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Apple News Roundup

Hello from IvanExpert. We hope your computers are working well for you through the winter. Various events have been happening in and around Cupertino, so we thought we'd round them up for you.

 

CrashPlan Home cloud backup is going away — second warning

We’ve set a lot of clients up with CrashPlan cloud backup. In many cases, this is using the CrashPlan Home subscription, which Code 42 (CrashPlan's maker)  is discontinuing. You need to take action to keep backing up to the CrashPlan cloud, and prevent your cloud backups from being deleted. We recommend you convert your CrashPlan Home subscription to CrashPlan Small Business (even if you’re a home user). The cost is $2.50/month/computer for the first year (starting from the conclusion date of your Home subscription), and $10/month/computer thereafter. You can convert it by visiting https://www.crashplanpro.com/migration

Alternatively, you could abandon CrashPlan and switch to BackBlaze, which is also a good product. It’s $5/month/computer. (We do not recommend you switch to Carbonite, which is what CrashPlan is suggesting for home users.)

 

Apple HomePod

Late to the “smart speaker” party, Apple’s $349 HomePod is now available. Unlike competing products like Amazon Echo and Google Home, Apple is putting less emphasis on the “smart” (Siri's not that smart) and more on the “speaker,” claiming superior sound quality. The HomePod intelligently tunes the audio to your particular environment. Apple is also emphasizing privacy for Siri requests, which Amazon and Google certainly are not. Of course, the HomePod will be well-integrated into the Mac/iDevice/Apple TV ecosystem, and easy to set up, and it will be better suited to AirPlay than its competitors.

If you're in the market for this kind of product, you might want to weigh it up against the Sonos One, which marries a decent-quality speaker to Amazon’s robust virtual assistant, named Alexa. Or you might even consider the Amazon Echo itself, which might sound good enough, at a much lower cost. But if you just want an excellent sounding speaker that works well with your Apple devices, the HomePod might be the product for you.

 

Batterygate

What’s up with iOS 11 killing iPhone performance? As you’ve probably heard, Apple has admitted that they have been, since iOS 10.2.1, silently slowing down iPhones. The reason they've done this is to prevent phones with weaker batteries from suddenly turning off if excessive demand is required by the operating system. In other words, if you replace the battery, then the phone operates at full performance. Only Apple forgot to tell anyone that.

In response, Apple is, for all of 2018, offering battery replacements for the iPhone 6/6s/7/SE, and SE, and their Plus variants, for the bargain price of $29 (instead of $79). If you have one, and you have any doubts, I’d do it — the certainly worth it if you want to keep using the phone. Apple has also said a future release of iOS will reveal more information about the battery’s health.

I find Apple’s decision to do something like this without communicating to customers to be a real error of judgment, albeit one that fits into Apple's "it just works" design philosophy, which conceals a lot of what's happening under the hood. What Apple is offering by way of remedy is at least reasonable. (Note there’s a significant backlog — two to three months — for iPhone 6s Plus batteries specifically.)

 

Should you update to macOS High Sierra? What about iOS 11?

We get asked this question a lot. If you are currently using macOS Sierra (10.12.6), we still recommend you wait and do not upgrade to High Sierra yet. High Sierra, currently at version 10.13.2, has gotten better since its initial release, but we still encounter and read about various bugs, so we think it's not as fully baked as we'd like it to be.

If you do want it, though, we think you can go ahead. However, make sure you have a full backup first.

You can check your operating system version by going to the Apple Menu and choosing “About This Mac.” And you can check your Time Machine backup status by clicking on Apple Menu, System Preferences, Time Machine. Look to see what the latest backup date is in the window that opens.

It is very important — even more so than with previous operating systems — that you have a full backup before you upgrade to High Sierra.

As for iOS 11, you’re probably already on it, given how badly iOS nags you to upgrade. In general, we’d say that yes, you should upgrade, if only for security improvements — but if performance seems worse afterwards, be prepared to take your phone to Apple for the $29 battery replacement. We also advise that you check to see that your iCloud backup is current beforehand — this is visible in Settings, your name at the top, iCloud, Backup.

 

“Why is my iMac (or MacBook Pro with optical drive, or Mac Mini) so slow? I see the pinwheel of death all the time.”

The reason is this: your iMac has a hard drive (sometimes referred to as a spinning drive) inside it. A few years ago, Apple started optimizing their operating systems for the much faster solid state drives found in their current laptops. Unfortunately, this came at the expense of performance on their computers with hard drives, meaning that a computer that performed well when you purchased it a few years ago may be slower now after upgrading its operating system. And, unfortunately, some iMac (and Mac mini) models are still sold with hard drives, and they’re slow right out of the box.

You can check to see if your Mac has a hard drive by going to Apple Menu, About This Mac, Storage. Underneath the icon of the drive, if it says “SATA”, you have a hard drive. (As opposed to “Fusion Drive” or “Flash Storage”). If you have a 1 TB Fusion Drive in a 2015 or later iMac (but not 2 TB or 3 TB), you may also experience slow performance.

If you have a Mac that’s slow because it has a hard drive, or a 1 TB Fusion Drive in a 2015 or later iMac, you have a few options:

  • You can replace it with a model that has all solid state (aka Flash) storage.
  • A less expensive choice for 2012 and later models is to a buy an external solid state drive, such as a Samsung T5, and copy your hard drive’s contents to that (we can help with this).
  • You can replace the internal hard drive (or Fusion Drive) with a solid state drive. You’ll need a hardware specialist to help you with this; we can advise, so please get in touch if this is something you'd like to consider.

 

(February 2018)

 

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