Tuesday Morning News
Bloomberg is reporting this morning that Apple plans to use their own chips in Macs from 2020, replacing Intel CPUs. It’s said Apple is already in the beginnings of the move, which will likely involve a transition period of a few years. On the upside, the move away from Intel will allow Macs and iOS devices to work similarly and more seamlessly, with less of a development gap needed for iOS and macOS apps.
Over the Easter weekend, Apple released the iOS 11.3 update to the general public. The update brings a few changes you’ve been reading about for months now — it’s almost hard to believe Apple previewed the release back in January — but it’s arguably the biggest update to iOS 11 since it was released. There’s a beta battery health feature that lets you see if your device is operating at peak performance, new Animoji for iPhone X owners, business chat, health records, and more, as covered by Ars Technica. The companion updates of watchOS 4.3 and tvOS 11.3 are also available.
One of the cool things enabled by iOS 11.3 is support for some new-fangled technologies that allow for what’s called Progressive Web Apps. They’re kind of like web apps, only better, in that they’re able to be installed to your iOS device just like you would a native app. They don’t have support for native APIs, and they are some limitations, but they’re functional enough that they may be a better fit for specific use cases than publishing an app on the App Store.
Also released over the break was macOS 10.13.4, which now officially brings external GPU support to the platform. I’m sure there’s a bunch of the usual bug fixes, but besides the addition of Business Chat and Apple’s new privacy icon to let you know when Apple software is accessing your personal data, external GPU support is the headlining feature.
Unfortunately, Apple’s support for external GPUs isn’t fully as baked as you might like. The official Apple support article on using an external graphics processor with your Mac says that only AMD graphics cards are officially supported at the moment, and you’ll need a Mac with Thunderbolt 3, making external GPUs a possibility only for 2016 or later MacBook Pros, 2017 and later iMacs, and the iMac Pro.
Not only that, but macOS 10.13.4 also breaks support for many software-based methods of extending macOS displays to iOS devices. Duet Display, Air Display, and iDisplay are all affected by the issue, which causes the apps to hang. MacRumors says DisplayLink-based USB graphics devices are also affected by the issue, and the developers of the apps have reached out to Apple to get them to investigate further.
The Apple beta train continues to move, with the first developer beta of iOS 11.4 released earlier this morning. Early impressions seem to indicate this may be the release where we finally get Messages on iCloud as well as AirPlay 2, with both being present in the first beta, although if iOS 11.3 was any indication, we might not see iOS 11.4 released until just before WWDC. Similar updates are also available for tvOS 11.4 and watchOS 4.3.1.
In other Apple software update news, the first HomePod firmware update was released over the weekend. No release notes were provided by Apple for HomePod update 11.3, despite the release weighing in at over 2GB. There have been reports of altered sound quality following the update, but it may just be Apple tweaking the settings for more prominent mid-range, but also decreasing bass output.
Charles Proxy is now available for iOS, with the web debugging proxy app using a VPN on iOS to capture HTTP and HTTPS traffic from your device, including anything that goes over mobile data network. If you’re curious about what makes apps work or where they’re trying to communicate to, then Charles will give you insights into that kind of data.
1Password 7 for Mac is on its way, and you can try the beta right now. There’s a new coat of paint on the interface, with a new and improved sidebar that includes drag and drop support, with support for Emoji scattered throughout the interface. Integration with Have I Been Pwned also lets you know when passwords have been found online.