Apple iPad Pro: Is it really a Surface Pro Killer?

Tech comparisons often fall into confirmation bias, telling people what they want to hear. Let’s get my personal bias out of the way right now. I’m a big fan of Microsoft’s current strategy of consolidating their operating systems under Windows 10, and making sure you can access all of their services no matter which phone, tablet, or computer you use.

Apple keynote wwdc 2015Screenshot (26)_resultApple made a lot of news yesterday announcing new iPhones, a new Apple TV, Apple Watch updates, and the iPad Pro. It seems pretty clear that Apple has the Surface Pro in their sites, as Microsoft is starting to build a little momentum with their “PC in a Tablet Shell” formula. There was a lot of talk from Apple over how their new tablets and phones were “desktop powerful” devices thanks to new mobile processors.

Pricing, form factor, accessories, even the apps showcased, Apple claims they have the solution for mobile productivity. How does their new iPad Pro compare to the older Surface Pro 3? Let’s take a look.

Continue reading “Apple iPad Pro: Is it really a Surface Pro Killer?”

Apple Charging Developers $100 a Year to Make Free Plugins for Safari Browser

apple-safari-logoWant to develop Safari browser apps or plugins? It’s going to cost you.

As Apple rolls Safari development into their overall dev program, folks working on the Apple browser will have to pay the same fees app developers pay, namely $100 a year.

Reddit user HonestBleeps, who produces the free Reddit Enhancement Suite is detailing his experiences regarding the transition:

So it used to be free to be a part of the Safari developer program. That’s being folded into Apple’s dev program now, and I’m required to pay $100 to join if I want to continue publishing Reddit Enhancement Suite – which is free.

$100 would be several months worth of donations, on many/most months, and only to support less than 1% of RES users.

We’ll have to wait for these Apple developer programs to officially merge to see if this will throw cold water on Safari development, force formally free services to start charging, or if Apple will continue to allow developers to publish Safari plugins for free.

iFixIt gives new Mac Pro 8 out of 10 for upgrades and repairs!

mac pro 2013 disassembled ifixitGood news everybody! Apple has apparently figured out how to manufacturer a powerful and compact workstation which is fairly easy to upgrade and repair! Someone should tell their laptop and tablet divisions, but I digress…

iFixIt tore the sucker down and found a refreshing lack glue or proprietary screws. Opening the casing allows you to easily get to the RAM. The SSD is proprietary but easy to swap out, which hopefully might encourage some companies to build 3rd party solutions. Even the CPU, while buried deep into the internals, is a stock Intel socket. iFixit estimates you could save almost $1000 buying a low end Mac Pro, and then swapping out the processor yourself.

Maybe the harshest criticism came from the proprietary graphics cards. Flanking the triangular heat sink, Apple had to design their own connectors and shape so they’d fit in the casing. iFixIt worries that this might prematurely age the system if Apple can’t keep up with newer graphics chipsets and offerings.

All in all though, this assuages most of the concerns I personally had over the construction of the Mac Pro. No machine badged a “pro” should ever lock out the user. A workstation is a MUCH longer term investment than a regular destop, and this radical new design from Apple looked like it might have followed in the same footsteps as their MacBooks, glued shut and with RAM soldered onto the logic board. Happily this is not the case, and I’m surprised that Apple themselves didn’t make more noise about it. The ability to improve the system over time larger destroys the perceived “Apple Tax” and should make homebrew OSX systems a little less cost/time effective for those looking at Bang for Buck.

If you’re shopping a high end workstation, I’d highly recommend checking out the iFixIt teardown guide, as they detail the whole process of stripping the machine with their usual wit and humor.

Ask Juan: Why won’t my Moto X show up as a USB drive on my Mac?

surface connected to lg g2 file management transfer somegadgetguyFrom our Facebook page, Robin asks:

Here’s a question relating to Android… When I plug my Moto X into my Windows PC using the supplied USB cable, it shows up as a storage device and I can copy stuff to/from it with no problems. But when I plug it into a USB port on my wife’s MacBook Pro, it’s not even recognized as a device. How can I access my Moto X from Mac OSX?

Hey Robin,

It’s because Apple can be frustrating about supporting standards like MTP. Apple refuses to natively support the USB Media Transfer Protocol. It’s how you can plug your phone into a PC and see files on your phone and computer at the same time.

There are two different ways to share files between a phone and computer, MTP and Mass Storage. If you use Mass Storage, the storage on your phone becomes a standalone drive for your computer, and your phone will no longer be able to see any of those files. That was fine during the Windows Mobile and early Android days. You’d plug in your phone, and it would essentially become a dead lump of a USB drive. Now though, we don’t want to lose access to our precious communication tools, even for a brief file transfer. That’s why Android and Windows Phone now utilize MTP. It comes with some drawbacks like slower file transfers, and you can only move one file at a time, but your phone wont be separated from its storage while connected to a computer. Given the trade off, I’d rather be able to connect my phone to my computer, and still being able to use it as a normal phone with all of my files and apps intact.

The iPhone just doesn’t work that way, so Apple doesn’t feel any great pressure to support other mobile device file management protocols. As far as they’re concerned you should be using iOS and iTunes.

Google did release an Android file manager program for Mac users which might work for you –

If that doesn’t work you might need to look at cloud solutions. The nice thing about Android, it’s silly easy to move files on and off via services like Google Drive, Box, and DropBox.

You could also do a local network sync via an app like AirSync – or Air Droid – which will use your home WiFi network. It wont be as fast as a cable connection, but it’ll be faster than Bluetooth. 

But yeah. Short story long, this is basically Apple’s fault.

Apple Announces iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini – Refreshes MacBooks and Mac Pro

Just a banner day for tech! First, Microsoft starts selling the new Surface 2 and Surface Pro today, then Nokia announces the Lumia 1520 phablet and 2520 tablet, now Apple is getting into the act with refreshes to their tablets and computing lineups.

iPadAir-iPadMini_34B2B_lock-blue_home-nebula-PRINTThe iPad is getting a significant face lift. Now dubbed the iPad Air, it’s thinner, narrower, and lighter than previous iPads. I’m happy to see more rounded corners than the iPad Mini. Measuring just one pound, it’s a significant achievement keeping weight that low without sacrificing battery life. It’ll also go a long ways for folks who might have issues holding onto a heavy 10″ slab. The same pretty Retina Display is up front, but it’s backed up by faster and more powerful internals. iPad Air will retail for $499 for a 16GB WiF model and $629 for an LTE model.

Oddly enough, the iPad 2 will be sticking around as a low cost 10″ option at $299. In this market it’s getting REALLY long in the tooth… Continue reading “Apple Announces iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini – Refreshes MacBooks and Mac Pro”

Open source audio editor Audacity updated with new reverb, bug fixes & improvements.

Audacity-logo-r-450wide-whitebgIf you like to record audio, music, podcasts on the cheap, chances are you’ve heard of Audacity. This program actually stands as one of my favorites, and has a feature set which rivals many paid audio editors. Plus if once you learn how to use it, it doesn’t matter what computer you use it on. Mac, PC, Linux it’s all the same.  You can even run it from a USB flash drive.

Well Audacity has received a nice little update. Focusing mostly on stability and bug fixes, there are a couple neat little new features included in 2.0.4. First a new reverb plug in will help you add all the echo you might want. Also, for Windows users, you can now record your computer’s playback by choosing the WASAPI host.

Grab the newest version from SourceForge, and check out the Audacity Wiki for the full list of fixes and improvements.