iPad Pro vs 12-inch MacBook, iOS trumps sales, Microsoft Cortana, Apple TV share


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Apple’s iPad Pro vs. 12-inch MacBook with Retina display — Which is best for you? If you’re thinking about your next technology purchase and are on the fence between an iPad Pro and a MacBook, AppleInsider is here to help you break down the decision.

Apple’s iOS clinches 78.3% of U.S. mobile online shopping over Thanksgiving, 360% more than Android — Apple remained the dominant platform for holiday mobile shoppers as iPad and iPhone users accounted for 78.3% of mobile e-commerce orders over Thanksgiving Day. Buyers using any device using some form of Android contributed only 21.5% of online orders.

Microsoft rolls out Cortana for iOS to select beta testers — Microsoft this week activated beta accounts for a select number users interested in testing out the iOS version of its Cortana personal assistant, the software giant’s alternative to Siri and Google Now.

Apple TV has 20 percent of the global digital media streamer market — As of the third quarter of 2015, the Apple TV has 20% of the global digital media streamer market share, according to new data from Strategy Analytics.

iMac rise, fixing Mac App Store, Australian Apple Pay, superior audio engine


(Image from Apple Inc)
(Image from Apple Inc)

iMac shipments expected to grow five percent in 2016 — iMac shipments are expected to grow 5% on year in 2016. iMac’s main manufacturer, Quanta Computer, reportedly has increased its personnel for the product line for 2016, according to DigiTimes.
In the third quarter, Apple sold about 5.7 million iMacs and MacBooks, up 4% from the same quarter a year ago. The news isn’t as good for everyone else: all-in-one PC shipments may drop a double-digit percentage on-year in 2015 due to weaker-than-expected demand.

How Apple could fix the Mac App Store — A few simple changes — and one major change — could improve the Mac App Store experience for both developers and customers. It really could become the place to shop for Mac software, instead of a place where you only find apps that meet Apple’s narrow definition of what an app should be.

Australian banks refusing to sign up for Apple Pay — Australian banks [in other words, New Zealand’s banks, too] are reportedly refusing to sign up for Apple Pay, Apple’s mobile payment system, and allowing customers to link their bank accounts to their iPhones.
The country’s Reserve Bank has been urged to examine potential anti-competitive behaviour in the emerging card-free payments market amid claims the banks have frozen out Apple Pay, which was recently introduced in the country.

Audioengine’s D3 Premium 24-bit DAC will beef up your Mac’s audio — If you want to really improve the audio on your Mac’s speakers or headphones, plug in the $149.99 D3 Premium 24-bit DAC (digital-to-analog converter) from Audioengine. It bypasses your computer’s headphone jack and sends music directly through USB. The result: a noticeable improvement in the sound coming from your music, movies and games.

Futurology ~ Comets not aliens, Relativity turns 100, digital war, gold foam, wee Black Holes, web DNA


Bank on this – Swiss scientists have made foam that's only two parts gold, 98 parts air
Bank on this – Swiss scientists have made foam that’s only two parts gold, 98 parts air

Really not alien megastructures — Back in October, findings from the Kepler Space Telescope suggested that something strange was going on around a star called KIC 8462852. Kepler was built to detect exoplanets by measuring the cycles of dimming light from other stars, indicating that a large object was passing between them and Earth. But the dimming light cycle from KIC 8462852 seemed to suggest a lot of smaller objects swarming around it. Scientists narrowed down the explanations to either a swarm of comets or alien megastructures. NASA announced evidence garnered by two other telescopes that pointed to the comet explanation.
~ Unless the comets are alines, of course. Who knows?

100 years of relativity with David Tennant — Albert Einstein’s famous general theory of relativity just turned 100 years old. Who better to give you a glimpse into what the theory is all about than a Time Lord — the Tenth Doctor himself in a charming animation?
~ Why Dark Matter matters.

Next war will be digital — And we’re not ready for it. States are increasingly launching non-lethal attacks against an enemy’s information systems — this is the rise of information warfare.
~ But who’s ever really ready for war? And how about we just tweet ‘Bang!’ at each other?

Gold foam floats on cappuccino foam — Along with its use in jewelry, gold also has numerous applications in fields such as electronics and scientific research. It’s a handy material, but – of course – it’s also expensive. That’s why researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a new way of making a small amount of gold go a long way. They’ve created a gold foam that looks much like solid gold, but is actually 98 parts air and two parts solid material. As an added bonus, the aerogel-type foam can also be made in non-gold colours such as dark red.
~ Lighter gold iPhone in the works, then?

Urinal Black Holes — In important science, Truscott and Hurd turned their attention to urinal inserts as a means of keeping bathrooms clean despite human failings. They hoped to identify the ideal design that would “suppress the splash for you even if you have poor technique.” In the end, they turned to the structure of Black Holes.
~ And did you think this would be about your hell holiday adventure? 

Spiderweb DNA is well creepy — Walking into a spiderweb just got creepier. Those sticky strands clinging to your hair and face are smeared with traces of the spider’s last meal, according to a fascinating new analysis of spiderweb DNA.
~ Eww, caught by your cousin’s innards spun into a web!

Five Tip Friday ~ iOS 9 Mail markup, Siri, 6s Landscape, easier text selections


1/ Mark up images then email them — El Capitan on Mac lets you ‘mark up’ or annotate emails. In iOS 9, we can do that same thing on our mobile devices, too. Attach an image to a message, either from your Camera Roll in the Photos app using the Share button or by tapping within the body of your email to bring up a menu.

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From that menu, you can navigate to Insert Photo or Video.

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Once the picture is in the email message, tap it to bring up another menu, and then pick Markup.
IMG_3817You are taken to an editing window where you’ll have similar tools to the ones in OS X. You can draw a square around something, even add your signature, insert a text box, or use a loupe to call out a section of your photo.

Once finished, tap Done and the changed version of your picture is saved into the email, ready to send.

2/ Get Siri to only recognise your voice — If you have to ask Siri things when your in environments with lots of other voices, this is for you. Go to Settings > General > Siri and make sure Siri is turned on. Then tap the “Allow ‘Hey Siri’ ” button (it turns green).
Siri asks you to say “Hey Siri” three different times, then say “Hey Siri, how’s the weather today?” and finally, “Hey Siri, it’s me.”
After you’ve done this, tap the Done button.

3/ Tell Siri to set appointments — Press and hold the Home button on your iPhone or iPad. You’ll hear Siri chime so you’ll know it’s ready for input.
Tell it, say, “Remember to pick up Laura’s Christmas present at 3 p.m. tomorrow” or “Schedule a long bike ride for 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.”
Say “Cancel” or “Yes” to confirm the appointment, or you tap Cancel or Confirm to either stop or confirm the appointment. (Siri will warn you if you have conflicting appointments.)

4/ iPhone 6 Plus and  Landscape Mode  The iPhone 6 Plus and the new 6s Plus have the ability to have the home screen in landscape mode (with the iPhone held horizontally) or portrait (iPhone held vertically). But you may not want the home screen to switch when your iPhone is in a horizontal position when shooting videos, for example. It will move to a vertical position when you move your phone, but maybe you have reasons for not wanting the home screen to switch. Some Apple apps, like Contacts and Mail, display a two-pane interface when in landscape mode but others, like Music and Activity, only work in portait mode.)
While you can use the orientation lock in Control Center (swipe up from the bottom of the screen), there’s another way to do it.
Open the Settings app.
Tap Display & Brightness.
In the list of settings, look for Display Zoom. Under that heading, you should see View. Tap it.
You will find two tabs to select: if you select Standard, it allows your home screen to switch between landscape and portrait modes. If this is want you want, tap Standard.
If you select Zoomed, this will turn off landscape switching, but everything on your iPhone Plus screen will appear just a bit bigger. If you’re OK with that, tap Zoomed. Tap Set at upper right and your iPhone 6 or 6s Plus will restart to implement the changes.

5/ Two-finger text selections — If you’ve ever tried to grab those tiny blue handles to select text on your iPad or iPhone, you’ll know how infuriating the process can be. For those who’ve upgraded their devices to iOS 9, good news: if you’re selecting text in the Mail app, in Messages, or any other app with an on-screen cursor, your life is about to get a whole lot easier. Tap and hold two fingers on the screen and start swiping your fingertips around. The cursor will start moving around, following the general direction of your fingers (and you can swipe over the on-screen keyboard if you want).
Next, tap the screen to get the standard cursor back again, do the two-finger trick, but this time keep the cursor in place rather than swiping it around.
Within a second or so, the text-selection handles will appear. When they do, keep your two fingertips on the screen and swipe; doing so drags the selection box back and forth, giving you pinpoint control over the text you want to select.

Smart Keyboard, free Star Wars apps, Pro torpedo, gift guide, future iPhones, Bluetooth phones and Apple TV


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First look at theApple Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro by Mikey Campbell — As Apple Pencil stock trickles into brick-and-mortar Apple Stores, the iPad Pro’s other first-party accessory, the Smart Keyboard, has become somewhat of a hot commodity. AppleInsider was able to snag one of the hard-to-get device to offer this first look.

Some free Star Wars apps — A few other apps that can fill the void between now and December 18.

iPad Pro self-torpedoed? Some iPad Pro reviews suggest the iPad Pro, being a pro-level product, seems out of sync with iOS 9. John Martellero feels there is more capability in the hardware than iOS can fully exploit, since it has evolved to suit mobility.

Another day, another gift guide — This Macworld slideshow has an InfoWorld selection.

Speculation on future iPhones — One report suggests OLED displays in future iPhones, which is only in use by Apple Watch in the Apple world so far. Supporters praise its high contrast/deep blacks and potential thickness and power consumption advantages. Apple, meanwhile, argues its current iPad and iPhone LCDs provide superior colour accuracy.
Another report reckons future Apple devices will have even better waterproofing that the current Apple Watch and iPhone 6s range thanks to Apple R&D into ‘active shutters’.

How to pair Bluetooth headphones with Apple TV — That’s on The Mac Observer.

Upthere sync-free cloud, dev courses


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Upthere offers promising sync-free cloud storage for Mac, iPhone — Currently in public beta, Upthere is a sync-free cloud storage service for photos, videos, music, and just about anything else on OS X, iPhone, or Android. Currently available free with unlimited storage while in beta (the company has yet to announce pricing), Upthere founder and former Apple vice-president Bertrand Serlet, worked as software engineering lieutenant under Steve Jobs for more than two decades.

Pay what you will coding courses — With the Pay What You Want bundles, you can get something incredible for as little as you want to pay while making the world a better place. And if you beat the average price, you’ll receive the fully upgraded bundle!

MagBytes 70


Issue 70 looks like this ...
Issue 70 looks like this … handy, right?

Goodness, 70 issues already. This one has a much larger Shiny&New section with some gift ideas. I know I want all of them, anyway. (All the best for the New Year, holidays etc in case I don’t manage to get a December issue out. Counter to accepted wisdom, I think New Zealand’s in for a stonking summer.

An editor of a magazine once told me that he didn’t use exclamation marks as ‘only bad writers used them’ … I replied ‘You should use them liberally, then.’

As always, feedback and suggestions always welcome.

Here it is – download it from the link below (click on the link, arrowed, to view in your browser, or right-click/Control click to download the PDF to your device

—>) MagBytes Issue 70 Nov 2015
(for iPad users, hold your finger on the link for a few seconds for download options.)

Pencil, iPad Pro, Smart Keyboard, Enterprise rise, smart iPad Pro case, toys, gifts, Vine for Watch


Gifts, toys, bots and droids
Gifts, toys, bots and droids (above: Sphere BB-8)

Apple Pencil review: much sharper than the average smart stylus — Apple’s pressure-sensitive Pencil is a home run, exhibiting remarkable performance on the new iPad Pro, but that should not come as a shock: the two were engineered from the ground up to work together and only with each other. Here you can see the Pro in action with the Smart Keyboard and Pencil, and this PC world test explains why the fast Pro is still not as fast as a laptop [which should be obvious – space for components], and here’s Macworld’s Pro review.

iPhone, iPad regain enterprise marketshare in the third quarter — BlackBerry Limited has released the thirteenth Good Mobility Index Report , which shows an increase in iOS activations, continuing the trend previously seen with new iPhone releases.

Logitech Create is a bulky iPad Pro keyboard case with awesome backlit keys — Logitech Create is a keyboard case providing all-around protection for iPad Pro. Available in five colours, Create is the The Incredible Hulk of iPad cases with an exterior made from water-repellent fabric. The iPad is entirely sheathed, with small openings for the camera, ports, and four speakers.

5 high-tech toys to delight kids of all ages — You’re going to have as much fun with these toys as your kids will. [The BB-8, anyway, is available in New Zealand – see MagBytes which comes out tonight.]

12 travel-friendly tech gifts you’ll want to take with you —
Whether it’s a clip-on camera accessory or a great organiser, it’s all worth taking with you.

Networking issues? Wi-Fi calling is great, but if you’re having connection problems or network problems, make sure you turn it off.

Vine launches on Apple Watch, adds new content discovery features for iPhone — Vine has released a long-awaited extension of their popular app for Apple Watch, and added a new feature to its iOS app designed to make it easier to surface new content quickly.

Black Friday, FaceShift, Ring Menu, Christmas ad, Time Machine backups


Ring Menu is a dynamic circular Dock replacement menu around your mouse cursor that can be accessed from anywhere
Ring Menu is a dynamic circular Dock replacement menu around your mouse cursor that can be accessed from anywhere

Black Friday sales — Some of these won’t work as they’re US products in the US, but some of the items are software. There are more here.

Apple acquires Faceshift, which makes a facial motion capture system — It was rumoured earlier this year, and now Apple has confirmed that it’s purchased a company called Faceshift, reports TechCrunch.
Face shift makes Faceshift Studio, a markerless facial motion capture system. It analyses the face motions of an actor, and describes them as a mixture of basic expressions, plus head orientation and gaze, to create a custom 3D avatar, and to record facial animation data in real time. The animation data may be streamed live into Maya, MotionBuilder or Unity, or exported in a range of standard file formats, including BVH and FBX.

Ring Menu Dock alternative — If you want Dock functionality but, for whatever reason, dislike the Mac OS X Dock itself, The Ring Menu might be a handy alternative. Available at the Mac App Store for NZ$6.49 (US$4.99), it adds a circular menu containing apps, files and folders around the mouse cursor. It also sports a dynamic item zoom that magnifies the items under your mouse cursor.

Apple airs 2015 Christmas TV ad starring Stevie Wonder & Andra Daye — Apple has uploaded its annual Christmas TV ad to YouTube, which this year stars singers Stevie Wonder and Andra Daye.

What to do when mobile Time Machine backups linger and fill storage space — An attempt by Time Machine to keep backups up to date away from network resources can fill your drive, too.

Smart Keyboard in pieces, Apple Pay for China, smart cooking, music gadgets, CarPlay Mirage, Apple TV weather


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iFixIt offers a look-see at the innards of the Apple Smart Keyboard — iFixIt has torn apart Apple Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro to look at its innards. The complete teardown is here, but some of the highlights include high-tech synthetic fabrics holding things together and defending against water and stains; conductive fibers that bring power to the keyboard and send its keystrokes back to the iPad; and a huge PCB which spans the keyboard, home to 64 of the same sort of switch found in the 2015 MacBook.

Apple Pay to reportedly launch in China by February — Rumours of Apple’s entry into the Chinese mobile payments market gained momentum on Monday, as sources reportedly told Dow Jones and other outlets current plans for an Apple Pay launch by February 2016.

The connected cook — Here’s Macworld’s list of tried-and-true cooking gear that can turn any kitchen into a smart kitchen.

6 high-tech music lover gadgets — Discover more high-tech gear designed for artists, music lovers, and anyone in between. And check out the video above to get a better vibe of each gift idea.

2017 Mitsubishi Mirage to get CarPlay — The vehicle is slated to launch sometime in the spring of 2016, the company said. Like many new and upcoming vehicles, the Mirage will support Google’s Android Auto standard as well.

Useful interactive weather map for the new Apple TV — Seasonality TV’s polished, easy-to-use interface lets you explore the weather from your couch. You can take a quick glance at the forecast or an in-depth look at the weather as it offers a plethora of weather data including current conditions, a detailed, six-day forecast, and an extensive collection of maps.

Gift ideas, Call-A.P.P.L.E, Secure Empty Trash


Above: Iconic: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation (US$50 to US$250, depending on the case)
Above: Iconic: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation (US$50 to US$250, depending on the case)

Gifts for Apple fans — If you happen to love anything and everything “designed in Cupertino, California,” then you have plenty of new Apple gadgets to add to your holiday wish-list in 2015. But for casual gift-giving, the iPad Pro is probably not going to make the most reasonable (or affordable) stocking stuffer.

Call-A.P.P.L.E Magazine 1978 compendium announced — Apple Pugetsound Program Library Exchange has published the Call-A.P.P.L.E. Magazine 1978 Compendium, a collection of Call-A.P.P.L.E. magazine issues originally published in 1978 by Val Golding and the members of A.P.P.L.E.

Secure Empty Trash — This was disabled in El Capitan as it’s bad for SSDs, but many Macs don’t have SSDs but HDs, still. Macworld explains all that and how HD Mac users can get something like Secure Empty Trash back.

100 billion apps, free London rides, Square Apple Pay, which iPad, Dropbox + Adobe, Skype, gift guides, Nightstand


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Over 100 billion apps downloaded — On Friday, Apple’s Developer Program let developers know that new apps and app updates won’t be accepted between December 22 and 29, 2015, but it also provided a staggering statistic: the App Store has now seen more than 100 billion cumulative downloads.

MasterCard offers Londoners free Monday rides for using Apple Pay — In a special promotion, MasterCard is briefly letting people ride the Transport for London network for free on Mondays so long as they use Apple Pay.

Square launches NFC mobile card reader with Apple Pay support — Square on Monday officially launched a new mobile card reader compatible with Apple Pay, something that could potentially boost the latter platform’s support outside of major retail chains.

Which iPad? How to choose the right iPad for you.

Dropbox & Adobe Acrobat Reader for iOS updated with tighter integration for PDF editing — Collaboration between Dropbox and Adobe has resulted in updates for both the official Dropbox and Acrobat Reader apps, making it easier for users to access and edit their PDFs in the cloud.

Skype iOS apps update with in-chat data detection, better multitasking — Microsoft on Monday released updates to its Skype apps for iPhone and iPad, adding shortcuts for detected data, as well as making it easier to get back to a call in progress.

Gift guides — Not everything is available here in GodZone, but sites are starting to publish their gift guides. Here’s a Macworld slideshow.

How to use the Apple Watch in Nightstand mode — When your Apple Watch is charging and on its side, you can use it as a nightstand clock and an alarm clock. In Nightstand Mode, the smartwatch displays the date and time, along with the remaining charge. If you set an alarm, it also appears on the watch face. To turn on Nightstand mode:

iCloud Photo Sharing, My Photo Stream, apps for Mac power users


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iCloud Photo Sharing vs My Photo Stream: do you need both? Apple offers iCloud Photo Sharing and My Photo Stream on its various Mac OS X and iOS devices. Do you need both? If not, which one is best for you? Apple World Today tries to simplify matters. With My Photo Stream, you can access the recent photos that you take with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch on your Mac and PC as long as you have iCloud set up on all of your devices. Photos are stored for 30 days. To save or back up your pics, you have to save them from My Photo Stream to your iOS or Mac OS X device.

Mac power suers Finder replacement (free) — Despite many improvements over the year, most radically with OS X in 2001, the core functionality of Apple’s Finder remains largely the same, despite efforts to improve upon the experience even today. Commander One is a Mac application written entirely using Apple’s new Swift programming language that provides an alternative to the Finder.

TopXNotes is the Mac OS X tool for ‘power user’ note takers — Tropical Software developed TopXNotes, an US$39.99 note pad utility for the Mac, for power note-takers.  With Tropical Software’s solution, notes can be as long as you need want, and you can customise the style, size, color and highlight color. My favorite feature is QuickNotes, where you can tag any note as a “QuickNote” and have it accessible without having to bring TopXNotes itself to the front of your work screen.