Generic Apple Event

Apple has announced they are having an Apple Event on September 7, starting at 10 a.m. PT. Unlike previous streamed events, there is no special phrase or graphic to hint at what is to come. Instead, you get this sparkling star cluster,

Apple event star cluster
An apple-shaped star cluster, or possibly a black hole. Hard to tell.

Presumably, the event will be the usual quarterly announcement of Apple iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches. But the lack of graphical and textual hints is something of a mystery. Maybe this is an unreleased photo of some section of the universe, captured with the James Webb space telescope. Maybe it is the patterned formed by throwing darts at an Apple sticker. Maybe it is a time-lapse aerial photo of an autonomously driven Apple car driving around the Cupertino campus.

You can stream the event on September 7 and find out.

Useless clickbait tips

This entry talks about useless clickbait, but there are some useful tips on screenshots at the end. First, the useless clickbait.

While reading news stories on my iPad, I was presented with two different advertisements offering bizarre suggestions for how to block advertisements on my iPad. Yes, advertisements on how to block advertisements.

These useless advertisements had one real purpose: they were designed to make me curious, and click on the advertisement β€” in order to see more advertisements. I did not click on the ads.

But I did take screenshots, because they were funny. The first ad:

Most iPad users didn't know how to block ads (do it now!).
Ad blocker? Carpet cleaner? Finger exercise pad? We may never know.

Let us give this some thought. This illustration is suggesting you can block ads by:

  • Turning your iPad screen down and pressing it into your carpet. This works: you won’t be able to see the ads! Or anything else, but yes, you won’t be able to see the ads!
  • Or another possibility: this is a still image, but it might require more action. You might want to rub the iPad back and forth across the carpet. If there is any sand or grit on the carpet, it might scratch up the screen, which will make the ads harder to see. This could be considered an ad blocker of sorts. Also: a great way to damage your iPad.
  • Yet another possibility: this could be part of a larger image, and if you were to zoom out, maybe you would see the user crouched down like a sprinter, waiting for the starting gun to fire. The iPad itself is serving as a starting block, or, to stretch a point, an ad blocker.

As it seemed unwise to click on the link (not to mention silly), we may never know exactly what was intended.

The second ad:

Most iPad users didn't know how to block ads (do it now). An even sillier advertisement than the first.
Here’s how to block ads on your iPad! Or is it even an iPad?

The first thing to note is that this is explicitly PAID CONTENT. Some entity paid to insert this advertisement into a news page, and again, is advertising a way to block advertisements. But consider:

  • Is this even an iPad? That looks like a USB-C port in the center, but none of the iPads with USB-C ports have a bottom edge that looks anything like this.
  • Exactly what is the Q-tip doing? Is it removing gunk from the USB-C port? Maybe the USB-C port has ear wax? It isn’t clear how that can block ads.
  • Maybe the Q-tip is inserting ear wax into the USB-C port to block ads? You wouldn’t expect iPads to promulgate ads through a USB-C port, but then you wouldn’t normally stick a Q-tip in them, either.

After giving this photo several days of thought, the ear wax removal explanation seems to work best, even though it makes no sense. Again, it seemed unwise to click on the ad, so the explanation will remain a mystery.

Screenshots? You can take screenshots on an iPad?

One question you might have: how do I take a screenshot on an iPad? Apple has a support document that describes the process (it is easy): https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT210781

Another question many people have: where does the iPad put the screenshots? The support document reveals this tidbit, too, at the bottom of the page.

You can also take screenshots on your iPhone: https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT200289

While it is a little trickier (you need to make a change to the Watch settings on your iPhone first), you can even take screenshots on your Apple Watch: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204673

Screenshot of an Apple Watch.
This Apple Watch screenshot shows the current time, including seconds, and (the four corners, top to bottom, left to right) a button for recording voice memos; a weather forecast with temperature range; a button for Strava, an app to record walks, runs, bike rides, etc.; and a button to display Activity (steps, exercise, stands). In the interior, the upper icon in the center will display blood oxygen level, the one on the right displays the current tide at Dungeness Landing, the bottom center shows the time in London, England, and the one on the left triggers the Breath app, which guides you through breathing exercises. There are millions of possible ways to customize the Apple Watch, most of them far less complex.
Apple Watch screenshot showing date, time, outdoor temperature and weather, location, and a view of what the earth would look like at that moment from space.
A more simplified Apple Watch screenshot showing date, time, outdoor temperature and weather, location, and a view of what the earth would look like at that moment from space. The icon at the top is subtly suggesting that the wearer should be in bed.

Apple WWDC22 announced

WWDC is short for World Wide Developer Conference, and the 2022 edition will be virtual, starting with a keynote at 10 a.m. Pacific Time on June 6.

While the Developer Conference is aimed at programmers for the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Macintosh, HomePod, etc., the opening keynote usually generates quite a bit of news with short presentations on where Apple is in the marketplace and some announcements of new and different things. Plus: there are demos of new technologies, with a random game or two thrown in.

It is free: https://developer.apple.com/wwdc22/

WWDC22 logo

California Streaming, September 14

Apple will have a live, virtual event on September 14 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. You can read about it on Apple’s site, which says nothing at all:

https://www.apple.com/apple-events/?cid=CDM-USA-DM-P0021399-484205

Slightly more was released on Apple’s Twitter account,

It isn’t a very useful or informative tweet, but it is pretty.

What people think Apple will talk about are new iPhones and possibly Apple Watch models, plus new versions of iOS, iPadOS, WatchOS, and probably tvOS (for the Apple TV). Some commentators are speculating the event may also announce more Macs, but traditionally that has followed at a separate event in late September or early October.

Whatever they announce, we will probably talk about it at the SMUG meeting on September 21.

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.

iPhone 12 and pacemakers

Apple published a safety alert concerning all models of the iPhone 12 (iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max) for those users that might have a “medical device,” which is a generic way of saying: a pacemaker. These new phones include a ring of magnets that allow them to automatically latch on to MagSafe chargers for Apple iPhones. You can read the Apple alert here:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT211900

If you would prefer a much more technical explanation, see this abstract from the Heart Rhythm Journal,

https://www.heartrhythmjournal.com/article/S1547-5271(20)31227-3/fulltext

This doesn’t appear to be significantly different from past recommendations by phone manufacturers to carry the devices away from implanted health devices. The new wrinkle seems to be the ring of magnets for MagSafe technology, combined with the NFC (Near Field Communications) capabilities of MagSafe.

iPhone and COVID-19

Apple and Google collaborated in the spring of 2020 (long, long ago) to create a “passive” COVID-19 exposure system, which was released on May 20. It is “passive” in that, once it is turned on, you really don’t have to do anything for it to work. But – you do have to turn it on.

It also requiresβ€” because this is the United States and instead of one government, we have over 50 β€” that a given state set up the necessary infrastructure to handle the tracking. The tracking is entirely anonymous, and the only person who gets notified of your exposure is β€” you.

You can read more about Apple and Google’s work on this innovative system in Wikipedia’s article on Exposure Notification.

Requirements:

  • You need an iPhone
  • It needs to have a current version of iOS
  • You need to turn on Exposure Notifications (go to your iPhone Settings > Exposure Notifications)

Exposure Notification

There are just a few settings, essentially telling your phone to accept notifications, and to verify that you are in Washington State (or wherever you happen to be).

Settings under Exposure Notification

Virginia was the first state to support Exposure Notifications. Since then, Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, the District of Columbia β€” and Washington State β€” have added support.

How it works: your phone will use near-field communications (NFC), a very low-power radio signal, to take note of other phones that you come near. If at some future date the owner of one of those other phones reports a COVID-19 exposure, the Exposure Notification system will alert you. All of this is done anonymously, and voluntarily. Obviously, in order for the technology to work, literally millions of people need to turn on the notifications, and then also share that they’ve had a COVID-19 diagnosis, if they do get a positive test.

You can read about Washington’s program, called WA Notify, on the Washington State Department of Health website.



Addendum: WA Notify was announced on Monday, November 30. Within 24 hours, more Washington State residents had opted in to the notification system than any other state. By Friday, December 4, more than a million residents were using the system.

Ideally, notifications should be activated on at least 70% of all mobile phones in the state β€” Android and iPhone β€” for peak effectiveness. Ask your friends, neighbors, relatives, coworkers, and others to participate. When it comes to the pandemic, the entire planet is in this together.

Drive-in WiFi hotspot finder

Washington State has been working on improving access to the Internet, in part as an incentive to growing the local economy and, more recently, as a means of helping residents work, shop, and attend school remotely during the pandemic. One key initiative is adding more public WiFi hotspots.

The state now has an interactive map for finding WiFi hotspots:

Clallam public WiFi hotspots, from the Washington State interactive hotspot location finder.

On the one hand, Clallam County, in particular, is not heavily covered by WiFi hotspots. On the other, it has more than one might expect, given that the county is decidedly not urban.

Sorry, no WiFi hotspots at Lake Crescent or Hurricane Ridge or Dungeness Spit. The eagles and elk and seagulls need to do more lobbying.

Apple special event: speed

Apple sent out an invitation today to a special event on October 13, 2020, 10 a.m. Pacific Time.

This is the sum total of what they are revealing at this time:

Possibilities:

  • Apple will announce its long-awaited hovercar.
  • Apple will announce the launch of its own space venture, competing with Space X, and Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic.
  • Apple will announce its surprise entry into competitive bicycle racing.
  • Apple will announce its own gigabit-per-second Internet service.
  • Apple will announce a really fast computer using Apple Silicon.
  • Apple will announce it has purchased the rights to a 1994 film featuring Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, and Dennis Hopper.
  • Apple will do something else.

You should be able to watch the event on any Internet-connected Apple device, but if you have an Apple TV, I highly recommend watching it on your big screen 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.