Apple World Wide Developer Conference 2021

If that title is too long for you, Apple’s developer conference is more often known as:

WWDC

Apple WWDC21 event promo on the Apple website.

Once the domain of geeky programmers, systems analysts, security gurus, and hardware engineers, the WWDC has grown into a world-wide event, with programmers and developers and news reporters and average Janes and Joes attending at massively attended events in the San Francisco Bay area.

This year, like 2020, WWDC will be a virtual event, broadcast from a variety of locations, mostly in and around the Apple campus in Cupertino, CA. You can attend the event by either logging into the apple developer site (if you are a developer), or the Apple website at:

https://www.apple.com/apple-events/

Or, if you have an Apple TV, use that to display the keynotes and sessions on your flat-screen TV. (If you still have a tube TV, it probably won’t work).

What to expect:

  • A look at forthcoming iOS and iPadOS advances;
  • A look at forthcoming Apple Watch advances;
  • A look at forthcoming Apple TV advances (maybe?);
  • A look at the next version of the macOS operating system;
  • Possibly a hardware surprise, such as a more powerful MacBook, a bigger iMac, an iPad that doubles as a drone, computerized coffee cups that are inexplicably called “CoffeePods,” a flying Apple Car that doubles as a riding mower — who knows?

The keynote begins at 10 am Pacific Time on Monday, June 7. While there is almost no chance the keynote will put you to sleep, you have the option of playing Keynote Bingo to keep you alert:

https://keynotebingo.github.io/

There is a non-trivial chance we will talk about the WWDC at the next Strait-Mac meeting on June 15.

Apple May 25 security updates

On May 25, Apple released a mass of “Product Security Updates.” These cover most of their most commonly used devices and some specific pieces of software.

  • APPLE-SA-2021-05-25-1 iOS 14.6 and iPadOS 14.6. An update to all currently supported iPhones and iPads. There are currently about 1.8 billion iOS and iPadOS devices.
  • APPLE-SA-2021-05-25-2 macOS Big Sur 11.4. This is a comprehensive update to Apple’s current operating system for the Macintosh.
  • APPLE-SA-2021-05-25-3 Security Update 2021-004 Mojave. This is a partial update to macOS Mojave 10.14. Though it doesn’t result in a version number change, the update covers a long list of potential vulnerabilities and stability issues.
  • APPLE-SA-2021-05-25-4 Security Update 2021-003 Catalina. This is a partial update to macOS Catalina 10.15. Like the Mojave update, it doesn’t result in a version number change, but just the index to the update covers several pages.
  • APPLE-SA-2021-05-25-5 Safari 14.1.1. This update specifically brings Safari (and the underlying WebKit infrastructure used by many other pieces of Mac software) up to Safari 14.1.1 on macOS Catalina and macOS Mojave. This update is also bundled into the macOS Big Sur 11.4, iOS 14.6 and iPadOS 14.6 updates mentioned above.
  • APPLE-SA-2021-05-25-6 watchOS 7.5. This is an update to all currently supported Apple Watches.
  • APPLE-SA-2021-05-25-7 tvOS 14.6. This is an update to all currently supported Apple TV 4K and HD devices. Among other things, it offers support for the new Apple TV Remote.
  • APPLE-SA-2021-05-25-8 Boot Camp 6.1.14. Boot Camp is not used by many Macintosh users, but it allows you to partition your boot drive and install Windows on it.

If you have a device that uses any of these operating systems, it is strongly recommended that you update the device immediately.

And — if you have an older device that cannot support these updates, remember that your device is vulnerable to attack.

Apple event: Spring Loaded

Apple has sent out an invitation to attend, virtually, an event on April 20, at 10 a.m. PT. The only thing they’ve released is this logo,

Apple event: Spring loaded
Apple event: April 20, 2021

which is obviously designed to look like a spring coiled into something similar to the Apple logo.

There is also a link to a page on Apple’s website,

https://www.apple.com/apple-events/

which says nothing at all, other than inviting you to stop by on April 20 at 10 a.m.

Speculation

  • A new iPad Pro. The current iPad Pro has face recognition, several cameras, a nifty pen (that they call a Pencil and you have to pay extra to get it, but it is nifty), speech synthesis, lots of storage and RAM, etc. There isn’t much left to add except possibly: it hovers in the air! it floats in the water! you can play 3D games on it, just like in the first Star Wars movie! (Wookie not included.)
  • A new iPad mini. The iPad mini falls in a useful space between the size of an iPhone and the size of an iPad. The mini is just about the size and weight of a paperback book, and I used one of the earlier iPad minis as my reading library of choice for years.
  • Air Tags. The Find My app included on the Mac, iPhone and iPad was recently modified with a new option to find “Items.” This is sort of spelled out on an Apple documentation page, https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT211331 — except that Apple (so far) has no tags or widgets that use this capability. Presumably, third-party suppliers will make such tags or widgets, but Apple might, too.
  • A new Apple TV. While the Apple TV is quite spiffy, the Year of COVID has revealed that it could be more. Maybe.
  • New Macs. So far, three computers with Apple Silicon CPUs have been released, the new Mac mini, one MacBook Pro, and a new MacBook Air. But it would make sense to add some larger MacBook Pros and iMacs and whatnot.
  • Apple Aircar. For years, industry pundits have been talking about a forthcoming Apple Car. But this is Apple; I’ve been predicting an Apple Aircar. It will fly through the air with the greatest of ease, and park in a standard driveway, no airport required. It will run on batteries, and can be recharged using a USB-C charging cable. True, it takes about a day to recharge unless you get the optional charging station. For some reason, it also offers the Apple Pencil as an option.

The Strait Macintosh User Group will meet that evening, and we will probably gossip about what was presented.

March 2021: TextEdit and Preview

Notes by Kathleen Charters

The March 2021 focused on two essential but overlooked utilities on the Mac, TextEdit and Preview. But before we got to that, we had —

Q&A

Q: Why do I get an error message that my drive is disconnected when it is still connected?

A: I’m guessing you have a USB drive that you bought from Costco or off Amazon or Best Buy or something. These drives are great as Time Machine backup drives, but they are not top-of-the-line drives; they usually have a one-year warranty rather than a multi-year warranty, and were not burned-in at the factory to make sure they work properly. Essentially, the consumer does the manufacturer’s quality control: if the drive works, great! If it doesn’t, they’ll replace it.

These drives are not designed to be left on all the time. If the computer goes to sleep, the drive goes to sleep, without any hardware or software support to wake it up again when the computer wakes up. From the computer’s point of view, the drive was disconnected, and your Mac puts up a scary message. This isn’t really a problem if the drive is used as a Time Machine backup drive.

In contrast, I have three RAIDS with a total of 12 drives in them. These are “enterprise” drives, designed to be left on all the time, and they come with five-year warranties. They are mounted in cases designed for the purpose, and the cases tell the drive when the computer goes to sleep, and when it wakes up.

Q: If Time Machine backs up everything, continuously, won’t the backup drive fill up quickly?

A: Time Machine backs up every hour, and while it does back up everything, it does a “differential” backup, backing up things that are changed or new. When you do the first Time Machine backup, it takes a long time, because everything is new, but after that, only new or changed files are added, and backups are quite quick.

Q: Should I have Time Machine backup to two different drives and alternate them?

A: That sounds like you are trying to do an archive rather than a backup. A backup is just that: a backup of everything, including things you forgot to backup. An archive is a snapshot of everything that is then removed from proximity to the computer and stored somewhere else. The whole point of an archive is to have something stored elsewhere — a relative’s house, a bank safe deposit box — so that if something happens, you will have a copy of whatever was stored on the archive.

A backup drive should be connected to your computer at all times. An archive should be disconnected and stored apart from your computer.

It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of having backups or archives. A recent poll asked 18-to-30-year-olds which would be more traumatic: getting dumped by a significant other or losing their phone? Most people said: losing their phone. The phone has contacts for everyone they care about, it has photos of vacations and momentous events, it has apps for banking and dating and games to play in boring meetings. One of my relatives lost a phone, and with it, all their photos of their children. They’d never backed them up, and suddenly, they were gone.

A backup is to rescue you from an unanticipated event, such as a hard drive crash or, if you have a laptop, the theft or loss of your laptop. An archive is a place where you store 13 years of photos of your children.

Do not put your Time Machine backup and your archive on the same drive. Not only should these be on separate media, but ideally the media should be kept in different locations. I, for example, save my Time Machine backups to a drive on an Apple Time Capsule, but I save archives on bare hard drives I insert into a “drive toaster,” such as the NewerTech Voyager drive dock.

Q: Do you need to “refresh” your drives to prevent them from freezing up?

A: Older drives from a decade or more ago had “stiction” problems caused by the lubricant in the drives, but that really isn’t an issue today. What is a problem is changing formats. For example, the original Macintosh image format was PICT, which cannot be used by modern Macs. You need to find a utility (there are several) to convert older PICT images into modern JPEG images. Similarly, older drives were formatted using HFS; Apple’s current drive format is APFS. There will come a day when future Macs probably will not be able to read HFS-formatted drives.

An extreme example: the 1890 census of the United States was stored on Hollerith cards, the precursor to computer cards. Various codes were punched on the cards, which could then be tabulated on mechanical tabulators. In later years, when computers had been invented, there was a problem: how do you get this old, paper-card data into a modern computer? Special card readers were developed, and special programs developed, to read in and reformat the data on the cards so they could be stored in modern computer databases.

Q: Why would you convert PICT images to JPEG? Why not TIFF?

A: TIFF files are much larger. If your iPhone took photos and stored them in TIFF, you’d run out of storage much faster. JPEG was specifically developed specifically for photographs. TIFF was developed by Aldus Corporation (later purchased by Adobe) for storing images scanned by image scanners, for use in desktop publishing.

Q: What do you think of BackBlaze?

A: Backblaze is an excellent service. For a monthly subscription fee, Backblaze will continuously back up your computer to their cloud service. The backup process is encrypted, as is the backup itself. Since the cloud service is not in your home or office, it also is essentially an offsite archive, too. When we [Kathleen and Lawrence] moved cross-country, we first backed up our data to Backblaze, so that even if our computers didn’t survive the move, our data would still be available.

Club business

President Sabrina Davis asked if there were any new people; no one indicated they were new.

Sabrina asked members, who haven’t paid their annual membership dues, to please send in dues to Treasurer Annalis Schutzmann. The address is on the Contact page.

Vice President Lawrence Charters purged 185 inactive contacts from the club database (out of over 400 contacts). Most of those purged were “inherited” from older club records, and consisted of individuals who have not attended meetings since October 2018. Purging the list will help with notifications to the group, as Google tends to limit accounts to no more than 300 messages a day as an anti-spam measure.

Presentation: Preview

For the March meeting, Vice President Lawrence Charters demonstrated Preview and TextEdit on an Apple Silicon-based Mac mini. Preview and TextEdit have been on every Mac since Mac OS X was introduced, and date back to even before then, as they were developed for the NeXT computer. (NeXT was purchased by Apple and the NeXT operating system is the foundation of macOS). Since these are utilities that everyone already has, it is worth knowing what they can do.

To start, Lawrence used Preview to scan something on a printer. The printer – an inexpensive Hewlett-Packard all-in-one printer with scanner, fax, and printer – has a flatbed scanner built into the top of the printer. Lawrence made a point of never installing the software supplied by Hewlett-Packard. Instead, the printer was “installed” by using the macOS System Preferences “Printers&Scanners” pane to “see” the printer on the network, and configure drivers for the printer using settings already bundled with macOS Big Sur.

When Preview was launched, it requested a file to open. The request was canceled. Lawrence then went to Preview’s File menu, selected Import from Scanner, selected the printer (scanner), and scanned an old photograph, taken by his grandmother, of the original Tacoma Narrows bridge during construction.

An 82 year old small (2 inches across) snapshot of the original Tacoma Narrows bridge during its construction. Photo by Viola Lemley.
An 82 year old small (2 inches across) snapshot of the original Tacoma Narrows bridge during its construction. This was taken from Tacoma, looking across the Narrows to Kitsap. Photo by Viola Lemley. The photograph was scanned on an HP All-In-One printer/scanner/fax purchased at Office Depot. The only software used to scan it into macOS was Preview.

When used to scan things, Preview is quite flexible. It can scan in color or black and white, can save the scanned image as a TIFF, JPEG, JPEG 2000 [don’t use this], PNG, or PDF. If the scanner supports it, you can select the resolution of the scan, and the size of the scanned object. If the scanner has a document feeder, you can scan multiple items and combine them in a single document, or save them as separate files. You can draw a selection box around what you want scanned. A preview of the scan shows up in Preview, which is perfectly fine for a program called Preview.

Why not use the printing and scanning software that comes with the printer (or scanner)? With rare exceptions, whatever ships with the printer is immediately out of date, and the manufacturers are not inclined to update the software. Manufacturers make their money selling printers and scanners, not in updating the software for them. Some scanners, such as the Fujitsu document scanners, do have special features worth using, but for most users, Preview provides what users need, and Apple updates Preview (and the print drivers) on a regular basis.

Once scanned, Preview has a range of tools to edit and enhance the scanned image. Preview allows you to crop the image, rotate the image, add labels to the image, adjust color and contrast, add text, and a number of other functions. Is it equivalent to Adobe’s Photoshop? No. But it comes with your Mac, and Photoshop users rarely do things that can’t be done with Preview.

Preview is also handy for converting images between formats. Load an image, and you can export it as: TIFF, PNG, PDF, OpenEXR (used for high end motion picture purposes), JPEG-2000 (don’t use), JPEG, and HEIC. HEIC was developed by Apple, and is short for High Efficiency Image File Format. HEIC files take up only half as much room as JPEG images, with better image fidelity, but — and this is an important but — if you send an HEIC image to a Windows user or a user with an older Mac, they probably won’t be able to see it.

In addition to image conversion, another good use for Preview is cropping and shrinking images that you send via email. Most users don’t really want a 20 MB image file to show up unexpectedly in email. Using Preview, you can reduce it down to under a megabyte — or less. Just open the image, go to the Tools menu, select Adjust Size, reduce the height and width to less than a thousand pixels, and then email the image.

Another absolutely vital use for Preview: rotating images. It can rotate photographs, and also PDFs, which comes in handy far more often than you might imagine.

Q: Where do you find Preview?

A: Preview is in your Applications folder. Just list everything alphabetically, and it is easy to find. It is highly recommended that you put it in your Dock for easy access.

Q: Do you need to use Preview if you have Photos?

A: Photos has much more extensive image editing tools, but it is also more complicated. When you launch it, it also opens up a database of all your photos, which may be more distraction than help. For simple tasks, Preview is more than adequate, and fast.

Q: Isn’t Photos somewhat limited?

A: When Photos came out, I didn’t pay much attention to it; I was using Aperture, which was Apple’s high-end photo management and editing program. But Apple abandoned Aperture, and at the same time expanded what Photos can do. Photos has the ability, among other things, to convert Aperture databases to Photos databases. As a result, I no longer use Aperture. (Aperture is also 32-bit, and won’t work on any Mac operating system after Mojave, macOS 10.14.

Q: Do you use Photos?

A: Not much. I tend to use Adobe Lightroom, which costs money, mostly because I have well over 100,000 photos.

Q: What about Adobe Photoshop Elements?

A: Haven’t used Photoshop Elements in possibly 20 years. But it does support 85-90% of the functions that most people use in Photoshop. It lacks the sophisticated image management of Apple’s Photos.

Q: Do you use a photo editor on your iPhone?

A: Not really. If I do, it is to make small cartoons, and I use a program from an Australian company called Comic Life 3. Most of my “serious” editing I do on my Mac using Adobe Lightroom. Or photoshop.

For more information on management of images (which is beyond the scope of the meeting), check out these two books:

[Photos may be the subject of a future meeting, since it is on every Mac, iPhone and iPad.]

Presentation: TextEdit

For the next often-overlooked utility, we looked at TextEdit. Available on every Mac since macOS was introduced in 2001 (and earlier on NeXT), TextEdit is a surprisingly powerful and versatile text editor. A “text editor” differs from a “word processor” in that a word processor can do almost anything when it comes to writing: you can change margins, page sizes, fonts, writing in multiple languages, add images and photos, and — pretty much anything. But a text editor is good for: text.

Since programming code is text-based, TextEdit started out life as a code editor. But not that many people write programs. On the other hand, almost everyone needs to read text at some point, and if you click on a text document on your Mac, such as the “Read Me” files included with almost every program or system update, macOS will launch TextEdit. You’ve probably used TextEdit thousands of times, and not noticed.

TextEdit, like Preview, is located in your Applications folder. You can drag it down to your Dock for ease of access.

If you launch TextEdit, it will open up a prompt to open a file. Cancel that, and you can create a new, text document. Once upon a time, TextEdit documents had to be fairly simple, but today you can go to the Format menu and select Make Rich Text, and TextEdit will put up a menu bar that allows you to change fonts, margins, tabs, and a host of other things that look a lot like a word processor.

When you save a TextEdit file, you are given a choice of formats, and it is here that you begin to see TextEdit’s power as a text Swiss Army knife: it can open and save a wide variety of formats.

TextEdit can save in Rich Text Format (RTF), Rich Text Format with embedded images (attachments), in HTML (formatted web pages), Web Archive documents (essentially stand-alone web pages), OpenDocument Text (used by some open-source word processing programs), and three different versions of Microsoft Word files, dating back more than 20 years.

Because it is included in every copy of macOS, TextEdit is a powerful, worthwhile tool. You can use it to open up Word documents, even if you don’t own Microsoft Word. You can use it to write programming code, or create a web page.

A separate menu option also allows you to export a document as a PDF file. TextEdit doesn’t read PDFs, however; for that, use Preview, as mentioned above.

Because TextEdit is a text editor and not a word processor, don’t expect to be able to do fancy text formatting. When you open a Word document in TextEdit, the formatting may often look quite strange.

Like many other programs on the Mac, TextEdit allows your Mac to turn the text in your document into speech. Open a document, go to the Edit menu, scroll down to Speech, and select Start Speaking. You use the same menu item to stop speaking.

TextEdit (or Safari, or Apple Mail, or almost any other Apple program) can convert text to speech, and read your document, or email, or shopping list, aloud. This is an often overlooked capability.

A brief aside

While the presentation was on Preview and TextEdit, speech is an important capability on the Mac. The very first Mac, during its introduction in 1984, spoke to the assembled reporters. Speech synthesis has advanced tremendously since that time (think of what you can do with Siri, on your Mac or iPhone or iPad or HomePod), but it is still overlooked as a tool.

If you are busy and want to read something, but your hands are busy doing something else, having TextEdit (or Apple Mail, or Safari, or almost any Apple program) speak whatever is showing on the screen can come in handy. You can change the default voice by going to System Preferences > Accessibility > Spoken Content and select a different voice from the menu, or even download additional voices to meet your needs. You can also change the speaking rate, have your Mac speak announcements, or a number of other options.

This is a demo of the speech capabilities shown at the meeting. Because Lawrence couldn’t figure out how to send the synthesized voice over Zoom, meeting participants couldn’t hear it at the time:

This video not only has the Mac speak a short page of text in a Scottish accent, it also tells you how the video was created.

You can also use the Mac’s Accessibility settings for zooming windows (enlarging or shrinking what is on the screen), and for dictation. Almost every Apple program that accepts text will also take dictation.

Back to TextEdit

While not demonstrated at the meeting, TextEdit can also import things from your iPhone or iPad, including images and scanned text.

Q: What is the equivalent of TextEdit on an iPhone or iPad?

A: There is no direct equivalent, though I use Notes for writing text. Notes has the added capability of automatically syncing Notes to iCloud, making them easy to pull up on your Mac.

Q: Can’t you do many of these things with Pages?

A: Pages comes with your Mac, which is nice (it used to cost money). And it is certainly more feature-rich, since it is a full-blown word processor, and it also comes on versions for your iPhone or iPad. But Pages documents can’t be read by anything except Pages, and the very flexibility of Pages makes it more complex to learn and use, and it takes longer to launch. TextEdit documents can be read by almost anything.

Next Month

When asked what to do next month, there were a number of suggestions:

  • Ways to have more advanced security on your Mac, such as two-factor authentication, different passwords for every purpose, password managers, etc.
  • A tour of the various System Preferences and what you can and should do with them.
  • Setting up a home network and showing how to get different devices to work together.
  • Demonstrate screen sharing.
  • Demonstrate how to use a VPN. (Lawrence isn’t keen on that, as setting up a Virtual Private Network is the antithesis of broadcasting your computer screen over Zoom).

The consensus was we would talk about some more advanced security measures that you can take with your Mac, on April 20.

One more thing…

Back when Steve Jobs was CEO of Apple, he was famous for adding a “One more thing…” to his keynote addresses. Often, these were new products or services that took people completely by surprise, leading to the birth of a new industry: see if you could “predict” what Jobs was going to announce by tracking contracts for electronic components, or manufacturing and shipping contracts.

In the Year of the Pandemic 2020, Apple is reviving this tradition with One more thing, scheduled for Tuesday, November 10, at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. (Note to Apple publicists: just call it Pacific Time. Assume your recipients have electronics that can adjust automatically between Daylight Savings Time and Standard Time, and just call it: Pacific Time.)

Exactly what Apple will announce is not known at this time. However — everyone will be shocked, stunned, and amazed if Apple doesn’t introduce one or more computers based on their Apple Silicon processors, a break from the Intel processors they’ve been using since 2006.

Speculation is leaning toward the introduction of one or more laptops, as the low-power, low-heat processors would bring obvious benefits to battery-powered laptops. But a few of us, at least, would like to see an 🍎Si-powered Mac mini that would allow you to conduct low-cost evil software experiments with the new macOS 11, Big Sur.

Oh, yeah: Apple will probably announce the release of macOS 11 Big Sur.

Apple special event: September 2020

Apple is hosting a special event on Wednesday Tuesday, September 15, 2020, at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. They’ve not released one shred of information on the topic. The logo for the event,

Infinite loop Apple logo

is an infinitely-looping ribbon that forms the Apple logo. This is also a nice pun on the formal address for Apple’s old headquarters, 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California.

Speculation, based on next to nothing, suggests it might be focused on a new Apple Watch and a new iPad Air. Exactly how a looping blue ribbon relates to watches or iPads is unknown. It is also speculated that Apple will announce formal release dates for macOS 11 Big Sur, iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14.

You can watch the event by going here:

https://www.apple.com/apple-events/

or by using your Apple TV and the Apple Events app to watch it on your TV.

Free book on Zoom

Take Control Books, a highly recommended vendor of electronic books on “things computer,” and “things Macintosh” in particular, has a free new book: Take Control of Zoom Essentials. Given how much of life this year is spent in Zoom conferencing, this book is highly recommended.

It is essentially a condensed version of their longer, more comprehensive (and not free) book, Take Control of Zoom. The longer book is far more detailed, and recommended for those who want to host Zoom meetings, or use Zoom for teaching, consulting, or business.

Some of the topics covered in Take Control of Zoom Essentials:

  • What Zoom Can Do
  • Get Set Up with Zoom
  • Upgrade Audio and Video
  • Improve Your Video
  • Look Sharp
  • Identify Yourself
  • Join a Meeting
  • Adjust the View
  • View a Shared Screen
  • Interact in a Meeting
  • Stay Safe in a Meeting
  • Share Your Screen

The book is available in PDF (Acrobat), ePub (Apple Books), and Mobi (Kindle) formats. And — free.

July 2020: WWDC 2020

Notes by Kathleen Charters

In July, we had a quick review of Apple’s Keynote address at WWDC 2020 (World Wide Developer Conference 2020). But first,

Question and Answer (Q&A) session

Will you demonstrate the Big Sur developer release?

Non-disclosure agreements govern what can be said, and shown; can only repeat what Apple has said in public (with some speculation on things not yet known.)

Should I install the public beta test of Big Sur?

Best Practice: Use a Mac not used for anything important; an expendable machine should be used for Beta testing so testing will not disrupt anything; debugging code slows things down, some of the code functionality is not complete yet. Sometimes, you may have to erase a beta test machine and start over. If you aren’t willing to erase your computer, don’t install the beta test.

What about beta test of iOS?

Public Beta OS is available on the Apple site for each device (Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, Apple TV). Only install beta software on a device that you can afford not to use. Keep in mind that you must complete a beta test agreement in order to be a tester, and submit bug reports to Apple.

When will these new operating systems be out?

Apple didn’t say. Traditionally, new releases come out in September-October. COVID-19 has limited developer development and interactions. New OS features may be incompatible with existing virtual conference software, for example; other developers will see a tester disappear and not know what it was that caused the crash. Not clear at all if Apple will be able to complete development, testing and certification of all platforms in time for usual fall rollout.

I did not receive a meeting announcement.

Announcements for the meeting were sent out via E-mail; if you did not receive an email and have signed up, please send an e-mail to Lawrence. Also, check your spam folder, as mail systems give a higher “spam” score for mass messages sent with addresses listed as BCC (blind carbon copies). Also also, we may not have your correct email address, as we’ve had trouble reading some things written on the sign-in sheets. Kris Eklund also posts announcements on Next Door, https://nextdoor.com/.

My Apple Watch is missing some apps after an operating system upgrade.

The Apple Watch needs memory on the computer to do an upgrade. If there isn’t enough memory to complete an upgrade properly, the operating system will delete apps from the watch. This is not really a problem, since the apps are still on your phone. Just use the Watch app on your phone to add the apps back after the OS upgrade.

When looking at Apple Mail vs Gmail on iPad or iPhone, how do I get a list of contacts?

Google is a Web services company and Gmail is Web-based, so open Gmail from a web browser on your desktop computer. In the upper right-hand corner, there is an icon of a cluster of squares, indicating other applications. Click on it, and you wil see one is for Contacts. Google’s Contacts service is shared among all Google services, including Google Docs. Google has online documentation on how to export Apple contacts and import them into Google Contacts. You can also use Apple Mail to view Gmail, in which case Apple Mail will use Apple Contacts for Gmail. On my Mac, I prefer to use Kiwi for reading Gmail, as it allows me to open and view multiple Gmail accounts at once. Kiwi is on the Apple Mac App Store.

Meeting Begins

President Sabrina Davis welcomed everyone to the meeting. Sabrina was overseas for several months, leaving before the pandemic and then getting caught up in mandatory quarantine measures.

SMUG Treasurer Annalis Schutzmann was asked: how do members pay dues when we do not meet in person? You can mail checks to Annalis; use the Contact form on the website, https://strait-mac.org/contact/ — to write to her for the mailing address.

Annalis is working with Lawrence on an online database with the dates of when dues were paid. Lawrence is going to add some logic to flag when dues should be renewed; the treasurer will then send an e-mail to tell where to send checks to join or renew.

SMUG did spend money on a Zoom subscription for the virtual meetings so we can host meetings longer than 40 minutes. Members can attend for free no matter how long the meeting lasts; you do not need to pay for an individual subscription. Lawrence was critical of Zoom’s privacy and security, but Zoom does a good job with controls for running a meeting. Zoom can also be used for troubleshooting by sharing the desktop and for teaching people how to use programs, such as how to use Zoom.

We did consider FaceTime, but while it has superb privacy and security controls, it just isn’t suited for groups of more than three or four at once.

SMUG treasury balance as of last meeting was $752; this meeting the balance was $651.08 after paying for a Zoom subscription.

SMUG elections will will be in October, with all offices open for nominations: President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.

SMUG is now properly listed on the Apple User Group Resources website, https://appleusergroupresources.com/find-a-group/.

Presentation: World Wide Developer Conference 2020 (WWDC 2020)

This year, you can attend the World Wide Developers Conference for free. The Keynote can be streamed from Apple’s site, and is also available as an Apple TV application. It is two hours long, and is chiefly aimed at software developers. The SMUG presentation will touch on several topics, and add some opinions. You can download the meeting slides from here:

The presentation (sorta) follows the slides.

Apple Safari is the most popular web browser in the world because it runs on iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Until recently, the underlying technology for Safari, WebKit, was also the foundation for Google’s Chrome browser.

Safari – Apple is planning some fundamental changes to Safari’s security and privacy capabilities. You can download the beta now; you don’t need to wait until Big Sur is released.

Apple Silicon – Apple is planning to finish converting all their devices from Intel and other processors to Apple processors. Apple has been using Intel processor chips for 20 years, but the architecture has run into performance bottlenecks that limit improved effectiveness. Also, last year some researchers found a (complex, hard to trigger) zero-day security flaw in all Intel processor chips — all of them — that allow machines using these processors to be compromised.

iPhones, iPads, Apple TV, and Apple Watch already run on Apple Silicon processors, and Apple Silicon Processors are in some recent iMacs and MacBooks, used as security processors for encryption and filtering things coming in from the outside. That means Apple has successfully “tested” Apple Silicon in close to two billion devices; the Mac lineup is the only thing left that is still Intel-based.

Aside from security and performance, Apple can also customize Apple Silicon processors to more closely meet their needs. For example, adding video and sound processors, and video memory to the Apple Silicon processor eliminates the need for separate chips and plumbing to do these functions.

As demonstrated by the iPhone and iPad, Apple can also control power use and heat better through their custom processors. This should result in longer battery life, and less need for noisy fans for cooling.

Apple Silicon is considered a System on a Chip (SoC) processor, allowing support for 64-bit operations, graphics acceleration, WiFi, BlueTooth, control of heat, management of battery consumption, and increase speed, all on one chip.

Also in the new operating systems: new emoji, 171 of them. Personally looking forward to the dodo and ninja icons. The bubble tea icon, which looks to me more like a chocolate milkshake, will also be handy.

macOS 11 Big Sur: this will be a big change. As a clue: this is Apple’s first operating system in 20 years that isn’t named macOS 10.something.

Control Center: Control panel similar to iPad/iPhone for most common changes people make.

macOS 11 Dock – icons in Dock will look the same as in Finder, and on iOS; more consistent is better for accessibility.

Notification Center – will group items, will add control of the most useful to Control Center, and use same icons on macOS and iOS.

Safari startup: the Safari start page will have the sites you most often visit, plus any customizations. You can also customize the background image used by Safari.

Sarai tabs: hover over a tab and get a preview of the page without opening the page.

One-button web privacy report – see who is tracking you on a given site, with the ability to turn off one or all trackers so businesses cannot track you.

Safari translation – not as extensive as Google, but easy to use for selected languages. The translation takes place on your machine; if additional help is required, an anonymous packet is sent off so Apple does not know who requested the information (Google, in contrast, tracks translation requests).

Messages – able to customize Memoji (previously limited just to iOS); group member Memoji make it easier to know who is in a group conversation.

macOS Big Sur: Will support Apple Silicon-based Macs and Intel-based Macs; will run on both. Developers can translate iOS apps to the Mac; this will be a huge gain for game players on the Mac as they can move their games to the desktop with just a recompiling, and converting touch gestures to mouse gestures.

Privacy: Every app, on every Apple app store (Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, Apple TV) will have a new privacy policy. You can check to see if developer uses your location pr other information in one easy to read page.

iPhone – iOS Library – if you select it, iOS will automatically group your apps into “Libraries” of similar apps such as Games, Productivity, Navigation, etc. No longer will you have to swipe through pages of stuff to find what you want.

Picture in Picture (PiP) – will allow you to continue to be in a conversation (e.g., FaceTime) and can do other things, or watch a video and write about it.

Groups in Messages – you can set up groups and easily see who is in the group by viewing their Memoji.

Incoming call – you can see who is calling and decide what you want to do about it.

The Home app, previously available only on iPhone and iPad, is coming to the Mac.

New Home screen for HomePod allows you to see what a specific device is doing and control it. The current Home screen is utterly useless…

Apple Translation is coming to iPhone and iPad, in addition to Mac.

Watch OS7 – you will be able to track and check on sleep health; sleep cycle based on personal sleep goal; tracks heart rate and .

Automatic hand washing to make sure wash hands for long enough, complete with an animation and countdown, and feedback on whether you spend adequate time washing hands; a boon for COVID-19 prevention.

These are just a small subset of the topics covered in just the keynote. A huge amount of information was provided – this covers the most useful changes for the SMUG population.

Questions:

Will these new operating systems support my device?

If you have a device with the most current OS, you should be able to run the new one, if no incompatibilities are found during beta testing.

Are older operating systems less secure?

Apple provided Security updates to everything last week going back to High Sierra; you are encouraged to install the updates; protect yourself from being hacked, do not get too far behind – invest in a new machine if cannot run Catalina.

When a new OS comes out, Apple no longer offers the old one so get up to date now.

But how do I handle my 32-bit apps?

Every Apple device will be 64-bit only; they will not run 32-bit software going forward. If you positively can’t live without a 32-bit app, find an older Mac or iPhone or iPad and use it just to run the 32-bit apps; run new apps on current OS.

Moving from Catalina to Big Sur will be a huge step – wait a week or two before downloading it when it comes out; will be released in fall (around October).

You really do what a machine capable of running Catalina right now. If you want a reliable source for older machines (with guarantees ranging from 90 days to 1 year); OWC sells older machines, and Apple sells refurbished older machines.

Apple store in University Village – how are they operating under COVID-19 rules?

Don’t know. Apple stores in Tacoma and West Seattle are the closest, but haven’t been across the Sound in months.

Costco for Apple products – does not always have the best price, only have one version and it may not be the version you want/need; may not be able to upgrade it; recommend at least 16GB memory, check on size of storage – recommend at least 500 GB or more; new machines have USB-C connections so can attach external storage; do cost comparison. Caution: Best Buy clerks and Costco clerks may not be as knowledgeable you might want them to be. When it comes to storage, keep in mind that movies and photos take up a lot of space, messages with images attached can take up a lot of space. Average mac person keeps a machine 7 years – think about the future for memory and storage.

Will the new machines require more memory?

New Macs with RISC chips – does not require more memory (outdated concept – was an issue early on but no longer a limiting factor); video audio photos use memory.

Chrome browser wants 8-10 GB memory for caching pages so runs faster, this takes memory.

Should I wait for the new computers? My current one is old.

If in need of a computer now – buy one, it will take time to have Apple Silicon Macs designed, built, and distributed, in past it took 2 years to transition to new chips.

I’m hesitant to go to Catalina – need to upgrade 32-bit to 64-bit before upgrade OS.

If you are already running in 64-bit, the app will run on Catalina; currently there is no way to safely run 32-bit programs; MS Office 2011 32 bit will not run under Catalina. Numbers is free if Excel no longer runs; if purchase MS Office 365 subscription can put it on up to 5 devices; Office Home is $69.95 – look around for best deal, comes with 1 TB cloud storage. And KeyNote is better than PowerPoint.

Will the new watchOS work on older watches?

Apple only talked about the new operating systems, and not hardware. Unless some feature uses something not on your watch, if your current watch is running the latest watchOS, it will probably work with watchOS 7.

Random comments:

Developers can purchase MacMini for development platform. The Mac mini comes with an Apple Silicon CPU, rather than an Intel CPU.

Movie on Apple TV+: Greyhound is a World War II movie with Tom Hanks; very highly recommended.

Expect first Apple machine with Apple Silicon to be a laptop since a laptop would be an obvious beneficiary from improved battery life and heat management.

Apple demonstrated some very impressive text recognition capability, which should serve as a preview for what the new iPadOS offers.

LIDAR facial recognition for iPad and iPhone may be next.

Next month

Next month: digital photography: taking photos

Future topic: Time Machine Back-ups.

Staying together using Macs, iPhones, and iPads in a time of social distancing

The title says it all: we will be having a virtual meeting on May 19 at 7 p.m., hosted on Zoom, on how to use your Mac, iPad, and iPhone to stay connected. Normally we’d meet at the Sequim Public Library, but the world is busy with other things at the moment, and the library is closed.

Since Macs, iPhones, and iPads are communications tools, there are an endless number of ways you can use them to stay in touch, but the focus will be on: email, SMS (instant messaging), and virtual meetings such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, etc. We won’t go into how to use each method, or the endless number of things you can do with them. Instead, the focus will be on which tool is best for which task, and what these tools do poorly.

Speaking of tools, we will be using Zoom. Zoom has a less than stellar reputation due to lots of past security problems (you can read an entertaining list of them here) but it is still a good tool for re-creating the kind of meeting we’ve had at recent SMUG events. The free version of Zoom is — free. But it also limits you to 40-minute meetings. We decided to pay the $16/month (including tax) for an account that allows meetings of up to 24 hours. Not that we ever intend to do any such thing…

SMUG members should receive an email message with the details. If you haven’t received such a message, please contact us.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. PT on May 19. I will fire up the meeting at 6:30 p.m., to give people time to iron out their voice and video, and we will use that half-hour for a question and answer session.

Working from home temporarily

Jay Inslee, Governor of the State of Washington, today issued an emergency proclamation mandating an immediate two-week shutdown of all bars, restaurants, entertainment and recreation facilities. Many businesses that have not shut down have told employees to work from home.

But what is involved in “working from home?” Take Control Books has an answer: today they issued a new book, Take Control of Working from Home Temporarily, by Glenn Fleishman. Best of all, it is free.

Even if you are retired, or a student, you should find this book of value. There are tips on the care and feeding of your computer, furniture you should use, the merits of an external monitor (if you have a laptop), and many other nice tips.

You might want to check out their other books, too. They are not free, but you can download them electronically; no need to leave home.