Category: Links

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.

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.

Foxconn is confusing Wisconsin

Josh Dzieza, writing for The Verge:

Starting last June, officials with the Taiwanese tech manufacturing giant began popping up in all corners of the state and announcing new projects. It had been almost a year since then-Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) offered the company a subsidy package that came to total $4.5 billion. Both Walker, who was in the midst of a reelection campaign, and Foxconn, which had just confirmed that it would build a far smaller factory than it had initially promised, seemed eager to make a good impression. 

First, there was Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, announcing a new headquarters and “innovation center” in Milwaukee. Days later, Gou was standing in a field 40 minutes south in Mount Pleasant, digging gold shovels into the dirt with Walker, Paul Ryan, and President Trump, who declared Foxconn’s factory the “eighth wonder of the world.” Then it was off to Green Bay, where Foxconn announced another innovation center, and then Eau Claire, where Foxconn announced two more — a full “technology hub.” 

Next came a $100 million gift to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a venture fund, and competitions to design the innovation centers, with fast turnarounds — just two weeks to submit proposals — and plans to open in just months. As summer turned to fall, Foxconn kept going: an innovation center for Racine, and another groundbreaking, for a Foxconn expansion at a nearby technical college. More branded ball caps, more gold shovels. One observer quipped that Foxconn had created jobs in the Wisconsin events business, at least. 

Then the announcements stopped. 

In January, work at the Mount Pleasant factory came to a halt, and Foxconn officials began to publicly waffle about their plans. In the span of a single week, Woo said that the company wouldn’t build a factory, then that whatever Foxconn was building “cannot be simply described as a factory,” then, after a call with Trump, that Foxconn would build a factory after all. 

Throughout its gyrations, Foxconn maintained that it would create 13,000 jobs, though what those 13,000 people would be doing shifted gradually from manufacturing to research into what Foxconn calls its “AI 8K+5G ecosystem.” Other than buzzwords for high-resolution screens and high-speed cell networks, what this ecosystem is has never been fully explained. In February, a Foxconn executive cheerfully likened the company’s vague, morphing plans to designing and building an airplane midflight. 

Such statements have not been particularly reassuring to residents of Wisconsin, where state and local governments have already taken very concrete actions to prepare the way for what was supposed to be an enormous manufacturing facility. Taxpayers have already spent more than $300 million on roadwork, infrastructure, and land acquisition related to the project. In August, Moody’s downgraded Mount Pleasant’s credit rating over the extreme levels of debt it took on for the area’s $763 million incentive package, costs that have since grown closer to a billion, in part because it had to take out higher interest long-term loans after Foxconn’s plans changed. Dozens of residents have been relocated, some under threat of eminent domain.

Adding to the confusion is the comical level of secrecy that’s shrouding the Foxconn project. The company almost never grants interviews. Even Mount Pleasant’s Village Board is supposed to route all Foxconn-related questions through a public relations firm. Getting answers is so difficult that a local TV reporter recently drove to the house of village president Dave DeGroot, who, hiding behind his half-closed door, told the reporter to go away. 

Mount Pleasant residents engage in Kremlinology based on overheard conversations at local bars and which contractors are seen coming and going from the site, which is heavily patrolled by private security. Even then, appearances can be misleading. Most of the construction that was visible from the roads in Mount Pleasant this winter wasn’t being done by Foxconn, but by government contractors building roads and utilities. 

As for the innovation centers announced across the state, Foxconn has bought property, but beyond that, much is unclear, including what an “innovation center” actually is. 

By mid-March, it had been weeks without any update on the project, and the state officials I had been talking to were mystified as to what was happening. I decided to go to Wisconsin to see how things were going. After so many events in half a dozen cities, surely I would find Foxconn somewhere?

Josh’s article is pretty in-depth on where Foxconn currently stands in their Wisconsin expansion, it’s definitely worth a read, maybe even a couple reads to catch details you might miss the first time.

Apple officially kills AirPower

Matthew Panzarino reporting that Apple has confirmed that AirPower, the wireless charger with support for multiple devices first announced in September 2017, has been cancelled (to the surprise of nobody at this point).

“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project. We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward,” said Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering in an emailed statement today.

The AirPower was originally teased back in September 12, 2017, when Apple unveiled the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, Apple Watch Series 3, Apple TV 4K, and related OS updates.

Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, presented a sneak peek of a new wireless charging mat Apple was developing, named AirPower, which could charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods simultaneously. At the time, Apple said the AirPower charger would be available in 2018

And today, after numerous delays, it’s official that it will never go beyond that tease.