How to Get ‘Handoff’ Working in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 [iOS Blog]

Apple is heavily pushing its new “Continuity” features in OS X Yosemite that improve cross-platform integration between iOS and the Mac. The most significant of the Continuity features is Handoff, which allows OS X and iOS users to start a task on one device and swap to another one nearby to continue work.

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Handoff can be used for a number of different activities, including email, web browsing, messaging, and more. Users can begin composing an email on their iPhone and finish it on their Mac. Maps and websites work in a similar fashion, as users can load up content on one device and look at it on another. Currently, Handoff works with Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, and Contacts. A number of third-party apps including Pixelmator, Wunderlist , PCalc, and Things also contain support for Handoff.

Requirements

You will need iOS 8.1 and OS X Yosemite in order to use Handoff. You also need to make sure that both your Mac and iPhone are logged into the same iCloud account, and check that your Mac supports Handoff. You can check if your Mac is compatible with Handoff by clicking the  symbol in the top left-hand side of the Menu bar, going to About This Mac, clicking on System Report and clicking on the “Bluetooth” section. You should then see information about whether your system is compatible with Handoff.

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Handoff is limited to Macs with Bluetooth 4.0, which leaves many older Macs unable to access the new features. Additionally, even though the 2011 MacBook Air and 2011 Mac mini include Bluetooth 4.0, Apple has chosen to make both devices incompatible with OS X Yosemite’s Continuity features. To solve this issue, a number of talented members of the MacRumors forums have come up with a set of instructions and a Continuity Activation Tool that should get Continuity working on Macs unable to support the feature.

Setting Up Handoff

1. Turn on Wi-Fi on your iPhone (Settings -> Wi-Fi) and Mac (Menu Bar -> Wi-Fi -> Turn Wi-Fi On.

2. Turn on Bluetooth on your iPhone (Settings -> Bluetooth) and Mac (Menu Bar -> Apple -> System Preferences -> Bluetooth -> Turn Bluetooth On).

3. Turn on Handoff on your iPhone (Settings -> General -> Handoff & Suggested Apps -> Turn Handoff On) and Mac (Menu Bar -> Apple -> System Preferences -> General -> Recent Items – > Turn On “Allow Handoff Between this Mac and your iCloud devices”)

4. You may now begin using Handoff by launching a compatible app on your Mac or iOS device and swapping to another to see your content. For example, try launching Safari on your Mac and then switch to your iPhone. On your iPhone’s lock screen, you should see a small Safari icon in the lower left corner. Slide up to launch Safari, and the iOS app will display the same website as seen on your Mac.

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You can also see a Handoff-enabled app through the multitasking switcher by double-pressing your home button and scrolling to the left.

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Handoff works in a similar fashion when transitioning from an iOS device to a Mac. On the Mac, a Handoff-compatible app will be displayed on the left-most side of the dock. Clicking on the app in the Mac’s dock will load the same content as seen on an iOS device.

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Troubleshooting

Since the launch of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 earlier this month, many users have had issues getting Handoff to work with their devices.

Users on our forums seem to have found that the most common solution is a combination of logging out and back into iCloud on their devices, disabling and enabling Handoff, disabling and enabling Bluetooth, and restarting devices. But even amongst those who found success, it may not last forever. Handoff clearly remains buggy in this early release.

If those steps don’t work for you, members on Apple’s own support forums have also suggested that deleting Bluetooth preferences in OS X and then restarting Bluetooth can also solve problems with Handoff, but we haven’t been able to get that to work on our end.

Any of these steps may help if you are having trouble with activating Handoff on your devices, but ultimately, Apple may have to release an update to allow Handoff to work consistently for everyone.




Buyer’s Guide: Discounts on Original iPad Air, iPad Mini 2, and Apple Accessories [Mac Blog]

Now that Apple’s iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 are available, retailers have been offering discounts on the original iPad Air and the iPad mini 2.

There are quite a few deals on previous-generation higher capacity cellular and Wi-Fi iPads, and this week also sees some discounts on remaining 2013 Retina MacBook Pro inventory and deals on some Apple accessories.

iPad Air

The Wi-Fi only 64GB iPad Air in Space Gray can be purchased for $499 from Best Buy, as can the 64GB Silver Wi-Fi model. The Wi-Fi only 128GB iPad Air in Silver can be purchased from B&H Photo for $599, or from Best Buy for $699. Best Buy also has the 128GB iPad Air in Space Gray for $699.

Several sites are also offering deals on the higher-capacity Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad Air models. The 64GB Cellular iPad Air in Silver from AT&T is available for $599 from Adorama. The 64GB Cellular iPad Air in Space Gray from AT&T is also available for $599, from B&H Photo.

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Verizon models are slightly more expensive, with both the 64GB Silver Cellular iPad and 64GB Space Gray iPad available for $629 from Best Buy.

The 128GB Cellular iPad Air in Silver from AT&T is available for $829.99 from Best Buy and the 128GB Space Gray AT&T Cellular iPad is also available for $829.99 from Best Buy.

128GB models from Verizon are priced similarly, with the 128GB Silver version available from Best Buy for $829.99 and the Space Gray version available for $729 from B&H Photo.

iPad mini 2

Higher-capacity iPad mini 2 models are also available at steep discounts, and these iPads are a particularly good deal as the only difference between the mini 2 and the mini 3 is Touch ID and a gold color option.

The 64GB Wi-Fi only iPad mini 2 in Silver is available for $399 from Best Buy. The Space Gray Wi-Fi only iPad mini 2 is also available for $399 from Best Buy.

The 128GB Wi-Fi only iPad mini 2 in Silver is available for $499 from Best Buy, while the Space Gray version is available for $499 from Best Buy.

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The 64GB AT&T Cellular iPad mini 2 in Silver is available for $529.99 from Best Buy as is the Space Gray model.

64GB Verizon Cellular iPad mini 2 models in Silver are available for $529.99 from Best Buy and the Space Gray model is available from Best Buy for the same price.

The 128GB Cellular AT&T iPad mini 2 in Silver is available for $629 from Amazon and Adorama. The AT&T Space Gray model in 128GB is also available for $629 from Amazon and Adorama.

The 128GB Cellular Verizon iPad mini 2 in Space Gray is available for $629 from Best Buy and Adorama. The 128GB Cellular Verizon iPad mini in Silver is available for $787.99 from Best Buy.

Fourth-generation iPad

Best Buy is selling the now-discontinued fourth-generation Wi-Fi only iPad in both Silver and Space Gray for $299.99.

Retina MacBook Pro

There are a few deals 2014 Retina MacBook Pro this week. The 2.6GHz/8GB/128GB 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is available for $1,199.99 from Adorama and B&H Photo. The 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/256GB model is available for $1,399 from Adorama and B&H Photo. The high-end 2.6GHz/8GB/512GB 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is on sale for $1,699.99 from Adorama and B&H Photo, a savings of $100.

There are some deals on remaining 2013 Retina MacBook Pros. The 2.4GHz/4GB/128GB 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is available for $1,099 from Adorama and B&H Photo. The 2.4GHz/8GB/256 13-inch model is available for $1,279 from Adorama. The 2.6GHz/8GB/512GB 13-inch model is available for $1,549 from Adorama and B&H Photo.

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The 2.0GHz/8GB/256GB 15-inch model is available for $1,599 Amazon, Adorama, and B&H Photo. The 2.0GHz/16GB/512GB 15-inch model is available for $2,199 from Amazon, Adorama, and B&H Photo.

The non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro is also on sale for $949.99 from Best Buy and $999.99 from Adorama, and B&H Photo.

Apple Accessories

The Sony Portable Bluetooth Speaker with Lightning Dock is available for $169 from Groupon, down from its original price of $249. LivingSocial has a deal on the Jawbone Jambox speaker, offering it for $89.

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StackSocial is offering the “Mac to the Future” bundle for $29.99, which includes $961 worth of Mac software programs like Fantastical and Ember.

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The Jarv Run BT Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Monitor is available for $28.95 from Amazon. Groupon is selling the Kensington PowerBolt Apple Car Charger for $9.99 and StackSocial has Nintendo iPhone 6 and 6 Plus cases for $14.

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The Kensington Portafolio Soft Folio Case for Apple iPad mini is available for $14.99 from Groupon, and the Logitech iPad mini Folio is available for $20 off at Best Buy.

MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors.





AT&T Locking Apple Interchangeable SIMs in iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 [Updated]

Apple’s new Apple SIM card in the iPad Air 2 and the Retina iPad mini 3 is designed to be universal, usable across a variety of wireless carriers in the US and UK, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and UK’s EE.

According to user reports in the MacRumors forums and on Twitter, however, AT&T is not supporting this interchangeability and is locking the SIM included with cellular models of the iPad Air 2 and Retina iPad mini 3 after it is used with an AT&T plan.

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A newly posted Apple support document details what happens to the SIM when it is activated on US carriers.

Using Apple SIM, you can choose from different cellular carriers and their various programs. The data plans vary by carrier. For instance, in the United States, you can choose a domestic plan from either Sprint or T-Mobile and also pick an alternate plan from the other carrier as needed. When you choose AT&T on iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, AT&T dedicates Apple SIM to their network only.

AT&T appears to be the only participating carrier that is locking the Apple SIM to its network. T-Mobile’s John Legere has indicated that T-Mobile’s process does not lock a customer in to T-Mobile, which appears to be confirmed by Apple’s support document, and Sprint’s process also seems to leave the Apple SIM unlocked and able to be used with other carrier plans. Verizon, the fourth major carrier in the United States, did not opt to allow the Apple SIM to work with its network.

According to the Apple support document, when an Apple SIM becomes locked to a specific network like AT&T, purchasing a new Apple SIM from an Apple Retail store will allow an iPad to be usable with other carrier programs.

Apple introduced its universal SIM alongside the iPad Air 2 and Retina iPad mini 3 on October 16. It is the first SIM provided by Apple that is designed to work across multiple carriers.

Update 12:10 PM PT: An AT&T spokesperson confirmed to Re/code that AT&T customers who use the Apple SIM with AT&T will need a different SIM card to switch carriers.

“With us you can change carriers with this iPad any time you want,” he said. “It is an unlocked device. … All [you] have to do is switch out the SIM in the device so it works on another carrier.”

AT&T did not explain why it opted to lock the SIM card to its network, however, with the spokesperson saying “it’s just simply the way we’ve chosen to do it.”




iPad Mini 3 Teardown Reveals NFC Controller for Apple Pay, Hot Glued Home Button

After tearing down the iPad Air 2 earlier this week, iFixit has now moved on to the iPad mini 3, which also received a minor update during Apple’s October 16 iPad event. Unlike the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 3 saw few internal improvements, gaining a new gold color option and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

As expected, iFixit’s teardown reveals many of the same parts that were used in first Retina iPad mini, now called the iPad mini 2. It continues to use the same 7.9-inch display, A7 processor with M7 coprocessor, 5-megapixel camera, and 802.11n Wi-Fi.

There is one new addition, which is directly related to Touch ID and the iPad mini 3’s ability to support in-app Apple Pay payments. Like the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 3 includes a 65V10 NFC controller manufactured by NXP.

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There is no accompanying NFC antenna to allow the tablet to make NFC-based payments within stores, but there has been strong speculation suggesting the NFC chip is where Apple Pay’s “Secure Element” is located. According to Apple, the Secure Element is a dedicated chip that stores encrypted Device Account Numbers, which replace credit card numbers for security reasons.

Though the iPad mini 3 and the iPad Air 2 are not able to make payments within stores, they can make Apple Pay payments within participating apps and thus utilize both the Secure Element and Device Account Numbers.

NXP’s own site details the use of a specific integrated circuit designed for handling and storing secure data on its website, stating the technology has been integrated into its NFC controller chips. While the 65V10 is not mentioned by name, its appearance in both the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 suggests that it is indeed being used for its security function rather than its NFC function.

Aside from the inclusion of the 65V10 NFC chip, which is located in a spot on the logic board that was previously left blank, there are few other notable features about the iPad mini 3. iFixit did find that the tablet has new home button cabling to support Touch ID and home button brackets that are securely affixed by hot glue, which makes removing the home button a much more difficult task.

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Like the Touch ID cable in the iPhone 5s, the location of the Touch ID cable in the iPad mini 3 makes screen repairs very difficult, as the cable is easy to sever when opening up the display. Due to the glue and the precarious position of the Touch ID cable, the iPad mini 3 earned a repairability score of 2 out of 10 from iFixit.

Apple’s iPad mini 3 is currently available in both retail stores and from Apple’s online store, with prices that start at $399.




iTunes Digital Music Sales Fall 13 Percent as Apple Prepares Beats Music Refresh

Apple’s digital music sales continue to spiral downward, falling more than 13 percent worldwide thus far in 2014, reports The Wall Street Journal. Last year, digital music sales dropped for the first time since iTunes opened in 2003, falling 5.7 percent year-over-year.

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This continued decline is likely one of the reasons behind Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics and Beats Music earlier this year. Apple may be hoping to offset this drop in digital music revenue with increased subscription revenue from Beats Music.

The plummeting download numbers help illustrate why Apple bought the $10-a-month subscription streaming service Beats Music earlier this year, as part of its $3 billion acquisition that included headphone maker Beats Electronics. Apple is rebuilding Beats Music and plans to relaunch it next year as part of iTunes, according to a person familiar with the matter.

To attract a broader customer base, Apple is rumored to be revamping Beats Music with an expected relaunch of the service slated for next year. The Cupertino company also is pushing for an industry-leading $5 monthly subscription cost that may increase the number of subscribers willing to pay for a premium service.

Apple is not new to the streaming music business, having launched iTunes Radio last year alongside iOS 7. The Pandora-like service has reportedly failed to achieve its goals of spurring listeners to purchase tracks from the iTunes Store despite being bundled on millions of phones in its available regions, and has yet to expand beyond the United States and Australia.