Mid-2017 iMac: A Review

The original Mac was unveiled in 1984, which makes it 33 years old. One of the most iconic Macs has been the iMac. The iMac debuted 19 years ago, in 1998. While there have been a number of form factors throughout the ages, the iMacs overall design has remained unchanged. The iMac has become more svelte as it has aged. The internals have improved significantly over the time. The latest iteration of the iMac if the Mid-2017 iMac.

Given the maturity and longevity of the iMac it is difficult to review the latest hardware, but I shall give it my best shot.

My Mac History

The Mid-2017 iMac is not my first iMac. It is actually my third. My first iMac was a 20-inch 2007 iMac with a 250GB hard drive, running an Intel Core 2 Duo at 2.16GHz, and 3GB of memory. My second iMac was a Mid-2011 iMac with a 1TB hard drive, running an Intel Sandy Bridge at 2.7GHz, and has 12GB of memory. Each of these purchases were done at an Apple Store. This means that they were stock models. The memory was added afterwards. The models that Apple has at the store are the stock models. These are not customized in anyway. The Apple stores generally have different tiers, and these are available at the stores, however there are no customizations at the store. For these purchases, the reason I ended up going with these comes down to price.

Each of the iMacs I bought had a larger version, the 24-inch and 27-inch models respectively. In the case of the 2007 iMac, it was my first Mac, so I did not want to spend too much on my first Mac, just in case. For the 2011 iMac, I would have liked to have purchased the 27-inch model, but I could not justify the cost.

When looking to purchase a new iMac, I did some calculations about the length of time that I have kept my Macs. This came to 6.03 years. I knew it was time to look at getting a new iMac. This information played into my consideration of which model to purchase.

The Screen

The Mid-2017 iMac that I purchased is the top of the line 27-inch model. The iMac maintains the same form-factor as the 2014 and 2015 Models. It sports a 5K Retina Monitor. The difference with this year’s iMac is that it has a 500 nit display. This display is 43% brighter than the previous models. For me, the difference is easily noticeable when compared to my 2011 iMac.

One of the biggest features of this display is also available in the 2015 model and that is Display P3 color gamut. The Display P3 color gamut allows more colors to be shown. The 2017 model is slightly better in that it can do just a few more colors than the old model.

When a color is displayed on a computer, it is made up of three primary colors, Red, Green, and Blue. On most screens, each of these is capable of having one of 256 values, or 8 bits.. This results in the ability to display 16.7 Million colors.

The 2017 iMac is capable of 10-bit color, or 1024 different values for each color, Red, Green, and Blue. This means that it is capable of 1.07 Billion colors. So just a few more colors than before.

Ports

One of the biggest changes for the Mid-2017 iMac is the the ports that are on the machine. The 2017 iMac has traditional USB-A ports. These are USB 3 ports. The old Thunderbolt 2 ports have been removed in favor of the new Thunderbolt 3 ports. Thunderbolt 3 ports are compatible with USB 3.1 ports, or more commonly known as USB-C. The USB-C connector is the new standard for many computers, not just Macs. You can still use Thunderbolt 2 accessories with an adapter.

There is a standard ethernet adapter. The beloved SD Card slot and headphone jack are still present as well.

Keyboard

One of the more recent changes to the iMac line is the inclusion of the Magic Keyboard. The Magic Keyboard differs greatly from the old-style keyboard. There are a couple of major differences. The biggest is that it no longer requires batteries and instead uses a rechargeable battery. The method in which it connects is still bluetooth, but you pair via an included lightning cable.

The keyboard switches in the Magic Keyboard have less distance to travel, compared to the older style keyboards. These switches make the keyboard a little bit noisier than before. I purchased a Magic Keyboard for use with my old iPad Pro but I don’t use my keyboard with my iPad as much as my iMac. I have become accustom to typing on the Magic Keyboard and now typing on an old keyboard, like that on my MacBook Pro is definitely a bit of an adjustment to go back to the old keyboard.

Remote Disc

One of the trends with modern computers is the removal of optical drives. This trend is completely understandable given the tendency to lean towards digital media purchases and streaming. Yet, there may be times when you need to use an optical drive. Apple has covered with a feature called “Remote Disc”. Remote Disc will allow you to share the optical drive of another Mac with any computer that you would like. I never really had a need to use the feature, but I was working on my iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra e-books and wanted to watch a DVD while adding images. The 5K iMac does not have an optical drive, so I used Remote Disc. I put the DVD into my 2011 iMac and connected to the computer. The playback was just as if the disc was being played on the 27-inch iMac. I was only trying to play a DVD, so it was not super data intensive.

5K Screen Comparison

On the topic of DVDs, the maximum resolution possible on a 5K iMac is 5120 pixels wide by 2880 pixels tall. The 5K iMac was not my first Retina device, that was the 3rd Generation iPad in 2012. It was not my Retina Mac either, that is my 2015 MacBook Pro. But it is my first desktop Mac with Retina. The number of pixels is not easy to comprehend if you are coming from a non-retina screen. My 13-inch MacBook Pro is capable of 2560 pixels by 1600 pixels. This means that there are 3.6 times as many pixels on the 5K Retina iMac Screen as compared to the 13-inch MacBook Pro. To really get a good comparison, here is an image of 27-inch iMac at its full resolution with a DVD in the corner, which is 480 pixels.

Here is a picture of the maximum resolution of the 5K iMac with the maximum resolution of the 2011 iMac, which was 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels.

And just for good measure, here is a screenshot comparing all three sizes.

I have settled on using a resolution of 3200 pixels by 1800 pixels. While this may degrade some performance, as the note in display preferences states, it is a trade off I am willing to make. This is because most of the time I need more screen real estate than performance. Yet, if there is a reason why I need performance, I will have that option as well.

Geekbench Comparisons

I thought I would run some Geekbench comparisons across all of my devices. These were run with the latest version of Geekbench 4. For those who really want to know, below is what I got when I ran the tests.

  27-inch iMac 21.5-inch iMac 13.3-inch MBP 12.9-inch iPad Pro iPhone 7 Plus iPhone 5
32-bit Single Core 4844 3152 3148 769
32-bit Multi-Core 17372 7776 6021 1252
64-bit Single Core 5732 3542 3686 3882 3341
64-bit Multi-Core 19661 8772 6865 9222 5591
Metal 65613 17177 29726 12602
Open-CL 127096 5762 17350

Closing Thoughts

If you are in the market for a new Mac and want to get a desktop, which is not the most common type of computer purchased these days, then the Mid-2017 27-inch 5K Retina iMac may be right for you. If you know that you need a significantly, and even more, powerful workhorse of a Mac, then wait for the iMac Pro that is coming later this year. While the 2017 27-inch 5k Retina iMac may be iterative over its previous brethren, it is a speedy and powerful machine that is worth an upgrade. If you are in the market to create Virtual Reality content, but the starting price of the iMac Pro, $4,999, is a bit out of reach, then the 2017 27-inch iMac may be a good option.

Some Cord Cutting Options

One of the things that many people still pay for is traditional cable. Cable initially began with only a few channels but as appetites for more entertainment grew, more channels were added. Today, you can get upwards of 200 channels or more. The increase in channels has slowly also increased the price. The biggest issue for those with cable is that it is pricey. There are bundles, and these certainly reduce the cost, but these bundles often include items that consumers may not want. One way to reduce the cost of cable, is to cut the cord and go with other solutions. Cable is still dominate but is seeing a slow decline. By the end of 2016, almost 22% of all households did not have cable. This is certainly only going to increase as time goes on.

One of the issues with cord cutting is that while it can certainly be cheaper, subscribing to a lot of services can quickly become even more expensive than traditional cable. One aspect that has held many people back is the need for live sports. This has certainly begun changing with some services offering sports packages.

There are a wide variety of different options. These range from only using an antenna for local channels and just going with a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime or to a complete cable replacement. You can also use another streaming service. I looked into some of the alternatives to cable. This is by no means an extensive list, and is for the U.S. options may be different for other countries.

Some of these services offer additional packages, including sports, but these are not included in the table. These are only for the standard packages for each.

Here is what I have found:

Service Package Name Base Cost Streams Channels Cost Per Channel Cost Per Stream
Playstation Vue Access $39.99 5 46 $0.87 $8.00
Playstation Vue Core $44.99 5 61 $0.74 $9.00
YouTube TV   $35.00 3 47 $0.74 $11.67
SlingTV Orange + Blue $45.00 4 46 $0.98 $11.25
SlingTV Orange $20.00 1 26 $0.77 $20.00
SlingTV Bue $25.00 3 41 $0.61 $8.33
DirectTV Now Live A Little $35.00 2 64 $0.55 $17.50
DirectTV Now Just Right $50.00 2 87 $0.57 $25.00

As you can see, these services vary widely in what they offer versus cost. The most cost effective, overall, is the Playstation Vue service. Whether you choose the “Access” or “Core” service, the are amongst the lowest per stream, since they offer the highest number of streams at five streams. Conversely, DirectTV Now has the lowest per-channel price, but also is the most expensive “per stream” since it only provides at most two simultaneous streams.

If you are looking to reduce your monthly cost, but still want a fair number of channels, Playstation Vue may be a service to consider.

There is a whole spreadsheet that includes the channels that each service offers, available on Google Sheets. If you would like me to include a service not shown, let me know.

iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra books available for pre-order

As I have done since 2012 I have written two e-books over the course of the summer. While the final touches are being put on the books, they are now available for pre-order. As I mention in the books, I did something a bit different this year. I kept track of the total time spent working on the books. So far, I have spent 178 hours on these two e-books. This encompasses everything from watch the Apple Development videos, writing, editing, and image gathering. All of this work has resulted in over 95,000 words between the two books. It is a huge undertaking every year. Nonetheless, the e-books are available for pre-order. They will be released as soon as their corresponding operating systems are released.

iOS 11, tvOS 11, and watchOS 4 for Users and Developers covers all of the new features for each platform. On iOS this includes history of the iPhone, iOS 10.1 to iOS 10.3, 32-bit apps, the redesigned lock screen, home screen, and new cover sheet. Other topics include the all new Files app, control center, changes to Siri, the App Store, updates to Messages, Notes, Camera,  the Music app, and Photos, along with many other changes

A primary topic is the iPad, specifically multitasking, the Dock, Drag and Drop, and how iOS 11 brings a whole slew of new iPad-specific features to the forefront. 

watchOS 4 covers the new User interface, watch faces, and workout types, along with the redesigned music app. tvOS 11 brings Right to left language support, changes to app sizes, and home screen sync. 

For developers some of the topics include changes to Swift, Xcode 9 changes included the Code Editor Window, Source Control, Colors, and developing on iOS. Other topics include APFS, AirPlay 2, Metal 2, CoreML, and networking changes.

iOS 11, tvOS 11, and watchOS 4 for Users and Developers has something for all types of users, whatever your primary interest lies in iOS, watchOS, or tvOS.

It is available for pre-order from Apple in either iBooks, or ePub format. It is $3.99. You can pre-order the e-pub version from Amazon for $4.99.

macOS High Sierra for Users, Administrators, and Developers covers topics for all types of users. Some of the areas covered include new additions and changes to Photos, Safari enhancements, updates to Mail, Notes, iCloud, Siri, and the Apple File System (APFS).

maOS High Sierra for administrators covers some changes around File Sharing, Caching Service, Time Machine Server, and Xcode Server. Along side this, a layout of all of the new and changed Profile Manager payloads and options. 

Lastly for developers, some of the topics covered include changes to Swift, Xcode 9 changes included the Code Editor Window, Source Control, Colors, and developing on iOS. Other topics include APFS, AirPlay 2, Metal 2, CoreML, 32-bit Apps, and external graphics.

macOS High Sierra for Users, Administrators, and Developers has something for every type of user to learn all about the new features that are within macOS.

iOS 11, tvOS 11, and watchOS 4 for Users and Developers has something for all types of users, whatever your primary interest lies in iOS, watchOS, or tvOS.

It is also available for pre-order from Apple in either iBooks, or ePub format. It is $3.99. You can pre-order the e-pub version from Amazon for $4.99.

Improving Wifi Speeds

While doing some testing I began to look at my network and was trying to figure out why my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook were all only connecting at 802.11N speeds, instead of at 802.11AC speeds, like I thought they should be doing. Let me explain my setup first.

Being the nerd that I am, I have a more complicated setup than most, but it is not super complicated. I have two Airport Extremes, one fifth-generation and one sixth-generation. The fifth generation is the flat AirPort Extreme and is capable of running at 802.11N speeds. The sixth generation is the tall model and is capable of running at 802.11AC speeds. The two Airport Extremes are connected via an ethernet cable, with the 5th generation Airport connecting to the Cable modem that I use for my internet.

6th Generation Airport Extreme

5th Generation AirPort Extreme

 

My goal was to have the devices that I use the most connect to each other as fast as possible, and short of always plugging everything in via a wired connection, which is impractical for iOS devices, this was the alternative.

When I originally setup the second AirPort Extreme, I wanted to extend the network that I already had, so I had setup the sixth-generation Airport Extreme to use the same 2.4GHz and 5GHz network names that I had already established.

When I began looking into why my devices were not going as fast as they could I started by looking at which devices were connecting to each AirPort Extreme. I noticed there was no real rhyme or reason as to which device was connecting to which AirPort. I tried forcing connecting to the 802.11AC AirPort Extreme, by rebooting the fifth generation airport, but this only lasted for a little while before an 802.11N device would connect to the 802.11AC Airport again.

I then decided to change the AC Airport’s 2.4GHz SSID to a different Name, on the hopes that it would allow connectivity to be at 802.11AC speeds. This did not work. After I changed the SSID, I realized that the 2.4GHz frequency does not really support 802.11AC speeds. I then tried changing the 802.11AC 5GHz SSID. I then connected to the new SSID on the 5GHz and I then saw the speeds I was expecting.

This was what I was expecting and I was glad I was able to figure out how to achieve this. Although this still has some issues.

Issues

There are still some issues with this. I have a number of devices using the same Apple ID. What this means is that all of my network connections are automatically synchronized between devices, hence any SSID that I connect to on one device will be synchronized to the others. This results in some devices connecting to the 5GHz AC network, even though I do not want them to.

I could remove the network from the device, but again that would result in it being removed for all devices, which is not the intention and counter productive. Instead, I had to result to trying some other solutions.

Limiting Access

This has resulted in taking a rather drastic approach. There is an option within the AirPort Extreme for “Timed Access”. Timed Access allows you to determine when certain devices can access an AirPort Extreme.

To limit access you can perform the following steps:

  1. Open Airport Utility.
  2. Click on the AirPort Extreme that you want to restrict access on.
  3. Click on the “Edit” button.
  4. Click on the “Network” tab.
  5. Click the checkbox next to “Enable Access Control”.
  6. Click on the now enabled “Timed Access Control” button. You should now see a dialog that has “Unlimited (default)” under “Wireless Clients”.
  7. Click on the “+” button under “Wireless Clients” to add a new device.
  8. Under “Description” enter in a description for this rule.
  9. Under “MAC address”, enter in the Wireless MAC address for the device you want to limit time on.
  10. Under “Wireless Access Times”, configure the days that you want to provide access, or restrict access. Alternatively, you can select “No Access” to deny all access.
  11. Once you are done adding times, Click on the “Save” button.
  12. Click on the “Update” button in the lower right. This will prompt you to confirm that you want to apply changes and reboot the AirPort.
  13. Click the “Continue” button to save and reboot the AirPort Extreme.

Once this is done, you can try and reconnect the device. If you attempt to connect to the Airport during times that the device you configured is not authorized to connect, you will be prompted for the SSID password. Even if you enter in the password properly, it will not connect.

The setup I have is definitely not one that many will need, but it may be something that you need to configure. It is too bad that Apple has stopped manufacturing the AirPort Extreme, it can still be a good way for parents to limit the screen time for their kids, should the need arise.

Summer Weather in Chicagoland

The midwest during the summer is known for a few things: Heat, Humidity, and storms. The latter being the topic of this post.

The Chicagoland area does get intense storms from time to time, including the occasional tornado. Luckily, we do not get tornadoes that often. However, we did get a rather nice storm today.

It started off like this:

As one might expect, it started to rain and continued to rain and rain. It created some hail, as one might come to expect. I just didn’t expect it to be this size of hail.

And then even larger hail came by.

Here is a photo of all of the various sizes of hail that we received today.

Along side these, here are a couple of videos. mistakenly, my iPhone wasn’t set to record in 4K, so these are at most, 1080p.

And to complete the entire circle of Chicagoland Summer weather, this was a half hour later. This is just how summer in Chicagoland can be.

New Emoji coming this Year

One of the items that gets updated every year is the Emoji that are available. While the codes that define emoji are standardized, how they look on the different platforms is up to each platform vendor. This is because the look of emoji needs to fit into the overall look and feel of the platform.

For Apple, an emoji update comes after the release of their new operating systems in the fall. Typically in the .1 update, so this year should be iOS 11.1 and macOS High Sierra 10.13.1. Some of the new emoji that are arriving later this year are:

Bearded Person
Bearded Person

Coconut
Coconut

Crazy Face
Crazy Face

Elf
Elf

Exploding Head
Exploding HEad

Face Vomiting
Face Vomiting

Genie
Genie

Lotus Position
Lotus Position

Sandwich
Sandwich

Star Struck
Star Struck

T-Rex
T-Rex

Woman Breastfeeding

Woman with Headscarf
Woman with Headscarf

Zebra
Zebra

Zombie
Zombie

 

There are 69 new emoji that are in the Emoji 5.0 specification. A complete list can be found on emojipedia.org

An iPad Pro Cell Data Issue and the Fix

So I have had my iPad Pro for only about two weeks now. In those two weeks, I have managed to inflict some damage on my iPad, nothing that affects the actual usage, just some damage in the top corners and some scraping on the back. However, that is not what I am going to discuss today. This one is related to Cellular Data.

The 2nd Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the 10.5-inch iPad Pro have an embedded Apple SIM within the device. The devices still have another SIM tray that can be used to put an additional SIM. This is designed to be used if your preferred carrier is not useable with the embedded Apple SIM. Additionally, the tray also works if traveling internationally, so you can put a local SIM into the iPad.

When I got my 1st Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, I was able to get T-Mobile’s Mobile Data for Life plan. This deal ended in early May 2017. What this means is that you cannot move the Free Data for life from one iPad to another, since it is tied to the IMEI number on the iPad that it was first activated on. T-Mobile is unable to activate that plan on a new device, since it is not longer offered. With all of that information here is the series of events that occurred.

I wanted to see if I could move the Data for Life from my old 12.9-inch iPad Pro to my new 12.9-inch iPad Pro. This was before I found out it could not be moved. I tried to use the SIM from the first generation iPad Pro to the new one. After it did not work, I called T-Mobile’s support and was told the the plan was no longer offered and it could not be moved.

After learning it could not be moved, I put the SIM back into the old iPad. When I did this, an issue began. I could no longer sign up for an account with T-Mobile on the new iPad Pro. This is because when I would try to do anything on T-Mobile it would bring up the account information from the old iPad Pro. I kept fiddling with it, trying to see if I could get it to work. Unfortunately, I could not. So I had to call T-Mobile, since it seemed to be an issue with their system.

So I called T-Mobile. I talked to a representative and I attempted to explain the situation to them. At first they thought I was talking about a phone, clearly I was not since I mentioned iPad at least four times. I had to keep reiterating that this is an iPad. They did eventually figure out that I was talking about an iPad. The representative suggested that I could just take out the SIM and they could activate it on the new iPad. I had to re-iterate to the representative that the SIM was embedded and could not be removed. Eventually they passed me off to a technical support person, who could not figure out the issue and effectively stated that their systems did not show the iPad as being in use, despite the account information being shown.

T-Mobile indicated that I needed to contact Apple. So I did call Apple. The Apple representative that I talked to understood the issue and walked me through some of the steps that they thought might fix the issue. Unfortunately, none of them worked. The only option remaining was to restore the iPad to factory default and set it up as new. I went ahead and did this, but guess what, it dd not fix the issue. I contacted T-Mobile again, went through the same rigamarole as before and they still could not help. During this time, I talked to a customer service representative, was transferred to a “technical” person, whom was not very technical. I then asked to be transferred to their manager since they kept talking over me, and would not listen to what I was saying. Upon being transferred, my call was dropped. This greatly helped my attitude towards T-Mobile.

I then called T-Mobile back again and had to talk to yet another representative. After having to explain to this representative the issue I was having, they attempted to try some more things. Again, this representative kept talking over me and did not listen. This is when I got irritated and told them that they were not listening to what I was saying. Besides not listening to me, this representative was literally breathing into the damn microphone they were using. Pro Tip: Do not breathe into a microphone.. After talking to the representative some more, they came back again and said that they could not fix the issue.

I then contacted Apple again, via chat, and the Apple chat person was having issues with their computer. I ultimately ended up setting up a Genius Bar appointment. Shockingly, there was actually an appointment for later that day. I should say, by “later that day” I mean 18 hours later, it was after midnight when I made the appointment.

After getting some sleep, I sent out this tweet:

I then got a reply from T-Mobile’s Twitter help account to send them a Direct Message. I did so, and began explaining the issue to them. They attempted to help, just like the customer service representatives that I talked to. I informed them that I had an appointment with Apple and would let them know what came of that appointment.

My Genius Bar appointment was late in the afternoon. So I head to my appointment. I got there early, like I do, but could not check in until 10 minutes before my appointment. So I spent some time checking out the new Macs.

Once I do checkin and get my appointment started, I explained the issue to the Genius. They begin looking at things and the genius was a bit confused by the situation too. After trying a few more things and asking more questions the genius called over a colleague who specialized in activations.

I gave a brief description of the issue to the activation person, making sure to include the fact that that I was using the embedded SIM. By now, I had repeated the details of the issue no less than a dozen times to various people.

The activation specialist emphatically stated, “iPads do not have embedded SIMs”. I countered, that the latest iPads do have embedded SIMs and this was clearly stated on the website. This was corroborated by the genius that was helping me as well as the “Pit Boss”, as I will call that person. After a bit of back and forth, the Activations Specialist understood that there was indeed an embedded SIM in the iPad. What really made it sink in was that there was no SIM in the tray already, yet there was still the ability to try and setup the Cellular Data. Ultimately, this led to the fix.

The Fix

So, here is the fix. Insert an unactivated T-Mobile SIM into the secondary SIM tray. This will clear the existing account information. Apple let me take the SIM with me, even though I do not need it. I was able to successfully sign up for data using the embedded SIM.

Other Thoughts

Throughout the genius bar appointment, the woman sitting next to me, whom was getting her iPhone fixed, kept laughing because I kept having to give Apple employees more information about their own products than they had. I realize it was a relatively new product, but it seems strange for the geniuses to not know about the products that their company sells.

I did reply back to T-Mobile with a fix for the issue. I asked them to make sure that their customer services representatives are aware of the fix should the issue arise for others. I think the next step may be to send an email to Apple indicating the same, so that the geniuses can be aware of how to fix the issue. Let’s hope that T-Mobile actually informs their customer services representatives.

2nd Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro: A Review

There are a slew of reviews for the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro. With it being a new screen size, this makes sense. However, there have been a lot fewer posts about the 2nd Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro. As an owner of the first generation 12.9-inch, I thought it would be a good idea to provide my thoughts on the upgrade.

Back in 2015, I did an initial thoughts post about the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. I had intended to do a full review post, but I did not end up writing one. So this will be my review of the iPad Pro. Within the post will be some comparisons between the two models.

Commonalities

There are a number of similarities between the two models. This includes the screen size at 12.9-inches, a screen resolution of 2048×2732 pixels, the amount of memory at 4GB, the number of speakers with 4, they both work with the Apple Pencil, and they both are capable of charging with the 29 watt charger, with a USB-C to lightning cable. There have been some significant improvements with the screen.

An additional similarity that the two iPads share is that most accessories that worked with the first generation 12.9-inch iPad will work with the second generation. There are a few exceptions, but these will be covered later.

When you use Split View on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, you get two full-sized iPad apps next to each other. This is still the case on the second generation.

ProMotion

The most notable change with the 2nd Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the screen. In particular, the refresh rate. The new iPad Pro is capable of handling up to 120Hz. Combining this with the new A10X Fusion processor. ProMotion enables the iPad Pro to adjust the refresh rate to accommodate what is being done at that moment. For instance, if you are watching a movie that is outputting at 24 frames per second, the display can adjust to 24 frames per second. This is possible because 24 divides evenly into 120.

ProMotion provides more than just the ability to reduce the frame rate. The 120Hz refresh rate provides a smoother scrolling experience. When you first observe it, the scrolling seems strange, however it is something that you will become accustom to quite quickly. The hardest part is going back to a device that does not have ProMotion. The animations on non-ProMotion devices will begin to look choppy in comparison.

The Display

Besides the new refresh rate, there have been some major improvements to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro’s screen. In particular, it now supports the P3 Wide Color Gamut. What this means is that any photos that use the Wide Color Gamut will be able to display all of the colors. This could be photos taken on an iPhone 7, or 7 Plus, or created on a Mac that supports P3.

True Tone

An additional change to the iPad Pro display is the addition of True Tone. True Tone was initially released on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. True Tone is the ability for iOS to adjust the color temperature of the screen in a manner which best suits the current usage. This is done by taking in the ambient light at the time and subtly adjusting the colors so that the display will look consistent in all environments. True Tone also takes into account any Night Shift settings. If you have Night Shift on, and you have the screen set for a color, it will try to match that as well. Sometimes, when I am using the iPad and the screen adjusts without really seeing it adjust. When any iOS device adjusts its brightness you can easily watch as it adjusts. True Tone is not as easy to notice, at least not during my usage.

Cameras

One of the aspects of an iPad that most people may not think about is the camera. This is likely because when the iPad was initially released in 2010, it did not even have a camera. Alongside this, the camera in the iPads did not begin to have decent cameras until the 3rd Generation iPad, but really did not become modern until the iPad Air 2. The entire iPad Pro line has always had at least an 8 megapixel camera for the back. The 2nd Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro sports a 12MP ƒ/1.8 camera. This is the same camera that is in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, with one exception. The iPad Pro is capable of 3x optical zoom whereas the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are capable of 2x. You can absolutely notice the difference in the pictures taken between the two iPads. A couple of examples are below.

1st Generation iPad Pro
2nd Generation iPad Pro

Facetime Camera

The biggest camera upgrade has come with the FaceTime camera. That has gone from a 1.2 megapixel, ƒ/2.2 aperture to a 7-megapixel photos that supports 1080p HD video recording and even has support for the Wide Color Gamut (P3).

Apple Pencil

The original Apple Pencil still works with the 2nd Generation iPad, as one would expect. The Apple Pencil can be recognized at 240Hz, even while the refresh rate for other areas on the screen may be lower. This is definitely an advantage for those using an Apple Pencil.

iOS 11

The iPad Pro works perfectly well on iOS 10, but it will absolutely shine when iOS 11 is released in fall. The addition of Drag and Drop, the Dock, and app groups will be a great upgrade for all iPad Pro owners.

Final Thoughts

I could go on and on about the 2nd Generation iPad Pro. The fact that it is lighter than the previous model, or that there is now an embedded Apple SIM for the cell models, or that the Touch ID is faster. But those are things that you will experience. Overall though, the 2nd Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro is a great upgrade from the 1st generation model. If you are looking to get an iPad, and think the iPad Pro is what you want, you will not be disappointed.

My WWDC Prediction Results

Late last month, I had made two posts about my predictions, one for iPhone and iPad and another for macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. Let us see how I did. First, here are all of my predictions in one table.

Predictions

Possibility Recap
Change Likelihood
iOS Split View Changing 100%
macOS iMessage apps 95%
32-bit iOS Apps going away 90%
macOS Server Software Update Service going away 85%
watchOS Face being on all the time 80%
Fast split view app swapping on iOS 75%
New watchOS Workout Types 70%
Third-party Apple Watch Faces 50%
iOS Split View App Groups 50%
Sticker Pack creation from iPad Pro 30%
Notifications about health anomalies 25%
iOS Drag and drop Data Transfer 25%
Synchronize Health Data 10%
iTunes Refresh 10%
4K Movies and TV in iTunes 5%

Let us go through all of these. Predictions one by one.

iOS Split View Changing

This absolutely did happen. There were a ton of changes with SplitView, This will be covered in detail in a bit.

macOS iMessage apps

Nope, this did not happen. I do not know if it did not happen because of the differences in capabilities between iOS’ UIKit and macOS’ AppKit, or for other reasons. There is always next year for this.

32-bit iOS Apps going away

This absolutely did occur. There is no longer 32-bit app support in iOS 11. This means that you will see a message indicating that the developer has to update their application in order for it to run.

macOS Server Software Update Service going away

This did not happen either. The Software Update Service is still available for administrators. However, as I mentioned, if it did not happen this go around, it would most likely occur next year.

watchOS Face being on all the time

Nope, this did not come to fruition. Even with all of the battery life available on the Apple Watch it still does not allow the face to be on all the time.

Fast split view app swapping on iOS

As mentioned above, there were a ton of changes in Split View. This is one of them. Is it now possible with iOS 11 to be able to switch applications quite easily. This includes, being able to have an application layer on top of one another as well as using Split View on both the left and right sides in portrait as well as landscape views. This will absolutely help productivity.

New watchOS Workout Types

My guess at this occurring was 70%. And it did in-fact happen. There is now a new workout type called “High Intensity Interval Training”. This is one of the more popular forms of exercise, and it will be a benefit to be able to track the workouts a bit more accurately.

Third-party Apple Watch Faces

Unfortunately, this did not occur. There are a few new watch faces, Woody, Jessie, and Buzz from the Toy Story franchise, but that is all of the new watch faces.

iOS Split View App Groups

Just as with Fast Split View switching, App groups have also come to the iPad in iOS 11. There is absolutely no configuration needed for setting an app group, simply put the apps you want to use together side by side, and they will be considered an app group. You can change the groups at any point.

Sticker Pack creation from iPad Pro

With all of the new features for the iPad, the ability to create stickers directly on the iPad did not happen. I do not know if this is because it does not fit into the overall direction of the iPad, but it would be nice to have.

Notifications about health anomalies

The ability to get notifications about health anomalies did not occur either. The likelihood given was low, and it did not happen.

iOS Drag and drop Data Transfer

The Drag and Drop Data Transfer feature was added to iOS 11. You are able to drag and drop images and text without any app updates. You can also drag and drop other types of data, provided the developers add support.

Synchronize Health Data

While it was not announced on stage, there is now synchronization of health data across all of your iOS apps. This is available in the iCloud settings. This will definitely a benefit to all users who want to make sure that their health data is up to date on all of their devices.

iTunes Refresh

An iTunes Refresh was a very long short. I honestly did not expect this to happen, and it did not. Maybe sometime soon?

4K Movies and TV in iTunes

I did not honestly expect that to happen at this event. While we did get Amazon Prime Video coming in the fall, 4K content has not arrived. It may come in the future, possibly with a new Apple TV.

Final Thoughts

Those are all of my predictions. I only got 7 out of 15 correct, that is a mere 46.6%, not quite half, but it is still a decent percentage. Maybe I can get more correct next year.

Apple’s WWDC 2017 Announcements

Yesterday’s Apple World Wide Developer Conference keynote was a long one. It came in at just under two and half hours. This is the longest keynote that they have done, end so it was completely full of announcements. A list of items covered include software, and hardware, including some sneak peeks at hardware coming later. There was so much in this keynote, it is hard to choose where to begin. Let us start with hardware.

iPad Pro

One of the things that Apple announced at this keynote is new iPad Pros. The new iPad Pros have a slew of new features. Both of the iPad Pros now have feature parity, meaning that they have the same hardware inside the case.

  • ProMotion technology
  • P3 Wide Color Gamut
  • True Tone Display
  • A10X Fusion Chip
  • 12-megapixel camera
  • ƒ/1.8 aperture

The physical dimensions of the iPad Pros have changed, at least for the 9.7-inch model. That model is gone. It has been replaced with the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, yet it is almost the same physical size. This is possible because there is now 40% less bezel on the sides. The new 10.5-inch iPad Pro is only 0.3 inches longer and 0.2 inches wider than the 9.7-inch model. The size difference also means that the weight of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is a bit more over the 9.7-inch model. In fact, it is a whole 32 grams, or 0.07 pounds more.

If one is going from the 9.7-inch iPad pro to the 10.5-inch iPad Pro you will see a more modest set of changes one. However, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is seeing a bunch of new features. Again, these are all available on the 10.5-inch. The new features of the 12.9-inch include:

  • Digital zoom up to 5x
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Six‑element lens
  • Quad-LED True Tone flash
  • Panorama (up to 63 megapixels)
  • ProMotion technology
  • Wide color display (P3)
  • True Tone display

As mentioned, these were all available on the 9.7-inch previously, however having them on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will be a nice change for those 12.9-inch iPad Pro owners who do upgrade. In fact, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is now lighter by 36 grams, or 0.08 pounds.

The FaceTime camera has also been upgraded in both models. It is now a 7 megapixel camera with a ƒ/2.2 aperture, and 1080p recording. The FaceTime camera includes Wide Color capture as well. The FaceTime camera changes will work not only for FaceTime but also for selfies.

There is one last thing to note. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro is the only one that comes in Rose Gold. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro does not. The 10.5-inch model starts at $649, while the 12.9-inch model starts at $799. You can choose among three different storage sizes, 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB. This is double the previous models. There are also cellular models and these cost $130 more. The new iPad Pros are able to be ordered today, and they ship next week.

Macs

The quick summary is that everything got updated, well except the Mac mini, and the MacBook Air. The iMac, MacBook and MacBook Pros have all gotten an upgrade to the latest Intel Series of chips, codenamed Kaby Lake. The 13-inch MacBook now has the Intel Iris Plus 640 Graphics chip, where as the 13-inch with Touch Bar has the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar now includes an AMD Radeon 555 with 2GB of Video RAM, or Radeon 560 with 4GB of Video RAM. The 13-inch MacBook Pro non-touchbar model is now starting at $1299.

The 12-inch MacBook has also received a slight upgrade as well. It also has the 7th Generation Intel chips. It now has a 1.2 GHz process as its base which includes Intel HD 615 Graphics. Along side this it has Bluetooth 4.2 support.

If you are still in the market for a MacBook Air, they are still around and have recieved a very minor procssor speed increase, but that is the only change for the MacBook Air.

The MacBooks were modest upgrades, unlike the iMacs. These received a more substantial upgrade.

iMacs

The entire Retina iMac line received upgrades to the latest Intel chips, Kaby Lake. The most notable change is in the 27-inch Screen. It now supports the Wide Color Gamut (P3), which brings it to parity with the iPads.

The second biggest change is that the iMac line now supports USB-C, and Thunderbolt 3, with the two USB-C ports available on all models. This is the first time that USB-C has been available on a desktop Mac. Alongside, there is also Bluetooth 4.2 support. One of the most noticeable changes will be in graphics. For all Retina models, Apple is now including AMD Radeon Pro graphics. For the 21.5-inch model this is the 555 with 2GB of RAM or the 560 with 4GB of RAM. The 27-inch models get the Radeon Pro 570, 575, or 580, with 4GB of memory for the 570 and 575, and 8GB video Memory for the 580.

The change that is most likely to be a nice change is that the 21.5-inch 4K Retina iMac now starts at $1299. This is down from $1499 for the previous version.

There were two “Sneak Peeks” at the keynote. These will be covered a bit later. For now, let us look at the software that was announced, starting with tvOS.

tvOS

There was only one announcement, for today, regarding the Apple TV. Even though it was only one announcement, it was a big one; the Amazon Prime Video is coming this fall. This means that anybody who likes to watch Amazon Prime Video will be able to do that directly on the Apple TV. It is possible to use AirPlay to get Amazon Video on your Apple TV today, but this is an inelegant solution.

watchOS

The Apple Watch has become a key aspect to many people’s lives since its initial release in April of 2015. It took a couple of years, but the Apple has honed in on its main focus, health and fitness. watchOS 4 brings a few new features, the first being a new user interface for scrolling applications. Along side this there are a few new watch faces, Siri, Kaleidoscope, as well as coupel of new iconic characters. These characterse areWoody, Jessie, and Buzz from the Toy Story franchise.

Workouts are now easier under watchOS 4. To coincide with this, you are able to get more data to and from the Apple Watch. This is done through the use of NFC. The NFC capability will only available on newer equipment, but if it is available, it will be helpful. In particular, your heart rate will be sent from your Apple Watch to the gym equipment, whereas the incline rate from the gym equipment will be sent to your Apple Watch. This two-way communication allows for more data relating to health. This is likely only the beginning of the two-way communications between the Apple Watch and gym equipment.

The last item with watchOS is that Music can now be automatically synchronized over to your Apple Watch. This feature will allow you to always have music with you, particularly if you do not bring your iPhone with your when you exercise.

There are a bunch of other features for watchOS. For now let us look at some of the new features of iOS.

iOS 11

The most anticipated aspect of the announcement is the operating system for the iPhone, and iPad, iOS. iOS 11 brings a bunch of updates. One of the most used applications on iOS is Messages.

Messages

There are a couple of updates specifically for Messages. These revolve around iMessage apps, syncing, and Payments.

iMessage Apps and Stickers

With iOS 10, Apple added iMessage applications to iOS. One of the downsides to have so many iMessage apps and stickers is the difficulty of finding the specifc iMessage application you wanted to use. With iOS 11 it is now easier to find said application. You simply scroll through your iMessage application drawer and locate the application you are looking for. This was one of the biggest issues with iMessage in iOS 10. The next feature is syncing of messages.

Syncing

iOS 11 will synchronize all of your messages across all of your devices. This is possible because all of your iMessages will being stored in the cloud, securely. When you get a new device, all of your recent messages will be synchronized to the device. This will also reduce the amount of storage needed on your device for messages. The last item to highlight is actually an iMessage app, Payments.

Person to Person Payments

The biggest change to iMessage in iOS 11 will be the ability to send money directly to someone. Once you receive some money, it will be added to your Apple Pay Cash card. You can use this to purchase apps or pay for other services using your iPhone. Alternnatively you can transfer the money to your bank account.

App Store

Since the App Store was released nine years ago, it has remained mostly unchanged. It has changed slightly here and there with the style changes of iOS. However, that is going to change with iOS 11. Under iOS 11, the App Store is now getting a major redesign, similar to the one that Apple Music introduced. There are now two new and distinct tabs at the bottom; Games and Apps. These, as one might guess, are specifically for these two genres. This separation allows those specifically looking for Games to be able to find a game to play. The same goes for the other app categories.

The biggest change within the App Store is the “Today” tab. Similar to how Apple Music will suggest music for you, the App Store can now show you what is new today. This could be popular items, suggestions from the App Store curators, or even in-app purchases for games you are already playing.

Mark Up

One of the features within Mail on macOS Sierra was the ability to “Mark Up” images and send them to others. This feature is now available on screenshots within iOS 11. “Mark Up” is even better on an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil, but the feature works across all iOS 11 devices. This means that you will be able to add notes and highlights to any screenshot. This will make collaboration even better.

iPad Changes

The biggest changes for iOS 11 are with the iPad. As was stated, “This is the biggest release of iOS for the iPad”. The focus on the iPad Pro. They were not kidding. iOS 11 is chalk full of features specifically for the iPad. Some of these include:

  • Update for the Dock
  • Improvements to Split View & Drag and Drop
  • Consolidated Files

There is a lot more that has been added, but these are the biggest items and we will focus on these. Let us start with the Dock.

The Dock

Under iOS 10 and previous versions, the dock on the iPad was limited to 5 items, regardless of the size of the iPad. This meant that there was a lot of empty space between applications. This is no longer the case with iOS 11. Instead, you are now able to fill up the dock with as many applications as you would like. Additionally, the dock will house any recent items and will even predict what applications you may want.

Split View

Split View came to the iPad with iOS 9 in 2015. At the time you were able to run more than one application at the same time. This has been the case, but now with iOS 11, you are able to drag and drop all types of data between applications. This means that instead of needing to manually copy and paste, or send a picture to another application. This will make things even quicker for many users.

Alongside Drag and Drop, applications that you pair together will now stay together. This means that if you like to have two applications open side by side, it will now be remembered, which will only increase productivity.

Files.app

The last thing to know about the iPad, and iPhone, is that all of your files will now be viewable into a single application. This means that if you have files stored in iCloud, One Drive, and Dropbox you will be able to see all of them all at once instead of needing to go to different applications to get all of the files that you have. This will make it even easier with Drag and Drop to be able to find items and place them onto applications.

There are definitely many more features, however these are some of the biggest. Now, let us move on to macOS.

macOS

It is not surprising to see a new version of macOS at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. Each year there is a new name to accompany the new operating system. macOS 10.13 is code-named “High Sierra”. This is similar to the naming convention used by Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. This signifies that while there were some user facing features, these updates were aimed at under the hood improvements.

macOS High Sierra does not contain a huge number of new feeatures, except there are a ton of under the hood changes. The lowest level that one interacts with every day, the file system. iOS 10.3 brought the Apple File System (APFS) to iOS devices,

macOS High Sierra brings APFS to the Mac. This will be the default going forward. One of the things that many users use often is Safari. There have been a couple of changes in Safari.

Safari

The biggest change in Safari on macOS High Sierra is that Autoplay videos will no longer play, automatically. They are still able to be played, but they will be muted by default. Having autoplay videos not play automatically will only improve a user’s experience.

One of the downsides of the the modern web is the amount of tracking that is done has become and just how it occurs across all types of websites. This has changed with Safari under macOS High Sierra. Now, Safari will cordon off those sites that attempt to track your data and it will remove the data, so you cannot be tracked all over the web. The ads will still display, so it will not break the internet, but it should become a bit more pleasant.

There are some other technologies that are “under the hood” of macOS High Sierra, but these are not necessary to cover now. Let us look at the two products that Apple previewed.

Sneak Peeks

It is not often that Apple previews hardware, it has occurred before, but it is not often. Today Apple previewed two new products, the iMac Pro and HomePod. Let us start with the iMac Pro.

iMac Pro

The iMac Pro was briefly mentioned a couple months ago, when Apple sat down with a handful of journalists to spell out the future of the professional Mac. At that time there were no details. We now have some more information. First and foremost, the iMac Pro is designed for Professionals. This is particularly apparent with the STARTING price, of $4999. Yes, almost five thousand dollars is the starting price. The iMac Pro has the following specifications:

  • Retina 5k Screen with Wide Color Gamut
  • An 8, 10 or 18-Core Xeon Processor
  • 32, 64, or 128GB of Memory
  • 1TB SSD, configurable to 2TB or even 4TB
  • AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics, with 8GB of memory, configurable to Radeon Pro Vega 64 with 16GB of memory
  • 1080p FaceTime Camera
  • Stereo Speakers with Four microphones
  • 4 USB3 port
  • 4 USB-C ports
  • Bluetooth 4.2 wireless technology
  • 10Gbps ethernet port

There is only one color for the iMac Pro, Space Gray. The peripherals are also Space Gray, this includes the keyboard, Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse 2. The iMac Pro will be available in December 2017.

Mac Accessories

There is one new accessory for everybody today, a Magic Keyboard with a number pad. This is available today for $129. Let us look at the other sneak peek, the HomePod.

HomePod

One of the more anticipated items is what Apple would do regarding a smart home speaker. Today, they answered the question with the HomePod. The HomePod has a built-in A8 chip, the same one that powers the 4th generation Apple TV. Besides the processing chip, there are six microphones, and seven tweeters, each with their own drivers. The microphones and tweeters work in concert to be able to produce the best sound possible.

It does this through Spatial Awareness. Spatial Awareness will test the room that it is in and adjust the sound to each tweeter individually to produce the best sound possible. All of this is done within a 6.8 inches high cylinder that is surrounded by a wire mesh to allow the sound to flow through.

The HomePod is primarily designed to be a music speaker, however that is not all it can do. It also functions as a conduit to using Siri. You can ask Siri, “Who is the drummer in this song”, “Play some Hip Hop”, or even “Play this specific song” That is not all though, since it integrates with Siri, you can also say things like “Give me the news” or “Turn off the lights”. The HomePod is fully integrated with HomeKit, so it can perform any of the same tasks that Siri can.

The HomePod will be available in December 2017 for $349. It comes in two colors, White and Space Grey. If you have more than one HomePod in the same room, they can both work in concert to produce even better sound. At launch, HomePod will be availble in the U.S., the UK, and Australia, with other countries coming next year.

Final Thoughts

Today’s World Wide Developer Keynote presentation was a long, but feature rich presentation. The refreshed Macs and iPad Pros will provide even more for users. iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra will also provide a slew of new features. Both iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra will be available in the fall as free upgrades.

There was even more in the presentation that I did not cover here. You can watch the entire keynote on Apple’s website.