Wednesday Morning News

A surprise MacBook Pro spec bump is the best possible kind of surprise, with both the 13 and 15-inch models getting modest CPU upgrades. The base model 15-inch goes from a 2.2GHz, 6-core, 8th-generation Intel Core i7 to a 2.6GHz, 6-core, 9th-generation Intel Core i7, while the upgraded model now gets a 2.3GHz, 8-core, Intel Core i9 processor (up from a 2.8GHz, 6-core, 8th-generation Intel Core i7). The 13-inch MacBook Pro doesn’t get quite as much love, with only faster turbo boost speeds to complement their existing quad-core, 8th-generation processors.

But perhaps more important than regular, minor spec bumps to Apple’s core laptop lineup are updates to the currently divisive keyboard. The good news is that Apple’s 2019 MacBook Pros contain a keyboard update too: Apple’s not specifying exactly what has changed in the fourth-generation butterfly keyboards, but TechCrunch reports a materials change in the keyboard mechanism that should substantially reduce the double/no typing issue. In addition to a keyboard mechanism change, Apple is allowing all Mac laptops with butterfly keyboards into its Keyboard Service Program, which covers machines for up to four years after the laptop’s first retail sale, including the MacBook Pros released today. That, in combination with faster keyboard repair turnarounds in Apple Stores, should somewhat alleviate any consumer concerns about the reliability of Mac laptop keyboards, although we’ll have to wait and see if these fourth-generation butterfly keyboards are truly any more reliable. (Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. But three and four times?)

Apple has also started a 13-inch MacBook Pro Display Backlight Service Program for 13-inch MacBook Pros which exhibit "stage light" symptoms where vertical bright areas along the bottom of the display, or where the display backlight stops working altogether. The issue was first covered by iFixit earlier this year as "flexgate", although according to Apple, only two 13-inch MacBook Pros from 2016 are affected by the issue. Just like its Keyboard Service Program, Apple are covering all affected machines for up to four years after the first retail sale.

NAB is the third of the Big Four Australian banks to enable Apple Pay for its customers. NAB customers with a personal or business Visa debit or credit card can now use Apple Pay, and NAB subsidiary UBank has also flipped the Apple Pay switch for its customers. With NAB jumping on board the Apple Pay train, that just leaves Westpac as the last big bank still to support Apple Pay. That’s not bad for a company with decent banking infrastructure compared to other countries.

Apple is now selling LG’s 23.7-inch UltraFine 4K Display in Apple Stores and online, following a slightly early unveiling yesterday. Apple’s Australian online store still offers the 27-inch UltraFine 5K, despite it no longer being offered elsewhere, but the new UltraFine 4K, coming with an extra Thunderbolt 3 port and a $1009.95 price point, might be the better choice for those wanting a solid 4K display that doesn’t break the bank.

As part of the recent iOS 12.3 and macOS 10.14.5 updates, Apple highlights the changes to Apple News. Apple says Apple News+ subscribers can now follow their favourite publications, with new issues being automatically downloaded and available offline as soon as they’re published. Apple is also sharing some key quotes from publishers about the benefits of Apple News+ to their readership, which are apparently much more engaged than a typical web reader.

IFixit puts a spotlight on Apple’s haptic feedback technology, saying that the Haptic Engine in many iPhones and Apple Watch devices goes a long way to provide a great user experience when it comes to feeling their device vibrate. But while many other manufacturers have made their devices buzz or vibrate, Apple’s key differentiator in this space is how precisely they’re doing it, and how much precious internal space they dedicate to doing so, which should give you some idea of how important they think it is.

9to5Mac’s watchOS 6 wish list has a new item. They want the Siri Watch Face to not just be a separate watch face capable of pulling information from a variety of sources, but a complication of its own. What they’re asking for makes a lot of sense: why not have the ability to have dynamic complication slots, instead of seeing the same ones every time you raise your wrist? Maybe in the morning I want to see what the weather will be like that morning, but in the afternoon, I want to know how long it will take me to get home, and a dynamic Siri complication could be capable of doing that for me.

An update to Carrot Weather enables new types of notifications for things like storm cells, rain, lighting strikes, government weather alerts, and more. There’s now three different tiers of subscriptions to support the expanded data sets and features that some weather APIs provide, as well as a host of other smaller improvements. Carrot Weather remains one of the best weather apps around, at least until that BOM-data backed weather app by Bjango comes out.

MacRumors shares a few simple Mobile Safari tips and tricks, including how to close all your tabs, or opening recently closed tabs if you’ve accidentally closed a tab without meaning to.

Notable Replies

  1. snarl says:

    Does anyone use Carrot Weather here in Australia? I understand it can be configured to access BOM data via Willy Weather.

    How does it compare to:

    1. The BOM app
    2. Oz Weather
    3. RainParrot
    4. Weatherzone +

    And others.

    Weather apps can only be as good as the data they are based on.

  2. Some good discussion here and here

    Personally, I’m using both Carrot Weather and Rain Parrot. Carrot doesn’t give me the kind of rain-focused notifications that Rain Parrot does, although it more than adequately performs the task of every day, open-and-check-the-weather, see-upcoming-forecasts, weather app.

  3. snarl says:

    Thanks @bennyling. I remember those threads. I am interested in what people think of Carrot Weather now after using it with the BOM data via Willy Weather for a while.

    Your combination of Carrot Weather plus Rain Parrot fits what I have read, as Carrot Weather does not do rain projection in Australia.

Continue the discussion talk.appletalk.com.au

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