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Filesystem? What New Filesystem?

A quite legitimate criticism of iOS for some time has been the fact that you seem to end up with multiple gigabytes of unexplained “other” disk space usage after using the device for some time. It’s frustrating, especially on smaller devices.

Reinstalling iOS and restoring from your most recent backup would clear the mythical “other”, at least for a while.

It seems that the latest update to iOS, version 10.3, introduces a whole new filesystem technology, APFS. This wasn’t mentioned in the release notes, and is only really detectable by the end user in the form of a much longer upgrade process than would be needed for a typical iOS release.

Since upgrading a few devices, I have noticed a big jump in the available free space on those devices. The pesky “other” is still there, but appears to have shrunk significantly.

Hats of to Apple for fixing what was a criticism going a long way back, and for managing a quite potentially disruptive filesystem migration in such a transparent way for the end user.

May the “other” space usage forever remain small.

Apple Event Brain Dump

Some very raw and unfiltered thoughts on today’s Apple announcement:

I thought after all this time there’d be more content deals for the new Apple TV — the “apps” focus suggests that they are having to concede their former approach entirely and acknowledge that they won’t funnel much TV content through iTMS at all.

Harry Potter photos!

4K video capture on a phone is pretty amazing.

The MLB Apple TV app demo with watching two games at once must have been a Back to the Future II reference for 2015 — “give me channels 5, 9…”. Right? Right?

I’m interested to see (hopefully non-fanboy/girlish) thoughts on how the iPad Pro will compare with the Surface range. It’s interesting to me actually that if MS get the touchy style apps done well (they have to do a better job than with Win8!), the Surfaces also having the flexibility to run classic Windows apps too might make them more competitive in that “pro tablet” area.

I want to go play with 3D Touch when I can! If they’ve done it well, it could be quite cool.

I’m no artist in drawing terms, but the Pencil looked pretty amazing. I was deriding it at first as a silly stylus. I was wrong.

So. Much. Stuff!

Pushing System Center Operations Manager Alerts to iOS and Android

I’m a huge fan of the Pushover Simple Notification Service for receiving critical alerts about the servers for which I am responsible. It’s beautifully simple — in short, it takes the ‘walled garden’ of Google or Apple’s push notification system and extends it, so that you can push any text notification you want through their API, and it’ll get to your phone.

In this post, I will share how I get critical alerts from a Microsoft System Center Operations Manager instance to Pushover.

» Read the rest of this post…

Better

On the face of it, this is just another corporate “aren’t we so great” feel-good video, the kind that we have every right to look at cynically.

However, and at the significant risk of being judged a Tim Cook fanboi, I actually think something has changed under his leadership. Even if it is just that we are allowed to see more of this side of Apple now, Tim’s tenure so far seems to be bringing about a much stronger focus on values than ever before.

We have their ‘Intention’ video, Tim’s public musings at the Fuqua School of Business, and perhaps more importantly, actions like their Supplier Responsibility work and bringing the manufacturing of the new Mac Pro to the USA.

β€˜There are some ideas we want every company to copy’

Perhaps what is most exciting about this new, very public, focus on these issues is the idea that ethics can become a point of competition.

Not every customer is going to care about this stuff, but most people will want to feel like they’re doing the right thing. The pressure that companies like Apple can put on their competitors might be one of the most effective tools for actually making a difference to a whole industry’s behaviour.

I hope we see that.

iOS 7 and Obsolescence

iPhone 4 with iOS 7

This is my iPhone 4. I purchased it more than three years ago.

You don’t get into the technology world without, begrudgingly or otherwise, accepting that things move very fast. What is relevant today may be completely superseded in a matter of months.

A big reason why I have ended up a user of Apple’s iOS ecosystem is that, unlike some of its competitors, there seems to be a genuine focus on the relationship with the customer after you have purchased the device. I can run this old iPhone 4, using the latest operating system that was released this month.

From a security point of view, upon which I can’t resist to comment, the pace of mobile OS development is such that security fixes are not routinely backported to older OSes. You end up with the situation we have today with Android — scores of vulnerable devices out there in the wild.

Aside from some frustrations I do have — the original iPad that was released in the same year as my iPhone 4 is now stuck back on iOS 5 — Apple actually seem to think about device lifespan the least cynically of all the manufacturers. When they were developing the iPhone 4, they clearly thought about how it would run the next three operating systems yet to come.

It can’t be denied that the iPhone 4 isn’t quite as quick and responsive with iOS 7 as it was when it shipped with iOS 4. It doesn’t enable all the fancy features of the new OS. What it is, though, is in line with the performance you would expect from a device that is a little older now. It is definitely acceptable, and probably even good.

This is why I make the purchasing decisions I do. As long as you avoid first generation products(!), you can make an investment in a piece of Apple kit. It is so much more than just a product to shift off the shelf.

Moving to Mountain Lion and Beyond

Mountain Lion pre-release logo

In my most recent article for For Mac Eyes Only, I ponder the implications of the remarkably speedy scheduled release of Apple’s OS X Mountain Lion on the longer term viability of older Mac hardware. Mountain Lion is due to arrive just a year after the release of Lion.

We now await OS X 10.8, Mountain Lion. Scheduled to be released a mere year after Lion, we are promised even more features ‘inspired by iPad’.

Wait a second. What was that? It is due to arrive this summer. Just one year after Lion was released.

A new release of OS X hasn’t come so quickly since the operating system was very young and was still being established and stabilised.

This strikes me as quite a shift, and it brings me to an important issue — how does this affect the lifespans of the Apple products we buy?

You can read the full article over on the For Mac Eyes Only site.

Grand Opening of Apple Store, Festival Place, Basingstoke

The opening of a new Apple Store is always an interesting experience — and one that never fails to inspire enthusiasm unheard of anywhere else in retail! I actually went along three and a half years ago to the opening of the WestQuay store in Southampton, but today, there was the Grand Opening of the new store in Festival Place, Basingstoke.

It is a really convenient store for me — it is just a 20 minute train journey away, so it is now even easier to get to the Apple Store should anything need fixing, or anything new need purchasing. πŸ˜‰

I have put together a short video of the Grand Opening event, which you should see embedded below.

Definitely nice to go along, share in the experience — and pick up that all-important Festival Place Apple t-shirt to add to the collection. πŸ™‚

Not Another Mac Podcast!

Not Another Mac Podcast logo

I was delighted to be invited by Mark from Everyday Mac Support onto Not Another Mac Podcast — and the episode has now been published.

Mark, Glenn Künzler of MacTrast.com and myself discussed several post-WWDC topics, MacDefender and the Mac security landscape, iCloud and user control, the new iTunes Match and iTunes in the cloud features, the revamped ‘Apple Store 2.0’ experience, rumours about the Apple A5 chip in the MacBook Air and more.

You can take a listen to Episode 8 on the Your Mac Network site and also subscribe to the show in iTunes.

Thanks again to Mark for inviting me on the show. Mark and Dennis are always looking for other contributors on their show, even if you are not a seasoned podcaster. Please do go over to the site or contact them via @YourMacNetwork on Twitter or by email if you think you might be interested.

Old, Meet New

iPhone 4 and first-generation iPod touch

The upgrade from a first-generation iPod touch to an iPhone 4 is a significant one, in many ways. πŸ™‚

If you haven’t seen the iPhone Retina Display, it genuinely is as good as the marketing suggests. No matter how close I hold the device to my eyes, I can’t make out individual pixels; the rendering of text is the best I have seen on any pixel display.

Other than the excellent additional hardware features of the iPhone, like the camera, GPS capabilities and of course, having internet access wherever I am, the other biggest upgrade is the sheer speed of the device compared to the first-gen hardware. The responsiveness of the UI on the iPhone 4 is as good as, if not better than, that of the iPad. Everything about the interface is fluid, responding immediately and directly to what you do. All the apps feel so much faster and it makes using the device a lot more natural when you aren’t waiting, even for a quarter of a second, for the next screen to load.

I’m very pleased with this as an upgrade to my mobile computing. πŸ˜€

iPad

Over the last few years I haven’t really found myself liking the names of major new products from Apple. MacBook Air, iPhone 3GS and even the original iPhone name I didn’t like (drop the ‘i’ prefix already!)

And now we have iPad.

Apple iPad

The name aside, though, this looks like a cool device. It feels to me to be a scaled-up iPod touch in many ways, but with software and an interface that are really capable of taking full advantage of the extra screen space and form factor. I don’t think the iPad is going to be as revolutionary as the iPhone was for the ‘smartphone’ market and I think it might take a bit of time for it really to find the right market (beyond early adopters); people need to work out how to fit it into their computing workflow. But it will force all the other companies doing tablet computers to rethink their approach.

Will I be getting one? I answered this question on the roundtable episode of The Stealth Mac podcast that I just participated in (podcast download not yet available). I’ll wait and see. I think like many people, I need to work out how it would fit into my workflow and how I’d justify my need for it. I will certainly be interested to hear how well it works for what you can do with it in a real-world setting.