Say hi to High Sierra!

Say hi to High Sierra!

Apple’s latest update to macOS is here! From now on when you buy a snazzy new Mac, it will come pre-installed with High Sierra, packed full of great new features and updates.

High Sierra is feature-rich and provides loads of great enhancements. From added GPU capabilities like machine learning, virtual reality, and external GPU support, to a more expressive Siri, the new macOS is the best yet.

New features

Apple File System (APFS)

One of High Sierra’s great new features is that it comes with Apple’s new, modern file system, APFS (Apple File System). Optimised for all‑flash internal storage and with an advanced architecture, it brings a new level of security and responsiveness to managing your data.

High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC)

Up to 40% better compression than before, the new industry-standard for 4K video is now available on your Mac. Your videos will stream better and take up less space on your Mac, but you maintain the same great visual quality.

Metal 2 graphics

Metal 2 is a technology built into macOS that lets you access the full power of your Mac’s GPU. For High Sierra, Metal 2 not only takes the visual experience to the next level, but also adds capabilities like machine learning, virtual reality, and external GPU support for entertainment and professional creative apps.

Photos

High Sierra makes your growing library more organised and accessible, with intuitive editing tools to help you perfect your images. Filter your photo collections by your favourite criteria, find what you’re looking for quickly and easily with the always-on sidebar, and fine tune your photos with powerful tools like Curves for contrast and colour adjustments, and Selective Colour to make colours more saturated.

Intelligent tracking prevention

Safari now uses machine learning to identify advertisers and others who track your online behavior, and removes tracking data they leave behind – so you can browse in peace without seeing that same ad pop up again and again.

Siri

Siri gets a more expressive makeover with a more natural voice, and more changes in expression, intonation, and emphasis based on what it’s saying. It can also learn your music preferences to make suggestions, or play you something to suit your mood.

 

Upgrading to High Sierra

High Sierra’s powerful new features may make you want to dive right in, but let’s back up a moment. Before you rush into upgrading your business to the new macOS, there are a few things to consider.

You may already be aware of some of the challenges your business might face in upgrading to a new OS – needing to control who upgrades when, and ensuring as little downtime as possible. With High Sierra, you’ll also need to consider the impact of the APFS on a mixed Mac estate. While you’d still be able to share files between new and old Macs switching to SMB, AFP won’t be able to share files with the new APFS. This could cause issues if you have different team members using different OS.

You’ll also need to consider imaging, as you may find yourself needing to move DEP workflows or purchase mobile device management (MDM) software to push out images across multiple machines. Finally, before you upgrade your entire estate to High Sierra, you’ll need to ensure that your current infrastructure is supported. If you try to use a monolithic system image, required firmware updates will be missing from the installation. This causes the Mac to operate in an unsupported and unstable state.

To help you get your head around this, Apple have published a Preparing for macOS High Sierra document, which you can download here.

We can also support you in your transition to Apple’s new macOS. If you’d like an audit on your existing estate, we can help you work out how best to transition seamlessly with minimal downtime. Plus, we’ll train your IT staff at the same time on how best to utilise all the new features!

Get in touch with the team on 03332 409 306 or by emailing solutions@Jigsaw24.com to speak to one of our consultants. You can stay up to date with all the latest from Apple by following us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24 or by liking us on Facebook.

 

WWDC 2017: All the news and releases recapped

WWDC 2017: All the news and releases recapped

Apple’s annual bash for developers usually delivers a few key software releases, but this year we have a bumper crop, with new iMac, a refreshed notebook lineup and updates to every OS Apple are currently running. Oh, and of course the new HomePod smart speaker system. Let’s start with the hardware…

iMac

With Mac Pro undergoing a complete overhaul after 2013’s redesign, creative professionals have been turning to top spec iMac models to support demanding work. Apple seem to officially acknowledge this with the 2017 iMac models, which boast all-new speedy Kaby Lake processors, boosted graphics (the entry level gets Iris Plus 640, up to 80% faster, the 21” models get Radeon Pro 555 and 560 with 4GB VRAM, up to 3x faster, and the 27” iMac gets Radeon Pro 570, 575 or 580, with 4GB VRAM).

Apple have said the display on the new iMacs is also the best ever on a Mac, 43% brighter with 500 nits and 10-bit dithering which basically boils down to them looking really, really good.

We also got a sneak peek at a brand new iMac Pro, due to ship in December. This new version is going to be a great prospect for video editing, as well as VR content creation, with workstation class performance, new fan architecture, 80% better cooling and quiet operation. Apple announced it would come with an 8 Core Xeon processor, upgradable all the way up to an insane 18 Cores, with Radeon Vega graphics, 16GB VRAM and 11 teraflops. iMac Pro will also come with up to 128GB ECC memory (more than twice that of current iMacs), up to 40TB storage, built-in 10Gb Ethernet and four Thunderbolt ports. Most importantly, it’ll be the first iMac to come in a fetching space grey.

Mac notebooks

In terms of notebooks, there wasn’t anything Earth-shattering to report – MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro all get a bump up to new Kaby Lake processors, as expected, and Apple announced they would also receive faster storage and graphics. They’re also dropping the price of the entry level models.

iPad Pro

iPad users will now have a third size option to choose from: the 10.5″ iPad Pro. Apple are putting that extra screen space to good use, giving you a full size onscreen keyboard with support for more than 30 languages. But don’t worry about it getting unwieldy – despite being 20% larger that the 9.7” iPad, it still only weighs a pound.

The new 10’5” iPad Pro and the updated 12.9” model both sport a speedy A10X Fusion chip powering a six-core CPU, which gives you 30% faster CPU performance and 40% faster graphics performance than the previous generation A9X chip. The two leading iPad models have also gotten new screens capable of a 120Hz refresh rate, which combines with a new Pencil to deliver the most responsive iPad Pro performance ever, with just 20 milliseconds latency.

To save you battery life (iPad Pro can still clock up to ten hours on a single charge), the refresh rate is intelligently adjusted based on what you’re doing. If you’re viewing stills, it’ll drop down to the standard 24Hz, play back movies at 48Hz, and then move in to high gear so you can deal with interactive content at 120Hz.

watchOS 4

Good news for anyone rocking an Apple Watch, as watchOS got an update to version 4. Apple showed off new Faces, powered by Siri, which are designed to use machine learning to always display the most relevant information to you and dynamically update the display. Activity and Workout get new features which will appeal to all sports and gym bunnies, but we were most excited by the colourful Kaleidoscope display feature and, oh yes, animated Toy Story characters. They’ve got a friend in us.

tvOS

Apple TV fans rejoice: Amazon Prime Video is coming to tvOS, making it much easier to binge boxsets of the Man In the High Castle and Transparent.

You can visit our Apple store here. If you want to know more, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Jigsaw24 webinar: Deploying and managing your Apple devices

Jigsaw24 webinar: Deploying and managing your Apple devices

This webinar goes over a few of the features and technologies Apple make available to enable us to deploy and manage devices in our environments – whether it’s ten devices or 5000! We cover a few of these technologies such as Apple’s Device Enrolment Programme (DEP), why you should be using them, and how you can take advantage of them. We show how you can make the end user experience as positive as possible, how we can get devices into users’ hands, and how we can manage them in a modern environment.

Want to know more about iPad deployment and MDM? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email solutions@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Preparing for APFS

Preparing for APFS

At last year’s WWDC Apple announced that their new file system, APFS, would be replacing the age-old HFS+, which has underpinned their file system since 1998. It came to mobile devices with iOS 10.3, and is expected to make the jump to macOS at June’s WWDC event. So, with the mooted release date looming, how should companies be preparing for APFS? What considerations do you need to take into account? 

Key considerations

Data loss A developer beta has been available for a while now, and from what we’ve heard transitions have gone smoothly – Apple say they’ve built the system to avoid all data loss. However, being the cautious types we are, we can’t help but think a bit of pre-rollout preparation is for the best, especially if you’re in an enterprise environment.

Awareness of the impact on mixed estates and corporate services If your estate isn’t standardised, you’ll be handling a mixture of older machines using HFS+ and newer ones using APFS, and will need to offer parity access to corporate services (printers, files shares etc). Do you have the tools to inventory your estate and identify potential pitfalls?

Imaging strategy Consider what impact the change may have on the way you approach disc imaging.

Missed the announcement? Here are the key features of APFS.

Protect against data loss

APFS has been engineered to fit neatly into the gaps in HFS+, meaning the chance of data loss is minimal. However, we can’t in good conscience tell you to perform a cross-office upgrade without backing up your own data and ensuring end users do the same with their endpoint devices. Ideally, perform an automated backup across all the devices under your command yourself – asking end users to back up manually rarely gets the desired result, and even if some users oblige you, there are roadblocks such as the photo storage limit that’s imposed on the free version of iCloud, which might prevent some users backing up all their files.

We’d recommend doing an automated backup across all the devices you manage, and keeping at least one copy internally and one copy at an external site – you might want to rent some hosted cloud storage for the switchover period, as this is a really easy way to ensure you have secure, offsite backup without massively impacting your budget.

If you don’t have an automated backup solution already in place, take a look at Archiware P5, or Acronis Backup Advanced. We can also offer Backup24, our own hosted cloud backup solution, in which your data is held in our secure, UK-based data centre, and can be accessed at any time without any retrieval fees.

Know what you’ll need to standardise, and check access to services

Macs running anything earlier than OS X Yosemite won’t be able to read APFS volumes. Any Macs that you buy after the next macOS release will arrive with APFS as their native file system. To avoid problems, you need to inventory your devices and work out which bits of your estate are running OS X Yosemite or earlier and then, where possible, update them so that they’re running the latest OS (here are the minimum requirements for upgrading to Sierra). You’ll also need to root out any devices which are not 64-bit.

You can share APFS volumes over SMB or NFS, but not using AFP, which has led to widespread speculation that Apple will be phasing this out soon. If you’re currently making use of AFP to give your Mac users access to print servers and the like, the move to a later OS should also help you move them over to SMB, which is far better supported in more recent OS releases.

So how do you manage this auditing process and switchover? Well, the number of dedicated Mac management solutions is on the rise, and many of them offer auditing and inventory tools that you can use to roadmap which parts of your estate need changing and when. We recommend Jamf Pro in most instances (we’re so keen on this one we can offer it as a managed, hosted service if you’d rather not take on MDM in house), but AirWatch is another popular solution that’ll serve you well if you’re in a mixed Android/iOS environment.

Want to know more about inventorying your estate? Take a look at our whitepapers here.

Changes to standard imaging practices

APFS is likely to have an impact on some of the traditional forms of disk imaging used in the deployment of new devices. Your current process might involve building a Mac with the desired OS, software and configuration settings, then creating a disk image that contains the content of that Mac’s boot drive, and then applying this to multiple other Macs.

However, Apple seem to want you to invest in MDM (we can’t argue with this) and then use DEP to facilitate zero touch device enrolment as an alternative to imaging.

Doing some research into the best MDM solution for your business and getting your team skilled up on DEP both seem like good ideas at this point – get in touch with our team on the details below to find our how to get started.

Want to know more about achieving zero touch deployment? Take a look at our whitepapers here.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email services@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

What the new Apple File System (APFS) means for imaging

What the new Apple File System (APFS) means for imaging

The new Apple File System (APFS) looks set to revolutionise everything including imaging, backup, OS upgrades and security. And with iOS 10.3 the first OS to adopt the new Apple File System (APFS), developers and systems engineers all over are getting very excited.

The old HFS+ file system has been at the heart of Apple’s ecosystem for donkeys’ years (since 1998 to be precise), back when floppy disks were a primary means of storage, rather than just a smart-looking save symbol. So in an age when people now store hundreds of gigabytes and access millions of files on high-speed, low-latency flash drives, it was definitely time for a refresh.

Step in Apple File System, a new 64-bit file system supporting over 9 quintillion files on a single volume. Apple have developed APFS to replace all their variants of HFS+ for various different products, as one system that will scale across all of Apple’s operating systems including macOS, iOS, watchOS and tvOS. APFS is optimised for Flash/SSD storage and features strong encryption, copy-on-write metadata, space sharing, cloning for files and directories, snapshots, fast directory sizing, atomic safe-save primitives, and improved file system fundamentals.

As well as Flash/SSD storage, APFS can also be used with traditional hard disk drives (HDD) and external, direct-attached storage. You can share APFS-formatted volumes using the SMB or NFS network file-sharing protocol, but interestingly you cannot share APFS-formatted volumes using AFP.

With the AFP protocol not being supported, there are whispers that it may finally be dead, putting a shelf life on certain third-party applications too. It also may potentially be killed off in macOS sever, meaning they might not develop the client further. Interesting times for the future of security and imaging, with many tech soothsayers proclaiming that APFS will mark the end of disk imaging on Macs, with the focus shifted to DEP and MDM. All eyes on Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2017 in June for more from Apple on this then…

Upgrading to Apple File System

Apple will offer non-destructive in-place upgrades from HFS+ to APFS for all boot volumes when Apple File System ships in 2017. Tools will be available to convert external volumes from HFS+ to APFS format. And while you can use Disk Utility to erase an APFS-formatted volume and reformat as HFS+, your data will not be preserved.

– A Developer Preview of Apple File System is available in macOS Sierra, and Apple are planning to release Apple File System as a bootable file system in 2017.

Want to know more about Apple and managed devices? Give us a call on 03332 409 306, email sales@Jigsaw24.com or pop your details in the form below. For all the latest news and reviews, follow us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24 and ‘like’ us on Facebook.

How to upgrade your Mac to macOS High Sierra

How to upgrade your Mac to macOS High Sierra

Making sure your Mac end users are all on the same operating system is important. Not only does it mean everyone has access to the same great new macOS features, but some software only runs on certain versions of the OS, so what you don’t want is different people with different software versions, making files incompatable.

And while brand new Mac computers will ship with the latest version of macOS pre-installed, if you’re using older machines, and want the latest iteration of Apple’s operating system, you’ll need to upgrade. So here’s a quick step-by-step guide to upgrading individual Macs to macOS High Sierra, if they’re not already managed in a device management solution.

macOS High Sierra requirements

First thing’s first, you’ll need to know whether your Mac can actually support the latest version of macOS (but don’t worry, we can tell you this!), as not all older hardware and operating systems do. Apple advise you’ll also need at least 2GB of RAM and 14.3GB of free storage space to install macOS Sierra, although we would recommend much higher than 2GB RAM – at least 4GB but ideally 8GB.

To find out what model your Mac is, plus your memory, storage, and version of OS X, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu (). Supported Mac models are iMac (Late 2009 or newer), MacBook (Late 2009 or newer), MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 or newer), MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer), Mac mini (Mid 2010 or newer) and Mac Pro (Mid 2010 or newer).

Installing macOS High Sierra

You can download the new upgrade from the High Sierra page on the Mac App Store. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Back up your Mac. Whether it’s to Time Machine, a NAS, or enterprise cloud storage, backing up your machine before you install any upgrades is always good practice.

2. Open the Mac App Store app on your Mac from the Applications folder, Launchpad, Spotlight or the Apple menu ().

3. If macOS High Sierra doesn’t show automatically, search the App Store for macOS High Sierra, or go directly to the macOS High Sierra page.

4. Click the Download button on the macOS High Sierra page. A file named Install macOS High Sierra downloads to your Applications folder or Launchpad, depending on what your current OS is.

5. After it’s finished downloading, Install macOS High Sierra opens automatically. Click Continue and follow the onscreen instructions.

Upgrading managed devices

If you’re already using a device management solution, you’re already applying settings, permissions and packages to new devices as soon as they’re turned on. That means the minute a new user logs in, their device starts loading the software you want them to have, and you have clear visibility over any changes. You’re then able to roll out operating system updates to all your end users’ devices at once at a strategic time (after you’ve tested them for compatibility with your core business software, of course) without even touching them.

Want to know more about Apple and managed devices? Give us a call on 03332 409 306, email sales@Jigsaw24.com or pop your details in the form below. For all the latest news and reviews, follow us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24 and ‘like’ us on Facebook.

 

Need tech training on Mac? Our macOS Core Essentials course is for you

Need tech training on Mac? Our macOS Core Essentials course is for you

If you’re deploying Mac in your business, but your tech team are more Windows whizzes than Mac management maestros, it always helps to get a bit of guidance on how the new system differs, in the form of technical training. 

So we’ve developed our macOS Core Essentials training course just for that. Run by our friendly systems engineers, who have bags of real world experience managing Mac in business environments of various size, it’s the ideal way to make sure your tech team understand the core functionality behind macOS, how best to manage it, and how it compares to similar Windows environments, so your business can get the most from your system.

Who’s it for? Our macOS Core Essentials training is for helpdesk teams, technical co-ordinators, service techs, ICT technicians etc who are deploying macOS for the first time. It’s designed to help technicians who are familiar with Windows systems to master the key functionality of macOS and understand Apple’s technical terminology where it differs from Windows standards.

What does it include? The training will include demos of Apple hardware and software, plus a deep dive look at supporting macOS devices delivered by a senior systems engineer from Jigsaw24. If you’re managing your Apple devices using Jamf Pro, we can also provide an overview of how these will work to manage your devices, and what you need to know to get devices profiled, managed and working with your other internal systems.

As well as being accredited by Apple, our engineers have practical experience designing and supporting mixed platform enterprise environments, so can advise on how to address real world issues you’re likely to find in your environment. You can see the full course curriculum here.

Who’s running it? It’s all delivered by our senior systems engineers. As well as being accredited by Apple, our engineers have practical experience designing and supporting mixed platform enterprise environments, so can advise on how to address real world issues you’re likely to find in your environment.

Where does it happen? This is an all day session, and can be held at our Nottingham or London offices (where we’ll provide lunch), or at your place (in which case you’ll need to bring sandwiches).

How much does it cost? £350 per person (minimum booking three people).

– Want to book your team onto our macOS Core Essentials training course? Get in touch on the details below… 

Want to know more about our Apple training? Get in touch with the team on 03332 409 306 or email solutions@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.