The new Mac Pro is still cooking, while Apple unveiled some new education products. Meanwhile, here are some practical tips for using the versatile, but sometimes confusing, Control Center on the iPhone and iPad.
Spring is a time of anticipation for those of us who follow Apple and its ecosystem of products. It’s a bit too early to get excited about what will be announced at the Worldwide Developer Conference, which happens in early June, but the company hasn’t been in complete stealth mode lately.
In this column, I want to touch on some interesting Apple news and then switch to the practical side of things by looking at the versatile, but sometimes confusing, Control Center on the iPhone and iPad.
New Mac Pro is still cooking
Last year at this time, Apple revealed that it had not, in fact, abandoned the Mac Pro, which has been unchanged for years. The expectation at the time was that it would arrive in 2018, but now it’s looking like a 2019 release.
Matthew Panzarino at TechCrunch met with several teams at Apple that are working on the new machine, which is being redesigned from scratch as a modular system. What that means in practice is still behind frosted glass at the company, but it’s encouraging to see the wide-ranging approach Apple is taking to address the professional market that Panzarino describes.
New iPad and education software
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In an education-themed event at a school in Chicago, Apple unveiled a new 9.7-inch iPad model, starting at $329. One of the most notable improvements is support for the Apple Pencil, formerly a feature only for iPad Pro models.
Logitech also revealed its Logitech Crayon, a $49 stylus that uses Apple’s Pencil technology minus pressure sensitivity, which is available only to teachers at this point and works only with the new sixth-generation iPad, not the iPad Pro.
Apple also announced new teaching software for managing classwork, using cloud-based instruction, and managing devices in classrooms, to compete against the inroads Google has made into education (a field Apple dominated for years).
iOS 11 redesigned Control Center, which is the convenient location for controlling miscellaneous functions on an iPhone or iPad. You’ve probably used it to activate the flashlight feature in the dark, or to change the screen brightness or volume level. There’s a lot more to it, though.
To access Control Center, swipe up from the bottom of the screen on the iPad and most iPhone models. If you own an iPhone X, swipe down from the top-right edge of the screen; on the buttonless iPhone X, swiping from the bottom takes you to the Home screen.
A few controls should be familiar, such as for quickly launching the Calculator app or the Camera app.
Some controls do more than they appear. For instance, touch and hold (or force-press on an iPhone) the panel that includes the Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Cellular Data (depending on the device) buttons. The panel opens to reveal more options: on the iPhone, you also may see AirDrop and Personal Hotspot buttons. They also show their status: the Wi-Fi button tells you which network you’re connected to, which is helpful when you’re in an area with lots of overlapping networks.
Some controls work a bit different from in the past. Tapping the Wi-Fi button disconnects from the current network for a day, but does not turn off the Wi-Fi radio. For that you need to go to the Settings app.
Similarly, open the playback controls to reveal other audio sources, such as nearby Bluetooth headphones, Apple TV or HomePod. I use this all the time when I want to quickly switch to listening using my AirPods.
Opening the Flashlight button reveals the ability to change the light’s intensity, while pressing the Camera button gives you options to take a selfie, record video, record slow motion video or open in Portrait mode.
Did you know there are more options that aren’t initially visible?
Go to Settings > Control Center and tap Customize Controls to view all the options. Here are some that I’ve added and use:
• Home, which controls the HomeKit accessories I’ve marked as favorites in the Home app.
• Magnifier turns your device’s camera into a magnifying glass for when you need to look at something close up, like small-print restaurant menus.
• Apple TV Remote lets me control my Apple TV without having to locate the physical remote, and without having to launch the Apple TV Remote app.
• Screen Recording makes a movie of what’s happening on your device. Ever find that it’s easier to show someone how to do something on the iPhone than try to explain it to them via text or a phone call? Make a quick screen recording and send it to them.
Other options include quick access to the Wallet app items, a way to record voice memos, shortcuts for setting alarms and timers, a button for entering Low Power Mode and more.
It would be nice if Apple made these controls easier to discover, but now that you know them, you can save a little hassle in the future.