Tag Archives: new features

Five Tip Friday ~ macOS High Sierra offers new features too

1/ How to Enable Type to Siri in macOS High Sierra — Just like in iOS 11, you can enable Type to Siri in macOS High Sierra. This is a feature that lets you type queries to Siri, just like you would a search engine. It’s useful for people who may feel awkward talking to their iPhone or Mac. It’s also helpful in certain situations where silence is a virtue, like in a library. Here’s how to turn in on in macOS.
Open System Preferences, then go to Accessibility. Scroll to the bottom and click on Siri in the left sidebar. You’ll see a checkbox that lets you turn on Type to Siri.
Next, go back into System Preferences and click on the Siri icon. You can enable or disable voice feedback, should you wish.

2/ Check a flight status using Spotlight — High Sierra has made it easier to check the status of a current or upcoming flight. Click on Spotlight’s magnifying-glass icon in the upper-right corner of your screen or press Spotlight’s keyboard shortcut (Command-Spacebar). Now type in the airline and flight number into the search bar that’ll appear.
If you end up with multiple results in the left-hand list, click through them to find the particular flight you’re looking for (and get more information on it).
You can also tell you have got than one result by the little pips at the bottom of the right-hand pane. This indicates you could swipe to view each of the results in turn if you’d rather do that than click them.

3/ Stop videos from auto-playing in Safari — Open Safari and go to Safari>Preferences. Click on the Websites tab, then select Auto-Play from the sidebar. Within this list, you’ll see the websites you currently have open and ones you’ve previously configured auto-play settings for (if any), both with drop-downs next to them:
Allow All Auto-Play – all videos on the site can autoplay.
Stop Media with Sound – only videos that don’t have audio will autoplay.
Never Auto-Play – no videos can autoplay.
Finally, there’s a drop-down at the bottom of that window that’ll allow you to change the global setting.
By default, Safari should stop all media with sound, but if you’d like to be a bit more heavy-handed, you could switch this to Never Auto-Play. Yes!

4/ Set up Custom Reminders — You set a reminder for yourself that repeats on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, or configure one that pops up on the first weekend day of every month, whenever that happens to fall.
Open the Reminders app and click on a blank line to type in the title of your item. Hover your cursor over your new reminder afterward, and you should see a small ‘i’. Click that and you’ll see the options for how you’ll be reminded. To set up a custom repeat, select On a Day, and then click next to the Repeat section. A drop-down menu will offer you a Custom choice. Set a frequency for your repeated reminder: daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. Every frequency type has its own options; for example, weekly lets you pick multiple days of the week on which to get your notifications.
You can do the same thing with Monthly or use the drop-down menus at the bottom to get reminded on, say, the first weekend day of every month. Just click Done to commit.
[Most of these tips, including the one above, came from Melissa Holt at the Mac Observer.]

5/ Use ‘Grep’ to Find Matching Lines — This one’s a bit more pointy-headed. The Terminal doesn’t care if you know what you’re doing, which is why it’s always a great idea to be careful what you type in it! But one command that’s simple to use (at least at its most basic level) is grep. You can use grep to pull lines that contain search terms out of a text file. Here’s how it works: Let’s pretend this text file of mine has many hundreds of lines of data that I need to paw through.
Terminal lives in your Applications>Utilities folder. It gives you a prompt to start (ending with a dollar sign) – type ‘grep test’ (without the the single quotes).
Now you have to tell Terminal which file to run things on. An easy way to do this is by making sure to type a space after your search term, and then drag and drop the file you want to search onto the Terminal window. The program will fill in the path to the file for you,.
If you then press Return on your keyboard, the Terminal window will fill up with the lines that match your search.
There’s a lot more detail, plus pictures, at the Mac Observer.

GarageBand for iOS and Logic Pro X for Mac music apps get major updates


This just in from Apple: “Powerful New Features Support Music Makers from Enthusiasts to Pros”

Apple has today announced major updates to its music creation apps with exciting new features for music makers of all levels on iPhone, iPad and Mac. GarageBand for iOS 2.2 now features the powerful creative synthesiser Alchemy and a new sound browser that makes searching through instruments and patches easier than ever. Logic Pro X 10.3 becomes an even more powerful tool for pros with a modern interface, new features for professional audio production as well as support for the revolutionary Touch Bar™ on the new MacBook Pro®, putting intuitive, context-sensitive controls right at users’ fingertips.

Logic Pro X users can also remotely add new tracks to their Logic sessions from their iPhone or iPad when they’re away from their Mac. With a new share option, users can upload a special GarageBand-compatible version of a Logic project to iCloud®, which they can then open on their iOS devices and add new recordings whenever inspiration strikes. When the project is saved back to iCloud, any newly added tracks will automatically appear in the original Logic project the next time it’s opened on a Mac.

GarageBand for iOS — GarageBand for iOS brings even more sophisticated music creation options to iPhone and iPad, while still remaining fun and easy to use. It features a redesigned sound browser that makes it faster than ever to explore Touch Instruments® and quickly find the exact sounds you’re looking for.
Alchemy, one of the world’s most innovative modern synthesisers and a favourite of Logic Pro users, comes to iOS and includes a rich collection of over 150 Apple-designed patches from a wide variety of genres, including EDM, Hip Hop, Indie, Rock, Pop and more. And with Alchemy’s Transform Pad, users can morph between eight sonic snapshots in real-time, to create expressive synth performances.
Recording music in GarageBand for iOS also gets easier with Multi-Take Recording, giving users multiple passes to capture their best performance and the ability to audition and switch between their favourite takes.
The release also features a redesigned Audio Recorder that adds fun, one-tap vocal effects and provides users with even more sophisticated studio effects like pitch correction, distortion and delay. Seasoned users looking for even more control over their mixes can use a new collection of advanced audio processing tools, including an interactive graphic Visual EQ and the ability to use third-party Audio Unit plug-in effects for expandable, creative sound design.

Logic Pro X — Logic Pro X includes advanced new features that make Logic an even stronger tool for audio production, giving musicians and audio engineers even more control over editing and mixing their music. The latest release features a new modern design that improves legibility in a variety of working environments.
Logic Pro X also adds support for the revolutionary new Touch Bar on MacBook Pro, providing the ability to view and navigate your project in a timeline overview, along with convenient access to volume and Smart Controls for any selected track. New performance controls let you play and record software instruments with the Touch Bar using a piano keyboard that can also be customised to a variety of musical scales, or by tapping drum pads to create beats. Assignable key command buttons let you customise the Touch Bar controls to keep your favourite keyboard shortcuts available when you need them.
Track Alternatives let users create and switch between different playlists of regions and edits on any track. This feature makes it easier to experiment with various creative ideas or evaluate different versions of a track as it evolves. Selection-based Processing allows users to apply any combination of Logic or third-party effect plug-ins onto any selection of one or multiple audio regions. It is useful for optimising sound quality and a great tool for creative sound design.
Logic Pro X becomes more powerful for professional mixing, with a 64-bit summing engine, 192 additional busses and true stereo panning, providing discrete control of stereo signals.

Pricing and Availability — The GarageBand for iOS update, available today, is free for all existing users and with all new iOS devices. New customers with older, non-qualifying devices can purchase the app for NZ$7.49 inc. GST on the App Store. For more information about GarageBand for iOS, visit: http://www.apple.com/ios/garageband.

The Logic Pro X update, available today [but not when I checked between 7-8am, yet], is free for all existing users, and available on the Mac App Store for NZ$299.99 inc. GST for all new customers. More information about Logic Pro X is online at Apple.

Review ~ Aurora HDR 2017 for Mac

(Click to see this image in full size and detail)
(Click to see this image in full size and detail)

Aurora’s imaging software, which creates High Dynamic Range (HDR) images from standard, has been released in a new ‘2017’ version. Once it’s in HDR, you can tweak a quite staggering array of parameters to really get the image you dreamt about when you first focused a camera on something, adding a wealth of detail and/or striking drama should you wish.
When you open Aurora HDR 2017, as with the earlier Aurora, you get a dialogue prompting you to load an image or images. Drag-and-drop something onto this, and Aurora generates a high dynamic range (HDR) image from it.

What is HDR? Just to reiterate, HDR was something that professionals started doing with digital photographs. Basically, you’d shoot preferably three of the same scene: one perfect (which really means right for all the midtones), one to get more data in the highlights (overexposed) and another (underexposed) to pick up that detail in the shadows. Then, with a bit of technical wizardry not to mention Photoshop skills, you’d sandwich these three together into one image to get perfect exposure across all light ranges and a highly-detailed, ‘super-real’ image.
Your iPhone can do this, on the DHR setting, rapidly taking two (I think) photos and putting them together for you (which is why the shutter fires more slowly and it takes longer to process, plus the file’s bigger) and/or you can then power up your Mac and Aurora so it’s you directing where all this magic happens, and just how much.

loadHDR 2017 — To convert a 2.4MB JPEG into an HDR takes 5 seconds, which definitely seems faster than the previous version, and indeed Macphun claims Aurora HDR 2017 is at least 50% faster. Once you’ve run some effects, it takes about the same amount of time to output a JPEG.
I’ve been using Aurora to add snap to images taken with an iPhone 6 in Europe for a book project. Although the iPhone 6 camera is only 8 megapixels, it was clearly outperforming my 12MP Canon compact so I stopped using that almost immediately; besides, I always had the iPhone on me. With Aurora on board, the images from the iPhone really snap and crackle thanks to Aurora.
An instant difference is a very handy Amount slider on the preset thumbnails along the bottom, meaning you can click the divider comparison tool (a really cool draggable slider that lets you compare before and after directly on the image). Just slide to see how much of the preset works for you.

A new Polarize Tool enhances the sky, making colours more vivid while removing glare. I was a big fan of the polarising filter back in the old analogue slide film days so this is nice. I’m impressed it doesn’t go too crazy at the 100% end, stopping at giving you definite improvement rather than crazy-time.

Other new features — Aurora HDR 2017 now automatically groups batch-processed images, helping you to apply effects and settings. Once you have a good preset for a shoot, this saves considerable time, since a shoot will often be in very similar lighting conditions.
Noise in lower-light images is always a thing with digital shots, and iPhone 7, for example, promises great advances in this area, but where there is dark, there will be noise. Subtle and effective noise reduction is therefore a boon, and it’s better in HDR 2017. New smart technology automatically removes low-light colour noise even while merging batch brackets.
Other changes include a redesigned tool for top and bottom adjustments, Luminosity Masking (for making advanced selections within an HDR photo based on the Zone System – click one or more zones and dramatically enhance the part of your image without brushes or complicated selections).
Highlight the sun, a face or anything else on your photo with the new Radial Masking tool. The mask can be reshaped and adjusted for density, feathering and other settings.

Conclusion — All in all, Aurora HDR 2017 delivers less noise and better details, the interface is clearer, you can paint with layer masks, it has additional presets, ‘washed’ highlight recovery, has extended RAW support plus supports the Digital Negative standard (DNG), you can sharpen and resize on export (very handy for my book pictures) and it improves a lot on what was already a first class product and a big seller for Macphun. Check out the FAQ for more product detail and comparisons to previous versions.

What’s great — Faster; nice new features; well-considered improvements to an already excellent package. Definitely make presets of your own if you’ve modified anything extensively, it’s a real help.
What’s not — It took me three attempts to get the pre-release review copy to work properly. When it was finally good, it did crash once, but I had the notoriously-buggy Blitzkrieg game running in the background, so I’ll put it down to that and assume all’s good in the final market version (Macphun’s support was most helpful). Likes a big screen: this powerful software has a lot going on and requires scrolling-down for more and more sliders, so a big screen is a definite advantage.
Needs — Aurora does a lot Photoshop doesn’t do, at least obviously, leaving out a lot of Photoshop features hardly anyone uses anyway. So this is for anyone who likes powerful photographs who doesn’t need to re-composite and paint on images.

What — Aurora HDR 2017 by Macphun, US$89 (online), free trial available, upgrade from previous version for a discount (US$69 for current owners of Aurora HDR, US$49 for current owners of Aurora HDR Pro).

System — Core 2 Duo from late 2009 or newer; minimum 4GB RAM; OS X 10.10.5 or newer; 2GB free space on hard drive. Display resolution 1280 x 800 or higher (Retina displays supported).

Contact — Macphun’s fully-featured and excellent site.

iPhone 7 sales, laps Note 7, display, dunk test, cellular glitch, lots of the new features in iOS 10

(Image from Apple NZ's iPhone 7 page.)
(Image from Apple NZ’s iPhone 7 page)

iPhone 7/7 Plus adoption rate looks similar to that of previous models — During the first weekend of sales, the iPhone 7 grabbed 1% of the device market share, while the iPhone 7 Plus accounts for .2%. That’s about on par with the adoption rate of earlier Apple smartphone models, according to Localytics.

iPhone 7 laps Galaxy Note 7 — The iPhone 7 goes all the way through the test suite twice before the Galaxy Note 7 finished the first ‘lap’. At least the Galaxy Note 7 didn’t explode during testing…

The iPhone 7’s sleeper hit feature is its display — The iPhone 7 still has an LCD display, but it’s better by far than most of the competition. “It is by far the best performing mobile LCD display that we have ever tested, and it breaks many display performance records,” DisplayMate President Dr Raymond Soneira wrote in the shoot-out report published Monday.

Deep water testing of iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 (7 is better) — YouTube channel EverythingApplePro has made a wildly popular video (over 1.5 million views) showing just how waterproof the newest iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S phone are. The results are incredible, with both phones surpassing their IPX7 (iPhone 7) and IPX8 ratings. The two phones are put into a hole-riddled paint can, then lowered into the Columbia River for 5 minutes at various depths.
If you don’t want to watch it all the way through, the iPhone 7 did survive at 35 feet (10m) for 5 minutes, although it had a bit of water damage. The Galaxy S7 did not survive. [So the 7 is faster looks better and is more waterproof. And doesn’t catch fire.]

Apple is investigating an iPhone 7/7 Plus issue involving loss of cellular service/Airplane Mode — Apple is investigating an iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus issue that can result in the loss of cellular service after turning off Airplane Mode on the devices, according to internal documents obtained by MacRumors.

Settings in iOS 10: every notable change you need to know — Once you upgrade to iOS 10, take some time to peruse the Settings app to tweak your device to your liking. Heres how to enable ‘Rest Finger to Open’ in iOS 10, 23 things you can do in iOS 10 that you couldn’t do before, and finally, how to use the ‘People’ feature of iOS 10 Photos, everything that’s new in Messages.

Five Tip Friday ~ If you’ve made the jump to iOS 8, these are for you. If not, find out what to expect.

The Camera in iOS 8 has new features
The Camera in iOS 8 has new features

If you haven’t upgraded to iOS 8 yet, have a quick scan through these and see what you’ll soon be able to do.

1/ New Camera features — Apple also added a slew of new Camera features including time lapse, shutter timers (tap the little timer icon to choose from Off, three seconds and 10 seconds, and then tap the Shoot button to see a large on-screen countdown to the photo being taken). Meanwhile, on the front of the iPhone, the flash blinks for every second passed. The Camera also got advanced exposure controls …

2/ Advanced exposure — You can still tap on the screen to set the focus and exposure point of your photos on iPhone (and iPad and iPod touch 5th gen) but iOS 8 adds a slider you can drag up and down to set overall exposure yourself.

3/ Time Lapse — Found to the left of Video mode on the rotating mode selector, Time-lapse is a set-it-and-forget way to capture long sequences of video. Select Time-lapse, set your focus point and exposure, and then press the red button. iOS dynamically adjusts the frequency of the photos it takes for Time-lapse mode, depending on the action in the scene. The only limit to the length of a time-lapse video is your iPhone’s storage capacity and charge.

4/ Hey Siri! iOS-only features like Siri have also been drastically improved, with the virtual assistant now supporting Hey Siri hands-free operation when plugged in to a power source – which also means on your car’s charger. In other words, yelling Hey Siri at your iPhone boots it up.  (And voice responses have been tweaked to sound more natural).

5/ Interactive Notifications — Interactive Notifications means you can deal with them right in the Notifications window – now it’s a dialogue.  For example, in Messages, when your device is unlocked and a message banner comes in, simply pull down on the banner and you can send a response without leaving the current app. (But follow-up messages will not be shown to you, which is especially important to know if you’re responding to someone who likes to send multiple messages in a row.)

With Yosemite, you'll be able to accept calls to your iPhone right there on the Mac screen in front of you.
With Yosemite, you’ll be able to accept calls to your iPhone right there on the Mac screen in front of you.

Extras coming soon — When OS X 10.10 is released ‘soon’, iOS 8 will be able to integrate seamlessly through ‘Continuity’. You’ll be able to answer phone calls on your Mac, continue text conversations and if there’s a Web page open on your Mac, it’s open on your iPad (which could be embarrassing for some people). Documents will be able to be picked up and continued via Handoff. Perhaps most excitingly, AirDrop currently works Mac to Mac and iDevice to IDevice, but with Yosemite and iOS 8, you can AirDrop device to Mac and vice versa, too.

AirDrop iDevice to Mac once you have Yosemite
AirDrop iDevice to Mac once you have Yosemite