Archive for January 2018 - Page 1


    HomePod Pre-Order and Questions


    Apple's music speaker, the HomePod, is now available for pre-order for $349. It is available for delivery and in Apple Stores on February 9th.

    The HomePod will be my first "Smart Speaker". I do not own an Amazon Echo nor a Google Home. I did think about buying an Amazon Echo, but decided to wait; which now in hindsight, I am glad I decided to wait. It is still possible that I might buy an Amazon Echo at some point in the future, but it is not something I need to get right away.

    The HomePod is not for everyone. If you use a variety of devices, do not subscribe to Apple Music, and in particular do not have an iPhone, then the HomePod is likely not for you. Apple has positioned the HomePod to be a music speaker first, and smart assistant second. Unlike many, I am the absolute target market for Apple's HomePod. This is because I subscribe to Apple Music and use Apple products almost exclusively. Plus, I am always up for writing about Apple, and the HomePod is the latest of Apple's gadgets.

    There are a few questions that I hope to be able to answer with the HomePod. These questions are:

    1. How well does Siri hear me while music is playing?
    2. Does the HomePod work as expected with adding items to To Do apps, lists, notes, and the like?
    3. How well does Siri work as compared to the iPhone when asking the same questions? How about as compared to the Apple Watch?
    4. What happens when I disable wireless on both my Apple Watch and iPhone, and then try to use the HomePod? What limitations are there?
    5. Will the HomePod play songs from my library, if I ask it to?
    6. How does the HomePod sound in a large room that has hardwood, as compared to a carpeted room?
    7. Can I use the HomePod as a speaker for the Apple TV? If so, how does that work and sound?
    8. How does the HomePod work with older iOS devices?

    I have pre-ordered the Space Gray HomePod for pickup on February 9th. I will give my first impressions after I have used it for a couple of days, and a full review will come later down the road after I have had significant time to use it.

    Are there any questions about the HomePod that you would like answered? If so, let me know on Twitter. If you do not want to publicly reply, you can also send me a DM.


    iOS 11.3 Preview


    It is not often that Apple unveils information about upcoming releases. However, they have been known to do so when the information is compelling. This case is one of those times. Apple has provided some new information about an upcoming release of iOS 11.3. There are a number of new features that Apple has mentioned.

    Batteries and Performance

    In December 2017, Apple announced that they were changing the pricing on battery replacements, for the iPhone 6 and later. What prompted this was the outcry by users who have experienced slow downs of their iOS devices, without really informing them that it was occurring. In order to allow users to have more control Apple is adding additional options. There are two new options. The first is a descriptor that allows you to see if your battery needs to be serviced or if something has gone awry with the battery. This is available on iPhone 6 and later. The second option is to allow you to enable or disable throttling. Disabling throttling could result in your iPhone spontaneously rebooting. The second feature is only amiable for iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus.


    One of the big features of the iPhone X is Animoji. Animoji are animated emoji and allow iPhone X users to send short 10-second messages to individuals. Upon launch of the iPhone X, there were only 12. With iOS 11.3, there is a 33% increase to a total of 16. The new Animoji include:

    • Lion
    • Bear
    • Dragon
    • Skull

    The addition of these Animoji will provide users additional ways of sending messages and should provide more entertainment time for some.

    Augmented Reality

    One of the biggest pushes for Apple is Augmented Reality. To help developers create immersive AR experiences Apple created a framework called ARKit. While ARKit was capable of doing things that many did not expect, there were still some limitations to the framework. Some of these are being eliminated with ARKit 1.5. ARKit 1.5 will be capable of detecting vertical surfaces, which includes doorways. This is huge for Augmented Reality. This is not all, ARKit 1.5 is also capable of detecting signs, posters, and even artwork to provide more experiences. One of the features of ARKit is the ability to map out certain areas. ARKit 1.5 will be able to map more irregular shapes. Many expected ARKit to be updated with the next major release of iOS, but given that Apple has stated the Augmented Reality is a high priority, seeing incremental updates is a sign that they truly do mean this a priority.

    Health Records

    Many people are familiar with the idea of electronic medical records. Even if electronic records are available, they are scattered across multiple sites. Apple is hoping to be able to eliminate the need to visit all of these locations just to get your information. This is where the new feature, Health Records, within the Health app comes into play. Health Records is a beta and requires a participating institution. These institutions include:

    • Johns Hopkins Medicine - Baltimore, Maryland
    • Cedars-Sinai - Los Angeles, California
    • Penn Medicine - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Geisinger Health System - Danville, Pennsylvania
    • UC San Diego Health - San Diego, California
    • UNC Health Care - Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    • Rush University Medical Center - Chicago, Illinois
    • Dignity Health - Arizona, California and Nevada
    • Ochsner Health System - Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
    • MedStar Health - Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia
    • OhioHealth - Columbus, Ohio
    • Cerner Healthe Clinic - Kansas City, Missouri

    With Health Records "consumers will have medical information from various institutions organized into one view covering allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals, and will receive notifications when their data is updated. Health Records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode." Privacy is important to Apple so protecting this data is paramount and is a no-brainer.

    Business Chat

    At their 2017 World Wide Developer Conference Apple unveiled a new feature called "Business Chat". Business Chat allows customers to interact with businesses. Interactions could include order status, product questions, scheduling support, paying for products, and more. The businesses have been able to test their servers since last June, but customers will begin being able to use the service. Some of the companies that will be available during the beta are: Discover, Hilton, Lowe’s and Wells Fargo. It is likely that additional businesses will be added over time.

    Other Features

    There are a few other features that will be included in iOS 11.3.

    Apple Music will soon be the home for music videos. Users can stream all the music videos they want without being interrupted by ads. This will be nice for users who want to see music videos.

    Safety is an important part of everyday life. iOS 11.3 will support Advanced Mobile Location (AML). When making an emergency call, AML will allow a user's current location to automatically be sent to emergency services. This feature will only be available in some countries.

    Final Thoughts

    Even though iOS 11.3 is not a major release, it will include a number of features and there is probably something for everyone. From things like battery monitoring to new Animoji to consolidated health records to Business Chat. iOS 11.3 is available for developers now, but should for Public betas sometime soon.


    HomePod Pre-orders Starting January 26th


    Today Apple announced that its smart speaker, HomePod, will be available on Friday February 9th. According to Phil Schiller, Apple's Senior Vice President for Marketing:

    “HomePod is a magical new music experience from Apple. It brings advanced audio technologies like beam-forming tweeters, a high-excursion woofer and automatic spatial awareness, together with the entire Apple Music catalog and the latest Siri intelligence, in a simple, beautiful design that is so much fun to use."

    There are some aspects to HomePod which will not be available until later the year. These items are AirPlay 2 and Multi-Room Audio. AirPlay 2 will allow you to use multiple HomePods to play music throughout your home. This could be the same song or different songs, depending on your needs. If you opt to put multiple HomePods in the same room, the two HomePods will be able to communicate with each other and create a more immersive and create an even better sound setup.

    As mentioned above, HomePod will be available on February 9th. Pre-orders for the HomePod will begin on January 26th, for those in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Later this spring, users in France and Germany will be able to order the HomePod. HomePod is $349 and comes in two colors, Space Gray and White.

    I am hoping tome able to order one, and if I am able to, then I will provide my initial impressions and, in due course after having been able to use it for a while, a full review.

    The entire press release by Apple is available at


    Apple and Girls' Education


    Today Apple announced that they are partnering with the Malala Fund. The Malala Fund is a fund that was created by Malala Yousafzai who has been an advocate for the education of women. Malala was injured in October of 2012 after an attempt on her life was made. The Malala fund was created to help her continue her advocacy efforts. The primary focus of the Malala fund is to champions every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education.

    With Apple’s support, Malala Fund expects to double the number of grants awarded by its Gulmakai Network and extend funding programs to India and Latin America with the initial goal of extending secondary education opportunities to more than 100,000 girls.

    Many people in the western world take for granted education and their right, and in some countries compulsion, to attend school. Even though the number of 10,000 does not sound like a large number, but each of those 100,000 girls will be able to get the education that everyone deserves. With these 100,000 girls getting an education, what they are able to accomplish with this information is unknown.

    It is great to see that Apple is stepping up to help fund the education of girls. For too long girls, not only in non-western countries but also around the world have been told that they are not to have an education and are to submit to the will of men.

    If you look through history, many women have done great things. Just to list a few:

    • Marie Curie
    • Grace Hopper
    • Joan of Arc
    • Helen Keller
    • Rosa Parks

    And this is just a handful of women who have made significant contributions to life, in many ways. While Apple leads the way, more companies need to do their part in helping the education of everyone, across the world. Having everyone be educated helps not just the person with the education, but everyone else as well.


    A Story Like Mine

    Yesterday was the Women's March. The musician Halsey read a poem she wrote titled "A Story Like Mine" at the New York City women's march. Below is the video of her reading the poem. It is worth listening to, particularly if you a guy. This is not something that just happened to her, but happens to almost all women.


    Another AirPods Mishap


    I am by no means a novice when it comes to technology. I would like to think that I take care of my technology, particularly since I have spent my hard earned money on them. However, it seems as though I do not have much luck with the AirPods, because I have had another incident with my AirPods. This is on top of the issue I had last April, where I dropped my AirPods into the toilet; case and all. I had another mishap with my AirPods. However, this time it is not nearly as bad.

    Replacing an AirPod

    A couple weeks ago I made an appointment at the Apple Store to get the right AirPod of my set replaced. I had been having issues with it for a while, but finally got around to making an appointment. The issue I had been having is that I could not hear anything unless I turned the AirPod approximately 45 degrees. This arrangement made it difficult to listen to something when you cannot hear anything. At my appointment, the right AirPod was replaced under warranty. One side effect of this is that the right AirPod now has significantly better battery life than the left; but that is an entirely different issue. Even with this, I have fun into another issue with my AirPods. This one, again, is self-inflicted.

    This Ordeal

    So during my normal weekend routine of laundry, I changed pants so I could wash the ones that I was wearing. When I put the clothes in the dryer, I began hearing a "thump, thump, thump" like something was hitting the dryer drum. I initially looked and thought it might be the hoodie I had in there. So I removed the hoodie and started up the dryer again. Again, I heard the same thumping. I again took a much closer look and saw something I did not want to see. My AirPods case in the dryer. Luckily, I was wearing the actual AirPods at the time, so I knew they were alright.

    What I thought I had done and normally do, but obviously did not do, was check to make sure that I did not leave anything in my pants before throwing the nto the washer. If I manage to leave a pair of nail clippers, change, or even a comb in my pocket there is typically no issue. However, forgetting something else could be a problem, and obviously it had become an issue.

    When I had my incident last April, I ordered a pair from AT&T and they arrived in a couple of days. I also did something I normally would not do, at least with something so expensive, I bought a second pair. The second pair I ordered from Apple, and this was back when AirPods were taking six weeks to receive. The second pair had been sitting wrapped in their box since I received them. I had contemplated on returning them, but decided not to.

    Next Course

    While I am writing this, I debated on what to do for the next course of action. Since I have the second pair of AirPods, it is not a problem for me to just use the case from the new pair of AirPods, with my older AirPods and wait out for the new AirPods case with wireless charging to be available. Once the new case is available, buy a wireless charging case, which I am going to end up doing anyway, and use the new case with the older AirPods.

    The other option is to buy a replacement case for $69 and have two pairs of AirPods again. Due to the fact that we do not know when the new AirPods case will be available. I am tempted to just buy a new AirPods case and then replace one of them when the new AirPods case with wireless charging comes out.

    I ultimately decided to just order a new AirPods case, since I did not like the idea of having two AirPods just sitting in one spot, which could easily get lost, as well as not knowing when the wireless charging cases will be released.

    Apple Support

    I initially thought about going to the Apple Store to get a replacement case. But after looking at my options for appointments, it would have taken over a week to get an appointment. I opted to use Chat support instead. Since I have no problem waiting a couple of days for a replacement to arrive. After working with Apple Chat Support for 25 minutes, they were having trouble generating a payment URL, so I could pay online. The options given to me were to wait for the email or get a call back. I opted for a call back. While I was waiting for a representative, I got an email indicating that my repair had been cancelled.

    Once I was able to talk to a senior Apple Care member, they inquired about the repair case. I mentioned that I got the cancellation email. The representative determined that they were o setup a whole new repair, which they did, and they were able to get another case setup and properly generate the payment URL.


    I had to go through the confirmation validating the information, agreeing to the terms, and everything else associated with it. When I looked amount, it was actually almost $12 more. Nearly $5 of this was for taxes, which is fine, but the other $7 is for shipping charges. I can understand the taxes, without any qualms, since I am being sold something, but the shipping charge seems a bit excessive, considering Apple is likely making a hefty margin, and typically everything over $50 comes with free shipping.

    However, the shipping charges are not the thing that concerns me the most. When I went to pay for the replacement AirPods case, the only payment option provided was via card, there was no option to use Apple Pay. If it were any other retailer, I would not have thought twice about it, but this is Appel. To me, this seems like an oversight. You would think that Apple would want to implement Apple Pay in as many places as they could, but for some reason on the support site, they did not, which confounds me. I was still on the phone with the Apple Care senior support person and mentioned this to them. They were surprised as well. They also mentioned that they were going mention it as a spot to improve service.

    Final Thoughts

    I should be receiving my replacement AirPods case within a few days. I do have the one that went through the washer sitting in some rice, on the off chance that the case does decide to work again; but I am not betting on it; hence why I ordered the new case. Until my new AirPods case arrives, I will be using the replacement case with my older AirPods, and returning the second AirPods case to its rightful pair. That will be how I do things, that is until the wireless charging case come out, when everything will change again.


    Apple Sport Loop Band: A Review


    I have had an Apple Watch since May of 2015. I have owned the original Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Series 2 and now the Apple Watch Series 3. During that time I have only used a single watch band, the black sport band. When I say that I have used a single watch band, I do not mean that I used the black sport watch band that came with each new Apple Watch. Instead, I just transferred the same band that I got from the original Apple Watch. Having used the same watch band shows that the Apple Watch band can last for a long time. More than two and half years, and it is likely that it can go even longer. I have been going back and forth with the idea of getting a new Apple Watch band for a while.

    A couple weeks ago I made an appointment at Apple to get the screen on my iPhone 7 Plus replaced. While I was there waiting to pickup the iPhone I went to take a peak at the iMac Pro that was on display, which looks fantastic in all of its Space Gray glory. After looking at the iMac Pro I wandered over to the Apple Watch bands. Now, I am not one who will go with an ostentatious or bright colored watch band, it is just not my style. Instead I tend to stick to more muted colors. I did decide to pickup the Black Sport Loop band.


    The Black Apple Watch Sport Loop band is not entirely black. Actually it is a multi-colored band which has black surrounding it. A cursory glance would say otherwise, but if you look closer you will see a variety of colors. Some of the colors that can be seen are orange, blue, and red. Even with this the band still appears black.

    The Sport Loop band differs from the classic Sport Band in almost every way. The Sports Band is a fluoroelastomer material, where as the Sport Loop is a bit more of a plastic base. The Sport Band comes in two pieces. The bottom portion of the band has a series of holes that allow you to select one that comfortably fits. The top part has a slot to receive the excess watch band from the bottom portion and at the edge is a stud to fit into one of the holes on the bottom portion of the band.

    The Sport Loop is a single piece and, as the name suggests, a loop. The Sport Loop uses a hook and loop mechanism that allows you to get an exact fit. The actual locking mechanism is a series of five hooking mechanisms that you press down and get a snug fit.

    After using the same Apple Watch band for more than two and a half years, you become accustom to how it feels. Getting accustom to the Sport Loop band took very little time. In fact, it is actually lighter, in terms of weight, than the Sport Band. Which is quite nice.

    One of the biggest habits that I have had to change is how I place the Apple Watch on the charger. The watch charger that comes with the Apple Watch is not an issue with the Sport Loop, in fact the Sport Loop makes a nice pillow for the charger itself. You can just place the loop around the charger and it is not a problem.

    As with the Sport Band, the Sport Loops can be used with the clasp coming from the top of the watch or the bottom of the watch, which allows for use on either wrist, but it also allows you to determine the best placement for the clasp.


    There is one thing that the Sport Loop does that the Sport Band does not, but it not necessarily a good thing. The Sport Loop can retain a small bit of water. It will eventually dry out, but it can be awkward if you place your wrist on your clothing after washing your hands and the water seeps out. Despite the Sport Loop retaining water, it does not affect the ability for the Sport Loop to stay secured. This is good for those who enjoy going swimming and have the Sport Loop on their Apple Watch.


    The biggest question I have regarding Apple's upcoming AirPower mat, is how well with sport loops bands charge on the mat? Will they charge at all? In order get them to charge will we need to remove one of the ends of the band from the Apple Watch in order to have it be placed close enough to be charge wirelessly?

    We do not know the answer to these questions, but it is a concern with the loop bands. The only other band that might have some concern is the link bracelet, much for the same reason because it cannot lie flat enough to be charged.

    Final Thoughts

    The Sport Loop is a good Apple Watch band. The hook and loop enclosure mechanism that is used by the Sport Loop stays secure regardless of it being water logged or not, which is a definite plus. Despite its name the Black Sport Loop does contains small hints of color within the band, which is a nice accent and unless you are looking closer it is hardly noticeable. I have not decided whether I prefer the Sport Band or the Sport Loop. It is unlikely that I will be swapping out the watch bands anytime soon. If you are in the market for a new Apple Watch band, take a look at the Sport Loop, it may be a good choice for you.


    Book Sales from 2012 to 2017


    If you have been following me for any length of time, you probably notice that I try to advertise my e-books from time to time. I have been writing books about macOS and iOS since 2012. My first book was OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Server Review, which coincidentally is my overall best selling book. However, it is not the one that has sold the most during its release year, but more on that later.

    I do no often post about how well my books are selling. This is not necessarily because I do not want people to know how well they are doing (not as well as one might think), nor is it because I care if people know how much I make from them (again is not nearly as much as one might guess). The reason I do not post more about them is because it may not be that interesting to many individuals. The last time I shared my e-book sales it was in 2014, when I released my iOS 8 e-books, and that was only because it was anomalous.

    I thought I would look back at my entire sales history of all of my e-books. Part of the impetus for doing so is to determine where I should focus my attention for my books. Should I focus more on iOS or more on macOS? I tend to try and release my e-books on the day that the new version of iOS or macOS is released. This is likely due to the highest amount of interest being near the release of the operating system.

    The Process

    The first thing I had to do, in order to be able to gleam any information about my e-book sales, was to create a database of all of my books and then I needed to pull all of the sales information from both Apple and Amazon. Thankfully, being the data driven companies that they are, I was able to pull in the information, after a bit of tweaking.

    There are still some issues with the way that I have it all setup and some aspects require manually adding some records to get the correct information, but given that my sales are not as large as you might assume, it is not a big deal. I will eventually fix it, but for now it is not an issue.

    There were a few specific areas that I wanted to look at. The first was I wanted to compare release year totals, to "all-time" totals. The second was which country sold the most, after the U.S. To answer each of these required a different report to be created. Because I can program webpages for my day job, and because web programming has been a hobby for much longer, it was not a difficult task to accomplish. What I found was interesting.

    macOS vs. iOS

    The first thing that I found was the breakdown of macOS vs. iOS e-books. For just sales during the release year, which for most books is three to three and half months. Apple is 59.54% macOS vs. 40.46% iOS. Amazon is 69.40% macOS vs. 30.60% iOS. Overall the breakdown is 63.99% macOS vs. 36.01% iOS. This tells me that I need to focus on the macOS release more than the iOS release; which is the exact opposite of the amount of time I spent on each of the latest versions of my e-books.

    Now if we look at all-time sales, this is where it really becomes interesting. For Apple sales, the macOS vs. iOS breakdown is 72.44% vs. 27.56%. For Amazon it is similar, 75.57% vs. 24.43%. The overall percentages are 73.71% vs. 26.29%. What this tells me is that the long tail for macOS e-books sales is much longer than for iOS. This is borne out with the next group of statistics.

    Release Year

    The next group we will look at is the percentage of sales that are release year sales. As mentioned above, I suspected that most of the sales were near the time when the new version of each operating system is released. From Apple, for macOS the percentage of sales that are from the release year only is 53.36% for macOS versus 95.30% for iOS. If I look at Amazon, it is even higher at 71.27% for macOS and 97.22% for iOS. The total for each is 60.88% and 96.01% respectively for macOS and iOS.

    This statistic is the one that surprised me the most. This ultimately lets me know that once I am done with my iOS books, I am effectively truly done with them. Not many people end up buying iOS books beyond the initial release year. While I did not look into this specifically, it would not surprise me if the iOS books did not really sell beyond the first 60 days and possibly even the first 30 days. I could create a report to look at this, and I might at some point in the future.

    Similarly, it might be a good idea for me to update the macOS books as new features, if any, are added. With the annual release of macOS, it may not be worth the effort to do this, but I will think about that in the future. Along side this, the Mac is a very mature operating system and the number of new features in each release is minimal.

    After some thinking, it does not surprise me as much that macOS has a longer selling life than iOS. This is because many users upgrade their iPhones every year or two, so they may only be looking for a book about the version of iOS that comes with their upgraded phone. Conversely, users likely upgrade their Macs every three to four years, if not longer. So it would make a lot more sense that users may be looking for information about the latest version of macOS. At the same time though, it is also possible that users wait much longer to upgrade their Macs and want information about the latest version before upgrading. Next, let us look at the breakdown of sales by country.

    Sales by Country

    The last statistic we will look at is which countries, besides the U.S., do my books sell the best? One might suspect that the United Kingdom or even Australia as the second best selling market, after the United States, due to the language being the same. However, for whatever reason, this is not the case. In fact it is Germany that is the second best selling market, followed by the United Kingdom, France, and then closely by Canada.

    Physical Books

    In 2017, I decided to add physical books as an option. This was done as a means to increase sales and as another option for those who prefer physical books instead of e-books. For each book there is a color and a black and white version. I opted to provide both as a means to see how well each would see. Naturally, as one might suspect, the color version is a bit more expensive than the black and white version.

    Given that this is the first year for physical book sales, I do not have any historical data for comparison. I published these through Amazon's CreateSpace platform. It is possible to publish a physical book alongside a Kindle e-book, but CreateSpace offers a couple of additional features beyond the Kindle Direct Publishing platform.

    I opted to go through CreateSpace because it allows distribution by more than just Amazon, but also through third-party resellers, like your favorite book store. This also allows libraries to purchase copies as well. A vast majority of sales have come through

    With that in mind, for sales through the end of December are as follows. The macOS versus iOS sales percentages are 82.69% for macOS and 17.31% for iOS. The breakdown of black and white versus color is 65.38% black and white and 34.62% color copies.


    There was one statistic that I intuitively knew, but did not have quantitative information for. That statistic was that 2014 was an anomalous year for my e-book sales. This happens to coincide with an anonymous year for iPhone sales too. I do not know if there is any causation, but there is a correlation. In 2014, 41.10% of my "all-time" sales of my iOS e-books, were for my iOS 8 book.

    Overall Sales

    The overall sales of my e-books have not been too bad. Not nearly as many as I would like, but I cannot complain too much. They will not allow me to quit my job and become independent wealthy, that is for sure. I do not know if any of the advertising nor any of the sales that I have done over the years have helped or not. If you would like to support the website, you can always purchase an e-book or two, or even a physical copy.