Good Reads for December, 2019

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of loosely lyrical, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes these will be things that you may have already seen, pieces a few months late because I took a longer break over the holiday period than I originally intended to, but eventually, I’ll realise that I kinda miss writing about about cool, good, interesting things to do with Apple, causing a small period of catch-up while I post about things from months gone by that I still think are worthy of your time and attention. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • December was the month Apple’s much-anticipated Mac Pro finally became available to the masses, and naturally, there was a lot of conversation about exactly what kind of a computer it was. We’ll get to all of that in a sec, but one of the more interesting aspects of the 2019 Mac Pro — if you’ll excuse Apple for re-hashing concepts originally introduced with the PowerMac G5 cheese grater, back in the day — is how it keeps all of its high-performing (and therefore, high heat-generating) components cool, while adhering to its standards on noise. Front-to-back airflow might not be strictly new in and of itself, but as Alexander George of Popular Mechanics tells us in his breakdown of the thermodynamics of the new Mac Pro, Apple’s doing a little more than that.

Ideally, anyone who uses a Pro won’t even be aware of the fans’ presence. But it’s impossible to ignore the aluminum case, with those grids of precision divots covering the front and back of the Pro’s exterior and the rear of the Pro Display. That pattern is an ornate example of a passive cooling. That’s where you take a hot component, like a motorcycle engine’s combustion chamber, and attach metal protrusions that absorbs heat and then dissipates it. The more surface area the metal can expose to the air circulating around it, the better.

Continue reading

Good Reads for November, 2019

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of kindly knitted, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes, these will be interviews with Apple execs about what it’s like to face and respond to what seems like years-long widespread criticism of one aspect of Apple laptops, thoughtful reasonings behind some of the slightly more baffling decisions Apple seems to make, or simply highlights of the best of Apple Arcade. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • Apple may have quietly released the 16-inch MacBook Pro in mid-November, but it made a big splash. Mostly because it came with a different keyboard than the divisive — but anecdotally unreliable — Butterfly-style keyboard found on every post-2015 MacBook Pro and every Mac laptop today. Of course, Apple being Apple, it wasn’t enough to merely switch to the old keyboard design, they also made a number of other changes to the keyboard: a real escape key, better key spacing, more thoughtfully positioned Touch Bar, and separate Touch ID. IFixit called it a throwback to a time when Mac laptop keyboards were good, then gave us plenty of details about what changed in their teardown.

The new Magic Keyboard in the 16-inch MacBook Pro uses a scissor switch that looks almost identical to the switches in the desktop Magic Keyboard, and MacBooks sold before the butterfly blunder. The switch is two plastic pieces, crossed, with a pivot in the middle to control key movement. It’s more robust than butterfly switches, and there’s more space to tolerate debris within its movements. This is backed up by the lack of a membrane around the keys, and the lack of an extended warranty (so far) on this keyboard. Apple seems confident about durability (or noise levels, perhaps).

Continue reading

Good Reads for October, 2019

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of jokingly juxtaposed, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes these will be timelines of Apple service launches, reasonable explanations of recent Apple software quality issues, or deep-dives on all the ways the camera in the latest iPhone is the best one ever. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • It feels like we’ve been talking about Apple’s streaming video service for so long, and this weekend, all of the rumours finally came to a head as Apple finally launched Apple TV+. There are now a few dozen episodes of a handful of TV shows available to watch, stream, and download, all of which represent Apple’s first foray into the world of original programming. Reviews are mixed, but it’s early days yet for something that’s been years in the making. The Hollywood Reporter takes us a look at the long, bumpy road to Apple becoming a content creator in its own right.

Apple executives have acknowledged entertainment isn’t their expertise. "We don’t know anything about making television," senior vp software and service Eddy Cue, the architect of the company’s TV+ strategy, told audiences at South by Southwest in 2018. "We know how to create apps, we know how to do distribution, we know how to market. But we don’t really know how to create shows."

Continue reading

Good Reads for September, 2019

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of intriguingly interspersed, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes these will be insightful commentary on recent Apple events, hopes for what future Apple services will bring to the table, or simply reviews of Apple products that you may not ordinarily read. All I know is, bring your Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads. And yes, we’ll still be doing this even though the daily news is no more.

  • Apple’s September 2019 event saw the announcement and release of a new entry-level iPad, the Apple Watch Series 5, as well as updates to some of Apple’s services that we had already seen or heard about previously. But it was the iPhones 11 that stole the show, with the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max garnering all the attention as Apple widened the perspective with new ultra-wide lenses on all devices. M.G. Siegler describes how, despite this year’s iPhones being iterative upgrades on those of previous years — as they have been for a number of years now — Apple are still doing enough new stuff to make this year’s iPhones the ones to buy.

The iPhone is now officially a camera. I mean, it has been a camera for a long time. The most popular camera in the world, as Apple is quick to point out each and every year, a decade on. But now it’s really a camera, as today’s keynote made clear. The key parts of the presentations for both the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 11 Pro were all about the camera. As Phil Schiller said in his portion: “I know what you’re waiting for, and I am too. Let’s talk about the cameras. Without question, my favorite part about iPhone.”

Continue reading

Tuesday Morning News

OK, we have a lot of news to get through this morning before it gets buried under the influx of whatever Apple reveals tomorrow morning, so let’s get into it. Bloomberg says Apple and its manufacturing partner Foxconn have broken a Chinese labour law by using too many temporary staff to assemble this year’s iPhone. Chinese labour laws stipulate that no more than 10% of a workforce can be comprised of temporary/dispatch staff, with Foxconn having closer to 50% dispatch staff in August, according to undercover investigators. Apple has confirmed the issue, and now says they’re working with Foxconn to ensure the proper resolution.

Continue reading

Monday Morning News

In case you’ve been living under a rock — and I wouldn’t blame you, the news is pretty depressing these days — there’s an Apple event tomorrow. Well, early Wednesday morning for anyone planning to watch from Australia. If you need a quick catch-up, MacRumors has everything that we’re likely to see, and even some things that we aren’t, although iPhones are likely to steal the show from everything else that’s announced . For the first time ever, Apple’s special event will be live-streamed on YouTube along with the usual web and Apple TV places.

Continue reading

Thursday Morning News

A leaked internal document paints a picture about what next week’s Apple event will have in store. It looks like the rumoured "iPhone 11" and "iPhone 11 Pro" nomenclature are a lock, if the document is anything to go by, although AppleInsider notes that there are parts of the 10-page document that are inconsistent with previous leaks, putting the overall document into question. In any case, the doc does tell us what will be revealed next week: three new iPhones, four new Apple Watch models, and the release of iOS 13, macOS Catalina, watchOS 6, and tvOS 13 on September 23.

Continue reading

Wednesday Morning News

There’s an increasing amount of evidence Apple will launch AR glasses or an AR headset in the future, with code in iOS 13 giving us clues about the development process. Internal builds of iOS 13 include the "STARTester" app which can switch in and out of a head-mounted mode, which MacRumors says is likely to replicate how an AR experience may differ if you’re holding your device in your hand or whether it’s mounted to your head in some way, and multiple references to some kind of "StarBoard mode" suggest that Apple’s AR headset has the Star codename, at least internally.

Continue reading

Monday Morning News

Apple says that in very rare circumstances, a crack may form around the rounded edge of your aluminium Apple Watch Series 2 or Series 3. If your Apple Watch exhibits this issue, you’re eligible for a replacement display from your local Apple Store or Apple Authorised Service Provider, free of charge. Apple’s Screen Replacement Program for Apple Watch Series 2 and Series 3 covers devices for three years from the first retail sale, or one year from the start date of the program, whichever is longer.

Continue reading

Good Reads for August, 2019

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of hastily handpicked, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Whether they’re explainers on the current state of play when it comes to iOS zero-day security exploits, what happens when you’re locked out of Apple’s walled garden, or ways Apple could be better dealing with providing user information without resorting to the alert hammer for every potential security/privacy issue, they’ll all tell a story that probably won’t have already been shared in the daily news cycle. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • Wired has a brand-new article on Google’s disclosure of long-standing websites hacking iPhones. By performing complex exploit chains that work on several different versions of iOS, these websites have been silently compromising iOS devices for years, with the idea being that we now know of a serious security issue we don’t really think about when we think of traditional hacking of any kind, iPhone or otherwise. But given the prevalence of the web on basically any device you can connect to the internet, maybe it’s time we did. It’s an eye-opener, for sure.

The attack is notable not just for its breadth, but the depth of information it could glean from a victim iPhone. Once installed, it could monitor live location data, or be used to grab photos, contacts, and even passwords and other sensitive information from the iOS Keychain.

Continue reading