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.
New iPhones aside, there’s been enough rumoured recently that’s there’s no shortage of stuff Apple could announce. While the jury’s still out on whether we’ll see general availability of iOS 13 later this week or closer to the release of new iPhones, there’s a good chance we’ll see new Apple Watch models, with at least one being made of a different material than the aluminium and stainless steel currently offered. Expect there to be a focus on services, too, with Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade being strong contenders for a launch, with the only question remaining: will there be a one more thing? A surprise that hasn’t received as much press coverage?
If there is, there’s a chance it could be Apple’s Tile competitor. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says Apple Tags, as we’re calling them in lieu of their actual name, could feature ultra-wideband tracking, making them much more accurate than Tile’s own Bluetooth Low Energy tags. Accuracy within the vicinity of 5-10cm will be possible thanks to this UWB tech, compared to accuracy in the metres for Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi. With the potential inclusion of AR, Apple’s Tags could be the surprise one more thing we’ve been waiting for.
Following Google’s blog post describing zero-day iOS vulnerabilities that were being exploited in the wild, Apple has shot back with a message about iOS security. Apple clarifies that while the security issues were serious (as all security issues are), fewer than a dozen known websites were using the exploits, with all of those containing content related to the Uyghur community. While it’s theoretically possible that exploit chains were used to "monitor the private communications of entire populations in real time", Apple doesn’t seem to think that’s the case.
The problem with Apple’s response, according to a number of security experts and researchers, is that not only is Apple betting on the fact that the exploit chains weren’t being widely used elsewhere, but Apple is pulling punches because of its relationship with China, upon which it (and many other companies) depend on to be functional businesses. Even though having a working relationship with China isn’t unique to Apple, this is starting to become more of a discussion of global politics than it is about Apple specifically, but it’s grating when Apple is seemingly ignoring the real problem here and instead choosing to focus on how iOS security isn’t as bad as Google says it is.
Whatever the politics are, The Verge reports the stakes are too high for Apple to put a positive spin on a very serious security issue. It’s hard to ignore an entire government that is leveraging any platform for the express purpose of ethnic cleansing, and yet Apple’s statement says nothing about it. It’s hard, and I doubt I would know what the right move is without upending the entire order of things.
A new iPhone rumour from Bloomberg claims Apple is working on in-display fingerprint readers for future iPhones. The tech is being worked on by some of Apple’s suppliers, although it’s unlikely to be ready for the 2020 iPhones, and may instead slip to the 2021 iPhones. It’s unlikely that Apple would give up Face ID, given how much it has marketed it as the more secure alternative, but it’s possible that we could see two methods of biometric authentication in a future iPhone.
9to5Mac is sceptical, saying that an iPhone with an in-display fingerprint reader may be a big step backwards. They postulate a fictional scenario in which Apple introduces the in-display fingerprint sensor, realises that it now no longer needs to offer Face ID, and by removing it and the notch it rode in on, can now achieve their goal of the purest form of device possible. An all-screen iPhone is a tempting idea, even if your name isn’t Jony Ive, but I’m not sure what kind of marketing acrobatics Apple will have to do to get there.
Over the weekend, Apple launched an Apple Music web interface. The web-based beta of Apple Music interface provides full functionality in terms of what most people want to do with listening and managing their music libraries, and the interface even closely matches that of the Music app on macOS Catalina so you can seamlessly switch between the two. It even supports Dark Mode, which is a nice touch, and you can access it now at beta.music.apple.com.
Apple Marunouchi opened over the weekend to much fanfare. The largest Tokyo Apple Store looks to be the new flagship for the city, spanning over two levels and featuring many iconic Apple Store details such as a Today at Apple forum area, and new for an Apple Store, bamboo trees being placed behind the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. On the other side of the world, Apple’s Fifth Avenue renovations are almost complete. While the store isn’t quite open yet, the iconic glass cube is covered in a semi-transparent, semi-reflective, multi-coloured wrap for reasons that will become clear shortly, I’m sure.