Hello and welcome to SoundByte! In this issue:
- November Meeting
- Ventura is out, what’s new?
- The new iPads
- AirPods Pro – a short review
- “Killer apps” and the Apple Watch
- Nreal Air AR Glasses
- Offers for members
Join us on November 8, for our penultimate meeting of the year, to learn about Home Automation! We will start off as usual with Newbyte and then will be joined by a Special Guest, Stephen Robles of Apple Insider. He will talk to us about building his own house and planning for it to be a smart home. If you have any questions about making your home smarter, be sure to note them down and ask!
Ventura is out, what’s new?
The latest macOS, Ventura is available to download. The Mac gains some very smart features from iPhones and improvements in various areas. I’ll summarise some of the key changes below but read the in-depth Ars-Technica review if you want to learn more of the technical details.
Search now tries to anticipate your search as you are typing, and it can search inside of photos for text! Mail gains the ability to pullback emails you sent in error (this works for a minute or so after you hit send). Safari gains a new type of password manager that is very secure (but we will wait to see which websites support it).
Reacting to the new normal after the pandemic, you can now watch TV shows together, from your separate houses, using SharePlay; while collaborating from home on documents, idea boards, links and presentations in Messages. When rushing home late, to a meeting, if you had to join the FaceTime call en-route from your iPhone, you can (as you dash through the front door) seamlessly transfer the call to your Mac, and pretend you were on-time. Your iPhone can then work with your Mac to improve your home working performance further. Plonk it on top of your monitor and use it as a top quality web cam. Then, as well as providing superior video for your web conference, the iPhone will provide ’centre stage’: meaning it will focus on you and keep you on screen if you move around the room, and widen the view to include anyone sat next to you. Next, for your home demos, like magic, the same feature can focus on your desk and adapt the image so it looks like you are doing a professional top-down video of what’s on your table.
A big change for families is Shared Photo Libraries, and improvements to Game support which could mean more computer games coming from the PC to the Mac.
Previewing our special guest this month, have a look a Stephen’s top tips for Ventura, here:
The oldest Macs supported include those released in 2017. Check Apple’s website to see if your Mac is included. Utilities, like Carbon Copy Cloner (which has been updated) may require a software update to work with Ventura.
The new iPads
Like clock-work, (perhaps) since Macs and iPads now (essentially) share the same computer processors, the top-level iPad Pro is now upgraded with (essentially) the same M2 Processor as the latest Macs. Of more interest (and some controversy) the cheapest iPad has now gained a similar external design, losing the home button and gaining Touch ID. Have a look at Apple’s presentation here:
The controversy is around the price for the cheapest iPad, which has gone up from just over £350 to nearly £500. It also retains the original Apple Pencil which can’t charge from the iPad without a dongle…For some this makes the iPad less attractive, despite the beautiful design. Let Marques Brownlee explain:
The new iPads come with iPadOS 16, a major system update which includes a new way of managing windows called Stage Manager (also featuring in macOS Ventura). The best way to understand is to watch it. Christopher Lawley below, goes over this and all the other major features in this update:
AirPods Pro – a short review
After losing my previous Bluetooth ear buds, I decided to splash out (£250) on the new AirPods Pro 2. I was attracted by the easy set-up method (just open the case next to your iPhone) and their inclusion of a U1 chip so they could be found if lost, using Find My. My vision (achieved) was going out jogging with the AirPods, Apple Watch and my house key, leaving the heavy iPhone at home.
The key features of the Airpods Pro 2 are improved noise cancelling and ’transparency’. I never had these features before, and if you haven’t experienced them I will try to describe it. Imagine the outside world having a volume knob. Noise cancelling turns down the volume. This means, on the London Underground, where previously I could not hear the voices on a podcast, they are now audible to me. But it does not mean silence. When on the top deck of a bus I could still clearly hear a baby screaming downstairs…but the volume was turned down. On a train I can hear the wheels squealing, but quietly. Apple claims 2x improvement in noise cancelling on the AirPods Pro 2 compared to the original AirPods Pro. Transparency is the same, but with some sounds filtered through. For example, when in a shop, transparency will keep the outside volume down, but let you hear the shop assistant.
Critical to the performance of the AirPods is their fitment, meaning the quality of the seal of the rubber tips of the AirPods within your ear. The AirPods Pro come with 4 tip choices, so it should work with most ears. I use the smallest tips and I have found them the most comfortable of the Bluetooth ear buds I have used yet, letting me listen for hours without ear-ache. The sound quality is very good; I hear everything clearly, but somehow, it also has thumping bass. It can get very low indeed, making for example, the cannons in the 1812 Overture shake you to your core (in a nice way).
The AirPods Pro 2 last for around 6 hours and re-charge in a battery case, which fits comfortably into the coin pocket in my jeans (surely a nod to this ’feature’ on the iPod Nano). It charges using Lightning, which is surely becoming redundant, but happily it can also charge using wireless chargers including the Apple Watch charger. I would heartily recommend them if you are considering buying some for you iPhone, iPad or Mac.
‘Killer apps” and the Apple Watch
The Apple Watch isn’t just a fashion statement, it’s a tool, but how many people are not aware that is isn’t just a watch that tells the time and shows them their notifications and emails? For me, this was what kept me from getting the Apple Watch for several years. I needed to know what apps would work better on a watch than the iPhone, and what were the great ’killer apps’ that could make me want to keep using the watch?
For me it was health, fitness and travel. I’m currently using a Couch to 5K app on the watch to coach me into running and hopefully some weight loss. This is a killer app for me because I hated taking my iPhone running. I also start Strava now on the watch rather than the phone, as it’s so much simpler to start a workout there. But Apple has a new watch out, the Apple Watch Ultra and that’s targeted at more extreme or serious athletes than me. Some of them felt that Apple’s fitness apps on the Watch were not good enough for their needs and therefore the Watch wasn’t good enough, until a killer app for them emerged. See below to learn about it:
Nreal Air AR Glasses
It’s time to take a look over the garden fence to what’s going in technologies that they have and we don’t. This time it isn’t a folding phone or uncanny valley video conferencing, but AR Glasses (Glasses which let you see the outside world, but project some sort of computer screen in front of your vision). We know that Tim Cook thinks AR is the future, and that Apple is cooking up something, but what might this look like? Nreal have tried to jump ahead and their new AR glasses are on sale now via EE for around £400.
You can see a review of them below, but I think it shows some of the challenges Apple will have to master. First how, to power the glasses for any length of time without an annoying cable, second, how to control the screen, third how to get great sound. Apple has two of these solved in AirPods which are small with great battery life and Spatial Audio, but there is still some ways to go integrating all that together into glasses, I think.
Offers for members
Find below the special offers available to our paying members. Access these great discounts from the discounts page in the member’s section of the LMUG website.
- AgileBits 1Password 7: 25% Discount
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- EverWeb by RAGE Software: 50% Discount
- Opus ][ Complete Collection: 25% Discount
- Que Publishing Products: 35-45% Discount
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- Teams ID, a Password Manager for Teams: 33% Discount
- TechTool Pro: 50% Discount
- TidBITS Content Network for Apple professionals: Get a free month of tips and articles!