CategoryMacintosh

‘Hello again:’ Apple event scheduled for October 27th

As expected, Apple announced an October event, set for Thursday the 27th, and likely to be the last held in its Cupertino Town Hall.

The company is widely anticipated to announce updates to the Mac lineup, which has grown long in the tooth. The invitation for the event reads “hello again,” a clear nod to the message that introduced both the original Macintosh as well as the first iMac. The use of that phrase would suggest that Apple is presenting something similarly important — something similarly worthy of an “introduction.” Using that special phrase for anything less would be disappointing.

The question is: How many Macs will be updated. The Mac Pro and Mac mini have gone especially long without a refresh and Apple’s attention to these products will likely be viewed as indicators of how seriously the company takes the markets they serve — especially the pro market.

Also to watch: Will new Macs follow the iPhone in getting rid of the headphone jack? (Almost certainly not.) Will they trade in the MacSafe connector in favor of a USB-C port? (Probably.) Will the function key row be replaced by a dynamic LCD or e-ink panel? (Maybe.) Only time (and Tim Cook) will tell.

The event will be streamed live on AppleTV and from the Apple website.

Parallels Desktop celebrates 10 years of putting Windows on your Mac

Parallels is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its virtualization software, Parallels Desktop. With Apple’s switch to Intel processors, running Windows on the Mac became possible, but it was Parallels that made it not just practical, but powerful. Adding innovative features that integrated Mac features into the Windows environment, Parallels arguably made running Windows on a Mac even better than on a standard PC.

One of my favorite aspects of attending Macworld Expo as press (or a speaker) was getting my annual not-for-resale copy of the latest version of Parallels Desktop. Because while I was lucky enough that I never needed to run Windows on my Mac, I looked forward to seeing what features Parallels had added with each release. It also gave me a chance to stay up to speed on what Windows was offering its customers.

There are lots of great reasons to use Parallels Desktop’s virtualization — to run Linux, ChromeOS, even other instances of Mac OS X. If you’re curious but haven’t tried it out yet, there may not be a better time — Parallels is offering 25% off Parallels Desktop 11 to celebrate its anniversary. You can even try it for free.

I’m happy to see that Parallels is still innovating and I hope they stay at it for many more years to come.

BTN Mac Show: ‘Trimming Back’

I was remiss in putting the word out about the latest Mac Show on the British Tech Network. I’d be lying if I said I remembered what we talked about, but I do recall it was a lot of fun as usual. Oh, right — I do remember talking about how I now have an Apple Watch.

My “Cool Thing” was the innerexile Glacier iPhone 6/6+ case — a slim, self-healing case that’s very, well…cool.

If you haven’t listened to The Mac Show, give it a try. It’s a fun, lighthearted conversation about some of the coolest things happening in the tech world today — and you don’t need to be an uber-geek to follow along.

‘Hanging by a thread’

I was a guest on the British Tech Network’s Mac Show this week, along with Chris Breen, Josh Centers, Adam Christianson and Host Ewen Rankin. We had a great time speculating on what Chris will do as he leaves Macworld for that “fruit-flavored technology company.” We also talked a lot about the Apple Watch, what Pebble’s Kickstarter project for its own smart watch means for consumer appetites, Apple’s March 9th event and other assorted nonsense.

As usual, it was a tremendous amount of fun with a great panel of smart, funny people. The Mac Show has a bright Chat Room as well, and they add a lot to the program. It’s worth listening to (and subscribing) whether you’re interested in hearing my ramblings or not.

The show can be found on the British Tech Network’s website.

Beyond Cut and Paste: 20 keyboard shortcuts that will make you a more powerful Mac user

In my latest article for Macworld, I explain 20 (or so) keyboard shortcuts that can make using your Mac a lot more efficient. I like to think of these at “Mac 201” rather than Mac 101, since they go beyond the most basic keyboard commands.

I’m also thinking about doing a short video on the same topic—I think it might be a little easier to convey that way (and I want to try out my video demo chops anyway.)

The article is available on the Macworld website.

Audio Hijack 3 is a must-have upgrade that adds fun to a powerful utility

Rogue Amoeba released Audio Hijack 3, a major update to its audio capture and recording utility. The new version features a completely overhauled interface that makes creating and using recording workflows much easier and looks amazing.

The old: Powerful, but imposing
For years, Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack Pro has been an essential utility for capturing, mixing and recording audio traveling through you Mac. And when podcasting took off, Audio Hijack obtained legendary status, making it inexpensive and relatively easy to boost production values, making it possible for indy podcasters to sound like much bigger studios.

But all that power was somewhat hidden behind a skeuomorphic interface of dials, knobs and switches, and the program’s tabbed interface made it tough to get a holistic view of your workflow.

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iRig Mic Studio looks like IK Mulitmedia’s next big hit

IK Multimedia has been on fire lately, with a slew of high quality, innovative products for musicians and podcasters. Today, the company announced its newest product—iRig Mic Studio.

The mic itself is an “ultra-portable large-diaphragm digital condenser microphone” for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC and Android. It has a 1″ diameter condenser capsule into an enclosure smaller than an iPhone, targeted at musicians, vocalists, home producers, podcasters, broadcasters, voice-over artists and more.

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Macworld article: ‘3 key things to know about Yosemite and security’

My newest Macworld article covers some of the new features in Safari for Mac OS X Yosemite and how the could potentially impact your security. To Apple’s credit, each of these features can be controlled by the user. I’ll show you what’s shared, with whom, how to change the default settings — and why you might not want to.

The full article is on the Macworld website.

Upgrade to iOS 8, but skip iCloud Drive (for now)

Apple’s iOS 8 update will be released tomorrow (as I write this) and if history is any indication, millions of iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users will hit that update button en masse.

I think that’s fine; the “Gold Master” (GM) version of iOS 8 seems very stable, and while many of the update’s best features won’t really come into play until the release of iOS’s desktop cousin Yosemite, it’s got enough nice new features to make it worth using.

But it’s that very partnership with Yosemite that makes it an extremely good idea not to upgrade your iOS device to iCloud Drive when prompted. That’s because iCloud Drive isn’t compatible with Mavericks, Apple’s current desktop operating system. Nor is it yet compatible with current versions of the many apps that use iCloud (sans the “Drive”) to do things like store information, sync data and do various other things that you are very likely to miss when they suddenly stop working.

Our friends over at TidBITs have more information, but for the time being suffice it to say you should just hold off on iCloud Drive until Yosemite is released and app developers release iCloud-compatible versions of their wares.

You’re welcome.

When facts and narrative collide: Apple’s double-digit Mac growth calls out analysts’ flawed estimates

From AppleInsider:

Apple reported “strong double digit growth” in its Mac sales in the U.S., directly contradicting the earlier estimates published by IDC and Gartner that stated Apple’s U.S. Mac sales fell year-over-year in the June quarter and calling into question the legitimacy of market estimates that the tech media uncritically presents as factual.

Writing for Fortune, Philip Elmer-DeWitt shines some light on how those “estimates” are made (or made up): (via The Loop)

“So, the mantra became, preserve the growth rates; to hell with the actual numbers. Even the growth rates are fiction. The fudge is in the ‘others’ category, which is used as a plug to make the numbers work out. In fairness, we did do survey work, calling around, and attending white box conferences and venues to try to get a feel for that market, but in the end, the process was political. I used to tell customers which parts of the data they could trust, essentially the major vendors by form factor and region. The rest was garbage.”

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