About the Author

Bradley Chambers


Bradley lives in Chattanooga, TN where he manages Apple devices for a private school.

Tips, feedback, corrections and questions can be sent to Bradley@9to5mac.com.

Bradley Chambers's Favorite Gear

January 20

One of the best parts of iMessage is its seamless integration with SMS. One of the worst parts about iMessage is its reliance on looking like SMS in an app. I still remember when iMessage originally launched in iOS 5. With an 80+ year-old office building, getting text messages was nearly impossible for me. When Apple launched iMessage, I was able to use Wi-Fi, it was a game changer for me. Over six years later, iMessage is mostly the same. It’s still heavily tied to the same app that uses SMS. While it’s added iMessage “apps”, it’s still largely the same app and service that Apple launched years ago. I’ve realized that out of my major frustrations with iMessage, how it handles notifications is at the top of the list. expand full story

January 19

Google Maps speed limits, speed camera alerts now rolling out widely on Android and iOS

After being in testing for over two years, Google has finally widely launched speed limits within Google Maps this week. Following a smaller rollout earlier this week, the feature is now rolling out on a much wider scale in regions around the globe.

One of the buzzwords that we’ve been hearing for years in the K–12 environment is iBeacons. Apple introduced iBeacons back in 2013, but to be honest, I’ve yet to see a killer use case in K–12. I’ve seen some discussion around the iBeacons used well in retail, hospitality, and sporting events, but even that hasn’t taken over the world. Wi-Fi vendors have been building in beacons into their access points for a couple of years now, and iOS devices have had the technology in it for multiple revision rounds, so I am left with the question: Where are the killer iBeacon use cases, and why aren’t we hearing more about them in real life deployments? This week, I’m looking at some potential ways that iBeacons can be used in K-12 environments. expand full story

January 13

I’ve written a lot about the podcast ecosystem on iOS. I think that Overcast is an absolute gem of an app. Castro is also a top-notch app as well. I manage a few podcasts for some clients of mine, and I know that despite the incredible third-party podcast apps, Apple Podcasts is podcasting to the vast majority of people out there. That withstanding, the Apple Podcast app isn’t perfect, but it’s come a long way from version 1 many years ago (the tape player UI). While Apple Podcasts doesn’t need to offer the exact same features as other apps, its development does help drive the industry forward. Here are four new features I’d love to see in Apple Podcasts in iOS 13. expand full story

January 12

At the beginning of every school year, each person on our staff has to put together three personal goals for the year. The goals need to be a way for you to stretch yourself professionally and accomplish certain tasks. One of the projects I put on my goals for this year was to overhaul our classroom AV setup. Right now, teachers have projectors on portable carts. Our building is 80+ years old (full of concrete), so running ceiling mounted projectors is a labor-intensive project as additional power outlets need to be installed for each classroom. I also then have to consider the cost of projector maintenance, running AV cables back to the proper location, and difficulty of upgrades in the future.

I know some schools have been using Apple TVs, but I’ve been hesitant because it always felt like complete overkill because we’d just use it for AirPlay functionality in the classroom. When you figure in the cost of an Apple TV ($149), it adds significant cost to the overall setup. Now, after reading the Apple news from CES, my plans for the future have changed. expand full story

January 6

As I wrote last week, I believe that Apple exited the home Wi-Fi market at precisely the wrong time. Back in 2004, I worked for a company that was trying to get into the home integration/home automation market. At the time, everything was extremely complicated. All of the products were expensive, everything was complicated to set up, and it wasn’t set up well for future growth.

Fast forward to 2019, and things have changed a lot. Between Amazon Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Assistant, it couldn’t be easier to build a smart home that’s easy to manage, easy to interact with, and easy to upgrade in the future. The topic I want to look at today is whether or not Apple is doing a good job at managing and marketing its HomeKit platform, how its Home strategy is working, and the risks for the future. expand full story

January 5

Starting on Monday, I kick off year two of teaching Swift Playgrounds at my school. I teach this class once a year (for a quarter) to our 4th and 5th-grade students. Last year, I started with Learn to Code 1, and I had hoped to get to Learn to Code 2 by the end of the quarter, and then move on to Learn to Code 3 this year. I wrote about my experiences in year one in an article in May so you may want to read that as well. In short, the learning curve for students ramps up very quickly in Learn to Code 1. Follow along for the changes I’ll be making for my second year of teaching Swift Playgrounds and what I think Apple could do to improve the program. expand full story

December 30, 2018

One of the more interesting news items of 2018 was Apple discontinuing the AirPort lineup. From the first Airport product to the last final AirPort Extreme, Apple was selling premium Wi-Fi hardware devices at a time when most people I knew were content with a $30 router from Walmart. Since they released their final AirPort product, the market has finally shifted up.

As end-users are starting to load their home networks with more than a single laptop and a few smartphones, people have realized that having a high-quality router (with whole house coverage) is not a luxury. If you want to load your house up with smart home products, multiple iOS devices, Apple TVs, etc., you have to invest in the infrastructure. Plain and simple, Apple exited the home networking business at the exact wrong time.

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December 29, 2018

As I touched on previously, the concept of a device supporting dual iCloud accounts on iOS is something I had not thought of until recently, but I do think it’s something enterprise customers would like to see from Apple. One of the benefits of iCloud is how heavily it’s tied into Apple’s iOS devices, but for enterprise and education customers, this means they won’t usually be able to use their device for anything personal. This week, I want to look at this in depth and discuss why Apple should offer a “dual iCloud account” setup for managed devices. expand full story

December 23, 2018

Screen Time was one of the key features in iOS 12, and it does seem like something Apple is committed to as a focus of iOS going forward. Kids love their iOS devices, so it makes sense for Apple to continue to enhance ways to help parents going forward.

We recently learned that Apple has been cracking down on third-party apps that provide parental controls, so it got me thinking about how Screen Time could be enhanced to give parents greater control with iOS. Here are some ideas I came up with for Screen Time upgrades in iOS 13. If you have any more, please leave them in the comments. expand full story

December 22, 2018

Even though my school mainly uses iPads, we still have a suite of ChromeOS devices in our library. There are 10 Chromebases (the iMac version) for students to use, and then we have a Chromebox for our librarian to use to check books in and out (she has a MacBook Air as well). We’ve had this computer in there for the past four years, and I have not touched it since it was installed. ChromeOS auto updates, it’s easy to manage remotely (not that I did much), and never once gave us a problem. Last week, it started shutting down randomly on us, so I decided it was time to replace it. I got on Amazon, found a similar model, and I ordered it. I then emailed one of my vendors so I could add the management license to it.

The process of replacing the machine was a breeze. I unplugged the old one, plugged in the new one, enrolled it in our management system by logging into a managed account, and then it restored everything like it was before. If anything, Google has nailed the web terminal experience. If you need a device to access your current web apps inexpensively, you’d be hard pressed to find a better machine. A lot of schools are pondering iPad vs Chromebook for upcoming technology refreshes, so I have been thinking about what the next decade of computing in enterprise/education looks like. expand full story

December 17, 2018

Google made it harder to analyze Russian interference in US presidential election, says Senate report

A report prepared for the Senate on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election says that the way in which Google complied with requests for information made it harder to analyze the role played by YouTube …

December 16, 2018

This article is meant to serve as the most up to date guide to backing up your Mac. Unlike iOS, there is no built-in cloud backup feature that will cover everything on your device to an offsite server. I am often asked by friends and family about backups, so I wanted a way to just send a simple article they can follow.

If you are hesitant to pay for anything, think of it like this: If your hard drive crashed, and I offered to restore everything for less than a meal at a restaurant, you’d take me up on it. Even in the age of flash storage and SSDs, failures still happen. Don’t forget about data losses due to theft, fire, and accidental damage (spilled drinks, drops, etc.). The most important thing I can communicate is you need to act like all of your devices have a chance of breaking tomorrow, and you need to be prepared. Here’s my guide on how to back up your Mac:

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December 15, 2018

As we head into the new year, I’ve been pondering ways Apple could improve macOS and iOS deployments in my school. Back in October, I wrote about the fact that Google was soon to be adding an LDAP feature to its G-Suite product. At the time, we didn’t know how the pricing would end up for K–12, but in the weeks since, we’ve learned that it’s free. In case you aren’t aware of what LDAP is, it’s a way for applications to lookup to another directory for populating user accounts in another. It keeps IT departments (and users) from maintaining multiple user buckets.

How does this impact Apple? Well, they’ve taken a different approach when it comes to populating data. For K–12 districts, they’ve started offering student information system (SIS) sync. They only support a few at this time, though. While Apple’s approach is a modern take on this problem (LDAP is legacy technology), I don’t think they’ve gotten all the way there yet.

About Making The Grade: Every Saturday, Bradley Chambers publishes a new article about Apple in education. He 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. expand full story

December 9, 2018

As I have done over the past few weeks, I am finishing up 2018 by looking at Apple’s various product lines to see how far they have come, where they are at, and where we hope they go in the future. As we think back to the Series 0 Apple Watch (released in 2015), it’s tough to believe how far the Apple Watch has come in just a few short years. The Series 4 Apple Watch was released a few months back, and by all counts, it’s the best Apple Watch ever released (if not the best wearable as well). expand full story

December 8, 2018

It’s getting to the end of 2018, and I am excited looking ahead to 2019. This point in the year is when I start thinking forward to what the next round of iOS updates will bring to my day job and my computing life. I am likely looking at purchasing 250 of whatever non-pro iPad Apple releases in the spring, so I am starting to consider what software these devices will be running soon after school starts. Based on rumors we’ve heard for a while, iOS 13 looks to be an “iPad focused” release, so I am expecting big things. When I think about my current challenges with iOS and iOS device management, here are some items on my iOS 13 wishlist. expand full story

December 4, 2018

The Christmas season is upon us, and everyone that I know is out trying to cross people off their gift buying list. Being an IT Director in my day job, there are always IT related items that I like to ask for every year. From extra dongles, new network testing tools, to the latest training manuals, here are gifts for IT professionals that I can recommend. expand full story

December 2, 2018

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been writing a few articles looking at what areas I think Apple is doing well and struggling with its various product lines. I looked at the state of the iPad and the state of the Apple TV. This week, I want to look at the state of the Mac as we quickly head to the end of the year. What’s the best Mac laptop to buy? What’s the worst Mac to buy? What do we hope for heading into 2019? These are all questions I aim to answer as I look at the state of the Mac in 2018. expand full story

December 1, 2018

For the most part, the K–12 technology market has revolved around Apple, Google, and Microsoft. One of the major players that has been non-existent is Amazon. While it does have its Whispercast service, I haven’t heard much about it in years. This week, I want to look what might happen if Amazon focused on education.

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November 25, 2018

A few days ago, Apple released a new ad for the iPad Pro that gives five reasons it can be ‘your next computer.’ While I thought the ad was well done, I did come away from it frustrated. While I’ve been a big proponent of the iPad for a long time (I’ve bought 500+ iPads over the past eight years), I think the video shows serious flaws with Apple’s mindset at the moment. And I’ve been thinking, is the iPad Pro worth the money? expand full story

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