I bought it from, it was a Circuit City. I was looking through some old paperwork and I ran across the receipt at some point recently. Although, now I cannot seem to find the original receipt.
The original Apple TV Today
Unlike many old Macs, you cannot really use the original Apple TV in its original configuration today. Since iTunes is no longer able to sync, you cannot add any media to the device.
There still is one thing that you can do with the 1st generation Apple TV, it was possible to use it as an AirPlay destination. I was not able to get my video to AirPlay to the Apple TV, but I could get music to AirPlay successfully. Therefore, if you have an original Apple TV you can still use it for at least one thing. The AirPlaying was done with my mid-2017 iMac running macOS Monterey.
Personally, I do not use my original Apple TV anymore. I have since upgraded to several of the newer models. I do still use the first generation Apple TV as a way of raising up my iMac or another monitor, depending on what I need. When I did briefly plug the first generation Apple TV again, the hard drive was a bit nosier than I had remembered, but it was still operational.
The Apple TV was a good device for its time. Even though it required you to sync data over to it, the speed of the wireless connection, with 802.11N, or even the 100Mbps ethernet connection, would synchronize data fairly quickly.
The fact that it was the same physical footprint as the Mac mini allowed it fit nicely into an entertainment center with other devices. The Intel Pentium M processor was a lower speed, but allowed for passive cooling, so there was no fan noise.
There is one spot where there might be noise, and that would be the 40GB or 160GB spinning hard drive could be the place where noise would be heard, particularly as the device got on in age.
The Apple TV cannot really be used with any modern Mac, with the exception of being an AirPlay destination. Therefore, if you do have the need for a TV and you still have an original Apple TV, you could still use it.
When Apple announced the Studio Display I ended up buying one. You can read my full review of the Studio Display.. When I ordered the Apple Studio Display I knew I was going to use it with my iMac. In fact, I ended up using it as my primary monitor. After I connected and setup the Apple Studio Display I started looking at various aspects. One of the things that I tried out were the speakers on the Studio Display.
The speakers on the Studio Display are significantly better than those in my 2017 iMac, even though they are better, I wanted to see if I could use all of the speakers at the same time. I knew that the iMac speakers would not be as good, but they would still be something.
During this testing, the screen on my iMac began to crack. I did not know if it would stop or if it would continue to expand. Therefore, I ended up buying a Mac Studio and a second Studio Display. You can read my review of the Mac Studio.
With both the iMac and the Mac Studio, I tried looking to see if macOS could do this natively, but I could not find a way of being able to output to both the Studio Display and the iMac speakers at the same time. macOS only lets you choose a single output at a time.
I thought about which apps that I knew of that I could use that would be able to output to both deices at the same time. I knew it was an app from Rogue Amoeba, who is a prominent Mac developer who specializes in Mac audio apps. They have a couple well-known apps, Audio Hijack and SoundSource, but I knew neither of these were the one I was thinking of. I ended up going to their website to figure out the name. The app I was thinking of is Loopback. We will get to how I use Loopback in a bit, but first let us look at how I use audio most of the time.
A vast majority of time I listen to just about everything using my headphones. This could be music, an audiobook, or podcasts. When I am listening to audio I am almost always using my headphones paired with my iPhone. The reason I do this is because I can listen to audio whenever I go without having to pause it or move the audio between devices.
There are those times that I may want to briefly checkout a video that someone has sent me and instead of using my iPhone, I will likely use the Mac I am on. I do this so that I do not need to necessarily pause the audio I am listening to. Even with this there are times when I would like to listen to music while doing other things on my Mac and not have to use my headphones. For those times, I want to be able to have the music sound as good as possible, and internal speakers on the Macs I own are just not good enough. And this is where Loopback can come in handy.
Loopback is an app that allows you route audio from any Mac app, or input, to another app, or any audio output. For inputs, this can be a microphone, an app, or another input. Some examples of inputs can be a game system, or stream deck, a microphone, or even just the macOS system audio.
When you first start up Loopback you will be shown a Quick Tour. A good description of what Loopback is capable of comes straight from the first page on this Quick Tour. It states:
“Loopback’s magic is built on its ability to create “virtual audio devices”, which appear on your system exactly like a physical device. These virtual devices merge sound from multiple applications and inputs into a single source. Virtual devices pull audio from source apps and devices, then routes it with a set of channel mappings. In seconds, you can get a virtual audio device configured, then select it as an input or output in any audio application on your system.”
There are three possible items within a Loopback device, a Source, Output Channels, and Monitors. A default Loopback device will two items defined, a “Pass-Thru” source, and a single two-channel item.
A “Pass-Thru” device is a virtual sound output device that can be used to, as the name suggest, pass output to the device to Loopback for processing. Before we dive further into Loopback, let us look at the setup.
Setup (With a BIG Caveat)
There is one caveat when it comes to installing Loopback, and that caveat is a rather large one.In order to get Loopback running on an Apple Silicon machine you will need to change the security model of macOS. This is done by entering into recovery mode and then changing the “Security Mode” to “Reduced Security”. The reason that this is required is because on Apple Silicon machines Kernel Extensions are not allowed to load by default, and it takes a deliberate action to allow these items to run.
It should be noted that you cannot run Loopback without changing the security settings on an Apple Silicon Mac and then subsequently allowing the extension after reboot.
I would like to see do a more in-depth vetting of some companies and allow them to run within the “Full Security” mode. This would likely require a change to the overall approach to macOS, so it is not likely to occur, but it could be something that Apple could take on, if they chose to do so. Now, let us get back to Loopback.
Naming a Device in Loopback
Given that you can have as many loopback devices as you would like, you will want to keep them all straight. This is best accomplished by providing them with a descriptive, or at least easily identifiable name. To name a device, perform these steps:
On the left side, Locate the Loopback Audio device that you want to rename
Click on the Loopback Audio Device you want to rename.
On the right pane, Click on the “pencil” icon next to the name.
Enter in the new name for the device.
Either press the “Enter” key or click outside of the edit box.
That is all it takes to rename a device. Now that you have the item named, you may want to actually use it for the system. Let us look at that next.
Loopback Device as Output
The “Pass-Thru” loopback item is the key to being able to use multiple speakers simultaneously. As mentioned earlier, the Pass-Thru is a virtual device. What this means is that it is available as a virtual speaker device. This means that you can set the output for your Mac to the Loopback device. The way that you are able to have Loopback perform any of the processing that you have specified within your Loopback setup.
To set a device as the system output device, perform the following steps:
Open System Preferences
Click on the “Sound” system preference pane.
Click on the “Output” item at the top of the screen.
Locate the output device that you want to use as your system output.
Click on the output device you want to use as the system output.
As soon as you click on the output device, the system audio should change to the Loopback device. Now that we have that covered, let us look at how I have configured Loopback to be able to output to multiple speakers simultaneously.
Multiple Speakers for Output
The Studio Display has a set of six stereo speakers which can easily out perform many other audio setups. The real question is how do you get dual Studio Displays to output audio at the same time. Let us look at how I managed to accomplish that.
Before I came across the final setup, I tried a couple of different approaches that ultimately were not right. Let us look at some of those false starts next.
I did manage to go through a couple of different iterations for the Loopback setup to try and create a dual speaker setup before I added a new Loopback Device and set everything back to its defaults, which is what I actually wanted.
Before I stumbled on using the default setup, I tried another setup. It looked like this:
As you can see I specified the Music app as the source, since it is the primary app I wanted to control, I had a single set of channel outputs, for channels 1 and 2. The left channel was connected to every other output channel. Similarly, the right channel was placed on the remaining outputs.
There were two issues with this approach, other than being the actual wrong approach. First, only one of Studio Display’s volume outputs could be controlled with the function keys on the Mac keyboard. This ultimately meant that I would have to manually adjust the volume for the other Studio Display.
The second issue is that the configuration ends up negating some features of songs. In particular, by linking outputs to each channel on the Studio Displays, if a song is mastered for Dolby Atmos, the Music app would no longer be able to properly provide the full Atmos experience.
Another iteration that I tried was a similar one, but instead of just two output channels I had setup eight channels with the left and right channels going to each of the corresponding channels on each set of channels. Each of the channels is then connected to each corresponding channel on the Studio Displays. The same issues existed for this approach as the last ones. Instead, the best approach is actually a rather simple one.
The setup that I ended up with, is, actually very simple. If you are using Loopback, it is actually quite simple. All I did was add both Studio Displays as “Monitors”. Once I did this, anything that is pushed through the Pass-Thru device will be output to both Studio Displays simultaneously.
Here is my actual setup:
The actual setup is deceptively simple. It uses the default Pass-Thru device, connected to a single two-channel output, and then the left and right channels are connected to the proper corresponding channel on each of my Studio Displays. With this setup, and by setting the default audio output to “Studio Displays”, and that is all I need to do.
This still does have a couple of downsides. First, some apps will have their own preferences for which device to use for output, therefore may have to set the app’s specific output. This may be a choice that you made previously, or the app could have some other undefined behavior. Typically, this is easy enough to fix, but it is something to be aware of.
While taking screenshots of Loopback, I did come up with another possible setup. This one is similar to the one that I set up as my final one, but instead of setting up left and right on each of the Studio Displays, I came up with the idea of connecting the left channels to one Studio Display and the right channels to the other Studio Display.
Things Not to Try
Throughout all of my testing I went through a number of iterations to see what might work. One of them was to output to a HomePod mini. I can unequivocally say, do not bother. The reason I say do not bother is not because it does not sound great, it absolutely does, but the HomePod mini has a significant delay when outputting to the HomePod mini along with any other speakers. It can easily become problematic and you can begin to get a headache trying to listen to anything on another set of speakers at the same time as the HomePod mini.
The way that I am using Loopback is just one way of using it. Loopback is capable of routing audio from any device or app to any app or device. Loopback is what Apple should have built into macOS, but they have not. Therefore, Loopback is needed to fill in the void.
If you have a Studio Display connected to a Mac, it might be worthwhile to take a look at Loopback and see if you will be able to have audio output to all of your speakers simultaneously. Loopback is capable of doing so much more than I have covered here. What I described above only scratches the surface of what is possible with Loopback. This is just a single possible use case for the app, but one that might be particularly helpful if you have multiple Studio Displays.
It was not that long ago that I had commented to my friend Barry Sullivan that Apple needed to determine what they were going to do with the iPod touch, either increase the screen size to 4.7 inches, to bring it inline with the iPhone SE, or cancel the product outright. They opted for the latter. Today Apple announced that they are discontinuing the iPod touch, the last in a long line of iPod products.
The iPod was initially introduced on October 23rd, 2001 with the first generation iPod. In September of 2007, Apple introduced the iPod touch as “the iPhone minus the phone”. The iPod touch was a widescreen iPod and device that many felt safe giving to their kids instead of a full-fledged iPhone. In the newsroom post, Apple states:
Among the incredible ways to enjoy music across a range of devices, including a wide variety of models from the new iPhone SE to the latest iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone is the best device for streaming Apple Music or storing an entire music library on the go. Apple Watch and AirPods are the perfect companion, allowing users to access over 90 million songs right from their wrist, starting at just $279 with Apple Watch SE. iPad starts at just $329, comes with a more powerful chip, larger display and the latest iPadOS features. And for the best way to enjoy music at home, HomePod mini is just $99.
One thing I would like to point out about the above paragraph. It is somewhat disingenuous to say that someone can purchase an Apple Watch SE and listen to music. This is because it requires an iPhone to setup an Apple Watch. Yes, an Apple Watch could be added for another person in a family, but at that point it is not fully standalone. Therefore, someone wanting to get a device to download and listen to their music on the go has to pay at least $329 for an iPad. If they want to only listen at one location, and only stream Apple Music, then the HomePod mini is the way to go.
I cannot say that I am surprised by this decision. The 7th generation iPod touch was introduced on May 28th, of 2019 and has not been updated since. It took Apple a few months to even update the webpages when the 7th generation was introduced. So, it is not surprising that the product is being discontinued.
I myself was never much of an iPod touch person. I do have a 7th generation iPod touch that I use mostly for development and testing, but it is not something I use day to day. Even though the iPod touch was not for me, I did own a fair number of iPods over the years. A 1st generation iPod mini, the 1st generation iPod nano, the 6th generation iPod nano, and a 7th generation iPod nano, and a 5th generation 30GB iPod.
The discontinuation of the iPod touch does have some overall implications. First, for many instead of purchasing an iPod touch for their kids, many are now more likely to pass down old iPhones that do not have cellular plans. Second, for developers, the iPod touch has always been an outlier. It has the smallest screen size available at 4 inches. Trying to create interfaces that work at the variety of sizes available can be challenging. Being able to slowly drop support for the 4-inch screen should make development a bit easier, in the long run anyway.
It is sad to see the iPod line come to an end, but since the introduction of the iPhone, the sales of iPods has been decreasing. The iPod touch has not been a big seller for Apple for many years now. And the iPhone is a much more capable device, particularly in the world of streaming music.