In case you missed it, on Friday Commonwealth Bank announced Apple Pay would become available to consumer customers in January 2019. The move marks an end to our long national nightmare of Apple Pay not being available on what is undoubtedly Australia’s largest bank, with CBA playing up Apple Pay as part of their commitment to being a better, simpler bank, although we all know what the real story is there. Bankwest customers are also included in the Apple Pay availability, and here’s hoping the rest of the Australian banking sector follows suit.
Apple has announced it will be building a new campus in Austin, Texas, less than 2km from its current facilities, at a cost of $1 billion. The Austin campus is expected to accomodate 5,000 employees, with that number growing to 15,000 as capacity is increased, making Apple the largest private employer in Austin. Apple’s announcement of its new Apple campus also came with the news the company expects to open new facilities in Seattle, San Diego, Culver City, and expand its current facilities in Pittsburgh and Boulder over the next three years.
Apple’s Texture acquisition from earlier this year is being integrated into Apple’s services ecosystem, with the most likely result being some kind of premium subscription within Apple News. Although it’s unclear whether it will be news or Texture’s previous content base of magazines that will be on offer, Bloomberg says Texture’s re-launch as an Apple service will test whether the all-you-can-eat model will work for news.
As part of the Reform Government Surveillance coalition, US tech giants including Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft have issued a statement denouncing the Assistance and Access Bill. “The new Australian law is deeply flawed, overly broad, and lacking in adequate independent oversight over the new authorities”, the RGS says, urging the Australian government to promptly address these flaws when it reconvenes, as not doing so will undermine the cybersecurity, human rights, or the right to privacy of their collective users.
Last week, the Australian Senate passed new laws allowing law enforcement agencies to force tech companies including Apple, Google, Facebook, as well as purveyors of encrypted communications apps like Wickr and Signal, to assist with and develop means for cracking the encrypted communications of individuals being investigated for criminal acts. As explained by BuzzFeed, it’s bad news for everyone. While the government has attempted to tell us that most people — those not being investigated for criminal activity — have nothing to worry about, that’s not how encryption works, as a backdoor into someone’s device is a backdoor into everyone’s device. While the government has also attempted to limit the newfound powers by saying that tech companies cannot weaken any electronic protections, or create a systemic weakness, the lack of specifics regarding what a systemic weakness actually is means the entire thing is a big ol’ bag of hurt.
With the arrival of watchOS 5.1.2 for the Apple Watch comes the much-anticipated ECG feature for Apple Watch Series 4 devices. First announced when the Apple Watch Series 4 was unveiled back in September, the ECG feature works pretty much as you expect if you’ve seen the keynote or read Apple’s press release. Enough has been said about whether more accessible heartbeat regularity monitoring is a good or a bad thing, but evidently, Apple thinks the positives outweigh the negatives.
Minor software updates have been released across the board, with iOS 12.1.1, macOS Mojave 10.14.2, and tvOS 12.1.1 all getting a version bump. Of those, only iOS and macOS have release notes worth reading, with MacRumors telling us about iOS 12.1.1, which has additional eSIM carrier support (no Australian telcos, in case you’re wondering) and fixes for the FaceTime UI issues to allow one-tap camera switching, and the restoration of the ability to capture Live Photos from a FaceTime call.
The best of 2018 as presented by Apple highlights the best apps, games, music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and other forms of media. From battle-royale style mobile games, creative apps for the iPhone, the best artist and tracks of the year, to the most downloaded podcasts, movies, and TV shows, Apple’s top charts have something for everyone.
Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive received Cambridge Union’s Stephen Hawking Fellowship, and his acceptance speech talked about the role of designers in the sometimes challenging field of technology. Ive spoke about how both curiosity and resolve were needed to solve problems, at times “teetering towards the absurd” in order to solve problems with no precedent, such as when Apple were designing the original iPhone.
Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of youngish yucatecian — if slightly longer — reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes they’ll be interviews with Apple executives on Apple’s latest and greatest, in-depth technical explanations of how Apple’s custom silicon beats out the competition against any metric that you care to name, or what hurdles the iPad Pro still needs to overcome to accomplish Apple’s lofty goals. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.
- Before we get to all of that, a lengthy piece by Justin O’Beirne points out plenty of changes in Apple’s new maps. Covering just 3.1% of the land area of the United States and 4.9% of its population, Apple’s new maps are leaps and bounds ahead of any previous iteration, and in some cases even better than Google Maps. Despite the tiny coverage area, the improvements are significant and real, although there’s a few oddities that can be explained away by the application of algorithms to mapping data. Still, there’s still plenty of work to be done, and on top of that, Apple needs to scale if it wants to catch up to the overall quality of Google Maps.
In “Google Maps’s Moat”, we saw that Google has been algorithmically extracting features out of its satellite imagery and then adding them to its map. And now Apple appears to be doing it too. All of those different shades of green are different densities of trees and vegetation that Apple seems to be extracting out of its imagery. But Apple isn’t just extracting vegetation—Apple seems to be extracting any discernible shape from its imagery.