Black Friday for SysAdmins

Black Friday for SysAdmins

Black Friday. A crazy American holiday-day-after with bargain prices on old and newer stuff. People crashing mall doors, fighting over TVs and dolls.

But also: good deals on iOS and macOS apps.

Which makes it, combined with Cyber Monday, a pretty good moment to stock up on VPP purchases for your MDM server.

Ever needed a dozen Pixelmator licenses for the Marketing team? They’ve got a 50% discount today.

Or twenty PDF Expert licenses for Finance and Sales? There’s a great Readdle promo going on!

I’ve got a wishlist of apps that I want for the office but don’t immediately need. Each year when these kind of sales occur, I can often scratch a few from the list. Or expand the licenses of a few apps that are always shy of having more users than available slots.

Black Friday. Great for System Admins.

iPhone X Claim Chowder

iPhone X Claim Chowder

The iPhone X drastically alters the way we interact with iOS and our phones. No more home button, more interactions that rely on gestures and a device state that, similar to the Watch, changes depending on what the user is doing. 

After using the iPhone X for only a day I’m feeling some of those new UI and UX decisions are temporary and will change with a future iOS versions once we get used to this new home button-less world. 

So, some Claim Chowder

  • The home indicator will become optional or disappear like scrollbars in a future version of iOS. For now it has to be visible so users don’t get lost while we migrate away from the home button. 
  • Similar, I think the Face ID animation is going to become faster and less visible once people get used to it. Currently it has to be very visible because we aren’t used to invisible security yet.
  • More apps will start using the password autofill because logging into an app with manually password entry feels ancient now. 
  • AirPower will be to battery life what Face ID is for security. It’ll quickly make battery anxiety going away once more surfaces will become charging surfaces. I can see it quickly become part of desks, arm rests, night stands. 
  • Since Apple now knows when we’re actually looking at the device, they should link background fetching to attention. Is the iPhone on a table and is the owner glancing at it? Do a background fetch of email, Tweetbot, News,… in the background and notify them if something new is available. 

iPhone X feels like a reset, similar to how iOS 11 did a reset of the iPad. Can’t wait to see where they go next. 

5 minutes with the iPhone X

5 minutes with the iPhone X

I had the chance to briefly play around with an iPhone X today. 

Some quick thoughts:

  • It’s grippy. The glass and steel combination makes it very solid to handle. Not slippery at all.
  • It feels thicker than I expected and it’s not really a one-handed device like the iPhone 8 is. I couldn’t open Control Center with one hand. 
  • Silver is pretty and the glossy border is reminiscent of the original iPhone and iPhone 3GS. The space gray version is weird. Three different tints of grey that don’t really blend together. I like the Jet Black 7 more. 
  • Gestures feel natural and unlocking not only feels quicker than using Touch ID, it feels just as easy and smooth as the original slide to unlock without pincode. 
  • That screen. Gorgeous. A bit of blue and yellow color distorting in extreme angels but straight on, it’s just perfect.
  • I didn’t really notice the notch at all. It feels like part of the design and not like something that bothers me. And it helps with holding the device right side up (hello Apple TV remote)

Mine is arriving tomorrow. I picked a 256GB in silver. 

Backup

Backup

A recent YouTube video by Peter McKinnon triggered one of my nerves.

In the clip he describes a cool product that allows you to offload camera footage to a portable waterproof hard drive while shooting on the road.
He then continues his review of the product by saying: “If your cards are full and you’re on a glacier you can backup your photos on the device, wipe your cards and continue taking photos.”

The product itself is actually pretty cool. But his usecase is so, sooo wrong.

Why?

Backup: making a copy of a file on another medium so that if one of them breaks or gets lost, you still have access to your data.

Archiving: moving your files to another medium so that you have more storage free on the original drive.

His workflow is the latter. He moves data from one medium to another and wipes the original. He ends up with one copy.

Imagine being on that glacier. You migrate your photos, empty the card, take new photos and when you arrive at your home, that cool little reader is apparently broken… luckily you still have your memories, because those photos? All gone.

Better: Use that cool device, store it in a different backpack than your cards and keep your original photos on your cards too. At least until you get Wi-Fi access and can make another copy of those photos to whichever cloud you prefer.

Archiving is not the same as making a backup.

(Find and replace photos and glacier with presentation and airplane, school project and library, or whatever use case suites your need).

iMessage in the Cloud

iMessage in the Cloud

iOS 11 will allow users to store iMessage messages in iCloud. It finally makes it possible to start an iPhone or iPad fresh, don’t restore a backup, and still have access to your chat history. It even syncs deletions and read status (?) and is completely secure and respects your privacy. Pretty nifty.

One caveat though: iMessage cloud syncing uses your iCloud Storage. Since Apple only gives users 5GB, and iMessage is the one thing that fills iPhones up faster than photos, I wonder how many regular users are really going to be able enjoy this new feature to its fullest potential.

Imagine a user upgrading to iOS 11. If they have 5GB of default iCloud Storage it’s probably already used up by their iCloud backup (that includes photos and messages). So no room available to start syncing.

Even worse, if they start with a new blank iPhone, their 5GB basically gives them a choice: use iCloud Photo Library, iMessage sync or backup your device. And opposite to the you can have it fast, cheap or good mantra, even only picking two of these options isn’t really an option. So most users don’t get to enjoy the full feature set of iCloud.

Apple offers an easy solution: pay 99ct a month, get 50GB of storage and enjoy iCloud (and arguably iOS) at its fullest. It gives you a good backup strategy, easy syncing of your photos, solves the limited storage problem of your iPhone with Optimisation, and will soon include iMessage, Health,… and be easily shareable across Family members.

But most people I know don’t or won’t pay. Those nagging limited storage-popups and red notification dots that Apple shows in Settings.app – reminding them their backup hasn’t run – are often not convincing them to update. Often it does the opposite: they are frustrated their already expensive device is asking them to pay even more.

The only scenario I’ve seen people pay are similar to this one: they want an easy way to sync their photos. I show them my own iPhone and iPad syncing 50000+ photos easily. And they warily go for the 99ct plan. 

If Apple really wants to get people to use iCloud, they should replace the 5GB for free plan with a 3 month trial of the 50GB plan. It gives people all the features of iCloud right out of the box with realistic limits. If they like it, they’ll pay. If they don’t, they won’t. And if they don’t, the difference between 5GB and no storage is negligible.

But I’d bet most people will happily pay a buck a month for what iCloud offers them. They just need the get the chance to try it out first.

But I digress: iMessage cloud syncing is a great feature I’m looking forward to!

Mac Pro SE

Mac Pro SE

Welcome to Mac Pro SE, the most powerful desktop Mac ever. To create it, we started with a beloved design, then reinvented it from the inside out. The dual socket CPUs are the most advanced chips designed by Intel. The high-end GPU handles incredible photos and 4K videos. And Thunderbolt 3 connects your data fast. The result is a Mac Pro that looks old. But lives for the future.

If only.

Mac Pro

Mac Pro

Apple is currently hard at work on a “completely rethought” Mac Pro, with a modular design that can accommodate high-end CPUs and big honking hot-running GPUs, and which should make it easier for Apple to update with new components on a regular basis. They’re also working on Apple-branded pro displays to go with them – Daring Fireball

  1. I think they originally wanted to go for iMac Pro’s and forget the Mac Pro all together. But they were impressed/got scared by the “Apple doesn’t care about pro’s backlash” they got after the MacBook Pro with Touchbar keynote? It can’t have taken them three years to realize they needed to reboot the Mac Pro and have nothing to show yet, can it?
  2. As far as those new displays go: LG screwed up the 5K displays so Apple’s taking matters back into their own hands. Also: sometimes wishes come true?
  3. I think the speed bumps are more a matter of: we can’t make the old ones anymore due to lack of parts than Apple wanting to update it right now. And this “controlled leak” about the upcoming reboot is to prevent any major backlash that would have occurred if they would’ve just speedbumped the trashcan without any context. 

Either way this entire story reads more as: we’ve only just begun course correcting the Pro line after the Touchbar-backlash than something that has been in the works for a long time now.

Why Apple hasn’t build an Apple 5K Cinema Display yet

Why Apple hasn’t build an Apple 5K Cinema Display yet

Look at the past

Apple doesn’t regularly update their displays. They provide a significant update every few years and then they keep selling that same display for years. 

  • 27″ Thunderbolt Display : 5 years
  • 27″ Led display: 3 years
  • 24″ LED Display: 2 years

So, if they had released a new 5K Thunderbolt 3 display last fall, chances are they’d keep selling it for years. Unchanged. 

The iMac

Apple’s iMac and displays go hand in hand. Technological advances in one, often show up in the other. When Apple released their first 27″ iMac, the display followed swiftly. When the iMac got a brighter screen, the Thunderbolt Display followed and also got a better panel. 

So, normally we’d expected Apple to take the retina iMac 27″ 5K panel, and turn it into a display for their notebook and desktop lineup too. 

So why not?

The iPad

In iOS 9.3 Apple added Night Shift mode to iOS. Now finally in macOS 12.4 they will also add it to macOS, sherlocking F.lux while they’re at it. 

The iPad Pro 9.7″ is their first device that has a True Tone display. A display that Phil Schiller described as:

“It’s really natural to use,” Schiller added. “Once you use this display, you’ll never want to go back. It is quite a breakthrough.”

Some people expect the next 12.9″ iPad to have one too, and sooner rather than later the iPhone will too. 

My Guess

Imagine a new 2017 iMac doesn’t only has Night Shift mode via software, but also gets a True Tone display. That combined with Thunderbolt 3 and USB C would make it a great update that builds on technologies that exist in their current lineup. 

Now, if they release such an iMac it would immediately make any 5K display that doesn’t support True Tone look old and lower specced. 

So:

  • Apple’s Displays have a slow refresh rate.
  • They don’t make an Apple 5K Cinema Display (yet).
  • They don’t sell any True Tone desktop Macs (yet). 

If you were Apple and you could choose:

  • Release an Apple 5K Cinema Display in 2016 and sell it for a few years unchanged. 
  • Push an LG display in 2016, and release an Apple 5K True Tone display sometime in 2017.

Which one would be the most logical?

Right. And that’s why they haven’t released a display of their own yet. 

Apple Pencil v2

Apple Pencil v2

There’s some rumors doing the rounds on a possible Apple Pencil v2 being released this spring.

I love the original Apple Pencil and use it daily for mind mapping, throwing down quick thoughts or sketching out code or network plans.

So.. v2. What’s to improve. The easy parts: higher precision, better battery. But there’s more.

1. Connectivity

Pairing a Pencil via lightning is easy. But after you’re used to the AirPods, pairing via anything else than mere magic is barbaric. So I’d like a W1 chip in the Pencil, which would make pairing the Pencil as easy as.. tapping the screen?

2. Charging

Similarly, charging the Pencil with power drawn from the iPad is convenient. But the Pencil poking out the side of the iPad is just ridiculous. Try charging a Pencil on a train or plane or anywhere public and people will just laugh. 

Compared to the AirPods it’s yet again something that was ok, until you’re used to the AirPods’ charging case. 

Imagine a new Smart Cover that has a slot to place the Pencil in. Via conductive charging, powered by the smart connector on the iPad, the Pencil would charge while you’re carrying it. Always available, always charged. And naturally, once charged, the Pencil stops drawing power so not to drain the iPad entirely. 

3. Taptics

The Pencil has the ability to simulate force pressing the screen. You can, for example, use the Pencil to clear all notifications on an iPad at once.

What if.. the Pencil would give feedback. And fully emulate force pressing the giant iPad screen.

4. And finally

I’d like a black version. 

5GB of iCloud frustration

5GB of iCloud frustration

Yesterday I got a call from a friend: she had just purchased a new iPhone and didn’t really know how she should move from her old iPhone 4s to her “new” iPhone 5s. Maybe I was naive, but I told her in a short iMessage that: she should just go to Settings > iCloud on her old phone, click on Backup now, wait a while and that her new iPhone would ask her to restore a backup upon first boot.

I didn’t hear from her again, but the day after I got a second message: help. I’ve got no contacts and all my photos are gone on my new iPhone. Since these things are a LOT easier to troubleshoot with access to the devices themselves, and having known good wifi available, I told her to just come over, and that I’d sort things out. How difficult could it really be right?

Fast forward and this is what her old phone’s situation was: she had a 16Gb iPhone with 8GB of photos. iCloud was enabled, but she didn’t have iCloud Photo Library turned on. Her oldest backup was from January, a new backup would require 12GB of storage.
She explained me that her iPhone warned her that her iStorage was full, but that even though she had deleted a lot of apps, she still couldn’t perform a backup.

Look Apple: a regular person does not get the difference between iCloud and local storage. And there is no way she would have figured out on her own that the only easy way to solve her situation was to upgrade her iCloud storage.

I tried to explain her that the easiest thing would be to buy more storage. But the didn’t like the idea of paying up. She had read about apps asking you for money repeatedly and didn’t trust those apps. And, from here point of viewm there’s no difference between an IAP in Clash of Clans, and an iCloud upgrade.

New tactic: I showed her my 45000+ photos in the Photos app and explained her I could have any photo I ever took on my iPhone and that they were also available on the iPad and that if I ever lost all my devices, I still had all my photos. Would she pay 10 euro a year for that?

She now has 50GB of iCloud storage, all her photos are synced to the new iPhone and safely in iCloud, it’s all backing up and IT JUST WORKS.

Conclusion: people don’t buy a service, they buy a solution. But if stupid limitations create a situation where they can’t even try out those features, they’ll never find out it offers a solution,m and they’ll never buy your service.
If Apple had given my friend 15GB of iCloud storage for free, her iPhone would have backup up perfectly, iCloud Photo Library could have stored whatever she had saved on her iPhone before turning on sync, and she would have enjoyed using iCloud.
But thanks to that stupid 5GB cap, she got frustrated and thought she did something wrong, and I spend an hour fixing something that is solved by spending 10 bucks a year.
And I’m 100% sure that if she could have enjoyed using iCloud for free, she would have bought a storage upgrade on her own sooner or later.

If you can’t try out a service completely for free, you can’t enjoy the service, and you certainly won’t pay for it.