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Friday Report: June 26, 2020

It was a big week here at Take Control, and we have a lot to talk about. Let’s get right to it.

SummerFest 2020 Continues

We had a good first week of SummerFest 2020, which continues through July 8. You can save 30% on all full-price Take Control books using coupon code summerfest2020, and you can also save 25–30% on numerous other “artisanal” Mac apps, such as Nisus Writer Pro, Panorama X, PDFpenPro, and SpamSieve (all of which we use constantly here). I hope you’ll take advantage of these great deals!

WWDC Reactions

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference has been all over the news this week, with announcements of macOS 11 Big Sur; new versions of iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS; and of course the long-rumored transition to Apple’s own ARM-based microprocessors for Macs. As I watched the keynote and then dug into many of the details later, I made a list of all the Take Control titles that will have to be updated. And…jeepers! So far I’ve identified at least 23 books that will need updating to cover the new operating systems; these range from minor tweaks to full rewrites. But in fact, every one of our titles that covers the Mac in any way ought to be at least minimally refreshed with new screenshots and instructions. It’s a daunting prospect, to say the least.

To make matters more complicated, Apple was no more specific than usual about the timing of the new releases. They simply said “fall,” as they always do, so it’s unclear whether (as many have speculated) the pandemic-related shutdowns will result in any shipping delays. For Apple, “fall” is usually at the very early end of the season, but technically the software could ship on December 20 and still meet that deadline. However, in the absence of further data, we have to assume an earlier ship date and prepare accordingly.

Now that we have an approximate idea of the scope of what has to happen, it’s clear that we have to make some major changes to our publishing schedule. Several books that we were expecting to update this summer will have to be pushed to the fall, and other titles we usually do will have to be combined or dropped. I’m still talking over the details with a dozen authors, but the short version thus far is:

  • In the next couple of months, we’ll continue to release new and updated books content isn’t likely to be affected much by the fall OS updates. One of these will be Take Control of iCloud, Seventh Edition (by yours truly); there’ll also be Jeff Carlson’s Take Control of Your Digital Storage, Second Edition, a totally reworked version of Andy Affleck’s book on podcasting, the next quarterly update to my free DEVONthink book, and one or two other titles I can’t say more about yet.
  • This year, for the first time since 2003, I will not be writing a standalone Upgrading book! That’s right, there will be no Take Control of Upgrading to Big Sur. Instead, I’ll be writing Take Control of Big Sur, taking over the annual macOS title from Scholle McFarland, whose work obligations prevent her from writing a big book this summer. That book will incorporate a condensed and simplified version of my upgrading advice, however, so those who still feel they need careful, step-by-step instructions should find the information they need there.
  • In late summer, we expect to release early versions of Take Control of Big Sur and Take Control of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, with updates as needed when the final versions eventually ship.
  • I have told all the other authors that we would like to publish updates to their various titles as soon as possible. Because they are all freelancers, they’re in charge of their own schedules and I can’t make any specific guarantees as to timing. I would like to think that we’ll have at least a couple other updated books ready to go day-and-date with the fall operating system releases, and we’ll slot the rest into our schedule as soon as we can.
  • Time and resources permitting, after the books most urgently in need of updates are out, we’ll try to work through some of our older titles and refresh them to reflect the latest facts too.

In Other News

This week I was able to complete just four items on my Take Control to-do list, reducing the total from 107 to 103. Although any progress is better than none, I suspect that it will be slow going for a while as I race to get many books written and updated for the new operating systems. We also published minor updates to Take Control of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 and Take Control of Slack this week. Over the coming week, I hope to make much more progress on my iCloud update, fix a few more bugs, and get a reasonable start writing Take Control of Big Sur. As always, we welcome your feedback, comments, and questions.