Upgrade Season

As part of Apple’s September 9th media event, the company announced the release dates for iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 El Capitan. iOS was released on September 16th, and is a free upgrade for all supported iPhones and iPads. On September 30th, Apple released OS X 10.11, El Capitan. It too is a free on all supported Macs. Just head to the Mac App Store to download it. Now, lets talks about some of the new features you’ll find in El Capitan that make it worth installing.

Backup First

Over the years we, as technology consumers, have become more comfortable with the upgrade process. And thanks to features like iCloud Backup, we rarely, if ever, think of backing up our iDevices. Computer operating systems are more complex both in themselves and in the ecosystem in which they operate. Furthermore, Mac backups are not automatic unless you’re using Time Machine or a similar third party product. For this reason, before you upgrade to El Capitan, be sure to have a complete current backup of your system. First, there are two great products out there – SuperDuper! and Carbon Copy Cloner – that will make complete bootable copies of your hard drive before upgrading. Secondly, if you use any mission-critical software, check to see that it is compatible with El Capitan before proceeding. If you purchased the software from the Mac App Store, I would expect it to work without a problem. But, as the old adage goes, “Remember the 7 Ps.”

On To The Features

  1. Tightening the Nuts and Bolts – For iOS 7 two years ago and OS X 10.10 Yosemite last year, we got major interface changes. With iOS 8 and 9, Apple introduced a few new features, but focused a lot of attention on knocking out bugs. With El Capitan, Apple is tightening the nuts and bolts after major changes to Yosemite. For example, with its code optimization, you’ll see faster program launches and better battery life just by upgrading to the new system. Apple advertises apps launching up to 1.4x faster, and 2x faster switching between running apps.
  2. Spotlight – Although Apple hasn’t followed in the footsteps of Windows 10 and brought Siri to the desktop, it has done a great deal to improve Spotlight’s performance. You can now do weather, stocks, and web searches directly within Spotlight. You can also use “real world” word searches for things like “Documents I worked on yesterday,” to find the documents you edited yesterday.
  3. Notes App – This is old hat to those of you relying on Evernote or OneNote, but Apple has greatly improved the functions available in the Notes app shared between iDevices and Macs. It can now hold photos, checklists, different fonts – basically a whole new level of functionality for the free Notes app across all of Apples devices. The only caveat here is that you should upgrade both your iDevices to iOS 9 and your Macs to El Capitan to take full advantage of the new Notes app on both platforms.
  4. Security – The final feature I’ll mention today is that security has been dramatically improved in El Capitan. Apple has introduced two new technologies called App Transport Security and System Integrity Protection. App Transport Security is a tool developers can use to ensure that their apps make only secure, meaning “https”, connections to backend databases and web services. System Integrity Protection is a technology that prevents apps from inserting code at the “kernel” or base level of the system. This technology makes it much more difficult for a program you download from the web to make changes of which you’re unaware.

As I mentioned at the start of this article, both updates to iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 El Capitan are free. There’s no reason to avoid them and many reasons to upgrade to them. iOS 9 is already out and El Capitan should be out as of mid-day September 30. As always, backup you Mac before upgrading it. If you have questions about iOS 9 or El Capitan, or if you’d like advice on a good long-term backup strategy, please reach out to me at jschoenberger{-at-}@affinityconsulting.com or on Twitter @jrsch.