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Apple Apple Watch iCloud iPad iPad Air iPadOS tvOS watchOS

Apple “Time Flies” Event Recap

Apple held its “Time Files” event livestream event today. It was not a live event, but a pre-recorded one. The style of the video was very similar to that of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. We saw different parts of Apple’s campus with different people in each area. Today’s event focused on two products, the Apple Watch and the iPad. Let us look at what Apple announced for each.

Apple Watch

Today Apple announced two new Apple Watch models, the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE. These two models are similar, yet still different. Let us cover the aspects that are the same between the two models.

Common Features between Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE

There are a number of common features between the new Apple Watch Series 6 and the new Apple Watch SE. The first of these is the case sizes. Both come in 40mm and 44mm varieties and both have a Retina screen. Next is a feature that was added in the Apple Watch Series 5, fall detection. This is a great feature for those who may be prone to falling and need to be able to contact someone in the event of a fall. This is present in both models.

There is a new feature that is available on both models, a new Always On Altimeter. The Altimeter will be able to inform you, in real time, of your elevation. This is great if you are doing some hiking and want to see how high up you have gone.

One of the ways to personalizes the Apple Watch is by picking the finish for the watch. Both models come in an aluminum finish and are available in Silver, Space Gray, and Rose Gold.

Apple Watch Series 6 Exclusive Features

The biggest area for the Apple Watch is regarding Health. There are a variety of sensors already present on the Apple Watch. Sensors like the ECG, fall detection, heart sensors, and ECG app. There is a new sensor being added to the Apple Watch Series 6, a Blood Oxygen app. This app will be able to inform you of your blood oxygen level, with a simple 15 second test. This is possibly through the use of infrared to analyze the color of your blood and the color can determine the oxygen saturation level.

The Apple Watch Series 6 comes in more than just the three colors mentioned above. It also comes in two additional aluminum finishes, Blue and (PRODUCT)RED. It also comes in Stainless Steel and Titanium versions. The Stainless Steel color choices are Silver, Graphite, and Gold. The Titanium color choices are Titanium (Silver), and Space Black.

New Bands

Besides the finish of the Apple Watch, many also customize their Apple Watch through the use of different bands. To go with the new Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE, there are some new bands. A lot of them in fact. There are some new Hermes Fauve Barénia Leather Attelage bands in both single tour and double tour varieties, five new Sport Band colors, seven new Sport Loop colors, three new Nike Sport Band colors, and three new Nike Sport Loop colors. There are also two entirely new types of bands, the Leather Link and Solo Loop.

Leather Link

Apple Watch Leather Link Watch Band

According to Apple, “The Leather Link features handcrafted Roux Granada leather made in France. The band elegantly wraps around the wrist and magically attaches with flexible molded magnets that gently flex to help maintain a secure, comfortable fit throughout the day.”. The magnetic links will allow you to adjust the band to the perfect fit for your wrist.

The Leather Link band comes in four colors, Baltic Blue, California Poppy, Saddle Brown, and Black. These will work with the 38/40mm or the 42/44mm Apple Watches. Each Leather Link band is $99. They have a bit of a wait time, anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the model.

Solo Loop

The Solo Loop is made of a silicone rubber that is designed to stretch. There are no clasps, buckles, or any other item to adjust. Each Sport Loop is designed to be slipped on and off the wrist easily. Because there are no attachment mechanisms, they are designed to fit on your wrist, therefore there is a sizing guide that will allow you to determine the proper band size. The band sizes range from 1 to 9 on the 40mm Apple Watch and 4 to 12 on the 44mm Apple Watch.

There are seven different color options. These options are: Deep Navy, Ginger, Cypress Green, Pink Citrus, White, Black, and (PRODUCT)RED. Each of these is $49 and they will begin arriving on Friday. There is a second type of Solo Loop, the Braided Solo Loop.

To quote Apple, “Each Braided Solo Loop features a unique, stretchable design that’s ultracomfortable and easy to slip on and off your wrist. Made from 100 percent recycled materials, the 16,000 polyester yarn filaments in each band are interwoven with thin silicone threads using advanced braiding machinery then laser cut to an exact length. The 300D construction offers a soft, textured feel and is both sweat-resistant and water-resistant.”

The Braided Sport Loop comes in five colors. These colors are: Inverness Green, Black, Pink Punch, Atlantic Blue, and (PRODUCT)RED. The Braided Sport Loop comes in the same size configurations as the silicon Sport Loop, and these are $99 each.

There is one last thing to note about the Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop. These are not compatible with all watches. The Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop bands are only compatible with Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 4 or newer. Therefore, you will not be able to use these on the Series 3, or earlier models.

Family Setup

There is one new feature for the Apple Watch, which is compatible back to the Apple Watch Series 4 and that is Family Setup. There are many people who would like to be able to get an Apple Watch for the child or an elderly parent. This has not been possible because an Apple Watch has to be paired with an iPhone. That changes.

Family Setup allows you to setup another Apple Watch using your iPhone. When you do this, the Apple Watch will be independent and allow the Apple Watch to function on its own.

Family Setup makes it possible for the entire family to benefit from the important health and safety features of Apple Watch, like Emergency SOS, while Maps, Siri, Alarms, and the App Store provide greater independence without needing an iPhone. In addition, parents will have peace of mind knowing they can reach their child and identify their location, and that all personal data stays securely encrypted. With watchOS 7, the whole family can also take advantage of optimized features that enhance the overall Apple Watch experience.

There are a couple of limitations for the Family Setup. The first is that a cellular version of the Apple Watch is required. This will not work on a GPS model of the Apple Watch. The second restriction is that this only works on the Apple Watch Series 4 or later, including the Apple Watch SE.

Apple Watch Pricing and Availability

The price of the Apple Watch is an important one. The existing Apple Watch Series 3 is still available for the same starting price of $199. The new Apple Watch SE is $279 for the 40mm version, and $309 for the 44mm. There are cellular options for the Apple Watch SE, these are $329 for the 40mm and $359 for the 44mm. The Apple Watch Series 6 starts at the same price as the Series 5, $399 for the 40mm, and $429 for the 44mm. The cellular models are $499 and $529 respectively. The Stainless Steel models starts at $699 and the Titanium models start at $799. All of the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE are available for order today and will start arriving this Friday.

There is one last thing to note about the Apple Watch. the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 3, and Apple Watch Nike do not include a power adapter. Note, this is not the charger, but the little power brick that the charger plugs into. This is being done as a means of helping the environment. I believe that this is actually the case. It just so happens that it will also help save a bit of money, not just through not having to put a charger in each box, but also by reducing packaging as well as shipping weight. All of this adds up over millions of devices.

iPad

The Apple Watch was not the only item announced during today’s keynote. The iPad also saw some updates as well, but not all models of iPad. Only the iPad and the iPad Air were updated today. Let us look at each of these.

iPad

The iPad is Apple’s entry-level device, but even though it is entry level, it is full of features. The new iPad features a 10.2-inch LED screen as well as Apple’s A12 Bionic chip. This is the same one that is in the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max phones. To quote Apple:

The eighth-generation iPad with the A12 Bionic chip delivers a huge leap in performance, with 40 percent faster CPU performance and twice the graphics capability.2 This makes the new iPad up to two times faster than the top-selling Windows laptop, up to three times faster than the top-selling Android tablet and up to six times faster than the top-selling Chromebook. For the first time on iPad, A12 Bionic introduces the Neural Engine for next-level machine learning capabilities, including people occlusion and motion tracking in augmented reality (AR) apps, enhanced photo editing, Siri performance, and more.

In combination with A12 Bionic, the power of iPadOS, and Apple Pencil (1st generation), the new iPad is perfect for drawing, note-taking, marking up documents, and more. With its thin and light design, iPad is portable and durable with ultra-fast wireless performance, support for gigabit-class LTE connectivity, and all-day battery life, giving customers the freedom to work, learn, and connect at home or on the go. With Touch ID, unlocking iPad is simple and secure using just a finger, to keep important information safe.

The biggest change, besides the processor and graphics, is that the iPad is now USB-C. Included in the box is a USB-C to lightning adapter and a 20 watt USB-C power brick.

The iPad comes in the same three colors as before, Silver, Space Gray, and Rose Gold. It comes with 32GB or 128GB of storage, and there are cellular models as well. The price is still the same at $329 for the 32GB Wifi model, and $459 for the 32GB Wifi + Cellular, and $429 for the 128GB Wifi and $559 for the 128GB Wifi + Cellular models. These are available for order today and will arrive starting this Friday.

iPad Air

The bigger of the announcements is the iPad Air. This is not only because it is changed significantly more, but also because of the size difference. The 4th generation iPad Air is now a 10.9-inch model. This is accomplished by taking cues from the iPad Pro design and incorporating them into the iPad Air. The 4th Generation iPad Air has significantly reduced bezels, which allows the screen size to increase to 10.9 inches. This creates a resolution of 2360 by 1640 pixels. All of this is on a Liquid Retina LED display. The screen has a True Tone display that support the P3 Color Gamut and is fully laminated. This means that it includes the oleophobic coating to help reduce fingerprints.

All of this is driven by the A14 Bionic processor, which, according to Apple

…features a new 6-core design for a 40 percent boost in CPU performance, and a new 4-core graphics architecture for a 30 percent improvement in graphics.2 To deliver breakthrough machine learning capabilities, A14 Bionic includes a new 16-core Neural Engine that is twice as fast, and capable of performing up to 11 trillion operations per second, taking machine learning apps to a whole new level. A14 Bionic also includes second-generation machine learning accelerators in the CPU for 10 times faster machine learning calculations. This combination of the new Neural Engine, CPU machine learning accelerators, and high-performance GPU enables powerful on-device experiences for image recognition, natural language learning, analyzing motion, and more.

The iPad Air takes many cues from the iPad Air, most notably, its square edges. The square edges allow for the iPad Air to utilize the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil. The iPad Air supports charging the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil right on the top edge, just like the iPad Pro. These square edges allowed Apple to reduce the bezel size. One thing that was not brought over from the iPad Pro is Face ID. Instead, the iPad Air still has Touch ID. However, the reduced bezel necessitated that the Touch ID sensor to go somewhere else. The Touch ID sensor is now moved to the top button. The Touch ID sensor still operates the same way as before, just in a different spot.

Just like the iPad, and the iPad Pro, the iPad Air now uses a USB-C port and included in the box is a USB-C charging cable and a 20-watt USB power adapter.

The 4th Generation iPad Air comes in five colors: Silver, Space Gray, Rose Gold, Green, and Sky Blue. The iPad Air comes with two storage options, 64GB or 256GB. As with the other iPads there is the Wifi-only model and Wifi + Cellular. The price for the iPad Air is $599 for the 64GB model and $749 for the 256GB Wifi-Only model. The Cellular models will cost $729 for the 64GB model and $879 for the 256GB model. The iPad Air will be available in October.

Services

Apple is pushing services, along with hardware, as their future. Currently, Apple has six different services. These services are:

  • iCloud
  • Apple Music
  • Apple TV+
  • Apple Arcade
  • Apple News+

There is a new service to go along with these. This is called Apple Fitness+.

Apple Fitness+

Apple Fitness+ is a new subscription service that will provide you the opportunity to perform workouts whenever it works for you, wherever you might be. This could be out in the park, at the gym, traveling, or just at home.

Apple Fitness+ delivers personalized recommendations to help customers quickly get to their next workout, and uses Apple Watch to provide an engaging, immersive experience to help them stay motivated throughout.Using a custom recommendation engine, Fitness+ considers previously completed workouts and intelligently suggests new options that match the workouts users select most often, or something fresh to balance their current routine. Customers can also use an intuitive filtering tool to choose what is most important to them when looking for a workout, whether it’s the workout type, the trainer, the duration, or the music. For Apple Music subscribers, favorite music from Fitness+ workouts can also be easily saved and listened to later, whether in a workout or otherwise.

Apple Fitness+ will be available later this year and it will cost $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year.

With all of these services, it might be nice to have them all combined into a single bill. Let us look at one last new item, called Apple One.

Apple One

Today Apple announced a new Services bundle, Apple One. Apple One is a combination of different Apple services at different price points. Apple One has three price tiers, “Individual”, “Family”, and “Premium”. The Individual and Family plans will include Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and iCloud Storage. The Individual tier includes 50GB of iCloud Storage, whereas the Family tier includes 200GB.

The Premium tier includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, 2TB of iCloud Storage, Apple News+, and Apple Fitness+. The Family and Premium tiers will allow you to share with up to five family members. If you need more iCloud storage than your plan includes, you can pay for that separately, to supplement what comes with your plan.

Closing Thoughts

Today’s event was just over an hour, but included a whole lot of new products. This includes the Apple Watch Series 6 with its brighter Always On display, the new Blood Oxygen app, and always on Altimeter. The new Blue and PRODUCT(RED) colors are great additions to the lineup.

The new Apple Watch SE is a great way for bringing many of the features of the Apple Watch in a slightly less expensive price point. You get many of the same features of the Apple Watch Series 6, but with the Series 5 processor.

The new 8th Generation iPad is a huge jump in performance with the A12 Bionic and it has USB-C. It maintains the same base price of $329 for a 32GB Wifi model.

The iPad Air has seen the biggest set of changes with a new larger 10.9-inch screen, flat sides, reduced bezels, and the all new A14 Bionic processor. The iPad Air does not get Face ID, instead the Touch ID sensor is now moved to the top button and still functions the same way as before. The 4th Generation iPad Air also supports USB-C as well as the 2nd generation Apple Pencil.

All of the new products introduced today are available for ordering today, and will be available starting on Friday. The only exception is the iPad Air, which will be available in October.

The last item to note is that iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, an watchOS 7 will all be available tomorrow, September 16th.

Source: Apple Newsroom: Apple One, Apple Fitness+, Family Setup, Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, 8th Generation iPad, and 4th Generation iPad Air.

Categories
Apple iCloud

My Ongoing iCloud Issues (And a Possible Fix)

When technology “just works” it is absolutely fantastic. It can allow us to do things that we never thought possible. Technology can provide us interactions and efficiencies that were mere ideas only a short time ago. However, when technology goes awry, it can be a complete disaster. This is exhibited with my ongoing iCloud issues.

The Issue

The issue I am having with iCloud is that I cannot upload any files to iCloud Drive. When I do, it just sits and pretends it will upload the files, but it does not. The same goes with downloading files from iCloud Drive; no files can be downloaded. This renders iCloud entirely useless.

Now, this may not be a big issue if I only used iCloud randomly and sporadically; but that is not the case. I use Apple’s “Desktop & Documents folders” syncing feature, which allows any files I create in m “Documents” or “Desktop” folders to synchronize to all of my Macs and iCloud. This includes being able to access the files from within any application or on my iOS devices. Due the inability to upload or download any files to iCloud, these features are entirely broken.

Backstory

This actually began on December 1oth, 2019 after I upgraded my iMac to macOS Catalina 10.15.2. My MacBook Pro is usually on the developer version of macOS and it did not exhibit any of this behavior and was synchronizing files without a hitch. At first I thought it might have just been a fluke and that iCloud needed time to resynchronize everything. After a few days of not being able to synchronize anything, I contacted Apple Support.

Apple Support

When I contacted Apple support I was connected with a tech support person who attempted to help me. We did some testing, which included trying to upload files to iCloud on all of my devices and on different networks, rebooting the device, but none of these steps had any effect.

Since the first tech support person I contacted was not able to find a fix, I was transferred to a specialist. Over the course of a couple weeks we did various things, including:

  • Creating a test file and uploading it (does not work)
  • Creating a new account and trying to upload a file (does not work)
  • Trying to find any offending files that were not uploading and remove them (had no effect)
  • Uploading files via the web interface (which did and does still work)
  • Creating a file at a specific time and then gathering the logging information for 24 hours

After all of this testing and nothing working, the issue was sent to Engineering. Engineering came back with some questions and requests, and required screenshots on iOS of the issue. One of the things they requested was to install a configuration profile to gather some data. The log that was uploaded ended up being well over a gigabyte in size; and that was when it was compressed.

Partial Fix

Due to the complete hassle this has been I began looking for a fix on my own. As with any problem, it is best to search google. I came up with this solution from stackexchange.com. The following commands were entered into terminal:

killall bird
cd ~/Library/Application\ Support
rm -rf CloudDocs

These steps will do the following:

  1. Stop the “bird” service. The “bird” service is the service that controls uploading and downloading data to and from iCloud Drive.
  2. Change directories to the local user Application Support directory under the “Library” directory.
  3. Remove all of the cached files for iCloud.

When these have been done, you need to restart the computer, just to be on the safe side. When I did this on my MacBook Pro, it began downloading the file list in iCloud Drive. Once this was done, the biggest portion of the work began. That work is comparing the local copies of the files with the files that are stored in iCloud Drive. The length of time is depending on the number of locally stored files that you have.

Due to the amount of information I had on my MacBook Pro this ended up taking several hours. But once it was finished I tested uploading a file to iCloud Drive and it worked. I waited a couple of days to make sure things still worked. Upon verification, I then performed the same steps on my iMac and it produced the same results, albeit the amount of time it took on my iMac was a bit longer due to having more files on my iMac.

My iOS devices were another matter entirely. Because you do not have access to terminal on iOS, you cannot perform the same actions. The only steps you can do on iOS are:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Click on your Name at the top to open up the iCloud settings.
  3. Tap on “iCloud” to open iCloud options.
  4. Scroll down to “iCloud”.
  5. Tap on iCloud Drive toggle switch to disable it. A popup may appear.
  6. Click on “Delete from iPhone” to confirm any documents that are not synchronized will be deleted. This will turn off iCloud Drive and delete any locally saved documents.
  7. Reboot the iOS device.
  8. Plug the iOS device into power.

You can then restart your device and perform the same steps to turn iCloud Drive back on. When I did this, it did not seem to have any effect, at first. After about 45 minutes the files that are stored in iCloud Drive populated. Unlike on macOS, I do not think any of the downloaded files that I had remained on the device. One last thing to keep in mind is that when you disable iCloud Drive on an iPhone it will also disable the Wallet app, because the Wallet app depends on iCloud Drive to function properly. So you will want to re-enable Wallet on your device as well. Disabling iCloud Drive will not remove your cards, so I am not sure what function requires iCloud Drive within the Wallet app.

Once I saw the list of files, I then created a test folder and verified that it would indeed upload and I could see it on my other devices. So, this seemed to work.

It may not strictly be necessary to plug the iOS device into power, but it cannot hurt because when an iOS device is connected to power, additional processes will run that may not run when the device is on power and this may ultimately speed up the population of the iCloud Drive files.

Possible Root Cause

While I cannot fully know, I think I have determined the cause of the issue. When it comes to any app, you are likely to have a “state” for something. In the case of Files, the “source of truth” is iCloud. I think that the synchronization information on my iMac somehow got corrupted and that corrupted information propagated to all of my devices. The only way to get things back into place was to erase the local cache and re-download all of the data from the server.

Closing Thoughts

As of this writing, everything seems to be working. I am somewhat disappointed that Apple could not find a solution, and I was left to find a solution on my own. Also, at the moment, my issue is still in Engineering, and I do not expect to hear back from my support representative about a fix for the issue. I am glad I was able to find a solution to get things back on track, but these types of things need to be handled by Apple in a much faster manner than they are now.

One way to mitigate this from happen would be for Apple to create some sort of automated testing that occurs on each device where it attempts to create a file and upload it to iCloud. If this does not happen within a period of time, say 24 hours, send a push notification that will trigger the resetting of the iCloud cache information stored on the device. This type of solution would be able to mitigate, if not eliminate, these types of issue because it would end up being proactive and not wait for the user to notice that something is wrong and attempt to find a solution with the help of Apple. I completely get that I may have just been a “lucky” one to run into this bug and it may only be affecting a small percentage of users. However, when you have 1.5 billion active devices, even one tenth of one percent is still 1.5 million people. Even if the percentage is much smaller, this type of solution could go a long way to improving user experience.