iPad Pro USB-C Hubs: The Best, Worst, and Weirdest Options

Chris Welch, writing for The Verge:

The iPad Pro’s single USB Type-C port is one of my main frustrations about an otherwise truly stellar piece of technology. You get to use it for one thing at a time, be it charging, using the USB-C headphone adapter, or plugging in a range of dongles (and soon, mercifully, external hard drives). I ask: can any device be “pro” if it has just one lonely port?

Thankfully, the jack-of-all-trades nature of USB-C means that you can use USB-C hubs to get those missing ports back — and then some. Apple provides very little guidance on which hubs work the best with the 2018 iPad Pro; all the company really says is that hubs and docks should both work over the USB-C connection. None of the products I tested had a badge on the box to indicate MFi / Made for iPad certification, but they all functioned (mostly) as expected.

Apple updates MacBook Air and MacBook Pro for back-to-school season, kills off MacBook

Apple:

Apple today updated MacBook Air, adding True Tone to its Retina display for a more natural viewing experience, and lowering the price to $1,099, with an even lower price of $999 for college students.

[…]

In addition, the entry-level $1,299 13-inch MacBook Pro has been updated with the latest 8th-generation quad-core processors, making it two times more powerful than before. It also now features Touch Bar and Touch ID, a True Tone Retina display and the Apple T2 Security Chip, and is available for $1,199 for college students.


Apple has also killed off the 12 inch Macbook in this release, but they are keeping the third generation butterfly keyboards.

John Gruber On the Post-Ive Future of Design at Apple

John Gruber:

I did a brief chat with Rene Ritchie for Vector, his YouTube show, over the weekend. I thought it was a great little interview — far more condensed than my own podcast, and with a full transcript to boot.

One key point that I missed in [my first take on Ive’s departure] is that having design chiefs Evans Hankey (Industrial Design) and Alan Dye (Human Interface Design) report directly to COO Jeff Williams does make sense organizationally. What I had missed is that coincident with the announcement of Ive’s departure, Apple promoted Sabih Khan to senior vice president of operations.

Apple hasn’t had an SVP of operations since Jeff Williams held the title, back when Tim Cook was COO under Steve Jobs. Back then Williams ran operations while Cook ran the company and Jobs devoted his remaining time to new products.

After nearly 30 years, Jony Ive leaving Apple to start new design firm

Chris Welch, writing for The Verge:

Apple’s chief design officer Jonathan Ive is departing the company, bringing an end to a tenure spent crafting some of technology’s most influential products, including the iPhone. Ive is leaving his official role at Apple “to form an independent design company which will count Apple among its primary clients.”

The company is called LoveForm, and Ive will be joined by famed designer Marc Newsom on the new venture. Despite stepping down from his executive position, Ive and Apple both claim he will still work “on a range of projects with Apple.”

Ive is one of the world’s most esteemed industrial designers and has worked on products including a wide range of Macs, the iPhone, the iPad, the Apple Watch, and more. He also designed the company’s “spaceship” Apple Park campus.

Most recently, Ive voiced a design video about the new Mac Pro launching later this year. 

Interesting, and best wishes to Jony on his new edeavour.

Federico Viticci: ‘initial Thoughts on iPadOS’

Federico Viticci:

When I published my Beyond the Tablet story a few weeks ago, I was optimistic we’d get a handful of iPad-related features and optimizations at WWDC. I did not, however, foresee an entire OS designed specifically around iPad. And the more I think about it, the more I see iPadOS as a sign of Apple’s willingness to break free from old assumptions and let the iPad be what it’s best at: a portable computer inspired by the Mac, but based on iOS.

I’m back home after a fantastic week at WWDC, and I’m now in the process of sifting through the surprising amount of new software features Apple unveiled in San Jose. It’s going to take me a while to digest all that’s new in iOS 13 and Shortcuts2; of course, you should expect my iOS/iPadOS 13 review in the fall, and we will share more hands-on articles and editorials on MacStories and Club MacStories throughout the summer. For now though, after using the iPadOS beta on my 12.9″ iPad Pro for a few days, I’d like to share some initial considerations on iPadOS and what it means for the future of the platform.

[…]

Since the iPad launched almost 10 years ago, its iOS foundation has been a double-edged sword: on one hand, building iPad on top of iOS gave Apple a head start in terms of performance, app ecosystem, and security that other tablets couldn’t match; on the other, an already-solid iOS foundation may have been the excuse to not aggressively pursue more advanced functionalities.

Apple has only itself to blame if certain segments of the tech press have been calling the iPad “just a big iPod touch” for years, even though it clearly wasn’t.
iPadOS suggests that the company has identified a new path for the iPad as a third platform that combines well-trodden ideas from macOS with the intuitive, nimble nature of iOS. To a certain extent, this was true of iPad before, particularly since the days of iOS 11, but calling it iPadOS shows a renewed commitment that may provide the necessary impetus for more consistent updates over the next few years.

Ultimately, a new name on its own doesn’t prove that Apple is more serious about a platform than before, which is why we should focus on the actual features that will launch with iPadOS later this year. And from what I’ve seen and discussed so far, it looks like Apple is ready to begin the iPad’s next decade with a promising new strategy: inspired by tradition, but still uniquely iPad.

Panic’s Playdate

From the Playdate website:

Hello. We made a brand new handheld gaming system.

It’s yellow. It fits in your pocket. It’s got a beautiful black and white screen. It’s not super cheap, but not super expensive. It includes brand new games from some amazing creators. Plus it has a crank.

OK, yeah, let’s back up a little bit.

For over 20 years Panic has mostly made Mac and iOS software. Twenty years is a long time, and we wanted to try some new things. To make the most of what we have.

That’s why we started publishing games, like Firewatch and, soon, Untitled Goose Game.

But what if we could push ourselves even further? What if we could build something? A real something that you could hold?

It was harder than we thought, but it’s here.

And it’s called Playdate

[…]

Playdate is our celebration of the video game.

We reached out to some top game designers, like Keita Takahashi and Zach Gage and Bennett Foddy and Shaun Inman.

We showed them Playdate and asked, “Want to make a game for it?”. Then we lost our minds when they said “Yeah!”

So Playdate isn’t just the hardware.

It’s twelve brand new video games, one each week.

What are these games? Here’s the thing: we’d like to keep them a secret until they appear on your Playdate. We want to surprise you.

Some are short, some long, some are experimental, some traditional. All are fun.

When your Playdate lights up with a brand new game delivery, we hope you can’t wait to unwrap your gift.

And there’s so much more to come. Playdate is alive with possibilities and surprises, future games and new ways to make them. We’ll have even more to talk about at launch.

Playdate will cost $149 USD when it arrives next year; launch supplies are expected to be limited, so sign up to be notified.

I’ve been a fan of Panic’s software since day one, and have bought just about everything they’ve made and continue to use it so I’ll most likely pick up one of these as well.

The case against Huawei, explained

Russell Brandom, writing for The Verge:

This morning, ARM announced that it was cutting ties with Huawei, in the interest of “complying with all of the latest regulations set forth by the U.S. government.” It’s a catastrophe for Huawei’s device business, halting its access to current and future chip designs and coming on the heels of similar breaks from Google and Microsoft. Huawei is in deep, deep trouble, and we still don’t have a clear picture of why.

Security experts have been warning about Huawei for more than a year, but it’s only in the last week that those warnings have escalated into an all-out trade blockade on the company’s US partners. There’s never been a full accounting of why the US government believes Huawei is such a threat, in large part because of national security interests, which means much of the evidence remains secret. But it’s worth tracing out exactly where the concerns are coming from and where they could go from here.

Google Pixel 3A

Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge:

I am going to break an unwritten rule of tech reviews and tell you the ending right at the top: if you want to buy a new smartphone that costs between $300 and $500, you should buy a Pixel 3A or Pixel 3A XL. It is the best phone in that price range, and it’s actually competitive with more expensive phones in one very important way: the Pixel 3A has a great camera.

For the past few years, buying a new smartphone meant following a nigh-unbreakable rule: if you wanted a good camera, you needed to spend at least 600 bucks. That, or you needed to find an older iPhone or take a shot on something used or refurbished. On the flip side, less expensive Android phones have become remarkably good recently, but they still followed the rule because their cameras are almost universally mediocre.

The $399 Pixel 3A ($479 for the larger 3A XL) doesn’t follow that rule. While it has many of the same compromises you usually make when you buy a cheap phone, the photos it takes are nearly indistinguishable from what comes out of a Pixel 3. Depending on where and when you buy it, the Pixel 3 can cost $200 or $300 more.

In 15 years of reviewing phones, I am not sure if I’ve ever been able to write the following sentence: a $400 phone has a camera that’s among the best you can get on any smartphone.

The rest of the Pixel 3A may not blow you away, but it ain’t bad, either.

iFixit pulls Galaxy Fold teardown

From the IFixit blog:

After two days of intense public interest, iFixit has removed our teardown of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. That analysis supported our suspicions that the device provided insufficient protection from debris damaging the screen.

We were provided our Galaxy Fold unit by a trusted partner. Samsung has requested, through that partner, that iFixit remove its teardown. We are under no obligation to remove our analysis, legal or otherwise. But out of respect for this partner, whom we consider an ally in making devices more repairable, we are choosing to withdraw our story until we can purchase a Galaxy Fold at retail.

Our team appreciated the chance to look inside this ambitious device. All new products face challenges—this one perhaps more than most. We’re grateful to have shared a glimpse of how Samsung’s engineers addressed some of those challenges, and we look forward to sharing more as soon as possible.

Chances are good that the partner who provided iFixit with the Galaxy Fold review unit is in hot water over this from Samsung.


Some highlights of the teardown before they pulled it included:

Well, we’ve finally got the Samsung Galaxy Fold on our teardown table. This is, without question, an ambitious first-generation device—the idea of having both a smartphone and a tablet in your pocket at all times is pretty exciting!

That said, a number of early reviewers had some durability issues with their review units, ultimately leading to a launch postponement. Are these temporary setbacks? Or are we headed for a full-blown AirPower-style product cancellation?

[…]

Unlike the dull slabs of glass we’re used to, this smartphone/tablet hybrid has lots of potential entry points—and not the good kind.

To achieve the fold, the thin bezel that surrounds (and protects) the screen leaves a gap where the two halves meet.

[…]

This 7 mm gap doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but it leaves the display exposed—so should something accidentally enter, it’s curtains for the screen.

[…]

When closed, the screen is protected—but the spine is flanked by massive gaps that our opening picks hop right into. These gaps are less likely to cause immediate screen damage, but will definitely attract dirt.

Samsung delays Galaxy Fold launch after early display issues

Tom Warren, for The Verge:

Samsung is delaying the release of its first foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Fold. The Wall Street Journal reports that Samsung won’t release the Galaxy Fold until “at least next month” due to issues with review units that technology reporters have revealed.


string of reviewers found problems with the display, with it failing for a number of reasons.

The Verge’s own review unit failed due to what appeared to be debris caught between the hinge and the display. Samsung previously said it intends to “thoroughly inspect [the review] units in person,” and was originally planning to continue to release the Galaxy Fold on Friday. Over the weekend, the company postponed launch events in China, and it looked increasingly likely that the device would not go on sale on Friday.


Given the multiple reports of screen failure, some due to reviewers attempting to peel off a protective plastic layer, Samsung’s Galaxy Fold launch delay feels like the best option for the company. While Samsung is aiming to be first to the market with its $1,980 foldable phone, these are critical hardware problems that the company will need to investigate fully.