Friday Morning News
Apple’s week of product releases and updates continued yesterday with the release of updated AirPods. The new AirPods hardware isn’t substantially different to the older version, but they do come with a H1 chip for an extra hour of talk time, and a "Hey Siri" ability not supported by the original model. A new Qi-compatible wireless charging case is also available, either with your AirPods (raising the price to $319), or can be purchased separately for $129. Otherwise, the updated AirPods will set you back $249.
And while some of us were expecting AirPower or new iPods to be released earlier this morning, that didn’t happen. Perhaps Apple is saving some hardware for their March 25 event — they did just secure the AirPower trademark, after all, and an image of a wireless charging mat with the new AirPods wireless charging case and an iPhone appeared on Apple’s Australian website recently. The evidence is stronger than ever we will see AirPower released, and perhaps sooner than you think.
On the other hand, reviews of the new iPad mini are out, with the fifth-generation of the smallest iPad being a welcome update to what was otherwise a stale product. There’s been a lot said about where the iPad mini fits into the lineup, given there’s now an iPad for basically every price range, and now that the iPad mini has much zippier internals and Apple Pencil support, that just about makes it the best smallest tablet around.
All eyes are on Apple as they gear up to announce a brand new video streaming service, but there are still so many questions surrounding the release that it’s hard to know where to begin. What we do know is that there will be a sizeable chunk of original programming, even though all the other big players in the streaming market are already doing that. One thing is for sure, it will be interesting to see how Apple sells its streaming service compared to the likes of Netflix and the handful of Aussie-centric streaming services we have.
That’s not even talking about what an Apple news subscription service will offer, although speculation says Apple’s news subscription will be more of an amalgamation of outlets, rather than access to individual papers or magazines. The Wall Street Journal is on board, even though the New York Times and the Washington Post are not, despite all three having their own paywalls for years now. Apple seems to be cutting it fine with making deals with publishers, but who knows, perhaps they’ll change their mind after seeing how successful it will be.
It may not be an updated iPod touch or Apple’s infamous wireless charging mat, but new Apple Watch bands and iPhone cases are now available in fresh new colours. Pretty much every band in the range gets at least a few new colours, with new Sport Bands, Nike Sport Bands, Sport Loops, Nike Sport Loops, Leather Modern Buckle, Leather Loop, and Hermès Single and Double tours getting the new colour treatment, with the Nike Sport Loop Hyper Grape having the coolest name of them all.
Updates to Final Cut Pro X and iMovie are out, and AppleInsider says they’re potentially the last versions that will support 32-bit, something that will also disappear with the next version of macOS after Mojave. But besides that, the releases have the usual bug fixes and performance improvements.
There are reports of Apple acquiring Italian app backend startup Stamplay for US $5.6 million, although Apple hasn’t offered its customary non-confirmation confirmation that any kind of acquisition has taken place. In either case, Stamplay seems like a good choice for Apple as it would help developers with a cloud-based backend for their apps to handle payments, notifications, messaging, and more.
Speaking of developers, starting March 27, Apple will require all new and updated app submissions to support the screen sizes of the iPhone XS Max and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, with App Store screenshots also required. It’s definitely about time Apple enforced these kinds of changes.
Closing out another week of news is a headline I didn’t expect to see, even after a few day’s worth of Apple product updates: Microsoft shipping an antivirus for macOS. Microsoft Defender brings all the best parts of Windows Defender to macOS, with signature-based malware scanning that is hoped to stop the spread of Windows malware as much as it does for the rare case of Mac-based threats.