MARK'S (NOT SO) DAILY BLOG

Mark Pilgrim Kia

The new iPhone 7... in non-gadgety language (that my wife can understand)

Whenever Apple do a media event I always try and decifer the nerdy technical blurb for my wife so she can make an informed decision on whether to upgrade or not. Even before looking at the iPhone 7, my rule of thumb is, if I am 2 iPhone generations behind, then it's probably worth the upgrade. I am using an iPhone 6 so will definitely get an iPhone 7. If you just bought yourself an iPhone 6s, then even though you won't have some of the new features in the iPhone 7, I'm not sure upgrading would be worth spending upwards of R15000 - R20000 for.

So here is the news in a nutshell:

Apple Watch


The Apple Watch is the 2nd biggest selling watch brand in the world and the #1 selling smart watch in the world. And the big news is the new generation Apple Watch Series 2 is here.

It's the same shape as the old one, but the 2 major advances are it's now fully waterproof (up to 50m) which is great for swimmers and also has built-in GPS (great for runners who don't want to take their iPhones along with them when they run). It's also faster and brighter.

Apple watch series 2

That said, nothing is worse than having an original Apple Watch (probably acquired through Discovery) and feeling "watch envy". I don't feel it, thank heavens. I'm not a runner or swimmer so won't be dashing off to get the new Series 2.

Both the original Apple Watch and Series 2 get the new software update (WatchOS3) next Tuesday.

iPhone 7


iPhone 7

This was what we were all waiting for. Some of the big advances are:

1) Water resistant (not the same as waterproof. The difference is you can now fall in the pool with your iPhone 7 and it will be fine, but get out the water quickly. Don't decide to stay in and have a cocktail).

2) New cameras on front and back that are super-dooper (iPhone 7-Plus has 2 cameras at the back!)

3) Stereo speakers that also push out volume levels 2x louder than before

4) On average, 2 hours better battery life per charge

5) Increased storage of 256GB (which means many more photos and videos). They have dropped the 16GB version.

6) This is the biggest change. Goodbye to the old headphone jack. It comes with earphones that have a lightning connector (this plugs into the same port you charge with). It's new technology and we need to embrace it. Just a bummer if you were trying to listen to music and charge your phone at the same time. If you do still want to use your old earphones they include an adapter in the box along with the new lightning EarPods.

Lightning connector

The solution really is to move over to wireless earphones and they have also released Apple Airpods (it's their earphones without the cables).  I think they're cool, but my concern is their wired ones always pop out my ears, so I would probably lose the wireless ones.

Wireless Airpods

Will I get the new iPhone 7? I've already placed my order with my local Vodashop! No news yet on when they will be in SA , but the first batch of countries get their shipments on 16 September, with another 100 countries announced a week later (we might be part of that).  I think we'll have the iPhone 7 in SA by mid to late October, which is much quicker than in years gone by when we'd only get them late December.

As for the cash price... prepare to pay an arm, leg, testicle and ovary. My guess is that the top end 256GB model will be hovering around the R20k mark. I hope you are due for an upgrade.

By the way, even if you have the older iPhone, the new software (iOS10) will be available for download next Tuesday.

One rumour that didn't pan out was wireless charging for the new iPhone 7. Oh well, there's always the iPhone 8 to look forward to next year.

Cheers!
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Apple updates, without the jargon!

This is a blog dedicated to my wife who's not a gadget person at all, but uses an iPhone and a Macbook Air. After every big Apple announcement, she asks me to highlight some of the elements that will effect her user experience without the jargon. So here we go.

Let me start by saying the conference where the keynote was held is for Apple developers and focuses more on software than hardware, so we didn't expect the announcement on the iPhone 7 here.

Apple Watch (watchOS)

If you use an Apple Watch, version 3 of the software will enable apps to load 7 times faster, with background updates (you don't have to wait a few seconds for the info to update once the app has loaded).

To reply to a message you can now "scribble", which is a way to handwrite unique replies without only being able to use preset replies or voice reply.

Apple Watch SOSThe biggest update is SOS. By pushing the big button on the side you have the option to dial SOS which in the States dials 911. They say it updates for each country (so I'm hoping it can manually override as I would rather it dial Netcare 911). The magic is, after the call, it automatically sends a distress message to your emergency contacts along with a map pin of where you are, and at the same time displays your medical data on your home screens.

Apple TV 4 (tvOS)

This one will bore my wife, but apps I download to my iPhone that have a sister app on the Apple TV (4) will auto download to the little black box.

Sadly, no hardware redesign of the Apple TV 4 remote. It still sucks.

Macbook (macOS)

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This is what my wife heard me cheering about in the lounge when they made the announcement. I so often go to my Macbook which is in screen lock mode and have to enter my password 4 times because I type it in so fast I make spelling mistakes. Now, if you have an Apple Watch, it will know it's you and auto unlock! I have no doubt if you don't want this feature you will be be able to disable it, but I think it's brilliant.

The naming convention is getting simpler in that the software for MacBooks will no longer be "OS X", but simply "macOS" and the follow on from El Capitan will be SIERRA (which will have all the changes).

SIRI (voice activation) is coming which means you can just talk to your computer and ask it to do things.

The other BIG thing is the ability to cut and paste across devices. For example, if I have a password on my iPhone that I want to put into a webpage on my Macbook, I simply "cut" it on the phone and then right click and "paste" when on my Macbook.

iPhone (iOS)

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The iPhone screen now wakes up as you pick it up (it doesn't unlock, just auto displays your locked screen that might be displaying widgets or notifications).

Accessing your camera from a locked screen is easier, simply swipe to the right (you used to have to swipe up and then click on camera icon). So it's gone from two movements to just one gesture.

Thank God the MUSIC app is totally redesigned to be simpler and more graphically user friendly.

The PHONE app is integrating with VOIP services. If I've already lost you, it means apps like WHATSAPP will work a lot closer with your PHONE app for messaging and displaying photos of who's calling.

Voicemail will be transcribed into a text so you can read it without having to dial in.

Messaging will become a lot more personalised with more graphical ways of your text appearing in the blue iMessage bubbles.

Predictive emojis based on what you are saying now pop up so you don't have to search through 100 icons to find the one you want.

The updated software is due this Spring.

Conclusion

If you're an Android lover you might be cynical and say half of these features you have already. Good for you. As an iPhone user, I have nothing against Android and at the same time don't care who got what feature first.

I'm an Apple lover and really only care how my life is made easier using my Apple products.




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Latest Apple news in non-gadgety language

As you probably know, I'm a big Apple fan. About twice a year they do a big reveal of the latest and greatest in terms of software and hardware, and last night was one of those Apple Events.

For many people though, it wasn't a wow night as there was nothing extraordinary launched. It was more a night of adding new options to existing ranges. Here it is in a nutshell.

iPhone SE

Before the iPhone 6 and 6S shapes we had the iPhone 5 which was still the smaller 4 inch size with straight sides. They have brought it back but crammed iPhone 6s features into it. The new iPhone SE is for people that want a current phone in a smaller chassis.

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Apple Watch

No new software just yet. Just nylon straps.

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Apple TV 4

A small software update, with the biggest news being you can now organise your apps into folders.

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iPad 9.7" Pro

They have taken the current "normal sized" iPad and beefed it up to be more in line with it's big daddy, the 12 inch version that was released a couple of months ago.

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iOS9.3

The latest round of software updates are now available for your iPhone and iPad. Probably the most notable addition being the "NightShift" setting, which changes the blueness of your screen to a warmer yellow tint at night so your brain is not confused thinking it is still daylight (supposedly this change will help some sleep a little better).

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And that's it. Boom.
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APPLE vs the FBI

It's a fascinating story that movies are made of... and here is my layman's explanation of it.

The FBI are in possession of a terrorist's iPhone 5c and believe crucial information is on it. The terrorist is dead so he can't tell them what his passcode is to unlock the phone. Also, as the iPhone is a 5c model, it doesn't have fingerprint recognition, so they can't take the dead man's finger and touch it against the phone. Until the passcode is entered, the data on the phone remains encrypted and can't be accessed.

The FBI want to attach their computer to the phone that will start guessing all the combinations of a 4 digit code. Based on a speed of 1 code every 80 milli seconds, the computer can open the iPhone in 30 minutes.

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Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac


There's only one problem. Well actually two. Firstly, if the terrorist opted not to used the standard 4 digit pass code, but rather an alpa-numeric code (using numbers and letters), then the FBI are screwed in terms of guessing the password.

Secondly, and probably more worrying for the FBI, there is a setting on the iPhone that can instruct it to wipe the data after 10 incorrect password attempts. Now the FBI don't know if this setting is active or not on the phone and so can't take a chance at starting to enter passcodes. So they are asking Apple to run a firmware update (supposedly just for this particular phone) that disables the 10-strike option. They want to be be able to keep entering 4 digit numeric passcodes without the terrorist's phone locking up or it delaying any entries after x amount of attempts.

Apple is saying NO. If it's done for this iPhone, it paves the way for any and every phone being hacked.

The case continues...


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Apple...what's new?

Whenever Apple do a big product launch I always think of what my wife would take from it. She's not a gadget person so don't throw terms like megapixels and A9 processors at her. She wants a simple summary of whether it's worth an upgrade.

So with that in mind I like writing this quick gadget blog which isn't technical (there's a lot of sites that will give you all the "under the hood" information). It's a simple explanation... for my wife.

iPhone 6S

History has shown that every 2 years there's a major upgrade to the iPhone, and every alternate year (which is this year) there is a more of just a tweak here or there and the phone gets the "s" moniker.

This year it should have been called the "double s" because Apple did do something fundamentally different to the new phone that will change the way you use it. They introduced force touch, or what they are branding it as "3D touch". The phone can detect whether you are pressing lightly are harder and different quick menu options pop up depending on that you do. It's aim is to make your life simpler. In my books it is a major advancement over the iPhone 6.

It also has upgrades, such a new processor that makes it 70% faster (90% faster with graphics). The fingerprint sensor is now twice as responsive. It also now comes in a rose gold colour.  There was no mention of a better battery life though.

It has a MUCH better camera for photos and even shoots 4K video (much better than HD), and also shoots what is called a live photo, meaning your photo has movement (it's not a video). Also,when taking a selfie, your display screen will act as a flash (the screen will fight up 4 times brighter than you are normally used to).

Is it worth the upgrade? If you have an iPhone 5 or older, most definitely. If, like me though, you have an iPhone 6, I'm probably going to hang on to my valuable upgrade and wait for the iPhone 7.

Apple TV

This has always been Apple's forgotten child... until now. The new Apple TV is slightly thicker and they have tweaked the visual interface. The biggest change will be that developers can now create apps for it...I look forward to a plethora of games and also TV channel apps. They have added Siri commands which enables you to just talk to your TV to get it to do various things (including asking typical google type questions for quick answers). It has a faster WiFi speed so if you have a powerful router there could be less buffering as it transfers data.


It has a much better remote (less likely to slip between the couch cushions) and the rechargeable battery lasts about 3 months with typical use.

I'll definitely get one, but won't replace all 4 of my Apple TVs with new ones just yet. The old ones will still work just fine.

Apple Watch

They mentioned a bit about the Watch, but I am so not into it yet, I can't tell you what was said... I popped off to the kitchen to get a glass of wine!

iPad Pro

This was the star of the evening. I've gone off using iPads as I prefer using my new tiny 12 inch Macbook, but this iPad Pro is a game changer. Besides a 12.9 inch screen (it weighs about the same as the original iPad), it has a super fast processor, has an optional "hard keyboard case" that connects the moment you slide the iPad into the case (it has small connectors so doesn't use bluetooth).

The revolutionary element is the new Apple Pencil that you can use with it (and Steve Jobs hated the idea of a stylus). But this is more than just a plastic stick. The technology inside it is quite advanced and it detects the angle you are holding the pencil for wide strokes. Even the iPad can pick up if you are pressing down lightly or hard for different effects. It is a rechargeable device (that can be charged by the iPad itself). This is going to change the way we use iPads.


So there you have it. Apple is definitely forging ahead to keep their products ahead of the pack and as relevant as possible. Just make sure your budget is big enough... it doesn't come cheap!








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Why I traded DStv in for a horse.

So Nicole and I have done it...we've pulled the plug on DStv.

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It's weird, because satellite TV has been part of our lives for as long as I can remember. But these days if we flick onto DStv twice a month it's a lot.

It's not for everyone and if you are a sports nut I get that you want to watch things in Supersport HD, but in our household we don't even know what channels Supersport is on. Our girls only watch animated movies and we only watch news channels. On my Apple TV there's Netflix, Sky News, ABC News and CBS News. For my girls there's PBS Kids and they have a whole lot of animated movies.

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In fact, at the moment Nicole and I are watching all the episodes of Friends again and loving the show as much as we did 20 years ago. We're onto Season 3 and pissing ourselves laughing every night!

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So, to DStv, thank you for the many good times, and if you ever change your subscription policy to being able to pay for the channels I watch, I'll be back. For now though I get much more enjoyment spending your R800 a month on my daughter's horse riding lessons.

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Apple news in a layman's nutshell

After a big Apple media event there are many sites that go into detail as to what was launched the night before. If you' re after some of those sites you can click here on Cult of Mac or MyBroadband.

My blog is always just a quick summary for those that aren't too gadgety! Here we go!

APPLE WATCH


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This was expected to be the highlight of the media event, but turned out to be a little lacklustre as not too much more was revealed... except the price! The bottom of the range will cost (I'm guessing here for SA prices) about R6000 and the limited edition gold version STARTS at about R120000!

Battery life expected to last about 18 hours with medium usage and Tim confirmed you can answer calls on it, which means a whole new generation of people will be talking to their wrists like CIA agents. I think the Watch is a great idea and I am usually an early adopter of gadgets, but I am personally going to hold back for a 2nd generation edition in about a year when it's features and practicality has expanded somewhat.


MACBOOK


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This is what stole the show last night. Apple have totally redesigned the laptop and the new 12inch retina display Macbook was launched last night.

It has a lot of under the bonnet advancements (such as a new method of the keyboard buttons working, backlighting and even the trackpad), but in a nutshell, it is the thinnest and lightest macbook ever, not even weighing 1kg!

The biggest leap in technology though is that it is fanless! This means, not only is it as quiet as an iPad, but it means they could make the housing even thinner as it doesn't need space for the fan and motor.

It also has a new USB-C connector, which means it has only one port that does everything, from charging, the HDMI, VGA and USB. I would imagine you'll need to buy some sort of hub adaptor to plug various items in. The premise of this laptop though is to not plug things in, and rely much more on "over the air" listening and watching etc using Wi-Fi and bluetooth. I want to see this in the flesh to see the practicality of these adaptors. It may be the clincher that stops me buying one.

It comes with a 256GB or 512GB solid state drive, but with it's M-Core processor it's not the most powerful laptop around. If you use intensive programmes on your laptop (like Pro Tools) it might still be better to get the Macbook Pro or Macbook Air (both have just received spec upgrades).

This laptop does not have the "Air" or "Pro" moniker. It's simply called the "Macbook", a version of the name Apple discontinued a few years back when they stopped producing the white and black models.

Now, us more hardcore laptop users wait for them to bring out a fanless version of the higher specced i7 chips and also wait for finger sensor recognition as well.



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The new iPhone 6 and iWatch

Whenever Apple does a big product or software launch I salivate, jump up and down with glee, and the next day do a layman's summary. This time though when they did the launch last night, I was 33000 feet in the air on a flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Mango's WiFi was working though (albeit slowly) and I was able to follow most of the news!



As I've been on stage (hosting events for Old Mutual) over the last 2 days, and this morning I left home at 5am for a TV shoot, I didn't have time to write too much detail, but here are some of the essentials:

The new iPhone 6 is:

  • Thinner and larger (2 sizes)
  • New A8 chip (over 50 times faster than the original iPhone)
  • 802.11ac (3x faster Wifi)
  • With volt, start a call using WiFi and when you leave your WiFi spot it seamlessly crosses over to LTE.
  • Much better front and rear camera
  • Battery life equal and sometimes better using various elements of the phone
  • A new 128GB option

The new iOS8 software will launch on 17 September (will work on your iPhone 5) and the new iPhone 6 will launch 2 days later. I've been told that South Africa has been upgraded from Tier 3 to Tier 2, which means we won't have to wait until December to get the phone, but might get it as soon as early October. Very cool!

The additional (and expected) news was the launch of the iWatch!  Since I was on a plane when the gadget was revealed I had to bite my lip to stop screaming out, as us Apple people like to pretend the entire world is equally excited, but we know there are haters out there :).



The iWatch comes in various strap colours and integrates with the iPhone. It comes with quite a few health monitoring devices and what they call "intimate and easy communication" abilities. It will be available early next year.

Apple also introduced something called Apple Pay, which uses encrypted NFC technology so that you use your credit card for purchases, but you don't have to pull your credit card out of your wallet! It will roll out across the U.S and eventually hit our stores as well. It is revolutionary and a great way to combat card skimming.

I've gotta dash, but in case my wife is reading this, "All I want for Christmas..."

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Apple event summary for non-geeks

edgeEvery time Apple hosts a media event I'm glued to my TV screen (if they live stream it). Last night at 7pm I said goodbye to my family and went into hibernation in my office!

Apple unveiled some amazing software enhancements last night. If you want to get a full list of what they are bringing to MacBooks and mobile devices you can go to Apple's site. My review is really just a layman's summary if you're not into all the technical blurb!

Come September, Mavericks (the current operating system on Mac computers) will be replaced with YOSEMITE. To clarify, it's not pronounced like a combination of a rose and Marmite. It's "Yos-er-mitee".

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The small tweaks they've made are mind-blowing! The biggest of which is what they are calling CONTINUITY and HANDOFF. If you're typing an email on your Mac and don't finish, with the push of one icon the screen transfers to your iPhone or iPad and you can simply carry on where you left off.

Even better, Yosemite knows your iPhone is close by (even in another room), so when your phone rings, your Macbook rings and you can answer your call on your laptop!

There's improvement with iMessages in that even the conventional "green" SMS's are displayed on your desktop, not just your Apple-to-Apple communication.

Another neat feature is that you no longer need to create a hotspot on your iPhone to connect your Macbook to the internet. Simply by going to your WiFi on your laptop, it will list your iPhone and you can create the hotspot (without you even touching your phone).

Spotlight is also vastly improved (that little search magnifying glass in the top right of your screen). Without going into detail, Yosemite is all about providing you with info you want with fewer clicks.

Maildrop is another great feature where you can send email attachments up to 5GB in size, regardless of what the recipient's mailbox restriction is.

When it comes to iOS8, which is the new iPhone and iPad software, they've done some major tweaks that really make you have to push fewer times to get done what you want. Also, iMessage is now more like WhatsApp with audio and voice recording as well. The nice touch with voice on iMessage is that you record and playback simply by bringing the phone to your ear.

AirDrop (Apple's close proximity file sharing protocol) now works between computers (OS X 10) and mobile devices (iOS8)!

A great feature as a parent is that if your child has an iPhone it can be set that if they want to a purchase an app, a request comes through on YOUR iPhone!

There's many more software tweaks as well.

So in a nutshell, in the next few months when the new software for iPhones, iPads and MacBooks roll out, your life will be made easier by having to do fewer clicks to execute a command.

We still hold our breaths and wait for news on the new Apple TV, Macbook Airs and iPhones.
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Is that a bug in my Apple?

Ask any paediatrician and they'll say that once your kids go to school they'll have a bug at least one in every four weeks. The problem is, it then hits the rest of the family. And boy, does it hit the family hard.

It started with both girls getting an eye infection Monday to Thursday last week, and then a bug hit on Friday and Alyssa was spewing everywhere. Unlike adults that know to dash to a loo or grab a bucket, a 2 year old acts liker a sprinkler system and just chunks over everything.

Just as she recovered, yesterday my wife was man (or woman) down, and this morning at 3am my oldest daughter also woke up and spewed all over her bed.

I'm now also feeling queasy, but not sure if I have the bug or I'm just sensitive to the constant smell of vomit.

So the net result for a Monday is Alyssa and Nicole are feeling better enough to go to school and work. Tayla-Jean and I are lying in bed feeling sorry for ourselves watching cartoons.

Just before I go and hold the bucket for my daughter, just a reminder that it's a BIG Apple day today!

Each year they host the WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) and on the opening day Tim Cook does a keynote address where he reveals the next big thing when it comes to software or hardware.

Apple will stream his address live at 7pm SA time (on their website and on Apple TVs), and we're expecting big software updates for Mac computers, hopefully a major update to Apple TVs, minor tweaks to iPhone software, and there's a SLIM chance the iPhone 6 itself will be revealed. In fact, if not revealed tonight, they'll definitely have it's launch in the next few weeks because it's rumoured to actually go on sale in September and the media launch is always about 3 months prior to it hitting the shelves (in the States). I'll definitely blog some of the highlights tomorrow!
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My latest practical gadgets

Hi, as you may know I am a gadget nut. Not the useless things that land up in the cupboard after 3 days of use, but the practical gadgets that make my life a little easier. Here's what I bought this week:

POOL GATE ALARM

At home we're always very aware of the dangers posed by swimming pools. The pool gate is always locked and the key placed in a jar which the kids can't reach. But it's always concerned me when the gardener pops into the "zone" to clean the pool or tend to the shrubs next to the pool. It doesn't help having a fence and gate if the gate is left open. So this week I got the Doberman Pool Gate Alarm:

They're very inexpensive (cost me R99 from Home Security Store in Sandton), but quite effective. It emits a 100dB alarm if the gate is open, forcing the gardner to close the gate VERY quickly.

FASTER WiFi FOR APPLE MACS

Another gadget i've just bought from a site in the U.S. is a WiFi dongle called the AC Nano that, when plugged into my computer, replaces the existing WiFi card and enables my Mac to connect at 802.11ac speed. This is the new WiFi speed that is 3 times faster than the current "n" speed. Some new computers are coming out with the "ac" speed built in, but what about the rest of us that have perfectly good computers and don't want to replace the whole thing just to get a faster WiFi speed. The AC NANO dongle works like a charm and my Mac Mini now streams my videos to the Apple TVs without any more buffering. (by faster speeds, i'm referring to the speed of your internal WiFi network, and not your internet connection speed such as ADSL).


The device costs $59, and once you include shipping charges, it's just over R1000 to import from www.quickertek.com.
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Apple's latest gadgets explained (without the jargon)

Last night was the big reveal of the latest tech from one of the most loved tech companies in the world. Here's what is new in a nutshell without all the technical jargon:

Mavericks Operating System

The most advanced computer operating system is here. It has many behind the scenes improvements so that it uses your computer's resources more efficiently. It has so many great new user options as well. 

Even better, Apple announced the upgrade to Mavericks is free. That's a radical departure from the norm. Their positioning of this is so clever (and why we love the brand so much). Instead of saying it's free because they want to dominate the market with their new software, Tim Cook said it's free because they want YOU to have the best user experience possible. 

I'm downloading it at the moment. It's a large file. Sitting at almost 6GB, you definitely want to be on broadband before downloading it.

Macbook Pro Laptops

The 13 and 15 inch range have both been updated. They are thinner, faster and have improved battery life. They also use the new generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi that's 3x faster than the current widely used 802.1n Wi-Fi. 

What's remarkable is that (in the States at least), they are going to be cheaper than the existing ones!

iLife and iWork Software

They have done a radical overhaul of iPhoto and iMovie (all packaged as iLife) as well as iWORK (their version of Office). These will all be bundled free with any new Macbook purchase.

I still prefer using Microsoft Office for Mac rather than iWork, but one of the nifty things they've come up with in Pages, is that 2 people can "collaborate" and work on the SAME active document at the same time. That has great business applications.

New iPads

The biggest news of the night was the launch of the new iPad. Instead of being called the iPad 5, it's moniker is the iPad AirIt's 20% thinner, has a smaller bezel (border), approximately 20% lighter. It is 2x faster (A7 chip). It will replace the current iPad 4.

There's also a new iPad Mini with Retina display. It's 4x faster than the old one (and has the same chip as the new iPhone 5S). That's a remarkable improvement. The original iPad Mini will still be produced as well.

They say the new iPads have better wifi than before, but I'm surprised it didn't incorporate the new 802.11ac speed Wi-Fi.


Apple TV

I have 3 of these devices at home and use them all the time. Interestingly there was no mention of any software of hardware upgrades here.

In my attempt not to get technical I've left a few things out that they mentioned last night, but that's the gist of it.

Enjoy placing your Apple orders with Santa this Christmas!
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