A sneak preview…

Yosemite2

Yosemite National Park

If you’re anything like me, you probably thought Mavericks was a character from Top Gun and Yosemite is that park in the States with big rocks and waterfalls. But it turns out they are infact the names of Apple operating systems – the software that runs your computer – and ‘Yosemite’ is going to be launched this autumn, bringing lots of exciting new features to Macs everywhere.

 

This was one of the keWWDCy announcements at Apple’s developer conference this week – their annual event to tell the world of app developers what’s up their sleeve to launch later in the year. This gives the IT geeks a chance to work their magic with their games and other apps to take full advantage of all the new things Apple are doing. For the rest of us mere mortals, it just gives us a sneak peek into some quite exciting developments that will be coming to a device near you this autumn.

Here are some highlights:

  1. Apple announced they will be launching iOS 8 (a new operating system for mobile devices) and Yosemite, or OS X 10.10 – the new operating system for Macs – both in the autumn.
  2. One of our favourite developments is that these 2 new operating systems will be able to interact with each other – amazingly this hasn’t been the case until now. For example, you’ll be able to make phone calls directly from your Mac, or start writing an email on your iPad and finish it on your Mac.
  3. You’ll be able to send text messages from your iPad or Mac, and you’ll be able to include voice or other sound recordings as part of the message.
  4. family_sharing_iconFamily Sharing – lots of our customers get in a muddle with the various iThings in their homes and tangled Apple IDs; this new development will make it easy for family members to share purchased apps or tunes across devices, and to have access to shared photo libraries without the need to plug in to a computer.
  5. iCloud Drive – this is going to be an amalgam of Google Drive and iCloud, meaning that you’ll be able to do all the things iCloud currently allows you to, as well as sharing documents between your devices. You’ll even be able to share on Windows PCs too.

There are going to be lots of other, really useful new development with these new operating systems – if you want more of a preview you could go to the Apple site to find out:

https://www.apple.com/osx/preview/apps/

https://www.apple.com/ios/ios8/

BackupA final word of warning – if you are going to upgrade your operating system on your devices at any time, it’s very wise to make a backup of your content before you do…just incase anything should go wrong during the process. Check back to our earlier blog if you need help with backing up. You’ll also need to check the Apple website to see if your device is capable of upgrading – some older models won’t be.

The Cloud with a silver lining

So you’re off on holiday for half term and you want to take the entire series of Breaking Bad to watch on your iPad (just incase the weather is terrible). The problem is you’ve only got 1GB left on your iPad so you can’t fit it all on. There is a solution though – in the Cloud.

We’ve all heard the term “Cloud” computing but how can it help you watch your favourite TV shows? In essence, the Cloud gives you access to loads of content that you can’t squeeze on to your devices, by storing films, songs and files on a computer that you reach via the Internet. If you’re an Apple user, you can access your stored media through iCloud, and for Android users, Google Drive does the same.

cloudWhat makes the Cloud so great is that you don’t need to download the film you want to watch on to the computer (or iPad/iPhone/tablet); you merely need to have access to the Internet. Apple and Google provide these services for free (up to a certain amount of storage) because it encourages their customers to buy from their online stores – the iTunes store or Google Play.

If, on the other hand, you’re off on holiday and you want to watch Breaking Bad during the flight, you can download it to your iPad or computer. Then simply wipe it from the device after you’ve watched it, to free up space. Don’t forget, the purchase is always linked to your account, so you still own the programmes, and you can still stream it once you’re connected to wi-fi. Google drive

Another great thing about the Cloud is that if you were to buy a TV show on the iPad and start watching the first 24 minutes of it, but then you want to go across to another device (linked to the same account), you’ll be able to continue right from where you left off.

icloudTo use to all this clever functionality, just make sure that you have your device settings configured correctly; on an iPhone or iPad, go to the Settings menu, choose ‘iTunes & App Store’ and switch the slider to green for Music and Videos.

For Android users, go to SettingsAccountsGoogle [your username]. Then locate ‘Drive’ in the list of things your device can sync to and make sure it is ticked. That way, anything in your Google Drive account can be accessed via your phone or tablet.

Happy half term!

What’s your Plan B?

BackupFor most people, backing up the computer doesn’t rank high on your to do list, a bit like going for a check-up at the dentist or reviewing your pension. But like those tasks, if you put it off for too long, you could find yourself with a much bigger headache later on.

All computers are susceptible to viruses, damage, theft or simply old age – any of which could result in you losing your library of photos, movies, music and other precious files. So you need a backup. The question is how to back up and to where?

The answer to ‘how to back up’ is best answered by the type of computer you have.

Time Machine1If you’ve got a Mac bought after 2007, you’ll have ‘Time Machine’ as built-in software that lets you save a full copy of everything that’s on your computer to wherever you choose (see below). Time Machine then keeps on looking at your files to see if any have changed, and backs those up too. So if you accidentally delete a file, or you want to go back to an earlier version, you can retrieve it through the Time Machine.

file-history-windows-8If you’ve got a PC running Windows, you’ll also have built-in software – File History in Windows 8, or System Backup in Windows 7 or earlier. These work in a similar way to Apple’s Time Machine – you tell the computer which files you want to back up, where to copy them and how often, and the software will do the rest automatically.

The next question is ‘where’ to store your backup and this is where it can get a bit more complicated. There are 3 main options – CDs or DVDs, external hard drives or the ‘Cloud’.

DVDbackup1. You can use CDs or DVDs to make a single copy of your valuable files and then store them somewhere away from your computer. You’ll need to replace these every few months as you add to your computer library, to keep your backup up-to-date.

hard drive2. External hard drives come in many shapes and sizes. Choose one based on how much storage space you need and your budget. If you’re using Time Machine or Windows backup software, it’s a good idea to have an external hard drive that has at least twice as much space as the data you want to store on it, so that there is room for regular backups.

skydrive3. A ‘Cloud’ backup stores your data ‘offsite’, protecting your files against something like a fire, or theft of your computer. It’s essentially your own space on the Internet. Again, there are hundreds of options for a cloud backup: some are free and included with your computer software (iCloud, SkyDrive), whilst others are free for small amounts of storage and then you can buy more space if you need it (eg Dropbox, just cloud, CrashPlan).

cloudboxThere is another backup solution that combines an external hard drive and the cloud – it’s known as NAS or network attached storage. A NAS device links to your wi-fi so that it can back up more than one computer in the house, and it can act as a central library for your music, movies and photos to be accessed by any device connected to your home network. The  great bonus with some NAS devices is that they also give you access to your files when you are away from home.

Once you’ve decided how and where to back up your files, you can relax, safe in the knowledge that your digital world is protected. We strongly recommend that you have at least one of these solutions in your home; to be doubly safe, use two.

Mistaken identity

Our household now has more Apple devices than people and when that happens it’s easy to get your iLife in a tangle. Recently my iPad was inviting me to my husband’s meetings and over Christmas my son’s iPhone photos automatically uploaded onto the family computer. Granny was a bit upset.

The secret to controlling what you share is your Apple ID.

Unlike your computer, your iPhone or iPad can only have one owner and it knows who you are by an email address that you have registered with Apple, called your Apple ID.

iCloud

When your device is online it can be set to constantly send your data (your emails for this address and your diary dates, contacts, photos, videos and browser bookmarks) to Apple, who store it on their server and forward it on to any other device registered with the same Apple ID. Apple call this your iCloud account.

Where it goes wrong is when someone is using a device registered to a different person’s Apple ID. The new user may have added their own email account, but the device will still upload photos and sync diaries with the registered Apple ID.

So, unless you want to share every detail of your life, everyone should have their own Apple ID.

iTunes store

At the risk of complicating things, it’s worth pointing out that the account you have with Apple for buying music, movies and apps – your iTunes Store account – is a different thing altogether. Often you will have registered the same email address (as your Apple ID), but the two are quite independent. So if you want to you can have a single iTunes account for all the family, allowing you to educate younger generations about real music and proper movies, without receiving Facetime requests from their friends.