AMITIAE - Wednesday 8 July 2015

Arrivals: Apple Music; and a MacBook (Bangkok Post, Life)

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


Last Tuesday evening here, Apple updated iOS8 and OS X to include the latest versions of Music and iTunes bringing Apple Music to users. I updated my iOS devices first and signed up for the 3-month free trial. The fee for users here is $4.99. Lower rates than the USA rate apply in other countries too. Some images that came with advertisements for Apple Music indicate new colours for iPod nano, iPod shuffle and iPod touch.

Those who sign up will be charged automatically if they do not cancel before the trial ends. As in the iTunes store, not all tunes will be available, hence the lower fee: that depends on the labels; it always does.

Apple Music

I have tried My Music, but am using Beats Radio most so far. The signal sometimes fades in my office, but not at home. Despite the Zane Lowe-led Beats 1, I am using the Classical section most where there are no interruptions although I keep hoping someone like Alan Keith would pop in from time to time. The favourites icon in radio is for fine-tuning the selections in My Music.

Apple Music

Updating my Macs to OS X 10.10.4 was not straightforward. On the Mac mini and a new MacBook (right out of the box), there was a problem with download Verification. I was not the only one affected. I solved this by starting the computers in Safe mode (hold down the Shift key) and then restarting.

OS X Update

When Tim Cook walked onto the stage holding the latest MacBook, I thought he had an iPad with a lid. Much has been written about this new model. I was dubious about its apparently trimmed down specifications, but at the same time intrigued about the innovations it has, particularly battery, keyboard and trackpad. I was never entirely convinced about the MacBook Air, despite its intentions as a traveller's notebook. I had similar doubts about this new Mac.

I have been using a new MacBook for the last few days. It is normal to save recommendations until the end of a review, but to the question, "Would I have one?" I would respond, "In an instant."

MacBook and MacBook Pro
11" MacBook (left) and 13" MacBook Pro

I like notebook computers, not only for mobility out of the home, but because a desktop machine fixes me to one spot even at home. When the MacBook Pro had its screen replaced last month, I put the Mac mini in my office/bedroom. It was awkward working in the evenings when I usually relax in the lounge. I can move the MacBook Pro between rooms easily.

Even the 1.62 Kgs of the 13" MacBook Pro is noticeable in my backpack. If I want to take cameras with me, there is strain on my back. The MacBook weighs 920 grams (just over 2 pounds) and I hardly feel it.

This is only part of it. With iCloud many of the files I use regularly on the other devices were available to me within a few minutes. The synchronised keychain meant that I did not have to look up the password for the office Wi-Fi: the Mac was online as soon as I opened the lid.

During the day, iCloud added my email accounts. Calendar and Contacts data were ready almost immediately, with Photos taking a little longer. Some of the thousands I have in the iCloud library were shown soon after I turned on the feature in Photos Preferences, but as with the Mac mini, if I want to Edit an image or display it in full resolution, there is a small wait while the data is retrieved. The Macbook Pro and iPhone 6 have the Original images, while other devices have "optimised" versions to save space.

I will look at some of the technical aspects of this 1.1 GHz MacBook next time. I have always been wary of slower processors: I want the best bang for the buck I can have, but this is performing well. It is helped by the standard 8 GB RAM (1600 MHz DDR3) and the solid state drive.

USB-C to USB Adapter
USB-C to USB Adapter

I had anticipated a problem with the single USB-C port. Most connections I have made only needed Wi-Fi or Bluetooth but I have the three Apple adapters at hand: for USB (690 baht); USB, power and VGA (2990 baht); USB, power and HDMI (2990 baht). These are available in the online store for Thailand and I saw them in an iStudio in Central Bangkok at the weekend.

USB-C Adapter USB-C Adapter

USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter (left) and USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter

The battery lasts really well during the working day. With a 100% level when I left home, I used the MacBook most of the day: writing, some photo-editing and downloading software, with Beats Radio on in the background. By late evening, the menubar icon showed 23% battery. I will leave the power adapter at home on Monday and save a little more weight.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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