Apple is planning a new low-cost macbook and a pro-focused mac mini

Mark Gurman and Debby Wu, writing for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. will release a new low-cost laptop and a professional-focused upgrade to the Mac mini desktop later this year, ending a drought of Mac computers that has limited sales of the company’s longest-running line of devices, according to people familiar with the plans.

The new laptop will look similar to the current MacBook Air, but will include thinner bezels around the screen. The display, which will remain about 13-inches, will be a higher-resolution “Retina” version that Apple uses on other products, the people said.


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PepsiCo to buy Sodastream for $3.2 billion

PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ: PEP) (“PepsiCo”) and SodaStream International Ltd. (NASDAQ / TLV: SODA) (“SodaStream”) today announced that they have entered into an agreement under which PepsiCo has agreed to acquire all outstanding shares of SodaStream for $144.00 per share in cash, which represents a 32% premium to the 30-day volume weighted average price.

“PepsiCo and SodaStream are an inspired match,” said PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi. “Daniel and his leadership team have built an extraordinary company that is offering consumers the ability to make great-tasting beverages while reducing the amount of waste generated. That focus is well-aligned with Performance with Purpose, our philosophy of making more nutritious products while limiting our environmental footprint. Together, we can advance our shared vision of a healthier, more-sustainable planet.”

Daniel Birnbaum, SodaStream CEO and Director said, “Today marks an important milestone in the SodaStream journey. It is validation of our mission to bring healthy, convenient and environmentally friendly beverage solutions to consumers around the world. We are honored to be chosen as PepsiCo’s beachhead for at home preparation to empower consumers around the world with additional choices. I am excited our team will have access to PepsiCo’s vast capabilities and resources to take us to the next level. This is great news for our consumers, employees and retail partners worldwide.” 

PepsiCo’s strong distribution capabilities, global reach, R&D, design and marketing expertise, combined with SodaStream’s differentiated and unique product range will position SodaStream for further expansion and breakthrough innovation.

The transaction is another step in PepsiCo’s Performance with Purpose journey, promoting health and wellness through environmentally friendly, cost-effective and fun-to-use beverage solutions.

“SodaStream is highly complementary and incremental to our business, adding to our growing water portfolio, while catalyzing our ability to offer personalized in-home beverage solutions around the world,” said Ramon Laguarta, CEO-Elect and President, PepsiCo.  “From breakthrough innovations like Drinkfinity to beverage dispensing technologies like Spire for foodservice and Aquafina water stations for workplaces and colleges, PepsiCo is finding new ways to reach consumers beyond the bottle, and today’s announcement is fully in line with that strategy.”

Under the terms of the agreement between PepsiCo and SodaStream, PepsiCo has agreed to acquire all of the outstanding shares of SodaStream International Ltd. for $144.00 per share, in a transaction valued at $3.2 billion. The transaction will be funded with PepsiCo’s cash on hand.

The acquisition has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies. The transaction is subject to a SodaStream shareholder vote, certain regulatory approvals and other customary conditions, and closing is expected by January 2019.

Interesting move by Pepsi.


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Apple Is Quietly Encouraging Paid App Developers to Move to Subscriptions

Kif Leswing, writing for Business Insider:

The new way Apple wanted to promote: Instead of users paying for apps once, they’d pay on a regular basis, putting money into developer coffers on a regular schedule. Apple would still get a 30% cut of the subscription’s cost, but if a customer continued to subscribe after a year, Apple’s cut would go down to 15%.

At the meeting, Apple underscored that the app model was changing. The meeting touched on topics including launching, customer acquisition, testing and marketing, engagement, retention, monetization, and paid search ads.

An Apple representative said at the meeting that paid apps represent 15% of total app sales and is on the decline, according to a person who was there who did not want to be identified to maintain their relationship with Apple.

Interesting story, and the move does make sense, why make a one-time sale off a customer when you can work with subscriptions and keep passive income?


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Why Apple’s Group FaceTime delay is the right move.

Jason Snell:

This week, Apple removed Group FaceTime from the beta for iOS 12 and macOS Mojave. The company indicated that the feature will not appear in the initial release, but will rather appear in a subsequent update released later in the year.

For people who were excited about audio and video chats with multiple friends, this is a bummer. (I heard from several people who said their kids were especially looking forward to using the feature, or were using it in the beta period and were sad that it’s going to be removed for a little while.)

But I’m a little less down on Apple making this decision. Every time I used Group FaceTime in the iOS and macOS betas, it was far from flawless. I had connection problems, video and audio would disappear and reappear at random, sometimes a person would appear multiple times in my view (or disappear altogether), and there were numerous cosmetic defects to the interface, too. It seemed… very beta. And clearly someone at Apple decided it was just not going to be solid enough by release time.

More broadly, though, I support this sort of move because it’s Apple realizing that it has a particular quality standard it’s supposed to meet, especially for new features. It can’t be easy to delay a banner feature of your next operating-system release, but when the alternative is releasing something that’s not good enough, this is the right choice.


The decision to delay Group FaceTime is encouraging because it’s part of a pattern. In the past few years, Apple has become much more willing to delay OS features that aren’t ready, even if they were part of the initial marketing roll-out at the Worldwide Developer Conference in June. (A past iteration of Apple would’ve shipped every single one of those features, whether they were ready or not.)

Just a few recent examples include Messages in the Cloud, which was announced for iOS 11 and arrived this spring. The last thing Apple needed to do was screw up the text message history of billions of customers… so it waited until the feature felt more solid.

Or consider Portrait Mode, a banner feature of the iPhone 7 Plus. Presumably Apple intended for that feature to ship on the iPhone 7 Plus when it came from the factory, but it wasn’t ready. So the company announced that it would be enabled in a later software update. (And when that update came, it was still sold as a “beta” feature, essentially a label warning users that it might be a bit unreliable, in order to reduce outrage if and when it didn’t work reliably.)

And then there’s AirPlay 2, a banner feature of iOS 11 that shipped almost a year after it was announced. Based on what I’ve heard, AirPlay 2 just didn’t work right and Apple had to do a major overhaul of the software. Better to delay that feature than ship something broken and spend the next six months apologizing and promising you’ll fix it.


I can congratulate Apple for being smart enough to not ship broken software when it can avoid it, but it’s worth pointing out that this sort of thing still shouldn’t be happening on a regular basis. There is a worrying trend of Apple misjudging its ability to ship certain features and products, at least at the time they expected.

The first step is not releasing buggy software. The next step is being a better judge of what features can be shipped in a given timeframe, so Apple can stop making promises it can’t keep. That’s a much harder, more complex challenge—but it’s something Apple should work to change. Maybe it can change that by altering its software processes, but maybe it needs to consider something more radical: announcing and rolling out OS features throughout the year in smaller updates, rather than pegging everything to an annual fall iOS roll-out.
In a way, these delays of iOS features are already creating this roll-out schedule, because we got Messages sync in the spring, AirPlay 2 in the summer, and will apparently get Group FaceTime in the late fall or early winter. Perhaps this is as simple as Apple announcing its operating-system releases as a collection of features that will roll out across an entire calendar year, rather than promising to hit a single date. “Here’s a look at what we’ve got in store for iOS over the next year,” they could say on stage.
At this point, that’s the truth of the matter. Maybe Apple should just admit it and move on. It would be one less thing Apple would need to apologize for.


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Inside the iPhone Repair Ecosystem: Where Do Replacement Parts Come From and Can You Trust Them?

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

There’s a thriving market for unofficial, aftermarket iPhone parts, and in China, there are entire massive factories that are dedicated to producing these components for repair shops unable to get ahold of parts that have been produced by Apple.

The entire Apple device repair ecosystem is fascinating, complex, and oftentimes confusing to consumers given the disconnect between Apple, Apple Authorized Service Providers, third-party factories, and independent repair shops, so we thought we’d delve into the complicated world of Apple repairs.


Looking at the iPhone repair ecosystem holistically, there’s a disparity between what repair shops want and what Apple is offering. It’s a fascinatingly complex situation where all involved parties feel their way is the better way, and it’s easy to comprehend why. 

Apple understandably does not want independent repair shops repairing iPhones with less than optimal parts and work that might not be up to Apple standards, but at the same time, Apple is running a repair authorization program that many repair shops find too restrictive, too expensive, and too wasteful. 

Demand for cheaper, more accessible repairs has led to a thriving independent repair community and a huge market for third-party components that’s entirely unregulated, ultimately creating this strange, confusing web of repair options that can be difficult for consumers to navigate. 

With no access to genuine parts or Apple component schematics, independent repair shops are going to keep doing repairs with what’s available, and despite Apple’s warnings, some customers are going to keep choosing what’s cheap. 

Right to Repair legislation makes the entire mess more interesting, because the repair ecosystem seems to be heading for some major changes. Either these Right to Repair laws are going to pass, or the legislation will all fizzle out, giving Apple a clearer path towards proprietary repairs and the eventual phasing out of the independent repair shop.

This is a pretty interesting read.

Earlier this year, I had to get an iPad screen replaced for the first time when my daughter’s iPad got dropped accidentally. I went to a local repair shop that specializes in fixing phones and tablets, the repair was affordable, and the screen works like new.


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Apple, YouTube and Facebook Have All Kicked InfoWars Off Their Platforms

John Paczkowski, reporting for BuzzFeed:

Apple moved first, striking the entire library for five of Infowars’ six podcasts from its iTunes and Podcasts apps. Among the podcasts, which were removed from Apple’s iTunes directory, are the show War Room and the popular Alex Jones Show podcast, which is hosted daily by the prominent conspiracy theorist.

After that, platforms that have come under far more scrutiny for hosting Jones and his content — Facebook and YouTube — quickly followed suit after long and tortured deliberations. Spotify also did the same.

In all, the actions will currently seriously limit Jones’s ability to reach his massive audience. Twitter and Periscope remain one of the sole major platforms to still host Jones.

YouTube’s enforcement action will have the greatest impact on Jones. His channel had nearly 2.5 million subscribers and more than 1 billion views over its lifetime. It killed most if not all of the videos hosted on Jones’s website.


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Reviewing the Surface Go

Reviewing the Surface Go

Microsoft released the Surface Go last week, and I’ve spent a few days playing with it.

This lower power, lower profile Surface tablet left a few questions when it came out. Especially with Windows 10 S mode, which is a slightly more secure mode for Windows 10 that only allows apps to be installed from the app store.

I actually did try to use S mode but found it didn’t quite work to my work flow so I disabled it for regular Windows 10, which is easy enough to do with a push of a button inside the app store. But for many users, S mode will work fine.

The Surface Go is slower than the Surface Pro devices, but that’s to be expected with a lower power processor, as the Go uses the Intel Pentium 4415Y processor compared to the Intel Core i7-7660U found on the Pro.

But, the processor speed doesn’t make this a bad device and over all, performance is great, the tablet may be small but it doesn’t act like it.

One thing to note, you do need to buy a Surface Go Keyboard separately.

The only thing I found comparing the Go keyboard with the Pro keyboard is the keys are a little cramped, I was used to typing on the larger keyboard size but once I got the hang of it, it was fine. 

The Surface Pen is the same for all Surface models and works perfectly.

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Everything bad about Facebook is bad for the same reason

Facebook didn’t intend for any of this to happen. It just wanted to connect people. But there is a thread running from Perkins’ death to religious violence in Myanmar and the company’s half-assed attempts at combating fake news. Facebook really is evil. Not on purpose. In the banal kind of way.

Underlying all of Facebook’s screw-ups is a bumbling obliviousness to real humans. The company’s singular focus on “connecting people” has allowed it to conquer the world, making possible the creation of a vast network of human relationships, a source of insights and eyeballs that makes advertisers and investors drool.

But the imperative to “connect people” lacks the one ingredient essential for being a good citizen: Treating individual human beings as sacrosanct. To Facebook, the world is not made up of individuals, but of connections between them


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iFixit Tears down the new Macbook Pro keyboard

Sam Lionheart for iFixit:

The 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard is a wealth of secrets—it just keeps surprising us. Just when we think we’ve exhausted one vein of tasty tech ore, we find something new. And today, we bring this trove to you. If you’re not excited for a deep dive, check out our keyboard teardown for a more photo-driven experience.


We started with a fine, powdered paint additive to add a bit of color and enable finer tracking (thanks for the tip, Dan!). Lo and behold, the dust is safely sequestered at the edges of the membrane, leaving the mechanism fairly sheltered. The holes in the membrane allow the keycap clips to pass through, but are covered by the cap itself, blocking dust ingress. The previous-gen butterfly keys are far less protected, and are almost immediately flooded with our glowing granules. On the 2018 keyboard, with the addition of more particulate and some aggressive typing, the dust eventually penetrates under the sheltered clips, and gets on top of the switch—so the ingress-proofing isn’t foolproof just yet. Time will tell how long the barrier will hold up.


Apple’s patent application is pretty broad, basically taking ownership of any flexible barrier under a keyboard. This implementation lacks the “bellows” function intended to blow particulate away from the mechanism; the gaps in the membrane are for keycap attachment, and to allow key presses without interference from an air cushion. Figure 2 in the patent lays out the layers we saw in our teardown, but showcases a secondary keycap layer not present in this design. What we found is closer in spirit to Figure 5, wherein the keycap clips pass through the membrane to attach to the butterfly mechanism. The membrane in its present form covers more of the central area of the switch than Figure 5 shows, and does not “couple” to either the keycap or mechanism, but lies sandwiched between them.


Okay, so why does all this matter? Apple has a proven track record of failure for these keyboards. They’re being accused, by way of several class-action lawsuits, of knowingly selling failure-prone keyboards. Apple may claim that they design products to last—and that designing for repairability compromises the durability of a device—but this keyboard misadventure belies those points. If a single grain of sand can bring a computer to a grinding halt, that’s not built to last. If said computer can only be fixed by throwing half of it away and starting over, that’s not built to last. We’re definitely excited to see improved protection on these machines—consumers deserve it with the prices they’re paying. But if Apple had designed their keyboards for longevity in the first place, instead of chasing thinness at all cost, maybe we’d be in a whole different timeline, where MacBooks are repairable, and they never canceled Firefly


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Adobe Working on a Full Version of Photoshop for the iPad

Mark Gurman and Nico Grant writing for Bloomberg:

Adobe Systems Inc., the maker of popular digital design programs for creatives, is planning to launch the full version of its Photoshop app for Apple Inc.’s iPad as part of a new strategy to make its products compatible across multiple devices and boost subscription sales.

The software developer is planning to unveil the new app at its annual MAX creative conference in October, according to people with knowledge of the plan. The app is slated to hit the market in 2019, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private product plans. Engineering delays could still alter that timeline.

This is part of multiyear plan by rewrite most, if not all, of the Creative Cloud tools for tablets as more and more creatives work off tablets rather than traditional workstations.


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