Apple Event Recap: New iPhone 11, Watch Series 5, 7th-gen. iPad & more

The Scoop on the New iPhone 11, Apple Watch Series 5, 7th-gen iPad, and Apple Services

At its September 10th special event, Apple unveiled a slew of new products and services, including the iPhone 11, the Apple Watch Series 5, the seventh-generation iPad, Apple Arcade, and Apple TV+.

The company also said that iOS 13 and watchOS 6 would ship on September 19th, with iPadOS 13 appearing on September 30th and macOS 10.15 Catalina due sometime in October. Don’t feel the need to update to iOS 13.0 right away, though, since Apple also said that iOS 13.1 would arrive just 11 days later, on September 30th. It will contain some features that the company had to pull from iOS 13.0. Other features will continue to roll out throughout the coming months too.

This iPhone Goes to 11

After several Roman numeral years starting with the iPhone X, Apple has reverted to digits, introducing the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max. These are more significant updates than last year’s models, thanks largely to additional cameras, two for the iPhone 11 and three for the Pro models.

The entry-level iPhone 11 improves on its iPhone XR predecessor with separate 12-megapixel Wide and Ultra Wide cameras that let you take wider shots without resorting to panoramas. iOS 13 uses computational photography with both cameras to enable the new Night mode, which combines multiple exposures for astonishingly better low-light photos.

The new front-facing TrueDepth camera is also now 12 megapixels, has a wider field of view for selfies, and supports Smart HDR for more natural-looking photos. It also now records 4K video at up to 60 frames per second and 120 frames per second with slo-mo.

Like the iPhone XR, the iPhone 11 has a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina screen, but it boasts increased performance with Apple’s new A13 Bionic chip. That makes Face ID up to 30% faster and lets it work better at varying distances and at more angles. Although there’s no 5G cellular support yet, the iPhone 11 does offer Gigabit-class LTE and Wi-Fi 6. For those who need multiple cellular plans simultaneously, it supports Dual SIM with eSIM.

The iPhone 11 features a case made of aluminum and glass that Apple claims is the toughest glass ever used in a smartphone. It can also theoretically withstand dunking in up to 2 meters of water for up to 30 minutes—don’t test that if you can avoid it. And the iPhone 11 comes in six colors, with prices starting at $699 for 64 GB of storage.

The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max take photos and videos to the professional level, supporting everything the iPhone 11 can do and adding a third Telephoto camera. Each of the three 12-megapixel cameras can record 4K video with extended dynamic range and cinematic video stabilization. You can switch between the cameras smoothly while filming video. The presentation even demoed a beta of the FiLMiC Pro app, which will let you record separate video streams from each camera at the same time.

For still images, the triple-camera system adds a Telephoto mode to the Wide and Ultra Wide modes in the iPhone 11, and iOS 13 utilizes all three cameras and computational photography to deliver even better results. For instance, Portrait mode can now switch between Wide and Telephoto framing to provide a wider field of view that’s great for group portraits.

Although the screen sizes remain the same as in last year’s iPhone XS (5.8 inches) and iPhone XS Max (6.5 inches), the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max sport new Super Retina XDR OLED-based screens that have significantly higher brightness and contrast specs. Physically, the new models are just a hair—almost literally at about half a millimeter—larger in every dimension than last year’s iPhones. Battery life is much better, with the iPhone 11 Pro lasting up to 4 hours longer than the iPhone XS and the iPhone 11 Pro Max besting the iPhone XS Max by up to 5 hours.

The iPhone 11 Pro models feature a stainless steel band and textured matte glass back, and they can handle being submerged in up to 4 meters of water for up to 30 minutes. We still don’t recommend testing this. Pricing with 64 GB of storage starts at $999 for the iPhone 11 Pro and $1099 for the iPhone 11 Pro Max. They’re available in four colors: gold, space gray, silver, and the new midnight green.

All the iPhone 11 models become available for pre-order on Friday, September 13th at 5 AM Pacific, and they’ll ship to customers and stores on September 20th. If you’re not overwhelmed by the new features, or just don’t want to pay that much, the iPhone 8 and iPhone XR remain available, starting at $449 and $599.

Apple Watch Series 5 Is Always-On

With the new Apple Watch Series 5, available for pre-order now and shipping on September 20th, Apple addressed one of the most common complaints about its wrist-based iPhone accessory. Now, instead of going black whenever you lower your wrist, the Apple Watch Series 5’s screen will merely dim, brightening back up as soon as you raise your wrist or tap the screen. That way you can read it without taking any particular action or waiting for it to light up. This change involved some impressive engineering since battery life remains at 18 hours in typical usage.

Also new is a built-in compass that enables the Maps app to show which direction you’re facing to assist in getting started with navigation. It also powers a new Compass app that shows heading, incline, latitude, longitude, and current elevation, and the Workout app can report current elevation and elevation gain. You can add one of three new compass complications to some watch faces.

Finally, the Apple Watch Series 5 cellular models feature international emergency calling. If you have an accident or get into trouble while traveling, your watch can call the local emergency services via Emergency SOS or through fall detection, regardless of where you purchased the watch or even if you have a working cell plan.

The Apple Watch Series 5 is available in the traditional aluminum ($399) and stainless steel ($699) cases. For more money, Apple has introduced a new titanium case ($799) and brought back the white ceramic case ($1299). If you don’t need the ECG and fall detection features that the Series 5 retains from the Series 4, the aluminum Series 3 model remains available, starting at $199.

Seventh-Generation iPad Goes Semi-Pro

No one was expecting Apple to update its entry-level iPad, but the new seventh-generation iPadsweetens what is already the best deal in the Apple universe. Starting at just $329, the new iPad increases the screen size to 10.2 inches, up from 9.7 inches, and adds a Smart Connector that allows you to connect Apple’s Smart Keyboard to it. It’s a few millimeters larger and a few grams heavier, but nothing you’ll notice.

Otherwise, the seventh-generation iPad is similar to the sixth-generation model, with an A10 Fusion chip, 8-megapixel 1080p rear camera, and 1.2-megapixel 720p front-facing camera. It also supports the first-generation Apple Pencil for stylus input. Battery life remains the same.

It’s available for pre-order now and will ship on September 30th.

Apple Arcade and Apple TV+ Details Revealed

We focus on Apple’s computing and communications products and services, which is why we haven’t written much about the recent release of Apple Card, the company’s new credit card, which provides increased privacy protections and an excellent interface, but no export options. Similarly, we don’t expect to say much in the future about Apple Arcade, which is Apple’s new game subscription service, or Apple TV+, the company’s slate of original video content, both of which were unveiled at Apple’s event.

For completeness, though, we should note that Apple Arcade will cost $4.99 per month when Apple launches it on September 19th. You’ll get a 30-day free trial to see if a service that gives your family access to over 100 games across all your Apple devices is compelling.

Apple TV+ debuts on November 1st, and it too will cost $4.99 per month for access to all of Apple’s original content. It doesn’t include any back catalog shows and movies such as are available from Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+. A 7-day free trial will be available, but if you buy a new iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or Apple TV, you’ll get a year for free.

Phew! So many announcements! Our take is that the seventh-generation iPad is a compelling buy for anyone who wants an iPad but doesn’t need the performance of the iPad Air and iPad Pro models. The always-on screen of the Apple Watch Series 5 is welcome if you’re in the market for a new Apple Watch, though it may not be worth upgrading if you already have a recent model. And the new iPhone 11 models look awfully nice for anyone who takes photos and videos. And, let’s face it, that’s most of us these days.

(Featured image by Apple)

Stop Your Holiday Music Playing out of Season with This Tip

“Winter Wonderland” may be a great song to listen to when the snow flies, but if you’re sweltering in the summer heat, having it pop up while iTunes is shuffling through your music feels wrong. Happily, there’s a way to prevent holiday music from playing out of season—this trick is also useful for keeping children’s songs from shuffling alongside tracks from Abba, Beethoven, and The Clash. In iTunes, select the songs you want to prevent from being included when you shuffle all tracks, and choose Edit > Get Info. In the Get Info dialog, switch to the Options pane, select Skip When Shuffling, and click OK to save your changes. Note that the easiest way to find such music may be by selecting Genres in the sidebar and then Children’s Music or Holiday in the list that appears.

(Featured image by donnaskolnick0 from Pixabay)

Learn How to Autofill SMS Login Codes in iOS 12 and Mojave

An ever-increasing number of Web sites boost their security via two-factor authentication (2FA), which requires you to type in a short numeric code to complete a login after entering your username and password. It’s a big win because that code is generated on the fly and is good for only a short time (often 30 seconds). So even if your username and password were revealed in a data breach, your account is safe if you use 2FA. We recommend using it whenever possible.

You get these codes—usually six digits—in one of two ways. The most common is via an SMS text message to your iPhone, but you may instead be able to generate authentication codes with an app such as 1Password, Authy, or Google Authenticator, or LastPass. And yes, if you’ve followed our advice to use 1Password or LastPass as a password manager, their capabilities to generate and enter these codes is a nice bonus.

Many sites support only the SMS text message approach, however, so Apple added features to iOS 12 and macOS 10.14 Mojave that simplify entering the codes sent via SMS.

Autofill SMS codes in iOS 12

In iOS 12, the trick to easier entering of the code is to use the QuickType bar above the standard iOS keyboard, where iOS suggests auto-complete options. Follow these steps:

  1. Start logging in to a site that requires 2FA via SMS with your username and password.
  2. When you’re prompted for your code, tap in the Enter Code field.
  3. When the text message arrives, instead of trying to remember and retype the six digits, look at the QuickType bar at the top of the keyboard, where iOS 12 displays “From Messages” and the code. Tap it to enter the code in the field.
  4. Submit the form to log in.

Autofill SMS codes in Mojave

In Mojave, Apple did something similar with autocomplete, but it works only in Safari, so if you prefer Google Chrome or Firefox, you’re out of luck. Follow these steps:

  1. Using Safari, start logging in to a site that requires 2FA via SMS with your username and password, after which you’re prompted for a code.
  2. When the text message arrives, instead of trying to remember and retype the six digits from your iPhone or the macOS notification, click in the Enter Code field.
  3. The code appears in a pop-up underneath the field under the “From Messages” tag. Click it to enter the code in the field.
  4. Submit the form to log in.

One final note. If you have a choice, use an authentication app instead of SMS for your 2FA codes. There are several ways a hacker could intercept an SMS text message meant for you and use that to complete a login. The chance of you being targeted like this is low, but there’s no reason not to use an authentication app instead to eliminate the worry. Plus, it means you can still log in even if your phone number changes, as it does if you use a different SIM card while traveling.

(Featured image by James Sutton on Unsplash)

Six Tips for Writing Better Email

Apple has put a lot of effort into Mail, providing lots of features you can employ to get through your email more quickly. But one of the most effective ways to improve your email productivity has nothing to do with an app. Instead, train yourself to write better email and you’ll cut down on a lot of unnecessary back-and-forth and confusion. Remember, email is not chat—you say things in an interactive conversation that could take days to untangle in an email thread. Here are some of the top ways to ensure that your email achieves your goals.

1. Write a good Subject line

Everyone receives too much email, and as a result, most people scan email Subject lines and open only those messages that seem relevant. Good Subject lines should be direct and specific, and ideally have key words at the front to catch the recipient’s attention.

Bad: Finishing off reviews…
Good: Discuss performance reviews at lunch on Thursday at 12:30 PM?

2. Keep it short and focused

Even if your recipient opens your message, if it rambles on, they will likely set it aside to deal with later, and later may never happen. Plus, if it includes multiple unrelated topics, replying to everything may seem overwhelming. And if they don’t know how to respond to even one point, the entire message may go unanswered.

When you start an email message, consider the most important point you want to convey and focus on that. Summarize ruthlessly, and if you find yourself wanting to write more and more, propose a phone call or meeting to discuss the topic instead.

Carry this advice over to your words too. Aim for short, understandable sentences. Whenever the thought changes, start a new paragraph. Short, single-topic paragraphs are easier to scan and understand, which is why newspaper reporters write the way they do.

3, Provide relevant context and details

As much as it’s important to stay concise, don’t leave out essential information. To check that your message is complete, evaluate it according to the journalistic formula of the Five Ws: does your message answer the questions of Who, What, When, Where, and Why?

Consider the example above about scheduling a lunch to discuss performance reviews. The message needs to make it clear who is invited to the lunch, what the topic of discussion will be, when and where it will take place, and why you’re setting up the meeting. Although the Subject and To lines already answer Who, What, and When, be sure to repeat those facts within the message.

4. Stay polite and friendly

If you’re having a bad day, it’s all too easy to be abrupt or even abrasive in email. Resist the temptation, since it will reduce the chance that the recipient will take your words to heart or reply as you wish.

Instead, imagine that you’re speaking to the person, and don’t say anything in email that you wouldn’t say to their face. You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

5. Use proper spelling and grammar

Consider email a professional communication medium, even if you’re writing to your kid’s soccer league mailing list. Before sending, look over what you’ve written and fix errors in spelling (look for red underlines) and grammar (“it’s” should always be replaceable with “it is”). It never helps if your correspondents see you as barely literate.

6. State the desired outcome at the end

Finally, never send an email message unless you know what you want it to achieve, and be clear about that goal when you close the message. If your recipient doesn’t understand what you want, getting to that result may require several additional messages. In our example about the lunch meeting, compare these alternatives:

Bad: Let me know what works for you.
Good: Can you join me for lunch on Thursday at 12:30 PM in the conference room so we can go over the performance reviews?”

And to follow our own advice, we hope you’ll keep these tips in mind while composing future email messages. That will reduce confusion and irritation on the part of your correspondents, and reduce your email load by eliminating unnecessary requests for clarification.

(Featured image by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash)

Migrate Your Old iPhone to a New iPhone with iOS 12.4’s New Feature

Most people are probably waiting until September to buy a new iPhone, but Apple is laying the groundwork for making the migration from an old phone to a new one even easier this time around. In iOS 12.4, Apple introduced a new way to migrate your data directly from one iPhone to another. This is an extension of the iOS 11 Quick Start feature that helps you set up a new iPhone with settings from your current device. All you have to do is turn on the new iPhone and place it next to a current iPhone running iOS 12.4 or later. When you see the prompt asking if you want to set up a new iPhone, tap Continue and scan the animation on the new iPhone using the current iPhone’s camera. Then you have to enter your current passcode on the new iPhone and set up Touch ID or Face ID, and tap Transfer from iPhone. Well, that and you’ll need to wait a while for all the data to transfer. If you don’t see this Transfer Your Data screen for some reason, you’ll still be able to restore all your data from an iCloud or iTunes backup.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)

Need to Restart a Mac That Has Frozen? Here’s How

It’s extremely uncommon for a Mac to freeze or crash these days, but it can happen. What should you do if your Mac locks up and becomes completely unresponsive to the mouse and keyboard? The trick is to press and hold the power button until the Mac turns off. Wait 5 or 10 seconds, and press it again to turn the Mac back on. You will lose any unsaved changes if you do this, so use it only as a last resort when you can’t restart normally. Look for the power button on the back of a desktop Mac, and at the top right of the keyboard on most laptop Macs. For a recent MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, press and hold the Touch ID button.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)