Making The Grade: Making sense of Apple’s current MacBook line for education

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Making The Grade is a new weekly series from Bradley Chambers covering Apple in education. Bradley has been managing Apple devices in an education environment since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing 100s of Macs and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple’s products work at scale, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for students.


There’s been a lot of discussion in the Apple community lately about MacBook Pro vs. MacBook Air vs. MacBook. Each laptop has its pros and cons, but I want to consider which one makes the most sense in education.

I had to do this process two years ago when I was planning our technology refresh at our school. I came up with a list of guidelines that I considered to be important, and then let those guidelines help me determine what laptop was best for us.

  1. Compatibility with existing hardware (projectors, TVs, etc.)
  2. The maturity of hardware (for reliability)
  3. Price vs. function

While that may seem like a straightforward list, it contains some critical decisions that can impact the overall price significantly. When buying more than a couple of laptops, small equipment decisions can add tens of thousands of dollars to your quote.

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9to5Mac

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Siri’s Creator Comments on the Current State of Apple’s Digital Personal Assistant

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Back in 2011, before Apple unveiled Siri to the world, speculation was rampant that Apple’s new “assistant feature” would be “world changing”. Continue reading
iPhone Hacks | #1 iPhone, iPad, iOS Blog
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How to quickly share your current location on iPhone

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There are lots of scenarios where you might want to quickly share your location with a friend or family member. Many people are probably aware of how to do this via Apple or Google Maps, but there is a slick shortcut built right into iOS for this feature.

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9to5Mac

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How to save up to $250 on Apple’s current 13″ MacBook Pro with coupon and instant savings, plus no tax outside NY & NJ and 0% financing

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

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Readers this week can snap up the lowest prices available on Apple’s Mid 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro, from standard models all the way up to maxed out CTO systems. Save up to $ 250 with exclusive coupon savings and/or instant cash rebates — all with no sales tax outside NY and NJ, as well as no interest financing on approved credit.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

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Android P feature spotlight: Ambient Display shows current battery percentage and centers notifications

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The Ambient Display feature in stock Android usually receives a change or two with every new major update, and Android P is no exception. Last year, there was a major push for Google to add the current battery percentage to the Ambient Display, and the feature request currently has nearly 4,000 stars on Google’s issue tracker.

At long last, the battery percentage has finally made it to the Ambient Display, as part of Android P.

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Android P feature spotlight: Ambient Display shows current battery percentage and centers notifications was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Jailbreak update: a summary of current tools

In times gone by, jailbreaks would come in the form of one tool per firmware range. Whoever got there first would release, and that release would be the standard. As we’ve moved from secret tools to public exploits, developers are free to seize upon vulnerabilities as they become public and try to make a jailbreak out of them, resulting in multiple tools for the same firmware. These tools often have different advantages and limitations, and can become hard to differentiate. In this article, we’ll do our best to summarise the current tools, as well as how they differ from the rest…. Read the rest of this post here


Jailbreak update: a summary of current tools” is an article by iDownloadBlog.com.
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Latest supply chain rumor suggests Apple could continue to sell current iPhone X model into 2019

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Rumors from Apple suppliers are now at odds with one another, as a new report contradicts earlier claims that the current iPhone X would be completely replaced by a new model later this year. Instead, it is suggested that Apple could stick with its usual strategy of continuing to sell previous year’s models.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

How to buy Bitcoin, Ethereum at their current lows on your iPhone with Coinbase

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Cryptocurrency volatility has generated sensationalized headlines over the past year, with cyclical valuation drops and surges that make even Apple’s stock price look relaxed in comparison. Here’s a look at how cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum’s "Ether" work, and how you can get involved in trading them at their current lows with Coinbase, a popular and easy-to-use iOS app.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

Multiplatform MMO ‘Albion Online’ Gets iPhone Support in Current Mobile Beta, Might Require Devices with 3 GB of RAM

Albion Online for mobile officially started their beta test on November 23rd. It’s been a long road to mobile for Sandbox Interactive. As with any MMO, there have been plenty of changes, both within the PC version of the game and also on their plans for mobile. Initially it was stated that Albion Online would only be coming to tablets due to the way the smaller screens of iPhones impacted the UI. Now it seems the beta is open to any iOS device with at least 2 GB of RAM, however it seems end-state plans are still unclear.

Sandbox Interactive has said that they are allocating “significant resources” towards the task of getting the end state game to run reliably on 2 GB devices but, at this point are unsure if they will be successful as currently the game seems to crash randomly on anything less than 3 GB. 3 GB devices will almost certainly be supported according to Sandbox Interactive.

Having been in the beta since day one on my iPhone X, I’ve had only a few minor freezes and stutters but nothing game-breaking. Wednesday the beta was updated for iPhone X compatibility which has made it significantly easier to maneuver through the games somewhat complex UI, though it still seems the UI isn’t entirely tweaked for the X with some of the buttons being slightly cut off in the corners but still tappable. Before the compatibility update, the screen size was essentially the same as the iPhone 8 with a 4.7 inch screen, which Sandbox lists as “Not Recommended” on their website.

It’s worth mentioning that I don’t recommend it myself. While the game functioned fine from a technical perspective, I fat-fingered every single window close button I tried to tap at least two or three times; on a screen that size, the tiny little X in the top right corner of menus is so tiny, it requires sheer luck to actually tap it. Moving around the environment is no problem at all. The game uses a tap to move system which isn’t hindered much by smaller screens. Combat and resource gathering also worked fine. But navigating the UI is cumbersome at best on 4.7 inch screens, and while it was nice to be able to play the game, the UI was infuriating at every turn.

The 5.8 inch screen of the iPhone X provides much more real-estate to navigate the UI and while some windows still took a couple tries to close, I wasn’t furiously tapping things until something happened like I was before the update. Reading menus is much less of a problem now also. Before I had to move my phone comically close to my face to be able to read some text. It seems like very little in the way of UI optimization has been done for mobile, as everything at this point seems nearly identical to the PC version of the game, right down to settings options that do absolutely nothing on mobile.

I would love to see the UI become even more optimized for mobile in the end-state, it seems having smaller windows for certain menus so you can still see the world around you gives very little benefit on mobile, though I haven’t tried the game on an iPad.

It still remains unclear why Sandbox Interactive decided to support iPhones in the beta. But with games like Runescape coming to mobile in 2018, it seems like the right decision, and I can personally say that having such a great MMO in my pocket feels like something special and definitely compliments my lifestyle. If you’re interested in testing out the beta for yourself, head on over to their website and join in on the fun. Also be sure to check out the forum thread and join the discussion there too.

TouchArcade